State of the Union

November 7, 2008

So Barack Obama will be our 44th president, electoral college willing. That’s good, if only because Sarah Palin won’t be a heartbeat from the highest office in the land. Newsweek has a good post-election special on the candidates during the campaign. It sounds like Palin’s worse than everyone suspected. Putting those people anywhere near a powerful position would’ve utterly ruined the United States. Even with her as VP, the family would’ve made Dick Cheney look like a used car salesman, especially considering how spineless the Democrats are.

Here’s the thing though: this is going to be a tough presidency. Things in the United States is certainly going to get much worse before it gets any better. And the rest of the world will sadly follow. But twenty years of Reaganomics (yes, even under Clinton) has left the country in such a poor form that I wonder just how much better things will be in 10 years. But it’s probably a good thing, because the world has seen enormous growth over the past decade, and it’s time to slow down and refine what great minds have developed these past ten, fifteen years.

The government is scrambling to find a solution to the subprime crisis. But the fact of the matter is, housing prices have fallen, and no amount of money injected into the system will send them back up. If they had bought high, people will have to live with their loss, or in this case, live in it. And even if people aren’t losing their homes because they’ve suddenly found themselves out of a job, they’re still going to stop spending. Which means retail and marketing will be in for some bad times in the near future. Entertainment and tourism, has already fallen, but following the decline in marketing, it will be even worse. And tourist-supported local economies will suffer.

It’s a good thing people have saved up for rainy days just like this. Oh wait. At least people will still have their health. Or maybe not. Personally, I think we’ll be in for three or four years of suffering followed by another ten to fifteen years of just getting by. It’s bad enough that this is happening at all, but it has to pick the best time too. The United States government has been cringing at the thought of the baby-boomer mass-retirement, and that was when things were good. Well, it won’t feel like the end of the world for too long. But people will actually have to work harder, and perhaps finally, people will learn the value of their possessions.

I had something kung fu related to write about a few days ago. Alas, by the time I’ve gotten around to writing, I’ve forgotten the subject matter entirely. Maybe I’ll remember tomorrow morning and be awake enough to jot it down on a piece of paper. In the meantime, I guess I’ll give a brief status report. I am progressing slowly as one would progress in PKFS, as well as in SKFS albeit faster, if I were to be the judge of such things. My ailments have healed perhaps 70%, so I’m starting to do better in OKFS. But every time I look at the old masters, I realize even if I was at 100%, just how much farther I still have to go.

On an unrelated note, WordPress is practically unusable through Tor. I have to jump through hoops just to get anything posted. And it sucks.

Day 2 of my return.

September 5, 2008

I think I have to start putting up links to the tidbits I am referring to. As well, I think it will help illustrate some of my points better if I linked to things like movies and pictures. I suspect most people have some kind of system that employs a notepad or some such where they paste all of the interesting links they might encounter. It is pretty difficult, albeit not impossible, to find things a second time on the WWW. Using TOR only makes the situation worse. Actually, using TOR reminds me of the good old days when I was connected using a 28.8 modem. Back then, it was twice the speed of what most of my contemporaries used. Except back then, a web page was pretty much just some text and maybe a background graphic or two. The organization of the text more or less determined the quality of the website design. There’s so much more stuff these days. Even wikipedia, with as simple an interface as there is out there, is pretty complicated. And now, it’s all about standards and such. Back then, you really could code entire sites with notepad.

Anyway, I don’t mean to digress into some nostalgic piece of my youth, but I think putting up links will help.

I noticed that a lot of the old classic Star Wars sets are back up on Lego S@H. For example, sets like the X-wing and Hoth Rebel Base were gone from S@H for quite a long time, while the AT-AT had disappeared for a better part of this year. Now they’re back. Here’s hoping they’ll bring more of the old sets like those from ’06 and ’05 back. They don’t have to be Star Wars-themed either.

I’m starting to get disenfranchised with PKFS. I don’t know why. It’s fun there. I like most of the people, and I like what we do, especially some of the things we’ve started doing. But, I’ve been feeling a something lacking for the past few weeks. It feels…shallow, repetitive, tiresome. Yes, I know practice is supposed to be repetitive. It’s hard work. I know that from SKFS. But SKFS is gratifying, because I do have a method to measure my progress. It’s the same as OKFS. In PKFS, the closest thing I have to telling me how good I am is the number of form I’ve completed or I’m learning. Quite frankly, that doesn’t really cut it for me. Heck, I don’t even know what is the number of the highest form I know.

It has never disturbed me before. I’ve always thought of this measurement as irrelevant to my presence at PKFS. That everyone else uses this as a measure of how good they are and even how good I am never really bothered me either. I don’t know why I’m growing so restless. I’ve lost my inspiration perhaps. Or more likely, my recent enormous growth and progress at both OKFS and SKFS over the past month or three has resulted in my lack of progress at PKFS looking bad in comparison. And I’m not talking forms-wise, because between the three schools, I seriously have more forms and more techniques than anyone else in all three schools, including Senior. It’s just that while PKFS contributes to my mnemonic knowledge, I wonder whether any of what I do there really contributes to my kung fu.

