Thursday, September 28, 2017

Constraints LBC 09/29/2017

This week's topic is Constraints. What is holding you back? Is it lack of money, lack of education or maybe as simple as attitude? Do you need an attitude adjustment? Rules and regulations holding you back?

Business constraints? That is an easy one - regulations. Every business claims regulations make it impossible to do business. Ahem, it was not that many years ago when the auto industry was screaming about seatbelt restraints, mileage objectives and a whole batch of other regulations.  Thee days we jump into our safe, well-regulated cars and oh - yeah - there are several makes.  Those smart enough to comply with the regulations and savvy enough to market their products are successful and profitable.

A balanced budget? Those constraints are part of a larger issue here in the USA. We are in the midst of a cultural civil war of sorts. The far right and the far left monopolize the news cycles and bang their drums loudly. Our government - with one party owning the three branches of government is still seemingly paralyzed and accomplishing very little of consequence, with no change in sight. At this point, a balanced budget and deficit reduction are simply a pipe dream.

Personal constraints? Look back to paragraph one.  Is it lack of money, lack of education or maybe as simple as attitude? Do you need an attitude adjustment? All of these constrain us in life. and they are all relatively easy to address.     Attitude is the one that can impact the others, so it behooves us to pay close attention to our attitudes in life.

Constraints help shape our lives and culture. The USA - for example - is not a Christian nation, it is a nation with primarily Christian faiths and our culture is largely defined by Judeo/Christian values, much to the chagrin of many atheists and members of other faiths. That does not, however, mean Judeo/Christian icons can be displayed in government locations - much to the chagrin of many Christians.  We can't seem to please anyone but we keep plugging along.

Be sure to check my cohorts at their blogs - RamanaPravin and Ashok.






Thursday, September 21, 2017

Media Bias LBC 9/22/2017

This weeks topic is Media Bias - it's a subject that has been in the news daily for well over a year,  thanks to our recent presidential election It includes a couple of other synonyms - fake news and mainstream media bias. The latter implies the conservative media is unbiased whereas mainstream media is not and the former is a term coined by POTUS45 before he was even elected as a way to create mistrust of the mainstream media. The term Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth leaps to mind regarding fake news. At least it becomes the illusion of truth. Think crowd size.

Political mudslinging has been part and parcel of our electoral process since the beginning. Thomas Jefferson hired a writer to make claims that John Adams was a repulsive pedant and a hideo s hermaphroditical character. Davy Crockett accused Martin Van Buren of wearing women's corsets. For a fun read on these types of things, go here.

Newspapers have a long tradition of supporting one candidate or another but we always expected them to tell the whole truth when reporting the news. In reality people like William Randolph Hearst have always slanted their media empires. These days the right wing considers the NY Times and the Washington Post to be standard bearers for the left. An interesting factoid - the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos - the uber wealthy scion of Amazon.

Media bias seems much worse in the current climate because of the prevailing 24 hour news cycle. That is a byproduct of the news for profit competition that is so prevalent these days. Every media provider is on the hunt for the next new story and cable news is the engine that drives the cycle, along with Internet media companies like Breitbart News, Huffington Post, Politico and others.

Talk radio is, for the most part, the bastion of the right wing in this country. The left has tried but not been successful at establishing a foothold in radio. The airwaves are ruled by Ruch Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Mark Davis and others.

Cable news' distribution is more balanced with Fox on the right and MSNBC and CNN on the left. Of course the right claims CBS, ABC and NBC are all biased against the right. I find the news operations of most of the networks report the news fairly but when it comes to their personalities - the Tucker Carlsons, Sean Hannitys,  Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddows and Keith Olbermans, etc. are proud flag wavers for the right or left. Do not expect anything truly fair or balanced from them.

Long story short, pretty much all media is biased. Anyone who single sources their information is quite frankly a fool IMHO. Even for political junkies like me, it's a jungle out there.

I do not think this situation will change anytime soon, so it behooves us as consumers to be smart about our news intake.  Fact check regularly.



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Cause and Effect LBC 09/15/2017 cause





Why do things happen? Does A cause B?  Consider the following - a boy enters high school. He is given an option by one of his parents - either try out for the football team or get a job. He chooses to try out for the football team.  During the course of that season, he finds he really enjoys playing football and continues to play all four years of high school and college. He does so well he is selected  ALl American and wins the Heisman Trophy. He is drafted by the NFL and signs a multi-year multi-million dollar contract. Is his newly earned wealth the result of that first decision all those years earlier to try out for the freshman football team? Partly. Many other decisions made after that first one led to that result.

