Category Archives: Priorities

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.


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


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.



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.

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.

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


[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.

Interesting Times Indeed.

—  “May you live in interesting times.Wheres_Waldo_Dog_a

An English expression, which supposedly is a translation of a traditional “Chinese curse”.

Although it sounds more like a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically. The implied understanding is that “uninteresting times” of peace and tranquillity are more life-fulfilling than interesting ones. From a historical perspective, “interesting times”, suggest disorder and conflict.

No known source has been attributed to the expression, and there’s only a similar phrase according to sources better informed than myself.  The similar phrase does catch the concept.

—  “Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic (warring) period.

—  “World history is not the ground of happiness. The periods of happiness are empty pages in her.”  —  Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

How Society Uses Politics to Decide What’s Racist

The reaction to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s past use of blackface shows how racism gets defined by politics, not morality. Is that a good thing?


Northam’s decades-old racist behavior does not inherently suggest he lacks the moral acuity to govern now. If he is to be taken at his word—that he is not racist, ardently supports civil rights and is genuinely horrified by his past attitudes and actions—then his growth and maturation could be seen as evidence of his fitness for office.

This distinction, however, is immaterial because his moral failing in the past is a political liability today. And, especially on matters of racism, politics—and the defining of what is and is not a liability—polices the boundaries of what we’re willing to accept as a society.

Confused_person_2We live at a time that seems more interested in finding social approval than a basis for moral judgement. There’s a philosophy of relativism, without moral absolutes. Right and wrong are an opinion based on current trend and social acceptance.

Somehow, what people have done 30+ years ago is relevant but the current taking of innocent life isn’t. Note, recent decisions by some local governments on abortion at full term.  What people won’t do to puppies or kittens, they appear to have no hesitation in killing babies.

Stealing from people you don’t like is OK, as long as it’s not you or someone you know. Recommendations by some for taxes up to 80 or 90% on the wealthy.

Men lie about rape, women never do. (Unwritten rules probably inscribed in stone).

Men who claim strong religious faith find new ways to lie to the public.

Rules and laws are subject to adherence on the basis of how you personally feel? See sanctuary cities in defiance of federal law. Pay no attention to the parts of the U.S. which at one time went to war over how they felt about sovereignty and slavery.

So, what’s right or wrong? It looks to be all relative.
What do you think?

How do you start your day? They say breakfast is an important meal that shouldn’t be skipped. What about your brain? What do you ingest the first few hours of your day?

Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain

You can either start you day with junk food for the brain (the internet, distracting apps, etc) or you can start the day with healthy food for the brain (reading, meditation, journaling, exercising, etc). When you start the day with junk food for the brain, you put yourself at a self imposed handicap that inhibits your ability to get into flow and prevents you from doing deep work. When you start the day with health food for your brain, the exact opposite happens.
 By Srinivas Rao September 18, 2017

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A Letter From the Past

The study of history, and learning from the consequences of decisions, all help in determining the future of a nation. No nation is immune to social upheaval or degradation in spite of past success.

A Time Capsule from 1938 includes a message from the physicist, Albert Einstein

einstein_picture_1921_profileOur time is rich in inventive minds, the inventions of which could facilitate our lives considerably. We are crossing the seas by power and utilize power also in order to relieve humanity from all tiring muscular work. We have learned to fly and we are able to send messages and news without any difficulty over the entire world through electric waves. However, the production and distribution of commodities is entirely unorganized so that everybody must live in fear of being eliminated from the economic cycle, in this way suffering for the want of everything. Further more, people living in different countries kill each other at irregular time intervals, so that also for this reason any one who thinks about the future must live in fear and terror. This is due to the fact that the intelligence and character of the masses are incomparably lower than the intelligence and character of the few who produce some thing valuable for the community. I trust that posterity will read these statements with a feeling of proud and justified superiority.”

What’s so sad to me is that people once again swallow the Marxist theories of economic production and wealth creation. Robbing one group of people to benefit another group, is a sure path to crippling both.

I grew up in a dysfunctional impoverished family. I lived with the hope and dream that through education (much of it self-taught) and disciplined work, I would not have to endure a lifetime of poverty. That was the dominant view of the society then, and it shows through because we stand upon the shoulders of those who organized, invented, shared, and distributed those ideas to all those willing to learn and move those ideas forward. Elon Musk named a car company Tesla, based on his respect for his inventive genius.

Today, there’s a different populist message. A message of despair, distrust, and selfishness. It goes something like this…
There are some who are privileged and lucky. We who believe we are not, see your success and believe you cheated others out of their rightful inheritance. We demand our fair share and will use that ballot box, legislation, riots, and personal violence if you don’t comply with our demands for social and economic justice.

