Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Top Ten Technologies of 2015

This is a list of what I think are the top 10 technologies this year.  Many new technologies are disruptive and replace old technologies.  For example, the telegraph replaced the pony express.  This list includes those technologies, new and old that dominate our lives.  The order is based on how long the technology has been around for the masses.  Think of it like an Olympic record: holding a record for longer is more impressive.  

10 The Smart Phone

The Smart Phone has basically replaced the GPS/Navigation Device, compact camera, MP3 players, and even made a dent in the personal computer industry.  But it is only #10 on the list since it is a relatively new technology.

9 The Internet

Billions of users and billions of pages.  It's Christmas and the stores seem empty because many people are buying stuff online. But it's still only a couple decades old.

8 The Microwave Oven

Used almost everyday by almost everyone.  It's approaching 50 years old, impressive for a "modern" technology.

7 Antibiotics

Has saved 100s of millions of lives.  Not bad for an accidental discovery.  70+ years old.

6 Airplanes

You can travel anywhere in the world in no time at all.  Even more amazing is how safe commercial flight is.  100 years old.

5 Automobiles

Not as fast as airplanes, but available to more people.  130 years old.

4 Airconditioning/Refrigeration

Keeps us and our food fresher, enabling us to live in more places.  About 100 years old. 

3 Electric Light

Allowed us to extend the day in a cleaner fashion.  Has been reinvented recently with LED lighting, but its still electric light.  130+ years old.

2 Electricity

Electricity is the power behind most other inventions.  Where would we be without it?

1 Sanitation

Flush toilets, clean water.  We would literally be dying without this amazing technology as is evident in parts of the world without sanitation.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

YASM: Why I hate politics

YASM = Yet another sports metaphor

Imagine this: every year you get excited when the sports season starts and you get to watch your favorite team.  However, something is a little different this year.  Teams are responsible for getting their own officiators.  Suddenly teams start winning more games at home...and losing away games.  At first the bias is subtle; but then it gets blatant.  The officiators are calling everything one sided: ignoring infractions of the home team and penalizing the visitors with invented calls.  You stop watching away games.  What's the point?  You know the outcome.  You like the home games; for a while.  Then you get bored of home games too.  It gets so bad, that teams stop traveling to away games.  The home teams start holding press conferences to complain about their opponents.  The forfeiting team holds their own press conference for the same reason.

Who are the losers?  The teams, the players, the fans.  The game is completely changed!

How does this relate to politics?  Each "team" or political party attempts to stack the deck in their favor and spends more and more time blaming the other party.   Somehow, they think they win by doing this.  In reality, they forget their "fans" (the voters) and the "game" (securing the rights of citizens: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness).

That's why I hate politics.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mother Teresa: Terrorist?

Of course I believe that Mother Teresa was a true model of charity, but the following shows how one can edit anything to look bad.

Her organization was a cult[1].  Her works of charity were just a front for recruiting people to her ideology. [2]  And what was her ideology?  She refused funding offers from U.S. President Ronald Reagan [3] yet she accepted funding from criminals [4].  These funds were assuredly stolen money.  

She was a very dark soul.  In her own words:

"...Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ... How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith. Repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal, ... What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true." [5]
Did I convince you that Mother Teresa could have been a terrorist?  Maybe?  Just a tiny bit?

Of course I'm neglecting quotes like this (and about 1,000 others like them):

  • Peace begins with a smile. 
  • If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
  • The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread
  • If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.
  • If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
My point is, first "see the good".  If all you hear, read or learn about something is negative, yet is still has an abundance of supporters, it deserves a fair investigation.  Politics and religion come to mind.  So do neighbors, coworkers, family members, and anyone not like us.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Parable of Donating Blood: Are We Bleeding to Death?

I donate blood regularly, about 2 to 4 times a year.  Someone in need gets my blood in a potentially life saving procedure and I get the satisfaction of helping out.  Recently our local donation center has been calling more often asking for more frequent donations as there is a shortage of my blood type.  The limit is once every 8 weeks, enough time for the body to replenish the blood supply.

