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Thanks ISIS ! Vol 56

If you have a library card, you must be a Boomer !

ISIS remains in the news, and for that we should be very thankful.

First, its election season in the US, and ISIS has kept a lot of the political news way down the media cycle. I know some states are inundated with ads as big money tried to buy some elections, but there does not seem to be the usual outcry against this, or the attack ads, or reproductive rights, or civil liberties being threatened. The Republicans will control the Senate, after many years, and really stick it to Obama. Any hope of getting tax reform, immigration reform, an Iranian nuclear deal, or a Palestinian solution seems lost, but there has not been an outcry about these important issues. Thanks ISIS !

Next, the quagmire that is the Middle East seems to be getting clearer, as many tribes and governments work, slowly, to fight ISIS. Many Muslim states are joining the coalition against these marauders. We may even see Shiite and Sunni tribes realize that they have something in common, at least in Iraq. ISIS is essentially an organized crime family, allowing all types of people to join. I understand that they are Sunni at the core, but they are recruiting from all over. Remember, ISIS is assassinating Sunni tribesmen if they fought against them. Many reports out of Iraq and Syria tell of Sunni towns resisting ISIS, and once ISIS takes the area, they kill everyone who resisted them, regardless of their faith, and publish pictures of the slaughter, to terrorize other towns that might resist. That does not sound like a religious jihad to me !

Interestingly, no one is talking about the Muslim Street lately, You remember, all of our actions were disturbing the regular people in the Middle East, the Street. It was an acronym for public opinion that was used by many commentators to signal whether our actions were being well received. Mostly, the Street hates the West, wanted the West to leave the area, and blamed all the bad stuff on us. Civilian causalities, refugee treatment, and no future were all blamed on the West. If only we would leave ! Well, how is that working for you now ? From Gaza and the Palestinian struggle, to Pakistan and the Taliban, to Libya and the clan wars, the Street got what they wanted, and now have to be silent as they can no longer blame someone else besides themselves for their predicament. Thanks ISIS !

Speaking of the Palestinians, they may have received some international recognition and funding, but Gaza was bombed back to the stone age. It will take generations to rebuild and recover. Even Egypt is blowing up homes and buildings near their border, to inhibit tunnelling and smuggling. Jerusalem is slowly being built over by Jewish settlements, and the current peace initiative is dead. We even have the US and Israeli governments calling each other names, dropping any pretence that there will be consequences if Israel continues on its current path. Yes, Bibi thinks he has cover for treatment of his enemies, but he is wrong. He is over-reaching. He is missing out on a perfect time to reconcile the Jewish state with its neighbours, and take the whole issue off the table. Someone else will realize this soon, and replace Bibi and his blind ambition. Thanks ISIS.

One must also be thankful that Obama was able to piece together a coalition of countries, both Christian and Muslim, to fight these Sunni gangsters. Not since Bush I has anyone else pulled this type of multi-national force together. This coalition even has Canada sending 3 jets to join the fight. I suppose the Ukrainian government is looking on grudgingly, and they would love for NATO or the UN to come to their rescue.

Speaking of worldwide recruitment, ISIS is getting its fighters from everywhere. There has been a Western worry about radicalized citizens causing damage at home, like the Canadians just saw with two solders being killed, and Parliament under attack. Now, with all these crazies going to the Middle East, they are outing themselves. Like a strip of flypaper attracting pests, ISIS is putting all the crazies in one place. Perfect for target practice, eh ? Now all that the intelligence agencies have to do is watch returnees, rather than worry about home grown cells causing trouble. Thanks ISIS !

Lastly, we must deal with the Shiite and Sunni reality on the ground, and recognize that it is the Shiite populated areas that are in turmoil. Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, all are Shiite led governments that are failing their peoples. There is no way Iran can take their focus off their own backyard, and they really need the Western sanctions lifted, so they can help their comrades. All in all, a better chance of us getting a good nuclear deal from the Ayatollah. So, thanks ISIS !

I suppose that ISIS could turn its teeth on our western freedoms, striking in our countries, but we need to resist any attempt to get involved in the fray. If anyone tells you that we need to fight in the middle east, remind them of Iraq, and ask them if more proof is needed to stay out, especially now that we do not need the oil !

Contrary to the above, I am a long term optimist when it comes to the Middle East. Their peoples will get their act together, although it will take a while.

Next on Boomers – WTF !, why you should not trust your gut ?


A future Vision – Absentia Cured ! Vol 55

If you remember that the first power juicer was from Jack Lalanne, you must be a Boomer !

A thought !

As someone who pontificates on the future, and the Boomers place in it, one must think in terms of what might happen, in case it does happen – to look at the future as an extension of today!

To be a Boomer today is to view many possible outcomes, to decide on their relevancy, and potentially work to improve that outcome. I say potentially, because many Boomers seem to have a pessimistic view of the future. Money is tight, their kids are assholes who will not look after them, their parent are spending their inheritance, the boss is trying to screw me, no one likes me, you get the picture. Really, why live ? Just put a gun in your mouth and …

As a Boomer, I sometimes try to picture my parents at my age, and wonder what they worried about ? Unfortunately, being 59 with both parent deceased, I have no fountain of knowledge to ask. Hopefully you do ! Remember, your parents are probably the only living people who will tell you the truth – at least a version of the truth you will accept.

If you have the opportunity to ask them some questions, here are a few I recommend !

