(Even the ones that send me flaming emails every day.)
December 21, 2009
(Even the ones that send me flaming emails every day.)
December 17, 2009
December 5, 2009
To begin with, MasterPo is NOT a conspiracy theorist!
Never have been.
Never will be.
But 1+1 still equals 2 (no matter how much they try to re-write school books and impose "outcome-based" education over the three R's!).
Before you think I've gone completely over the cliff, with Kool Aid in hand, please read on.
During the November 27, 2009 broadcast of the Glenn Beck show on Fox News Glenn spoke with an economist/financial advisor Damon Vickers of Nine Points Capital who previously had been interview on CNN and brought up the topic. Glenn was shocked the CNN reported wasn't surprised when Mr. Vickers connected the current economic problem and the massive U.S. government borrowing and spending with the establishment of the often claimed "new world order" and "one world government".
Normally I don't put any stock in claims of these things. These kinds of conspiracy theories hold that this has been a goal of various groups for centuries. If there was a conspiracy to take over the world spanning centuries they sure aren't doing a good job of it!
But now, with the economy and government spending what it is, I agree with Mr. Beck that it is possible to connect the dots (though still not at all a certainty but well worth exploring).
As of writing this the U.S. Federal government has spent and/or committed to spending $13 TRILLION over the next 10 years. That is in addition to the $12 TRILLION in outstanding debt the U.S. Treasury already owes right now! Let me add it up for you: That's $25 TRILLION!!!
And that's before any sort of National Healthcare plan, additional stimulus and/or bailout funding, emergency/disaster spending, war spending (if "war" is even in the American official lexicon anymore), pet projects and wanna-do's, etc etc etc.
ALL of this spending has been financed by the Federal Government borrowing money from overseas (at this time, mainly China) in the form of selling U.S. Treasury Bonds.
Just try to imagine the kind of economic grow and tax revenue generation that will be needed to pay down even merely half of that debt! Remember that people were so deeply concerned about a national debt of "just" $12 trillion at the end of 2008.
Meanwhile, national unemployment is over 10% and expected to rise even more (state/local unemployment is nearly 20% in a great many places!).
So where is all this money going to come from to pay even just half of the new (never mind the existing!) $13 TRILLION debt??
The answer is really very simple: It doesn't exist!
When debt gets that high the concept of any sort of meaningful ability to pay it down (much less pay it off completely) become pointedly absurd. In other words, it simply can not be paid down any meaningful amount. Even if all forms of taxation doubled and "the rich" were taxed 80%-90%-even 100% at certain income levels there simply is not enough money to make paying it down a reasonable – or even rational – concept!
(Not to mention the stake though the heart of the American economy such taxation would do thereby killing the very source of the tax revenue stream needed to pay the debt!)
So what does all this mean?
One word: Receivership
"A type of bankruptcy a company enters when a receiver is appointed by bankruptcy courts or creditors to run the company." (my bolding)
(Source: receivership. (n.d.). Investopedia.com. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/receivership)
Replace "company" with Nation and I think you begin to see the "new world order" and "one world government" angle.
With receivership comes being insolvent.
"Having ceased paying or unable to pay debts as they fall due in the usual course of business; having liabilities in excess of a reasonable market value of assets held; insufficient to pay all debts."
(Source: insolvent. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/insolvent)
Even in such a bad economic state we still are a HUGE consumer base, military base, technology and information services base. So, as the current popular jargon likes to say, the United States is just "Too Big To Fail".
Who is the creditor of the United States?
China mainly but also Europe, Russia, Japan, even the Saudis!
If the U.S. is deemed insolvent the rest of the world will not simply say "Oh well" and walk away. They gave us mega $$$ and expect all or at least as much as they can back! (so would I!)
Probably through the IMF and the UN the world would point the U.S. into receivership.
Remember what happened to General Motors, AIG, Citigroup, Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, et al when the U.S. government had to bail them out. The bailout came with a steep price:
- The government now owns 60% of GM.
- The government has mandated pay and benefit cuts for AIG, Citi and Chase
- The government has made Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley key cogs in the system of selling U.S. Treasuries to overseas government (they already where but they did have a choice before, now they don't), etc.
So guess what happens when America is deemed to become insolvent and is put into global receivership?
Now China et al via the the UN and IMF can flex muscle and do things like want to "approve" the national budget, dictate domestic (and foreign) policy, even alter the tax code!
