Friday, January 31, 2014

Bad Language

 
 


 
"I would say they were 'potty mouths', but they go far beyond that!"
 
 
Yesterday, someone copied on Facebook a most vile "tweet" that some leftist posted earlier in the day. It concerned the Republican response to the SOTU given by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. I was going to try and clean it up for this post, but I can't. It is way too vile, through and through.
 
A bit about the author of this tweet before I launch into MSNBC. Laura Levites is a Jewish feminist, similar to Sarah Silverman. Both are very profane, and practice blasphemy towards the Christian faith. And they get away with it. No condemnation from the left. It seems that bad language, blasphemy and total gutter sniping is okay if it comes from this group. If someone from the right said something even a fraction as bad about Buddhism, Islam, or even Scientology, all hell would break loose. Like I say, it is a one way street.
 
However, the leftie organization which really cannot seem to control themselves is the seldom watched MSNBC. Time after time, they just can't stop calling Republicans and Conservatives racists. The latest example is over some cereal commercial. Nobody on the right has said anything (that I have heard or read) about the fact this commercial has a bi-racial couple in it. However, the left can't stop putting words in peoples mouths. It led to yet another inappropriate tweet from MSNBC yesterday, followed up by one more apology from NBC brass.
 
The left is also convinced that everybody on the right is racist and hates the President because he is part black. I have heard many comments about the President's skin. From the left, I hear about his color, all the time. From the right, I hear only about the thickness of his skin. I have yet, after five years this Administration, to hear ONE person who is a true Conservative, demean the President because of the color his skin. However, if you disagree with a policy of his, the left will say you have sounded the "dog whistle" of racism.
 
So to my friends on the left, I say this. Should I ever hear bad language, profane language, blasphemy, or whatever coming out of the right, I will be the first to condemn. Trust me, there will nobody ahead of me in line. I would like to suggest the left do the same. NBC management should keep a bar of soap hanging on the wall of the MSNBC studios. Just as a reminder, that's all.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tales from the land of "Not Me!"

 
 


"It is not my fault, it is his, and hers, and theirs, and ..."



This morning on the news, there was a story about Muhammad Kasim Reed, the current Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, and long time supporter of our President, Barack Hussein Obama. It seems the Mayor has learned well from emulating our national leader. When asked what caused the world's biggest weather related traffic jam which yesterday occurred in Atlanta, he gave this for an answer - the weather guessers did it. It was not that his highway department did not pre-treat the road for the incoming snow and ice - no, it was the fault of the National Weather Service. I am surprised he did not also blame God while he was at it.

By the same token, the SOTU address was an excellent chance for POTUS to "man up", take some responsibility. I believe a dose of truthfulness sprinkled with some genuine contrite statements would have done wonders to melt that iceberg which sits over our capital. However, that did not happen. Mistakes occur everywhere and to everyone. They are especially common when you are untrained or untested for a job. The economy, your economy Mr. President, is a mess. Admit it. Ask for help. Listen, for a change.

Instead, we are getting more of the same. "Small Ball" and the blame game. Blame the loyal opposition. No vision, no leadership, just blame. Instead of the Commander in Chief, he has devolved into the King of "not me". When I was in the Navy, I learned early on that mistakes would happen. When you screwed up, you would "pop tall" to attention and say "no excuse Sir!" Accountability. The buck would stop right there.

How in the world do we expect our kids to take responsibility when they see how our elected officials duck responsibility? It is a sad state of affairs when everyone and everything is to blame except ourselves. Soon, we will be blaming our Founding Fathers more making this country a representative democracy rather than a monarchy. Heck, the way we are going, we will end up with an imperial presidency, which not far from a monarchy.

So as I write this, it is snowing outside. We might get 4 inches or so. I am not going to take care of it. I want the city to clear my driveway. After all, this is not my fault nor my responsibility. I think I am learning to get the hang of this.











Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Time of Forgetting

 
 

 
"We are looking at education through eyes left over from the last century"
 
 
 
I think I might have caused a minor dust up on FB yesterday by besmirching the state and school board planners by authorizing the five "cold days" this month. Maybe I was a bit overboard in calling them "wussies" - for that I apologize (sort of). What I will NOT apologize for is the TOTAL lack of innovation we have in how we educate our young. For example - do you know who did not have five cold days off this month? You guessed it - home schooled kids.
 
In this day of technology, there should be absolutely no excuse for any kid to be sitting at home on his or her posterior when school is not in session. We need to redefine our definition of "education". In other words, education should be a continuum, not an event. There is not "alpha and omega" to learning, no beginning or end. We learn from the time we exit the womb until the time we leave this earthly life.
 
Here are some ideas for 2014. All are possible, and affordable:
  • Hybrid learning - At the start of every school year, a DVD disk is handed out to each student in each class. The DVD will have the subject matter to be learned for each day. They can be used for fresh learning, or for review. When it is too hot, too cold, or too snowy for the little darlings to go to school, home school happens that day. In these days of computer cameras, Skype, and so on, this is indeed possible, as well as practical.
  • No Summers Off - I have gone round and round with FB friends on this one before. The statistics continue to show an erosion of learning, "memory decay" if want, that happens to our kids after having almost three months off every summer. The first six weeks back is a whole lot of re-runs, just getting the kids back up to speed. It is a tremendous waste of time and resources. We need 220 days of schooling instead of 180.  We also need to ask ourselves - do we want to compete on a world stage, or not?
  • Longer School Day - Every time my wife and I are out after 2pm, we risk getting caught up in "high school rush hour". Out at 2? There is no way school for any grade should be out before at least 4pm. Part time schooling yields part time results.
  • No Social Promotions - Taxpayers spend good money to have our kids learn, not get passed forward as idiots. No more graduates who can't read or can't think. You stay in school until you learn, or hit age 21. Whichever comes first.
  • Fourteen Years - Okay, I lied. This one will cost more money - but it will be worth it. Forget Pre-K. The research has been spotty if that could help or not. I do think that having a 13th and 14th grade will help tremendously. Most would still graduate before their 21st birthday. What kids are able to learn in twelve years now is just a fraction of what they need to know.
Well, there it is. This is not the total answer, but will sure help stem the tide of forgetfulness in our kids. My view on this problem is borne out by the amount of remedial classes many colleges have to offer just to get kids up to square one of learning. Our education is a mess in this country, and will continue to be so until someone with courage and vision steps forward to change it (Hint: It will not the NEA).
 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pals Forever

 
 

 
"We took an oath in Indian Guides that we would be "pals forever" - and we were..."


