Who is God?
It is an age old question. He has been referred to as Yahweh, Allah, Jehovah, the Divine, Source, and the Creator. Are these all one and the same? Every religion on earth tells you they hold the solid truth on the subject, wars have been fought based on people's assertions as to who is right. I am not writing this to persuade anyone to give up their own personal beliefs. I am calling it like I see it based on my personal relationship with MY one true God.
Many people relate to God as a super human form. Michelangelo portrayed him as a huge man with long white hair and a beard surrounded by little angels. Some object to the portrayal of God as a man and insist that God is a woman. The character Archie Bunker in the TV series "All in the Family" asserted that God is obviously white proudly boasting that "he created me in his image."
Like Archie Bunker, I do subscribe to the train of thought that I was created in his image. However, not in the physical sense. For those of us who believe that everything is energy, we see God as the intelligent energy that created the universe. Don't mistake that to mean that God is immaterial. You break us down into sub-atomic form, and we are energy. As well as everything else in the universe. However, I look at God as the source of all life energy, and in creating us, we are a subset of that energy. That is my bond with God. Therefore, unlike what organized religions would have you believe, I don't need an intermediary to connect with God. I am already there. The objective then is to strengthen that bond, to be in lockstep with God's plan.
So I am now engaged in a spiritual journey, which I define as a search for the paths to align myself with the true God and to learn the "technologies" God put in place for us to discover our purpose and to be a true reflection of him. Stay tuned for future blogs where I will talk more about that journey.
The health food evangelist? You know who they are. You've made great strides in discovering that there is a world beyond Big Macs and Sourdough Jacks. You're losing weight, you're feeling younger. Your energy levels are climbing to new heights. And you can't wait to tell the world how great your new found diet makes you feel!!!! So you post on social media how great it is to eat a plant-based diet.
And that's when he strikes. The health food evangelist. The one who has to tell God and country on your Facebook profile that his kung fu is better than yours. The one who doesn't give a rats ass how great you feel because you are doing it all wrong. Don't challenge the health food evangelist. He's proven without a doubt that he knows how to surf the web as he taps into the endless fountain of wisdom we call the Internet. He'll tell you how nutritiously deficient kale is while he shares the wonders of a little known vegetable crop from Tibet. Because he has been to the mountain top, his nutrition nirvana, and when it comes to food, you are not worthy to touch his cloak.
So ignore the health food evangelist. Do your own thing, pursue your own path. Eat a plant based diet because it makes you feel stronger and more energetic. And say to yourself: "Get behind me, Health Food Evangelist!!"
After years of writing, rewriting, editing and bouts of writer's block, I finally finished my first piece of fiction, a novella which I started writing when I was 16. Along with countless aspiring authors on this planet, I dreamed of writing the All-American, bestselling novel and living the lifestyle of the vain literary genius, regarded for being able to describe in 24,000 words the details of something as seemingly mundane as a single fishing trip. A professional wordsmith, someone who knows the exact word combinations to make you feel the pain and suffering brought about by man’s inhumanity towards man or the absolute joy of overcoming insurmountable odds on the way to victory. I wanted to develop a protagonist, inject him into a storyline, have him battle it out with an antagonist, and walk off into the sunset with his love interest. To bring readers to tears, incite their anger and provoke their thoughts all in the same book. To wake up every morning to type a few thousand words of priceless prose, then head down to Sloppy Joes to spend the rest of the day drinking back-to-back Mojitos with the rest of the Margaritaville rat pack.
Everyone venerates the bestselling author. They stand in line for hours to get a book signed. They sit in complete awe as the popular writer speaks about the challenges of being an author and are captivated by the hundreds of anecdotes that come out of his mouth. They envision what it would be like to have a manuscript accepted without question. To have the resulting book bought my millions of people primarily because of name recognition. And to ultimately have the project converted to a screenplay and achieve motion picture success a la Stephen King.
So I sit behind a computer typing my little heart out in the hopes of living the dream, of becoming the next Hemingway, to foster a legacy (minus the suicide, of course) and have at least one book on the high school required reading list. At least until the drugs wear off. :)
Last year, on the long drive from Annapolis, MD to Las Vegas, my son and I had more than enough time to confess all of the sins of our past. One of the sins I confessed was that I, Roy P. Fune, the quintessential hot blooded Filipino-American male with obscene levels of testosterone, actually enjoyed watching chick flicks. It was an admission which I thought would change my son’s opinion of me.....until he also confessed to me that he was a closet chick flick watcher, too. And then, as we headed down I-40 west, we proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon trading notes.
