1 Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits,* and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. 2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the local governors, the deputies, and the governors, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4 Then the herald cried aloud, “To you it is commanded, peoples, nations, and languages, 5 that whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. 6 Whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace the same hour.”
7 Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, all the peoples, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
8 Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews. 9 They answered Nebuchadnezzar the king, “O king, live for ever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man that hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; 11 and whoever doesn’t fall down and worship shall be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, have not respected you. They don’t serve your gods, and don’t worship the golden image which you have set up.”
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and fury commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. Then these men were brought before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered them, “Is it on purpose, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you don’t serve my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready whenever you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe, and all kinds of music to fall down and worship the image which I have made, good; but if you don’t worship, you shall be cast the same hour into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. Who is that god that will deliver you out of my hands?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If it happens, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.”
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the form of his appearance was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He spoke, and commanded that they should heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 He commanded certain mighty men who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their pants, their tunics, and their mantles, and their other clothes, and were cast into the middle of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore because the king’s commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 These three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the middle of the burning fiery furnace.
24 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste. He spoke and said to his counselors, “Didn’t we cast three men bound into the middle of the fire?”
They answered the king, “True, O king.”
25 He answered, “Look, I see four men loose, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are unharmed. The appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace. He spoke and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, you servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!”
Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the middle of the fire. 27 The local governors, the deputies, and the governors, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, that the fire had no power on their bodies. The hair of their head wasn’t singed. Their pants weren’t changed, the smell of fire wasn’t even on them.
28 Nebuchadnezzar spoke and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel, and delivered his servants who trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and have yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything evil against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god who is able to deliver like this.”
30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
Today our Pastor gave a profound teaching on this chapter. There are two eternal lessons we can all take from Daniel 3:
When you are in an impossible situation, do not play along, hold true to your values. Further, when they throw you into the fire, know that it is the fire that frees you.
When you are in the fire, don’t miss the fourth man who is there with you. Jews believe it to be the Archangel Michael, Christians believe it to be Jesus, and in both cases it is the Living God who is with us in the trial.
We were fortunate to visit the seat of the Empire in Washington, DC, last week to attend a conference (more on that to follow). The Washington DC area is home to some very moving war memorials. Among them those dedicated to those who gave their lives in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
In nearby Arlington, Virginia the Arlington National Cemetery provides a resting place for approximately 400,000 soldiers. This Military Cemetery was established on 624 acres after the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, the former estate of Mary Anna Custis, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. Ms. Custis, of course, was the wife of none other than Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Most famously, the Tomb of the Unknowns commemorates those who perished in conflict and could not be identified. It is the focal point for many at the Cemetery. It has been guarded around the clock since 1937 and its changing of the guard is one of the most solemn and precise disciplines in the US Military.
Today we watched television program recounting the history of the Navy SEALs, perhaps the most visible and celebrated contingent of the US Military. One thing that stuck out to us is that for the SEALs who shared their stories on the program, they saw their service as “fighting other’s battles.” Indeed, this is the spirit of the Veterans who have answered the call of duty throughout History. They train and then go willingly into the face of danger so that others don’t have to. They defend those who are unable or unwilling to defend themselves, and the depth of their sacrifices is too often overlooked.
Let it be not so this Veteran’s Day, as we remember those who have given their lives for many. You can read about a few we have been privileged to know here: An Ode to the Veterans We’ve Known
For those among our readership who do not follow Spanish Politics, Catalunya, the region of Spain most easily recognized by its leading city, Barcelona, held a vote on two matters of the utmost importance to the Catalans. The questions were posed in the following manner:
1) Do you want Catalunya to be a State?
2) Do you want that State be Independent?
The vote today in Catalunya, of which 80.72% voted “yea” on both questions, was not sanctioned or recognized by the Spanish government in Madrid, other than to say it was nothing more than propaganda.
According to The Guardian, roughly 2 million of the 5.4 million persons who were eligible to vote cast a ballot today, a roughly 37% turnout, which means that today, roughly 32.3% of those living in Catalunya took the time to submit a symbolic ballot in favor of their Independence from Spain. For a quick comparison of this figure, 68.9% of eligible voters cast a ballot in Spain’s last General Election in November of 2011.
While voter turnout today in Catalunya may not seem impressive on the surface, it takes on more meaning when one considers that, as it was unsanctioned by the Spanish Government, over 40,000 volunteers took it upon themselves to receive and count the ballots.
The Catalans have employed what we call Classic, or Grass-roots, Democracy in an effort to allow their citizens to determine in a civilized manner the most basic of questions with regards to self governance: Shall we, as a region, be Independent?
Admittedly, Catalunya is in a unique position to do so. Most regions, for which Independence is more a romantic idea than a practical one (the most recent example being Scotland’s referendum to break ties with the UK), have much to lose and little to gain by declaring Independence. Catalunya, on the other hand, is essentially self-sufficient and for them, remaining part of Spain has little upside.
