VE Day.

May. 11th, 2014 10:21 am
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This week, Europe and the Americas remembers the victory of the Allied Forces over Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy which drew closed the Second World War (WWII).  Allies like the United States and the Soviet Union whom were vastly different and future advisories, but all gathered together to stop an evil not seen since Tamerlane a millennia past and hopefully never return again.

For many of our European cousins, it meant parades for the civilians and speeches for politicians, and for the few remaining men & women who served their countries, don their metals and awards to be remembered as heroes once again. It is a time of great remembrance, from the British Channel Islands to Moscow, people remember the bravery in horrific times and honor their dead.

Yet we in the United States have taken little notice of the Victory celebrations; our Grandparents and Great-Grandparents who fought the Nazi’s, came home, forgot and moved on with our lives, save only the hidden remnants of a nation waging war – like the box of mementos my Grandparents kept from the War: “A” car fuel discs, clothing coupons, milk and butter coupons. Only paper. Perhaps it is in the American psyche that we always look toward the future and never dwell on the past, just like the mementos to have their place in history.  Fotten in the Attic until some event compels us to remember.  This seems to be a recurrence of history that we forget until we are compelled to remember.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, "Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it!" From our historical learning, we have not had this lesson.  The last time a foreign army, which was the British Army and Royal Marines, march on American soil was in 1812; the last great carnage on our homeland was during the American Civil War (or the War between States) which ended over 147 years. The men and women who secured the blessings of freedom for Europe on “VE-DAY”, or "C День победы" to my Russian friends, was a result of our nation waging war – we were not a nation under occupation!

We did not see the Luftwaffe bomb New York or Los Angeles, nor SS Waffen Panzers roll across the tall grass prairie of Oklahoma or Wheat fields of Kansas; which I am thankful to a merciful God not having a family history of seeing this.

But we were the exception.

In learning about the culture of Russia, and a little from the Soviet Union era, from friends I have through LJ, I have come to appreciate something rather startling and frightening to me about what my friends call “Вели́кая Оте́чественная война́” (BOB), or The Great Patriotic War , was not just to stop Hitler’s mad-men from invasion, but it was a fight for survival!

I have not encountered a Russian or Ukrainian for whom BOB, spared any family members – Uncles & Aunts, Grandfathers and Grandmothers, or older Siblings maternal and paternal.
Some reporting several family members’ dead whom were not in uniform – but civilians for whom Hitler's’ “kick in the door, and the whole rotten structure will fall” strategy meant killing them too.

Just how many?

The total number of dead during BOB in former Soviet Union (That is Russia AND the Ukraine) is about 27 Million. To put this into perspective, that is every man, woman, and child living today in the State of Texas dead .

This alone, is cause for my American friends to give pause – and remember those who fought, and those whom perished.
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An extraordinary event happened in America three years ago, which is worth repeating today. President Barak H. Obama, the Second, presented an original copy of his Certificate of Live Birth to the Press in order to validate both his Citizenship and his legal rights under the Construction of the United States to hold the office of President. Needless to say, this has never happened before in America. But I think there is a deeper story here, far beyond the mundanely mêlées of politics, something that directly speaks to the human condition and character: WE CAN NEVER LEAVE OUR PERSONAL HISTORY IN THE PAST.

For the moment, I would like to offer a ‘side-bar’ to my f-list for clarification and enrichment.

For my friends outside of the US, this might appear both bizarre and confusing. And, you would be correct. But to put this into perspective, may I offer a little background on the reasons behind this furor. That reasoning lies within our Constitution. The Constitution of the United States of America is one of the most unique documents in all the world. Produced under extraordinary circumstances by very well reasoned men, the US Constitution remains the pre-emanate body of law Governess since 1787. Holding particular distinction as the world’s first written Constitution. This body of work sets forth the entire laws and framework for exactly how the US Legislative bodies, President & Vice-President, and Court system must operate; such as election requirements, mechanisms for removal from office, and most importantly - requirements for holding office. Specifically, under Article 2, Section 1, Clause #5, which enumerates that those aspiring to be the President must be a “naturally born” citizen (that is born within the boundaries of America and not immigrated to the USA) and over the age of 35 if they wish to hold office. Now that you have that background, the whole point of the ‘side-bar’, I would like to turn from the concrete to the abstract – from the politics of many to the introspection of the one.

By now you may have guessed that this NOT political observation, since I’ve stated this twice in the last two paragraphs and hopefully hammered this point home. No, this is an observation on the most sensitive and important subject of human existence: Our past and how we cope and/or resolve our past.

