Jul 31 2008

Freedom of speech

Jamie Barrows

I read a quote this morning that I thought was really relevant to our current society and culture. The quote goes like this.

“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.”
– HL Mencken

There has been a lot of talk in the news lately about “hate speech.” The main theme being that modern society should not tolerate or accept “hate speech.” And to some extent, I agree. I often cringe when I read or hear some of the things that people say. The hurtful and misleading things they say aren’t right, and they really shouldn’t be tolerated by the main stream of our society.

But unlike many who are calling for laws against this kind of thing, I don’t believe that laws are the way they should be handled. For one thing, laws won’t solve the problem. The racists, xenophobes, and intolerant people will still be there. They will still be around and will still be racist and intolerant. For another, who gets to decide what is defined as “hate speech.” Anyone can be offended by anything. So who gets to decide what crosses the line when it comes to free speech?

Freedom of speech, even for racist or hateful people, is far more important than not being offended by what someone says. As the quote above implies, once you start restricting what people are allowed to say, you will end up with laws against anything you say. While it’s never been my intention to offend, I’m sure there are things I’ve said on this blog that have offended people. So if we start restricting the speech of people like NeoNazis(who’s speech we all would agree is offensive and wrong), how long before this blog and others like it are told what they can and can’t say?

As the quote says, I don’t like having to defend the rights of people who are hateful and wrong, but I find myself having to defend their rights in defense of my own. I don’t think we should tolerate or accept hate speech, but I also don’t think we can ever outlaw it or be free of it.

Jul 27 2008

How blessed am I?

Jamie Barrows

Sometimes I forget how well off I am. I look around and see all the things I don’t have and forget how rich I am. Seeing the fancy cars, houses, and entertainment systems that others have makes me feel poor. But the truth it, that I’m actually very well off in comparison to most people.

I have a good job, a nice house, and a new car. Sure my car isn’t as nice as those that some people have. And my house isn’t as big as the houses that some of my friends have. But the house is mine, and the car is practically new. Most people in the world don’t own their own house, and most people can’t afford a new car.

When I think about how well off I am, I feel ashamed at how ungrateful I can be. God has blessed me with so much, and yet most of the time I’m not satisfied with it. No matter how much I have, I always want more. The truth is, that I have way more than I really need. God has provided me with so much that I don’t even deserve.

What should be happening, is that I should be thanking God every day for what he’s given me. Because I’m truly blessed by God.

Jul 25 2008


Jamie Barrows

Well, now that I’m back in the US, I’m having to readjust to the “always on” life that I had before going overseas. And it’s becoming a bit of an effort to keep up. I’m actually not sure how I did it before. And even worse, my current volume of mail and phone calls is actually lower than normal. So I know that as I get back into the swing of things, the amount of things needing my attention will increase.

Don’t get me wrong, I like being connected all the time. But after being away from it all for a while, I can understand how people get overwhelmed by it all. And why they want to turn off their phones and ignore their computers. Between work phone calls, personal calls, work email, personal email, and all the social networks out there, I can hardly keep up. Oh, and I almost forgot. I also have to(more like want to) keep updating this blog.

I know I can handle it. After all, I handled a much larger volume of information than what I’m working with now. I just am a little out of practice.

Jul 17 2008

Back at home

Jamie Barrows

Well, I’m finally back home and happy to be here. The above pic is what I look like after three months of traveling. The whole time I was overseas I didn’t bother to shave or cut my hair. Now that I’m home, I’m shaving it all off.

Jul 7 2008

Great Expectations

Jamie Barrows

Soccer Cleats
Last year I was playing soccer a lot with a group of my friends. The games were just informal pickup games, but we had a lot of fun. And it was great exercise. Then one of us, I don’t remember who, found out about a local soccer club. The club was just an amature soccer club, and the entrance requirements were pretty lax. Basically anyone who could get enough players together to form a team, could pay a fee and join up. That was it.
So we got our money together and picked a team from the best pickup players we had, and signed up. Now, none of us were really all that good. And we knew that. But the more we prepared for our first game, the better we convinced ourselves we were.
So our first game came up and we were excited. We got to the field and set up our stuff. Other friends and relatives showed up to cheer us on. We were sure we were going to do well.
Reality quickly stepped in. The other team literally ran circles around us. No matter what we tried, they kept scoring on us. And even worse, we couldn’t seem to score on them. When the game was finally over we hadn’t scored a single goal, but the other team had managed to score 19 goals! It turned out we weren’t anywhere near as good as we thought we were.
Over the course of the season, we did get better. And we never quit trying, but we also never managed to win a game. It just goes to show you that no matter how good you may be in your little sphere of influence, you are probably not as good as you think. Kind of a humbling thought, but at the same time good to recognize. That way, you won’t be surprised when you run up against a situation where that is made obvious.

Jul 4 2008

Mission Disk Update

Jamie Barrows

Since I’ve been traveling so much lately, I haven’t been able to do much with the Mission Disk project. But the good news is that Darrell has been hard at work updating the website and getting all the software versions of the included programs up to date. And now he’s put out a new release(v 1.1) of the disk. So check it out.

And if you don’t know what the project is all about, follow this link to read about it.