For a time, the argument could be made that Spain provided Catalunya access to markets that it otherwise could not have sold into. Today, this is a non-issue, as the EU trade agreements would continue to cover an Independent Catalan State.
The Spanish Government has a big problem. While Spanish officials are swiftly and publicly denouncing the Catalans for holding what, in their mind, had already been declared an “illegal” vote, the Catalans have cleverly and very publicly made a mockery of what passes today as “Democracy” in the Sovereign States of the world who embrace this model of governance.
For what is Democracy if not the people’s right to self determination? Yet modern democracy for most boils down to questions of which hand picked candidate will occupy an embedded power structures, and whether or not to increase the existing tax and regulatory burdens imposed by this power structure.
With today’s actions, the Catalans struck at the heart of the existing system. Our guess is that one day, they and many other regions in similar situations will enjoy sovereign status as peers to their former oppressors in the EU.
Throwing off the EU’s chains, however, would be a matter settled by arms, as the French, American, and every other successful revolution against the clutches of Empire have shown. It is not the nature of Empire to negotiate or put to vote matters of self-determination.
Oregon Taxes Weed
In our local elections, our fellow Oregonians chose to decriminalize marijuana. Joining them were the people of Washington, DC, making a total of four jurisdictions in the US that have changed the innocuous plant from a huge drain on tax revenue to a potential source of revenue with the stroke of a pen.
Weed: It got your parents kicked out of school, now it can pay for yours.
Which way did The Mint vote on the issue? We didn’t. You can read our reasons for abstaining from voting on State and Federal Matters in the links below:
As the Catalans have seen in the case of the Spanish, government, once it exceeds a certain size, ceases to serve the people who created it and becomes at best parasitic and at worst, antagonistic and violent as it increasingly resorts to the use of force in an effort to advance a failed system.
With most of the markets we follow taking a breather for the holiday, save the Bitcoin, which bows to no sovereign and raced up to $383 today, we turn our gaze and tip our hats once again to veterans, not just those of the United States, which has specifically set aside this day to honor them, but of all men and women who have thrown themselves into the face of danger and worked in extremely difficult conditions to defend a national ideal that they believed in with all of their heart.
Here at The Mint, we wish to honor them by remembering the four veterans that we have known, three have passed on and one remains. Each story is woven in with our own, and has changed the course of history for us.
First, there is our Grandfather Collins, who, as World War II raged on, managed to memorize the eye chart so that they would allow him to enlist in the Army. While leaving our grandmother behind with countless other young women in the same situation at an Army base in Kansas, he boarded a troop transport which zigzagged its way across the Atlantic Ocean, dodging German U Boats, while sleeping on a rack with many other men, packed in like sardines for roughly 18 days until they safely reached their destination in England, where, as an ambulance driver he witnessed first hand the casualties returning from the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
“They didn’t tell us, but you could see they were mounting something big,” he told us of the preparations for D-Day. He mentioned that they would ride bicycles 20 miles for a beer at the Pub on weekends.
When VE day arrived, he said they were allowed to stay in some of the finest hotels in Paris, but he was extremely anxious to get home to his young bride and could not enjoy it as one might imagine in retrospect.
Next, there is our other Grandfather, Victor, who enlisted in the Army early on in World War II and was sent to the Pacific Theater of operations. While all of the Veterans we knew passed for difficult things, it was he who had the most difficult time. He was an excellent baseball player in the Army and had the bad fortune of rupturing his spleen while playing ball in Hawaii. While the surgeons were able to successfully remove it, they sewed up his abdomen with a sponge still inside! The incision became so infected that they shipped him back to San Francisco to be operated on once again as he was close to dying.
When he recovered from this ordeal, he was sent into back to the Pacific Theater and, from what the family knew, contracted malaria and got lost in the jungle. It was not until much later, after he had passed away, that we found out that he had actually been a Japanese POW and, at the end of the war, weighed just 98 pounds and again was at the brink of death.
They sent him on a train to his uncle’s farm in western Nebraska, where, fortunately, he was nursed back to health.
Third comes Edgar, our Grandfather Victor’s brother (our great uncle), who fought Germany’s Rommel, the Desert Fox, in Northern Africa. Uncle Ed’s observations of the war that he related to us were that dentistry in the field involved a drill that was powered by a stationary bike. As such, it was best to have a cavity filled when the men with the best bicycle legs were able to help.
He also observed that water was scarce, and it vexed him as to how the villages they visited during the war, who seemed short of water then, had grown to tens of thousands of people some 40 years later. He and his wife, Ethel, were featured in the Reader’s Digest as a letter Ed sent to Ethel was found among a bag of US Army mail that had been found 40 years later. It had words cut out of it to prevent the letters from giving away troop positions and planned movements that the servicemen may have inadvertently included in the letters to their sweethearts.
Ed often said that if any of us youngsters were drafted, he would pay for us to go live in Canada. After the events of 9/11, he recommended that we read The Haj in order to understand Arab culture.
These three brave men above went on to live long, full lives and, while we have recounted some of the difficult things they were called to live during World War II, they did not doubt the call of duty which was given to their generation, and were glad to have served, and even gladder to be home when it was over.