Just imagine China saying "No U.S., you're spending too much on military this year. Cut your military budget in half!" or "You want to give a tax cut? We don't think so. In fact, you should raise taxes more to help better pay us back!"
New World Order.
One World Government.
It may be closer then you ever thought!
This is the discussion between Mr. Beck and Mr. Vickers. Please watch it in it's entirety.
(Special note: I am not endorsing or supporting the website/group that put put this video segment on YouTube. Merely, this is the only complete piece of the video; Other sources cut it into 2 or 3 sections.)
November 23, 2009
November 21, 2009
Not with a gun shot.
But with something much worse – good intentions.
November 18, 2009
People like technical staff at Boeing and United Technologies?
And business people like corporate Executives and managers?
Do you expect these people to pick up a shovel and start laying concrete?
What do they know about building bridges?!
This is an excellent comment that I've heard Neil and others make before and yet never gets answered!
Are the jobs of Executives and senior level managers any less part of a healthy, growing economy?
November 16, 2009
· To be able to do, manage, or bear without serious consequence or adverse effect.
· To be able to meet the expense of; have or be able to spare the price of.
(source: afford. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc.
In recent times it has become all the fashion to tell someone "You can afford to pay more" or "You can afford to pay for this-or-that."
Do NOT confuse the ability to find the necessary money to pay for something with that something being "affordable".
To put it another way, just because a person is able to buy for a product or service does NOT mean they can afford to buy it!
"Affordable" means the ability to repeatedly pay for a product or service without impact on your other expenditures. Almost anyone can spend a lot of money once in a while (especially if you put it on credit!). But that doesn't make it affordable. Likewise, if in order for purchase A you have to reduce or eliminate your purchase of B then A is not affordable. You can only pay for A by reducing your cost of buying B. If A were affordable you could buy both A and B.
For example, during the summer of 2008 in my area of Long Island the price for a gallon of regular gasoline was approximately $4.00. I had to buy it. I had no choice. My car is the only practical mode of transportation for me to/from work (see my prior article about Green Travel). Even if gas had continued to go up to $6 or $8 or more a gallon I still would have needed to buy it.
But that does NOT mean I can afford $4, $6, $8 etc. per gal for gas. I was able to pay $4/gal in large part by not making other purchases that summer. In other words, the money I would have spent on something else I now had to use to buy gas to get to work. And as a result of taking money from other intended purchases the providers of those products/services lost my business! (i.e. my money) There just isn't enough for me to pay for both (without going into debt and I wasn't going to do that!)
So when you hear someone say "Oh, that person is 'rich', they can afford it!" sure they might be able to pay what your talking about – but only at the cost of not paying for something else!
And that is not how an economy grows and prospers. Taking money from one place to put somewhere else is just a paper shuffle. It does not great jobs or economic growth. Those things happen when people have the ability to pay (on a regular basis) for both things!
Taking $1,00 out of one pocket and putting it in the other doesn't give you $2.00
November 12, 2009
No advancements of materials for our materials engineers.
No advancements of construction for our builders.
No thousands of new jobs to build it, and thousands more to operate and maintain it.
November 3, 2009
Due more with less.
And my favorite: We all have to make sacrifices. (Gag me!)
These are just some of the currently trendy terms our politicians (and liberals) love to spout about how you and I as citizens need to get by with less money while they tax and spend like drunken sailors. Sickening isn't it?
But this article isn't necessarily about the politics. It's a realistic (because that's what I always am) view of what exactly can be cut back and "sacrificed" on to save money in your life.
I can only speak from my own life so the observations made here may not completely apply to you.
For a long time (long before President Obama and VP Biden made "sacrifice" a patriotic act) I have been looking at what me and my family could cut back on to put some more cash$$ into our pockets each month.
And this is what I have come up with: Not much!
Traditionally I have always been of the belief that no matter how close to the bone your financial life is there is always something you can reduce to save a few bucks. But lately I am at a loss for ideas. Or rather, the ideas I do have result in mere pennies of savings by comparison to the greater dollars of the cost of living.
There are few things we could do.
We could drop our Netflix account (about $5/month).We could drop our XM radio (about $10/month).We could drop our Tivo service (about $12/month). (*)
(* This option would then require me to replace our Tivo device with a cable converter box and our cable service company would charge me about the same $12/month for the box. So the savings from Tivo and the cost of a replacement box pretty much net out to nothing saved.)
