Friday, November 19, 2010

Vacation Time

     I will be offline, or perhaps I should say “unplugged” for the next three weeks. We are leaving Sunday to drive to Georgetown, Texas, where we will visit friends over Thanksgiving. On Black Friday we will drive with our friends to Galveston, where we will see the sights on Saturday, the 27th, and on Sunday we will take a cruise to Cozumel, Belize and Honduras. After the cruise we will drive home.
     Check back for more blogging about December 13th. In the meantime, if you get bored, buy the book.
     The fact that there is a great deal of controversy regarding the physical creation as outlined in the book of Genesis is not new, and the disagreement will probably continue for a long time, perhaps forever. So I will ignore the details of physical creation and concentrate on the spiritual matters related in that wise book.
     The Wisdom of Genesis – The Spirit Runs Through It.

The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Men Never Outgrow Their Love of Toys

     I guess I am no different from most other men – I like gadgets. I know there are some wonderful toys that I am missing, but if I am sure I have no use for an iPhone, xBox, and the like, I don't buy them. And I decided that even though the ultimate toy, my car, is 10 model years old, it's in good shape, and I don't need a new one. However, we are driving from Pennsylvania to Texas next week, so I did spring for a GPS, and it's really fascinating.
     I downloaded the owner's manual and after perusing it, sort of (owners' manuals are to use when you can't figure it out otherwise), I entered my home address into the instrument. I had to test that, so I drove a couple of miles, turned around, and hit the “Home” button.
     I was a bit disappointed in the results: it got me home OK, but it didn't take the shortcuts I would have taken. It did keep saying “recalculating” a few times, and when I got within a block or two of the house, it found just the way I would have. I guess it needs to live here a while to learn the little tricks.
     Of course, I tried it on some other local destinations, and all in all it worked out pretty well. I am sure that if I were a stranger in this area, it would get me where I wanted to go, although I would use a bit more gas than a local would. I know it will come in handy on our trip for finding food, gas and lodging.
     I also got curious about the behind-the-scenes working of the device, so I did a little homework. Generally one must be in line-of-sight to four satellites. Each one sends out its precise location and time, and three of them intersect at the GPS instrument to give its location in space at the instant of intersection. But if the time at the instrument is not exactly correct, the location may be off by an unacceptable distance. Hence, the fourth satellite's time signal is compared to the time the hand held instrument is recording, and the difference is used to calculate the spatial displacement.
     You got that? Neither do I, but you can look it up if you are interested. Suffice to say, if it hadn't been for Einstein, we would not have a GPS system, and I would not have a new toy.
     We can observe the rites of a religion; we can photograph or record them, but we cannot record the emotions, beliefs and attitudes which the participants entertain as a group. Likewise we can photograph a rain dance, but the photos do not indicate what the group has in mind as a group. We can observe the zigs and zags of a school of sardines, but we cannot photograph the instincts or communications behind the highly synchronized motions as a group.
     Constructs For Understanding the spirit – The Spirit Runs Through It.

     The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Deficit Reduction and the Recession.

     President Obama's bipartisan commission on deficit reduction has released a draft of some of the things the full panel is considering. The final report is due December 1st, but members of the panel are not sure that they will be able to agree on provisions of the magnitude of those in the draft by that time. In any event, if Congress were to vote on the full proposal (which is doubtful), the vote would be non-binding.
     The commission is apparently doing a good job, because there is plenty for everyone, regardless of ideology, to hate.
     Liberals positively loathe the idea of cutting back on the (usually) annual COLA adjustment for Social Security recipients, raising the retirement age to 69 by the year 2075, and making a larger portion of Social Security benefits subject to Federal Income Tax. For example, the President of the AFL-CIO commented, "The chairmen of the deficit commission just told working Americans to 'drop dead.'"
     And Conservatives cannot swallow elimination of the mortgage interest deduction, a drastic reduction in the Pentagon's budget, and an increase of 15 cents per gallon in the gasoline tax (which also might help us become less dependent on foreign oil).
     In addition, the draft recommends a three year freeze on pay raises for the federal work force, which would be cut by 10%. Surprisingly, the recently enacted healthcare plan would remain, but with greatly increased cost-control provisions. Employer-provided health plans would no longer be tax free, but tax rates would be substantially lowered. Both sides of the aisle have trouble with the elimination of all earmarks.
     I believe the full report may well jump-start talks on deficit reduction, but having said that, I also think it comes at precisely the wrong time. In a serious recession and job emergency such as the one we are experiencing now, the government should be spending money on projects that will create jobs and benefit the country in the long run: construction of highways, railroads, dams, power grids, etc; technology, education, development of renewable energy sources, and other long-term projects. This could be done directly, by pumping cash into such projects, or indirectly by means of tax breaks and loan guarantees.
     When things turn prosperous, as they will, then we should get serious about deficit reduction. We should have learned all this in the 1930s, but apparently no one studies history anymore.
     I know, it ain't gonna happen. But it should.
     The Spirit's activity started simultaneously with the creation of the universe. Within a tiny fraction of the first second, the point/events which were to become the universe were transformed into a gaseous mixture of quarks, electrons, photons, neutrinos and other particles. A few minutes later they began to combine to form the nuclei of the lighter elements: hydrogen, helium and lithium.
     Matter Matters – The spirit Runs Through It.

The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Cheap vs. Good?

