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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Finally Some Photo and School Stuff…

San Diego – This week has been an interesting one.  It was fairly quiet in class as students worked on projects in the  lab or studio.  But a milestone was passed anyway.  On Wednesday, I presented the new program Dave and i have worked out to the curricula committee’s technical review panel.  It is a truly serious professional photo program now requiring 42 credits in the discipline (plus the obligatory general education credits) for the AA degree.  That finally brings us into line with the requirements of a number of other vocational programs such as architectural design and makes the degree from City College far more meaningful.

There were a few typos in the draft but with those noted for correction the program was passed by this committee and approved for the next step.  That next step will take place next Wednesday and, assuming passage,  will then be placed on the district board calendar for approval and then be in the catalog for next school year.  In some ways it is going to require a special bit of scheduling effort since we have been cut back so drastically for sections we can offer, we will have to make sure we are offering those classes that are required.  In some ways it is academic since in professional photography a degree is generally meaningless and all that counts is a photographer’s portfolio of work.  But for those who want to teach or for whatever reason transfer to other schools for a 4-yr degree (since our representative tabled AB2400 to allow a pilot program in which three Community Colleges, including us, could offer a 4 year degree) this will give them a major leg up on transferees from other districts.

Our goal was always specific and simple to understand: make the photo program at City College the best.  Period.  We had a major boost from our world class facilities, and now we will have a world class program.  The only thing holding us back is the State’s budget crisis which is likely to get worse before it gets better.  I’m sorry to have to say this but California must have either the stupidest or most self-centered entitled voters in the country because year after year we vote in — in both parties — State lawmakers that see no problem in expanding state liabilities in the form of entitlement style programs the cost of which exceeds by a very large amount, even the overly anticipated revenues to pay for them.  So every year the difference between the money the State has obligated itself to pay for feel good programs increasingly exceeds the revenues coming in to pay for them.  The difference is made up by borrowing money.  The amount needed to be borrowed increases every year.  Like the Federal government which is doing the same thing, the debt service alone is reaching the point where it cannot be paid out of revenues and so the State will have to borrow MORE money simply to pay the interest in the debt it already had and is not touching the principle.  And yet special interests keep asking for more.

For Community Colleges this year the new liberal governor has proposed a budget that  will, when it filters through the various districts, amount to nearly a $100 million additional cut to our district’s budget.  There is only one area they have attacked thus far and that is in “FTES” (Full Time Equivalent Student (credits or hours) since that directly effects the teaching load.  Since City is in direct violation (as are all of the State higher educational institutions) of the mandated contract to adjunct ratios and since contract and especially tenured professors are, as long as the district can hold out and operate at all, protected from layoffs and cuts, that burden falls on the poor part time adjuncts.  in our department we have two contract professors and 12 adjuncts.  So as we are forced to cut class sections, guess where we have to cut?  And since there is no seniority or other major criteria mandated by law or policy for adjuncts, we have to look at specific class offerings to make our decisions.

We had been told it looked like the bottom had been reached and this semester we did not have to cut more classes (for the past two years we have had to cut more classes each semester).  But that was before the new governor’s proposed budget which cut far deeper into higher education than anyone expected.  Now everyone is holding their breath.  It should be interesting.

What was NOT cut by the governor was the bloated bureaucracy that has evolved with all of the entitlement and feel-good programs… or those programs themselves.  The Snail Darters are still safe but students are not so lucky.  Education is the only real bulwark against a very grim future.  Without serious educational reform and improvement we will not be fielding the future workers to maintain productivity and progress for the State and for the country.   Yet education seems to be an easy target and is usually one of the first to be targeted.

But, hey, the brilliant electorate voted for it knowing the career politicians involved so they will get what they paid and voted for.

 

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Revolution Revisited: Libya, Bahrain, and More to Come.

I can’t tell you how much flak I took because I suggested that the recent events in Egypt not only did not amount to a revolution per se, but that they were not a democratic upswelling of the populace nor the progeny of social networking.  In fact, I asserted they were what amounted to a bloodless coup by the military using the protestors as cover.  For the gall of suggesting that “the people” had not risen up and overthrown a dictator I was seen as reactionary at best and an more likely an idiot… and then it got ugly.

Amazingly I got it from all sides.  The left-leaning were incensed because I cast water on the fires burning for their messiah-in-Chief and suggesting his apparent foreign policy was amateurish and dangerous, that is if it existed at all.  The right-leaning were incensed that I cast water on the fires burning for their martyred hero, “W” by suggesting that his dream of spreading democracy by example was naïve.   And the youth were incensed that I cast water on the fires of their fervent belief that youth and exhuberance coupled with the sacred Facebook could accomplish anything by virtue of its own sincerity and enthusiasm and that anything so accomplished would, by definition, be a good thing.

Let me introduce you to Bahrain and Libya.   Perhaps the people in those places too were emboldened by those misconceptions and thanks to the cheerleading of the media believed that a groundswell of democractic ideals was in the process of sweeping the middle eastern dictators and theorcratic tyrants from their thrones.  They certainly had reason to wish a change in their own oppressive autocratic regime as would so many in that region.  It does not take that much education to see that the monarchies are too self serving to worry overly much about the populace as long as their own coffers are kept full to overflowing.  So long as they can hop on their own jetliners and escape observance they can flaunt their devotion to Mohammed in public and then engage on whatever manner of debauchery and excess they desire in practice and away from scrutiny.

Unfortunately both monarchs and theocrats bought into the same mistakes Marx did in not really recognizing the cultural-social positive impact of the middle class and established socialist/communist style economies so that the leaders are getting rich while the people are getting poorer and more subservient and dependent.  Many of those countries are ripe for a revolt; if the revolt went well – a complete uncertainty and not the statistical norm – then such an event, after the smoke cleared and the blood was washed away, would be good for them.  Sadly the history of revolutions is not one filled with good endings for the world or for the people.  The lure of power and ill gotten gain is too powerful and most end in what has been referred to as a “kleptocracy” or a rule by thieves of the people.  Machiavelli is still the most accurate predictor of their behavior because his directions to his own Prince, Lorenzo de Medici, actually worked and worked well.  To understand the holding of power read him.

To bolster their regime’s security and longevity no matter how disgruntled the populace, those countries have followed the obvious and successful tactics of every dictatorship in history: they disarmed the people.   Things were different for, say, the French revolution.  Pitchfork-armed citizens were, in sufficient numbers, a better match for musket and sword wielding soldiers.  Now, virtually no number of pitchfork, knife, sword, or even pistol wielding citizens can match automatic weapons, artillery, ordinance, air power, and chemicals used by the army.  Ask the Kurds in Iraq, or the protestors in Tripoli for examples.  No amount of enthusiasm, sincerity, desperation, anger, or need can overcome a larger number of better armed, better trained, better led, and better fed body fighting for their privileged position.

