Specialization

September 15, 2013

My feet are specialized for what they do… I would hate to try it on my elbows. But some people – without feet – have adapted to let their hands or elbows do the job.

My stomach has a specific function too and I don’t think we have a backup organ to do what it does. Specialization is great but with the connective systems to keep them working together, they would flounder around with no purpose.

The same is true for people.

Specialists in chemistry or law, history or astronomy are great but without a few interdisciplinarians, where would we be?

This becomes especially important in today’s world where the specializations are getting more and more narrow, experts have less knowledge of the current development in other fields, even some whose work is closely aligned.



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a Problem of Epidemic Proportions

September 8, 2013

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A friend of mine recently talked about a science fiction book I was editing. He said it is not rational that population would be a problem in the future.

He said it has quit growing. If not for the illegals coming into America, he claimed, our own population would remain a constant.

Unfortunately, his estimates were a little off. According to the world population clock, our country gets a immigrant every 44 seconds, but a new citizen every 13 seconds.

In fact we have gained more than 2 and a half million people in the past year alone. And that’s not anywhere near any sort of equilibrium.

It may be only 1.14% – lower than previous times – but that is still a bunch of people. About 2 new people in the world every second.

Overpopulation is epidemic on planet Earth and it is growing daily.

The most populous nation on the planet, China, took a harsh step and made having a second child illegal.

And it has done pretty good as far as it goes but they are now experiencing another problem. It seems the only child in each family seems to be getting a little spoiled. Without syblings as natural competitors, it has turned out now that the rising generation is completely lacking in the skills built in by nature to be competitive.

It is like they now have a nation of wimps.

In history, the population has always been regulated by epidemics and by wars.

And no one I know really wants much more of either of those.

So, what is left?

We can follow the Chinese model and simply legislate births to decrease, or we could just wait a few years until the resources run out and massive numbers die of starvation, or we can expand our horizons into space.

To ignore the problem and act like it is already “stable” is no better than putting on a blindfold and sitting on a keg of dynamite.

We need to get pro-active.

(If we could only figure out how, huh?)

Bill Gates and “educational reform”

September 1, 2013

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Bill Gates thinks he’s large and in charge.

First, he conquered the computer landscape with his programming (& plundering tactics) and moved on to other things.

His foundation delved into health issues and after much work they “eradicated” malaria. Another feather in his cap.

After seeing how well his Windows performs (not very, thank you) and knowing how viruses once-eradicated seem to come back bigger and stronger, I don’t think we need to thank him just yet.

Now, flush with the victory over an age-old disease, Gates has now set his sights on another major problem: education.

Call me skeptical but after the “advances” he has made in his earlier two conquests, I really don’t see how he is either 1- qualified to lead this fight, or 2- innovative enough to take us where we need to go.

Most revolutionary educators that I have read lately complain about the testing and “standards of learning” matrix now in place.

So, has Gates come up with a way to creatively evolve that process?

Heck no! He now insists that the way to improve education is the expand the practice to include teachers.

That seems a bit like patching a tire to fix it and, when the patch leaks, put some bubble gum or scotch tape of the leaky patch.

But what sort of thinking would one expect from a person who dropped out of school and even thought he could trademark the word “innovate”?


I shudder to think what product our educational system will produce if this dilettante is given free reign.

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Shallow Differentiations

August 25, 2013

I grew up in the late 50’s and the turbulent 60’s.

When the Civil Rights movement came along, I marched for the cause. I was not the only white person in the marches – although our number was a decided minority in those activities – but it seemed the right thing to do.

For some strange reason, I saw no sense in the entire “race” issue.

My German grandfather was a Southern Baptist minister and many of the churches in which he preached were predominantly black parishes. Whenever we visited, we attended the church he was currently ministering.

The parishioners were more animated than the usual church we visited in Maryland and the singing of the hymns was quite a bit more vibrant.

And, as we usually visited in the middle of June, we helped celebrate Granddad’s birthday, which just happened to fall on Juneteenth. He always threw a huge picnic for the church with fried chicken and homemade ice cream.