Today is a day I have been anticipating and dreading at the same time. Today would have been my Dad's 100th birthday. I have been anticipating it as I wanted to write a fitting tribute to a man who has meant so much to me. I have been dreading it, as I knew it would open  memories that could probably make me melancholy and sad.

In 1956, my Dad joined the YMCA so he could spend more time with his six year old son. Along with other boys and their fathers from the neighborhood, we formed an Indian Guides troop. The motto for Indian Guides was "pals forever". We all had Indian names. Dad was "Big Wind" and I was "Little Wind". We, along with the other boys and their dads, would do fun activities once or twice a month.

All throughout my boyhood, and then into manhood, Dad was always there for me. He dropped me off when I went in the Navy, and came to my retirement ceremony. Besides being a great father to me, he was a thoughtful and caring husband to my Mother, an excellent father in law to my wife, and a loving grandparent to my kids. My dad always had a story. He loved history, studied with abandon, and really knew his stuff.

He worked in manufacturing most of his life. He knew it and loved it. When I got out of college and worked in manufacturing for my first 25 years, my Dad could not have been happier. He wanted to know everything about what my company did and what they made. After he retired, I think Dad lived vicariously through my career. We had many great conversations, and I never tired of them.

My Dad's health was pretty good up until the last year of his life, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. I remember many trips taking him to the clinic for radiation treatment. He lost his sense of taste about halfway through the regiment. He never complained. He kept his sense of humor right up until the end.

So on this birthday, this 100th birthday, I salute my Dad. He is gone but never forgotten. He died ten years ago next month. He was my pal when I was six, he was my pal until he left us, and he remains my pal today. Pals forever...

More Lipstick, Please....

 
 


"The lipstick may not be working - how about some rouge?"



One of my recent fantasies is to give the State of the Union address. No, I would not color it with untruths. Instead, I would tell the truth. Let the folks know exactly how things are going. There probably would not be too many applause lines. In fact, once it was over, many would be running for the House bathrooms to vomit. Sometimes the truth just hurts.

For example, if we had a truth teller for a President, he would start out by saying "The State of the Union is NOT good, and I will now tell you why:"
  • Debt - How is that going anyhow? Terrible. The President has told us it is going down. Wrong. The deficit is not growing as fast. However the debt is still going up. It is like being on a diet and still gaining weight - only not as fast. Still is estimated to be between $18T and $20T by the time Obama leaves office. There is no plan, I repeat, no plan in place to reduce our debt. This continues to be a cancer on our economy that will end up being our financial undoing.
  • Terror - We have a new leader in Al Qaeda now who is promising mayhem in the West. In addition, we have splinter terror groups who could turn the Sochi Games into another Munich, or worse. We may not be able to track terror groups very well, but we sure can collect gobs of stuff about our own citizens. What would have been unthinkable twenty years ago, is now evolving into the norm.
  • Health Care - We have now seen what happens when kids take a watch apart and don't have a clue in how to put it back together again. ObamaCare has been nothing but a slow motion train wreck and it will only get worse once the employer mandate kicks in. If truth was in session, the motto would be "less for more" rather than the promised "more for less". Even the "low information crowd" is not that stupid.
  • Economy - This one has been way, way too hard for the kids driving the car to fix. The only cure has been to unleash the unholy power of the Fed to print more money than there is paper. Net result - phony gains on Wall Street and 92+ million out of the job market. U6 unemployment stuck at 13 to 14%. Most jobs created are part time and lower pay. It is so hard to fix, the Jobs Council rarely meets anymore. Just ignore the problem and it might go away - or leave it more the next guy.
  • Food - The number of people who need food assistance of some kind keeps going up like a rocket. When ever someone asks "why", they are accused of wanting to starve kids and throw grandma off the bus. The problem is simply this - if this trend continues, soon half the people who live in the country which produces most of the world's food, will be on food assistance. Somehow the lap dog media does not seem to care what the root cause is. I do.
  • Military - As Russia and China once again start to feel their oats and become more of a blue water threat, our military continues to shrink and become more marginalized. Why is that? I think Mr. Gates might have hit the nail on the head in his recent book.
So what is the State of our State? We are in trouble. I mean deep trouble. We need visionary leadership. Wise leaders of courage. We tried the rookies - didn't work well. Can't get enough lipstick to make a dent.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Infrastructure (Again and again)

 
 


"You can only push the envelope so far before it starts to rip..."



I had not planned to address this issue this week. However, after this weekend, some things happened which changed my mind. Our aging infrastructure is a huge problem that needs attention, and needs attention now. What am I talking about? Consider what I heard just this weekend.
  • EMP - I happened to watch Judge Jeanine Pirro on Fox this weekend. It is a show I do not usually watch on the weekend. In the feature article on her show, the Judge was almost in a panic. It seems she recently attended a briefing on the vulnerability of our electric grid. She found out the very scary truth - an EMP, natural or mad made, would take down our grid. The result - millions of innocent people would die a very unpleasant death. The irony - this is a inexpensive and fixable problem. It would cost under $1B to harden and make robust our entire grid. Why are not we doing it? Beats me.
  • Natural Gas - We are quickly becoming the Saudi Arabia of oil and gas in this part of the world. Even with the Administration doing everything in its power to stop it, we will become an energy exporting country by the end of the decade. That being said, we still have problems getting product from Point "A" to Point "B". During the past few days we have had a pipeline explosion in Canada which as put part of our country into a "energy emergency". We need more and better pipelines, and we need them now. Build the Keystone XL, and do it yesterday!
  • Rand Paul - The good doctor was on a Sunday news show. It seems Sen. Paul believes there is common ground in working with the other side in updating our aging infrastructure. His solution to fund this endeavor (which I agree with), is to use funds that have been earmarked for countries which hate us. We should use those funds here instead.
We do have a problem with our infrastructure. We can ignore it, but it will not go away. Our water mains, our bridges, some of our highways, OUR GRID, and our pipelines all need to be updated.

