PollutionBeijing’s heavy pollution concerns parents

Smog can cut off sunlight to Beijing for days. At the International School of Beijing, parents want routine air quality measurements, and the school has built a $5 million dome to enclose a playground and filter the air. Seth Doane reports.

via Beijing’s heavy pollution concerns parents – CBS News Video.

One of the major prices China is having to pay for their sudden industrial dominance is pollution. Since there is a much bigger priority on economics than there is on environment the big industrial areas of the country are becoming very polluted. I know there are those in the U.S. that will be screaming about this but wasn’t that also true for our own economic development?

In the early 1900s going to almost mid-century our major cities like Pittsburgh, Gary Indiana, and the like were enveloped in giant pollution clouds. When the automobile became dominant that list also included cities like Los Angeles. We, like China now, were choking on our own dirt. So, it can be hard to righteously wag a finger at China for doing the same thing that got us to our prosperity today.

The major difference this time is that China’s pollution will pile on our own to cause what someday could be the tipping point for our planet.  Last night I watched an episode from “The Wonders of Life” narrated by Brian Cox who is a physicist and professor of a large British college. The episode was called the “Thin Blue Line” and was about how fragile our atmosphere actually is. It was a very eye-opening show that explained how other planets in our solar system have much different, and much more deadly, environments than ours and that the difference is not that great between them and us.  I would highly recommend this series to anyone who wants to learn more about the world we live in. Brian is quite a young man (if you believe 45 year olds are young men) :)

I am one of those who will not condemn China for wanting to prosper as we have. They are simply looking for a better way of life for their people much like, as I previously mentioned, we did a century ago. But that is another post…

Taking It Back….

July 27, 2013

Baby GeorgePrince William and Kate Middleton have named the royal heir George Alexander Louis, Kensington Palace announced in a statement today.

SOURCE: Kate Middleton and Prince William Name Baby George Alexander Louis – ABC News.

So another big royalty event is past.  The future king’s name is George. Being a big U.S. history buff, not so much the royalty stuff, King George has some significance to me.

Let’s go back about 250 years ago. At that time another King George was battling with insurgent terrorists in some of his British colonies on the other side of the world. They absolutely refused to pay their taxes. They cowardly hid behind trees and killed many of his soldiers. They didn’t fight standing in long lines and shooting each other like they were supposed to. They were self-proclaimed insurgents but he deems them terrorists. In the end King George lost this battle and the treasonist Americans went on to form their own country.

Now lets flash forward from 2013 to around 2060 or so. It is necessary to go that far because those kings and queen being pampered as they are live quite long lives. So it will be about then that King William will be turning over Buckingham Palace to King George.

Nostradamus became pretty famous for his future predictions so, what the heck, I am going to make one here myself.  The name Walters just doesn’t have the ring to it that Nostradamus does but maybe it will be known throughout the ages as the prediction of all predictions.

I predict that around 2060 the British empire will welcome its long strayed children in the new world back into its family. By that time the U.S. will have spent themselves into total oblivion. They will have sent all their young men to live and die on foreign soils as soldier “peace keeping forces”. Their basic government unraveled years before in total chaos. As a last ditch effort they pleaded for Britain to take them back. Britain having sympathy for her long-lost children will take them in.

To one King George North America was a bunch of terrorists. Another would rescue them from their self-generated stupidity.  So, here’s to you the future King George may you live a good life.

Of course my prediction might just turn out to be totally inaccurate!  But I imagine the reason will more likely be that we will self-implode long before that time…

While the cyclical outlook looks bright, the U.S. will be hampered in the longer term by such structural headwinds as an aging population, a plateauing of educational achievement and increased inequality, Gordon said.

Source: U.S. Expansion Poised for Longevity – Bloomberg.

I have always found it strange that my more conservative friends seem to want to see all Democratic administrations fail in one regard to another. They always say that their Republican heroes did it better than any Democrat ever could.  When they mention this I just love to pull out the statistic that shows if you invest $1000 in only Republican administrations since 1940 you would now have about  $1400 but if you had invested in only Democratic administration it would be  $10,000.

