Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
I recently viewed a TV special on poverty in the Portland, Oregon Metropolitan region where families were interviewed about their attempts find long term employment so that they could feed and house their families. It was the most depressing film I have ever seen on the subject. I know about poverty first hand because I grew up in a family of eight during a time when my father was in ill health due to working eighteen hour days as a contractor on irrigation projects during the great depression. We did have one advantage the people in the film did not have. We lived on a farm which we took out of the sagebrush as part of the homestead act which no longer exists. Under this act we paid $80 for 80 acres of land. We not only had to clear the land, but over a period of seven years, one had to make improvements such as building a house, improving the land and be able to make a living on the land.
In the film about poverty in Portland, Oregon, the unemployed people do not have the opportunity that we had to grow our own food, build our own house, and live in a place without the constant threat of having to move out and live in shelters or in their cars. This depressing film showed people evicted from their apartments or homes because the jobs they had were no longer available because the economy had gone from bad to worse starting in 2008 or earlier. Over and over, the people being interviewed stated that they had always worked and enjoyed working, but because of the 2000 depression they lived under the constant threat of being on public assistance which the latest US Congress failed to extend before they recessed to go home to their states. The grand bargain that Rep. Paul Ryan(Republican) and Sen. Patty Murray(Democrat) got passed in both the House and Senate voting did not include extending unemployment for these unfortunate people who will have to live out or their cars, or in a public shelter, or try to get food from the volunteer outlets which do not have enough food to go around. These people are not the mythical 47 per cent that Mitt Romney was deriding in his speech to the wealthy. They are people living under the constant threat of starving and living in unsanitary conditions. The primary reason for this problem is that we have allowed our largest corporations to relocate in foreign countries in order to escape having to pay taxes and pay workers a living wage which includes pensions for retirement. In the community where I live, we have a Wallmart Superstore being built, not because we need the store, but because one wealthy land owner got on the city counsel and was able to get approval for this ill advised project. The city violated the open meeting laws by passing this project without the people of this community approving or having an opportunity to vote on it. Wallmart is the face of corporate America which likes to claim that the United States is the wealthiest nation in the World, but that wealth extends only to the millionaires and billionaires, and not the other 99% of the population of the United States.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
If you have been reading the press and watching the news lately, you may have noticed that cities like Detroit and Chicago and states like Oregon have looked to use pensions as a means of balancing budgets. Pensions were set up so that workers of all kinds could invest part of their salaries in a pension which was controlled by law with fiduciary experts who were supposed manage those pensions, with strict guidelines governing the actions of the managers who could be sentenced to prison terms for fraud and other misdeeds. One of the states leading the move to provide pensions for public workers was Wisconsin, until Scott Walker became the Governor, and decided to use those monies to balance the state budget. Scott Walker is a member of ALEC, a secretive organization made up of Corporations, Lawyers, Legislators, millionaires, billionaires, and mostly Republican Senators and Representatives, at both the State and National levels.
Cities like Chicago and Detroit have confiscated pension funds through bankruptcy and other means to build sports arenas. A federal judge ruled that in the instance of bankruptcy, that a city such as Detroit could confiscate pension funds to pay for the misdeeds of organizations such as ALEC, city managers, corporations who set up operations offshore to escape federal regulations and taxes, and use pension monies to pay for the misdeeds of others. In short, it appears that retirees, and union workers have no rights to the money that was set up for their retirement.
Several administrations, starting with President Reagan and including Presidents Bush, President Clinton and President Obama have turned a blind eye to the plight of union workers except when looking for donations for campaign funds. We have Raume Emanuel, the Mayor of Chicago, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and also the former Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools who have denounced Public Schools in favor of Charter Schools where teachers must work ten hour days and are not allowed to join unions. Supposedly the teacher’s unions protected inept teachers from being fired, so the way to fix the problem was to create Charter Schools and work to eliminate unions including teachers’ unions and industrial unions as well. In addition, since our industrial complex has been sent offshore where workers are paid so little that they cannot feed their families, that leaves the few existing unions pension funds to be plundered by persons like Walker and Emanuel in order to build sports complexes in both Chicago and Detroit as well as in other cities.
In order for the Republican Party to gain traction they have lost in recent elections, they have refused to raise the minimum wage, and have allowed corporations to fire workers who try to join unions. One of the most prominent of these is Walmart, which until recently had been a member of ALEC, until it withdrew its membership because it feared more adverse publicity because it sells more guns than any other corporation. The latest Republican fiasco is to eliminate unemployment for workers who have been unemployed for more than a year. This will leave people who have not been able to get jobs in the United States because those jobs have been shipped offshore. Like WallmartMcSrooge, we have RepublicanMcSrooge, a party which has abandoned the Middle Class workers in the United States.
The amount of news the press and all the members of our government have been giving to the website for signing up for health care is amazing considering that we have powerful computer systems and very adept programers, who, when called upon, can do amazing work. For example whenever a new computer system or an update to computer program is needed both Apple Computer and Microsoft can hire the talent needed to get a system running without much problem. I am certain that if Apple and Microsoft had been asked they could have been successful in building an interactive page in which people could sign up for a health care program of their choice. WordPress.org is an example of an organization which brings out updates of the program which enables me to type this post without giving much thought to whether or not my readers will have problems with signing on and reading the post. This version I am using now is Version 3.7 which I downloaded yesterday. It will work on any computer system as far as I know. I use it on three different Apple Power PC models dating from the year 2000 to 2009, and a 2012 Mac Mini which uses an Intel Processor.
The expectation that Kathleen Sebelius, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services, should be fired because the website for signing up for Health Care is not working properly is stupid and demeaning. I have worked with computers for years, but when I set up this website I had difficulties for about two years. Most of the problem
was my own inexperience with websites. I called Bluehost techincal staff numerous
times for help. I simply did not follow directions because I either forgot or I did not know they were important. My primary problem was not disabling the plugins which allow this blog to function as I want it to function so it would crash and I would have to go looking for my posts on the internet. I would then have to reformat each post so that it would be visible to my readers. I am finding that I still have many things to learn, but at present I take one task at a time and work on it until things work as I expect them to work. I talked recently with a friend of mine, who is a very bright person, who told me that he had never become computer literate. He spent is career teaching and coaching as a High School teacher, but I would not condemn him because he never became computer literate. So let us give Kathleen Sebelius a break, because I am certain the the bugs in the program to sigh up for Health Care will be successful very soon.
If you are unable to sign up for The Affordable Care Act, you can always visit your local Social Security Office and ask for help. Also, you can go to a state exchange, it does not have to be your state, and sign in on that exchange. California has very good exchange and has signed up millions of people. So, if you are currently without health insurance so there is no need to panic. I learned this information by listening to a TV program and not from the House of Representative or Senate critics.
The answer of the day for education is to abolish labor unions which support teachers in the public schools so that teaching as an occupation can support not only a family but support a retired teacher as well. At present our governor in Oregon–Gov. Kitzhaber–is doing his very best to make teaching an occupation of last resort. He wants to use pension funds to fund the general budget even though during the last two years the retirement fund has returned about 1.5 and 2.8 billion dollars to the state of Oregon. He is calling the legislature back into a special session in order to cut the income of current retirees and future retirees even more than he did in the regular legislative session. Gov. Kitzhaber is supposedly a democrat, but he operates more like the infamous Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin who was struck by a similar bolt of lightning in going after pension funds of all labor unions. One wonders if he has been paid off by one of ALEC’s billionaires such as the infamous Koch brothers. Some of our state representatives and state senators from the Republican party have been. If you want to check for yourself, all you have to do is look up ALEC for your own state. I have done this for the State of Oregon and found that most of the senators and representatives who are members of ALEC are republicans. In the State of Oregon we have many democratic senators and legislators who are democratic in name only because for the most part they fly under the political radar. Gov. Kitzhaber, in his non-governor role, is a medical doctor but he loves politics much more than doctoring. He will also draw a pension when he retires for his 12 years as Governor of the State of Oregon. He may run for another term and very likely has spent time in the Legislature as well.
All public employees for state and local governments are members of the Public Employees Retirement System. This includes water districts, fire districts, state and local police, firemen, judges, college and university employees and many more. The largest sector used to be public school employees but at present there are no teachers on the PERS board. One of the biggest benefactors was the Coach and Athletic Director of the University of Oregon. When no one was paying attention, his salary included much more than was in his contract as coach and athletic director. He left the state with an income of about $45,000 a month or $540,000 per year. He has been gone from Oregon for several years and now works for some sports organization drawing an additional salary. His monthly salary is about equal to my yearly salary retirement salary, and under current law his salary is taxable in the state where he now resides and he gets an annual increase from the PERS in Oregon.
One of the paradoxes of this whole problem with pensions is that many of the recipients never bargain for their retirement benefits. Principals, Superintendents, and other like members of the management are on the other side of salary negotiations during bargaining. But as soon as the bargaining is completed the administrators get a nice increase in their salaries based upon the teachers’ salaries. At the State Universities level, there is no collective bargaining. If one is even suspected of trying to bargain, if that person does not have tenure, their contract will not be renewed. I spent three years as an administrator and got a double increase each year until I got at the top of the salary schedule. Judges, clerks, and many others who get PERS benefits never bargain for their salaries. College and University professors are supposedly paid on their ability to write, publish, get grants for research, and sometimes teach, but the whole system defies all logic. A professor may simultaneously teach, write, research, and administer, so many have no incentive to involve themselves in collective bargaining.
A final note on my view of the teaching profession is I really enjoyed teaching and had success in that role. I never liked administrative work because I sat for hours listening to administrators spout total nonsense. I thought many times of the outfielder for the Yankees who got so bored he would stand on his head, interacting with the fans in the stands, but I took the easy way out and did something I enjoyed and went back to teaching. Our politicians need to be contacted and told forcefully to quit trying to balance their bloated budgets on the backs of members of PERS, and do something meaningful such as working for a living. Teachers and other employees who work for a living are the messengers of our civilization, so stop Blaming the Messengers and robbing them of their retirement incomes.
New innovations are usually stimulated by a problem that is important to an industry. The development of the computer came about during the nineteenth century as the result of the need for accurate star charts and maps as England developed into a world power. It was relatively easy for a ship to navigate from north to south because north of the equator the North Star provide a reference point. South of the equator the ships could navigate using the Southern Cross. The early Vikings stayed relatively close to shore so they were able to explore much of the known world including China where Viking artifacts have been found. The Vikings also explored the coastline of North America and possibly South America. When ships started to explore by sailing east to west they could easily get lost because the star and planetary charts were not dependable. Great Britain responded by creating a governmental entity called the Board of Longitude in 1714 which existed until 1828. A loss of several ships a few years before 1714 was the primary reason for the creation of a Board of Longitude.
About 1819, three elite graduates of the University of Cambridge were hired to work on charts and maps which required tedious calculations by hand. John Hershel, George Peabody, and Charles Babbage were hired to do this work but found it so tedious that they hired a mathematical savant whose primary talent was to do mathematical calculations in his head. Babbage was so vexed by the monotony of the work that he exclaimed, “It is too bad we do not have a machine to do the calculations for us.” He started on a lifelong quest to develop a mechanical computer to do such calculations.
He was advised by his friends to write up the idea and let others work out the details.
He was determined to proceed on his own and set up a workshop where he hired skilled machinists to develop a mechanical computer. His first machine was Difference No.1, followed by Difference No.2, which to my knowledge was never actually built, and finally the Analytical Engine which was completed by his son after Babbage died.
The following are some of the outcomes of Babbage’s efforts to build a mechanical computer:
1. Machine tools with fine tolerances because if multiplications and additions were to be done by mechanical means the gears had to be machined to fine tolerances.
2. Mechanical drawings which previously did not exist were developed and are still used in all kinds of industries. Mechanical drawings are now done on computers using sophisticated programs.
3. Punch cards to carry out mechanical calculations with a high degree of accuracy. Metal punch cards were already in use by the weaving industry which Babbage found when he toured England and Europe to learn the latest techniques in manufacturing. A company now known as IBM used punch cards for the 1890 census in the United States.
4. Babbage hired very skilled workman to carry out his work. One was named Enfield who became wealthy because he introduced spiral grooves in rifles and other munitions. The Enfield rifle was famed for its accuracy because it spun the bullet while in the barrel of the gun and greatly increased its accuracy. I recently learned that the Enfield rifle was used by the Confederate Army during the seige of Vicksburg. When the Southern soldiers surrendered to Grant’s Army they stacked their rifles as they left Vicksburg. Among those rifles were the newest Enfield rifles which the Northern Armies had never seen. Grant was happy to use these for the first time because they were breech loaded, more accurate, and safer than tamping black powder and lead bullets down a barrel.
5. Mechanical computers were still used in university labs during World War II.
6. The first semi-electronic computers used old style radio tubes to power the computers, but they were slow, generated great amounts of heat, and needed a great amount space.
7. The addition of a video screen such as I am now using to type this post was used by Xerox in their Palo Alto research Laboratory. Steve Jobs visited this laboratory and incorporated it into his first computer. He also visited the University of California who were using a computer language developed jointly with ATT&T called Unix. He adopted the Unix system which put it at odds with MS-DOS computers used by Microsoft which became the dominant computer system.
8. When Steve Jobs was fired from Apple he started his own computer company called NEXT which Apple purchased when Jobs was rehired as CEO of Apple. The NEXT computer used Unix as its operating system with one difference–it used Intel processors instead of the computer Power PC processors developed by IBM, Motorola, and Apple. When IBM failed to provide Apple with the most advanced computer processors, because it sold most of them to Sony and Microsoft, Jobs stopped using the Power PC processors and purchased Intel’s processors and ported over the Unix operating system to the computers using Intel chips. By doing this innovative switch, he was able to run both Apples’ operating system and MS DOS, the operating system used by Microsoft. A program called Parallels is a software program which allows both Apple software and Microsoft to operate on an Apple computer using Intel processors without rebooting the computer. I now have an Apple MacMini computer which has an Intel processor so I could use both Microsoft and Apple software on the same computer. At present, I still have four Power PC Mac computers which are still very usable, but the software written for these computers is slowly becoming obsolete because the market for them is very small.
9. The process of innovation continued with printers and the internet which allowed paper copies and high speed communication which now spans every country. Internet speeds have increased dramatically from the early telephone to coaxial cable which I use. Typewriters have basically become extinct with the use of the word processor which is part of every computer program. Electronic mail in the form of emails and faxes have replaced the teletypes which were used for many years. Many newspapers and magazines are now available in digital forms so that the print media has given way to reporters who work for blogs such as the Huffington Post. Blogs such as this one allow me to communicate with anyone who cares to subscribe. The social media has allowed groups of people to communicate with one another. I have one in which many of my family members subscribe.
10. The last innovation I read about in the latest Popular Science Magazine describes the use of three dimensional printers which allow the production of human body parts which in the future can be made to order for a particular person since one size does not fit all. This is still in the development stage as far as I know.
11. I recently received a Kindle Paper White so I can now read digital books in low light, no light or bright sunlight. There are applications so that one can also read the books on the computer, but I like reading in bed and my Kindle is small enough, about 6 inches by 4 inches and can be read horizontally or vertically. Some of the novels are 99 cents, others like the Lewis and Clark expedition funded by my relative, President Thomas Jefferson, are more expensive.
12. I was once asked where I got my information for my blog. Most of it is out of my own head, but I also use the internet to look up information on the articles I write. For this post I referred back to the dissertation I wrote for my Ph.D. My dissertation was entitled Charles Babbage, Philosopher, Reformer, Inventor: A History of His Contributions to Science, by Walter Lyle Bell(1975). This took me about 4 years to complete because I had to get some of my materials from the British Museum. I had to wait almost 9 months to receive materials from Great Britain because the postal workers went on strike for the first time in British history. I also had to use interlibrary loans through the library at Oregon State University, which also took extra time. My Major Professor went to Denmark on a leave of absence while I was writing the first, second or third drafts, so that took extra time. Also, the dissertation is 393 pages so the length alone was time consuming.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
Chrysler is now a private corporation whose directors thought they were immune from lawsuits caused by faulty parts for cars manufactured when the company was a public corporation. The directors of the new private company must have forgotten that they received money from the United States government to bail them out of bankruptcy. Their refusal to fix the gasoline tanks was a stupid decision because in assuming the Jeep brand, which has been the most successful in producing income for the previous public corporation and the current private corporation, it shot itself in the foot. Can you imagine the pain and suffering caused by the victims who survived a rear end collision and caused the gasoline to fill the entire passenger compartment which then ignited and either burned its victims alive or permanently scared the surviving passengers for life?
Any automobile which has a gasoline tank without a firewall between the gasoline tank and the passenger compartment can drench its passengers in a severe rear end collision. The answer to this problem is a fuel cell which is lined with a neoprene rubber lining which will not rupture under severe collisions. No race car is allowed on the track without an approved fuel cell. In looking at costs, a 22 gallon fuel cell costs about $850.00, from a company named:
RACER PARTS WHOLESALE
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Monday through Friday, 8:00- 5:00 EST
All the major car manufacturers, including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and foreign manufacturers support the race car circuits and know about the safety requirements for race cars. So if you own a car without a closed off trunk such as a Jeep, I would put pressure on the car companies of the cars you own to prove that you have a safe gasoline tank in your car. Remember, we now have a Federal Consumer Safety Agency, thanks to the efforts of President Barack Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren from the State of Massachusetts, who would have been appointed to head this agency except for the opposition of the Republican Party. She ran against Senator Scott Brown and won in the election when he chose to question her Cherokee Indian Heritage because she could not prove it on paper but had known it from the oral tradition handed down through her family. I have the same problem because the family tradition is that my grandmother was part Cherokee Indian. I have spent much time looking through the rolls of the Cherokee, Choctaw and other Indian rolls without success.
If you use the web browser, OmniWeb, you can find the names, address, and telephone numbers of all the Federal Agencies. Call or write to them and inquire about the safety standards for your model of automobile. Remember your safety and those of your family and friends are at stake. The life you save could be your own as well as people you do not even know–this is known as “paying forward.”
An addictive personality can take many forms other than addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, and sexual addition. We have all met people who obsess over each object having a proper place, so that when entering a room they will get upset if something is out of place. I notice this addiction because I have trouble keeping track of my own possessions which are not lost but seem to be where I left them. I tend to have a horizontal method of filing so that papers get scattered across my desk or work area. I have files, but I do not always put them in the proper place. Another form of addiction are list makers, who can drive those around them crazy if the day does not proceed according to their list. I know of one person who has a mental list that has to be followed or he gets very upset and constantly has to tell those around him about his list.
I saw an old movie recently about two people who got married where the man was already an alcoholic. He offered her a drink which she refused. When he persisted she told him that she had no interest in drinking, but she always had a supply of chocolates. He ordered her a drink flavored with chocolate and got her started on alcohol, so that she replaced a relatively harmless addiction with one which ruined her life. It is the latter kind of addition that I will explore in this article because additions which ruin the life on an individual and which make those around them miserable are ones that need to be treated by skilled counselor.
Power is another kind of addiction which causes those in charge of a company to try to dominate those around them. Politicians are often addicted to power and can be easily purchased by billionaires who use them for favors which furthers their own quest for power. In my professional life in education, I met many of these people. We had one member of our staff who would throw up prior to coming to a staff meeting as he plotted how to manipulate the other members of the staff. If you caught him in a lie, he would reply that he was not the same person as he was when he lied, because each day he became a new person. He chose one acolyte who was willing to sell his own soul with the promise to get a promotion from an Assistant Professor to a full Professor by doing as he was told. He went from an Assistant Professor to a full Professor in two short years without doing anything but following orders. The senior Professor was eventually fired by the President of the College for sending demeaning letters to the President. His acolyte eventually became Dean of the School of Education as the College became a State University. The acolyte traded his soul in his quest for power.
Prestige is another form of addiction. Since I lived in a University town, we had many wives who sought prestige through their husband’s career. We had one wife of a medical doctor who complained about the members of the University who were addressed as Doctor, but who had earned a Ph.D. rather than an M.D. What the woman did not realize was the the first degrees were Doctors of Divinity. D.D. Next came the Doctors of Philosophy or Ph.D. which was more of an all inclusive form of recognition and includes a wide range of disciplines such as physics, mathematics, philosophy, etc. Later, we had Doctors of Education, or E.D., and lastly Doctors of Medicine or M.D. which also cover a wide range of specialties which stemmed from the first surgeons who were originally barbers. Doctors of Veterinarian Medicine are the most difficult of all doctoral medical degrees to obtain, because the number of degrees granted per year is limited to the top candidates because the demand is limited and the pay is not on par with other medical specialties.
Money is not evil, but people who have and excess of money will usually associate only with those who have money. Occasionally those who have lived all their lives as wealthy individuals will use their money to help others, but because the pursuit of money can become an addition, it can also become a source of snobbery, isolation, and lack of tolerance for those who are not wealthy. There are exceptions where those who are wealthy will form a foundation to use their excess money to help those who are poor, disabled, and those who lack the means to get an education.
Lastly, the kinds of addiction are limitless. One last addiction that is shown on television are the addiction to hoarding all kinds of objects. Some of the hoarders will completely fill their living space with all kinds of objects, both new and old, and have to hire people to come in and get rid of the excess objects so that they can have access to an orderly living space. There are also people with multiple additions to wealth, drugs, power, prestige, food, and to toys such as cars, boats, homes, etc. Many people with addictive personalities never seek help for their addictions to the extent that they make those around them unhappy and unloved.
Recent comments by Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, and other reporters at CNN have criticized the new rail installed in New Hampshire because the service was not high speed rail as found in Europe. This group of reporters did not do their job in finding out the limitations of high speed rail service over existing rail lines. For example, several years ago I was parked next to a man who was an engineer on a train for Union Pacific. He was telling me about the limitations of passenger train travel over existing rail lines and why passenger train speeds were limited over the lines. He told me that the rail lines were no longer short links of rail but were a mile and a half of a continuous rail. This was done to take out the clicks and clacks sound made by the trains rolling over short pieces of rail. The rails worked very well for freight trains but not for passenger trains. Freight trains travel at relatively low speeds compared to passenger trains. Passenger trains tend to derail at speeds above 50 to 60 miles per hour particularly during hot summer months because the rails expand and the passenger trains which are much lighter derail at high speeds.
High speed trains in France have their own dedicated rail lines which are enclosed by high secure fences so that no animal or person can get onto the rail line and cause the train to derail and cause an accident. So if we are to have High Speed train travel in the United States, we would have to build dedicated rail lines to be used only for Passenger trains. This might seem like a unneeded expense, but when one considers the expense and congestion at airports, I would opt for the comfort of high speed rail over air travel. I have read about the use of special airlock terminals where one could board a train and exit a train without it stopping. This sounds much like the old movies on Star Trek, but I am can imagine some very intelligent engineer designing such a system.
It continues to irritate me that the Republican Party is intent on not spending any money on our decrepit infrastructure for outdated bridges, freeways, schools, railroads, and so forth. The latest ploy to vote down the talking filibuster is and example of the lack of rational leadership by Republicans in the Senate. In any business one has to spend money in order to build and business and earn money. Investing in rebuilding our infrastructure would put millions of unemployed people to work and would be paid for by increased public benefits.
The United States has long been a leader in new technologies, but recently other countries such as Germany have taken the lead in developing hydrogen as its primary source of fuel. In order to transport that fuel, it is building a special pipeline for nationwide distribution of hydrogen with refueling stations for its cars and trucks. Because hydrogen is the smallest molecule, it can penetrate the walls of steel pipelines and leak the hydrogen through the walls. High grade stainless steel with a special coating on the inside of the pipeline is necessary to prevent such leakage. The cost of building such pipelines is expensive, but the benefits of completely of burning hydrogen without polluting the atmosphere is worth the added expense. A simple means of producing hydrogen is through hydrolysis by passing an electric current through water with a positive and negative electrodes which produces hydrogen and oxygen. In reading the literature on the production of hydrogen by this method uses more energy than it produces. However, there are some ways to use wind energy, energy from the ocean and energy from hydroelectric dams to mitigate some of the costs. For example, during the night time periods more electricity is produced than is used at hydroelectric dams. The same is true with windmill farms and certainly the energy produced by wave action is wasted when unused. Presently it is possible to store electrical energy as mechanical energy in off peak hours. Fiber flywheels which rotate up to 60,000 rpm can store the electrical energy as mechanical energy during the nighttime and can then be used to produce electrical energy as needed. The flywheels rotate in an evacuated chamber with magnetic bearings so that their expected lifetime with minimal maintenance is greatly reduced. The flywheels are slowly being produced and used for many other applications such as storing energy used in braking on diesel locomotives and greatly decreasing the amount of energy used by the locomotives. Fiber flywheels are also used in race cars and can also be used in ordinary cars to store energy for use when needed.
Training and education are also needed to help the United States to become a world leader in the use and production of new technologies. In the October 2012 issue of Scientific American is an article on the complementary nature of corporations, technical schools and universities used by Germany to produce outstanding workers who are the highest paid employees in the world. This defies the logic of the US corporations who set up factories in other countries in order to produce products which cost very little because the workers are paid sweat shop wages and forced to work long hours without health care benefits or retirement benefits. Our US corporations and billionaires do everything to denigrate labor unions which were once responsible for great worker benefits and longevity of the workforce in our US based industries.
There is now a move toward INSOURCING, where our companies are returned to the United States. There are several reasons for this reversal, such as increases in the wages paid to foreign workers, quality control of parts and design, costs of shipping the materials to a foreign country and then shipping the finished products back to the U.S., language barriers, and many other problems in manufacturing at a distance. Boeing is a prime example of a company that finally had to bring all of the manufacturing back to Seattle, Washington when they were building the newest passenger jet, the Dreamliner. This jet is built of carbon fibers which are much stronger that steel or aluminum. It was necessary to build a special loom for weaving the fabric into the desired shape because of the extremely small diameter of the carbon fiber strands. Before the manufacture of the Dreamliner was moved back to Seattle, Boeing was plagued by cost overruns due to shoddy parts manufactured in many parts of the world. The American workers are well trained and very capable of overcoming design problems. I used to work as a consultant to a German engineer who worked on the German Rocket program in World War II. He was impressed with the ability of American workers to repair their own cars, homes, and almost anything that either needed repair or a new design for a product. In Germany in the 1980’s one had to hire a professional to do any kind or repair. Because our high schools no longer have shop classes, we have lost part of that level of skill. If a person wants to work as a skilled worker in a specialized trade, it is necessary to pay either to attend a Community College or a specialized school to repair automobiles, dishwashers, and all other kinds of equipment. These schools cost far more than the shop classes in our High Schools. For further insight into the high level skills now required in Germany for their industries, read the October 2012 issue of Scientific American. Germany has the highest paid workers in the world due to their educational system, and yet is able to compete with other nations throughout the world in selling their products.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
I decided to add a preface this post after reviewing what I had written. It has to do with the onset of World War II and the incarceration of Japanese American citizens into Concentration Camps. There were those in the War Office who considered them a threat to the war effort against the Axis powers of Japan, Italy, and Germany. Two lifelong friends, one Japanese and one Caucasian, are part of this post because prejudice is not confined to any part of this country or to any particular race or group of immigrants. The Japanese sent to the concentration camps were loyal Americans who were sent without proof that they were disloyal. They came to live and go to school with us because the father of my lifelong Caucasian friend suggested releasing the Japanese to farm. We needed farmers to replace all the young men who went off to fight in World War. Once the Japanese were released from the Camp in Idaho, they came to work as farmers. Farming was new to most of the Japanese so the crops they chose to plant and raise were row crops such as lettuce, potatoes, sugar beets, and onions. Their first task was to take out the fence rows and farm adjacent to the roads. They did not raise any livestock or any crops such as corn, alfalfa, or grain. The children of the Japanese became our classmates and entered into learning with greater effort and diligence than their Caucasian classmates. They entered into the sports programs such as boxing, football, track, and baseball. There was prejudice at first, but as we got to know each other better the prejudice diminished and we became friends. The first Japanese and Caucasian marriage caused an incident by both families. The couple married and divorced because of their families, but they remarried each other after the brief divorce. There were many more intermarriages. The Japanese decided to build a cultural center to commemorate their arrival and development as citizens of Malheur County in Eastern Oregon and also Western Idaho, but decided to dedicate it to all the citizens of the region because they realized we were all immigrants. My lifelong Japanese friend still lives in Eastern Oregon and is married to a Caucasian woman, and my other friend lives in Southern Oregon.
On October 1956, after graduating in June from what is now Eastern Oregon State University, I was drafted by the U.S. Army. I had three school choices, cook’s school, military police, or aircraft maintenance school. I chose the latter and set off for basic training at Camp Carson in Colorado. The elevation at Camp Carson is about 6000 feet, but because I had been building a telephone line from La Grande, Oregon to Baker, Oregon, where the elevation was about 4500 feet, I was not bothered by the difference in elevation. For those who were overweight or in poor physical condition, it was so difficult that some would pass out and have placed in the medical truck which followed us on our marches. After about five to six weeks, those who were out of shape at the beginning of basic training were able to keep up with the rest of the company. My work during the summer had prepared me very well, because I had been finishing up digging the holes for telephone poles using an eight foot metal bar that was pointed on one end and flat on the other end. I also had and eight to ten foot spoon to scoop out the loose rock. I did this work for about twelve weeks or more in temperatures that were often 110 degrees. I always got a severe headache because dynamite contains liquid nitro-glycerine which is placed in diatomaceous earth or sawdust to form a means of holding the liquid. The nitro-glycerine fumes cause the headaches. When I went into the Army, we had to take physical training tests(PT Tests) to determine our degree of fitness, plus we all had to pass a medical exam and take shots of all kinds. So with my fitness at a very high level, I did better at the PT tests at the beginning of basic training than at the end. As soon as I finished basic training, I was sent to Camp Rucker, Alabama, now Fort Rucker, to train as a helicopter mechanic. It was an interesting assignment and an interesting place. I was sent there in December from Camp Carson wearing my winter uniform which was a heavy wool uniform. When I got off the train at Montgomery, Alabama the temperature was in the 80′s and the humidity was very high so we were very uncomfortable. As I looked around the train station, I saw that the water fountains and restrooms had signs “Whites Only” and “Colored Only”. My mother was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas and had told me about the South, but I was puzzled by the signs. It was my first introduction to the South in the late 1950′s. I should have known better because my mother told of traveling from Jonesboro to Memphis, which was about 60 miles, and seeing a black man hanging from a telephone pole. His crime could have been as minor as looking at a white woman ore even worse flirting with her. The other information of interest was that we were told that the blacks had refused to give up their seats to whites on the buses and were boycotting the bus company, so that the busses were not running at a full schedule. There had also been a black Minister, who had been traveling around the South, demanding the same Civil Rights enjoyed by the white citizens. I had never heard of this Minister who turned out to be the Reverend Martin Luther King, or the woman, Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat to a white man. Rosa Parks had been arrested sometime either in late 1955 or in 1956 for this crime. She had also been arrested about ten years prior to the latest event, when she refused to pay her toll and then get off the bus. walk to the back of the bus and enter the bus through the back door so the white passengers did not have to look at the blacks as they went down the aisle. This earlier crime had taken place on the same bus with the same driver before the one in 1955 or 1956. The Army had sent us to Montgomery, but had not provided us with transportation or with money to travel to Camp Rucker, so we had to stay overnight in the YMCA for a night which cost us 50 cents plus a little more for food. Some of my companions went out looking for women and reported back that the women they had met were very light skinned but the palms of their hands were even lighter. They thought they might be mulattos, a term seldom used anymore, to label a person of mixed race primarily black and white. After spending the night in Montgomery and contacting the Army in Fort Rucker, we took the bus to Fort Rucker. As usual, I walked to the back of the bus and got peculiar glances by the blacks sitting in the last ten rows of seats. I sat down next to a young black boy and talked to him as we rode along. I later learned that the State of Alabama could have arrested me for riding in the back of the bus. I liked riding in the back of the bus because it was usually empty or not crowded. In my case, ignorance was bliss because I was neither arrested nor did I have any problem because I rode in the back of the bus.
In the rest of my service, I had little contact with blacks except for a Warrant Officer who was one of the 34 helicopter pilots in our company. The only segregation I observed was that we started to get NCO’s in our company from the Infantry because the military was going through a downsizing and had to put the senior NCO’s somewhere. These NCO’s did not want anything to do with the Specialist class of soldiers who had been through helicopter maintenance school and tried to impose spit and polish techniques on the rest of us. One thing they tried was to insist that both pairs of boots had to be polished to a high shine, but once any hydraulic fluid was spilled on the boots, they would no longer shine. With the help of the First Sergeant and the Commanding Officer, this life threatening problem was solved by leaving one pair of boots polished for inspection. These same infantry sergeants did not want to share the mess hall with such low-lives, which the specialist class of soldiers represented. We also had army officers who had been victims of reduction in force, but they had a choice of retiring with less than twenty years of service or staying in the service as a Master Sergeant to finish their years toward retirement. The moral of this story is that different branches of the US Army operate without the need for strict rules of hierarchy because the pilots need to trust and respect the enlisted personnel who take care of the aircraft they are flying. Before the infantry sergeants, we did not have this class distinction in our company. I guess another moral of this story is that rigid class distinctions can arise anywhere at anytime.
It was in 1991 before I returned to the South where I lived for three years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. The State of Mississippi had changed greatly due to the Civil Rights movement. The black kids and white kids who were poor attended public schools, while the affluent black kids and affluent white kids attended the once all white academies which were set up by the whites as the result of the desegregation. This meant that the Southern States spent more on education than the Northern States on a per capita basis, a statistic seldom discussed in Educational Circles. The other result of the resegregation of schools on the basis of affluence and not race, is that it robs the public schools of the leadership qualities which the affluent kids enjoy because of their enriched life experiences. The Northern States have a similar segregation due to affluent parents sending their kids to private schools, such as charter schools and other private schools that were set up before the United States were formed as a Union. Now the Public Schools are under assault by the large companies which make up ALEC, because they do not want to support public education through taxation. We are entering a new era of segregation with the super wealthy citizens refusing to pay their fair share of taxes in order to provide financial support for public services. In politics, we see new voting laws which try to keep underprivileged citizens from voting. These wealthy corporations and citizens have no sense of patriotism. Segregation as once practiced in the South now finds new areas in which to flourish, from the avoidance of taxes to prejudice against less affluent citizens in the Hispanic, Muslim, Black and White communities. We have states such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania trying to void municipal laws, elected officials, labor unions. and so forth.
In contrast while living in Mississippi, we had Black police officers, mixed church congregations, mixed schools and many other examples communities working together for the good of their communities. In contrast, on the eve of Inauguration of President Obama we had Rep.Eric Kantor, Rep. Paul Ryan, the Ex-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, probably Minority Leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House John Boehner, and many others attending a secret meeting and agreeing to do everything in their power to thwart the Obama Presidency because he was of both Black and White heritage. We had Senator McConnell of Kentucky declaring that he would do everything possible to ensure that Obama would not be elected for a second term.
To summarize this post, I have a favorable view of Southern Politics and my Southern Relatives. I grew up in Oregon, but my mother taught me the Southern tradition of manners, and my Southern Wife from Mississippi has continued the lessons, although she is sometimes in despair over my progress. Southeners are not perfect. Neither are the Northeners or Westeners because in many of the Western States such as Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and Idaho, there are some of the most conservative political leaders anywhere in the United States. We have some of the Oklahoma delegates who do not believe in global warming and would not even if that state formed rain forests and jungles. My deceased brother-in-law had many black friends in Mississippi, including a Deputy Sheriff who met in each others homes. He once asked me what I would think of his asking his friend. Deputy Sheriff Bubba, over for drinks. I replied that if he were my friend I would not care what others would think if I invited him over for drinks. I am certain he and Bubba had shared many drinks in each others homes, but he wanted my approval. In true Southern tradition white and black women would often assist each other during child birth or if there was an illness in each others family. During the early 1920″s, my father bid on a construction project while he and my mother were living in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was criticized for hiring black carpenters to help him on the project. He told the white relatives and friends that he did not care what color their skin was as long as they could do the job. I cannot state my true disdain for any political leaders who would meet in private and pledge to oppose the first White and Black President of the United States in everything he proposed. I promised myself not to use profanity in my posts.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
We have heard many speeches on rebuilding our infrastructure, but so far very little money has been appropriated to start such projects. If we go back to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we had President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was very wealthy, but also had great compassion for those who were poor and out of work. He fought a long fight to convince the Republican Party to work with him to rebuild old infrastructure, and to build new projects which would provide for the long term prosperity of not only the wealthy, but to build a prosperous middle class which would have a public safety net for health and retirement. He did not succeed in all of his attempts, but he did establish social security and provided funds to build hydroelectric dams which provided for electricity and water for irrigation. He expanded his efforts to large and small metropolitan areas in order to provide money to rebuild their infrastructure and to provide jobs. These efforts were very important because unemployment was approximately 25% nationwide, and included mostly men, since the number of women working outside the home was small compared to the present time. Also, the percentage of people engaged in agriculture during the 1930’s was well over 30%, and has gradually declined to under 3% in 2012.
As a young man, he was crippled by polio and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but he was always careful to be photographed standing up in a special set of braces that allowed him to walk a few steps to a podium. He would not allow himself to be photographed in a wheelchair because he did not want pity or to be described as weak because of his illness. He brought the country back to prosperity from 1934 to 1937 only to have a second deep depression which was worst than the first. He did not despair but continued to develop new agencies such as the WPA, PWA, and the CCC’s. He put millions of unemployed workers to doing jobs which would develop the infrastructure across the nation. Many of these projects included hydroelectric dams which still provide electricity and water for irrigation, and included the Tennessee Valley Authority(TVA) and the Bonneville Power Administration(BPA) which eventually spanned the length of the Columbia River, as well as the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. All three of these great projects are still working today to bringing power and irrigation to large areas of this nation. He was fought at every turn by the Republicans, but he continued his work until his death just before the end of World War II, when his Vice President Harry S. Truman became President. He was elected as President four times and guided this nation through the great depression and through much of World War II. He also set up the CIA with the help of the British before World War II, so that he could use their services in espionage projects overseas, since the FBI operation is confined to the US. The automotive factories and other manufacturing facilities were converted to building all kinds of war machines from the Jeep, to trucks, to tanks, to landing crafts, to ships and to airplanes. Our industries provided the Allied nations including Russia and Great Britain with war machines and materiel to fight World War II. After the war, the Marshal Plan was put in place to rebuild the infrastructure over much of Europe and Asia. President Roosevelt used radio broadcasts throughout his Presidency to communicate with the nation. He had a great speaking voice, much like President Obama, and could convince people to support his policies in both peace and war. I grew up listening to his broadcasts, because my father always listened to the news on the radio when he came home from work. TV was first broadcast in New York in the late 1930’s, but did not expand around the nation until the 1950’s. Once the war was over, President Truman carried on President Roosevelt’s policies, and the equally progressive Republican President, President Dwight Eisenhower provided the funds to build the national highway interstate system so that we now have the United States connected by high speed freeways. The G.I.bill provided funds for the retraining of returning World War II veterans in colleges and trade schools. During the Korean War and the Vietnam War the G.I. bill was also provided for veterans. I used my G.I. bill to attend graduate school to earn a Ph.D. at Oregon State University. I was glad to see the G.I. Bill reinstated for the veterans of the Gulf War, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. These were the most cost effective programs ever instituted because they provided well educated individuals to work in building the infrastructure of the the U.S., and because they included both skilled workers and college graduates.
President Obama’s efforts to rebuild the infrastructure has been met with much the same opposition by the Republican Part that President Roosevelt experienced in the 1930’s, except the present Republican Party vow was to oppose his efforts in order make certain that President Obama was a one term President. In the meantime our infrastructure is between 60 and 80 years old. Our buildings such as schools are old and decrepit, our cities are showing signs of age and disrepair, our highways and bridges are unsafe and old, particularly in areas where salt is used to melt snow in the winter, our rail system needs to be updated to include high speed rail which is found in Europe, China and Japan. I would like to see high speed rail on the West Coast from the City of Tijuana , Mexico to Vancouver, B.C. Further, we need a high speed rail from Chicago to Seattle, and one from New Orleans to Los Angeles. I do not know enough about the needs of the East Coast to comment intelligently. I do know, that a high speed rail system would take the pressure off the airplane travel and offer an alternative to air travel which has become congested and increasingly expensive. Lastly I would like to see a Western White House built in one of the Western States possibly Nevada. We westerners get the impression that politics on the West Coast do not matter, but we do have a growing and influential population.
Since the Republican hopeful for POTUS needs only one day to completely change the direction and function of the United States of America, I suggest limiting Willard Romney to a one day Presidency. After all, he constantly talks about firing people, doing away with Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Department of Education, Commerce, all Wall Street reforms, taxation for the Wealthy, etc. I suggest that he also do away with the Supreme Court since it has become so inept and biased toward the Citizens United Billionaires that it no longer functions as the third branch of government. He could also revoke the citizenship of all the 1% millionaires and billionaires and send them to the Cayman Islands and other off shore tax avoidance havens. He could export Jaime Dimon(James Dimon). James “Jamie” Dimon is an American business executive. He is the current chairman, president, and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, one of the Big Four banks of the United States. Under his expert leadership JPMorgan Chase lost at least 2 Billion dollars gambling with derivatives. He reportedly lost 3 Billion dollars or more, but who is counting with such exemplary leadership. He could serve as a one day Secretary of the Treasury and continue to Bankrupt the United States as President George W. Bush did with Treasury Secretary Henry(Hank) Paulson(The Sky is Falling Treasury Secretary). Hank Paulson, knowing that our treasury was in default, and knowing that the four of the largest banks in Great Britain were near default bought Puts on three of their largest banks and earned 5 Billion dollars. If Paulson had purchased Puts on the US Banks which were also in default, he would have been guilty of insider trading and could have been sentenced to prison. You buy puts on financial trading as a bet that the price of a commodity or some other financial transaction is going to decline. You buy Calls on a financial transaction if you think it is going to increase in value.
So you see that we need Romney as President for one day only to finish the job of bankrupting this country started by eight years of the failed Presidency of George W. Bush. We would then fire Romney and turn the Presidency back to Barack Obama in order to clean up the destruction and disorder imposed upon this great nation by the Supreme Court, the Bush and Romney Administrations, and rename the Republican Party, the “Citizen United Party for the Destruction of the United States with the aid of Republican Supreme Court Justices of the United States”. That is a very long title for the Republican Party but since we would have our one day President Romney, not only firing himself but the entire Republican Supreme Court Justices and all of the Republican Representatives and Senators, including Rep. Eric Kantor, Rep. Paul Ryan, and especially Sen. Mitch McConnell, who would in his final act as a Senator make Romney a ONE DAY PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, I do not have the time at this moment to come up with a shorter title.
Some song writer could write a stirring melody for this occasion commemorating the One Day POTUS and the former Republican SCOTUS members would be replaced by newly appointed members by the the Second Term President Barack Obama. I have not exhausted my store of ideas, but I need to stop at this point and Cook Breakfast, which given my limited cooking skills includes only making coffee. You see my definition of cooking is applying heat to some food or beverage.
I have had many questions regarding how to set up a WordPress.org blog and how to choose a host, so I thought I would attempt to answer as many questions as I can in a post for all the readers who want to set up their own blog.
First of all, it is important to note that WordPress.com and WordPress.org serve different functions. WordPress.com can be easily set up but does not allow any advertising and self appointed persons can take down one’s site without any explanation. So I abandoned WordPress.com and set out to develop my own blog using WordPress.org. I now have a luxury car rather than a tricycle.
1. For a WordPress.org blog one needs to subscribe to a hosting service. I chose to host with Blue Host because it has online help for the beginner, live help 24/7, and Blue Host will help you set up your first Blog. I used this extensively when I first started blogging. So, if you are serious about starting your WordPress.org blog, I would CLICK HERE TO SIGNUP FOR BLUEHOST.COM
2. WordPress.org frequently updates their versions of of the blogs. The major problem I had with updates was not disabling the plugins, prior to updating to a new version. This caused me much grief and much wasted time. I had to try to find my posts which were scattered all over the internet, and when I found them I had to copy and paste them back to the blog and also edit them because all the posts are written in HTML. If you google HTML you will get a page on Wikipedia which provides you with an explanation of HTML. Web browsers such as Camino, Safari and others translate HTML into Visible and Audio Pages, so that you and I do not have to take the time. I have done a little of HTML coding, but it is not my idea of fun. The reason one cannot take a Word Document and copy and paste it into a Blog post is because the browsers do not work nicely with Word Documents which are not written in HTML, and therefore are not translated properly.
3. WordPress.org uses what are called Plugins which are coded using HTML and perform a variety of tasks. I will list a few of these to give you an idea of what a value they are to bloggers.
a. Akismet Stats separates spam emails from good ones, but for the ones which are accepted you still have to check for pornography which is abundant. One of the worst sites was written in Russian which I missed the first time until I used a translator provided by Camino.
b. Other plugins are Site Stats which keeps track of visitors to your blog, such as the Top 10 Recent Posts, the most commented upon, and so forth.
c. The most important plugin of all is the Autoresponder plugin, which you can pay for monthly, such as AWeber, or buy the GWA Autoresponder, which is a double optin/optout responder. These are mandated by law because one has the right to optout of an email, blog, a news magazine, spam and porn.
4. Finally to make this short if you are interested in blogging I would go to WordPress.org and read through their website, sigh up for their forum and learn how to set up your own blog. I have gotten all kinds of offers from persons to set up a blog or website for me for as much as $5000.00. My response is why should I do such a thing when I have four of my own which are designed primarily for writing articles on topics which interest me. I should note that if one wishes to write articles it will take a long time for people to find you, and you will get all kinds of offers to buy software which will provide you with instant success. I wasted money on these schemes without success, until people started to find me and my readership started to build. My other major blog: http://walter-bell.com/The Education Exchange: is devoted to Education related issues since I taught in the Public Schools for 19 years from 3rd grade through Senior High and taught all subjects in the elementary and mathematics in the junior high and high school. I also served as a Mathematics/Science Curriculum Supervisor for 3 years in a large public school system. I quit this job and spent 13 years in Higher Education teaching and earning a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science. I am hoping to write more on Education, because for any of you who are sending your children through college, one needs to know that not all public schools are not a waste of time, and one does not have to go to a prestigious college to get a good education.
5. One last item of extreme importance is to read your post and read again and again, to check for misspellings, incomplete sentences, and poor grammar. I am embarrassed when I find errors in my posts, but the only way to prevent mistakes is to go over them many times.
I have a little book, The Plain English Handbook, which I used when I was in the 9th grade. It is the best source of of English usage I have come across. Go to my Amazon page and look it up. It will cost you the same whether you buy it from my site or from Amazon, but if you buy it from my site, I get a small commission.
The Party of No! has a new no nothing agenda planned for the citizens of this country. Here is a sample:
1. Repeal the new Health Care Law and give it back to the states. This fantastic idea is now being put forth by Congressmen from Arizona. Since when did the State of Arizona have any new ideas worth considering?
2. Take all private and public pensions and confiscate their assets. I could hardly believe I was hearing this one. Public pensions are under assault because some states have used the money for other projects and are now not able to fund the pensions of those who paid into them over many years. This is another example of the kind of governance we had under the Bush Administration. How is this different from the Bernie Maddoff Ponzi Scheme? The private corporations used this tactic to escape the pension plans set up by labor unions and transferred it back to the Federal Government while they abandoned the US workers and set up shop overseas. What is missing is this whole scheme is that if you take away the buying power of the retired citizens of this country the net effect is to make the US a third world country unable to support itself. The public employees retirement system(PERS) for the state of Oregon is not only solvent, but it returns a surplus of income to the State of Oregon in the amount of about one and one half billion dollars to the treasury after all the bills are paid to its employees an to its retirees.
3. The Republicans have called President Obama the most corrupt President the United States has ever had. When questioned about this they tried to retract the statement, but they have promised to spend the next two years holding hearings and wasting taxpayer money investigating ever law passed in the last two years. So the Party of No now becomes the Party of Useless Hearings wasting the taxpayers money and collecting fees from corporations who pay them to do their bidding. The TEA PARTY EXPRESS is basically being ignored while the Republican Party brings this country closer to bankruptcy.
4. Finally, I would call upon my fellow citizens to demand an accounting of everything our politicians do that does not rebuild the factories and infrastructure of this nation, that taxes corporations importing goods and materials from other countries and that does not actively reward the middle class for its labors. If we do not do so, we will have lost all that we have worked for to build this nation.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
The current cast of Presidential hopefuls constantly complain about the “Gotcha questions” posed to them by the reporters who are chosen to conduct the debates. The problem is their complete lack of knowledge regarding the Constitution, the branches of government, and the specific functions of each branch. They were not taught in school that whining to their teachers and parents will not work especially if they have not read their textbooks on the subject assigned to them. I used to tell my students that the only excuse for lack of effort was to be hit by a beer truck on the way to school.
Here is a partial solution to overcoming the complete ignorance for a person running for a political office. Every candidate running for political office would be required to attend a class and pass that class before being allowed to place their name on a ballot in any state whether running for a local, state, or national office. Passing such a course with or without local help or attendance for formal instruction would be required. Party affiliation would not matter since governing in our form of government should be color blind, blind to religious affiliation and blind to political affiliation. Supreme court justices for both state and local offices would not be exempt because we need to have well educated political official officers at all levels. As an example, our local city council has ignored our state’s open meeting laws whereby it is required that the public attendees be allowed to ask questions during regular scheduled public meetings.
We have not been well served by this self centered group.
The present Supreme Court of the United States also has not served our nation well by allowing rich benefactors to buy their influence through the passage of the Citizens United ruling which essentially allows money to set aside
political ethics and endorse corruption as a way of life in our great nation.
You would think that the Republican Party would adopt a new strategy in their attempt to govern this nation when their party is in power. Whenever we had a person who had conservative views, but at the same time had the concept that fair play which involved listening to the Democratic Party I split my vote. Unfortunately, the current Republican Party does not have any sense of fair play when it gets into power. At present most of the Republicans in House of Representatives and the Senate are so anxious to get into power they seem to have no scruples except to sell their souls to those who have extreme wealth. The rise of Alec and the Supreme Court’s making Citizen United a person has enabled the wealthiest people in this nation to buy Senators and Representatives who will do anything just to get elected and then continue to bow to their wealthy benefactors’ wishes. This is not the way to continue for our nation to be referred to as a Democracy.
So, what can we do to restore Democratic principles to this nation? One thing we can do is make it easy for all of our citizens to vote. Our replacement Governor Kate Brown is a woman with great insite. She replaced Governor Kitzhaber who was removed from office shortly after being elected to his fourth term for violations committed by the First Lady of the State of Oregon. When she first took office this year, she made anyone who had a license to drive eligible to vote in any state election. Not only is this a new provision, but our ballots had been mailed to our homes for many years now, so if you cannot drive you are still eligible to vote. She recently worked with the legislature to make Community College tuition free to all interested persons. This is now being discussed in other states, but Oregon has always been a state that does not wait to do its best for its citizens. California was one of the first states to have this provision, but it was discontinued by Governor Ronald Reagan in the 1960’s. Some of our wealthiest corporations are now interested in tuition free Community Colleges because they need workers with upgraded skills. Our high schools have largely dropped shop classes and other such classes that train students in skills that could get them a job after graduating from high school.
Governor Brown is one of the few female Governors of a state at present. She also has a law degree from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has the ability to work well with the Legislature regardless of political affiliation and is the kind of person we need in our State which needs strong leadership and can work with both Democrats and Republicans, and best of all she is not for sale to those whose wealth exceeds their loyalty to this nation.
