An occasional series highlighting posts at the sites of my Magnificent Seven Writers (former and present)

Pat Austin at So it goes in Shreveport says the civil war is still being fought

You may recall that Mr. Epperson is attempting to have the Confederate Monument removed that stands in front of the courthouse on land given to the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1903.  I attended the Caddo Commission committee meeting when this was discussed and wrote about it here.  You can watch the video of that meeting here.  If you just want to skip to Mr. Epperson’s wandering, profanity laced tirade at the end, it starts at about 1:20 in the video.

Apparently Mr. Epperson’s wasn’t a big fan of Lincoln’s advice to “let em up easy” but nobody is more sore than a sore winner.

Earlier this month Juliette at Baldilocks wrote about a 2008 post whose point seems to be repeating itself

All too often these days, when the average person talks about principles, what they’re really talking about are their personal commodities—a fixed quantity to be sold under certain circumstances, with a finite set of buyers as well. Oh sure, this merchandise is labeled as “principles” but the definition of the word has become mutable–Truth become the Lie.

In her Carnival of Latin America at her blog Fausta provides evidence that History repeats itself:

Moscow Building Spy Site in Nicaragua. Signals intelligence facility part of deal for 50 Russian tanks (h/t Stephen Green). Not content with simply sending spy ships to Cuba, now

The Russian government is building an electronic intelligence-gathering facility in Nicaragua as part of Moscow’s efforts to increase military and intelligence activities in the Western Hemisphere.

While the MSM has no interest in the violence in Chicago At Marathon Pundit John Ruberry is keeping count:

It’s summer which sadly means that there will be more shootings in Chicago. This weekend seven people were shot to death and at least 48 others were wounded. Among the latter was a 19-year-old South Side woman who was shot twice shortly before noon on Saturday–she’s in critical condition.

At his site Author Tim Imholt PhD opines on some 80’s music that’s striking a familiar chord to him

Think about those words. We have two front runners in American politics for the 2016 Presidential election. Those are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Putting aside for a minute the thought that if these two are really the best, smartest, most qualified people in the nation for that job, we have a long way to go as a nation. Think about those words. These two political leaders are essentially living up to those words every day. Donald talks about himself more than anyone I know, and Hillary says look I held all these important positions with shockingly awesome titles. Perhaps Donald went bankrupt a lot and Hillary failed to perform in those jobs, but that’s beside the point. Politics is a show, and those two have people who have swarmed around that cult of personality in both cases. 

At Lady Liberty’s site AP Dillon doesn’t take sides in violent clashes between fascists but the MSM does

To me it looks like one fascist group attacking another fascist group. I’m not defending either side here, but the media is.  Google for news stories on the attacks and one can see the media has taken the side of BAMN.

One outlet cited the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) when describing who and what the Traditionalist Workers Party was. This is sadly hilarious, as SPLC helpsfund the UEAA, from which BAMN gets their money. Shockingly, the UEAA also gets money from Unions, but apparently not a lot according to UEAA’s 990 filings. Fun fact: When I called SPLC out yesterday on Twitter, they blocked me.

BAMN appears to be a far left, fascist style group who follows the rules of Saul Alinsky. From looking at their website, BAMN seems to believe that illegal immigrant sanctuary cities are not enough, whole states should be converted. Discover the Networks has some interesting history on BAMN.

It’s been a while since occasional contributor Jerry Wilson posted on his site, but that last post struck about Dawn Wisner Johnson struck a chord:

For the past few years, I’ve been working with, helping, and supporting a non profit – Forgotten Children – headed by my good friend, Paula Daniels. I never thought that this would hit so close to home.

Friends, please take a moment to watch this interview with a victim that escaped. If you don’t have the time to do that, would you “like” this post? The more likes, the more people will see it.

I’m also very sad that when I post on Facebook about human trafficking I may get 5 “likes.” Yet, when I post about my vacations or family, 50 to 100 “likes”. How sad that is to me.

People don’t like to be reminded of unpleasant realities, because it implies a need to do something about it

It’s been a while since Linda Suzuki blogged here and her site No one of Any import hasn’t seen much action lately either but this post is a great summary of the duties of a parent:

Here’s why:  I have NO opinion about my children’s future.  Unless:

  • They get hooked on illegal drugs
  • They sell illegal drugs
  • Their spouses get hooked on or sell illegal drugs
  • They abuse their spouses
  • Their spouses abuse them
  • They turn to other criminal activity as a source of income
  • They refuse to work, instead living off the government teat
  • They expect me & my husband to continue supporting them indefinitely
  • They irresponsibly go into large amounts of debt in a pursuit of unrealistic dreams

The end.  If none of the above apply, and my children are above 18, then I am a satisfied parent.

The job of a parent is to teach kids to be adults Linda seems to get it.


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By Timothy Imholt

Castle_Romeo

As a nation we have long depended on early warning systems like RADAR to tell us of incoming threats. This started during World War 2 when advances the first RADAR systems in the world warned Great Britain of incoming German airplanes allowing the British to put their defensive aircraft exactly where they were needed.

