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I went up to FOGcon this morning to have lunch with a couple of friends. Had a marvellous time, but had to come home early to pick my wife up to go to dinner with her family in celebration of her birthday.

All was uneventful until I got to the freeway exit for our house, where I saw a number of police cruisers and a bunch of flares blocking off the off-ramp. That's odd, I thought, and proceeded up to Skyline Boulevard to come around via Hickey and Callan. At the corner of Callan and Serramonte, some blocks from the house, I encountered another group of police cruisers and a half-dozen officers directing traffic, not letting anyone into the neighbourhood. I explained the date with my wife and her family to one of the officers, who replied, "I understand, sir, and I apologize. But you can't go up there." There were about two dozen local residents standing on the various corners of Callan and Serramonte, so I asked one of my neighbours what was going on. His response:

"They've got a fugitive holed up in one of those apartment buildings at the bottom of the block. They say he shot a San Francisco cop." Ah, that would explain why there were so many SFPD cars down here in Daly City. (SFGate story link)

So I called my wife and let her know to call her mother and let her know we were likely to be late. And after milling around for ten to fifteen minutes chatting with people and determining that no one really had a firm grasp on what was going on, I decided to see how far up the hill the police perimeter extended. Eventually, I was able to approach our house from the uphill side and make our dinner date.

So, long story short: we're all right, but our quiet little neighbourhood wasn't so quiet tonight. I thought I had something pithy to say about the event, but I don't, really. I just hope this doesn't become the new normal, and I am uncomfortably aware that in too many places and for too many people, this is just daily life.

Edited later to add: They haven't found the guy, but the news story made the front page on KRON and KTVU.
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(In writing, at least. Not so much in life.)

There are a lot of things going on with me just now. Both of my parents are having serious health and aging issues, I'm re-evaluating my roles at work and in my primary fannish activity, and my social life is slowing down after a year that was best described as a bit frenetic but rewarding.

If you were expecting to hear from me but didn't, please accept my apologies and get in touch again; I can only promise that I'll do my best. I'm not hermiting; there has just been a lot of change in a pretty short time.

Dreamwidth is going to continue to be my primary expression point online, I think. I do still follow my LJ flist, but I hardly ever comment there if I can communicate with folks by other means. Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr all remain completely opaque to me -- I don't have the time or the brain-space for them, and events there will totally pass me by.

If I do wind up writing up a BayCon 2012 con report, it will be published here. I make no promises about when (or even whether), however.

Please continue to take care of one another, and remember that love is a verb as well as a noun. I'll check in as I can.

On hugging

Jul. 20th, 2009 02:52 pm
karlht: (Default)
The discussion on hugging and personal space this morning on b.org caused me to do some fairly serious thinking about a subject that has come up quite a few times in my life, all the way from early adolescence through the present time:

Why am I so attached to the act of hugging, even in the face of the social perils (and occasional disapprobation) that it brings in its wake?

Background first. My immediate family-by-birth are not terribly physically demonstrative -- not precisely repressed, but not given to displays of affectionate enthusiasm, either. I am clearly an outlier in that context, and it's been noticed and remarked upon throughout my life. I am an only child, and while I did not lack for affection growing up, I did feel that I was 'snugglier' than most of the adults around me were quite comfortable with. I was not, as far as I know, prematurely sexualised -- I was not looking for erotic gratification, but simple closeness, and an expression of something more than simple affection ... call it joyful enthusiasm. I am fairly certain that this behaviour read as developing-sexuality to most of the adults around me, and held all of the squicks and 'danger-signs' associated with teaching an adolescent which forms of expression are acceptable and which are not. I know that it made several adults in my extended family curious, if not outright uncomfortable, and they said things to my mother which she passed on to me. She was generally as gentle as she could be about it, but I still vividly remember the sensation of rejection, especially from family. But my mother explained that it was important to take other people's comfort into account, as well, and I did my best to not offend anyone.

With my peers, I was an outlier in a different way. I tried to smooch my next-door neighbour when I was five (she was six), as little boys will do, and she whapped me with her jacket and caught my lip on the zipper, quite accidentally. She was very apologetic, but quite firm in her resolve not to be smooched. And when we became good friends a few years later, we did not engage in rough-housing or much other play that involved physical contact. When I was introduced to the playground 'chasing and kissing game' at age eight, I didn't see the point of running away, really. I wasn't very good at running (the asthma was a bit limiting), and I didn't see the point in trying to smooch someone who didn't want to be smooched, having internalised that first lesson entirely.