Walter L. Bell Ph.D.
While listening to the news of a passenger train derailment, I remembered a conversation with an engineer for one of the major railroads in which we discussed why passenger trains had difficulty on tracks built for freight trains. This conversation occurred about fifteen years ago, but what surprised me were the changes that had been made in the length of sections of the rails. He told me that the length of the rails much longer than they had been in the years when both kinds of trains were common until after World War II, and when the railroads owned both passenger and freight trains. The freight trains traveled as did passenger trains on short sections of rails in order to accommodate the higher speeds of the passenger trains.
Once passenger trains were phased out in the 1960’s, the railroads slowly lengthened the sections of rail because the freight trains carried much greater loads at much slower speeds. Also, as the temperature changed from cold to warm from winter to summer, the longer sections of rails expanded greatly because there were less spaces in the longer sections of rails for expansion. This did not affect the freight trains because of their slower speeds and greater weight. The passenger trains tended to derail due to this expansion because they were lighter and traveled at much higher speeds. The passenger trains tended to derail during the warmer months when the expansion of the rails were the greatest.
We were parked by each other in our RV’s so we had time to discuss this problem in detail, plus there had been some passenger trains that had derailed along one of the railroads in a Southern State. I wondered at the time if Amtrak was aware of the problem, because the only passenger trains were operated by Amtrak. Also, the engineer told me that with the longer rails there were no longer the click and clack sound of the train rails while traveling over the shorter rails. Since I last rode on a passenger train once in 1958 and on an Amtrak train in 1987, I liked the sound over the short rails especially at night because the sound tended to lull me to sleep. I doubt that very many passengers on the trains east of the Mississippi know about the changes in the rails that affect the safety of its passengers. Since Amtrak discontinued its rail service from Portland to Salt Lake years ago, the length of the rails is no longer a concern for this rail system. At present, one has to travel to San Francisco and then take the train east over the mountain pass through Nevada to reach Salt Lake, so the Amtrak system in the Western States is greatly compromised thanks to our Congress which will spend money on anything except infrastructure.
I would like to have two dedicated high speed rail systems built from the Mississippi River to the West Coast. One rail system would end in Portland, Oregon and the other in San Francisco or Los Angeles. We could then build the third dedicated high speed rail system from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. This would provide the vast Western States with an alternative means of transportation. The definition of a dedicated rail system means that the railroad is enclosed with an Australian fence which will keep out large animals and people, since these trains travel at very high speeds.
Walter L. Bell Ph.D.
Since John Boehner has not been able to accomplish anything in his role as the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives in the last six years, he has appointed himself as the Secretary of State, which is an Office of the Executive Branch of Government. First, he invited Benjamin Netanyahu to give a speech before a joint session of the House and Senate before he was re-elected as the Prime Minister of Israel. Prior to his re-election as Prime Minister, Netanyahu proclaimed that he would never consider a two state solution whereby the Arabs would be given back part of the land taken from them when the State of Israel was formed after World War II. After the election, and after much criticism from the rest of the world, Netanyahu proclaimed that he would consider a two state solution, which leads one to believe that he lied just to get re-elected as Prime Minister of Israel.
Boehner has now said that he was going to lead a delegation of House and Senate delegates to visit Netanyahu in Israel. It would be better if he tried to get legislation passed in the House of Representatives which is his role at present and allow Senator Mitch McConnell to complete the task of appointing a new Attorney General since Eric Holder has stated repeatedly that he would like to go back to civilian life. The unstated issue in this whole drama is that a woman who President Obama has selected for the office is black and Republicans cannot and will not confirm the appointment of a black person to serve a half black and half white President.
Neither John Boehner nor Mitch McConnell have any desire to work on legislation which would benefit the working class in this country. They both claim that we need a balanced budget, but neither has passed any legislation which would update the infrastructure such as freeways, bridges, schools, and manufacturing which would provide jobs for the working class of this country. For example, the amount of money they will use to send a delegation to Israel to socialize with Benjamin Netanyahu could be better spent on improving the lives of American citizens.
After all, the amount of money spent by a young congressman to redecorate his office and travel expenses are small compared to the amount which will be spent for Boehner to travel with a delegation to Israel. Also, he does not have to worry about being forced to resign from the House of Representative for wasting money and assuming the role of Secretary of State or interfering with our present Secretary of State who is negotiating with the Iranians over the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
I recently saw a movie on the Crusades which reminded me of the Isis problem in Syria and Iraq. Isis is a Muslim version of the Crusades wherein the Christians were either trying to convert the Muslims to Christianity or kill those who did not choose the be converted. With Isis, it is not clear whether they are intent on killing all of those who do not agree with their view of religion, or whether they just enjoy the act of killing much like some of the Christians in the Crusades.
It is not surprising that the members of the Muslim religion, which is primarily divided into Sunni and Shia believers, do not get along. The present day Christians have so many different factions that it is hard to keep up with all the church groups that call themselves Christians. In James A. Michener’s novel THE SOURCE, a group of Crusaders enter a village and see everyone wearing a turban so they kill all the inhabitants only to discover that the persons they have killed were Christians. The moral of this event was not to assume that people who wear turbans are Muslims.
To understand the current unrest in the Muslim areas, it is important to understand the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I by the Western Forces. The Ottoman Empire lasted 600 years and was a potent force in shaping the future of political interest in the region today. During the greatest extent it had caliphates, which are a combination of religious and political governmental forms of government. As the Ottoman Empire expanded, it encompassed parts of Eastern Europe from Bulgaria to parts of Persia(now encompassed in part by Iran), Turkey, Afghanistan and eventually expanded to include parts of the area not included in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Persia, Egypt, and all the African Countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
During part of the history of the Ottoman Empire, the human rights issues such as equality of men and women was one of the most inspired of any nation or empire. Women’s rights were equal to men’s rights, which we as a nation have not yet begun to equal. As the Ottoman Empire expanded, it included caliphates governed by different members of the empire, but who were under the overall ruler of the Ottoman Empire. At its greatest extent, it included most of the areas around the Mediterranean Sea. It got its start with the breakup of the Roman Empire and was still considered part of the Roman Empire. As the Roman Empire began to diminish in its influence, the Ottoman Empire began to become independent and its influence on the areas around the Mediterranean Sea.
It is difficult to determine the goals of Isis because it has grown from a group which was fighting with other groups to change the government of Syria, but then changed into a group to capture Iraq and other countries around the region and establish what it considered a Muslim country with as a Caliphate much as it existed in the Ottoman Empire. It has a goal of expanding its version of a Caliphate wherever it can establish a government of its own liking. In writing this article I do not claim to be an expert. I started this post about December 1, 2014, but I discovered that I needed to go back through history and learn about the Ottoman Empire which was broken up after World War I, because it became an ally of Germany in the war against Great Britain, the United States and others. As a result, Turkey became an independent nation and is no longer a Muslim nation. In fact Turkey is the only part of the Ottoman Empire which still exists. All the other parts of the Ottoman Empire are independent nations populated primarily by the two major groups of the Muslim faiths, the Sunnis and Shia.
I remember taking a course in Modern European History in the early 1950’s which referred to the Ottoman Empire as the Sick Man of Europe so until I spent a great amount of time researching and reading about the Ottoman Empire I could not write intelligently about its history. I urge you to look up the maps of the Empire in order to understand the ultimate goal of Isis which is to build its own Empire and to extend it as far as it is able. However, with its methods of killing anyone who disagrees with its goals, it will very likely encounter much opposition by those who wish to be left alone and determine their own destiny in a more peaceful manner.
Note: To view the Historical Maps of the Ottoman Empire go to Yahoo and type in Historical maps of the Ottoman Empire.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
There is a movement within many circles that we need private schools such as Charter Schools which are really financed with public monies. Whether or not we will have schools financed by the infamous Koch Brothers and other Billionaires, I have no idea, but to charge a poor family to send their children to a private school rather than a public school will be a repudiation to the idea that all children have a right to a public education paid by all the citizens of the United States. The issue at present is that by changing our model from public and private education we can get and retain only the best teachers in the classroom. By comparison, we have moved from state owned prisons to privately owned prisons so that we can get and retain the best criminal population for life. For example we now have many inmates who were given long sentences for smoking marijuana, and, since a prison is such a fine institution for training career criminals, we now have young men who were sent prison for a relatively minor offense that they are now career criminals with lifetime tenure.
So we now have a choice of public schools which include tenure after about three years in many states, with the idea that it is almost impossible to fire an inept teacher because of the cost of lawsuits. I have been a member of an Oregon Education Association which dealt with teachers who were in the process of being fired. As professional teachers, we took the task seriously because no one wants to work with an inept teacher. I also know that if one gets the reputation of being skilled in working with students with behavioral or learning problems guess who gets these students. The lawsuit in the State of California is claiming that poorer students get inferior teachers which really has no basis for its claim. The problem is that if one has a record of working with students from the lower classes of our society your success means that you get only these students. The decision for this practice lies with the administrators and department chairman and with the years within the school district. The class size for students with special problems does not diminish because if you are successful your reward is more of the same. We had a physics teacher in the high school where I taught who not only got the more academically advanced students but did not provide any class time to help his class with their homework or classwork. These students would come to my Mathematics Learning Center which was a self paced class, with students from Algebra II through Calculus, and ask me to help them with their physics homework. I always told them to ask their physics teacher for help because that was part of his job and not my job.
Recently I read a review of a book by a Harvard graduate, who is a Ph.D. candidate in Education, that the only way to get the best teachers was to use interview techniques so that only the persons who passed his interview gauntlet would be chosen for a job. He did not believe in Tenure because with his interview technics there would no need for tenure because his methods of interviewing would guarantee success in the classroom. I have my doubts about his system because the best measure of success is whether these teachers can maintain an orderly learning atmosphere in a classroom where the students challenge everything you do until you get the reputation that you are there to teach and they are there to learn. No interview can predict success until a teacher is able to project a sense of humour with a sense of seriousness and will not tolerate disruptions which have nothing to do with the learning process.
Walter L.Bell, Ph.D.
I received a letter from Governor Kitzhaber recently asking if I would vote for him in the upcoming election. I am reluctant to vote for him because he cut the formula for the Public Employee Retirement System due to several very highly paid employees from the University of Oregon and possibly other places in the employment as PERS members who were allowed to include money which was not part of their regular salary. Instead of requiring an investigation and a reversal of the persons illegal calculation of their retirement compensation, Kitzhaber allowed the matter to stand and decided to change the compensation of retired persons with his Republican buddies so that my retirement and thousands of other retirees are paying for the retirement of the former Athletic Director and Dean of the Law School at the University of Oregon. What should have been addressed is how PERS could have allowed this to happen and why it took a Law Suite by the Oregonian to disclose this information. I am highly disgusted with both PERS and the present and former Governors who allowed this to happen. The one PERS meeting I attended this year had five members who did not represent the present or former members of PERS. In fact, there was no allowance for questions from the audience regarding the meeting or the policies being discussed. My question is what happened to the open meeting law wherein the people attending have a right to ask questions regarding procedures and policies under discussion by the PERS Board.
I have read about both Governor Kitzhaber and the Republican candidate for Governor, and I will have to hold my nose and vote for the present governor. The report on the Republican candidate for Governor is that he is a far worse choice than Governor Kitzhaber because of his ethical values and reputation.
In reading about Governor Kitzhaber handling of the Cover Oregon website, he had several alternatives to Oracle in the development of a website. Since Oracle had two working websites in California and Washington, he could have asked Oracle to build a site similar to these two states. Also, he could have contacted the Computer Science Departments of Oregon State University, the University of Oregon and Portland State University to have them develop a website. The development of a website is not like sending a spaceship to the moon which was done with computers which did not have the capabilities of the one I am using for this post. I developed three websites using wordpress.org and Bluehost as a host. The cost was minimal and my problems were minor, but I had offers to build a website for $5,000. Governor Kitzhaber by contrast has spent millions of dollars and is involved with Oracle for using proprietary code developed by Oracle with his new contractor. Oracle has filed a counter lawsuit against the State of Oregon for the use of its proprietary code by the new contractor. I doubt the Republican candidate for Governor of Oregon can fix this debacle so I will vote for Kitzhaber for his 4th and last term.
Walter L. Bell, Ph.D.
Russia has had a long and troubled history with some of the most cruel and vile leadership of any nation. Its most enlightened monarch was Peter the Great who tried to modernise the nation against great odds because the ruling oligarchy opposed him at every turn. He wanted to Russia to join with the nations of Europe because Russia was basically isolated and backward in comparison. Unfortunately he was unable to accomplish all of his goals, but he is remembered for trying to loosen the hold of the oligarchy over Russia.
The next leader to try to loosen the hold of the Communist Party over Russia was Mikhail Gorbachev who tried to introduce economic reforms to move industries from state ownership to semiprivate owner ship. One of the persons Gorbachev recruited was Boris Yeltsin to help clean up the corruption in the Communist Party in 1985. As a reformer Yeltsin proved to be too ambitious for his mentor Gorbachev, but when Gorbachev resigned, Yeltsin took his place and helped to move Russia closer to a civilized nation instead of a nation which imprisoned and killed more of its own citizens than had been lost in World War II. It is estimated that under Stalin’s notorious leadership more than 20 million people were killed in his purges. When the Soveit tanks were gathered in Moscow, Yeltsin climbed on top of one of the tanks and dared the Russian Army to fire upon its own people. Unfortunately, Yeltsin’s economic policies caused a deep economic depression in Russia which lasted several years. Before Yeltsin resigned he freed many of parts of the Soviet Union such as the Ukraine, Georgia, and many of the states that had large populations of Muslim citizens such as Uzbekistan and many others. At the time about one quarter of the Soviet Union were of the Muslim faith. Even though Yeltsin’s policies were eventually beneficial to Russia, his great mistake was appointing Vladamer Putin to take his place.
Putin was originally a member of the KGB, the notorious version of our CIA and FBI combined. The KGB was responsible for the death of many of the Soviet citizens during the reign of Joseph Stalin who sent millions of his own people to prisons in Siberia or had them killed outright at his own whim. Putin the same mind set as Stalin and if left unchecked will leave his own cruel policies on his own citizens. His goal is to put Russia back together again as the Soviet Socialist Republic so as to make Russia an international bully and threat to former states such as the Ukraine and the Balkin States.
About the only thing I agree with Senator McCain of Arizona is his statement that “if you look into Putin’s eyes you see reflected KGB,” because once a spy and bully he will always be a bully and thug.
I am reminded of the history Professor from whom I took many courses, that it is difficult to discuss Russian history because like the history of China with its more than 6,000 years of history there is too much history.
The Republican Congress, both the House and the Senate have been crying “Wolf” over the Trillions of dollars in deficit, but when there is money to be distributed to their wealthy constituents, the response is radically different. If one looks back over the last 60 years or more, the only people who have benefited from farm bills have been wealthy farmers and large corporate farms. The number of people engaged in farming has fallen from more than 30% during the depression of the 1930’s to less than 3% at present. Even large family owned farms have become incorporated, because the cost of machinery to operate a farm has become extremely expensive, so that the one farm, one family owned farms have become almost extinct.
The latest version of the farm bill cut food stamps which provide people with low incomes with affordable sources of food. My question is why we provide wealthy farm corporations with the equivalent of corporate food stamps and deny our needy, underemployed, and unemployed citizens the food they need to live? Another issue which was not addressed by the Farm Bill was the potential problem of genetically modified foods. Currently, a snip of DNA can be attached to plant DNA which alters the basic structure of the plant. For example, a snip of DNA can be attached to a given plant which provides the equivalent of Roundup which we use to kill weeds in our yards and gardens and fields. Spraying Roundup around a plant does not alter the genetics of the plant, but attaching a snip of DNA to plant so that it kills weeds that grow around the plant, means that we may be eating Roundup when we eat a carrot, corn, lettuce, etc. For example, I was exposed to Agent Orange when working for an irrigation district for two years. We had Agent Orange on our hands, in our face, and when we ate our lunch because we were spraying willows and other plants which grew in the irrigations canals and inhibited the flow of water in the canals. I became very allergic to all kinds of foods and would break out with watery blisters on my hands and with severe sinus infections. This went on until my late thirties.
Agent Orange is 245t and 23d combined and is a growth hormone which causes the plants to grow themselves to death. I used Agent Orange when I was 18 and 19 which was long before it was used in Vietnam to clear the jungles. It took the Department of Defense years before Agent Orange victims were compensated for the problems it caused the soldiers who were exposed in Vietnam. About four years ago, I called the Oregon Department of Agriculture and told them about my exposure. The official who answered the telephone asked me if I wanted sue the State of Oregon. I told him not at this late date which was 5o or more years later. I do know it causes prostate cancer which I developed in my late 60’s. The children born to women in Vietnam were often born with birth defects due to the exposure of the parents to Agent Orange. If one looks up Agent Orange, you will also find Agent Blue, Agent Green, and so on depending upon the combinations of chemicals which have been combined.
At present, there are no double blind tests given to animals and people when a plant is genetically modified. Monsanto, for example can genetically alter a plant without any oversight. If a drug is developed it has to go through at least three different stages of double blind tests to determine the possible effects of the drug on humans. Genetically modified foods should be subjected to the same kind of tests before they they are sold to the public. The Farm Bill had no such restrictions and it will cost the taxpayers more than one trillion dollars with support by the party of no–The Republican Party.