About Me

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Deep South, United States
Consultant, inventor, mentor, chess coach,. Current projects involve No Till Farming and staving off blindness due to cataracts among other projects. I also do confidential ghost writing (without taking any published credit. My current blindness makes me put this on hold for a while. I should have one eye working again in about four months. Fact, fiction, all subjects considered. I have heard My daughter Jennifer is alive. I would love it if she were to contact me here. I understand she would like to know me. I have sent a message by circuitous route. I can only hope. My posted Email works as well. We have four decades to catch up on.

This blog has been up for more than a year. The intent was to generate dialogues about serious problems and ideas. It has been almost exclusively a monologue. I have not been looking for large numbers of participants.

I would be quite happy with a few dozen imaginative, creative, thoughtful and inventive people who wish to address serious problems and issues. If anyone has any ideas about how to attract such a talented group I will certainly pay attention. I am not as computer conversant as I would wish. Anyone who could help in this regard would find me receptive to sharing my skills in other areas.

Friday, February 29, 2008

A Political Lament

Life is complex beyond understanding. Each of us has a notion of reality. An illusion of course, but a pretty compelling one. The contradictions within our own mindsets, these are our disturbances. There is no contentment within paradox. Only in illusion. In fantasy. In our dreams. When these things seem consistent, we are happy.

There are so many ways to illustrate this point, I don’t know were to begin. So let us talk about some political “realities.” Take for example, our current political drama. It doesn’t really matter which party we look at. The differences are largely imaginary.

Some time back, I posted a picture of Ron Paul on the blog with a half-hearted complement. It wasn’t really that I liked him. His voice grates on my ears a bit, and his appearance is a little reminiscent of Pat Paulson. It was rather that I liked the sign on his desk, “Don’t steal -- the government hates the competition.” Why did I like the sign? Because the government had stolen from me, or defrauded me, or failed to act on my behalf when they should have, in a variety of different ways, at a variety of different times. The tax court, the IRS, the Army, law enforcement. And every time I say me, I really mean us, because what has happened to me has happened to many, and continues to do so.

In neither party is there a single notable leader who would be likely to extricate us from the extremely serious difficulties we are in. I know people who are rather fanatically in favor of Obama. He is facile with words. He is inspirational in ways that haven’t been seen since JFK.

He has won their hearts. But their minds are disengaged. I know this in part because I have seen it before. And it happened to me. I experienced the same sort of fanatical phenomenon during the Kennedy campaign, and during his presidency. I just liked him!

I liked his attitude. I liked his style. I liked his confidence, his apparent certitude that he and his team could put us back on the right path into the future. And he did inspire us. He had us believing in his Camelot. He told us we could go to the moon. And though he was cut down by a cabal of diverse enemies who had only one thing in common -- the intense desire to kill him -- we actually did go to the moon. And we did it within the time frame of ten years. I can hardly contain the pride over that, since I had a small part in it. Then our space program lost its’ direction and got bogged down. The rate of our progress slowed sharply. One administration focused on the idea of taking the high ground militarily. It was the “Star Wars” mentality. Now that I have brought it up, I am going to digress for a few moments because of a recent event: the destruction of a satellite in decaying orbit by missile.

Since the beginning of the space effort, we have managed to clutter near-earth space with an incredible amount of debris. Big chunks, little chunks, loose screws, paint chips, all traveling at terrific speeds in orbit. Most of it was accidental. We don’t know what to do about it. And it increases the danger of everything we do up there. A billion dollar satellite can be taken out by the high speed impact of a screw that may have been orbiting for decades.

But in spite of our being fully aware of this ongoing problem, which promises only to worsen for the foreseeable future, we just impacted a satellite the size of a bus that was getting close to re-entry. True, we resisted the impulse to do it with a nuclear warhead. But the combined speeds of the missile and the satellite at the point of impact were many, many thousands of miles per hour. (The exact speed is, of course, classified.) But it has been likened to hitting a speeding bullet with another speeding bullet, head on.

Most of us have seen photographs of cars after head-on collisions at the comparative snails-pace of sixty or seventy miles each. We know from our study of physics that even an additional increment of speed of ten or twenty miles an hour multiplies the carnage many times over.

But this was all in the name of saber-rattling, and scientific curiosity, and showing military muscle. Oh, we said it was necessary. Hydrazine is dangerous stuff. Do the math! But it was not so. Even though it was frozen solid, the re-enty heat would have blown it up with a virtual certainty. You won't be able to find a NASA engineer who will argue against this point. There are no heat resistant tiles on the satellite. The idea that this satellite's hydrazine posed a danger on the ground is an absolute fiction. A spurious excuse to do what we wanted to do for other reasons.

If we keep doing this sort of thing, it may not be much longer before we have shrouded the planet with so much high velocity debris that it will be impossible to even consider the ultimate colonization of the rest of the solar system.

So, what we have done, not accidentally, but with full knowledge of what we were doing, was to perhaps double the debris in the orbital zone, with one deliberate and premeditated act. An act we can’t take back.

But let us get back to politics, which by comparison seems like it could even have some reason involved. (This is largely illusion.)