First, is menopause the death of sex ? Is a recovery possible, and how is that done ? If the word “message” is somehow involved, fine, but what about the word “blowjob” ! Is Ashley Madison the answer ? Gray divorce rates are increasing, but I perceive that this phenomenon is more due to Boomers being richer today, than they were a generation or 2 ago. It was hard then to divvy up the family farm, whereas today assets are more liquid. Really, is there some other pleasure or habit that takes the place of sex, or is your husband just becoming a boarder in your house ? What keeps the sharing and the closeness alive ? What is the secret to surviving this phase ?

If you love sugar in booze form, what stops, or inhibits, the weight gain ? Street drunks can be skinny people, so do they just not eat ? And don’t throw that “all things in moderation” phrase at me, cause our generation does nothing in moderations, unless its listening to our parents ! Or is the booze to forget the fat gain ?

The ancillary option to becoming fat is to exercise. We will live longer, look better, push most of the brain diseases into the future, and increase our daily happiness with all those released hormones naturally flooding our body. So, since most of this stuff has been known since Jack Lalanne’s time , why did you not do it ? What stopped you, our parents, from being smart about exercise ?

What’s the best way to maintain the right testosterone levels ? I am not saying that a little estrogen is a bad thing, but in no way should my wife have more than me !

I know my wife’s friend is just being friendly, and not coming on the me, but how do I know for sure ? Maybe she is as frustrated with her mate as I am, and what’s wrong with a little release among friends ?

The grass is always greener on the other side is a phrase that is rarely true, so why do people still use it ? I understand that this cliché has a limited purpose, essentially to be used as a positive influencer to counteract a negative situation, but it is mostly false. Having an affair may make you feel good for a while, but the consequences are mostly bad, and in today’s social media world, easier to be found out. Is the truism really that it only looks greener to us now, a temporal thing as another justification, in a long line of justifications we Boomers use as excuses?

One line of thought is that our parents are secretly happy. They never expected to live this long, so every day is a bonus. They are getting pensions they did not earn, but somehow convinced us that they were justified, so we continue to fund their lifestyles. Astute readers will notice that there were no financial questions for our parents. That’s because they don’t care where the money comes from, they are just happy that it does. If we were to ask, I bet the answers would be brief, and contain the words “work harder, and save more”. Thanks dad, never mind.

Why can’t we think like our parents, and just take it easy ? Consider a recent article that talks to the cure for absentia. Two scientists have discovered a way to re-create the disease in a Petri dish, using stem cells to mimic brain cells, to introduce the disease, and watch the results. Amazingly, although not a cure, they were able to see the disease grow, in front of their eyes, without having to do the whole process of grow mice, infect them, wait, dissect, and assume a theory, a time consuming endeavour. At worst, researchers can now study potential cure drugs in a matter of months, rather than years. A “game changer”, some commentators said !

The point is, what if modern medicine finds cures for the scary life sapping diseases, like absentia, MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and learns to control most cancers ? Suddenly, you are looking at a lifespan of 100 years. So, with 30 more functional years to live, don’t you now have some unanswered questions ?

Next on Boomers – WTF !, a big thanks to ISIS !

Should Entitlements be the new Ebola ? Vol 54

If you don’t have a favourite Simpson’s episode, you must be a Boomer !

When you look around at our world today, Boomers see different geographies fighting over resources, like in Syria and California. We see religious conflicts in the Middle East, we see ideological issues with Russia and China, and we ponder the latest race and sexist challenges. All disturbing, but minor in relation to the potential historical context. I hope !

What we do not see, or better said, probably want to ignore, are the intergenerational and inter species conflicts that are growing in importance. These issues include the transference of our debt to our kids, money we are borrowing to maintain our lifestyle, safety, health. These conflicts include stoking the fight over equality, both sexually and racially. Finally, these points of contention center on the liberal versus conservative value system.

As a Boomer with some assets that are needed for retirement, charting the future was supposed to be easy. Work hard, buy a large house, pay off the mortgage, and life is taken care of. It is amazing, looking at the world’s population, how screwed most people are as they face their bleak retirement prospects. Governments will be counted on to provide some type of income supplement to all seniors ( all denoting the 95% not otherwise financially well off ). Yet, our governments are debt heavy already, paying for our health care, our myriad of social programs, the public pensions, with no new monies available. Remember, taxes just come out of our pockets, to be returned in government envelopes. The entitlement culture is warping our economics, especially now that there are more takers, and less payers.

Granted, I am talking mostly about the West, a small portion of the planet’s population that bought into the capitalist dream. The majority of the planet’s Boomers will not have a retirement as we envision it, Subsistence living, family care, and tribal rules will govern their existence as they age. You just have to look at Liberia as an example of a poor country, without a health care system, responsible government, or economically driven wealth generation, to see a bleak future. Living in the West, I get upset about how Freedom 55, a marketing ploy meant for us to build up false hopes ( Freedom 85 ? ) stoked our dreams. It really is our fault that we Boomers are in the predicament, there being no one else to blame.

So, to sit there either close to retirement, or just starting, and believe that you are set financially for your lifetime is naïve at best. Yes, you will vote with other Boomers to increase your entitlements, the current fad being a universal income supplement, but at some point that will end. Lets hope our kids take mercy, and don’t blame us for our Me Generation. Just think about how the Woodstock generation became so unequal ? What happened to us ?

If that chain of thought gets you starting to ask what you can do the change things, then Great. Do some thinking, incorporate your beliefs, and decide on doing some good. An example, if you believe in the environment, is to take some time and clean up the neighbourhood. Don’t look for a payday. you already had that. Just do it. If you want your grandkids to get the best education possible, volunteer at the local schools. There are many such events worth living. Not all of us can go to a foreign country and build a school. There is lots to do here.

Personally, it is amazing to me that we enabled the Entitlement culture without spending any money, for decades, on our infrastructure. Take the pipes that deliver the water to our homes, or the electric grid that provides the power we need to live our current lives – these physical pipes and wires are over 50 years old. What happens when they break, and most of our cities have to be dug up to replace them. Imagine the chaos ? Whole neighbourhoods without water, for a year, if not longer. Power outages as transmission grids fail. It would have the look of Gaza where, if you are lucky, you might get power for a few hours per day.

In olden time, in Mesopotamia, archeologists have found ruins where whole cities were abandoned, when the lands surrounding the city got polluted. The problem became too expensive to fix, so the whole city had to be abandoned. Kinda sounds like California today, doesn’t it ? Its also like fixing up New Orleans. What happens after the next disaster ? Look at Miami today, which is slowly becoming an Atlantic Venice, as the water rises and covers the city streets.

So, there is no retirement, no beach condo, no ride into the sunset for us Boomers, at least not yet. We are too young to sit forever. Don’t get mad about it, get involved. Some Economists believe that we are on the verge of the 3rd technological age, which follows the industrial revolution and the computer age. Both previous times had a huge impact on us. One has only to remember how all those farmers took to the factories, as innovation meant less people were needed to feed us all. Kinda like what China is going thru today, though accelerated for sure.

I suggest, as we make our future plans, we remain active, to keep the brain diseases away, to maintain our quality of life. We tried quantity already, right ? In my last blog, I asked what our credo should be, and postulated that perhaps ” there but for the grace of god … ” might be appropriate. We Boomers will discover our own individual brands, but I think I may change my credo to ” Use it, or lose it ” !

Next on Boomers – WTF !, what’s your credo ?

Is it all Whitey’s fault ? Vol 53

If you can remember where you were when Elvis died , you must be a Boomer !

Some questions need to be asked, no matter how politically or culturally incorrect they may appear. Why ? Because we live in an age of Minority Rules, because we can afford to do all kinds of stupid stuff. Its stifling sometimes, but its not wrong to express an opinion that may piss some people off, if it helps us get to the truth. You remember the truth ? You can handle it !

Being a Boomer of a certain age, I have always had a slogan – ” don’t fuck with me, I am a large white Anglo-Saxon male, and I run this planet – if you don’t like, I will just nuke your ass ! “. Egotistical, profane, racist, but sometimes fun to say out loud. My offspring always found it obscene, in the “how could you ?” vein of moral outrage that only the young seem to have these days. Today, reading that sentence is thought provoking. Depending on your individual affliction, you either agree , hate the words but accept the inherent truth, wish to change the logic of the construct, or outright disregard the statement in any form.

I accept all of these arguments. The statement is incorrect on many levels. The point of my blog is to push all Boomers to do better, to push through their past limitations, to grow beyond their envelope of experience, and make new paths ! Its a challenge, for sure, but I do not see a alternative. Being put out to pasture, as our parents were, is not an acceptable option for us.

What does being white mean, anyway ? What does being black mean, or Chinese, Latino, or Muslim ? Do they have their own mantra, their own ego enhancing credo, and if not, why not ?

No matter. We need to bring our culturally diverse species together, and the Western melting pot is the best vehicle we have today for that combining of the most successful traits, life’s way of breeding the next best human. Social Darwinism for sure. So, ignore my throw-back credo as silly in today’s social milieu.

Having said that, my point is that we are starting to spend too much time tearing down ourselves, instead of building ourselves up. Recently, it has become popular to blame white men for most of the world’s problems. I am being made to feel guilty, and I do not know why.

I acknowledge that North America was populated by the religiously persecuted, the starving, and the second son’s who had no land, or future, in a feudal system. The continent was not destroyed in a major war, like many civilized countries. There were many natural resources in abundance, from wood, to coal, to oil and gas, allowing industrialization to continue without the impediments that other regions suffered through. These homegrown advantages lead to riches that kept the economic pie always increasing in size, negating the fights over finite resources that other countries had to endure. Lastly, and some would argue, the most important attribute, was the lack of a tribal or family organizing point. It was every person for themselves, no matter your background. Yes, the Europeans who migrated West first received the greatest advantage one can get in life. That the majority were white bespeaks to cultural differences, as all the other races could have also migrated, but did not until later.

These cultural norms, can we even discuss them today without being castigated ? Can we even talk about the Hindu and Muslim tribal tendencies, the Aboriginal fatalism, the Latino passiveness, the Black individualism, or women’s genetic responsibilities ?

Take women’s rights. Why am I being blamed for the perceived glass ceilings in business and pay equity ? On what continent, at any time line in history, would you rather be a woman, if not today in the West ! Yes, its not equal yet. But great progress happens every day. Even the COO of Facebook, Sherly Sandberg, talks about women needing to ‘Lean in”, which I interpret as being more aggressive in today’s world about the things you want. Take action, take control, and stop blaming others for your own situation.

Take the acceptance of Muslims or Hindu’s If you choose to be kept in your place socially and economically because a tribal elder decides everything for you, including sometimes who your spouse will be, why is that my fault ? Take the conflagration in the Muslim world. Why is it my fault if I do not continue to keep your fanatics in place. Why don’t you defeat ISIS ? Frankly, we tried that, our latest intervention in Afghanistan having the same results as the last few crusades. I guess rape culture has its downside, eh ? Nuff said.

The individualism of the Blacks, whether in America or Africa, shows itself every day in an everyman for his-self philosophy. Its always someone else’s fault, when the evidence points to fatherless homes, the lack of a work ethic, looking down at education , and the pursuit of instant gratification. Ask yourself, could the Ebola outbreak have happened in America ?

So, why is everyone lined up against the white man ? Shouldn’t we be trying to find the best attributes and propagating them, instead of finding faults that can be part of a tear down. or is it really an entitlement culture that takes no individual responsibility, seeking to blame someone or something else for your situation. Maybe Romney was right, after all !

I am the first to mention that we can all do better, and we must. We must share the economic pie fairly, tightening the reins on inequality. We can pay people a realistic liveable minimum wage. We must find ways to stop picking on people because they wear hoodies, and putting them in jail unfairly. We must realize that our planet needs to be cared for in a responsible way, perhaps by taxing carbon or garbage, rather than income – penalizing the wrong outcome rather than the proper consumption. We need to realize that everyone likes drugs, and stop singling out one race as the problem.

This is probably a generational battle, but let’s give our kids a fighting chance, by individually doing something to show the right path forward. For me, I will bury my old credo, and replace it with something positive, like ” there but for the grace of god …”

Next on Boomers – wtf !, ! what’s your credo ?

Should we let ISIS live ? Vol 52

If you know that having money keeps your kids close, you must be a Boomer !

The nutbars currently calling themselves ISIS are rising, gaining strength and territory. They are getting governments around the world bent out of shape. They are stealing oil and selling it somewhere ( Russia ? ), kidnapping for profit, and otherwise getting funding from religious backers like Saudi Arabia. Kinda sounds like the Koch brothers and the Republican party.

It is fascinating to see conservative movements at work. History is filled with the successes of liberalism, starting with the dark ages, and it continues to gain strength as people realize that working together is the only way to a better life. Yes, its taken a while, but liberalism is slow moving, slow to take hold as a doctrine as people took time to get over the age old idea of instant gratification, cause there may not be a tomorrow, giving up small rewards today for larger rewards tomorrow. Valuing our kids is an offshoot of this thinking.

Liberalism is why we now teach our kids respect, so they will take care of us in our old age. Its why we send our kids to school, rather than put them to work in the fields or factory. Its why we believe that our society is judged by how we treat the weakest among us, not the strongest. Cooperative lessons are a mainstay of our civilization. postponed gratification its guidepost.

Nipping at our heels is conservatism, a belief system rooted in the status quo, he who has keeps, what worked yesterday will work tomorrow, change is scary and stressful, I am too old to learn new tricks, fuck the weak. You get the general idea.

ISIS represents a very conservative movement, clothed in religious rhetoric, asking only to stay the course, and keep the status quo. Interestingly, you only have to look at the rewards offered to be an ISIS fighter, lots of virgins in the afterlife, to see how the uneducated would follow the logic ! Personally, I hope the educated recruits from the West joined ISIS for more emotional reasons, because we failed them if they believe in the sex dream. A few years in high school should have fixed that.

The point is that ISIS shows us the weakness of the past. Some argue that the real issue is climate control. The major problem in Syria was. and remains, the lack of water, resulting in drought and no food. Scarcity drove the farmers to rebel, and Assad to deal with an unworkable problem. California is going through the same drought conditions, and we will see who is more humane in their response to a lack of basic needs in their population.

So perhaps ISIS is a protector ? One must consider why it garners so many followers. Their success is for a reason, perhaps many reasons, so we should figure these reasons out, study them, and reflect on why they exist.

Consider the importance of education, as noted above. ISIS only believes in religious education. Aside from its recruits, who are educating the next generation of Arab dentist’s ? Will we ever see ISIS on the moon, or performing brain surgery ? The message seems to be that a lack of education leads to recruitment, to feeling wanted when no one else wants them, when the young boys feel that there is no other path forward. They see only starvation, no jobs, no future. Sounds like the Chicago gang wars. Who failed these people ?

ISIS is one of many groups that do not believe in women’s empowerment. Boko Haram, that Nigeria rebel group that kidnapped those hundreds of young girls to do their chores, is an example of the lack of respect those men feel for women. They are a great example of how not to treat 50% of your population. Thanks ISIS !

Politically, ISIS will wind up pulling Iran into the real world. It can’t be a pariah anymore, stuck in its own insular view of the world. Iran will have to venture out, stop acting covertly in Syria and Iraq, or risk seeing all of their Shiite proxies fall. Iran will need allies to fight off the Sunni’s, before they come to some accommodation with their religious cousins. Thanks ISIS !

The sectarian wars in the Middle East will help keep China bottled up regionally – they don’t want any part of fixing this mess, even though they need the Arab oil more than the West. Seeing the trouble the US gets into, China will talk tough with Japan and South Korea, but want no part of using force to start a conflict.

Ecologically, the wasteland that is now Syria in instructive on what a population will do when its survival is threatened. Its Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at work. History is littered with great civilizations that overstayed their geographical footprint, gobbling up resources without considering sensible pragmatic solutions that would have helped everyone effected. Way to go ISIS !

Lastly, and hopefully most importantly, ISIS is showing the famed Arab Street the result of doing nothing – millions of refugees, buildings being bombed back to the stone age, no economy, no education, no future. All because of a few Wahhabi fanatics…

So maybe we should let ISIS live, as the example they are setting, the benefits of their actions, greatly outweigh the damage they, and groups like them, are doing to us. It may take a white, but Muslims will soon realize the destructive path they are on, and seek an alternative. Of this, I am optimistic. If not, then they are destined to be remembered by us as a sad peoples. If the conflagration continued indefinitely, it will only be us that remembers, as they will have destroyed their civilization.

Next on Boomers – wtf !, what happens when Whites no longer get to run things !

Beheadings, now on Youtube Vol 51

If you know the 7 dwarves of menopause, you must be a Boomer ! ( answer below )

I hate social media. As a Boomer with adult kids, I have been exposed to many of the various forms of social sharing, and its close cousin, the 24/7 instant news feed, while resisting the urge to participate. I understand the need for speed in all the things we do, and do not complain about the increased efficiency of the world, whether its in business, science, or even cooking faster. Our standard of living today is based on being more productive, and I only hope that the gains we have made in our wealth continue onward and upward.

Really, it is interesting to see our kids try to multi-task, or think they are multi-tasking, when all the latest studies show that the human brain can not multi-task. The brain actually chops up the work into bits, so when you think you are doing lots of jobs at once, like driving and texting, what you are actually doing is processing bits of each job serially, meaning that the processing does not overlap in the brain – the jobs are apportioned brainpower in bits. Using my example, you focus on driving for a few seconds, then you focus on texting for a few seconds, driving, texting, and so on. The brain switches between jobs at speed, allowing us to think we are multi-tasking, when we are really just doing one job at a time. Granted, our gadgets are set up to allow this, what with increased safety systems in cars, like lane switching warnings, and with texting, with autocorrect features that fix your spelling after an errant keystroke.

No, I just find the social media universe to be dangerous. Take the privacy issue, for example. These days, everything you ever posted, even if it just to your loved ones, can be hacked and published. All those nude pictures of movie stars being exposed on the internet stolen from Apple’s storage devices is an invasion of privacy. Why people take these pictures in the first place is crazy, but posting them is the height of stupidity. Think of Eric Snowdon and the Wikileaks stories, and can anyone not see the danger to their privacy ?

Consider the political implications of the net. Even ISIS, in showing the beheadings of the captives, used social media to whip up a reaction. ISIS is considered by many commentators to have mastered social media, to use platforms like YouTube to do recruiting videos, publish their manifestos, and rile their enemies with the torture uploads. Their propaganda should be restricted, but it can’t. All we are doing is giving their movement more oxygen and status that it deserves. Closing down their access would assist us in defeating their cause.

What about education ? New studies show that kids in school text all the time. Are they really learning when they do that ? Can they cheat easier ? I love the fact that we have technology in the classroom, but like our driving example above, there have to be limits. One idea is for the wireless companies to use their GPS functions on smartphones to disable the phone use within a school building. Students would have to go outside the classroom to phone or text. I suppose one could only disable certain features like texting and data, but allow talk, if there is a safety concern. This restrict idea is now taking hold for drivers who text, with the phone companies being asked to disable phones that are moving over a certain speed. Again, you could pull over and use your phone if the need arose, but this would stop a behaviour that is dangerous to society.

Personally, I have nothing against social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the rest of them have a utility and a value. My issue is how they are changing our social landscape. For example, many of us spend time commuting, and having a device for keeping up with the world during this wasted time is productive. Booking time with friends, sending out birthday greetings, checking out your BFF’s latest blog post is fun, I am sure, when there is nothing else to do, except wait. Texting during dinner, while driving, or while walking are examples of rude or dangerous behaviour that need to be curtailed. Personally, I hate to see people on their devices all the time. Its like the ability and opportunity to have a conversation is lost. Maybe its me, but I was taught that if you are talking to someone and your phone beeps, you ignore it until such time as your real social interaction is finished. To break off and answer the phone is rude to the person in front of you, acknowledging an unknown call as more valuable than the person and your conversation. Don’t we have voicemail for that ?

I am not saying we should all be Luddites, or that we should stagnate socially, so let me separate out the functions that help our society from the useless ones ! Most of the business functions of our web use tools that make us more productive and do change our behaviour. Search engines assist us by making us more knowledgeable, allowing access to information that was not easily available years ago. Facebook and Skype can help us stay in touch with friends and family who are distant. Apps that store pictures keep memories alive. Probably my personal favourite game changer is Amazon and the other shopping on-line apps that allow us to do stuff from home, saving on actually having to physically drive, park, and shop for everything. These apps will change the business landscape, our shopping habits, and our need for cars long-term. Think of all the wasted money we have invested in cars parked at shopping malls, the wasted gas, the unneeded highways, lights, and real estate, all being superseded by on-line shopping. In future, maybe malls will just be for seniors to get their exercise in walking clubs !

Am I showing my age when I do not use Facebook, or Twitter ? I write a blog, and have been told, by Google and the blog host, that using social media would increase my readership. Well, screw that. Keeping my sanity is more important to me than a few readers. Perhaps I will just go see the play by the South Park writers, the Book of Mormon, to get my social fix – na, I will probably await the download instead.

( Answer is Itchy, bitchy, sweaty, sleepy, bloated, forgetful, and psycho )

Next on Boomers – WTF !, Why we may actually need ISIS !

Cocooning Boomers and their Kludges, part 2 Vol 50

If you still have the newspaper delivered, you must be a Boomer !

What stops Boomers from doing the right thing ? What gets in the way of our passions, stops us from fully exercising our abilities, stretching outside the box ? Where do the mental and physical fences we erect around us come from ? Its like we are born free, then allow nature and nurture to grow our inhibitions for us, sometimes without actually knowing it.

