Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Getting Ready for the Super Bowl!

Aurora Borealis

I have always wanted to see the aurora borealis. We are experiencing a particularly strong solar storm not seen in a few years. Scientists are concerned that the sun's powerful radiation could interrupt satellites, communication systems, and other technology. TV, radio and cell phone transmissions may be affected. Some airlines have even re-routed flight plans to ensure the safety of their passengers. On the plus side, the solar storm has created some very beautiful scenes for some in our northern hemisphere....unfortunately, it's very doubtful that anyone in Indiana will be able see it.

Click here to see some spectacular photos of the recent aurora borealis!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Tebowing" leads to assaults

Iran Sends Rare Letter to US

A "magnetic" bomb attached to a car exploded last Wednesday in Iran, killing a top Iranian nuclear scientist and his driver. Iran claims in their letter that they have direct evidence that the US is responsible. Tensions have been escalating in recent days, with Iran continuing in their nuclear efforts by enriching uranium in underground bunkers (which can then be weaponized), and a new measures signed by President Obama that would prevent countries from purchasing Iranian oil (proceeds from which Iran depends on for feeding their people). Iranian boats also approached US vessels in the strait of Hormuz on Friday. This Middle-Eastern hot spot seems to be getting hotter. The impact on the everyday American? Oil costs continue to rise which will increase the costs of almost everything else in our lives. And again, we are drawn to another international drama in a god-forsaken place thousands of miles away, involving a crazy leader who has no qualms with ending our existence.  


Friday, January 13, 2012

Declassified Secrets!

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.....The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government---lest it come to dominate or lives and interests."

~Patrick Henry

Who doesn't love a secret? Do you believe that you have a right to know information about your government and what it does? Thanks to the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), passed in 1966, government agencies are legally required to be make most of their documents accessible to the American public. Reasonable arguments can made for the US Government's protection and withholding of certain documents and information for reasons relating to national security. However, thousands of documents are declassified and released annually. Many records are a few decades old and the individuals involved are deceased, and most of the time, it serves no logical or reasonable purpose to keep them secret from the American public. Other records will remain secret for several decades or, if released, they may be so redacted that gleaning anything meaningful is impossible. This is often due to the sensitive nature of the material, or because it may be too embarrassing and would potentially cause negative domestic and international perceptions.

However, there are several previously top-secret documents that have made it into the realm of the public which contain information involving questionable activities of our our government, some of which are sensational, appalling and highly embarrassing.

The subject of government secrecy tends to be highly divisive. Many radical political groups use declassified documents as fuel for anti-American propaganda. Meanwhile, others (especially those who are/have been in positions of governmental leadership roles) advocate perpetuating the secrecy of files long after the potential usefulness by our enemies. My personal observation is that most average people simply do not care...and tend to dismiss these kinds of subjects as fodder for the margins of our society. In other words, only conspiracy nuts and kooks will take the time to read and discuss these kinds of things.

Sure, there are conspiracy theorists and some fringe groups out there that tend to discredit themselves. However, there really are truly disturbing things that should concern any educated citizen. I am persuaded that the American citizenry has an obligation to be informed and educated about their own government and history. To do otherwise is irresponsible and becomes another example of the growing mediocrity of our society. I would argue that it is your patriotic duty to be aware, educated, and to question the actions of your government when it encroaches upon individual liberties.

Here are some interesting government secrets revealed by declassified documents:

1. A post WWII program by our military (sometimes referred to as "Operation Paper Clip") that allowed former Nazi scientists, doctors and SS Nazi officers entry into the United States to glean useful information (this was defended as a way to keep their knowledge out of the hands of the Soviets).

2. Operation Northwoods. This dark "cover and deception" plan was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in which Cuba would be blamed for fictional attacks against the United States. Of particular interest are pages 7-11. Horrific and shocking.

3. The U.S. Public Health Service Sexually Transitted Disease Inoculation Study of 1946-1948. This was a program in which Guatemalan commercial sex workers, soldiers, and residents of mental health facilities were deliberately exposed to syphilis and other venereal diseases as part of a study on the effectiveness of vaccines.