I am getting off topic here. What I really intend this post to be about is this very slight quote from the article. Here again some financial author over at Bloomberg want to blame us old folks for keeping our economy from blooming. They say an aging population is partly to blame.  I could see that if they went further to say that the reason for this is that all those people who really understand how to create prosperity are retiring and there is no one qualified enough to replace them.  Now, before all you guys start jumping on me for this statement please realize that it is said in jest but I expect there is an ounce of truth in that statement. The younger generations just haven’t been tempered as much as we were.

The other reason given is the plateauing of educational achievement. What that really means is that the kids today are just not going into the necessary advanced fields of education to achieve real prosperity. And of course the last thing on the list above is a very serious one for me. Increase inequality is something that has gotten me very fearful of the future.  The one thing that I am convinced has made the U.S. great over the last century is equality of condition.  That is, there is no aristocracy that gobbles up the majority of our produced wealth.  Of course we all know that has been changing greatly over the last thirty years or so.  If we can’t turn that around we may just all be in trouble when it comes to our longevity. Teddy Roosevelt took down the robber barons a century ago but there just doesn’t seem to be anyone like him to be found this time around. At least not yet….

EmmyEmmy Awards 2013: Nominations Announced

Source:  Emmy Awards 2013: Nominations Announced – ABC News.

I won’t bore you folks who swear you never watch television with the long list of Emmy nominations here. If you want to see them click on the source above. The point of this post is that excluding “Dowton Abbey” there were no other shows on this long list that my wife and I watch. Are we out of tune with all those other TV watchers?  Most of the shows on the list I put in the “stupid” category. They are for the most part just a series of quick one line quips to get us to laugh, cry, or whatever emotion the author intends.

When I watch TV I do like to be entertained. Those two hours or so a day that I spend in front of the boob tube are when I want to quit thinking about all the troubles in life and just be entertained. But, since I have a brain I don’t want to insult it with what my eyes see. Fortunately having TIVO allows me to pick and choose from the thousands of hours out there to record for future viewing. Dowton Abbey, as I said at the beginning of this post, is part of that list. The Wonders of Life is another one. Many of the shows on the list are from the BBC. I wonder if that says something about me or the Brits who produce them?

Yeah, this post so far seems to say that I am taking the “high brow” approach to TV. But at least I admit that I watch on a regular basis. Some of my friends won’t even admit that. :)  But, my wife who has made it her life’s occupation to show me where I am wrong, points out that I watch the Three Stooges on occasion and “isn’t that the same thing as all those shows you disdain?” There is probably some truth to her words but I kind of see a difference.

Getting back to the Emmy list, I know that most of the shows in TV are intended for the 18-29 year-old people as somehow the advertisers think they spend the most money. I have two issues with that belief. First when I was that age I didn’t have nearly the amount of money to spend later in life. I was pretty much living hand to mouth in those days. Second, is the drivel in this list really appealing to even that age group? If so I kind of have some concerns about these kids taking over the country in the not too distant future….

Pile of Money“Lord, the money we spend on government. And, it’s not a bit better government than we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.” – Will Rogers, 27 March 1932

Lord knows we spend hundreds of time more for our government than we even did in Will’s day so his words above are even more appropriate today. I am proudly a social liberal but at the same time I am a fiscal conservative.  No, neither word insults me as is does many other around me these days. Being a fiscal conservative I want government to spend my money as frugally as I do and of course that is not what is happening today.

But being a social liberal I don’t want our representatives to save money by taking away things like food stamps from those who don’t get enough to eat and that is what the House conservatives are currently trying to do.  They say they will get around to putting food stamps back together sometime in the future.  Given their past performances “sometime in the future” could be decades away!

No, I don’t want them to take food out of people’s mouths in order to say money. It totally dumbfounds me that the conservatives, and the not so conservatives, in congress can’t see the mammoth elephant in the room when it comes to spending my dollars. It is widely recognized that those yahoos have thrown so much money at the folks at the Pentagon that they really can’t even figure how to spend it all.  Why can’t they see all this useless spending when it is so obvious to so many of us?