Imagine if the need for blood increased so that voluntary donations weren't enough.  All healthy people were required to give their blood.  At first it was only once a year.  Due to the abundance of blood, new cures are discovered requiring blood.  The increase in demand results in the need for two mandatory blood "donations" a year.  Then 3 a year. Then 4 a year.   Soon, every healthy person has to give blood every 8 weeks to keep up with demand.

The experts realize that we can actually give blood every 7 weeks and still be healthy.  Demand increases.  So they change it to every 6 weeks, then 5 weeks, 4, 3, 2...

The whole system becomes unsustainable as more and more donors become too sick to donate.

Does this sound unrealistic?

Yesterday, the headlines read "CBO report forecasts unsustainable debt in long term"

What does that mean?

Debt is like taking someone's blood.  You can't just keep doing it.

Our country used to sustain itself financially without an income tax (before the 16th Amendment in 1913).  The income tax was small at first (just 1%), but it has continually increased.  Then the revenues weren't enough for the demands of the nation, so we started going into debt.  Like the example of the blood donations, the amount of money being pulled out of our economy to pay for our debt will exceed the sustainable levels required for a healthy recovery.  In my opinion, this is the biggest threat that our country faces (more than climate change, immigration, terrorism, healthcare, etc.).  Are we bleeding to death?  We will if things don't change.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I'm for Late Term Abortions

Recently Planned Parenthood was in the news for allegedly selling parts of aborted fetuses.  I decided to take the reemergence of this issue as an opportunity to express my views on abortion.

I'm pro-choice and I'm for late term abortions.  Actually, I think that late term abortions should be extended to 18 years.  Let me explain.

If a parent can decide if they don't want their child before they've even met him or her, then they should be allowed to make that decision after they've met the child removing all doubt that they don't want them (I know that's a run on sentence, but if you read it again, you'll get my point).  Some children are just difficult and not very likeable.  They're too much trouble.  Even into their teens.  Especially in their teens.  As long as a parent is legally responsible for the child, they should be able to abort them.

Before you object, consider the practical advantages to these later term abortions.  Parents would now have extra leverage when trying to discipline their children.  Imagine, these scenarios:

"Johnny, get your homework done or else we'll abort you!"

"You know why you don't see Sheila anymore?  It's because his parents aborted her.  That's right.  So eat your vegetables!"

Regarding both parents needing to give consent, I'll leave that to the abortion experts.  That's a controversial subject I just don't feel comfortable addressing since it is so sensitive.

If you think the idea of later term abortions is harsh, we could have a cooling off period before parents could act on it.  For example, if a parent wants to abort their child, they have to count to 10 before they can actually do it.

Just think about it, all these people probably would've been aborted, saving us much grief:
  • The person that cut you off on the road or took your parking place.
  • Those people that post those annoying "repost this or else" posts.
  • Bloggers (or at least anyone who started blogging after I did).
  • Greedy hedge fund, derivative trading, Wall Street tycoons (Or at least we could hope so!)
I'm sure there might be some potentially good children that get aborted, but that's a small cost at making the world a better place.  Any way you look at it, I'm just glad I'm over 18.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

An Antidote for Intolerance

Intolerance unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own 

I'm intolerant and I don't plan on changing.  There are some views, beliefs and behavior that I'm unwilling to accept, for example:

  • The view that America is NOT great (I think America is GREAT!)
  • The belief that you can continuously spend more than you make (I believe we must live within our means)
  • Behavior like abusing children (I love children and see our future in them).
My intolerance is usually directed at views/beliefs/behaviors that I deem to be harmful to our "general welfare" or way of life, therefore I feel justified in my intolerance.  "Save the Whales!!!" or whatever I feel passionate about.

The problem with "intolerance" is that being intolerant can drive you a little nuts.  We get heated, angry, mean, desperate when we express our intolerance.   Intolerance is more like a disease than a cure.

 I don't like the symptoms, so after some soul-searching, I think I found an "antidote". I'm not giving up intolerance, just trying to treat the side effects.

Antidote 
a medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison. 