So even if I did cancel these things (even the Tivo, not including the replacement cable box), at best I am saving about $30/month. Big deal. That isn't going to help pay my mortgage or put my kids through college. It's not such terrific savings that is going to have an impact on my life.
We don't go out to dinner on any sort of regular basis (and even when we do it's dinner at the corner diner or maybe Applebees half-price appetizers, not a Peter Luger steak house).
We rarely go to the movies and even then we get tickets half price or free as part of our cable service.We don't have season tickets to a sports team, opera, theater, etc.
We don't have a swimming pool (gave that up years ago already, but it was nice when we did! Wouldn't mind having one again some day.)
On the positive side:
We already switched about 80% of our light bulbs to CF's for the energy cost savings (long before it was so popular now).
We added a second layer of insulation to the attic.
Anytime we have replaced an appliance, a window or door it has been with an Energy Star efficient model.
In the summer the central A/C is set at 75; In the winter the heat is set at 67 (which is still damn cold!).
Lights? (like that Domino's commercial)
Food? (kinda already am; couldn't tell you the last time we had brand name orange juice in the house!)
So where to cut?
(note: Moving to a cheaper living area, while I would love to, simply isn't practical at this time so don't suggest that.)
October 29, 2009
Another example: Back in the 1980's a "luxury tax" of 50% was imposed on items such as boats.
This thinking is patently not true!
Like most rich vs. poor philosophies, this one fails on several accounts.
It doesn't take into account the possibility the buyer may be spending every last penny they have to afford whatever the product (or service) is. The person may have saved, scraped by, borrowed every penny they could in order to be able to make the purchase. There simply is not any more money to pay a tax with!
Or, it could be the person has made the decision to cut waaaaaaay back on other expenditure in order to have the money to pay for this product or service. In their decision process this thing is worth the reduction in purchases of other items in order to be able to have the funding.
Or, it could be the person is working extra long, extra hard, maybe even a second or third job to be able to have the money to buy whatever. To them the product or service is worth the additional work effort to get the money to have it.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that just because someone is able to purchase something does not automatically mean they have additional funds to pay big taxes on the product or service. Such think only serves to continue to foster the notion that "the rich" have been and always will be "rich" regardless of what government forces them to pay.
October 22, 2009
As before, SPOILER WARNING.
Continue at your own risk.
When the colonists first arrived in the warehouse it was clear that someone else had been living there. No one was around but there was bedding items, some canned food on shelves, a couple of this and that trappings of very basic life, etc. A few episodes later the now-former residence returned.
A man and a woman, Andre and Elizabeth, came in a back door with a key and surprised the colonists. Both are obviously actors like the rest of the outsiders the colonists meet. But they played their roles very well.
"Andre" is a very large and muscular man, clearly more a fighter than a thinker. The woman called "Elizabeth" seems to be playing the part of a scared and physically vulnerable woman alone in a world of anarchy. We (the audience, nor the participants of the Colony) don't know what either person was in life or did for work before the disaster that is the back drop for the show, though it's clear that dog-eat-dog has been their philosophy since then. It also isn't clear what the relationship is supposed to be between the two. Are they married? Lovers? Or just loosely banded together for mere survival? (Towards the end of the series Elizabeth appears at the door of the Colony alone asking for food and water; Later Andre comes in alone threatening the colonists; So it appears the two went separate ways soon after initially meeting the Colony participants.)
The Colony participants, after getting over the initial shock of their sanctuary being so easily "invaded" realize these are the people they thought had been living here when the show first started. Andre doesn't like that the colonists are in "his" warehouse and Elizabeth immediately starts sizing up what can be taken.
The colonists do try to be the better people and welcome them, albeit cautiously. The two claim to have been on a long range scavenging trip and now are just returning. The colonists show them around, show them all they have done to improve the warehouse, all they have so far created like filtering water, growing some food, producing electricity from wood gas powered generators etc. The colonists offer them food and the chance to stay as members of the colony. But with the understanding that the two follow the same rules and conduct as the rest of the colonists.
And there in lies the problem: Andre and Elizabeth (especially Andre) do not want to follow the rules! Andre goes so far as to say over dinner "What if I want to stay but not follow your rules? Just do my own thing?"