I said in the first piece that the protestors in Egypt could protest in relative peace for one reason only: the army allowed it.  And that meant, necessarily, that the army had something to gain by it.   In Bahrain the people also rose up to protest the situation.  And they rose up in some pretty good numbers vis-à-vis the proportion of the population.  And they were routed from their assembly area by gas attacks like swatting flies.  By whom or what?  What, according to the press and wishful thinking could so easily route such enthusiasm and sincerity?  The Army.  They were beaten by the army that, in that case, is interested in maintaining the current government.  Similarly in Tripoli the security forces are in control.  But in Benghazi, the army appears to have sided with the protestors and there THEY are in control.  In both cases, who is in control?  The army.  And in Libya this is far more a tribal row fomenting civil war than a true overall revolution.  Also the Libyan despot, who completely understood what i just said, kept the military fragmented so it could NOT perform a coup d’etat against him so the end game will be somewhat up for grabs here.

Over the next few days this will play out to some conclusion.  There are several optional scenarios.  Will enough of the citizens join in to where the army realizes it has a loyalty to the country that is higher than its loyalty to the individuals leading it?  If so the ‘revolt’ will succeed.  But if not; if the army remains firm, then they could decimate the entire population without breaking a sweat.  If the army is made up of more fundamental Muslim thinkers then the individual is of far less importance than they would be to us and it will get really ugly.

I was also called to task for my characterization of the “peaceful” Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt.  After all, our own intel man in the White House called them secular and moderate and driven only by Egyptian Nationals interests.  That man is either a political pawn, an illiterate idiot, or has a position to promote that is not in any western country’s best interests and certainly not ours.   That view can only come from following someone else’s talking points and doing no, I mean ZERO, ZED, NADA independent research into the matter on their own.  To substantiate that I included a URL to the page of the Brotherhood’s own website that displayed their Mission Statements and By-Laws.  Why would you not believe their own charter?  Well here is a reason: the response, not just from me but from others was so great that the English language site for MB just took down the page with their by-laws on it so outsiders could not read them.   Hmmmmmm.  Go to that link and you will see the message that the page is “no longer available.”  Why not unless it was not something you wanted to outside world to see?  Fortunately some of it i copied down the first time i visited it.   Clearly, the purpose of the MB or Ikhwan was to unify the predominantly Islamic countries under a new caliphate and subordinating all lands to the rule of a single caliph, under shariah law.  In its bylaws The Muslim Brotherhood makes clear the organization’s objectives and how it intends to achieve them:

“The Muslim Brotherhood is an International Muslim body which seeks to establish Allah’s law in the land by achieving the spiritual goals of Islam and the true religion which are namely the following: . . . (F) the need to work on establishing the Islamic State; [and] (G) The sincere support for a global cooperation in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Sharia.”

Chapter II, Article 3 of the MB’s bylaws states:

“The Muslim Brotherhood in achieving these objectives depends on the following means: . . . (D) Make every effort for the establishment of educational, social, economic, and scientific institutions and the establishment of mosques, schools, clinics, shelters, clubs, as well as the formation of committees to regulate zakat affairs and alms; (E) The Islamic nation must be fully prepared to fight the tyrants and the enemies of Allah as a prelude to establishing the Islamic state.”

So tell me again about their secular nature and interest only in Egypt.  Ah, but it then got even better.  E-mailed responses tried to tell me that Islam was completely and thoroughly a religion of peace and that true believers abhorred violence and condemned it.  Really?  And where are those voices of condemnation to be found, much less heard occupying the world stage?  This is a religion with lots of believers scattered around the world.  So where is the world-wide murmur of condemnation for acts of terror and the murder of both muslims of other “denominations” and non muslims all in the name of Mohammed?  I don’t mean a few isolated rational voices which certainly exist, but a ground swell of push-back against the apostate terrorists?  If these extremeists and Jihadists have truly highjacked the religion then where are the voices of the highjacked believers complaining about it?

The truth is that what we call extremists are simply following the words in their sacred text.  Again, if you don’t believe me then read the book; read the Qu’raan itself.  It is not long, it uses simple words, and it does not ever, ever equivocate.  You will not have to “interpret” anything, unlike the often cryptic Judaeo-Christian Bible.  For your own purposes you may be able to force spin in it some direction or the other (and it even clearly says a believer is encouraged to lie to non-believers to advance their cause which might explain some Muslim Brotherhood statements that contradict their own By-Laws ) but it will require you to do it in contravention of the clear meaning of the words themselves.

I’m waiting…

And while I’m waiting to hear the litany of world wide voices condemning terrorists and murder as being anti-Islam let me ask this… even if they actually materialized, how does one reconcile them with such Qu’raanic verses as, Surah II, 216 which states clearly,

“Warfare is ordained for you though it is hateful to you. It may happen that you hate something that is good for you or love a thing that is bad for you.  Allah knoweth, you know not.”

There is an apparent huge contradiction of attitude in the book but it is easily explained by history.  Early on when followers were few and surrounded by enemies they were told to be nice and cool and friendly to avoid being simply exterminated.  But by the time Medina was taken and Mohammed was in tight control of an impressive army, the gloves came off.  Now he could have kept to the original peaceful vision that got him that far… had it been what he really wanted.  But instead, once the ability was there with virtually no risk of self destruction, his real goals and beliefs were given free reign and he had no problems seeing every non-believer as someone to be converted or killed or, when it was a population segment that possessed special and needed skills, allowed to live and work but under very restricted and oppressive conditions.  Islam was not spread by the good word, it was spread by the sharp sword.  Still think I’m making it up?  Then read on in the good holy book of these peaceful folks:

Surah III, 196-197.  Let not the vicissitude of the success of those who disbelieve deceive thee.  It is but a brief comfort.  And afterward their habitation will be hell, an ill abode.

Surah V, 10.  They who disbelieve and deny our revelations, such are the rightful owners of hell. .. (14) And with those who say, “Lo, we are Christians,” we made a covenant but they forgot a part of that whereof they were admonished.  Therefore we have stirred up enmity and hatred among them till the day of resurrection.  (51.) Oh ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends.  They are friends to one another.  He among you who takes them for friends is one of them.  Allah does not guide wrongdoing folk.

Surah VIII, 12-13.  … So make those who believe stand firm.  I (Allah) will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve.  Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.  That is because they oppose Allah and his messenger.  Lo!  Allah is severe in punishment.   (38-39) Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease from persecution of the believers that which is past shall be forgiven them.  But if they return thereto, then the example of the men of old hath already gone before them for a warning.  Fight them until the persecution is no more and religion is all for Allah.  (65) O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight.  If there be of you (believers) twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred and if there be one thousand steadfast they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah.  Allah is with the steadfast.  It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land.

Surah IX, 36. … Wage war on all the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you.  And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him. (123) O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him.

