There are those who say war is never the answer. Strictly speaking, this is not true; sometimes war is the only answer we have left. It’s just that war is the type of answer that only seems to raise more questions.
I visited Queen’s River Preserve in Exeter, Rhode Island in August 2020. It was nice, but nothing too special. There were pines, rhododendron, and sweet fern. In several places, the trails continue onto private property. Existence is forbidden there. The highlight of the trip was when I startled a huge garter snake. On my way back to the car, it started raining. That is all.
2020 was a strange year. I hardly wrote or travelled, but I did spend a lot of time on YouTube and stumbled across some relatively unknown musical talent (at least in the US). One artist led to others showing up in my recommendations until I had listened to them all. Below are the top thirteen in ascending order of rating.
Faun: While I would never say any of their songs are among my favorites, there is a certain fairy-elf atmosphere to the sounds that would make them great movie background music. The video for Walpurgisnacht makes this clear. The language is German.
Gealdyr: Borrowing from Nordic and Celtic culture, Gealdyr sings mostly repetitive simple songs about nature, life, and death. It makes good background music. I like Kauna and Deyr Fe. The language is old Norse.
Sabine Hossenfelder: Theoretical physicist and professional pessimist of the direction science by day, Sabine has put together some decent lyrics and simple beats. The videos are clearly homemade, but the sound to my untrained ear is as good as anything else. I especially like When They Ask Us, This Is How I Pray, Theories Of Everything, and Ivory Tower. The language is (usually) English.
Isla Vista: This group sings of God and his love in a style reminiscent of Sam Smith or Marvin Gaye. Captured is a good example of this. The language is English.
Beabadoobee: Soft, sweet, quiet, cute, and pensive, Beabadoobee sings of ordinary things and extraordinary love. I like Coffee the most. Also good are Dance With Me, 1999, Ceilings, Everest, Art Class, and The Way I Spoke. The language is English.
Erutan: Erutan sings songs inspired by fairy tales and stuff. Tarts and The Willow Maid are good. The language is English.
The Hu: No, they aren’t The Who, but they are at least as good. Blending Mongolian throat singing with modern rock, they sing of the glory days of the Mongolian Empire. Yuve Yuve Yu, Wolf Totem, and Shoog Shoog are good songs. The language is (usually) Mongolian (of course).
Ella Roberts: Ella sings traditional folk songs from Ireland and Scotland. Her version of The Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond is amazing. The language is Scottish English.
Kati Ran: Her other songs don’t touch me much, but Suurin is a full-blast power song that can make anybody feel capable of anything – and I thought that even before I saw the translated lyrics. The end sounds like someone running for their lives. The video is awesome too. I never get tired of it. The language is Finnish.
Blackbriar: An excellent example of female-led metal, I really like I’d Rather Burn and Beautiful Delirium. Arms of The Ocean, Until Eternity, and Ready To Kill are okay too. The band is Dutch, but the language is English.
Rachel Rose Mitchell: Singing along to what can only be described as symphonic rock, Rachel sings songs powerful, sad, or sometimes a bit creepy. I really like Alice, which somehow makes me think of a character who has defeated every enemy in every battle and yet still lost things most people will never understand. I also really like Thorns, Something You Don’t Know, Carnival, The Ticketman, Lantern In The Night, Wither, River Run Red, Farewell Song, Glow In The Dark, The Hollow, Everything You Want, and Collateral. Just listen to the entire playlist. The language is English.
Oonagh: German pop sensation Oonagh is best known for her catchy songs inspired by Lord of The Rings, such as Orome, Eldamar, Silmaril, Numenor, Tolo Nan, Arien, Ainulindale, Yalume, and Gaa. The verses are in German, but the choruses are often in Tolkien Elvish. Even the videos are works of art and Oonagh’s bubbly personality and natural good looks put the frosting on the cake. She also sings many other good songs, such as Eine Neue Zeit and Zauberwald, and has even collaborated with Celtic Woman to create the fairy magic that is Tir Na Nog. The woman is the best thing to come out of Germany since Albert Einstein and puts even The Beatles to shame – and yet she’s still second on this list…
Eivor Palsdottr: Sometimes creepy, sometimes lovely, sometimes nostalgic, her music sometimes reminding me of Paul Simon, Ringo Star, or a James Bond intro, Eivor’s voice is always beautiful. Common themes include the ocean and lost love. My favorite songs include Surrender, Into The Mist, Rain, Far Away, True Love, Undo Your Mind, Green Garden, Let It Come, and I know. Most of her work has English and Faeroese versions. One song in which I think I actually prefer the Faeroese is Mjorkaflokar – not that there is an English version. Why isn’t she more popular?
