Archive for March, 2017

Diversity and Immigration

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

March 27, 2017

A good friend sent me an article from the Atlantic magazine, “Should Immigration Require Assimilation?” written by Tom Gjelten, a former teacher and presently a correspondent for NPR. He answers his own title question with a firm, “No.”

Judging by this and a companion Atlantic article Gjelten is a member of the dominant left-liberal clergy (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 78, 103). In the second article he writes approvingly, “the pattern of U.S. immigration [has] changed dramatically. The share of the U.S. population born outside the country tripled and became far more diverse. Seven out of every eight immigrants in 1960 were from Europe; by 2010, nine out of ten were coming from other parts of the world.”

Which brings up an interesting question? We have lots of diversity im the USA today, do we want more?

Gjelton does. Even though he writes, “The liberal historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., claimed that a ‘cult of ethnicity has arisen among non-Anglo whites and among nonwhite minorities’ that [thinks] ‘E pluribus unum,’ which is usually translated as ‘Out of many, one’ … belittles unum and glorifies pluribus.” Gjelten apparently agrees with the nonwhite minorities. I don’t.

One of the three essentials for progress in the Modern Age is Capitalism, which has always welcomed diversity. Adam Smith in his classic, The Wealth of Nations, claimed that three things were necessary to make a country wealthy—private property, division of labour (diversity), and free trade. Progressives today point out, correctly, that doesn’t bar slavery! And the truth is some agricultural, restaurant, and meat-processing capitalists do make virtual slaves now out of many illegals.

The other demands of the Modern Age—science & technology, and freedom of and from religion—are not as clear-cut.

These two are special to the West. We got them from the West’s Christian Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. They are endangered today by an unlikely alliance of Progressive and Green activists and politicians I call the modern Clergy. This clergy has noble and impeccable goals. They want to save our environment, abolish all prejudice and poverty, and make up for past wrongs. To my mind, they have not read enough history!

One of their most prominent scholars, Jared Diamond, became famous for his book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. In it he claimed Western cultures were not in any way “superior.” They were able to rise to wealth and power simply because they had a better environment.

Big Ideas like this have a profound effect even though most people pay little attention. For instance, I have no evidence that President Obama actually read the book but his tendency to apologize for the US past, as well as many of his foreign, domestic, and environmental policies, seem to come directly from Jared Diamond’s pages.

Diamond and his followers are superficially impressive but wrong in their basic theses. Diamond asks the key question early in his book, ”How come we in the West have so much stuff (wealth) while other cultures (like the Pacific Islanders he was studying) have so little?” His answer (wrong) was that we were lucky! Our ancestors had high-carbohydrate plants they could store and animals that could be domesticated—cattle, pigs, poultry, and horses.

Jane and I have traveled, too, in Africa, Asia, South America and the South Pacific. And we have seen that they do have potential high-carbohydrate plants that can be stored and quite a few trainable wild animals: wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, alpacas, llamas, elephants, buffalos, parrots, partridges, and warthogs. People in those non-western cultures did not take advantage when they moved from a hunting/gathering to an agricultural lifestyle.

The result: Western civilization today is superior. It led countries into the Modern Age. We in the US began to lead in 1776. It is still doing so. Since 1776 populations, freedom, science, technology, and wealth worldwide has soared dramatically and natural resources, too, have increased manyfold. There is no need to apologize. Do we really want to go back in time and risk getting what they had in all previous Ages: a bewildering multiplication of languages and cultures, constant wars, slavery, frequent genocides, and shorter life spans? In fact Is there any place in the world today that doesn’t want more electricity, aircraft, cars, guns, steel and {protection from) germs.?

Case dismissed.

The question remains—we in the West already have a great deal of diversity, do we really want more?

Bell curves are common in all living things. They are also common to groups of all living things, and that includes cultures. Some individuals and some cultures are intelligent, progressive, and productive. Others are not. It’s that simple. Contrary to Jared Diamond I don’t have to speculate on ultimate causes to see the clear superiority of Western cultures today (Chinese and Islamic cultures were superior during many medieval times of the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age but the West caught up and surpassed them in its bloody Christian Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment) 500 years ago.

The result today is the superiority of Western values and cultures especially when it comes to wealth, science, technology, and freedom. This is true despite the 20th century rise of viciously anti-Semitic Nazis in Germany and the equally vicious rise of heretical and barbaric Communists in Russia. It is also true despite slavery in the West’s 19th century and the lingering racism and sexism of the 20th and 21st century. (These nasty hangovers [memes] were inherited from previous Ages and are today much more widespread in non-western cultures today than in the West.) In other words despite the current popularity of diversity and multicultural, there really is no question that Western Culture in the Modern Age is superior.

