Thursday, January 31, 2013

Intractable arguments
       An intractable argument is one, to me, that has no agreed upon answer. Said another way, there is no right or wrong answer, more an opinion. And I am confident those who hold opinions are sincere in their beliefs and thoughts.
            Here's examples both from today and our past.
                        Is a person ahead of their time, or just using poor judgment for today's time?
                        Should women be involved in infantry combat in defense of our Country?
                        Do you think long term or short term? And which is a better way to go for the situation? The obvious example, to me, is one of strategy in prosecuting a war, and is the intent to win the war, or the peace which will follow?
                        Should we aggressively attack and accept the inevitable casualties, or drag out the attack over a longer period of time, and hopefully reduce casualties?
                        Who suffered worse with attacking casualties in WWII?  Was it the 8th Air Force, the Navy, or the Marines?
                        Is it best to bite the bullet now, or just muddle through as best we can?
                        Now getting into personal lives and finances I decline to get into these days. But that subject is full of intractable arguments, too.
                        And last, should we graduate a class early, like I know West Point did for WWI, and the Naval Academy did for WWII, or just keep up the regular schedule?
                        Good luck if and when you enter into this arena!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

If times get hard...a health story
       I think we have all heard stories about nursing an animal back to health.
            All these stories are wonderful, to me.
            And we can do it to our relatives, too.  Said another way, just let our bodies heal ourselves, like even nurse them back to their normal health.
            Not a bad to way to go, and you even don't have to be a doctor or nurse, or whatever. Like just be yourself.
            Now often it means keeping them hydrated and warm, which is something most of us know how to do.
            And then wait. Said another way, give it time.

Women in combat
       Here's my two cents.
            First the good news.
                        At least we're talking about it again.
                        And I have served in combat with women, and the one's I served with were good Americans, and could man a machine gun and burn crappers as well as anyone. And most importantly, they were willing to die for their country and our way of life. And they were from all over the USA, like from Texas to Wisconsin. And even more importantly, they got there on their own.
                        And the first time we were attacked, some men wanted to quickly evacuate the women. For whatever reasons I do not know, but boys and girls are different in many men's minds. Maybe that's why. And integrating the sexes in a military situation is at best a leadership problem for officers through NCO's. At worst it may be an intractable societal nightmare.
            And we all know boys and girls are often a mixture of male and female, like in strength. I know enough female Marines who are pretty strong, to me.
                        I often wonder about our spouses back home while we are on the battlefield with women.  After all, boys and girls do want to get together in our culture, and often do.  It happens. I know, believe me. Like from Denmark to Arabia to Japan. And any hint of favoritism for any reason, including sex, is a quick way to break up unit cohesion. There's enough sacrifice and depravation where I fought without putting up with favoritism. And after a period of time, many females start to look better to many males, and I suppose otherwise. Been there, done that, so to speak. Our spouses are on to something.
            And I buy the idea of let's be equal, like use common standards, including strength, and then go to war with those standards. To me the intent is to win in combat, period. So any initiative that improves our way of war is appealing to me.
            That is my point, mission first, like winning in combat. And as a former recruiter, about anyone who can get in sounded good to me. At the time, decades ago, and we were all-volunteer by then, only 1 in 3 were even mentally, morally, and physically qualified to even be a private. And the entrance standards were equal, though the training standards did vary by many things, to include sex.
            Now for the bad news.
                        Mission first, like winning in combat. So any effort to change standards recognizing that boys and girls are different that also denigrates winning in combat is a non-starter to me. Said another way, please have common standards, and then accept the results.
                        And opinions are like a**holes. We all have one. Even our senior leaders have opinions, and should be listened to.  They are wise in their own ways. So far their opinions are all over the place. To me it is often like their subjective judgment, based on their experience.  And often it is also like just talking past each other. Perhaps each has a piece of the pie, or even just their own experience.
                        And last, like "the bridge too far" idea, perhaps integrating men and women in infantry combat is just too hard to conquer for today's American military leaders and our societal standards.  Maybe it is just a dumb idea. Said another way, boys and girls are different, and the sooner we can exploit that the better. Said even another way, strength is not the only consideration our present leaders need to think about. Better yet, how about maximizing our sexual differences in defense of our Country.  
                        Now that would be smart.

