Supply And Demand

I must be a very simple minded dude. I look at our world and it does not seem overly complex. Whether it is food, energy, transportation, housing, clothes, or technology, we create stuff. 

People buy that stuff. If there isn’t enough we either create more or charge more for what we have. If there is too much we lower the price to where it becomes attractive. Man, am I a rocket scientist! Nobel prize here we come. 

The Federal Reserve wants to micromanage this. We can’t have inflation or at least it can’t be above 2.5%. Wall Street wants to analyze this ad nauseam. If you miss their interpretation of  your earnings by a few cents the the stock gets pummeled. No demand. If you beat it by ten cents it is off to the races. 

I am trying to dissect this further. You and I are integral parts of this whole production process. We create the demand side. We want to update, rehabilitate or just buy something for the fun of it. We need to eat and put petrol in our soon to be outmoded internal combustion car. We want to watch sports, news and the latest idiot show on network TV. We gotta have it.

The first question I ask myself is what if I did not buy anything? Not because I am unAmerican but because I just don’t need anything else. Okay, I will give you food but do we have to do everything in such ginormous portions. 24 ounce T Bones, Big Gulps, Obscene Chocolate bars. Do we really need all of this or is it just filling our desire to be entertained in some way? Life is so boring otherwise.

We all buy cars. These are modes of transportation. So are bikes and motor scooters but I digress. Whether it is gas or electric we use these puppies about 5% of the time unless you are a traveling salesman or long haul trucker. Think about it. We insure it, maintain it, wash it, coo over it and this ungrateful bastard depreciates faster than your stock portfolio in a Monday crash. 

Yet when we get bored with it or feel the urge for a new gizmo or power source and dump it every 2-3 years. It is perfectly good but we have to keep up with the Jones. Wait TTG, it is out of warranty. It will cost a fortune to fix. Correct me if I am wrong. You shell out X amount to upgrade and that tidy sum would more than cover a complete engine overhaul. I guess I am stupid. How about boats or vacation homes?

When was the last time you went out on your yacht or spent time in Vail or Alta? At Desert Mountain we could calculate the length of time you stayed as a correlative to the size of the house. The bigger the mansion the more you had other places to go.

Moving right along to clothing. The shirts, shorts, dresses, shoes, baubles and bangles…the whole shebang. I not asking you to wear hair shirts and sackcloths, but go into your closet right now and tell me how much is necessary for you to appear in public? I know you would not be seen in that. 

Last but not least is electronics…computers,TV’s, sound systems, phones, earbuds…shall I go on? I look at my five year old TV and think there has to be something on the market with a sharper picture because of a gazillion pixels. Of course there is and I will put the old one out at the curb. 

People, I am not a Scrooge. I love the good stuff just the same as you but what are the ramifications? We are all in the “end of the world as we know it” syndrome. Global warming, pollution, nuclear threats all wrapped into one. Yet we party on and want more and more. It is the American and probably the world way. 

If I did not want so much would there be food to spare on the planet. How much do I need to survive and even have a dessert every now and then? 38% of the world’s surface is used for food. How much energy, water and chemicals do we need to produce to feed our faces. 

We recently went to the Ford F 150 factory in Dearborn, Michigan. It was an incredible display of our ingenuity to create something. One of these beauties rolls off the line every 54 seconds. For a moment think of what went into that truck from frame, to windows, to seats, to tires etc. How much energy did it take to create just one with thousands of parts, whether it be gas or electric? 

Where am I going? Let’s try for a moment to look at our lives as a pleasant meal rather than an all you can eat Smorgasbord.

What if we took it down just a couple of notches? I get this horrible feeling we have gone way over the top. Our lives are fantasy rather than reality. We are obsessed with this Eden like dream that we will do anything and everything to make come true. 

Please don’t take this as a downer but maybe just a minor pause to look around at what we have all created. Is there a basic plan or are we just plowing willy nilly into the future without a care of what possible disaster we are creating? We have a vast supply of some very smart people. Let’s create the demand for some critical and strategic thinking. It might work!

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Standard of living refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods, and necessities available to a certain socioeconomic class or geographic area. Quality of life, on the other hand, is a subjective term that can measure happiness.   Objective and subjective measurements. 

A need is an essential requirement or a necessity whereas a want is a desire.

The fulfillment of needs is essential for one’s survival whereas fulfillment of wants is not essential for one’s survival.

The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average carbon footprint is closer to 4 tons.

Burning fossil fuels emits CO2, with coal releasing twice as much of the gas as petroleum. Worldwide, fossil fuels generate 85 percent of electricity.

Transportation: Whether for business or pleasure, locomotion is the second largest source of U.S. CO2 emissions. International travel is also a factor. A study of cruise ships found that vacationing at sea emits 12 times more CO2 than vacationing on land.

Building: Industrial manufacturing emits lots of CO2, but it only accounts for 2 percent of U.S. emissions. Iron and steel manufacturing and cement production are the biggest offenders.

Trees are potent organisms for absorbing and removing CO2 emissions from the air.Loss of forestlands account for 20 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Not sure how this all adds up but it was interesting to this inquisitive mind. 