The antidote is partially inspired by a story from  "The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass".  As a slave, he was treated worse than a dog.  Frederick was very intolerant of slavery (unwilling to accept).  Then he got a new master.  The mistress was kind and began to teach him to read.  When the master found out, he immediately put a stop to the "learning".  Frederick's response was surprisingly: gratitude!  He was beginning to tolerate slavery, but this "set back" reminded him of his resolve to be a free man.  He then focused his attention on striving to be free.

The antidote is simple.  Whenever I feel the negative emotions associated with intolerance, I think "What behaviors of my own can I change?"  Am I spending too much time on the computer?  Am I eating the right things?  Am I treating those I interact with kindness and respect?  My intolerance of others will never change them or make the world a better place.  My intolerance of myself has a better chance of change for good.  This antidote takes the following quote to the next level: 
"He who is without sin... let him cast the first stone"
Let other's "sins" remind us of our own sins, so that we can take action to change, improve our own station and "be free men".
"Be the change you want to see in the World"  - Mahatma Gandhi


Monday, June 29, 2015

The Unsinkable Ship: When Things Go Right

I learned something interesting this last week. In 1911, a ship launched on its maiden voyage to much fanfare. It was much larger than any ship before her; the largest luxury ship in the world with a swimming pool, gymnasium, fine dining, a grand staircase and luxurious cabins for the first class passengers.  What was it?  No fair peaking at the photo on the right.

Did you say Titanic?  Sorry, that's wrong.  It's the Titanic's identical twin sister the Olympic[1].  What surprised me was that the Olympic's maiden voyage was nearly a year before the Titanic's maiden voyage.  She also had a career for 24 years!

How come I had never heard this before?  The answer is simple: when things go right, we don't pay attention to them.  Next time you feel overwhelmed by everything that goes wrong, stop and ponder on everything that goes right.  You'll be surprised.




Sunday, June 21, 2015

Dear Ben & Jerry's


Dear Ben & Jerry's,

We've had a lot of fun together with your cute names and crazy mix-in's.  Unfortunately, I never felt like I was getting enough.  Before you, I'd never bought just a pint of ice cream yet you cost as much as the larger sizes.  Still, you were just too good to say "no" to.  Until now.

I've met someone new. It was just last night, but I'm pretty sure I've found what was missing. I'm reminded of the rich, creamy ice cream I once had at a dairy. And even better, the container is half a gallon (twice as much!).

They don't have cute names for themselves and the brand name is kind of weird: Tillamook (Where did that come from?).  But I'm sorry to say that I think this is the kind of love that will last forever.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Whoopi on the Duggars: Remember "Rape-Rape"?

On the View, Whoopi Goldberg called the Duggar family hypocrites since they call LGBT practices "sin" while their own son has a history of inappropriate sexual behavior.   This brings to mind Whoopi commenting on the Roman Polanski scandal.

Let's compare:

A teenage boy inappropriately touches girls, feels bad about it, confesses to his parents.  The parents, who have made their views on chastity very public, intervene resulting in changed behavior and healing for the victims.  (The Duggars)

A grown man, 43 years old, gives drugs to a 13 year old girl, then rapes her.  He confesses and before being sent to prison flees to a comfortable life in Europe.  (Roman Polanski)  When he is at risk three decades later of being extradited to the United States to face his conviction, Whoopi Goldberg defends him on The View, saying "It's not like it was rape-rape".

I really don't see hypocrisy for the Duggars or for Whoopi Goldberg.  In the Duggar's case, they consistently stand for traditional definition of chastity (see below).  In Whoopi's case, she consistently shows tolerance for many forms of sexual expression (including rape-rape, no definition available).

Definitely no hypocrisy, only a striking contrast between what two groups see as sexually normal.

Traditional Definition of Chastity (non-religious)

In spite of his modern reputation as being self-indulgent, Benjamin Franklin strived to build his character by systematically developing 13 Virtues.  One of these virtues,  Chastity, he defines as
"Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
Venery is defined as "sexual indulgence".

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Species Diet

I came up with a diet called the Species diet.  With all the diets out there, why did I invent a new diet? It's because my whole life I've been a victim... of second hand dieting. From fake meat made with soy to brownies made with apple sauce.

