Friday, September 30, 2011

The coming Global Superstorm

This title borrows a title from a decade old book, but things are much worse than just a mother nature natural event. This time political people are involved, hence the idea of things can be worse than they are today, and may be in our near future.

The level of such coming change is analogous to what went on after World War II, which was pretty profound to those affected, which was pretty much the whole world.

Then, in simple terms, the West, and mostly the USA and Russia dominated the immediate future of the world, as any victor with responsibility and future intent would do. In my opinion, we (USA types) did "good", like succeeded in what our ancestors wanted to accomplish after the "big war". How well the Russians did is another discussion.

But then was then, and now was now, and we have a new set of "us" and our leaders. Now even today in our world, not all leaders are elected, and many leaders are still basically dictators, or tribal leaders, or some variation in between, to include economic leaders. When I hear of the idea of "failed states", I still wonder why we (and the present UN) are enforcing some practical method of defining the world our ancestors from the 1800's defined. The simple term is colonialism, as least to me. And I don't feel personally obligated to perpetuate what they did during their time. I have enough problems in my time.

So back to the title of this post.

If we had similar leaders to those of our recent past, then perhaps our present leaders could guide our future OK. Now if, call it bad luck, then if we have poor leaders who do a bad job, then times may get tempestuous, in Shakespearean terms.

So back to the title of this post, again. This time imagine some kind of mother nature event, like the Yellowstone caldera letting go. It's overdue. Even it's probable downwind patterns will affect where I live like I will have up to 6 inches of ash that will pretty well shut down a lot of life.

So am on my own, or can I count on future leaders to help the process along? Right now I don't know what to think. I just want to be warm and fed.

Given all this uncertainty, two thoughts come to mind. One is trust and faith, like in our leadership. Second is belief in their integrity and honesty about enhancing me and my Family.

So if all else fails, it is time for change, like the old time status quo will change. I suspect even science will come into play.

I am always astonished at the human tendency to want to join a "party", since I am not that way, though I realize I am in a minority on this idea. Even I would not be a part of a high school clique. But in the same vein, parties do have their value, mostly in getting things done.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Our unique American culture

I still think we are a melting pot. That, and time, has made us unique. I have been around the world, like in living "over there", and I recognize this probably more than others who have not traveled as much. I also think our Constitution and way of government have also helped in the new world area we live in to make us different.

Two old time comments come to mind. One is "Americans always do the right thing, after exhausting all other possibilities". The other is that "democracy is not perfect, but compared to the alternatives, it is pretty good".

Now one can say all cultures are unique, and I would agree. But I would add that all cultures are not equal, that is some are more successful than others, and my experience has led me to this belief.

And by luck and circumstance, I think our American culture is one of the more successful cultures, especially compared to the alternatives. I choose to take advantage of it, mostly for my and my Family's benefit. That's American, too, in my opinion.

And "unique and American to boot" has some obvious examples to me. Now I think of myself as Scotch-Irish, but when in rural Scotland decades ago I and the Scottish farmers, though both were speaking "English", could not understand each other. Obviously, and in spite of our common ancestry, countless generations apart had brought this about. Yep, I was an American, not a Scottish person.

My historical guess is the fusion of all the cultures in this new world America has brought this unique American culture about. Just look at our standards of dress, music, favorite foods, moral standards, Family expectations, married names, etc, and make up your own mind. I even had a buddy from North Dakota who spoke Norwegian until he was five, and had never seen a Negro until he joined the Marines. Yet he always thought of himself as an American. I did, too.

For those so inclined, go back to "your" mother country; many will not recognize the culture they enter, depending on how many generations you may be removed from your Family's original immigrants into new world America. Like it or not, you are an American, and from new world America.

Now this idea of a unique American culture is not generic. Even decades ago American Spanish was different from Castilian Spanish (the mother country's language), but the people I hung around with (from both areas) could communicate, with effort. But it was also obvious, both groups were from different cultures.

And one more personal story. Not too long ago I was president of a land company that owned a 23,000 acre bobwhite quail plantation in SC, and was offered an opinion by a PhD (Princeton) from WV about the "swept yard" idea there, where many homes had bare dirt yards, which was an African good way to keep out reptiles and even help protect the kids. While I never did it (had a swept yard), I would have expected most of these local people to say (if I had asked) this is just the way they were brought up, as in this idea is now an American idea; cultural to me, though practical, to them.

Last, maybe I am becoming an old fuddy duddy, like in resisting change. To me, this is kind of funny, since as a Marine, I embrace change and all the opportunities it presents for those willing to exploit it. But even I don't like all the cultural change I see going on, but our unique American culture (and our Constitution) also gives even me a chance to assert myself, and I will, in my way.

This idea is unique in the world, and so new world American. I am confident in this report, too, as an American.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The power of ideas

Powerful ideas are different from political, economic, or religious beliefs, which are influential in their own right. One might decide to combine them if they choose, and for their good reason since both often do prompt actions. This authors intent is not to have some academic dissertation, but to remind all that always there are powerful ideas all around us.

