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Indoctrination or: Education’s Failure

“It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.” -Henry David Thoreau

In my time amid the hustle and bustle of the Internet and in the company of people from any number of backgrounds, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: very few have the faintest clue what they truly believe, much less why they even believe it. It’s not so much that they’ve been avoiding understanding, but rather for centuries our culture has encouraged so many of us to lead insular lives. Traditionally, we surround ourselves with like-minded peers who simply create an echo chamber for our ideas, thus cutting off any need for the necessary critical discussion that brings about understanding.

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On Conversational Courtesy

We should not be defined by our occupations. I am more than just a student. Sparky is more than just an electrician. Joe is more than just a plumber. (See what I did there?) Our occupation is often a point of stress, a matter of drudgery, something we dread returning to every Monday. What possible rationale, then, is there to direct nearly every conversation toward such a topic? This has become a particular annoyance for me as a student. Virtually every time someone engages me in conversation, it begins with or quickly shifts toward inquiries about school. I’m not talking about new people each time, either. Why? Every time you saw someone, you wouldn’t ask them about the job they dislike, the mortgage in which they are falling behind in payments, the life goals from which they’ve turned away. Doing so would only spike their distress, remind them of their troubles. So why repeatedly focus on a stress point like occupation? Talk to me about computers, technology, music, philosophy, politics, science, American history, literature, photography, home repair, carpentry, wine, cooking, and the list goes on – I have many flames of interest, try engaging me about one. I am more than just a student.

Perpetual War

A drowning, pestilential rodent flailing about, dying in its own diseased filth, desperate for escape. That’s the image that has repeatedly come to my mind for the past few months. This administration has been caught with its pants down numerous times, and its sniveling supporters on both sides of the aisle have been outed. Those few who still respect their oath to the Constitution have turned against the dying hive (at least, publicly), and the administration is losing control.

What card could be played to take back the reins? History provides a clear answer: war. War is the easiest way to silence dissent and centralize power. How to sweeten the pot? A “humanitarian” war in the Middle East. There’s nothing modern liberals love more than a supposedly humanitarian cause, and neocons can spin any military action in the Middle East into the defense of Israel to satisfy their evangelical base. And both sides have been biting at the bits for years seeking a justification for interventionist military aggression somewhere, anywhere. Like magic, there’s bipartisan support.

The concept of blowback cannot be ignored for much longer. How much hatred for America must we instill in the world, how much American blood must be wasted policing the world, intervening in matters that are not our concern, bankrupting ourselves before the collectivists will be satisfied? They’ll never be satisfied, of course, because that’s part of the collectivist creed: sacrifice of all for others. I refuse.

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Hackintosh

After five years I have finally reached the point where I can no longer coax my MacBook Pro into handling the tasks I find myself now asking of it. Lightroom, Photoshop, video editing, and increased streaming are now simply too much for an old Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and integrated graphics. So, the quest for my newest toy began. Little surprise, budget was my primary concern. I first looked into the new retina MacBook Pros, but my needed specs brought it in the realm of $2500. Not going to happen. I then considered that my laptop was already acting solely as a desktop machine anyway, so I looked into an iMac. Unfortunately, the iMacs have taken the same route as the MacBook Pros with soldered RAM and more difficult upgrades. Again, not going to happen. All that was left was the Mac Pro, and I can’t begin to touch that price point.

After some research I was reminded of the hackintosh concept. I had found my solution! A couple months of component research later and with the help of the guides at tonymacx86, I arrived at this build:

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP5 TH ATX LGA1155 Motherboard
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Storage: Sandisk Extreme 240GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card
Wireless Network Adapter: TP-Link TL-WDN4800 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter
Case: Corsair 500R White ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer
Monitor: Asus VS239H-P 23.0″ Monitor
Keyboard: Logitech Solar Keyboard K750 for Mac Wireless Slim Keyboard
Mouse: Logitech Performance Wireless Laser Mouse

About half of my components have already arrived and I’ll be ordering the rest this week. I feel like a kid at Christmas! Now I just have to sit down and read up on the actual build. It’s been quite a while since I last tinkered inside a computer—much less built one from scratch!—so this should be fun.

