Category Archives: history

Predictions About The Future

Alright, so I imposed a little on Yogi’s legacy.  He was right then and it still is true.  In our hyperfast info world of today we are literally inundated with predictions of one sort or another.  We don’t probably get that many more than 75 years ago its just that they jump off the website of any news outlet you choose or some talking head is pontificating on your favorite news channel whatever that may be.  To keep this within some boundaries lets focus on three areas–intelligence, financial news and or course today the virus and/or health issues.

Predictions come from the same institutions over and over again.  They are the Government, Academe and the Financial titans or financial analysts. In the last week how many articles or segments on tv have started off–so in so said, opined, believed  ( fill in the blank date) that such and such would happen.  The news media always pick someone who procrastinated correctly or course and someone who fits their particular narrative of the moment–whatever that may be.  Naturally there is always someone who predicted something correctly.  We’ll save for later comment the predictions that were and sometimes disastrously wrong.

We have for good or ill, the FBI, NSA, CIA, DIA and State Department all making their assessments, reports, memos and recommendations regarding military and intelligence matters.  You have any idea how many thousands of people you are talking about doing that work?  Actually it is tens of thousands.  They are not Jack Ryans.  They are mostly little nerds sitting at their desks reading newspapers, magazine, internet sites, debriefs of agents or assets, etc, about their particular area of expertise or geography.  A tiny handful read raw reports from agents on the ground.  They are our experts.  They are also bureaucrats, never forget that, and they do what bureaucrats have done since Egyptian times, they write reports and pass them along to someone up the food chain.   They offer warnings of one type or another and make predictions.

The same thing occurs in academia.  Those PHDs or MDs all work on their specialty.   Doing research which is mostly reading papers written by someone of their ilk at another school, Foundation or Government agency.   We all know that those professors are not spending hours and hours each week in a real classroom or seeing students during so-called office hours.  They study their data and read gobs of research by others doing work in the same area.  Then of course they write papers, essays or assessments.  Like the government groups there are literally tens of thousands of them. They predict future events, in chemistry, medicine, physics, climate warming, engineering or what have you.

Financial analysts and famous financiers make predictions constantly.  You have W. Buffet and Robert Reich and Jim Cramer.   The financial channels are literally overflowing with them.   They make predictions about everything economic or financial virtually every day.  Again there are thousands of these people.  Not as many as they other groups but a boatload for sure.

All those predictions are like the old saw about 1,000,000 monkeys and 1,000,00 typewriters.  Sooner are later you will get Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Make your own guesstament but I think you would ultimately agree that the overwhelming majorities of all these predictions are wrong.  Some got something right.  But just because you had a bad stomach ache and I predicted you had appendicitis I don’t think you would really want this old lawyer performing the operation.  But hey, I was dead right on my prediction.  When you read or hear about some one who “warned” or predicted something would occur and it did.  Please bear in mind all those other smartest guys in the room who didn’t agree with it.  There is always a large number of them.  Many predictions turn true for the most random of reasons and rarely for the same ones highlighted by the predictor.  Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics, Fauci has been wrong on several counts.  That doesn’t diminish the value of their opinions.   The Pentagon Papers were an internal assessment made by some in the military.  Their conclusions fit the narrative liked by the NYT and WP.  Voila, a prediction that was prescient.  Hey, the military was making constant assessments about the Vietnam War.  This was merely one of many.  That war could have been fought differently, like interdicting the supply lines of the north Vietnamese, really interdicting with troops, aircraft or whatever it took,   mining Haiphong harbor, destroying Hanoi, etc.  But the only prediction that mattered was the one promoted and touted.  That prediction for what it is worth was not correct.  We didn’t ultimately lose the war as foretold by them.  We quit.

In the name of God, please put all those articles, whether leaning left or, right, that reveal  someone, somewhere predicted, warned or hell, prophesied some particular event would occur in some kind of context.  There is a really good chance that his prediction was one of hundreds and his just happened to be right.  I am old enough to remember the thousands of predictions from the ’50s about nuclear energy. It was going to eliminate coal and natural gas as energy sources. We would have abundant clean energy forever.   Didn’t quite turn out that way but I bought into it as a teenager.  I thought that was really a cool idea at the time.  So when you read about all the current predictions about life after the pandemic passes, apply a healthy grain of salt to flavor it.  Someone will have it right and those other headline predictions will fade, only  an embarrassment if reminded of them later.  Remember those monkeys and Occam’s razor.  My prediction is that we will land in a boring equilibrium like mankind usually does.

Is my prediction worth a toot?  Probably just that, a toot.  Not Beethoeven’s opening in his Fifth symphony.