The present third party movement in the USA is analogous to the hippie movement decades ago. It's a powerful idea.

The new world USA is more inclined to vote than revolt. Other cultures are more inclined to revolt than vote. Like boys and girls, we are all different, to include our powerful ideas.

Integrity and willingness to try and fail is still a powerful idea. The results of failure are often harsh, but also still a powerful idea.

Pursuit of happiness for self and Family is a powerful idea, and world-wide. Being warm and fed is both a simple and a powerful universal example of happiness for self and Family.

Bad ideas are powerful, too, but often do fade away for another day. Examples might be slavery and cannibalism.

When pushed into a corner, perceived or otherwise, physical fighting is often still a course of action. Even the USA had a revolt and a civil war long ago.

Humans cannot legislate peace, as much as many want to. USA culture tends towards isolationism and pacifism, a powerful idea.

Humans have long memories. Often cultures promulgate these memories. These memories are often powerful in the present world.

The new world USA, and its Constitution, are powerful ideas.

Throughout human history every type of ruling and governing has been tried. Many types still exist today. Some have proved to be better types than other types. In the end, the need and desire to be ruled is a powerful idea.

Recognizing our human foibles is a powerful idea. Such things as astrology, fascination with some numbers, witchcraft , and even pursuit of conspiracies provide such examples of recognizing our human foibles.

Powerful ideas cannot be eradicated. They may be suppressed for a while, too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The happiness factor

This post is about how to think, mostly what is important to you, and your Family, to include your influence on your Family.

To me happiness is good health and self respect.

No where is money or political power in the equation.

I always remember a visit by my older brother years ago when we shared a meal at the local restaurant. He, a multi-millionaire, went out of his way to report another group at the restaurant he observed was obviously poor, but also happy. I have never forgotten his observation.

Now a perennial human happiness problem is trying to live forever, or even preserve eternal youth, which is normal, though a fantasy, too. Even our machines wear out, too. This "problem" seems to affect our females more than our males, but in the end all do grow old and die, like normal.

There's obviously many unhappy boys and girls, too, and today in the new world USA. I offer the reports of the divorce rates as an example. And my idea to think about divorce is that it often brings about introspection, mostly about what makes you happy. And I still wonder why the divorce rate was less many decades ago? After all, I suspect even our ancestors did have their frictions in their time, too.

And then there are the religious ideas, too. In this area, I am out of my league, but respect the impact of religion on the happiness factor. It's real.

Last, I recognize that many still associate happiness with their money and their political power. So be it.

And for those who have bad health (vice old age), I also understand that impact on happiness. Most humans don't have bad health, by the way. One can even think of bad health as advancing our deaths, which will happen anyway. Dying with dignity is a noble goal, at whatever age or circumstance.

And thankfully, dying of old age stuff doesn't always affect the happiness of our living and remaining relatives.

But, and to conclude, this post is still a how to think article with no sales pitches or conclusions. Now just what makes you happy, and how happy are you when you die, and live? Nothing can dictate what we think, though we may have to say certain things while we live wherever we live.

After all, life, and the pursuit of happiness, does go on.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The power of spices

I like 'em in cooking, but that is just my preference. Mostly I like the combinations that don't have much sodium stuff, but that is just my preference, again.

The alternative I actually bought earlier was to enjoy the basic flavors in organically grown food, even store bought food flavors. Those promoters have a point, too. But I don't enjoy it as much.

So I still added some spices to what I am cooking today.

And you know what, I look forward to the output.

Now, being an amateur historian, I even buy the line that many spices were imported by our western ancestors as a way to mask the pungent/rotten smell of food in our past. Now in the West so many have refrigeration provided by public electricity that suggests we humans still like the flavors from our spices in the food we cook. Others in the East/third world may still like the masking aroma where the food is more pungent/rotting. In the end, nobody will want to get sick, or have their Family get sick.

Well, I will go back to making a local goulash on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, with some chicken and other things, to include some locally bought spice combination, in my Japanese rice cooker made in China, to boot. Then I will get on my John Deere tractor with bush hog just to do some work that makes me happy, and hopefully some of honey bees, too. Later I might come back to the local NFL football game delivered over my satellite TV.

But in the end, I sure like the spices I am using.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A difficult subject to talk about

The subject is Negros in America.

I am also prejudiced by my Marine Corps experience. There are many Negro Marines the other side does not want on our side. I am proud of them, and they count, too, like all the other Marines. And even in my Marine Corps time, I had a buddy (from North Dakota) who had never even seen a Negro until he joined the Marines. Plus I have been a recruiter during the 1970's in Kentucky, and anyone who made the minimum requirements (mental, physical, and moral) was good enough for me. Talk about diversity.

Later I was an officer recruiter of sorts as the Marine Officer Instructor at Naval ROTC at Georgia Tech, and Atlanta University. Back then we had a double standard, like if you were Negro you did not have to have as high an SAT score to qualify to be a Marine Officer candidate. Well that resulted in many young men totally frustrated when they got mixed with peers who were just better qualified. Later one common standard got instituted, thank goodness.