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Reflections on DC

It’s been roughly half a decade since my last tour with a choir, and this year my return to the grand adventure was set in the area of our nation’s capital. Over the course of two days, we spent about six hours roaming the city on free time. I was very happy to finally mark a couple spots in Washington off my list of places to see, but at the same time I couldn’t help but take serious notice of the monster surrounding me. I truly do not wish to become one of those who politicize every aspect of life, but the message and atmosphere in DC is so overwhelming it cannot simply be ignored. I came away from Washington not with a sense of awe or pride in our nation, but rather with great sadness.

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NCSU Choirs Spring Concert

On Friday, 5 April at 7:00pm, the State Chorale, Vox Accalia (NCSU’s women’s choir), and Singing Statesmen (NCSU’s men’s choir) will host their annual spring concert at Holy Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Raleigh, NC.

Each choral group will be presenting the best of the music they have rehearsed this semester. The State Chorale (my group) will sing:

“Salmo 150” – Ernani Aguiar

“Justorum animae” – Charles Villiers Stanford

“An Die Heimat” – Johannes Brahms

“O Adonai” – Roderick Williams

Three Shakespeare Songs – Matthew Harris

“Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind”

“And Will A’ Not Come Again”

“When Daffodils Begin to Peer”

“Am I Born to Die?” – Trad. Appalachian, arr. Dwight Bigler

“Turkey in the Straw” – Trad. Appalachian, arr. Dwight Bigler

“We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace” – Trad. Spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan

“John the Revelator” – Trad. Gospel Blues, arr. Caldwell/Ivory

I have been honored with the Celebrant solo in Roderick Williams’ Advent antiphon, “O Adonai,” likely placing me alone in the front of the church. I don’t even like being in the front row of the choir, so here’s to stressful adventures!

This concert is open to the public.

Tickets (also available at the door, cash or check only):
$10 Public
$8 Senior Citizens, Students, NCSU Faculty & Staff
$5 NCSU Students
(Children under 12 free with ticketed adult.)

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Community Choral Celebration

On Tuesday, 26 February at 7:00pm, the State Chorale will provide the finale to the Community Choral Celebration at Edenton Street UMC in downtown Raleigh.

Following several high school choirs, we will close the concert with Charles Villiers Stanford’s “Justorum animae” and three of Matthew Harris’ Shakespeare Songs: “Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind,” “And Will A’ Not Come Again?,” and “When Daffodils Begin to Peer.”

This concert is free and open to the public.

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Vox Clamantis In Deserto

[quote style=”4″ author=”-Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead“]He was addressing everyone. He was addressing no one. He felt no answer, not even the echo of his own words striking against the membrane of an eardrum. His words were falling down a well, hitting stone salients on their way, and each salient refused to stop them, threw them farther, tossed them from one another, sent them to seek a bottom that did not exist.[/quote]

My friends, today I offer you an apology. I have become one of the very people from whom I myself turn away. I recently realized that I now post or comment on little except items related to politics. No sane person wishes to be bombarded with endless proselytizing, especially not from someone who is still finding his way in the world. Were I on your end, I would likely have turned myself off by now, just as I have done with others for the same reasons. I hope you will permit me an explanation and a promise for the future.

Over the past few years I have found my philosophy dramatically changed, leaving little of the naïve character of my high school days. In some ways, this revolution came so smoothly as to go unrecognized even by myself, while other aspects were forced into change by conflict. In the end, though, what I found was that my guiding principles and beliefs were now largely at odds with nearly every person I knew. I was uncomfortable. I was afraid. Had I come to the right conclusions? Could I be following yet another dead-end path, just as before? Despite my fear, all of my reason and all of my heart reassured me—and continue to—that this was the way. Indeed, I had found a peace I had never known before, a confidence and a sure foundation necessary for building a life.