The life of the closet chick flick aficionado is one which subsists on total secrecy. No one, especially your asshole drinking buddies, can find out. To do so would permanently scar you for life, and forever impact your reputation as a dude. On the DVD shelf, behind the stacks of war movies and films of orientals beating up other orientals, secretly resides those flicks which can only be watched alone in my room behind a locked door. There’s “What Women Want” which tells the story of Mel Gibson’s transition from a total man’s man to a warm, sensitive guy, a guaranteed tear jerker. Then there’s “Never Been Kissed”, Drew Barrymore’s film in which she disguises herself as a high school student trying to fit in with the cool kids and eventually falling in love with her high school teacher, and the ending where they kiss which never fails to bring on at least one tear of joy. And, of course, there’s the ”Devil Wears Prada” where I cheer on the protagonist, Anne Hathaway, as she attempts of navigate the bizarre world of the fashion industry in her attempt to gain street cred as a journalist. Of course, to balance things out, I must watch a few scenes from “The Expandables” series to dilute the estrogen.
There were warning signs, however, that my love of chick flicks may have evolved beyond the already abnormal level of aficionado. I became concerned last December as I discovered that I loved to watch the Hallmark Channel love stories that ran around Christmastime. There have also been a couple of times I found myself to be the only guy in the theater amongst an audience of young females. It is at that time I seriously considered seeking professional help. However, I admit there is an upside to being a chick flick aficionado. As long as you can otherwise keep your manhood in the balance (no problem here, brother), you actually are a hero to the woman you are with as you are automatically considered a one percenter. So, I continue to be a chick flick aficionado, one who secretly cries when the woman in the film finds the man of her dreams. But don’t consider that a sign of weakness, or you’ll see the other side of me. The 47 years of martial arts side.
Twelve years ago, I bought a black 50th Anniversary C5 Corvette. People told me I was having a midlife crisis, but that wasn't the case. I just wanted one and for the first time in my life, I was able to afford one. I called this time in my life my "Plastic Period" as I was all about plastic cars, plastic bikes (Trek 5000 carbon fiber road bike) and plastic guns (Glocks).
It's funny how owning a Corvette changes your driving habits. A 400 horsepower engine in a carbon fiber body provided me unprecedented power. I remember the first time I hit 100mph by accident. I thought I was only doing 70. Eventually, I was doing things I normally wouldn't do on the highway. Like drag racing every car that had the balls to challenge the supremacy of the 'Vette. Improving my cornering times on the cloverleafs of the Capitol Beltway. Snubbing every Ford Mustang that crossed my path. And bowing to the Ferrari, acknowledging that someday I would graduate to the prancing horses. However, the 2003 Corvette did have features not found in the Ferrari, the most prominent being its heads up display. Just like the F-16s I used to work on, the Corvette displayed key data like speed, RPMs and fuel level on the windshield, enabling the driver to focus more on the road instead of the instrument panel. A very useful feature for a street legal vehicle capable of top speeds of 175.
Driving a Corvette gave me true street cred on the highway. Most cars allow you the right of way. Those that don't get dispatched with extreme prejudice. Fellow Corvette owners give you "The Wave", a courtesy extended reminiscent of two knights passing each other in medieval times. Even the state troopers understood that it was difficult to restrain the power of the LS3 engine. I was stopped once for going 85 in a 65 mph zone (I was actually going 105), but the officer refused to write an expensive speeding ticket, instead offering to "work with me" by giving me one for not having a front license plate.
Over time, I became like a fighter pilot, constantly stretching the envelope, discovering the true performance characteristics of my thoroughbred. And to be honest, I had a couple of close calls. Ultimately, I came to the realization that I should not push my luck any further. I traded my Corvette for a more sensible Lexus ES350. And never looked back.
But sometimes I miss the Corvette. I miss being part of "The Club". Corvette owners do not respond to me giving them "The Wave" from my Hyundai Sonata, and when I talk to them as they display their cars in the parking lots on Sunday morning, I get treated like a "has been." However, whether my short stint as a Corvette owner was a response to a midlife crisis has yet to be proven. Maybe when I finally get around to suffering from that midlife crisis, it may take an Aventador to console me.
Martial arts has been one of my life's passions. Starting from my first youth center Goju Ryu karate class at Bolling AFB at the age of 13, I found myself running through a number of different fighting styles to include Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do and several Filipino martial arts. My martial arts journey led me to two black belts: one in Tae Kwon Do which I received in South Korea and the other in Modern Arnis from Great Grandmaster Ernesto Presas, Sr. in the Philippines. Later, I devoted nearly twenty years to the study of Yang and Chen Style Tai Chi, which for some martial artists would be analogous to a retirement job. Then, in my 40s, I discovered the world of firearms, and although guns get a bad rap from traditional martial artists, after several tactical training classes, I would consider tactical shooting a true martial art. And as I got older, I started to believe that I should rely more on my firearm than hand-to-hand or even bladed weapons. Which led to some serious weight gain as well as the deterioration of my martial arts conditioning. However, having relocated to Las Vegas, I find myself drawn to the jiu jitsu subculture and therefore, I, Roy P. Fune, a stone’s throw away from the big “six oh”, am training for the cage.
