Category Archives: Goals

Why Think For Yourself?

I graduated high school in 1971. Like many of my peers, and as I’ve listened to other people around that age, we don’t necessarily have a life plan when we’re that young. It’s not unusual for many to think recklessly, or think they have a long time to live. Hopefully, most had enough time and experience, sensible ideas took over their thoughts.

Not knowing what I wanted to do long term, I saw a need to make a commitment and start out with a set of steps that could enhance my future. I wasn’t terribly patriotic, however I saw the divide which had been brewing for some time. That divide was primarily over the Vietnam war, but it also included civil rights, and a host of other grievances people had. I saw many of my contemporaries believe their government had wronged them and some would protest, while others refused to stand at high school football games when the flag was presented and a pledge of allegiance might be recited.

Standard boot camp picture in dress blues

MCRD San Diego 1971

I was already forming an opinion about the world around me, and knew I had limits to my sphere of influence. I knew I could make choices about my own life, which reflected how I thought. I knew actions were far more important than rhetoric, and in the summer, I enlisted in the Marine Corps.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I entered without support from my mother. She thought I would be killed in Vietnam. Her brother, my uncle had a son that became a Marine about 10 years before me, and my uncle said I wouldn’t make it. With those ringing endorsements, coupled with a high school friend who said he was going in with me and backed out, I had my concerns. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my own abilities.

Me - recruit side profile

As a new scared recruit

What followed were 13 weeks of learning more about myself, than I knew before going in. I found out I could do a lot more physically and mentally than previously imagined. I owe some of that to a Staff Sergeant and lead Drill Instructor. He kicked, punched and choked me into becoming a Marine. I know that sounds terribly harsh to those who never had the experience, but there’s more to it than just that description. Physical challenges, and the choice knowing you can drop out if you can’t “hack it”, were actually motivational.

Over the next four years, I was awarded honors by being first in my class. I gained promotions and given greater responsibility. I look back and recall how fortunate I was from this experience.

comm-elec-school-marines-b

Training was ongoing throughout my time. The Marine in the lower right didn’t have much longer in the Corps at that weight.

That winter of 1972, I returned home to Minnesota. I ran smack into that divide of opinions over the military, with or without the uniform on. I even had a car full of young men pour out to attack me while waiting in my car at a traffic light.

Caravan of Fools – John Prine
Love and devotion
LP-record-imageDeep as any ocean
Don’t play by anybody’s rules
With your carousel of horses
And your own foreseen forces
You’re running with the caravan of fools

baseball_dirty_1This blind anger by people who didn’t know me personally, oozed its way around me and others who were in the military. A real eye opener was when I volunteered for color guard duty and was 1 of 3 Marines in a brief pre-game flag presentation. We marched 3 abreast around the inside perimeter of Anaheim stadium. The center Marine, a sergeant carried the colors, I and one other Marine flanked him, carrying ceremonial M-14 rifles on our shoulders.

While passing the “fans”, threw things they had in their hands. We were paid very little salary each month. All I could think of, when some of the food or drink cups hit my uniform, I have to pay to clean this after these bums are finished. It made me more angry than humiliated.

There was a little comeuppance that day. The final score:
Milwaukee Brewers 4 California Angels 2

anti-military-protestors-pentagon-67

These foolish people were simply following the prevailing mood, and what they saw others do, in the news. It caused them to become pawns in a routine game of public manipulation through peers and the Television news.

This mindless hatred lasted for several years after I was separated from active duty. People swore at me, assigned behavior and activities to me which I never performed. Perhaps, as the saying goes, time wounds all heels, and I moved forward from one opportunity to the next. The mood of the country changed, primarily led by TV news and the attitudes from peers.

An all volunteer military went a long way towards this change in attitude. People started to recognize there were a lot of young people performing duties and responsibilities which many of them either couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  Some of our national leaders were former protestors. Even their opinion changed when it suited them.

Every American ought to find a way to serve, somehow. It doesn’t have to be in the military. I like the idea that everybody ought to give back something.” – John Kerry

He said that, among the lessons from Vietnam, was that “Americans must always treat returning veterans with dignity and respect regardless of whether a war was popular or unpopular.”

mike_marines_cap_aThat anti-military attitude has changed about 180°.  If I’m wearing a baseball style cap with the Marine Corps logo on it, or people see my license plates with veteran status, I usually hear something quite positive. I don’t live in California, perhaps the prevailing mood there is different.