God Bless from around the campfire.  Time for the old codger to take his brain enhancing pill.

olcranky

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, history, Politics, science

Science, probabilities and Virus

If you are merely awake much less alert you have heard by now countless reports in all media of the horrific dangers of Covid-19.  We are being inundated with numbers, stats and models and modeling.  Some are merely anxious others appear to be terrified.  Let’s cut to the chase and talk about what really frightens us–death.  We have all been sick at times during our lives.   We don’t going around every day in numbing fear of getting sick.  It is dying that scares the bejeebers out of us. The story line is that we all need testing and lots of it, into the millions and the tracking of our bodies by government.  Let’s look at some history of science and modeling and probabilities for perspective and a more informed understanding of what we are trying to discern from all that data.

During the War the Eighth air corp was taking tremendous losses from the German defenses and the high command was determined to make ever effort to reduce that loss ratio.  The B-17 was the basic bomber we used and it was rugged and well armed and the squadrons flew in box formations to maximize the firepower of the .50 cal machine guns mounted in each plane.  In spite of that the losses were quite bad.  As only the military can do and especially during the War they mounted an investigation and analysis to determine what could be done to the  planes to increase the odds of survival from missions.  Where should they strengthen the planes or add more armor?  They brought scientists, engineers and folks from the manufacturers and the assembly plants to do a study.  After each mission they would photograph, note, chart and measure each damaged part of the skin or other parts of the plane.  They itemized whether the damage came from flak, cannon or machine gun fire from German fighters.   They accumulated in a short period of time mounds of data.  Regardless of how hard they worked to make the data reveal a coherent pattern that would lead them to conclusions to act on they were baffled.  They could not come up with any effective recommendations.  Finally they brought in another fellow whose name I do not recall nor his background but I think he was a mathematician.

They showed him their reams of data and then let him take a look at what they were doing to inspect planes upon arrival from a mission.  The story is that in less than a day he straighten them out.  He told them they would never find what they were looking for with their current testing and analysis because, wait for it, they were testing and analyzing the wrong thing.  They were looking at and examining the planes that survived the mission.  He told them to find what they wanted they would have to look at the planes that were shot down.  Those were the planes after all that would reveal whatever weaknesses there were in the design.  Not the survivors.  Duh.

Any lessons for us today?  Do we really need to spend such enormous sums of money as some propose testing healthy 30 somethings with no symptoms and destroy the entire economy at the same time?  I do not dismiss the seriousness of Covid-19 but would like to see us focus on the real problem as opposed to ” might be” problems.  Test us old folks and anyone with actual symptoms.  But calls for millions and millions of test–what for?  What new or useful will we actually learn.  The real problem is death due to Covid-19.  Shouldn’t we focus on death rates and the factors causing the death which would include all underlying health concerns and apparently age.  (Disclaimer–me and the child bride are both 77).   How about more autopsies.  All the info I can find indicates that the overwhelming majority of deaths does come from the elderly and those that are already sick with some other serious ailment.  Last I could find researching the matter something like over 90% of deaths were people 80 or more of age!  Here’s a warning for you kids, old people die.  What cogent information will we glean testing tens of millions of perfectly healthy young folks?  I would bet that we would learn that most young people are healthy with or without the Covid-19 infection–tada.   Information about the spread and rate of spread is ok if its done within reason.  It is not the spread or the disease itself remember–we just don’t want to die.   The smartest people in the room may have IQ’s much higher than mine or yours but that  doesn’t mean they can’t also suffer from hysteria.  Recall also the truism that people view any situation through the prism of their profession.  Infectious disease experts would prefer we all live in plastic bubbles then no one would ever get sick.  Of course you might starve to death in the mean time.   We all have our prejudices about society and life and they have theirs.  Listen to them. Evaluate their advice, challenge it and their methods and conclusions.  After all that is the very foundation of science and the scientific method.  It can be kind ugly at times but that is how a free society works.

The hawk and the wren are both birds.  One is a predator and the other a song bird.  The world is better for both of them being here.  Here’s hoping we’ll study the right problem, collect pertinent data  and reach the right conclusions and take sensible action.

Random thoughts around the campfire.  Olcranky

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Environment, history, Mother Nature

Ghosts Of Elections Past

It is still more than a year to the next Presidential election but the headlines are already there with the latest in this upcoming contest.  Even though the elections are only ever four years if you live long enough you endure or enjoy quite a few of those events.   The memories may be colored in sepia and the sounds more like echos but the recall can still be vivid.

I was too  young to have any memory of Roosevelt’s ’44 election but I do recall later hearing my Dad and his friends who were all in the War talking about the shock of his death because he was the only President they really remembered.  His death was quickly forgotten though in the turmoil of winning the War.  Berlin still had to fall and Iwo Jima and Okinawa were not yet done deals.