     NBC Nightly News is reporting that President Obama will not be visiting the city of Bangalore during his current trip to India. To learn why, a little background information is required.
     Joe Pitts (R), our district representative to Congress, submits a weekly column to our local newspaper. A few weeks ago Rep. Pitts was complaining about the uncertain playing field the Obama administration has created for businesses. This uncertainty is a major contributor to the lack of available jobs. According to Representative Pitts, if businesses would know what to expect in the way of taxes, healthcare, environmental costs, etc., they would immediately set about creating jobs galore. In addition, they would invest in more efficient software, equipment, new products and all sorts of wonderful things.
      What has not made the news lately is that businesses are already investing heavily in software, automation and efficiency. They are also investing heavily in new jobs – in Bangalore among other places.
     According to the news report, in just this one city there are 4,000,000 workers handling outsourced work from other countries; 60% of their work comes from the United States! According to my calculation, that's 2,400,000 jobs that have been outsourced by American businesses!
     Add to that the huge number of Chinese people employed in making those many “quality” products, (widespread recalls of Chinese products: toys, clothes, milk and toothpastes occurred in 2008) and it becomes obvious that if all those jobs had been kept at home, unemployment would be minimal. (Also the dangers of preferring low cost over acceptable quality would have been minimized.)
     In 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot heard the “great sucking sound” of jobs being drawn to Mexico as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Perhaps visiting Bangalore would have been a good side trip for President Obama. He would have heard a “woosh” that makes Perot's “sucking sound” akin to that of sipping soda through a straw.
     Oh yes, a note to Rep. Pitts – Businesses can easily handle the current playing field; what they need is customers. But perhaps you will find that out during the next two years.
     I do not mean to give the impression that each advance is brought about by the conscious creative efforts of individuals. The Spirit is blind and non-directional; it is not about improvement; it is about the act of creation. New constructs are born from the constructs available at a given time, and along the way it is likely that there are as many creative failures as successes. But as constructs become available for further use, the failures tend to disappear, while the successes lead to further successes.
     A Comprehensive Example – The Spirit Runs Through It.

The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Liberals and Conservatives Need Each Other

     I know that deep down, all people who subscribe to either of the two major political ideologies, liberal or conservative, want the same things: prosperity for America and its citizens; they differ only in the means of achieving these ends. What most people do not realize, however, is that either ideology unchecked by the other would result in chaos; the two are complementary.
     Those who have read my book, The Spirit Runs Through It, are familiar with the principle that every instant of creation is determined by the immediately preceding one, and becomes the raw material for the creation of the following one.
     Two things are necessary: the raw material and the creation. Their operation is both simultaneous and linear – raw material...creation...raw material...creation...etc. Nothing comes from nothing. Can you imagine the chaos that would result if objects suddenly appeared out of thin air and disappeared just as mysteriously? (It is worth noting that creation in this sense is not synonymous with betterment.)
     The principle is universal; it applies not only to the universe as a whole, but also to every object - every concept, real or imaginary; every feeling; every wisp of creation in far off outer space - within the universe. And so it applies to ideologies.
     Those on the right believe that government's role is to provide the “raw material” that citizens and businesses cannot provide for themselves – such things as the armed forces, highways, teachers, etc.
     Personal responsibility is the highest good. If one is willing to work hard, overcome the competition, and is determined to succeed, he will be rewarded, perhaps in a big way.
     Additionally the maxim from 2nd Thessalonians, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” also applies. If one is unwilling or incapable of caring for himself, his relatives or a private charity will need to act as caregiver.
     The same principle applies to businesses - if one fails, so be it. Through its maintenance of basic systems - monetary, commercial, courts, etc. - government insures equality of opportunity.  
     Partisans on the left believe that government's role is to guarantee a good life to all its citizens. They need protection not only from each other, but also from forces greater than themselves: charlatans, those richer than themselves, big business, market fluctuations, illness, etc. - an ever-growing list.
     In addition, the government should provide incentives in the form of unemployment insurance, social security, healthcare and other benefits in order that citizens are relieved of concern for the future.
     As a result, citizens are free to express themselves in various creative ways. The object is to insure equality of resources.
     The foregoing paragraphs describe the extreme ends of the ideological spectrum; fortunately each of today's political parties is somewhat more towards the middle.
     We have developed the habit of electing one party into office until their failures become apparent, then ousting them and installing their opponents. As a result, the political system oscillates between the two ideologies very much the way an auto jerks and stalls when a new driver is learning to operate a stick shift.
     Left to itself, the right would leave the consumer at the mercy of business. There would be no child labor laws, minimum wage laws, employee health insurance, pension plans or social security. Environmental deterioration would be accelerated. Businesses would migrate to areas of the world where costs are lowest, resulting in gross joblessness. Our highways would be superb, but very few people could afford cars.
     By the same token, an unchecked left would soon have business and industry so bogged down with restrictions, required expenses and taxes that continued operations would be impossible. Citizens would have little incentive to work; with so much free time on people's hands, mischief and crime would run rampant.
     As of now, both these tendencies are operating. It becomes obvious from this discussion that America would be in deep trouble if either one of these beliefs were to completely disappear.
     We need to listen to the universe and have both ideologies operate simultaneously. Cooperation doesn't come easily – in fact it hasn't come at all in recent years. It bodes ill when a leader of one party says "the single most important thing" Republicans want to achieve in the next Congress "is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
     At the present time the political atmosphere is one of highly charged antagonism between the two ideologies, resulting in legislative gridlock. I do not believe that ousting the “ins” will improve matters.
     The founding fathers disagreed violently and argued strenuously about many things, and wound up compromising on a form of government which, despite internal troubles, has endured for over 200 years. Are there any men like that around today?
     For example, if we schedule a meeting on the third floor of the building at the intersection of King and Queen Streets at 9:00 am, most of us would have no trouble attending. We have simply substituted King Street for length, Queen Street for width, third floor for height, and added the time.
     An In-Depth Look at the Spirit's Activity – The Spirit Runs Through It.

      The book or a free download is available in paperback or on Kindle.