Technology

Sixty Years Of The Space Age: A Time Of Great Achievements And Technological Advancements

Yesterday, October 4, was the 60th anniversary of the Space Age, as the Soviet Union shocked the world by orbiting an artificial satellite, Sputnik I, beginning the Space Race, leading to the United States landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, after promotion by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. It was the age of Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and so many other heroic astronauts.

It transformed American thinking, and helped to promote science, math, and technology, and the importance of promoting higher education.

So under President Eisenhower, we saw the enactment of the National Defense Education Act in 1958, and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, with headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and later in Houston, Texas.

The Space Age promoted patriotism and excitement, as millions of Americans watched all of the launches of satellites and of astronauts on television.

This blogger remembers the uniqueness of the Space Age, and is still saddened by the lack of commitment to go further into space, with the argument that we could not afford the expenditure.

If we had continued the pace of the Space Age after the last mission to the moon in 1972, America would likely now have explored Mars, which now is a goal for the 2030s, after many lost decades.

The loss of interest in science, is a great tragedy, as many ignorant people have worked against it, instead advocating religion over science, to the detriment of the nation.

Cutting Military Spending A Good Step, Since We Have As Much Spending as Next Twelve Nations Combined!

The world is an unsafe place, and yes, we have to be prepared for any eventuality, but does that mean that we need to spend as much as the next twelve nations combined?

Can we possibly match the two nations with bigger armies, China and India, when they both have3-4 times our population?

Do we really need so many aircraft carriers, and more nuclear weapons, and more bombers than we have now, which cost billions upon billions, while the ranks of the poor and the near poor continue to grow?

Can we intervene in every international crisis, even if the cause is good and moral, or do we have to pick our battles, and only engage militarily when the urgency of intervention is clear cut?

The plan, announced this week by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, to scale down the military to the smallest number of troops since before World War II engagement, in a world where technology, including drones, is going to be used more and more, makes total sense, as future wars will not be fought like World War II or even the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

We will still be number one, but have extra funds available to help promote the “American Dream” for future generations, emphasizing health care, education, housing, and the revival of the flagging middle class!

The Republican Party will have a “knee jerk” reaction to any proposal to scale down the military, but it can and must be done in a sensible, rational way, or else the national debt increase, much fueled by defense spending out of all control in the past decade, doubling over that time, will suffocate American democracy!

The Founding Fathers did not wish a defense behemoth as the Pentagon has become since World War II, and the Cold War is over, and the whole strategy of defense can be modified safely, and save trillions of dollars over time!

Economic Reality Grim For Most Americans, Whether Based On Race Or Education Level!

Growing evidence shows that the effects of the Great Recession, and really the policies of Republican Presidents and Congresses since 1980, have created a grim reality for a vast majority of Americans—likelihood of poverty, deprivation, and lack of opportunity, even for college graduates in large numbers for a long period of years! And where one lives does, and will have a dramatic effect on the long term futures of millions of citizens!

A study shows that four out of five adults in America will struggle with joblessness, near poverty, or reliance on welfare for part of their lives! 76 percent of whites will experience such a situation by the age of 60!

15 percent of the American people, nearly 47 million of the population, are in poverty, with higher percentages of African Americans and Hispanic-Latinos, but in absolute numbers, whites are 41 percent or 19 million of the poor, double what African Americans are in numbers. Most of these poor whites live in Appalachia, the industrial Midwest, and the heartland of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and the Great Plains, areas of rural communities , and even in many suburbs, in areas where 60 percent of the poor are whites.

So working class whites, those without college degrees, are in a terrible state, unable to look forward to the accomplishment of the “American Dream”!

But the problem is that even those who have a college education are facing a horrible job market. Many are unemployed, while even more who are working, are underemployed, working part time, and also, many are working in jobs that do not require a college degree, so are wasting years trying to break in to the job market they planned for, but are unable to engage in, due to the Great Recession and its aftermath!