There’s another populist idea promulgated on Americans that those who have been disadvantaged in some manner of our society, need a wealthy spokesperson to aid their cause. I’m not impressed.

Marines_color_guard_sacrifice_meme

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Why so Much Conformity in the News Media?

There’s not much choice when it comes to your daily news diet. Most International and national news is aggregated through Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
Cutbacks at rival United Press International in 1993 left the AP as the United States’ primary news service, although UPI still produces and distributes stories and photos daily. Other less often used English-language news services, such as the BBC, Reuters and the English-language service of Agence France-Presse, are based outside the United States.
[CLICK ON THE LINKS TO FIND OUT MORE]

Associated Press is a Not-for-profit Cooperative.[1] Steven R. Swartz is the Chairman. Gary Pruitt is the President and CEO. He was the CEO, president, and chairman of the board of the McClatchy Company. The AP has counted the vote in U.S. elections since 1848, including national, state and local races down to the legislative level in all 50 states, along with key ballot measures. AP collects and verifies returns in every county, parish, city and town across the U.S., and declares winners in over 5,000 contests.
Corporate Headquarters
200 Liberty Street
New York City, New York

Steven R. Swartz became president and chief executive officer of Hearst, one of the nation’s largest diversified media, information and services companies, on June 1, 2013.

Hearst’s major interests include ownership in cable television networks such as A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime and ESPN; global ratings agency Fitch Group; Hearst Health, a group of medical information and services businesses; 31 television stations such as WCVB in Boston and KCRA in Sacramento, Calif.; newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union, more than 300 magazines around the world including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR and Car & Driver; digital services businesses such as iCrossing and KUBRA; and investments in emerging digital and video companies such as Verizon Hearst Media Partners, Complex, BuzzFeed and VICE.

In 1994, London-based Associated Press Television (APTV) was founded to provide agency news material to television broadcasters. In 1998, AP purchased Worldwide Television News (WTN) from the ABC News division of The Walt Disney Company, Nine Network Australia and ITN London.

In April 2013, AP stated that it had dropped the term “illegal immigrant” from its stylebook. AP follows ABC, NBC, and CNN in not using the term. Jose Antonio Vargas commended The Associated Press for its decision.

Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Christopher Newton, an AP reporter since 1994, was fired by AP in September 2002 after he was accused of fabricating sources since 2000, including at least 40 people and organizations. Prior to his firing, Newton had been focused on writing about federal law-enforcement while based at the Justice Department. Some of the nonexistent agencies quoted in his stories included “Education Alliance”, the “Institute for Crime and Punishment in Chicago”, “Voice for the Disabled”, and “People for Civil Rights”.

Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people every day.  Michael Friedenberg has been President of Reuters News and Media Operations at Thomson Reuters Corporation since December 3, 2018. Previously, he served as global CEO of IDG Communications, a media, data and services firm, leading the company across 147 countries.
Corporate Headquarters
333 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2R2 Canada

A Few Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies

In May, 2012 Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company announced the purchase of 63 newspapers, including 23 dailies, from the debt-ridden Media General Company. The transaction was a course reversal for Buffett, who earlier had said he wouldn’t buy newspapers, and created a major new player in the industry. It also left Media General-whose history with newspapers dates back to the mid-1800’s-with only one remaining daily, the Tampa Tribune, which many predict it will still try to sell.

Prominent journalists like ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and former Washington Post editor and now Vice President Len Downie serve on boards of operations that receive funding from George Soros. This despite the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethical code stating: ”avoid all conflicts real or perceived.”

6 Corporations own almost all of the TV and Cable Outlets. There used to be almost 90.
{ This is an update to the graphic linked in this post. }
Verizon owns AOL & Huffington Post
Comcast purchased NBC from GE.

illusion_of_choice
Have you ever committed a “HATcrime?” It’s the new crime of wearing a hat that “triggers” deranged people.

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[1] One primary difference between a cooperative corporation and a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation is how money flows back into the organization. A tax-exempt nonprofit organization cannot distribute profits to members or investors, while a cooperative corporation generally distributes profits based on members’ participation.

The End of Another Year & What Have We learned?

Head_Platon_Glyptothek_Munich.jpg2018 is almost at an end. Maybe it’s time to review where we are, and what we think we must do.