This has extended into defenses against missiles. We have all watched the videos from the Gulf when US PATRIOT Missiles knocked down incoming Scud missiles to defend our troops. These are RADAR guided missiles.

We are fantastic at finding things that fly at us. One might even venture to say we are the best in the world at this.

During World War 2, the only time nuclear weapons have been used in hostile activity, these weapons were delivered using bombers. Japan was hit twice by the United States with fission weapons which brought the War to a close much sooner than otherwise thought possible. We can argue the necessity but that is the history.

If a nuclear device was put into a bomber or thrown on a missile and launched at the United States we would detect it. Of that, there is very little doubt. We might not find it fast enough to stop it depending upon the launch site but we could probably do something.

That isn’t the fear.

The fear is what happens in the modern world.

Nuclear weapons are not the massive things they once were. The World War 2 era devices were massive, hard to move and just simple put big, ugly devices. It is 70 years later and technology has miniaturized everything during the years between here and there.

Today, if someone sneaky, were going to launch an attack it would be through DHL or FEDEX. Don’t believe me, how about The Lexington Institute’s Daniel Goure PhD. He wrote an interesting article, the complete text of which can be found at: http://lexingtoninstitute.org/terrorism-3-0-and-the-need-for-100-percent-cargo-scanning/

The two important paragraphs are:

Counterterrorism experts have long worried that maritime transportation, particularly the traffic in TEUs, could provide a difficult to detect avenue for the delivery of a weapon of mass destruction to U.S. shores. That is why since 2007 there has been a law on the books that the Department of Homeland Security pursue the goal of screening 100 percent of all cargo bound for the United States by the end of 2011. While some progress has been made towards this goal, the reality is that cargo screening today is largely a paper exercise, relying on shippers to provide manifests of what is contained in cargo bins or TEUs. Less than one percent of cargo containers, whether traveling by air or on ships, are actively inspected or scanned with a detector. Sending a bomb in the cargo hold of a commercial airliner or cargo ship might seem to the terrorists like a pretty sure thing.

A weapon of mass destruction or radiological device going off in a U.S. port would cause incalculable physical and economic damage and could result in the loss of tens of thousands of lives. The impact on international trade could be even worse. In the wake of 9/11 the U.S. government initially grounded all flights over the United States. It took about a year to reopen Reagan National Airport. After the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, all U.S. deep water drilling was halted for two years while safety measures were reviewed and upgraded. In the absence of 100 percent cargo screening, even a failed attempt to smuggle a device into the U.S. could bring international trade to a complete halt. Closing U.S. ports for weeks, much less months or years would cripple our economy.

That is correct. One percent of cargo coming into the nation is scanned for these devices and could easily contain one or more on any given day.

If someone with one wanted to get it here, it would no longer take a large effort to do so.

This is why a nuclear Iran, or nuclear terrorism (I’m not certain there is a difference) must not be allowed to happen ever. Not ten years away…ever. If we can’t do better than one percent, and we depend on the shipper to help us, we don’t understand our enemy.

Timothy Imholt PhD

As a short Post Script, I wrote a book about what I think the world would look like should Iran get these devices and do what they have stated they desire to do with them. This book is called The Last World War: Volume 1 Trial By Fission, which is available on Amazon in print and on Kindle.

 

We hear the term American Dream thrown around from time to time. Usually it is in context of how one party or another is chipping away at it. I believe it is not just parties and politicians that do this, but regulators.

One thing about people’s how job it is to regulate things, they do, from time to time, regulate something. Funny how that works.

What is meant by the American Dream?

Simple, the chance to have a house, a job, some wealth, some future that is better than your past.

How is that achieved?

Simple…Work hard, add value, and sooner or later some of that value falls into your own pockets.

Some of that is done through hard work at a job for someone else, and sometimes that is by working for yourself, but it is always through using labor, or intellect to add value to the world.

My premise is that we are slowly eroding the capability of people to do these things.

My grandfather in the 1940s lived the American dream by buying a very small house and using his labor to add lots of square footage. It turns out he had a large number of kids and needed the space. Because he couldn’t afford a large enough house he bought a small one. For a period of time he put everyone into tight quarters and with every waking moment outside of work he added square footage and therefore value to the house.

He did this work himself.

Now, many times, today I hear people say “I’m building a house.” The comment is never literal. What is meant is that “I’m working with a contractor who hired a bunch of people to build a house and I write a check.”

Well, why aren’t people buying the wood and nails like my grandfather did?  Is it lack of desire? Is it not enough time? Lack of knowhow?

I say it isn’t any of those things. It is local building regulations. If you want to build something larger than a doghouse in some localities the number of permits needed is crazy. The requirements to get those permits is also nutty. You must use a licensed this, a bonded that.

Ok, how about this. I’m a guy who owns some dirt, I want to build a house for my wife and kids. If it sucks it is my problem. But nooooo we can’t do it that way. We permit people wanting to do the work themselves right out of the equation.