I even got a phone call once from one of my best Atlanta University grads (Morris Brown), who got frustrated during his Basic School time when he got selected to go into the transportation specialty. He took it as racial prejudice. Well to make a long story short, I chewed his rear end because (and I was proud of him) he could not write at all (his wife did most of his writing), and I had forcefully told him to take a basic course in reading and writing while at Morris Brown. He ignored me. And after he got out of the USMC he got hired by Macys in Atlanta, but even they expect performance and writing skills, too. And I have not kept up, too.

So in my experience, and prejudice I guess, I too am influenced by my experience. Plus I consider myself an OK amateur historian. Where I live today on the Cumberland Plateau suggests much of this. Right or wrong, I am sincere.

So here's a sincere idea. Negros are pretty good Americans as born. Now other cultural and tribal influences are poor. And I think most people suspect some tribes are more successful than others. Plus even as former Senator David Moynihan (now dead) suggested in our USA our best efforts to provide welfare may have unintended consequences. Families are key, and any program that takes the males out of the Family equation is just a poor idea, to me. Hence much of the horrible racial attacks, often coordinated by flash mob technicality, may reflect such a terrible situation in these days.

And I live in a kind of poor Scotch-Irish area, and the way we live is better than some of the alternatives I read about. Hence government programs do make a difference, some good, and some bad, all for our future of course.

So in my mind, America is still more a melting pot than some kind of academic idea diversity area. And we Americans living today still have to go through the process, that is the evolution of our American culture. Now just how long that will take is up for grabs, but I suggest it may be longer than most guess, like decades, and maybe a century.

But born American Negros are pretty good and smart humans, to me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We still want change

I think our present Federal President hasn't delivered.

Here's a sub from Victor Davis Hanson:
At some point, Barack Obama and those around him grasped that utopian rhetoric and progressive intentions made discordant facts irrelevant. They appreciated that they could do pretty much what they wished and could outsource the rationalization to enthralled intellectuals, academics, and activists, without worry of much media scrutiny. That they thereby helped to destroy the reputations of the bamboozled media was of no concern.

So I think we Americans still want change.

And change does take time, it turns out.

It will be interesting how it sorts out as all levels, but like the 2008 election suggested at the Federal level, we Americans still want change.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Idealism versus practicality

This post is mostly about how much I like public electricity, and all the wonderful widgets it powers and benefits it brings to me. And in retrospect, public AC electricity has only been available in the last 100 years, though around this rural place on the Cumberland Plateau, the time has been less. Even this old time place is still wired (in places) for the old time DC method of providing private electricity.

So don't mess with my public AC electricity, period. And all my present electric machines are AC go DC means buying another set of machines.

Now gas energy for cars is another thing, but again, don't mess with my public electricity.

Obvious examples pop up to me, like frozen and refrigerated food at grocery stores, available gas from the public pumps, hot water including electric thermostats, interior lights after the sun goes down, security lights to protect me from the criminals and wild critters, and energy to heat and cook by. Even most natural gas systems use some electricity in various modes, as do our public clean water and waste water treatment systems. And never assume washing and drying machines are energy free. The list can go on and on. I don't see many clothes lines around these days, for example.

So, like most, I am concerned we may run out of the energy that makes my electricity while I am alive, and while I can influence the action. Said another way, will my public electricity run out for human caused reasons that, in theory, we can do something about. After all, I do like the benefits it provides me.

Now I will just touch on the global warming discussions/debates. There are two elements I seldom read about, as in reported. One, is it in fact occurring, and two, is our human influence part of the problem? Two more ideas come out of these questions. One is that this GaTech grad has been studying this for decades, and thus have my own opinion, heavily influenced by the many Danish studies. Two is that the historical dilemma of all scientists, including Galileo, is in seeking sponsors. Even President Eisenhower's famous writ often quoted about the military industrial complex had a scientific industrial complex second half, seldom reported, though valid to me. I would suggest read it and make up your own mind. After all scientists have to make a living, too, to include getting married and supporting their own families, and government money spends just as well as private sponsor money.

As a quick summary, I think our present fossil fueled world economy will eventually run out of fossil fuels. But I also think it will be in the far future, like in the latter centuries from now.

So hence, I choose to balance my idealism with my practicality, and to me that means let time sort it out; let's muddle through, as in to do anything other than what some politician wants to do in a much shorter time frame. Let me say it another way, there are still bigger influences going on than the human influence in 2011. And I still trust we humans, in general, to do the right thing, whatever that is in our interest, than what some politicians say to do.

Of course most politicians are savvy enough just to say what the people they rule say to do, but then some politicians (be they elected, or tribal, or dictatorial, etc.) are not as savvy in their time. And too often it comes down to idealism versus practicality, and the time frame for change.

In the meantime, I sure like my public electricity, like I will fight for it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trust and faith in our Federal President

We have a crummy Federal President. There, I've said it again.

Now even I can distinguish between a political position or even a political theme, often called an ideology these days, and the politician. And we Americans can argue all we want about what is best for our Country, but I choose not to waste my time in this area. I leave that to others.

