Rain And Earthquakes

It rained today…California has been suffering through a 2 year drought, so I should have been happy, but I was not…In fact, the rain lashing against my windows and the gray skies outside and the colder weather from the storm all combined to make me feel frightened, confused and isolated…I know intellectually that we need the rain, but emotionally it was like a visceral shock to my system….Besides, because of the drought, and many subsequent forest fires that burned up thousands of acres of vegetation, we are in for many mudslides this year….

I guess it was like the change in the weather that affected me so profoundly, like that timeless classic song by Natalie Merchant with 10,000 Maniacs, “About the Weather”…I think that there is something inherently embedded deep in the human consciousness that always wants to resist change, even if the change is for the better…You can KNOW this intellectually, like I realize that California needs the rain, but there is a still a small part of me resisting the change on the gut level….

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Dark clouds move over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, Calif., Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. The National Weather Service says that by late morning Thursday 1 inch of rain had fallen in several hours across the western side of the county. Much of Northern California is under a variety of warnings and advisories for rain, snow and high winds. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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Things are different today, and I don’t like it! I guess like most people I will just have to soldier on and deal with the weather, and since I grew up in Chicago I certainly know that a little or even a LOT of rain, is nothing compared to the weather they get back there all winter long…I clearly remember mountainous snowdrifts, icy roads that had to be snowplowed and then salted by special trucks to make the streets passable, and I most certainly remember having to shovel snow every day of the winter….

It is the law back there that every homeowner, store owner, or apartment manager is responsible for shoveling the snow off the sidewalks when it snows back there….Of course, if you have a house, you have to shovel the driveway to be be able to get your car out of the garage as well, and if you just concluded a backbreaking hour or so shoveling all this snow, don’t be surprised if this is just the exact instant that the snow plow will go by your house and dump a new load of snow at your driveway entrance!

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People work to shovel snow-covered cars out in Boston's Charlestown section, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, one day after a blizzard dumped about two feet of snow in the city. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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So once again you have to grab your shovel and go and shovel this new mound of excess snow away to get your car out of the driveway before you hit the icy streets, that have hopefully been snowplowed and salted to melt the ice enough to enable you to make your morning commute to work or to school, or just to do necessary shopping….Quite a wake up call!

I remember as kids whenever there was a large snowstorm overnight we would gather around the radio with bated breath hoping to hear that our particular school was closed for the day due to the extremely inclement weather…This happened infrequently, but there were always a few days every winter where the snow, cold and ice were so great certain school districts would be forced to close because the storm was so severe the roads were impassable for the school buses and the teachers to physically get to the school….

Of course, as kids faced with this most severe snow storm, ice and cold, our immediate reaction was Oh Yeah! We were so giddy and happy and joyous at not having to go to school we immediately bundled up and raced outside to play in the snow all day! Living in San Francisco, which is a very temperate area, we never get snow, and as an adult I don’t miss it, but in a way I feel sorry for the kids never getting to have the fun of building snow forts, having snowball fights, and sledding and ice skating…

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Large group of children are lying on top of each other on the snow. [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786738][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/group.jpg[/img][/url] [url=http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9786682][img]http://dl.dropbox.com/u/40117171/children5.jpg[/img][/url]

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We do have ice skating rinks here in San Francisco, but they are few and far between and almost all indoor rinks, like at shopping malls…The city fathers DO provide an outdoor skating rink downtown outside the Embarcadero Buildings around winter time, but they are only there for a few weeks….At least the kids, if their parents take them, can get the experience of skating outdoors though, and without the bitter biting cold of the Midwest and most of the rest of the country….

I realize now how much the weather influences the daily activities, thought processes and mind set of the majority of the country to a much greater extent than I ever did as a kid…As a kid, you just grow up with that kind of weather and are totally able to adapt to it, you think nothing of it, it is just the way it is….As an adult, I realize there are choices to be made about the weather, and that you can move to places like California or Florida to avoid the snow year round; when I was a kid I did not ever even realize there was an option…

Most of my family, including my mother, sister and her family still live in the Midwest and put up with all this snow every winter….When I press them about why, they always say they enjoy the variety of the four seasons, spring, summer, fall and winter, and that the winter cold makes them appreciate the warmer weather the rest of the year….They also think I am crazy for living in earthquake country, and fear that all of California will one day be hit by a massive killer quake and fall off into the ocean, like Atlantis! We are actually in more danger of mudslides, especially in Southern California…

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AZUSA, CA - MARCH 1: Ed Heinlein walks in front of his house that is threatened with a possible major landslide from the burned hillsides above as a storm brings rain in the midst of record drought on March 1, 2014 near Azusa, California. The rain offers some relief to the dry conditions but is not expected to be enough to break the historic drought. A drought-related unseasonal wildfire, the Colby Fire, was accidentally ignited in the dry chaparral vegetation in January, destroying homes and sending thousands fleeing. The charred and denuded hillsides are threatening the homes of about a thousand evacuated residents with rain-loosened mud-ash debris flows. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Since I have lived in San Francisco for the last 48 years I can say that has not happened yet and that we Californians consider it a highly unlikely prospect…Oh sure, we have had a few large earthquakes here, but the thing about earthquakes is they are quick, fast and in a hurry…In other words, by the time you realize you are having one, it is already almost over, because most jolts don’t last for more than a few seconds….An earthquake lasting a full minute would be very scary, and I went through one of those once…. It was sort of a rolling, sickening feeling and more like a succession of quakes one after the other, like the quake we had in 1989

So I will take my risks with the earthquakes, and I still feel threatened and even intimidated by driving around in the rain, but a small part of me will always remember and be grateful for the huge difference our moderate weather means to us on a daily basis and how it is is reflected in our mind sets and world view…Especially as compared to my relatives and the great majority of the country who are buried under Arctic blasts of snow and ice every winter season, and take it all in stride….

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So it’s like just pick your poison, rain and mudslides and flooding and the occasional earthquake or snow and ice and freezing cold weather every single winter, nobody is totally immune from the weather, and it molds and shapes our daily lives in every way.….It’s all just part of Nature’s plan, the grand scheme of things, and we as humans just have to learn to adapt….

I guess that old saying is really true, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence…”

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

College Football $aturday In America

Well today is Saturday, and as usual if you are a college football fan, this is YOUR day…I mean Saturday is the couch potato special day of the week, break out the beer and chips and assorted munchies because it’s going to be a LONG day! If you are dedicated to watching college football you can do so by getting up at 9 am (west coast time) to watch Notre Dame at Pittsburgh and continue on until 730 pm (10:30 east coast time) and watch the last televised college football game of the day, Arizona at USC…There are a whopping, I just counted them, total of THIRTY SIX college games being televised today!….

Of course they are not being broadcast in consecutive order and a lot of them overlap and many are regional broadcasts anyway….For instance, I live in San Francisco so I can see the PAC 12 football games like Stanford, Cal, USC etc being broadcast on the PAC 12 channel if they are not picked up by the major channels like ABC, CBS, FOX, ESPN or ESPN2….I know I have touched on this topic before, but let’s take a closer look…. Somebody is making a TON of money on these “amateur” contests and it’s sure not the players…Let’s check out some numbers…

Of course, I cannot see the Big 10 games broadcast on the Big 10 network, only if they are broadcast on the major channels, like today Michigan State is playing Nebraska on ESPN, so since I get that channel, I can see that game….But it doesn’t take a whole lot of smarts to see somebody is making BILLIONS off of all these college games, the various networks and of course the individual schools…

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These charts and statistics are boring, huh? But they ARE the bottom line…This is a relatively new phenomenon according to my Google sources: “It’s no surprise that college sports are big business for schools with elite Division I teams. Between TV contracts, merchandising and investments in athletic programs, colleges in the United states generate hundreds of millions of dollars every year. How much money specific sports, schools or programs generate varies wildly according to the popularity of the sport and how successful a team is….Most fans are AGAINST paying college athletes….

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Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) dives for the end zone to score a touchdown against Navy safety Parrish Gaines (2) and others during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, in Landover, Md. Notre Dame won 49-39. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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No college sport generates more money every year than football. In 2012, Business Insider reported that the University of Texas’ football program generated more than $95 million the previous season, the most of any college in the United States. These revenues come largely from broadcast rights, ticket sales and merchandising. In 2010, the collective revenue of the 15 highest-grossing football programs in the United States was more than $1 billion. In many schools, the revenues generated by successful football and basketball programs fund the entire athletic department.”

Although a recent bid by Northwestern University to start a student athlete union has been struck down by the courts, at least there is some relief in sight for the athletes themselves. And it is high time, because the NCAA and the schools are getting filthy rich off of these student athletes, most of whom are on paid sports scholarships which until recently were not enough to offset the actual cost of attending a major college…

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Again, according to my Google sources: “Division I college football and men’s basketball teams made a combined profit of $1.7 billion in the 2013-14 school year, according to federal data. And that money is soaring with new broadcast deals and money makers like the college football playoff system. The (new revised) stipends are going to football and basketball players. But they are also available to athletes in the “non revenue” sports such as soccer, lacrosse, baseball and volleyball. The stipends come after a long fight by advocates for players.

For the first time, the NCAA this year is allowing schools to give cash stipends to cover the cost of things like late-night snacks, student fees, laundry money and movies. Scholarships cover the core expenses of college such as tuition and room and board. The new stipends are supposed to close the gap between scholarship money and what it actually costs to attend school.

The stipends, available at most of the country major sports programs, range from about $2,000 to $5,000 a year, although some schools are reportedly offering a few thousand more than that. That may not sound like a lot, but that’s real money for students from poorer families. Some star athletes have complained about going to bed hungry at night because they couldn’t afford to buy extra food while burning up extra calories during training and competition. Compensation is a touchy issue for college athletes. They can bring in big bucks for their schools but, as amateurs, don’t get a penny of salary.

Strict rules bar schools or boosters from giving cash — and even meals or clothing — to student athletes. Coaches who help players travel home after a death in the family can draw NCAA sanctions.

The new stipend “is a modest amount, but it’s definite solid progress,” said Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, which is trying to win recognition as the first union for college athletes. Huma estimates the stipends will cost schools a total of about $100 million — a drop in the bucket compared to what athletics brings in. The NCAA says it does not know how much is being spent.”

Yeah right! So enjoy your special day, college football fans, and root on your beloved TCU Horned Frogs or your Arkansas Razorbacks or your Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, or like me my Stanford Cardinals vs the Colorado Buffalo’s or the Cal Bears vs the Oregon Ducks..I cannot deny the attraction of collegiate rivalries that I grew up with, and in a way the college game is more pure than the pros in the NFL, who are definitely in it for the money….So enjoy the glory, the glamour, the heartbreak, the exultation, the pageantry and circus that is American college football; it’s not going anywhere soon…

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But alas, there are 15,588 senior student athletes playing football. Only an average of 256 of those athletes will be drafted into the NFL. That’s 1.6% of all NCAA seniors playing football that get drafted. . 008% of all high school athletes get drafted. Let’s hope that thanks to the recent increased stipends to their athletic scholarships, the majority of them will graduate and get those precious college degrees and find work at some far less dangerous venues than professional football…

They are after all, STUDENTS first and athletes second anyway, and if playing collegiate sports is their only way to get a college degree,and they can avoid life long debilitating injuries, then the system is working for them….So enjoy the pomp and the pageantry and the cheerleaders and the raucous, packed stadiums, the  howling crowds and the tradition and the decades long rivalries…..

I know I will….Oh and can you please pass the dip?

For more information on NCAA revenue sources see:finance.zacks.com › Investing › Investing for Beginners

For more information on increased college stipends see:
money.cnn.com/2015/09/04/…/extra-cash-college-athletes/CNNMoney

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

The Pettiness Of Power

Have you ever noticed how some people become incredibly petty when they suddenly get a little power, like in a work situation? These type of people are often ignorant, ill prepared for their new position, and have few if any people skills…I have a friend who works in a pharmacy in a large company, and when a new pharmacy manager was hired, the new manager fired her…. (Or more accurately, reassigned her to another store in the chain ) !

In fact, this was a systematic pattern, the new pharmacy manager immediately began purging every single one of the old employees in her department and replacing them with her friends shortly after she was hired herself…She did not care how valuable, how intelligent, resourceful or skillful at their jobs each person was, she just wanted to clean house, from top to bottom…

A different store employee who works in another department told me that there was only one person left from the staff the pharmacy manager had inherited when the old pharmacy manager retired…I can imagine her days are numbered as well…

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Why do people have to act so petty when they get a little power in their hands? I believe it is basically insecurity and lack of intelligence on their part….I could see maybe replacing one or two employees that the new pharmacy manager had a personality clash with, but ALL of them? Sorry, but this reeks of arrogance, ignorance, pettiness and insecurity…..Why did she do it? Because she could….There is no other logical reason….

She certainly did not do it for the customers, many of whom, like me, had developed a bond with several of the older workers over the years and are disturbed by this wholesale changeover of staff, maybe a dozen people in all ….I realize change is an inevitable part of life, but this kind of mass purge in a work world situation is nothing more than the new manager flexing her muscles; she must be one of those petty people who gets high on power….Her own actions have damned her and branded her as a weakling and a coward….

And what is power in work world anyway? It is an artificial designation of authority given to one person over another, and that is all it is....I personally have witnessed this myself in my 45 years as both a blue collar worker (truck driver) and a white collar, corporate employee (Administrative Assistant)….I have seen the abuse of power up close and personal, and it is not pretty….This often sudden ascension to power turns people’s heads, makes them think they are better than the rest, that they are some kind of a special breed, that they are special, that they are the anointed ones instead of what they really only are, the appointed ones…

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When I was a blue collar truck driver, our dispatcher would assign routes to each driver every day, mostly based on his knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses, and this system worked out very well for the most part….But if our dispatcher was sick or on vacation, one of the other drivers would temporarily inherit his position and function to assign routes, to decide who got sent where that day, and what tasks they had to perform that day, and OMG!

Suddenly they were giving away all the easy routes to their personal friends and all the hardest routes to the people they didn’t like, no matter the requisite skill level or expertise for each job that was needed!….They weren’t mixing and matching, they were smashing and grabbing….It was all about the power….It was like a drug to them…

It was like they were suddenly “king for a day” and this sudden tiny bit of power immediately turned their heads…They became brusque, overbearing, and dictatorial, even knowing that as temporary dispatcher they would soon be relegated back to their regular positions as just another truck driver as soon as the regular dispatcher returned…This small taste, this experience of power completely turned their heads!

And it was even worse in the corporate setting, because here you had people who were hired at entry level positions who were scratching and clawing their way to a more prestigious (again, read power) position in their lifelong quest to get to the the top of the corporate ladder….As the best boss I ever had once told me, “Every rung up that ladder gets more slippery, difficult and treacherous to attain”….I have nothing against the capitalist system, I am an American and as they say, the business of America is business…But being a bully is not good business…

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But what I DO strongly object to is the misuse of power by unqualified ignorant people over people who are technically “under them” and who are technically placed “over them” because it is all a facade, a sham, a display of their own ignorance, insecurity and arrogant pettiness…And after a while, they actually start to believe that they are somehow superior to their subordinates, because they have attained a certain level of power, and that this designated authority makes them somehow innately better than their fellow employees…Unbelievable!

They completely lose sight of the fact that their authority was given to them at some point, and that it can be taken away again at some point, but they are so drunk on their power trips and so stupid they start believing that they are untouchables… They end up getting caught up in the heady mix of arrogance their designated position of power allows them, and they start to become ever more arbitrary, obstinate and short sighted…

Ultimately, of course, they almost always crash and burn, and are themselves fired, banished and disgraced, but it will remain an eternal mystery to me why they were ever given the power in the first place, but more importantly, how dare they misuse and abuse their power over their fellow employees! This kind of behavior by bosses is not only undignified, unjustified and morale sapping, but also counterproductive as far as achieving results….As Rodney King once said “Can’t we all just get along?”

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The Illusion of Power

So my friend, an excellent pharmacy worker, will have to accept for now being unfairly dismissed by the latest in a long line of petty tyrants and bounce around the store chain till she finds a more humane, sympathetic boss…. Meanwhile the new pharmacy boss will surround herself with her own hand picked toadies and go home at night and glory in all her new found power, too stupid to realize it is all just an illusion, a facade, a fantasy she is living out, and that she will inevitably get replaced herself one day…

People like this new pharmacy boss and my last corporate boss are like the gollum in “Lord of the Rings” when they suddenly get their “precious” ( power), get their coveted ring in their greedy hands and find out that their reach really did exceed their grasp… Well, as the French say, “C’est la vie !” or “That’s life”

I guess they never learned that old karmic wisdom in time: “What goes around, comes around”…

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

Boredom

Sometimes I hear people complain about being bored, and this always shocks and surprises me….How in the hell in this fast paced, hectic, topsy turvy, upside down, inside out ever evolving and changing world do they have time to even THINK about being bored? Boredom to me is a foreign concept, I barely ever have time enough in each day to do even the necessary things, like shopping for food and performing the maintenance issues, like car repairs or house cleaning we all face…And I am retired, so I don’t even have that big 10 hour chunk of each day swallowed up by the demons of work world like most people!

Bored? Oh please! Not to mention continuously working on my blog, playing my music to relax me, reading 3-4 books at approximately the same time, one book one night, another the next… And trying to keep up with all the sporting events that are broadcast every single day and night, baseball, football, basketball; thank goodness I have a DVR and can record most of these to watch at a more convenient time but OMG! How can anybody in this turbulent mix of a revolving door that we call American society ever complain about being bored?

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Boredom is defined by Websters dictionary as: “The state of being weary and restless through lack of interest”…Common synonyms for boredom include the “blahs, doldrums, ennui, listlessness, restlessness, tedium and weariness” OK! So now we are getting someplace…By definition, boredom then is not caused by a lack of things to do, as I perceived it, but rather from a lack of interest in things that you do….

It is more precisely defined as that feeling of being burnt out and that time is passing you by while you spin your wheels in some meaningless job, performing tasks you hate or have little interest in doing…… For example sitting in your cubicle knowing that what you are doing is only important at the moment…To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say (or do) here”…..

I mean, who remembers the majority of work projects or reports or assignments that you do in the arena of work world even last week?….Unless of course you screw them up, I am wagering even you don’t remember them, they all blur together…In that context I have more sympathy for people who say they are bored, because after 45 years of breaking rocks on the chain gang of work world, looking back I was bored almost all the time….This is what they call “Professional Boredom Syndrome.”

Delegates sit at the stage before the opening ceremony of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 8, 2012. China's outgoing President Hu Jintao said the nation faced risk and opportunity in equal measure as he formally opened a congress of the ruling Communist Party that will usher in a once-in-a-decade leadership change. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

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Woman Multitasking and Overworked --- Image by © Hannes Hepp/Corbis

I also read a fascinating article about “Chronic Boredom” and the risks involved in my Google research: “For most people, boredom is a passing, nearly trivial feeling that lifts as soon as your number is called, a task is completed or a lecture ends. But boredom has a darker side: Easily bored people are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, drug addiction, alcoholism, compulsive gambling, eating disorders, hostility, anger, poor social skills, bad grades and low work performance.

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Despite boredom’s ubiquity and pathological associations, psychologists have yet to pin down what, exactly, it is. Several different scales all claim to measure boredom—the most widely used is the Boredom Proneness Scale—but a recent analysis suggests that they are measuring slightly different phenomena. Explanations for ennui are even more plentiful, ranging from Freud’s theories of repressed emotions to individual differences in personality traits, the need for excitement, and attention skills.

Part of the boredom puzzle may be individual differences in how much excitement and novelty we require. Men, for example, are generally more bored than women. They also exhibit more risk-taking behaviors, report enjoying more dangerous entertainment and are more likely to say that their environments are dull. “People who are more likely to become bored do not see their environments as very rich or lively,” says Stephen Vodanovich at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, who has been working on boredom for almost 20 years.

Clues to the underlying causes of boredom have come from patients who suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI). According to James Danckert, a neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, people with TBI often begin to indulge in riskier activities after their accidents. These activities might include taking drugs or jumping out of planes;pursuits they pick up in an attempt to deal with their new and chronic boredom.

Danckert theorizes that the massive flux of endorphins or pain medication necessary for recovery from a brain injury may have literally raised these patients’ threshold for psychological pleasure and reward. “Now instead of a coffee doing it for you, you need a triple espresso,” Danckert explains. “Anything that used to give you pleasure now has to be ramped up in order to succeed.” Like chronically bored but healthy people, they need far bigger hits to find fun.

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PUBLISHED by catsmob.com

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Highly bored individuals also tend to lack the ability to entertain themselves. As a result, they may turn to activities like doing drugs, says McWelling Todman at the New School for Social Research in New York City. “Drug use takes place during downtime when the person would have otherwise been entertaining themselves.” This may be especially true during adolescence, a time “when they are putting together the skills needed to deal with boredom in adulthood.”

Ironically, the proliferation of new technology and the overabundance of shiny new toys like lap tops, I pads, smart phones, and computer games may be contributing to the rise in boredom in today’s world…Many people feel that if they are not constantly multi tasking, they will become bored…They feel that they must constantly be “doing something.” Some people have even been observed playing computer games at movie theaters!….

So it appears I was hasty in my initial cursory dismissal of boredom as impossible or improbable in this modern world, especially after doing some more in depth research on the topic….It is apparently a valid psychological condition, and many people suffer from it…I guess the key for me, is that I am never bored because I have the luxury of mostly only doing things I like to do, instead of being forced to do things I hate to do…So I apologize to those people afflicted with this particular mental and psychological hangup…..I hope I haven’t bored you to death!

Maybe the new definition of boredom should not be too little to do, but too much to do!

For more information on boredom, see: Bored to Death at: http://www.scientificamerican.com › The Sciences › Features Scientific American

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

Why Poor People Vote For Republicans

We just had a municipal election here yesterday in San Francisco, mostly for the Mayor and assorted propositions, and I was happy to find out most of my choices won…But in doing research for this blog, I picked up on some interesting data and made some observations about elections in general….One thing I truly don’t get is why do poor people vote for Republicans? What’s behind the rising tide of Republican strength in the so called red states, mostly in the South, when there are clearly so many poor people there to account for this strange phenomenon? ….

Any logical person can see that the Republicans, by their very words out of their own mouths, are the party of racial discrimination, hatred toward minorities as in their stance on immigration, (this in a nation founded by immigrants!) and the general viewpoint that big business is always better, and screw the working class and the lower class, as well as their ill concealed war on women and old people….

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They are clearly the party for the rich people, the corporate overlords, the fascist 1% like the infamous Koch brothers whose individual family wealth alone could pay off the national debt….But what is really puzzling me is how they are convincing poor people to vote for them in the first place, when they have all but declared economic and social war on poor people? Here are some interesting theories I found on the internet:

As per my Google sources: “Have you ever wondered why so many poor people vote for Republicans, even though Republicans do very little to help them? Here in Louisiana, Republicans have taken every state-wide seat in government, and they couldn’t have done it without convincing the poorest people in the state to vote against their self interests.” Here are 5 main reasons in how and why they manipulate the poor people:

5. Liberals can be really elitist: I hate to have to say it, but it’s true…However, if all you know how to do is attack someone’s character by calling them stupid or a shill, you’re not going to persuade them to see things from your point of view. What it will do is further alienate more moderate conservatives who could be convinced that some gun restrictions aren’t a bad idea, just to give you an example.

4. Racism: I’m putting racism in here because there’s almost never a discussion about why poor people vote conservative without racism being cited as a reason. While there are certainly racists who identify as Republicans, simply writing everyone off as racist for voting Republican is stereotyping, stupid, and counterproductive.

3. They’re “pro-life”: Few things besides gay marriage get religious conservatives more worked up than abortion. Having grown up in the “pro-life” movement, I can tell you that while some religious people (especially Catholics) tend to support Democrats on economic issues, they’ve been told by their pastors that they could go to Hell for voting for someone who is pro-choice.

2. Fox News: In order to keep people voting the way you want, you need a propaganda source. When you travel through Red States, Fox News is on in most gas stations, fast food restaurants, and public areas. An unabashedly conservative media outlet, Fox News continually broadcasts a right wing agenda to its viewers.

They blame The Other; immigrants, ethnic minorities, LGBT Americans, and women, while saying people need to “take America back” They repeatedly bash the President, give platforms to lobbyists and corporate shills, and constantly work to undermine progress and support obstructionists. They do all of this while telling the viewer that they are the chosen people of God and America.

Then they tell you the most important part, everyone else is lying to you. Don’t touch that dial. Fox News creates fake “wars” on Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and whatever will shock their audience. This paranoia is sown to distract their viewers from voting from the GOP’s real war on poor people.

1. Religion: Calvinism is one of the two major camps in modern Christian American theology and predestination is part of Calvinist teachings..If you’re poor, it’s part of “God’s plan” and it is not our duty as individuals or the government to help. If someone is rich, then they were chosen to be rich by God, and we shouldn’t punish them by making them pay more in taxes. Calvinism and the belief in predestination are rarely mentioned in political discussions, but they’re a huge factor when it comes to conservative Protestants and how they think.

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As long as Republicans continue to exploit these advantages and we fail to counter them, poor people will continue to vote for the GOP – especially if we continue to write them all off as being poor, racist, ignorant rednecks when so many of them are not. We can convince people not to vote against their self interests over and over again, but it will take time and a lot of patience.” From the Huffington Post, from a woman’s point of view:

“Equally troubling is why Republican women support a party who barely passed the Violence Against Women Act, who don’t support legislation to guarantee that a women receives equal pay for equal work, and who think women’s bosses should have the right to determine her health care and reproductive decisions.

As Republican governors refuse to accept billions of dollars in free federal money to expand Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of people are going without medical care and are dying needlessly. As the GOP continues to cut billions from food stamps, many women and children are going hungry.

Men are also hurt by the policies of the Republican Party. Many men support the party because they are pro-gun, but Republicans also vote to keep the minimum wage at poverty levels and are against extending unemployment benefits. These policies hurt the working class.

Republicans want to reduce government spending and control, but I wonder if the populace realizes that many solidly red states that they live in receive a huge percentage of their income from the federal government? In actuality, the amount many red states pay in federal taxes is small compared to the amount of money they receive back from the government.

In reality, the Republicans don’t want to cut spending, just redistribute it from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. The Republican budget once again gives massive tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, while it cuts programs and safety nets that help many of the people who vote Republican. I don’t understand why people vote against their own best interests, especially when it hurts their family, the economy and the principles on which America was founded.”

But the right-wing fringe has hijacked the sanity of the Republican Party, and the GOP needs to get back on track. Gerrymandering, suppressing the vote, allowing unrestricted funds and unlimited terms have led to undemocratic practices which will destroy America if voters don’t stand up and fight for what is right.”

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So what it apparently boils down to is ignorance, prejudice and religion….These are hard obstacles to overcome, but to me it all starts and can be stopped by eliminating the Super Pacs, the tool that is giving unrestricted power to the fascist 1% and allowing them to cynically manipulate the system by buying politicians who will promote their extreme far right wing views…

We need to institute strict campaign contribution laws, with minimal contributions allowed, to eliminate the Super Pacs smoke screen these anti-American fascists like the Koch brothers are hiding behind before it is too late and they succeed in their attempt to hijack America and subvert the democratic process….

And always remember the chilling words of Martin Niemoller, in response to the advent and growth of power of the Nazi’s in Hitler’s Germany…He was a prominent Protestant pastor who opposed the Nazi regime. He spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For more information on what the republicans are doing, see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/voting-against-own-bes…

For more information on why poor people vote for Republicans, check out: http://www.forwardprogressives.com/5-reasons-why-poor-people-vote-for-rep…

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

World Series 2015

Well the World Series, the ultimate baseball classic traditional end of the season has come and gone, so quickly that if you blinked you may have missed it! The Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 4 games to 1, and it was just over Sunday….In almost every game, the Mets had the lead late in the game, but in every game except for one, the KC club staged a late inning comeback….They were relentless, aggressive and  stubbornly always refused to go down quietly….In the final game on Sunday, the Mets had a 2-0 lead going into the 9th inning, and all they needed were 3 more outs to extend the Series and force a game #6 back in KC…..But it was not to be….

As they did so many times, both in the playoffs leading up to the World Series and then the Series itself, the KC Royals would not be denied…They fought, clawed and scratched out a tie in their last at bat in the top of the 9th, extended the game into extra innings (for the 2nd time in this World Series) and eventually came out the winners, flying back home to KC triumphantly….In fact, the Royals set a record for most comeback wins in playoff and World Series history…..In 8 out of 11 of their post season victories, the Royals were able to overcome a deficit, including in all 4 World series games to win their first World series title since 1985….

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I have to admit, as a San Francisco Giant’s fan, I don’t like the KC Royals, because they gave us all kinds of trouble (and excitement) last year…. But we eventually beat them in the 7th game of the 2014 World Series thanks to a super human, MVP performance by our superstar ace pitcher Madison Bumgarner, whose incredible feat of pitching 5 scoreless innings in relief just two days after he had started and won his 2nd start in the Series earned him the MVP trophy in 2014……KC admitted that last year, they were just glad to be there, this year they wanted to win….

Injuries wracked the Giants roster this year and we did not even make the playoffs, but with everybody back and healthy we fully expect to be back in the World Series, possibly against these same Royals, but only time will tell…Actually the odds against being in 3 World Series in a row are prohibitive, most teams don’t even make it back the next year….The Giants have accomplished the remarkable feat of winning THREE World Series in 5 years, although they are all in the even numbered years, 2010, 2012, and 2014…But hey, next year is 2016, an even year so we will be expecting to be back on the grand stage and I, and all true Giants fans, fully expect us to emerge victorious again in 2016!….

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But this is the KC Royals time to enjoy their bitter, hard fought and well deserved victory…This year, 2015, they were clearly the better team over the New York Mets……The World Series itself is an incredible culmination of a long, long season; 162 full games, plus spring training, and it has been accurately described as a marathon, not a sprint…You have to keep after it each and every game, knowing you are going to win some and lose some…You just hope to win most of the 3 or 4 game series you play, have at least a .500 record on the road and a winning record at home….

But the KC Royals were a gritty, gutsy never say die team all year long, and they fully deserve to win this year’s trophy and being coronated as the World Series champions, the reigning elite team of all of baseball! They persevered against all odds, and they overcame those odds just by making it back to the World series, so my hat is off to them…Baseball is a grind of a game, and marks the summer months in a uniquely American way…. It defines and mirrors the American way of life in so many ways….

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Oct 31, 2015; New York City, NY, USA; Fans of the Kansas City Royals cheer during game four of the World Series against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball rewards those who stick to it, who fight and battle their way through the inevitable slumps, the ups and downs of life just like us common Americans do…It has truly been said, baseball is a metaphor for America…As the Beatles said, in another context, it is a long and winding road and there are so many obstacles to overcome along the way….There are so many times you just want to throw up your hands and quit, so many times you have to fight back from both minor and major setbacks to just keep going, to keep plugging and grinding along, to overcome the obstacles and avoid the pitfalls of daily life, the temptations and adversity we all face each and every day….

And at least in baseball, your efforts are rewarded at the end of every season…True, for the rest of America, we have an even longer grind to achieve our goals, but we can celebrate life’s little triumphs along the way, and just by following baseball and identifying with the players we can share in the reflected glory of our home town teams winning, especially when they win the World Series…

There is nothing more exhilarating to a sports fan, especially a baseball fan, than to have your own home team, whom you have suffered and exulted with for a full 6 months out of every year, come out triumphant in the end….Because of the long season, there is a baseball game on almost every day of the season, and baseball has been the background and constant companion of all true baseball fans their entire lives…

I know, the flashier, more dramatic football season is on in full force, and football televises very well, but the specter of all those football head injuries, multiple concussions and growing public awareness of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, causing permanent brain damage are always lurking in the background whenever you watch a football game…It almost makes watching football a guilty pleasure these days, with the added knowledge of how these football players are sacrificing their long term health for their own and our, short term enjoyment…

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One of my youthful heroes, QB Jim Plunket, who played and excelled for the local college team Stanford and was later a San Francisco 49er and a two time Super Bowl winner with the Oakland Raiders was in the news the other day, revealing he had had EIGHTEEN operations because of his football career….This included replacement of both knees, replacement of a shoulder and numerous other grisly operations over the years…

And Jim Plunket was not one of those affected by multiple concussions syndrome, or CTE…He never complained, is currently a TV announcer for the Raiders organization and simply regards his multiple operations and battered body as a fair exchange for the thrill of excelling and having a long successful career in his chosen sport…

Baseball is a much cleaner sport, although concussions, especially suffered by catchers on foul balls, is becoming more of an issue here too…But for the most part, baseball is still a skill sport and little contact occurs among the players themselves…The emphasis is on skill and strategy, not brute force and physicality…Baseball is also the only sport an average sized person can play; you don’t have to be a hulking behemoth like football players or a glandular freakish giant like most basketball players to participate in the game, and hence it is easier for the common fan to identify with baseball players…

I think that baseball always has been and always will be the national past time because of all these reasons, the slow leisurely pace of the games, (baseball is still the only sport without a clock to regulate it) the slow but steady grind it out approach of the players and managers and coaches as they deal with day to day injuries and setbacks and the exciting reward of your home town team making the playoffs….

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And then the ultimate thrill of playing in and winning the World Series all make baseball the king of sports…So congratulations, Kansas City for overcoming all obstacles and going all the way to the top of the baseball world by winning the World Series! You earned it and are the Champions of baseball 2015!

For me, and millions of baseball fans like me, baseball will always be the true national past time, the quintessential American sport of all time! Long may it reign!

For more blogs by John Whye, see http://www.johnwhye.com

Election Day

Tomorrow November 3, is an election day in San Francisco….It is basically a city, or municipal election, but it has a lot of local ballot propositions included besides the choices for Mayor, Sheriff, City Attorney, District Attorney, Treasurer,and the Community College Board…All in all, it is not a very sexy ballot, it is not like the elections for the primaries or like voting for the President or the Governor, but I feel an obligation to vote anyway…

The ballot propositions are especially crucial, because this is where they speak a lot of double talk and misleading political gibberish that can easily confuse most voters, including me….But these are as crucial or more than the Mayor’s race etc, because it is here that they try to sneak past unwary voters issues that affect the very quality of life in the city, such as Short Term Residential Rentals (read AirBNB, or short term rentals)) or Defining Clean, Green and Renewable Energy….Some of these are slam dunk issues, but many are cleverly worded and they make it sound like a Yes vote is the obvious choice, but actually a No vote is our best interests…

SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 4: People vote inside the

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I have been a little discouraged lately about the sheer amount of voter apathy that is prevalent in my neighborhood alone, which I am afraid is a pretty fair cross section of the city of San Francisco as a whole…I have talked to young people and older people, and the amount of cynicism and apathy about voting seems to me to be reaching record highs…

There are a million excuse for not voting, like I don’t have the time, I’m too tired, this is not a major election, but the primary reason for voter indifference to me is that people feel it doesn’t matter HOW they vote, that the system will ignore them and lurch and grind on to it’s own self serving interests anyway, no matter what they do…This is only partly true….

I make it a point to vote in every election, even the more boring ones like tomorrow’s, because if I don’t I will have a guilty conscience when something I could have voted against gets passed into law and I am left out in the cold, stuck with a law that I would surely have voted against…There are too many laws anyway, and it is getting harder and harder to decipher the code words, catch phrases and tag lines that the big commercial interests always sneak onto every ballot….

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Members of the Westboro Baptist Church hold anti-gay signs at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Veterans Day, November 11, 2010.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)

Because make no mistake about it, the more sinister, cold blooded and commercial a ballot initiative may be, there is a hard core of dedicated capitalists that WILL make the effort, that WILL muster support, that WILL make sure they sneak by a confused, apathetic public something inimical to most of us but very good, and usually this means very profitable, for themselves….

I am especially worried about this next Presidential election in 2016, because the super wealthy elite and cut throat un-American fascist 1% are poised to hijack America with their use of unlimited donations through the Super Pacs, which are virtually unlimited financial campaign contributions to the candidate of their choice,and they cater to the haters…….

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A protester makes her opinion known at an NAACP rally after the Supreme Court held that part of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional.

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According to my Google sources Super Pacs are defined like this:
“Super PACs are independent political committees that support a candidate with unlimited, often anonymous, donations from companies, unions, or individuals. The groups can’t contribute directly to a candidate, but they can run favorable ads about a candidate—or negative ones about their favored candidate’s opponent. Most of the ads sponsored by super PACs are negative and take considerable liberties. The people running the PACs are typically closely connected to the candidate the PAC supports.

The PACs are required to release the names of donors, however, a technicality in the disclosure rules allows donors to remain anonymous for months. Disclosure can be completely circumvented by PACs that create affiliated nonprofit 501(c)(4) organizations, which are not required to release the names of donors.

A relatively new phenomenon, super PACS proliferated following the January 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision that said the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations, unions, and other groups for political campaigns, maintaining that it’s their First Amendment Right right to support candidates as they choose.

The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates for unlimited amounts of money to be poured into political campaigns. It also dismantled the McCain–Feingold campaign-finance law that banned issue ads and soft money (funds contributed to the Republican and Democratic National Committees, and to the party committees in each state) in political campaigns.In the majority decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

This is hogwash, lies and blasphemy of the highest order….Through a technicality, the Supreme Court inadvertently opened a door that the fascist 1% have kicked in with their jackboots…The 1% are contributing billions of dollars from their corrupt robber baron family riches to promote, elect and buy the politicians that will continue to support their fascist causes…

In most cases, these are usually hard core Republican fanatics like Senator Rubio from Florida, or Senator Cruz from Texas, who are already so far to the right that they are obvious toadies to the 1% and probably owe their present offices to them….. They are already bought and paid for, so expect more of the same racist, anti immigrant, anti gay rights comments to drip out of their poisoned, corrupted campaign speeches…This includes of course the infamous Republican “war on women’, where the Republicans seem to be blindly trying to move the country back a 100 years with their anti abortion and freedom of choice legislation…

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Thank goodness that another true fascist like Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has already been forced out of the super crowded Republican pack of nominees by a lack of campaign funding….Although he blamed Donald Trump’s outrageous blabber mouth, shoot from the hip, elitist billionaire attention seeker comments for his withdrawal….

Mr. Walker’s pointed rebuke of Mr. Trump gave powerful voice to the private fears of many Republicans that the party risked alienating large parts of the electorate — Hispanics, women, immigrants, veterans, and most recently, Muslims — if Mr. Trump continued vilifying or mocking them as part of his overtures to angry and disaffected voters…..Even the Republicans know Trump is a dangerous, big mouth clown….

Make no mistake about it….Through their cynical manipulation of the Supreme Court rulings, the 1% are making a concerted power grab to seize the country and turn it on it’s ear, to remake America as a country of the wealthy, for the wealthy, by the wealthy…This is a clear and present danger to the democratic system as we know it, as the Founding Father’s meant it to be, one vote for one person, equality and justice for all….

The 1% are fascists, the same as Hitler, the same as Stalin, the same as any third world dictator, and with the current funding campaign contributions available to them, they are buying up every right wing politician they can to support their evil, elitist oligarchy….

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The only way to defeat their rancid, sick fascist viewpoints is an alliance between the young people, the immigrant rights supporters, and all the minorities, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Gays and Woman’s right’s advocates….Their old style, old white man penchant for authoritarianism, nationalism, militarism and preserved class hierarchy are right out of the fascist bible….

Don’t let them get away with it! Exercise your hard won franchise to VOTE and make your opinion heard…If you do not, we are all doomed, and it will be too late…Take ACTION, not APATHY as your freedom of choice allows and encourages you to do, and vote down these right wing fascists, upset their evil intentions, block their transparent power grab! Let’s take back our country while we still can! Together, we can do it!
For more information about Super Pacs, see http://www.infoplease.com/us/government/super-pacs.html

For more blogs by John Whye, click on http://www.johnwhye.com