We rob people of the chance to add value to their own property. We rob them of the ability to create a home. You can buy it but you can’t build it.

That statement I think sums it up.  You can buy the American dream but building it is being slowly eroded.

I know this is but one example, but I could name fifty other regulations that get in the way of people using their own labor to add value to things without the government’s ok.  Therefore I do firmly believe that what we have now is a situation where both parties, along with regulators, are robbing us of the American dream one line of red tape laden regulation documents at a time.

I hope we find ourselves in a situation where people are more free to chase the American dream and not just leave that dream to people who can purchase it.

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by Timothy Imholt

Normally when I write a BLOG I rarely make it about things going on with me. Today I feel that I must rant about a local issue that is impacting one of my two sons.

I have a son who is autistic. He is a mild case, highly functioning but he is also at a very crucial point in his development (3.5 years old).

For those who aren’t familiar with the available services for these kids there are some amazing ones here in this state (if you can get to them).

Each child is evaluated by teams of professionals and given what is called an IEP (Individualize Education Plan). The parents and the school district review the plan (that the team comes up with) and it is eventually agreed upon. These plans are designed so that kids who are autistic (or have other problems) can start even with other kids when you get to the actual k-12 program.

It is a system that is far and gone above the one that was around when I was a kid. It really does make a difference in the lives of these children.

We recently moved from one school district to another in the same State. When we called the new school district and tried to enroll our son that is when all the fun started.

We did what any good parents would do. We called the enrollment office at the new district and said, hey we live here now, our son has this IEP from the other Massachusetts district, let’s get him enrolled.

They said (on the first call) that they were between sessions and everyone was out of the office so we would have to call back.

Fast forward a week, we call back, and were told that we have to bring his documented IEP into this one person at the district.

My wife takes the IEP in, drops it off, of course that person isn’t there, so it is left with an administrator who says it will get to this one, and only one person, who is permitted to review it and get the ball rolling.

Fast forward another few days, we call back and we get voicemail. We dutifully leave a detailed message and get no return call. I could repeat that story several times with many more unreturned calls.

Well, go forward another few days, the school year starts…still no return call.

Now school has been in session a week and we continue to leave messages, call, email, and yet we get nothing in return.

Now, if you have an autistic child, or know someone who does you know that breaks in services for these children can be very detrimental. They can drive them backwards in a big hurry and that is not what you want.

Now luckily my wife and I are in a position where we can get him some level of service privately (not nearly what he needs). We are doing that so at least it isn’t a total break. But if these services are going to be offered and advertised the least the people charged with enrolling students can do…is return a phone call. Just once.

Now that I am paying the taxes in this state that pay for these services I think I should be able to take advantage of them. Apparently paying taxes doesn’t imply that the services you pay for are yours to take advantage of. So, I will pay for them a second time and go private but unfortunately no everyone has that ability.

I will continue to fight the school district, as my son, as does everyone else’s (and daughter) deserves better than this. But I can’t help but wonder, if I were politically well connected, if I were, perhaps, related to someone at the school district, would things be different? The world may never know, in the mean time I will continue my crusade to get my son all of the services he is supposed to receive through the taxes I continue to pay.

Now, I find myself wondering what happens more and more as common core is implemented. I wonder if the commonality will be this type of service across all portions of the educational spectrum. I sure hope not. But there is always Catholic School!

I wonder if the State will reimburse me the taxes I pay for these services, as I had to go pay for them privately? Probably not. We can always dream I suppose.

Every Political season is full of “mis-truths.” The worst part about them is that we, the voting public, let politicians asking for our vote get away with it, again, and again, and again. To make matters slightly worse we allow these lies to separate us and cause arguments in our personal lives. Ok…maybe not all of us engage in those arguments, but I know I have had heated arguments with professional people, in my workplace, over certain issues just because it was on a campaign ad. I decided to accumulate a few, and put them in a list. I hope you agree with me, but I am sure someone, somewhere will yell at me (but what are friends for).

I will stop EBT fraud!

Electronic Benefits Technology is a program that has fraud in it, lots of fraud. Depending on whose numbers you believe the fraud rate is somewhere between $2B and $50B annually. I personally approached members of both political parties here in Massachusetts (at a State level) about a high tech solution to EBT fraud. You can find it over on PJMedia in an article I wrote. The answer I got back was funny in ways. “Oh we need to get this other State Rep.” The reasoning seemed sound. That person is known for screaming about fraud in that system and wanting to make changes. After months of attempting to get them on the phone, I did…They didn’t want to even touch it because “the other party would never…” you know the rest. Funny part is I had members of the other party interested. If we can save the program money, and keep the system around for those who really need it by weeding out fraud and abuse, then why not? Both parties should love that. Unfortunately not really, the long and short of it was that both sides raise too much money demonizing the other on that issue to ever solve it.

I’m going to eliminate wasteful government spending!