Also, the old military idea of deciphering capabilities, though hard, is much easier than trying to decipher intents, like reading the "others" minds. That gets into psycho babble stuff, and the nuclear program training stuff about certification that I have had in this area is enough for me. And it was pretty good, at least to me and my GaTech mind.

And the old time military idea when you want to fire somebody is just to say you've lost trust and faith in the person you are firing. There is plenty of review built into the system to account for this, too. For most USA people these days, it is the vote.

And my last lead in to this post has to do with a visit by a very liberal friend, age 25 and an announced southern Democrat. He wanted to watch on TV the President's speech to the collected Congress last week, and I declined, saying why should I listen to him lie. So I put on something else.

Now maybe I have become a recalcitrant (age 63), but I sense, as a political junkie, that the times have changed, and lying to rule a country is more accepted today by our society. Fine, but I don't accept it. That idea is just wrong. That method is fraught with problems that only voters can decide at that Federal level.

And even reading a lot of online stuff, an awful lot of Americans still believe our Federal President, like take him at his word. Count me among those that don't.

Now is he is lying outright, like being an immoral person. I don't think so.

Rather, and of more concern for my future, is that he is simply kinda dumb and doing what he thinks is right, and has the courage and ego to follow his convictions. Hence, I think rather than lying, it's worse than that. He actually believes what he is saying. And he is still being influenced a lot by his hired minions. Now that is a scary idea, too.

Hence I have lost trust and faith in our present Federal President.

Even I can live with that, after all we the people elected him, and maybe I am wrong, but in the same vein we have an immediate future to deal with.

So I, again, have lost trust and faith in our present Federal President in being an American President. That includes all who he has hired, be they Secretaries or Czars, or lessers. And they have the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, and what they do affects me and you. And they have over a year to do their thing before we voters either reinforce what they are doing, or elect them out.

So how will they react, or act, in the near future. I don't know, but worry. And only time will tell.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Time and money seems to sort out most things

This is just my latest report from the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.

My latest charity failure is now back in county jail for 200 days for parole violation. He's a nice guy who will not work, and now 40 years of age, and losing sponsors from his past. Even his age and background will catch up, in my opinion. I suspect this idea will also apply to the women who have sponsored him recently, even with their insurance money payments. Bottom line, even they are dropping him, again, at age 40. I'd rather die of old age in my case, with dignity. In his case, the scourge of drug addiction is even affecting him.

Another "small" rockslide was discovered yesterday in Verble Hollow. I went out to take zoomed in pictures today (from above and about a mile away), but did a crummy job. I blamed it on the angle of the sun about the time of the pictures, 1030 local time. This small rockslide was about 50 M wide by about 150 M in length, but that is just a guess. So I added it to my GIS map, and will go back in the fall after things cool down and the leaves fall down. In the meantime, the creek is full of siltly water when it even flows on top of the ground. Often it just disappears into the local underground caves and sieves, depending on the rainfall.

My latest dog bitch just had her fourth litter under the Honda ATV shed. This litter may be 8, though the first three litters were 12, 13, and 12. I take care of them all, but realistically also have to even budget for the food now that they are getting weaned. I have a well intended niece in the city who tells me to fix her, but when I suggested she spend $400 of her money to do so, well, she has not responded.

It almost seems like a political metaphor. One who has good intentions often does not want to pay for them...rather someone else like me has to pay for their good intentions. Now there is a plan B, just shoot her (the dog) in the head and throw her over the 80 foot bluff to recycle.

Even an old time place on the Cumberland Plateau (1905) needs maintenance. Bummer. I choose to do it these days. It does cost me money. I even have a tractor in for maintenance I can't do.

Last, and as reported to me by email, boys and girls still want to "get it on". I just hope they practiced safe sex! The after action reports were interesting, too, speaking as a grandfatherly type these days.
We Americans are different from the rest of the World

And what does that mean for the next few years?

As a start I think mutts, the old fashioned term for run of the mill dogs, are generally genetically superior dogs. And in much the same way we Americans are a polyglot of cultures and peoples that make us genetically superior humans. I'm generalizing, of course.

And as part of this post's beginning, I also believe our present Federal President is not too smart, and poorly educated. Now not being smart is not necessarily bad, but being poorly educated on top of that can be a show stopper, especially if he can't grow into his job. I think of him as a case of affirmative action gone bad...and there are plenty of cases where it has gone right, too. And I use his years of words and not his educational pedigrees as my evidence to myself of a poor education.

What worries me, and I can be a worry wart, too, is that he is a lightweight and has hired a lot of lightweights to help him rule. Plus he gives pretenses of acting like royalty, including that method of ruling.

Now in today's America, he can't rule by himself. Hence, our two National parties have something to do with the mess we are in today, and potentially how we will react to possible future problems.

The obvious future possible problems include the terrible future economic situation (it is bad enough now), the possibility of future regional wars, and the possibility of a future mother nature wild card event.

Yet I am optimistic in a silly sort of way. Said another way, no one, including me, would wish any of these possible problems on us or the world. But if they occur, America is probably a good place to live and "be". Here's why I believe this.