The final veteran that we’ve known is a friend and former colleague who left the company before we did to occupy a UN post in Geneva. We went to visit him once and he led us on a hike through some of the hills leading up from Ouchy, a nearby village, where at the top, we took in a pot of fondue and enjoyed the views over Lake Geneva.
We knew that Ryan, our friend, had been in the military before we knew him. During our ascent over short rock walls and past cows donning bells, we took the opportunity to ask him about his experiences. He was the leader of a tank unit in desert storm in 1991, and recalled how he would have to run up to holes in the sand to see if there were any Iraqi soldiers that had survived in their foxholes in the desert as the tank units advanced. Not for the faint of heart.
The sacrifices of men like Collins, Victor, Ed, and Ryan all too often go unrecognized and, even more often, are not recounted, even by the very men who lived through the horrors of war to their immediate families.
We tip our hats to them and to all veterans across the United States and throughout the world of all nations, for they have demonstrated that at times it requires uncommon valor to keep the light of freedom burning in this world.
May they be remembered fondly and often, and may those who made the ultimate sacrifice rest in peace.
For those who let the 5th of November go unmarked, as so many still do, by all means, do carry on. “For those who see what I see, and feel what I feel…”
Apart from taking the name “Guy” and enshrining it so deeply in the English language that today many commemorate him without even knowing it, the actions of Guy Fawkes on November 5th, 1605, for those today who have taken time to connect the dots and draw the parallels between the time Fawkes lived in and our own, now serve as a somewhat unlikely rally cry for freedom.
In modern-day jargon, Guy Fawkes would be labelled a terrorist and no doubt be on many a no fly list. His bank account, telephone, and electronic communications would be monitored, and his Facebook friends would be suspects along with him.
In Fawkes’ day, taxing beards and regulating dress codes was high on the government’s priority list, a far cry from innocent government actions which we take for granted today, such as taxing tanning beds and regulating health insurance.
The more one reflects on what occurred over 400 years ago, the more one begins to understand why it still resonates with those who love freedom across the planet, as the million mask marches which took place today demonstrated.
For better or worse, Freedom is one of the few God-given rights of humankind. It is so basic and vital to our existence that one tends to assume that all people think alike on the matter, as they would access to food and water supplies. It is so vital and ever-present that one does not take notice until it is credibly threatened.
Whether you don a mask or not, we wish you a Happy Guy Fawkes day, may we all cherish our God-given freedom, and may those who choose to don a beard continue to do so in a duty-free manner.
Today we came across some information that may literally be a question of life or death. It is regarding the much vilified Fifth Amendment, better known for its Miranda translation, “The right to remain silent.”
The jest of the article is that, rather than being a hiding place for criminals, the Fifth Amendment, the right to not incriminate oneself, serves an extremely important function in today’s culture where persons are all too often presumed guilty until proven innocent. The best advice, when approached by a police officer, is to draw on the fifth amendment first and then ask questions later, with an attorney present.
The logic is that, the police, even under the best of circumstances, may unintentionally twist one’s words in a way that implicates them in a crime that one did not commit. In the worst of cases, the Police use anything one says to frame them.
The article draws on information from the following lecture given by a law school professor and former criminal defense attorney, which deals extensively with this very issue:
With the incredible pressure and awkward situations in which those who are entrusted to serve and protect us are placed in daily, invoking the Fifth Amendment may also be the best way to get them out of a difficult situation.
Paradoxical as it may seem, the next time one is approached by the Police, the best course of action is to simply state, “I invoke my right to remain silent. If you wish to speak with me, I will do so only with my attorney preset.” When they ask why, simply state “Because, anything I say can and will be used to incriminate me.”
As society has made the Subtle Change from Principles to Rules, simply being alive and breathing may cause one to break any number of rules, both written and unwritten, no matter how much one tries to do the right thing.
The Police are there to enforce the rules, and we praise them for it, unfortunately the rules themselves all too often serve to pervert justice rather than serve it. For innocents simply trying to live their life peacefully, the Fifth Amendment may be the best and only source of protection against random prosecutions.
What kind of book is this? It is largely up to the reader to decide. For us, it is the fruit of two years of wrestling with some of life’s deeper questions with regards to Economics, Politics, and Philosophy. It has answered many of them and, in turn, has raised other issues, for in our exploration, as you will see, the current state of affairs is laid bare for all to examine, and our recommended courses of action may be unpalatable for many.
Nevertheless, there it is, altogether thick and challenging, yet refreshingly simple, the key to reversing the effects of climate change.
In a sense, it culminates the first phase of what we set out to do here at The Mint. There will be more to come, but for the time being, we leave you to ponder the following brief excerpt:
“The natural world strives daily to achieve a perfect state of balance. Events and occurrences that, taken by themselves, appear chaotic and devoid of meaning are together part of a constant rebalancing of the earth’s delicate state. Each event is a splash of color across an oppressive gray sky that hints at a rainbow that will soon appear. “