Cause and effect can be defined as the concept that an action or event will produce a certain response to the action in the form of another event; also written cause-effectcause/effect.

Cause - the US president is elected by a electoral college resulting in the possibility that a president can be elected in spite of losing the popular vote by nearly three million votes. POTUS 45 is the latest example.

Cause and effect is a large part of Buddhism, expressed through Karma.
If X is a necessary cause for Y than the presence of Y indicates the prior presence of X.  However, the presence of X does not necessarily mean Y will follow.



So how do cause and effect affect our lives? Every effect has a corresponding cause so it stands to reason that changing the causes will change the effects. To change your life change your choices. Perhaps the desired effect really requires multiple causes. Simply adding a new cause may be all that is necessary to achieve a desired effect.  At a restaurant, the menu includes your favorite cut of steak but a satisfying meal requires more than just meat so you order sauteed mushrooms, asparagus, and a dinner salad. Now in my case, a double Glenlivet added to that order would achieve the desired effect - a satisfying meal.

There are some who believe the two recent powerful hurricanes that hit in Texas and  Florida were the result of climate change. We have never had two such hurricanes come ashore in the same year let alone within weeks of each other.  Surely climate change has caused an increase in size and intensity of the hurricanes.

Unfortunately, the only thing odd about the two hurricanes is that they came ashore.  Of course, the evangelical right thinks that was God punishing us for things like gay tolerance and the general disintegration of our cultural mores. The fact is hurricanes of that size occur annually, they just do not all come ashore. They typically spin out to sea.  The Weather Channel experts suggest there is still much work to be done to link hurricane size and intensity to climate change - man made or otherwise.

Cause - I have discussed the weekly topic. Effect - that's all folks - tune in next week for another LBC blog. To see what the other LBC bloggers have to say check their blogs:  RamanaPravin & Ashok. Maris is on holiday in Ireland.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Opportunity Costs of Being Human LBC 09/08/2017


Opportunity cost theme

This weeks topic was suggested by Pravin - the Opportunity Costs of Being Human. How does being human dictate opportunity costs.
Opportunity cost is an economic concept that seems to have relevance beyond economics, although it can be argued that every decision has an economic result in some way.  Businessdictionary.com offers this explanation of opportunity cost: A benefit, profit, or value of something that must be given up to acquire or achieve something else. Since every resource (land, money, time, etc.) can be put to alternative uses, every action, choice, or decision has an associated opportunity cost.

While many of us may fancy ourselves as free and independent agents making our way through the world on our own, humans are essentially social animals that crave the comfort and support of groups. The makeup of those groups may have a strong influence - in fact, probably has a strong influence on how we lead our lives.  Religion is an obvious example. In theory, your religion can influence what you eat, drink and think. Strict Jews and Muslims do not eat pork, Mormons do not drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages,  and so on. Even the Christian world has divisions between Catholic, Protestants, and Evangelicals. All Evangelicals are Protestants but not all Protestants are Evangelicals. In that regard, Muslims and Jews are denied opportunities of Christians and vice versa. And, of course, most religions ultimately believe it is their way or the highway so not choosing them will lead to a non-existent afterlife or a less than pleasant one - a not insignificant cost.

As humans, we are denied the opportunity to fly like a bird but we have the ability to invent technology that allows us to fly faster and higher than any bird. We cannot breathe under water like a fish but we can invent the technology to allow us to explore the under sea world. That means although denied opportunities by our physical makeup, we can make up for that with our minds.

Choices we make certainly can deny opportunities presented by different choices, so in that sense, those opportunities missed are indeed opportunity costs lost. Life is a series of choices and there are typically trade offs. Every choice  (risk) has a certain reward. Lives are determined by weighing the costs of lost benefits from choices not taken versus the benefits of the choices made.

That is this week's quick shack-take on Opportunity Costs of Being Human. Be sure to check what RamanaPravin, and Ashok have to say.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Stephen Hawking's Sell By Date For Humanity LBC 09/01/2017


It is no surprise that scientists have said for years that earth has a finite  life span. I can recall my junior high (what is called middle school today - teacher, Mr. Jorgensen telling us that  the sun - like any star - will eventually die. When that happens this third rock from the sun will no longer sustain life as we know it.  OK - he did not  call Earth the Third Rock from the Sun, but I was fond of that TV show. So it comes as no surprise the most brilliant  mind in modern physics would suggest  we have what is essentially a sell by date to - as he says it colonize other planets. It all sounds rather like a good science fiction movie like Forbidden Planet,  the 1956 movie that forever guaranteed I would be a fan of good science fiction.
What  may come as a surprise is that Hawking suggested we needed  to be gone within 1000 - 10,000 years. Mr. Jorgensen suggested millions if not billions of years.  But wait! Hawking recently changed that to around 100 years. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF) - what happened?