America will change the way it governs itself over the next decade and at all levels: Federal, State, County, City, and School Boards. Most change involves new people (and maybe parties), but sometimes it means keeping the good people, too. And probably it will include the vote as in we the people can change our rule and rulers without the violence of a revolt or civil war.

And if during this change period, one or more of my worry type events also occur, then our American response will probably be better than anywhere else might respond. Of course, there will be much friction, too, but somehow we Americans will work together better than other humans might do.

Now I may end up cold and hungry, but I will survive, and my Family will survive, too. And in that case, it will be part of a bigger American effort.

Hopefully, we will have new "management" then, so as to help the effort along. Worse case, we Americans will still push a response along, though it might lack the unity of effort a good executive provides at all levels.

The key point is that we Americans are a different kind of human, and in that belief, hope springs eternal for our future in a world of adversity.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Can a country be "run down"?

There are obviously two points of view. One is yes, and one is no.

The reason I pose this question occurred during a local doctor's visit yesterday, and I was reading a novel while waiting that included what was going on in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).

Now I have buddy I respect a lot; he even served in the 82nd Airborne, who says no one or party can run a country into the ground. He just laughs off my renditions about my worry, because I think it is very possible, and have said so to him.

In the novel, Mugabe, the popular revolutionary turned dictator eons ago, and his minions, have turned his wonderful country into a failing state. By that I mean many people who live there are now going cold and hungry, like starving. And all this has taken decades to did not happen overnight.

So into today's new world USA, can Obama and the Democratic Party run our country down?

I think not, but please hear my logic.

Basically, we USA types are going to "nip it in the bud". That includes Democrats who just don't go along with other fellow Democrats. Hopefully we can still vote, though if that is taken away, then we might even revolt if need be. Nobody wants to starve.

So my forecast is that things will sort out to our benefit, like good health and success and hope for our Family's futures.

I also suspect much friction will occur, which is kind of like normal. Change is always a tough process.

Now change is always going on, but it sure seems like the rate of change is increased these days. And not just in the new world USA, but the whole world. So who even knows what the future world will look like, but I suspect we humans will be happier in the end. That includes, in my opinion, the rise of a third party in the new world USA.

Right now it can be labeled a "Tea Party" by its opponents, even though it is a movement, kinda like the "hippies" movement decades ago. But like Bob Dylan's song suggested, the times they are a changin'. And this today's movement is based on an idea, not some individual.

And so to my 82nd Airborne friend, I still believe a country can be "run down", but here in the new world USA I suspect we will survive just fine for the normal human reasons. And along the way here in the new world USA, much change will occur, one way or the other. There will be much friction, though less than the Civil War time here in the USA when even Families got divided, politically/ideas speaking. I live in such an area, now over a century later, but still hear about it, to include in the present music and poetry.

So even yesterday my local country doc (who did two years in Mexico reading like Abraham Lincoln did), asked me how much I liked eating acorn flour. Well I answered I still prefer to go to the grocery store, but if need be, I will survive.

And he and his wife have a daughter working on her PhD in English at Ole Miss, by the way. But that is another story.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just wondering some more

Why is the federal government even involved in local schooling for our parents' decisions about their children's public education? I don't know.

This question is seldom even reported these days.

And I can accept the federal involvement in our federal highways, but again, question why is the federal government even involved in local schooling decisions.

A good guess is answered by the money the federal government provides to help the education effort. Said another way, if we "the people" go our own more local way, then I suspect taxes to pay for all this schooling for our kids will not go down, overall. Said another way, if federal monies decline, probably state and local taxes will go up. I would expect so, but also with that comes more control over kids' educations.

Keep in mind the massive federal income tax payments paid and returned to the states in the form of block grants. For those who think they can get something for nothing, also keep in mind the federal payroll taxes you pay (like social security and Medicare) go to the general fund, not to your future benefits. Said another way, you are paying, too, and are working for the same, every day you work.

Any decline in federal taxes and block grants to states will probably be replaced by more local tax increases, like state and county. Educating our kids is not free, but hopefully public education is still a thriftier way to educate our kids than private means. Obviously if public education ends up costing more than private education, then things will change rather quickly. We seem to be on that path.

One size does not fit all. Hence educating our kids should be a local decision, to include the funding. It is not that I don't trust fellow Americans in D.C. to decide about my kids' education where I live, but I trust my local Americans more where I live.

Now we have now decades of federal school funding (and rules to qualify) that skews the whole affair. Hence any change over the patterns and methods of the last few decades will take time, like even more decades. There predictably will be much turmoil, too.

And maybe I am wrong, like local people where I live like the way things are going. I can live with that, mostly because I have too, but also suggest that change is even happening here, too.

And it will be painful to we adults, too. Kinda like any change is.