There are a number of issues routinely discussed in the USA, and not necessarily a lot of agreement.

Lets take a look at a few.

How about one that seems to be ignored, but is indicative of how inept we can be at solving a known problem. No, I’m not talking about the national debt, although that’s certainly a priority issue. Here’s a localized problem that should be an embarrassment considering how much we send to other countries, let alone waste through poor governance.

Flint Michigan Toxic Water:  Flint Michigan lies along the Flint River, 60 miles (100 km) northwest of Detroit. Flint was a busy manufacturing town up until the 1980’s. General Motors was a leading employer in that area. When the fortunes of GM changed, area manufacturing closed down and a lot of ancillary business connected to automotive production also ceased to exist. The financial impact made its way to the city water decisions on saving money. By 2014, Flint wasn’t able to pay the cost of obtaining water from Detroit, a city that also was struggling. They were getting the water from Lake Huron. The city made a decision to route the municipal water from the nearby Flint River. They said it would only be temporary and like dopamine fools, people believed the city officials. (This is how toxic Flint’s Water is) It’s 2018 and the water is still being supplied from the lead and toxins contaminated Flint River. Read this CNN article for a timeline of the crisis.

In March 2016, Flint began to rip out and replace some of the hazardous pipes under a “FAST Start program.” That program continues.
Kristin Moore, a Flint city government spokeswoman, said that 6,264 pipes have been replaced as of April 18, 2018. However, an estimated 12,000 Flint residences still have lead and galvanized service lines that need to be replaced, she said.
“The pipe replacement work is expected to be completed by 2020,” Moore said. “However, the mayor is hopeful that the project can be completed even sooner.”

Climate Change: We might as well go from a local problem to a global one. It lays before us like a rotting pumpkin. Some suggest we should leave it alone, while others say it needs to be cleaned up. There’s probably more discussion on this topic than any of the others I’ll mention. Rightly or wrongly, when it comes to climate change, there’s going to be lively debate on social media any time this topic is discussed.

Some groups claim humanity is plunging headlong towards catastrophe and possibly even a future in which a tiny band of survivors cluster around the last remaining habitable territory near the poles.

Other groups claim that climate change will not be too bad so there is no need to stop using fossil fuels. They point to beneficial effects such as ‘global greening’ in which plant growth is boosted by the extra carbon in the air.

The answers may lay somewhere in between.

The United Nations IPCC publishes a research review in the form of a voluminous,  report on the subject of climate change, which the United Nations asserts is “authored” by approximately 600 scientists. These “authors” are not, however – as is ordinarily the custom in science – permitted power of approval of the published review of which they are supposedly authors. They are permitted to comment on the draft text, but the final text neither conforms to nor includes many of their comments. The final text conforms instead to the United Nations objective of building support for world taxation and rationing of industrially useful energy.

Does this make climate change data or predictions, incorrect or a hoax? That’s not as easy to answer as one can presuppose.

150 years ago Irish physicist John Tyndall discovered ‘carbonic acid’, known today as carbon dioxide. It was one of a number of “perfectly colorless and invisible gases and vapors” to absorb radiant heat. About 40 years later, the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first suggested, increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause the global temperature to go up, particularly in the Arctic. Therefore, according to these ideas and the last 150 years of a rise in global temperature measurement, in combination with a rise in CO2, the science of climate change has become the “hot topic” of discussion.

The Climate-gate scandal proved that key data involving man-made climate change was manipulated. In 2009, the public discovered emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit exposing how scientists who have been enormously influential in promoting the concept of man-made climate change actually attempted to cook the books to obtain results that served their narrative that the planet was heating at a dangerous trend due to higher levels of carbon dioxide.

One of these scientists included Dr. James Hansen, a former NASA climatologist who is known by some as the “father” or “grandfather” of the climate change myth, as it was his “Model Zero” that first introduced the concept of global warming. Hansen, Philip Jones, Michael Mann, et al. were all involved in trying “to lower past temperatures and to ‘adjust’ recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming.” The leaked emails bore that out. The emails also revealed how this cabal of scientists would discuss various ways to stonewall the public from seeing the “background data on which their findings and temperature records were based,” even going as far as deleting significant amounts of data. They would engage in efforts to smear “any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics’ work.”