The answer is simply stated as global warming and the resultant changes happening now and into the future.  This topic was not suggested as an open forum on so-called man-made global warming. There is over 90% agreement that global warming is occurring,  the argument is whether it is man-made or naturally occurring. At this point does it really matter?  The polar ice caps are melting, temperatures are getting warmer and we may be headed for more hurricane Harvey like disasters than we can imagine.

So what do we do about it?  Good question. If temperature patterns continue we may no longer be able to produce enough food to sustain the population of the planet - something we have been able to do since the green revolution of the sixties and seventies. You may suggest we cannot produce enough food now but I contend we have a massive distribution problem - not production problems.

Here we sit - if Hawking is correct, we have 100 or so years to find an inhabitable new home and move us all to said planet, colonize it and establish a workable political system that can develop and sustain the population. We certainly need a few dozen Elon Musks and  Sir Richard Bransons to help us with that massive transportation issue. And goodness but we have enough globalism naysayers here in the USA so what will happen when someone starts talking interstellar? 45s head will explode trying to  to keep up with that one on twitter. (My snarky side would suggest that is not a bad idea but this blog is being done by my kinder, gentler side).

My pessimistic side says if Hawking is correct we are essentially screwed (without the benefit of a good time). My optimistic side says but wait - if we can imagine it we can do it. The realist in me simply hopes Hawking is wrong and that his interactions with Sheldon  Cooper have  warped is sense  of reality.

There are also the evangelicals and other bible thumpers who simply think it is  just the natural progression of things as stated in the bible. In other words it is all God's will. They've been wrong before - whether they admit it or not. Here's hoping their failures continue.

That is my admittedly light-hearted. take on what can be considered a dark, serious topic that I suggested myself. Be sure to check the other LBC bloggers to see what - if anything - they have to say.  Ramana,  Maria,  Pravin and Ashok

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Decision Making LBC 08/25/2017

This week's topic - Decision Making, comes from the sage of Pune - Ramana. Time to decide how to tackle the topic. Hmm - decision-making time.




Indeed - it's not often easy and it's not often kind.
Have you ever considered how many decisions we make on a daily basis? Have you ever considered what a strain so many decisions would place on you if you actually pondered each decision? Think about how you feel after struggling with a decision and imagine that magnified by the infinite number of decisions you make daily.
That's why most decisions are made from habit. In fact, 40 - 45% of our daily activity is actually a habit. You know red means stop, green means go and yellow means hurry up - it is about to go red so your brain automatically kicks into gear and your response kicks in. Of course, you can override that decision and when you see yellow make a decision to slow down and stop.

When you get into a car you automatically fasten your seatbelt. Or not. Either way, it is a habit. Getting into a car triggered the habit to fasten or not fasten the seat belt. And what is the value of these habits? Efficiency. Our brain conditions automatic responses that require little or no thought so that it can be ready when called on to make a real decision.
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And how do you deal with decision making that is not a habit? Well of course that varies  Are you as cool as a cucumber or so wired you are literally bouncing off walls? But you can thank your efficient brain for the ability to actually think and decide. And yes - some habits are good and some are bad and with effort can be changed. But changing habits is for another week.

If you are interested in the power of habit, check The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg here - it says free to download but I did not test it.

Curious to see what others think?  Check my cohorts at their respective blogs
RamanaPravinAshok and Maria.

That's my quick shack take on this week's  topic. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Behavioral Science









This weeks topic - Behavioral Science - is in some circles considered an oxymoron. There is no science in studying behavior.



I believe there can be a scientific study of behavior but predicting behavior is another thing altogether. One need look no further than Facebook to see the results of some Behavioral Science guru - have you ever paid attention to the ads you encounter while on FB?

Those ads are tailored just for you and will include sites you have visited along with similar sites. Some marketing guru is paying a lot of money to get those ads to you, and assuming you will buy goods and/or services from one of the advertisers. Of course, this assumes you have cookies enabled and many sites insist that be the case. Test it by visiting a site like glasses.com and then loading FB.

Companies use behavioral science to maximize their marketing strategies all of the time. This seems to bother some people as they see it as an invasion of their privacy. Having been in the retail world for over three decades, it does not bother me and I see it as a way for companies to maximize the effectiveness of their advertising dollars. As long as the company allows you to "opt out" you can manage what info is collected about you. If you are really hard-core about protecting your privacy and hiding from those behavioral science gurus check out the tor browser. It is relatively easy to browse the Internet privately if that is truly your desire.