I do remember the newsreels at the movies about the ’48 election.  Images of Truman on the back of the train speaking inevitably to the union group and then photos of the suave Dewey.  I just remember thinking even then that Dewey didn’t look manly enough with that sissy skinny mustache.  He was no Clark Gable.  I don’t remember much reaction to the election afterward as all the adults were very much in the getting back to normal life after the War.   Mostly everyone just wanted stability and a chance to resume doing anything routine.

I was young but I definitely liked Ike just as most of the country.  He came across as that firm but fair grandfather and with a touch of the sage to him.  Even as a youngster I found Truman’s screaming and ranting a bit too much.  Besides Ike had led all those millions of men to victory and he knew how to lead.  Those ’50’s were great years.  Adlai Stevenson was the opponent both times.  He was too prissy; supposedly a real intellectual but he also had a very sharp tongue with his opponents.  He was too friendly with the Commies for the country.   You have to take into account the threat of the Commies during those years.  We really did have bomb drills at school regularly and the Commies continued to crush the Hungarians and foment wars and terror around the world.  The Commie threat wasn’t an abstraction, it was palpable.

Those first televised debates in ’60 were interesting and frustrating.  I didn’t like Kennedy from the git go.  He was too cool and cute by half.   Plus I resented him coming from a family with a corrupt history and born with that silver spoon in his mouth and then having the gall to say how the rest of those aspiring to do better for themselves had to pay more in taxes.  (yes, I know it reduced them some later).  I wasn’t  wild about Nixon but he was a Navy man himself and I thought would do a better job of standing up to Khrushchev.   I didn’t mind Jackie much but really got irritated with the liberal media treating her like some celebrity for just standing there and looking chic.  By the way the election was stolen from Nixon by the crooked Democratic machine  in Illinois, the Daleys.  It was that close.  Many wanted Nixon to sue as Gore did later to challenge the fraudulent results from Cook county but he refused saying it would be bad for the country to have the integrity of the election in question for months.  That was the real profile in courage.

Then came the Goldwater/Johnson duel in ’64 with the famous mushroom cloud behind the little girl.   I thought Goldwater was a very bright guy and that it was time for a Jew to come to the fore just as the Catholics had with Kennedy.  Johnson was the epitome of the crooked politician.  I was aware of the venality of the ’48 election were he had the dead vote for him down there in South Texas.   When he and Ralph Yarborough were the Texas senators each of them never met a union boss with a bag of money they didn’t love and would obey.   It was a nasty election with horrendous consequences.  The Great Society has  been a miserable and costly failure and resulted in even more powers being concentrated in Washington just as the Democrats wanted.  For them it was a huge success and their corrupt reach expanded  exponentially.  Of course we got the Viet Nam war out of him after all the fear mongering he did against the alleged war hungry Goldwater.  You have to at least appreciate the irony of it all. 

Next up was Humphrey and the reborn Nixon.  Humphrey definitely talked too much.  You should not that I believe he still holds the Senate record for a filibuster.  He was the guy to continue the Great Society programs and even expand them.   Nixon was for the Silent Majority the did their jobs and wanted a decent society with much less government.  I voted for George Wallace.  Didn’t even like the guy and he was way too populist for me, but, but , but, he was totally anti-establishment man and especially against the Democratic view of running everything and everyone from DC.  His campaign cost Nixon lots of votes and at least it sent a message.   He did as promised and started the draw down in Viet Nam although I wish he had bombed and mined Haiphong harbor right away as long as we had guys on the ground fighting VC and North Vietnamese.  I will discuss Watergate with you only if you have actually read the Watergate Transcripts in their entirety as I did and not just news accounts of those events and if you used you tube to listen to all the Watergate testimony before the Joint Committee and again not news accounts that are consistently skewed and often flat out wrong on the basic facts.

There never was any question about McGovern versus Nixon.  He was too liberal even for a nation at  the height of the Hippie movement.  I always tipped my hat to him for being a bomber pilot during the War but otherwise found him liberal trite, if not lite.

Then we had Ford against Carter.  Ford was a handsome man and a former All-American football player at Michigan.  Carter was a peanut farmer with a hokey approach with pretensions of profound depth.  He was the former but certainly lacked the latter.  He was evil incarnate like Johnson but he was an embarrassment.   He tried a one and done military action to get those hostages out of Iran but then wouldn’t follow through with any other efforts and his economic policies only lead to “stagflation”.   Look it up that was the call sign for an economy during his era, that along with inflation off the charts.  We took a home improvement loan then at 13 and a half percent that was floating in anticipation of it going higher.