What a great year!
Contrary to its name, Providence Coal-Fired Pizza is not in Providence. It is in East Greenwich. I visited in February of 2020 just in time for lunch.
Also contrary to its name, they don’t have pizza – or at least not pizza I’m used to. These are not your usual standby pizzas with tomatoe sauce and cheese, such as pepperoni or sausage, these are crazy pizzas made with steak, spinach, and vinaigrette dressing. I ordered one of these with extra mushrooms. It was very good.
One way they could improve is not to make the crusts so thin. Mine had soggy spots that broke open, spilling my mushrooms everywhere. I had to eat it with a fork – and anything eaten with a fork can’t possibly be pizza.
I also never saw any coal.
In 2010, I started a blog called The Understanding Project. I tried to promote productive conversations between those of different political ideologies by educating my readers about what people actually want instead of what their opponents accuse them of wanting. After three years, I had never been so frustrated with anything in my life. I gave up on politics to focus on writing, art, and forest rambles.
Now I’m bringing the blog back, but there will be some changes. I used to ask questions and invite people to educate me. It didn’t work. I’m no longer going to waste my time in conversation. The blog is now nothing more than a resource on using critical thinking to cut through news media BS.
I have no reason to think that I will convince anybody of anything, but something desperately needs to be done and I have no reason to think that violent retaliation or sacrificial love or any other tactic will work either. All options are on the table.
I’m speaking out in faith. If I were to win by destroying my enemies, I would still have lost because that’s not the type of world I want to live in. Only by convincing others with force of logic do I truly win. I have to try.
Points to ponder:
“To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture.” – Thomas Paine
“Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again.’” – John 11:25
“Don’t be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself.” – Philippians 1:28
“The Lord replied, ‘If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak words that are worthy, you will be my spokesman. You are to influence them; do not let them influence you!’” – Jeremiah 15:19
Dan’s Law of Psychology: For every scientific study establishing the existence of a psychological phenomenon, there is an equal and opposite study refuting it.
I visited The Bike Stop Café in Narragansett, Rhode Island with my sisters in late December 2019. It is less of a café and more of a pizza shop. The stone oven is right near the door and you can watch them make the pizzas. We shared a chicken pizza that was very good. The walls are adorned with bicycles. I have no idea why. Every table is stocked with ten or more types of hot sauce from every company imaginable. There is also a bookshelf in the corner stocked with more. When I placed an almost invisible amount of a carrot-habanero-based sauce on my finger for tasting, I almost died. So, I put it on my French fries next.
My webhost is killing me. They have changed the way that photos are stored such that photos with the same names might replace each other – even if located in different elements on different pages on different websites. Oddly, it seems to have caused a cascade effect wherein photos with different names are also affected. Because of the way my phone and computer interface, very many of my photos have the same names and there was never a reason to change them before because I keep a separate folder for each post. I’m still getting a handle on how big of a problem it is, but it looks like I might have to reupload everything since 2018. In the meantime, expect the pictures to make absolutely no sense.
A lot happened in 2020. There was a virus, lockdowns, riots, political strife, massive corruption, news media coverups, and election fraud. People are frightened over the future. Many are totally hopeless. There are those that place their hope in the idea that the corruption is so clear now that surely the citizenry will wake up and fix it. Though there is some evidence of this, I am skeptical. Every time there is some scandal in the news, pundits say that this will finally be the issue that turns things around, but it never happens. Stupid people never learn. This has been going on my entire life.
Of course, I have been wrong before. Things could get better. We might be on the cusp of a new golden age. In situations like this, it helps to look for reasons to have hope. It helps to look for improvements if they do come. Not only is this important for our emotional health, but it gives us issues to focus our efforts on and thus create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Here is what to look for:
Though the coronavirus was very mild, the next virus might not be. Because of 2020, we will be ready for it. People will finally wash their hands as they should have been all along. Employers will be less likely to insist sick employees come to work. This sounds good.
The lockdowns should have made everyone understand the terror of loneliness such that they begin to do something about it in a way they never have before. People will reach out to those on the margins instead of ignoring them or blaming them for their problems as they have been doing.
The squabble that ensued over the decision to close the borders and the way the Democrats had to reverse their positions so dramatically in less than two weeks should have eroded any credibility they might have still had and ended the debate once and for all whether we need to regulate our borders and who comes through them. Let’s hope that in keeping out viruses, we can also keep out drug dealers, terrorists, and human traffickers.