Reach Out And Touch Someone

Writer’s Note: This a blog I wrote over ten years ago. I thought it would be fun to go back.Some things never change. TTG

Reach Out And Touch Someone June 22, 2011 5:37 am MDT

Life is full of incredible possibilities. I have had one of those fabulous weeks of interacting with people. I have met dozens of new faces, given 5 attaboys, had in depth talks with four great friends, given two talks and hugged and kissed ad nauseam. I’m in seventh heaven.

I love to hug and kiss everyone. In today’s society that may get me in trouble but TS. I hug men. I hug women. Especially young women. I tell my kids, I love them every chance I get. I say “Hi Beautiful” to my granddaughter, Harper. She says “Hi Handsome” right back.

 

The Irish are a wonderful lot. I had tears in my eyes on Sunday watching Rory McElroy come up the 18th at Congressional. He was hugged by his fellow countryman, Graheme Mcdowell. He was hugged by his wonderfully understated dad. He was loved by all. It was a sight to behold. Life is good.

But hugging is an art. You have to be careful because some people are reticent. Especially guys. They give you a funny look. A real funny look. They sometimes even give you a strong pushback even on handshakes. I want to give everyone a bear hug. It’s just my style.

Now kissing is a whole other gig. I kiss my wife, my daughters and sons. Not all in the same way. Guys really don’t like kissing. I kissed my homophobic brother as he lay dying and I knew it would be our last meeting. His eyes got as big as golf balls. It shook him up so much he rallied for two or three days.

My daughters think kissing me on the lips is gross. They at least do cheeks. Women for the most part just give air kisses.

That’s okay. They don’t know what they are missing.

As you can probably gather I am slowly coming out of my shell. I have decided from this point forward not to take myself so seriously. Sure the market stinks. Real estate is down. I shot 100 on Saturday but came back with an 85 on Sunday. I love you man!

A young man came to wash the windows on our house the other day. His name was Brendan. Scruffy in a friendly way, he had found his way to Denver six months ago. It turns out he has been everywhere from Louisiana to Haiti to Peru and Iowa. He had simply been helping out people struck by disaster with no remuneration. No complexity and no ego. Just a very decent person. I wanted to hug him but we had just met.

I love to tell women they are pretty, when they are. My daughters think it is creepy. My wife thinks I am a flirt. She said I may get picked up….by the police. I am just having fun.

There was an octogenarian woman in church who was dressed to the nines. She had a big red hat and looked like a million. I went over and told her how great she looked. I asked if all the guys in Denver were chasing her ? She asked me if I had any older brothers?

I sit on the front porch and will engage anyone who cares. I have taken to writing a mini blog and hanging it on the fence right next to our cement goose. I leave a pen and people respond. Some neighbors. Some strangers. Just people reaching out.

We are going to San Diego this week to see great friends we haven’t seen in a couple of years. They are nuts and we love it. I also hope to meet up with an old Swift Boat buddy I haven’t seen in 40 years. Please accept a collect phone call if we all wind up in jail.

Why am I carrying on like this? Just a silly Monday morning. I played golf with my son Scott yesterday. We had dinner with him, my lovely daughter in law and their kids. I had breakfast of sorts with my two daughters. Great memories. Sappy? You bet.

In this crazy world we live in, it is sometimes just goofy fun to be a little crazy.

As I said last week, life is too short. Go ahead and just hug someone. Catch them by surprise. Plant a big smacker right on their lips. If you get slapped consider it your red badge of courage. If they smile or wink at you, all the better.

As Always,

Ted The Great

Factoids for Weird Wednesday:

There are more people alive today than have ever lived……          Children laugh sometimes 100 times a day. Adults 15 times……       Women blink twice as much as men…my little chikadee ….. Finally, sneezes usually exceed 100 miles per hour



How Did I Get Here ?

In my never ending quest to appear at least semi-intelligent I like to read and research. I happen across a word or thought and start to pursue it. Too often I wind up down some dark alley and I ask myself,”What the hell am I doing here?” Something of the theme of my life. Crazy but fun.

The past few days I have pondered our current state of affairs. It seems like no one likes anyone. Back,white. Rich,poor. North, south, east, west. Liberals,conservatives. This is not new but seems to be approaching some sort of fever pitch. Critical race theorists want to blow up our current form of government and time honored traditions. The Proud Boys want to defend the motherland at all cost. The right wants to keep every penny to themselves and the left wants to run through it all in profligate glory.

 I could probably apply most of this to the International stage. Someone is always getting screwed or so they would like to believe. Each side wants to “take no prisoners.” I personally think this is getting quite scary. The cracks in society have become an abyss. People are questioning the founding principles of everything. Their governments, their religions and yes their sexuality. 

At first glance we recoil in anger and a bit of terror. Maybe we should just think it through. My kids gave me a subscription to Master Class. It is a series of courses given by notables on everything from cooking to design to political theory. I took the one on Critical Race theory and to be honest it was at the same time difficult and enlightening. You don’t have to agree but you do have to listen to what they say in an open minded way.  

