Why the US lost our jobs to China

dtrtI just watched a documentary on PBS about the downfall of Detroit due to the closing of the auto plants.   This is happening all around the United States but is best represented by Detroit.

The main problem is that manufacturing jobs were moved to China because they work for less money.  Basically they have a lower “Standard of Living”.

I’ve always hated that phrase.  “Standard of Living” is used here as a way of saying, “I deserve to have it all”.  Originally such a philosophy was sustainable because the rest of the world was incapable of doing what we do.  Now as countries like China and India become more advanced, they are now able to manufacture things as well or more efficiently than we can.

Being able to sustain our unrealistic standard of living becomes impossible.  That unrealistic standard is thought to be an inalienable right.  It isn’t our fault though.  For many decades we were brainwashed to think that we can do anything we want.  Technically that is true, but not for everyone.

The reason we are losing our jobs is that we want to be paid too much.  We think that we have to have that over-sized house and an over-sized car.  We think that it is OK to have a bunch of children.  We can’t live without the $50 a month cable bill and the $125 per month cell phone.  All these things are required to live.   If we lower our income we can’t afford these things therefore we can’t lower our income.  Nope.  Nothing happening.   Instead we lose our jobs completely.

This could have been avoided and can be reversed by simply living simply.   Sell that quarter of a million dollar house you should have never bought and get one for $50,000.   Sell that Hummer and get a used small car.  Drop the cable and the cell phone.   There are 313 Million people in the U.S. and we can’t all be kings.

Stop deluding yourselves.  You don’t deserve it and you can’t have it.  Let it go and live simply.  Only you can save the world.

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Star Wars – A New Appreciation

strwrsep4I was nine in 1977 when Star Wars first appeared in the theaters. It was only a few months after my father died.  He was a big Star Trek fan and would have really appreciated Star Wars.

Episode 4 – A New Hope was an amazing new frontier in the movie industry.  Nothing like it had ever been seen on the big screen.  It was epic and high tech.  Imagine taking  your “Iron Man” Blu-Ray and your HD TV back to the 1950s and showing it to them.  It was like that.

People saw it hundreds of times.  They couldn’t get enough.  Every three years the next episode came out and it was awesome.  It was described by the press as “Cowboys in space”  and it basically was.  The hero saves the princess and the galaxy.  It was what people wanted to see.

I was in elementary school at the time and of course merchandising was rampant.  I remember my best friend drawing amazingly good x-wings and tie-fighters.  I owned many of the toys and had the record of music from the movie.  John Williams became my favorite composer and gave me appreciation for classical music.  I still have the record but have nothing to play it on.

strwrsep1Flash forward a thousand years to 1999.

George Lucas gets off his ass and continues what he started.  The Phantom Menace hits the theaters and the world rejoices.  Old fans are reduced to tears at the thought.  Young kids, used to space epics still appreciate the pre-continuation of the saga.  Lines form and money is spent.

But wait… After everyone has seen it, there is a split between those who think it is awesome and those who are greatly disappointed.  A larger selection feel let down by the new movies.  I was among them.  But how can someone be disappointed to the point of anger by these epic movies?

Why did I feel that way?

I believe the main problem was that the new series was just not what we expected.  There was no hero.  There was no princess or galaxy being saved.  It was a lot of talk and meaningless action.  I gave up on the new series and ignored its existence.  It just didn’t mean anything to me and didn’t live up to my childhood expectations of awesomeness.

During the recent Memorial Day weekend it was being shown on TV as a marathon.  I had watched it all a second time before but it still left me feeling frustrated.

This time I decided to watch it with an open mind and do my best to make sense of it.  The difference between the old series and the new one is that the new one is more of a political thriller than a space shootout.  Understanding these movies would take some serious attention and research.  I was ready to give it a try.  It was on Spike TV so there were more commercials than movie but through the magic of the DVR it was much less annoying.

I watched Episode One knowing that important stuff was going on in the boring talk scenes.  A number of times I had to hit rewind and watch the same scene over and over because my mind kept wandering away and I missed everything they said.  Eventually, with the help of closed captioning, I felt like I was making sense of what was happening.

Still there were so many questions.  I paused the movies and picked up my iPad to search for answers to my questions.  When I was satisfied I pressed play again.

I felt much better and was looking forward to Episodes 2 and 3 this time.  I was watching with my mind open and my expectations closed.  I now have a new appreciation for the films. As I reached the end of Episode 3 I felt myself wanting to see more instead of wishing it would be over.

Episodes 1-3 require your attention.  I think that is why they received so many bad reviews.  In today’s society of Attention Deficit Disorder and Instant Gratification the common man will have a difficult time appreciating them.  Of those who thought they were awesome at first viewing were probably of two groups:  1. Sharp minds and able to follow the story.  2. So dull that they just liked the flashy light sabers and shiny, pointy ships.  I was in the middle so it was difficult for me to enjoy.

If you do a search for “What is the Phantom Menace”, you will get all kinds of answers.  The simple people are thinking it was Darth Maul who was only really on the screen for a very short time.  The Phantom Menace was more of a political threat.  Most likely (in my incomplete understanding) having to do with the fake war created to give Senator Palpatine more power in the Senate and eventually to become Emperor.

George Lucas is, in actuality, warning us in real life.  In the U.S. we are slowly giving up our rights and allowing more power to the government for the sake of “safety” against a false threat of Terrorism.   As the Senate applauds the new supreme powers given to the emperor, Padme remarks, “So this is how liberty dies…with thunderous applause.”  Real life, people! Wake up!

If you want to re-discover Star Wars Episodes 1-3 take my advice:

1. Open your mind and lower your expectations.
2. Turn on closed captioning to help your brain stay focused on the dialog.
3. Pause and Google things you are questioning.
4. Read this article on the Politics of the original Star wars.
5. Read this Yahoo Answer for a quick understanding of the new series.
6. Search for more explanations using the key words STAR WARS POLITICS.
7. Watch it again.  The more you catch the more sense it will make.

In conclusion, Star Wars episodes 1-3 are not casual viewing and pretty pictures.  They require diligence and research.  Leaving more questions than answers you will find a new appreciation for the internet. In the end, I now salute George Lucas for his complex work.  It wasn’t a mistake after all.

9 inches of rain in San Antonio last night

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Holy Cow!  It started raining early this morning.  I heard the sound but it took me a long time to figure out what it was.  It rained all night.  When I woke up my swimming pool was overflowing.

I didn’t think a lot of it though.  I was just happy to get a large amount of rain.  My gauge was full at about 5 inches which blew my mind.  It wasn’t until 5:00pm when I watched the news that I saw just how much rain fell.

Nine Inches!   Even the last hurricane didn’t bring us nine inches.  It has been decades.  The video of flooding on the news was amazing.

Nobody expected it.  The weathermen had no idea.  It was kind of a bullseye on San Antonio.  It won’t help the rest of the state much with the drought but San Antonio is set for a few weeks at least.  I hope it fell in the aquifer recharge zone because we were less than two feet from stage three water restrictions meaning you can only water your lawn once every two weeks.  A death sentence for my grass.  The aquifer is already up two feet and should rise quite a bit more over the next few days.  I feel much relieved for now.

I called it last month that I expected this year to be much less sunbaked than the last 10 years.  So far my prediction is coming true.  Let’s hope it continues to trend this way.

YEAAHHH  Rain!

 

Remember the Ice Dammit!

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Damn Damn Damn!   I forgot the Ice AGAIN!  My freezer has an ice maker but for some reason drinks taste better with store-bought ice.  It is made with filtered water and is nice and clear.  It’s just a better experience.

The last few times I’ve gone to the grocery store, I want to get some ice.  I even put it on my grocery list.  While I’m in the checkout line I say to myself, “Ice…Ice…Ice…Ice…Ice”.  The cashier says, “Will there be anything else?”  I say, “No.” and walk out.  I get home and “DOH!”

Today I was in line and I said to myself, “Ice…Ice…Ice…Ice.”  Right away I told the cashier to add a bag of ice.  I paid for my purchase and walked out.  I got home and “DOH!”   Did I stop at the ice machine and pick up a bag?  NO!!!!  SH*T!   F*CK!  H*LL!  I’m not driving back to the store just to get a bag of ice so this time I’m out $1.88.  Good thing it is cheap.

If this was the only thing I constantly forget it wouldn’t be quite so bad.

Last week I rented a movie from Redbox.  I reserved “The Avengers” while I was at work to pick it up on my way home.  As I drove down the street I said to myself, “Movie…Movie…Movie…”.  I got home and, “DOH!!!!”   I got back in the car and drove to get my movie.

I was going to return it on my way home the next day.  I drove home from work with it on my lap.  The red of the case right there in my sight.  I glanced at it occasionally saying to myself, “Return…Return….Return…”.  I got closer to the Redbox and thought about the process of returning it.  I got home and, “DOHHHHHHH!”  Back into the car to return the damn disk.

“Serie.. Remind me to do things when I am supposed to.”

I swear I hate how easily I am distracted.  I wonder how often other people do this.  Do the normal people have this problem?  Do they have enough going on in their heads that they completely forget what they are doing?  I imagine they have wind and tumbleweeds in their heads and can probably easily concentrate on what they are supposed to do.

Maybe I should invest in a ton of post-it notes.

I guess it is the curse of having an exceptional brain.  (Or a screwed up one.  Not sure which if not both at the same time.)

How driving a hybrid can lower your blood pressure and stress levels

tytaprusA few years ago, after bending my BMW, I bought myself a one year old Toyota Prius.  I was really attracted by the 50+ MPG mileage.  As gas prices continue to rise, buying anything that is not a hybrid is just not a wise choice.

There are many other advantages of driving a hybrid car.  A few of which are lowered blood pressure, less road rage and less stress.  How?  It is quite simple.

Reduced Wallet Rage
It is so wonderful to fill up your tank for only $35.00 and drive for 500 miles rather than spending almost a hundred and going only half as far.  It feels very good and you don’t even mind going to the pump only twice a month.

Reduced Road Rage
When you own a hybrid you are already getting great gas mileage but it instills in you the desire for even better gas mileage.  The built-in MPG gauge and charting makes getting great mileage more like a game.  You learn to drive gently.  Accelerate slowly and brake long and evenly.  With a little practice you can learn how to drive in electric mode for a few miles.  It’s like driving for free.  As you slow down you start not minding being passed by people and find yourself without someone RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.   The road is clear in front and you feel like the road is less crowded.

Reduced stress and blood pressure
As you slow down, you don’t feel falsely rushed to get to where you are going.  Traffic congestion around you is reduced and time slows down.  You feel calmer.  You arrive at work having enjoyed the drive rather than being pissed off by ALL THE BASTARDS BLOCKING YOUR WAY!  You may become the slow bastard but if you drive in the right hand lane, people can pass you and everybody is happy.

Driving a hybrid (or electric car) is good for you and your life.  I have absolutely NO regrets about spending the extra money.  It is easily made up by saving at the pump and at the psychologist’s office.  I love winning!

What is the value of human life?

ncvcoinWhile watching the unavoidable news coverage of the incredible tornado damage in Moore, Oklahoma the story often turns to interviews with parents wondering why the schools did not have storm shelters.  The response from officials was that they were very expensive.  The response from parents was, what is the value of the children’s lives?

Well, that made me think.  What is the value of children’s lives?  What is the value of human life in general?  How do we measure such value?  A search on the internet turned up much on the subject but no actual values.  Putting a numerical value on human life could be a rather difficult and maybe debatable subject.  Perhaps such a thing could be done only by a cold, indifferent person.  Fortunately I am such a person so let’s get started…

First, what kind of unit would you use to measure the value of human life?  Most people might say dollars?  I don’t think so.  Money is not a good unit.  Money is not what life is about.  Money is a means for living.  It is used to buy goods and services.  I think it would be more of a measure of contribution to society.  Money can be a means to contribute to society but it is not the main way.  There doesn’t seem to be a set unit of societal contribution so I am going to have to make one up.   I’m not sure it needs a name but let’s give it a scale of  -100 to 100.

Let’s start with a newborn baby.  What value would it have?  Pretty much just sentimental value.  Sentimental value counts for something but not a lot.  This newborn unit might be thought to be a zero right in the middle of the scale but maybe it would be  better categorized as a negative number considering that it is not contributing much to society and is, perhaps, more of a drain.   There is some positive value in “Love” yet there is negative value in the cost to raise.  Hospital bills, Diapers, formula, day care while the parents have to work harder to make enough money to offset these expenses.   Formula for newborn:  Love – drain.  15-10= 5 units.

An older child already in school, say first grade through 12th grade begins to gather value as his knowledge increases.  He is able to help around the house, mow neighbor’s lawns and do other helpful things.   Formula for Grade School Student:  Love + minor contributions + basic knowledge.  20 + 10 + 10 = 40 units.

A High School graduate wold then hopefully get an entry level job and pretty much stay there for the rest of his life.  He would immediately have a number of children which would start out as a drain on society.  Formula for High School Graduate:   Love + Knowledge + Job – Children.   40 + 15 + 20 – 10 = 65 Units

A College Graduate would have much greater knowledge and likely get a job in a specialized industry, Maybe a Doctor, Engineer, Lawyer etc..  He would have maybe one or two children and would ensure that they received a good education.  He would make enough money that he can afford the children so we could say the the value of the children could be zero rather than a negative number.   Formula for High School Graduate:  Love + High Knowledge + Quality Career.  40 + 40 + 20 = 100 Units

As a person reaches old age and begins to receive social security or welfare the numbers start to decrease.

Now on the negative side of the scale, A High school dropout would have limited knowledge and be susceptible to alcohol and drug abuse,  multiple marriages and a large number of children of which they will be unable to afford to raise.  Formula for High School dropout:  Love +  Knowledge – Children – welfare.   5 + 5 – 15 – 20 = -25 Units.

Next might be a drug abuser, homeless, no family, possibly in jail.  A major drain on society.  Formula:  Love + Knowledge – children – welfare/incarceration.  2 + 4 – 5 – 50 = -49 Units

Last might be a mass murderer or terrorist bomber.  Incarcerated for life plus incredible costs in the court system, the formula might be:  Love – court costs – incarceration.  1 – 49 – 50 = -100 Units

So there you have it, the value of life on a scale of -100 to 100.   Considering the range value of a non-graduated grade school student, at elementary level, there’s not a lot of value in building them a storm shelter.  An elementary school student is easily replaced and short of sentimental value, there is little life value at that point.  Don’t drain society further by building unnecessary storm shelters.

These numbers are generalizations for certain categories, everyone will have a different value number.  How about me?  What is my life worth?

I have a partial college education but did not get my BA in Engineering.  I lost interest and went into the world of self taught computer gurus.  I have a good amount of knowledge but fail to really contribute to society.  I support scientists and engineers who do so that is something.  Love in my life is minimal.  I have no children.  My formula:  Love + Knowledge  + Job – Children.  15 + 30 + 20 – 0 = 65 Units.

My score is equal to a High School Graduate.  I have greater knowledge and a better job but fall short in the love category.

So where do you fit in?  Your life is what make of it.  If you want to have the value you think you have then be sure you are a contributing member of society.  Get a good education and a quality job or career where you are making the world a better place and find somebody to love.