Sunday, August 23, 2015

The more things change, the more they remain the same

To me, one of the great mysteries of online publishing is that, frequently, articles that I published years ago (in one case, 20 years ago) are read by somebody someplace in the world. In a few cases, I’ve attracted an audience in countries that I’ve never even heard of.

The other day, somebody read an article that I published roughly 4 years ago. You can view it by clicking on the link below:

why can’t we all just get along?

Although the article largely discussed the Rodney King arrest, it also brought up a topic that is still very relevant today, which is the political dysfunction that exists in our country. The fact that the Republican clown car now has 17 members, and a buffoon like Donald Trump is leading all the Republican polls, is a sad commentary on our political mess. Even worse, the other 16 candidates all have finished up in various polls as below an Independent candidate named Deez Nuts, who is actually a 15 year old farm boy from Iowa.

I’m of the opinion that George H.W. Bush is a pretty good guy. Other than him, the last GOOD Republican President that we have had since I was born was Dwight Eisenhower, who was President when the car pictured below was new

If you read the 1956 Republican platform, you’ll realize how far the Republican party has strayed in the years since Ike. Significantly, the 1956 platform said absolutely nothing about guns.

In contrast, the 2012 Republican platform was a full threatened defense of 2nd amendment rights, and was designed to appeal to the most radical of today’s “gun nuts”.

To a large degree, too many members of the Republican Party can no longer be viewed as competent leaders. Instead, they resort to tactics that can only be described as infantile to try to get their way.

In 2013, the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party (who John McCain recently labeled, accurately, as “the crazies”) shut down the government for 16 days due to their inability to compromise on the Federal budget. The shutdown cost tax payers $24 billion, and failed to achieve its purpose, which was to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Although Texas Senator Ted Cruz is probably the craziest of the Tea Party crow, Iowa Representative Steve King is definitely a close second. In 2014, he advocated shutting down the government (again) because of his opposition of President Obama’s executive order on immigration.

You would think by now that by now, certain members of Congress would finally come to their senses and start acting like adults. Sadly, that is now the case.

A highly doctored, and totally false, video attacking Planned Parenthood was recently released, which led the Republican members of Congress to try to defund the organization entirely.

Thanks in large part to a spirited speech by Senator Elizabeth Warren, the measure to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood was defeated, but the process didn’t stop 5 states (so far) from cutting off funding, thus deriving millions of poor women across the country from getting the health care that they need. Once again, some members of Congress are threatening to shut down the government AGAIN if Federal funding isn’t eliminated for Planned Parenthood.

The reason that we can’t all “just get along” is largely a result of 2 factors:

1) too many of our fellow citizens get too much of their “information” from unreliable sources, and FOX “news” is the worst offender

2) there is simply too much money involved in today’s politics, which allows lesser qualified candidates (like Doug Ducey, Scott Walker, and Rick Scott) to get elected.

Until sources like FOX go out of business, and Congress finally enacts comprehensive finance reform, our current mess is not likely to change. As a result , the ONLY way to fix our political system is to VOTE, and to encourage as many people as possible to cast their votes as well. If we continue so see voter turnout rates as low as was evident in the 2014 mid term elections (the worst turnout in 72 years) than the smartest thing to do is to move to Costa Rica, which even Donald Trump would admit is not “a hellhole”.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Happy birthday, Mark !

One of the best guitar players in the world today is a guy named Mark Knopfler, who co-founded a group called Dire Straits with his brother David in 1977.

By coincidence, somebody someplace in the world today read an article that I published nearly 6 years ago. It was titled, “Prairie Wedding” and it featured a song performed by Mark Knopfler titled “ Prairie Wedding”, which you can listen to by clicking on the link below:

Prairie Wedding

Mark Freuder Knopfler was born on August 12, 1949, which means that he just turned 66 years old a week ago today.

After Dire Straits disbanded, Knopfler embarked on a solo career,. In addition to the albums he has released, he has composed and produced film scores for eight films, and he also has performed with a wide variety of other artists, To date, Knopfler has been awarded 4 Grammys, and he (and Dire Straits) have sold in excess of 120 million albums.