Las Vegas, amongst other things, is the home of the UFC Corporate Office and has otherwise distinguished itself as the MMA capital of the world. It has become the home of many top-level MMA fighters, giving rise to a large number of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) schools. So my curiosity is peaked. Is BJJ, the art that defeated all others in the first UFC competition, the perfect martial art Gracie disciples hype it up to be? Is it the martial art that gives hope to the older and the weaker to defend themselves against a younger and stronger opponent?
There are a ton of reasons why I should not attempt BJJ. First is my age. I am usually the oldest person on the mat and at times, I begin to feel it. Second, the joints don’t seem to want to work as well as they used to. Third, if SHTF, I would be predisposed to just unholster the Glock as opposed to mixing it up mano a mano. But it’s funny how testosterone works, making the male animal feel like super human ability may be well within his reach. So, off to a BJJ school I went.
In taking the first class, my first thoughts were how much I hated wearing a white gi and even how much more I hated wearing a white belt after earning two black belts. A lot of martial arts styles will allow you to keep your rank, but BJJ is totally different. Everyone, no matter what your background, starts out as a white belt. Normally, this is enough to make me go back to the world of TV binge watching. But I felt that I needed to just suck it up in the quest for grappling knowledge. Then I realized that BJJ is nothing like any other fighting art that I studied before, even my short career as a high school wrestler. BJJ is supposed to be all about leverage and positioning, and being a novice, I had none of that. Just some street smarts, some well-developed internal power and a lifetime of study in the art of dirty fighting. All of which I used as survival tactics during my first attempt at rolling. I discovered that when I got tired, I could get in turtle position or ground myself so that my partner would have my full weight (and then some) to deal with. I also discovered that a well placed elbow “accidentally” applied to the solar plexus area works wonders to stop a higher belt from trying to submit you. Kind of reminiscent of my Tai Chi push hand days where I would ground and patiently wait for my opponent to get tired or frustrated before I push him off balance.
Later on down the road, I figured out I better rely more on technique, so I spent hours watching You Tube videos of various BJJ experts, picking up advice on how to survive my first couple of years as a novice. I learned that BJJ requires core strength and that things would be easier if my limbs were more flexible. So I started doing Yoga and I augmented my normal weight training routine with kettlebell workouts and the stretching and ab routines I used to do back in the day when I thought I was invincible. I have to admit I am feeling better and in much better shape these days, and I plan to only get stronger and more flexible. So, yes, BJJ training (or should I say the "threat" of BJJ training) is a wonderful thing for the aging martial artist.
At this stage, I am far from proficient in BJJ. I still have a lot to learn. But I continue to see the benefits and I plan to be able to keep up with these 20 and 30 somethings well into my 70s. Or perhaps die trying? Perhaps. As my Kung Fu instructor, legendary Grandmaster Dennis Brown, used to say, "Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die."
Before I state my opinion on Solarwindow Technologies, let me first say that I would love nothing better than to see a source of renewable clean energy to replace the current technologies which depend on fossil fuels and impact our environment. Unfortunately, we are not there yet and despite the efforts of creative and intelligent individuals, we have not yet been able to come up with a commercially viable clean energy technology. Again, this doesn't mean I am against the idea. I am just against squandering capital resources on impractical or unproven ideas. That's not how business works.
Contrary to popular liberal opinion, businesses make money by providing viable services. Theoretically, the better you are at this, the more money you should make. For example, Bill Gates comes up with a very popular operating system which supports kick ass applications at the right price and ultimately becomes one of the richest men in the world. The problem with most of the companies trying to solve the problem of clean energy is that, despite the best efforts of their intelligent research and development teams, they haven't yet built the technologies to replace our need for fossil fuels. The bottom line is I see us throwing good money at bad ideas.
This brings me to the story of Solarwindow Technologies, a perfect example of what I am talking about. Solarwindow is a publicly traded company headquartered in Columbia, MD which I peaked my interested as a good stock investment because, according to their web site (http://solarwindow.com/), they have the perfect the solution to the clean energy problem. Solarwindow's idea is a window coating which can generate electricity, so instead of solar panels, skyscrapers with large number of windows can actually become energy generators. Homeowners can generate their own electricity through their own windows. I got really excited about this company when I first heard about it. What a wonderful idea!! The planet is saved, right? Wrong.