They want the benefits of living in the colony – the food, water, shelter, electricity etc – but refuse to take part in the operation, organization and work to advance the colony's survival. Things quickly come to a big confrontation as Andre and Elizabeth are found stealing food and other supplies from the Colony and the colonists are forced to physically drive them out of the building.
I think this episode more than any other of the show is an excellent example of the problem we face right now in today's society. That is, more and more and more people want to take the benefits of living in the American society yet fewer and fewer and fewer are willing to obey the rules and laws, and especially fewer and fewer are willing to contribute to the society by hard work in education and later vocation that adds value to the society!
More and more people just don't see the "need" to contribute to society. I am not referring to the tired old liberal saying "Give back to the society that made you." That's a rallying call for taking resources away from building a society by usurping the energy and vitality of people that otherwise would have been put towards advancing the economy which in turn helps all.
I'm referring to "contributing" by going to school (or vocational training) and earning your diploma or degree, getting started in a career (as oppose to languishing for years and years at a minimum wage Wendy's or Starbucks job), voting and taking part in your community, saving and investing for your own future and that of your family, maybe even starting a business or buying into a business etc. That is how people contribute and "give back" or pay back society from which they take the benefits of living in.
But too much now people, especially (and frighteningly!) young people just don't see the importance much less the need to break out of the "fun zone" of youth and start building for their own futures. Then they complain that others have things and/or more things than they do.
You don't build an expanding, healthy economy or society when there are more takers than givers.
Liberals often say that a society is measured by how well it cares for those who can't care for themselves. I don't know where that brain-fart of a line came from. Nevertheless, there is a big difference between caring for someone who can't care for themselves vs. caring for someone who is capable yet unwilling to provide at least some care or input for themselves!
Remember that even the Roman Empire wasn't conquered but collapsed from with in as more people demanded services and fewer were willing to work for those services.
History is sometimes prolog.
October 18, 2009
This is the new definition of "selfishness" : Putting the needs and care of yourself and your dependents (those who you are responsible for like your family) first before someone else is now being "selfish".
How did we get to a point where it is considered "selfish" to look out first for your own needs and well being and those you have responsibility for before trying to care for someone else?
Every day I see people working longer and harder than ever before and still slipping in their ability to care for themselves and their families. Yet these are the same people who are being lambasted for not doing enough to help others.
What are they doing now to ensure they will no longer need help as quickly as possible?
The truth is that in a great many cases the answer is: Nothing!
The hard workers have to support themselves and their own responsibilities and others who just don't think or try as hard. And when the hard workers balk they are called "selfish".
So sue me.
October 15, 2009
To say there is much debate about what the proposed healthcare plan, specifically H.R. 3200, does and doesn't do, covers and doesn't cover, and what the impact may be is an understatement.
I do, however, want to address the great unknown of the plan in the context of systems and unforeseen outcomes.
The Butterfly Effect
Law Unintended Consequences
Whatever you wish to call it the fact is that sweeping laws and regulatory changes often come with a barrel of unintended and unforeseen events. While I agree that isn't a reason not to undertake certain changes, when dealing with such sweeping and far reaching changes haste and get-it-done attitudes are not what is needed.
The problem didn't form overnight. Neither should the answer.
There is a saying: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."
October 12, 2009
For me (and I'm sure others too) that's part of the fun of a grand event. Seeing all the different kayaks brands and models, and even more interestingly take note of how anglers have rigged their yaks. You never know where a good idea will come from that you want to copy!
Won't be cheap. The hull alone can be $1,500 even on sale. Then add in the turbo fins, larger sailing rudder etc. And I need a new fish finder (maybe now is my chance to get the side scan unit I've talked about!). Going to take a while to outfit it but I have all winter.
October 8, 2009
The name has become as synonymous with alternative politics nearly as much as Obama's.
While I do agree that Congressman Paul does have some good points to make and good ideas to try to implement, if he ever were elected as President he would be ineffective at best. An abject failure (in term of his state policies) at worst.
I know there are a lot of Ron Paul minions out there but before you flame me follow:
While a President does set the agenda, to make real, substantive change a President can not do it alone. A President also needs a supporting Congress. A political party, to be successful, needs both a President and controlling majority in the Congress (Senate too would be helpful).
Ron Paul would have neither.
Presuming Ron Paul ran as an Independent and somehow managed to win the Presidency (someday, he isn't getting any younger!) while he would no doubt have the support of some in Congress, "independents" are not a party and as such do not have the party unity needed to control a body like Congress. Ron Paul would have to work at best with a so-so supportive Republican Congress or very adversarial Democrat Congress. The only President to succeed in the latter with in the last 50 years was Ronald Reagan. And Ron Paul is no Ronald Reagan.
A President can not act alone. Even with the power of Executive Orders the President does not have the authority to issue EO's for things like taxes, budgets, military procurement, social programs etc. That ceases to be a President and becomes a dictator. Not something America wants regardless of how blind many people are.
If Ron Paul somehow won the Presidency as a Republican candidate, given his very outsider and controversial history he sure would not have the full unity of the Republicans in Congress behind him either.
So while I like and even agree with some of his stated goals and policy changes, the reality is that if he were to be President he would fall far short of the hopes so many have placed on him. For change may start at the top. But change needs support from below too.
No man is an island.
September 28, 2009
Beware of people offering you favors. Not everyone who says they are doing you a favor is in fact doing a good thing for you. Even if the concept is good the final result may not be so great.
Case in point:
Recently my wife's company started a policy where you could work from home 2 days a week. They said it was to help people off set the costs of commuting to work. Initially that sounds like a great idea! Sounds like a good way to save some money in these tough times.
Well, not really. At least not for us.
When you add it up, having my wife work from home 2 days a week doesn't save us anything.
First, her commuter train ticket into New York City is a monthly pass. To pay by the week, by the 10-trip, or even by the day would cost at least $100 more a month. In other words, there is no cheaper train service to her job. So she is stuck buying the monthly ticket even though she would only be using it three days a week.
Commuter parking at the train station is also monthly so there is no savings there either.
The train station is only a few blocks from our home so any savings for gas to drive to/from the station is literally pocket change at best.
And we will still have to take our children to day care even when she is home because you can't conduct phone calls and get much done with a bunch of crying kids around (in spite of what you see on TV commercials about the person who left the big office and work from home – it just doesn't work that way).
So at the end of it all the "favor" of letter her work from home 2 days a week is an empty gesture at best for us. I'm sure that others in the company will find this a great benefit. But you can't prove it by us.
September 24, 2009
But for the rest – Wake up!
I just don't understand how grown people - supposedly adults – married, often with children, a house or other significant property/assets, just refuses to deal with the reality of their eventual demise.
But no. Won't lift a finger to have a will made even by one of those cheapo online services much less go to an experienced estate planner or lawyer.
I had a conversation with a woman who was recently divorced after 20 years of marriage. She had custody of her 3 early-teen children, one of whom had a physical disability. I mentioned to her the idea of needing a will now that she was the sole legal caretaker for her children. She said she didn’t' see the need. I mentioned that at least with a good will she could protect the money she received from the divorce and ensure her wishes as far as final arrangements were planned out. She said she didn’t want a big funeral but instead a simply service and cremation. When I pointed out that even a basic service at a chapel and cremation could still cost thousands of dollars she gave the typical deer-in-the-headlight stare. I then added who did she expect to pay for all that – her teenage kids? To which she responded by shrugging her shoulders and saying "Eh." I didn't bother going on from there.
In her case I try to cut some slack figuring she's going through a very stressful period and may be overwhelmed at the moment. But the fact remains she is the sole provider now for her kids (child support from her ex-hubby not withstanding) so I would hope she'd have a better answer that just "Eh"! Not holding my breath that she will change her attitude later.
But she is far from alone in this I-don't-care attitude. Perhaps it's just part of the apparent evolution of our culture in that fewer and fewer people care to bother taking responsibility for themselves and their lives; That more and more people have the attitude that "someone" (probably government) will take care of them. There are more important things to concern yourself with like having a good time playing Xbox and going to the beach.
The end is coming for all of us eventually. Choose to meet it like the adult you're supposed to be!
September 21, 2009
But so what?
Some people do and that's none of anyone else's business.
In the America of Obama "the rich" are the enemies of the nation. "The rich" are more a threat than any terrorist or foreign power. What with their fancy-shmancy high priced cars and toys.
So they should be taxed out the butt for daring to have sooooo much money.
This appeals to a great many people. Manipulating class envy is a skill well honed by liberals.
But before you say this doesn't affect you stop and really think about.
Someone has to be the salesman who sells "the rich" the car.