So, hey, if you want to go on believing that the Egyptian event culminating in the removal of the dictator Mubarak was the result of some protestors following the call of Facebook and Twitter or that any Muslim organizations that might wish to coopt it are really only interested in peace with their neighbors, then go ahead.  But start now practicing the explanations for why in other areas (can we spell “Iran”) that same approach has been, shall we say kindly, somewhat less successful.  For me, I would assert, rather, that the way to carry off a successful overthrow of an oppressive government or at least to survive the attempt, is to first gain the ear and sympathies of the army.  Don’t spend time putting your money on demonstrators, spend time putting money on the ones with the weapons.  Protests and Demonstrations are not revolutions; regime overthrow is a revolution.  Figurehead replacement is not a revolution; replacing or converting the real power often behind the thrown is revolution.

Pay attention to the events of history.  Remember Tieneman Square in China.  The revolt failed but one lone man did the unthinkable and stood in front of a tank moving in to clear out the rest of the protestors.  The cause was already lost but this one incredibly brave soul had one last act in him.  The tanks and army had already brutally crushed revolt-minded citizens but then one tank driver, dealing not with a hostile crowd but with one brave citizen, would not run him down.

That is how you win your revolt.  That moment of revolution failed, but that image has, in the end, done more to bring about change in China than all of those other protestors who died combined.  And it happened because he was lucky enough to stand in front of a soldier who would not kill his own peaceful people.  Others may well have had no problem driving over him but not that one driver.  One citizen and one soldier connected in that time and place and a continuing massacre was averted.  One citizen and one soldier were photographed and flashed around the world and the government could simply not pretend it did not happen.

And finally I was assailed because I said it was better in Egypt that the army remained in control than if the “democratic” protestors had actually taken over.  I said that because stability in the region and the potential of improving the lot of the Egyptian people is, to me, a better goal than simply some change of governmental form with a name that we like.  Creating a government, especially an otherwise unknown and untried form of government is not an easy or quick task.  How many revolutions do we have to review to understand that when the mob wins, for whatever reason, it is usually unable to rule?  That job falls to the better organized groups waiting in the wings to let the others get bloody then take over.  It happened in the Russian revolution which was taken over by the thuggish Bolsheviks once the Tsar was toppled.  It happened in Iran.  It happened in Cuba.  It happened in China.  Never forget that Hitler rose to power in a completely democratic way winning his elections to power as vestiges of the old republic were swept away.  The iconic revolution of the French saw desperate people topple the monarchy and then fall under Robespierre and the reign of terror.  America is one of the very few revolutions in history that came out OK but it was led by people who already had experience in the administration of a civil government.

The Shia/Sunni divide is simmering just under the surface in the middle east, power brokers for both sides are looking for every chance to advance their territory in preparation of a great internal struggle they know is coming and we are ignoring or denying.  They are watching these countries in turmoil and looking for an opening provided by a desperate people wanting change from despots but unable to actually govern for themselves due to lack of organization and experience.

We need to be very, very careful what we ask for from these so-called revolutions.  We may be sorely troubled by the results if we get it.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Spreading the Sacrifice

I just had a friend email me to let me know tthey did the math showing that the $100 million Obama wants to cut from Federal spending is about 1/35,000 of the debt. They, being good citizens, were willing to go along and you know what?  So am I.  So in the spirit of that great sacrifice our fearless leader is proposing, I am willing to do my share.  I owe about $3,000 on my credit card and that means that using the President’s own math I need to cut my spending by… $0.08.5.  THat’s right, if i cut my spending by 8.5 cents I will be matching the budget sacrifice proposed by the president relative to the debt we face.  I had no idea it was so big.

In fact, I was not sure at first that I could do it without cutting something critical, so I undertook a careful budget analysis.  Well, heck, it will be tight, i know, but the country is in trouble so I will show that I am a good citizen.   In fact, I’m in a sacrificial and generous mood so i’ll round that up to 9-cents.  How do you like that?   So I expect the same from all of my concerned friends.

Now I do have one extremely liberal friend and if he holds true to form he will actually want me to DOUBLE my sacrifice so that he will not have to make his own and thereby better preserve his far more important and enlightened state of personal security.  And you know what, by golly I’ll do it.   I hereby solemnly promise to follow my President’s lead and my liberal friend’s need and trim not 9-cents but  18-cents from my own profligate spending ways.  In fact, I’ll go some better than that.  Because my State, California, is equally bankrupt and needs to do some trimming I’ll join in the game and just raise that 18-cents to twenty cents.  You do realize we are now talking one fifth of a whole dollar so we are well into meaningful cash here.

i hope you are as impressed with my sacrifice as I am with his…

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Wishful Thinking Over Egypt’s So-Called “Revolution.”

For once I agree, more or less, with a statement of our messiah in chief: we are seeing a (to me “potential”) world changing event in the making.  The good news is that on the surface it appears that the Egyptian “People” were able to rise up and toss out a despicable dictator.  What great news for democracy and what wretched news for other dictators around the world.  If it were only true it could send major shock waves through tyrannical regimes all over the place but, alas, to be a tyrant you have to, on some level, be a realist and, in order to hold on to your ill gotten power as long as someone like Mubarak, you have to be able to read things well and have a firm understanding of your basic “Machiavelli” well at hand.  Mubarak simply forgot the real regime was not him and never had been, it was the military.  And when he got a bit big for his britches, as they used to say, and bit the hand that fed him, the real regime reacted and bit back.

The “revolution” or even “democratic revolution”  line makes for great press here because it gives credence to the non-policies or confused policies we’ve seen coming from Washington by making it appear, even if only by coincidence, that we at least did the right thing by not overtly backing Mubarak who we confused with the real regime.  I personally think that lack of action was because, based on the incredible array of mixed messages coming out of the amateurish administration’s foregin policy people and the idiotic appraisals by people, like the Intel Secretary who, of all people, could have done his research and known he was mouthing patend falsehood, that the lack of movement was largely because they truly had no idea what do do and were hoping the situation would resolve itself and THEN they could comment on it.  It is dumb luck not brilliant policy making that reached a marginally good result for us.  Well, that is if you do not consider how it made us look weak-kneed in the eyes of the world once again.  Hey you don’t have to believe me, simply read the foreign press.  The major ones all have English Language versions.

It is of course laudable and notable that some of the Egyptian people evinced the courage and passion to risk going into the streets to protest the excesses and corruption of the so-called “President.”  I think that is fantastic and hope it truly inspires others to do so.  But I also think it is a huge mistake if our adrift foreign policy makers buy into that line and use it as the basis for real policy should they ever decide on one.  Think about the numbers and the situation.  All of the protestors, whose total participants never topped about 300,000 — a tiny fraction of the Egyptian population and truly miniscule compared to the proportions of the Iranian protestors who rose to topple the Shaw in a REAL revolution —  were allowed to concentrate in a small, contained area where if it had been desireded by the military who generally does not like demonstrations, they could have been cut down in a matter of minutes.   A great hue and cry would have gone out, obligatory disapprovals would be forthcoming, and then after a suitable display of handwringing all would have gone back to business as usual breathing a sigh of relief that one of our strong allies had not been toppled in an uncontrollable fashion and by a group laced with virulently anti-western characters and philosophies at that.  But that is not what happened, fortunately for all.

