Sunday, December 11, 2011

Say It Ain't So...

Brooklyn Dodgers center
fielder Duke Snider
When I was a kid – I mean a very young kid, grade school age – I was a baseball fan. No one talked about football. The NFL wasn’t a big deal. If you were a football fan you watched the college game. Michigan vs. Michigan State, USC vs. UCLA, Florida vs. Florida State, etc.

But, I grew up in NY where there were no big deal football teams. But there were three – that’s right – three major league baseball teams. The team you rooted for largely depended on what borough you were born in. I was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island so I was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. It would be more accurate to say I was consumed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

I remember how devastated I felt when I learned that my beloved Dodgers were moving to L.A. I had never considered the possibility. How could the BROOKLYN Dodgers move to California? It was unheard of.

Of course, it wasn’t unheard of. Just four years earlier the Braves moved from Boston to Milwaukee and the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles. But, I was too young to have that perspective.

At around the same time, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first unmanned satellite into outer space. All the grown-ups around me were in a state of shock. Not me, I was surprised that this was the first. After all, I had been watching Flash Gordon and Captain Video soar through space on TV for years.

Five years later, when JFK was assassinated, I was shocked (like the rest of the nation). However, by then, I had some historical perspective. I knew that three other presidents had been assassinated while in office so, in a way, I was less shocked. I had gained that perspective by then.

The fall of the Berlin Wall
With age, comes wisdom, right? At least that’s the common belief. Yet, there have been other world events that I never saw coming. Indeed, much like when the Dodgers announced their impending departure from NY, I had never considered the possibility that the Cold War would end in my lifetime and that I would see the Berlin Wall come down.

I also never considered the possibility that I would see terrorists fly commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center. Nor, did think I would live to see an African American President of the United States. (Even the President’s mother-in-law said as much.)

It strikes me that these events are coming along at a faster pace than when I was a kid. About once a decade, I think. Does that mean that my inability to foresee them undermines the premise that wisdom comes with age? What perspective am I lacking?

What’s next, I wonder. The only prospective disaster I can see coming is the possibility of a dollar collapse because our government can’t get its act together. But, I have gone on and on about that in these pages; so, I won’t drag you through it again.

But, I have some questions. My favorite, of course, is WHO WILL LEAD? Who will solve this morass in DC? And, can they do so in time?

But, I wonder if you can help me? What are things that have happened in your life that you never contemplated could happen? Can you foresee the next big one?

If you can, please share it with me? It’s obvious that I don’t know what’s next.


  1. I would never guessed that the average non-technical person would own a computer and carry it on their belt.

    After the last moon landing, I couldn't imagine that the USA would go 40+ years without sending another man to the moon; heck, there is no manned space program.

    Who would have thought that Communist China would become the next great economic power?

  2. Where to start? I'll start "small."

    1.Miniaturization. I'll never forget a photo in National Geographic some years back of a woman looking through a microscope. The microscope was atop a huge, 1950s-era, refrigerator-size computer. What she was looking at was the ciruitry that had replaced the computing power of that entire computer. Circuit boards, transistors, etc. have evolved, making it possible to carry 1000 songs in a device the size of a book of matches. That miniaturization will continue, eventually coming to the atomic level. Today's devices will one day seem bulky and quaint!

    Now the big picture:

    2. Revolution. At the current rate, there's no way we will continue to allow the top 1% of our citizens to own 40% of the country's wealth - up from 33% 25 years ago. The bottom 80% own just 7% of the nation's wealth. This is unsustainable. Most other first-world nation's are experiencing similar (but not as severe() polarization between the rich and the poor. Even China is experiencing grumblings among its 1.3 billion citizens. Bottom line, unless the richest are willing to give up their control of the nation's purse strings - something that's perhaps unlikely - there's going to be a revolution. Maybe not rioting in the streets or guillotined heads on poles, but a real significant upheaval worldwide. I believe it's already started. And as long as our political representatives remain under the fingers of their corporate campaign donors, they are largely helpless in containing this upheaval.

    Just as John and I never thought we'd live to see a fallen Soviet Union, a re-united Germany, terrorists drop skyscrapers or a black president (and the other writer witness the absence of manned exploration in space), I never believed I'd see Dick Tracy-style wrist TVs. I hope I'm wrong on the revolution!

    Signed: Bruce Scottow

  3. Ken Mayeaux • John, just as an aside, I think the evolution of the Internet as made everything more unpredictable. When you think that something like the Arab Spring and the uprising in Iran prior to that was put together with Twitter and Texting. Technology is driving change faster than we can adjust to it. Don't even get me started on Occupy Whatever.

    Now to try to answer your question:

    1. The mayhem in New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina. I never thought I would see that kind of actions between people in the USA that happened down there.
    2. The Japanese tsunami. Unbelievable loss of property and life so quickly. The videos were amazing.
    3. The dumbing down of our society to a point where people believe that they are "Entitled" to so much just because they are here.
    4. GPS ..... no one should ever get lost again.
    5. The secret revealed about the composition of the "McRib" sandwich.
    6. How anyone could take a naturally occuring phenomenum like climate change, turn it into histeria called "Global Warming" and make a fortune from selling "Carbon Credits" because of it. Can I interest you in a few I have?
    7. That Aids is still around and still no cure. I hate conspiracy theories, but come on, if we could basically irradicate polio and some other diseases back 50 years ago, you would think that medical science could tackly aids.
    8. Lance Armstrong winning 7 consecutive Tour de Frances
    9. Tiger Wood's demise
    10. Google Earth

    Okay, there is much more, but I usually find something amazing everyday of my life now. "Toto, we aren't in Kansas anymore". Dorthy, The Wizard of Oz

  4. Harold B.J.M. Bernaert • @John

    Something a meteorologist said to me about predicting the weather.