This means to me that we should support President Trump’s plan to change our immigration policies. We should exclude Radical Muslims from northern Africa and the Middle East as well as Radical Communists and Fascists from any region or country. Illegal immigrants are also not welcome. Illegals already in this country are another matter. Criminals and drug sellers should be promptly deported but not peaceful or productive illegals.

Despite the objections of the clergy we should encourage legal immigration from Europe and any Western ally. This includes Pacific Rim countries. At the same time we should discourage legal immigration from the Muslim World and any non-Western countries where people don’t like us and don’t much llke the Modern Age either.

“E pluribus Unum” and “America first” may sound jingoistic to clergy ears but make good sense to most Americans.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P. S. This blog is slightly longer and most important. If readers are interested in more details, I not-so-humbly suggest my new book, Bill’s Blogs.

ENERGY … AGAIN

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

March 20, 2017

Physics textbooks define energy as the “ability to do work.” I have trouble with that definition. So school work—reading, writing, arithmetic, (and writing blogs)—doesn’t count as real work?

I hate to say it but I will—it sounds like the definitions were written to fit an Agricultural Age lifestyle. Horsepower, BTUs, Calories, “the work necessary to raise water a degree Centigrade,” etc.—jeepers, doesn’t mental work count for something?

It counts for a lot in the Modern Age. In fact, it makes all the difference! Wealth and well-being in previous Ages was land, gold, and slaves. Wealth and well-being today is freedom for mental creativity, and possibly a denser population.

Europe, Japan, and the UK are rich in freedom, intellectual power, and dense populations but have few natural resources. Countries in Africa, as well as in the Muslim world, are rich in natural resources but poor in freedom, intellectual power, and population density.

This is also shown in the common saying that all of us in the Modern Age (true at least for the Western World) have at least a 100 human slaves working for us. Those “slaves” come disguised as fossil fuels. How else could we move by train, bus, car, or airplane? How else could we make and run the factories and farms that goods that feed, clothe, move, help us communicate and entertain?

Here is the way one website puts it quantitatively for the US,  “Each of us use about 328 million BTUs during the year, the equivalent of 96,000 Kilowatt hours of electricity. A kilowatt-hour is about 1/3 more work than a horsepower-hour, so we use about 128,640 horsepower-hours, or the equivalent of 147 energy slaves working for each of us 24/7, all year long.”

Note the use of horsepower—a bow to the Agricultural Age when horses were the major energy source.

In addition to Age quarrels it is nearly impossible to get reliable statistics on fossil fuel energy from simple Google searches. The prevailing and dominant clergy view (see Bill’s Blogs, pp. 74, 79, 105) that wind farms and solar power are good and fossil fuel energy is bad since it leads to pollution and global warming. This is also the message in all of the Google searches I’ve done. It is often accompanied by the idea that renewable sources are sustainable and since fossil fuels are running out they are not.

This conventional clergy’s view clearly implies that anyone who disagrees is probably a troglodyte or at best a harmless moron and a jerk.

I was amused by a headline touted in a Facebook page that claimed “solar provides twice as many jobs as the coal industry.” I wrote in rebuttal, “If true the solar jobs must be dreadfully inefficient. Coal produces half of our electricity and solar struggles to produce 2%.” I even saw a reference recently on Facebook that claimed solar provided more jobs than all fossil fuels combined!

Ridiculous!

Fortunately it’s not true.

The actual Department of Energy report that allegedly supports these fake news articles features left-leaning bureaucratic prose (fog index in the high 20s, which means you need 20-plus years of schooling to understand it). The even more left-wing magazine articles cherry-pick this slanted government report to get a figure of 774,000 jobs in the solar industry vs. fewer in the fossil fuel complex. Apparently, they got this number from the Executive Summary that claimed, “Just under 774,000 individuals work, in whole or in part, for solar firms, with more than 260,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time on solar.”

Note the qualifiers “in part,” and “spending the majority of their time on solar.” In other words since Exxon-Mobil (and most oil and gas companies) have solar divisions even though their main source of jobs and profits comes from fossil fuels, this gives the Green folks justification to list many Exxon-Mobil employees as “solar.” These must be the same bureaucrats, no doubt Obama appointees, who are giving fits (and leaks) now to President Trump!

That’s not all. There follows quotes from the Energy Department Report.

“The 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) finds that the Traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors today employ approximately 6.4 million Americans …

“Electric Power Generation and Fuels Technologies directly employ more than 1.9 million workers. In 2016, 55 percent, or 1.1 million, of these employees worked in traditional coal, oil, and gas, while almost 800,000 workers were employed in low carbon emission generation technologies, including renewables, nuclear, and advanced/low emission natural gas.”

So it seems fossil fuel jobs (1.1 million, or is it 6.4 million?) are greater than the inflated number (774,000—or is it 800,00 now) that Green radicals claim for “solar.”  That makes sense since fossil fuel companies supply the major bulk of energy that powers the world’s homes, vehicles, factories, tools, and farms.

Note too that the energy folks are including nuclear, hydro, and natural gas as low carbon emission generation technologies, (presumably solar?). These jobs are heavily dependent on Green-hated dams of renewable hydroelectric, as well as controversial nuclear and fracking technologies that most Greens oppose.

That’s still not all.

I saw the headlined article on Facebook on a liberal friend’s page. When I objected on grounds of efficiency she replied that health care costs should also be considered. I agree that coal power can be bad in its dirty soft coal form, that all of us used to heat our homes 50 years ago, but this isn’t true of nuclear, natural gas, hydroelectric power, or even gasoline and low-emission/clean coal. True, gas, clean coal, and gasoline do add CO2 to the atmosphere, but so do all plants and all animals because we all breathe!

Otherwise fossil fuels, natural gas, clean coal, and nuclear do not bring harm to any human, animal, or plant. On the contrary, the use of fossil fuels is itself responsible in very large measure for the wealth and well being of the Modern Age. And their absence for the poverty and the slavery of all previous Ages and civilizations.

This may sound like I am opposed to solar. Not true. I am just appalled at the arrogant and hypocritical claims of Green True Believers.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P. S. This blog is slightly longer but important. If readers are interested in more details I not-so-humbly suggest my new book, Bill’s Blogs.

Skip this one

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

March 13, 2017

My last two blogs were important but heavy going. Ideas are important but not popular with most people. If that “most” includes you, you can safely skip this one. It has only one idea—that I have precious little experience in getting to be and actually being an old man.

For instance at my early ages and still in my advanced age I have always been interested in ideas—discussing them, even (especially?) arguing about them. My mother advised me long ago, “whatever you do, be sure to stay away from religion, sex, and politics” These are the three most interesting subjects to me. Also the three subjects that many if not most people find uncomfortable to talk about. The result for me is loneliness, which I am have now and have experienced most of my adult life. I relieve this a bit by writing these weekly blogs.

I know loneliness is common in old people. In addition to that affliction, it drives me crazy now how slow and feeble I am. It takes me three or four times as long the average adult to do the simplest of tasks. Like brushing my teeth, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, getting undressed, putting drops in my eyes, cutting my fingernails, taking pills, putting pills in the pill-box, putting my hearing aids on, taking them off before sleep, picking up anything I dropped  (quite a bit and quite often), paying the bills (a real bummer), replacing the batteries in my hearing aids and computer mouse, sitting down, standing up, moving with my wheelchair or walker ever so little, having to lock wheelchair and walker every time I want to move so much as an inch or two to make sure they are stable and that I don’t risk another fall, writing anything down by hand or with the help of help of the computer, reading the newspaper (or books or anything for that matter), opening anything (especially drawers), getting silverware and dishes for meals, cooking and making pretty much anything at all in the kitchen, etc., etc., etc.

And then when it comes to filling orders for DVDs for Hawkhill and Amazon sales (we still do have a few)—forgetaboutit—it’s that slow and mistake-prone.

I’m fully aware that I am very lucky and that the alternatives for a 90-year old man are much worse but that knowledge doesn’t help much. I tell myself to be patient but that advice doesn’t help much either.

I have a conservative pro-gun friend who regularly sends me cynical jokes and political stuff that do help … some. They often have an age or sex kicker. For instance:

“If I had a dollar for every girl that found me unattractive, they would eventually find me attractive.

“If you think nobody cares whether you’re alive, try missing a couple of payments.

“”It’s never too late to be what you want to be. Unless you want to be younger, then you’re screwed.

“Just read that 4,153,237 people got married last year, not to cause any trouble but shouldn’t that be an even number?

“My childhood punishments have become my adult goals.

