Sails or Sea Anchors? – Who Do We Need as Our National Leaders?

What happens when what always works does not?  What happens to leaders who are blinded by the momentum of power from past successes?  Equally fair, what happens to leaders who are thrust into power by overreactions to the establishment?  Answer:  nothing good.

A maelstrom of entropy is looming over us, the world’s only superpower.  Quixotic tilting against objectified “evil-minded devils” fills our bandwidths.  Our national cortisol has spiked to threatening levels.  Our unity as Americans has disappeared, deflated by our own in-fighting.  Mean-spirited feuding has become our national sport.

Why, in less than two decades, have we Americans let our powerful family disintegrate from compromise and cooperation into rabid rabble-rousing, closely paralleling the vicious personal attacks, and snipes that preceded the Civil War?  Has such hyperbolic, gladiatorial nastiness become the minimum standard for political success?  Has the anonymity of virtual communications emboldened us to self-righteously attack and degrade people we do not know?

The winds of political change are blowing furiously in all directions; sails of power are becoming sea anchors of defeat; populist cannons are blasting broadside the galleons of the establishment; long-time admirals of state are too far from the shores of reconciliation to avoid going down with ships of hubris.

Who is ready to transform our thinking, our attitudes, and our beliefs about one another?  Who is ready to turn our swords into plowshares, to make peace with our greatness, and to make room for other ideas?  Who is prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow Americans and salute.  Isn’t anyone else tired of this war?

 

 

 

The “Information Extinction Horizon” – A Hybrid Theorem

Parkinson’s Law suggests that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”  The Peter Principle posits, “in any hierarchy people tend to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach the levels of their respective incompetence.” Murphy’s Law states that “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, at exactly the wrong moment.”

All three ideas developed before the current age of exponential, media expansion.  What is so amazing is, that in the age of the Internet, and myriad TV channels, these three principles combine to form a valid hybrid theorem I have dubbed the “Information Extinction Horizon,” (IEH). This new IEH theorem states that, “as media content expands to fill existing bandwidth, it declines logarithmically to inane, bogus levels of incredibility, intellectual value, journalistic validity, and schlock, while simultaneously accelerating from bare facts to all possible interpretive opinions, and providing exactly the wrong information to the wrong people, at the most inopportune time, or, worse yet, no information of discernible value at any time.  This is a clear refutation of e=mc2.

Major corollaries to the IEH theorem relate to the milieu of internet blogging outlets, social media platforms and any other posts of personal and political natures, including pure invention, and pictures of what one’s dog ate for breakfast (including recipes).

Using Google News as a proof, rate the value and verity of their current page of articles.  In your analysis, include the sub-articles and the number of outlets with different, (apologists use the word “nuanced”) versions of the same reportage.  Notice how the results form nebulae, galaxies, solar systems and planets of personal, political, regional, national, celebrity, and sports-team-loyalty cohorts.

Also notice how futile efforts to filter searches of any topic have become.

Added support to the new hybrid theorem is Parkinson’s Law of Triviality: “members of an organization give disproportionate weight to trivial issues.”  Browsers and search/advertising engines of major internet “organizations” amplify and degrade the value of content at the same time with advertising “pollution.”

For now, we must rely on anecdotal evidence and impressions to support the new theorem, but then, anecdotal is the essence of the theorem to begin with.

Fathers’ Day Is Also Sons’ Day – Sports We Learn to Play and Live

Perspective makes a huge difference.  Most men get their attitudes towards sports from their fathers.  As boys, Dad is the first, safe, ball-playing partner.  As babies, we learn to track a rolling ball with awkward, sometimes amused, unfamiliar, jerky head and eye movements.  At some point, Dad encourages us in high-pitched, baby talk, big smiles, gentle hands, giant gestures, by rolling the ball towards himself, and closing his hands on the ball in broad, wide, exaggerated pincer movements.

Then the light goes on.  We try to copy him.  Wobbly little fingers reach behind, miss, deflect, miss, and finally connect with the ball, grasping it swiftly to our eager mouths, inspecting it for edibility, like everything else at that age.