Boomers have grown this protective armour, and now use it as a logical excuse menu whenever something risky or dangerous appears. Its a Boomer tragedy to have allowed this to occur, and we will all have to self diagnose and start the purging, if we are to fully realize our generational potential and stop all this self-absorbing navel glazing. And we can, if we are able to see the impediments to our growth. Whether you do is up to you, but lets identify some roadblocks first.

Its these fences that we paste onto ourselves, like a cocoon, to keep us safe in this terrible world. These are basically kludges, add-ons of a legal, personal, and physical nature we have developed and allowed to be activated all around us, to keep our personal space safe. In a world of seven billion, space is becoming of paramount importance.

As a reference, a kludge, as denoted at length in a recent blog, is defined as a clumsy but temporarily effective patch that fixes some type of problem. Its a software term, which I am borrowing to describe how Boomers can review their lives, to ascertain how they got here, so changes can be made. An emotional kludge alluded to above would be blaming the banks for the housing crisis, when really we, the public, got greedy and insisted on low mortgage rates. When things went bad and the bubble burst, we blamed everyone but ourselves, the real culprit and victim.

Another legal kludge is what happens after an accident. Instead of just admitting that sometimes shit happens, and bad luck is exactly that, we institute lots of controls to assure that the event will not happen again. Drowning in a boating accident, or someone getting killed at an intersection gives rise to all kinds of new laws, kludges that are supposed to make us feel better / safer / secure, but actually sap our collective freedoms and inhibit our life. And they are forever. Think of a stop sign installed in your neighbourhood because an accident happened there once. Rather than blame someone, we installed the kludge, and its there forever.

Personal kludges are easier to see, but the toughest to delete. My favourite is believing that the medical system will save me from overeating, smoking, excessive drinking, and driving fast. So, I get to do all these inherently destructive activities, without feeling guilty. Car safety, as expressed in deaths per thousand divers, is way way down from the 1960’s, as car safety has dramatically improved. So why do we all drive faster ? Because we know our survival rates have also improved. Good thing we are richer, as we see this kludge play out with increased insurance rates.

Don’t feel loved ? Eating will fill that void. Stress too much ? Smoking gives that little high that hides my fears. No Friends ? Drinking at a Bar will hide our loneliness. Want to grow some self-esteem ? Give everyone a participation medal ! Too fat ? Blame a relative, or a gland ! Viagra ? Nuff said !

Please note that not all kludges are bad. Some emotional kludges include certain behaviors that keep us sane in this ever spinning world. Having kids, my personal favourite is how kids blame their parents for all the misery in their lives. Their smarts, athletic ability, looks, social status, all their parents fault when things go wrong. Its a kludge because they were not born with this add-on. It was pasted on later.

Physical kludges include plastic surgery, liposuction, hair transplants, or our gym obsession. While some may think that these items are the result of the society we have created, pointing to more wireless waves, modified foods, pollution, and thus that everything could be a kludge, I do not. We must accept society’s tradeoffs as necessary, to feed and care for all of us. Adding a new kludge is usually done to cover-up a failing, like using Rogaine to cover a perceived lack of masculinity.

To see policy kludges in action, one need look no further than the mind-numbing complexity of the tax system. When we get frustrated trying to understand our taxes, or perplexed at the complications of our civil-litigation system, they need to recognize their problem as a part of a larger set of issues that links to other, seemingly unconnected grievances and frustrations. We do not want to pay other peoples bills, and yet need to pay taxes to fund our own problems. Governments use kludges to make us feel like other people are paying part of our share of our costs.

While it might seem like an uphill climb, a simpler, less kludge’y government is an immensely attractive goal, and should appeal to all of us. Imagine a system whereby the tax code was scrubbed to one page (ok, one double sided page ! ).

The point is that no-one wants to hear the truth about their cocoon, because exposing your real self hurts. Cocooning wraps up all these safety nets and shields us from consequence. So, look inward, and figure out a few kludges that you can work on. Let’s face it – Boomers are going to have to fix ourselves, before we can use fix our government or our society.

Next on Boomers – wtf !, Islam and its gastric ulcer called ISIS.

Can you Fail Fast ? Why Not ? Vol 49

If you grow vegetables, you must be a Boomer !

We live words. I make my living on their backs. So, let’s be clear. I am trying to manipulate you with every blog I write ! Why ? Because I strongly believe that we Boomers are reaching a point in our lives where we now feel lost. Powerless. Uncertain. Empty !

Yes, we have accomplished much. We have raised our kids, sheltered our family’s as best we could, and worked through lots of emotional stuff to get to where we are today. We are accomplished, some perhaps more than others, but successes nevertheless, right ? Why then, the emptiness, the feeling of un-fulfillment, the silent thought that we are stagnating ?

Individually, we try to fill in this emptiness with substitutes. Some self medicate, whether its booze, pot, or food, hoping that the physical act of ingesting will fill in the void. Some buy toys, like boats or RV’s, and convertible sports cars, so the wind can swirl through their bald heads. Some become couch potatoes, hoping to somehow survive the recent age afflictions that are rampant in our society, like heart disease, cancer, or some other stress related lifestyle result. I forget who said it but some band penned the phrase ” industrial disease “, and most of us have some strain of it. ( Yes I could google the phrase, but then I would deprive you of the memory of the group, or the satisfaction of doing the look-up yourself ).

Some Boomers even try the divorce route, looking for renewed excitement in a new relationship. Grey divorces, the term now used for Boomer break-ups, have increased by 50% recently, from 8% to about 12%. Not a huge number, but definitely a sign of soul searching.

