Posted tagged ‘perspectives’

Election Day

November 9, 2022

3dflags-usa1-3Election Day should be a showplace for America democracy, the end of long political campaigns during which each candidate makes their best pitch to the voters then retires to campaign headquarters to await the results of the vote count.   Winners thank their constituents and promise to represent all citizens.   Losers hold out as long as they can then thank their supporters and grudgingly concede.  Some promises are kept, some forgotten … and we find out if our choices were good ones, always knowing that in two years, we get to choose again.  Democracy goes on.   That’s how it should be.  How it used to be when being a democracy was more important than partisan politics. (more…)

Classified

August 29, 2022

clearance-01This morning I found an article on the Washington Post that claims 5.1 million Americans have security clearances, which amounts to 1.5% of the population.  It occurs to me that is why so many people seem to think that a former president taking huge amounts of classified material to his home is OK.   They’ve never seen what ordinary Americans who work with security clearances have to do every day to work with sensitive information.  I have worked for 60 years on defense systems, mostly sensor systems that keep track of the vessels and vehicles of countries that might mean us harm.   I have held clearances at most of the levels mentioned in the affidavit justifying the search of Mira Lago … Confidential, Secret, Top Secret and special access.  At each step, I was trained in the rules for handling classified documents at that level.  I had a safe in my office where I kept any classified documents in my possession. (more…)

Giving

August 21, 2022

charityMy wife, Muri, and I could hardly be called philanthropists, but we do our best to support charities.  We have been most fortunate in our lives and it only seems right.  Muri mostly takes care of the medical research organizations like the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association.  We usually support research in areas that have affected us, our family and friends.  Monthly, she donates to one or two of our causes, using a rotation formula only she knows.  I donate monthly to several causes and donate, mostly online, to causes as the urge strikes me.   In addition to medical causes, I donate to animal causes like the ASPCA and Humane society and to environmental causes like the Sierra Club.   And political contributions.   I never made political donations until 2020, when Trump was threatening to get four more years.   I donated to anti-Trump organizations like The Lincoln Project, to the Democratic Party and to critical democratic candidates, quite generously for a mostly non-political guy. (more…)

Useta

May 19, 2022

happy_birthday_to_youLooking back a bit on the eve of my 78th birthday …

I useta get up the day after a marathon with legs so sore I could hardly walk.  Now I don’t need the marathon.

I useta think my wife was lucky to have me.   Now I know that I’m the lucky one and that spending fifty years with her is the best thing in my life.

I useta solve complex mathematical and statistical problems.   Now I do Wordle and figure out how to fix the shutters in our office.

I useta ride a bike fifty miles a week.  Now I ride a stationary bike that goes nowhere for 30 minutes.

I useta think that people were basically good.   Now I look around at what’s going on in the world and I’m not so sure. That makes me very sad.

I useta be an engineer who thought he was meant to be a writer.   Now I am a writer who useta engineer.

I useta do triathlons … swim, bike and run.   Now do the old guy triathlon … I walk on the track at the gym, ride the stationary bike and shower.

I useta be a liberal.  Then I was a moderate.   Then a conservative.  Now I’m not so sure I want to be associated with any of them.

I useta think that 78 sounded very old.   Now I know I wasn’t wrong.

I useta know the words to virtually every song I loved.   Now I still do but I can’t always remember who sang them.

It useta make me sad that no one seemed to feel music like I do.    Now I know it is a gift that brings me untold joy and connects me to the Infinite.

I useta think I’d never move to Utah.   Now I am happily living there, ten minutes from my grandkids with a view of the mountains.

I useta be a seeker.   I still am and will be to the day I die.   I’m OK with that.