Once we discover, with some curious disappointment, and numerous bad tasting attempts, that this round thing is not good to eat, we find out its true purposes – toy, play, fun, and time with Dad.  Boys would never learn the skills they need to practice and play without their Dads.

Much of growing up as a boy relates to balls.  Nothing surprising about this, as balls connect us to our earliest ancestors’ relationships with eggs, skulls, bladders, and rocks.  Balls to roll, balls to throw, balls to catch, balls to dodge, balls to bounce, balls to kick, balls to hit with one kind of stick or another, balls to hit other balls, balls to run with.  Big balls, little balls, hard balls, soft balls, pellets, and even balls that are not round, like footballs and rugby balls.

Aside from natural sports, like wrestling, fighting, racing, catching, and spearing, almost every other “sport” involves a ball variant, (e.g. I consider a hockey puck a flat-earth-equivalent of a ball;).  Sports are mostly derived from instinctive self-defense, and evolved hunting/fishing skills. Team sports grow from coordinated hunting/fishing efforts.  Boys learn how to play as part of a team when their Dads show them the power and fun of coordinated efforts in sports.

Until our recent era, spectators were limited in number and influence; pretty much participants only. Sports “reporting” started as the successful hunter/fisher displaying the game/prize, bragging about prowess, belittling the losers; the unsuccessful quietly moaning excuses, and looking for a rematch.

The paucity of witnesses to most events led to plenty of fireside tale telling, and retelling embellished, detailed descriptions of heroic sacrifices, powerful portrayals of excruciating pain, encounters of life-threating dangers, frightening exploits, arguments about winners, extended “if only’s,” and “if it hadn’t been for’s,” bets and guesses on next time, and other highly imaginative exaggerations.  Today, a large part of male friendship still lies in the modern versions of these rapport-building exchanges.  Sons still need to learn the important, intimate skills and secrets of play and sports from their Dads.  So, let’s “Play Ball!”

No Penalty for Synthetic News – Voracious Media Swallow Anything

For quite a while, papers such as the National Enquirer were the only place a reader could find out about the conception and birth of the extraterrestrial, alien children of movie stars.

“Enquiring Minds Want to Know,” led supermarket and drugstore shoppers to buy the tabloid for gossip and secrets of the rich and famous, celebrities, along with eyewitness tales of the occult and UFOs.  It only took a dozen or so specious or craftily worded articles per week to keep the America Media publication flush with advertising revenue.  No one cared about journalism, or retractions, or misspellings – entertaining fiction was all it was.  They had a big enough budget to settle lawsuits and keep printing.

Now the ever-widening maw of the internet has spawned info-fantasy outlets to compete with reality.  Exempli gratia:  The recent articles about a couple of California “Breatharians,” who claim to live on “energy that exists in the universe and in themselves” and that they are sustained by “cosmic nourishment.”  This must put the National Enquirer in the backseat of audacity.  No fewer than six news outlets on Google News published the articles; YouTube videos of the couple and their two children have hundreds of thousands of views.

I will not honor this idiocy with more details, but I will shake my head at what the word “news” has come to mean.  I shudder at the thought of how many people might believe such unfiltered, synthetic, mental trash.  Our children are already screen zombies with waning connection to the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual worlds they inhabit.  The gullible, undereducated, and socially diminished cohorts of the future may have little reality on which to build their lives.

The comedian Gallagher quipped, “I wish there was a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence.  There’s a knob called “brightness,” but it doesn’t seem to work.”  That was before cable TV and the Internet.

The Death of Mastery – The Illusion of Awards

What have we done?  In the most primitive societies, people learn what survival has taught.  Live or die is the standard of measure.  Children start learning as innocents:  parents give “protected” lessons, small doses of harsh truths; they provide regular rescues and frequent warnings of the dangers.  As children develop, parents and family show them life skills in increments, and let them practice within safe limits; let them make small levels of all the natural mistakes, and suffer slight versions of all the natural penalties and results.  Primitive environments offer little slack between action and consequence.

