I Hope I Am Wrong

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It’s been years since I last set down to write anything long form that’s remotely political, in fact 2008, if my search is correct.  In some ways, I can hardly recognize that passionately pedantic punk that felt the urge to scream into the void in the hope of persuasion by shouting (though my friends might argue about that on the occasions when I have more than a couple of gins in me).  I realized around that time that no one was really interested in what I was selling and that I could spend my life in a happier place by worrying about the things that I know I could change which is myself and to focus my time on those around me that I love. I know I’ve been better off for it.

However, I can’t pretend that last night wasn’t historic or momentous.  I am feeling the urge to write something not in the hope of being persuasive or to change the world, but because last night was tragic in a personal and long-term way.  It brought back memories and beliefs of my younger days that I don’t think I will be able to restore from this day forth and I want memorialize them somewhere.

At just before midnight last night when it was apparent what was going to happen, I had a sudden and vivid flashback to a time almost 15 years ago.  One night my dear friend Iva and I got into a heated and hours long debate about the idea that the US was headed towards nationalism.  As the child of citizens of the former Yugoslavia, she brought both logic and personal experience to her argument.  And yet, I could not be persuaded.

I argued fervently that America was different, not because we were special as a people but that we were special in situation.  A country founded purely on a set of enlightenment philosophical ideals, populated by immigrants of almost every country and religion and with a fundamental belief in pluralism couldn’t really be nationalist.  Yes, I wasn’t naïve enough to ignore our history of racial hatred and apartheid.  Nor was I naïve enough to say that we hadn’t had a certain segment of the population that subscribed to nativist and ethnic nationalist ideals; I was already quite familiar with Pat Buchanan.  However, I was unable to believe that as a young country with a complete lack of common ethnic, religious and cultural history that we could really ever become nationalists.  On that, I was wrong.

Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that has destroyed the entirety of Europe twice in the 20th century.  Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that has left piles of corpses, broken bodies and weeping widows around the entire globe.  Last night I watched my country subscribe to a political philosophy that throws away the enlightenment in pursuit of a philosophy that bestows rights and privileges upon its subjects on the basis of their religion, ethnicity and the coincidence of the geography of their birth.  Last night I watched my country scream an incoherent cry of rage at people who are now to be labeled as the other, as the not-quite-human, as the enemy. Last night I saw the ideals that has made me love my country abandoned, maybe forever.  Last night I saw no better angels of our nature.  But I hope that I am wrong.

Now I am left to put my trust in our political machinery to temper and restrain the normal products of the adoption of nationalism.  As a life long libertarian, that trust isn’t very sturdy in my mind.  I don’t see how a party unified in its abhorrence of intellectualism can be trusted to uphold the abstract ideals of classical liberalism.  I don’t see how a state equipped with an entire legion of well armed militarized police can be trusted to defend the people against authoritarianism.  I don’t see how a country divided at a moment of incredible prosperity and peace can heal itself under the strain of the chaos in front of us. But I hope I am wrong.

Now, I must go back to my quiet life.  I can’t go back to screaming into the void.  I can’t see the point and I don’t have the strength or will to do it.  I must go back to trying to see the best in everyone I meet.  I must go believing that people are fundamentally good both as individuals and in society.  I must start hoping I’m wrong.


A Digital Reboot

It’s with mixed emotions that I retire my home on the web for the last decade. When I purchased radicalwacko.com back in 2001, I was a young, aggressive Libertarian, who thought that he could and should change the world. In other words, I was an insufferable, young, recent college graduate that you wanted to avoid making eye contact with and save yourself from the pedantic lecture that would inevitably ensue.

Now as an older, crankier libertarian – who increasingly doesn’t give a damn – it starts to be embarrassing to give out a domain like radicalwacko.com. If you are over the age of 35 and still think of yourself as a radical or a wacko, you are either deluding yourself or you really probably should be on a watch list. I actually blush every time the Best Buy clerk asks me for my email address. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself why keep a domain name that you refuse to acknowledge.

With that in mind, I decided I needed a new online persona. I’m still enough of a web geek/creative that I didn’t want to use my own name but I needed a less combative domain name. I purchased lostinok.com a few years ago with no real plans for it, but I just liked the name. More and more, it fits my more questioning mood and attitude.

So while I hate to admit that I don’t like everything about my 21-year-old self, at least I can like the fact that I am able to move on from some of the more distasteful remnants of that passionate, yet annoying fellow.

Of course, it turns out that attempting to change your online persona is actually a pretty daunting task once you get started, especially if you’ve had the same one for a decade or so. Dozens of websites are linked to this persona and hunting them all down is going to take some time.

However, I’m starting the big ones. So going forward, besides finding me here at lostinok.com, you can find me on Twitter @lostinokay (unfortunately, I was too late to get lostinok). At Facebook, you can find me at https://www.facebook.com/lostinok On Instagram, I am @lostinok. You can also reach me via email at nathan [at] lostinok[dotcom]. The rest of them will have to come gradually.

As to the website design, I think I have pushed my desire for retro minimalism as far as it can go. I welcome feedback since this is the first design I have mostly done myself in quite some time, though some credit is due to the Toolbox theme from Automatic.

In any case, I’m hoping that this new start is finally the impetus I needed to be a little more active in my writing and photography. However, if nothing else, it will be nice being able to make eye contact with that Best Buy clerk after all these years.


Internet Blackout Day

Generally, I avoid joining protests, but occasionally there are ideas so bad that I can’t stay away.  Such is the case with the Protect IP Act (PIPA) which is coming up before the Senate next week.  The goal of protecting intellectual property is certainly a laudable one, but the means to achieve that goal must not come at the expense of the 1st amendment, nor should it fundamentally weaken the technological structure of the Internet.  The Protect-IP bill does all of this with a vague and poorly thought-out bill.

So tomorrow, January 18th, this site will join larger organizations such as Mozilla, WordPress and Wikipedia in a general internet blackout.  I strongly suggest that you contact your Senator and express displeasure at this heavy-handed approach to IP protections.  For some general background on the bill, please check out the video below: