Monuments: The Unrecognized Achievements of Ancient Cultures

stonehengeWe are all familiar with ancient monuments like: The Egyptian Sphinx and the Pyramids, the Parthenon in Athens, the Colosseum in Rome, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, the Cathedrals throughout Europe, the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge in England, the Great Wall in China, the Mayan Pyramids, and the Statues on Easter Island, just to mention a few that have survived. There are others as well, including the recently discovered Mayan treasures that are hidden by the regrowth of the rainforests in Central America and the monuments that were lost to the ravages of war, conflicts time, and nature. This accompanying complete list provides additional information and references

It is one thing and fully appropriate to honor the magnificent monuments that previous societies created.  However, there is another very important hidden attribute to understand and honor as well. It is almost always neglected. It is the accomplishments of the cultures that gave rise to the structures. Especially impressive is the fact that the cultures were able to create the beautiful works of art under the limiting conditions they faced. Continue reading “Monuments: The Unrecognized Achievements of Ancient Cultures”

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Of the People, By the People, and For the People

When our predecessors broke away from Britain in the late 1700s they set up a government of the people, by the people, and for the people — a Democracy. The governmenLincoln_Of_the_People-3ct has three branches, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. They are designed to help ensure that no one branch has control over the government.

Looking around the world today in many countries, both large and small, we see the government under the control of a ‘strongman’ — dictator, despot, demagogue, autocrat and oligarch — call him what you will. Frequently they have the support of the Military. Many will do anything to remain in power. Our country — the United States of America — was designed to help ensure that does not happen here.

The late 1800s brought about significant technological changes. Steam engines brought along with them locomotives, the railroads and steamships. Internal combustion engines led to the development of automobiles, trucks and tractors. Electricity added lamps and electric motors; and the telegraph and telephones. All were part of the Industrial Revolution. The new technology contributed to making ‘the people’ better off. They had new products that they could buy along with many more job opportunities and greater income. Initially, the changes remained largely within national borders. The changes also brought with them the “Robber Barons” who were relatively few in number. Continue reading “Of the People, By the People, and For the People”

Revisiting Retirement

gray trunk green leaf tree beside body of water
Photo by Daniel Watson on Pexels.com

Before taking a closer look at ‘retirement’, let’s check out some of the changes that have occurred during my lifetime. When I was growing up in the 1930s and early 40s, life expectancy was much shorter than it is now. Remember that was just before World War II. Guys hoped to make it ’til 65, or perhaps a little longer. On average women lived a little beyond that. My dad made it to 68. My mother lived to 80. People seldom made it into their 90s, much less to 100.

Technology was a lot different then. It took three days to get from New York to Europe by boat and about the same time to get from Penn Station to San Francisco by train. There were no jet planes and no Interstates. At the end of the period the first of the antibiotics, natural penicillin, was just introduced. Long-distance calls were placed through an operator. We had radios, newspapers and the movies, but no TVs, computers, the Internet or iPhones. My guess is that for most of you it is pretty hard to imagine what life was like.

For the most part guys were expected to get a job and bring home the money to support the family. The primary role of women was taking care of the family and the household. Some had jobs as secretaries or nurses. World War II introduced us to Rosie the Riveter. Job opportunities for women increased markedly during and after the War.

Here’s how those conditions affected the retirement years. As a guy, your adult life has been spent working full-time at a job that you didn’t necessarily like just to bring in the income necessary to support the family. Women took care of the family and the household, and perhaps the grandkids in their later years. Both expected to live a few years longer at most. If they were from moderate or low income families, they probably were unable to set aside funds for future spending. Sometimes money for current expenses had to come from their children’s current income. The Social Security system — at the time it was known as Old Age Benefits (OAB) — had just come into play. Any income from it helped support those who reached their retirement years — a few years at best.

World War II and postwar periods were prosperous times. Significant technological changes brought along with them new products and new processes of production. Good jobs were available — both for men and women. The G.I. Bill of Rights covered some of the college expenses of previous members of the armed forces. College education opened up new job opportunities and, in some cases, entry into a profession, along with the good salaries that came along with them. The changes in the health-care system led to a longer life expectancy. That was in marked contrast to the pre-World War II era when we were in the midst of the Great Depression. Continue reading “Revisiting Retirement”

At (almost) 91

box celebration gift package
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Let me issue you a warning. The Holidays are upon us. That is, of course, unless you treat every day as a ‘Holy Day’. Along with the holidays comes the end of 2018. In the St. John tradition, where I lived for 18 years, we celebrated ‘Old Years Night’, putting the old year behind us.