by Victor Davis Hanson
We keep trying to understand the enigma of California, mostly why it still breathes for a while longer, given the efforts to destroy the sources of its success. Let’s try to navigate through its sociology and politics to grasp why something that should not survive is surviving quite well — at least in some places.
Conservati delendi sunt
The old blue/red war for California is over. Conservatives lost. Liberals won — by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others. The only mystery is how Carthaginian will be the victor’s peace, e.g., how high will taxes go, how many will leave, how happy will the majority be at their departure?
The state of Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Pete Wilson, and George Deukmejian is long dead due to the most radical demographic shifts of any one state in recent American history — as far away as Cicero was to Nero. One minor, but telling example: Salinas, in Monterey County where the murder rate is the highest in the state, just — at least I think the news story is not a prank — named its new middle school after Tiburcio Vasquez.
A convicted murderer.
He was the legendary 19th-century robber and murderer who was hanged for his crimes. But who is to say that Vasquez is a killer, and Henry Huntington a visionary?
The New Demography
California has changed not due to race but due to culture, most prominently because the recent generation of immigrants from Latin America did not — as in the past, for the most part — come legally in manageable numbers and integrate under the host’s assimilationist paradigm. Instead, in the last three decades huge arrivals of illegal aliens from Mexico and Latin America saw Democrats as the party of multiculturalism, separatism, entitlements, open borders, non-enforcement of immigration laws, and eventually plentiful state employment.
Given the numbers, the multicultural paradigm of the salad bowl that focused on “diversity” rather than unity, and the massive new government assistance, how could the old American tonic of assimilation, intermarriage, and integration keep up with the new influxes? It could not.
Finally, we live in an era of untruth and Orwellian censorship. It is absolutely taboo to write about the above, or to talk about the ever more weird artifacts of illegal immigration — the war now on black families in demographically changing areas of Los Angeles, the statistics behind DUI arrests, or the burgeoning profile of Medi-Cal recipients. I recall of the serial dissimulation in California my high school memorization of Sir Walter Raleigh:
Tell potentates, they live/Acting by others’ action/Not loved unless they give; Not strong but by affection; If potentates reply/Give potentates the lie.
There were, of course, other parallel demographic developments. Hundreds of thousands of the working and upper-middle class, mostly from the interior of the state, have fled — maybe four million in all over the last thirty years, taking with them $1 trillion in capital and income-producing education and expertise. Apparently, they tired of high taxes, poor schools, crime, and the culture of serial blame-gaming and victimhood. In this reverse Dust Bowl migration, a barren no-tax Nevada or humid Texas was a bargain.
Their California is long gone (“Lo, all our pomp and of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre”), and a Stockton, Fresno, or Visalia misses their presence, because they had skills, education, and were net pluses to the California economy.
Add in a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle (rule of thumb: conservatives always find better restaurants in liberal locales), and California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families. Without the lifetime obligation to raise $1 million in capital to pay for bringing up and educating two kids from birth to 21 (if you’re lucky), the non-traditional classes have plenty of disposable income for entertainment, housing, and high taxes. For examples, read Petronius, especially the visit to Croton.
Finally, there is our huge affluent public work force. It is the new aristocracy; landing a job with the state is like hitting the lottery. Californians have discovered that, in today’s low/non-interest economy, a $70,000 salary with defined benefit public pension for life is far better than having the income from a lifetime savings of $3 million.
Or, look at it another way: with passbooks paying 0.5-1%, the successful private accountant or lawyer could put away $10,000 a month for thirty years of his productive career and still not match the monthly retirement income of the Caltrans worker who quit at 60 with modest contributions to PERS.