Of course, there are the "real" behavioral sciences - disciplines like psychology, psychobiology and cognitive science - not to be confused with social science disciplines like economics, political science (my field) and others.

Have you ever watched the television show Criminal Minds?  That show is centered around the BAU of the FBI.That is "Behavioral Analysis Unit".  The BAU is a very real part of the FBI, but I admit I have no idea how accurate the TV show portrays the unit. The profilers investigate and solve cases weekly based upon their analysis of the crimes and offer a profile of the suspect (called unsub) on the show, Profiling is widely used in law enforcement, and occasionally abused - typically when racial profiling is employed. If a suspected criminal is described as - for example - Asian, racial profiling encourages law enforcement to stop and check any Asian.  The opportunity for abuse should be fairly obvious.'

That's a quick shack look at this week's topic, which was offered by Ramana. Be sure to check the blogs of other LBC bloggers at RamanaPravinAshok, and Maria.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Future Shock

This weeks topic was my suggestion. Future Shock by Alvin and Heidi (uncredited) Tofler was assigned reading in my college days and I thoroughly enjoyed the book - easily one of my two favorite assigned reading books in college, the other being Earth Ahides by George R. Stewart.

The Toflers were futurists and according to them, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.” Among the accelerating changes they predicted are the “electronic frontier” of the Internet, Prozac, YouTube, cloning, home-schooling, the self-induced paralysis of too many choices, instant celebrities “swiftly fabricated and ruthlessly destroyed,” and the end of blue-collar “second-wave” manufacturing, to be replaced by a “third wave” of knowledge workers. The book was published in 1970.  The future they were discussing is now.

The Toflers divided civilization into three phases which they called waves. 
  1. First Wave - the agricultural revolution
  2. Second Wave - the industrial revolution too much change in too short a period of time.
  3. Third Wave - the information age - which is now ongoing
Future shock is defined in several ways, the simplest and most straight forward is too much change in too short a period of time. The result of the rapid change is people are overwhelmed. Information overload creates a sort of social paralysis. While the rapid changes are occurring people lose touch with the familiarity of older institutions.  Does any of that sound familiar? Have you ever seen a post on Facebook harkening back to "the old days" by starting off "Back in the day". If your Facebook newsfeed is anything like mine there are several such posts a day. It is usually a post by an aging baby boomer who has been through decades of rapid changes and longs for a simpler time.

The Toflers got many of their predictions correct but they seem to have underestimated the ability of people to cope with rapid change. Take a look at Millennials - they are quick on their feet and very tech savvy. They seem to cope with change quite well although they seem to demand immediate gratification in most things, That is a change they will have to make IMHO.

How well do you deal with the rapid changes we have been dealing with for decades? I have embraced the changes that advance us technologically and for an old guy am comfortable with most technology. The preponderance of social media platforms is fascinating but I still prefer direct contact, even if by email. I find a lot of what gets posted on Facebook unintentionally hilarious, especially if the poster is a Millennial. It seems everything is fair game.

I find as a society we have managed the stresses presented by the Toflers quite well, although the 2016 election here is something of an anomaly.   POTUS 45 was a lifelong Democrat who switched parties and managed to appeal to enough folks to win an electoral college victory while losing the popular vote by three million or so votes, Now we are in a position of having to deal with what we asked for (he is my President regardless of who I preferred).

The evangelicals are certainly happy and would prefer rolling the culture back 50 years or so. My regular readers no doubt recall where I stand on religion and God
If not or if you are interested, simply click here.

We are legitimately at a point in time that can be called the best of times and the worst of times. I have dealt with the passing of my life partner (we were together for 45 years) and have recently connected with family members through ancestry.com and have seen a  family tree with 10,000 names that includes mine. A newly reconnected cousin and I share the most DNA from our shared heritage - I knew her and her sisters when I was a child in Colorado.

Since this weekly blogging exercise is not a school exercise, while there is much more to say that will have to be for a different time. Be sure to check RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok to see what they have to say.

With a bit of luck we can all look back and realize we have survived the stresses of change because we were all so much older then but we are younger than that now.





Friday, August 4, 2017

Eastern And Western Culture, The Reflections Of Hidden Potential In Between

Eastern And Western Culture, The Reflections Of Hidden Potential In Between.  That is our topic this week. It comes from  Ramana's blogger friend from Indonesia - Tikno
 and Ramana made it this week's topic.