I think I liked my youthful hopes better.

Education ~
During the 1920s, high school enrollment increased as a result of higher economic prosperity across the country and higher educational standards for industry jobs. It was seen as an avenue for career success and more young Americans entered high school and continued their education through college to gain an edge on others competing for new jobs.

ve1_vespucci_amerigoThere’s a significant push by some to suggest college is an expensive and un-rewarding choice, or that many would benefit by forgoing that education and taking up a trade. As in every “big idea”, there’s a grain of truth. Undoubtedly many people find themselves with burdensome student loans after they finish college. There are several things to consider when paying for higher education, no matter what choice is made, the end result must be examined before the journey begins. Some people would benefit by looking ahead and seeing what their education will do for them in terms of a career. Obviously some career paths provide greater compensation than others. That should be taken into consideration before considerable time and money are invested.

Economies of Scale ~
Mass production improved the economic output of the USA through the manufacture of many identical products by the division of labor into many small repetitive tasks. In the 1920s Henry Ford revolutionized the mode of production to produce inexpensive automobiles that could be purchased by many Americans.

The cost of bringing beneficial and useful appliances, tools, and entertainment, is expensive and risky in the initial phase, with no guarantee the item will be fully functional or desirable to a large group of people. There are a number of economic levers that must be pulled in order to create and launch a new product. Investors risk their reputations as well as the money from others when they support a new idea. Should the ‘product’ be in demand, everyone has a potential for a large economic reward. There are many instances where we see that success happening, but many which are no more successful than the Titanic.

The Constant Obsession ~
There are patterns and habits among many, which humanity clings, the need to compare. We constantly compare our lives in a never-ending chase of dissatisfaction. We feel the need in one form or another to “keep up with the Joneses“. This insatiable pull doesn’t take into account the myriad of differences and abilities each of us possess. The emotional draw ignores facts or discrepancies in order to satisfy the urge.

It’s Official: Wall Street Topped $100 Billion in Profit

This article focuses on the profits made by people on Wall Street. It’s ironic that the company on which this Masthead is posted was founded by Michael Bloomberg. In 1981, with the help of Thomas Secunda, Duncan MacMillan, Charles Zegar, and a 30% ownership investment by Merrill Lynch, Bloomberg launched his successful self-named business. Bloomberg installed his ‘market terminals’ in investment firms, as well as many publicly traded companies. His net worth is now over $58 billion.

In its strongest forms – greed, avarice, jealousy, are a perverse way of keeping score. It’s been said he (or she) with the most toys wins. What do any of us win with that type of focus? We all end up with the same amount of material possessions with which we came into this world. This obsession over what others have instead of ourselves must be tempered by some reality.

There are differences between people, their abilities, their strengths, weaknesses, discipline, goals and consistency. Obviously preparatory education helps, but execution and a willingness to take risks and failure are hallmarks of most successful people. If the game is rigged, either play the game or learn ways in which you will be satisfied without the need to constantly compare and fret over things beyond your control.

The pursuit of happiness (or the movie title misspelling – Pursuit of Happyness) isn’t necessarily about pursuing wealth but there needs to be freedom in which that’s possible. The economic system must allow room for that to occur, even though it’s not always achievable, there’s a need for those who pursue it, the possibility of upward improvement. Economies must not be rigged in such a way that fortune follows only the well-connected and powerful. Many understand it to be that way, based on the considerable pandering and inside deals made between business and politics. This “crony capitalism”, is a cancer on a country’s economy, and perhaps a start point for revolutionaries launch.

What we mustn’t forget are the false promises made through the disenfranchisement and disenchantment by some, to another grand scheme of lofty promises of a group or leader who claims if we only give them the authority, a utopian society will emerge. Such were the promises of Lenin based on Marxism. A society of fairness and higher order doesn’t evolve through more centralized control of production and distribution.

• Marx stated that the revolution of the working class was inevitable; this is why he even state that all history is a history of class struggle.

• Lenin pointed out that along with imperialism a condition for revolution does not emerge. Although heavily influenced by Marx  he diverted from the original ideas of Marx.

•  The communist revolution of Lenin took place in Russia which was economically stagnant.

• The nazi revolution of Hitler took place in Germany, economically ravaged by the outcome of World War I.

• The fascist revolution of Mussolini took place in Italy, because of its economic position after World War I, even though it had sided with the allies.

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.” G. K. Chesterton

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