And with money came political clout. To freeze the pension contribution of a highway patrolman is a mortal sin; but no one worries much about the private security’s guard minimum wage and zero retirement, whose nightly duties are often just as dangerous. The former is sacrosanct; the latter a mere loser.
The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of the coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees is not just Democratic, but hyper-liberal supermajorities in the legislature. In the most naturally wealthy state in the union with a rich endowment from prior generations, California is serially broke — the master now of its own fate. It has the highest menu of income, sales, and gas taxes in the nation, and about the worst infrastructure, business climate, and public education. Is the latter fact despite or because of the former?
How, then, does California continue? Read on, but in a nutshell, natural and inherited wealth are so great on the coast that a destructive state government must work overtime to ruin what others wrought.
Also, when you say, “My God, one of every three welfare recipients lives in California,” or “California schools are terrible,” you mean really, “Not in Newport or Carmel. So who cares about Fresno, or Tulare — they might as well be in Alabama for all the times I have been there.”
So Much Taxation, So Little in Return
Thank God for Mississippi and Alabama, or California schools would test dead last.
Somehow, in just thirty years we created obstacles to public learning that produce results approaching the two-century horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. About half the resources of the California State University system are devoted to remedial schooling for underperforming high school students (well over half who enter take remediation courses; half don’t graduate even in six years; and well over half have sizable financial aid). The point of CSU’s general education requirement is not so much any more to offer broad learning (who is to say what is “general education?”), but rather to enter a sort of race, class, and gender boot camp that allows some time off to become familiar with how the culture and politics of the state should continue.
The majority of the once-vaunted upper-tier University of California campuses now resemble second-tier CSU of old. Yet I think a Fresno State graduate of 1965 was far better educated than a UC Irvine or UC Santa Cruz student of today.
The state’s wealthiest and best-prepared students are perhaps only well-taught at its elite schools — the two UC campuses at Berkeley and UCLA, Stanford, Caltech, USC, Pepperdine, or Santa Clara — while the poorer but still serious students increasingly enroll in the new private online and tech schools that sprout up around failed CSU campuses. Why pay for the farce of GE, when you can just get the nuts-and-bolts job skills cheaper and quicker at a tech school?
Stagecoach Trails
Little need be said about infrastructure other than it is fossilized. The lunacy of high-speed rail is not just the cost, but that a few miles from its proposed route are at present a parallel but underused Amtrak track and the 99 Highway, where thousands each day risk their lives in crowded two lanes, often unchanged since the 1960s.
The 99, I-5, and 101 are potholed two-lane highways with narrow ramps, and a few vestigial cross-traffic death zones. But we, Californian drivers, are not just double the numbers of those 30 years ago, but — despite far safer autos and traffic science — far less careful as well. There are thousands of drivers without licenses, insurance, registration, and elementary knowledge of road courtesy. Half of all accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-runs.
My favorite is the ubiquitous semi-truck and trailer swerving in and out of the far left lane with a 20-something Phaethon behind the wheel — texting away as he barrels along at 70 mph with a fishtailing 20 tons. The right lane used to be for trucks; now all lanes are open range for trucking — no law in the arena! The dotted lane lines are recommendations, not regulations. (Will young truck drivers be hired to become our new high-speed rail state employee engineers?)
When I drive over the Grapevine, I play a sick game of counting the number of mattresses I’ll spot in the road over the next 100 miles into L.A. (usually three to four). Lumber, yard clippings, tools, and junk — all that is thrown into the back of trucks without tarps. To paraphrase Hillary: what does it matter whether we are killed by a mattress or a 2 x 4? In places like Visalia or Madera, almost daily debris ends up shutting down one of the only two lanes on the 99.
Wrecks so far? It is not the number, but rather the scary pattern that counts. I’ve had three in the last 10 years: a would-be hit-and-run driver (the three “no”s: no license, no registration, no insurance) went through a stop sign in Selma, collided with my truck, and tried to take off on foot, leaving behind his ruined Civic; a speeder (80 m.p.h.) in L.A. hit a huge box-spring on the 101 near the 405, slammed on his brakes, skidded into a U-turn in the middle lane, reversed direction, and hit me going 40 m.p.h. head-on (saved by Honda Accord’s front and side air-bags and passive restraint seat harnesses; the injured perpetrator’s first call was to family, not 911); and a young woman last year, while texting, rear-ended me at 50 m.p.h. while I was at a complete stop in stalled traffic in Fresno (thank God for a dual-cab Tundra with a long trailer hitch). She too first called her family to try to help her flee the scene of her wrecked car, but my call apparently reached the Highway Patrol first.
Drive enough in California, and you too, reader, will have a ‘”rendezvous with Death, at some disputed barricade.”
West and East Californias