Gosh, if this was addressed in the State of the Union this week, it is probably something that could actually get done! We need to stop "re-engineering" our country and update it instead. One low tech EMP device, used by semi-skilled terrorists, could put us back in the 1800's quicker than you could say the word HARDEN! We can't let that happen!

Dynastic America

 
 


"Hey - I thought Dynasty was a TV show from the eighties..."



One of the big fears the Obama camp has right now is the ever widening election cycle. That is, the 2016 season is already heating up, and we have just entered 2014. Here the poor guy (BHO) is trying to get some dribble and pabulum ready to serve us for this week's State of the Union, and the conversation is on "Planet Hillary". I think our POTUS is feeling more and more like Rodney Dangerfield every day.

So what gives with this Hillary thing? Is she not sick of living in that big white, taxpayer funded mansion? Does she not have some "bad memories" of events which took place in the Oval Office? Does she think she has a sense of entitlement to hold the highest office in the land? I don't get it, I really don't get it. Some on the Left want us to face tomorrow's challenges by being led by an almost 70 year old woman left over from the Watergate era.

And please, no more Bushes. We have had twelve years of that family and it is time to move on (sorry Jeb). The Republicans, as well as the Democrats are stuck in the mud with their candidates of choice. There has to be some fresh faces with new ideas on the horizon. You don't even need to be that smart or experienced to hold the office (know what I mean?)

This country was never set up to be a dynasty nor a monarchy. Somehow, we have morphed into both. Our current inhabitant of the White House has decided to chip away at our Constitution piece by piece. He can't play well with others, so he has decided to use his "pen and his phone" to do his will. We don't need three separate parts to our government. That is soooo yesterday! All we need is one part run by an imperial President.

So as for the Clinton's, you both have your legacies. For Bill, it will forever be the devil with the blue dress on. For Hillary, it is of course Benghazi - and yelling "WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?" One pundit on the talk shows yesterday said "we need to separate the two Clintons." Really? It was Bill who said when you get one, you get both of us (remember "Billary"?)

So buckle up folks, and get ready for over two years of presidential campaign nonsense. Dynasty is going into reruns, on every channel from now until the next coronation.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Anointing

 
 

 
"To be anointed by God is not only to be picked, but also to be empowered by Him for the task or position to which He has called you"



One of our former pastors would tell us that different people are anointed at different times. By the same token, different churches also have stronger anointing at different times. Recently, I have felt a strong sense of anointing which is spreading across our land like wildfire. God is speaking to his people. He is using many to spread His Word and work His will. You might be one of them, I might be one of them. Our job is to listen to the gentle, or not so gentle voice of God when He speaks to us.

One of the things I have believe is God will use us to work His will, even when we are most undeserving and unworthy of that honor. Sometimes he uses us when we are mired knee deep in sin. To me, that is one of the greatest mysteries of God. He will use people to work His will, and sometimes, maybe for some most times, we are unaware of it. It is truly a gift.

How do you know if you are attending a church where anointing is strong? First off, the church is the hope of the world. It is the Bride of Christ. That being said, anointing is like waves - sometimes it is stronger and deeper than other times. To use an old expression, if you are attending a church and don't feel "Holy Ghost Bumps", it might be time to visit another church. If you are going to a church only because you have to, and not because you want to, it might be time to visit another church. If you are looking at your offering as nothing more than a "tax" instead of a gift to expand the Kingdom, it might be time to visit another church.

My wife and I have been very blessed in our worship life. We attended a church for years where the anointing was very strong. However, the enemy does not like anointed churches. He worked on splitting that church and ended up being successful in doing so. After leaving that church and drifting for a while, we found a church which has very strong anointing. The teaching is absolute and only from God's Word. The worship and praise are nothing short of awesome. The net result? This church is growing like a weed with campus locations all over the metro area. Why? People hunger for God's Word and strong anointed teaching.

I have never liked it with churches compete with each other. I do however, love it when like minded, Bible teaching churches, collaborate for the greater good of the Kingdom. The Word tells us in Luke 10:2, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." By working together, and sharing the anointing, we can add to the number of workers and put a bigger dent in the harvest.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cold, colder and colder yet...

 
 



"Is it colder these days than what it was decades ago? Not hardly...




When I was stationed up in Maine, the base was located way out in the middle of nowhere. My first fall up there, I met a young lady who lived with her folks about 30 miles inland. Getting to her house was always an adventure - especially in the winter time. Her parents, very simple folk who lived off the land, insisted I would spend the night in their upstairs guestroom. Her house was a hundred year old farm house, which had recently been outfitted with electricity. However her parents still had no plumbing, and no heat. Water was obtained by using a hand pump in the kitchen, and the only heat was a large Ben Franklin stove in the living room. When ever I stayed overnight, I was reminded of Per Hansa in Giant in the Earth.

I was fortunate to have had that experience. In the winter time, the heat from the central stove would supply heat to the upstairs bedrooms using nothing more than physics (hot air rises). There were times in the morning when I first awoke, I could see my breath. I would be under five to ten blankets or comforters. My first trip outside to visit the outhouse, was not for the faint of heart. After you made that initial trip, you were awake and ready to get some heat! 

When this nation was settled, a common cause of death was freezing to death in the winter time. Without the proper clothing or shelter, weather such as we have been experiencing this year can kill. It can kill or maim, as evidenced by the amputations some have had due to frostbite. Even after the country was settled, early housing was not constructed like housing today is. People, mostly elderly, could still freeze to death in their own houses. The lose of home due to a fire was very common. Back in the day, life was hard and dangerous in the winter time.

Today, our biggest problem with winter is "cabin fever". Nothing to do, no place to go. That is, if you are fortunate enough to have a home or shelter to stay in. For those who have no shelter, winter today remains as dangerous as winters of yesterday. Yes, in 2014 people can still freeze to death. The irony is this - people sleep outside when nearby there are thousands of places where they could spend a very Spartan, yet warm and safe evening.