I got through elementary school (ages 5 to 12 for non-North American folks) with the usual number of deeply-felt childhood crushes, both on my peers and on the adults around me. I got teased about a number of them, but the adult recipients were generally very sensitive about respecting my dignity. There was one incident (in grade 6 - I was 11) in which I came home crying after a teacher had teased me about having a crush on a classmate, and my mother had a very simple suggestion: Tell the teacher that she had hurt your feelings. It was stunning in its simplicity, and I had profound doubts that it would do any good. But when it happened again, I walked up to the teacher's desk and asked to have a word with her. Doing my best to hold back tears, I told her that the teasing hurt my feelings, and asked her how she would feel if she liked someone and I made fun of her for it? And a truly amazing thing happened. She took me seriously, and apologised to me. Not teacher to student, but human being to human being. And a whole raft of troubles that I had been having that year got a whole lot easier. When I went home and told my mother about it, she held me in her arms while I cried with relief.

What does that have to do with hugging? Not so much on the surface -- but I was taught from an early age to express myself when I was hurt, rather than to shut down -- and 'boys don't cry' was something I just completely didn't understand. When someone was crying, you didn't ever /make fun/ of them, you did what you could to help, no matter whether they were male or female, adult or child.

And from that day to this, that's what I associate the feeling of a genuine, heartfelt hug with -- keeping each other safe and comforted in a world that too often wants to make fun of us for being who we are. And if I can keep that in balance with the knowledge that not everyone interprets hugs in the same way, and pay enough attention to other people's sensitivities and preferences that I don't offer comfort where it's not wanted/needed, I think I may be able to do my small part to make the world a better place.
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The euphoria at feeling like we've finally gotten out from under the oppression of the last eight years of being ashamed of ourselves and our country. The outrage in the midst of that victory, that so-called 'Christians' could spend millions of dollars to 'protect' their institutions by denying recognition to a whole segment of society. My first physical exam in over a decade, and the growing realisation that not only am I not immortal, I have entered into middle age.

This has been what I used to euphemistically call 'an experientially-dense week.'

I have kept my head down for the past year and change for many reasons -- my creative energy has been at a low ebb, I have been wary of speaking out politically in a society that seems obsessed with wiretapping and privacy invasion, and I have felt that I didn't have much to add to a world in which every dingbat with an opinion has a blog. I'm also wrestling with the question of how much of my writing/data to keep on other people's servers (my mail has lived on Google's servers for over a year now, and I'm still not sure how I feel about that), and how much time I have to devote to my own personal computing infrastructure. Being my own sysadmin used to be fun; now it feels entirely too much like work.

There's also some perfectionism involved -- I didn't want to clutter my livejournal with memes and LOLcats and 'trivia,' but I'm beginning to realise that writing for livejournal is a very, very different thing from writing for publication, even when it's self-publication. It seemed obvious to me at one time that there are some things I write that should be hosted on my own hardware, and some that belonged out where my friends could see it easily, and I think I had some vain hope that RSS/Atom aggregation was going to save the day. But re-inventing infrastructure is so very 1990. And perhaps most important of all, it doesn't matter what you're using to publish if there isn't any content.

So I am punting the infrastructure question by the simple expedient of copy-and-paste, and folks who read me on LJ can comment there, and folks who have subscribed to Dragons and Elegance can comment there, and we'll take it as it comes. Because, after all, if I'm the only one reading this stuff, it makes no difference whatsoever. But if you have an opinion, please, share it and be welcome.

Every period of writing activity starts with a single post. This one may not be polished, or even particularly coherent, but it means I showed up to the page. Or at least to the Emacs buffer.

Be excellent and loving to one another, my friends. We've got a lot of work in front of us, but we don't have to do it alone.

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(Had my first experience with LJ eating posts earlier. Bleah. And as always, I'm convinced that post was more articulate and sense-making than this one will be.)

Briefly, I've been a bit of a hermit lately. If I owe you correpondence of some sort, typed or otherwise, I apologise. I'm moving around in a bit of a fog, and I don't have much idea of when it will lift.

I'm information-grazing, which is a good thing except when it isn't. Everyone has their ideal balance between reading and writing; mine has been tilted way over to the "reading" end of the scale for months now. I've been trying my best to "show up to the page," but it feels like I've spent weeks staring at empty editor buffers and browser text boxes. Coding isn't any easier than writing prose; my brain just seems sluggish in general.