The coastal elites unite politically with the interior poor, in the fashion of the Caesarians and the turba. I suppose that their common adversary is, as was true of Rome, the disappearing middle class. Along the coast, elites have harvested well California’s natural and acquired wealth. I’ll again just toss out a few brands; you can imagine the lucre and jobs that are generated from Santa Rosa to San Diego: Apple, Chevron, Disney, DreamWorks, Facebook, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hollywood, Napa Valley, Oracle, PG&E, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Wells Fargo, the ports of Los Angeles, San Diego, and Oakland.
So let us not speak of California decline, but of California’s decline and another California boom — one of 6% unemployment and another of 16%, one of $100,000 per capita income and another of $15,000, one of cottages sold on the first day on the market in Newport and another of vacant McMansions molding away in Stockton.
Success continues on the coast and is managed by very wealthy and mostly liberal residents of the sprawl that surrounds Los Angeles and San Francisco. For the five million or so who are enriched in enterprise zones like these — and there are thousands more spin-off and smaller such companies — life is pretty good if you keep your household small, inherited a house, or make enough money to buy something at about $500 to $1,000 dollars a square foot. In Selma, new 1800 sq. foot homes sell for $140,000; in Palo Alto, dollhouses go for $1.5 million. So who is the prince, and who the fool? Are opera tickets and a street light that still has its wire worth it?
The Cost of Doing Business
Coastal folk seem to view high taxes like Mafia protection money, but in the sense of psychological satisfaction and freedom from guilt. For now, sales, gas, and income taxes are not so high as to matter to those who voted for them, at least in view of the social and political advantages of coastal living: the beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture of recreational light drug use, neat restaurants, sports, fine wines, solar and wind romance, foreign cars, and general repugnance at religion, guns, conservatives, and traditional anything.
To the extent that “they” (i.e. you, reader) exist, the distant others are nebulous, rarely thought-about souls. Perhaps they really do enjoy polluting the planet as they generate the electricity, pipe in the natural gas and oil, refine the fuels, grow the food, and cut and haul the lumber that gives a Palo Alto or Santa Barbara the stuff to go on one more day.
Vote For Me Not To Represent You?
I still can’t figure out politics and culture of our vast interior, both the enormous and mostly empty state above Sacramento, and the huge Central Valley and Sierra. As my neighbors put it, life would have to get pretty awful here to be worse than in Oaxaca. I once asked a neighbor why he was hauling wrecked trailers onto his small parcel. He smiled and told me California was “heaven.” From my few trips to Mexico, I could not argue.
One of the questions I always hear from strangers: “Why doesn’t everyone leave?” The answer is simple: for the coastal overdogs there is nowhere else where the money is as good and the weather and scenery are as enjoyable. How much would you pay to walk in cut-offs in February and not in three jackets in Montana? And for the interior underclass, California’s entitlements and poor-paying service jobs are paradise compared to Honduras, Jalisco, or Southeast Asia. And, yes, the middle-class small farmers, hardware-store owners, company retirees, and electricians are leaving in droves.
Weird Politics
The Latino population, I would imagine, would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics. Of course, thousands of second-generation Latinos have become public employees, from teachers to DMV clerks, and understandably so vote a straight Democrat-public union ticket. But millions are not working for the state, and they suffer dramatically from the ruling Bay Area left-wing political agenda of regulations, green quackery, and legal gymnastics. It is not just that the foreign national illegally entered the U.S. from Oaxaca, but entered the most complex, over-regulated, over-taxed, and over-lawyered state in the nation — hence the disconnects.
Take energy. California may have reserves of 35 billion barrels of oil in its newly discovered shale formations, and even more natural gas — the best way to provide clean electricity and, perhaps soon, transportation energy for the state. Tens of thousands of young Latino immigrants — given that agriculture is increasingly mechanizing, construction is flat, and the state is broke — could be making high wages from Salinas to Paso Robles, and along the I-5 corridor, if fracking and horizontal drilling took off. Even more jobs could accrue in subsidiary construction and trucking. And for a cynic, billions of dollars in state energy taxes from gas and oil revenue would ensure that the state’s generous handouts would be funded for a generation. Did someone forget that the California boom of the 1930s and 1940s was fueled by cheap, in-state oil?
More importantly, our power companies have the highest energy bills in the nation, given all sorts of green and redistributionist mandates. The costs fall most heavily on the cold winter/hot summer interior residents, who are the poorest in the state. Those who insist that the utilities invest in costly alternate energy and other green fantasies live mostly in 65-70 degree coastal weather year-round and enjoy low power bills.
Yet the liberal coastal political lock-hold on the state continues.
No one in San Joaquin or Tranquility cares about a baitfish in the delta, but they do vote nonetheless for the elites who divert water from farms, put the poor farm worker out of work, and feel good about saving the smelt in the process. Go figure.