I expect the education of our kids will benefit, too. Like they will be happier as adults (like good health and self respect), and say thank you mom and dad; as adults, of course. And educated people tend to make better decisions about their future in America than the less educated.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What a waste of American brain power

Been there...done that. I've lived and worked in Atlanta, Atlanta University, and Washington, D.C. All are full of hard working and dedicated individuals who would benefit by some real leadership and management skills, and a smart mission statement to provide unity of effort. Add in factors like poor education at all levels and little overseas experience and respect for other ways of living and thinking, and it seems we Americans have reached a crescendo of wasteful abuse of our best asset, our American brain power. And this abuse has been going on for a long time, like for at least half a century.

It is not limited to the present federal government in D.C. Rather that seems to be a culmination of past decades of advancing mismanagement, acceptance of failure, repeating past failures, and a simple ignorance of confusing monetary obligations with actual results. Blame our education system for our present day leaders if you will. And after all we Americans do have good intentions. And in fairness, we voters have had a lot to due with this present state, too. Even parents paying money get some recognition, too.

Four things gall me these days.

First is that the USA military has somehow let itself get hoodwinked into nation building in the middle east and the many tribal areas there. I got into the turf on this one too, when one of my GaTech students filled a State Department quota a few years ago (they could not fill it). He was a DOD fellow at the time (a Marine), and went to Afghanistan for a deployment from his chicken farm in Georgia. We could sure use his expertise up here on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, but our "leaders" decided otherwise.

Second, I am galled by our infatuation with the Ivy League Schools. One person I know related that a Mechanical Engineering Degree from GaTech took a lot more work than getting an MBA from Harvard. Yet I believe our Federal government still has a preference for hiring Ivy League types. Now I also think the moms and dads of such Ivy League students are sharp, but I question how much of that "sharpness" gets passed on to their kids; and then why they even get a preference over some other American, like a Utah State grad? Like the title suggests, we have a lot of brain power in our wonderful country, and it ought to be rewarded. Even common sense says that is to our advantage.

Third, a lot of our smart young Americans also work to our advantage at levels below the Federal level, and should be rewarded as such. Now whether it is monetary rewards, or just voter rewards, well that is a local decision (like state, county, city, or school board). After all the mission is to benefit our future, and our Family's future in this wonderful Country. Hopefully, and somewhere along the way, even the light bulb will go on for our present local leaders recognizing and rewarding success.

Fourth, and finally, our "reporting" tends to be skewed towards and by our education system. That education of those Americans tends to focus on the various wonderful means to employ the media assets. Along the way things like "old fashioned reporting" seems to be denigrated, and even having "producers" decide what to "report" is different from even three decades ago. And all I want to do is think I know the news. Said another way, somebody else's idea of their opinion now printed on the front page as news vice on the editorial page is something I won't pay for, or even read on the internet. I would rather go to the local Hardee's in this case. Or Plan B is that I read open source news reports from other newspapers, not in the USA. Now that can be an eye opener.

So, bottom line, we have a lot of sharp Americans growing up, and I sure hope we older people help put them in the right place to benefit ourselves, and our Families. This sure sounds like a bottom up approach these days.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The value of schooling

I suspect all of us have been educated sometime earlier. It could have even been public or private schooling. Even some have had college training/education, and even some more later job oriented training.

The key point to me is that we are not born knowing a lot of stuff one later gets through education and training. Let me say it again, one is not born knowing a lot of stuff that must be later taught for a culture and even a business to be successful. And much is taught at home in a Family environment...things like self respect, respect for the law, honesty, and other such Family taught things. But then there are other things to be taught, like how to do tax statements, balance a check book, or even pick and cook food for a Family.

Now once we grow up most of us specialize, like be good at something. Especially if you want to make a living and have a Family. And that usually takes some more training...i.e., most are not born knowing how to do whatever it is we do, including raising a Family.

And this idea is not just for we humans. For instance our dogs are often trained to do special things that help us humans. Yep, they are not born naturally to be whatever their task is later. As I post this, I think of all the wonderful dogs who did their work after 911, or even perform now in combat. Good on 'em, and the humans who worked with them, and those who trained them.

So while I am throwing roses, I also recognize the value of training and education, and those who work hard in this effort, to include moms and dads. Good on you, too.

But for sure, educate and train your young people the best you can to give them an advantage. After all, they are not born knowing a lot of what you know, and most don't want them to learn the hard way, though that happens, too.

I call it graduating from the school of hard knocks.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Does it bother you that...

The USA seems to be having a lot of crises recently, like in the recent past.

The latest "crisis" I read and hear about is the US Mail, like the Postal Service may shut down for lack of funds, and other reasons.

But before that we have had other crises, too, like the also recent budget crisis.

What bothers me is two things. One is simply reacting to bad consequences is poor compared to acting to prevent bad consequences. Now something as simple as running a postal system meets that criteria, to me. And second is the seemingly preferred method to rule by crisis management. Now that is a poor method to rule by, again, to me.

And I don't fault the present rulers in charge. Rather some of these simple things like running a postal system take serious management over decades. Even the fellows who created our Constitution mandated a postal system, and I guess assumed there would be responsible people to enact and manage their mandate after they passed on.