I am a fairly observant fellow, and I like to think fairly deeply about what I observe. But with Kennedy, I too threw caution to the winds. I just wanted him to be bigger than life. It was hero worship, pure and simple. I didn’t consider the fact that his father was among the crime Lords who made is fortune during, and because of the Prohibition era.

Nor did I consider his relative youth and inexperience, and how that would be perceived by his enemies, both here and abroad. In other words, I was feeling a lot more than I was thinking. It wasn’t until the attempted assassination of Castro, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the near destruction of the entire planet during the Cuban Missile Crisis that I truly realized the error. An error that pervades democracies and dictatorships alike.

Part of all this was his contrast with Nixon, who was running against him, and who I really reviled. I had been watching him with varying degrees of disgust and revulsion, all the way back to the McCarthy witch hunts, which tore the country apart for four years. Nixon was cut from the same cloth as that junior Senator from Wisconsin. He was also Eisenhower’s vice-president.

I was not yet old enough to vote, but I liked Ike pretty well. About the only thing that I really didn’t like about Eisenhower was that he had chosen Nixon to be on the ticket. I was even ready to overlook the fact that he was a Republican. I still remember two of his speeches; his Farewell to the Nation (which is in my archives, and is still worth reading) and a very short one he gave after the weasel from Wisconsin had been neutralized by a very few other courageous men. The most notable of them was Edward R. Murrow, a radio and TV journalist without peer. A true American hero.

Senator John McCain too is an American patriot and a hero. And he certainly has staying power. Only a few months ago McCain was considered by all the pundits to have no chance at the nomination. What happened? He is, or very likely will be, the Republican nominee. Now, some of those same pundits, who you might have bet, at long odds, would be staunch supporters of his, are showing dissatisfaction in the extreme.

Now I personally like his stance opposing “earmarks,” the practice of squandering vast amounts of taxpayer dollars on pork barrel projects without substantial real value and without the direct approval of their fellow legislators. The projects are embedded in laws which often have no connection to the pork barrel project at all.

That having been said, it appears that McCain gets a whole lot of financial support, in the form of campaign contributions from major lobbyists. He has even been accused, by the New Your Times of having an affair with one attractive lobbyist. The point is, earmarking is only one way a politician can enrich himself or his district. And it is very visible when the earmarking makes no sense. So why is it such an entrenched, even traditional practice? But to go on.

I have a bit of a prejudice against Hillary. She is a lawyer. But she also has a certain grace and charm. I do like the fact that she didn’t visibly fly off the handle when Monica polished Bill’s knob. And I liked Bill. I feel that, on balance, our nation was stronger at the end of his leadership than before or, certainly, since. He seemed to me to be the smartest president in recent history. And lucky to boot. When he left office, employment was in good shape, there was a surplus, not a deficit, and the only thing clearly looming on our horizon was the shrub about to take office.

In the recent debates, there has been an incredible amount of nonsense. NAFTA is one example. Senators Clinton and Obama have both said they would strongly oppose the continuation of NAFTA in its’ “present form.” This was pandering to voters who had felt the impact directly. I doubt that will happen.

I think they are just telling people what the want to hear. The states they are campaigning in have taken some heavy hits due to NAFTA, and the hits are very visible. Closed factories. High unemployment. Dying cities.

The truth is, the economies of the US, Canada, and Mexico have all benefited in less visible and tangible ways by NAFTA. We can't blame NAFTA for what the war profiteers and the Real Estate lenders and speculators have done. But there is just no good way to say that to the people who are suffering in the more highly impacted states. The companies that sent the jobs to Mexico or to other more distant lands, the municipalities and states that were impacted, and the Federal Government as well, could perhaps have done a great deal more to make a coordinated effort to provide retraining and other alternative employment programs to soften the blow. They apparently didn’t do much in a timely way, and now the candidates are indicating that Canada and Mexico can anticipate some heat that perhaps they don’t deserve.

Another catchword in the campaigns was “change.” Meaningless. But both parties have embraced it. The war in Iraq, the trillions it has cost, the hundreds of billions which have just evaporated, without anyone having a clue where the money went, the devastation of our economy, the sharp debasing of our currency, the sub prime mortgage disaster, these things are change. Do we really want more of that?

If you look over my archives, you will see that I am not obsessed with politics. I have written much more about creativity, innovation, ideas. I had really expected some substantial dialogues to evolve. The didn’t, or at least they haven’t yet. It will be interesting to see what response I will get from this. We seem to be in a time of thoughtless political frenzy once more.


Kris said...

If you are interested in some sci-fi about near-earth space exploration, check out the Japanese anime called "Planetes", it is a really fantastic series with some great social/science theme

anthropositor said...

Thank you Kris,
I have the difficulty of most provincial Americans. I read almost no Japanese. I an recognize a few symbols. Anime too generally makes me a bit crazy.

I was a science fiction addict in my youth. Now I live it more than I read it. But if it is available in my village, and in English, and the science is not mushy, it could find a way into my brain.

May I ask how you stumbled across my humble blog?

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