Soft Apartheid
How then does the California coalition work, and in some sense work so well?
The coastal elite offers an agenda for more welfare funding, scholarships, class warfare, public unions, diversity, affirmative action, open borders, and amnesty, and in response the interior voter signs off on everything from gay marriage, solar and wind subsidies, gun restrictions, mass transit schemes, and the entire progressive tax-and-spend agenda. Most of this coalition never much sees one another.
The young Mountain View programmer keeps clear of Woodlake. He even has only a vague idea of what life is like for those who live in nearby Redwood City and make his arugula salad at the hip pasta bar in Palo Alto. In turn, the Redwood City dishwasher has an equally murky sense that the wealthy kid who works at Google does not wish to deport his uncle — and so the two become unspoken political partners of sorts. One of the state’s wealthiest cities, a gated Atherton, is juxtaposed to one of its most Latinate communities, Redwood City. But they might as well be Mercury and Pluto. Or should we applaud that the owner of the manor and his grass cutter vote identically — and against the interests of the guy who sold and serviced the Honda lawn mower?
In the flesh, the energetic people I associate with during the week in Silicon Valley and see on the Stanford campus and on University Avenue are, it must be said, innovative folk, but soft apartheidists: where they live, where their kids go to schools, where they eat, and whom they associate with are governed by a class, and de facto racial, sensibility that would make Afrikaners of old proud.
The liberal aristocracy is as class-bound as the old Republican blue-stockings, but saved from populist ostracism by what I have called the “hip” exemption — liberalism’s new veneer that allows one to be both consumer and critic of the Westernized good life, to praise the people and to stay as far away from them as possible. Mitt Romney is an outsourcer; Google’s offshore holdings are cool.
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Is there hope? Can there be honesty about our crises and courage to address them? If there is not to be assimilation and integration at the rate as in the past, then I sometime fantasize that a new conservative movement of second- and third-generation upper middle-class, over-taxed Mexican-Americans will demand competitive schools for their children without the fantasies of Chicano studies and coastal global warming indoctrination.
They will push for energy development, beefed-up law enforcement, and reasonable taxes and power rates, and so lock horns with the coastal elites, well apart from abortion, the death penalty, and the constant alternative lifestyle agenda. Some already are heading that way; more would if the borders were closed and the old forces of the melting pot were not impeded.
Or maybe change will come from the other end of the surreal coalition. I talk to young, high-end yupster couples and wonder how they can vote for 40% federal income taxes, 11% state income taxes, Obamacare, and payroll and Medicare surcharges on their hefty incomes when increasingly they don’t use the public schools. Or if they have children, they pay exorbitant prices for private schooling and coastal housing that anywhere else would be laughable. I don’t think Menlo-Atherton High School, or the average paving on any residential street in Palo Alto, or the security on Willow Avenue, or the square footage of the typical Menlo Park bungalow is all such a great deal for losing 55% of your income to the local, state, and federal redistributionists.
Will Howard Jarvis return, with Birkenstocks and ponytail?
Would some young visionary see that just a few ecologically correct new dams, and a well-run development of the Monterey shale formation, would enable vast new increases in California energy and agriculture — food and fuel are what sustains mankind — and launch another Gold Rush?
Then I wake up and accept that contemporary California is a quirk, one governed by a secular religion, a non-empirical belief system that postulates that natural gas is bad because it produces heat and that dams that store precious water are unnatural. So far the consequences of such thinking rarely boomerang on the cocooned fantasists.
We are like the proverbial spoiled third-generation progeny of the immigrant farmer: the first-generation toiler lived in a hovel until he bought his 80 acres with paid cash. The second remodeled the old house, had a nicer car than a tractor, doubled the acreage, but took the weekend off and had less money in the bank than did his dad. The third fantasized and puttered about in his hiking boots, went through the inheritance, mortgaged the land — and was as glib and mellifluous as he was broke.
California is a tired idea.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What You Learn By Running in Roppongi