About the state of the world, I have only two things to say: Canada is looking more like the U.S. every day, and not in a good way. And Venezuela, for which I had such high hopes, is showing distinct signs of authoritarianism. We get entirely enough of that tendency here in the land of the nominally free; if Mr Chavez is determined to be an alternative to American-hegemony-as-usual, couldn't he find a better way to show the contrast than by vigourously suppressing dissenting views? People will start to think that politicians everywhere are just out to keep power for as long as they can, and that way lies complacency and ruin.

About computers, software, and their ilk: Do I stick with the old tools (Tcl, Expect, OpenACS, text-only Web browsing, awk, sed, Emacs, C when absolutely necessary for speed, Lisp when dealing with large systems) because my brain is old and calcified, or because the new tools (Ruby, Rails, Python, Twisted, Zope, C++ as a 'system language,' ubiquitous JavaScript, and the behemoths: Java and Eclipse) are all part of the endless recapitulation of an industry that feels compelled to re-invent itself every decade at the very least? Every time I learn a new language, it feels like I'm going over and over the same old already-solved problems.

About people and relationships: Why is it that so many people seem to think that the surest way to make themselves feel better is to make someone else feel worse? I've been pondering that one for at least thirty years, and I'm quite sure I'm no closer to an answer.

If you're reading this, the odds are good that I love you. Please be so good as to treat yourself accordingly.
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I never knew how he did it. Maybe just his manner: all the good bits of Southern gentility, without the racism or pomposity. There were always at least four girls sitting with him at lunch, loudly razzing him, vying for his attention, or just soaking up his kindness. He didn't date much that year -- his sweetheart was a year older, already at college. But oh, how they loved him. And for one sweet, blessed year, I sat with them, trying like hell not to make a fool of myself as I learned what it was to be a gentleman.
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First of all, to take advantage of something, you have to have heard of it in the first place. Some of your younger or more plugged-in friends may have heard of Linux, the poster-penguin for copyleft and free software. They may even have heard of Richard Stallman and the GNU Project. But if you ask a typical non-techie "What's GNU?" be prepared to have him ask if you've got something stuck in your throat. So the first major obstacle to adoption of free software is lack of awareness that it exists.

Remainder behind the cut for friends-page courtesy )
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Up to this point, most of my living has been made with computers. It seems a natural fit with my skills, and when times are good it pays the bills pretty well. But all too often it's just business. People with money making more money. Too often I feel reduced to a cog in the machine, enhancing nothing but the company's bottom line. In contrast, the last really good gig I had was making software that helped engineers determine how much steel was necessary to reinforce a building during a sizable earthquake; buildings designed with our system survived the Northridge quake in 1994 and very likely saved hundreds of lives. Yes, of course I want to make enough money that my family is comfortable. Of course I'd like to be able to afford a home, and to educate any children I might have. But I don't need to be rich; let me support my family and have a positive effect on people's lives, and I'm a happy man.

Where do you go when you care about saving lives but don't care much about money? Non-profit work, of course. Non-profit technology workers are in as short supply as teachers in this county, and that's saying something. There are wonderful people working in both fields, but they have an incredibly difficult job to do, with very few resources. Ever notice how Microsoft routinely donates software 'valued at' huge amounts of dollars as evidence of Mr. Gates's philanthropy? Quick quiz: If I donate 2,000 copies of Microsoft Windows and Office to your kids' school system or the humanitarian organization where you work, and the programs retail for $495 a seat, but cost me $5 each to make (the research and development costs being already sunk and budgeted for my multi-billion dollar business), did I really just make a donation valued at the equivalent of $1 million, as will surely be reported in the papers, or did I simply guarantee myself a revenue stream of four hundred thousand dollars (that's money from you to me, of course, and now it's money that you can't use to buy books for the kids, feed the hungry or protect battered women) when the software 'needs to be upgraded' in two years for $200/seat? (What a deal you're getting, that's more than half off the retail price!) Not bad for a $10K investment.

And where do you go if you care about making useful software but don't care much about money? Perhaps you've heard of a little fad called open source. (If you know and love a socially-minded techie, you may have also heard the term free software, usually accompanied by an explanation of the form "free as in speech, not free as in beer.") A bunch of freaky-idealist, not-terribly-socially-brainwashed geeks decided that computer programs were meant to be shared and studied, like literature or traditional scientific inquiry. So they invented something called copyleft, which basically says: I share my work with you, you share any improvements you make on my work with whoever asks you for them, and you get them to agree to do the same with their improvement on your work. Copyleft is not, as might be assumed, the opposite of copyright. It is rather a use of copyright to ensure that future generations are able to study the work, build on it, and pass on their improvements to it.