Instead, the crowds and protestors provided the perfect cover for what has amounted to a bloodless coup d’etat by the military.  Long at odds but now increasingly drawing away from Mubarak and his excesses but most especially his decision to name his non-military son as his successor and thereby creating another dynastic monarchy such as ruled Egypt before Nasser, the military could have easily driven off the smaller number of unarmed protestors that actually appeared, and done it in a way so as to put the fear of Allah in the rest of them.  But the military not only held back, it helped them.  Why act so against its normal nature and goals?  Simple:  it needed them and at the same time used them.  So in the background, after delivering a final straw speech asserting he would NOT step down, Mubarak is hustled off in in the wee hours (we do not know if it was in his pajamas or he was allowed to dress) to an out of town safe haven probably, in the end, headed for Saudi Arabia where he is friends with THEIR dictator King.  Immediately — IMMEDIATELY — his assets in Switzerland are frozen, something that could only happen with advanced notice and proper authority which could not have come from the protestors or even the would be heir or his newer named successor, his VP.   And when he is escorted away, does the heir apparent or even newly tapped VP take over as planned?  No, a Field Marshall and a military counsel takes over.  Don’t you “get” it?   He did not announce he was going to step down and then do it, he was removed from the palace, from town, from the area, and then allowed to announce that he HAD stepped down as a fait accompli.  That is not how one honorably abdicates.  You cannot connect the dots until you can see that there ARE dots.  There are several incredibly obvious clues in here waiting to be noticed…  But, I forget who is “leading” us and the fact that his sycophantic media will never step out of line to suggest anything other than sheer brilliance of thought and action no matter how tortured the facts or level of sophistry of reasoning it will take to do it.

The real geopolitical issues for us are what this means for regional stability now and what will happen next.  And we cannot deal with that wisely unless we admit what really happened so as to better understand the dynamics of it.  We totally misunderstood the Iranian protests in 2009 so I should not expect us to try to understand this but hope springs eternal because so much is riding on it.

In the short term I think this military coup is a far better outcome, from that perspective, than a leaderless nearly anarchic attempt to remake a government overnight by those with no skill or experience at it and, as I mentioned, laced with hard core extreme theocratists.  Egypt, like other middle eastern countries has no experience with or skill at a truly democratic form of government with competing parties, civil procedures governed by a workable commonly accepted document, or a clear political leadership.  Such things take time to build from scratch and in the meantime, were this the revolution the media seems to think, all that would have been created is a power vacuum into which could pour Iran.

The Military is famously secular and nationalistic.  And having a practical view of the world from a “country first” perspective is a very positive thing for them.  They know that Egypt is not in danger from Israel and they are not likely to ever successfully launch a conventional attack ON Israel for one reason: the Sinai; The Gaza Strip.  Their real vulnerability, besides, is from Iran which puts them on alert in a direction that also works for us.  Their secular view also prefers to see the country grow and prosper in a way it could never do under an Islamic Theocracy ruled by Sharia law as has been clearly demonstrated by every country that went that route compared to those who did not.  Further, no one in the region could topple them, much less their own people who, if they are allowed to prosper, will not want to.  The real hue and cry from the streets was a simple demand: Mubarak had to go.  The idea that they were fomenting to establish a true democracy is a media fabrication.  And if the military stabilizes things and adopts the reforms it has promised, which it has every reason to do since they do not threaten their continued regime and actually stabilize it by providing better for a country of followers, we likely will help fund that prosperity especially it it seems that finally the money is getting where it belongs instead of being skimmed off by Mubarak and his cronies.  That would further ally them with the interests of the Saudis and in concert against Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other extremist groups.

However, these are but the first days of the event and generally the euphoria of the moment runs high now.  History shows that all ‘revolutions’ follow fairly fixed patterns but we are apparently hoping that this one will finally be different.  Maybe…  But I would contend it is not really a revolution at all.  Nevertheless there are pitfalls into which the entire situation could fall regardless of its true nature.

The military leadership is all old and filled with veterans of the bloody losses against the Israelis. They have no taste for a rematch and know it would be costly because the Isaelis would fight desperately.  Egypt’s survival as a state was never in question in any of those previous encounters.  From their perspective they were all based on ideology and following a theology in which the individual is essentially irrelevant compared to the demands of the state and especially of the theology itself.  Until it reaches national critical mass, the body count of foot soldiers is meaningless if a theological goal is attained.   They could fight and lose hundreds of times an merely lose citizens which are of little consequence to them.  However Israel only has to lose once and it faces national extinction.  Their motivation is a bit more dramatic.

But even without the issue of israel and the Palestinians being real, there are still dangers.  The operative word for the military leadership is “OLD.”    The younger generation has never felt the sting of combat and losses and may well be itching for some misbegotten sense of glory in the belief that they lost before because of poor planning by their elders which, in some senses is actually true.

And the undercurrent of protest by the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be utterly discounted.   They were instrumental in putting Nassar in power along with the help of the Soviets in order to replace a monarchy that put and kept them down.  But he had their ‘number’ from the start.  Once in power, he killed most of that leadership off or sent it to prison and courted the Russians for armament to fight Israel.  That approach worked into the early Sadat years when Sadat foolishly attacked Israel again and the Egyptians Russian weapons and tactics were just destroyed by the American armament and tactics of the Israelis.  So Sadat did the only reasonable thing, to guarantee border security from an enemy that proved over and over to be superior and had every possible interest in securing THEIR border, he recognized a great mutual interest and made peace with them.  Israel needed that peace so it could put it greatest attention toward Syria and Lebanon.  So two old enemy warriors, together and simultaneously recognized that reality trumped ideology and using Carter as a cover to mollify their home constituencies, made peace.   And for that, operatives of the Muslim Brotherhood assassinated him.

The New York Times, that bastion of Liberal ideals trying to make Carter look good, announced authoritatively as only it can, in the first few days of the Iranian Revolution that drove out the Shaw, that democracy had triumphed and there was absolutely no chance it would be trumped by any of those Islamic extremists.  About one month later, to the day, the Ayatollah returned, our hostages were taken and  the rest, as they say, is history.  I think therefore that it is too soon to judge how this will all play out.  That the military is running this, to me, a better omen than if the crowds were doing it.  They offer, if they work to the benefit of the country and its citizens, a more stable regime in the short term.  And besides, much as the Theocratists are devoutly wanting a regional Caliphate to be centered in Egypt, there is no currently exiled cleric waiting in the wings to come back, al la the Ayatollah, and make it happen.  But the real test will come in September when they have promised elections.   Whether they allow them or not, it will certainly get interesting when they come due.