Additionally, it has been demonstrated that where one lives has a dramatic effect on climbing up the income ladder! Social mobility up the income ladder is MUCH harder in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, including such cities as Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis,. Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Columbus!

At the same time, social mobility and rising up the income ladder is best in the Northeast and the West, including New York, Boston, large areas of California and Minnesota, and Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Salt Lake City.

It is extremely disturbing that earlier studies of social mobility demonstrate that a smaller percentage of people escape childhood poverty in America than in Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Japan.

Affluent children tend to remain so, achieving a lot of success by as young as age 30, while children from poverty rarely see much improvement, and that is not just a race issue, as whites have the same results, based on how they were born, rich or poor!

The need to deal with social mobility and opportunity, for working class whites and minorities, are the agenda that Barack Obama is pursuing as he travels the nation, calling for an economic plan for the future, including improvements in education, infrastructure, new technologies, and environmental challenges to overcome climate change!

There is no more important agenda for the nation than the providing of economic opportunity, in a nation where the middle class has been decimated, from its high point, 40 years ago, in 1973!

The Crux Of The Matter: Barack Obama’s Speech In Cleveland Sets The Standard!

President Obama today gave a rousing speech in Cleveland, making clear that he was not willing to give Mitt Romney a massive tax cut, along with other millionaires and billionaires, and that much more important was to give basic security to the elderly, the sick, and those seeking work and suffering from the Great Recession for the past four and a half years!

In a nation in which the average family has suffered a drop in assets of 39 percent in the past few years, including on retirement savings, housing, jobs, and ability to provide college education to one’s children, Obama said the only way to grow the economy was the creation of a strong middle class, based on education, investment in infrastructure projects, and the utilization of technology to find new methods of economic expansion, including energy projects that plan for a world less dependent on oil and coal.

Instead of returning to deregulation and massive tax cuts for the rich, Obama said government can be good and productive and helpful in bringing back the American economy, and that if we are all to be only thinking about ourselves, that will not revive the American economy.

The election is a clear cut choice between two philosophies, and Obama declared that it was a crucial, turning point election that will determine the long term direction of the country.

If one uses common sense, and realizes that the way to move forward is to think of ourselves as “WE”, instead of “ME”, then Obama will win the election in November!

Barack Obama Invokes Teddy Roosevelt And The “New Nationalism” Of The Progressive Party Of 1912

President Obama invoked Teddy Roosevelt and the “New Nationalism” program of the Progressive Party of 1912 in a speech today at Osawatomie, Kansas, the site of a speech by the former President in 1910, setting the standard for his later third party run for President in 1912.

Called a socialist, a radical, and even a Communist by many conservatives a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt promoted a very advanced series of ideas out of office, more than when he was in, including the end of child labor, equal pay for women, a minimum wage, a social insurance program including social security and health care, a progressive federal income tax, and reforming the political system.

His program, known as the “New Nationalism” became the forerunner of much of the “New Freedom” of Woodrow Wilson, the “New Deal” of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the “Fair Deal” of Harry Truman, the “New Frontier” of John F. Kennedy, and the “Great Society” of Lyndon B. Johnson.

Obama talked of the need for a strong middle class and a raised standard of living, and the need to regulate corporations and to raise taxes as other Presidents have done, in order to promote a “fair shake” for everyone, giving everyone “equal opportunity” to succeed.

Obama emphasized that major tax cuts for the rich had led to greater inequality, lower creation of jobs, growing deficits, and the collapse of the American economy in the past ten years. He declared that “trickle down economics” had never worked in the past successfully, and that assertive actions by government were necessary to promote a bright future for all Americans.

He called for more investment in education, research, technology, infrastructure, and manufacturing, rather than in banking and finance which leads to phony manipulation of financial figures and causes financial “bubbles”!

His speech, as usual, was well delivered, and was designed to inspire the American people to take on the struggle that was fought during the Progressive Era by Theodore Roosevelt to promote a bright future for America!