Navigating the News

April 25, 2022

Breaking-NewsOne of the books I read a page from (almost) every morning is 365 Prescriptions for the Soul by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel.  Dr. Siegel is a writer and retired pediatric and general surgeon who writes and teaches about mind-body medicine and the relationship between the patient and the healing process.  I find his one page essays on living a good way to start the day, even on days when I don’t agree with his suggestions.  A few weeks ago, in an essay titled The News, he suggested that I should Never watch the news before you go to bed, after you wake up or during the day and you’ll live a longer happier life.   I’ve been thinking about his advice on and off since I read it. (more…)

Not MyTube

April 19, 2022

UtubeYesterday, I posted about how much I enjoy listening to live music on YouTube and how well their algorithms seem to find similar music and similar artists that I enjoy.   I concluded by saying that, at least when it comes to music, YouTube is MyTube.   On topics other than music, however, the YouTube algorithms seem to miss their mark as to what I’d like to see. (more…)

(Anti-)Social

March 1, 2022

socialPicture this, if you will.  Everyone’s electronic devices … phones, computers, tablets … are connected to a massive computer that monitors everything they do and uses that information to control what they believe, think and do.  Or.  Imagine that your devices and everything you do on them is displayed to a team of managers whose job it is to keep you online as long as possible and to drive you to look at certain advertisers’ information.  Sounds like a 1990s science fiction film, but it’s not.  These are two of the images the film, The Social Dilemma, uses to illustrate the ways that social media like Facebook and Instagram are damaging our society through manipulating what we look at based upon our actions online.  The film offers three areas of concern: mental health because studies show a decline in mental health and life satisfaction greater use of social media; decline of democracy because of disinformation campaigns on social media; and rising extremism because the majority of people in extremist groups were steered there by social media. (more…)

Oh My, Omicron

December 28, 2021

covidIs anyone else tired of reading about Covid-19 and its variants?   How about reading different and conflicting accounts of how dangerous the new and improved (from the virus’ point of view) omicron variant will turn out to be?  After all, in South Africa, the onslaught seems to have petered out but reliable sources tell me that won’t necessarily be the case here.  So, here I am again, trying to decide whether I should attend activities in our over 55 community or be one of the small percentage of (mostly) seniors wearing masks in the market.  With two vaccinations and a booster for both my wife and I, life seemed to be returning to a semblance of normalcy and, sure, I’m glad to hear that this provides some protection against omicron … but how much some is enough?  Sometimes, I wish I was brain-dead enough to follow the Q-Anons down the conspiracy theory rat hole and dismiss the entire thing as a hoax.  But seventy-seven years have left my brain still functioning, at least enough to dismiss idiotic theories. (more…)

Rich Guys in Space

December 12, 2021

(Almost) space, the (almost) final frontier.  These are the brief trips of the (almost) starship New Shepard.  It’s continuing mission: to stoke the egos of billionaires; to explore absolutely nothing except new ways to waste money; to briefly go where quite a few men have gone before (and they had a genuine scientific purpose!)

blue originOnce again this week the news is punctuated with the latest flight of Rich Guys in Space.  This time it’s Blue Origin’s ship, the New Shepard, that carried six passengers, including football player Micheal Strahan and the daughter of (real) astronaut, Alan Shepard, on a sub-orbital joyride.  According to Insider, the six space tourists experienced a few minutes of weightlessness 62 miles above Earth, widely considered the edge of space, before floating back to Earth in a pressurized capsule that detaches from the rocket.  The reports on the flight are filled with exclamations about exploration and missions and the crew but for the most part, these are paying passengers and invited guests … and the flight is a mini-vacation.   What says exploration more than a football player and the offspring of a real astronaut.  What says mission more than one seat on a future flight selling at $28 million dollars in auction or science more than bringing along (on a previous flight) the guy who played a captain of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek. (more…)

Stupid? Or Not?

August 31, 2021

dunceToday a friend sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal by Lance Morrow titled You Are Living in the Golden Age of Stupidity.  The article pretty much describes everything that has happened for the last four plus years as stupid, regardless of political party.  We live in a golden age of stupidity, he says.  It is everywhere. President Biden’s conduct of the withdrawal from Afghanistan will be remembered as a defining stupidity of our time—one of many. The refusal of tens of millions of people to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus will be analyzed as a textbook case of stupidity en masse. Stupid is as stupid does, or, in the case of vaccination, as it doesn’t do.  Every buffoonery of the president and his people was answered by an idiocy from the other side, which in its own style was just as sinister and just as clownish. (more…)