But it is interesting to note that the so-called (by our chief intel idiot) “secular” Muslim Brotherhood is not named the “Arab Brotherhood,” or the “Egyptian Brotherhood” or any name suggesting national or secular allegiance.  It is named as a brotherhood of the followers of Islam and its mission is clearly and graphically spelled out in its history of support for fundamental and extremist causes but most notably by its own documents and web site (there is an English Language version (which I’ll spell out to avoid a link here  — www dot ikhwanweb dot com/article.php?id=22687) where you can find its mission statement/by laws.  If you still insist on believing our leadership and their press please go to that site and make special note of Article II, A,B, E, F, and G and then try to tell me it is even remotely secular.  It is even clear it is a transnational society and not an egyptian-directed one.  Synthesized down to a single directive its goal is a large cohesive transnational Islamic State ruled by Sharia Law.  Secular; indeed.  Only this administration and the New York Times could be so obtuse as to believe that.

And as for Facebook, Twitter, and social networking being such an influence?  Puhleeeze…  The major gatherings took place days after all internet was shut down.  And a gathering of 300,000 +/- is a drop in the bucket compared to the millions that took to the streets in Tehran in 1979 long before there WAS an internet or even common PC usage even here.  And in 2009 the demonstrators in Iran still vastly outnumbered those in Egypt and they had only filtered access to the internet and certainly minimal if any social networking.  So get over it and get real.  That reality check just bounced.  When you have an administration and its pawns that have all accepted that old storyteller’s mantra to, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!” the citizens are forced to do a serious and seriously heretical thing… think.

So the 30-90 days will see the standard revolutionary phases start to unfold if this is/was a true revolution; and if not, then in six months when the promised elections come due will be the next critical moment.  If, in the meantime the military regime that has been the real power, and has continued to be the real power since Nasser, actually helps stabilize the country, end corruption, and help its people, it will have done a very good thing.  And it will owe a lot to the pawn protestors who covered its real behind-the-scene actions and helped them avoid explaining to the world community why they staged a coup, even a bloodless one.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Whatever It Is… It Ain’t Love…

This discussion has been a long time coming.  Periodically something would happen among friends and I would think about it but never actually followed through.   But in the past couple of months, several of my friends that are female have told me tales of their treatment by men that are so far from the mores of the culture in which I grew up as to leave me with little point of reference.  I’ve been blessed to number among my friends a number of female friends who are dynamic, intelligent, powerful ladies.  All of the women in my family were like that and they were the critical models for my sense of what females are really all about.  To see time after time how these really amazing people have been disrespected, lied to, used, abused, and hurt by men they trusted and gave their hearts to is maddening.   Finally some critical mass has been reached and I’m going to put down my thoughts on it and direct some choice comments to other members of my gender and then a few to the other gender.

Perhaps back in pre-historic days up through medieval times it was socially OK to treat women like beasts of burden or simply a sub-par type of humanoid whose only valid role was to “service” men and stroke their egos and keep the species going.    But except for certain cultural backwaters and individual morons rising to astronomical heights of insecurity and immaturity, the time finally and belatedly arrived when women were seen for the inner power and incredible asset they really were.  And as their stature rose, a new definition of “Love” was allowed to bloom: the idea that to love someone meant to respect, honor, and cherish them because they completed you.  This ideal was not to be confused simply with “lust” and certainly not with ‘ownership’ in any sense of the word.  Saying you love your lady ought to mean far more than saying you love your car or even that you love your dog.

Nor was “love” related in anyway to someone’s “need” because that is an inward directed problem of a person’s own insecurity and low self esteem and not of any outward directed affection.  it was not the swooning drama of the victorians brought on more by tight corsets than a tight grip on emotions.  Nor was it the fawning trauma of maudlin gothic romances nor the idiocy of movies saying it means “never having to say you are sorry” when in reality it makes you ready to acknowledge error and profess sorrow for mistakes.   It is not the desperate controlling of a dysfunctional and uber-needy co-dependent personality nor the manipulative machinations of someone seeking to use the other.  Rather, love, real love, is about respect and trust.

From respect flows honesty and integrity, an honoring of the loved one for their willingness to spend another moment with you because that same honesty, turned inward, forces you to realize you really do not deserve such a blessing.  And from trust comes release to allow them to grow and flourish and become all THEY want to be and can be not just all YOU want them to be especially if that really means to be a servant to you.  If you truly, deeply love someone then your life in relation to them is governed by two simple rules:  (1) SHOW UP and (2) PAY ATTENTION.

To “Show Up”  means you will be there for them whether or not it is what you would really like to do at the time.  if it is important to them then love will make it important to you that you do all in your power to support them in their passions and desires.

To “Pay Attention” means you will be so “into” them and their personas that you will be able to detect even the subtle clues that reveal when they are unhappy or lonely or in need of a hug and support.  Trust me on this one guys because I know what I am talking about here.  I failed in both of these rules and lost the most important thing in my life back then.  Especially at my age now I don’t really expect to ever get that replaced and I am far the poorer for it.

Sadly the term “love” is tossed around quite loosely these days.  Everyone talks about how they just love so and so… but they don’t mean it literally.  For the most part they have no clue what that actually means.   It is said that men profess love to get sex and women provide sex to get love but in neither of those cases is the love real.  If you hurt or lie to or act in any disrespectful way toward your lady and yet tell her you love her then the truth is that  you are a liar.  You’re not mistaken, you’re not confused, you’re not just weak.  You are lying, pure and simple. You are lying certainly to her and probably to yourself as well.  And any relationship built on such a cracked foundation will not last, barring mutual dysfunction gone to seed, for very long.  Because the sad truth is that to build a truly deep profound lifelong relationship, love alone, even real love, is a critical element but is not enough.  If it is not built on the foundation of real friendship then it is a sham and will end badly.  So how can you tell?  It is very simple: how do you act toward them?  At least for a moment be honest with yourself here and answer these questions…

Do you lie?  Do you cheat?  Do you use them?  Do you hurt them in ANY way (physically, emotionally, psychologically) and keep doing it even after you have been made aware of it?  Do you discourage them, much less keep them from pursuing their own passions and growth?  Do you try to control their lives and actions?  Do you not trust them to be true to you?  Do you impose your values, needs, wants, even discipline on her and claim it is for her own good?  Do you think that because she is “just a girl” she will be too stupid to see through your actions?  If you do any one of these things alone, much less several of them, then whatever it is you are feeling toward her it is not love and it is not a friendship being formed because those things simply are not done by someone who truly loves and truly offers friendship.  No, they aren’t.  Using the words doesn’t make it real.

