Sunday, May 10, 2015

The daily dose

If one followed my last post and the comments, particularly those of good Friend Robert, one would see a long discussion that focused on how, why, and how much, someone should be angry over this or that. Let me say that I dearly love Friend Robert's different world view, and that it is my deepest hope that we meet up at some anchorage someday, (preferably far from US shores) share a cold one or two, and debate until our hearts are content. But, be that as it may, I live on a sailboat. Anger is an infrequent visitor who can only breach Kintala's companionway when we are on the dock, in the US, with good Internet access. Only then do I get a daily dose of follies of human kind, particularly the follies of American / political / religious human kind. And, yes, I should know better than to check the news every morning. All I can plead is that old habits die hard. (Okay, I'll admit that a good wake hit from a passing boat or jet ski will provoke a word or two. But that is a short-lived bit of being incensed that comes with any display of stupid.)

In our normal world of living aboard, unaffected by the insanity that surrounds a life off the water, boat work goes on apiece. My big project at the moment is working through the ST1000 auto-helm install. No clue how long it is going to take since each step has to wait on the step before. An example is access to the transfer tube on the wind vane. We had none, though I should have thought of it as part of the original install. Yesterday was filled with sourcing a deck plate and installing it on the front face of Kintala's helm seat bulkhead. It went pretty well. In fact the frame fit in the hole cut on the first try, with no need of a rotary file to grind away the tight spots. So today was filled with trying to figure out how to hook the ST1000 to the control rod on the Cape Horn transfer tube. Several possibilities were explored. At this moment the thought is that mounting the ST1000 to the cockpit coaming and attaching it to the control rod via a push-pull cable, might (might!) be the way to go. Tomorrow we will take a harder look at making that work. If it does the whole auto-helm thing will be kind of cool, even if it does give clear evidence of back-yard engineering and make-it-work-with-what-you-got design.

Deb spent the day replacing the fabric cushion on our nav seat. The original was showing its age. The new, brown, Naugahyde cover has classed up the place considerably. Though probably an indication of my warped mind, I find working on a clean, good looking boat is easier than grunting away on one that looks tired and worn. Working through a list of projects will make any boat look like a refugee camp, but keeping the chaos factor to a minimum helps in making the work seem more worthwhile. At least it does for me. So Deb's nav seat cover, though an easy task that some might think kind of minor, goes a long way in keeping the “work-on-it-some-more” fires burning.

We have a week before leaving the boat on the hard, in the caring hands of Oak Harbor, and heading west. It is close enough that thoughts of seeing family, Daughters, and grand kids fill my day. Pretty much nothing will make me too angry when set against those images. The rest of the world can take care of itself for a while, and I hope to have the auto-helm pretty much done before we leave.

24 comments:

Latitude 43 said...

interesting article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/can-you-change-your-political-beliefs-55019211/

Robert Sapp said...

TJ,

I should probably have put this in the previous thread, but I guess it goes just as well here. What I enjoy about our spirited discussions is that we can conduct them from positions of mutual respect. Usually by this point the person with whom I am debating has resorted to ad hominem attacks.

So I’d like to address this comment you made:
“But you go ahead and kick back, have a drink, live easy … others will do the heavy lifting for you. I love my life, live on my boat, am pleased and happy every day, and do live a life others wish they had. The difference between you and I is I think they can have this kind of life too, as long as enough of us get angry.”

I intend to do exactly that. After 31 years in public service and another five in public sector support, I think I deserve some time off. But I really don’t see where anyone is going to have to lift anything heavy for me. I believe that anyone can already have the life we have if they truly want it. It’s called the American Dream. And I’ve cracked the code to achieve it. It’s really incredibly simple. There are just five basic rules.

1. Finish high school (and actually apply yourself while there, don’t just get a certificate of attendance in lieu of a diploma).

2. Get married and stay married.

3. Defer having children until after marriage and the establishment of a stable family unit.

4. Get and keep a job. Treat it as if it’s the most important thing in the world, and continually grow your skills. If you lose it, find another one.

5. Obey the law.

And I might add one additional qualifier to update it for the 21st century:

6. Don’t acquire debt unless it’s for the health or safety of you or your family. Especially don’t acquire student loan debt to study essentially worthless fields like Art History or Gender Studies or anything that doesn't lead to a skill that teaches you how to make something that others actually need.

It’s not an easy list, but it is a simple one, and if you follow it, you’ll have a 98% certainly of achieving a comfortable middle class life and eventually retire to a sailboat if you desire.

“Yes, but…” I can hear some saying. It’s all just excuses. Show me someone with a hard luck, Life Isn’t Fair! story, and I bet we can find they skipped at least one, probably several of these steps. Through discipline, hard work, and delayed gratification, almost anyone can accomplish it. Skip any of those steps and you've just guaranteed yourself a much more difficult road in life. Not that success can’t still be achieved, but the hill is much steeper. So I might suggest that if you really want to effect some positive change in the world, focus on promoting that list. Nothing on it requires me to get angry at anyone or anything. But from my perspective, our society has become perverted into this bizzaroland where much of our resources are devoted to supporting people who make bad decisions, and encouraging them to continue doing so. So I don’t really see myself as taking a vacation, as much as going Galt. It’s the one little thing I can do to help collapse the system as it’s currently designed. If enough people did it, it would deprive the Government of the money it needs to support bad decision making and the dependency it produces. In your own way, I believe you’re helping. It’s actually a topic I thought of writing a post on for our blog. I really haven’t wanted to go political in our posts, because I don’t really think that’s what our readers care to read, but maybe you’ve inspired me.

Robert Sapp said...

You talk about science. The IPCC predicted ten years ago that artic ice and Himalayan glaciers would be gone by now. They aren’t. They have a term for that in the scientific community. It’s “You’re Wrong.” Back in the 1990’s they predicted a one foot sea level rise by 2020. We’re almost there, and it’s up a few millimeters. They’re wrong. They predicted a steady .1 degree Celsius average temperature increase per decade. Satellite measurements of the atmosphere show no warming in almost 20 years. They’re wrong. Exactly nothing the climate alarmists have predicted has happened, which is why the media has had to resort to treating normal weather events as if it were the climate apocalypse. Climate alarmism isn’t science; it’s a belief in something unsupported by empirical evidence. In other words, a religion.

On anger: I’ve been to a Tea Party Rally. Everyone was laughing and singing. There were American flags and military veterans. People handed out cupcakes. When it was over, they picked up their signs and emptied the trash. I dropped by our local Occupy Wall Street “event.” There was much yelling, shouted profanity, public urination and defecation, and after it was over, it took the city days to clean up the mess left behind. As much as I love and respect you, occasionally you say something that really leaves me wondering, like describing the police trying to maintain order as “snipers stroking the triggers of their guns” while giving the name “protesters” to a mob of looters who were burning businesses and assaulting bystanders. Are you saying your daughter felt more threatened by the cops than by the mob? In what world is looting liquor stores and burning down pharmacies an appropriate response to a perceived injustice? Oh, bizzaroland. Funny how you never see mobs of crazed conservatives looting and destroying. That’s because we’re not angry. Just disappointed at what our country has become.

I think we’re going to need at least a case of beer when we finally get a chance to knock back a few together. Give my regards to Deb!

Robert & Rhonda
S/V Eagle Too
www.LifeOnTheHook.com

TJ said...

See, we don't disagree on everything …

1. Education, understanding, is priority one. In fact, High School alone is no longer enough. At least two years of technical school (my aviation maintenance degree served me well) or four years of training in some other discipline is essential. I am glad to know that efforts to cut education funding is as abhorrent to you as it is to me. And here is an idea you might also like, why not take a tiny fraction of the money we spend on the military and publicly fund at least two more years of education after High School?

2. I agree totally, Deb and I have been married for more than 40 years, and that is the foundataion of my good fortune. The second best thing in life is to fall in love with someone who is good for you. The best thing in life is to have that person fall in love with you as well. Unfortunately it doesn't always work out that way. Sometimes we fall in love with someone who turns out to be not-so-good for us. Sometimes the person we love, who would be good for us, loves someone else. So, sometimes, getting unmarried is the only right choice to make. Those of us who haven't had to make that decision need be very slow to offer our $0.02 worth. We should celibate our good fortune more than condemn those who were not as lucky in love as we were.

3. See above. Oh, and to help in the deferring children bit, real sex education and universal health care that includes easy access to birth control is what works in the real world. Every country that funds real sex education, health care, and birth control has a lower rate of teen pregnancy and a lower rate of abortions, than does the US. They also have lower rates of child poverty for, as every study ever done shows, giving women control over their child bearing is the best way to raise the standard of living and reduce the amount of poverty in any society. So I can assume you would vote for someone who would make these policies real in the US and against any who would not?

TJ said...

