Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Post No. 183a: Article of Interest: How Modern Preppies Got the Style, But Forgot the Values

The following is taken from an article in the August 13 and 20, 2012 issue of Newsweek Magazine. It was written by Susan Cheever.

"American aristocrats were raised to ski hard and tie a mean Royal Coachman, but they were also often raised in a tradition of service - noblesse oblige it was called - that led them to give away lots of their money and to behave in ways that helped those who had less. John D. Rockefeller famously spent more time at the end of his life giving away money than earning it. It wasn't because he was so rich. At the beginning of his life, he gave away 10 percent of the $200 a year he earned as an Ohio bookkeeper's assistant."

To read the entire article, click here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Post No. 183: My News Station is Red Hot; Your News Station Ain’t Doodly Squat

© 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

In response to our post-election piece, Douglas commented about public perception of sitting presidents. He pointed to instances where “the media” did not treat past presidents as kindly as Obama following storm-related disasters.

While he did not actually attack the media or indicate which media outlet he preferred, we recalled that some have complained about bias in news reporting.

A few days ago, we watched Network on TCM. When released in 1976, some questioned the role of corporations in the reporting of news. A week before, TCM aired Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd, with an Andy Griffith so far removed from Mayberry, it will make you gasp. The 1957 masterpiece foresaw the growing influence of TV.

In response to Douglas we noted:

1) "The media" at the times referenced (1992, 2005, and 2012) was different due to the state of technology and the number of outlets;

2) Although "the media" has always consisted of citizens, the role of lay citizens is more pronounced than in the past when we essentially had "professional" journalists;

3) We used to think of "news" as distinct from "entertainment." That line (if ever it existed, Charlie Brown) is blurrier than ever. We have more entertainment types weighing in today, be they Eva Longoria, Chuck Norris, Al Sharpton, Rush Limbaugh, or Eevva Longorrrria;

4) There are intangibles which people feel about others, especially when bombarded with images (in this case Presidents), but can't quite, or choose not to, articulate. Bill Cosby could give money for school kids, and most would say it was a gracious gift. Oprah Winfrey could do the same, and many would swear it was a tax deduction motivated gesture;

5) Everything is about timing and context. The social, political, economic, and technological situations 6-12 months prior to each reference date should be factored into how people perceived the respective presidents;

6) We strongly suspect the vast majority of Americans visit the "media outlets" which smell the best to them, and remind them of their more idyllic youth. Douglas often reminds us that everyone has a bias. Although some work hard to reduce it, others let it all hang out. At this point in our information evolution, people legitimately do not know who or what to objectively believe, and so they believe what they want to believe;

7) We have become a nation which dissects the hourly conduct of our presidents, including trips to the bidet. Imagine watching a basketball game where the coach is rated each time a flush is made, instead of waiting until the end of the game, or the end of the season. Plus, every interest group has 27 different factors by which they evaluate the president.

Had Romney won, within 18 months folks would have been calling for his head for his failure to provide quick enough assistance to Hurricane Sandy states and revive our sluggish economy. What’s frightening is that the same folks will criticize Obama 18 months from now.

We're on an exponential path of increasingly unreasonable expectations (substantially due to communications technology). No elected president will ever be able to truly satisfy 50% of the citizens again, UNTIL (a) the global economy comes roaring back and the benefits trickle down to the common citizen (something over which the president has little control), or (b) there is a war of major consequence. That president will ride that wave of prosperity, or wave of patriotism, for which a cause and effect relationship cannot be honestly established.

Since the beginning, engineers, scientists, inventors, and new thinkers have spurred new technology. It is technology that drives prosperity. The use of that technology drives industry, and trade and industry create jobs and drive tax revenues. When all is humming, an economy is strong enough to keep enough people employed, and fewer folks bitching about basics. The have-not voices are drowned out, or there are enough crumbs for the haves to toss to convert their screams to mumbles.

8) That's what this last election should have been about: how to ignite an explosion of creativity, inventiveness, and innovation. The reality is that government action, or inaction, may encourage but does not drive that.

So here’s the deal, college students. Too many Baby Boomers (Institute Fellows included) abdicated our responsibilities and became fat and complacent as the size of the prosperous middle class grew. We developed an unrealistic expectation that things would always get better and America would continue to be No.1, without a sufficient number of us putting in the effort required to stay No. 1. (What the muck made us think the children of each succeeding generation would live better lives than their parents? Hope?)

With each passing year, we expect more of our elected officials (who are not in a position to deliver) and for government to do “something,” more or less. It’s neither the fault of government, nor our elected leaders.

It is the logical result of human societal evolution once we started removing the food generation burden from individuals, and figured out that a few could generate excess food permitting most the “luxury” to pursue other pursuits of choice. Once we created “jobs,” people became dependent on them, and on receiving currency from some source. Additionally, we failed to recognize the challenges presented by leisure time.

Only individual citizens can pull us out of this mess. We cannot rely on government or corporations (including those owning major media outlets) seeking less regulation and favorable tax treatment. They are the last folks to whom we should be listening, no matter what the nature of the message.

Neither my, nor your, news station is red hot; both of our stations are doodly squat.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Post No. 182c: The Eighth Deadly Sin

© 2010 and 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

We recently contacted the Logistician (an Institute Fellow), still on sabbatical in Brazil, just to check up on him. We asked him what he considered to be the most significant difference between Brazil and the United States.

“There is almost a total lack of fear here," he said. "The folks will do virtually anything and engage virtually anyone.”

Interestingly, we have been thinking a lot about the concept of fear over the past few months, with all of the yelling and screaming going on about where this country is headed. We’ve come to recognize it as a very powerful and potentially destructive force.

Prior to moving to the East Coast, the Institute was based in Los Angeles, just a few blocks from UCLA. During the late 1980’s, a dramatic shift, in the ethnic make-up of the student body at UCLA, began to take place.

The number of first generation immigrant students, whose education was financed by parents in another part of the world, began to grow. It was not unusual to see them walking down the streets of Westwood wearing facial masks to deal with the air pollution and whatever other airborne “diseases.”

They walked in groups of 4, 5, or 6. On occasion, upon encountering a native-born American, the group members would shift 3 or 4 feet off the sidewalk, and turn their heads 90° as if to avoid being contaminated by the approaching figure.

When we first encountered this, we were puzzled, particularly since many cities in their native countries were far more densely populated, with lots of pushing and shoving and bodies touching. Thus, we wondered about the basis for the reaction.

We also knew plenty of native born American citizens of the same ethnic origin, who did not behave similarly, and who were truly integrated and engaged members of California society.

We entertained the possibility that it was fear of strangers and the unknown, and we became concerned, since a fear of any group of people, concept, or person results in a lack of engagement.

Many are familiar with the Seven Deadly Sins. According to Wikipedia, they constitute “…a classification of the most objectionable vices that has been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen humanity’s tendency to sin." The final version of the list consists of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

Although we here at the Institute do not claim to be learned theologians, or duly appointed disciples of Jesus, there is an argument to be made that fear, particularly the fear of engagement, should be added as the eighth deadly sin.

(Arguably, if one really has faith in God, follows the dictates of his or her religion, and legitimately considers oneself a child of God, then one should not fear anything or anyone but God.)

Tangentially, a failure to engage stemming from fear, can also lead to a failure to understand, which can lead to anger – one of the more unproductive activities in which one can engage, about which we previously expressed our thoughts.

In the view of the Logistician, there is a pragmatic, socio-technological reason to eliminate fear of others, leading to engagement – a society efficiently and effectively gets the best out of the highest proportion of its people.

The Roman Empire contributed significantly to the development of western civilization, which some consider to be the greatest contributor to humankind thus far. Through its assembly (admittedly by force in many instances) and assimilation of divergent cultures, the cross-cultural benefits were exponential in nature.

When those using a particular type of plow used in Country X, engaged those from Country Y, and then those from Country Z, the resultant plow was better at performing the task of tilling the soil, than any of the previous individual plows.

When the Institute moved to the southeast region of the country, the influences of the traditional Caucasian and African-American cultures were observable and palpable. However, the people in the region almost seemed to be in denial about the rapidly increasing Hispanic and Asian communities.

To constructively deny the existence, through lack of engagement, of a significant segment of your community, is a waste of human resources, and a missed opportunity.

And what does this have to do with Personal Responsibility about which we harp so frequently?

It seems to us that if one considers oneself to be a positive, upstanding, responsible contributor to the community, and a citizen of God’s Universe, (regardless of what Stephen Hawking might say), then part of Personal Responsibility requires us to affirmatively engage those who we do not know, do not understand, and those with whom we have philosophical, cultural, ethnic, social, and other differences.

It just seems like the responsible thing to do….

[Editorial Note: We obviously used some "artistic license" in referring to Henry David Thoreau.]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Post No. 182b: Why Dumping on BP is a Bunch of BS

Earlier this morning, news media outlets reported that BP (aka British Petroleum) has agreed to massive fines in connection with its April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion. The resultant oil spill had a dramatic effect on those areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico. We generated this article shortly after the accident. Criminal charges are still being pursued against various individuals associated with the human, economic, and environmental damages flowing from the incident.

© 2010 and 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

Yesterday, C-Span aired Tuesday’s Senate hearings in connection with the Gulf of Mexico oil “spill,” which is still spilling.

It was interesting to watch the corporate representatives, including the CEO of BP America, perform mental and legal gymnastics in responding to the questions. The world watched as Senators, on both sides of the aisle, posed questions reflecting their incredulousness that this “disaster” even occurred.

While we were impressed with the tap dancing on the part of the spokespeople, we were more impressed with the political savvy of the Senators. President Obama was justifiably incensed at the multi-lateral finger pointing going on, but, we submit, for all the wrong reasons.

We’re willing to bet, and even invest some money in the derivative ultimately crafted, that in the years to come (be it 10, 50, or 100), (1) “accidents” of this type will continue to occur, (2) the companies involved will be no more prepared to deal with them and their consequences, and (3) Senators investigating future accidents will continue to fake their incredulousness that such “accidents” still occur.

Many things in life have less to do with people or the humans who happen to exist at any given point in time, and more to do with the structure or organization within which they function.

We here in America, for a variety of psychological, historical, legal, and systemic reasons, have a “perverted” sense of “corporate responsibility.”

First of all there really is no such thing as “corporate responsibility.” In America, if a corporation screws up, it’s generally going to pay. Being a responsible corporation or a good corporate citizen is only pursued to enhance the bottom line. The consequences of the screw-up are generally based on the particular screw up, and even punitive damages can’t be avoided by a “good corporation.”

Second, those Senators asking questions are pretty savvy. They are well aware that a corporation is a legal fiction. They also know (although you might have difficulty believing it considering the way they run the government) that in conducting business, the goal of that entity is to generate profits in order to stay afloat.

Third, and most important, every corporate decision is made in an effort to maximize profits, and is theoretically an educated and calculated guess. However, the reality is that some of the guesses are going to be wrong. Corporate management knows, and the Senators should know, this dirty little secret.

The rest of society apparently does not.

And so we dump on corporations when there is a screw-up, accuse them of mismanagement and devious, under-handed activity, and then slap our jaws and drop our mouths with our eyes all bugged (like the kid on Home Alone), when the 27th screw-up occurs.

A corporate entity does not have a mind or a conscience similar to that of a human.

Repeat: A corporate entity does not have a mind or a conscience similar to that of a human.

Even though humans run corporations, corporations are separate and apart from humans, somewhere between a human and an inanimate object.

Whereas a human will occasionally make a judgment call against his or her personal interests in pursuit of other goals (like unprotected sex with a stranger), rarely will a corporate entity do so because it is not really its money. It's not even the money of the folks managing the company, at least in the case of a publicly traded corporation.

It is the money and interests of others, the shareholders, which are at risk, not that of the decision makers.

It makes for a unique dynamic.

As a result, fines, penalties, and lawsuits (which are quantifiable and really only about money, not lives) have to be figured into the economic mix as necessary evils.

An entity may try to minimize them, or even delay them if possible, but they know that they are always just around the corner. Corporate management recognizes this for what it is.

They keep this in mind when they're engaged, and then walk away from it and try to live a human life.

Speeches, press conferences, hearings, investigations, fines, and lawsuits, are all perversions designed to distract us from really getting to the root of the matter. Talk about irresponsibility.

If you really want to know what’s going on, talk to the bean counters. It’s all about probabilities and risk management. It’s not about humans, wild life, or the environment.

It’s about time that we recognize that, and then get on with the business of trying to reduce, not eliminate, such “accidents” from happening in the future.

Corporations are not human. They can't be. It's an inherent conflict of interest.

If they don’t make enough in the way of profits, they will not have any put away for a rainy day, or be able to respond to the fickle changes in consumer tastes.

And as they pass through St. Peter’s bankruptcy gates, we’ll accuse them of mismanagement and sleeping at the switch.

And that ain’t no BS.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Post No. 182a: Adults Flying with Minor Children Should Put On Their Masks First - Something for Embattled Public Figures to Consider

During the course of the 4-1/2 years that we have maintained this blog, numerous public figures have found themselves in trouble for one reason or another. If what we have to say in our posts even remotely comes close to being common sense, and legitimately assists in formulating some standard of personal responsibility for our target audience of college students to consider, there ought to be consistent application of the principles discussed over time. Whatever we have to say should not apply to just some, and not others, to Republicans, and not Democrats, to women, and not men, and ....

This week, it is Gen. David Petraeus. Before the week is over, it may be others. Although this post was originally written with elected officials in mind, we believe that the discussion is also applicable to any prominent public figure in government.

© 2009, 2011, and 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

During recent weeks, the court of public opinion questioned the judgment of numerous prominent individuals.

In the case of several politicians, the talking heads debated whether they should resign. Most recently, many have taken a bite at Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat from New York. Weiner claims that instead of resigning, he will take a leave of absence.

We asked ourselves whether there is a principle potentially applicable to all such cases when the resignation issue arises.

Some urged resignation, others “staying the course.” Some characterized it as a “personal decision,” and still others said it should be left to the voters.

Pundits will debate for years whether Bill Clinton should have resigned before commencement of impeachment proceedings, and the long-term ramifications of his decision not to do so.

Alaska’s Gov. Palin resigned before anyone suggested that she do so, and she still caught flak for that. Nevada Sen. John Ensign hung on for the ride, and only recently announced that he would not seek re-election.

In each instance, many spoke of the judgment of the politicians involved (before and after the revelations of their questioned conduct), and whether their actions bear, in any way, on their ability to make “good judgments” while in office and on behalf of those who placed faith and trust in them.

In the recent cases of Nevada Sen. John Ensign, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Gov. Sarah Palin, and now Rep. Weiner, we listened to all of the views, and still did not have a concrete position. We debated the gravity of the conduct, whether the person still had something to offer to society, and whether his or her constituency might actually be the loser should they resign.

We thought about how society defines “judgment,” or more appropriately perhaps, “good judgment.” Whether it is situational and transient in nature, or permanent, and black and white.

A couple of years ago, a friend sent us the following, purportedly a question used as part of a job application, which made us think further about “judgment:”

“You’re driving down a winding, rain-slicked road on a dangerous, stormy night. You pass a bus stop where 3 people are waiting for the bus. One is an elderly woman who appears to be very ill. The 2nd is someone you recognize as a friend who once saved your life. The 3rd is someone who you, in hindsight, recognize you should have married years before. (They later revealed that given the opportunity, they would now be open to your entreaties.)”

“You have room in your sports car for only one other person. Which one would you offer a ride?”

Before sharing the answer of the successful applicant, we have another short story which might bear on whether politicians should resign after embarrassing conduct, which calls into question their judgment.

A regular reader found herself in dire straits a couple of years ago. Most of her life, she had the very best of everything: food, wine, education, exposure, homes, travel, and friends. However, during the last several years she found herself estranged from her family and struggling to make ends meet.

During an exchange at the time, she confided that she was initially confused as to what she should do in terms of her relationship with her minor son, and then she offered this:

“I’ve been flying in private planes since the age of 7. In thinking about my predicament, I recalled something said at the beginning of every flight. ‘Adults flying with minor children should put on their oxygen masks first, before trying to assist their children.’ I realized that I had to get my personal act together first before being able to assist, or be involved with, anyone else.”

It seemed like such a simple concept, and Common Sense. The more we thought about it, the more applicable it seemed to disgraced elected officials in the court of public opinion. At least it is something they should consider.

Back to our job applicant, you could justifiably pick up the elderly lady since her condition is the most precarious. Or you could pay back the friend who saved your life. Or you could pick up your mate and live happily ever after.

Our friend claims that the successful candidate, out of 200 who applied, indicated that you should give the car keys to the old friend and let him or her take the sick woman to the hospital, while you sit with the love of your life awaiting the bus.

One of the Senior Fellows here at the Institute suggested the driver run over the elderly woman, put her out of her misery, fulfill any unrequited desires with the love of your life, and then drive off with the friend who saved your life for some strawberry margaritas at Pancho’s on the Strand.

We haven’t advanced the discussion of what constitutes “good judgment,” have we? Hmmm, we imagine that it is open to debate.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post No. 182: The Morning After – Part 2: Where We Think the Republicans Went Wrong in 2012

© 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

We constantly re-visit posts to see if our views change. Although we occasionally find grammatical mistakes, the underlying thought process generally remains the same.

There is one post we never re-visited, and we are not going to do so now. It’s irrelevant. That post, The Morning After, was written hours after Obama was elected the first time.

On the other hand, there is an article we re-visit far more than others. It accurately outlined what we expected Obama to face in the event he was elected in 2008. Why I am Concerned that Obama Might Win (October 25, 2008), noted that the global economy was in bad shape, predicted it would continue for years, and that Obama would be blamed for not pulling the U.S. out of the economic doldrums quickly enough.

That was a no-brainer, but we re-posted that fluff piece 28 times, and each time a bunch of people exclaimed, “Amazing!”

Politicians, like lawyers on corporate payrolls, are necessary evils and part of our current governance model. But politicians have a significant problem apart from trying to act like money does not influence their decisions. In the real world, to solve problems it is far more efficient and effective if one’s analysis in addressing them is a thing apart from one’s values. Just imagine an ER doctor taking into consideration whether the patient was at fault before providing treatment, or how much money he or she will make if the patient lives or dies. Unfortunately, politicians have the dual, often conflicting, goals of defining what they stand for (depending on who they’re talking to), and ultimately getting re-elected.

Many Republicans are already heading down the wrong road today as they emerge from last night's limousine, caravan pile-up. They claim their message and mission are still on point; implicitly suggesting they were “right” all along, but that they picked the wrong driver for their vehicle.

Actually, Romney could have been the right man, and probably would have been in an earlier version of the Party. Our sense is that he is a good and decent man, with nothing but the best interests of our country at heart. Additionally, America could really use a business-oriented technocrat right now.

However, truth be told, the man never was as extreme or angry as the loudest elements of his Party wanted him to be. The most vocal and angry members of his Party out-shouted the thinking members.

This is a preview of our common sense presentation to the RNC on where the Republicans went wrong, and what they need to do to get back on track:

(1) You threw everything in the kitchen sink plus all of the crap in the outhouse at Obama. By doing so, you lost credibility with sensible folks, and your message became, per Marvin Hagler, “odiferous.” (College students simply held their noses.) If your positions on a few key issues were really that strong, you didn’t need all of the other stuff, or the Donald Trumps of the world.

Last week, someone sent us a chart outlining “Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever.” The visual representation overwhelms you. It did not matter whether every single allegation was true. The President is an Incompetent, Dangerous, Treasonous Retard Side Show ™ was simply “over the top,” suggested something kooky was going on, and more importantly, unnecessary.

(2) The relatively small, extreme, fringe elements of your Party high-jacked the larger Party, in much the same way as the relatively small, extreme, fringe elements of Islam have high-jacked their religion. The Democrats also have such folks, but they shut the muck up. Your problem was that heretofore sensible, thinking members of your Party joined the fringe chorus, because they thought it was their ticket to Disney World. As the Laughingman often says, “If you think that hitchhikers you pick up are going to pay for all of your gas, you’ll probably never reach your destination.”

The Party needs to expel the kooks and extremists. Right now, there is no other club where they can hang out. Take some of that Koch Brothers / Super PAC money and build a third club house, where the bigots and narrow-minded can go party. They are pulling you down, in very much the same way Islamic terrorists are hurting their religion.

Deep down inside, your Party as presently constituted scares not all, but many, thinking people.

(3) The leadership of your Party abdicated responsibility and went on the road with The Fringe Circus. That suggests you don’t really have any leaders. It looked more like a revolutionary movement. Someone needed to take control, show some non-kooky qualities, and get the ship out of the rough seas. No one did that. The Good Governor didn’t want to do that. That’s not who he is.

(4) Our last point is the same one we made in October 2008. Economists predict another 5 – 7 years of economic sluggishness, GLOBALLY. Your Party asked us to believe that one man was supposed to turn around this giant ship in the middle of the ocean after both Parties had charted the same route for 30 or so years, AND you expected us to ignore all of the past trips where you collected bounty.

In 2016, you need to clearly articulate that your solutions will yield (not would have yielded) better results than those achieved during the preceding 8 year period, without making it seem as though you are the Virgil Starkwells of the economic world, who want to Take the Money and Run.

Quite frankly, the middle class never really believed that you cared about them.

You just looked greedy and disingenuous.

This is not to suggest that Democrats do not have significant comparable problems; just that they proved to be the lesser of the 2 evils this time around.

To the RNC Chair-Person [?], you need some new image consultants for the next round. We here at the Institute will gladly assist you, at a rate 1/1000th of what you were paid by your largest campaign contributor. Give the Koch Brothers our telephone number.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post No. 181: The Most Deadly Mental Illness in America

© 2012, the Institute for Applied Common Sense

We’re not fans of CBS’ 60 Minutes, because we’re not fans of folks who let their values dictate their thought processes. In our view, one’s analysis of issues ought to be a thing apart from one’s values. For us, the presentation of news ought to be as value free as humanly possible. The 60 Minutes folks rarely ask the logical, follow-up question in the pursuit of balance.

But last night was different. First Senators Harry Reid (Democrat) and Mitch McConnell (Republican) sat side by side while being interviewed. They provided their views as to the source of gridlock in Congress. Nothing new came out of the discussion; however, we gained some perspective through the second guest.

David McCullough is an award-winning American historian who has written numerous books, including those on Presidents Adams (John), Lincoln, Roosevelt (Teddy), and Truman. He was initially interviewed in his 8’ x 10’ office in the back of his Cape Cod home, where we saw him hunting and pecking on a turn–of-the-last century manual typewriter. When asked why he preferred the relic over a computer, he quipped, “I don’t like to hit a button and see a month’s work disappear.”

Per McCullough, despite complaints today there is nothing new about extreme partisanship and personal attacks. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, national candidates branded each other thieves and common criminals. One even accused his opponent of being a hermaphrodite. (Fortunately, we did not have cameras, or we suspect that the foundational photo would have gone viral.)

The Good Historian also reminded us that there is nothing new about a country feeling it is in a state of decline. While he was a kid, McCullough’s Father always voted Republican. Following the election of Truman in 1948, his Father was absolutely certain the U.S. would become a third-rate power.

Years later, the Elder McCullough would quietly say, “I sure wish we had old Harry back….”

Upon leaving Cape Cod, instead of moving the camera to Washington, the interview transitioned to Independence Hall and other historic locations in Philadelphia. The men who sat in the room, where the new governance model was invented, feared for their lives since they realized that their discussions were treasonous. According to McCullough, they even closed the windows of the building during the heat of the summer of 1787, out of concern that there might be eavesdroppers.

In thinking about it further, perhaps we’re giving the 60 Minutes folks too much credit for this broadcast. It was really McCullough who brought clarity and a sense of historical perspective regarding this very toxic environment.

And maybe we’re overly complimentary of McCullough’s comments, since he managed to succinctly state in a phrase something which we have felt but have had difficulty articulating in 4-1/2 years of blogging.

Paraphrasing McCullough, what is most troubling about politics now, particularly with the tons of money being spent, is that there is, “a dearth of ideas.”

At an earlier point in our existence, when the Institute was located in one region of the U.S., we’d assemble people with varying points of view and from different disciplines, and after working together, folks would say, “Let’s give it a try.”

In another, we’d go through the same process, and people would find every imaginable objection and complication leading to a state where nothing was done.

The toxicity in the air can be significantly traced to our national attitude. It’s not as though it is totally unreasonable. There are a couple of factors contributing to this zeitgeist.

1) Uncertainty - we’re no longer secure in our role as top dog. Osama bin Laden did a lot to foster that mood - he bit us in the ass and globalization has further contributed to it; and

2) We’ve lost our edge educationally and technologically (and we know it). We rode the coat-tails of our prior triumphs for far too long. Today, too many kids (through the power of the Internet and electronic media) want to be entertainers and athletes, and play in reality TV shows, not scientists, engineers, and inventors.There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with the former; but everything in the Universe is about proportion and timing, and technology drives everything.

Right now, the Randle Patrick McMurphys of the world are running the institution. We need Nurse Ratched back, to shock us to our senses, with the assistance of the college students of today.

We’re not generally ones to pine for practices of the past, opting instead to come up with new approaches. But this might be, like our praise of 60 Minutes, one time where we make an exception, and revert back to some of our past practices infused with youthful ideas.

(You can view Part 2 of McCullough’s interview next Sunday, November 11, 2012.)

"There Are More Than 2 Or 3 Ways To View Any Issue; There Are At Least 27"™

"Experience Isn't Expensive; It's Priceless"™

"Common Sense Should be a Way of Life"™