On the political front, I caught someone unfurling a banner at the RNC that said something along the lines of McCain doesn’t care about our vets. The camera quickly switched away, and the person was being apprehended as the camera showed it. But I have to admit, McCain hasn’t mentioned a thing about our veterans, and their health and safety when they come home. It’s sad, that we send these 18 to 20-something year-old boys and girls out there to fight for our country, and then we discard them when they come back defective, like they were just our nation’s toys or some such. Maybe McCain’s experience during the Vietnam conflict has made him adverse to helping out his fellow veterans. Maybe it’s because he was abandoned, or perhaps because he didn’t receive decent medical treatment himself, or perhaps he figures if he can weather the hard times after he came back that everyone else can, but whatever his reason might be, completely disregarding the issue of the poor treatment of soldiers injured in the line of duty says a lot about what he really cares about. And it really doesn’t seem to be the people who are in some way whole and perfect no longer.

Anyway, I had hoped to keep this short so that I might sleep earlier as I do every other time I write, but it is proving to be difficult.

I’m back (again?)!

September 4, 2008

I must blame my lack of updates this past year on a lack of time. That doing this through TOR is worse than trying to squeeze blood out of a stone doesn’t help much. I actually have two major articles in draft form, regarding martial arts. I might have to update them a bit, but they are still as relevent a year ago as they are today.

Actually, more than anything, the recent acceptance speech by Republican VP Nominee Sarah Palin has prompted me to come back. Considering that most of the guys in OKFS are over 60 and don’t speak English well, and most of the people currently frequenting PKFS aren’t of the politically savvy variety, this is unfortunately the only way to get this off my chest. I think picking Sarah Palin to be his VP is John McCain’s idea of being a maverick. With all the scandals surrounding her, scandals that otherwise would have immediately flatlined any Democratic campaign, you really have to wonder if McCain actually put any reality into the decision, or if he saw the most strategically-sound proposal on paper and went for it without so much as looking at the facts beforehand. Does this sound familiar yet? If this deciding-before-having-all-the-facts behavior is indicative of the kind of maverick John McCain actually is, I sincerely wonder if he’s the right kind of maverick. Even if he is interested in change, just as much as Obama, I have to ask whether as president, he’ll make the right decisions, or the ones he thinks is right.

That’s really all I have to say about the matter. I will be voting for Obama. Hope, like prayer, alone isn’t enough to protect or save this country. But unlike prayer, hope is better than nothing.

As for kung fu news, I’ve recently come to several fascinating revelations. The idea of circles has become even more abstract, because with the most recent revelation, I’ve come a full circle, from hard, to soft without hardness, now back to hard again, but with softness, and softness with hardness. It’s really a concept that must be felt; it’s difficult to explain, especially in English. And it’s practically impossible to understand without reaching the point of being soft without being hard. I’ll write something on it. I’m sure out of every dozen people who’ll read this, ten will say they understand, offer their interpretation, but not really understand, one will not understand and start asking questions, and one will just not say anything. That’s how it always is.

I am no longer bothered by the little feuds and arguments at PKFS. The particular breed of dog that was giving me trouble in the past no longer associates with me, and I do not associate with dogs. Anyway, I’m not an animal-lover, so I have no inclination to do unnecessary things like give animals a personality or attempt to treat them in the same way I might treat a fellow human. I have respect for life itself, and the desire and will to live inherent in every living creature. But I don’t try to discuss current events and politics with them. Anyhow, I think we’ve come to a mutual understanding, give or take, facilitated by something that still lingers between us. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it most likely is a good thing, probably left over from our better days when we were more acquainted. We do vehemently deny its existence in front of everybody, but when nobody’s looking… That’s how I feel anyway. And that’s all I’m really going to say about it.

There are other feuds brewing. I really don’t want to politicize the place. Please leave the politics outside the door. I swear, if I catch even the slightest hint of people starting to rally behind me, I will smack them down hard and then if they don’t stop, I will leave. Politics has no place in any of the schools, and that’s that. At the same time, if people start rallying behind other people who are at odds, I won’t let things get too far either. My ultimate allegiance? To Sifu. Other than that, everyone is fair game.

On the video game front, Spore is out. I think. I’m downloading it anyway, so it must be out, right? Ugh. I can’t keep track of things when things get released in the scene before the street date.

And well, I’m looking forward to checking out the COWON S9. It is by far the most interesting PMP since the iPod Touch. Obviously, I’m not going to get one if it sucks. But it has promise. So we’ll see. It might actually be my first real PMP. I put this in a lot of categories. That’s what happens when I don’t write anything for a year, and suddenly have all sorts of stuff to write about. Hopefully, I’ll be getting better at frequent updates and not worse.