I once listened to a talk by Louis Farrakhan. I just wanted to understand why he appeals to people. I can see why he makes sense to some. His arguments had plausibility. Of course some of you thought I was crazy for doing so. I think we are naive if we don’t. 

Today we have a world order that works..for a lot of us. Russia,China, South America and Africa don’t quite agree with us. That is a lot of people. Do we just ignore them? We are based on a lot of freedoms. Have we really thought them through  or just accept them as our inalienable rights? 

Today we esteem the right to bear arms. We have over 400 million guns in this country. And a lot of those are not in safe hands. We have freedom of speech but our universities shout down anyone who doesn’t agree with them. It seems to me these rights come with a responsibility that a lot of us do not want to accept. 

I have been reading some articles written by Yuval Hirari, a Harvard professor in philosophy and history. He has written a book entitled, “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” He has a unique talent to question our current society and share some interesting ways to cope with it. Most of all is his ability to challenge what he calls “myths”  that we have come to accept and have the guts to ask if we should?

There is much that has been passed down to us over millennia. We are a people that like the narrative.

Whether it is folklore or the bases of natural law we take it on faith. It worked for Plato or Socrates and so it has survived the test of time. Or so it would seem. What if all that history is flawed or at least unworkable in today’s society? Yikes TTG, have you gone to the dark side? I hope not but let’s figure out what the dark side is. 

For many of us the dark side is anyone who does not agree with us. Often I have written about people’s aversion to contrary thinking. There is an inherent fear that if they delve into the anti or at least the unknown that they will be be infected with a virus or at least tempted to think that way. 

Critical Race Theory has its good and bad points. I hope there aren’t many out there that don’t think blacks have had a hard time over the centuries. Are we perpetuating that? Perhaps. The best teachers and doctors don’t go to the ghettos. They probably get the worst who are unemployable otherwise. Is that cultural and even premeditated? Not in my vernacular. 

Was it like this in prior generations? There is an odds on chance it happened. Do we blow everything up and start over?  Even in modern times we see the old newsreels of Little Rock and Birmingham with the spitting and German Shepards. Maybe some of you feel that was appropriate. I can’t!

On the flip side I am dismayed at reparations and countenance. History does not write a perfect script. If I tried to go back and right the many wrongs I have done, is that practical or prudent? I think not. We tear down statues and try to legislate decency. It has to come to total disregard for what has worked for millennia. It has worked for all of us no matter how badly we have botched things.We are not perfect but we have been lasting.

There are workers here in Flalaland who do the dirty work. They are from Haiti and speak French and sing all day. They are happy for one simple reason. It beats the alternative. For each and everyone of us from rich to poor we should contemplate that.  

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Standard of living refers to the level of wealth, comfort, material goods, and necessities available to a certain socioeconomic class or geographic area. Quality of life, on the other hand, is a subjective term that can measure happiness. 

Conflicts are a fact of life.

Each and every one of us see things differently. We see different shades of green and red. The trick to survival in a melange of sorts. A little of yours and a little of mine. 

According to psychologist, speaker and author Guy Winch, most people who consistently refuse to admit they’re wrong do so because they have incredibly fragile egos. Their subconscious feeling is that, if they dig in their heels, they can protect themselves from the consequences that might come from their imperfection and fallibility. Winch also notes that some people go to extraordinary lengths in this process, even changing facts and convincing themselves of new realities in their own minds to escape culpability.  Hmmm.

Serenity….

Newspapers, social media, noise, heat, inflation, shootings, wars, COVID, abortion, government, religion, education, Supreme Court, LGBTQ. Did I miss anything? If one were to consider all of these in unison as an attack on our psyches, we should all be committed. 

Some of us are blind and or deaf. Some of us choose to ignore all this. For those of us who have not exited from everyday life, my heart goes out to you …and me. I decided to take a deeper drive. 

Maybe we are gluttons for punishment but Kathy and I like to tune in the national and local news. On the major networks I think you have to go through a grim reaper audition to be an anchor. Lester Holt, Norah O’Donnell and David Muir, Wolf Blitzer and I don’t have a clue who is on Fox, have got gloom and doom down to a science. Smiles and a soothing tone are verboten. Just he facts, ma’am !

In houses all over our wonderful land you don’t need a clicker. It stays on the same channel all day long. How many times can you watch shells in Ukraine, a raging forest fire or the latest totally confusing info on COVID? People, it is not going to change. Insanity is said to be doing the same stupid thing over and over again. Yes I am guilty too. 

I had a woman patient in hospice a couple of weeks ago who was beautiful, classy and more than aware of her situation. We talked for quite awhile. She related her story of 70 plus years and there was a reverie that was enchanting. She had fun as a flight attendant but had been sober for 40 years. Her smoking too much for too long brought her to death’s door. She was calm and accepting. 

Her greatest joy was being a teacher of English to high school freshmen. She pushed them and challenged them to be better than they thought. When they arrived back after Christmas break she had placed a sign saying “Honors English” over the classroom door. If they did not believe they belonged, they should not go in. They all did. 

