Tuesday, May 22, 2018

George and Martha Washington

I am listening to American Originals Abigail Adams. that I got for free, from Audible.

I have been comparing it, in my mind, to another famous American husband and wife - George and Martha Washington.

The contrast could not be more stark. George married Martha to acquire her large estate, that she inherited from her first marriage - along with a number of  slaves. She had children from her first marriage, but none from her second - which indicates that George was not interested in her sexually.

Martha was not much of a writer, the few letters we have from her, had unusual spelling, that she invented, as she wrote them. For her, writing was mostly bookkeeping, that she used to manage her plantation.

George was an General in the Revolutionary War, the first president of his country, and presided over the Constitutional Convention, that made it powerful.  He was, in short, an important person.

Martha stayed home, in Mount Vernon, and managed it wisely. She was an important person also - but was not recognized as one.

Abigail, by contrast, was a person in her own right - as her many letters show. Letter writers, at that time - wrote much better, than they talked. Informal writing came later, and was not practiced, at the time.

She was self-taught learner - but learned well. And didn't mind showing it. She and her husband, John Adams - were the among the few Founding Fathers (and a Mother) from the North. The rest were from Virginia.

John Adams, sad to say, was a poor father. He was completely absorbed in his diplomatic duties - and did not take his family with him when he was overseas. Abigail was not much help here - instead of insisting that he take his family with him, when her children were young, and needed a father, the most - she only insisted on joining him later, so she could enjoy the cultural amenities of Paris.

She did notice how Thomas Jefferson, who was also in Paris - was a threat to their future. As he would soon prove to be. And she confronted him directly about this. She was fighter, more so than her husband, who did not understand the competitive political situation then.

Paperwork is the Curse of the Undeveloped World

I have a new Windows 10 laptop waiting for me, but it is taking three weeks to get it through Customs! Undeveloped countries, are undeveloped, because they have so much paperwork, it takes forever to get anything done.

The president of the country, once set up a special commision, to solve this problem - but it was never heard from again!

Developed countries work at being efficient - but undeveloped countries work at being inefficient, because this feels right to them.

I once passed a huge new modern building in a small town (Tucurrique) where there was practically nothing else there. It was built by the government, to get foreign companies to relocate there! No one had.

It never occurred to them, that far more was needed. No company in its right mind, would relocate to somewhere, where the roads are so bad - it takes hours to get there. The local people are eager to work, but the supervisory people, needed to manage them, would never live in such a place.

Costa Rica has built free trade zones (in Heredia) that meet all these requirements. But these have created their own problems. This new money is not interested in anything - but their own short-term interests. And this town, that used be a good place to live in - has deteriorated badly.

Development has to be managed carefully - and Costa Rica has no idea how to do this.

Any developed country has zoning laws, that specify what can be built where, and how it is to be built. In Costa Rica, anyone can build whatever he wants, anyplace he wants. And the result is an ugly mess - where only the desperate will live.

Monday, May 21, 2018

What Happens When Most People cannot Think?

We don't know, but we are about to find out - because that is the situation now, in America.

It's not that Americans cannot think - they just don't want to, and that amounts to the same thing.

Madeleine Albright in her book Fascism, A Warning does mention some possibilities - none of them pleasant.

The Church was the Gospel Restored

This posting is about the church my family belonged to - the RLDS church.

I grew up in it, but then left it, when I went to the U of Illinois, in 1959. I am the only one of my extended family who has ever done this.

Being an outsider, gives me the ability to see it more objectively, than they can.

The RLDS church was formed by rich farmers in Northern Illinois, who had been members of the LDS church - and wanted their church back. And once they had this church, they wanted another Joseph Smith to lead it. This was not a smart decision, but it seemed necessary to them, at the time.

The obvious choice was Joseph Smith's oldest son, Joseph Smith III. But he was not interested. He, and his mother, were living in the wreckage of a town left by his father - in Nauvoo, Illinois. His mother had remarried, and was not interesting in any kind of religious activity.

Joseph Smith III, and his two brothers, also living in Nauvoo, had a big problem - no income! And no prospects of getting any in Nauvoo. To become successful, they would have to move, as plenty of people had done before them - but they did not!

Perhaps their mother decided to act for them - but for whatever the reason, they became employed by the RLDS church, with Joseph Smith III - as their leader. And their mother never had any interest in the RLDS church after that.

JS III was expected to act like his father - a role he was not interested in. But he was interested in making the church his own - and proceeded to do so, with a strong missionary effort. His missionaries, were instructed to present the church as the gospel restored - quoting passages from the Bible, to prove this.

This strategy worked, and many new members were acquired this way. Including members on both sides of my family, early in the 20th Century. Mormonism was not abandoned - but these new teachings were added to it.

The church had some serious difficulties, in the Seventies, that I have never understood. But the results were clear enough, it became divided into many churches - each claiming to be the restored gospel.

The largest group inherited its members, and its property, from the RLDS church - but changed its name to The Community of Christ.

Meanwhile the LDS church gained strength, purchased most of the property in Nauvoo and are turning it into a historical museum.

Our World is Destroying Itself

And, as is always the case, the people in it - are not aware of this.

This should not surprise us, building a large society is a complicated business, things are bound to go wrong somewhere - and sometimes those errors are fatal.

Is it possible to detect these fatal errors? Not really, but it easy to detect the many problems that crop up - and state, that they must be fixed. And if they are not fixed, things will get worse.

And one of these big problems for America now. is the huge difference in income that has arisen. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer - and the middle class is disappearing. And most Americans are ignoring this.

They don't argue with the statistics, they just disagree on their importance. And, in the back of their minds - they are certain that America cannot fall. So certain, they will ignore any evidence to the contrary.

They all say, with one voice "Nothing is really wrong!" Which changes nothing.

But, at the same time - they elect Trump, and cannot see much wrong with him.

If you want a strong optimistic case, read Thanks, Meghan Markle, We Needed That. And I quote from that:

This divorced biracial woman, 36 years old, who had built her own career.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

What Most People are Interested In, and What They are Not

It's important to speak of most people when talking about people - because the masses have become important, and decide what 80 percent of the people (or more) want. This is power, and power that cannot be denied!

The first thing they ask themselves is - what does everyone else want? And they have the amazing ability to determine what that is - and they are seldom wrong.

So what's new? You may say, people have been this way forever - we are social beings, and our most important accomplishments have always been social.

True, but the size of these societies are now greater, and consist of more of the same. This quantitative difference, creates a qualitative result. As every advertiser knows.

Now I have said what they are - it's time for me to  say how  they got that way. And the answer is easy - Television! They all watch the same TV shows.

This is their reality, and they will accept no substitutes.

People and Technology

People have never been very good at using technology. They have never said "We are this way now, but let's try something new, to see what its effect on us will be." We just let any technology that comes along change us, whatever way it wants to. And after it changes us (as it always does) we don't bother to notice what those changes have been.

Technology is in control of us - and not the other way around. At least that's the way it is now.

But if we go back to the beginning, millions of years ago, when we first became human - things were different. We now say we were hunter-gatherers. We had language, and this gave us the ability to look around us, and adapt to the conditions in every part of the world. We were clearly in control of our little world, but we were only one species, out of many. We were still animals, if somewhat unusual animals.

But then we became Civilized. And became something different altogether, as the Wikipedia entry shows. This is when Technology began - our most important invention.

I am not much of a historian, and will skip over the next few thousands of years - and begin in 1936, when I was born, but fast-forward from that, to 1980, when the Computer was born.

This I can remember clearly - and I can remember what our reaction to that was - we went insane! We didn't know what a computer was - but we knew it was a big deal, and we rushed to get on the newest bandwagon. Every company in existence, wanted to use it to make money. Instead, it put most of them out of business, and changed the rest, permanently.

And, as usual - we didn't stop to notice this. A few of us did, but most did not. And this has created a huge gap between Computer People - and everyone else.

Most people in the world, saw that the way the world was, was not in their interest - and opted out of it. There was even a song for this: Stop the world, I want to get off!

Since they didn't want to control the world - new dictators arose, to do this for them.