There is no maneuvering room here Buster, no room to try to weasel out of it.  No fast talking, charismatic personality, roguish smiles, or cute boyish charms can change the truth of it to your favor.  It is a non-negotiable issue.  Bottom line: if you do thses things — or any of them — then you cannot, by definition, truly love the person you do them to.  Real love simply won’t allow it.  If you have to say you are sorry for the same action more than once then you are not sorry at all (except that you might have been caught) and therefore you are lying and someone truly in love simply is not capable of that.  That is not to say that you might, in some way care a little about them and like them and lust after them… but you do not love them.  Loving them would prohibit such actions. So quit tarnishing the word and making it as cheap and meaningless as you are.

So you may sail through life playing your little macho games, high-fiving your buds, and bragging about your conquests like some high school retard with a grade school mentality and think you just have it made.  Man, you think you are sooooo cool.  A legend in your own mind.  Why, woman after woman has passed through your life and bed to various ends and isn’t that what the books and movies and TV seem to imply is what men should be after?  Isn’t that what was meant by the tee-shirt that said, “So Many women, So Little Time!”?

Let me disabuse you of that notion, and, again, as one who was there (I’m very sorry to say).  Lust satisfied is great, to be sure; but being deeply in love with the woman in your arms who deeply loves you back is beyond wonderful; it will take your spirit to highs no drug can hope to match.  If a woman’s body is simply a toy for you to play with yourself get a blow up doll… or a sheep… they will be less damaged by your childishness.   Quit playing around with an adult body in a boy’s mind; grow up, and learn to really love that lady or cut her lose instead of ruining one more day of her life.  If you really do love her, and mean it, and live it, and show it (which will all happen naturally if the love is real), I promise you life will get really good and you will quickly wonder why you didn’t come to your senses long before.

And to you ladies, before you think I am aiming only at men, think again.  If you are out there wondering why on earth someone you love would treat you as they do, let me give you some hard-edged facts as well.  They do it because they do not know any better and no, you are not going to ever be able to teach them or change them unless you were able to start on them at a very young age.  The Bible was dead on when it said that if you raise up a child in the ways he should go when he is old he will not depart from it.  It was true for a mud-hut society and it is true for our industrial one as well.  But it works the other way too.  Raise up a child in a ways that are hurtful and dysfunctional and when he is old he will not depart from them either.

Men become jerks because they had male jerks as important male models and that is all they know.  They learn the right words from each other, the smooth moves from equally sleazy fathers, family, friends, or skin magazine, get their training on techniques from the web’s sleazy videos, and not a bit of it is real or has the slightest emotional connection or meaning for them.  It may not entirely be their fault.  Scott peck wrote that we are all victims of victims; but it doesn’t matter, they are who they are.  The best they have to offer you comes at the very first when they are on the prowl.  But as they grow in comfort and feel in control in the relationship, it is all downhill and you cannot turn it around or make them into something they are not: that is a fantasy that will never come true.  no matter how deep your love for them the sad fact is that love will not change them because it, to them, has no meaning or relevance in their lives or thinking except as a word that works manipulative wonders.

For the jerk, however, their monstrous approach works.  Because they have such low expectations they are rarely disappointed.  And because the lady facilitates it and allows it they assume with some reason that the lady must like it.  And they are having fun.  And the lady claims to also be having a good time and expresses love in return.  Why would a jerk who saw that played out as a child and is now living it and getting all they think is of value, think anything is wrong with that?  And if you try to show them real love they just think it is because of how they have acted to that point.  it is a trap for you with no good ending.

The good news is that there are some really good guys out there who were brought up with good values and a core respect for women in general.  Not many perhaps, but some.   But accept this as gospel or deny it at your own peril: any man that will hurt you in ANY way, no matter how sorry they say they are, will do it again.  A man that will lie to you once will do it again.  A man that will lie FOR you will have no problem lying TO you.  Men are not “wired” the same as women.  If he will cheat WITH you he will readily cheat ON you.  You can try to rationalize it that it is just not that big a deal to him and therefore not truly meaningful… after all he did come back to you.  I’m sorry but if you think that your reality check just bounced.  Is it important to YOU?  is it hurtful to YOU, painful to YOU.  if so then if — IF — he truly loves you it will be important to him too.  If he wants to leave the comfort of the home you provided, your care, you, then he can do that honestly.  If he lies and cheats he does not, CAN NOT love you at the same time because that love, if real, would keep him from allowing himself to hurt you.

Read that paragraph of questions above for men starting with “Do you lie?”  If the man in your life does ANY of those things he does not, will not, and cannot love you.  Here is what should be a chilling truth.  Despite what they say, and despite the temporary euphoria they feel after having sex, down in their core these men do not like, much less think highly of women.  Most of them, if you could only hear them talk among themselves, think women are stupid or hysterics, hormone driven manic-depresssives that are simply not comprehensible by rational beings such as themselves… so why bother.  Pat them on the rear, now and then do something nice to confuse them, and use them as long as you can.  You may think i’m kidding here but unfortunately I am not.

In their minds the male jerks expects that in the end you will turn on him as those before have done and because of their old modeling and upbringing it will never occur to them it is their own fault.  So they will blame you for all of the ills in the relationship including how they “had” to hurt you for your own good or because you made them do it (by not being the patsy and slave they demanded).  Are you already getting blamed for problems?  Do they already get angry when you ask of them some small thing far less than you give to them constantly?  Stand by, it is only going to get worse.

Men do not take oaths lightly; if that oath of fidelity they gave before God and one they claimed to love will not bind them then no other promise will bind them either.  A man will be honest and faithful and good to those he truly respects; if he lies to you or is unfaithful to you or hurts you or thinks you are stupid then he does not respect you.  Period.  End of story.  And if he does not respect you he cannot possibly love you.  Carve that line in your heart: if a man does not respect you then he cannot love you because men cannot help but show respect to the people they truly love.  When it comes to 95% of men, words are simply tools and sometimes weapons.   It is only sustained, consistent actions and behaviors that are reliable clues to their real feelings.

Because as a culture we have generally thrown away our core values and standards, we are left with a hole in our spirits that makes us often feel alone and adrift.  It is terrible and unfortunately makes us think that the hole can be filled with the company of someone professing to care about us so we gravitate to those charismatic smooth talkers that seem to promise an end to the loneliness and stopping the drift.  But it won’t work.  it wouldn’t work even if the expression of care were real because that is a solution to a different problem.  But when those slick words are false, it not only won’t fill the void, it creates new ones that are even worse.  Loneliness is joined by the equally nasty siblings of betrayal and hurt.

So give it up;  don’t make any more excuses for them, don’t cover for them, don’t forgive them even one more time, just move on and get on with your own life.  Because if you do not, it will only get worse.  Is that truly what you want out of your life?  Is your self esteem so low and your self loathing so great that you would allow one of these jerks to control you much less hurt you?  Get over it, get out… while you can.  Because what you feel, the reason you keep giving for accepting the nonsense and the abuse, or for returning to it over and over, is not love either.  You can call it whatever makes you feel better about it as an excuse but the fact is that you cannot truly love another if you cannot love yourself and you cannot love yourself and accept such treatment and disrespect.  You may have some deep psychological itch that the abuse scratches but quit calling it love; it is not.   You may be co-dependent and desperately need someone to love you so much that even hearing an abuser say they love you satisfies the need at least for a while.  But that is not love.  And by staying with it, returning to it, accepting it, all you are doing is facilitating it and saying in a perverse sort of way that it is OK.