4. Getting and keeping a job is a 4. Getting and keeping a job is a good idea, at least insofar as the education needed to get a job was available, that job pays a fair wage for a fair amount of work, overtime pay, vacation time to spend with families, and maternity leave to strengthen families comes with the job. With your, completely correct, concern about stable families, jobs that pay enough so that both parents don't have to work to put a roof over the family's head and food on the family's table should also be the norm. So, I can assume that a $15 / hour minimum wage has your complete support? (We are going to get to that voting thing again.) After all, slaves had jobs, didn't do much for their quality of life.

5. Obeying the law is necessary for a civilized society. But to make that meaningful means the law writers and law enforcers are expected, nay required, to do the same. Otherwise, all you have is a authoritative dictatorship where one set of rules is used to keep the population in line, rules ignored by the rulers. And by “required” I mean law writers and law enforcers who are found breaching the public trust are subjected to the harshest of punishments. Corruption and police brutality should automatically lead to long, long, prison sentences in the same kinds of prisons that house the more “common” criminals. No “minimum security”, no special treatment, no early outs. Without that, “Obeying the law” is tantamount to kneeling before your oppressor without hope. Something no human being should be expected to do.

6. I absolutely agree that not falling for the Debt Trap is vital. That means rejecting America's consumerism and advertisement driven society. It also means working against those corrosive influences, providing people with the information they need to avoid the traps, and legislating against predatory lending practices. It means fully reigning in the Banks-To-Big-To-Fail and getting Wall Street out of the gambling business. It also means breaking up monopolies and outlawing dishonest advertising. Who would have thought you were such a supporter of Senators Warren and Sanders? (Who, I must admit, are still far, far to the right of me.)

TJ said...

I disagree on what qualifies as education. Not all education should focus solely on being a productive drone, destined to add to the bottom line of those who live off the labor of another. Education is more than job training. You can run a slave society on “job training” but you can't run a democracy without an educated public. (In my darkest dreams that is exactly why conservative / religious people vie against education. They want to rule, not serve.)

Art History is deeply involved with one of the things that make us a society of intelligent beings and not just a hive of worker bees. Art, more than anything else, sets us appart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Celibrating it, supporting it, and studying it make us more human, not less productive.

Gender studies have gone a long way in breaking down the walls built around excuses for the oppression of gay and transgender people, led to the understanding that sexuality is not a simplistic “This” or “That” but a range of human expression that is complex and liberating, and has gone a long way in empowring women. Having a few PhDs in gender studies around isn't hurting us any. Having too many PhDs in Business Management, is.

Gender Studies may not be job training, but it is the kind of education that leads to empathy, understanding, and progress for the human condition. After all, you and I might be monogamous heterosexuals, but demanding that every one the billions of humans in the world must be the same is a bit egocentric, don't you agree?

More to the point, research, seeking knowledge just for knowledge's sake, is the foundation of an advanced and progressing society. It often leads to unexpected industries and new kinds of jobs. Denigrating it, as many leaders in the US are now doing, is a sure sign of our society's decline. We can turn that around, maybe, and survive. We can't long survive otherwise. Which brings us full circle and back to No. 1.

TJ said...

Round Two …
The American Military understands climate change and is making plans to deal with it, in spite of the idiots in Congress and the Senate. All southern Florida coastal cities understand climate change and are trying to make planes to deal with it. Indeed, they are talking of succeeding from North Florida because the State Government of Florida will not even let them talk about it. Every major insurance company in the world understands climate change; they stand to lose billions of dollars in the decades to come, and are writing policies that reflect that understanding. Even Mike Huckabee admitted that climate change was real, are human were contributing. But I suspect he will be walking that one back pretty quickly.
Anyway, pretty much every responsible group on the planet understands climate change. The only exception is a small bunch of politicians and propagandists heavily “invested” (my word for being bought and paid for) by hydrocarbon industries. As far as your claims go, a quick search on the Internet is all I need do to find the falsehoods. An example: The atmosphere hasn't warmed as much as was originally projected, but the oceans have warmed more. It turns out water really is a better heat sink than air.
And if that doesn't do it, Google Earth will give you a satellite view of shrinking glaciers planet wide. I actually agree with you, to some extent, on sea level rise. Not that it isn't happening, but that the rates will likely be slow enough to keep the risk to life low. That doesn't mean that property damage will not be extensive. Florida's drinking water is getting fouled and coastal cities record many more days of flooding during high tides and storm surges than they did a decade ago. They are writing real checks to fix real problems associated with rising water levels that really are rising.
There are worse-case scenarios that have seal levels rising at a near lethal rate; scenarios that (we all hope) don't unfold. And having millions of people who live along coast lines slowly forced inland isn't going to be a picnic but most will manage. Well, except for Island nations like, Kiribati, Maldives, Seychelles, Torres Strait Islands,Tegua, Solomon Islands (that are apparently sinking into the rising sea … too bad for them) Micronesia, Palau, Carteret Islands, Tuvalu, and the Nation of Bangladesh. Those governmenta are already facing daunting situations. But those are just governments, certainly not as wall informed as Oil and Coal interests.
I'm know you think you are better informed than the rest of us, but (and I don't say this very often) I'm going to go with the American Military, the world's largest insurance companies, and dozens of Nations who actually live with the world as it is. I'll also go with thousands upon thousands of scientist who have been studying earth sciences for decades. I'm kind of democratic in that way.