You'd think this would be a natural fit with people who want to save lives but don't have a lot of money to spend, wouldn't you? After all, a homeless shelter in Detroit needs e-mail, fax, and web access for its clients so they can apply for jobs and public services online in the same way as a homeless shelter in San Francisco does. A food bank in Dallas needs to track and manage which restaurants and grocery stores can do donations on which days just the same way a food bank in Portland does. A human rights organization in Jordan needs the same kind of secure, distributed, portable method of reporting on human rights abuses as one in Kosovo.

The software doesn't even need to be developed, in these cases. It's already out there, at the end of those links, ready to be downloaded and installed, free of charge. So what's the problem? Tomorrow I'll write about some of the obstacles in the way of wide use of copylefted software by non-profits.

(This is a series I'm thinking of promoting to places like the Non-Profit Open Source Initiative, as well as the Non-Profit Technology Enterprise Network and TechSoup, a service of CompuMentor. Comments and suggestions gleefully encouraged; I'd like to make this series as tight and well-crafted as I can before I pitch it to them. More pairs of eyes can only help.)
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OK, folks, bear with me here. I've had less sleep than usual, and so this is going to be a bit more stream-of-consciousness (or perhaps stream-of-conscience) than my average entry. But I promise you it'll give you some insight into the dark recesses of my brain.

Last time I talked about television and information overload. One of the patterns in my life that really disturbs me is that I tend to use the Internet as a substitute for television, and abuse it in some of the same ways that television gets abused. There's such an incredible wealth of information out here, and I can browse until my eyes are square on any given subject. But in the end, all of that information doesn't make knowledge, it doesn't mean anything unless it is turned into tangible action. All of the political blogs I've watched over this past US election season, all of the outrage and passion for democracy that I've seen -- it's no better than television if it doesn't move me, if I don't decide to get up off my bottom and do something.

The same is true of the Free Software-related activities I've been part of for lo these many years. I've been using UNIX-derived systems since 1986, and running my own since I've had hardware powerful enough to do so. My opinion of the notion that I should have to pay someone to lease a program that I can't change, copy, or even examine closely without violating some sort of "End Users' Agreement" is very much like my friend [livejournal.com profile] elenabtvs's reaction to the thought that she should actually pay directly to see a doctor -- it's nothing short of obscene. In her case, it's a matter of "isn't that what we pay our government to provide?" whereas in mine it's much more like "isn't this what programmers and scientists do -- build on each other's successes, learn from each other's mistakes, and pass the results on to the next generation?"

I have benefitted from the contributions of thousands of writers, programmers, scientists, and hooligan-nerds who came before me -- their work has enabled me to earn a living, to communicate with people far-flung across the earth, to share joy and sadness and exquisite mathematics with a group of friends who care about computers and communication and ethics and love poetry and yes, even the occasional television show.

So what can I do, to carry on this fine tradition of putting words and expression and computer programs in the hands of people who will change them, copy them, and even examine them closely?

On my business card, there is a motto: making the magical world of computers and software gentler to human beings. That's my manifesto. Whether by coding, by writing, by giving lectures and seminars and workshops, or by methods I've yet to discover (and perhaps, if I am very lucky, some methods that you suggest to me), that is what I want to do with my life: Use these slabs of silicon and waves of electrons to increase the power of love in the world.

How's that for a pipe dream? Or a life's work?
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I mentioned yesterday that I hated television with a blinding passion. It's probably worth it to go into some of the whys and wherefores of that statement, and to explain some patterns in my life about which I have some ambivalence.

First of all, bashing television has gone in and out of style over the last three decades, at least -- Harlan Ellison's Sucking the Glass Teat wasn't that long ago, was it? And what about the TV shows that have brought some of my dearest friends together, like Buffy or Firefly or, saints add preservatives to us, due South? No, my complaint is not so much the programming, although that, like anything else, obeys Sturgeon's Law with a vengeance. I mean, I don't want to burn all the bookstores down just because Ann Coulter's got a new bestseller out. My problems with television lie primarily in two areas -- one, the glorification of the short-attention-span culture, which I find both frightening and inevitable, and two, the commodification of the audience into receptive consumers for the benefit of the advertisers. Media consolidation and the stifling of political dissent enter into my misgivings as well, of course, but I see them as consequences of the two major objections above.

