Transition from a year of development to a year of promotion and commerce.
Table of Contents
The Arch of Janus is only one of several arches built in his name. For, Janus, was the God of entry and exit, beginning and end. He was the Roman god of passage and often thus depicted with two heads -- one facing back and one looking ahead. The month of January was named after him, and it is between December 31st and January 1st that we say good-bye to the past year and hello to the new one.
During war the Arch of Janus was kept open. During peace it was shut. It was Janus who protected the gates through which all time and manner of person must pass. It was the folly of empire that kept the Roman gate open -- empire, a timeless human concept that we, Americans, once knew how to cure, but miserably failed to prevent despite the best intentions of our forefathers.
- A Worthy Symbol
- The Grind
- Relentless Relocation and Industry
- Learn, Work, Grow
- From Hong Kong to Seattle
- Follow Through with Illumination
- Grammar Captive
- Establishing a Beachhead
- The Anglo-American Empire
- America Is Not Europe
- The Enlightenment Has Yet to Run Its Course
- Social Change through Commercial Exchange
Now, you may believe that the zodiac dog is an unworthy symbol of human enterprise, and I could not agree with you more, for what images come to mind when we think of a dog's life? Surely, it is not typically one of industry, self-reliance, and ambition. Upon careful reflexion, however, dogs -- more than perhaps any other animal including humans -- do have an important human trait that is absolutely essential to an untested commercial undertaking such as an internet start-up. This trait is, of course, loyalty, dedication, or devotion to one's master -- the task at hand.
Fortunately, I have never lacked dedication to the quality of my life. This is not to say that I have always gotten what I wanted, but when the wanting was not had, the choice that remained was always there: exit or find another option. For, if I were to continue, then it would be happily or not at all. Then too, humanity is the kind of life form that can evoke extreme disgust, and committing one's life to one's own species, when so many other life forms abound, is not as easy as you might think. Just writing this statement makes me scream inside for another long return to nature.
My Aha! moment came when I discovered a way to project my disgust without breaking my commitment and went on a hunger strike against the unAmerican spoils system. If you are not aware of this system, you are surely not alone and just as innocent as the next guy. Now that you have been informed, however, feel confident, "fellow American", that you will be held responsible for what occurs on your watch, for you are now aware and consequently culpable, if you do nothing to undo this thoroughly unAmerican system. There is nothing cool about about spoils and the social and economic devestation that they bring about.
Regrettably, I erred in my desire to say good-bye to my friends when the King County Superior Court ruled that reasonable allowance could not be granted on humanitarian grounds. Under threat of forceful eviction my hunger strike was brutally interrupted, and I was compelled to reassess. My friends refused to say good-bye, and I became officially homeless in a land that had abandoned its own roots already a century and a half before. My resolve broken, I was in need of a new option, and find one I did! Alas, never in my life have I struggled so hard to achieve a task that could so easily fail or exceed my modest expectations.
"So what?", you might exclaim, as if my nearly seven decades of existence, of which nearly half were spent living in the societies of others, had not taught me a thing or two about what it means to be a human being in its broadest sense.
I began the tradition of writing an annual report at the end of 2007. Since then, I have missed only once; it was in the wake of Israel's Cast Lead Operation during the New Year holiday between 2008 and 2009. Instead, I wrote an open letter to the newly elected, not yet seated, Obama Administration encouraging the US Government to wash its hands of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cease all aid to the state of Israel. This year, I almost missed again, but not because of the sorrow of others , rather my own.
In past years careful reflection of the events of the concluding year have provided me not only with important insight into how I should move forward, but also a salubrious emotional uplift, as I sought to capture the highlights of the just past year with a meticulous sense of irony and humor.
In contrast to previous years this past year has brought with it extraordinary personal sacrifice in terms of my physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Yes, I have endured my suffering well, but it is far from over, and writing about this past year would only compound my current pain. What is more, three hours before I popped the plastic cork atop this year's bottle of champagne I discovered that the host page for my annual reports was completely dysfunctional. During the next three hours I applied every troubleshooting mechanism that I had learned during the past year. Still, I could not resolve the issue.
If it were an omen to what the New Year would bring, then I shuddered in fear. If it were a slap in the face to awaken me to the fact that my suffering were not over, and that I should not let my guard down, then it has succeeded well. For, rather than do nothing, I have redesigned the entire page and offer this year's report with a certain amount of pride and joy in what can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time with proper knowledge and dedication to the task at hand -- in this case, the maintenance of a tradition.
Alas, better late than never. I offer no apology for my tardiness, for I do not know what brought it about.