Thankfully the good Lord took mercy on us and we got Reagan in the ’80 election.  If you weren’t there you can’t begin to understand the breath of fresh air he was and the new sense of pride he brought it and hope that things would finally get better after two decades of slow but constant decline.  That floating loan I took out for the house  actually dropped under Reagan because inflation was at last tamed under his direction for the economy.  Mondale never had a chance and for good reason in ’84.  The detractors said he was not smart enough, well he won.  Besides we’ll likely never have a President as bright as Jefferson again.  He had a clear vision and direction and got the right people to move us in that way.  The results surely speak for themselves.

Then we had Bush 41 in ’88 against Dukakis.  The country was not in the mood for a return to traditional Democratic theories after seeing the results of trying things a different way and Dukakis was again to prissy and prim.  Bush had been shot down by the Japs during the war and no one could challenge his courage or his devotion to the country.  Dukakis was still singing the Democratic mantra of kissing up to the Commies and criticizing vehemently the whole Star Wars program and military build up under Reagan and  Bush’s pledge to continue it.  Reagan was right and Bush fulfilled the commitment to win the Cold War.  Like Reagan said when asked how the Cold War would play out.  He said–we win.  The wall came down and the Soviets finally got the demise they deserved.  along the way he faced Saddam and was resolute in Desert Storm.  Only wish he hadn’t called of the dogs so soon.

Then there was Clinton who portrayed himself as a new Democrat with  a more centrist approach.  He was a chameleon who would adopt any ideology that got him power.  The millennials and other youngster are ignorant completely about his election.  Virtually none of them recall or know that he won without a majority of the vote.  H. Ross Perot handed the elections to Clinton.  Perot took 19% of the vote; Clinton barely got over 40% to sneak into the White House.  All the shame and ignominy that Clinton brought to the Presidency can be laid at the doorstep of Perot.   It was a time of despair for honorable people and even as the door was hitting his behind he added one last insulf with the Marc Rich pardon on his last day.  Dole was a decent man and admired his tenacity after those awful wounds he survived from the War but he didn’t have the zip or personality to win.

“When liberty becomes license, dictatorship is near”  Will Durant, American, philosopher, anthropologist and historian extraordinaire.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, government, history, Politics

Today’s Worry From Yesterday’s View

We’ve just passed the 70th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with all the usual alarms and horror stories from the many survivors of those events of war.   At least this year I saw one article about one of the few surviving American POW’s who witnessed the Nagasaki bombing from miles away and what his perspective was.  The article did correctly p0int out that the Japs had already issued orders to kill all remaining POW’s once the Allies launched the expected invasion of the Homeland Islands.   The POW’s naturally were unaware of their impending death sentence and most had already reached the near end of their endurance due to the extreme cruelty and brutality of their captors.   They were thrilled to learn within days that the Japs had surrendered and that they had a chance to live.  They literally were given a ladder up at last from the depths of Hell.

I was very small at that time and don’t have a specific memory of the bombings or the end of the war.  I don’t recall my dad or any of the other men coming home in a big parade.   I do remember that dad was there and we moved to a new duplex from the old one and then a new baby brother.   The War and its aftermath was the dominate event and topic of conversation for years.  By the time I started school I knew we had used a really big bomb and that made the Japs surrender.  I recall the adults when I listened to them really didn’t understand exactly how the bomb worked.   It was an “atomic” bomb I knew from hearing them and that an atom was a really tiny thing you couldn’t even see.

It was a wonder to me that anything so small could make such a big bang.  How did those miniscule bits mix around to make such a large whomp?  As a small boy playing soldier I could understand rifles, cannons, hand grenades and regular bombs but the physics of the atomic bomb were beyond me.    You could get a feel for the destruction regular bombs and artillery could do because the newsreels in the ’40’s after the War were often about the occupation of Germany, Austria and Japan and they would always show the unimaginable destruction of whole cities.  Frankly, the newsreels of Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn’t look any different than the cities like Berlin, Munich or Dresden.

When mom and dad had relatives or friends over to visit I was always watching for when the men would gather separate from the women folk and would immeditate ly stop whatever I was doing and slip in there and sit quietly somewhere so I could hear them talk.  Sooner or later they always began swapping stories about the War.  Virtually all of them were in the War.  I guess the had some acquaintances that didn’t serve but I don’t remember a single one.  They were in all services, Army, Navy, Air Corps and Marines.  I wish I had those conversations on tape today.   What a treasure trove that would be.   All except one (with a minor wound) were still in the services in August of 1945.  Without exception they expected to be soon shipped to Japan.   Never heard one word of regret or sorrow for using the atomic bomb from one of them.  They believed the Japs deserved it, earned it with their barbaric behavior and none of them were eager to face the prospects of death after four years of war.   My dad could have been on one of those Navy ships off the coast of Japan facing the 5000 kamikaze planes (yes, 5000) that the Japs still had to deploy and planned to deploy against our invasion.  I am sure glad my dad didn’t have to do that.