By the end of this decade, it is my hope can end not only hunger in this country, but also homelessness. We have the means to do so, maybe not the national will. And as far as winter is concerned, we can't control the length and depth of the season. However, we sure can control the danger that comes from it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Sickness of MNSure

 
 


"If ObamaCare is Frankenstein's Monster, then MN Sure is the spawn of Frankenstein's Monster"



If you thought the news about ObamaCare was bad, wait until you hear the news about our homegrown edition of it, MN Sure. What a train wreck! It is like this entire program was put together in the back seat of a clown car. The best our Governor can do so far is to blame a major service provider, IBM. Well Governor, as someone who worked at IBM, I can tell you this much. They are good, very good - but they can't perform magic. Your product just must be this bad.

Some of the Democrats in the State House crafted a letter to Washington asking for Federal money to help out. One report I heard said we might be as much as $1B short in the next few years with MN Sure. This sounds like an echo of what is being said about ObamaCare. It was supposed to have saved us all money, right? More for less. If ObamaCare is Frankenstein's Monster, then MN Sure is the spawn of Frankenstein's Monster.

So how did we get here? How in the world did things get so bad, so fast? First off, our health industry did need some "fixing up" - nobody will deny that. Where our problem started was simply this. Rather than fix the areas that needed attention, our President (who wants to be remembered as another FDR or LBJ), decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Long before he ran for President, he wanted our country to look more like Europe, and less like freedom.

The vote, which passed by the narrowest of margins (thanks Al Franken), excluded the ideas of many who could have helped fix the fixable. Instead the watch was taken apart and the politically appointed health care team did not have the know how to put it back together again. So we spent money - lots of it. We continue to throw good money after bad to cobble together a program which now looks like an abstract painting. We have a government appointed, inept fool running HHS. And one just as bad who until December, was running MN Sure.

I can almost predict with certainty what will happen next. On a Federal level, the train wreck will only get worse. The "back end" of the website is still wide open, so the "handshake" between provider, patient and government can't happen. Pride will prevent the President from telling the truth about the true cost of this mistake. The deficit will explode even more than it already has. MN Sure will not get anymore money from the Feds. The Minnesota taxpayers will be the ones holding the glass for this lemonade.

Thank you local press corps for finally doing the honest reporting on MN Sure. Thank you Fox News for shining the light on ObamaCare. And thank you Mr. President for letting the plague of this health care mess be visited on our fine country.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One very small step for mankind...

 
 


"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard..."
 
JFK
1962



As a child of the sixties, I am amazed by what has happened to us in the past fifty years. We (collectively) have gone from a nation of "can do" to the "gang who can't shoot straight". Now before you think I might just be on a meaningless gripe brought on by another Polar Vortex, please let me make my case.

The news this morning was more of the same. Target is letting almost 500 people go, many from the Minneapolis Headquarters. We have no way forward, no new and exciting industries or opportunities. Only a bloated Wall Street, made fat by excessive QE feeding from the Federal Reserve. Where is the future for the rest of us?

Some things to consider:
  • Space - Do you know it has been over forty years since we have set foot on the Moon? Our Moon, which has a surface area bigger than North and South America combined, is still unexplored. Well, we did explore about three square miles of it. We spent a fortune in the sixties to make this miracle happen, and then stopped going. Why? There is so much more to learn, to explore. Our International Space Station is dated and inefficient. It should be scrapped replaced by a permanent international Moon base instead.
  • Oceans - To quote from the NOAA website: The ocean is the lifeblood of Earth, covering more than 70 percent of the planet's surface, driving weather, regulating temperature, and ultimately supporting all living organisms. Throughout history, the ocean has been a vital source of sustenance, transport, commerce, growth, and inspiration. Yet for all of our reliance on the ocean, 95 percent of this realm remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes. My thinking is this - we have learned amazing things, made amazing discoveries, to help mankind in the five percent we have explored. It is time to step up our game. There might be energy, health, or nutrition discoveries yet to be found.
  • Energy - We have known for decades now that some of our planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn, produce more energy than they take in from the sun. Why? There are theories, but we just don't know for sure. What we do know is this - the universe is teaming with unlimited and bountiful energy. Real, abundant, and efficient energy. So is our planet. Not bird killing windmills - energy sources which are 100% clean, unlimited, and have no externality of production. Let's find them.
  • Health - Many of us in the sixties were convinced by the turn of the century we would have cancer licked. And also MDA. Here we sit in 2014, and these terrible diseases still stalk our land. Most of us have lost love ones to a disease such as these. We need to collectively say, "No More!". We are so close, we just need to do the finishing kick and find the cures.
I don't think President Kennedy would recognize us today. Could we find the national will to go to Mars by the end of the decade? Could we back down the Soviets like we did in 1962? Would President Kennedy accept the fact we have 92 million people (and growing) out of the work force? Would he accept the fact that one out of seven families are on some kind of food assistance? That we still have homeless people sleeping on the streets? 

I have said before, our technology has galloped way ahead of our societal evolution. We need to get them back in sync. We need to find the pioneering spirit we had when our country was settled. The adventurous spirit we had when we went to the moon. Where are we headed right now? What is our focus? We are hanging on to yesterday, as yesterday's ideas are dated, and are not what are needed to craft tomorrow's vision.

Of all the scarce resources we have in the world right now, vision has become the most rare. There has to be someone that can step forward and lead us into tomorrow. Someone needs to be the next Kennedy or Reagan.




   

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Living in not too Realville

 
 


"I can't live here - I am afraid of heights!"



Rush always talks about being the Mayor of Realville. Realville is a mythical place where common sense and reality rule the day. If you are looking for the opposite of Realville, look no further than the 2040 landscape of Minneapolis painted by city planners.

To visit the City of Minneapolis in 2040, I will need a time machine. First off, to fast forward me 26 years, and also to reverse age me to a twenty something up and comer. As the planners had predicted, there are now 100,000 more young "Yuppies" just like me living in this patch of paradise. As the planners requested, none of us have cars - oh cars are soooo yesterday! In addition, to make room for all us additions, we need to fit nicely in the numerous high rises that seem to go all the way up to Mars.

