2014-08-11_07-46-54

1: Mississippi. The poorest state in the U.S. Also the one whose corruption most approaches levels in a Third World country.

SOURCE:  Gallery: America’s most corrupt states.

When they talk about corruption in this article they are talking about corruption of public officials and that is generally from taking bribes. As shown above Mississippi comes in as number one in this category. And as also mentioned they are also the poorest and most uneducated State.  I suppose those facts are somewhat related.

I read an article somewhere that much of the South’s poverty came from their reliance on slave labor which prohibited a free market place type competition to reign. Yes, slavery was  abolished officially over 150 years ago but most of us know that it continued to have its effects until the Civil Rights area and even today has not disappeared from the mentality of some of its citizens and their public officials.

Here is the list of the ten most corrupt:

  1. Mississippi
  2. Louisiana
  3. Tennessee
  4. Illinois
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Alabama
  7. Alaska
  8. South Dakota
  9. Kentucky
  10. Florida

It is interesting to see that six of the ten States are in the south, two in the Middle, one in the Plains, and then Alaska.  During much of my lifetime Louisiana was at the top of this list. Huey Long and his dynasty openly had their hands out in almost all public contracts and such. The same goes for Illinois, particularly Chicago with Mayor Daily (the father that is).

It is surprising to see South Dakota on the list but with all the shale oil boom going on I suppose it is ripe for corruption and kickbacks.  What is even more surprising is that there is no State from the Northeast/New England on the list. Tammany Hall ruled New York City for years but I guess that effects have finally evaporated.

If you are interested in more click on the source above to see the article. Some of what you read will probably surprise you too.

 

2014-08-24_13-14-19The white majority in the U.S. will be outnumbered by Americans of other races by 2042, eight years sooner than previously projected by the Census Bureau.

SOURCE: U.S. White Population Will Be Minority by 2042, Government Says – Bloomberg.

The year 2042 strikes abject fear into some of us. Particularly those who are associated with groups with three letters in the title. That is the year that people of color will outnumber whites in the United States. Why is it that so many are so afraid of being a minority?

For twenty-five years now I have been in a pretty small minority. Only about 1% of the U.S. population is deaf and I am one of them. I go through months at a time without ever seeing another deaf person but I live with the consequences of being deaf every single day. Before I became a member of this somewhat exclusive minority I to had an abject fear of it. But it turns out that being a minority is not as bad as I imagined. It is not great but not totally bad either.

So, why do so many fear going from 51% to 49%? What is it about that number that get to us? Of course a big part of that is the perceived loss of power. They would no longer be masters of our own fate. It’s nice to be the guy in control of things. To turn that over in any degree is a scary thing. What if “they” decide to do it differently than I want?

But then again most of us are in a minority now in one regard or another. Being a progressive in Indiana puts me in a distinct minority. I loathe many of the things that my governor does; he just seems to be a guy without much compassion for others, especially those much different from him.  But my life for the most part goes on despite being a minority in several different areas. Sharing power is not at bad as many imagine.

We may come to the point where no political party will have a majority status and will therefore be forced to form a coalition government made up of different minorities. But then again that is pretty much what at least the Democratic party is now. There are those Democrats who want abortion on demand and those who would like to see it go away entirely. There are those who just want government out of their lives and then there are those who think government is shirking its responsibility of doing the people’s business.

All I can say to all those out there who are in abject fear of becoming a minority is that it is not as bad as you imagine. Spreading the power around is enabling, not disabling, as a country as well as on a personal level. Try it out , you might like it.

For Too Many….

August 24, 2014

NYC - Wrapup (6)

For far too many of us the image of being religious is the above.  This picture was taken on a busy Saturday night in Times Square NYC recently. Too many look at religion as some grim-faced old man telling us that we need to quit having any fun and get ready for the wrath of God. They didn’t take this old guy seriously anymore than take most current religious establishments seriously.

In some ways religion has earned this moniker. Too many  spend too much time worrying about God’s wrath rather than focusing on his love. Too many worry about the afterlife than they do living out God’s command to be our brother’s keeper.  Too many young people are just turned off by the religion of past generations.  They think their lives here on earth are what matter. In some ways I agree with them but in other ways not.  As is typical of many things moderation is the best choice. A little of everything on your plate gives you the most fruitful life.

The guy in the image above and so many like him are doing more harm than good by showing an image of God that is primarily man-made and for the most part disgusting. If God so loved the world why would he condemn most of us to an eternal agony as this grumpy old man preaches?

Boxes & Signs

August 23, 2014

One of my many hobbies is to collect pictures of unique boxes and signs.  Here is part of that collection

2014-08-22_16-38-00

Its hard to tell just who we are at war with in any given moment. But it seems we always gotta be a war with someone…  Blessed are the Peacemakers….

2014-07-26_16-11-39This is a second post on the article from the Atlantic Magazine on the creative brain. Click here to see the article. The process of creativity has always fascinated me. Just what makes some people more creative than others? It is something they are born with or do they learn it through life’s experiences?

I don’t often state it often but my IQ has been tested to be into the top 2%. That would surprise many of my teachers who I’m sure just thought of me as lazy as I was going through school. Sometimes I just didn’t have much interest in what they were teaching. I was too busy learning other things on my own. Should a higher IQ enable me to be more creative than most? I think it should but sometimes I become very frustrated that I am just never as creative as I would like to be.

Here are some final words from the article that I can personally relate to:

Creative people tend to be very persistent, even when confronted with skepticism or rejection. Asked what it takes to be a successful scientist, one replied:

Perseverance … In order to have that freedom to find things out, you have to have perseverance … The grant doesn’t get funded, and the next day you get up, and you put the next foot in front, and you keep putting your foot in front … I still take things personally….