TJ said...

It isn't likely I'll ever be at a T party gathering. Religious fanaticism, anti-intellectualism, simplistic and childish “patriotism”, and the gun culture are not things that interest me at all. But here is the thing, while people like that would be quite free to live and believe whatever they like in the county I would support, I would not be so welcomed in the country they want to build. I kind of enjoy bat-shit crazy, so long as it isn't used as an excuse to oppress or harm others, and they are not allowed to impose their idiocy on the rest of the world by force. The T-party, from what I have read on their web-sights and heard in their speeches, isn't nearly as accommodating. The fact that they pick up their trash and talk quietly doesn't mean much. That they are big on carrying guns to public places and parading them around people campaigning for political office, that they demand Christian Freedom over the freedom of others, and that they consider themselves the only “true” Americans, does.
As to riots and social violence; I doubt either one of us is articulate enough to do that subject justice in the comments section of a blog. But there is this, those who have privilege and power never, ever, share it willingly. You don't smooth out a mountain of inequity by walking circles around it singing Kumbaya. You crank up the earth movers. As MLK put it, “Riots are the voice of the unheard.” No one paid any attention to police violence until some windows got broken and some cars got burned. Property damage as opposed to murder. The police get dispatched to protect property at the risk of lives, beating and gassing protesters is usually the FIRST act of violence. There were no sniper rifles or tanks in the ranks of the protesters. If there ever is a judgment I would rather be counted among the rioters seeking justice and redress for wanton killings, than be found sitting astride an armored car pointing a gun at unarmed citizens. And if, eventually, those citizens arm themselves because their voices are still not being heard? Well, that's what we called the “American Revolution”.

TJ said...

Paul, interesting article indeed. I think change is a constant thing. We should be learning something new pretty much every day. Everything we learn should make our world view just little bit clearer, and change just that little bit for the better. The trick is to learn things that are likely true, rather than accept things that are probably false. Some are better at that than others, though I doubt any of us gets it right every time.

Robert Sapp said...

I’m glad you accepted the validity of my list of steps to achieving the American Dream, the implementation of which I assert doesn't require me to get angry with anyone. I know we have a lot in common (we both ended up living on boats after all, not a common life choice) and see many of the same problems; we just disagree on the best way to address them. And we both deserve max props for getting #2 right. Coming up on 36 years for Rhonda and I, and while I won’t say it’s all been easy, it has definitely been worth it, and I wouldn't be where I am without her.