Michael Mann has used Canada’s courts to sue one of his major critics of anthropogenic global warming. Dr. Tim Ball has on several occasions caused people to pause and review the underlying facts and purposes of a government proposition they can tax the environmental reprobates and credit the appropriate parties. It’s a perfect “crisis” for any government to use more authority and gain added revenues. All the while, taking credit when it isn’t due, and shifting blame whenever things aren’t favorable.
The use of ‘science’ as a tool for social manipulation is thoroughly confusing to most people until they understand the motive behind the deception.

It has been 28 years since Channel 4 in the UK produced >The Greenhouse Conspiracy.  It covered all the things that were wrong with the AGW theory. They are still valid, but now time-tested. Unfortunately, most people still don’t understand how it disproves the theory, despite all the efforts to educate people about the misuse of science. The bureaucratic technocrats, including those funded by them, who created and promote the deception, rarely respond to scientific challenges. Why bother when the public doesn’t understand?

Health Care: The debate over U.S. health care reform and the future of the Affordable Care Act dominated headlines in 2017, and has slowly diminished attention. The problems with healthcare in the US has continued. It’s a mixed message to the public by government politicos. On one hand, they say we need universal, “government managed” health care, but this type of care has been available since the inception of medicare.  The evidence for government managed health care has proven to be an empty promise. The Veterans Health (a very small percentage of the US population) has gone through numerous exposes on its mis-management. Medicare is definitely limited coverage, and about the only people who seem to have the right amount of health care coverage are those with a lot of money or high up government officials.

There’s no doubt that health care costs in the U.S. needs to be controlled. It’s not going to be corrected by elimination of private insurance, and corporate medical health organizations. The government has for decades, along with insurance, pharmaceutical lobbyists, and the legal industry, have been manipulating the health care industry. There’s a lot of shifting of responsibility, making it more complex for the care giver as well as the patients.

Government Spending: This is the 800 gorilla in the living room, and he’s growing into a 1 ton monster.

Federal, State, Local, and Total US government spending

Amounts in Trillion$ FY 2018 FY 2019
----------------------------------
Federal Spending     4.11  4.41
Intergov. Transfers  -0.72 -0.7
State Spending       1.81  1.87
Local Spending       1.93  1.99
Total Spending       7.12  7.56

Where’s the money being spent?
2019-budget-spending-chart

“World stock markets staggered Monday towards the end of their worst year since the global financial crisis a decade ago, rocked by rising interest rates, the global trade war and Brexit, dealers said.”

“London and Paris wobbled in holiday-shortened trade on New Year’s Eve — but nursed dizzying double-digit annual falls after an exceptionally volatile 2018.”

All that is what may concern some investors, but what should concern everyone, is the rapid year upon year increase of government debt. This is a crisis that can be averted, but the distress in shrinking the exorbitant spending habit of the federal government is more painful than the withdrawal symptoms of a heroin addict. Massive protests would ensue if someone’s favored group or program either was shrunk or defunded. As evidenced by the growing outspoken demands by a younger generation, they want to see universal health care, free college tuition, and basic income for all. Where this all will be created from, isn’t their problem. They just believe the “wealthy will pay”.

“They’ve got to keep the government-funded,” and where or how we obtain that funding isn’t important. That kind of thinking is a train wreck waiting to happen.

“Every dollar the government spends, even if borrowed, has to come out of some existing person’s pocket and therefore pre-empts the use of that dollar somewhere else in the economy—not in the future, but here and now.”

“The government can obtain its borrowed money by selling Treasury bonds to either American citizens or foreigners. If it borrows from domestic sources, it is getting money that Americans would have either invested somewhere in the economy or spent on goods and services. Government borrowing simply diverts the cash from other uses, just as if its spending were financed by taxation.” Economists call this the “crowding out effect.”

What’s necessary to understand, there will be a point where there’s not enough money to pay the interest and the required expenditures. This usually results in runaway inflation in order to “devalue” the debt.

US_debt_history

Growing Government Encroachment

“As we look into the future, contemplating artificial intelligence, automation, driverless cars and robots in our homes, big data — our data — is providing the foundation for this new world. Smart technology is just another part of the food chain, foraging personal data from our lives, without our permission or full comprehension of the implications.”

“The scale of hacking at numerous corporations around the world and the data exchange between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, gives us an idea of how fierce this battle has become. Big data are today’s gold. Our personal and national sovereignties are at stake.”