4. US Inspector General's Survey of the Cuban Operation (Bay of Pigs)

5. The FBI and Martin Luther King. There was a long history of tension between J Edgar Hoover & MLK. These documents provide some interesting

On a lighter note, there's always some fun to be had in reading things in our history. Almost everyone can find something they would find interesting. Want to read about what the FBI knew about UFO's? Read about Project Blue Book here. Want to see a humorous & previously classified 'exploratory reconnaissance' mission request from some spies at the CIA, including the super-spook himself, James Jesus Angleton? Click here. Did you know that the FBI investigated the song, "Louie Louie?" Want to read the official FBI account of the Roswell UFO incident? Click here. Did you know our military kept files on Mt. Ararat, Turkey, relating to "Noah's Ark?" Click here to see pictures. Interested in reading FBI documents on President Nixon and Watergate? Click here. Want to listen to some of the infamous secret tapes in Nixon's Oval Office? Click here!

Below is a good list of on-line resources about declassified documents. Many are federal gov't. databases, while others are from universities and private organizations & citizens, and document collections in presidential libraries.











http://www.archives.gov/research/search/ (A search engine that uses multiple National Archive databases simultaneously)




http://vault.fbi.gov/reading-room-index (A must-visit! You can spend hours at this vault reading everything from the declassified files of J Edgar Hoover, to the dossiers kept on celebrities, politicians, gangsters, and 60's radicals. From Marilyn Monroe to Al Capone, it's great reading!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Readwriteweb.com Article: Be Careful Whom You Befriend on Social Networks

Cautionary article on befriending people on social media networks. Do you always know who you accept as a friend on Facebook?


'The Obamas'

A new book by Jodi Kantor has recently emerged that promises to give some behind the scenes insights to President Obama & his wife, Michelle. In particular, the book has some interesting things to say about Michelle Obama & her views about living in the White House.

There is a huge American fascination with every First Family...and some of that fascination lasts for years after they do (e.g. John & Jackie Kennedy). President Obama and his family will be no different. I haven't had the chance to pick this book up, yet, but it's definitely on my list. Here are a couple of very interesting book reviews I thought I'd share about Jodi Kantor's new book:



Generation Why?

Once upon a time in my career I had the responsibility to recruit, interview and hire people. The positions for which I was hiring were for direct care. The perspective applicants would be providing supports to individuals with intellectual disabilities, many of whom are among our most vulnerable and dependent citizens. I have interviewed hundreds of people. All kinds of people. And I have had some of the most unusual responses to interview questions. Many people I've hired have proven themselves to be wonderful and fine employees, demonstrating excellent traits and characteristics we like to see in employees.

Unfortunately, I have also witnessed some of the most undesirable work habits and personalities in those I have hired. One bit of truth I have encountered over and over: finding trustworthy, honest, dedicated, caring, hard-working, and responsible employees that possess common sense is much rarer than you would think. And although I hesitate to paint with a broad brush of generalizations, certain patterns emerge which suggests that generational distinctions are more than anecdotal. It's true that good and bad can be found within any demographic strata (even Jesus had Judas in his ranks). Any first year sociology student should be able to easily explain the differences in value systems, world-views, perceptions, and paradigm shifts in priorities between age groups. Research in the attitudes and expectations among our younger workers (often  referred to as Millennials or "Generation Y")  reflect stark contrasts compared to those of Baby Boomers and even among my age group, Gen X.  As I am frequently reminded by others, differences and change are not bad things. But I see alarming trends that sometimes makes me fearful for the world of tomorrow. 

I promise to try not to come across as a middle-aged man who is quickly metamorphosing into an ill-tempered, geriatric curmudgeon  lamenting that "youth is wasted on the young" (quick, pass the Geritol and then I can regale you with fantastic tales of my boyhood travelings by foot to the one-room schoolhouse that required hikes though miles of snow, uphill, both ways).  Goodness, the older I get the more I sound like my father. But I digress....

Generation Y is that group of young people born between 1980 and 2000 (Note: there is huge disagreement as to a specific beginning and end of this generation, with some saying their generation begins as early as 1976, and others argue it ended in the early 1990's). They are also sometimes referred to as Echo Boomers, Net Generation, or even "Thumb Generation" --a reference to the over-use of their thumbs to navigate video games & other electronics. They are known for being dedicated to ideals, but not necessarily for being loyal to a company.  Only 1/3 of Millennials say they their current job is their career, and 60% say that it's very unlikely or not likely at all they will stay working for the same employer. They change jobs more than other generations.

