Category Archives: Places

Another Life Lesson to Be Learned

I recently finished reading a book which I found profound and insightful, “The Four Agreements” by don Miguel Ruiz.The Four Agreements
Of course there are innumerable books on human understanding, self-help and boisterous guides and DVD’s on becoming a better you. I’ve read several and there are good and wise words in many, however I find myself continually seeking practical solutions for everyday living which I either don’t get from these texts or unable to apply in my life.

Then along comes this book, which I must admit, the 4 topics of focus are things I’ve heard one way or another before. Perhaps this time, I get it because of the way he explains. Here are the topics he writes on and then explains in examples.

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

These all seem simple enough until you try to apply them. I’m going to use this as a structure to examine a current event of which some people are familiar. For others not aware of Jeremy Clarkson as a presenter for the BBC program “Top Gear“, or are unaware of the use of political correctness in society, I suggest you skip the rest of my post and click on this link for an explanation of The Four Agreements.

Being offended is practically a national past time for a lot of people. I routinely read or hear how this person is a racist or homophobic because of what they said. It’s usually a charge pronounced against someone who has notoriety or to dismiss someone’s point of view that another disagrees. Of course it’s a special dividend when this verbal offense can be litigated for significant sums of money as in the case for Clarkson and the BBC.

Top Gear BBC presentersAfter all the years of being a presenter, Clarkson and his form of humor should be well understood by his employers and the public at large who view or listen to his public diatribes.

Clarkson may have grown out of short pants, but he still speaks as though a school boy, thinking everything he says is clever even if it sounds stupid. This is part of what attracts viewing audience to the Top Gear automotive review program as part of his normal prevarication. I can only imagine how far he may stray with his unfiltered mouth after intoxication.

Is Clarkson clever? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. He throws out lines of thought without considering who might be sensitive receptors. You can witness repeated topics or names are used because he has special disdain for anyone connected with said topic.

Here’s why he’s still around.
✔ – He’s a big lout that does have a sense of humor.
✔ – He’s not boring, clever enough to attract a large audience.
✔ – He’s a train wreck in motion and people seem to be attracted to this as much as their tabloid news.

The thing that prompts his lack of sensitivity is the reaction he gets when he pokes fun at people or their beliefs. Mel Brooks produced a movie called, “Blazing Saddles“, which probably couldn’t be made now, but expressly used almost every pejorative he knew to illustrate the stupidity of racism, bigotry and hatred for others. The society around Clarkson has changed into complainers who have managed to use the law and courts to censor people like him. It’s as if they can create a magical world of everyone holding hands and singing “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing . . “, while ignoring very serious societal problems of far greater magnitude.

I understand people want everyone to be treated fairly, but the truth is, people think whatever they want in spite of someone else and if we want to mature as a society we need to expect people will say things without our consideration. Perhaps its time we get on with our business and stop worrying what the Clarkson’s of the world say or think, because in the end it shouldn’t matter.

Miguel Ruiz states it better; There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.”

Example of his non-sensitive nature humor:
Jeremy Clarkson Twitter @JeremyClarkson
I’m not a racist. I am currently sitting in a bar with a man who lives quite near Wales.


The Reasons to Go to War

I don’t pretend to be a learned scholar, however this is what I believe to be correct. Your opinion may vary from mine on this topic.

My rational for participating in any international conflict are simply my own. I’m a Marine Corps veteran during the Viet Nam war, but not a combat veteran. I don’t offer this opinion as some do that are heroes or have special expertise on the subject. I do have the benefit of reasonable perspective. If you don’t have principles by which you stand then obviously you have no principles. That shouldn’t suggest being stubborn is right, it just means you won’t be goaded or intimidated into making bad decisions despite all of the variety of public opinion. Polls shouldn’t inform your principles, they just indicate a popular opinion. Remember this example, public opinion used to support slavery.

MCB Twentynine PalmsI’m a General Smedley Butler type of Marine. He became a pariah for politicians because he said this; “war is a racket“. I tend to side with him. He didn’t say that to be clever, he knew it from first hand experience and was honest. If you care to read more honest assessment as to why we’re in Afghanistan, go to this link. Why We Fight II.

In almost any conflict, foreign or domestic, I think 3 basic questions need to be raised and answered with certainty.
  1. Can I avoid this fight or is this fight inevitable? If inevitable, get the best data and answer with facts as to why this is the situation. Emotional reactions tend to be the worst solutions.
  2. Is avoiding this conflict life threatening for my country, family or I, or are there peaceful options to prevent this fight?
  3. Assuming, leaders have struggled, agonized and sought viable options and remedies, then what will it take to win the war?

– a) What resources are necessary?
– b) How devastating will this conflict be?
– c) How committed is your support and logistics for the long-term struggle and the frequent reversals of fortune that are part of a war?
– d) Were we invited to this conflict? If so, what are the motivations of those making the request?