The riots in the cities and the subsequent rush to buy guns should have ended the gun debate for good as well. More people owning guns should mean more people feeling comfortable allowing others to own guns. The more guns people have, the less of a problem future rioters will be.
The riots in the cities also drove many to move out of the cities. The shifting demographics means fewer people in urban areas represented by Democrats. Districts will be redrawn to give the Republicans an advantage. While leaving any party in power long enough attracts corruption, in the short-term any loss for the Democrats is a win for America.
At the same time, the behavior of the police, both in selectively enforcing lockdowns and taking sides during the riots, should have by now made clear to so-called conservatives that the police are no different than any other part of the government. It has frustrated me for years that those who claim to be against “big government” have such a blind spot when it comes to the police. Look to see if this changes.
The temporary homeschooling that some parents had to do during lockdown should have demonstrated that such a thing is possible and given them an example to follow should they ever want to pull their children out of school in the future. That other parents had to bring the words of the teachers right into their home also made it clear what their children were being taught and exposed some of the propaganda our schools have engaged in. Let’s hope there is both an increase in homeschooling and additional pressure put on our public schools.
Finally, let’s hope that the troubles of this world will start making people yearn for another. Hopeless people are ripe for the hope of the Gospels. Let’s hope for a revival. Then we’ll be able to recognize it when God does act.
Considering what has been going on recently, I thought it was important that I say something: Two things can be true at the same time. This is a theme that runs through my life. I am often caught between two positions or two factions that are both right and both wrong – and so everyone hates me. This is especially true in the current war between the police and Black Lives Matter.
Anyone who actually watches the news already knows that the cops are jerks. It isn’t simply the ratio of bad cops to good cops, which is debatable; the problem is much deeper than that.
To illustrate what I mean, I need a few examples. It is entirely possible that I have been misinformed on the details of these events, but that isn’t important because I’m only using them to explain principles as you shall see in a moment.
The first event occurred in New Hampshire. I heard that in attempting to arrest a suspect at a gas station, the police threw flash-bang grenades at his vehicle. I know that if I was suddenly surrounded by explosions and fast-moving armed people shouting at me, I would assume that I was under attack by those wishing me harm and would have nothing to lose by fighting back. In this situation, as everyone should have predicted, the suspect shot back at the police, forcing police to return fire, who killed him and his girlfriend and somehow missed hitting the baby in the back seat and everyone in the surrounding neighborhood. If they had simply cut off his exits and invited himself to surrender, things might have gone differently.
I have also heard of many cases, such as the recent one in Kentucky, of cops storming into houses with guns drawn and the homeowners being charged with attempted murder for firing at the cops. Common sense dictates that even if the intruders identify themselves as cops, this is likely to be missed in the chaos. Common sense dictates that these could also be fake cops since it has happened before that imposters have robbed people. Common sense dictates that these could be crooked cops sent by an organized crime syndicate or a government-turned-tyrannical, since those things have also happened before. No-knock warrants terrorize even law-abiding citizens, since it has happened before that police had the wrong house and they have been known to cover up their mistakes with lies. When police put people into a legitimate self-defense situation, no one should ever be charged with a crime for killing them.
Note: There are probably rare times that it is worth the risk to do these things, and I’m not saying that the cops should necessarily always be charged. All I’m saying is that the accused must not have resisting arrest, assault, murder, or attempted murder added to their charges, since it is possible none would have happened if the police had acted differently.
That these mistakes sometimes happen isn’t the real problem. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and things are bound to go wrong sometimes. The problem is that other cops, their supervisors, and their allies support these types of actions. I even heard Brandon Tatum, former cop, say on Dave Rubin’s show, The Rubin Report, that cops need to enter unknown situations with their weapons drawn for their own safety. That’s insane! By the same logic, I should point my gun at the police during routine traffic stops just in case they get out of hand. “Keep your hands where I can see them and no sudden movements,” I should say. Somehow, I don’t think it would end well for either of us.
Idiocy doesn’t even begin to describe it. There can only be one explanation: Brandon Tatum is a very evil man. I’m through messing around pretending that all ideologies are equally valid. The gloves are off. If you advocate for the police to be allowed to do these things you are evil incarnate. It isn’t just that a minority of fringe wackos like Tatum support these ideas. The problem is widespread. Even people I know support them.