Someone has to be the owner of the dealership that offers these kinds of cars.
Someone has to be the mechanic that services these cars.
Someone has to be the seller (and possibly manufacturer) of the parts that are used to repair the car.
Someone has to be the insurance agent that sells the policy to the own of the car.
And yes, someone has to be the seller of the evil gasoline the car uses as fuel.
That is also not to mention the government gets a boat load of tax revenue at each of these transactions in the form of sales tax, import tax, registration tax, excise tax, etc.
So when "the rich" buy a Ferrari or other high end car a lot of people have jobs selling and servicing that car.
Now tax away the extra money "the rich" might use to buy such a car and a lot of people loose work. A lot of non-rich people.
The point being that when "the rich" buy the products and services they can afford that makes jobs and incomes for many others too. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Perhaps not the people that some would like to see have jobs, and perhaps not paid what some think they should be paid (though what person is every totally satisfied with what they are paid?!) but that is an economy.
A lot of people's jobs, income and very livelihoods depend on "the rich" spending their excess money on things not immediately essential but are extra to life. More over, no economy in history has ever grown and no nation has ever been financial strong by just supplying the mere basics of daily life.
Look around your own neighborhoods. I guarantee that at least 75% of the shops and stores and services sold in your area are extra to life, not basic fundamental necessities. Even the food you buy can be cut down to one or two basic supply stores. Not the wide range of specialized (e.g. Italian, Chinese, BBQ, deli, pizza, etc) that is common even in the smallest towns.
No person ever got their own lives better by taking away freedom of choice from someone else (unless they are a dictator).
If you know someone who has let me know.
September 17, 2009
If you haven't seen "The Colony" and intend to be forewarned there are spoilers in here.
You've been warned…
"The Colony" is a quasi-reality/docu-simulation/study/experiment TV show on the Discovery channel.
The basic plot is simple and timely:
A virus plague has struck and wiped out more than 90% of the world's population. What kind of virus, where it came from, was it natural or a WMD attack is not stated. I suppose that's part of the point, to keep it general as all these could be scenarios. Now, a small group of uninfected people have found each other, been able to acquire a few basic materials by scavenging an already looted department store, and have found what appears to be a recently abandoned factory facility to call home.
Along with the group of people there is a catastrophe historian/survival expert and a psychologist from the Discovery channel that make periodic commentary about the events simulated on the show.
The story takes place in Los Angeles but could easily be any other city in the country (if not the world). The building itself is real. The property is owned by the Department of Homeland Security and is used to train for urban disasters.
Supposedly the people are real everyday Joe's and Jane's, not actors (although I suspect at least one is acting a role). Though each one very conveniently has specific hands-on technical skills and knowledge that would be crucial to survival in such a situation (more on that shortly). Also very conveniently the abandoned factory has just enough working hand tools, supplies, components, even a bit of food that can be used by the group to start building at least some basic structures and devices such as water filtration and some electricity.
Throughout this series spanning several weeks the group is challenged with a number of tasks and obstacles that it is believed would be real problems in the event of such a catastrophe. Problems like making drinkable water, personal hygiene and sanitary needs (i.e. the bathroom), good, generating electricity, and securing their sanctuary from raiders (portrayed by other people I believe are actors but the participants may or may not know that).
As of writing this review only the first episode has aired and I like it. Sure it's TV and as such there will be holes in the events as well as some very contrived situations.
For example, I already mentioned that everyone in the group has some specific skill or ability that is a crucial contribution to the overall group survival. There is a mechanic, an electrical engineer, a construction contractors, a handyman, even a doctor and an ER nurse. In reality there is no way to cherry pick people with such great skills. In reality there would be someone who works at Wendy's or The Gap; There would be a lawyer or a CPA; There would be an art teacher; There would be a mailman, etc. None of which have professional skills or knowledge (perhaps personal/hobby but not professional) that I can see in any way contributes to the groups survival, other than being a physical body that can be instructed to perform a task or labor.
There too the plot falls short. There are no babies or children. Surely some would have survived and they don't have any skills to contribute nor can do any real labor to help the group. Obviously the show can't put babies and children at risk but it is a hole in the reality concept. Same with someone who is handicapped or injured and unable to work productively in the group. Such a person may have knowledge or skills crucial to the groups' survival and therefore makes them of value to the group. But they might not.