It is not OK.  And it sure as Hell is not Love.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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My Birthday!!!

San Diego – After many years of research into the subject I find the statistics to be unassailable… birthdays are good for your health.  Why would i say that?  Surely it is obvious; the more you have the longer you live!  I’ll spend the day doing something I love – teaching.

NIK Software.  Last week Janice Wendt from NIK software did a demo for my Advanced Digital Class on the latest Photoshop plug-ins from NIK software.  i had used NIKS filters before and liked them but the new capabilities are really amazing.  This batch not only allows incredible global modifications they also allow for very tonal and area and color specific modifications.  Very powerful editing capabilities.  in her demo although the NIK-ware was driven by Photoshop she used them exclusively and both the technical and aesthetic control was really amazing.  if you are into digital photography and making each image the best it can be, do check out their complete set.  Not cheap but incredibly powerful.

Desert Flowers.  I went to Anza Borrego this weekend to check on the desert wildflowers since i had tentatively planned a field trip for next weekend.  Well it was early for the flowers by about two weeks according to local conjecture.  But I was able to see something I’ve never seen before.  Driving way up Coyote Canyon (where, by the way, there were a few flowers starting) water was flowing in the creek.  Quite a bit of water as a matter of fact.   But it was so great to see it.  I’ve obviously seen the signs of water flow in the dried and drying creek beds before but this was the first time I’ve seen some significant water flowing.  Cool!!!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Second Week of Spring Semester is History

San Diego –Quite a few things to chat about from events of this week.  From school to my hot car to Egypt to Reagan’s birthday, topics come leaping out so lets get this underway.

Well, we made it through the second week of the Spring Semester without major angst.  Unfortunately i had to turn down an amazing number of second week requests to crash some of my classes as they were simply full and there was no room.  I was able to let a few into some classes that were nearly full but not yet to overflowing and the early attrition did open up a couple of seats here and there.  Now that period is over and the crush for seats in class is over.  I was chastised for not showing proper respect to our IT team but in truth i have none to show nor will I facilitate their incompetence by pretending they are good at it.  As I keep saying over and over, you cannot fix a problem you will not admit exists.

Field Trip/Workshop Dates:  In the Landscape Class i finally got back information on availability for lodging for our field trips and those are now set.  The three day trip to Lone Pine and Alabama Hills will be March 11-13 and the four day trip to Yosemite will be April 28-May 1.  i gave out data on where i was able to arrange discounts in class this week so people can start to get their reservations in early.  We will also be doing a Saturday afternoon workshop for students interested in printing on Canvas on Feb  19th at 1 pm – 4pm +/-.   Sign up is through the Check Out room.  If the canvas workshop is successful then we may do more during the semester.

Jag Progress: This has been a time of trying to “beta test” the Jag’s engine work.  I have had very little time and in any case it is necessary to work carefully since I’ve not been able to get into DMV for the temp permit to go to a California Smog referee for a new ID/Compliance sticker.  My old one is in the engine compartment and consequently it has faded over the years.  You can still read the numbers but cannot scan the bar code with a reader and the law is that it must be scanned.  That has to have been in order to sell more scanners; some legislature cleaned up big time when they got that law passed.  It showed me one problem from the first drive back from the shop.  The tuner had set it up for serious competition driving not for daily freeway stuff.  The shift points were placed high at the top of the “power band” so the car simply would not shift into High (and then overdrive).  I ran it to 90 mph quickly but still it did not shift.  The Tach was right in the power band at that point at about 3,000 RPM… but it was in third gear.  OK, Note one for tweaking…

Anyway, yesterday I drove to Barrett Junction for lunch because the old Highway 94 road can be a fun one to drive.     There was too much local traffic to really play with it seriously but it was obviously now a much stronger car especially in the mid range.  However as I was returning, the engine cut out.  It then returned to fire and then cut out again.  It did this on and off a few time  until I was almost back to campus but just past the Highway 125 interchange it cut out and… did NOT come back.  I drifted over to the side and checked the engine for anything that seems to have become unplugged.  it was obviously an electrical problem because when it cut out all gauges and lights died with it.  But the battery was connected, coil was connected, at the junction box for ignition all was connected yet it was still dead as the proverbial doorknob.  (Note: does anyone know a live doorknob? They must have very short life spans…)  i called Lawton at Top Flight Corvette/Racing where it had been worked on and he went through a series of checks on the phone with me, none of which led anywhere so he called a tow truck for me.

Once back at the shop they were stumped until one of the mechanics noticed there was no wire running into the alternator.  In fact there was no connector post on the alternator AT ALL.  And there, dangling down was the post, still connected to the wire that had come completely out of the alternator.  In fact it had arced and spot welded itself to the engine and almost looked like it belonged there.  The guys jumped on it and quickly swapped it for an alternator they had on the shelf, charged the battery and the car was fine.  None of them had ever seen anything quite like it so even though it was an irritation I at least kept my reputation for not bringing them anything normal.

I would be remiss in not including a plug here.  That shop is wonderful and it has one of those rarities I have come to find in very short supply: an honest and skilled mechanic.  Alan Curtis who first built the car was one of them but he retired.  Now Lawton at Top flight has taken over care of the car and he is like Alan (without the British accent): skilled to the point of being creative and artistic and scrupulously honest.  As a race driver of long standing and experience himself, and as head of a racing team he does understand high performance cars and loves them.  His shop is always filled — and I mean FILLED — with wonderful and powerful cars.  And his son is following in his hard to fill footsteps.  I’m telling you, if you have any form of muscle car or other high performance American iron trust me on this; here is where you need to take it.  Let me know and I’ll put you in contact.

Geopolitics: The unrest in Egypt continues.  As has become typical, our would-be erstwhile leadership has responded based not on facts or history or even the country’s best interests, but on the basis of what their own party’s leaders have done in the past vis-a-vis connections with various foreign governments.  Those from the parties that supported and still funnel money to Mubarak  see nothing positive in the protests as they focus only on what they see as the inevitable disaster to flow from this.    Meantime those who hated the leaders that supported Mubarak see the protestors as the new voices of democracy to be backed.  In doing so they show the same lack of knowledge about the players and regional issues as they did in the first Iranian revolution when they dumped the Shaw and lately in the unrest over the past elections.