I have been an adult long enough to know that you won’t ever drive wasteful spending to zero. It can’t be done. The government is HUGE. If you work for a company larger than 15 people you will know that there are times that waste comes into play. Someone out there will do it, it happens. Given the insane number of employees of the Federal, State and Local governments there will always be examples of waste. Just once I would love to hear someone tell the truth and say “I’ll tell you about waste when I see someone else do it, then look for another thing I can complain about, while getting my face on the news for the free exposure.” The phrase “I’ll reduce government waste” I would believe, but I will never hear that during a campaign. The very that moment these words leave a politicians lips run the other way and vote for someone else.

All Scientists agree that ….

Fill in the blank, I have heard this phrase on a variety of subjects. I am a Scientist with a PhD in Experimental Physics. I have known many scientists in my life. You will never, ever get all scientists to agree on anything (including how gravity works). I can barely get three of them to agree on which book has the best presentation of it, or worse, where to go have lunch. If someone says this assume everything they say after this is just an excuse for a large spending program that will funnel money to someone who donated to a campaign.

I will make sure that we convert everything everywhere to renewable, clean energy sources

Ok, ok…I like clean energy also. I did work in alternative fuels as part of my career early on. I want nothing more than to minimize the use of fossil fuels everywhere. They are dirty, they are dangerous but OMG they are plentiful and cheap. If anyone says “I will make sure we replace all fossil fuels with,” assume that someone who owns a wind, solar, or fuel cell company is a big backer, OR whoever said those words doesn’t understand something. That something is just how much we consume of fossil fuels every single day (natural gas counts also, don’t forget). It isn’t that we don’t want those energy sources, I know I do, but fossil fuels are just so darned efficient and we consume so much of them. The various alternatives are not going to reach the scale of fossil fuels as far as production anytime soon. My favorite one here is people that push electric only cars. That is fun…you do have to charge those cars and most electricity in the United States is generated with coal which burns dirtier than gasoline, so in reality, all you are doing is trading a dirty fossil fuel to charge your electric car, in place of a cleaner one I put in my car. But if it makes you feel good, enjoy…more power to you, that is one of the things that makes this country great. You are free to do as you choose, as am I. I would probably own a Tesla if I could afford one, but I can’t, so I drive a gasoline based car.

My new program will reduce overall government expense

I’m not even sure what to say when I hear this. Let’s think about it this way. This person running for office is going to start a NEW program that will SAVE us money. How? By spending more money? It is new, it is money we didn’t spend before. Will it shut down a different program or will this new thing just run around and collect fees and taxes from us we didn’t pay before it existed. I think we all know the answer to this. If you want to SAVE money you eliminate programs not start new ones.

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed my little rant and rave of this list. It is an election season, and while this is meant as humorous we should all take how we vote seriously. It is important to do so. We should give serious consideration into who runs this country. Please research who you are voting for, look beyond the party affiliation at the person. Elect only the best people to office, not ‘Us Versus Them.’

Tim

You can finding my writing here on DaTechGuy on Tuesday most weeks, or in one of several books on Amazon.com including the best-selling fiction novel Forest of Assassins, and the recently published eBook Laughing at a Military Enlistment, about the jokes various friends and I pulled on people when we were in the Army.  It is amazingly juvenile humor but funny all the same.

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We all know dealing with the government can be challenging.  Anyone who has lived through an IRS audit (4 years in a row) can attest to that.  Maybe there was a bit of personal agitation in that statement, but I digress.

I was once enlisted in the Army.  I am proud of my service and proud of my Country.  I am very proud to call myself an American.

I am not proud of our Veterans Administration.

For slightly more than a decade now we have asked our Soldiers and Sailors to go off and fight the Global War on Terror.  They did.

Many of them came back with injuries that will last a lifetime.  The obvious injuries, lost limbs, etc. are easily seen.  We all want to honor their service and help them come back to a quality of life they deserve.  A quality of life all Americans deserve.

What they come back to is having to deal with the VA to help them cope with these injuries, that not all of which can be seen.

Some of these injuries are mental and emotional.  Can you imagine the trauma burnt into someone’s brain of having lost an arm?  That is traumatic enough.

Let’s add to that loss the fact that it happened when an IED went off.

Let’s add to that trauma the fact that the IED was unseen until it went off.

Let’s add the THAT trauma that the IED that was unseen was hidden on a suburban street corner in some cases.

How hard would it be for you to feel safe driving up to another street corner anytime soon?

I would have issues.

We have all seen the news stories about the LONG waits to even have your case reviewed by the VA much less benefits determined.  Those are all over the blogosphere.

What isn’t discussed as much is what the Veterans tell each other about how to deal with the VA so that your claims (especially the PTSD and similar) are taken seriously.

I was talking to a Veteran friend of mine who is recently discharged (I was discharged in 1996 and am not disabled).  He, I, and several of his friends were trading emails and something absolutely appalling came across my screen.

How to get the VA to take your claim seriously was the topic.  One veteran was giving another veteran advice on what makes the VA move on a case.