Do creative people simply have more ideas, and therefore differ from average people only in a quantitative way, or are they also qualitatively different? One subject, a neuroscientist and an inventor, addressed this question in an interesting way, conceptualizing the matter in terms of kites and strings:

In the R&D business, we kind of lump people into two categories: inventors and engineers. The inventor is the kite kind of person. They have a zillion ideas and they come up with great first prototypes. But generally an inventor … is not a tidy person. He sees the big picture and … [is] constantly lashing something together that doesn’t really work. And then the engineers are the strings, the craftsmen [who pick out a good idea] and make it really practical. So, one is about a good idea, the other is about … making it practical.

Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill. And some people, like John Nash, are both.

 Sticking to an idea even if it may not be popular is something that I often do.  I call myself a contrarian and that means that I often look at what people are doing and ask myself if the alternative might be better? I am also a pragmatist so I stubbornly look for what works the best instead of just settling for “that is the way it has always been done”. In some ways I think that is why I consider this blog as somewhat unique.

Being that I spent my thirty occupational years as an engineer I can thoroughly understand the difference between and engineer and an inventor. But I kind of thing it is a melding of the two that makes for success in that field.

Our Nation’s IQ???

August 21, 2014

2014-08-03_08-55-51“In schools they have what they call intelligence tests. Well if nations held ‘em I don’t believe we would be what you would call a favorite to win.” – Will Rogers, 25 June 1935

I don’t think we would eithter Will.  We would probably be about the same as where we are with our crazy healthcare system. Near the bottom of those that have schools  and hospitals anyway. But there are a few of us who are darn smart and maybe they make up for all the dunces among us…

Whitewashing of torture….

August 20, 2014

2014-08-07_08-41-18Out of the horror of World War II came one of the great achievements in all of human history: the Geneva Convention of 1949. It was a statement from humanity to itself that, in the aftermath of the bloodiest war in history, some decency might still be rescued. Despite the millions of senseless dead, despite all the mass murder and genocide and terror bombing, despite all the filth and hypocrisy and witless incompetence, the Convention states these things shall be held inviolate in war:

Wounded and sick soldiers shall be treated humanely, and medical facilities shall be off-limits to attack.

The same shall be true of wounded, sick, or shipwrecked sailors, and humanitarian ships.

Prisoners of war shall be treated humanely.

Non-combatants shall be treated humanely.

In 1988, President Reagan signed into law a treaty adding another stipulation to the list:

Torture shall be absolutely forbidden.

Reagan was no saint. His foreign policy caused tens of thousands of pointless deaths in Nicaragua alone. But he worked hard to get this treaty passed, and it is to my mind his greatest achievement. It added a bright star to the narrative of human progress….

Let’s compare that to the text of the Convention Against Torture:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of President Obama (aside from his unflappable, even cadence) is the way he instinctively tries to understand and legitimize both sides of every debate. When well-applied, as it was during his famous speech on race during the 2008 campaign, it adds needed nuance and complexity to difficult subjects.

Torture, on the other hand, is a simple subject that has little nuance or complexity. It is an absolute evil that has no place or function in a civilized, decent society. It is illegal under United States law. Only a complete idiot would try to use it to gather intelligence. Its only effective uses are thoroughly totalitarian: to intimidate, punish, and extract false confessions.

SOURE: President Obama’s despicable whitewashing of torture – The Week.

For the most part I am going to let the words above speak for me. Torture and anyone condoning it is simply idiocy. Yes, I kind of agree that one of President Obama’s most distinctive characteristics is trying to legitimize both sided of a debate.  Many times he is just too intellectual for his own, or the country’s good.

I also agree that Reagan was no saint but he came through with his abject hatred of torture.  I wonder how that affects his image for many of the current crop of conservatives who condone that tactic? Torture simply has no place in humanity.  Enough said…..

MyScans115-crop

The above image is a clip from the July 28,2014 issue of Time magazine page 12. It seems very hard to find what percentage of the population is gay in the U.S.  The most often cited by those who don’t have an interest in the issue is about 1%. That seems to align somewhat with the Census Bureau numbers found above. But of course I realize even today that there are those who have homosexual tendencies who adamantly refuse to be  identify themselves as such.

Triangle Factory Fire…

August 19, 2014

The Triangle Factory Fire was a defining moment in US history. Here is a little about what Wikipedia says about it

2014-04-30_09-32-20The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911 was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in the history of the city, and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history…

The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers – 123 women and 23 men [1] – who died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. Most of the victims were recent Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged sixteen to twenty-three…

Because the owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits – a common practice at the time to prevent pilferage and unauthorized breaks[6] – many of the workers who could not escape the burning building jumped from the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors to the streets below. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

I recently watched a very moving documentary about it on PBS. One of the shocking things I learned from that program was just how much the “system” was against the striking workers. The police, judges and city hall did monstrous things to beat the women back.  It would take J.P. Morgan’s  very privileged daughter to turn this trend. When she came out in favor of the workers things finally started to shift.

For those who might misunderstand the meanings of my words I want to state up front that I believe capitalism is the greatest monetary system in the world. Nothing else even comes close.  But this tragedy is a lesson learned that you just can’t have unregulated industrialization.  Without regulation greed overwhelms the capitalistic system. The owners who caused these unnecessary deaths took their insurance money and basically disappeared with no consequences for the deaths they caused.

I do thank God that these sort of things don’t happen in this country today but they continue to happen in those countries that supply us with our unquenchable desire for more and more cheap goods. We have current government agencies such as OSHA and although they are generally very understaffed compared to those they regulate they do a good job of reigning in unsafe corporate greed.