Archive for September, 2008

The highest highs, and the lowest lows.

2008/09/26

Forty years ago, this country was preparing to send men to the Earth’s moon. This is the greatest achievment of human kind.  At the same time, Greed was beginning to eat away at the foundations of our nation.  Richard Nixon was desperate to fund the police action in Vietnam, in spite of Congress refusing to give him the money.  At that time, there were far more people paying into Social Security than who were drawing benefits, so the tax was generating huge surpluses every year.  Nixon decided that it would be acceptable to ‘borrow’ those excess funds, starting a trend which continued till just recently.

If those surpluses had been left untouched, the Social Security benefits that people receive today would probably be twice as much, and there would be no danger of the system going bankrupt.

Bankrupt describes the ethics and morals of the executives of American tobacco companies, when they decided to make their products more addictive, so that sales would improve.  The boards of the American auto industry were right there with the tobacco cheifs, creating cars that were designed to only last 100,000 miles.  ‘Disposable’ became the hot trend in marketing, ignoring the consequences at landfills, roadsides, and parking lots.  That trend even enveloped the housing industry, which began to build houses which wouldn’t last as long as the mortgage.

Because Greed benefited so much from the consumers of the U.S. buying stuff, the slowdown that came when people tapped out their savings was catastrophic.  In order to perpetuate that enconomic activity, the credit card was introduced, enslaving Americans to a little piece of plastic.  Instead of collecting the used bottles and reusing them, the soft drink and beer companies decided that they would make more money by selling the consumer the container every time.  Suddenly, there were empty cans and bottles everywhere, the legacy of consumers who didn’t want what they were being forced to consume.

Instead of investing our profits back into our infrastructure, by maintaining roads and bridges, we chose to spend the money in other ways.  Instead of new bridges, we built shopping centers, office towers.  Instead of investing in space technology, we chose the safe route for profits, and poured money into the military.  The greed even extended to the laborers, who sabatoged the robots that the automobile industry was trying to introduce to the assembly line.  A few years later, those same laborers found themselves competing with Japanese robots, who were producing a superior product.

The late 1960’s were when we turned our backs on the real future, and decided to focus on conning each other out of whatever we could get away with.  The culture of greed that is responsible for the problems that our economy is facing right now started back then, when sustainability, pride, and and a sense of community were deemed to be ‘backward’.  The government began to steal from us, corporations began to  send jobs overseas, and we were encouraged to focus upon our differences, so that we would be weaker as a people.

Whee! A new blog spot!

2008/09/25

Writing is one of my favorite pastimes, and I have many things that I want to bring to people’s attention.  Such as; the Dvorak keyboard.  99.999 percent of you are using a keyboard that was laid out in the 1860’s by a person who was trying to develop the typewriter.  His one and only concern was to try to minimize the times that keys on the same side of the keyboard would be pressed one right after another, because this could cause the machine to jam.  Because his design of typewriter was more successful than any other, his keyboard layout became the standard, the QWERTY keyboard.

A scientist at the University of Washington back in the 1920’s thought that maybe this vital method of transcribing information could be improved upon, so he began a study of the English language, typing, typists, and whatever else he believed impacted the process of typing.  After correlating his data for a while, he developed a new keyboard layout, which, surprisingly enough, was named after him in the 1930’s.  The Dvorak keyboard is recognized by all major computer operating systems, so that changing from it to the QWERTY keyboard is quick and easy.

Finding a Dvorak keyboard is usually a little tougher, unless you live in a big city.  But some keyboards can be modified into the Dvorak layout, simply by taking the key caps off of the board and putting them back in the proper configuration.  There are many keyboards which cannot be reconfigured, however, because the so-called ‘home’ key caps are keyed differently than all the rest.  Popping either the ‘F’ or the ‘J’ key caps off and seeing if they will fit anywhere else will tell you quickly if the keyboard can be converted.  Many keyboards have key caps of varying height and tilt, so your keyboard might look like it has had an earthquake, but that doesn’t seem to adversely affect the typist, at least in my experience.

The wikipedia page on the Dvorak keyboard is at this address:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dvorak_keyboard

When typewriters ruled the office, converting to the Dvorak keyboard was an expensive process.  But today, it is only a few mouse clicks away.  This is a data entry device which is much superior to the QWERTY keyboard, I, and many other people, believe.  The world record for typing speed was set on a Dvorak, (150 words per minute over 50 minutes,) and there is evidence that the Dvorak  is less likely to induce carpal tunnel syndrome.  Just because we have done something a certain way for the short time that we have been doing it does not, in my book at least, mean that we are fated to doing it that way forever.