What is a diet? The definition is "The kinds of food that a person eats". Our, in three words, "food people eat".

Why do we eat food? Imagine if your automobile used gasoline to create spare parts and put tread back on your tires. Besides providing raw energy, the gasoline would also need to provide raw materials.  It's the same with our bodies. We are continually regenerating cells, on average replacing our parts about every 7 years. We need food to do this. 

What if we could avoid the food provides the raw materials for the scars of life: wrinkles, gray hair, etc.?  Of course, that's a ridiculous idea.  However, that's what other diets are based on: the mistaken idea that you can be healthier by eliminating certain foods.

For example;
The paleo diet, don't eat grains, beans, peanuts
Atkins and South Beach - don't eat certain carbs
Vegan - don't eat meat or any animal protein
Jenny Craig - don't eat anything that Jenny Craig isn't selling.
Slimfast - don't eat anything that isn't a shake
Metafast - don't eat anything that resembles real food.

I say, forget all these restricting diets.

Remember the definition of diet: food people eat. There's a entirely different word for food you don't eat.  It's called Fasting. The definition of fasting is "To abstain from all or some kinds of food".  At least Slim-"fast" and Meta-"fast" got that right.

How do we make sure we get the raw materials we need?  In the early 19th century, William Prout, an English doctor and chemist identified the three principal constituents of food - pizza, diet coke, ... I mean protein, fat and carbohydrates.  Then Justus von Liebig, a German scientist added a couple of minerals and concocted the first baby formula. Babies fed exclusively on this first baby formula failed to thrive.

This is called the reductionist view of nutrition:  break food down into the chemical parts.  And it doesn't work.

To illustrate this problem, let's consider the menu with two choices:

Choice #1
Filet of beef/chicken/fish with
A side of Asparagus spears sauteed with roasted pecan nuts
Garlic mashed potatoes
A fresh bowl of cut strawberries, pineapple and mango.

Choice #2
Filet of protein with omega 3 fatty acids and essential amino acids
A side of carbohydrates high in fiber with folate, antioxidants sauteed with roasted betacarotenes and lutein
A fresh bowl of carbohydrates with magnesium, niacin, potassium.

Choice #1 is obviously more appetizing because it's food that comes from an animal or plant species. Each species is highly evolved. Plants collect nutrients with their roots and animals graze and forage. The result is tasty food.  The more species from which you get food, the greater the variety of nutrients. Thus the Species Diet.

What are the rules?
  1. You get a point for each species that you eat.  You decide when to reset your points. For me it's every day.
  2. If it's not a species, then it's zero points.  You decide what qualifies. For me, the species must be recognizable without reading a label.  You can still eat it, you just don't get points.
The goal is to get as many points as possible.

Example:
Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, orange (3 points)
Lunch: Apple, ham. Only 1 point since you have bacon (the same species) as ham.  

Does the species diet make any sense?
The focus is on eating unprocessed foods and the most points are available from eating fruits and vegetables since there aren't as many choices for meat. Makes sense to me.

In conclusion,
I may not be the most qualified person to invent a diet, but hopefully I convinced you that there it is a fun, healthy, non restricting way to eat. You can do it however you want. Just don't go crazy. Like the guy that tried to get points by eating a bald eagle. Of course, he got arrested and was convicted. At his sentencing, the judge said "I'm curious. What does a bald eagle taste like?" The man replied "a cross between a spotted owl and a California condor"


Saturday, May 16, 2015

When the Free Market Fails Us: The Story of Toenail Fungus and Windshield Wiper Blades

I'm all about capitalism.  It's got its problems but has proven itself to be the best system at providing the goods and services we need to maintain the best quality of life possible.  One of the problems (and the inspiration for this post) is revealed in a recent experience.  I have an embarrassing condition (apparently not too embarrassing since I announced it in the title of this post).  So here's the story:

Toenail fungus makes your toenails thick, powdery white and sometimes brittle.  So I went to the doctor (who turned out to be a PA, NOT an MD) and he said he could give me a pill that I have to take for a year and that will damage my liver.  Oh, and it only has about a 50/50 chance of working.  Or, he found the most effective thing is to rip the toenails off.  He didn't actually say "rip".  Instead he made it sound like it was simple enough that I could play soccer the next day.  So I said "rip them all off".  He wisely had me do only one foot.  If I were a woman and had given birth, I could compare the pain to having a baby.  Since I'm not a woman, I guess for now on I'll just have to say "it hurts as bad as having your toenails ripped off".

