Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Flight of Fantasy

Once upon a time, there was a kingdom ruled by a nefarious king who had taken the throne of his father, who had died a mysterious death.  The kingdom was known far and wide as the maker of the best chariots for small kingdoms.  They were so well known they were called the Hercules of chariots.  About the time the new king took over there was a realization by most of the surrounding monarchs they had enough of these rather smallish, slow but sturdy chariots, and perhaps should look to stop buying them and use the riches of the their kingdoms for something better. 

To counter this, the King of Lockmart sent out his emissaries across the many kingdoms making grand promises to willing kings.  If they were to buy their newest chariot all the world would marvel at their wisdom and strength.  What they failed to tell all the kings was this newest chariot would ultimately make the various kingdoms so dependent on Lockmart they would never have the money to pursue another option should the chariot not be all the King of Lockmart said it would be.

Not far away there was a young kingdom ruled by a kind and benevolent king loved by all his subjects.  He was in most things a wise king, but he rose to the rank of king by spending his subjects’ money better, that is faster, than other apprentice kings.  This taught him a lesson, it is better to be first with a plan than to have the best plan.

One day an emissary from the kingdom of Lockmart visited, and proposed an alliance to make the two kingdoms great.  If the wise king would throw away all his old chariots and buy Lockmart’s newest chariots there would be joy throughout the land.

And it came to pass that a treaty was struck, but in the process the evil wizards of the distant land of Ohio saw this as a threat to their powers.  So they quickly aligned themselves with the nefarious king of Lockmart, and together worked to make sure the new chariots arrived quickly, but lacked the strength and ability of the chariots they were to replace.

By the time the chariots arrived, the wise king had been replaced by a jester who surrounded himself with fools and spent the days throwing away the most precious wealth of the kingdom, its warriors who would defend the kingdom.  At the end, when the chariots came into the young kingdom only the squires were left to ride them.  Of course the squires, having only had the oldest and most humble of the old chariots thought this new ride was fabulous.

As time passed the jester was replaced by newer kings who each sought their own agenda, but each was to find at the end of their reign a deep disappointment as the chariots never seemed to live up to the original promise of greatness as they drained the treasury of the kingdom.
And the King of Lockmart smiled as he sat on his throne surveying the lands he now ruled.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Spinning Wheel

As we know it, the universe is a sphere expanding from that instant when time started.  Those who do not believe in God, place their faith in the possibility this event was a random occurrence.  While those of the three major religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism believe the divine intervention of God created the heavens and the earth.  While I side with the latter group, I do not believe I know how God created the instant of creation, or even why.  There is a pantheon of theologians who spend their lives trying to understand the will of God and translate it into understandable terms for us normal men.  In the days of the old testament these men were prophets.  They say a prophet is never understood in his own land, and I think there is clear evidence before us.  
Take, for example, those great wise men of Blood, Sweat and Tears who said in their 1968 prophecy, “What goes up, must come down. Spinning wheel got to go 'round.”  I believe at least two generations have failed to grasp the significance of this opus work.  Clearly the visionaries of B, S & T foresaw the fall of the great Democratic party as it worked to divide the nation into the elites and the forgotten people of mid-America.
Today the party of Jefferson and Jackson struggles to understand how a simple billionaire from humble beginnings could have swept into the office they believed to be theirs.  They have climbed on their painted pony and continue to go ‘round and ‘round as they demonize the President using the only language they know.  The themes that led to their loss in October are played daily by the spokespeople who seek to over throw the government.   

Doubling Down

Here we are a month after the inauguration of President Trump and CNN has this headline.  New executive order may be a pivotal moment for Trump's vision of presidency. I guess I should be used to the hyperbole and exaggerations that are now touted as “real news” by the mainstream news agencies of ABCNNBCBS, but it still intrigues me that they can be so self-absorbed to not realize the damage they are doing to their brand when they are patently one-sided in their reporting.

And of course they bring in Christine Amanpour interviewing the Iranian Foreign Minister to get Iran’s view of the President.  My favorite line?  “Iran responds very well to mutual respect.”  But of course, that would be as they define mutual respect.  When you’re the “Great Satan” I am not sure how that mutual respect thing really works.

Scott Adams has a good video on the dialogues now playing out in the MSM.  

Monday, February 20, 2017

It’s a Simple Game

To borrow a line from the movie, Bull Durham, “This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.”

I thought about that this morning as I walked around the front 9 at Hurlburt Field playing an enjoyable game with friends from Wisconsin.  We make life far too complicated, just as Ebby Calvin Laloosh did in the movie.   
It is President’s day, and you know, I didn’t give one passing thought to all those hundreds of people nation-wide who felt it necessary to declare it “Not My Presidents Day,”  nor did I give a passing thought to the probable quotes or misquotes that would play out in the news about the President.  Thankfully for me, it doesn’t affect my life and until it does it seems pointless to get all worked up about it.

But you know one thought did play out as I washed my car today.  A little over a month and a half ago I was visiting a relative and she told me she was scared by the new President.  I didn’t think to ask the right follow up questions at the time, because I am slow that way.  But I thought of them today so here they are.

What scares you about President Trump? 

Is it the possibility of starting a nuclear war, like John F Kennedy almost did with the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Blockade?

It couldn’t be that he will start a war we can’t win and spend more on social programs than we can actually afford like Lyndon Johnson, is it?

Is it the possibility he will end a war where we leave Americans unaccounted for, or create an enemies list and have his staff break into the DNC like Richard Nixon?

How about the mixed messages sent by Jimmy Carter that encouraged the overthrow of an ally and then allowed them to take Americans hostage, feigned moral outrage over the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, while arming the Mujahedeen and creating the incubation cell for the Taliban like Jimmy Carter?