“These proceedings are closed” General MacArthur after the last signatures on the Japanese surrender documents.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, family, Foreign Affairs, history, military history, War

Iran Deal –False Choices

The guy in the white house claims that we either accept his horrendous proposal and complete surrender to Iran or we face the prospect of immediate all out war with the mad mullahs.  The assertion is that this deal is good because it…..well exactly what do we get out of it?   He asserts that Iran will not be developing any nukes for at least 1o years but history with Iran and other terror organizations around the world clearly indicate that such an assertion is childish at best and out right treasonous at worst.  He puts out nation and our important allies in harms way only to fulfill some delusional and narcissistic impulse to be remembered as a great diplomat.   After all he won the Noble Peace prize his first month in office, could we expect anything less.

The comparisons to Neville Chamberlain are astounding.   He also assured the world that old Hitler had been brought to heel and proudly waved the copy of the agreement from Munich and claimed we had “peace in our time’.   Well, guess it depended on how long you defined “time”.  It turned out to be a little over one year.  He is all about himself and that legacy.  He’ll have a legacy alright and it will live in infamy.

What would have been so bad about leaving everything exactly where they were and letting Iran suffer the consequences of the sanctions?   They are going to do what they want to do toward building a nuke either way.  Could any thoughtful and thinking person doubt otherwise?   They lie and do it often and brazenly.  They will only ramp up their mischief in the entire Middle East with the extra funding of billions they will get immediately from this deal.   A few billion here and there to Al Queada, Nusra, in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon can cause untold grief, death and misery to millions and advance their ideology at the same time.  They have no incentive to refrain from that course of action.

We have many military options besides putting 200,000 soldiers on the ground in an invasion of Iran which is the clear false choice presented by the current white house occupant.  Unfortunately many who do not know history and get their news from TMZ will buy into that sophistry.  The are many degrees of military action that could be taken and be very effective.  How about using our Navy and air power to destroy the Iranian navy. That would be doable and as wars go pretty low risk but a painful blow to our adversary.   Further we could impose a complete blockade on Iran in addition to sanctions and cripple what economy they have which in turn would greatly diminish their capacity to spread terror with money and arms and even troops throughout the Middle East.  If that wasn’t enough we could also take down their air force entirely.   Yes, it would cost some money but how much will be spending anyway under the Iran Deal?  We would have to spend mony to fight the terrorists the export and those they supply.   And also yes it would have casualties.   All wars do sadly but would we be safer with a defanged Iran?

Lastly, many would argue tha Iran would retaliate.  So, they already are as fast as they can throughout the Middle East and North Africa.   With a blockade, sanctions and no navy or air force it would be that much harder for them to export terrorism rather than the free hand they have under the Administration’s plan.   For those who would argue that Russia or China would take action against us if we pursued that course of action, please think that scenario through.  They would huff and puff but why would they really care that much in the end.   Russia would see stronger oil prices and the diminishment of a competitor and China would have one less rival in that region of the world.  Neither of them would attack the U. S. on behalf of Iran.  How could we be worse off than  the road we are heading down right now?   Iran is evil just as Stalin was evil.  You never go wrong fighting evil and always do when accommodating it.   The Call to prayer might be the sweetest sound Barack ever heard but we need to heed the righteous call to arms for our Western way of life.

“There is a time for war and a time for peace”  Proverbs.  oldranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, military history, Politics, War

Watchman, How Goes The Night?

There is something especially admirable about one of those turn of phrases that carries both a secular and a deeper philosophical  or religious meaning.  The title is one example of this wisdom and intelligence or luck of the unknown author, and they are always unknown it seems.

On a purely secular level we’ve only had police or cops as we now know them for less than 200 years.  The modern idea of cops comes from the movement of Robert Peel the British Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. Thus the term “Bobby” for the English cop on the beat. For most of Mankind’s journey personal security was provided by a handful of constables, sheriff’s or yes watchmen employed by the local King, Baron or other prominent person of the area.  Mostly you were on your own when it came to security after the Sun set.  Going back for centuries if you read the history you will see that those who could afford it had private guards (footmen for example) when out at night or they went about armed.  Gentlemen carried swords not for decoration but to actually defend themselves and more often to discourage the potential robber or criminal from even attempting an assault.

