Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Note to a "Retired Educator"

The author of this piece is one of the countless and innumerable retired "educators" who like to identify people who know even less than they do, so they can call them "stupid" and "ignorant" -- because they think that is what smart people do, and gives them their false sense of superiority.

The only thing one needs to teach these days -- is how a student can become their own teacher, which is simply how to search for any answer they actually need at the moment -- and not simply being able to regurgitate the same vapid irrelevant lessons and facts they've repeated for the last 30 years as though what is meaningful to learn doesn't evolve with every passing moment and generation.

That is the reason for the crisis and collapse of the old institutions -- like the mass media which includes the newspapers and the schools, is their failure to distinguish that which is worth knowing from the countless trivia -- and publish and teach the trivia -- as though it were very important and critical to know. Really, is it important to be able to name a blank map -- or simply find a better one?

And does one really need to be able to name all the generals in the Civil War in order to feel competent and confident in any discussion with the editors of the New York Times or the vaunted Oregonian Editorial Board? There isn't a "fact" presented by this author in his long list of things most students don't know, that one really needs to know anymore, and could not be easily found by anyone who simply knows how to operate any internet appliance.

But of course, the schools will not only not teach those skills because they would jeopardize their own job security, but even want to ban the tests so we know what exactly they are teaching -- so it truly becomes a random and arbitrary experience determined by their capricious whim and authoritarianism that is characteristic of such screeds to denigrate and diminish everybody else in society to their deference and benefit.

Enjoy your retirement; you have nothing of value to impart to society but your own self-importance, and imagined superiority. That's not because you're retired -- but because you yourself haven't learned anything beyond what you learned in school, as though that was all there was to know, and the limits of what can be known.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Challenge of These Times

The challenge and crisis of these times is the aging of the developed countries -- and the emergence of the formerly undeveloped countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, etc.) -- because those countries are getting younger rather than as the demographic poster-child Japan, becoming overwhelmed by the aging of society, and more importantly, their institutions.

Most aging Baby Boomers forget that "the torch was passed to a new generation," whereby it was acknowledged that the present status quo should give way and embrace an idealistic generation then coming out of the colleges (50 years ago!) -- who now have obviously become the defenders of the present status quo -- rather than passing the torch and giving way to that new generation. When that happens, cultures and societies lose their dynamism, as well as new ideas, who are then regarded as threats to the way things have always been -- and henceforth should remain forevermore.

Most people have in fact been educated (indoctrinated) to believe that the "liberal arts" curriculum represents the vanguard of scientific inquiry, progressivism and enlightenment -- rather than as it was originally conceived (as a medieval institution) -- to defend the status quo of authoritarianism AGAINST the challenge of scientific inquiry by anyone up to those challenges, and that is why they're still teaching the old classical curriculum of the liberal arts rather than the fewer, newer skills that enable one to learn (think) on their own.

So now we have 2 year olds learning and mastering the iPad -- simply because they're born wholly into this new world. They have no preconceived notion that they can't learn anytime, anywhere, from anybody -- and not just the duly certified and authorized "teachers" who haven't learned much since they were formally educated -- because that was the world they were born into.

The clearest example is that instead of first teaching a child (or anybody else) to use a calculator and quickly obtain those skills, we insist they have to learn all of arithmetic and geometry before they do -- as though that are the prerequisites for doing so. Even now, the debate rages that cursive writing (a mainly obsolete skill) should get the time instead of keyboarding. And so that is what our learning institutions have largely become -- the repository and transmission of obsolete, time-consuming and useless skills -- while the essentials, are practically forbidden because that would threaten the job security of those with seniority -- which then cripples institutions in favoring the old ways of doing things -- to the exclusion of the innovative new.

Another closely related problem is the hoarding of the old -- as they try to hang on to the world they are familiar with -- in preference to the dynamism, innovation and even impertinence of the young questioning everything -- including their authority that that is the way things must be -- even if they're not working very well and failing to address the very problems they were created to resolve and eliminate if possible. Instead, they require evermore more manpower and compensation to do less, and eventually, anything at all.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How Much is Enough to Retire On?

Social Security will be enough -- if one is an astute financial manager; if one isn't, no amount of money will be enough.