Here is the advice:

When you go to your appointment do the following:

  • Make sure you do not shave for a few days
  • Don’t bathe that day and perhaps the day before
  • Wear old worn out clothing
  • Make sure your shoes are dirty
  • If you can tolerate it, make sure you smell like body waste…In other words make sure you smell like you peed (or something else) on yourself

This is how Veterans tell each other to deal with our government.

Is this how things should be?  Or should Veterans be able to tell each other, oh yeah just fill out the form, see the doctor, and they will do everything they can to help you.

This should not be the experience our Veterans have.  Period.

I urge everyone who can to write your Representatives in Washington. DO NOT just say the wait times are bad, although they are.  The tragedy here is not the wait time.  The tragedy here is the treatment, the customer service if you will, that we give the people who gave us their best.

If you do not know who your Representative is, or need help with the process of contacting them, please drop a comment here, find me (Timothy Imholt) on Facebook, or email me at tim@timothyimholt.com.  I will do everything I can for these guys who did everything they could for us.

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By Timothy Imholt

In order to understand a problem, as a scientist I like to look at fundamentals, or origins, of the problem we are faced with.  These days this ‘Culture War’ that the far reaches of the political spectrum seem to be fanning the flames of (to the point of a bonfire now) is a real issue.  So where did this culture war start?

My first memory of the use of the culture war term and analogy was in Pat Buchanan’s speech at the 1992 Republican convention. I then traced some of his ideas to James Davison Hunter’s 1991 book “Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America.” Hunter was a University of Virginia sociologist who viewed politics as an increasingly uncivil arena split into two sides that share little but mutual antipathy. The book made use of a lot of war descriptions and metaphors and leaves a distinct idea that American politics was in a steep decline.

But while I was checking these references, I found a more serious connection with a darker past.

Part of the path leads through Herbert Baxter Adams (1850-1891). He taught poly sci and history at Johns Hopkins, and is sometimes referred to as ‘America’s first professional historian’. He was the first active academic to gain a PhD in history, and he earned it at Heidelberg, Germany in 1876. This meant that he was in Germany during their culture war. What follows is a sort of review of the book this led me to read.

Bohm’s Der Kulturkampf: 1871-1873

Wilhelm Bohm published his “Rise of Bismarck” in 1887-1889. This book is volume 6 of that 8 volume set and gives a detailed look at the events of the three or four years after the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. This volume is entitled “Fȕrst Bismark als Redner… der Kulturekamph…” (Culture Struggle) and it expounds on the actions taken to create the modern state of Germany. Parsing the text and the multi part compound nouns make it a slow read (or reveal my barely adequate German). Some of the twists and changes in political alignment are also hard to follow. But comparing the time with our modern culture war is certainly informative.

Bismarck was manipulating and forcing change on people’s fundamental ideas, and he largely succeeded. There are certainly actions we would view as alarming: people and clergy were imprisoned, property was seized or destroyed, and Bismarck certainly earned his nickname of ‘the iron chancellor’, but with consideration he comes off pretty well as the good guy. While he did create Germany as a country, he also had a good number of unintended consequences.

Before Bismarck Germany (the area) actually contained a number of countries, and the views of a Hamburger, Prussian, Bavarian, Palatinate (I skipped a fair number) were different. After him they were melded into one Reich. We would see his actions as harsh and abrupt, but his challenges were also very great. He was coming out of 250 or so years where those little nations had been walked over, or fought in, looted and burned by their neighbors. They had been hit by the French, the Spaniards, the Netherlanders, the English, Austrians, Italians, Poles, Swedes, and Russians among others. After Bismarck, Germany was a world power, although they would start colonization about 100 to 150 years later than the majors had moved around the globe.

As a obiter-dicta (by the way comment); these wars gained some experience for the Germans but reduced them to such relative poverty that the only viable ‘export’ for some of the rulers in these countries was to lease out their own conscripts as mercenaries… the ‘Hessians’ in the American Revolution.

It is interesting to think about Bismarck’s results compared with our culture war especially that set of unexpected consequences. His ideas of government were more democratic and open than the state that resulted in the Kaiser’s Germany of WWI or Hitler’s Reich in WWII. He also wound up with ‘Secularism’ as a sort of religion, and this seems to be an intentional target of our Collectivist activists. Overall I found the book worth while, although most would prefer a more modern translation.

Back to Adams

We never hear this anywhere, but I will look into Herbert Baxter Adams further in a later post. He figures in several trends that contributed to our modern society: the specialization and fragmentation of education (he was the first PhD); defining history and sociology as a domain belonging to trained specialists, and had lots of his ideas printed and distributed by the U.S. government. Thus he affected both high-school and college teaching of history. This blog is already too long, so for now just look him up in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Baxter_Adams.

Defining Some Terms

In order for any two people to actually agree on something (or even discuss it) the words or phrases that they use must mean the same (or at least very similar) things to each of them. This can get to be very slippery for two reasons: 1) definitions change over time, or 2) the definition is the same but the context changed. For example, “all men are created equal” once allowed some men to still hold others as slaves. Likewise, the understanding of the meaning of ‘Liberal’ and ‘Conservative’ has changed from the times of our founders.