The term Watchman was used for centuries in the cities.  Ben Franklin referred to the Watchman when he was trying to organize a more formal police presence in Philadelphia in the 1730’s.   That was as generic term that covered Constables or others hired by the local governor or mayor to light the street lamps and make a circuit along the major streets.   So the title phrase today is more or less the equivalent of tuning into the 10 o’clock news to see if there is any danger out there.  Two centuries ago you would have asked the Watchman on his rounds if there was anything nefarious afoot.

Of more profound and emotional content is the personal introspection and depth of the inquiry.  Just as the phrase “whither thou goest”?  That is very penetrating.  Many of us much  of the time might not really want to answer that question because an honest response would be adverse to our self-esteem.  That query can apply to the immediacy of today or the panorama of our life path.   It is indeed a good and happy man that can answer that poser with equanimity.   Remember how Adam in the Garden of Eden didn’t want to answer God’s question about his original sin of the fruit and blamed everything on Eve or even God himself since He gave Adam the woman?  Our strivings in life should be such that we can actually answer that question each day of our lives.  Every day that you refuse to answer that query or are reluctant is a day you should try to correct on the morrow.  Thankfully the good Lord allows us to redeem ourselves and that is available for a day or a lifetime.   A good life is not about perfection but about perfection in effort to be noble, honest and decent.

Lead your life so that when you here that voice from within or from real but ethereal origin, calling to you–“Watchman, how goes the night”?  You can reply–all is well.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”  Proverbs 27/6.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, family, history, religion

Resilience

Our news cycles are a constant drumbeat of alleged omens of doom.  Ebola, climate change, wars, earthquakes, urban decay and dying honeybees are only a few of dangers we face supposedly that will lead to our destruction or extinction.  I have some good news.  Homo sapiens is a tough dude.  You think things are rough in our era of the early 21st century then you have no appreciation of the history of Man.  The facts are that we have created many dangers to our existence over the millenia and Mother Nature has thrown the kitchen sink out us many times and yet here we are.

If you think ISIS is a terrible danger to our future then remember our ancestors managed to survive one way or another the Huns and Vandals destruction of the Roman Empire and what everyone would have defined as civilization at that time.   The Great Plague of the 14th century wiped out anywhere from a fourth to a third of the population and left a devastated countryside.   Many understandably believed that was the End Days of earth.   But again we trudged forward.  Each generation of Man without fail concludes that it is the most important of all ages and that if it fails significantly that all Mankind will tumble….such is vanity, all is vanity.

Was it  50 million or 100 million killed in the 20th century wars? But all was rebuilt and now we argue over the desserts on the table rather than the basic foodstuffs to sustain survival.  despite the predictions of a Sartre or Bertrand Russel or Rachel Carson even more of us are here and living better, far better than anytime in recorded history.

Even if the worst predictions of climate change are accurate if will not be something that our progeny won’t be able to handle and survive.  The coastlines have receded and waxed for a long time and our ancestors managed all those geographical difficulties; that is a truism or you and I wouldn’t be here today having a debate about climate.  In historical perspective it was only a blink of the eye when we had our last Ice Age.  Can you try to imagine what that did to our ancestors?  The seas retreated dramatically.  You could walk from Britain to the Continent on dry land.
The Ice sheets reached down to the Loire valley and to modern Manhattan and formed the Great Lakes.  All those folks dependent on the seas for mussels and other sustenance had to relocate and then in another joke of Mother Nature everything reversed and the waters of the seas rose again dramatically and what was inland become coastline again.  They had only primitive tools and their brains to survive such upheavals and yet they did.  There were no canals, bulldozers, cranes and computer projections to aid them or any type of machine tools.

Next time you see some thugs on TV trying to demonstrate their toughness and give those intimidating stares do remember that they pale in resilience and courage to all our ancestors.   Those past gene donors  over the history of Man were the true tough guys.  They figured it out whatever the challenge, improvised and fought tyranny in the end for us to enjoy the fruits of this century.  The shame is to not live up to their same standard with the determination to control our own destiny whatever the circumstances of fate put in our way.

“Theirs but to do or die”  Tennyson….www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Environment, Global Warming, history, Mother Nature

Much Ado About Old Inequality

For months the liberal or socialist left has been trumpeting the alleged great cause of eliminating the alleged inequality in American economic life.  Well, blow me over with a feather!  You mean we don’t all make exactly the same amount of income?   The fact that some do exceedingly well and others do much better seems to come as a great shock to our Left and they are determined to eradicate it by any means and all means.