As we talked, she spoke softly and I had to strain to listen. A good thing in its own right. I asked her what she thought of today’s circumstances.

She put it simply…a lack of gratitude. Not just being an American but just being alive with all its wonderful implications. Not worrying what one didn’t have but what they did. Rich, poor, white, black, we just don’t get it. Pretty poignant. 

She went on to speak of acceptance. Today she said, everyone has an excuse for every little thing. They whine constantly about their plight. Look at us, with my litany above in mind. We are wary and fearful. We almost sit helpless and critical of so many things. I know people face hard times. But no matter what or how bad we have it better than someone else.

I came home deep in thought. I wanted to jot down notes to try to get it right. As I pondered I heard sounds outside. We were having our house painted. The crew was Hispanic. They were laughing and singing in the hot Florida sun. Somehow and some way life was good. I wonder how many others feel that way about what they do?

The definition of serenity is a state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled. It sounds corny and a little Kumbaya but think about it. If only for a few moments a day set all the bullshit aside and just get lost in thought. Just like my lady friend have gratitude, be thankful. I guess what I am saying is be spiritual. Not necessarily in a religious sense but thinking inward and not about “stuff”. 

The synonym for serenity is tranquility. It’s early morning here in Flalaland. The sun is just hinting at a black sky. It is beyond quiet. Kind of cool. A great way to start my day. An interesting thought is that big glowing orb comes up every day right on schedule, everywhere on our planet. I guess we all have something in common. Enjoy it. 

As always,

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Another woman a couple of months ago greeted me with a big smile when I asked her how she was doing? She simply stated she was very happy. She knew she was gong to die and was ready. After we chatted for quite awhile I held her hand and gave her a hug. I said, “Wow, your hands are cold”. She looked at me with a smile and a twinkle and said,”And they are going to get a lot colder soon”  I guess that is a better definition of serenity. Her candor blew my mind.

Steps to serenity:

Acceptance

Don’t take things personally.

Breath and step away. Don’t dwell on it. 

Avoid toxic people. Just leave them alone. 

Laugh at the world and yourself. 

Sounds like a plan. 

Wanna Fight?….

I have been grappling with a thing called democracy for quite a few days. We were fortunate to spend the Fourth of July weekend with great friends in DC. We watched the fireworks at the Washington Monument from a great perch on the 18th fairway of the Army Navy Country Club. Hundreds of military officers and their families. Doesn’t get much better than that. 

The Capitol presented a totally different view from the myriad of expressways in and around the Beltway. Gridlock 24/7.Who are all these people and am I paying for them? Houses and condos selling for millions everywhere suggest the basics for inflation. A strong feeling of insanity and total helplessness pervaded this poor soul. Kind of like, Does this all make sense?

All the while I kept thinking a government of the people, by the people, and for the people and shaking my head. How the hell did we get to this? How can these people relate to one another much less their constituents? Is this the folly of the system or the way we run it?

I was a poli sci major at Georgetown and a little rusty but let’s just say we have a representative form of government. We elect someone to look out for our interests. In the beginning it was pretty simple and their hearts were in the right place despite what some might think today. 

We are a federation of states, each with their own needs and providence for their people. As we grew from the 13 originals, things got more complex. North, south, east, west all had their own idea of heaven. We went from a nice little new world to become a juggernaut worldwide. 

We were also pretty successful and as a result, a lot of those damn foreigners wanted in on the action. We became a very diverse lot and now have so many interest groups prevail that it is hard to figure out what we and more importantly our representatives believe in. We unite under a banner of left, right or center but truth be told if we were to ask each member of the electorate what they comprehended about policy, you would be shocked  at their answers. 

Now a country that is 245 years old is  pretty young but we are showing signs of neglect. Immigration, education, medical care, infrastructure, trade, and a huge deficit need an adult in the room. That should be easy. Really?

We elect a bunch of people every two years. We have had it good for so long we really don’t like the word austerity. Individuals and corporations have grown so incredibly wealthy they have an outsized influence on what really matters to you and me. Those that are in the minority spend the next two years seeing how that can screw the other side. And lastly we have a wonderful population who don’t want to spend the time to understand all sides. What could possibly go wrong?

This is why we have chaos but is it integral? There is a guy named,Eric Liu who runs a thing called the Citizen University. Let’s not get hung up on philosophies but he pronounced, “fighting is at the heart of democracy.” I really had to think about that. You believe in something and you are convinced you are right. I believe in the opposite and think my thoughts worthy. Is either side going to give up easily?

Let’s not have the current level of political debates but ones like  we had in college or high school. Each side presented their case. There is no screaming or yelling but a presentation of facts. In the end the judges cast their vote for who did the best job. Okay that is far too simplistic but think about the process not the participants. Isn’t that what democracy is supposed to be?

Authoritarianism is coming on strong. The number of truly free countries number 83. That is down considerably over the last 15 years. Through the elimination of the freedoms of speech, press, and protest, autocrats they  have eradicated any sense of personal autonomy.  The simple operation of the US government and others has fallen short in a multitude of areas. In a lot of ways we can’t provide basic services to a large number of our citizens.People are thinking elsewhere.  Depressing? Of course. 