When the Shah was overthrown in a coup by a “democratic” revolution that democratic ideal, as much as there was of it in a land that knew nothing about Jeffersonian Democracy and only about the far less messy (if far more painful) monarchies, autocracies and tyrannies, was short lived and soon taken over by the Islamic extremists to bring about a complete Theocracy — something we helped to facilitate and then got our hand bitten by way of thanks. When the protestors then took to the streets in the last election to defeat the current Iranian President, a person clearly in need of defeating, our own political idiocracy saw the opposition as potential allies of the U.S. but never bothered, apparently, to study the make up of them.  The argument in Iran was not over pro or anti U.S. policy, that was but a convenient and handy bone to the political dogs slobbering at their feet tossed out to try to lure us into their court.  The truth was the only real argument was theologically dogmatic and the protestors saw a different role and status in government authority vested in the clergy and Ayatollahs.  That was utterly meaningless and not even remoptely understandable to and by us, but was a critical distinction to them, worthy of risky protest.  But the protestors were not ever or remotely about regaining a secular society much less a democracy.

Now in regards to Egypt the same reaction is taking place in the hallowed halls of our government and the spewings of the mainstream press and its pundits.  And it is seen through the same willful blinders as before.  The regime of the current President is remarkable mainly for its corruption and ill treatment of the Egyptians themselves; of that there is no doubt.  We stupidly pour tons of money into their economy and then say nothing when it is skimmed off by the elite but rarely makes its way back to the streets where we pretend it is intended.  We spend  a statistically important part of our taxes to support the extravagances of foreign despots.  In some cases, and this was one of them, they did some of our bidding and helped a little with the current issues of terrorists even though that was mostly in their own self interests.  So some supported him without question and other opposed him without context.

Sadly Egypt is hardly a stand out case for this idiocy, virtually every tin hat dictator we readily support does the same thing.  And so certainly the ranks of the protestors contain those who would like to make of Egypt a more democratic society dedicated to serving the needs of its people and also to maintain their status as a secular government, not wanting to return to Taliban-like suppression of human rights and especially women’s rights.  But behind the scenes, just as there was in Iran when their pro-democrativ movement was taken over and subverted by Islamic extremists, funneling money into the movement and waiting in the wings is another extreme Islamic group, the Islamic Brotherhood.  Though not listed as a terrorist group themselves it is generally agreed that they exist to support and funnel money to groups that ARE terrorists from Al Qaeda to Hamas to Hezbollah.  Their own charter and surrogates make it impossible to ignore their real goals and purposes and it is open for anyone to read if they will take the time.

History in the region has given us several examples of Middle Eastern/Arabic and North African protests that turned into revolutions and overthrew the existing regime:  Iran,  Yeman, Oman as a few examples.  There are exceptions as there always are, but the trend has been that the ‘democratic’ movement, or just the movement crying for change and better treatment by the people, initially succeeded but was so poorly led, funded, and/or organized that once the major power was eliminated and it was safe for them to emerge,  the extremists moved in to set up their end goal from the start: an Islamic Theocracy.  This situation in Egypt is far more complex and has far more potential dangers than either side of our aisle of entrenched political morons seems willing to admit or address.

On one hand that is none of our business.  If that is what the people want then let them live with it.  That is what democracy is supposed to mean.  But when a newly formed government threatens the stability of the area and, by extension, the world, then it unfortunately becomes our business.  This is why it is SO important for us, in the short term as we look for workable affordable alternatives, to make use of our own fossil fuel resources so that those savages over there can be free to hack each other to pieces, burn wells, close canals, and force $10/gallon gas to their black heart’s content… but not on us.

Except for politicians with money to be made, no one in the energy business questions that oil, especially middle eastern oil is running out.  The easy and cheap to get “sweet” oil has already run out over most of the middle east and only so-called “sour” crude which is very expensive to extract and refine, remains.  We can ignore it all we want but there is no getting around the fact that it was oil and oil alone that allowed our planet to double its population and more in the years since it was discovered and turned to our use.  It was oil and oil alone that allowed our incredible growth in a standard of living.

Not just gasoline, but most of our lives and life styles are dependent utterly on by-products of oil.  And even for gasoline and vehicle fuel, it is oil and oil alone that allows for relatively cheap transportation and flow of goods around the country and the world.  North America has vast reserves that are untapped.  Bringing them online takes time.  If we continue to delay then the loss of oil from other sources may happen in a time span shorter than what it would take to start replacing it with domestic oil and if that happens we will see an impact on our lives like none other that has happened before in history.  The sad truth remains that we could bring our own oil reserves online faster than we can start from where we are now and fully augment alternative energy technologies for direct use in heating and fuel.  But even if we could, there is no other product that can yield, things like the plastics and other compounds that while generally ignored, actually make our lives livable as they are now.  imagine a world without oil-based plastic and I will show you the 18th and early 19th century.

Yes, of course,  we should start an earnest program to explore the alternatives and find substitutes as quickly as we can.   But we also need to address and prepare for the shorter term in which oil, not just for us, but for the world starts to either run out or be so tightly controlled by antagonistic regimes as to functionally cease to be available.  We get most of our oil from Canada and Mexico now but what if pretty much all of the industrial world started knocking on their doors because their supply of middle east oil was no longer available for whatever reason?  Governments and their people are, in unfortunate fact, so utterly dependent on the products that flow, at the moment, only from oil, that if the supplies are shut down there will be major world wide upheaval, and countries will. in fact, go to war over access to it.  They may not want to, but they will have to in order to maintain some semblance of their former standards of living.  We need to make sure we are not in such a vulnerable position and now is the time to start to work on ALL fronts.

Of course we will not do that…  and to make matters worse, as money is cut from education the individuals who could become the future scientists to find our solutions will be missing in action here because they were never created int he first place or supported when they were; but not in places overseas that realize how important education is.  Think about where that will place us in terms of world leverage in influence… or standards of living costs.

Reagan’s Birthday:  Much political hay has been made over the birthdate of Ronald Reagan this past week. He has become the icon for one side and the bogeyman for the other.  And one of the main cores of the arguments swirling around him and his accomplishments is the issue of tax cuts.  One side says he had the largest tax cuts in history and the other that he has the largest tax increases in history.  Good grief… so who is right?  The answer is they both are.  Early in his presidency he put through an enormous tax cut that was, in fact, the largest since we started imposing a “temporary and voluntary” income tax in the first place to pay for war.  But in his own autobiography, he admits that given the times and other issues he went too far and too fast.  So he started putting into place a series of tax hikes that also constituted the largest set of tax hikes ever done.  But what is missing from both sides of the argument is that his tax hikes only replaced about HALF of the tax cuts he had made in the first place.  And that was enough to get the rest of his agenda through including bankrupting the Soviet Union and still bring some enormous productivity to the home shores.  His cuts in government spending were also significant.  They actually negatively effected me directly when money was lost for an NEA grant.  But it was the right thing to do and I never regreted the policy even though I bemoaned the loss of our own grant money.

So, yeah, interesting week…

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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