Shortly after the New Year, on January 7th, I turn 91. How about that!

I’d like to offer everyone my birthday gift. In addition to my blog posts and the books, I will from time to time, provide my take on various issues. They will be posted on the Essays tab on the website. The first essay is entitled, Some Fundamentals in Making Any Decision. It comes along with two accompanying papers, Innovations and Monopoly Pricing.

I know the decision-making process is often complex, confusing and, sometimes, overwhelming. The purpose of the essay is to clarify the process and examine the likely consequences any time we make and implement a decision. It is my hope that the ideas resonate with you, make a difference in the way you approach things, and will improve your life, as it has for some of my first readers.

If you find the ideas valuable, please feel free to pass them on by letting others know about the website. Thank you to all of you for following my blog. It is a real gift to continue to make a contribution (even at almost 91!)

Peace and Love,

Bernie

Kavanaugh: On Second Thought

Based on the new information that has surfaced about Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I have some additional thoughts. Instead of taking an adversarial position, Kavanaugh could ask President Trump to order an FBI investigation of the claims of sexual assault. That would help resolve the controversy and put the facts on the table. If President Trump refused, he could withdraw his name from consideration for the nomination. That action would say a lot about the integrity of the nominee and would be exactly the type of person I would like to see as a Justice on the US Supreme Court.

Additionally, any Senator who votes to push through the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh before reviewing the facts and allowing for ‘due process’, undermines an important historic role of the Senate. Again, it promotes his/her private agenda and makes them complicit in what appears like a possible cover-up.

How About Being Open, Honest, and Transparent?

I am strongly in favor of being Open, Honest and Transparent (OHT), and I am really bothered by the decision that has been made to exclude a considerable amount of evidence from Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing to be a Justice on the US Supreme Court.

The inforsupremem courtmation is related to Judge Kavanaugh’s two-year experience on the White House Counsel’s Office, and later as staff secretary of President George W. Bush. The documents, which are held by the National Archives and subject to release under the Presidential Records Act, are currently under review for release under that Act. The White House turned down the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request to see over 100,000 pages of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s experience, citing executive privilege.

The decision not to provide that information has the appearance of being a cover-up in order to help guarantee Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment. There is a simple way around the problem, one which makes it clear that everyone is being open, honest and transparent. Judge Kavanaugh could simply say that he wants the material to be considered in the review. He could add, that if the request is denied he will withdraw his name from consideration.

If Judge Kavanaugh does not take that position, it makes him appear to be complicit in the appearances of a cover-up. Under those circumstances, any Senator who votes for his confirmation becomes a party to the appearances of a cover-up as well .

Should Judge Kavanaugh refuse to follow through on this suggestion, it opens up the question “Is that the type of person we want to be a Justice on our Supreme Court, the highest court in the land?”

Apparently the old small-d democratic rule, “Majority rule with minority security” no longer applies. We are all part of the Hive, living in “One World” as part of United Nations. Let’s make that fantasy a reality.

 

Can We Make Mass-Killings Less Likely?

In order to legally drive I had to get a driver’s license. To get one, I had to be 15 or older, pass a vision exam and take a driver’s test. The license also served as an identity card. I had to carry it with me at all times because if an Officer of the Law asked to see the license, I was required to produce it.  Today, some 75 years later, my license can be revoked if I no longer meet driving standards. Every driver has to be licensed even if he/she does not own the vehicle.

When I purchased my first car, a used 1941 two-door Chevy, I had to be of age and meet certain physical, mental, legal and other standards in order to drive it. They were imposed to help ensure that I would not engage in activities that could harm others. The law also required that I get insurance. That guaranteed that if I got into an accident that harmed someone, they could be compensated. The registration certificate identified me as the car’s owner along with its vehicle identification number (vin) and the license plate number The registration was updated annually after the car was inspected and I paid the license and insurance fees and the taxes. When I sold the car the license plate was changed and its ownership was transferred to the new owner.

“Guns”
I find myself wondering, why aren’t “guns” treated in a similar way to vehicles? Legislation and licensing with the objective of keeping of track of weapons capable of 1941_Chevrolet_Special_De_Luxe_Business_Coupe_PBA341mass-killings, their owners and users, and the death, destruction and harm that they can cause, could make it possible to limit some of the damage those weapons cause and to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions. Recently there has been a significant increase in civilian mass killings. Not only have the perpetrators used assault weapons but, in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Canada, vehicles have also been used as weapons.

Continue reading “Can We Make Mass-Killings Less Likely?”