Saturday, November 9, 2013

9 November 2013
Saturday approximately 9:45 PM

Even though things are alright
they are not rosey

Well, nothing too exciting or harrowing to report today from this muffled life here in Happy Haven. I have discovered that usually on Saturdays and Sundays everything takes on a very lax tone around here. I suppose this echoes what goes on in most homes throughout the country. There is not a push to get to work on time or get kids off to school or any of those things that keep us hidebound to the clock. And usually when we have the time to ourselves, as in the weekend, things can get a little laid-back. We may not get out of our jammies until later in the morning, find no need to quickly address and prepare to leave the house, everything just takes a laid-back, easy attitude.

Same thing happens here. I'm not sure if many showers are delivered on Saturdays, it is my understanding they certainly are not done on Sundays. The place I see it the most, is contact with the CENA staff. Unlike the weekdays no one comes in to regularly "take my vitals" trailing behind them a machine on wheels that is designed to simultaneously take my blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate. For some reason, that sure is not done at all on Saturday or Sunday. Also when meals are delivered around here that are approximately close to the same time for all three meals of the day. Usually, during the week, the tray with the finished meal and used dishes is picked up approximately an hour later. Then there is the weekends. Often the pickup of my used tray is 3 to 4 or sometimes six hours later. This even surprises some of the CENA staff, as can be viewed when they enter the room as their faces register the surprised look when they exclaim, "Is your tray still here?"

Rather than treat this as a straight question awaiting a straight answer, I treat it as a foil to which I need to make some sort of quick and witty comment immediately. I look at this is grist for the mill, or yet another of the many unending methods of being set up for some sort of creative response. The trick is to come up with something unexpected and yet not mean or aggressive towards others. Usually this response from me brings forth a grin from the CENA, which I hope implies that I'm not upset. Although, I too have to ask incredulously, is that tray still here?

I did read (or more accurately came across to a combination of video and audio reporting on one of my electronic devices) and article based on some general news print that came from some scientific journal reporting, that in the US the measurable amount of creativity in our children is slowly inching downward. This caught my attention immediately. Now I do I consider myself one of those creative people, but much of my academic studies in the field of psychology were predicated on various aspects of creativity. Even before Iheard the article I could guesstimate as to what the problem was. In the article they went through the usual searching for causation. This did not surprise me as in general this is what a lot of our society is doing lately. You can see it in the politics as one particular conservative group insists on finding the cause behind everything, and what makes their "findings" so absolutely hilarious is that they're looking in the wrong direction. There's this huge surge and cry to"Go back to basics", there are great number of people who want to turn back the clock in live like we did, in say, the 1950s, or even further back. To bolster their argument they point to the Constitution and how the founding fathers lived. I find it interesting with a smirk. If you want to live like they did in those colonial days, go do so. In fact they have a nice place in Virginia that is an historical replica of village life back then called Williamsburg. Go live there.

Meanwhile technology does not slow down, nor does it take a U-turn because some people want to. I doubt you could find many people who would willingly dispense with their smart phone, their tablet computer, Wi-Fi, Internet, or the ability to see and buy things from a distance without having to travel. I just don't think that human nature is going to buy into that for very long, no matter how seductive or accusatory some of these "self-proclaimed tea lover types" try to make themselves appear to be so wonderful. There is a reason why we don't live like they do in Williamsburg anymore, it was cold, hot, hard, boring, took so much work to live that we had no time to do much else. I have a real rough time believing that the bulk of this country would like to go back to that. However this does not stop the tea heads from pulling every trick in the book to try and get their way. Even if they succeed, it will only be temporarily as people will realize, "What the hell were we thinking?"

Back to the creativity measurement of children receding. With all the fuss about how to run our school systems, the constant pressure to measure and make sure that everybody gets to be the same. This is where the toll is being paid. Everybody isn't the same, that's why we had this built into our government in the first place. Wake up folks! This is a very backwards and underhandedly insidious way of dumbing down the populace. If everyone is taught to try and be the same, it may make it easier for the teachers, or those others who designate themselves to be overseers in charge of the rest, but it will do nothing to increase what our culture has been known for - innovation, production beyond the wildest dreams, pulling out the most audacious result not done by others. Want an example? How about in less than 10 years building a space program from scratch and landing a man on the moon. Not just once but several times. Look at all the innovative things that have been built and absorbed into our culture that people don't even realize, but take for granted.

Part of the problem is that people are trained to just note that some of these things have changed and to accept them. When was last time anyone looked critically at why certain things were changed? What was adjusted and why? Does it make it better? Whose version of better? In what way?