Racing through a sleeping city is to know its essence.

Those who travel a lot for business (and then hop back on a plane for R&R) take their obsessions with them. As it happens, running is a passion of mine. I do it all over the world.

Can't sleep? Hit the streets. Jet lag? Chase the endorphins. Brain lock? Race distraction to the finish line. And there may be no better way to see a city. Perceptions are at sidewalk level. The pace is adjustable. The degree of difficulty is illuminating.

To whiz through a sleeping city is to know its essence. In Milan I did laps of the Duomo at 4 a.m., the only witnesses incredulous drunks unsteadily perched on the curbs. I ran through the deserted streets of Paris from the Ile Saint-Louis across the Seine to the Eiffel Tower (where I saw two middle-aged lovers in flagrante delicto on a stone bench) and back past Notre Dame to my hotel. I remember nocturnal circuits of the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus in Rome, and the colonnaded piazza in front of St. Peter's without a soul in sight. The beauty was arresting and mine alone.

Some cities are better for running than others. My first run in Tokyo was in the early morning through Roppongi, the ripe detritus of the night's revels littering the sidewalks. The run around the Imperial Palace was tedious with no view of the building. India has been disappointing. In Delhi one has to dodge the monkeys that infest the government buildings area. In Agra, the sidewalks are often used as lavatories.

Frankfurt is as dull as its reputation, Dublin not much better (although it's fun to follow the peregrinations of Leopold Bloom, marked on the sidewalk with quotations from "Ulysses"). Beirut is, sadly, boringly reconstructed from its bomb-ravaged past (only the corniche is picturesque). The traffic alone makes Cairo impossible. Poor runs often reflect some underlying nature of the locale: jejune decadence, the weight of poverty, civic indifference, the ravages of conflict, inadequate infrastructure.

On the other hand, delightful experiences abound, sometimes in unexpected places. An exultant run at dawn up to Mars Hill and the Acropolis in Athens; elderly Koreans doing a version of tai chi on a hilltop in Seoul; couples waltzing to music piped from loudspeakers in the French concession of Singapore. Lisbon has great hill runs with views of the Tagus River. With its monuments, Berlin tells the history of the 20th century. Istanbul offers everything a runner could want: hills, vistas, water and an unfamiliar skyline marked out by minarets and the 16th-century domes of the architect Sinan.

Then there are the real runners' cities. It never ceases to amaze me how many runners one sees in London—pale, unathletic looking people pounding the pavement on both sides of the Thames and through the streets of the City. In famously hilly San Francisco, it's hard to beat a run along the Embarcadero, past the piers and the Presidio and across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Headlands. Run the Mall in Washington, D.C., and stop for inspiration at the Vietnam, Lincoln and Korean War memorials and now the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. One is never alone on these tracks.

The best, the most glorious city run in the world is the reservoir in New York's Central Park. Water to your left, park and buildings on your right—the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim, the Dakota, Central Park South, and the wonderful concluding straightaway to the reservoir pump house. It never fails to lift the spirits.

Often on my runs I feel like a canary in a coal mine. The accessibility of a city to a lone stranger chasing solace through its byways is a measure of civic character. It is the physical city in a basic interaction with a single human being.

It only makes sense: If a city can delight a solitary running man, odds are it has something great to offer the striving masses who live there. It's certainly something to think about the next time someone petitions the local council meeting to add some jogging paths.

Mr. Quinn, who wrote this article, is founder and managing partner of the international business litigation law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP.
Roppongi is a part of Tokyo.
Tai chi is practiced by a lot of people in a lot of places.
This article came from the Wall Street Journal.

This is how important electricity is to me

       It's not that many of today's widgets do provide we humans a lot of convenience.  That's a given these days...though we can go without it if we have to. But I still like my electrical washer and dryer compared to the alternatives, which do work, too. And being able to turn on the light at night is pretty nice, too.

            I recently read a post from an American gal who had spent 10 days in Bangladesh as part of her work. She was pretty complementary about Bangladesh, but also reported her accommodations she had to make. One included being tuned to the scheduled rolling electrical brownouts. While there is a public law there prohibiting using electricity for cooking, millions of humans ignored it. More interesting to me was her report about how people timed their recharging of batteries with the "good" times for public electricity.

            Now even for me, I too depend on public electricity, but also have my own water powered electrical plant, too. I think I can defend it, too. Plus I have a solar powered backup to that.

            That says how important electricity is to me. As Jack Webb once said in the old TV show Dragnet, "just the facts, ma'am".

            Now my standards may have to change, but what the heck. I am an old Marine and used to adversity. But I do wonder how well my relatives in the new world USA may adjust, if they have to?

            This is how important electricity is to me.