People also tell me that I must always do whatever an officer says and sort it out later in court if it was wrong, but this is completely unreasonable. I can’t be unkilled or uninjured later in court. I can’t get my moment of indignity back later in court. It isn’t “resisting arrest” if I am rushed and grabbed without warning or explanation and I instinctively pull away. It isn’t “disobeying a lawful order” if the order is so preposterous that I assume I must have misunderstood and seek clarification first. Yet there are those that blame anyone who does not immediately follow orders and place zero blame on the one giving the orders.
Deaf people cannot always understand orders. Mute people cannot always answer questions. Blind people sometimes bump into officers. Autistic people are highly sensitive to touch and sometimes misinterpret social cues. Schizophrenics are sometimes paranoid and nervous. Claustrophobic people might not want to be cuffed and placed in a vehicle. Cops should be trained how to deal with these people, but it seems many cops don’t even have the basic social skills of a kindergartener.
The problem isn’t just “police brutality.” It’s all the lies and minor injustices done. It’s false traffic tickets. It’s that the judicial branch is often biased in favor of the police. I have no idea how to behave around police. The news tells me there are imposters out there, so I should never give out my license or anything with my address on it to anyone I can’t verify has a right to it. At the same time, lawyers tell me to never utter a word to cops because they can twist my words around to make me look guilty, or claim I slurred my words in order to accuse me of intoxication, but how can I verify their identity without talking to them? At the same time, advice is circulating that if I have a gun on me, the very first thing I need to do before anything else is announce this (by talking) and allow the (possibly fake) cop to disarm and search me so I don’t get shot. There is literally no way to win. There is no way to stay out of trouble.
Lawyers tell me that I have a right under the first, fourth, and fifth amendments not to answer questions or volunteer information about what weapons I might be carrying, yet I have heard countless anecdotes of people “remaining silent” who were detained, arrested, and even ordered out of vehicles they were not driving for failure to identify. I was taught in school that America is a nation of laws and it is laws we are to obey, not the whims of government agents, yet as an adult I am told that police have huge leeway in managing emergency situations and that any disputes must be handled later in the rigged courts or at the ballot box where I am repeatedly outvoted – and this is assuming the ballots were counted fairly.
Police have also abused me and people I know. When I checked up on an old friend I was very concerned about, those around her started harassing me. I considered reporting them to the police but wasn’t sure their behavior quite rose to that level. While I thought it over, she went to the police first and accused me of harassing her! Without ever reaching out to me to get the whole story, the police chose their side and actively constructed lies to hurt me. They searched completely unrelated public posts of mine, construed them as veiled threats against her, and showed them to her, knowing perfectly well at the time how mentally unstable and paranoid she was already. I could no longer report that I was harassed to the police because they had already chosen sides and I believed they would use any words I spoke against me. The court did not allow me to make a defense and the judge ruled against me even though what the police falsely claimed happened didn’t even fit the legal definition of harassment in that state.
Furthermore, when I complained to the police chief, they brought charges against me again – claiming that my complaint was a roundabout way to contact my accuser in violation of the court order. The entire department is corrupt!
For months, I wondered if the next step was for them to claim I violated the no-contact order so they could drag me out of bed in the middle of the night. They had already lied once, why not again? I worried over everything I posted online, thinking it could be construed as a threat. I wanted to be a writer. How could I ever promote my fiction books or my non-fiction blogs safely? Since what happened to me was so lawless and so detached from truth, I fully expected that if I submitted to arrest, the cops might beat me or kill me in custody and then claim I started the fight. Why would I ever submit to arrest? What do I have to gain? What do I lose by fighting back? Considering that I had reason at the time to believe my ex-friend was suicidal as well as paranoid, and the court system had already failed me, it would not have been unreasonable to go full vigilante after these cops and stop them by any means necessary. I would be doing the world a favor.
For years the story has been burning to get out of me, but I held back from going to the national press only because I didn’t want to hurt my ex-friend who is as much victim as perpetrator. I have also been told by well-meaning but misguided individuals that any public mention of the incident will only invite further abuse and also prevent anyone from hiring me because hiring managers and the public at large are predisposed to believe the police and predisposed to believe women. So be it. I refuse to work for cowards who won’t stand up for truth. You don’t deserve me.
People are now saying “defund the police,” “abolish the police,” and “abolish the courts.” It sounds crazy – and it is – but they have a point. If you lived in a city with cops so corrupt that if you called them for help with an intruder you were as likely as not to be mistaken for the intruder, or as likely as not charged with an unrelated crime, or as likely as not to just have them not show up (this has happened to people I know), you might think you were better off abolishing the police and taking your chances with the criminals. What loss is there if they don’t even show up half the time?