We have all had that single defining moment in our lives: The moment we decide to embark on a different path in life in order to obtain our goals and our fortunes, and turn away from our old lives. Such as the day at University we choose our major and passion in life which differs from our family business. The day we find we’d much rather be performing on stage than working in an office unlike our fathers and mothers. The day we choose our own life style and over that of our parents.

It defines us. It reshapes us. It remakes us. We are no longer the child we once were, we are the adult we have become.

Curious thing though, it does not eliminate our past.

As much as the successful city Lawyer practices her urbane lifestyle, you still hear occasional slips in the vowels which betrays her humble farmer’s rearing. Or the boy from the city whose parents scripted and saved to send him to good schools and university, though try as he may to hide his hard edge among the easy-going farmers of his new community, it slips between the façade of his new image.

And when our past comes to light in the present, as it does to us all, we are faced with three options: Disguise or dismiss our past, highlight certain parts of our past for the benefit of those around us, or come to terms with our past and acknowledge them, in whole and un-edited, to the world – for better or worse and receive the sanctions from your admission.

I have found the first two options do not work very well. To disguise your past, even for the most noblest of reasons can be viewed by your friends as dishonesty whom are left sense of betrayal or question your integrity. At worst, a weapon welded by your advisories to bludgeon you for being a poseur. And to simply dismiss the question of your past life may lead to more aggressive questions of character, which leaves you in an uncomfortable position.

Likewise, highlighting parts of your past can leave people with a specific one-dimensional impression, and when that impression is challenged and found in error or that you are, like the rest of humanity, a multi-dimensional person; which castigates to the world that are not the same person you make yourself out to be. Again, leaving a sense of betrayal or question your integrity.

The final option requires the person both forgiving of themselves and willing to accept the sanctions (which is both reward and punishments) for embracing their past and candidly – unvarnished- telling of their past.

I suspect, not as a political commentary but as to empathic response, that Mr. Obama has experienced sanctions from all three choices. From Barry Obama, the well traveled and bright Boy who suddenly finding himself in humble, single family, circumstances; to Barak H. Obama, Esquire - The Urbane Lawyer and Politician, rising to acceptance into University and Law School into prominence.

The only factor which differs from you and I is the fact Mr. Obama cannot simply use the cloak of anonymity and become just another face in the crowd. No, his decisions yielded quite public responses: Sometimes dismissive or careful to disclose his past; sometimes presenting only a portion of his past to show relativity to an audience; to ultimately disclosing his Certificate of Live Birth to the press to justify his past and lawful authority.

All three choices were played out for the world to see and to render judgment - leaving his allies bewildered and his advisories well tooled. Not a warning to follow suite, but a lesson to be divined by using Mr. Obama’s favorite axiom, “A Teachable Moment”. I hope it was a lessoned learned.

In the end could we say as humans, we followed the same choices and rendered the same decision? And herein is the question: How do you choose to disclose your past?
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There is a dichotomy each November and December, between how half the world celebrates holidays that are sacred to all sects of Christianity, Jews, and secularists; that is to either feast wildly before the 25th of December or with sobriety fast until the New Year and / or the 6th of January.

We in the “west”, that is to say for those whose tradition’s stems in Europe from the influence of the Catholic Church, is a time of excess of food, sweets, and drink of all kinds and varieties. A time of wild feasting and parties for days and often before December 25; and a time to give lots of foods to the needy for one day for our benefit to feel a sense of charity.
We are taught that Santa Claus (Père Noel, Father Christmas, or Saint Nicholas – with or without his helpers like Schwarzer Peter or Zwart Petrus) visits every child on the whole world in one night. And so we shower gifts on people, from loved ones to those we tolerate; and generally in excess leading on to that one day.
Even the Jews are not immune to this phenomenon, particularly in America since the counsel of Rabbi’s in 1896 decided that Chanukah should deserve as equal celebratorial footing as Christmas. And so, the menorah is lit for 8 days with prayer and reflection; seven days of small gifts, family celebrations, and gatherings at the synagogue with one day of great gifts!
Lastly, one may think of secularists not wishing any celebrations considering them philosophically and financially incongruent. Yet I hear and read of gatherings on the 25 of December for secularists to celebrate the human mind – with feasting and gift giving.