The television tells us, again and again, that being part of the modern world means constantly being bombarded with new information, and that speed is of the essence when dealing with this new information, because it is all vital. It encourages us to 'process' information as if we were machines designed for that purpose. But I don't feel any attraction, as a human being, to 'processing' information, any more than I have any attraction to 'processing' food. The same society that keeps us too tired to cook joyfully, to share the gathering of the daily bread with our nearest and dearest, is the one that is constantly screaming at us that we need more information, and we need the information that only the advertisers have. It isn't true, and even though we learn the cynical lesson that television programs are really there to sell us the products advertised during the commercials, we still accept the practice with no more than a passing reflection on the ways it shapes our actions and reactions.

The humanist paradox of what I call the here-and-now (roughly speaking, North America since 1945) is that although we've shown ourselves to be very good at inventing 'labour-saving' devices and exhibited a huge appetite for boundless growth, we're not any happier than we were in 1945. We produce enough food to feed the whole world, but somehow the whole world doesn't get fed. The United States is one of the wealthiest nations on the globe, and yet we can't seem to get all of our people fed, much less make a serious dent in feeding the rest of the world. But the amount of attention-grabbing material generated on behalf of huge commercial interests in the same timeframe is ... well, you can read a television schedule, right? How much of what is in that schedule is commercials? How much of it has anything to do with anything but keeping the money in the hands of the people who put on the programming? You want my primary objection to television? That's about the best face I can put on it.
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This year is going to be all about devoting time to what's important to me. But I can't do that until I determine what's wheat and what's chaff. So I expect to spend a significant amount of the winter in contemplation and meditation, asking the questions "What is really important to me?", "How does this help me live the life I want?", and all of those other horribly philosophical quandaries that sound alternately like I'm a navel-gazing yuppie or a neo-Classicist wannabe.

The thing is, the yuppie lifestyle just doesn't appeal to me. I'm terrible at being a materialist, I despise television with a passion that almost frightens me, and I don't believe in the power of unfettered capitalism to solve the world's problems. Hell, at this point, I'm not sure the world's problems can be solved.

So why all the introspection? Mainly because I'm tired of being depressed -- I've been in what feels like a hibernation-state since active development on my last real project stopped in March of 2003. The economic struggle has sapped my will in so many ways, and I'm tired of giving it that kind of power over me. So I want to rediscover my passion for things, for ideas, for people. Because I'm not going to get to do this again, at least not in this body and with these opportunities.

I expect that my contemplation will follow these general guidelines:

1. People are never chaff. Certain people may not be ideal to be entangled with, but people are never objects to be gotten rid of. I know it sounds simplistic, but it's a moral value, if you will.

2. Wealth and security are not synonymous. I'm not sure security really exists here and now, although compared to River in Baghdad, we're all pretty damned secure. I had an opportunity to work hard and neglect my family and brown-nose my way up once, and I didn't like the feel of it. Wealth in this country feels too much like keeping the boot of progress on the necks of those less fortunate.

3. Love is the most important force in my life. This has many ramifications; it also puts me seriously at odds with what seems to be the prevailing spirit of the here-and-now. Learning to say "I will not hate you, but I will not participate in this activity that I see as destructive to others and incompatible with loving my neighbour" may be the single hardest lesson of my life. Jean Chr├ętien's "We will not participate" may in fact be the most moral thing I've seen a politician do in the past decade. I expect I will be returning to this topic many times over the coming year. It raises all sorts of questions, mostly having to do with how many steps of the causal chain do I need to feel personally responsible for, and how can I make ethical choices in the midst of a society that endorses such practices as factory-farming and near-slave labour simply by its economic structure? How much of that can I bite off at once?

4. Technology has widely unacknowledged second- and third-order effects. While the widespread use of computers and the Internet has made possible at least part of Bertrand Russell's dream of unfettered communication between ordinary citizens around the world, those same computers are being used by oligarchies and economic powers to maintain their hold on the levers of power. As a technologist and a humanist, I feel I have a responsibility to benefit the little guy more than I benefit the big guys -- the big guy can get along just fine without me, but the little guy needs all the help he can get.

There, that's a good place to start. Comments welcome; I hope to refine my thoughts out here in this semi-public forum, and thoughtful criticism is always a help.
karlht: (Default)

America, who was most beloved of nations! See how she is cast down,
and rends her garments at the faithlessness of her usurpers!