    If you want to know what the weather will be tomorrow, look at the sky it is probably going to be a lot like today.

    Who will lead? … I do not see anybody leading today, so that would mean ….

  5. Zachary Sochacki • The problem these days, John, is a gross misunderstanding of what leadership requires.

    We have no leaders because political contests have been reduced to popularity contests. It's really no better than "reality TV" when you think of it. The "X Factor" on steroids.

    But every time I get to grousing about how we have no statesmen left in America who will run for office and get their hands dirty in the quagmire in which we as a nation and a society find ourselves immersed, I remember that the political machine here and elsewhere merely feeds us all what we require...and demand. At least to a point.

    We want a candidate that will attend to our needs and interests...whatever those happen to be. And, oh yes, he has to be a man of uncompromising moral character...a family man (never divorced and certainly not gay) with strong religious ties (preferably Christian, but not Catholic...and certainly not a member of Islam, a Jew, a believer of Hinduism or Shintoism, no get the picture. No apparent flaws. That just wouldn't do.

    He has to be a competent agent in the political arena as well, but certainly not a career politician. He has to "look" presidential. So if you're a short, fat, bald, brown-skinned fair-minded, strong, brilliant and engaging woman...well, you're toast.

    We have lost all reason when it comes to choosing our leaders. We allow the two major parties to serve us the equivalent of "tur-duck-hen" every four years...some loud-mouthed-product-of-a-science-experiment-gone-wrong candidate that has qualities that appeal enough to all of the masses such that he has the best chance of being elected for the benefit of the sponsoring party and special interest groups who have provided the funding.

    A faux Democracy such as we "enjoy" here in the US works...really works...when you have a population that actually thinks about the vote they are casting. I would even argue that the current population in the US is just too "stupid" for Democracy to be a viable form of government anymore.

    So, "Who will lead?"

    I have absolutely no idea. Worse, I have no faith in the system to produce a viable leader. Save for a "Black Swan" event of some sort that shocks us into action as a society, maybe it'll take a "revolution" of some sort...some true form of social catalyze the change that's so necessary for us and the world.

    Presently, I see this country in a death spiral not unlike dominant civilizations of the past.

    Past is prologue. And I'm fresh out of optimism at this point.

  6. Daniel Latch • Very interesting question. Looking ahead fifty years, I suggest the leaders are already setting the visions our grand children will find as reality. These people have been writing books and presenting at conferences, and championing technology for thirty years. They influence others to dream big and reach out to excite the vision of those in power (e.g. to invest in new schemes. They lay open the truths and fallacies of myths upon which many beliefs, ideologies and systems of modern societies are based and describe new systems and forms that leverage current systems to create a new world. see

    Where will it all lead? To a very different world that movie makers and fiction writers and futurists cannot even predict, so I will not try. Suffice to say, it will be as different in fifty years as today is from fifty years past.

  7. Harold B.J.M. Bernaert • @Daniel

    That reminds me of "Limits to growth"

  8. Zachary Sochacki • @ Harold

    Nothing like it, Harold.

    Daniel is nothing if not the eternal optimist.

    Limits to Growth was a pessimistic tome, reminiscent of the old "rat lab" experiments we'd conduct at university wherein we'd take a small population of mice, place them in a confined space with finite resources, watch their population explode and see how they'd react when resources were spread too thin and eventually ran out. It wasn't pretty.

    Exponential growth x finite resources = doomsday...yes?

    The only hope we have as a civilization is a dramatic reduction in population due to war, disease or some Black Swan event, or technology giving us the benefit of a paradigm shift in our abilities to produce energy and nourishment as well as the genesis of a more satisfying social order...some way of supporting the population so that basic needs are satisfied while still affording the more competitive members of society some useful outlet for those "juices" that will be beneficial to them as well as society.

    Tall order.

  9. I realize this may not be the venue for responding to other's blogs, but I have to take issue with two points mentioned earlier in an otherwise interesting response.

    1. The misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the word "Entitlement": How does the expectation that a written benefit package proscribed to a prospective employee by an employer at the time of original hire (pension, health plan, etc.) somehow translate into an unwarranted priviledge? The "dumbing down" of society is not in the expectation that those benefits be protected. Rather, it's in the belief that those benefits should be pulled from middle class Americans as the richest continue to reap more and more. If you want to see real "entitlements" leave the teachers, police and grocery clerks alone and talk to the Wall Street millionaire bankers!

    2. Global Warming. The the vast majority - and (check the facts) a growing majority - of scientists have confirmed that man's consumption of fossil fuels has accelerated global warming. Sure, it's a natural event, but not at the rates seen over the past 100 years. And really, the amount of money to be made over the "histeria" of selling carbon credits pales in comparision to the billions on billions made by the oil, coal, gas, and nuclear power industries who time after time, have funded the so-called studies that attempt to refute the phenonmena.

    Otherwise, a good post! Signed: Bruce Scottow

  10. Zachary Sochacki: Right on! Signed: Bruce Scottow