            Even I have my own imagination, and questions. I suspect you do to.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Where did the I/O symbol originate as the on-off switch for numerous electrical devices?

       Consider what follows just opinions.

                        Although "1" and "0" are the on/ off states respectively, of a switch, using these symbols instead of "ON" and "OFF" eliminates 2 problems.
1. Not everybody speaks English.
2. It can be mounted either way up and can still be read (either "ON" down or "ON" up switching, because not all countries work their switches the same way).
Thus a manufacturer has all bases covered. He has a universally understood marking system.
It PROBABLY originated in Europe.

               I/O actually represents 1/0, the logic/binary symbols for high and low, or on or off.

               Its binary. 1 means "on" and 0 means "off"

Farmer jokes

·       Farmer Joe was in his car when he was hit by a truck. He decided his injuries from the accident were serious enough to take the trucking company (responsible for the accident) to court. In court the trucking company's fancy lawyer was questioning farmer Joe. "Didn't you say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?" said the lawyer.
Farmer Joe responded, "Well I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite mule Bessie into the...." "I didn't ask for any details," the lawyer interrupted, "just answer the question."
"Did you not say, at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'!"
Farmer Joe said, "Well I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road...."
The lawyer interrupted again and said, "Judge, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the Highway Patrolman on the scene that he was just fine. Now several weeks after the accident he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."
By this time the Judge was fairly interested in Farmer Joe's answer and said to the lawyer, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite mule Bessie."
Joe thanked the Judge and proceeded, "Well as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite mule, into the trailer and was driving her down the highway when this huge semi-truck and trailer ran the stop sign and smacked my truck right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other.
I was hurting real bad and didn't want to move. However, I could hear ole Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible shape just by her groans.
Shortly after the accident a Highway Patrolman came on the scene. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes.
Then the Patrolman came across the road with his gun in his hand and looked at me. He said, "Your mule was in such bad shape I had to shoot her. How are you feeling?"


·       Two men were walking through the woods and came upon a big black, deep hole. One man picked up a rock and tossed it into the hole and stood listening for the rock to hit bottom. There was no sound.
He turned to the other guy and said "that must be a deep hole...let's throw a bigger rock in there and listen for it to hit bottom." The men found a bigger rock and both picked it up and lugged it to the hole and dropped it in.
They listened for some time and never heard a sound. Again, they agreed that this must be one deep hole and maybe they should throw something even bigger into it.
One man spotted a rail-road tie nearby. They picked up the tie, grunting and groaning, and lugged it to the hole. They tossed it in. No sound. All of a sudden, a goat came flying out of the woods, running like the wind, and flew past the men and jumped straight into the hole. The men were amazed.
About that time, an old hayseed farmer came out of the woods and asked the men if they had seen a goat. One man told the farmer of the incredible incident they had just witnessed...they had just seen this goat fly out of the woods and run and leap into the big hole. The man asked the farmer if this could have been his goat.
The old farmer said "naw, that can't be my goat...he was chained to a railroad tie."


·       A cocky State Highways employee stopped at a farm and talked with an old farmer. He told the farmer, "I need to inspect your farm for a possible new road."

The old farmer said, "OK, but don't go in that field." The Highways employee said, "I have the authority of the State Government to go where I want. See this card? I am allowed to go wherever I wish on farm land."

So the old farmer went about his farm chores.

Later, he heard loud screams and saw the State Highways employee running for the fence and close behind was the farmer's prize bull. The bull was madder than a nest full of hornets and the bull was gaining on the employee at every step!!

The old farmer called out, "Show him your card!!"


·       An out-of-towner drove his car into a ditch in a desolated area. Luckily, a local farmer came to help with his big strong horse named Buddy.
He hitched Buddy up to the car and yelled, "Pull, Nellie, pull!" Buddy didn't move.
Then the farmer hollered, "Pull, Buster, pull!" Buddy didn't respond.
Once more the farmer commanded, "Pull, Coco, pull!" Nothing.
Then the farmer nonchalantly said, "Pull, Buddy, pull!" And the horse easily dragged the car out of the ditch.
The motorist was most appreciative and very curious. He asked the farmer why he called his horse by the wrong name three times.
The farmer said, "Oh, Buddy is blind and if he thought he was the only one pulling, he wouldn't even try!"

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ten reasons to be married from a male point of view

      Now if you are female, there is more on this subject, too. It is just not in this post.