The family teaches them the practical skills of eating, drinking, bathing, shelter.  Children learn to hunt, fish, farm, gather, make and use tools.  Their family shows them how to escape danger, hide from threats, and adopt social skills.  The kids learn what is required to stay alive.  After they can demonstrate the basics, they begin to refine and master whatever they need to live and prosper as an adult.

The parents, siblings, family and tribal members know how much survival demands that they know the differences between success, failure, and something in between. Children and adults constantly watch, listen, practice, and compete with others to improve their knowledge and skills.  They win some, they lose some, they best some, and lose to others to find their place on the scales of mastery.

They are never allowed to go forward believing they can do something they cannot.  Life hangs in the balance, not only for the child, but for everyone in the connected community.  Mistakes by one spell critical danger for them all.

What happens when a child is not given direct links to truth and consequences?  What happens when they get vague or misleading feedback?   How will they fare in real-life competition when they grow up, after being praised for mastery they do not have?

Today, I read about the importance of education and thinking skills when competing for jobs.  Almost a quarter of the students entering college require remedial courses to fill the yawning holes in their high school learning.  How has the freshman year in college become the junior/senior year of high school?

Deception.  Modern upbringing and education deceives our children mentally, emotionally, and socially.  The advent and prevalence of “alternative evaluation” such as “participation awards,” has deprived children of the ability to answer life’s most important questions: What happened?  Did I win, lose, or draw?  What did I do or not do to get my results?

Part of the occlusion comes from cumulative generations of parents who have no foundation in their own education.  They cannot measure or judge their child’s knowledge or understanding of subjects that are foreign to themselves. Another contributor is the deliberate removal of clear measurement standards from school.  Whether grades are A – F, or 100 – 0, they give the student a place to stand on their personal learning curve.

All the malarkey about emotional intelligence, self-acceptance, cultural awareness, instead of mastery of subjects, derails education, and generates unprepared high school “graduates.”  Such subterfuge is just a smoke-screen to camouflage ineffective teaching systems, unsuccessful learning efforts, incompetent, deluded teachers, and dishonest, political, school officials.  Federal and state money to schools can rely on student achievement and advancement.  When the students  do not perform on standardized tests of basic subjects, penalties arise for the school district.  The incentives to “play the game” are vast.

The saddest thing about this structure is its cumulative, self-perpetuation.  High school drop-outs do not just disappear, they grow up, they have children whose parents are not educated or enthralled by the school experience.  These children do not have adult models of success, and are less likely to value and complete high school.  They grow up, they have children who have two generations of parents with limited education, and success, and so on.

The answer is not to pass students from overcrowded class to overcrowded class, frustrating year to frustrating year, with phony, political, grading methods; it is not to issue them a counterfeit high school diploma, and kiss them good-bye.

What are the answers?  Cut the psycho-babble crap; forget the “participation” trophies; tell our children the truth; give them grades on a finite scale; offer them tangible ways to measure what they really know; teach them learning skills and habits.  Let them see who has learned, and who has not.  If they fail to learn some parts of subjects, show them; then let them know that failing once, or twice, or ten times is not the end, show them how not to quit, show them how to try again.  No child learns to walk or ride a bicycle on the first try.  Why should other learning be different?

Want to see motivated, determined learning?  Watch children play sports and games.  Kids will practice and practice until they find out what works, what does not, who is good at them, who is not.  Failure does not stop them when they want to play.  Golf is a great example.  Golfers are not daunted by the fact they may never be excellent.

We are telling parents and children that their only hope is college.  At best, this false notion leads many underqualified students to enter college unprepared, to struggle into insurmountable debt, fail, drop-out, or earn a useless, jobless “degree.”  College is not the only way to qualify for a respectable job.