Whistle Blowers are most often hailed as heroes, but not when it comes to blowing the whistle on a major government, most particularly, the United States. The U.S. will hunt you down, in almost any country in the world. Edward Snowden and Julian Assange have been identified as either traitors, or a high security risk. Most problematic for those advocating their arrest and need for a trial, are the things they’ve revealed. Snowden disclosed the unrestrained eavesdropping by the NSA, and Assange opened the curtain of secrecy on how third-party military contractors conduct themselves in some situations with non-combatants.

Even more problematic for the “pure democracy” the politicos have tried to portray, were the devious conduct of the National Democrat party co-opting their support of  Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton. This caused enough backlash from the Clinton campaign, they began a series of intrigue and rumors to the point where we are still investigating the 2016 election results, blaming the Russians and the Trump campaign in concert of subverting the election. All of the facts disclosing this “palace intrigue,” came through Wiki Leaks led by Julian Assange. Mills_Snowden_holidays_2018

This national anxiety over either the Russians, Trump, Assange, or Snowden, are misplaced. It’s one huge disinformation campaign. Private & government ambition and technology have raced ahead of law, policy and norms.

This is not just a national problem. It’s a global problem seeking global solutions. Stricter data protection regulations and the breaking up of monopolies may be excellent starting points. Of course the clever government sponsored ideas on making the Internet Fair, are nothing more than a way of twisting the debate to furthering federal control of a public resource. The Chinese have that control within their borders, the U.S. government will continue to posit arguments through surrogates to wrest this control from private entities. What’s most amazing is the naive public view that government is inherently more trustworthy than a corporate entity.  Amazon and Google have gone to great lengths to be willing to share any data on a proactive basis. Forget privacy, it’s an illusion.

Indeed one of many arguments I’ve seen on the topic of privacy and the need for controls, are similar to asking the wolf to guard the chicken coop.

Privacy commissioners need the tools and the authority and we all need a transparent process focused on marrying moral and ethical considerations with technological progress.” Oh sure, the people who have repeatedly demonstrated their self-serving ineptitude, should be in charge of the technology they’ve already exploited.

There are other concerns and challenges facing us in 2019. The U.S. routine military interventions around the world should be a cause for concern for all of us. If the situation was flipped around, let’s say China or Russia were inside U.S. borders and using military force to impose their will, what would be the reaction? Might we become a terrorist, or support that type of activity in their homeland? I believe we need a clear written public policy statement which identifies the reasons for our military to engage into a foreign country. It needs healthy debate. We’ve skirted this debate, by having a contemporary President make a televised impassioned speech, then impromptu short international meetings and choreographed public pronouncements. USA_military_interventions_map

What are your concerns going forward? What changes, if any do you think need to at least begin in 2019?

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Ode to Joy – A Day in the Life

What is this thing called love?Today wasn’t particularly noteworthy or unusual for me, but for some inexplicable reason, I feel extraordinarily grateful. I’ve been more aware of the fragile circumstances I or anyone else have; to live a life free of disease, threat of survival, as well as basic freedom to think as I want, to travel about without hesitation or question.

For many people, this isn’t true, and I ask myself, why not? Have we so lost our way that we can’t distinguish that which is valuable? Can we refer to ourself as caring or worshipful, while being full of hate, vengeance, controlling of others or in isolation? Do we enforce our morals on others at gun point, while believing our morals are superior? Do we build wealth or fantastic machinery to simply extend our own gain? What do we spend most of our time on? What do we truly find valuable in our life? I can’t answer those questions for anyone other than myself.Earth & Sky

You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children what we have taught our childrenthat the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.

The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know.  Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”  — Chief Seattle

I awake some mornings wondering why I’ve lived this long and yet know so very little? Is it because I’m not fully engaged with the life around me? Do I simply pass the time without meaning or direction? Have I come this far without knowing what I should? As far as I can tell, there are many questions searching for answers, and sometimes when we think we know or are confident in our understanding, that’s when problems come along and let you know, there’s much more left to learn and do.

Skellig - A song about a monks survival & journey to preserve the books of Skelling.

Skellig – A song about a monks survival & journey to preserve the books of Skellig.

An approximate answer to the right question is worth a great deal more than a precise answer to the wrong question.” — John Tukey

It is not about achieving your dreams but living your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.” — Randy Pausch in his “Last Lecture”