To pile on, I still wonder why over the last century we in the USA have voted for politicians who seem to have as a main job requirement to create more things that they can spend on, rather than "fight" over priorities within budgets to make our country, and us, better off (like public electricity and running water, and maintenance thereof). And for that matter, our federal politicians haven't been able to even pass a budget in the recent past (they have passed continuing resolutions, which is no way to run a country).

And another "rub" for me, is that it bothers me that unelected Americans, like appointed and hired bureaucrats, can in effect (de facto) create new taxes (often called regulatory mandates that come with new expenses) without any vote from me. Examples include what the federal EPA is doing, as well as the federal National Labor Relations Board is doing.

And another "rub" is that it seems commonly accepted that both elected politicians and appointed bureaucrats can say what laws they will and won't bother to enforce, all without any objection from "we the people". It truly bothers me that people like that become the judge and jury, even though we have other legal means to make this happen for good reason. Now I also understand that in the last half century it has been popular for our legislatures to create new laws without any funding to enforce these laws, which is also an option not pursued, including by the voters.

I bothers me how easy it is for lazy Americans (who won't work) to filch off the poor. My obervations where I live on the Cumberland Plateau in east Tennessee is that this method involves manipulating the government and food bank methods designed to help our truly poor. Lot's of lazy local Americans do this kind of manipulation routinely, and breed more during their time.

And last, for me, it always bothered me, and it still does, that our federal taxes are so large that huge grants of federal money are passed back to the states in the form of block grants. This system was expanded back in the 1970's as I recall, and at the time seemed like a good way for state legislators to get money without taxing their citizens with state taxes. But now we are going to "pay the piper" so to speak. If federal funds are reduced, so may state taxes have to go up, or wonderful services reduced. And add in the friction of the federal patronage system and who gets limited block grants and who does not, and depending on who controls the federal purse strings, also anticipate much friction in these next five years, or so.

Now I think many others have their own "bothers", too. And there is never a good time to start or even join in any period of change. But for sure changes to the status quo of the last half century are coming, and now is as good a time as any to start. The finish can come later.

And that finish is other courses of action. The present path we are on is not the only path we can take. Now that is another post for me, but here is a hint. How about we all be responsible for ourselves and our Families, and then our society second. Here in the new world USA, we still have that opportunity, I think.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Thinking ahead

Using hindsight is easy. Forecasting the future where you live is a lot tougher if you want to be comfortable with your guess about your future.

Yet I too live in the real world, and so have to plan ahead, anticipate if you will.

And most of our futures are more locally based than nationally based.

As a retired Marine, I have been taught to focus more on capability, and less on intents. Practically, that means spending more of your mental time thinking about what can happen, vice the psychology of those in charge, commanding if you will.

Add in all the normal distractions, like poor reporting, and the difficulty is amplified.

And so in the USA, really the Western world, I worry about what our present leaders are capable of doing. And depending on where you live, these leaders may be elected, appointed, dictators, inherited, tribal, etc. And in the annals of human history, we seem to have more than our fair share of poor leaders these days which adds to the excitement factor.

Now the obvious thing to worry about is our economic health, mostly jobs to support our Families. But I also worry about some other human caused things like regional wars and nuclear weapons...think Chinese civil war, the Middle East, or even a war between India and Pakistan. Add in mother nature's wild card events, and I can become a real worry wart.

But what I most worry about is how our leaders will react, especially if I believe that we have so many poor leaders these days. Said another way, having a problem is one thing, but how you handle a problem is another thing.

Now in fairness, some leaders are doing a pretty good job, and need to be recognized and reinforced by whatever means.

So when planning ahead, think about this idea. It has taken we humans decades to get into this mess, and will probably take decades to finally correct it all, that is, to make things better for our Families.

Let me provide one example. Think ahead when your kids get married and want to start their own home, but figure out they have to work two or three months each year in the USA just to pay the interest on the national debt created by this generation, and thus cannot afford to buy a home with its payments. Well I know what I would do, like default on the debt. My point in this example is that we are setting up future problems decades out just by our leaders' actions today.

Let me provide one more example. A few months ago, the USA President ordered the military into the Libyan civil war. What was not reported was that the USA was pretty thread bare in the Med, and so these immediate forces came from the Iraq and Afghanistan theater of operations. That amounts to a drawn down in that theater. Now that might be OK to many, but did you know and even get a chance to acquiesce. Now I think the decision was popular, but a USA President and his minions acting like old fashioned royalty will have its consequences, too. And for us, we the people.

Especially if you enjoy the luxury of thinking ahead.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Are we ever different

A Chinese worker at a construction site falls off of the bamboo scaffolding to the ground, and lives, though injured. The time is post WWII and a real story. Well do gooder Americans take him to a hospital to help him. And the local hospital wants to know who among the Americans will pay for his treatment?

This example suggests we Americans and we Chinese just think differently, or even have different values. Said another way, one culture meets another, and maybe both are amazed.

Here's another story more recent. Air quality in industrial and urban China is very poor, and the adverse reports are being manipulated by the leadership class at many levels. You can read all about it, but the bottom line is that the interests of the leadership class is reigning over the ruled class these days, though obviously all will suffer in the end.

