Thursday, December 31, 2009

3 men who made a difference to me in 2009

If I live my life differently from this general time onward, the credit should be shared with three men whom I encountered for the first time in 2009, one in person and two via their writings and podcasts.

Barry McGuire is the one I met in person, and technically I "encountered" him for the first time years ago, but it was meeting him that turned my mind and life around. His tale of teetering on the eve of destruction and finding his way to a new place is inspiring; he's the one who pointed me toward the book The Sacrament of the Present Moment; and listening to and speaking with him ignited a creative spark whose fruits I will be sharing with the rest of the world in 2010 and beyond.

Dan Miller is the author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, a terrific guide to discovering the job/work you want to do and how to go about getting it.

Dave Ramsey is the author of Financial Peace and The Total Money Makeover and host of a daily radio program that is condensed into a podcast five days a week. I think I understood his principles years ago, but he made me finally pay attention. Or perhaps I was finally ready to act on the principle that debt is dumb.

I heartily recommend all three men's body of work to anyone and everyone. To the extent that my body of work is more focused and productive in 2010, I owe it to their influence.

Happy New Year, all!


Monday, December 21, 2009

Roddenberry wins?

Gene Roddenberry in Star Trek envisioned a world with no money and an Earth government that worked in harmony with alien races from other planets.

No sign of the alien races yet, but there's lots of talk these days about that Earth government.

Before you get too carried away being afraid of the one-world government, remember: There's always someone who wants you to be scared. Don't be. Figure out what their agenda is, avoid it and go live your life in peace.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What if they gave a blockbuster
and nobody came?

Man, I want to be jazzed about Avatar, the big new multimillion-dollar epic written and directed by James Cameron.

Now, James Cameron has done some mighty incredible work in his lifetime. Blew me away with Terminator and Terminator 2. Great, great flicks. I was surprised to see him try to do a sequel to Alien, which didn't need a sequel, but darned if the thing wasn't bigger and better in some ways to the Ridley Scott original.

True Lies was a pleasant surprise, a delightful romp, and The Abyss simply blew me away. Both versions of it. I'm probably the only guy on the planet who thinks The Abyss was Cameron's finest hour, but there ya have it. (In fact, I think the reason I was so disappointed by Know1ng is that it was basically the same story as The Abyss, only above the surface and not as well done. Oh, maybe it's more like The Abyss meets Cocoon, but the point is both source materials were a helluva lot better.)

So if those were the James Cameron canon, I would be in line NOW to see Avatar when it debuts at the local theater on Friday. But there's one other little notation in Cameron's filmography, and that's why I am just not jazzed about the new flick.

It's this gawd-awful thing called Titanic. Man, I wanted to be jazzed about Titanic, it's such a great real-life story, a modern epic of hubris completely humiliated. The supposedly invincible ship that can't even finish its maiden voyage. An enormous human tragedy, so many dreams dashed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But instead Cameron spent oodles of money to deliver an unbelievably trite story about two unpleasant characters who fall in love despite the machinations of her unpleasant mother and unspeakably clichéd rich-guy fiancé, a boring tale that takes half of a three-hour movie — 75 minutes in I was fidgeting in my seat wondering where the frack is the damn iceberg?! — the terrible CGI effects, I didn't for a minute believe I was watching anything except a computer illustration or a giant movie set, and last but not least the old lady has the multimillion-dollar gem that could help the struggling explorer pay his bills AND SHE THROWS THE DAMN THING INTO THE OCEAN! WITH A BIG SMILE ON HER FACE!

As great as every James Cameron film was that came before Titanic, that's how bloody terrible Titanic was. It was the worst time I have ever had in a movie theater. Absolutely the worst, and that includes the time I wasted watching the jaw-droppingly bad First Family, the biggest waste of a brilliant cast ever captured on celluloid.

Now, of course, Titanic is by far the biggest-grossing film of all time. And therein lies the dilemma. Was Avatar made by the feisty and creative genius who made all of those terrific movies in the 1980s and early '90s, or will it be as bloated and overrated as Titanic? The money's on Cameron following the money, trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice. But I'm afraid he will find you can't go home again, no matter which direction he tried to go.