But, as always, there’s a second side. As I said, the core of my philosophy was now in near constant conflict with those around me and even more so with a large portion of our society. Undoubtedly to the despair of some, I have also become increasingly vocal since my days as an acquiescent schoolboy. In the realm of politics this characteristic fits well, as long as you’re one who somehow still sees a two-sided coin. In this tunneled setup all you have to do is argue back and forth with the other side. I am not one of those people. I can only see a coin with two heads, each spouting with forked tongue it’s own take on the same evil. With every discussion I must enter the fray with sword and shield, battling one misguided side while I fend off the other. Now, in the wake of recent events and a tyranny that seems to neither acknowledge any bounds nor owe allegiance to any oath, I grow tired.

I’m furious, I’m bitter, and I’m weary. The joy and hope I found in my new worldview that took over my old life has been usurped by a deep cynicism and anger. As the siren draws the sailor, I can’t rest for hearing or reading something that enrages me to comment or argue. And as with the sailor, I foresee my doom by the hand of this siren if I am unable to change my course.

There is certainly just cause for my anger: I’m forced to stand by and watch as my liberty and my future are obliterated by the very system intended to protect them. How can I possibly stand by in silence? But there was a time not long ago when I reveled in the works of Thoreau and the like, dreaming of hiking part of the Appalachian Trail, to “live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life and not when I had come to die discover that I had not lived.” Today I find myself in constant conflict, unable to simply live. I’m hoarse from yelling at insufferable, ignorant “news” reporters. My keyboard is worn from diatribes against politicians and their moral bankruptcy. I want to return to dreaming again, and just enjoy life.

You’re not fortunate enough for me to go completely dark on politics, though. Particularly egregious items will still draw my venom, but I sincerely hope they will be few and far between (honestly, I’m not holding my breath on that one, though). I want to return to sharing the things I love: music, photos, technology, etc.

I hope you will continue with me in this renewed direction and maybe even help keep me accountable. Thank you, truly, for sticking with me these past months. I hope I may once again earn your friendship and your loyalty.

Google+

Hello all! You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting here often. Thanks to time constraints and for convenience I’ve been posting almost exclusively to Google+. I still try to post big items here, but for more frequent updates I invite you to find and circle me on Google+.

What If…

“What if our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and has not served our national security interests?

“What if we wake up one day and realize that the terrorist threat is the predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others, and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous?

“What if propping up repressive regimes in the Middle East endangers both the United States and Israel?

“What if occupying countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and bombing Pakistan, is directly related to the hatred directed toward us?

“What if someday it dawns on us that losing over 5,000 American military personnel in the Middle East since 9/11 is not a fair tradeoff for the loss of nearly 3,000 American citizens no matter how many Iraqi, Pakistani, or Afghan people are killed or displaced?

“What if we finally decide that torture, even if called “enhanced interrogation technique,” is self-destructive and produces no useful information, and that contracting it out to a third world nation is just as evil?

“What if it is finally realized that war and military spending is always destructive to the economy?

“What if all wartime spending is paid for through the deceitful and evil process of inflating and borrowing?

“What if we finally see that wartime conditions always undermine personal liberty?

“What if Conservatives who preach small government wake up and realize that our interventionist foreign policy provides the greatest incentive to expand the government?

“What if Conservatives understood once again that their only logical position is to reject military intervention and managing an empire throughout the world?

“What if the American people woke up and understood that the official reasons for going to war are almost always based on lies and promoted by war propaganda in order to serve special interests?

“What if we as a nation came to realize that the quest for empire eventually destroys all great nations?

“What if Obama has no intention of leaving Iraq?

“What if a military draft is being planned for the wars that would spread if our foreign policy is not changed?

“What if the American people learned the truth: that our foreign policy has nothing to do with national security, that it never changes from one administration to the next?

“What if war and preparation for war is a racket serving the special interests?

“What if President Obama is completely wrong about Afghanistan and it turns out worse than Iraq and Vietnam put together?

“What if Christianity actually teaches peace and not preventive wars of aggression?

“What if diplomacy is found to be superior to bombs and bribes in protecting America?

“What happens if my concerns are completely unfounded? Nothing.

“But what happens if my concerns are justified and ignored? Nothing good.”

-Ron Paul (2/13/2009)