And there are no panic stricken, hysterical people either. Perhaps the intent of the show is to take place several days or weeks after the totality of the disaster such that anyone panicking or hysterical has gotten over it or simple fallen victim to their own breakdown. But in a real disaster people who are in an uncontrollable hysteria are a real likelihood and danger to your own survival. Also, people who have not been able to accept and adapt to the reality of the situation but instead have gone literally insane from the reality will also be a real danger.
It's likely the producers just didn't want to tackle these issues on the show: What do you do in a survival situations where food, water, medicine, even secure shelter is so scares yet you have people who can not provide any productive contribution to the groups' survival? Do you still keep them in the group, consuming valuable food/water etc while not contributing anything helpful in return? Or do you turn them away from the group? It's a deep moral question but when day by day life hangs in the balance of one more or less mouth to feed it becomes a razor sharp issue.
I do find the show thus far creative and, with the items above taken into consideration, a real attempt at some thing like a true simulation of a major collapse of modern civilization. It certainly does not (yet) appear to have been designed for drama and personal conflict the way other reality TV shows are, such as "Survivor".
However, there remains one point that I do feel needs special addressing:
It seems throughout the show the survivors' refuge will be periodically assaulted by others outside their group. In this pilot episode along the compound was first visited by a lone stranger during the night who was looking for a way in but was unsuccessful and appears to have left discouraged. Then two large men on motorcycles buzzed around the back door of the factory during the night. Is suspect they are really scouts for a much larger raider force yet to be seen. And the original group as joined by an additional smaller group of survivors but some don't trust the new arrivals. One of the new arrivals admits to having served time in prison for drug smuggling (whether this is true or he is just playing a role is unclear at this time).
This part is probably the most realistic aspect of the show. And the most frightening to me.
Raiders (aka looters, bandits, thugs etc) will be a fact of life in any disaster survival situation. Remember the images of the locals in New Orleans after Katrina? And that was just a big rain storm! Police, National Guard and Federal forces responded very soon after the event (I'm not going to debate the government's response to Katrina in this article so don't email me about it, the fact is Federal and State forces were there quickly).
But what if the disaster had been much more wide spread and total?
What if the government itself, at least in part, was gone?
What if the emergency relief and security forces counted on just aren't there anymore?
And, no insult intended, what if some of the very people you count on to help you (police and soldiers) themselves have gone "rogue"? (i.e. have taken matters into their own hands for their own survival).
I regret that in this day and age raiders will be as great a threat as starvation, cold, and disease – maybe even more!
Along similar lines, so far the raiders have not been shown as being armed. Again it could be Discovery Channel just doesn't want to deal with the issue of guns. It's their show and they can set the limitations they want. But that isn't reality.
I fear in a real disaster where there is a partial or total government collapse heavily armed raiders will be everywhere. Some may even steal the uniforms of police, security and soldiers to try to pass themselves as such in order to gain confidence before attacking.
I don't know if future episodes of "The Colony" will address these concerns. Probably not. They probably don't want to be that controversial and in the day and age I can't blame them too much.
But I do believe these are very real concerns that anyone watching "The Colony" should keep in mind since they may not be addressed on the show.
Two-thumbs up from MasterPo!
September 14, 2009
On another site the question was recently put to me:
What about a person who didn't buy a house 30-40 years ago when prices were cheaper and not has to pay nearly a mortgage payment itself to rent a small apartment or just a room in someone else's house? How can they even think about retiring or just slowing down work in their senior years?
My answer was simple: It was a missed opportunity they now have to live with.
Presuming the person did in fact have the means to buy a house 30-40 years ago (sure prices were lower back then but so were salaries) and didn't pull the trigger for whatever reason, it's a lost opportunity.
Life is full of these.
I should have bought Amazon.com stock at $14/share and Wal-Mart stock at $19/share but didn't (my wife still reminds me of that!).
I should have gone on to post-graduate school for a PhD but really didn't interest me much at the time.
I should have take a certain job opportunity some years ago but didn't and that decision lead to 4 years of pure Hell!
The wreckage of decisions and choice litter the sides of the road of life. Nothing we can do about it living a linear existence. And even if we could go back and make different decisions, sure it would have changed our lives and possible solved certain problems, but a whole new set of never-imagine problems may have arisen to take the place of the old problems.