I spent my civilian civil service career working in the occupational and vocational education field (i.e. military training) so I think I understand the issue somewhat. The problem is that the American education system is dysfunctional and needs to be burned to the ground. There are currently two huge elephants in the room that cannot be addressed for political reasons. The first is the lack of discipline in the classroom (a problem we admittedly didn’t have in military training). Modern urban culture that glorifies violence, misogyny and thuggish behavior, coupled with bureaucratic policies that see “discrimination” wherever disciplinary policies produce “disparate impact,” (e.g. blacks get more referrals that other races) has led to a complete loss of control of the classroom. My two sons basically gave up on school because they were so disgusted by how most of each class day was spent trying to maintain order. Our most academically successful high school in Pensacola is the one to which you cannot gain admittance if you've ever had a disciplinary referral. The other destructive policy is this notion that all children can learn, which has been taken to the ridicules extreme of mainstreaming mentally-challenged children. The entire class is held hostage by the slow learner, who in many cases is intellectually incapable of ever gaining mastery of the material. Every other major industrial nation has a multi-track education system. The children who are suited for academics are moved along, and the ones who aren't are channeled into the trades, usually around the 6th year of school. Instead, we have the American “All children should go to college” BS. And it’s clearly evident that money isn't the answer. In real dollars, spending on education has increased by a factor of 5 since 1970, while academic achievement has remained flat. So it’s silly to think that even more money is the answer. In fact, there is a strong case to be made that more money is detrimental, as the school districts with the highest per-pupil spending generally have the lowest academic achievement, while districts toward the bottom of the scale tend to do much better. Unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse, because a certain political party has bet its future on throwing open our borders in order to annually admit millions of unskilled and basically unemployable “immigrants” in the hopes of one day getting them dependent on the government and registered to vote, flooding the public schools with their children in the process, most of whom don’t even speak English (and many of whom don’t even have the inoculations that would be required of a citizen’s children). I do see a potential solution, but you wouldn't like my thoughts on the subject. It involves competition. You don't like monopolies? Well what would you call the US public school system?

Robert Sapp said...

DoD does in fact have contingency plans for dealing with the effects of climate change. They also have contingency plans for dealing with an invasion by Canada. The War Colleges exist to wargame various geopolitical scenarios (among other things), most of which could be called low-probability events. Look, no reasonable person says climate change isn't real. The only thing constant about the Earth’s climate is that it’s constantly changing as we slide along a continuum from an ice age to an interglacial warming period and back again. But what I drive to the grocery store has absolutely nothing to do with it, and that’s where the climate alarmists are completely out to lunch. You started this original conversation by saying how everyone lies to you, but you completely discount the possibility that the “97% of climate scientists believe, settled science” canard could be a lie. The reality in climate science today is that it has become so politicized that real scientists just avoid the field. If you enter it, you know what the expected viewpoint is. Trying to study whether anthropogenic global warming is real would get as much support as trying to study the racial components of IQ. It would be good science, but politically untenable, so it’s just not done. Even in that environment though, there are still so many scientists that doubt anthropogenic global warming is real that they have their own annual conference. Not that you’d ever hear about it in the major media. It doesn’t support the narrative after all.
http://climateconference.heartland.org/

Robert Sapp said...

The notion of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour is just pandering to populists who lack a basic understanding of economics. Briefly, for a business to pay an employee a wage, the employee has to generate sufficient profit for the business to be able to afford the wage and ancillary costs (SSI, Medicare, workman’s comp, etc.). If you pay $15/hr to the person with the towel who dries the bumpers of your car when you leave the car wash, that person is losing money for the business, because she’s not creating $15/hr in value. So the worker gets fired, replaced by an electric blower. You’d have to raise the cost of the $5 car wash to $10 or $15 to make enough to be able to pay the higher wages. So now the bumper wiper that used to make $8/hr is making $15, but their cost to get their car washed tripled (as well as their groceries, cloths, cost to eat out, etc., because all those people also got a big raise) so what have you gained? As with many (most) liberal populist positions, this will actually end up hurting those it is supposedly intended to help. If you demand that people frying burgers be paid $15 per hour (and raise the price of a burger to $18 to pay for it), how long do you think it will be before kitchen workers are replaced with burger frying machines whose amortized cost is much less than $15 per hour? Since the vast majority of those working for minimum wage are youths or those with limited skills, you've just taken away their opportunity to get a foothold in the workforce and learn the basic skills (reliability, teamwork, etc.) that would have been the first rung in their ladder to a better life. So they’d end up dependent on the Government, which for a certain political party is a win/win. They were able to take a populist position claiming to represent the “little people,” while also expanding the size of the dependent class who will continue to vote for them in order not to lose their government largesse. Ignore this basic law of economics, and we become Venezuela.

Robert Sapp said...

I will say that if there was one thing I wish I could change about you, it would be to help you get over your view of conservatives as uncaring 2D caricatures. It seems at times that you looked at some sort of Assembly Of God created list of talking points and treat that as conservative philosophy. This particular conservative believes you’re not entitled to something other than respect and physical safety, (and you can lose those based on your actions). Everything else you should earn. Just because I've done something with my life and have achieved a modicum of success doesn't mean you have a right to some portion of that. And we shouldn't base our policies on rewarding people for making bad choices. Throw in some freedom and liberty and love of family and country, and that about sums up my philosophy.

TJ said...

