We need to start looking to ourselves, because the problem is here not over there (something of a rant)

There are two excellent articles in Foreign Policy that I came across. Both covering similar topic which both are by David Rothkopf. The first is an interview with the Financial Time’s Ed Luce who wrote a book, “Time to Start Thinking”, which is essentially a modern version of Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous classic, “Democracy in America.” The second piece is much shorter, and basically highlights the same theme only adding in the additional critique that we should stop looking for external enemies. If you have the time, I say read these, its just about spot on.

Since 1992 this country’s political class has been looking for a grand distraction following the end of the Cold War. Why? Because its easier for them to have you focus on foreign threats (albeit some are real, but most are inflated beyond their reality) supposedly against the American public versus the more acute threats inside our country. The political class first got this relief, as the article notes, during World War 2. Roosevelt actually was tackling the real problem until a true bigger threat emerged. But when the war was over, their were still domestic problems to be looked at. But nope, why get the people ginned up for that when we can say “WATCH OUT..COMMIES! LOOK OVER THERE!”.

We need to look at ourselves, people. The 15% unemployed or underemployed, that’s a threat. Our fiscal situation where there is talk of Social Security now possibly cutting benefits by 30% in exactly 4 years, that’s a threat. Our education system is broken, where college costs are inflating beyond reason, that’s a threat. Our bridges and roads and sewers and infrastructure is crumbling rapidly putting us in danger, that’s a threat. Our culture is warped. Our kids are killing kids. Gated communities, illegal immigration, your purchasing power decreasing every year, fraud, social immobility, rising bureaucratic regulations, the fact that about 90% of the House races are basically noncompetitive , shit the list goes on. These are symptoms of a much larger threat. But go ahead, listen to the those who are in the leadership circles in the political class pining to blame the brown man or the one who can’t speak English, or the gays or the one clinging to their Bible or whatever if you want.

Arizona here we come!

In 24 hours, my father and I will be on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief heading to Flagstaff. My sister, Tina, surprised him and I with tickets and room and board. For a while now we both had been wanting to see the new great grand kids (or great grand nephews in my case) for a while now. He refuses to fly so it was either driving or the train, the former also not doable and the latter a tad out of my budget.

At 86, this could be the last time my father sees his daughter a d the rest of the family who reside out West. His sister, my aunt, is a few years younger but in poorer health. So the timing couldn’t be more critical. He should see them, and it pleases me that this is finally happening.

Now this isn’t going to be a typical vacation. I’m disabled and my pop can hardly move. Neither of us really care about visiting tourist sites. It’s just going to be family.

I gave never taken a cross country trip on a train and the last time my father took one JFK was President. So this should be fun! I am hoping to take pictures as the Southwest Chief traverses across the Great Plains and the desert states. Amtrak informed me that there is no internet, so any blogging may have to be done via my Windows Phone. While in AZ, I promise to blog. At the very least to provide something of a picture catalog for the family. But, fear not dear readers, i will keep with the blogging ethos and share with you everything I can.

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Pinball

Pinball MachinesRip Steve Kordek, the guy gave us more cooler ways in playing the game. Now back in the day, well by me at l least, when Pac-Man and Space Invaders were all the rage, the arcade by me believe it or not (Aladdin’s Castle to all you local Chicagoans for that HIP reference) only had a few and it was mostly pinball. Sure your video arcade game had your flashy ass graphics, but there was also something about pinball as well.

The designs got more complex, but the game was still the same. And there was something almost zen like, with a combination of adrenaline, to the overall simplicity of behind the game. Get the ball into one of those little holes to score some points and pray to God your flippers keep that little metal bastard from falling into that pit at the bottom!

Related articles

Parenting French Style

Copyright 2012 WSJ

 

When my daughter was 18 months old, my husband and I decided to take her on a little summer holiday. We picked a coastal town that’s a few hours by train from Paris, where we were living (I’m American, he’s British), and booked a hotel room with a crib. Bean, as we call her, was our only child at this point, so forgive us for thinking: How hard could it be?

We ate breakfast at the hotel, but we had to eat lunch and dinner at the little seafood restaurants around the old port. We quickly discovered that having two restaurant meals a day with a toddler deserved to be its own circle of hell.

via Why French Parents Are Superior by Pamela Druckerman – WSJ.com.

Interesting piece on parenting. While I’m not a parent myself, virtually all of my friends are. They all deserve medals.  So when I was reading the Journal, I came across this.  Basically, the French system comes down to the following:

  • Have a confident authoritative voice with your kids, but don’t scream
  • Teach them the value of patience.
  • Going with the above, forcing them to learn to play by themselves.
  • French parents have an established boundary or frame or “cadre” as they call it.  They let the child do what they want so long as it is within that framework.

A lot of it reminded me of the Montessori method for teaching children. They established something along similar lines when they created a system to teaching children in an urban environment.  This article is really a sequel to another one the Wall Street Journal published last year about Asian “Tiger Moms”. The article drew both massive praise and criticism, as it highlighted how the Tiger Mom was just about a drill instructor that made the child learn by rote method.

So can Americans learn something from their French cousins across the Pond? Many looked at the Tiger Mom method as well.  Both have a way of instilling discipline in children. But could Americans adapt such a method in our culture?  There was a time when parents did something similar. Then along the way, it was lost.

Going back to Googleland

For the past few weeks, I’ve been toying around with the Microsoft ecosystem.  For several years I had been using several emails from different providers, but mainly from two of the major services.  I had always been weary of using an ISP-based email going back to the days when I used to change services a lot. So I settled, and over the years got used to how one thing work.  Mainly, this had been Google.

I got an Android phone a year back from my cousin, and let me pay him for a sub account on Verizon, it seemed like a good deal at the time.  Of course, I guess, the economy finally took its toll on my cousin and the next thing you know, despite me paying, my line went dead.  Anyways, I needed a new line, and since Verizon kinda sucked by me, I figured why not a different service. Only this time I was going to do something different, I would buy my own phone and try and avoid a contract.  Sticking with the “going different” theme, instead of a new Android-based phone, I went with something new, a Windows Phone.

So Microsoft released this Windows Phone 7 platform, and I have to tell you it ain’t bad. Seeing as how the WP7 platform worked best with Mister Softy’s Live system and that my main Gmail system had become a digital overgrown forest, I figured why not go back to MSN?  Someone at PCMag said that the new Hotmail setup was damn good now, almost better than Gmail. So I went back to it and gave it another go.

Folks, yes Hotmail is pretty good up to a point, but the rest of Windows Live is rougher than sandpaper.  You would think that on IE9 it would be smooth. Forget it.  Whomever designed their Calendar system and Skydrive should be taken out and beaten with wooden cane. As I just said, Hotmail was good up to a point. That point being the address book. Now, if there ever…EVER was way NOT to design an email address book, then the one on Hotmail is the best example. All of this wrapped in a cloak of user unfriendliness. Microsoft learned virtually nothing from its rivals.

To call Windows Live’s user controls system a Rube Goldberg method would be an understatement. Many times you click on something thinking it would do what you clicked on it to do. Nope. Take alerts in their Calendar section. It says I have turned off alerts yet they still appear.  But this is indicative of a lot of things with the Live platform.  Skydrive works good on Windows Phone 7, but on your PC it feels disjointed at best.

Its really a shame, because I honestly thought I could diversify in this type of thing.  Perhaps its a built-in bias born from years of using one platform. This must be what Mac users go through when transitioning to a Windows or Linux desktop platform. Well, suffice it to say, I gave it a go, I really tried. But I think starting this week I will return back to using Google’s services.  They just seem to have their act more together than Microsoft.

Much ado about nothing with Romney and firing

OK, I’ve seen this Romney video clip of him talking about firing. I don’t understand what the big fuss is about? Who here hasn’t fired a company providing crappy services before? Who hasn’t switched mobile phone providers? What about cable television providers? The same with employers, why should they retain someone who is not doing their job? I’m not a Romney supporter, but holy crap, what he said isn’t exactly blasphomy. We’ve all done it.

The Trading Gods talked to me last night

I couldn’t sleep last night. Six or seven times I kept waking up. Something was telling me to go to my desk and punch up my charts. I was frustrated and a bit angry that I couldn’t sleep.

“Meh…what the hell, why not?” I said to myself. Perhaps, looking at a bunch of boring stock or commodities charts at 3 am would finally put me to sleep. At best, I could still catch the European open and catch some action in the forex market.

Looking at an SPX daily chart, something told me to bring up some volatility studies and my old pals MACD and RSI.

Another example of why the Iraq War was wrong.

Watching CNBC’s documentary “The Baghdad Job” served as another reminder of how wrong the Iraq War was and how ineptly the Bush Administration handled the whole operation.  How could you do something so important so half assed? Now we’re on the hook for the missing billions.

This also reminds me of why this election is important.  Watching all the Republican candidates speaking of foreign affairs, only one candidate has repeatedly spoken about not repeating the mistake mentioned above.  Yep, you guessed who I was hinting at…Ron Paul!  While I’m not exactly a super fan of the Texas congressman, he’s the only one of the GOP presidential nominees who hasn’t called for a war with Iran.

I want to say our current President wouldn’t also be such a hawk against Iran. But these days? I’m not so sure anymore.  I look at Iraq and ask “can this happen again?”