Due to his very successful musical career, Mark Knopfler is now worth something in the neighborhood of $95 million. Since he earns his money doing something that he enjoys thoroughly, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to say that he earns “money for nothing” .. and that ‘s all that I have to say, other than to say CRANK UP THE VOLUME !

money for nothing

Monday, August 10, 2015

¿Por qué Inglés es difícil Lurn, parte 2

Un poco más de una década atrás, pasé un año como ESL (Inglés como segunda lengua) profesor en Guangzhou, China.

Fue una experiencia maravillosa. No sólo perdí 15 libras (bajé al peso que yo estaba en la escuela secundaria), pero probablemente me salvó la vida. Mi trabajo anterior (como una persona de ventas encargado de MetLife) llegó con las presiones que causaron mis niveles de presión de la sangre y el colesterol se disparen, y la presión financiera de tratar de pagar los gastos fijos elevados en un ingreso que era todo menos garantizada llevado a más que un algunas noches de insomnio.

Si usted nació en los Estados Unidos, es probable que no se dan cuenta que el Inglés es en realidad un lenguaje muy duro para aprender, que es un tema que escribí anteriormente hace aproximadamente 3 años:

why English is hard to LURN

Dos historias que apareció en las noticias de esta mañana me recordó, una vez más, ¿por qué Inglés es un idioma difícil de aprender.

The first story is about a teacher in Utah (técnicamente, era estratega de medios de comunicación social de la escuela) que fue despedido por publicar un blog sobre homófonos. Aunque la acción se llevó a cabo hace poco más de un año, no hay ninguna indicación de que la persona que fue despedida ha sido reintegrado. La escuela que fue despedido de (Nomen Global Language Center) es la mayor escuela de ESL en Utah.

Si usted es un poco más ilustrado que el fundador de la escuela (Clarke Woodger) es, usted reconocerá que homófonos son palabras que suenan igual, pero tienen diferentes significados. Un ejemplo se muestra a continuación:

Más ejemplos se pueden encontrar en el siguiente enlace:

is it true that saxophone players are gay?

La otra historia que apareció esta mañana involucrado algún "hombre de la calle" entrevistas que se realizaron por un hombre llamado Joseph Costello. Le preguntó a varias personas en Austin, Texas si alguna vez votar por un presidente heterosexual. Las respuestas son esclarecedor -, así como un poco de miedo.

many of these people vote and have children.

Si usted condujo su propio "hombre de la calle" encuesta para averiguar si la gente supiera lo que el idioma oficial de los Estados Unidos es, también iba a encontrar que hay un montón de gente ignorante en este país. En realidad NO Inglés, pero el enlace de abajo le dirá lo que es:

made you look, didn’t I?

The English language is actually much older lo que muchos creen. En realidad deriva de varios dialectos de la lengua germánica occidental, que se originó en la época de Cristo. Desde las tribus germánicas que hablaban el idioma vivieron entre los habitantes de habla latina del Imperio Romano, la lengua absorbido muchas palabras latinas también. Hoy en día, se estima que aproximadamente el 60% del idioma Inglés se deriva de las palabras latinas, lo que me hace sentir un poco mejor acerca de los 2 años de latín que me vi obligado a tomar en la escuela secundaria "

Aunque Inglés de hecho puede ser un idioma difícil de aprender, los que se mueven aquí de otros países les resultará ventajoso para aprender, que se ejemplifica por el signo publicado a continuación:

Why English is hard to LURN, part 2

A little more than a decade ago, I spent a year as an ESL (English as a second language) teacher in Guangzhou, China.

It was a wonderful experience. Not only did I lose 15 pounds (I got down to the weight that I was in high school), but I probably saved my life. My previous job (as a commissioned sales person for MetLife) came with pressures that caused my blood pressure and cholesterol levels to skyrocket, and the financial pressure of trying to pay high fixed expenses on an income that was anything but guaranteed led to more that a few sleepless nights.