While I was limping around work in recovery, someone asked what happened.  After my reply, they asked why I didn't get laser treatment.  Apparently it takes 5 minutes and is painless.  I really don't know how to explain my emotional reaction to this news.  After about 6 months of waiting for my toenails to grow back, only my pinky toe was better.  The others seemed worse than before.

Time to try the laser treatment.  I found a Groupon deal for $360.  They did two treatments.  In this treatment, the doctor shines a laser on the toenail till it heats up, then moves it over a tiny amount and repeats until he's done the entire toenail.  I learned after the first spot that you have to tell the doctor when its hot enough. He told me this after I yelled "Ow!".  Two treatments, I waited 6 months.  NO BENEFIT.

Then I spent about $20 in over-the-counter treatments.  An oil you brush onto the nail.  I was diligent doing it every morning and night for 6 months.  The nails looked good, but were not 100%.  So I quit.  And they started looking bad again.

At this point (if you made it this far), you're probably asking "What does this have to do with the Free Market?" (Be patient and thanks for hanging in there)

This is the point that I decided to cast my search far and wide.  The consensus was that there is no cure yet I found a website that compared several products.  The top product claimed a 94% success rate.  On Amazon.com, it had a high user rating.  I always read the 1-star ratings when reviewing products.  They confirmed my suspicion.  The product was a scam with a bunch of fake user ratings and fake websites reviewing the product.

Instead, I decided to try and discover my own treatment.  We have a bottle of Castor Oil that we purchased for $2  It's about 5 times the size of the $20 bottle of special toenail fungus treating oil.  I drenched my toes in Castor Oil and put plastic bags over my feet (for about an hour).  I also do the daily application.  After about a week, my toes look better than they have with any of the other treatments.  They aren't cured yet, but this is where I make my point about the Free Market.

Getting information to the public is expensive.  Google and Facebook are mega billion dollar companies because of all the money other companies spend trying to connect to the public.  No one is going to get rich selling $2 bottles of Castor Oil to treat toenail fungus.  I'm sure there are many other cheap alternatives to our everyday needs, but companies aren't interested in providing cheap alternatives unless they can make good money.  Selling expensive lasers to podiatrists and selling tiny bottles for $20-$30 at Target or online is what makes money.

Years ago I bought a set of silicon rubber windshield wiper blades.  Best windshield wiper blades I ever owned.  They worked great for years.  The only reason I no longer have them is that I sold the car they were on.  The company that sold them is out of business.  You don't stay in business by selling something that lasts forever.  You stay in business by selling lousy windshield wiper blades that last for a year or two and then need to be replaced.

Conclusion

Skip the cures with the painful side effects, sexy technology, scamming self-promoters.  Just give me the simple pleasures.  I wish our Free Market system had a way to promote the truly economical solutions to life's needs, but instead I'm worried that these ideas are the endangered species in our competitive society.




Friday, May 1, 2015

Social Jenga

I was thinking about recent news events and the image of a Jenga game popped in my head.  If you already understand Jenga, you can skip to the next paragraph.  In the game, a tower is made of alternating layers of tiles stacked on each other.  The players then take turns taking tiles from the lower portion of the tower and placing them on the top of the tower.  At first, the "easy" tiles are selected: tiles that don't seem to be supporting the tower and can easily be slid out.  As the tower gets taller, it gets less stable and there are fewer "easy"tiles.  But the game must continue until the last tile is removed that causes the entire stack to collapse.