Another concern occurs when we use terms like ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’, particularly in a political context. The concern is that so many related concepts and ideas are lumped in with the idea that a short definition is not actually clear. A frequent notion when complicated or involved agreements are needed is to use an attorney. But I’ve rejected that idea ever since seeing Bill Clinton twist on “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”; a master performance by a trained lawyer.

Since these blogs are about agreement and ideas, we’ve got to be clear on terms. I do not ask that everyone agree with these definitions (although it sure would be nice), but do ask that you consider them, and remember that they apply across these blogs.

Liberty Defined

Lincoln once remarked that “The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one.” In the 145 years since then, we haven’t got one yet. But since this purports to be a collection of my thoughts about liberty, I decided early on that I needed a clear idea of what liberty was. I always try to keep the following definition in mind:

Liberty is a condition enjoyed by the members of a society in which every person has the absolute right to think, speak, and act with no limits other than those needed to secure the same right to every other person.

Having evolved and struggled with that definition, I was very pleased when late in my work I found support from Jefferson:

“Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law,’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.”

Liberal and Conservative

If at all possible I intend to avoid using these terms. Generally in politics and other fields a ‘Conservative’ is someone who supports the status-quo or a return to the recent past, while a ‘Liberal’ is one who wants to change things to match some vision they believe is better. The problem is that this always defines a shifting target. A Conservative in 1780 wanted to return to the kingdom, while a Liberal wanted the Articles of Confederation.

To further confuse things, various writers add adjectives and phrases, such as ‘Classical Liberal’, ‘Neo-con’, or ‘Compassionate Conservative’.

Left and Right

These terms are also used to describe political positions. I personally have three problems with them. First, I refuse to be classed based on the seating arrangement in the assembly of the 1848 French revolutionary government. Second, they are frequently used as an image of the two wings of an airplane. But if you don’t like the plane’s direction, which side you sit on is irrelevant.

Lastly, they also give rise to other terms, like ‘Middle of the Road’. A Texas humorist defined the problem here best by his book title: “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”.

Democracy and Republic

These terms describe forms of government. Many activists today seek to restore us to a ‘Republic’, but that doesn’t clarify the meaning. The meaning and definition is so involved that it will serve as the subject of several later blog entries. However, at considerable risk of disagreement, the short definitions used throughout this work are:

A republic is a government where each person, as an individual, is sovereign.

A democracy is a government where the people as a whole or a majority are sovereign.

Notes

What follows would be footnotes if this were a book, so if you’d skip them there, go ahead and skip them here. (If anybody knows a better way to do this, I’d love to hear from you).

Bill Clinton’s comment is in his video testimony of August 17, 1988 and was delivered to the grand jury in the Lewinsky affair.

Lincoln’s quote was part of a speech delivered in Baltimore in April of 1864; I took it from page 121 of volume 7 of “The Writings of Abraham Lincoln” published in 1906.

Jefferson’s quote showed up late because it wasn’t in any of the standard collections, such as Ford’s Centennial Collection of Jefferson’s Works in 12 volumes. It came from a letter to an Isaac Hall Tiffany, Esq. written on April 4, 1819. You can get a look at it of the Library of Congress website under The Jefferson Papers, Series 1, and general correspondence. Grey scale image is at

http://memory.loc.gov/master/mss/mtj/mtj1/051/0400/0462.jpg

The funny book title can be found in a number of places. It was by Jim Hightower, published by Harper Collins in 1979, entitled “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos”, (ISBN 0060187663). P.S. If your mind is a strange as mine you might find the book worthwhile for a plane ride.

Outside the Box – Time to Change?

This set of observations doesn’t seem to match anybody else’s thinking. While change happens every day, we seem to undergo a major shift at very broad intervals. The interval, in terms of our Federal government seems to be every 72 years. This is just long enough that almost all direct memory of the previous shift has gone to the grave. What I propose here is to briefly outline these shifts as noted by presidential elections, then describe the resulting governments.

Seventy-two years is also 14 presidential elections. For us this means 1788 Washington, 1860 Lincoln, 1932 (Franklin Roosevelt), then 2008 (Obama). The last one seems four years late, which I attribute to the unsettling effect of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Nature of the Shifts

Before looking at each shift, I want to point out that each shift also resulted in a change in terminology. We went from a Federation to a Republic, to a Democracy, then to the Progressives. Strangely enough each referred to itself as an example of the earlier stage and governed under principals of the next,

1788 -1860 was the Federal Era. People spoke of a federation, and referred to ‘these states are’. But during much of the period we were evolving from a federation to a national republic.

1860-1932 might be spoken of as the Republican Era. But once again we sent most of the era evolving from a national republic into a democracy. By the time of FDR the transition was completed.

1932-2008 is usually spoken of as the Democratic Era, but we spent much of it evolving from a Democracy into the ‘Nanny State’ of the progressives.

2008-? So far is called the progressive era, at least by many congress critters. We don’t know yet how it will turn out, but most features so far seem to be communistic. What this really means is subject matter for many more discussions….