Maybe it’s the approach Reagan took to bankrupt and destroy the USSR while increasing our national debt, is that it?

Is it the abuse of women?  Like Bill Clinton when he used his position to gain sexual favors from his young interns?

How about the Bush’s?  Are you scared he may start wars we can’t afford, or allow the economy to crash because his focus is on foreign affairs?

Or are you concerned he is not Obama and would choose to support Israel over the Palestinians, while addressing the concerns of the rural and rust belt Americans rather than the urban elite?

Or is it that you just think he’s a vulgar jerk and that scares you?

Simple Observations.

At the beginning of the Obama administration we made a big deal about using federal stimulus funding to fix infrastructure projects that were “shovel ready.”  I read this week the dollars sent to California were used not to fix the most pressing problems, but were sent to districts of the most politically connected.  I am not surprised.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no idea what the most pressing projects were, but I do know how politicians deal with money.  Money is power, control the money you have the power to control the political debate.  I wonder if the District 1 state senator had seniority over the District 4 senator?
There are so many uninformed statements on Face Book that I’ve got to believe we have become a nation of stupid people, or maybe a nation of people who believe an uninformed public statement is better than actually knowing what you are talking about.  My latest example comes from a woman talking about the unfairness of firing people who chose not to come to work on “a day without immigrants.”  She noted that all the firings she knew about came from Right to Work states where people could be fired for any reason.  Since I didn’t know what the law was I looked it up.  Within a minute, I found this:
Right-to-work-laws say workers can be fired for any reason.
Wrong, A common misconception is that, Right-to-work means an employer can fire employees for any reason or no reason at all. Right-to-work laws have absolutely nothing to do with this. What you're talking about here is at-will employment.
Every state but Montana is already an at-will employment state. At-will means your employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all. Whether your employer doesn't like your shirt, wakes up in a bad mood, or just feels like it, they can fire you at-will unless you have a contract or union agreement saying otherwise.
A union can bargain to change this. Many union agreements have requirements that employers only terminate for just cause.

There should be a Robot Tax
Bill Gates has the video, embedded below, on YouTube where he’s talking about how robots will free up the workers so they can do things that require human empathy like teaching and health care.  He then says if a worker making $50 thousand is taxed the robot that replaces him should be taxed to pay for the humans who move into those more noble professions.  What gets glossed over in Mr. Gates grand statements is both the humanity affected and the simple economics of his proposal. 
From the human side he says, IF we could take the labor and “financially, training-wise, and fulfillment-wise” move them to those jobs requiring human empathy we would have a net gain.  A wonderful statement, how can you disagree with it?  But as in most utopian dreams the actual society we live in seems to be completely out of sync with the proposal.  He says we have severe shortages in teachers and health care workers for the elderly and special needs populations, yet we have approximately 10% to 15% of our labor age population today that is unemployed, why aren’t they flocking to these jobs?  Is it training, or financial?  I don’t think so.  We have a huge outcry for free college because students are graduating with mountains of debt and degrees that do not lead to the jobs they were told would be theirs if just they went to college.  Why aren’t all these under-employed and unemployed young people flocking to the severe shortages Mr. Gates referred to?  It couldn’t be because they are not interested in them, could it? 
So, if the jobs they are interested in are taken over by robots would their job fulfillment expectation change or would they just become bitter and drop out?
On the financial side, he says companies who replace workers should continue to pay the same income taxes they did when they had human workers.  He says the robots should pay taxes but they are, at this point, machines who requires no income to survive, just the power and maintenance.  Therefore, what his is actually saying is the government should expect the same income from a business as they had before the worker is replaced.  Since the Federal government operates at a net loss, why does he think whatever taxed income could be attributed to automation would cover the costs of moving the humans to those human empathy jobs he finds so lacking in today’s world?
But…but… but… Bill Gates is a billionaire, he must know what he’s talking about right?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened in Politics Today

I am convinced that people like Will Rogers and Bob Hope must be rolling over in their graves as they look at the state of political satire in America today.  They set a standard for poking the political elite that most of today’s writers and performers have no ability to reach. 
Why is that?
I think the answer boils down to one word, or as Aretha Franklin would say R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Historically, Roger’s would skewer the politicians for their actions with the Republicans being a favorite target.  I believe Hope poked the Democrats more than Republicans in his comedic insights into the two parties, but both of them maintained an underlying respect for the role of government and the necessary evil of the political parties and their politicians. 
Today’s commentators and performers have so little respect for the people or institutions they are attempting to satirize that their words and actions come across as mean, petty, and vindictive rhetoric.  Perhaps it is their perceived notion of shocking the audience by the use of profanity that contributes to this?  I don’t know, but I can’t see the profanity filled dialogues or quotes of Bill Maher being held up to future generations as great American wit.
Then we come to Saturday Night Live, whose agenda is so blatantly bias that it is almost painful to watch.  The hatred seems to ooze from the performer, like puss from a wound.  When did this change?  Was it with the election of GW Bush when the Democrat’s first enlisted the entertainment industry to de-legitimize the office of President, or is a bi-product of the snowflake generating education system?
I leave you with some examples.

Friday, February 17, 2017

It Seems Like Only Yesterday

Do you remember when the news was reporting that climate scientists thought California’s drought could last a very long time?  Some predicted 200 years or more.  Remember these reports?

Weather and weather cycles are a funny thing.  Some people, like conspiracy theorists at Freedom Outpost, are convinced the government is purposely controlling the weather.  They have a nice video narrated by someone who sounds a lot like Martin Sheen where they detail how the world is moving to destruction in keeping with biblical prophecy.  Others, like the progressive government politicians of California, may be playing with the information to enrich those they see as providing a better way.  But my question is if the science of climate change is settled, why didn’t all the scientist actually know when the drought would end or how much rain would come to end it?  Very curious.
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