That was my background. The idea that the color of skin meant anything was a foreign concept.

Our neighbors in Maryland were the first interracial couple I ever met.

So, it was a little odd when I saw the reaction of my first wife a few years later, when a dark-skinned boy walked our daughter home from school.

I was out front working on the car that day and thanked the young man for walking her home and we talked for a couple of minutes – his name was Alex and he was grinning ear to ear – before the wife came out and hustled the daughter into the house.

After the fellow left, I went inside to see what the agitation was about.

My wife was explaining to our six year old girl that having that sort of person as a friend was okay but not to let it go any further.

Flabbergasted, I asked her what she was talking about. The two kids were only six years old. What was she so afraid of?

“You wouldn’t want your daughter to marry one of them, would you?”

Amazingly, we were still married for six more years.


Why should skin color even matter? There are all different shades of white, brown, and black. Trying to separate them out seems a pointless task.

I still cannot understand that way of thinking.


I Love Surveys

August 18, 2013

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I took a statistics class years ago and we had to design and conduct a survey with at least 200 responders, then write an article that tells a lie, using the data from the survey to back it up.

“MAJOR PROBLEMS BEFORE CONGRESS

“The primary issues as seen by the electorate

“In a survey conducted by [whoever], it seems that the vast majority of respondents did not feel the economy was the primary concern for the current Congress.”

Then I went on to list the problems concerning the electorate.


As impressive as it sounded, the article was easily able to slant the data because of the design of the questions.

It was a relatively short survey and the #1 question was “Other than the economy, what do you think is the biggest problem facing the current Congress?”

Naturally, the question told them to focus on something other than the economy but some people, as people are likely to do, answered “the economy” regardless.

And the raw numbers looked mighty impressive as well, but framing the article as I did, the results were fabricated out of whole cloth.

It was a lie.

Other surveys we did later got even more convoluted and allowed a greater degree of interpretation from a number of social vectors.

So, nowadays, when I hear the media pontificating about survey results, I ignore the analysis. Unless I see the raw data and the questions, I pay no attention to them.

And neither should you.

Da Vinci a Fraud!?

August 11, 2013

leonardo

I read an article online some time ago (I wish I could recall where but I don’t… I did not even consider writing about it until this moment) about Da Vinci being something of a fraud.

It seems he wasn’t real original in a lot of his “inventions”.

Yes, other inventors previously had designed submarines, helicopters, and even a flying apparatus.

And Da Vinci had access to those other writings.

I recall the author let Leonardo somewhat off the hook by saying that he did make revisions to many of the designs he “stole”.

Funny thing, I do not recall Leonardo anywhere claiming to have created any of these ideas.

Perhaps he did not give ample citations in his mirrored upside-down and backward mirrored notations but I don’t think that was the norm at his time anyway.

And Leonardo did say he was trying to make an encyclopedia of all human knowledge. It is natural then that he should try and assemble everything he could get his hands on.

We know from history that he performed an amazing amount of experimentation in a variety of fields. Researchers are still – amazingly – discovering things from his writings.

Perhaps he was negligent in crediting his sources but I think he falls well short of being termed a fraud.

But that’s just one opinion.

Boredom

August 4, 2013

A lot of people get bored with their lives, their jobs, seeing it as nothing but more of the same old thing, day after day after day.

That is really nothing more than attitude. Certainly, most jobs have tasks that are repetitious but if you look at the sameness of the job you cannot help but become bored.

If you would rather concentrate of each new iteration of a task at the chance to make it even better than the last time you did it, life would be so much sweeter.

If you saw the tedious sameness as new each time it appears, you would have the chance to improve on it, you, and the reception it gets from others.

And, it would seem less and less boring.

A simple change in attitude is usually all that is needed.


Body Images

July 28, 2013

bodytypes


One girl loves tatoos and another says Yech!

It is nice that we have so many different tastes and people who enjoy different body images.

It is a shame that there are so many young women – especially – who get wrapped up in the need to look like the media says a woman should look.

Personally, there are several of the very “popular image” women that I find completely unattractive.