          And as a second hand male lion, I still think marriage is better than living together, or even just being shacked up for a while.

No.1 Marriage makes you a better man

If you're a smart guy, you'll choose to be with a woman who is insightful, opinionated and honest. That's the kind of companion who can make you a better person. She can bring out the best in you. She can challenge you to be the best version of yourself. On top of that, through marriage you'll learn the true meaning of self-sacrifice and compromise. In short, marriage will make you a Better Man.

No.2 Married people are happier

A recent study done at an Australian university shows that married men are happier than single men. In fact, married men are 135% more likely to report a high happiness score than single men. That's an astounding figure.

Marriage offers a man the kind of stability and support that allows him to succeed in all other aspects of life. Think about it: How much more could you accomplish if all the drama from crazy women and bad breakups was replaced by the presence of a loving and caring partner?

No.3 Marriage means better sex

One-night stands are exciting because of the thrill of the chase, granted, but often -- too often -- once the two of you get naked, you find yourselves fumbling and bumbling and unable to anticipate each others’ moves. Married couples know each other; they have a feel for each others’ bodies and are aware of their partner's fantasies. Consequently, married sex is better than single sex. Further, a long, stable relationship lends itself to sexual experimentation. Admit it; there are things you'd love to try in bed that you've never told anyone because you were afraid of being judged. But in a long-term relationship founded on trust, you can give voice to your innermost desires.

No.4 Marriage means more sex

Married men have more sex than single men do. It's a fact -- supported by study after study. A study done by the Kinsey Institute, for example, suggests that 23% of non-married men periodically go a year without sex, while only 1% of married men experience 12-month dry spells. Similarly, while 19% of single guys have sex two to three times a week, 36% of married men have sex that often. So, while single guys are out at the clubs, spending their paychecks just to get a girl's attention, married men are home having sex with their wives.

No.5 Marriage brings financial benefits

There are numerous financial benefits associated with matrimony. For starters, there are tax breaks for married couples as well as for families. Getting married might also mean getting access to things like her premium health insurance plan. Like it or not, society is designed to make life easier for married couples. If you're single, you're out of luck. That's another argument in our top 10 reasons to get married.

No.6 Marriage makes you more attractive

As our own Justin Prugh covered in his article, Why Do Single Women Like Taken Men, married men are more attractive to other women. Now, we're not suggesting that you should get married purely because it will make it easier to score with other women, but we are suggesting that marriage makes you appealing to the opposite sex. Getting attention from beautiful women feels good; it's a confidence booster. Plus, when you go out with all of your single buddies, all of the hot women will be hitting on you. Who's laughing now?

No.7 Marriage prevents you from dying alone

Sure, you're on a hot streak right now, dating 20-year-old yoga instructors and bi-curious baristas, but we both know that's not going to last forever. How's being single going to work out for you when you're 60, when you have hair in all of the wrong places and no one can stand to look at you? Marriage is an investment in your future. Sure, you sacrifice some of your sweet single years, but in exchange you get to make a long-term investment in one person, building a deep, abiding love that has the potential to last a lifetime.

No.8 Marriage gives you a platform to build your bloodline on

OK, so technically you don't need to be married to have a family, but marriage is still the standard method for starting a family. The nuclear family, despite its flaws, remains a sought-after model. That's why having kids is another argument in our top 10 reasons to get married. Being a father is a dimension of manhood that just about every guy wants to experience -- and marriage is the most stable and secure environment in which to start a family.

No.9 Marriage increases your earning power

You know that big-screen TV you've been saving for? Well, if you were married, you'd probably own it by now. Being married means sharing expenses and splitting the costs of major purchases. You cynics out there gripe about the money women cost you, but the money you'd spend on dinner dates and the occasional gift is dwarfed by the prospect of having an extra income in the household. Marriage means you can afford the things you could never afford on your own; it means a better home, a better car, a better vacation, and cooler stuff.

No.10 Marriage makes you live longer

One of the ways that getting married improves your life is by making it last longer. Various studies have indicated that happily married men tend to outlast their single counterparts. For example, a 2006 study performed by University of California researchers contended that single people are five times more likely to die of infectious disease, nearly 40% more likely to die of heart disease and twice as likely to die accidentally. Other studies suggest that the rate of mortality is a whopping 250% higher among single men than it is among married men.