Termites move a fourth of a metric ton of dirt to build mounds that can reach 17 feet (5 meters) and higher.
Benjamin Franklin, “The First American,” would have loved the Internet. He was, first and foremost, a printer, author, and publisher. He established the Pennsylvania Chronicle firing up the Colonies against British tyranny. He made his fortune with “Poor Richard’s Almanack” and the Pennsylvania Gazette. “Almanack” sold 10,000 copies a year – equivalent to three million a year today. As a self-published author, Franklin controlled his own financial destiny.
Today’s digital publishing options hold the same lure of Freedom and Opportunity.
Publishing has shifted from faltering publishing houses to the author. Self-publishing has a significant heritage: Willa Cather, Pat Conroy, Stephen Crane, Alexander Dumas, T.S. Eliot, Zane Grey, Thomas Hardy, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Louis L’Amour, Thomas Paine, Edgar Allen Poe, Upton Sinclair, Henry David Thoreau. And Mark Twain. Unfortunately, the publishing industry is in more turmoil than the film industry. Getting an agent to read a script is absurdly difficult. Try getting one to read an 800 page manuscript. Traditional publishers offer no advance, little support and no flexibility. Remember that iTunes emerged from the Napster download world. Netflix bought Starz movies for internet streaming – labeled naive by media luminaries at the time – and now “visionary.”
The pension crisis in California grows precipitously in its two major pension funds. CALSTRS and CALPERS. While the fund managers claim a growth rate of 7.5%, they only achieved 0.61% last fiscal year (June 2016). Furthermore, these two major funds are sorely underfunded, meaning that they have two bad attributes. Underfunded and poor performance.
A Stanford study shows that the pensions are underfunded by well over a trillion dollars. $1.2 Trillion.
If a Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research’s estimate is accurate, public pension debt in California is even worse than feared. Preliminary calculations from a forthcoming SIEPR study peg the unfunded retirement tab for state and local government employees at more than $1.2 trillion, according to Insolvent Film, a website based on a documentary on government financial stability.
U.S. and S. Korean forces are currently training on the Korean peninsula. Specials Forces such as Army Rangers, Green Beret, SEALs and more are training. Perhaps some with a mission to eliminate Kim Jon-Un, dictator of North Korean. The same Kim Jong-Un who has shot loyalists on his own staff with an anti-aircraft gun for nodding off at ceremonies and less insults.
Of course, the internet comes through with the North Korean Uncovered Project which seeks to use satellite images to discover the buildings, structures and more in North Korean.
Our Heroes are everywhere. They pass by us at the market. They work for us. They walk our streets. I’m talking about the men and women of our Armed Forces who serve and have served our country ably, courageously and without acclaim. We all know one such individual. They don’t talk much about it, except with hesitation and humility. And they believe that their unbelievably difficult sacrifices have been forgotten.
And they live across from us. One such Hero is Adolph Arujo who served in the Korean war as a medic in the 2nd Infantry Division in the Punchbowl. This area had some of the fiercest fighting of the war such as Heartbreak Ridge.
We have never spoken in detail about the War nor will we. Courtesy of Hollywood movies, I can imagine the devastation of a friend’s horrible death at your side. I can imagine the onslaught of an attack and gut-bending fear that does not deter one from duty. I can imagine the alienation between a soldier and civilian life. But, of course, I’m still just imagining and not living this role. My words are wholly insufficient. Their valor, courage and service is far too incomprehensible in my experience.
China is asserting itself on the world stage but with a 21st Century strategy. Striving to resurrect its former glory as a power after a century of foreign domination, World War and Mao’s murderous Cultural Revolution, China’s socialist dictators realize that their Socialist Dictatorship must be protected to insure its capitalist survival. Conventional warfare and nuclear devastation can’t be cards to play which is how I plotted out my thriller, “Stealing Thunder” with its Chinese power grab.
So, what are China’s ‘weapons’ for the next Pacific conflict?
Nationalism. The Communists keep the anti-Japanese sentiment on low boil, cranking up the temperature as warranted. Their TV shows have plots detailing Japanese atrocities – and the Chinese victory. And today’s socialist leaders are very good at manipulating these nationalist sentiments.
In the shadow of the Senkaku island incident, on September 18, 2010, Chinese demonstrated in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and other cities to protest the 79th anniversary of the Mukden Incident. This event, where the Imperial Japanese Army dynamited a railway and blamed Chinese radicals, became Japan’s reason to invade Manchuria and China proper. The timing was perfect to jar the Japanese public – and reminder one billion Chinese about the murder of their parents or grandparents.
The Communist People’s Republic of China is confronting its neighbors and the United States in the Pacific. But how strong is their muscle in the fight? And, to paraphrase John McClane from “Die Hard”, what can we do to throw a ‘monkey in the works’?
First, China is an island. Isolated by Siberia, Western Muslim lands, the Himalayas and jungles of the south, China historically kept inside its borders. The Mongols were horse riders with a bloodthirsty wanderlust, but not Chinese. China’s punitive confrontations with India and Vietnam were short-lived. A population density map of China shows coastal regions where opportunity and commerce are strongest. The central and western hinterlands are almost unpopulated. A key weakness is the economic and social disparity of its interior and the coast. China’s future lies with the sea.
Second, China’s game is to control the sea lanes, its commerce and, therefore, its neighbor’s future economic survival. But control of the sea, by its very nature, requires naval forces and constant maneuvering. A quarter of the world’s oil on the sea passes from the strategic Straits of Malacca through the South China Sea to China and the West’s allies, South Korea and Japan. These ships head through the Spratly Islands claimed by China as well as Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brunei. Asian nations are waking up to the threat of Chinese domination. Sea lanes are a double edged sword. Exports are China’s life blood. Its coastal cities prospering because of overseas companies. And this commerce creates conversation, dialogue and exchanges about the world outside China with the most developed economies – and Freedoms.
I had the pleasure of meeting and training with Bill “Superfoot” Wallace in a seminar. He’s smart, fast and very nice.