Thursday, April 26, 2018

Comfort Zone (सुविधा क्षेत्र) 2-on-1 #17

Comfort zone. We all have one. It's that sweet spot where we feel comfortable and confident with the task at hand. Stress levels are low. I often refer to it as my wheelhouse. The common wisdom implies you need to step outside your comfort zone to be successful.

I take exception to such a narrow interpretation of Comfort Zone. Why? We live in an increasingly specialized world. That degree of specialization allows for the development of multiple Comfort Zones. Take a company like Microsoft for example. Microsoft has multiple divisions, offers multiple products and is a very complex operation. Each division creates specialists in things like Windows, Windows security, hardware and so on. Employees develop comfort zones within their divisions. Security specialists, for example, are better at detecting malware than software engineers that do not specialize in security. And then there is the sales team. Being a successful salesperson requires a specific skill set. If the sales game is in your comfort zone odds are you will find success as long as you have a modicum of discipline and are not discouraged by the numbers game in sales - a certain percentage of folks will turn you down. Just remember that a baseball player that fails seventy percent of the times he bats is considered a great hitter.

Me? Well like everyone, I have several. Music - especially the 60s and 70s are my comfort zone but I am fairly comfortable in most pop music.

Sports - strong comfort zone, especially in regards to hockey, baseball and football. I played the latter pair and have loved hockey since I was 8 when my dad took me to Denver to see Denver University play a team from Saskatchewan.

Hunting and fishing - another typical pair of comfort zones for guys but not so much for me. I suspect if my grandfather had not passed away when I was 3 that would not be the case as he was an avid hunter/fisherman.

Cars - another typical guy thing though 2 of the biggest car fans I know happen to be ladies of the highest order. Me? not so much. During high school, there were vocational classes offered but as a 3-sport jock, I was always busy with practice when those courses were offered.

Movies - a moderate comfort zone - up until Lynn was being taken over by the Huntington's Disease that eventually killed her, we went to the movies almost every weekend. I have not been to a movie theater in about 8 years.

Books - I am a huge mystery fan so that is an obvious comfort zone. I have also firmly believed that to knopw the people of any generation, be as current as possible on the authors writing in the now -

Politics - I have a BA in Political Science - specialty in International Relations. I am admittedly a political junkie - but these days it is difficult to engage in discourse with anyone because here in the USA we are so bitterly divided. Civility has become a thing of the past, it seems. Archaeological wordsmiths
are searching for fossils as we speak. Clone teams are doing the research necessary to correct this situation. One can only hope.

Trivia - my kids both think we'd be rich if I could get on a game show - nuff said LOL.

Blogging - Blogging is definitely in my Comfort Zone. Writing this blog has been a real hoot (southern for a lot of fun). We vary topics so we never get bored, we both write on the same subject so folks get an eastern and a western perspective on the chosen topics. Plus, my partner and I get to know more about each other and we have become great friends. Of course it helps that we are both wordy older guys that love to talk - or rather type. I enjoy writing - it is as simple as that.

That concludes my small sample of Comfort Zone issues. Be sure to see what Ramana has to say by selecting this link.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

If more politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? 2-on-1 #16

This week's topic was culled from current events. If more politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? 

The quick, easy answer is yes but is it actually true?  Science in and of itself makes the world a better place, but safer?  Certainly, many scientific advances are dedicated to improving safety in some manner. Some would not even be possible without the efforts of politicians because politicians control much of the funding that drives scientific discovery.

What makes the world a safer place? Sufficient food supplies, which require efficient, effective food production and food distribution; clean water supplies; absence of war; safe and efficient transportation services/systems seem like a good basic set of requirements. Well fed folks with plenty of fresh water and decent transportation systems should result in happy people.  

Science can directly impact food production and distribution, clean water and transportation. Food production has been greatly enhanced since  the days of the Green Revolution, aka the Third Agricultural Revolution that exploded in the late sixties. Things developed to the point where sufficient food production was available in new, developing countries. But then the politicians got in the way and we have struggled with distribution ever since. Add climate change that we are now experiencing and now we need a science reset to boost production again. We need a political reset to distribute food supplies. Water demand will be a major issue moving forward. Thanks to the greed of capitalists like Nestle - who say water is not a right but a product to be bought and sold - water purification will require the best efforts of the scientific community. Then we need to rely on politicians to get the water where it is needed - naturally after select bank accounts are greased along the way.

Absence  of war. Again -absence of war. A glance at the daily news headlines makes that seem nearly impossible. There is little science can do to prevent war - that one is on the politicians'.

Science can assist in the transportation portion of our equation. Of course the politicians must make the decision to go forward with infrastructure projects. Pocket lining 101.

If  politicians listened to scientists would the world be a safer place? Absolutely. But political ambition and greed constantly cloud the thinking of the politicians. Logic leaves the building, and in fact it often seems like logic never made it in the door. Politicians, it seems, rarely look beyond their own benefits.

That is my quick take on this weeks topic. Be sure to check Ramana's here. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Last Page 2-on-1 #15

This weeks topic came about as a direct result of the fun and feedback generated by our previous topic 2 weeks ago - the First Page. After this topic all that remains is the rest of the books. Ahem. To see Ramana's last page go here.

That damn Detective Brooke and his pal the taco bender think they have it all figured out. What a pair of idiots. They have no clue why Bowman was eliminated and they haven't figured out that Perkins and Taylor were mine. God, that Taylor was gorgeous. They haven't figured out that being a serial killer is nothing more than enjoying your work. Nothing is as satisfying as watching the light go off when the spark of life leaves thanks to my efforts - when the sparkle leaves the eyes and all goes dull. The feeling that is better than sex. Taylor was my best yet - watching her realize she was done and nothing or nobody could save her. Acceptance. Acceptance that she was mine. And then she sagged, wet herself and was gone.

"Hey Tito - what's wrong? You look lost".

"I tell ya Chas" - he replied - "something just doesn't add up.There's more to Bowman's death than we have come up with. We are missing something, amigo." 


"Chas I swear Bowman is tied to the Dave Perkins/Susan Taylor murders. We just can't see it yet."

"You've got that right buddy. I do not see any link beyond the fact Bownan, Dave and Susan all were in school with us from Carlile through Central." 

Maybe if Tito and his idiot pal Chas ever noticed me in high school they might have figured this all out. But no, they are too stupid. They are responsible for the rest of my dates. The dumbasses can spend their time hanging at Arnie's Time Out while I do what I do best. Maybe I should write them a letter.

Two days letter, an envelope postmarked Florence, Colorado - a nearby town - was delivered to Chas at the office. He casually opened it and sat in stunned silence as he stared at the letter. It simply said "Tito is next. First Dave, then Susan and CD- next Tito. Catch me if you can".

Thursday, April 5, 2018

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, 2-on-1 April 6

I am not now nor have I ever been a fan of poetry. My experiences reading and analyzing poems have pretty much always been based on assignments in school. Some have expressed surprise over this because of my love for music, but though I love music I detest opera. We all have our limits - poetry and opera being two of mine.So here we are - a topic drawn directly from a Rudyard Kipling poem that actually screams relevance in today's world. Leave it to Ramana to so subtly point out my shortcomings - that darn Karma thing I guess.

Okay - enough whining - done so with nary a slice of good, sharp cheddar I might add. But seriously - given the conditions prevalent in today's world was Kipling on to something? Are several ultra-aggressive religions responsible for the divisions we deal with in the world and are they insurmountable? According to Wikipedia, the top 5 religions based on adherents are as of 2012 are Christianity with 3.2 billion adherents, Islam with 1.8 billion adherents, Secular non-religious including atheist and agnostic with 1.2 billion adherents, Hinduism with 1.1 billion adherents and Buddhism with .5 billion adherents. You can view the entire list here. The top three are all typical isms - my way or the highway (in this case  straight to hell, though the secular non-believers may disagree).

While logic would seem to dictate a global approach to the world many countries are adopting a much more nationalistic me first attitude that is not conducive to adaptability. Many Muslims seem intent on taking over portions of western society through the ballot box along with acts of terror. This has led some countries - the USA included -to attempt to restrict Muslim immigration. Since Islam is as much a way of life as it is a religion, it seems the fears may be well founded based on the European experience. I suspect our roots as an immigrant country have made it easier for Muslims to integrate into our society but that may be in jeopardy due to radical Islamic terror. All Muslims come under much more intense scrutiny thanks to the actions of a small percentage of the entire faith. I should point out, though, that although the percentage is small the numbers are large. If one in ten Muslims are "radicals" then that means there are almost two million radical Muslims.

Christianity has had its time in the violence game. Remember the Crusades?  The original Friday the 13th massacre? How about something as recent as the troubles in Northern Ireland? It seems some religions are as adept at using fear to keep their folks in line as any nation state.

I confess that when I started this little ditty I was positive and upbeat like my liberal education taught me (I have a BA in Political Science) But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized there will not likely be a come together moment between east and west. There will always be small percentages of people from both ends of the spectrum that embrace adaptability. Many people love to travel to strange, far away lands. But they then return home to the way of life that is more comfortable to them, fully convinced they are people of the world because they developed an appreciation for the cuisine of whatever land they visited. 

The bottom line is simply that the West and East are too different to have that come together moment, But that does not mean we cannot have mutually beneficial relationships. We live in a truly global economy that requires cooperation to prevent mutual destruction. At the same time, certain Eastern countries believe they must develop nuclear arms to be respected in the new world order. They feel they must counter the West militarily to control Western empire building which history shows has been the norm. Western empire building is largely a thing of the past but "Fake News" keeps the mythology going. Russia is perhaps the most active empire builder (rebuilder?) on the world scene and they need to be dealt with though whether Russia is in the West or East is a topic worthy of discussion.

It can be considered somewhat ironic IMHO that the East is the birthplace of the oldest civilizations on the planet with the possible exception of the Central and South American natives (Incas, Aztecs, and Mayas). But they were not assimilated well into Western civilization (those old school Catholics were an ornery lot).  

So my conclusion is that the quote is truer than not - East and West will essentially remain separate but equal partners with neither able to fully assimilate the other into a integrated society beyond trading partners. 

To see what Ramana has to say, go here.