My approach is limited by the fact that I have not been to the east - not the east of this topic at least. My observations are limited by my own limited contact with  and study of the east but that does include my interaction and friendship with the sage of Pune himself - Ramana. I have jokingly called us brothers from different mothers as over the years we have discovered a remarkable degree of what Ramana calls synchronicity. While absolutely examples of our respective eastern and western cultures we are remarkably similar in many ways including attitudes and thoughts.

The differences between western and eastern culture are varied  and  wide. Eastern culture typically includes Asian nations and Muslim nations whereas Christian nations are considered Western. The geographic split is a bit fuzzier - Europe, North, South and Central America along with Australia/New Zealand being the west. The question becomes whether or not there is any hidden potential between the two.

Some Eastern cultures embrace the west and make the best of both worlds. Japan, South Korea, India and to a degree China all fit this  model - Japan and Korea have made nenormous advances due to their embrace of the west.  They have taken to capitalism like fish to water. There is evidence a similar thing is happening in Vietnam as well. The east has put its own cultural spin on capitalism and adopted capitalism to their own way of education and interpersonal relationships. And if there is a more entrepreneurial society than that in India I am not aware of it.

There are major differences in the way children are educated and raised in the east and the west, religions are different, family interactions are somewhat different - both cultures are family centric. The east tends to be more conservative.


Hidden benefits?  I think tolerance is a hidden benefit - to interact, both the east and west need to be tolerant of each other.  I suggest China is a good example - China is a growing economic power since it embraced capitalism - something not long ago would have been unthinkable (embracing capitalism). The fact that South Korea and Japan have grown into substantial economic powers is another hidden benefit. Vietnam is growing rapidly economically with a GDP approaching  5.2%.  We should be so lucky.

As the world becomes more interdependent,  we all become more global citizens. That is directly contrary to the political forces here that are the base of support for POTUS 45 here. They are most decidedly anti global and very nationalistic. Some might say antagonizing POTUS45 is a hidden benefit.  A  globalist viewpoint is beneficial to a degree - there is after all only one planet we inhabit.  

Be sure to see what the other LBC bloggers have to say -  RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok

Friday, July 28, 2017

Possibility Of Being A Saint In Suit

My bad.  I mixed up the topics this week - that certainly damages my chances of  being a saint in a suit. Or jeans. Or sweats. Truth is there is no chance sainthood will land in my vicinity. Canonization is not in my future. Oh darn. Woe is me.

I confess - I have no earthly idea what Pravin had in mind when he came up with this jewel of a topic. I see Ramana invoked Simon Templar - a fave of mine as well. But how does it relate to the topic? Beats me.

In suit. A curious choice of words. Lawsuit? Yves St Laurent suit?  Spades, Hearts, Clubs or Diamonds?  A lawsuit? In Texas, my former home, suits were often incorrectly referred to in furniture discussions, Living room suits and the like. I have always known that reference to be suites.  But Texas is unique - the state fancies itself as a republic and is governed by a wheelchair bound guy named Greg Abbott that refuses to make a left turn - 3 rights make a left there.  But the BBQ is spectacular - best ever IMHO.

I know of no saints from the white collar, suited world. Saints typically come from much humbler beginnings where service to mankind is more important. Of course anyone who knows me knows my religious affiliations are less than stellar.

So it seems Pravin got me with his topic. I have often prided myself on checking the topic and writing away. I am pretty much one of those "knows a little about a lot" kinda guys. Not this week. The white flag of surrender is herewith raised.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Eastern And Western Culture, The Reflections Of Hidden Potential In Between.

Eastern And Western Culture, The Reflections Of Hidden Potential In Between.  That is our topic this week. It comes from  Ramana's blogger friend from Indonesia - Tikno
 and Ramana made it this week's topic.

My approach is limited by the fact that I have not been to the east - not the east of this topic at least. My observations are limited by my own limited contact with  and study of the east but that does include my interaction and friendship with the sage of Pune himself - Ramana. I have jokingly called us brothers from different mothers as over the years we have discovered a remarkable degree of what Ramana calls synchronicity. While absolutely examples of our respective eastern and western cultures we are remarkably similar in many ways including attitudes and thoughts.

The differences between western and eastern culture are varied  and  wide. Eastern culture typically includes Asian nations and Muslim nations whereas Christian nations are considered Western. The geographic split is a bit fuzzier - Europe, North, South and Central America along with Australia/New Zealand being the west. The question becomes whether or not there is any hidden potential between the two.

Some Eastern cultures embrace the west and make the best of both worlds. Japan, South Korea, India and to a degree China all fit this  model - Japan and Korea have made nenormous advances due to their embrace of the west.  They have taken to capitalism like fish to water. There is evidence a similar thing is happening in Vietnam as well. The east has put its own cultural spin on capitalism and adopted capitalism to their own way of education and interpersonal relationships. And if there is a more entrepreneurial society than that in India I am not aware of it.

