Archive for April, 2012

Time for Soul-searching

April 26, 2012

America needs to find something else to do besides argue and complain. Each man, each woman has a destiny to fulfill.

Get hooked up with some person or organization with which you can at least partially agree; get your hands, your feet, your mind busy, to solve the problems that confound you now.

Act on behalf of those whom you love– those for whom you are responsible; assist those who are responsible for you.

If you are in a mess, Big Brother is not going to get you out of it. The government may toss a few greenbacks and food stamps your way, but ultimately you are responsible for your own life.

You go-getters out there–no corporation will fill your destiny. If you want to become an integral link in a corporate structure, remember: its all about what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. You do your job right and the good stuff will come after many days.

Get busy. Look around you. Find something in your vicinity that needs doing, and do it, whether that makes you underpaid, underemployed, or seemingly underutilized. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done out there in getting this country turned around from our present dead-end of overinstitutionalism and overgovernmentalization. We need to restructure from the ground up. And I do mean the ground literally. This could involve growing some vegetables or something like that.

If you’re at a loss as to how to find some direction, take some time for a little soul-searching. That’s what I did a few decades ago, and I was never the same afterward. I wrote a song about it: Like Moses, like Martin Luther King, I took a walk up the mountain.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

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Intelligence and/or Faith

April 15, 2012

Intelligence and faith are not mutually exclusive. To compare them is to compare apples with oranges.

Intelligence is limited, and this fact must be acknowledged by those who believe that their accumulation of it is infinite.

Faith, on the other hand, assumes the limitations of knowledge, and accepts the reality that we live in a universe that requires explanation.

So let us explain. And, for the sake of explanation,  let us define.

Intelligence is the systematic application of information that has been observed and gathered, to problem-solving.

Faith is the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for.

Say what?

What are my sources, you may ask, for these two definitions? The intelligence definition I wrote from my own observation and experience. The faith definition I found in the Bible, Hebrews 11:1.

I am not trying, necessarily to be logical here, merely sensible; there is a difference between the two. I do not believe that logic is absolutely foolproof, but then faith isn’t either. So this fool tries to utilize both; let’s be sensible here.

An intelligent person wants to know what is correct; a faithful person wants to act correctly.

I’m shooting from the hip here, as usual. Using myself as an example, say, I would say this about me: I am an intelligent person whose functional life is grounded in faith.

What does my intelligence tell me? It informs me that I live in a physical world that requires me to process information in order to live and function every day. There is DNA, and there is physical life that results from it, which includes me.

My intelligence raises an infinity of questions, always will. There’s no end to it. How many centuries did people believe that the earth was flat and the sun revolves around the earth? A lot of centuries. Galileo and Kepler came along and, by their intelligent analysis, changed all that. Newton built a whole world of information and calculation around their discoveries. Einstein came later and changed all that again. Quantum mechanics on the brain, and auto mechanics on the road, so I can get to work tomorrow. Knowledge is limited, but ya gotta start somewhere.

Knowledge is limited. Get used to it. The Hubble telescope can assist our seeing, but only so far, and even then you don’t know what you’re looking at. Same thing in the other direction–microscopes. It takes a lot of work and research to find out what’s going on up there in space, or down there in the cell, and then when we do find out some stuff, part of what we discover turns out to be wrong, and someone else eventually comes along with more reliable data.

I mean, look at Gates and Jobs: apples and oranges. I was tearing my hair out last night trying to integrate a new scanner/printer with our iMac so I could send a certain pdf in an email; the iMac wouldn’t accept my brand new scanner. Was I screwing up? or Mac? Probably me. Can’t blame Jobs. Nevertheless after an hour of frustration I went over to the old Dell with Word, and a different scanner, and worked the whole problem out, sent the pdf in the email. Go figure.

Knowledge is limited.

Is faith limited?  Probably. It only goes as far as you and God will let it.

What does my faith tell me? There is a God, and I am not He. There is a code upon which physical life is constructed, and there is a Writer of the code. There is a tree of knowledge and there is a tree of life. One of them is fascinating; the other is productive. I’ll leave you to decide which one you want to eat from. Probably both, if you’re like me. But I know where my life comes from, and it aint the tree of knowledge.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress

Wage Deflation

April 11, 2012

It is no coincidence that the last three callers–Shawn in Cincinnati, Philip in Louisville, and Edward in Baltimore– on yesterday’s Diane Rehm show made comments about wage deflation, because this is what is happening in America.

The developing world, BRIC countries et al, are now cranking consumer goods much cheaper than we can. No way around it. The great expansion of national wealth and productivity that we were manifesting a hundred years ago is what the emerging countries are now in the midst of. There is nothing wrong with this; its the way the world has always been. The lean and vigorous youngsters have always surpassed the older folks . This applies to nations and whole economies as well.