I had breakfast with an old friend the other day. I tried to verbalize my thoughts in a hope that I could be in any way lucid to my readers. I felt that all three of our departments of government have failed us in some way. Unfortunately I think we as citizens have failed as well. It sounds trite but we are all suspect. We have had in our short history a great game plan but we have become so ambivalent towards its execution. 

Bottom line is we have to have adults in the room. We need pragmatists that know how to make tough decisions and if they get fired for it, so be it. These are not seats of power but temporary assignments to bring new ideas and approaches. A friend said we need the experience of the legislative septuagenarians and octogenarians to make things work. To me, today’s mess is all part of their brilliance and ability to govern. How do you think they are doing?

Our election to the offices of president, congress and even the Supreme Court are fraught with vitriol and misinformation. I do not agree with Eric Liu that democracy is fighting. I think it is a discussion between friends with some sort of common purpose. I have had a lot of fights in my day and the vast majority were stupid ones. I am trying to grow up. Are you ?

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Democracy is a belief. You must trust it, study it and practice it. 

“Democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others that have been tried.”  Winston Churchill

The most obvious way to make government accountable is by holding fair and honest elections. $14.4 billion was spent on the 2020 presidential and legislative elections.  $5.7 billion on the presidents and $8.7billion on Congress.23% of these totals were from small donors. Hmmm. 

 Most economists agree that a common good must serve to better society, be accessible to society and require some sort of societal sacrifice to have. I had to pore through several Google picked to derive this explanation. We have gone back to Socrates to try to do so. Says something doesn’t it?

Define the problem first before the solution.Most difficult part of the venture.

Paranoid?…

Paranoia….a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. I dare say we have all been there in some part at some point in time. Today it is the cause celebre in many aspects of our lives. Geopolitics, class struggle, climate change, COVID.all have their villains and victims. 

COVID 19 was and in many parts still is, a wellspring of fear. In the beginning we had no idea what was happening. Isolation was the best tonic. Mask up everywhere. The Chinese are out to get us. Fauci is a socialist. Beware of anyone and any contact with any part of humanity. Lockdown was our personna. 

Then we got a vaccine. Maybe a light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, if everyone got on board.  But wait, there are 1/3 of us(110million) who have forgone the “Get Out of Jail Free Card” to go it on their own. This of course is part of a government conspiracy to implant you with nano chips so they can spy on you. Crazy? Unfortunately there are as many as 20% of us that feel that way. Some have refused it, even on their death bed. 

On the world stage, Russia has for centuries feared the worst from the evil west. China wants to regain their lost dominance in world affairs.We have been petrified someone will press the button to Armageddon since I was a kid.  Look at the trillions we all spend on defense against the enemy. Look at almost any country and there is some sort of grudge or lack of respect to be assuaged.

His Hairness gets the Oscar,Emmy and Tony for best in class for his performance in “Stolen Elections”. His family and closest confidants to this day tell him he lost and yet he persists. There were 62 lawsuits, many overseen by Republican appointed judges that failed. And yet today there are almost 40 million of our fellow Americans who think he is right. His rallies have been laced with feelings of victimhood and stubborn refusal to accept a result.  No wonder we had January 6 festivities. 

Don’t get smug, lefties. There are any number of Dem whack jobs like Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff et al who can conjure up every conceivable theory to prove their point. Hilary said the election was stolen. Going back in time, the evils of communism or race have peppered our body politic. Joe McCarthy, J Edgar Hoover, Nixon. Facts become fantasy and the one who wins has stoked the most fear. 

Richard Hofstedter penned an article in Harpers way back in 1964 on political paranoia. An updated version states,”The political paranoiac can’t stomach society as it is and thus seeks to destroy it under the guise of some looming threat, a deep state, antifa, migrant caravans, leftists, anarchists, an international pedophile ring … Those taken with the paranoid style channel their victimhood by believing the world is one vast conspiracy.” Yikes! 

Enter the fourth estate. Hopefully we would just get the facts Ma’am. Sorry kids. Look at the evening news on any channel and you will be rewarded with a plethora of fears from school shootings to rioting to wars to floods. Social media has flourished with the firebrands of each side whipping us into a full blown frenzy. Gloom and doom pervades and no one has an answer.  I am starting to scare myself. 

Now you can tell me to take it easy and the pendulum or whatever will swing the other way. I am not so sure of this. Look at our contemporary world. We have privacy issues, identity theft, social media, lack of transparency in government, artificial intelligence, hackers and scams of all sorts. The end result is I question whether  am I worrying too much or not enough? 

The symptoms of paranoia are many. The ones that strike me as particular are, a feeling of helplessness, suspicions of all sorts, hypersensitivity to criticism, stubbornness and the best of all, delusions of grandeur. Do you feel helpless when you see our government and society today? Do you find it hard to accept anything other than your own credos? Do you think you really have all the answers and the world just doesn’t realize it? If we look hard at ourselves there is probably a bit of this in all of  us. Or at least in this poor soul. 