There are major differences in the way children are educated and raised in the east and the west, religions are different, family interactions are somewhat different - both cultures are family centric. The east tends to be more conservative.


Hidden benefits?  I think tolerance is a hidden benefit - to interact, both the east and west need to be tolerant of each other.  I suggest China is a good example - China is a growing economic power since it embraced capitalism - something not long ago would have been unthinkable (embracing capitalism). The fact that South Korea and Japan have grown into substantial economic powers is another hidden benefit. Vietnam is growing rapidly economically with a GDP approaching  5.2%.  We should be so lucky.

As the world becomes more interdependent,  we all become more global citizens. That is directly contrary to the political forces here that are the base of support for POTUS 45 here. They are most decidedly anti global and very nationalistic. Some might say antagonizing POTUS45 is a hidden benefit.  A  globalist viewpoint is beneficial to a degree - there is after all only one planet we inhabit.  

Be sure to see what the other LBC bloggers have to say -  RamanaPravinMaria and Ashok


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Blue Collar vs White Collar

This week's topic was my suggestion. Back in the day - the days of high school and college - there was a general thought that blue collar work somehow required less intelligence than white collar work. High school classes included things like welding, auto shop, machine shop and the like. People interested in those things had a path to careers in those fields. Other popular blue collar careers were in auto assembly, the gas and electric company and the phone company as well as law enforcement.

In my case my first choice was law enforcement but alas my wife simply stated if I became a cop she would divorce me. She was not prepared to live life wondering if I'd come home alive on any given day. So I started looking for a job in white collar fields with one huge problem - I had no passion for anything available to me. My BA made consisting being a lawyer something to consider but that was no more appealing to me than was repossessing mobile homes - a job I actually held for a couple of years.

Entry level white collar jobs paid quite a bit less than blue collar jobs but they still were relatively easy to fill. As the years progressed the selection of good blue collar jobs began to decline. Two local auto assembly plants closed down.
Good paying jobs still existed - garbage collectors made very good money for example but that career was somewhat unfairly disparaged. I played softball for years with a career garbage man and Bobby loved his well-paying job that had him home by 2PM every day.  My white collar jobs had me home daily 3-4 hours later at about half the pay.

In 1976 Lynn was offered a promotion and what seemed like a good job across the country in Connecticut so off we went. Talk about culture shock - LOL.  After a year on a different planet we jumped at the chance to go back to California - even though it was in LA.

 A while later, Lynn had had enough and resigned. To get back at her I was laid off a month later. Lynn moved back to the SF Bay Area with our newly born daughter and I started working at RadioShack. While not passionate, I did enjoy audio and the micro computer industry was just beginning. White collar lite at best.

Over the years blue collar jobs were still there but again often disparaged. It was not until a TV show - Dirty Jobs and its host Mike Rowe   went to bat for blue collar jobs that they began earning some respect. Check out this typical Mike Rowe commentary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Gu3vcoCecQ

Now in the age of millennials expectations are high and patience is low.Millennials seem to expect instant gratification in everything. Unfortunately, the world still does not work that way.  Perhaps that is why millennials move back home at such a high rate.

The auto industry has made a comeback as foreign companies0 like BMW, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagon and others build so many cars here. POTUS 45 would do well to consider that when he takes shots at foreign countries and companies over so-called trade deficits. And several old friends are absolute geniuses when it comes to auto customization - Rich Adkins and  Lyn/Del Schuler do amazing stuff.

Any young person that is not a computer genius would do well to do some research into the job market and not rule out a job in the trades. A rewarding life is out there for the serious job seeker.

Check my cohorts at their blogs - RamanaPravin and Ashok.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Hidden Potential

This week's topic was suggested by Ramana.

At this stage of my life - the circling the drain mode - I doubt there is much hidden potential left in me. It has all been exposed, left for dead or ignored. There are not any likely new paths down which I shall wander to make new discoveries. I can, however, look for hidden potential in others - or in other things.

Potential - that which can be. Something capable of becoming reality/actuality. Hidden potential - that which is not immediately obvious. What do you see when you look at something? An old house for example - do you simply see an old house or do you see what it has the potential to be? I am not one of those gifted with the vision or talent to see such things - I simply see an old house but I know folks who have a greater vision in that regard.

Did you ever know someone who excelled at something yet seemingly had no real training in that field?
  How about early computer programmers - those involved when the computer industry was still on the taxiway - grew a huge industry all driven  by their hidden potential that turned into full blown  mastery of that industry. Think Bill Gates, the Apple team and others.

Perhaps our future lies in the as yet untapped hidden potential of some youngster with a crazy dream running through his or her head. The trick is to inspire that youngster to follow that dream wherever that dream may lead. The journey will be rewarding for us all.

That is my quick shack take on Ramanas topic. Check my cohorts at their respective blogs - Ramana, Pravin and Ashok.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Weekly LBC Post

Sorry folks - no blog this week as I am having a bit of ticker maintenance performed at the local ticker shop.  See ya next week, same bat time and same bat channel.

shackman

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Education

This week's topic was my suggestion. What is education?  Wikipedia says  "Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits." And why should we be educated? To search for truth and improve the human condition? To prepare students to effectively enter the workforce?

Discussion on the purpose of education is as old as civilization itself. A successful society needs folks pulling together at times and yet being independent and thoughtful individually. That means an individuals education needs to be broad enough to teach independence and cooperation - and hopefully to recognize when one's interest is better served by those notions.

My education has been fairly typical for one here in the USA. Primary school - grades k-8 built the basic foundation for more complex subjects in high school. My high school was fairly typical for its time - there was a broad array of subject matter offered so one could supplement the core courseware with "elective" classes, including vocational training. Because of my performance on various tests I was earmarked for college prep type clases, vocational courseware not being practical as I was a three-sport jock (football, wrestling and baseball) so there was always  a conflict with course times. I typically had PE at 7 AM and practices starting a 3PM after school  classes.  Hence I was not a car guy like several friends - I could change tires and put gas in the tank. That is about it.  High school was extremey easy for me although I did have uissues with calculus - math just did not interest me. Luckily my pal Benny (Jim Benson) was a math whiz and I got through it. Interestingly enough, from the ACT and SAT on I typically scored better on the math portions of the tests than the other parts. Go figure.

So in June of 1967 I graduated from Mt Eden High School and prepared to enter college. Wholly unprepared.  But,i was still a decent football player so I muddled through a few years still trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. The fact that I had grown up was lost on me. It seems my education focused way to much on grades than on finding something I really cared about. Along the way I failed the physical when trying to join the Army and then got into a huge blowout with a football coach named Les Davis who guaranteed me I would never find a coaching job as long as he had a say about it. Yes - he had that kind of influence but truthfully I actually had very little passion to coach football anyway.

Around that time I developed an interest in Political Science and that became my major - I earned a BA in 1973 afte being a part-time student while working several part time jobs after being married in 1972. But what to do with that degree? I did not (and do not) have the patience to teach. I toyed with the notion of law school until 1976 when Lynn was offered a promotion to New England. So off we went to the far side of the planet - where the ocean was in the wrong direction but lobster (Lynn's favorite) was plentiful.

Why - you may ask am I chronicling this experience? I was still looking for something that I could be passionate about. As luck would have it just as I was figuring that out we were offered a chance to move back to California, Adios Connecticut - hello Hermosa Beach. Oh - and Lynn was pregnant so that was added to the equation. Suddenly family responsibilities trumped job passion. Adios Broadcasting School - no dejay job in the future. Russ the Moose Syracuse's  would remain the top all night dejay ever IMHO.  Russ the Moose Syracuse It is somewhat ironic that one who hates to fly s much as I do  would happily join the nightly midnight flight captained  by Russ the Moose.

Long story short, in November of 1977 I started working at RadioShack in Marina del Rey.  Electronics became the closest thing to a  passion I would ever discover.

My point in this rambling is to simply say that education  must be designed to challenge students and make them curious. To peak their curiosity and point them in a direction that sparks their passion. Exactly how that is done is the topic for another discussion, While the world still sends students here to learn, our own students are falling behind. Our technical institutes of higher learning are populated more and more by Asian students. The American way still works for those willing to work at it.

And whaa do my cohorts have to say?  Check them out - Ramana, Pravin, Maria, and  Ashok

Friday, June 23, 2017

Melting Pot

This weeks topic was suggested by Ramana. Melting pots.  Merriam Webster defines a melting pot as a place where a variety of races, cultures, or individuals assimilate into a cohesive whole. 

That sounds great, but does it really work? For years we in the USA were cited as a shining example of a successful melting pot. 
For decades ethnic peo[les flocked to America for work, landing in geographic locations that matched their existing job skills. In other words they went where they were needed, some eventually staying and some  going back to their original homeland when the available jobs plateaued. Those that remained  essentially assimilated into the culture here, while still maintaining their own national identities. That is why there are pockets of ethnic groups in cities all over the USA. States reflect the ethnicity of the early immigrants. And of course the American Southwest shows the Mexican influence that has existed since most of the Southwest was part of Mexico.