Robert, I'm going to hunt and peck a bit through your thoughts. There is no reason to think that a majority of climate scientists have a reason to lie. There is every reason to think that Oil and Coal companies do. No one debates that the the earth's climate changes without human interference. But your claim that what you drive to the store has no effect is more than a little disingenuous. I grew up near Pittsburgh through the 60s and 70s, breathed the air, watched the street light come on in the middle of the day from the smog, and knew better than to swim in the rivers or eat the fish that came out of them. Human beings have not, did not, and can not have a a disastrous impact on the environment? I'm sorry, but that statement is patently and demonstrably false. Multiply Pittsburgh by billions of additional people compounded by an economic system that values stockholder riches above every other measure of success. Human kind is absolutely affecting the climate; there is no conceivable way that we can't be.

We could have a lot of fun with economics. Most of your statements are not nearly the “facts” that you think they are. Economic dogma is no different than religious dogma, and the dogma of “free market capitalism” has a long, long history in the US. But even that isn't near the heart of our different worldviews. I am so far away from the idea of “what's mine is mine, I earned it and I demand the right to keep it even to the detriment of everyone else” that we don't even use words in the same way; my philosophy couldn't be more different. Human kind is an infant species with an intelligence that mimics that of a child. Lots of potential, but little realization so far in our short sojourn. We have yet to figure out how to build and manage a just society; clearly the one's we have lack in so many ways. We have yet to figure out how to build and manage an economy. Battling over this or that form of capitalism is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is as good as capitalism is ever going to be; and it is disastrously bad. I will give you this though, the Democrats are as wedded to the system as are the Republicans, which is why it is pretty easy for me to claim allegiance to neither.

TJ said...

My problem with conservatives isn't that they are 2D uncaring caricatures, but that conservative philosophy is hind-bound, short sighted, and concentrates on keeping things as they are for as long as possible. Conservatives insist on thinking of themselves as adults while their actions mimic those of petulant children. Or, given the current brouhaha over Texas being invaded … just plain crazy.
I'm an American. I'm not particularly proud of that for I had nothing to do with it. Like you, I was born here. It's like being proud of having brown eyes or white skin. A bit shameless actually, childish one might even say. But even deeper than that, I don't think Pride is a particularly endearing characteristic. It easily, and usually, deteriorates even further and becomes arrogance. What I see of America right now is mostly arrogance. But even deeper than that; nation / states are cumbersome entities made up of artificial boarders. Those boarders are used mostly to set people against one another. They were born out of empires imposed by force, and are sustained to this day mostly by force. Conservative's savage rhetoric about immigration is a direct reflection of the evils born of nation / states. Conservative philosophy is worse than 2D, it is single minded about hanging onto an illusion of being superior.

TJ said...

Human kind has succeeded, to the point that we have, because we learned to cooperate, something largely dependent on the evolution of language. Competition is tool with very limited value. So long as it encourages people to do the best they can, fine. As soon as it devolves into nothing but the desire to beat the shit out of everyone else so one can stand over them and gloat; it becomes destructive rather than constructive. “Competitive education” is an oxymoron. We could easily fix the US education system; fire the “managers” and let the teachers teach. I have the privilege of having several teacher for friends. They know how to teach, but they can't teach and meet the demands of social engineering at the same time. And, sorry again, but they don't get enough financial support. Claiming that we are spending too much on schools when teachers are underpaid and often buy supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets is some kind of evil. And, not to put too fine a point on it, it is hard to take conservative ideas for fixing the education system seriously when it is the conservatives who want to teach religious mythology as science, who want to rewrite the history books to ignore actual history, who claim that making every kid pray every morning and then Pledge Allegiance to the Flag will magically make everything better, and who insist on turning education into another “profit enterprise”.
I fully realize that mine is the minority view and that yours has, for the most part, won the day. You won the day more than 30 years ago, and America has been on a conservative path ever since. This is where it has brought us, which is another thing that puzzles me. You guys won. Capitalism rules unchallenged. Religion trumps reason. The unions are dead, wages are stalled, and all the money has moved to the top. Gun are everywhere … churches and class rooms included. Industry dictates what the government will do, wars are endless and profitable. I moved onto a boat when my job got thrown under the bus and I decided that enough was enough. I live the opposite of the American Dream, don't use much energy, don't take many resources, leave a light touch behind me, and try do do as little harm as I can. We both moved onto boats, but I did so partly to put some distance between me and the society conservatism has built. I am curious as to what motivated you.

Nicholas Wolfe said...

