Dear Nobel Committee…

“Politics, like the waves of the ocean, attracts the eyes of the casual observer. But the real motion happens under the surface, where art, philosophy, and science are the great streams of the ocean.”  Eolake Stobblehouse

Brothers and Sisters, since I have taken over this blog I’ve been asked by literally no one to explain my political views.  So, as a result of this overwhelming demand I’ve decided to publish my political treatise.  I’m sure the accolades, and perhaps a Nobel Peace Prize, will follow.

I am not a Republican or a Democrat.  I believe in the Bill of Rights and Libertarian ideals, but think many of them are unworkable in the modern world. The roots of my political philosophy go much deeper.  They start with an incredibly important film called “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus” with Lorenzo Lamas and Debbie Gibson.  Perhaps I should explain further…

In this profound, well thought out and brilliantly written allegory Debbie Gibson, a rebellious marine biologist, is witness to the US Navy accidentally unthawing two creatures in the arctic; a gigantic missile proof, airplane munching shark and an indestructible, battleship sinking octopus.  Great havoc ensues and Ms Gibson must team up with Commando Lamas to save the world.

In the film the Shark is clearly meant to represent the giant corporations whose appetites are unchecked by any form of moral awareness.  The Octopus was standing in for our government, equally dangerous and trying to get it’s tentacles into every part of our lives.  Our two party system is defined by which creature you fear more.  Democrats fear the Shark and seek to strengthen the Octopus, giving it ever more tentacles.  Republicans fear the Octopus and want to make it ever smaller, even if it means they themselves will be shark chum in the water.  Theocrats, represented by the military in the film, just refuse to accept that the creatures exist.  All sides claim to have God on their side even though any beneficent deity wouldn’t sick either of these creatures on his poor minions.

Fortunately, we can look toward Dr. Debbie for the answer.  The only rational option is to get them to fight each other.  And this is my political philosophy.  Both corporations and governments are evil and dangerous.  Both of them will eat you up without any sense of conscious.  So you need to keep them relatively equal and fighting each other.  Any legislation that curbs corporate power is good.  Any time corporations need to fight government regulation, I’m happy.  And Theocrats are just silly ostriches with their heads in the sand.  Dangerous and stupid, they need to be kept out of power at all costs.

While it’s unlikely that they’ll kill each other as the movie imagines, they might at least keep each other busy enough to allow real people to go about their lives with a minimum of thrashing about.  In short, choose chaos and conflict.  Scandal and criminality.  Force corporations to spend billions on elections.  Vote for anyone who seems to be antibusiness.  Constantly regulate, deregulate, and re-regulate.  And don’t take any of it too seriously.  I’m waiting for my call from Oslo.  Amen.


Yet if he should give up what he has begun, and agree to make us or our kingdom subject to the King of England or the English, we should exert ourselves at once to drive him out as our enemy and a subverter of his own rights and ours, and make some other man who was well able to defend us our King; for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.  THE DECLARATION OF ARBROATH

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” – Robert A. Heinlein

Brothers and Sisters, we are gathered here today at my inaugural blog post to talk about Freedom.  Talk of Freedom is ubiquitous these days, but most of the people doing the talking don’t have the slightest fucking idea what it means.  Soldiers won’t give you Freedom.  Security, perhaps, but not Freedom.  The Bill of Rights and the ACLU won’t give you Freedom, they give you civil rights, or not.  Governments and religions cannot grant it and cannot guarantee it.  They can only fuck it up.

Freedom is the absolute authority over yourself and your actions.  It means that right now you and you alone possess the control over what you do, how you feel, and what you think.  Freedom is radical and subversive and carries with it a heavy sense of responsibility.  If you cannot say “This is my fault” you will not be free.  If you cannot say “Fuck you, I’ll do it myself” and mean it you will not be free.  If you cannot say “I don’t need this” you will not be free.

Freedom, contrary to popular belief, is not unlimited.  The universe has rules.  I’m not free to fly even I think I am and if I jump off the roof I’ll discover that the hard way.  A great Zen teacher once gave a lecture on Freedom, explaining to the young monks that they were truly Free.  The next day he came upon two of them pissing in the garden.  As he beat the living crap out of them with his cane they complained that he had said that they were free to do as they pleased.  He explained that this was true, but they still couldn’t piss in the garden.  If you don’t understand this paradox you are too stupid to be Free.

A Free man is a threat and is likely to be despised.  (I’m using man as shorthand.  Freedom knows know gender.)  The government discourages Freedom at every turn.  Therefor the Free man must ignore the government as much as he can.  He must understand that some of his choices will be ‘illegal’ and some of his actions will be considered ‘criminal’.  Because he is free he accepts these risks and is willing to pay the penalties incurred.  They are taxes the government levies on Freedom.

Religion discourages Freedom even though I think God rather likes it.  It seems like God wouldn’t grant us this incredible gift without expecting it to be used.  I am a Reverend, and as such I preach the Word.  And the Word is Freedom.  Are you brave enough to be free?  Keep reading to find out.

Some New Driving Rules

I drive a lot and I ride a lot.  I love to do both and I hate to fly so I spend a lot of time on the roads.  Almost every day I see people do at least 10 things that defy understanding and place someone else in peril.  The level of stupid, selfish, and dangerous behavior has become intolerable.  Cars careening across lanes at the toll booth, people eating soup while merging into traffic, a woman playing tug of war with her dog at 75 miles an hour.  Many of you people need to learn to drive or stay the fuck home.  I know that isn’t going to happen I have a couple of suggestions.  And yes, I’M TOTALLY FUCKING SERIOUS.