If you were born in America, you probably don’t realize that English is actually a very hard language to learn, which is a topic that I previously wrote about roughly 3 years ago:

why English is hard to LURN

Two stories that popped up in the news this morning reminded me, once again, why English is a hard language to learn.

The first story is about a teacher in Utah (technically, he was the school’s social media strategist) who was fired for posting a blog about homophones. Although the action took place a little more than a year ago, there is no indication that the person who was fired has been reinstated. The school that he was fired from (Nomen Global Language Center) is the largest ESL school in Utah.

If you’re somewhat more enlightened than the school’s founder (Clarke Woodger) is, you’ll recognize that homophones are words that sound alike, but have different meanings. An example is shown below:

More examples can be found at the link below:

is it true that saxophone players are gay?

The other story that popped up this morning involved some “man on the street” interviews that were conducted by a man named Joseph Costello. He asked several people in Austin, Texas if they would ever vote for a heterosexual President. The responses are enlightening - as well as a little frightening.

many of these people vote and have children.

If you conducted your own “man on the street” poll to find out if people knew what the official language of the United States is, you’d also find that there are a lot of ignorant people in this country. It’s actually NOT English, but the link below will tell you what it is:

made you look, didn’t I?

The English language is actually much older than many people realize. It’s actually derived from several dialects of the West Germanic language, which originated about the time of Christ. Since the Germanic tribes that spoke the language lived among the Latin-speaking inhabitants of the Roman Empire, the language absorbed many Latin words as well. Today, it is estimated that roughly 60% of the English language is derived from Latin words, which makes me feel a little better about the 2 years of Latin that I was forced to take in high school.

Although English may indeed be a hard language to learn, those who move here from other countries will find it advantageous to learn it, which is exemplified by the sign posted below:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

For the baby boomers

The period immediately after the end of WWII marked the start of the “baby boom” generation, which included all of the children born between 1946 and 1964. Growth was the most dramatic between 1946 and 1955, when the Leading-Edge Boomers were born. Those born between 1956 and 1964 are called Late Bloomers or Trailing Edge Boomers. Those born from 1957 on are also called Generation Jones. Although the size of both the leading edge and trailing edge boomers is about the same (at about 38,000,000 people) the birth rate dropped sharply after 1956.The highest birthrate for all baby boomers was 1947, the year that I was born.

American society has changed radically since the date of my birth, and listing all of the remarkable events that have occurred in the last 67 years could fill several volumes.

To keep things simple, though, I’d like to focus only on the toys that came into being during my lifetime.

The slinky was introduced in 1945

The hula hoop was introduced in 1958

The Lego brick was introduced in 1958

Barbie was born in 1959,

G.I. Joe was introduced in 1964

All of us also played with Lincoln logs, Erector sets, and Lionel trains, but all them were actually invented much earlier. Lionel trains were made from 1900 to 1969, but you can still buy new sets today if you know where to shop. Erector sets were introduced in 1913, and Lincoln logs (which were created by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son) date back to 1916

One of THE best known toys of the Baby Boom era was the Etch A Sketch. It was invented in France in the late 1950’s, and introduced to the world at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany in 1959. The rights to the toy were quickly purchased by The Ohio Art Company, and it was released in America in time for the 1960 Christmas season. For many years, it was produced in Bryan, Ohio, but all production was shifted to Shenzhnen, China in 2001.

Although you can still buy the original Etch A Sketch, it’s also possible to buy one that has computer memory and a speaker. The Etch A Sketch Animator was introduced in 1986, and an updated version was released in 1988. The purchase price of the Animator is $139,99, considerably cheaper than an I-Pad, but more than a Kindle or a Nook.

The bast majority of us never got much beyond producing a bunch of squiggles on the screen, but there ARE a few talented people among us who have produced remarkably life-like art, like the picture shown below.

Although the Etch A Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 1998, and was added to the Century of Toys list in 2003, it may not qualify as the best toy EVER, However, for the harried parents of all those kids who were born during the Baby Boom generation, it offered three clear advantages:

1) it could keep kids occupied for hours on end

2) it didn’t require batteries

3) it didn’t make any noise.