“As you get older you have to stay positive. For example, the other day I fell down the stairs … Instead of getting upset I just thought ‘Wow, that’s the fastest I’ve moved in years.’”

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. This blog is shorter, a lot. The subject is important, for me. For readers interested in more details I suggest you buy and read my latest book, Bill’s Blogs. Or my previous one, East Gilman Street, that has more personal stuff. Be warned though: there is a lot of idea content in both books. And that includes religion, sex, and politics.

I forget too

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

March 6, 2017

My last blog was important but heavy going. I had a hard time writing it. I have already forgotten some of the content, as I’m sure some of my readers have. Ideas are important but not very popular with most people.

For example last week Jane and I watched a 2-hour documentary on the life of Adolf Hitler. I knew most of the basic facts of Hitler’s life from reading and making programs on fascism but nevertheless I enjoyed seeing the old newsreel footage. I was surprised (and a little shocked) at Jane’s ignorance of recent history, especially since she was so much involved in making my history of democracy series. She also used to edit my blogs and was with me as the cameraperson in Germany when we collected ideas and made video clips to illustrate Hitler’s perverse ideas. How could she have forgotten the ideas we chased in visits to Munich, Landsberg, Berlin, and Nuremberg (all important sites in Hitler’s life)?

She forgot much of this for the same reason most of us do. She was apparently paying more attention to personal matters (people, their stories and personalities; her own appearance; maybe health, sex, food, puzzles, trivia, beauty in the landscape or city–who knows?). But for certain ideas, historical or whatever, were way down the list.

Jane, of course, is not that special. Most people have trouble with memory of WW2 times, not to mention all previous history! If you doubt this wholesale claim watch TV interviews of ordinary citizens (including college students on spring-beach-break) and you will get an inkling of the idea ignorance in this country. Most people, even most history buffs, don’t have any idea why the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment ideas were so important in the founding of the USA. Hell, many citizens don’t even know which countries we fought in the Revolution, our own Civil War, WW1, WW2, or Korea. And even less idea of why we fought?

I know. I know. I should be more tolerant and forgiving but this is serious. The sad truth is that I shared that blissful state of ignorance when it came to politics and idea history when I was young.

In high school I got good grades and I must have taken some courses in history but I can’t remember much. Worse, I can’t remember a single idea from any of my courses (except maybe that Catholics and the US were usually the good guys!).

I was in high school during most of WW2. I don’t remember reading the newspapers much or listening to radio news except for headlines, sports, comics, and maybe a few of FDR’S Fireside Chats.

The net result: I didn’t know much about Hitler and Germany either. I did pay some attention to the maps in the Dayton Newspapers that showed the daily progress of troops in African, European, and Pacific war zones. But I had zero knowledge of the treatment of Jews in Europe; the treatment of Japanese in our western states; and the Jim Crow atrocities suffered by black people in our south; as well as the rigid segregation in our armed forces. How many of our young people today are that ignorant?

So what?

As they say, “you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” What can we do now to banish racial and sexual prejudices forever and increase the idea memory of all?

And the awful truth is–not much!

An older and wiser teacher once told me the secret to better education: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them–tell them–tell them what you just told them.” It seems to work, surprisingly enough, in schools and blogs. Large memes like racism and sexism do change over time but change is slow. You have to be patient. Rome (or Washington) wasn’t built in a day. Racism and sexism are far less today than they were when I was a teenager. That in itself is unusual in history. Very unusual.

I wrote last week that sexism and racism logically followed an important meme inherited from earlier Ages–the reactionary idea that wealth is land, gold, and slaves. Let me trace the connections.

In both the Hunting/Gathering and Agricultural Ages there was a huge premium on male strength, courage, and landed wealth. Wealthy warriors and hunters were top dogs. Women and slaves (or serfs or peasants) were exploited for what they could offer in sex or work in the corn and cotton fields. This was true in both the 10,000-year-long Agricultural Age and the 100,000-year-long Hunting/Gathering Age!

Over all that time economic and social status demands trumped all else. A complex system arose in all civilizations and tribes, supported and sanctified by religions, which made sexism and racism inevitable. Remnants of those systems survive today (memes) in all cultures including Western ones. The net result is: castes in India; peasants in China and SE Asia; anti-Semitism in Europe; prejudice in America; racism and sexism in almost all modern countries–sanctified even today by Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Confucian, Buddhist, Judaism, and pretty much all faiths (assumptions actually–see my important blog last week. I do remember some things!).