Now hopefully it is not terminal but after going through this exercise I realize I have a lot to do. I really don’t feel the world or anyone in it, is out to get me but I really should take more ownership of my life. I am doing the driving and should not blame the car. I should seek out more and more information on a subject. Look at all sides and not just the one Google or Facebook is steering me towards. Be able to bend if only a little. 

Lastly, I have to realize the world is a crazy but interesting place. I can’t look into Putin’s soul or convince the Donald or Pelosi otherwise. I have to stay involved and not throw my hands up in disgust. Am I going to save the world? Of course not but I can try to change just a small part of it. That is my goal in speaking out and not my paranoia. I hope a few of you hear it. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Paranoia goes back millennia. The Trojan horse. Et tu Brute. Kings and queens and yes even popes. One is constantly looking over one’s shoulder to see who is behind…and of course they are there to get me. 

Reality:…the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them. 

Reality is what actually happens. It is how we interpret it and either adapt to it or create an alternate reality drives so much of our lives. We rue the past sometimes and also create absurd expectations about the future . It is what it is. 

I Want To Be Alone…….

 

Greta  Garbo was one of the more illustrious movie stars who craved to be away from the madding crowd. She and others like Howard Hughes, Harrison Ford and even Tom Hanks have shunned the limelight. Most of them can afford to, but the rest of us like the mix of our fellow men and women in a variety of social situations. The spate of mass killings has brought this more to the fore. This gunman or that, appears to be a loner, detached from normal society, whatever that is. A kid in school who keeps to him or herself is considered a weirdo. Hermits, monks. Don’t they know what they are missing? Maybe.

We are social animals. It has been bred into us for sheer survival. Safety in numbers. Over time that defense alliance has given birth to conviviality. As we trust more, we open up and want to relate our experiences, philosophies and beliefs.  We see threads of commonalty and that gives way to a sense of community. 

This is how villages and cities and states are formed but hearkening back to that fear of the enemy we become somewhat closed to outsiders. We have our rules and if you want to stay here you better abide by them. Rural areas are notorious by being suspicious of outsiders. North, South, East, West all lay claim to their version of heaven. 

The definition of community is all the people living in an area or a group or groups of people who share common interests. I would add, “ and seek the common good. Let’s talk silos if you will. The town splits into several churches or synagogues of religious belief. There might be  club formed, be it Rotary, golf or tennis.  People of different political views form parties. We keep getting more and more specific as to our wants and dislikes. And we keep parsing this thing called community almost to the point we are no longer one in any respect. 

Enter the double edged sword of education. In the little red schoolhouse you didn’t really  rock the boat or your mother would know it before you got home. As people started pursuing higher learning they started getting all sorts of crazy thoughts. The more the economically challenged or at least non elites, started learning about the complexities of the world, they began to  ask why? Or better yet why not me? 

Now you can call that democracy and I will buy it. You can also call it anarchy and I might be prone to agree with you on that also. As we become more exclusionary we go from selfless of the early days to when that good old thing called selfish takes its place. Everyone is fighting for a place at the table whether it be in thought or their pocketbook. In a strange way they want to be more exclusive or dare I say, alone. 

There is a huge difference between being lonely and wanting to be alone. In the latter you just want a timeout from the rat race. You want to take a walk, read a book or sing in the shower without worrying about what people think. It is “you” time and very healthy. 

Being lonely is a whole other thing. You want to be part of something but there is no way in. Just a smile or friendly hello would work wonders but they are nowhere to be found. You can be left out for your age, ethnicity, religion or political tenets. Your dress and your feelings are contrary to the local rules. Go back where you came from. You are not wanted here. You are too old or too radical for us. Sad but true. 

Now most just accept their fate and try to make do. They eventually fade to black, Others sit and fester. Their rage against their fellow man or woman intensifies. They can go online and get really whipped up. In a strange way they are forming a new community. And then BOOM! And we all wonder why it happened. Small town or big city. Why didn’t we see this coming? Why couldn’t we fix it?  How hard do we try?

Communities come in all sorts. It could be a family, a street or town. It could be a county, a state or a country. It could be at work or at play. We have common interests. What if we all thought not of our little burghs but a much bigger picture. We are all Americans. Do we really think that way? We are all members of the planet. Is that possible to even fathom?

In Flalaland Kathy and I live in a most unusual place. People are beyond welcoming and everyday it is easy to say hello to a dozen or more neighbors. Nobody really asks what you did or where you came from. Just nice to have you here. That feels good. Will that change over time? Good question. Will more and more new entrants want to have it their way or ours? Or is it possible the change will be gradual and God forbid for the best? 

Solitude is good for the soul but many times tough to achieve. Our frenetic world wants us to be accessible 24/7. Every little thing requires our attention. We want to respond and micromanage. For me,I usually take a look at the cliff for the beauty beyond it rather than worry if I am going over it. It has worked so far for 77 years. Do I want to be alone? Hell no! But I worry all the time about those that have no other choice. 

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

  • The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years [6]
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all 
  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company.

Loneliness does not depend on how many friends or relationships you have. Loneliness depends entirely on the subjective quality of your relationships—on whether you feel emotionally and/or socially disconnected from those around you.

Smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms in a way that even chocolate, a well-regarded pleasure-inducer, cannot match. It is the best way to make a lonely person feel wanted.

Whenever you go to the gas station, store or restaurant, just say hello and mean it. You might have saved that person’s life or at worse made their day. Think about that. 

Perception Is Not Reality….

I have just read a book by Marian Salzman, The New Megatrends. It was more than interesting but as I read I questioned her base assumptions and then went on to see if her postulations held true. I usually question veracity in everything. Not because I am not a naysayer but in today’s environment you have to be skeptical at best. 

Rightly or wrongly I have always fought against conventional thinking. Right off the bat I am challenged by both sides. I am not a MENSA candidate but there are holes in so many beliefs. Without being overly dramatic I try to dig down and cut out the bullshit and see what is really going on. I am not alone but I am probably not  of the majority. 

Let’s go back to basics. I was born some 77 years ago. Strangely enough at that time and to this day I was not different than anybody else. I was a blank slate. The entire world population of 7.9 billion share 99.9% of the same DNA. That is both sobering and exciting. We weren’t born Republican or Democrat or Asian or European or even rich or poor. I was just a new human being plunked on this planet. Look out world!

As time went on I was either nurtured or abandoned. I was stimulated or set aside as a hood ornament. I was subject to love or abandonment. I was influenced by love and prejudice. I had an easy or a hard life. I was adjudged chosen or part of the refuse pile of life. I looked at life through a prism that was forced on me not chosen. I lived in Disneyworld or a ghetto and many times never knew of the other side. But it was who I was or at least who I was supposed to be. 

That perception stays with people for decades if not their entire lives. Now you can say that is the way society works and you might be right. It just seems to me reality gets father and farther away from all points on the spectrum. We really are products of our environment which is fine but haven’t we built in a view of he world that is not in synch with what is really going on?

Reality is just what is happening  at a given point of time. It is completely objective. As I love to say,It is what it is. I can look at an event through my different lenses and see it entirely differently than you. Who is right? In normal time we take look at things and say well it could be this or that. As the only saying goes, if you look at the right and left the truth is somewhere in the middle. We had  biases but we could see some of the error of our ways. 

That is out the window now. I would feel more comfortable with the extremes if they were based on fact or dare I say, reality. Sorry kids, the 2020 election was not stolen. Yet 60% of Republicans think it so. We cannot apply limitless funds to solve each and every problem but Democrats feel we haven’t even begun to open the nation’s vault.

 On the right we say less government intervention and rules. Don’t worry but  rely on the basic honesty of people. Right.. On the left we haven’t spent the initial COVID relief programs but we want more. Money is the solution to all our problems. 10 billion lost here or 50 billion there are just rounding problems. People, we have lost all sense of reality.

We cannot have an infrastructure that is crumbling but is encumbered by a myriad or rules and departments to oversee projects that have to be done now not years from now with resulting cost overruns. Yet we can’t cheat and lie on contracts and their fulfillment . We need flexibility but culpability. 

We have spent trillions on programs to help the poor with minimal results. Yet at the same time we pontificate that these  people just have to work hard and get ahead. Tragically all that money gets teachers who are not smart and incentivized but at the low end of the talent chain. Do you really think doctors and healthcare workers of a high caliber are going to use their talents to fix a screwed up system. Either side feel free to speak up if you think you have a handle on realty or is it really your perception of it?

Equality in pay and advancement is coming at a snail’s pace. You know it and I do too, that  women and minorities have been placated at best with cries of progress. At the same time if there is to be equality it has to be demonstrated that the talent is there and not  a required quota. For the upper 1% the rewards are absurd. That is not anti capitalism but a long look in the mirror. 

We got problems right here in River City. As we go through life every one of us could be busted for DUI. We have had it easy. When things are rolling we can cite this statistic or that but it is all our way of feeling better about who we are. I love the life that I have but it is with a dose of sobriety. The haves have gone too far and the haven’ts want a free ride. Somewhere in between is the right answer. 

The ending of the book revealed that we are all coming more and more into ourselves. The “ME” society is evident everywhere. Young and old. Every man or woman for themselves. Hyperbole? Look around you and not with your built in biases on either side but with a cold hard look at reality. Let me know if I have hit a nerve or totally missed the base. 

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JP Morgan in his bid to receive $84.4 million in annual pay was voted down by 31% of the stockholders. The company said the vote mat not be binding. The stock is down 23% from its highs. 

A policy analysis released by the Cato Institute in April shows that despite nearly $15 trillion in total welfare spending since President Lyndon Johnson began the “war on poverty” in 1964, the poverty rate in the United States has remained relatively constant.

U.S. health care spending grew 9.7 percent in 2020, reaching $4.1 trillion or $12,530 per person. As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic spending was 18.7% of the national budget 

Research shows that Facebook users engage with misinformation — which often takes the form of fake news — 70 million times per month on average. This is a decline from the 2016 peak of 200 million monthly fake news engagements, but still no small figure. On Twitter, people share false content 4 million to 6 million times per month, a figure that has not declined since the 2016 election.