Not to be Debbie Downer, but here are a few minor concerns I have with my new digs:
  • Food - Where do I shop? Is there a Cub downtown? Is there anything affordable? I know the planners wanted to put in a Whole Foods for us to shop at, but holy smokes, you almost need a second mortgage to shop there on a regular basis.
  • Transportation - Since the planners convinced me not to have a car, how do I get around? The light rail is fine for getting to other parts of the metro, but what if I want to go outside the metro. To an apple orchard? To the beach? To the North Shore? What the what?
  • Kids - Even though the planners have not taken this into consideration, what if I find another twenty something "Yuppie" and we decide to get married? What if we then decide to have kids? Where will they play? Where do I educate them? The schools in Minneapolis continue to be toxic.
  • Leisure Time - Okay. I now live downtown and work downtown. What can I do for leisure time that does not cost an arm and a leg. Can I go for a walk around the block without getting hit by a train, mugged or panhandled? Without a car, I am really stuck here, 24x7.
I am back now. Back to 2014 and living in the woods north of the metro. I have my truck, I have my land. My kids were able to go to school and play in the yard. To me, this is Realville. If you like vertical living with no car, the city planners have a deal for you. For me, no thank you.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Coming Revolution

 
 


"Desperate people will resort to desperate measures in desperate times..."




Let me start out by saying that I don't believe in violent revolution. More times than not it leads to heartache and bloodshed. That being said, I am starting to think the world is on a collision course with a massive revolution. Why? As much as I get sick of the Left carping about income inequality, the teeter totter of income is getting more and more stuck on one side.

A statistic was just released which shows an astonishing number. 85 of the richest people in the world have more income than 3.5 BILLION of the poorest! That is a prescription for disaster. Our country, our world, cannot continue like this. It is wrong from societal standpoint, it is wrong from a faith standpoint.

In addition, about half the people who are working in this country, now see themselves as just treading water. Not getting ahead. That number is down almost 15% in the past six years. For many, wages are flat year after year. Benefits, if available, cost more year after year. Families are pinched, and more and more use up all their margin just to stay afloat. Many are one missed paycheck away from real problems. Some even end up on the street.

The only solution I have heard of late is to raise the minimum wage. Some in Minnesota want to see it raised to $9/hour. Others say $7.75 an hour. Here is a news flash - you cannot live today on either $9/hour or $7.75/hour. Both of those wages will keep someone firmly entrenched in poverty. In addition, since most minimum wage jobs are low or no skill and are mostly for entry level purposes. Once wages goes up, market forces will take effect. Bottom line - less people will be hired.

World poverty, as well as poverty in this country is a big and growing problem. EVERYONE needs to become involved in crafting viable solutions. People who have no hope, who see their families suffer, can become very revolutionary in solutions. All it takes is one spark, one charismatic megalomaniac to get the ball rolling. And once the ball gets rolling, we will all have a very big problem.

A possible solution might be this simple. It all starts with education. Does not matter if it is within the United States or the world itself. Poverty and lack of education go hand in hand. In the United States, we continue to breed poverty because we continue to support a failed education system. It needs to be radically changed. It needs to be privatized. And I mean now. The fact we have schools in Minneapolis which year after year have a graduation rate of 50% (or less), is unbelievable. The fact nobody in our local government has good, workable solutions is even more unbelievable. Throwing more money at a broken system has been nothing but a fool's folly.

We can do the right and moral thing. We can fully address poverty now, or we can wait for the coming revolution to fix it for us. We need to admit the War on Poverty has been a dismal failure, and try something radically different. Something that will work. If the revolution does come, it will affect everyone. However the biggest targets will be the ones with the biggest numbers in their bank accounts. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Day Off...

 
 


"A day off to lie around on the beach. Hold on! It is the middle of January!"
 
 
As I was waking up this morning watching the latest Chris Christie scandal, a mere mention was made that this was a national holiday. The news person paused from the main story for a minute to go over what was open and what was closed. What is closed you might ask? Other than schools and all forms of government, not much.
 
Now I have no real objection to MLK day. He was a great man. An American hero. However, our history is replete with other heroes whose birthday's go unrecognized. How about a day for John Adams? Ben Franklin? Nathan Hale? What about a day recognizing the signing of the Declaration of Independence? For those who signed it, it could have been like signing their own death sentence.
 
When I worked as a defense contractor, it aggravated me that every year on November 11th, I, along with my co-workers, would come to work and have no customers to deal with. Veterans Day was observed as a Federal holiday. Everybody in the government got the day off, veteran or not. The people I worked with, many of whom were veterans, did not receive that honor for their service. It was simply another day.
 
If I ruled the world, if there was ANY day kids should have the day off of school, it should be Veterans Day. Why? If not for the sacrifice that many veterans made, in particular World War II, we would have no free schools. In the 1940's, American fighting men and women saved the world. That is an immutable fact. If we had not won World War II, our kids would be "goose stepping", or something worse. If we lost the war, children which the state did not consider "pure or "perfect", might be put in a detention camp or taken out and shot.
 
So I will enjoy my day off. Just kidding - I am retired so every day is a "day off". Dr. King was a great man and should be honored as such. Was he greater than the great men that came before him? That is, and will be, up for debate.
 
 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

People who Care...

 
 
 


"There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer..."
 
 
 
Yesterday my wife and I attended an orientation meeting which was held at a youth drop in center. This drop in center has been on our "radar screen" for a few months now. We want to help out here because it is a great fit for us. It fits in nicely to our 2014 plan of sharing our time, talents and treasure. This center, which is located in a town near to us, is simply doing amazing things to help young people who have been marginalized not only by society, but with some of them, their own homes.
 
My wife and I always vet charities and organizations before we jump in with both feet. We have put this one under the microscope and it comes up clean - very clean. Here is the amazing thing about this center. It has been in existence for less than a year and has had almost 300 kids use the services there. Some have used the center many times. Some receive a hot meal in the evening, some get help with job searches or studies. Some just come to a welcoming and safe place to meet other youth and caring adults.
 