And if you look around you, on the streets, you will see every imaginable body type of person, male or female, with a partner who loves them.

Fat, skinny, tall, short – even what most would consider ugly – have people who absolutely adore them.

Shame on the media for being so narrow minded. And shame on the fashion industry for fomenting such a lie on the impressionable young.

What the world does not need are more shallow, useless, “beautiful” people around.

We already have enough Kardashians.



Don’t We All Do Profiling?

July 26, 2013

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There have been a lot of confusing, inflammatory, misleading, and flat-out untruthful articles I have seen in the wake of the Zimmerman case.

One of the articles said there is still too much “profiling” being done in America. They mentioned a woman who said she held her purse very close and very tight when passing a group of young black men.

The author claimed it was racial profiling pure and simple.

But, let’s take a look at that.

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What she saw was a group of young blacks dressed in their “modern cultural style”… something akin to “ghetto gangsta” style. You know, the one usually portrayed on television and film as the members of a gang that occupy the streets in the inner-cities across America.

It may be “profiling” of a sort but I prefer to call it “survival instincts”.

The mode of dress and the behavior of the youths may be no more than mimicking their idols – rappers and such – but the gangsta style they copy is exactly the style of real gangsters, real thugs on the streets.

This is true whether the youths are black, or Hispanic, or oriental, or any other ethnicity.

How is a normal person supposed to know the difference between a real thug and a copycat?

They don’t, and so clutch their purses closer to themselves or cross the street to get away from the perceived threat.

If young black men walked down the street like this there would be no problem.

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There is nothing threatening about this group. No “gangsta”, no “attitude”, no “punkness”, no personification of any cultural divide.

What is perceived as danger is treated as such. That is how species survive.

If the young men of the inner-city would not look the part of thugs no one would treat them as such.


Still, of course, there is the issue of profiling done by law enforcement.

In this case, even those who seem to be dressed like a typical upwardly mobile professional are targeted just for being a certain ethnicity. This is wrong and needs abrupt readjustment.

It is not the color of one’s skin that makes them dangerous.

That sort of profiling does not do much good for anyone.




Let’s face it, the fellows over at Enron, and people like Bernie Madoff, do not attire themselves in anything resembling ghetto style, but they are easily more dangerous than those that do.

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Florida and the “Miscarriage of Justice”

July 14, 2013

scolding

Now that the George Zimmerman trial is over, a lot of people are screaming in outrage.

A spokesperson for the NAACP is putting pressure on Attorney General Holder to press Federal charges against Zimmerman because the trial was a travesty and a gross miscarriage of justice.

Funny, but I heard the same stuff after O. J. Simpson was acquitted.

Do these people have any idea what happened in the court rooms?

It was a little thing called “justice”.

They talk a little about it in a thing called the Constitution and it goes a little like this:

A person accused of a crime is taken to court and is allowed to face his accusers, present evidence in his defense and submit the matter to an impartial jury to decide the outcome.

In America, that is the definition of “justice” and from what I could see, that’s what we saw. No travesty, no miscarriage. Justice.

It may not have turned out the way a lot of people wanted but it turned out the way quite a few people wanted.

That is why we have the system designed the way it is. Otherwise we would be executing anyone ever accused of a crime.

But we do have “miscarriages of justice”. We do have “travesty”. And the really sad thing is there is no one in this conversation even thinking of it. Yes, they really have a little too much on their plates already to give any thought to any real injustice going on.

There is, of course, the recent disclosure of the secret courts being run in America that are decidely not covered by the Constitution. Its defenders claim that the Founding Fathers had no idea what the NSA would be up against… Actually, they knew and that is why it is not allowed by the Constitution.

These secret courts and such are just the latest blemish on our justice system and there is another one, just a little south of Florida, that simply puts it to shame: Guantanamo.

Where – in any legal code, anywhere – is such a travesty to be condoned by any “free society” in the history of the planet?

What happens in court battles – Simpson and Zimmerman alike – never please more than 50% of the viewers. And it is not designed to.

But what is happening in Gitmo…

Where, for the love of sanity, did we condone this sort of injustice?


People need to get their priorities straight.