Standard Time

On 4 November the United States will go through the ritual of changing over to Standard Time.  Spring water, fall down, as the saying goes – or something like that. It always seems perfectly ridiculous to think that somehow we “save” an hour when all we’re really doing is moving it around.

It’s even worse if you have friends or colleagues in Europe, which make the change a week earlier, on 28 October  For one week there will be six hours between St Paul and Frankfurt instead of the usual seven.  Next week it’s back to normal.

All this messing with the clocks only proves how artificial the whole idea of time is.  Perhaps we’re better off with one time across the globe.

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Patriot – Get Out And Vote

I first ran this piece ten years ago, and update it for every election.

Election Day is not a national holiday, at least not in the traditional sense. But it is the one day that our nation asks something from all of us, even if it’s just a few minutes. If you follow Calle Ocho through Little Havana in Miami on Election Day, you’ll see a long line houses with the red white and blue of US and Cuban flags stretching off into the horizon. Families sometimes come together across generations, as with any holiday, before they go off to vote. Cuban exiles in Miami are a people that know what it means to be free because freedom and good times are often best measured against their opposite.

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Columbus Day? Not So Much.

October is a good month for holidays in North America.  At the end of the month we have the collision of the Celtic Samhain with the Aztec / Spanish Dia de los Muertos which swirled into Halloween.  But in the middle is the difficult holiday, the one where we celebrate the connection of this continent with the rest of the world.  And the three brother nations of this continent have their own ways of marking it.  This is a repeat from 2011, updated.

To our North, in Canada, the first Monday after October 12th is  Thanksgiving, this year on the 13th.  To our South, in Mexico, the 12th is  Dia de la Raza.  Our brother nations here in North America have found things to celebrate in the early days of Autumn, but here in the USofA we have nothing but the pseudo-holiday Columbus Day – something we’ve tossed over our shoulders and given up on.

This may be a measure of our ability to get anything together.

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Freedom From Fear

Fear stalks women in America even when amoral men aren’t directly targeting them.  This post from last year discusses how fear is a part of our culture, and drives far too much of our politics.

Freedom. It’s the basis of not just our system, but the values that the system was created to protect. Americans value their freedom above everything else.

But do we really have what it takes to be truly a free people today?

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The Nightmare Before Christmas

It’s October!  Time for you to watch this absolute classic of animation and lose yourself in the brilliant score.  This post is part of the annual tradition, first run in 2015.

It’s the spooky season, but it’s also the fun season. Before Winter wraps its embrace around us there is Halloween, the last chance to have some fun. It’s a challenge to the eerie creep of darkness we’re still adjusting to, still resisting at least one last time.

No movie captures the season for me quite like “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” the epic Tim Burton classic of stop-motion animation from the old school. Released in 1993, it was immediately recognized as a great classic movie for the holidays – Halloween, for the fun of it, and Christmas for the cynically twisted reaction to what it has become.

What makes this movie, however, isn’t just the great story and animation. The score by Danny Elfman is pure genius – and belongs in the repertoire of classical greats.

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Faith and Deeds

This piece from a year ago is still valid.  

A lot of people are upset about the direction of the nation. Nearly a two to one ration finds that the nation is on the wrong track, according to a Rasmussen poll. That fits with the ongoing controversies sweeping our mindscapes involving protests of various kinds.

A lack of faith in our government should be one thing which unites us. It’s something of an American tradition, after all. Some think it’s involved in vast conspiracies. Some want to stockpile arms against it. Some think it’s just plain incompetent. Some think our history is a complete lie.

No one, anywhere, thinks that government is going to solve all of our problems. No one trusts it completely. No one thinks our taxation system is completely fair. No one thinks that the system always produces justice.

Yet protests about our system or our government are the surest way to spark a highly emotional shouting match that transcends any ability to get anything done. And there may be a good reason.

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Industry 4.0

Call it the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” or the more hip “Industry 4.0” if you like. What matters most is that industry, or the process of making things, is changing in ways that seem fundamental and permanent. The world is moving on to a new era which, difficult as times like this can be to understand, appears to be rather well defined and describable.

If you do a deep dive into Industry 4.0, however, there is still something missing. It’s the “why” of the process which seems to be at least assumed, if not elusive. Not just why it is happening, but why it is being driven now and why it is expected to cast aside Industry 3.0.

What’s missing in the increasing chatter of Industry 4.0 appears to be the fundamental force behind it, which is the decline of what we might call “capitalism” in favor of a purely market centered, low overhead “marketism” approach.

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