Roddy A. stegemann
On September 11, 2017 I completed my first full year of being homeless — hardly a feat worth bragging about, but nevertheless a feat in which I take tremendous pride. For, despite having occupied no fewer than four plus one shelters and four collective work spaces since September 11, 2016, my more permanent virtual address on the internet has grown into a formidable hostpage for what is to come.
For an unknown such as myself a well designed hostpage is imperative, as the industry that I am seeking to exploit -- i.e., earn my keep -- is highly competitive and essentially corrupt. In brief, the industry is constructed on a number of important myths and very wishful thinking. Further, these myths are seconded by academic institutions around the world. Alas, selling the truth in a world of lies is no easy task.
What happened at these shelters and work spaces is each a story of its own — this, despite, certain distinct, reoccurring patterns of social behavior and physical environment. I wish only that I could find the time to treat each non-virtual site that I have occupied this past year with the same sort of elaboration that I have dedicated similar encounters in past annual reports. Simply, I can no longer afford the luxury of exposition that I once had. For, every moment that I turn away from my virtual address, I am that much further away from escaping my current non-virtual life-style.
Accordingly, tradition must somehow be honored, else it become meaningless with the passage of time. To this end, I am happy to provide you with a glimpse of this past year's sundry events using only a tiny, but powerful portion of the technology that I have acquired this past year. Click on tambourine chicken, if you have not done so already.
There is a time and place for everything. Simply, were I to write about the aforementioned events with any sense of humor I would be so drained of energy, that I would have nothing left to continue with my project.
Please understand that my next best alternative to what I am currently experiencing is not an alternative that most would even consider, and certainly one that my friends have adamantly rejected. Indeed, their objection, you might think, bespeaks the goodness of their character and my ability to choose friends wisely. Please, however, do not jump ahead, for the one alternative that makes my current situation and life-style so attractive is the very same that keeps me alive in my present circumstances. Never before has my belief in the freedom of last resort been so thoroughly tested. Never before, since I was a child, have I faced life with such bravery and resolve. The tears that I shed between September 11th and 13th are today, but a heartbeat away. Fortunately, I have turned them into joy when I am not thoroughly exhausted and am yearning for sleep.
It was between September 11th and 13th 2016 that I turned cheerful resolve to bring an end to my own noble existence into a very different kind of resolve — one final effort to succeed in the spirit of our founding fathers or not at all. My hunger strike was not a ruse. Still I felt, as I feel still today, that I had made a pact with the Devil -- a bit like Goethe’s Faust who entered into agreement with Mephistopheles in his final effort to prevent a premature death at his own hand.
Unlike Faust, I was not abandoning all that I felt was good and noble in order to break the chains of a life that had turned into meaningless drudgery. No, to my own chagrin I was reluctantly embracing the unAmerican spoils system that I had just decried during a 20-day long hunger strike. For without my pact with this ignoble aspect of American society, I would not be able to succeed in my new adventure — and what an adventure it has become.
So, intense have these past 15 months been that I have encountered countless memories of my distant past — each seemingly out of context, but each a correction or reaffirmation of my current situation. It were as if I were reliving all of the important — both tragic and heroic — moments of my life in this final effort to survive with joy and dignity the muck into which American hypocrisy, imperial folly, and passive resignation have pushed me. It has been unparalleled intensity, coupled with sleep deprivation, poor diet, and inextricable social contradiction. Throughout I have managed to maintain my focus, even when it has been dearly threatened by circumstances.
Can I hold on until the finish line?
I left Japan at the turn of the century with the idea of setting aside an important, but long and isolated experience in exchange for professional advancement. Within six months I came to realize that my Japan experience was not nearly as unique as I had thought, and by the end of my first year in Hong Kong my professional career was in serious jeopardy.
For the next seven years I sought to establish myself in Hong Kong as an independent researcher in order to correct the problem that I had now experienced in both Japan and Hong Kong. Although my effort did not finish when I was told that government policy takes precedence over the truth and that dancing is far more important than making that truth prevail, never in my life had I been served hot water in an interview. Never in my life had I had such a candid conversation with such a highly placed government official.
No, there were other causes that forced me to abandon my effort.
When I arrived in Seattle in the spring of 2007 as an economic refugee, I was bereft of all direction. My nearly seventeen-year sojourn in East Asia -- interrupted by only two, one-week trips to the United States: one in the wake of my father's death; and the other to listen to my mother's final heart beat --, had left me without a home. I was an alien in my own homeland. Moreover, what I had worked so hard to achieve in East Asia had no future in the United States; I would have to start all over again.
My first reasonable job offer came from Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and within six months I had returned overseas -- neither to Japan, nor to Hong Kong. Still it was better than remaining in the United States where my talent, knowledge, and experience appeared to have no market worth. Nearly seven of the next eight years would be spent in Saudi Arabia, Korea, or Thailand, and the majority of these were spent in Saudi Arabia where I was able to reestablish myself in a manner similar to what I had done in both Japan and Hong Kong. Even this arrangement was subject, however, to the whims of ministerial decree.