The absence of non-college career training is a glaring omission in modern education.  Why can’t we emphasize quality trade schools as respectable alternatives to college?  Restore prestige to learning trades.  A master plumber can earn more than a poorly-performing college graduate.  Trades offer decent earnings opportunities, as well as professional pride and respect.  In addition, most trades cannot be “outsourced” to another country, or eliminated by technology.

Why not:

  • Offer trade-related courses in high school as an alternative to college preparatory courses?
  • Reinstate work/study programs related to trades.
  • Offer trades training to undereducated parents
  • Let parents and children see that most trades require knowledge of basic math, language, and science.
  • Offer trades-enhanced GED diplomas
  • Let parents bring their children to afternoon and early evening classes.

Think about the stages of human mastery:

  1. Discover something you want or need to learn
  2. Test your current knowledge
  3. If you fail, analyze, learn, and adjust
  4. Retry, analyze, learn, and adjust
  5. Once you learn the basics, practice, analyze, learn, and refine
  6. Practice, analyze, learn, and refine until you excel.

What might happen if we taught this mindset and process?

America’s Legacy – Can We Remember on Memorial Day?

Yes, it is Memorial Day weekend, and for many Americans it is another holiday, albeit with precursors to the 4th of July, American flags, and hot dogs.  It seems that we have developed short attention spans, given the acceleration of information, the associated decline in verity, the expansion of scope, the collapse of objectivity, the explosion of assertions, and the evaporation of examination.

This is my 71st Memorial Day; I was born two weeks after Japan surrendered, ending World War II.  Sixty to eighty million died in that horror, about three percent of the over two billion people who inhabited the earth in 1940.

Twenty to twenty-five million military deaths included about five million prisoners of war. Some estimates show thirty-five million civilians died as a direct result of the war, and another twenty million died from disease and starvation.  No one has tallied the deaths and disabilities of the aftermath.  The mental scars darkened the lives of the survivors for generations.

More than four hundred thousand Americans died in that war, with another six hundred seventy thousand wounded.  In other words, one million Americans dead or damaged.

Then, only five years later, America engaged in the Korean “Conflict.”  Thirty-six thousand killed, one hundred three thousand wounded.

Eleven years passed before our official entrance into the Vietnam war.  Fifty-eight thousand killed, one hundred fifty-three thousand wounded.  My brother and I are fortunate, surviving, Vietnam veterans.  We both have friends on the lists of dead and wounded.  My wife’s little brother is one of the fifty-eight thousand.

Our casualties in the Middle East are not final, but six or seven thousand have died, nearly fifty thousand have been wounded.

This is the evidence of our courage and strength, despite the critics of those wars.  Please take a few minutes to remember the grim violence, the constant terror, the pain, agony, suffering, and sacrifice of those men and women, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters.

I still cry.

“Hate” Is a Useless Adjective – A Needless Form of Thought Crime

Do we need the distinction “hate” when dealing with violent crime?  Media amplification, maybe?  A “hushpuppy,” for the politically correct?  A first step toward “thought crime?”

Psychopaths, and sociopaths, outlaws, and gang members may not hate their victims at all.  Does that make their crimes less heinous?  How about crimes against loved ones, are they “love” crimes?  How about any other state of mind?  Have we developed mind-reading, telepathy, or other means to know what is in the head of a criminal when they commit offenses?  I say, forget useless adjectives and apply what we already have:  laws.

Laws distinguish first degree murder, manslaughter, and justifiable homicide, based on circumstances, threat, and intent. The term “aggravated” is added to crimes based on severity, and intent. So, we have legal tools to separate “accidental,” “incidental,” “intentional,” and “self-defense.”  Types and severity of prescribed ranges of sentences are graduated based on degree, and intent.

“Hate crimes” seem to be intentional to me and therefore “first degree,” or “aggravated.”

Verbal and menacing threats are crimes, “assaults,” misdemeanors.  What parts of so-called verbal “hate crimes” are not covered by current laws?

The ultimate punishments for thought crimes are the double jeopardy of federal “civil rights” prosecution, and triple jeopardy of civil suits for the same event.  The costs in time and money will ruin most people, even if they are exonerated.