This center has ONE paid staff. The other 300+ people who work there are all volunteers. Some put in hundreds of hours last year, others just a few. However the focus and the purpose for these people is this - the fact there are so many homeless youths in this county is unacceptable. These volunteers don't waste time writing letters to the editor or complaining to others. These volunteers are just there to help young people who desperately need it.
 
Volunteerism has always interested me. What in the world motivates people to go to a place, work feverishly, not get a red cent, and then feel great afterward? What is it? A caring heart. Working in the non-profits that I have, I found that to be the common denominator. People who care. They care deeply and passionately. They are self motivated and self directed. They are simply amazing people.
 
Now that we are done with the first part of our training, we are ready to jump into the pool. Maybe not the deep end at first, but we are ready. I have three huge frozen tubs of chili ready to be served as an evening meal. That is where we will start. Where we will go after that is still a question. There are so many interesting areas we can help with, it will be a matter of trying to narrow them down.
 
What ever we do, it will be a ride. It will be great to help out someplace that needs more hands and feet to help others. In addition, it will be great to work with a bunch of folks who only want one thing - to help out where they can. To make a difference. To help out the hurting, the hungry, and the homeless. Blessing all, these folks are - blessings all.
 
 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Harvey the Rabbit

 
 


Hy·poc·ri·sy - the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense
 


Please excuse me while I try and stop laughing. It seems as if our purveyor of smut and violence, our "King of Hollywood", has found new PC religion and is going to atone for his many moviemaking sins. How is he going to do that? Harvey Weinstein told Howard Stern on his radio show that he is going to make a movie which exposes the National Rifle Association for who they are! You know who I am talking about - those law abiding citizens who have NOTHING to do with the continual gun violence in this country. However, they are always the ones to get blamed by the Hollywood Left.

In the past, there are very few taboo subjects that Mr. Weinstein has found off limits. Violence is only one of them. The other day I was in a meeting with some like minded folks, talking about a myriad of topics. The subject of Hollywood came up. One person said he had not seen a movie for over twenty years as (in his opinion), Hollywood was now run by corrupt Communists. I am thinking he might have been right.

The first question I have for Mr. Weinstein is this - If you truly want to get right with the Lord, and atone for all the filth and smut your movies have laid on this country, how about a movie demonstrating good Christian values? How about family values? How about a movie which does not take the Lord's name in vain over and over and over again? How about no smoking scenes? No sex scenes? No perverted sexuality?

Truthfully Mr. Weinstein, it is not the NRA who is ruining this country. It is people in Hollywood making garbage movies. All the NRA is trying to do is protect our Second Amendment. If you study your history, you will know how important this is. For example, before the holocaust took place in Europe, it was important for the government to get guns away from the Jewish people. As they say, the rest is history. The NRA has learned from mistakes in world history and is trying to keep this country from repeating any of them.

So Mr. Weinstein, understand this. Many of us on the Right believe in the power of forgiveness and redemption. We don't hate you - we want to forgive you. However, you must first turn from your past ways and change the movies you make. You have the experience and skills to really make some good and worthwhile movies. Movies which will show America at her best, not her worst. Making a movie which will try to destroy the NRA is only going to get you in deeper - much, much deeper.
 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Western Water

 
 


"This is a problem which does have to be a problem..."



One of the fastest growing areas of the country continues to be the desert southwest. In addition, the state of California has a population of almost 40 million people. That is one out of eight Americans living in that very large state. The west and southwest have many things going for them - great weather, rich heritage, and wide open spaces. What that area does not have going for it is adequate water.

The southwest and west have always had Plan "A" and Plan "B" for water. Plan "A" is adequate snow pack in the Rockies that ends up as runoff in rivers and eventually supplies thirsty people and agriculture downrange. Plan "B" is seasonal rainfall, albeit short lived.
Plan "C" is - well there is no plan "C".

I have played this tune many times before in my blog. EVERY climate alarmist predicts the dire consequences of rising sea levels. In other words, we are not going to run out of ocean water. We have the technology and know how to build massive water plants on the West Coast. That water could supply tens of millions of millions of people with daily water, both fresh and potable.

The San Joaquin Valley in California has often been referred to as "The food basket of the World". Many items are grown in the valley ranging from "soup (the ingredients) to nuts". The diversity of crops that are grown there is simply staggering. Most every day, most of us have something which is grown in the San Joaquin Valley on our dinner table.

It has been said that water is our next oil - maybe even our next gold. It is the most precious of all resources. Without it, we don't drink, we don't eat, we don't live. If there is ANYTHING that makes sense for the government to invest in, it is water farms. This would not be a "black hole" of spending. The water would be treated as a commodity and sold to the states which would use it. Our days of getting "free" water are coming to an end. Should we get free water via rain fall or snow melt, it should be treated as a gift, not as an expectation.

As we sit at the dawning of 2014, we can watch droughts happen, or we can plan to eliminate many of their negative effects. Building water farms in the west complete with appropriate infrastructure, would probably take a decade and cost a bundle. But it would be worth it. A nation's progress runs on abundant energy as well as self sustaining food supplies. We can have both if we are smart. If not, every year we will read about another part of the country or the world suffering from lack of water due to drought or prolonged dry periods.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Very Dirty Plate

 
 



"In the Benghazi cover up, the Administration is learning that old lesson one more time - bad news does not get better with age..."



Have you ever noticed that once in a while you come across a plate which is very hard to clean? Sometimes it is because the dishwasher was not doing its job. Other times it is because a dirty dish was accidentally put in the cupboard. However, on a rare occasion it is because someone did not feel like cleaning it correctly, and just tried to hide it.

I don't think there is one person alive with a shred of integrity who will not admit the evening of September 11th, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya was nothing but a disaster. Most knew it immediately. The fact the Administration sent some uninformed story teller to the Sunday shows to lie about Benghazi was insulting. No, it was criminal. The United Nations Ambassador ended up in aiding and abetting in the biggest cover up of our young century.

