Friday, August 29, 2014

State’s 1st bullet train to chase A&M’s Hwy. 6 ghosts

Fightin' Foobirds! Fish Class, Air Force Squadron 14, Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, '62-'63. Yours truly, corner, lower right, bewildered as ever. "Big Red," or Amos DeWitt, my fish old lady, is on top row beside tequila bottle, with white glove and fingers high. Crazy bunch. We really, really, really did know what Life was about then.

By Dan Bodine

The announcement this week Texas’ new bullet train expected to run within 10 years between Dallas and Houston will make just one stop  (just off Hwy. 6 at Aggieland in College Station) is proof once again either “any blind raccoon can find an acorn or two if it just keeps scratching around” or, doubly so, "ghosts don’t live forever."

Indeed, the train caps a splashy PR campaign to reverse the school’s negative image vis a vis "modern times" that started a half century ago.

And it sure ‘nuff shreds a “locked-in” location moniker that no doubt either kept or drove thousands away from the school, too. Highway 6, not interstates, is how you reach A&M. So plan on staying a while, it was. Especially in the old days.

It hasn’t been but 50 some-odd years, yes, since only gung-ho, idealistic Army or Air Force wannabes, or passing-down farmers or ranchers kids mostly, or naive idiots like my fellow blogger Jim Myers and I, dared to venture off to Aggieland for college – to forced ROTC life in the mean Corps of Cadets. A powerful 12th man!

After barbers shaved off all our hair from our heads and we were put in military uniforms to march for an hour or so under a hot Texas afternoon sun, we were put at “Parade, rest!” in front of our barracks/dorms.

Before being dismissed, a steel-jawed first-sergeant walked angrily before each one of us – his glowing-red eyeballs glued to our faces as he passed by, watching us for a sign of weakness, just a twitch – row after row, while shouting long-lived words like these:

“Texas A&M put more military officers in World War II than any other military school in this country! Be proud you’re here! You hear!!? If not, if you don’t like it, always remember – Highway 6 runs both ways!! Take one of ’em!!!”

Hee, hee. After that first year, that’s exactly what Jim and I did. Flew the coop to happier learning grounds.

Huge setback for both of us, of course. Starting off college by gittin’ outta Dodge City isn’t exactly a textbook case on how to begin a college education.

But Texas A&M didn’t exactly offer the textbook campus life Jim and I had envisioned growing up in Cleburne either.

Should’ve prepared ourselves better? Cram all of that to see in one weekend visit our senior year in high school? Not quite. Sure wish the internet had been around then with the com boxes to get into, though. Whoo!

But it was a valuable lesson in life for each of us, too, the long and short of it was.

“Put more glue on your hands. There might be times when you might want to hang around a while longer. Life has a way of changing.”

Change came, too, for the old school. ’62-’63 (our year) was the last year Texas A&M refused to admit female students, for instance. Hwy. 6 became a co-ed highway. Just behind that was lifting the 2-year Corps membership requirement.

Top athletes around the country started giving the campus a second look, in the years that followed. The focus on academics intensified. Research, always A&M’s core strength, grew more prominent as corporate growth funneled more funds into the institution.

To thousands and thousands of graduates and their families over the years, Aggieland always has been one of the best, if not the best, campus in the nation. What has evolved through the past half century is now more people know it.

Soon the only stop between Dallas and Houston, on the only bullet train in the State of Texas, will be at A&M.

Would I let my teenage daughter go to school there in a few years on an academic scholarship, if she became interested?

La-dee-da! The times they are a changin’, ain’t they?!!


Here's the link again on the Fort Worth Star Telegram train story.

–– 30 –-

Friday, August 15, 2014

Power: Some things history reveals about it.

I was working on a project today and came across a paper I filed away a few years ago about “power.” So, after cogitating on it for a little while, I decided to share some of the highlights with you. Understanding what power is and some time-tested truths about it is an essential step to more accurately understanding history, as well as changing things today.

What is power?

Power is the capacity of some persons to realize their wishes; to produce the effects they want to produce; and to produce intended and foreseen effects on others.

(1) Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. -- Whether it is kings, presidents, or CEOs, or petty tyrants around the community, they get so full of themselves that they cut corners, cheat, treat people badly, or make such gross displays of their status that they alienate their followers or stir up an opposition.