So I'm going to sit this one out, folks. Tell me if Avatar is any good, if you decide to go. Maybe if I hear enough "I didn't expect to love it, but it's incredible I tell ya, incredible" then I'll check it out. If it's still in theaters by then.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Messages from God

Last summer I wrote:
When you set your mind on a vision that fires up your dreams, it's as if the forces of the universe align to make it happen. Try not to think too hard about why that's true, but understand it is true. Maybe it's simply that people sense your enthusiasm and are drawn to help. Maybe it's that catching the fire of your inner passion generates an energy that makes you do what's necessary. Maybe it's God; yep, that's how I envision it, but if you have issues with the idea of supernatural power, don't dwell on it. The important thing is overcoming the illusion that you might fail.
Last month I wrote:
Refuse To Be Afraid, a book based on the themes of this blog, and The Imaginary Revolution, a novel that embraces the Zero Aggression Principle as its theme, are the creations that will scream "This is what I believe. This is how I try to live my life." As such, I have embued them with too much significance; I have been reluctant to pull them together, for the same primal fear we all share: What if we were to say "This is true and important," and the vast mass of folks out there sniffed at it and said, "No, it's not. You're a lunatic. Worse: You're irrelevant."

Maybe I am. But you know, books that are never published touch no one. So I plow ahead.
Sunday, my pastor preached on the theme "refuse to be afraid." This morning, I find on Sunni's blog a dialogue that contains insights into the themes I'm exploring with The Imaginary Revolution. The conversation spins from a beautiful insight from Bill St. Clair.

The forces of the universe aligning to assist my work and encourage me? Messages from God to help me now that I'm on the right track?

Who cares? I am grateful for the insights and plow ahead.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Still here

Still thinkin' - still planning - still working - still here.

It's just not "soup" yet.

Pardon the radio silence - more to come soon. No, really!

2010 will be intriguing.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Beat the fear

When the fear paralyzes you, the important question to ask is "What am I really afraid of?"

In other words, what's the worst-case scenario?

You could fail. You could go broke. You could lose the job, the house, all your stuff. You could die.

Two things you need to realize. First, your worst fears probably won't materialize. Second, even if they do you'll be OK. Well, if you die maybe not. But you probably will not die, at least not from this.

Throttle your fear. Refuse to be afraid and unleash the power of your dreams.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Re: The course of human events

Every so often I scan the Declaration of Independence to see how we're doing about avoiding a repeat of the "repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states" that led our forebears to cut the chains forged by King George III.

I have to say we seem to be locked in not-knowing-history-doomed-to-repeat-it mode.

Check this one out:

"He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance."

Is that our modern federal government in a nutshell or what?

Among the truths those folks found to be self-evident was: "That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

The bad news here? I really get the feeling that that's exactly what happened: People exercised their right to alter or abolish their constitutional government, and they instituted new government, organizing its powers in such form as to them seemed most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

They just overlooked essentials like principles and, of course, independence.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

On to Afghanistan

Still listening to: "Won't Get Fooled Again," The Who

In his farewell address to the nation Jan. 17, 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower warned:
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Assuming these next words are correctly attributed, I think Benjamin Franklin said it more succinctly:
They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.
The beauty of the military-industrial scam is the way the thought has been mashed so that giving up essential liberty ("temporarily," "until this crisis has passed," mind you) becomes a requirement for security (there's always a crisis at hand, isn't there?) — or, as Mr. Orwell phrased our modern state's philosophy so well:
War is peace.

Freedom is slavery.

Ignorance is strength.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Text of President Obama's speech tonight

Listening to: "Won't Get Fooled Again," The Who

A wag on Facebook declares that Tuesday night's presidential speech regarding the troop buildup in Afghanistan has been leaked. A sampling:

We fight because we must fight if we are to live in a world where every country can shape its own destiny. And only in such a world will our own freedom be finally secure.

This kind of world will never be built by bombs or bullets. Yet the infirmities of man are such that force must often precede reason, and the waste of war, the works of peace.

We wish that this were not so. But we must deal with the world as it is, if it is ever to be as we wish ...

We hope that peace will come swiftly. But that is in the hands of others besides ourselves. And we must be prepared for a long continued conflict. It will require patience as well as bravery, the will to endure as well as the will to resist.

I wish it were possible to convince others with words of what we now find it necessary to say with guns and planes: Armed hostility is futile. Our resources are equal to any challenge. Because we fight for values and we fight for principles, rather than territory or colonies, our patience and our determination are unending.

Once this is clear, then it should also be clear that the only path for reasonable men is the path of peaceful settlement ...

We will do this because our own security is at stake.

But there is more to it than that. For our generation has a dream. It is a very old dream. But we have the power and now we have the opportunity to make that dream come true.

For centuries nations have struggled among each other. But we dream of a world where disputes are settled by law and reason. And we will try to make it so.

For most of history men have hated and killed one another in battle. But we dream of an end to war. And we will try to make it so.

For all existence most men have lived in poverty, threatened by hunger. But we dream of a world where all are fed and charged with hope. And we will help to make it so.

Read the whole thing and weep.

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