In the last decade people have been lamenting the economy. It certainly has changed. And there are several people that will show you many ways that started this change, those are all debatable and only time will settle the issue. Meanwhile technology keeps moving on. As certain politicians will now tell you, with measurements, that the economy is improving. Yes, the economy may be improving, and it can be measurably shown. However, an economy and a jobless rate are not a straight correlation. Notice that as the economy is improving, many manufacturing concerns are now placing orders for robots that they plan on having do the work of several employees. In an article I read one moderately priced robot at $27,000 has an expected lifetime of 5 to 7 years, will work 24 hours a day and generate no healthcare problems, a factor whose price increases no employer has any handle on. Simple grade school math rather than high level economics dictates which way they should go on this choice. So while the economy is improving, there are less people being hired back to take the jobs they used to have.

If one were to look at this from strictly an objective point of view, the choice is a no-brainer. The company becomes more efficient, more product is generated, the owners and stockholders become wealthier. From a subjective point of view, the worker can no longer find the same kind of work that used to be done, they no longer have money which does not get plowed back into the economy. So the problem becomes how much objective and subjective point of view are we to include in our view of this situation. Yes it is true that we no longer have thousands of people employed making buggy whips any longer. And it is a valid question as to whose job should it be to retrain workers who may find themselves supplanted by machinery. I would argue that if you are one of those previously mentioned owners or stockholders, you could give a ripped shit about what happens. And for a while your monetary fortune may keep you insulated from a growing problem outside your door. However, those untrained workers who are unable to find any way to reinvent themselves and make themselves useful to others are going to gather and grow in size and strength, gaining support from others like them. Does the history of the French Revolution mean anything to you?

Looking back at that event it was not pretty, nor did it really achieve any good purpose. Some observers will say today that French politics and governmental systems are still somewhat haphazard, and lurch from one charged position to another depending on the whim of the public. Taking a larger view of the French Revolution, it did act as a diffusing of long pent-up anger and emotions, but at a very steep cost. While that may have been affective in the short run, I'm not so sure that the long-term shadow of the way that event proceeded has really served the French people very well.

Back to the issues of creativity. One of the things that the creative person is able to do is step back and look at the same situation as others and be able to see it differently. They can see different outcomes, they can see different factors taking place, they can see different ways of helping guide it to the successful resolution. The noncreative types will, I'm afraid, tend to see things for the easiest, cheapest, most logical ways. This may not be what we need to do. Go back and search the newspapers and public media from around the time of Kennedy's speech charging the nation with a manned space program ending with a man on the moon - and being brought back successfully. We had nothing to build on. Up to that point most of our rockets either exploded on the launchpad are only rose a few hundred feet up in the year before they blow up. In the race against the Soviets for supremacy we looked to be very far behind. But people bought into the image of landing a man on the moon and then they looked critically at what we had to work with and began to design better. We took incremental steps, and critically analyze the success and failures of each. Then change the design as we progressed. Eventually we were able to control rockets so they launched successfully. Through tremendous errors we figured out after the fire in the Gemini capsule on the launchpad, 100% pure oxygen atmosphere was not necessarily the way we needed to go with the breathing atmosphere in our space vehicles. Again we learned with the Challenger disaster that space shuttles are so complicated they need to be prepared and launched when ready not because were trying to adhere to some sort of timetable following a business model. Eventually we learned not only how to modify our technology, but also our approach and use of that technology towards more perfect results. Even simple things that most people have never seen or heard of like Venn diagrams and Gantt charts were used to plot the timing of subassemblies and the completion of supporting events that fit into the whole, which had never been done before. Now these things are taught in most business programs so that people can anticipate needed parts to be delivered on time at the right place.

None of this would've occurred if we wanted to stay in the same mindset of the strict production oriented worker. The creative person usually does not specialize in only one area. It's a lifestyle. It can be applied everything that the individual may see or do in their life. It requires familiarity with the materials and techniques so that one does not go down a wrong path unnecessarily . Sadly I am not seeing that this approach is being very welcomed in the school systems these days. Everything is oriented towards conforming, being like everybody else, at a high level, but very much the same. The thing that bothers me about this is that these things have sort of been shown in nature to not work very well. For example the potato blight that hit Ireland and caused so much death and misery, and caused more than three quarters of the Irish population to emigrate, just so they could live. More than once we've been shown that to depend on such homogeneity is a recipe just waiting for disasterto come in. Did we not learn the lesson? Is there a reason why we insist on doing this again with a whole generation of our youngsters? Is anybody paying attention? Does anyone care?

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