 

Stupidity“American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.” – Will Rogers, 24 February 1924

I don’t know Will I think you might be a little off track here at least in terms of today’s America. We don’t seem to be able to forgive our neighbors of anything. We are constantly bickering with each other as to how to do this or that. We seem to be just so afraid of each other that we find it acceptable for one person to kill another if they just feel threatened. Too many of us are of the mentality that having a gun is the answer to all our problems with those “other” people.  When did most of us become “other” people?

Stupidity seems to almost be the norm now instead of a “possible exception” as you say.  When the politicians among us spout the most absurd political beliefs we just seem to take it in without any thinking. If that is not stupidity I don’t know what is.

Now before any of you start accusing me of “painting with too broad a brush” I want to add some exceptions here.  Yes, there are those among us who still have a lick of sense and can see through all those wild claims by others. They can see through it and mark it off as trash that it is. I think this is more true for all us Midwesterners than it is for all you folks huddled around our coastline. :)

Finishing up here Will, I guess we have devolved as a country since your day. We no longer seem to be willing to forgive anyone of anything and there doesn’t seem to be any weakness that we are willing to give a pass on….

Obama3President Obama:

“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me,” Obama said. “And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator.”

 

Fox News:

Fox’s Sean Hannity suggests that the main reason Obama identifies with Trayvon is that the two as teenagers had smoked marijuana.

On Facebook, Fox News radio host Todd Starnes wrote that Obama’s comments about the Trayvon Martin shooting makes the president “Race-Baiter in Chief.”

“His remarks today on the Trayvon Martin tragedy are beyond reprehensible,” Starnes wrote.

SOURCE:  Political world reacts to Obama’s ‘Trayvon’ moment – CSMonitor.com.

I have absolutely no doubt that the off-the-cuff remarks above by President Obama were from his heart and his life time experiences.  While I can never fully understand what prejudice a black man in America faces I can relate on at least on some level.  Being deaf for 25+ years has taught me that many people assume (prejudge) who we are by our physical characteristics. I face that fact on perhaps a weekly basis.

So many times when I interact with someone who I don’t know and suddenly discover that I am deaf I get the stare.  They immediately think I have an IQ of a turnip. They then proceed to either ignore me, just walk away, or start speaking very slowly so I might be able to understand.  I won’t go into any more details about this as this post is not about me but instead about prejudice.

I know I have sworn off politics and the hatred that presently fills it but the reaction by the usual ranters over at Fox News was just too over the top to ignore. I wonder what my conservative friends who have that channel on frequently during any day think about what they heard on this topic? I wonder if they would have the same hateful words? I think there are times even when viewing our despised enemies that we need to recognize the sincerity of their words. How can Mr. Hannity and Mr. Starnes live in such a dark world? Why do they think it is necessary to attack every word that comes out of the President’s mouth?

I guess this post is more about questions than it is about answers but sometimes I just can’t fathom man’s inhumanity toward man, even the verbal kind.  For those of you who are ready to slam on the flame button don’t even bother sending anything. I am just not in the mood to even look at them…

Small Town Life…

July 21, 2013

County Fair

A rain free night full of vehicle demolishing and car smashing fun was featured at the 4-H Fairgrounds Saturday for a capacity crowd inside the main arena as 38 drivers competed in four categories for trophies, prize money and bragging rights.