Yesterday it was disclosed that a bipartisan group from the Senate released a study which revealed Benghazi for what it was. Who did it surprise? Nobody - not even the Administration. When the "spokes kid" Jay Carney was asked about this at his daily presser, he tried to put lipstick on this ugly pig. I didn't work. Hillary is responsible for putting this dirty dish in the cupboard. Not by accident, she did it on purpose. She needs to be held responsible.

This unfortunate event needs to be investigated fully and completely. Who knew what, and when did they know it. If it goes as high as the White House, so be it. If POTUS did not know about the criminal mismanagement of his State Department, that is a problem. However, if he did know about what really happened in Benghazi and decided to "help hide the dirty plate", that is a much bigger problem. It is an impeachable problem.

If our President was a leader instead of a politician, he would use both the House and Senate Benghazi reports and take immediate action. Fire where necessary, prosecute where appropriate. If Holder won't prosecute the guilty, he should be fired as well.

For people to start to regain trust in their government, we need to start now. We need to start with Benghazi. Our out of control, executive order writing President needs to start protecting and defending our Constitution. He needs to do the job we elected him to do. The time is now Mr. President. Get the dirty plate out of the cupboard and show the country we know how to clean it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Recycle this!

 
 

 
"It is suppose to be easy peasy - but for many it is way too hard...."
 


Interesting story yesterday in the hometown newspaper (or as Common Man calls it - "fish wrap"). Our Hennepin County recycling program, which has been going on for just under forever, is less than 50% successful. It seems the county is having a bear of a time with all the plastic (which should be recycled), showing up at the Target Field garbage burner.
 
Now I will admit to this - my wife and I do recycle. At one time it was a bit of a hassle when we had to sort, but with the advent of the single use containers, it is as easy as falling off a log. What I find fascinating about this article is this - Hennepin County is deep blue politically. Lots and lots of "greenies" living there. And to only have a 50% recycle rate? What the what?

Because half of the folks in Hennepin County are too lazy to recycle, the state is now considering a 10 cent deposit on all recyclable bottles sold. When I would travel to the East Coast they had this deposit. Most people I knew hated it. So the rest of us will now be punished. The ones who do recycle will have to go through the aggravation and expense of yet another "tax" when we buy goods.

The question I have had ever since our government mandated we get rid of our clean light bulbs and replace them with the toxic pig tails, is this - how many people are really going to recycle them? Right now you have to take them into a store which sells them (like Home Depot), and they will accept them for recycle. Most people don't want to bother, so they toss them in the garbage.

Here is the rub. The pigtails contain small amounts of mercury, which is a neurotoxin. Most local governments have not come up with effective ways for us to recycle them. Are we okay with putting more mercury in our landfills? I thought the "greenies" were all over the mercury issue by trying to close down our coal plants. I guess this is selective outrage, similar to the deafening silence we hear when wind turbines massacre our birds of prey and bats.

We will continue to recycle regardless of what the powers that say or decide. I think it makes sense. I DON'T think pigtails make sense. Never have, never will. Any mandate from the government about what type of light bulb I can use will be met with the same response - RECYCLE THIS PAL!

 
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Days of Wine and Roses

 
 


"What is coming could be the best of days, or the worst of days..."
 


Saw a very uplifting show on one of the Science Channels last night. One of the segments was about computing. Today, in 2014, we have super computers which can conduct billions of operations every second. If I had written that 30 years ago, people would have laughed or thought I had gotten into science fiction. Because Moore's Law is still in effect (in fact, we are doubling out computer speed now every 13 months), the awesomeness of 2014 will appear not so much in 2015.
 
The real amazing fact is this - assuming Moore's Law continues, and we don't really wreck things here on Terra Firma, in ten years the computing speed will be hundreds of times faster than it is today. I dare say the world ten years from now will look quite a bit different.
 
Now I am not one to say that technology will save us from all ills, but I do think the next generation of super computers will allow us to solve the stubborn puzzle of cancer. It will show us the way for unlimited, cheap, clean energy. It will allow us to send human like robots to our Moon and to Mars to set up the foundation for future colonization. It could put an end to education as we know it as every home would have smart terminals that will teach each at his or her own speed and level.
 
That is the up side to the upcoming days of wine and roses. The down side is dire. Our technology is racing far ahead of our own social and economic evolution. Instead of training people for the jobs of 2025, we are trying to resurrect dead industries. Most of manufacturing will be done by robotics or the next generation of 3D printing. More and more manual labor will be done by smart machines. Because of the next generation of CAD, CAM, and CAL, quality will continue to improve. Mean time between failures on most items will be astronomically high. Failure of any kind will become a rare term.
 
So where will the jobs be? What new industry will emerge that will employ hundreds of millions of people in the United States? I have written an article last year where I thought the biggest opportunity for new jobs would be building things that build things. And that takes a type of education and training that we don't have a lot of these days. The nation which will lead the world into the next decade is the one which will stay ahead of the curve. Focus on tomorrow and leave the yesterdays for the history books.
 
To lead us in the next decade we need new kinds of leaders. We have had it will sophism, charlatans, and liars. No more economic false flags. We need visionaries, not Walter Middies. Trail blazers, not Pied Pipers. Doers, not talkers. With the right leadership we will once again guide the world. However, with more of the present type of leadership, we will be standing on the sidewalk, watching the parade pass us by.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Jobs Canard

 
 


"Hey! It is getting better! The unemployment rate is down to 6.7%!"
 
 
 
The biggest surprise this weekend was not the outcome of any of the playoff games. It was not the weather. It was not the winners of the Golden Globes awards. In fact, it was not there is another glitch in the legal battles to build our new Zygi Wilf Taj Mahal. No, the big surprise was the December jobs report.
 
For the uninformed or dishonest, the December jobs report was great news! The stubborn unemployment rate (left over from the "Bush Recession"), is now down to 6.7%! Pop the corks! We are healed! The only surprise to the crew reporting this news was the stock market was not as excited as it should have been.
 