This reminds me of the social engineering that is taking place in politics.  At first we admire the stable tower built on hard work, discipline, and time proven principles.  The benefits are comfort and stability.  "What about the people that aren't included in the tower?  Wouldn't it be nice if they had some of these same benefits?"  So we take from the bottom of the stack to make the tower taller (i.e., add more people to the middle class).  Other voices warn that doing this makes the tower less stable.  "Non-sense!  We're just taking the excess and redistributing it so more people can benefit."

Specifically:

  • More people should be homeowners.  So we put allow for risky lending practices putting our financial institution at risk.
  • More people should have college educations.  So we use debt to pay for it, to the tune of over $1.2 trillion. [12
  • The government should provide more for more people.  So we borrow $18 trillion dollars from what used to be a stable system to make the tower taller.  [See debt clock
  • More people should have healthcare.  So we mandate that everyone pay for healthcare, including the young and healthy, hardworking people just trying to start out.  We fine them 2% of their income if they don't.[See Individual Mandate]
  • The joys of sex shouldn't be limited to marriage.  So we make it easy and acceptable to have cheap sex.  We provide financial support for unwed mothers.  There are record numbers of single parent families and we take the lives of over a million fetuses a year in the U.S.  These "benefits" no longer demand the commitment of marriage, so a stable "tile" is removed and added to the top.
  • This last Tuesday, the Supreme Court was arguing about removing another marriage "tile" so the stack could be larger.  
Is it possible to go in reverse and put the pieces back to restore stability?  or Do we continue playing the game until the stack collapses?  


Thursday, April 16, 2015

3-D Printers on Mars and Your Faith in God

Scientists are investigating using 3-D printers in space.  The idea is to use raw materials found on the moon or Mars to build shelter and other structures needed to sustain life [see article here] .  The 3-D printers can stuff or they can make other 3-D printers that can make more stuff.

3-D printers can already self-replicate, sort of.  They can make many of the parts, just not the electronics and other key elements [see article here].  These would have to be supplied from Earth.

But there are already self-replicating machines that are microscopically small, called nanobots (Nano for "very small" and bot for "robot").  These nanobots create a variety of tiny structures that can be assembled into larger machines that can perform almost any task.  For example, these machines can search for the raw materials they need by:

  • Digging in the ground
  • Autonomously roaming around on the ground
  • Self-propelling in water
  • Flying in the air
They use the raw materials they collect for energy or to make other machines (via the nanobots).  It's amazing that these nanobots already exist and scientists have absolutely no idea where they came from.  What are they?  They're called "DNA".  DNA is a microscopically small "machine" that makes cells (tiny structures) that together form various living things (plants, animals and us).  The living things can dig, walk, swim, fly.  And they can make copies of themselves with no extra spare parts required.

Once again, scientists have no idea where DNA came from, but many do know one thing for sure: there is no God.  I'm not sure how they know that when they have no idea where something as amazing as DNA came from.  But they do.

  


Friday, April 10, 2015

The Flight (A parable)