Some people say we should reform the police rather than get rid of them entirely. I agree, but people have been screaming for reform for years. The system and its countless clueless allies have resisted change. You can’t blame people for wanting to tear it all down. Maybe recent events will be a catalyst for reform. I hope so, but it could also be used as an excuse for police to crack down harder.
There is nobody in the country who hates the cops more than I do. Nobody has more reason to be angry than I. The protestors and I have the same enemy. The problem is: I’m the wrong color.
Why are so many black people so stupid to think they are the only ones with problems? Don’t the lives of the homeless matter? Don’t the lives of ex-cons matter? Don’t the lives of the unborn matter? If you have a job (or at least had one before COVID-19 hit), you are doing better than I am right now. If you have your own room and your own bed, you are doing better than I am right now. If you have more than one friend, and those friends live in the same state as you, you are doing better than I am right now. If you have ever had a girlfriend or boyfriend in your entire life, you are doing much better than I have ever done.
I’ve been bullied and treated as different my entire life. I’ve been a victim of prejudice for being male, for being Christian, for being single, and treated rudely many times for reasons mysterious to me. For all I know, it might have been for being white. I once lost my home and thousands of dollars in investment because of a crooked judge. I’ve been charged with a pretend crime by crooked cops. Twice patrol cars have slowed down while passing me as if I was being profiled somehow. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint. I’ve been fired from jobs twice for no fault of my own. When I was a child, my father was passed over for a job because of affirmative action, fired from another job over a false charge of sexual harassment, and evicted without mercy for being one day late on rent. Where is my white privilege?
I know that many if not most black people have things very tough, caught between failing schools, limited economic opportunities, drug problems, gang warfare, and corrupt police. I sympathize. I’d like to help, but we can’t work together so long as your loudest voices perpetuate an us versus them mentality. Black Lives Matter has made all white people the enemy.
Black Lives Matter is a black supremacist group and I can prove it: On more than one occasion, their leadership has prematurely taken sides in high-profile shooting cases before all the facts were in and solely because of race. They held a rally where whites were told not to attend. They have waged a war of words on their own allies who agree and sympathize when they innocently state in support that all lives matter. The only explanation for this can be that the Black Lives Matter leadership believes that only black lives matter. They should change their name to Only Black Lives Matter.
By bringing race into it, Black Lives Matter clouds the issue and prevents unity. One prone to conspiratorial thinking might think they are working with the cops. That some police have started kneeling to them isn’t helping. That in many cities rioters were released while those merely defending themselves from being beaten or killed by them were charged isn’t helping either. Our legal system is completely arbitrary at this point. Either way, so long as Black Lives Matter dominates the conversation, I can’t help you.
Whether you are black, Hispanic, Native American, or whatever, renouncing Black Lives Matter (and Antifa) is the first step you have to take if we are ever going to fix this. Making enemies of the white majority is a sure way to get crushed. Remember, there are white supremacists out there too. Black Lives Matter is the best recruiting tool they have.
There are people now saying that white silence is violence. While not strictly true, they have a point. I think we do wrong not to speak against evil when we see it. This is why I’ve been speaking out my whole life against cops, government in general, and partisans that would pointlessly divide us along racial, religious, or even sexual lines. I’ve written books. I’ve written blogs. I’ve invited anyone who will listen to talk politics, but nobody listens and some of them tell me I have white privilege and thus have nothing to say worth listening to. What difference does it make if I stay silent?
Universities that try to protect their students from hearing controversial opinions do them a great disservice. One might be able to make the case that children should be shielded from certain ideas, but university students are adults!
If you are old enough to vote, you are old enough to discuss public policy. If you are old enough that no one should stop you from viewing pornography of your choice, then you are old enough that no one should stop you from listening to political opinions of your choice. If you are old enough to own a gun or join the military or police force, you had better damn well be mature enough to peacefully negotiate with those you disagree with. If you are old enough to be trusted with driving a car or raising children of your own, you are old enough to trust to fill out a ballot. It is time for university students to choose: Are you adults or children?
Nudge coffee butter is what it sounds like: a mixture of vegetable oil, sugar, and finely ground coffee beans that you can spread on toast like Nutella. It’s not bad, but I don’t think I’ll buy it again. I prefer sunflower butter or cashew butter. Almond butter and peanut butter are good too.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.