When my age -- mind you, neither my performance, nor my desire -- compelled me to leave Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and return to the United States in the spring of 2015 it would not be as an economic refugee. This said, my reception in the US was just as cold as it had been in 2007. This time, however, I was prepared, for I had returned home not as a prodigal son in search of compassion and forgiveness, but as a patriotic warrior ready to do battle and recover my nation's lost heritage. I am, in the end, what some are called, a remnant. From my own perspective I am a reborn patriot.
No matter, one cannot do battle without means, and the savings that I had brought with me from Saudi Arabia were exhausted within a year and a half.
You see, unlike other countries where they tell you up front that your age is a factor, such knowledge is shoved under the rug in America. For, if an academic institution were honest and told you not to apply because you were too old, someone would surely take the school to court for having overtly discriminated against the applicant for his age. This is just one example among so many where well-intended laws and policy regulations result in poor or unsatisfactory social and market outcomes. In effect, I had wasted an entire year beating my head against the wall only to learn that age discrimination is alive and well in the United States of America, and that I had better find another source of income.
Although generally much better than, and highly preferred to government at resolving economic related issues, markets are not perfect, and I had fallen victim to fraud and unscrupulous business practice. In order to recover and spare myself from an otherwise inevitable eviction I embarked on a hunger strike that would last until my appeal for reasonable allowance was rejected by a King County Superior Court judge with the statement,
humanitarian grounds are not reasonable cause for allowance. During this twenty-day period of self-sacrifice only a single donation was received, and only then because I had asked someone personally to make one so that I could test whether the newly installed
DONATE button on my new website actually worked.
Indeed, I was willing to stand as a martyr against the unAmerican spoils system and provide those who believe, as I, that government transfer payments -- in whatever form -- are immoral and against the founding spirit of our nation and the principles of our Constitution an opportunity to use the flesh and blood of a fellow patriot to champion their cause against the current welfare system in all of its manifestations. I was soundly rejected.
Unwilling to depend on the very system against which I just protested, and unwilling to accept the standard of living that lie before me, I decided to bring an end to my existence. I erred only in my decision to say,
Good-bye. The wrenching emotional experience that resulted made it difficult to return to my prior resolve. What is more, I have had my face so thoroughly rubbed in the mud of American propriety, hypocrisy, and arrogance that for me to surrender now would be to become a disgrace unto myself.
The previous three-pronged business plan with a short-term, medium-term, and long-term objective that was so quickly ruined at the hands of other unscrupulous businessmen was quickly turned into a one-prong business plan that focuses solely on the long-term objective. The now missing -- in part, realized and expected -- income flows from the short- and medium-terms would be satisfied by the unAmerican spoils system while I focused all of my effort on the presumably more lucrative, more far-reaching, long-term, free-market objective that would make me, if it were to succeed, a victim, rather than a beneficiary of the unAmerican spoils system. In this way, I would be able to: one, continue my fight against empire without having to depend on those who support it; and two, do so with the material comfort appropriate to my station in life. This is my struggle today.
Grammar Captive is not my first passion as it is a response to a symptom rather than the root cause of a more fundamental disease. This said, if you wish to engage in trade, you must offer people what they want -- not necessarily what is in their best interest and that of society as a whole.
Please do not misunderstand. This notion is, of course, dangerous, if not properly understood. For, it is the same notion that has gotten us into the mess that we are in today. We have allowed government to beguile us into thinking that we can no longer take care of ourselves and that it must now perform the task. This perversion of the notion that we do not always do what is in our best interest must be exposed. For, it is one thing to do something or not do something out of ignorance; it is quite another to be forced to do something that may or may not be good for us based on the decisions of others who are at least as ignorant as us.
Markets may be slow to address social issues, but they address them eventually and with long lasting salubrious ramifications. This is because markets are voluntary. Each time that a government intervenes in society where it is not called on by all effected parties, new problems are created. In general, the same people who like telling other people how to think and behave do not like being told to do the same. In a representative democracy where majority rules, the result is notoriously poor. Alas, if you are not familiar with the notions of positive and negative law, then you should begin to familiarize yourself with them both now.
Republican government, as conceived by our founding fathers, was based on negative law. The government that we have today is based on positive law -- the one that our founding fathers so diligently sought to avoid when they conceived our Constitution. Positive law is proscriptive; it is government telling us what we can and cannot do. Negative law is protective; it is government defending our right as individuals to pursue our own life, liberty, and happiness. Under negative law government only guarantees the right to pursue; it makes no effort to insure personal outcomes; there are no entitlements, no subsidies, and no regulations that offer special privileges to individuals and groups who can afford to lobby Congress -- be they domestic or foreign.