Plan A-  This is the best idea, but I know most of you mommies out there won’t like it.  Cars are too damn safe and it allows people to be incredibly selfish.  Put some woman in a huge SUV full of air bags and 2 tons of steal.  Strap her kids into bubble wrap safety seats.  Now she’s safe and fuck everybody else.  She’ll do 50 things that put somebody else at risk because her kids are protected from the results of her own idiocy.  (If you think I’m lying check out how mothers who drive Volvos drive everyday.)  If you want people to drive with more consideration and awareness (and I do) make them pay the consequences.  No more air bags.  No seat belts.  No child safety seats.  Hell, put spikes on the dashboard.  I bet you’d stop watching TV if a crash meant certain death to Jr in the back seat.  I’m so serious about this I do it myself.  Every biker does.  Stop paying attention for a little while on your motorcycle and you will spend some time in the hospital.  I ride with my young daughter on the back of the bike.  My car is a deathtrap with no air bags and drum brakes on a 7000lb vehicle.  And I pay attention.  I drive courteously.  I have too.  This is a democratic country.  Equal risk for everyone on the road.

Plan B-  Bikers are more aware of bad driving than anyone else.  Our lives are more affected and every biker has a 100 stories about idiot drivers.  So let’s give bikers a role in enforcing safe and considerate driving.  Every biker gets a shotgun loaded with birdshot mounted on their bike.  And they can shoot out the windows or tires or rear panel of any car that pisses them off.  I’m tempted to start doing this unilaterally.

Plan C-  Huge Draconian fines.  Not for speeding.  If you can operate your car well I don’t care how fast you go.  For distracted driving.  The fine for this should be equal to the cost of the car.  Get caught chatting in your BMW, pay a $50,000 fine.  Eating in your SUV, that burrito just cost you $35,000.

A few more quick bad driving thoughts:

* Just because you feel smug because you bought a Prius does not mean you can drive like an asshole.

* You car has turn signals.  Use them.  Every time.

* For you city drivers, you can’t just get out of your car and leave it in the street while you run into Starbucks or the Dry Cleaners.

We all know how many people die or are injured in cars every year.  Let’s get serious about changing this shit.  Watch out.  I may go vigilante.  Vaya con Dios and Viva la Revolucion.

-Archbishop Angus

Time for a Rant

Okay, I’ve clearly been too calm lately.  Time for a couple of cranky rants about things I can’t possibly change.  I suppose it keeps me out of tall buildings with long guns.  At least so far.

I know I don’t look like a normal person.  I’ve lifted weights for years and, as my wife says, I’m quite ‘beefy’.  I’m heavily tattooed, including the backs of my hands.  A lot of the tattoos are brightly colored and they stand out.  At the moment I have a blue mohawk.  As Waylon said, I’m way past 40 and still wearing jeans.  Usually with a black t-shirt with skulls on it.  I don’t even own a tie or a dinner jacket, let alone a suit.  So no one is going to mistake me for an insurance executive or corporate drone.  But that doesn’t make me a FELON!

Last night I went to Safeway to buy a few groceries.  The ENTIRE time I was followed up and down the aisles by the security guard.  It was 6 o’clock.  The store was full.  I had a cart full of food.  Was I really that big a threat?  Jesus Fucking Christ, what was I going to do, steal a poptart?  Two kids were filling their jackets with cookie dough but this numbskull missed it because he was busy watching me.  He even followed my normal looking wife just because she was with me.  What the fuck?

Seriously here, do these guys get any training?  This is San Francisco.  There are a lot of freaky looking people and very few of them steal stuff in grocery stores.  This shit happens all the time and it sucks.  How about having some reasonable suspicion before deciding that someone’s a threat?  Could you buy a fucking clue?

A few years ago I had a letter published by Jon Carroll in the SF Chronicle.  In it I noted that parents at an exclusive private school crossed the street in order to avoid me.  The irony here is that I see them when I go to teach at Lincoln Child Center in the same damn block.  And I look like this by choice.  If I were African American or Moslem I’d probably be locked up by now.  This shit has got to stop.

People who look different are not by definition scary.  They are no more likely to rape your wife or eat your children.  Don’t you watch the fucking news?  Child molesters and serial rapists look more like your damn uncle than they do me.  You’re probably missing the real threat because you’re too stupid to get past your ignorant fear of the strange.  God, I hate people sometimes.

Back to the Beginning

Being able to study something for your enrichment alone is the very definition of luxury- Monte Stott

I wanted to be a beginner again.  After years of studying Aikido, Tai Chi, meditation and the like I finally got to a place where they were all pretty comfortable.  I teach regularly and speak in front of audiences with out much stress.  Most of my life seemed to be full of things at which I was reasonably competent.  Heaven forbid.  So I needed a new challenge.

There’s a lot to be learned about yourself in being a beginner.  If you’re not willing to look stupid you can’t learn anything and you need to be a beginner to look really stupid.  That feeling of being a moron, unable to figure out what’s going on, is so good for one’s ego.  It makes you a better teacher, a better learner, and a better person.  So what to do?

I’ve always wanted to plat a musical instrument.  I can’t read music and know nothing at all about it so it seemed to be the perfect solution.  And because I’m me, I didn’t want to learn something easy or normal.  So last month I started taking bagpipe lessons.  And I love it!

Piping is really hard.  I totally suck at it.  Reading music makes no damn sense to me.  My fingers won’t do the easiest tasks.  I sound like a dying duck.  But I practice everyday and I’m a beginner again.  See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!