So what happens when a civil war in China erupts for their own reasons, or even if all these wonderful things built in China are no longer available to us. It might be even more simple, like the cost of transportation to bring these things to the USA is just too high. Who knows. Make up your own scenario.

So now I wonder if any kind of the aforementioned disruptions happen, just what are we humans going to do? After all we are different, even though we live on the same earth.

PS For example, I enjoy cooking with a simple "Japanese Rice Cooker" (1957 style), which Americans who cook with slow cookers or crock pots will make comparisons, all good. I use both, though for most of my cooking I prefer the Japanese Rice Cooker. Most are made in China these days. And I used to call my father cheap... now I call him thrifty.

PPS This clash of cultures can be a two way street.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Stream of consciousness

Most in the new world USA people still expect a rosy future. Now that might be a easy future, but many also hope for their Family's happiness in today's times, and when working for their rosy future, may find this goal tougher to achieve.

As one who tries to figure out the disease, vice the symptoms, then I perceive a clash of cultures, mostly the idea of nation states vice tribal ways of ruling. And of course it depends on where you live, like in the new world USA I perceive a coming friction between the rural people and the urban people. But I can't ignore the whole world, because that affects me in the USA, too.

What a mix of conflicting ideas and human problems.

And I perceive the present ruling classes, in general, are doing a crummy job in handling today's problems. I still believe in the idea of electing representatives, but now have growing doubt of the method we are using to represent ourselves. Maybe it is us and our culture, but maybe something else too. Now in fairness, some of our rulers during this time of change are doing a good job, and need to be reinforced, be they in the Sri Lanka, Romania, or even the USA. Just how we reinforce them depends on where you live, and how you do it voting or local revolution. And if change is needed, then I still trust we humans to make it happen wherever you live.

Now I fear today how many present human leaders will react in our human future. World Wars are often started by things as simple as regional power leaders using their judgments, actions and even reactions; and just rolling the dice. And millions of us have to die as a result. Local wars I have to live with, whether I like it or not (think of Darfur as an example). And even being drafted or using coupons for rationing seems to be something that will have to happen for at least this 21st century.

And then there are our economic problems, probably mostly human caused, in the end. Just how we deal with these problems, and even handle some human leaders who want to change us in their vision and time frame, is in the end, a human decision, I think. Just how "we" handle them is up for grabs in 2011. And I don't even think of just the new world USA, but also China with its rural/urban frictions and history, to boot. Use your own imagination where you live. Turmoil and change is pretty constant when it comes to human involvement.

But in my stream of consciousness, I am still very hopeful for our human future. For sure the status quo is changing, and probably for the better. And the beauty is that we humans will make it happen. Now it will be at most levels,not just federal or national, but like even state, or province, or prefecture; or even more local. How much depends on where one lives

So in my stream of consciousness, and like going down a rapids, we humans are in for some turbulent times; but, like paddlers, will come out safe and sound for our Families when we get to calmer waters. But also like going down a rapids, it will be exciting, and some are better prepared than others.

And like the paddling idea, those who do it is because they want to. But also in my stream of consciouness ideas, I have to do it for my Family's sake.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

The beginning of the future

This idea is pretty simple. The present adults in the USA are no longer in charge. Amplifying this idea is a principle I agree with. Other fellow humans in our world also have a say in their future, and their family's future.

What may happen depends on them, but, I suspect it will be about their quality of life, and their family's future. And, I would add, what their Families decide to do.

All the rest of what is going on in now the early fall or late summer of 2011 is just (in the USA), at best, a prelude.

The future is about us, and some may not like it for their own reasons.

The "fun" part to enjoy is to see the actions, and even results, of those who want to design our future another way, in their vision, of course.

I think they will fail, and another way for we humans will evolve. Lord hope it not be a present day westerner with even do gooder intentions.

What ever happens, in the end, I still believe we humans are in charge of our future.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Stand by for heavy rolls

I was predicting all this kind of change of the status quo to happen around 2016, but it seems it may happen before then in the USA.

By the way, the term "stand by for heavy rolls" is a Navy expression. One always hopes when their ship rolls from heavy seas it will always right itself.

Now one can think about whether this idea is about the USA, or Europe, or the other World. And they can use their own experience to argue and lead their own way.

But for sure, change is coming, often to me called the status quo, and change thereof.

I still wonder why we have elected our present leaders in the USA who seemingly have done a crummy job? Perhaps it is ignorance on part of the electorate, or just poor education and basic ignorance. I really don't know, but for sure I have my own opinion.

Here's the good news. We Americans will do the best we can for our own families, period. This idea applies at any education level, and where ever you live with your own Family.

Imagine applying this idea to the world, where there are other forms of governments.

While nobody can predict reliably, one can guess that most people will assert themselves in a family sort of way, where ever they live.

So much friction will probably happen at all human levels in the next decade or two. Like the title suggests, standby for heavy rolls.

Again the good news, is that our humanity, and our Families, will go forward in our own ways. This idea is not our own governments dependent, by the way.