(2) The fact that power corrupts means that power congeals. -- People and organization try to hold on to power at all costs. Once there is a power structure, it is very hard to change it or dislodge it.

(3) The powerful always try to create an outside enemy, real or imagined, to bind the followers to the leaders. -- The human tendency to divide people into "us" and "them," which social psychology experiments suggest is readily triggered, makes this a very easy task to accomplish.

(4) Divide and conquer. -- If the followers are not faithfully bound to the leader by the dread of the outside enemy, then leaders can stay in power by favoring some followers and punishing others.

(5) Provide the followers with bread and circuses.  Capitalize on the fact that people's everyday life can be compelling for many reasons: a love of friends and family, pleasure in work or artistic or athletic skills, and a desire for routines. If everyday life is possible, then people are less likely to try to challenge a power structure.

(6) The powerful believe that the enemy of their enemy is their friend. -- Only by understanding this axiom is it possible to realize that there is a rationale to the constantly shifting alliances that occur in human power struggles at any level from the personal to the international. When the issue is power, principles usually go out the window.

Source: Basics of Studying Power by G. William Domhoff / April 2005 --

Thanks for join the cogitation emergence!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Why do we let them exploit us?

The French historian and progressive philosopher Fernand Braudel observed that throughout history there seemed to be a minority of people who:

(1) held power and wealth
(2) ruled society
(3) exploited the population to sustain their power and privilege

In America the “population” is called “citizens.” An interesting thing happens when we flip the list above and read it like this: There seems to be a minority of people who exploit (use selfishly for one's own ends) the citizens:

(1) to sustain their power & privilege
(2) to rule society
(3) to acquire their power & wealth

This raises the following questions:

(1) How do they exploit the citizens?
(2) How do they use the government to rule citizens?
(3) How do they hold their power & wealth?

When we know the answers to the above questions, we can then discover the names of:

(1) those who hold power & wealth
(2) those who do the acts of exploitation
(3) government officials who make it possible for the minority to rule citizens
(4) those who hold the minority’s wealth for them

Knowing who the predators are is an important & necessary component for solving many of the problems we face today. But, it isn't as important or as big of a challenge as the solving the primary problem: the ability for citizens to work together for a common purpose.

For this to happen each citizen have to come together as “members of the common purpose group” instead of “members of special interests groups” or the “crowd of complaining passive observers.” The minority who holds the power, wealth & privilege isn't worried – they know history is on their side – citizens rarely work together.

(1) What if citizens could come together because they agree on a common purpose?
(2) What if they worked together to achieve that common purpose?
(3) What if they chose leaders who were committed to the common purpose?
(4) What if professionals committed to the common purpose?

Real change begins with finding a common purpose and making a commitment to working with fellow citizens, neighbors, family members, friends, workers, network associates, and anyone else to make the common purpose the reality for the population. What do you think should be the common purpose? Cogitate on that!

The Country Cogitator

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Mean old “rulemakers” pick on “big old bank.”

Do you feel sorry for a company that just reported a $12.3 billion profit and whose chairman is complaining that things would have been better if it had not needed to “invest significant time and resources” in meeting the “heightened and evolving expectations of our regulators.” 

The problem is that rulemakers are putting “unprecedented” pressure on the bank and distracting its staff. It has 256,000 employees, but has “extremely limited space capacity” to deal with the “increasingly fragmented, often extra-territorial, still evolving” rules. 

  • Those mean old US rulemakers hit the bank with a $1.9 billion fine for breaking anti-money-laundering rules -- most notably managing transfers for Mexican drug cartels. 
  • It has paid $2.7 billion in restitution for more than one million mis-sold insurance policies in Britain. 
  • It is under investigation in just about every rate-rigging case out there, from Libor to foreign-exchange, gold, silver and other benchmarks.
  • It is sitting on $3.3 billion in provisions for unspecified future legal problems. 

What are those places called that are referred to as “extra-territorial” and "their rules?" They are called "sovereign nations" and their rules are called "laws." 

If you really want to be entertained, download the annual report from the link in the article below and go to page 259 and read its legal laundry list.