No wonder it has taken centuries and rivers of blood to make what progress the Modern Age has made already.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. I realize this blog is also a teeny bit longer. Sorry about that. The subject is important. For readers interested in more details I suggest you buy and read carefully my latest book, Bill’s Blogs.

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

FORGET TOO

March 6, 2017

My last blog was important but heavy going. I had a hard time writing and polishing it. And I have already forgotten most of it, as I’m sure many of my readers have.

Jane and I watched a 2-hour documentary on the life of Adolf Hitler last week. I knew most of the basic facts of Hitler’s life from reading and making programs on fascism for my own company, Hawkhill, but I did enjoy seeing the old newsreel footage. I was a little surprised (and shocked) at Jane’s ignorance of recent history. Especially since she was so much involved in my recent history of democracy series of video programs. Heck she used to edit my blogs and was with me as the cameraperson in Germany when we collected information and made video clips to illustrate our version of Hitler’s perversion of democracy. How could she have forgotten our visits to Munich, Landsberg, Berlin, and Nuremburg (all important sites in Hitler’s life)? She did remember our tour of Auschwitz, but she did not remember that the final solution of the Jewish problem, the Holocaust, was in 1942, near the end of WW2.

She forgot much of this for the same reason most of us do. She was paying more attention to personal people matters and not that much to idea-content.

Jane, of course, is not special. Most people in this country (and abroad) have trouble remembering WW2, not to mention any and all previous history. If you doubt this wholesale claim just watch any man-on-the-street (especially college-students-on-campus on spring-beach-break) interviews to get some inkling of the historical ignorance in this country. Most people, even history buffs, have not the vaguest idea of the ideas in the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment—hell, many don’t even know which countries we actually fought in our Revolution, WW1 or WW2, or the Korean conflict!

I know. I know. I should be more tolerant and forgiving but this is a serious gap in our educational arsenal. And a serious concern for writers of blogs and books that depend on some reader’s knowledge of history. The awful truth is that I shared that blissful state of near complete ignorance when it came to politics and ideo-history when I was young.

In high school I got top grades and I must have taken some courses in history but I can’t remember a single teacher or fact. Worse I can’t remember a single idea (except maybe that the US was always the good guy).
I was in high school through most of WW2. I didn’t read the newspapers or listen to radio news shows much, except for the headlines, sports, comics, and President Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats.

So I didn’t know much about Hitler and Germany then either. I did pay some attention to the maps published in the Dayton Daily News that showed the daily progress of troops in Africa, Russia and the Pacific war zones. But I had zero knowledge of the treatment of Jews in Europe, the internment of Japanese in our western states, not to mention the Jim Crow atrocities sad insults suffered by black people in our southern states and segregation in our armed forces. I wonder how many of our young people today share that ignorance.

So what?

True, “you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” So what can we do to banish racial and sexual prejudices and violence and to increase the ideological memory of young people?

The awful truth is—not much! An older a wiser teacher once told me the secret to better education: “Tell them what you’re going to tell ‘em; go ahead and tell them, then you tell ’em what you told ‘em.“ Memes like racism and sexism are especially resistant to change. They do change over time but change is slow as molasses in January. Be patient—Rome (or Washington) wasn’t built in a day. Racism and sexism are far less today than they were when I was a teenager.

I wrote last week that they logically followed a bigger meme inherited from earlier Ages, the idea that wealth was land, gold, and slaves. Let me trace the connections for you.

In both the Hunting/Gathering and Agricultural Ages there was a premium on male strength, courage, and landed wealth. Wealthy warriors and good dddhunters were top dogs. Women and slaves (or serfs or peasants) were exploited for what they could offer in sex and work in the corn and cotton fields. Economic and social status demands overwhelmed all else. A complex system arose in all civilizations and tribes, supported and sanctified by all religions, which made sexism and racism inevitable. Remnants of those systems survive today (memes) in all cultures including western ones. The result is caste in India, peasants in China and SE Asia, anti-Semitism in Europe, nasty racism and sexism in almost all modern countries—sanctified by Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Confucian, Buddhist, and pretty much all other faiths (assumptions—see my blog last week).

Quite a meme-destroying task! No wonder it has taken a few centuries and rivers of blood to make what progress the Modern Age has made.

Bill Stonebarger, Owner/President Hawkhill

P.S. I realize this blog is also a bit longer. Sorry about that. The subject is important. For readers interested in more details I suggest you buy and read carefully my latest book, Bill’s Blogs.