San Bernardino and California. What Happened?

San Bernardino and California.  What Happened?

Speigel Online ran an article yesterday about American Cities drowing in debt (click through the picture for the article.) The feature story is San Bernardino – where I spent a great part of my childhood:

“San Bernardino, California, has gone from being the birthplace of McDonald’s, one of the world’s most successful companies, to a mound of unpaid debts. It’s a sad example of what a lack of infrastructure investment and an almost religious aversion to higher taxes have done to cities across the United States.”

They go on to say: “On August 1, 2012, San Bernardino filed for bankruptcy. Today this city, located an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles, is one of the poorest, most violent cities in the United States. Once the setting for one of America’s greatest success stories, the city can no longer even afford to pay its police officers and is rotting in its own waste.”

The same day the Wall Street Journal posted a graphic of the best states for business per a survey by Chief Executive Magazine. California ranks dead last. #50.

Having lived my entire life in California, and half of my pre College years in San Bernardino, makes all this really tough to understand. This isn’t the state I grew up in or remember. I sometimes wonder if it was all just a dream.

I remember Disneyland being built. Aerospace jobs everywhere. Freeways being built. Safe elementary schools with green grass and big playgrounds. A UC System that actually catered to the California resident at a price that was next to nothing for the student (today the UC system by its own admission is composed of over 60% foreign or out of state students – higher tuition rates to the system).

This isn’t fantasy. It existed. Many explanations have been offered on what happened to tilt California from the land of opportunity and the Golden Gate to the state that business wants to flee from and that hosts three cities in bankruptcy.

Joel Kotkin addresses this change with this summary (http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_3_california-economy.html):

“What went so wrong? The answer lies in a change in the nature of progressive politics in California. During the second half of the twentieth century, the state shifted from an older progressivism, which emphasized infrastructure investment and business growth, to a newer version, which views the private sector much the way the Huns viewed a city—as something to be sacked and plundered. The result is two separate California realities: a lucrative one for the wealthy and for government workers, who are largely insulated from economic decline; and a grim one for the private-sector middle and working classes, who are fleeing the state.”

Public sector unions, a rising immigrant class, social spending in lieu of infrastrucure investments have all contributed to this decline. In simple terms, I wonder if this state would have/could have tolerated this decline if it were not for the beaches, sunshine, motion picture industry, silicon valley, and incredibly productive farmland areas that add an attractive and seductive face to the real decay that is becoming increasingly difficult to mask over.

The Blackberry User and BB 10

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The passion and emotion that surround one’s choice of smart phones has amazed me. How is it that so many of us (and I am included here) have such strong positions regarding which device is the best, coolest, or only thing in the world. Where has all the hate towards RIM come from. Is there more to this process than just media capabilities and app selection.

Crackberry ran an interview with Frank Boulben who has been the CMO at RIM for just around six months now. “When asked what’s needed to “overhaul the BlackBerry brand”, Frank notes that it all starts with the customer. “We need to be absolutely clear about which customers we intend to serve, and why we are going to serve them better than the competition. The BlackBerry people are about getting things done, being hyper-connected and being multitaskers. They want to do on their smartphone what you do at your desk.”

This is worth repeating. Frank says that their research shows that Blackberry users have tended to be efficient and highly productive people who want a tool not a toy, they use multiple social and email and other communication accounts, and they do several things at once.

The entire BB 10 platform, starting with the only true multi tasking OS on the planet outside for a smart phone (QNX), is built to cater to this user.

So what is it about this platform and for that matter the current Blackberry platform that endears itself to me. Well, it’s simple. I’m not interested in many of the time wasting features of the IOS and Android World. I love what I can do quickly and efficiently with the current QWERTY keyboard while watching others struggle with the Apple and Android virtual keyboards.

It runs much deeper. As i get older, I find it harder to keep up the pace of the “Blackberry profile user.” I was that guy. I want to be that guy. I’m worried not that BB 10 will not succeed. It will change the world for a subset of smart phone users who truly want a productive device. I fear it will have more horsepower and utility than my (at present) streamlined and simplified life needs. And that I might become one for whom punching a few boxes on a screen can get me through the day. And that scares me. Like it or not, my use of technology parallels what I am doing and accomplishing that is of value. They run hand in glove. Punching boxes and watching NetFlix not a way finish.

David Mamet’s The Anarchist: The New Left’s Terrible Triumph

David Mamet’s The Anarchist: The New Left’s Terrible Triumph

David Mamet’s The Anarchist: The New Left’s Terrible Triumph
Great article by Hugh Hewitt in Townhall last week. Mamet’s new play opened for previews last week in New York. Formal reviews out in early December.

I grew up ashamed of most of the 60’s radical and “revolutionary” activity. Mamet takes a look at this movement through the eyes of an imprisoned 60’s radical and her prison warden and the dialogues they have regarding her being approved for parole.

One of these real life retreads is Bill Ayers. Wiki: “1969 he co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group[2] that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the U.S. Capitol Building, and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.”

He’s now reconstituted himself as a retired professor from the University of Chicago. “Although never convicted of any crime, he told the New York Times in September 2001, “I don’t regret setting bombs…I feel we didn’t do enough.”

Hewitt asks:

“But where did their “ideas” go? No one in the MSM espouses that claptrap anymore, or uses the hackneyed phrases of “the movement,” but very, very few people in the Manhattan-Beltway media elite talk about anything serious at all.

Here’s a clue. The idiot wind of the ‘60s blew and blew and blew and ended up bottled in newsrooms and green rooms all across the land. It ended up tenured and stupid, credentialed and wholly incapable of basic economic analysis though it is very good at regression analysis applied to polling data and Twitter quips.

Ezra Klein, Rachel Maddow, Jon Chait and Chris Hayes are the heirs to and current super-egos of the great noise from four decades back, with Kos as its id. That’s it: all that is left of the New Left.”

Be interesting to see how the New York Times and so on review this. Mamet was on a private plane when the towers were struck in 2001. The moment had a considerable impact on how he viewed terrorists, anarchists, and self styled revolutionaries. I’m sure that impact is reflected in this play.

BlackBerry 10 is Going to Have the Best Web Browser of Any Mobile Platform

BlackBerry 10 is Going to Have the Best Web Browser of Any Mobile Platform. RIM stock has almost doubled in the last 2 weeks and according to this article in TECH Vibes one analyst sees it quadrupling again in the next year. BB10 comes out in 3 months.

“The company’s forthcoming browser slaughters standard HTML5 tests, making the iPhone’s Safari browser look like an antique. And now BB10’s browser has cleared Ring 1 on the Ringmark test, becoming only the second mobile browser to ever achieve the ranking.”

RIM may have made it through this incredible journey and may emerge end of January with the most revolutionary mobile OS ever. Anyone who loves a comeback story, and who loves a company who builds devices the world over for doers and not viewers has got to be excited.

Who Can Help the Needy in the most Effective and Compassionate Manner

Can Bureaucrats do a better job of helping the needy than local volunteers, the Salvation Army, the Catholic Church, and millions of other volunteer and non profit organizations all over the world. If everyone of us could have this kind of compassion and caring for our fellow human beings, we could reduce or eliminate all the government non elected appointed positions who mandate “caring and giving” into existence.

“The Yoga Community Must Shelve Both Idealism and Politeness to Loudly and Publicly Endorse Obama. Right Now. Who’s In?”

“The Yoga Community Must Shelve Both Idealism and Politeness to Loudly and Publicly Endorse Obama. Right Now. Who’s In?”

So I check out some Yoga instructors at my club and find a new one who has retweeted a link to a post by Matthew Remski on his elephantjournal blog (click through on the photo for a direct link). How on earth I wonder, is Yoga tied to the essential nature of Obama’s reelection.

Matthew makes a long argument for why the Yoga community MUST step out of its comfort zone and endorse Obama/Biden. It’s a moral imperative. The crux of the argument is summarized in this excerpt which lays out the mandate: “preventing a hateful, mendacious plutocrat who evades taxes to tithe to a racist jabberwocky church from seizing the reins of power.”

Now anyone who has studied tax law knows that there is tax evasion (go to jail) and tax avoidance (pay what is required and use the rules to minimize tax liability.) Hollywood elite, Congressmen, Senators, men and women of all parties and politics “generally” pay what is due and don’t go out of their way to pay more. But, if Romney plays by the rules it’s suddenly evasion.

And, while I am not a particular fan of the Mormon Church, Romney and any Mormon or any person for that fact has a perfect right to tithe to the limit to that entity without explaining themselves to me or Matthew. Apparently, what he really may mean is that it is unfair that Romney, and not the Federal Government, had a say in some portion of his income that was tithed down the drain to the Church rather than put into Washington’s hands for politicians (who must know better) to make use of.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a partial sentence that so eloquently spelled out the divide in this country between personal responsibility vs a Federal/State Centered solution. Clearly, Matthew views highly successful individuals who dare put their money to charitable use that he deems inappropriate to be dangerous to the societal needs as better determined by others. I wonder where Catholic Charities, The Salvation Army, World Vision, Direct Relief and too many other organizations to mention that put Billions of Dollars to work and feet on the ground all over the world fall. Surely they are depriving the government of taxable income that could be better used by Washington.

I love Yoga as it restores my body, allows me to clear my mind, puts me in contact with some really cool people for an hour a day, and has helped my flexibility tremendously. I’m probably missing the boat here on the rest and may offend some of my more serious friends. Matthew refers to the ”Republican flunkies who enjoy backbends are a small and self-absorbed minority in contemporary yoga.” Count me in. I’m one them. I have a Savior. He died 2000 years ago but still walks the earth. I don’t need Yoga to fill that void.

“One Goal, Well Executed, Could Change Your Life Forever.” Dr. Tom Hill

Tom Hill is one of the best Personal Growth proponents and coaches I’ve ever met.  He amazed me with his Vistage presentation years ago, and I’ve been receiving his Eagelzine newsletter every Friday since.  He’s starting a One Year Program called the “Movement” which begins next year.  I’m signed up and am looking forward to a focused and structured year of growth.  Click on his banner here for more information if you’d like to join me.

 

Iphone 5 or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 2012

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Is It Immoral to Own an iPhone 5?
(or The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory of 2012). Click through the picture for the Gizmodo article)

Apple Gross Profit will run from $44B to $67B over the next year. That’s Billions. Yet the iPhone is made under the most brutal and inhumane conditions one could imagine for a high tech product that is not borderline profitable. In other words, the use of Chinese labor adds to the already obscene profit of the most wealthy company on earth. Not so Apple can survive. Not so they can dominate. So that they can ….. well I don’t know anymore. For a status device that has hypnotized and produced an entire generation of mesmerized and somnolent addicts.

“When you spend hundreds on your Apple handset, you slide that credit card with knowledge of where and how it came to be. You know about the suicides, the strikes, the fights, the cramped dorms, the on-site therapy, and the explosions. When you trade your money for a phone that comes from one of these places, you’re guaranteeing that more phones will be built just like that. You’re saying, at the very least, That’s bad, but not as bad as me not having this phone.”

I am an ardent free market capitalist who is disgusted with this free market result.

How Mother Found Her Helper

Interesting how closely the thalidomide tragedy was tied to the almost mercurial rise in the demand for anti anxiety medicine in the 50’s. From Science in Society (click through for link):

“In a post-war era when sleeplessness was prevalent, thalidomide was marketed to a world hooked on tranquilizers and sleeping pills. At the time, one out of seven Americans took them regularly. The demand for sedatives was even higher in some European markets, and the presumed safety of thalidomide, the only non-barbiturate sedative known at the time, gave the drug massive appeal.”

Friedan wrote (Feminine Mystique): ““Many suburban housewives were taking tranquilizers like cough drops. You wake up in the morning, and you feel as if there’s no point in going on another day like this. So you take a tranquilizer because it makes you not care so much that it’s pointless.”

musings from newport beach