TJ - Being one that works in the science field. Climate scientists can be as corrupt as the big scary oil companies. They need funding for their research and some have big egos. Some will say anything or skew their data so that the funding keeps coming. Additionally, remember those days when the weather guru says that the wind is gonna not be blowing or be blowing gently from the south and in reality it blows 30 knots from the northeast. We have trouble predicting the weather three days out with any kind of accuracy. We are using weather observations from only 115 years ago and ice core data to a max of one million years. The current estimated age of the earth is 4.54 billion years old. My point is that there is a lot we don’t know. Our attempt to “save the earth” because of our guilt for being human is going to be our biggest vice.

Robert Sapp said...

TJ,

You said: “We both moved onto boats, but I did so partly to put some distance between me and the society conservatism has built. I am curious as to what motivated you.”

You hurt my feelings when you ask a question like that. It means you haven’t been paying attention. Let me point to a post I wrote about a year ago:

http://www.lifeonthehook.com/2014/05/07/lifes-true-purpose/

The short answer is that I’m lazy. Oh, I worked hard for a long time to get where I am. But I didn't enjoy it. It was just something I understood I needed to do. As soon as I reached the point where I didn't need to do it anymore, I quit in order to do what I really wanted to do, which was sail the ocean and visit interesting places and meet interesting people. Consumerism isn't a conservative value. I only need point out how rampant it is in places like California, New York, and the suburbs of Washington DC, all liberal bastions, to make that point. But independence, individual initiative and self-reliance ARE conservative principles, and this life has that in spades (can I still say that or is it racist?). Having fun and enjoying life is much more important to me than buying a new car every other year or having the latest i-thing. In fact, so far the only thing I’m missing after making our decision to accept the reduction in income from retiring young is that we can’t take quite as many trips as we are used to, and we do so love to travel. But I know we’ll make up for it as soon as we can get things wrapped up and throw off the dock lines and become full-time travelers.

And I suppose you could also say I’m trying to put some distance between me and the society liberalism has built. The one in which I’m expected to provide free groceries and health care and rent subsidies and cell phones and child care (oh, I mean pre-K, sorry) to those without the initiative to follow life’s simple rules as previously outlined or who just persist in making bad decisions but won’t take responsibility for it. I haven’t figured out a way to completely avoid feeding the beast that is our liberal social welfare system, but by retiring young I am able to significantly reduce my income, and thus the amount the government can take from me in taxes, while still maintaining a comfortable middle-class life. Plus there’s no property tax on a boat, so I can avoid subsidizing our failed public school system. It’s not the main purpose for choosing this life, but the ability to throw off many of the parasites who think they’re entitled to something I earned is definitely the icing on the cake.

And I have to think it’s just a bit ironic that you demonize the oil and gas industry as evil, when you live on a plastic (fiberglass and epoxy) boat, driven by plastic (dacron) sails, managed with plastic (nylon and polyester) lines, dressed in plastic (dacron, polyester) cloths, using plastic (nylon, polypropylene) utensils, lubricated by motor oil and burning gasoline and diesel fuel, eat food grown using hydrocarbon-derived fertilizers, and may even manage your health by taking some modern pharmaceuticals, all of which are the products of the oil and gas industry, which creates tens of thousands of good paying middle class jobs in the process.

I’m just saying…

Robert Sapp said...

TJ,

In reading back over our recent discourse while having my morning coffee, I saw where you had introduced a red herring in the form of a statement that grossly mischaracterizes my position on climate, and I wished to briefly address it just to set the record straight. You said, “Human beings have not, did not, and can not have a disastrous impact on the environment? I'm sorry, but that statement is patently and demonstrably false.”

You’re absolutely right. Who said that? I never said that. I don’t know anyone who claims we can’t affect the environment. Briefly, it is an all too common logical fallacy that environment and climate are equivalent. They’re not. We have the ability to destroy our environment through pollution. But climate is driven by factors such as solar radiance, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and planetary albedo, which are not affected by localized instances of pollution (nor can they be).

Just to be clear, of course we can ruin our environment if we don’t act as good stewards of the planet. But that has nothing to do with climate. And when a scientific hypothesis theorizes certain outcomes, and none of those outcomes occur, then it’s time to try a new theory, otherwise you’re operating on faith rather than science. Let’s remember that climate alarmists promised us more and stronger hurricanes. But we actually have fewer and weaker ones, and Florida hasn’t had a single storm landfall in 10 years, which is almost unprecedented. How many decades do we have to allow to pass in which none of the climate alarmists’ dire predictions come true before they admit it’s time for a new theory?

