Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Observations on Society

This past weekend my brother flew down and we took off for four days of golf, three of them along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama.  Compared to what I generally play these courses were a wonderful change, with hills, green fairways, quick greens and four wonderfully challenging, or damning, experiences.
We talked about a lot of things going on with our lives while we played, but I think the conversations I enjoyed most were how our society is evolving.  It started me thinking about how much better we might be if the rules of golf could be translated to civil society.
For example, take the drive off the first tee on the Judge course at Capital Hill.  The fairway stretches out before you, some 100 feet below where you stand.  On your left are trees and wilderness, on your right a lake, but a wonderful green turf stretches straight ahead.  All you have to do is control your emotions and drive the ball straight.  In life it is much the same thing, if you always move to the left, or the right, you set yourself up to condemn the conditions you find yourself in.  Too often, we blame those conditions on things outside our control, not accepting our role in the equation, when in reality it is precisely what we asked for, or allowed to transpire, by those we choose to support in the political arena.
I saw an article today from someone on the Bill Moyers staff who talks about the disillusionment of today’s generation with long-standing institutions, claiming they didn’t abandon the institutions the institutions abandoned them.  Those born between 1980 and 2000 are less trusting of strangers, see little difference between the political parties, fewer are marrying, and less than half view themselves as patriotic.[1]
I’m not sure I understand why this should come as a surprise to anyone, it certainly seems inevitable when we establish a society where the role of the parent is challenged, the concept of moral good is questioned, when we seek to make everyone a victim, and where government regulation and restriction impacts each of these children in an increasingly intrusive way. We are moving towards a generation who, having little experience in decision making, will not have the tools to understand risk, or the consequences of their choices.  Some will become so fear laden they will do nothing, others will be so oblivious they will harm themselves or others.  Those who will mature and make rational choices will become an increasingly rare group.
So I would offer these simple tips for us as a society.  Play life as you find it.  Don’t spend time worrying about the last shot, concentrate on the next.  Be quiet when others are playing.  Replace your divots, and finally, be honest with your score, for if you aren’t honest with yourself what’s the point in expecting it of others?


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Indications You May be Flying Too Low

One day as I was sitting under the wing of my aircraft, waiting for the rest of the crew to show when I noticed an F-4 Phantom taxi by.  At Clark Air Base in the Philippines that wasn’t an unusual sight, and I probably wouldn’t have paid it much attention except for the approximately eight foot of tree top sticking in the wing root just behind the left intake.   I wish I could have been at their parking spot when they got out and saw how much foliage they had brought home.
Then there was the a C-130 killing some time down in Central America.  They decided to go do some wave hopping and put on a show for the local fishing boats.  The opened the ramp to let in some cool air and got as low as they thought prudent.  When they tried to close the ramp it wouldn’t close completely so they headed home with what they thought was a simple maintenance problem.  When the landed and headed into debrief they were informed urine samples would be required.  It seems they had taken about 12 feet of sheet metal off the back end of the aircraft from hitting a wave.

My favorite remembrance was a time when I was in the 773 TAS and we were in Panama for a rotation.  We were to carry supplies around Central and South America.  Most of our Aircraft Commanders were fresh from a Vietnam or Southeast Asia tour and were outstanding pilots, but not overly dedicated to reading all the rules and regulations.  We had a flight down the Chile to take supplies to the Embassy; in the course of the trip the aircraft was asked to perform a flyover of the Santiago futbol stadium.  By the time they arrived back in Panama the Squadron Commander had a picture of the C-130 flying over the field, unfortunately it was a view of the top of the aircraft taken from someone in the stadium stands.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Can our Government be Charitable?

Oxford Dictionary defines charity as the “Help or money given voluntarily to those in need.”  Clearly the issue comes down to whose money is given and is it given voluntarily?  When a government provides money to help those in need is it their money to give and is it given voluntarily?
Depending first on who you believe has the greatest right to the currency in question you could suppose it is taken from the private citizen so that it becomes the governments money.  But for the later condition does the government provide it voluntarily?  I can think of no case where that is true.  It may come without condition, but the Congress controls how funds are to be used; no one empowered to just give away the governments money so the idea of voluntary disbursement seems a non-starter.

For this reason I believe anyone who says the Government can be charitable defines charity different than I do.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Does It Really Matter?

I find I am increasingly at odds with the society that surrounds me.  Every day I see the humor in the human experience, but probably based on my age I find fewer who see the same thing.  Take as a case in point.
A young mother comments on her son who likes to dress as a princess.  I can think of no reason this should be criticized, but there are a hundred humorous trails this storyline would lead, but in our super-sensitive, super-public forums, any comment at all could lead to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and rebuke, based on generational differences and perceptions.

Perhaps it is just me, finally maturing to the point I now consider the implications of my words.
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