Notice when you get to questions contained in number 3, there isn’t anything about exit strategy, purpose, or duration. Why do you think those questions aren’t necessary? Well here’s the ugly truth about war or any global conflict, duration and exit strategy are something invoked by the media or politicians that know very little about the nature of a war. You don’t win wars with the strategies of Korea, Viet Nam, or what we did in Iraq. All or nothing has to be the aim. If you can’t commit 100% as we did in WWII, then you haven’t satisfactorily and truthfully answered the 1st question let alone any of the others. Don’t send inadequate resources of men and material, because you think that you can limit losses by employing that type of strategy. Your enemy won’t adjust their goals based on weak commitment. If anything, it emboldens them to be even more aggressive. Only when the opposition has been totally brought to their knees, when they are willing to sign an armistice without pre-conditions, have you got an exit strategy that works.

WWII became necessary because WWI wasn’t settled. It seems there are historians still arguing over that one. People might also say Viet Nam is peaceful now and we didn’t win that war. That’s true because our answers to questions 1 & 2 were wrong. We weren’t required to be there to save our country from more aggressive conflict(s) despite the answers some of our politicians decided and explained to the public. False data gives you Viet Nam and Iraq as well as I believe, Afghanistan. I don’t entertain the debate about whether George Bush lied about the war in Iraq. Why don’t we need to know if he lied? Here’s the answer based on logic, you get the same answer when you know the right questions to ask. What’s important is the answers to the questions previously stated, not whether he lied or told the truth. Obama with leaders meeting on SyriaIf the data is wrong and the answers to questions 1 & 2 were false, you get the same results as if he lied. I think he believed it was the right thing to do and so did the vast majority of each political party at that time. Only when hindsight and public opinion turned against their decisions, did one party almost unilaterally decide it was wrong. Problems originate and so does endless debate when you don’t have the right answers to those first 3 questions.

I know some who read this will misunderstand and perceive me as too certain or with answers too simple. Believe me these aren’t simple questions and neither are the answers trivial. The questions asked require long thought, and lengthy debate. If you believe in God, then it’s time for some serious prayer. Those prayers shouldn’t be about asking for God’s support or approval. They should be about what’s the best course of action and be open to the thought that you might be wrong. Lincoln answered this type of question best; .. my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right“. Getting that answer is the most difficult problem and may not come in the form expected.

The genuine struggle for anyone required to make this type of decision, is in trying to get the best information from every source possible and not base a response on the pressure that something must be done. It’s not a hawk or dove or ideology type of decision.

Chosin ResevoirMaking a choice one way or another shouldn’t be about political party affiliation or successful victory at the ballot box. Sometimes doing nothing at all is the best and most circumspect course of action. That can be easily misunderstood by the public as procrastination, but in point of fact, rushing into a bad decision doesn’t improve the decision.

Click on this link: Bill Moyer’s Extended Interview with Andrew Bacevich

Work – Are You Looking in the Right Places?

According to MSN Money, these are the rankings of best and worst places for employment.

Here are all 50 U.S. states as ranked by their working conditions in the 2014 analysis: higher learning chalk board formulas

1. Washington
2. Texas
3. Minnesota
4. Colorado
5. Utah
6. North Dakota
7. Virginia
8. Nevada
9. Oklahoma
10. Nebraska
11. Illinois
12. Delaware
13. Georgia
14. Maryland
15. Iowa
16. Arizona
17. Wyoming
18. Massachusetts
19. Kansas
20. Indiana
21. Ohio
22. Montana
23. Tennessee
24. Wisconsin
25. North Carolina
26. South Dakota
27. Louisiana
28. Kentucky
29. California
30. New Hampshire
31. Vermont
32. Michigan
33. Florida
34. Idaho
35. Maine
36. Pennsylvania
37. West Virginia
38. Oregon
39. New Mexico
40. Missouri
41. South Carolina
42. New Jersey
43. Arkansas
44. Alabama
45. Alaska
46. Connecticut
47. Rhode Island
48. Mississippi
49. New York
50. Hawaii

college debt financial burden of tuition
The lifetime earnings differential between a college degree and a high school diploma is about $1.1 million. Of course that depends on the value of the degree.

Financial benefits of a college education are smaller than you’d think.

Since 1985, the overall consumer price index has risen 115% while the college education inflation rate has risen nearly 500%.

Even with the lower interest rates on student loans that President Barack Obama signed into law, students are eyeing bills that are growing on just about every line.

President Barack Obama, surrounded by college students at a White House event, signed an executive order on June 9, 2014 一 making it easier for up to 5 million people to pay off college tuition debt. This executive order only covers loans made after 2007.

The Senate on June 11, 2014 一 voted not to move forward on a bill from Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would have allowed an estimated 25 million people with older student loans to refinance that debt at current, lower interest rates.

Success comes to he who waits, so long as he who waits works mightily while he waits.