By Timothy Imholt


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By Tim Imholt

Every time I turn on the news Experts and Intellectuals appear and present opinions on a large number of subjects on which they are ignorant. It is particularly tragic when their opinion serves to limit future debate on a subject, as for instance the current global warming (oops, that’s now climate change) debate.

I need to warn you that a this blog entry is partially a rant, but I feel qualified to do this since for a large part of my career I have been and still am considered an expert. Staying at the top of my game in my field as well as virtually any field takes a good bit of study in the field.

Besides my direct work, for many years I have read a technical work and 8 or so magazines each week. Then I’d read technical manuals, proposals, project definitions, etc. I constantly learn new computers, languages, software, and data-base methods. This is what leads to the ignorance for subjects outside my immediate area.

After doing this 6 days a week, I am exhausted. In my newspaper I go the comics and sports page first; maybe to skip the others. What little spare time is available goes to my house and kids, then a James Bond novel or to something on television.

This same rut and 70 hour work-weeks apply to most ‘Experts’. What this means is that they can’t keep up on current events or politics. Then we add to the mix those experts who are also classed as ‘Intellectuals’.

Most of this idea comes from Thomas Sowell’s excellent thought in his book “Intellectuals and Society”. He defines an intellectual as someone who works with an idea or opinion as his final product. University professors, critics, and expert consultants never need produce anything but the idea; and having produced it they move on never waiting to see an outcome. It may take as much intellect, study, and practice to be a neurosurgeon, but he is not an intellectual and typically lacks the time to present ideas.

Eric Hoffer’s Opinion

Eric Hoffer was a longshoreman and philosopher. His books were insightful and remain in print. During the height of his popularity (the 60s and 70s) he was interviewed in several hour long TV shows, twice by Eric Sevareid and twice by Bill Moyers.  These can be found on the net in various places if you use Google and are well worth seeing.

The interviewer commented on Hoffer’s ‘seeming dislike’ of intellectuals. Hoffer first paused to clarify the current use of the term in government and academia. He defined that ‘Intellectual’ as someone who by virtue of his background (education, college, etc.), ancestry (parents or teachers), or position (expert or bureaucrat) feels he is more qualified to run my life than I am.

Then he exploded; I don’t DISLIKE them, dislike does not begin to describe my feeling, I HATE THEM, I LOATH THEM, I DESPISE THAM.

Role of Experts

I don’t hold ENTIRELY with Hoffer’s attitude. I don’t mind that they think they could run my life better than I. I am slightly irritated when people like a boss’s wife take that position. I am inconvenienced when someone like an administrative assistant at a church takes that position.

But major problems begin when that expert writes government laws or regulations… now it becomes do it their way of face fines, jail, etc. There are more problems with regulations, but that is for another blog.  For today I will leave you with this thought.  Do we trust the ‘talking heads’ on opinion shows more than we trust ourselves?  More than we trust our own opinions?  These talking heads make their living giving opinions about the opinions of these other Intellectuals and Experts who we just showed don’t really do much of value.

The government Intellectuals and Experts don’t produce anything and we seem to take as Gospel the words of others who don’t produce much.  So I implore everyone who reads this.  Do you own homework.  Form your own opinions.  Please don’t just regurgitate the opinions of others then yell at those who disagree with those opinions.  It is our civic duty to be an informed electorate.  Do your duty.

Tim Imholt PhD is a scientist, an occasional contributor Pj Media and  the author of several works of fiction.  You can buy his latest,:  The Forest of Assassins and more below.

By Timothy Imholt PhD

 

Warbots

 

Years ago I found a copy of a (at the time) used paperback novel in the local used bookstore that made me want to be a scientist.  First there are some interesting bits about that first, it was a book not an eBook, and second I was in a local bookstore not a big box store.  Neither of which are common any longer.

 

This book was the first in a series called Warbots by a fellow Physicist named G. Harry Stine.  He was also one of the fathers of what is now build at home model rocket kits.  He passed away in 1997 and is missed by a wide array of different professional communities.  He even was the partial influence for me becoming a physicist and somewhat the reason for me writing fiction books (something I love to do).

 

None of that matters to modern day politics or the problems we face as a nation.

 

It does help us with something.  What he did in those books was to very accurately (in a way) predict drones, or what I believe the endgame desire of the drone programs to be.

 

He said that someday humans would be replaced on the battlefield by robots controlled by a human link (really deep mental link not just joysticks).  Through these Warbots, HEAVILY armed really advanced drones countries could settle international disputes and the humans would remain safe.

 

In those books he showed that humans on the battlefield are needed because the robots can’t give you a really great vision of the ‘situations on the ground’ if you are fighting an insurgent war, such as we have been doing.  The reason is that robots can’t give you a sense of what the people underneath all that heavily armed tonnage think and feel, at least those not involved in the battle.  In other words, the civilian population.

 

I think what he was trying do, in an entertaining way, was to warn us about future science taking thought out of killing.  Can you push a button and end a life?  Sure.  With the right robot…err…drone can you push a button from thousands of miles a way and end 50 lives…sure.  Should you?  That is the question.