Such disparity is as old as recorded history.  The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments is filled with references to the rich and poor and the discrepancies between them.  Just read Proverbs or Ecclesiastes or Mathew if you want a citation.   Likewise ancient Greece is replete with similar concerns and conflicts to resolve the wealth gap.  Indeed the ire of the middle class and the lower classes in Greece lead the Tyrants who ruled under law and the laws of Draco (our Draconian usage).  You are reminded that the Tyrants, dictators, who came to power in roughly the 6th century did so to protect” and promote the middle classes and what they got was some redistribution and lots of dictatorship.  Nothing has changed over the centuries.  Stalin provided and quite even playing field but he also established all the rules of the game and lo to anyone who wished to  march to a different drummer.

If people are allowed to have freedom to differ one from the other you will always have inequality.  It is a truism that some can’t seem to abide because they want to be in charge of all the rules.  Further there is nothing inconsistent with a society having great income inequality but at the same time being charitable and caring about their fellow man.  The Bible is also filled with commands to aid the poor not only in wealth but in spirit.  The French just before the Revolution had forgotten that part of the duality.  Our goal should never be to eliminate inequality for that leads to a Dante’s inferno of mediocrity and brutal coercion; our goal should be to provide equality of lanes on the path to a better life restricted only by our own ambition and desires.  Some will always choose to live by Walden’s pond and others will want to be a Wall Street Master of the Universe.  Our society should allow and encourage both.  For the slovenly and lazy I refer you to Proverbs and the lazy man who reaps no crops; he doesn’t need or deserve charity but chastisement.

Lastly, it was written that liberty and inequality are not associates but rather enemies.  The former will in direct proportion lead to inequality and the lack of liberty will likewise lead to more equality of mediocrity or outright misery and oppression to maintain the equality balance.  This was observed by Will Durant, American philosopher and anthropologist and certainly not any sort of right-winger.  Read his twelve volumes sometime for your own edification and to agree or disagree with his comments on the civilization of Man.

“he that oppreseth the poor reproacheth his Maker, but he that horoureth him hath mercy on the poor”. Prvbs 14/31

http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, government, history, religion

History And Settled Science

Most of you won’t remember or probably have never even heard of the “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson that was published in the ’60’s.  Its main focus was on the use and alleged overuse of DDT for crop protection and general application for pest control for all manner of botanical life.  She posited that DDT was deadly and had become so pervasive that our very existence was at risk or at a minimum all our children would have three legs.  It covered all manner of other woes created by a modern industrial society and predicted our doom unless we retreated to more Eden-like life.   Well, the Left took up the cause and DDT was indeed banned for decades based on her alleged science which was supposedly confirmed by the vast majority of scientists. Trouble was there wasn’t really any science behind her allegations and in recent years on the very back pages as opposed to her front page assertions of decades ago the error was acknowledged and further acknowledged that the poorest in the world suffered the most by lack of DDT to increase crop production.

Likewise it was settled science for decades from at least the ’70’s that all cholesterol was deadly.   Every food manufacturer around went to great lengths to develop butter and all manner of food stuffs that were low in cholesterol or even free of it.   We were all warned to cut out that steak and buttered potato.   Again on the back pages recently you may have noticed that now we learn that in fact that was wrong.  You can enjoy your eggs and bacon without undue worry it seems after all. The Left also adopted this theory and it was agreed by the “scientific community”.

Now its the turn of the vitamin supplements.  We’ve been taught that science tells us we need all these special diets or pills to be healthy and that only the rich or 1% get access to those supplements.  The height of the concern is very evident in the current Federal push of O to control diets in the schools. But did you notice in the last month that now research shows that too many of those supplements actually increases the risks of cancer?

The hard sciences are much more trustworthy when it comes to agreeing upon “settled science”. That would be fields such a physics or astronomy for example.  Usually they will say they are still working on an issue and the implications for the future.  They are not so prone to sweeping generalizations and projections about future human behavior.

Science and the scientific method are wonderful.  But when politicians get involved be sure you truly believe they are acting on science and not ideology.  Especially when there is an entire “industry” built around one particular view of an issue.  Are they grants, professorships and lots of bureaucratic jobs dependent on one special view of an issue?  If so be very careful.  Examine the facts and take the rhetoric cautiously.  This applies to any matter.  I can recall when we were all going to die simply because we built some nuclear power plants.   Many very famous scientists from around the globe predicted this as a scientific fact.   Check on YouTube news clips from the ’60’s.  Last I checked we are still here.   The bigger worry you should have is how many of us will there be down the road but we’ll save that for another day.

“It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible non-conformist warmly acclaimed”  Albert Einstein.  olcranky.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Environment, Global Warming, government, history

2 Cents Worth On Life Its Ownself

Ok, sports fans and the great unwashed out there, buckle up for another ride on the
Wabash Cannonball express down the valley of curiosities of the inquiring mind.