My point ? It’s that Boomers stop learning, stop growing morally, and cocoon around our current situation ! We have been learning all of our lives, dodging failure, and we somehow believe that now is the time to celebrate the end of the journey. Why we do this is complicated. The point is to do more, to learn more, to understand that you can’t live 1/2 of a life in a full lifetime.

I am 58, the age my father died, from diabetes. So, I can not ask him about growing old. My father-in-law retired at 58 ( he is now 86 ), because he believed that he would only live until 70, maybe 75, and wanted to enjoy some of life before the big ending. Boomers today, with the continued progress of modern medicine, could see many of us live to 100. Yes, there will be cancer scares, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative diseases, but once they are solutioned, we will have the chance to live fruitful lives into our 90’s. With an average age of 56, this means most Boomers have 30+ years of learning to do.

So, why is continued learning so hard ? One major complication is that it will force us to fail, eventually, and failure is one of those few words that, as a Boomer, has long term implications, on many levels. From a society point of view, to have failed is to have lost a part of the world to socialism, to have lost millions of people to abject poverty, to have lost the war on poverty, the war on drugs …. You get the picture. Failure is one of those generational words that have great meaning.

Personally, failure tags us as losers. We can’t be good role models, good mates, or good friends if we are failures, right ? Wrong ! Interestingly, the most comments I have received on my blog involved the concept, from the behavioural sciences, that most successful people failed a few times along the way. The scientific point was that these people failed fast, and learned from their mistakes, and tried something else. Boomers tend to get hung up about failing, going out of our way to not fail, or better said, not having to show it.

We were brought up in a culture that wanted us to hide our failures, rather than celebrate them. I should say continued because we were taught this by our parents. Hopefully we have a chance to show our kids that we to can venture out, celebrate our occasional failures, and grow !

So, conquer one of your fears. Learn something new, Go out of your way to help someone. There are many ways to start to fill in the emptiness of our souls, and not all have to be about building schools in Africa. Sounds easy, right, but how does one convince someone to change their position logically, if their position was not logically derived in the first place ? How do you replace emotion with logic ? It is the question of our age.

When I was growing up, I searched for words, meaningful words, stuff that could help me navigate a world of misplaced meanings. Words like honour, commitment, marriage, love, friendship, a few words loaded with weight. We all have loaded words. What are yours, and why do they have such power ? It’s time for us to look deeply inside our souls, and rediscover the loaded words that we have papered over in our quest for perfection.

Next on Boomers – WTF !, kludges and why they inhibit our growth.

Where are the Black DREAMERS ? Vol 48

If you find yourself looking more and more at the obits, you must be a Boomer !

Occasionally, we fight amounst ourselves. Like any family, clan, or tribe, its up to leadership to eventually wade in, institute a stop to the argument, and find an equitable solution. Sometimes, this means one side loses, but eventually these types of decisions even themselves out, and all parties benefit from the rule of law.

True, sometimes an argument can not be fixed, and the family breaks apart. This usually occurs for a valid reason, an understandable but unforgivable reason, and life goes on. A divorce over an affair is an example of a family breakup. A dispute over succession is a clan’s reason for a breakup, and a dispute over what ( or whom ) to believe is a society’s reason for conflict.

Looking at Ferguson, the Michael Brown shooting, and the subsequent riots confuses me. As a white man, I get the police potentially being criminally guilty of the killing – let the facts come out in due course – but the resulting riots and race questions are unacceptable in our society.

I say this to start a conversation, something everyone seems to want but no-one will start with a list of questions. Why is this ? President Obama talks around the event, but does not list the issues that drive this situation. Why not ? Al Sharpton pontificates on the need for reconciliation, but not the solutions to the underlying problems. Why, since he has no other agenda, is he skirting the facts ? Can someone help me understand the issues and potential solutions, because we are wasting a lot of time and energy on this, and its completely counterproductive for us as a society.

Imagine what ISIS thinks when we have riots in our streets, gun deaths in the thousands, and even a 9 year old girl being shown how to use a Uzi submachine pistol ? Either they think we are crazy ( when would a girl have access to a Uzi ), or completely out of control. Hopefully, they see crazy. In any event, the best antidote to ISIS is to have all Muslims see that the west has the type of society that can lead by example, that any sane person would wish to be part of.

Seriously, numerous commentators seem to be skirting the problem. How can we try to fix the issues if we can not have a conversation about them ? I understand that it might be a generational fix, but there has to be a path forward. I can tell you that blaming the white man is a non starter. Latino’s, Asian communities, and other immigrant groups come to North America because of the society we have built. That includes the largest melting pot of cultures on the planet, one of the main reasons why America is so well respected. Really, I am tired of being blamed for things I can not control.

The other non starter is what Bill O’Reilly of Fox News calls “grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money. We spend enough on social programs today as it is. Now, if someone were to come up with a solution that cost something, great, find me a program that does not work ( all of them today ! ), and let’s try it. Otherwise we may all wind up like that 35 year white bigoted Ferguson Police veteran who was captured on a video describing black domestic situations. His best solution, based on his experience, was for one spouse to shoot the other …

Is it a fascination with drugs, or are they mostly an escape ? So many Black single mom’s, is that because of a defect in Black men, or some time lost clan impulse ? Why are most failed schools in black neighbourhoods ? Is it the pupils fault, or the teachers fault ? How do we fix this ? Is it job discrimination, whitey holding down everyone else ? Is it ego ? Are Blacks just not emotionally built to survive in today’s world of speed and technology ? Why isn’t our Black President doing more to solve the problem, or is Obamacare really a major step forward, but he can’t discuss its real implications because of the political ramifications ? Why do we have to have Black hyphenated anything – what is a Black American and why would you want to be part of that clan ? We do not hear of Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Indian-Americans – they want to be Americans. This not to downplay their culture(s). But being part of the melting pot is its own reward. Are there too many Blacks, perhaps ?