With regard to the hypothetical person in the question above, at the risk of sounding cold, I don't see anything that can be done for them. Nor should it. They made their decision long ago for whatever reason. Holding out hope that somehow, someway in their later years a miracle will happen and they can now afford to buy (and operate!) a house is unrealistic, unless they win the lottery.
Home ownership may be the American dream but it isn't a given right that everyone will own a house. It's the attempt to have made the dream a right that lead straight to the real estate bubble and crash and the resulting historic record number of foreclosures we are still seeing today (as of writing this anyway).
Whether you accept Chaos Theory or The Butterfly Effect or some other life guidance philosophy, the decisions you make or not make today can have major repercussions on your life in years to come.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with but a single step.
Tread gently for it is my dreams you are walking on.
September 3, 2009
But this article is not about me.
- It is about remembering their lives and the cruel circumstances of their deaths.
- It is about remembering the brave heroes of Flight 93 who stood up for themselves and showed what a true free American is.
- It is about the men and women of the American military (all branches) that have fought and died since then to stop any further attacks from happening.
- And it is about the men and woman who have done countless missions and activities layered in classification and secrecy we will never know about but have also stopped major death and destruction from being wrought on America and Americans.
In 2009, September 11 falls on a Friday.
As you go about your weekend activities having fun and being with your friends & family, please take a moment and remember the 3,000 American civilians who did not go home on 9/11/01 to their families and friends. Remember those men and women whose lives were stolen from them by Islamic religious zealots (yes I said it! If you don't like that, screw off!) who took pleasure and delight in casually putting out the lives of unarmed, undefended civilians.
And remember the heroic men and women of the American military who have volunteered their lives to protect you and me and out families, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. No comic book character could ever be more "super" than the American soldier.
Do not let the images and video of that day fade into just a few pages in some history books!
August 29, 2009
This is a common philosophical saying people use to express how they wish they could have changed something(s) in their life. Perhaps they feel they had a bad decision, did something they shouldn't have done or didn't do something they should have. It could be as simple as turning right instead of left at some juncture in life. Who knows. It's not important the details per se.
What is important however is that while it is a good topic for discussion and self awareness, the reality is that in all likelihood things would be different from the start. All you think you would change probably wouldn't happen anyway. If you could go back and re-live the last 10-20-30 years knowing what you know today at the first point in time where you feel you made the wrong decision and now choose what you think would have been the right decision, then from that point on everything else will be different too! All the other bad or wrong moves and decisions you had subsequent to this will probably never happen.
By changing that one single decision your path from that point in time onward will probably have changed so completely that all the other bad/wrong decisions will probably never come up! Instead, life will deal you an entirely new set of problems and decisions you didn't have to face before. And, just as before, 10-20-30 years later you will look back and think about these decisions. Some you will certainly deem to also be bad or wrong ones too.
So while I think it's good to have some introspective on what you think you did wrong (and right), dwelling on how much better your life would have been had you made some other decision is pointless. Even if you could go back and redo that decision everything else will so be changed by that redo in ways you can't imagine.
Sooner or later you'll be back to saying "If I only knew then what I know now…"
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August 25, 2009
A nice libertarian's dream.
But a persons' actions and choices do have consequence. It is the severity of these consequences that others see and thereby set a real life example to others why they should not follow such actions themselves. In so do, that is how a society self regulates and self polices good behavior and good decisions from bad behavior and decisions.
But what if there was in fact a way to totally undo the consequences of bad decisions and bad behaviors? What if with a single injection or pill the results of whatever rotten thing you did to yourself could be undo with no lasting ill effects – would that make the bad behavior now acceptable?
If there was a medicine that could 100% cure lung cancer overnight no matter how advanced. Would that make smoking ok?
If there was a medicine that could 100% cure drug addiction overnight with no withdrawal symptoms no matter how messed up you are on drugs, would that make taking crack or heroin ok?
If there was a medicine that cured all STDs, even AIDS and herpes, would that make rampant unrestrained sex with anyone anywhere at anytime ok?
If there was a machine that could mend broken bones perfectly, even the head and back, no matter how badly damaged would that make driving without a seat belt or air bag ok?
In other words, if science could find ways to cure the end effects of our bad behaviors and decisions would that make the behaviors and decisions no longer bad? If you didn't have to pay the price in the end they why not spend like there's no tomorrow?
Just because something can be fixed doesn't mean it is the right thing to do to break it in the first place.
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