TJ said...

Robert, I've heard the “climate is not the same as environment” argument. It sounds to me mostly like spitting hairs, humans setting up another artificial boarder that doesn't exist in nature. The environment is a sub-set, if you will, of the climate, a matter of scale. If a few industries along the Monongahela river can foul the air for hundreds of square miles around the city of Pittsburgh, how can one claim that millions of industries across the face of the planet can't possibly have in impact on the atmosphere (climate) of the world? Of course it can. But that, as usual, really isn't at the heart of the issue. Those who insist that climate change isn't happening do so for one reason only, they want things to stay just as they are. Those who want things to stay just as they are the most are those currently in power, making trillions off the current system, and don't want anyone rocking their gold plated boat.
The climate change not-deniers are suggesting there is a better way to do things. Renewable energy, consumption point produced when possible, is a better idea than massive grids subject to damage and controlled by monopolies. Using tech to reduce the demand for energy is another. Cars that get 50 mph are a better idea than those that get 10 since even most of the anti-science people will admit that oil is a finite commodity. (There are some total nut cases out there who insist that oil is constantly being manufactured by the planet. Everyone of them I've ever heard of is a die hard conservative.) Appliances that use less energy are good things (particularly for those of us who live on boats) and can drastically improve the quality of life for the 95% of the planet that wasn't born in the US. Where, one might add, we consume roughly 25% of the resources. (Actually, Scientific America suggest that last number is closer to 33% but, well, that is just science. What do they know?)

TJ said...

So, once again, the divide on climate change between left and right, liberal and conservative, is just another chapter in the same book. Conservatives what to keep things as they are or revert things to the way they used to be, so long as the “way they used to be” was good for the rulers and the rich. Some of us, on the other hand, would like to see things change so that those who are not the ruler and the rich can still live a quality life, one where human values are more important that how much power and how much money.

By the way, Friend Robert, your view of liberals is as least as myopic as you think mine is of conservatives. And while my criticisms are of conservative viewpoints and policies, yours includes poor people, students, teachers, government workers, liberals, immigrants, people who belong to unions ... it is quite a long list. In fact, it seems to include pretty much anyone who is not exactly like you in every way. As you know, I am not the least bit religious, but if I where, the last thing I would want would be to stand in front of a supposedly just and loving god, and have him quote “It’s not the main purpose for choosing this life, but the ability to throw off many of the parasites who think they’re entitled to something I earned is definitely the icing on the cake.”

Anyway, please feel free to have the last word this time, since you gave me that last word the last time. After that, well, blogs move on and this post is already several days old.

Robert Sapp said...

No, I'm good leaving it where it is. It's your blog, and I'm comfortable with the fact that I feel we both gave as good as we got. I'd just like to add that I appreciate you sticking up for me with Jeffery, who as you mentioned may not be aware of our "history." I believe you and I approach each other from a position of mutual respect, but it's still good to see it confirmed. I know one thing - it's going to be a late night when we finally do get the chance to knock back a few together. For now, I need to get back to a rudder reference sensor that's currently kicking my ass so that I can have the mess cleaned up by the time my lovely bride returns home. Fair winds.

Matt Mc. said...

The list of steps is fairly common sensical (not really a word, I know) - but hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in the land of plenty don't start at zero. They start at -10. Anyone who says otherwise has never, ever walked a mile in the shoes of the destitute. Yes, hard work and the path of the straight and narrow MIGHT get them to zero, but otherwise they do not stand a chance. They have no hope, and sadly, they shouldn't. Bootstraps aren't there to get pulled on.

Unless we find a way to give true hope, the idea of a fair playing field is less than a fairy tale.

Matt Mc. said...

I also laugh at the notion of art history and such not being a need. Without them, there is no creative thought. Without creative thought, there is no advancement. I type this sitting in the airport of crucible of art in Europe - Prague. They cherish the arts of all kind and they have been the most successful post-Soviet state.

More and more studies are emerging that even the most evil of corporations are finding the specialists are useless to them - they now search fervently for liberal arts majors because it is they who can best solve problems and *gasp* relate to other people. Like clients.

Successful people (if you define success monetarily which as a teacher I do not) in the next 50 years will be creative thinkers, not specialists. I would sight-unseen hire an art history or social science major right out of college before I would a cubical worker or finance major with a decade of experience.