 

Can a soldier on the ground tell for 100% certain that the person being killed, or structure being destroyed is a hostile thing?  Not always, but can a drone?  I think the answer is clear.

 

Should the drone programs exist?  I think they should.  Should heavily armed drones take the place of humans on the battlefield?  No…

 

Why bring up this topic in a day when we have other issues…missing airliners, Vladimir Putin taking over Crimea, Iran doing whatever Iran is doing…well, simple.

 

No matter where you or I stand on the matter our military has two things going on right now.  First, it is shrinking.  Now if you think it should is another question but the fact remains it is getting smaller.  Second, the military we have is tired.  The Global War on Terror has left us with banged up equipment and servicemen who need a break.  As a veteran I have talked to many who verify both of these claims.  They need to rest, retrain and re-equip.

 

Why does this question of heavily armed drones matter?

 

Well, specifically everything I have said above…Russia, Iran, and the world being, in general, a dangerous place.  People still want to do us harm and we want to stop them.

 

Now, as a scientist, if I looked at everything out there and said I have to protect a nation given the equipment we have in hand and the condition of our soldiers, I would lean HEAVILY on drones right now.  Logically that is a good answer, but is it the right answer morally?

 

That morality question is one I struggle with.  I hope, as a nation, we can get to where we can have a real dialog about it because drones aren’t going away.  They will become more common but we need to determine as a people where that line gets drawn.  What functions can a drone do?  What functions should a drone do?  Those are the questions we must answer and what your political party affiliation is should not come into the equation (sorry for the physics speak I couldn’t resist) when we do so.

by Timothy Imholt

My wife and I are rarely the couple to agree upon what to watch on television.  She likes cooking shows and HGTV, I prefer something more up-tempo and fiction oriented.  24 was a show we could easily agree upon.

I know the first thing someone is thinking, how is that possible.  She is a well educated engineer turned stay at home mom.  He is a scientist who works with high tech and an army veteran.  The two of you should know that 24 does go well beyond believability in some cases.

I mean in one season Jack’s heart stops, they bring him back and 2 hours later he is in not only a gunfight but a fistfight with no help stopping to rest in between.

Believable?  Well, we want to.

Is Jack Bauer this generation’s version of James Bond?

No, I think James Bond is this generation’s James Bond.

The show does do something interesting.  The writers know how to appeal to men and women with every episode!  Is it good to sit at a writing table and say this five minute block is for men, that five minute block is for women, etc?  Well, I don’t know if it is a great thing for a purist when it comes to fiction writing but you can’t argue the show did clobber everything that went up against it in the ratings.

Come on, really, how is all of it possible?

How can Jack make a phone call and have someone send an interior map of the building in front of him to his phone showing locations of terrorists?  Well, I’m not sure he can.

How can he make a phone call and have someone open the gate in front of him from a computer they have to use to hack into someone else’s security system and have it happen in 15 seconds?

Ok, he can’t.  I can’t get people to answer the phone as fast as he does much less hack a complex computer system (ok I don’t know anyone who does that second part anyway…)

This one REALLY got me.  How can Jack call his office from across town at 4:40 in the afternoon in Los Angeles say, “Ok I’m across town, I’ll be there in five minutes,” and he makes it.  He does it without the use of a helicopter?   Have you seen Los Angeles traffic ever Mr. Producer?  I would buy off on all the technocrap long before that one

What is so good about the show?  Why am I looking forward to the reboot anyway?

Well a few reasons I am so very much looking forward to the reboot.

First the writing really does appeal to all demographics.  It really does, my wife likes it, my mother, my sisters, I do…My Dad did when he was alive.  It’s a solid show.

Why else?

It makes people talk and think about controversial topics.  First and foremost torture.  I want to be upfront and say I am not advocating torture, at all.  But if I was faced with a nuclear weapon, or bioterrorist threat and a city the size of LA would I change my mind as quickly as Jack?  Well…I have no idea.

The other one that I really spawns from the face that I work at a very large company.  The show, in a subliminal way, shows that bureaucracy slows things down.  It shows that if you want to lead or manage by committee sometimes that just doesn’t work.  You need people who can make decisions not people who say, ‘Ok I’ll make some calls and see what we can do.’

What else does it make us thing about?

It makes us see that there really are people who want to do harm unto others in this world.  It makes us think about them, and even, in some cases does a pretty good job at describing or showing why those people want to harm others.  Is it to get their brother the drug dealer out of prison?  Is it to break their father the freedom fighter from season 1 (Dennis Hopper) out of prison?

Who knows what the new season will bring.  But one thing I do hope is that the show will make us think as it always has.  I know it will be a bit formulaic and Jack will be superhuman but I hope for two things.  First and foremost an entertaining thrill ride.  Second, that it makes people think about the more controversial problems facing the world today and that it does not push a particular agenda merely presents them in an entertaining fashion so that people will talk to each other about those issues without partisan politics coming into that discussion.