After several generations assimilation is complete - Italians become Italian-Americans, Poles become Polish Americans and so on. But do old ethnic rivalries remain in the new American's minds? Are new rivalries created? How are they created?

One obvious problem these days is the terrorism of radical segments of Islam. Suddenly, so-called Christians that lived in peace with Muslims suggest - in fact scream - that the Muslim faith is one of violence and hatred. And Mexicans have been vilified by POTUS 45 from his campaign and even still. Mexicans steal jobs from American workers and are responsible for the decline and fall of the once enormous middle class if one is to believe POTUS 45 and his followers.

Has the lid been put on the melting pot? Is he recipe so complete that there is no more room at the Inn? Or is this a temporary situation brought on by the current political climate?  

Having spent decades in California and Texas I have known and lived/worked with many Mexicans, both legal and illegals. You would be hard pressed to find a harder working, more conservative group of people. Yet they are feared by the right wing political pundits as they are assumed to be (the legal ones anyway) left wing voters. Interesting.

The fear of Muslim immigrants is easier to understand. They are easy to identify ethnically and remember what we did to Japanese Americans in WWII.  Muslim immigrants/refugees are fleeing horrible conditions and as we have seen in  Europe there has been a significant amount of terrorism linked to their communities, although a concerning number of terror events are from second generation folks, so a significant percentage of Americans are for a ban on Muslim immigration even beyond the temporary ban called for by POTUS 45.

So here we are - the once great melting pot that has suddenly boiled over and has had a lid slammed on it. And what does that do to our national identity throughout the world? Is the extreme  nationalism touted by Steve Bannon and POTUS 45 damaging the perception of the USA around the world? Clearly Bannon hopes so - he is after all trying to tear down the system. One can only hope cooler heads will prevail, but we are still a melting pot of sorts and hopefully that will not change. Otherwise France may want to repossess the Statue of Liberty.

Please check my cohorts on their blogs to see what they have to say - RamanaMaria, Pravin and Ashok.






Thursday, June 15, 2017

Angels and demons


 
Image result for Angel and Devil ConscienceThis weeks topic - angels and demons - was suggested by Pravin, Besides being an excellent prequel to Dan Brown's terrific novel The DaVinci Code, angels and demons make a good metaphor for the notion of choices in life. Choices both good and bad, the important notion being the choice is ours to  make. It's that pesky free will thing. We get to make our own choices.  Some might go so far as to say we  have to make our own choices and others might say their god makes the choice. Those folks lay it all of on god. Anything good is the will of god, anything bad is their bad choice. With free will comes responsibility - and in  theory we make thoughtful decisions based on the available information. At least in a perfect world we do. Sometimes. Of course the minefield of life certainly keeps us on our toes - until we manage to blow those toes off with a misstep.Dang – life can be complicated can’t it?  Oh well – it would be boring otherwise IMHO. What fun would that be? The eternal struggle of our conscience = do this – no, do that  - and so on. And now you know where my saying “Life’s a bitch, Then you die” comes from. The ongoing WWE tussle in my brain literally wears me out sometimes. Not often, mind you, but certainly on occasion. It is my contention we live our lives largely by habit – not having to ponder every decision, simply keeps us functioning and allows us to ponder those things which require pondering. Chicken or fish for dinner, white or red. Lager or stout. Glenlivet or Macallan - or a nice blend like Johnnie Walker Blue.
Now about that  conscience thing. The part of us that helps us distinguish between right and wrong - the repository of that set of principles/values hat guide our moral judgments. We all have one. Its that thing that, hopefully as the late Christopher Hitchens said helps us make the right decision when nobody is looking.  Some conscience comes from a religious view, some from a secular viewpoint.
One of the growing fights these days is the battle between globalists and the national populist movements being waged  politically. In many folks the conscience has not yet advanced beyond national borders. While his weeks blog is not intended to address that issue, merely point out its existence, one sill cannot but hope more folks come around to a global vision IMHO. The planet grows smaller every day and is it really such a leap to go from the US B9ill of Rights to "Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination."  How does our conscience help shape our consciousness?? Alas, I am  afraid that is the cliffhanger for this weeks topic (at least foe me).
As you may have noticed, I am typically of  late the only LBC blogger posting from a western state of mind. This weeks comments from my cohorts should be interesting.  Ramana, Pravin, Maria and  Ashok.

See ya next week, same bat time; same bat channel. RIP Adam West.