Welcome to small town America. I have lived in it for much of my six plus decades on this earth. I want to thank my local paper for the photo and the words above. I live just north of a town of 2214 people.  At least that is what the sign says coming into town.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

For my town and many small towns here in the Midwest the county fair is the highlight event of the year. It is where you go to say a quick “hi” to those few folks that you don’t encounter on a regular basis.  The county fair is the highlight of the year and the demolition derby is the highlight of the fair. We didn’t attend the smash-a-rama this year; it was just too hot for us “old” folks so we left it up to all the teens to cheer for their favorite drivers. From the looks of all the pictures in the paper it was a good one.  I don’t know who won but that really doesn’t matter. I don’t know what it is about watching people smash into each other that gets so much attention? :)

Cheers was a TV show that was popular during the late 1980’s and one of the phrases that was prominent in the theme song was “where everybody knows your name”. Well, that is pretty much the definition of small town life.  I understand there are those carousers around that don’t like everyone knowing their name but for everyone else it just makes life a little more friendly and enjoyable.

As another old time TV jingle goes  “Green Acres is the place for me”….

Group Pictures…

July 20, 2013

Bedford Picture Merge3

For some unknown reason I have always been fascinated by group pictures such as shown in my revised header above and a larger copy here. I love looking at each individual face and trying to imagine their life story.  In studying local history such as from the picture above I have come to understand just how hard previous generations have it compared to ours. It makes me appreciate all that I have today.

We must remember that our grandparents, or maybe great grandparent, often time worked a twelve-hour day six days a week to just put bread on the table for their family. I suspect that many in the picture above due to working around limestone came down with emphysema and other such lung related problems.  Many, like their coal miner brethren, likely died of lung cancer.  There is still a very strong limestone industry just south of where I live. But I am sure that their employer now takes the necessary precautions to prevent such dangerous environments that those in this picture faced.

I am not much of a collector as such.  I do have a few “Simplify” signs strewn around my study that I have been collecting for a decade or so.  I am now on the lookout for pictures like the above.  I take digital copies where I can but I would really like to gather some of the old originals. I have had that opportunity in the past but sadly didn’t take advantage of it.

For some reason I look at group pictures and have a sense of empathy for all those who posed in front of a camera many years ago. I think that is one of the reasons I have such a passion for local histories.  During the past twelve years my wife and I have made at least one annual trek to various cities within a day or two driving distance. We spend much of our time there studying its history. I have collected many books and such and I will soon be presenting in a new blog. For those who might be interested I will be  giving you more info about this new project soon.

In order to appreciate what we have today we must understand how those who have lived before us helped shape our present world.

Monarchy……

July 19, 2013

Banner -Off The Top

MonarchDutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima appear on the balcony of the Royal Palace with their children, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 30, 2013. Willem-Alexander is not only the monarch of the Netherlands but also the Dutch Caribbean territories of Curacao, Aruba and Saint Maarten. He holds several military titles but requested an honorable discharge.

Source: Dutch Abdication: Willem-Alexander Becomes Europe’s Youngest Monarch | The Netherlands New King | TIME.com.

I just can’t understand the allure of a monarchy but I know that many are infatuated with them.  My wife stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to see british royalty weddings. Maybe I am just too American to understand why people would voluntarily pay taxes to keep particular families living in utter opulence. I’m sure King Willem and the wife and kids appreciate all they are given  by the people of the Netherlands but I just think they need to go out and get a real job. :)

One of the things that has made the USA successful democracy is “Equality of Condition” at least that is what Alexis De Tocqueville concluded in his book entitled “Democracy in America” in 1831. (BTW, this is a great book to read if you are interested in some of the core reasons we became what we are as a country.) He believed that the lack of a history of privileged classes is what allowed us to prosper as a democracy where many other failed. I will be talking much more about this and other historical things related to our condition in a new blog coming soon.

We may not have an official aristocracy but we seem to be getting close to one via our tax codes. When we allow millions and in some cases billions of dollars to pass tax-free from one generation to the next we are building our own version of aristocracy.  Previous generations understood what Mr. De Tocqueville found and had a pretty stiff inheritance tax in place to prevent the passing of unearned income from one generation to the next.  But then came the spin of “the death tax” that too many of us swallowed hook, line and sinker.  Even if many of us don’t have the big bucks we irrationally dream that someday we just might and would also want to keep it all for our clan instead of going back tot he public domain from where it came.

So, here is to you King Willem. May you continue to live on all the welfare as long as you can….