The truth however, does not lie that far below the surface. Here are some facts:
  • The U3 unemployment did fall to 6.7%. However the number of people finding work was about 75,000. Due to population growth, our economy needs to add about 100,000 just to break even.
  • The REAL unemployment rate (the U6), stayed unchanged at 13.1%, which is horrible.
  • Our workplace participation rate sunk to another low. Over 300,000 people gave up looking for work (many of them young) in December. We now have 92,000,000 out of work. Our participation rate is the lowest since the Carter years (coincidence?).
  • Here is the real kicker. Anyone fortunate enough to HAVE a job, is seeing income almost stagnant. After December, the GROWTH in real income for the last twelve months is six tenths of one percent. My energy costs and food costs have gone up much more than 1% this past year.

In the past, November and December were always good months for employment as seasonal holiday hiring offered a temporary bump. Not this year. It will be interesting to see what the focus of the Administration is for the first quarter. Saying something is better, does not make it better. Saying the War on Terror is over, stopped nothing. Saying the economy is healing and we are seeing "green spouts" once again, is nothing more than a lie. Our economy sucks and it has now for over five years.

Rather than continuing the War on Poverty (we lost by the way), let us wage war on joblessness. Well paying jobs is the cure for most ills, including poverty and unemployment. The War on Poverty cost this nation trillions of dollars and gained us nothing, but more of the same. Jobs, jobs, jobs is the only answer. Not low wage and no benefit jobs - well paying jobs with benefits that people can live on as well as raise a family on.

My advice is simply this - when some talking head from the press or the Administration starts telling us the economy is blue skies and lollypops, ask the right questions. It usually does require taking that many layers off the onion to get to the real truth. And this truth, will NOT set us free.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Things that really matter...

 
 

 
"What on Earth AM I here for???"



One of my friends recently posted something from the book, The Purpose Driven Life. This widely read book was written by Pastor Rick Warren. If you have not read this book, please don't - that is, unless you want to change your life. I have read it two or three times. Every time I read it, I learn something new. This winter, I am going to read it again.

I have talked about this before. As trite as this particular movie was as times, one of my favorite lines from Pearl Harbor came from when the main character (played by Ben Affleck) went to England to help fight off German air attacks. Knowing the extreme danger of the mission, the British Commander asked the American a very simple question and then received a very direct answer. "What is it with you Yanks - are you in a rush to die?". The American replied, "No sir, I just want to matter."

While we are here on this Earth, is that not what we want? To matter? Our days here are so measured. And then they are gone. What have we done? Did we matter? Did we do things that mattered? Did we wake up every morning believing every day day is a gift and we will treat it as so? I have not - I have wasted many a day in my lifetime. Days I cannot recover. Time lost. I can't change those yesterdays, but I can sure try and change my today and tomorrows.

Years ago I did quite a bit of volunteer work at the YMCA. One of the execs and I became good friends. He was one of the finest people I had ever met. One day when I was in his office, I asked him what drove him to work for the YMCA as a career. His reply was very simple, yet very profound. He said, "Every day I come to work, I try to make a change in someone's life. Usually the changes are small, sometimes not so small, and once in a while, huge." What he was telling me, that I did not realize at the time was this - by helping someone every day, he mattered.

Sometimes making a positive change in someone's life can be as simple as edification. Recognizing something about someone, and then telling them. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:29 how important this is. Years ago I was in a team building exercise with some co-workers. One day, we were instructed to all sat in a very large circle. The man conducted the training had each of us, one at a time, tell every person in the circle three things that we they liked or respected about them. It was hard, yet significant at the same time. The result was a team which actually liked each other better. It changed relationships. It allowed people to matter to each other on a transformational basis as well as transactional.

This year my wife and I are going try to step up our game. We want to sharpen our focus on the homeless, the hungry, and the hurting. We know we can't do everything, but we can do something. Each day, every day, we want to make some change, no matter how small, in someone's life. That is a purpose for us that I think will matter.



Saturday, January 11, 2014

Crisis Management

 
 

 
"You never know how much you need something until you can't get it anymore..."
 
If you live in West Virginia, this past week was another punch in the gut. It was a painful reminder on how vulnerable we all are, and how depended we are to the most basic of necessities. In case you missed it, a very toxic substance spilled into a river which feeds into the water supply for hundreds of thousands of people. Just like that, an emergency order was issued from the state to not use water. The order affected seventeen counties. When I say not use their water, this toxic spill was so potent, so potentially hazardous, people could not water for anything. They could not drink their water, brush their teeth with their water, bathe in their water, or wash clothes using their water. It was an instant and critical mess.
 
These 300,000 people did not see it coming. Nobody did. But it came, and came hard. It should give the rest of us pause to think - am I prepared? For the unexpected as well as the expected? People in West Virginia were so panicked, every store was emptied out of all bottled water, fruit juices, anything liquid. Even the ice cubes were gone. In an instant, the week went from being a routine post holiday schedule to a sudden rush for survival.
 
January is a good time to take stock of your stock. Your family food stock. When I say food, I mean everything from bottled water to intermediate needs to (God forbid) long term needs. Most grocery stores do not keep and endless supply of food on hand. Many stores would run out of everything in less than two days of panic buying. Bare shelves, just like in Russia during the cold war days. 
 
A family of four should have a minimum of 100 gallons of water on hand. If you are a careful shopper, that will cost about $100. They can be stored anyplace in your house, except in direct sunlight. The 5 gal or 1 gal bottles are the best - the 2.5 containers are the worst (they will leak). Experts say we can last a few weeks with little food, only a few days with no water, and mere minutes with no air.
 
We should all look at our home pantry (or bunker if you will) as a type of insurance. Should we have some kind of major widespread power disruption in our country, we would all be in instant survival mode. It can happen. For a variety of reasons, it can happen. Manmade or otherwise. If your power goes off, very little if anything in your house will operate. No water, no toilet, no heat, no lights. Stone age stuff. Think about a worse case scenario and then plan for it. As the saying goes, "chance favors a prepared mind".
 
This winter, besides thinking about and helping the needy, think about you family's survival in the event of an emergency. Most people who have been through a major disruption say the same thing - they did see it coming. In the military we learned that failure to plan is a plan to fail. Wise words in thinking about your home security.