And remember that Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican who believed in the role of government to make a better society, something regrettably not the viewpoint of the transformed Republican Party of today, which speaks only for the wealthy and the corporations, and spends time dividing people and gaining support based on social conservatism issues, including gay rights, abortion rights, gun rights, illegal immigration and affirmative action. Meanwhile, the lives of the masses of Americans who vote on their emotions, rather than their reason, for the GOP, does not lead to better lives for those people!

The Death Of A Technology Genius At 56: Steve Jobs Of Apple, Inc.

Tonight, it was announced that one of the technology geniuses of modern times, Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple, Inc, has passed away at age 56 of pancreatic cancer.

The man who introduced Macintosh Computers in 1984, and later the IPod, the IPhone, and the IPad, left active work a couple of months ago, after battling cancer since 2004,

For a brief period, Apple, Inc. became the number one company in total value, this year surpassing Exxon Mobil.

The world is much enriched by his contributions, and will mourn his death and its impact for a very long time! May he rest in peace!

The Growing Movement Against School Homework: A Major Mistake!

At a time when school achievement is declining rapidly, and America’s schoolchildren are demonstrating less and less general knowledge of all areas of learning at all grade levels, a movement is on to cut back, and in many cases, end school homework, and that is a major mistake!

Of course, children do not like homework, anymore than most people love going to work daily. But that is not the point to be considered!

Homework assists learning, and with the school day and year as short as it is, and so much time wasted in school as it is, homework becomes even more important to teach work habits, and to promote basic skills and acquisition of general knowledge.

It is all good and fine that parents assist children in sports, music, and other social activities outside of school.

It is also good that children should have some time for themselves and to do what they want in their spare time.

But in order to promote deeper thought and analysis skills, a substantial commitment to homework, but challenging work that requires real involvement in use of computer research, is essential.

Children must learn that computers and technology are not just for social media and playing video games, but also for real acquisition of general knowledge in all areas of the curriculum to create a work ethic for adulthood!

Ignorance Of American History Pervasive Among American Students! But The Same In World Civilizations and Science!

A new national study demonstrates what has long been known: America’s students are terribly ignorant and clueless about American history–its personalities, principles, accomplishments, and failures! This was demonstrated by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, called America’s Report Card.

22 percent of fourth graders, 18 percent of eighth graders, and 13 percent of high school seniors showed real understanding of the concepts and the important facts and principles of our nation’s historical tradition.

But it is not just American history, but also understanding of world civilizations and foreign lands that is a problem.

Also, the knowledge of science is abysmal, with many students having no understanding of the physical and biological sciences, with religion having a greater hold and acceptance than the realities of science, so that there are millions of young Americans who have no understanding of evolution or the natural sciences and climate change.

Very small percentages go into the sciences or engineering or technology fields, forcing American companies to recruit students from India, China and elsewhere to fill their needs for trained scientists.

With the emphasis on basic reading, writing, and math skills, but without very good returns even on those subjects, America’s children are being cheated out of what is MOST important: a broad General Knowledge base by the time they have left high school in America!

The Military And Adaptation To Change: Not Easy, But Essential!

The American military is facing demand for change in many different ways, more than in a long time!

Among the changes about to occur soon are:

1. The likelihood of the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, therefore allowing openly gay men and women in the military.

2. The banning of smoking on submarines.

3. The introduction of women to submarines, the last vestige of gender discrimination falling by the wayside by 2012.

4. The growing number of air force pilots who work out of Nevada with robotic drones in Afghanistan that are computer controlled, with these pilots working long shifts and then going home to their families!

The technology issue is probably the easiest to adapt to, although many Air Force pilots probably look down at those of their group who are not literally in the combat zone, facing possible death.

Smoking bans have been growing all over the country, but forcing it on submarines will be a cultural problem for many, but essential for promotion of good health.

Having openly gay people in the military and women on submarines will be the most difficult to adjust to, for many culturally conservative military types.

But life IS change, and overall, these steps forward are good for the military and for American society as a whole!