Steve and Karen lived in a remote trading post in the Alaskan wilderness. Steve was taking his last trip into town to get supplies for the coming winter. By trip into town, I mean a flight in his plane over two mountain ranges separated by a desolate valley. As he prepared to leave, Karen said "Steve, do you have the list?". Yes he replied. "You need to stick to the list". Steve ignored her. "Did you hear me? you need to stick to the list". Steve turned, looked Karen in the eyes and said "I have the list, don't worry". With the engine roaring, the plane zipped down the runway and jumped into the air. Gravity disappeared and Steve felt renewed freedom. Steve reminisced about his flying adventures. As he climbed altitude to the first mountain range, Steve could hear the words of his flight instructor saying "The Minimum Safe Altitude is 1000 feet above the ground. That means if there is a mountain, you need to be 1000' ABOVE the highest peak". Steve ignored this advice as he flew as close as possible to the mountain ridge. The snow capped jagged ridge was spectacular up close. He passed into the quiet valley. He thought again about Karen. She had given him an envelop with their meager savings and THE LIST. "I'm giving you more than you need, in case prices have gone up. We need everything on that list." He wondered why he never got to put stuff on the list. "Just the necessities" he could hear Karen's voice in his head. "What about my necessities?", he thought in reply. He felt his blood pressure rise so he dropped into the valley and buzzed a herd of caribou. He felt in control again and climbed again to the next range. He soon was on decent and landing at the small airport. Time to go shopping. Steve was surprised to find prices the lowest he'd ever seen. He purchased everything on Karen's list way under budget. He mulled over buying some extra "necessities" Karen left off the list. He heard her voice in his head "Stick to the list". He rationalized that what she was really saying was "make sure you get everything on the list", which he had done with money to spare. He bought what he wanted and still had money left over. He looked at the cash in his hand and thought "This cold cash will do me no good on the long winter nights. I need something to keep me warm". So he purchased more "necessities". Back at his plane, with his cargo loaded, he prepared for takeoff. The plane barely responded to the throttle. It slowly increased speed and was weight off wheels just barely before the runway ended. The ascent was slow. Steve soon calculated that he was climbing too slowly, so he went to maximum throttle. The engine strained and the only thing that climbed was the needle on the temperature gauge. Steve sweated as he realized he had to do the unthinkable. With the plane in autopilot, Steve wiggled to the cargo hold, took out a bottle, opened it, took a drink, then opened the door and threw the bottle out. Then he started pushing boxes out until the engine quit straining. Half of his extra cargo was now gone. Back in the cockpit, Steve again pushed the throttle and the plane climbed slowly. He barely cleared the mountain ridge and wished it was a safer 1000 feet clearance. As he entered the valley, he kept a steady altitude. No buzzing caribou this time. He saw ugly black clouds in the distance but new he could beat them. About half way across the valley, the cross winds from the storm buffeted the small plane. Each bout of turbulence pushed the plane downward. Once again he pushed the plane to the limit with the same results. Steve practically cried as he realized what he needed to do. Once again he wiggled back, opened the door, and started pushing out boxes until the engine purred again. Once again, he narrowly cleared the second ridge. The weather was now calm and it was an easy decent to his home. Relieved, Steve regained his composure and thought what he'd tell Karen. The first part of the trip was entirely his fault. He had too much cargo. He couldn't tell Karen about that. The second part was not his fault, but couldn't tell Karen about unloading the supplies he wasn't supposed to buy. Had he done anything right? He still had everything on the list. That's the story he would tell Karen. As he landed and taxied towards the house, Karen ran out to greet him. Her face was white and she looked worried. "I heard on the radio that a storm was coming. Steve, I was so worried". Steve, grinned, said "I'm fine. And better than that, I got everything on your list". They unloaded the supplies and the color returned to Karen's face. "I'm so glad your okay". Steve repeated "I'm fine, and I got everything on your list". Then Steve let slip that he "also got a good deal". Karen looked pleased and said, "Oh good! So where's the change?"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

An Antidote For Racism

I just finished reading "Up From Slavery" by Booker T. Washington, published in 1901.  I think every American regardless of race should read this book.  Why?

"I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

If any American thinks they didn't get a fair start or think they deserve more, compare your life to Booker T. Washington's life.  Born a slave in the humblest of circumstances.  He didn't know his father (believed to be a white man from a neighboring plantation).  He lived in a primitive shack with little protection from the elements and a dirt floor,  They ate the coarsest of foods cooked over an open fire.  He sees some girls eating ginger cakes and that would be his highest ambition, to eat ginger cakes.

"Nothing ever comes to me, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work."

If any American thinks they are entitled, compare Booker's journey from Slavery to visiting the White House.  After freedom comes to the slaves, he struggled to survive.  He works in the mines with his stepfather, and learns to read the number "8".  His ambition to learn ends up taking him to Hampton University and he ends up running the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

"Every persecuted individual and race should get much consolation out of the great human law, which is universal and eternal, that merit, no matter under what skin found, is in the long run, recognized and rewarded."

If any American is blinded by race, they should instead focus on merit.

"The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women."

Every American should strive to know great men and women (by reading their biographies) and more importantly, strive to be great men and women.

"At that institution I got my first taste of what it meant to live a life of unselfishness, my first knowledge of the fact that the happiest individuals are those who do the most to make others useful and happy."

If any American wants to be happy, well...