Boys in uniform, her precious children, sent to kill and die in lands
far from home; who will teach them the way, show them the reflection
in the stranger's eye, instruct them in the language of Brotherhood?
Where is her mercy, her love? Twisted, perverted, made to serve that
hideous beast, Mammon.

Children perish in her streets, starving, orphaned, alone -- where is
her bounty, her endless love and generosity? Plundered, attacked,
destroyed by the usurper and his minions.

Death have they sown, and death shall they reap; see how she weeps at
their abuse of her companions, so that none dare come to her aid.

Electrodes and boxes, forever denying their kinship with the Other;
she weeps as her flesh is stained by this, her depraved guardian's

Faithless pretender! Hypocrite! Mouthing his prayers as he mocks the
Law, serving none but himself and that great Beast, the Deceiver and
False Prophet!

Greatness is in her soul, her eyes still a shining beacon to the
nations. Her fidelity is of legend; her friendship a glorious gift.
But she is despised by those most sworn to protect her, and is undone.

Heaven knows the hearts of those who transgress; nor shall they escape
punishment. Things unseen will be seen; deeds done in the darkness
shall be revealed in the light.

Israel, O Israel! Hearken to the words of the Lord your God: "THOU
SHALT NOT KILL!" The Law is the Law, and God is God!

Jerusalem, your children are suffering! Put away your swords; no more
children made motherless, fatherless, lifeless! Listen to their cries
and hear the voice of God!

Killing in the name of God is not righteousness; it is blasphemy! She
hears the lamentations of the widows, the orphans, the maimed, the
dying, and the sound will not leave her ears.

Love shines in her eyes; but he has forgotten her love, and goes to
make the war plans. She weeps to be broken and abused so, abandoned,

Mammon rules him, and cruelty, revenge and dark thoughts of
slaughter. Her love is as nothing to him, beside his dreams of glory and

None dare to resist the transgressions of wicked men, even as they
take more tribute, and fill their coffers with the blood of children.
None dare assist her, alone, her virtue vanquished and her skirts
torn. Where are her friends now?

O friends of America! Arise, resist! Deliver her from the clutches of
this Beast and his ministers! Show her your love, your fidelity,
your steadfastness! Bring her children home and care for them. Obey the
Law of the Lord your God!

Peace is denied her; her armies are broken, one by one, and her
children lament. Strife and murder mark her days; her nights are
filled with sorrow.

Quick is the poison he feeds her; he takes her blood and her treasure
and feeds her on his lies. She looks in vain for aid; her faithful
companions have deserted her, and she is surrounded by enemies.

Remember the widow, the orphan, the stranger: these you are commanded
to protect. Hear the shouts and cries of the prisoners; their
warnings are for you.

She calls out to the nations: "Help me! Deliver me before I am driven
mad by sorrow!" But their hearts are hardened; they see his actions
and call them hers. And thus he defeats her a little more each day,
the poison doing its deadly, corrosive work.

The usurper dares speak the name of the the Lord your God, but he
knows nothing, obeys nothing, believes nothing. He dismisses the Law,
sends this holy land's sons to do senseless murder, and is deaf to
their cries upon their return, beaten and battered and maimed.

Unite, and obey the Lord your God! Be not deceived by these
hypocrites, charlatans, deceivers! Obey the Law, love one another,
care for the old, the infirm, the stranger, the lost. Show your
reverence to the Lord your God in how you treat all souls.

Vision is given to him who will see; the Lord delights not in
cruelty, in mayhem, in destruction. Build your groves, care for
your flocks, look to each other and to your Lord for help and
comfort. Save this precious land from division and destruction;
embrace your neighbour as one of your own kin.

Weep for the children, of all the tribes, a thousand lives
betrayed for false piety and pride. Return, America, away
from endless war. Your children need you; they are crying and hungry.

Xenos, the stranger. Remember the Law: protect the stranger.
He is far from home and helpless; the Lord your God entrusts his
safety to you.

You are indeed His beloved children; return to the fold now,
and care for your holy land, for she is bleeding, wounded by the
usurper's poisoned dagger. The time for playing with toy swords
is past. Leave vengeance to Him who has claimed it; keep the fields
and tend to the dying.

Zealotry in obedience is full of wonders: the stranger is your
brother. You are, as Cain was, your brother's keeper.
The Lord your God has commanded you: Thou shalt not kill.

June 2015

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