I enjoy listening to the Diane Rehm show immensely, and frequently. I caught it yesterday while painting and cleaning a vacant apartment, which is part of my job. Thank God for my job.

Susan did a nice job of filling in for Diane, as usual, although no one will ever really fill Diane’s unique footprint in public discourse. The panel was, as usual, well-chosen, with Jim, Jerry and Betsy, all of whom are highly qualified to talk about their topic at hand, jobs and the economy.

But the illustrious panel spent the first twenty minutes or so, as is typical for today’s talking heads,  in the predictable media obsession about what Bernanke said, and the snail’s pace increments of labor statistics and GDP and all the gov numbers and blahblahblah.

I got a little upset when Jerry said the major reason we’re not getting job recovery is because growth is slow. Well that’s like saying the sky is blue and leaves are green. Now Jerry had some very good points, as did the other panelists, points about international competition in business and manufacturing, discouraged workers and their segment of the unemployment statistics, the “sugar high” of Fed-generated liquidity, the “still real dangers” that threaten our hyped-up recovery, gains in the first part of the year with declines in the second half of the year and how that may be a pattern in the last few years, whether and how/why companies are producing more goods with fewer workers and less pay, the necessary once-and-future skills development and job training programs that our country needs and the emperor’s new clothes and so forth.

But those three callers from the rust belt–they really drove, and without planning it, the point home: wage deflation. Too many people looking for work in a short production economy–wages go down. Its just supply and demand, as supplied to employment. No rocket scientist needed there.

But its time that some Americans start taking new directions; we need to find something else to do. And it is no coincidence that the first caller, Chad in Lansing, spoke about his chosen field of training and employment–agriculture–and how strong that sector is in our economy just now.

Agriculture has always been the heart of our great American expansion, and perhaps it always will be, because we have an abundant resource that many nations have a shortage of–land. And, as Jerry pointed out during the enlightened part of the discussion–the demand for food is high. Always will be. Not to mention energy sustainability, appropriate technology, etc. which is another topic altogether. Gotta go to work now; have a nice day.

Glass half-Full

The Gunpowder Guard Guy

April 7, 2012

While visiting Seattle last fall, I observed the Occupy Seattle for a couple of days. I thought it would be interesting to see what was going on in that city’s setting where riots had erupted in 1999 during the World Trade Organization meeting. It was.

One thing I noticed at Occupy Seattle was a particular mask–several of them, actually–being worn by some of the Occupyers. You may have noticed it in a photo or two taken during the coverage of that movement last year. The face depicted on the mask resembles the classic Greek drama/comedy symbol. It is male face with a thinly styled handlebar moustache, presenting a rather bizarre plastic smile.

My later research revealed the visage to be a representation of some guy named Guy Fawkes. Guy who?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_mask

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_for_Vendetta_(film)

Guy Fawkes was a fanatic Catholic terrorist who almost succeeded in blowing up the House of Lords in the year of our Lord 1605. http://www.britannia.com/history/g-fawkes.html

England and Scotland had been all asunder over religion at that time. The great divisive issue of the day was whether the Protestants were to have the run of Great Britain, or whether the Catholics could muscle their way back into power after the 1603 death of Queen Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth’s father, the infamous King Henry VIII, had brought the religious contentions to a boil during his reign (1507-1547.) His multiple marriage escapades, along with an independently brewing Protestantism in England, had severed the ecclesiastical bonds with the Roman church. Elizabeth I had sought, after her father’s death, to stabilize the church of England by encouraging both strains of Christian religious devotion–the popish ceremony and the protestant emphasis on holiness.

According to David Starkey, http://acornonline.com/product.aspx?p=monarchy&sid, the accession of King James I after Elizabeth would manifest an even more Protestant direction for Great Britain. Certain extremists of the Catholic faction did not like this development one bit. So they decided to take manners into their hands with some strategically placed gunpowder fireworks.

Sound familiar? Very modern it was.  This sort of thing has apparently been going on all along in human history, perhaps directly proportional to the pyrotechnic capabilities of each era.

In our time, what’s alarming about the Occupy movement is this terrorist revolutionary undercurrent. Are they willing to identify their movement, and their tactics, with this Guy Fawkes guy? He was a terrorist, outright–caught red-handed on the night Nov 4, 1605, with a fuse to detonate a large gunpowder stash that had been gathered in a cellar chamber directly beneath Parliament in London.

Early IRA stuff it was, and Al Qaidaesque too.

Fawkes and his popish co-conspirators should have been taking their inspiration from the founder of their faith– the Risen Savior– instead of bullish church politics. And that goes for the protestants too. Damn their death-wielding tactics and machinations!

As for the Occupyers, they would do well to take their cues from the Prince of Peace,  resurrected from being dead, instead of any violent revolutionary like that Guy guy.  And I think Rev. Dr. King would agree if he were here.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress