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A View From the Edge

The con game — history revisited

It is the oldest political game in the world: In times of economic insecurity, the plutocrat, the rich person, someone powerful in another arena, says to the people who are hurting:

“Your problems aren’t caused by tax dodgers, they are not caused by the richest people not paying you proper salaries with which you can live and raise your family. Your problems are not caused by bankers who gamble your future away. 

What’s the point of gender identity?

Fifteen years ago I needed a pistol on the farm — we had rabid raccoons, out in the daylight. A neighbor got bitten. So I went to Terni’s Store in Millerton, and Phil told me I needed a pistol permit. 

I went off to Poughkeepsie and filled in the forms at the police station. The officer there took my fingerprints and reviewed my responses, “What are you, a smart aleck? Under race you put ‘human’; you’re Caucasian.”

Getting past 2-D thinking is the key

There’s a major flaw in humans. With two eyes, and genetically always looking at flat planes of vision, we tend to think, “see,” in two dimensions. Because we live in a 3-D world, we piece together our world in 2-D planes of sight, vertical and horizontal, to effectively record the dimension, size, shape and color of objects that are 3-D. 

Genetic changes all around

As an agrarian people, humans have been messing with genetics for hundreds of thousands of years. Yes, that long. Every time you decide what two cattle to breed together — this one gives more milk, that one has more meat — you are doing what Mother Nature maybe wouldn’t do. In the case of artificial insemination (and most cattle are now developed this way), you are literally taking two animals that have no contact with each other and breeding them together.

Has no one here read any John le Carré novels?

Russia has only 145 million people, less than half the number living in the U.S. Eighty million of them actually work (40 percent for the government). Their economy is less robust than that of California. 

Russia’s goal, accepted by the intelligence committees of the United States for more than 20 years, is to “seek to legitimize its rule through managed elections, populist appeals, a foreign policy focused on enhancing the country’s geopolitical influence …” (CIA official report).

War games of the mind

In any war, there are those forces coming at you with hostile intent and, often with greater effect, those attacks coming at you that seem weak or that you have no idea are there. 

Hidden gossip attacks are, often, seemingly harmless propaganda. But a successful (evil) leader once said, “What good fortune … that people do not think.” Another, after seeing the effects of a successful propaganda campaign, said that it, “manipulates the people as an artist molds clay.”

Never apologize or explain

Over the years I have known quite a few men, especially those older than I, perhaps born in the late ‘30s or early ‘40s, who early-on adopted a slogan of self-worth for themselves of “Never Apologize, Never Explain.” 

The telecommunications battleground

More than 30 years ago a judge, Harold Greene, made a landmark decision called the Modified Final Judgement, which basically said AT&T was too big to control (anti-trust applied to the 1949 Telecommunications Act) and needed to be broken up. AT&T could only, thereafter, be a long distance company and all the regional Bell Systems had to be independent. 

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What is a friend?

The passing of someone close to me and my family recently, someone I have known for more than 60 years, has caused me to reflect on the nature of the layers, classifications if you will, of friendship. Gen, as he was known to my family, was an extraordinary person.

The smartest men and women in the room

There are times when intellect is measured against intellect. In the mid-1800s, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace went head-to-head in determining the origin of life, or as Darwin put it, The Origin of Species. Timing? Wallace was a year ahead of Darwin, writing letters back from halfway around the globe to the National Geographical Society patrons  — who shared them with Darwin.