In contrast of those in the “east”, that is to say for those whose tradition’s stems in Europe from the influence of the Orthodox Church, it is quite the opposed. Yes, Father Frost with his relatives (like the snow-girl, his grand-daughter) takes a slower circuitous route to visit children, but until this time there is no feasting; only fasting. No wild drinks, but water, tea, or coffee. It is a time of reflection and of gratitude for what a person possess in their lives. Some have argued that this tradition was caused by 70 years of communist rule; and some believe that this was the way for a thousand years before and will be for a thousand years in the future.
But, when Father Frost does arrive – in Bosnia, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine, ect. – on New Year’s eve, it is more precious; the ending of the old and the beginning of the new with strength of spirit in joyous celebration. Then on to Armenia, Greece, Turkey, ect. – on the 6th of January with the same spirit and celebrations.
To the Jews of the east, it is a minor celebration with some interesting food and small gifts.

As I enter this time of feast or fast, I am filled with questions. They are not as to why both traditions exist, but why such extremes in both? And more over, what can we learn from both “western” and “eastern” traditions? Neither answer seems forthcoming.

Therefore I shall have my Turkish coffee and biscotti, which was a gift, and contemplate more.
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One of the most amusing books sits on my Library bookshelf called “The Sovereign Individual” by Lord William Rees-Mogg and Dale James Davidson. A gift from a friend who is an Über techie, and total disciple of Lord Rees-Mogg's theories.
The premise of his Lordship’s work was that the Internet, with its millions of global users-companies-and Servers could evolve into a collective of independent individuals who are not bound by Terrestrial borders; but gather willingly into a virtual Nation-State. While still retaining their individuality separate from any Nation-State and reap profits from such independence. But that is not why I read it occasionally this charming volume, nor why I am amused with his Lordship’s work.

I read it for what was missed in the equation of independence with the internet, transmitting thoughts and ideas at a faster rate than ever in the history of the planet Earth, nor for his normally brilliant financial insight.
Lord Rees-Mogg was astounding in predicting financial trends for investors. Nearly 90% of his predictions were highly accurate and highly profitable on the FTS Exchange. Since the Internet had taken the financial world by storm and there was an obscene amount of profits to be made, everyone in Great Britain (UK) and in the financial districts of New York, Frankfort, and Hong Kong, waited with anticipation for Lord Rees-Mogg’s take on the Internet in 1997.
He makes the compelling argument that, in theory, would work well. However, I believe his Lordship failed to grasp one very important fact: Those millions of individuals and companies around the planet Earth are bound to terrestrial based machines, the Servers, located in many Nation-States. And those Severs' physical location fall under the direct jurisdiction of that particular Nation-States, who by their will or by their Laws command the terms of which traffic will flow in-to and out-of these marvelous machines.

This is and has always been the case since the evolution of the Internet. We as citizens of the world occasionally fail to grasp this stark and blunt fact: That the information we send is not an entitlement or right, it is at the pleasure and suffrage of any Nation-State.

Information that can be, at its mildest and slightly uncomfortable for the individual, intercepted and disseminated by a Nation-State such as the USA or the UK. Or, at its worst, dire, and decidedly uncomfortable condition, traffic stopped completely; such as in Egypt during its Arab Spring uprising.

Sometimes, even the middle ground is cause of concern. Such as the deliberate censoring of IP addresses like the People’s Republic of China or Iran. Which we, as citizens of the world, may cry foul play but have little recourse outside their jurisdiction.
And then, you have the case recently of LiveJournal and their Sprint and Verizon servers’ under a Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in Russia. This wildly circulated editorial piece flowing through the pages of LiveJournal in the Moscow Times sets out the argument that the Russian Government used zombie machines in South America to disable both companies IP severs which directly carry the LiveJournal internet feed. This to coincide with Mr. Putin’s campaign on the Internet, chats with Youth Political organizations, and general hard-ball antics of any Politician.

The editorial is either a very elaborate conspiracy theory or excellent editorial, couched within very astute investigative reporting, by the Moscow Times. I note that IP traffic continued for Twitter, Facebook, and other Russian social network sites. And there was a collect cry of outrage from users around the world due to effects of a Major IP routers inability to carry the LiveJournal traffic! This included many my friends and colleagues who were simply turned off and cut off from communicating.

So why LiveJournal? Because, the Severs which serve LiveJournal are based within the territorial boundaries of the Russian Federation. And we, as sovereign individuals, must come to the stark realization that the illusion of individual sovereignty is subjective to the Nation-State’s suffrage; in this case, the will and Law of the Russian Government.

In short, because they can.

And at times like these, I like to read “The Sovereign Individual” again, just to remind myself of how wrong we as individuals can be about the internet: How even the most brilliant of minds can make a mistake. How obscene fortunes turned to ugly losses, how London, New York, Frankfort, and Hong Kong all suffered for years; and how we, as sovereign individuals, can be grossly mistaken into thinking the internet is without boundaries. Just ask the LiveJournal users.
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