Then I read the 10-K Solarwindow filed with the SEC and find out that, despite all the hype on their web site, since their founding in 2008, they have yet to produce anything that can be offered to the public. Consequently, they have never generated any revenue and the only reason they are still in business right now is primarily due to its main investor, Harmel Rayat, who seems to have no problem bailing this company out. The fact that the company has no product and therefore, no revenues doesn't deter their executives to pay themselves high salaries, leading me to believe that their sole purpose in life is to hype the Solarwindow pipe dream.
So my point is we still need to depend on our current energy resources as the dream of clean energy is not there yet. I believe we will get there one day. However, for now, America needs to continue to push a strategy of energy independence so we are not at the mercy of foreign countries to provide the energy we need to make America work.
There has certainly been a lot of debate as to whether President Trump's so-called 'travel ban", the executive order signed on January 27 temporarily suspending the granting of visas from seven countries that are believed to be supplying many of the terrorists plaguing the world. Critics of the executive order call it a Muslim ban, which is not true, as the majority of Muslim countries do not fall under the ban. Others state that the executive order violates the Constitution in that it is discriminatory towards those people based on national origin and religious preference.
U.S. District Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington, the judge who issued the temporary restraining order on the ban, ruled that the state of Washington has legal standing to challenge the executive order based on the argument that the state could sue as "parens patriae" on behalf of various groups of their residents, these groups defined as those who work with refugees, residents who already have visas or green cards, businesses who want to employ refugees, and possibly the refugees themselves. (National Review)
What the judge chose to ignore was that Trump acted fully within the statutory authority granted to him by Congress under federal statute 8 U.S.C. §1182(f), which was cited by the President in his executive order. In other words, Congress gave the President the authority to suspend the entry of any aliens or class of aliens into the United States based on the judgment that the entry of those persons would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The statute also allows for the President to do so for such period as he shall deem necessary. In this case, Trump issued the executive order as a temporary measure to ensure that resources are available to review screening procedures and that adequate standards are in place to protect against terrorist attacks.
The courts do not come into play in this situation because, because under the law, the decision to prevent aliens from entering the country is a "fundamental sovereign attribute" realized through the legislative and executive branches and therefore is largely immune from judicial control. There is no Constitutional right for any foreigner to enter the United States. The Constitution gives Congress complete authority over immigration, and by passing the federal statute, the legislative branch provided the President the authority to suspend the entry of aliens into the country. Therefore, no federal judge has the authority to substitute his or her judgment for that of the president when it comes to making a decision on what is detrimental to the national security and foreign policy interests of the nation. Based on this, it becomes obvious that the judge has overstepped his Constitutional authority. The judge is not authorized to make immigration policy decisions. His sole role is to review whether the President has acted on authority from the Constitution and federal law.
Let me end by repeating this thought: No foreigner has the Constitutional right to enter this country. But then again, how often have liberals followed the Constitution lately?
Last week, unbeknownst to most of America, outgoing President Obama signed into law the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act which authorized $611 billion for the military in 2017. Within this bill, however, is a despicable piece of legislation called the Countering Information Warfare Act which was designed (as stated by the creator of the Bill, Sen. Rob Portman from Ohio) to develop a federal government strategy to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. Key within this strategy would be a coordinated effort of the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of National Intelligence and Broadcasting Board of Governors to “establish a Center for Information Analysis and Response” with the purpose of identifying sources of disinformation and analyze the accompanying data to develop and disseminate “fact-based narratives” to counter propaganda.
As always, reading into the quixotic mission to protect the public against things like “Russian propaganda “and “fake news”, it all sounds great on the surface. However, consider the consequences of such a bill. The government is taking upon itself to determine what is disinformation and propaganda. Slowly, it will indoctrinate the citizenry into believing that the federal government knows best, and will ultimately have the ability to legally crack down on information which it considers out of compliance with the official government narrative or which criticizes the government, enabling itself to call such information “fake news” or “dangerous propaganda.”
The political ramifications of such a law are pretty obvious. The political party in power will have the power to call dissenting opinions disinformation and not only produce the official government “position” on the subject, but will ultimately set the stage to shut down dissenters and subsidize those media outlets which agree with the official government position.
I’m sure the architects of free speech are turning in their graves. Freedom is on assault as big brother government feels it needs to provide that safety net. But do we really need that safety net? To quote the film, “The American President” and probably one of the few things that came out of the mouth of the character Michael Douglas played that I agree with:
“America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.'”
America IS advanced citizenship. With the freedoms we enjoy come the responsibility to be an active participant in the process. It requires that we accept that we cannot trust everything we read and hear, and therefore, we must apply critical thinking towards the information placed before us. So that requires access to all sources of information without government interference or determination of what is considered acceptable information. So, my fellow American citizens, be vigilant!!!