Some interesting facts about Generation Y:  44% believe marriage is becoming obsolete. They delay having permanent employment and put off having families. As a whole, they tend to to view religion as less necessary and attend church less than previous generations. Although they say faith holds a lower priority in their lives compared to their older counterparts, statistically they are surprising similar in their beliefs in an afterlife, a literal hell, heaven, angels, and miracles.  They are closer to their parents, and say they have fewer arguments and disagreements. Only 2% of them sign up for the military, (significanltly lower than in previous generations). They are more liberal on social issues (they are strong believers in multiculturalism and diversity, accepting towards gay marriage & adoption, and abortion in most if not all cases). Millennials are also better educated (although I would challenge what makes up their "education"...maybe another blog topic for another day).

Marketers are often perplexed in trying to figure out what makes them tick, but the incentive to pull down some of the $95 billion these 27 million young folks spend yearly is obvious. A big share of their disposable income is spent on technology-related items. 43% of 18-24 year olds believe that texting is just as meaningful as having a telephone conversation. 40% believe that blogging about workforce issues is acceptable (this can be a dicey topic, and they may have a legitimate and valid point depending on the context and issue...guess in a sense, I am doing the same thing). Which lends itself to a conversation about Millennial's perception of the employer-employee relationship. Millennials often tend to push the envelope, extending the boundaries of workplace etiquette into some uncomfortable territory. They have a different understanding of the workplace, and their expectations are vastly different than their older counterparts, and often their employers. Many employers are concerned that Millennials expect too much from them. Some corporations have even developed special programs geared towards bridging the gap between older and younger workers. We truly are living in a different day and age, and companies who fail to recognize the differences in their new pool of labor will sadly suffer the consequences.

Gen Yers favor a work-life balance over being a corporate drone. Although decent pay is important to them, they willing trade high pay for a flexible schedule. And they will seek out employers who will allow them to prioritize family over work. Millennials have almost always known the 24 news cycle, and are voracious consumers of instant media, images, and sound. It shouldn't be lost on you that things such as "MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and other such social media market their products using personal pronouns either in the actual name or in defining their platform, touting how the user can customize their internet experience and persona. As one writer says, "customization is the holy grail for Gen Y...from the first day they arrive in the workplace they are scrambling to keep their options open, leveraging their uniqueness for all its potential value, and wrap a customize career around the customized life they are trying to build."

Millennials have high expectations. As a product of "No Child Left Behind," they have been well-nurtured and often-times over-pampered by parents wishing for them to do better than they themselves have done. Millennials are assertive, confident, and achievement-oriented. They have yet to learn the ropes of work-place politics and often fail to "know their place." Gen Yers believe in a level playing field for everyone. They have been taught to question authority. They want their employers to give frequent positive praise and guidance, and expect to be kept "in the loop." To their credit, Millennials believe in meaningful work, but often (and mistakenly) think that their employers have a responsibility to help them build their careers. As they grew up, collaborative work was emphasized in the classroom and in sports, and as such, they value teamwork. Many employers are perplexed by their notion that even nominal participation/attendance equals success (thus the other term, "Trophy Kids" because everyone who participates wins and no one loses). Gen Yers believe that the work place is a democracy, and have no reservations about challenging supervisors about perceived wrongs. They will start off on day one rattling off numerous things that the organization needs to "change" immediately. Millennials are also less apt to think twice about quitting a job in which they are unhappy---they change jobs more frequently than any previous generation. Many of them look to Mark Zuckerberg and other young entrepreneurs and see themselves as easily stepping into roles of leadership or even ownership of businesses. The days of yesteryear's laborious climbing the corporate latter now is interpreted as a quick elevator ride to the top.

It's obvious to anyone who pays attention that Gen Yers are much more techno-savvy than their co-workers. They prefer to use technology to make their lives easier, wherever they are. They believe that texting, social media, and Email (to a much lesser extent nowadays) is much preferred over face to face conversations. Gen Y can multi-task, often listening to their MP3 player, texting, reading, sipping their "venti white mocha lattes" and updating their Facebook status on their smart phone almost simultaneously. Having access to the Internet is more important than television, although they have spent much of their lives immersed in pop-culture and reality TV. Millenials even say that having access to social media and the Internet is a priority in their employment considerations. They look forward to the newest and better piece of technology coming down the pike, and are inpatient for others to catch up. They have a disdain for convential trainings and lectures, and prefer webinars and 'interactive' ways of learning. Employers who expect Gen Yers to read large amounts of text (manuals, policy and procedures, etc.) are going to be disappointed. Gen Yers do better with complex information broken down into easily digested segments, with lots of visuals.