There are numerous theories that question whether reality is possible. I think it is but would take massive amounts of soul searching to accomplish. I am just getting started 

Where Are We Going?……

I have been trying hard over the past couple of weeks to take my little brain back up to 30,000 feet. The view is better up here and fault lines are more obvious. There was a great article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend that asked if history has some rhyme or reason to it or is it just a whole bunch of random events? Good question.

It seems that it was just a few years ago we were in the midst of globalization. I buy from here and sell to there.Little countries became important if for nothing more than cheap labor.  Standards of living started getting to survival level. People were able to buy things they never thought they needed.

They became educated and more perceptive of the world around them. There was mobility.  Life was good and going in a positive direction for most. That should continue and prosperity reigns.

True to form that was not good enough or fast enough for some. I want it all and I want it now. Nationalism creeps in. Trade, immigration, even education takes on an air of conflict. Supply chains and diplomacy are a mess. The two bit bully on the block tries to take a chunk of land while waving nukes at us. China and everyone else seems to be on sort of a mission to prove their standing in our world. Is all or any of this connected and inevitable?

We have made some incredible strides and catastrophic mistakes throughout history. As the world become more affluent more seek higher education and that breeds new ideas and creativity. Yet in our new Age of Enlightenment we trend more towards anarchy and polarization rather than a kinder gentler world. Is this the way it is supposed to be?  Is this evolution of the body politic or just smashing atoms? Dunno. 

Technology has made this a different ball game.Make no doubt that Google, Facebook, Twitter et al have made our brains very easy to get into. The algorithms automatically shape opinion in a subtle and robotic fashion. The left and right learn next to nothing about alternate or opposing views. We claim to be open minded but they are actually locked shut. We are at opposite ends of the spectrum because that is very profitable for so many. 

The worst part is the anonymity of the spears and hatchets thrown. In a nanosecond my vitriol can destroy someone and have it “liked” or retweeted to thousands in a matter of seconds. No one can prove or disprove the allegations. We have perfected bots to the point where they can create cogent  praise or defamation just by pressing a button. 

How did we get here? I think a great part of this is our neglect of consequences or outcomes. I am stunned sometimes to see our military, three levers of government, medicine, education, corporations and even churches make some really boneheaded moves without realizing “what they have wrought”. You can ascribe this to a learning curve. I say it is blatant egoism and disregard. Irresponsible or criminal? Now we are getting to the good stuff. 

We place great emphasis on brainpower and experience. Look at our bewildering response to COVID. Not good! Archbishops, cardinals, university presidents, corporate executives, coaches have fostered and extended sexual predation. A festering boil. Malfeasance at every level of the food chain. Government programs at all levels are plagued by theft and corruption. Does history teach us anything?

I am in awe of Valadymir Zelensky, a former comedian turned leader. Inexperienced in both the government and military he has put on some performance. Is he just lucky? I think not. He has proven one thing to the chagrin of many world leaders.

They are not as regal in both position and thinking as they thought they were. Nations and skeptics have sat on the sidelines and now are all getting on the Ukraine bandwagon. Bully for them. How original. I didn’t see a statesman or stateswoman in the lot. That is not taking shots but being brutally honest. 

I guess what I am saying and have said before is that we have to take a long look at who we are as a nation and a world. Here we have to look at immigration and fix it. We have been trying for 35 years to no avail. Don’t snicker at that, but become nauseated. Our educational system is a wreck for a lack of a “Come to Jesus” meeting for all involved. Corporate boards and religious enclaves have to do away with the pomp and get their hands dirty. History is ripe with our foibles. They don’t overshadow but definitely compete with our accomplishments. 

On the world stage we are never going to agree on a system that fits all. The UN was a nice idea that has now gone impotent. War crime tribunals are an exercise in futility if we don’t have the guts to enforce their judgments. Sadly, we all act in our own best interests. Let’s just admit it. 

Where are we going? Don’t look to prognosticators to tell us. Look to ourselves and see if we want to make a difference or just enjoy the ride. Where that ride ends up depends on each and every one of us. 

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Below is a chart of countries on the democracy spectrum. Pretty amazing.Most notable is the number of authoritarian regimes. Some people like it that way or don’t know any other way. The democracy numbers have declined. 

Type of regimeScoreCountriesProportion of World population (%)
Number(%)
Full democracies9.01–10.00   8.01–9.002112.6%6.4%
Flawed democracies7.01–8.00   6.01–7.005331.7%39.3%
Hybrid regimes5.01–6.00   4.01–5.003420.4%17.2%
Authoritarian regimes3.01–4.00   0–3.005935.3%37.1%

Predators can be anyone, including a family member, clergy colleague, coach or friend. According to The Pragmatic Parent, “90% of the time a predator is someone with a relationship to the victim and the family. On the outside, they have a great looking life and are well-liked by others.Much of the time someone definitely knows what is going on .

Smart is being curious. It is realizing what you don’t know. It is to be willing to adapt to changing circumstances. It is taking life’s lessons and changing our own lives and maybe a small part of the world