I can heartily recommend two very able French authors: Friedrich Bastiat (above) and Gustave de Molinari (below). When they wrote, the failure of the French Revolution was now grievously apparent, the American Revolution had not yet succumb to Lincoln's consolidation of central authority, and the corrupt British financial practice of lending money into existence (legal counterfeit) had not yet taken global hold on the world's financial markets.
The English language is the world's current lingua franca, and the Anglo-American empire is vast. One has only to set aside the imperial aspects of the Anglo-American tradition and what remains is a philosophy of government that offers many solutions to the problem of governing diverse market-based societies and cultures. It is, however, a philosophy that you can accept or reject, but once you accept it, you must turn it into belief. For ambivalence is the surest way to undermine the philosophy's salubrious effects. America no longer believes; it merely mimes.
In the long run, neither the French, nor the American revolutions produced their intended results. In many respects we were much better off under the rule of the European monarchs. For then, wars were fought in the name of family honor and consumed only the resources of those in whose name they were fought. In contrast, the wars of today are ideological in nature and their destruction is massive. There is little honor on the battlefield, mostly camaraderie, as many never come into direct contact with those whom they annihilate from distant locations in the air, on the land, or at sea. Humanity has gone awry!
Surely, the economic and political motivations of today are little different than those of yesteryear, but the struggles themselves are far more consuming. With the fall of the European monarchs, the state grew in size. No longer was the focus of government on local feudal lords who shared the same language, culture, and political and geographical heritage. Today, the state is ruled by massive, impersonal bureaucracies whose political jurisdiction include disparate groups of people who share little in common that is not shared by all human beings -- namely, food, clothing, and shelter. Entire ways of life have been ridden rough shod by imposing bureaucrats that seek to recreate all of society in their own perverted human image.
Our founding fathers differed from the revolutionaries of the European continent insofar as we were already very independent when we revolted against the British monarch. What has resulted in the United States, however, is little different from what flourishes today on the other side of the Atlantic where socialist ideology and representative government have resulted in the massive aforementioned bureaucracies -- parasitic entities that tax and intervene in nearly every aspect of human life and create thereby an intricate web of asynchronic, often direct, mutual dependency that grows ever larger at the expense of the overall economy.
Our founding fathers were mostly lawyers and merchants who understood well the free, voluntary nature of the market place. They sought desperately to create a government that would allow markets to flourish. During the past 150 plus years beginning with Lincoln our nation's government has vastly increased in its size and importance to the detriment of our national, state, and local well-being. Surely, it is not too late to take back our freedom, but this can never be achieved without renewed awareness in just what it is that we have sacrificed during the past century and a half. Our economy has grown despite government, not because of it. The Englightenment unleashed technological advancement that is unending.
As most nations of the world have adopted some form of constitutional government, and as the market place has become the dominant source of economic activity, the concept of political and economic liberty that surfaced during the Enlightenment on the one hand, and the belief in a free will subject to the cultural and religious constraints into which each of us is born on the other hand, are surely notions still worthy of our deepest consideration and respect.
Deeply submerged within the Anglo-American empire is the Anglo-American tradition of constitutional government. This tradition is no less worthy today than it was some three centuries ago. It is thus our task to distance ourselves from the imperial reality that poorly guides the world today and to promote the philosophy that made it possible for our empire to rise, but by no means dictated its emergence.
As Grammar Captive is about the English language, a commercial good highly sought around the world, I can think of no better venue to promote the notion of political and economic liberty. This said, the word is only more powerful than the sword when it is shared by many and not easily manipulated by a press so completely overwhelmed by those who wield the sword. Whereas the sword can be held by anyone, however, the concept of political and economic liberty can only be held by those who truly understand and desire it.
This said, fundamental change in the way people are accustomed to thinking is a slow process, for each individual has to reach his Aha! moment on his own. One can lead a donkey to water, but only the donkey can drink. In all cases, one cannot impose liberty from without; it is something that must grow from within.
Grammar Captive is designed in such a way that it satisfies the immediate wants of its viewers while providing them with the knowledge that they need to free themselves from the corrupt system that has created the very want that imprisons them. It is based on the idea that only a prisoner who frees himself is truly liberated.
I will not spend our time here telling you very much more about Grammar Captive, when it is already so well described on the Grammar Captive website. Rather, I will stop, wish you a Happy New Year, and make no resolution other than the promise to do my best.
Wish me luck or damn me, I care not. For, liberty will prevail, America, with or without you.
In liberty or not at all,
Roddy A. stegemann
Happy New Year!
The information regarding the constellation Canis Major and the Star of Isis (Syrius) was obtained from Ian Ridpath's Star Tales.