My personal observations may be seen as unfair over-generalizations, but it is my experience that most GenY employees tend to be self-absorbed. They have rarely been told "no" and have difficulties seeing beyond their own immediate needs. Millennials have difficulties in delayed gratification and are an inpatient group who expect immediate results and their immediate needs to be satiated. Many have grown up with the notion that they are indeed the center of the universe. They are highly egocentric, self-indulgent, celebrity obsessed, and undisciplined. Their parents have carefully nurtured their "self-esteem" and helped them to cultivate a overly robust self-image and sense of self-importance. I have personally witnessed some of the most narcissistic, selfish and obnoxious behaviors in Gen Yers. In some conversations I have had with them I couldn't help but question their moral compass; it was as if they were actually comfortable (if not proud) of their own personal expediency trumping ethics and morals.

On the other hand, I have also come to know some of the most amazing, brightest, honest, hard-working, compassionate, caring, considerate, well-adjusted and kindest people from this same generation. I am compelled to believe that their family dynamics/upbringing, parental instruction on personal responsibility, the level of immersion in pop culture (less is really much better!), and connectedness to the church have the most to do with this. And I'm sure I would have many a debate with sociologists and others who would beg to differ.     

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Trivia Tuesday: Daver's Top 10 New Years Day Trivia Answers

10.  Under what calendar is New Year's Day observed on January 1st? Gregorian

9.  What does the old Scottish song, "Auld Lang Syne" mean? Times gone by.

8.  What do people in Italy do on New Year's Day to bring good luck? They wear red underwear!

7.  What English-language television show is traditionally watched by many Germans on New Years? "Dinner for One."  It is watched quite frequently throughout Europe but is virtually unknown elsewhere, even in Britain.

6.   Statistically, what is stolen most often on New Year's Day than any other day of the year?
      Cars.  And Christmas day happens to be the day they are least stolen.

5.  What unique tradition do people in Ecuador engage in on New Year's Eve? They burn effigies, usually thought to be representative of negative people & events of the past year.

4.  What food is traditionally eaten on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) to represent a sweet new year?   Apples & honey.

3.  What are the top three cities people travel to celebrate New Year's Eve (in America)? Las Vegas, Disneyworld, and of course, New York.

2.  Why is it considered bad luck by some to eat fowl on New Year's Day? Because they 'scratch' backwards as they search for food, and going backwards is viewed as a negative. However, in Bolivia and by a some in New Orleans, eating turkey is a New Year's Day tradition. Read more here about some interesting food customs!

1.  What food crop, often eaten on New Years by those living in the Southeastern part of the United States, was overlooked by Sherman's troops as they stole and destroyed other crops, leaving an important food source for hungry, surviving Confederate soldiers? Black Eyed Peas!  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Trivia Tuesday: Daver's Top 10 New Year's Trivia

Ok, I do realize that we're already past the New Year's holiday...but the year isn't yet that old. Of course, if you're heading back to the daily grind today, I guess maybe it's already like any other 2011 day. All the more reason to have a little fun on a faux Monday...enjoy!

10.  Under what calendar is New Year's Day observed on January 1st?

9.  What does the old Scottish song, "Auld Lang Syne" mean?

8.  What do people in Italy do on New Year's Day to bring good luck?

7.  What English-language television show is traditionally watched by many Germans on New Years?
6.   Statistically, what is stolen most often on New Year's Day than any other day of the year?

5.  What unique tradition do people in Ecuador engage in on New Year's Eve?

4.  What food is traditionally eaten on the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) to represent a sweet new year?

3.  What are the top three cities people travel to celebrate New Year's Eve (in America)?

2.  Why is it considered bad luck by some to eat fowl on New Year's Day?

1.  What food crop, often eaten on New Years by those living in the Southeastern part of the United States, was overlooked by Sherman's troops as they stole and destroyed other crops, leaving an important food source for hungry, surviving Confederate soldiers?

About Me

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I work for a Community-Based, Not-for-Profit agency. I have worked in the disability field for over twenty-five years. I am the father of two boys, and have been married to my teenage sweet-heart for 23 years. I live and work in the same town where I was born & raised.
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