Ebola hysteria reigns at least in the headlines and surely in many a concerned household.  But recall that mankind has dealt with far worse plagues and disease outbreaks in times past and we are still here.  The Roman Empire had two major episodes with plague, the 14th century saw an estimated 25 to 33% decline in population from the plague and likewise the 17th century had a horrible outbreak on the plague.  London was hit with the plague and the Great Fire in the 1660’s.  There were two common themes to all these occurrences.   First the plague eventually played itself out.  Either there weren’t enough hosts left to support it or mankind developed its on immunity through the natural processes of biology, or some combination of both.  The medical treatment was simply to let the sick lay down and give them nurture from those willing to risk being near them.  The second feature all those centuries ago was a quarantine.  History is replete with ships from suspected areas of contamination being denied access to port.  They were told to sail away, as recently happened with that cruise ship that was denied docking in Belize and Mexico.  Even with their less sophisticated medical knowledge the ancients understood the basic benefit of cutting off all intercourse with infected areas or people whether that was a nation-state, city or individual.  We really don’t need to try and re-invent the wheel here.  If we did absolutely nothing,  ebola would die away at some point but we can accelerate that process with sensible isolation policy.

ISIS–never go to war half-heartedly and without an intention to destroy and defeat your enemy.  History makes this point clear.  One has only to look at Korea and Viet Nam to see the efficacy of that maxim.  As has been said before War is too important to be left to the politicians.  Once the decision is made to answer the bugle’s call, let the military achieve their assigned objective.   And certainly never telegraph your punch.  Don’t tell the enemy what you will or will not do militarily.   To the contrary let them know that you will do whatever is required to destroy them.   As evil as ISIS is we should eliminate them.  Yes, send in combat troops to every center where they are now nesting.  Kill every one of them we can find.  Sure some will survive and the ideology of hate of that branch of the Muslim world will still exist.  But not one dime of help, aid or nation building.   Destroy what we have to and leave.  Be prepared to come back and do it again in a few years if necessary.   Such a p0licy would encourage most Muslims that there is a better way to express their religion and to function in the modern world with peace and such progress economically as they choose and pursue on their own initiative.

I noted the recent article pointing out how ordinary folks were having their bank accounts seized by the IRS because of a pattern of making cash deposits of less than 10k.   People, that has been the law for decades regrettably.  I have always abhorred those RICO and money laundering laws.  I do understand the desire to corral the mafia and other assorted bad guys,  I don’t like them and wish them nothing but the worst life can offer.  But go after them for an actual crime and why create a “crime” for someone doing what they wish with their own money?   That law is especially egregious.   You can be convicted of a crime for simply taking your own money, honestly earned, and depositing it in your own bank account if you do so in a manner that some damn assistant US attorney in his mind thinks is a “pattern to avoid reporting requirement”.  Hells bells what have we come to?  This is  supposed to be the US where you can mind your own business and live you live quietly and even off the grid if you prefer.  Unless it is stolen money or the fruit of some specific criminal activity you should have the right to do with your money as you damn well please and not be required to offer and explanation to anyone–including the Feds.   And if it is ill-gotten gains then the Feds must be required to prove that in court before they can lay hands on your money.

Karl Marx viewed everything and explained everything in society and the economy as part of the class war.  Modern Democrats divide all Americans by class and view all their political strategies as part of a class struggle.  Black and white, the 99%, war on women, you name it.   They clearly have read their  Marx thoroughly.   Capitalism was the great evil Satan for Marx and what Democrat these days (with rare exceptions) has anything decent to say about Capitalism?  Bernie Sanders is an openly avowed Socialist and believes government should own the means of production for many major industries just as Marx proposed.  Today the Demos don’t advocate direct takeover but they accomplish their goal a bit more subtly by Federal regulation.  They have just turned the entire health care industry into a government utility.  Their prices, services and means of operation have to all  meet Federal standards.   Even the Marx dictum of “the dictatorship of the proletariat” is alive and thriving in the Democratic agenda.  Now the dictatorship is the elites in government whether elected or part of the vast army, literally, of bureaucrats doing the will of their party at EPA, HHS, FERC, FCC , etc.   They know better than the common man  what  is good for him.   Just as the Commies the Democrats don’t really trust the people at all.   You think FDR’s old buddy Stalin trusted those millions in the Ukraine that he starved to death?  Or the other countless millions he and his successors condemned to the Gulag.  Read your Solzhenitzin.

“Where men cannot freely convey their thoughts to one anther, no other liberty is secure”  Wm. Hocking, American 20th century philosopher.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under business, Culture, Economics, Foreign Affairs, government, history, Politics, Socialized Medicine