These are hard and sometimes stupid questions, but we must all agree that we need to discuss them. According to various studies, the latest one from Harvard and Tuffs, Blacks have much less net worth that whites, earn 40% less, and have a lower life expectancy. WTF, indeed !

Whites will soon be a minority on this continent, and then maybe we will see the effect of being a minority up close and personal. Until then, it behooves us to work on all of our problems, and fix them as quickly as possible.

Our biggest problem today is Ebola, and its continued spread. Surely, if we can mobilize to stop the potential next black plague, we can come together to change the black experience towards a positive outcome.

Next on Boomers – wtf !, why failing fast means success !

How Stupid are Arab Boomers, really ? Vol 47

If you have never failed, you must be a Boomer !

Having been sidelined during my knee surgery and a vacation, I missed commenting on a string of stories with global repercussions for Boomers. These include the Middle East, Putin and Ukraine, Hamas, ISIS, and Iran. I do this with a Boomer view of the world, a western view, a futurist view, lamenting the wasted time, energy, passion, and talent. We have better things to do.

First up, the Middle East, and the Arab Summer. There have been many articles and writers commenting on the area, the religious tensions, the various strategies, the possible outcomes, and the carnage. I suppose we could now define the Arab Spring as the time when we witnessed the overthrow of many of the clans or families that controlled the Arab world. All were Boomers. Now, the next stage of the process, what some might call the liberalization and / or democratization of the region, has begun. Frankly, I am an Arab optimist long term. The demographics foretell the time when the next bigger cohort will take charge, and see that bombing their homes and countries back to the stone age is completely a waste of, well, everything. It will take time, but eventually, ISIS, the Sunni tribes, the Shiites, and rest of the players in the region will recognize that theirs is a lose lose sum game. Really, over olive trees !!!!

Hamas is a perfect example. When they were handed Gaza, they had a chance to build a vibrant Palestinian economy, a beach destination worthy of tourist travel, and a just society. I understand the need for self determination and their own state, a path the international community would have helped push Israel towards. Instead, the greenhouses needed for growing a sustainable food supply were destroyed, the cement imported for building was used for tunnels, and the monies Hamas received was used for militancy. To what end, I ask ? Today, Hamas is friendless, broke, and its citizenry homeless. As someone once said, they have missed every opportunity to miss an opportunity. Based on this, they are early contenders for the award as the stupidest Boomers on the planet !

Please notice that I specifically used the term Arabs. The vast majority of Muslims live peacefully all over the globe, members of various societies in good standing, builders, peacemakers, enlightened in their view of human rights. it is interesting how Muslims who embrace their religion are peaceful, while all the shit occurring in the Middle East is done in the name of religion. It seems to me that it’s the groups like ISIS and Hamas who are not Muslims. How can they target civilians and still say they are pious people ? Caliphate my ass !

While I do make a generalization concerning the inhumanity of Arabs, I do appreciate that there are some smart guys. The leaders of ISIS, for example, be-headed the American journalist for multiple tactical reasons, showing intelligence in working towards their strategic goals. First, they need to keep their recruitment drive going, just like has to. What better way to do that than have the US bomb them, allowing ISIS to use their oppression as a recruiting tool. Republicans do this with same sex marriage. ISIS probably had to buy the journalist from his captors, so this bespeaks a business model, just like their kidnapping operation is a funding mechanism. Also, US involvement strengthens their political play within Iraq, keeping Iran and the Shiites at bay. The be-heading also got them noticed in the Sunni tribes as willing to do the dirty work needed to fight off the Shiites and their proxies in Syria. Nice outcome, really.

Putin and Ukraine, on the other hand, exhibits a strategy that makes sense. I disagree with Putin\s tactics, arming the rebels and giving them advanced weapons ( how was he supposed to hide the fact that they were Russian when all the guys showed off their black and white striped undershirts ), but one can understand his concern about the security of his country, and the future of his nation. Like Syria’s Assad, Putin’s days are numbered. He is being forced to strong arm his neighbours for internal propaganda, as the Russia’s economy, much like Canada’s, is a petro state that is running out of steam. The economic winter is fast approaching, driving strife that will bring him down. Calculation will delay the inevitable, but he is done. downing of the airline and subsequent handling of the crash site was just more bad luck for a regime in decline.

The interesting and unknown piece of this play belongs to Iran. Amazingly, they have stayed out of the news lately, after being a staple of the CNN daily news cycle. What is happening on the nuclear deal ? Are they still funding Hezbollah ? Why are they not more vocal in Iraq, after seeing their hand-picked Prime Minister get booted ? Are they helping Hamas at all ? Are the hard liners taking over, or is Rouhani, the current President, making progress !

Overall, the real winners in the Middle East will be the people who value their children the most. I understand that it will take time for the current crop of Boomers to see that, but it will happen. We need to do everything we can to help them see the future, without being part of the past. There is no magic formula for this, just as there was no one solution that stopped the religious fighting in Northern Ireland.

Gaza is a particularly useful illustration of a people handed the future, biting the hand that helps, and blinded by hatred, killing any future. The Palestinians and Jews both started from the same point, in the desert with nothing but sand, and now, one has an iron dome missile shield, and the other lives in dark rubble, a clear winner in the race to be the stupidest Boomers on the planet.

Next on Boomers – wtf !, cocooning Boomers and their Kludges !