The value of accumulating tremendous assets, is the skill and experience one develops doing so -- and not the money, as many who have made a fortune and lost it also, learn. They're far richer for the experience of having made that fortune, even if they lost it in a change of fortunes -- that will happen from time to time, throughout a long and eventful life.

That's why these people who come into an unexpected windfall, frequently lose it just as quickly -- because they haven't acquired the skills and experience over time -- in facing many different conditions. That is also why whenever one does come into a windfall, one should take the full amount of it over as long a period as possible -- rather than the much lesser lump sum, which they will proceed to lose quickly because they have no skill and experience at money management.

This is true even if one doesn't accumulate $4 million for retirement; in fact, they would have even more exceptional skill if they could increase their net worth by only one cent a day -- reliably every day, because I don't think even Warren Buffett has that track record. And if one is always increasing one's wealth at any pace, one is in actuality always getting richer -- and that is their skill and experience.

People who are really sharp at money management will always make the most of whatever they have to work with -- while the countless money management fools will always complain that they don't have enough -- no matter how much they have. So when a person says, they live well on only Social Security, not only is it believable, but it is much more impressive of a person who will do well no matter what, while the countless motley fools will raise the bar ever higher to the amount required before they feel they have enough -- but they will always be fools to whom no amount of money will ever be enough, and so they will always be trying to sell their scams in these financial forums.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Better Than Walking

There is a YouTube video out that shows Steve Jobs explaining the value and impact of the personal computer -- in one of his earlier presentations to popularize the concept. He points out that a study comparing the efficiency of the locomotion of all the species of animals in the world, placed the humans woefully last -- but with the invention and allowance for the use of a bicycle, humans then become first by "no comparison," to all the other species. And in the next progression of his illustration, the personal computer is a "bicycle for the mind."

Yet many people who supposedly advise people on the best exercise for humans -- still think that walking (or running) is the best exercise for people -- because they claim it is the oldest and most rudimentary, without even questioning those presumptions. Long before the human baby begins to walk, let alone run, it performs many other movements (expressions) that already begin to characterize their uniqueness. Walking is just a universal benchmark that is already culturally influenced. Some cultures try to defer it for as long as possible -- in the wisdom that they want their children to be as matured as possible, before they go out wandering off into the wilderness or dangers.

Safer cultures don't think it is a disadvantage to foster such independence as early as possible. Those same concerns determine when some children learn to walk anywhere on their own -- while others won't be allowed to until well into their teen years, if then -- because even mobility entails risk, so that on the opposite end of the spectrum, many elderly are no longer allowed to walk anywhere on their own also. And certain genders in certain cultures also have these strict prohibitions against their movement at will.

So for one to believe, let alone prescribe that "walking is the best exercise," is not as innocuous and self-apparent as it may seem, but is already an indoctrination and expression of what the possibilities of movement is -- and what is inherently "natural" and the "best" activities humans can be engaged in -- much less to perfect. In fact, implied in walking as what humans best ought to do, is the restriction that they should "march" together -- as though that was the ultimate objective in being able to walk at all, and dismissing the wisdom that one should ever wonder or dare to take an untrodden path -- as surely, all kinds of terrible consequences would assuredly assail them.

That was the warning to every trail blazer and pioneer in every field -- and they should not go where others have not gone before them, and only the long dead, were given that permission to go there. And the chosen ones were not a designation one could just take upon themselves if they felt up to the challenge, but only what the self-appointed, self-designated powers that be -- who always wished to remain so, had a right to determine for everybody else, as long as they were alive.

So usually it required a violent overthrow of the established order (hierarchy), for any society to move forward into the unknown and undiscovered -- unless a society had the foresight to anticipate and plan for change and progress. That is the rationale and wisdom of constitutions stating the underlying principles that guide the way -- especially at the most trying times when they are on the verge of losing their way and vision.

Many people's idea of the best exercise therefore, is that which burns the most energy to do anything -- if anything is even an objective at all. That should obviously be a poor way to condition a human to do anything -- because it makes doing anything irrelevant. A more intelligent approach would be to first consider, what needs most importantly (critically) to be done -- and structure human activity, meaning and purpose around those objectives -- which would then be, to think as clearly as possible, and to function as efficiently as possible -- and not just to prevail and persevere in a fog of understanding that is invariably dictated to them by other people they acknowledge as the predetermined masters of knowledge and authority.