Thursday, May 18, 2017

WORLD: The Russians are Laughing Their Asses Off!

INTRODUCTION: This is not a reflection on any particular political persuasion in American  - not D's or R's - not L's or C's. Its just a statement of fact. What's going on between Russia and America is like what often happens in the world of sports: when a less-talented team takes it to the more highly skilled team, by using clever tactics and psych-outs. 
Photo (above): yep, this silly Russian prop is in the Kremlin. The Russians are probably laughing like this statue is right now while swilling down a bottle of Vodka!

BACKGROUND: Russia is a weak country that is in decline: their population is decreasing, and their economy is growing ever more dependent on fossil fuels (and we know which way that is heading). Their currency is in continual turmoil, and their people are regressing towards 3rd world living standards. All they have is a popular dictator, a large army and a bunch of nukes. 

EFFECTIVELY STIRRING THE POT: The Russians got what they wanted when they "stirred the pot" during the election in America — and then some. America is so off of her "game" that we're not even on the field - heck, we're haven't even arrived at the ballpark! Instead of taking care of the business of running the country, our political parties are in full war footing — against each other! Am I the only one that sees this that Russia is making us the laughing stocks of the world?

For fairness sake, lets just say that both political parties are losing, and therefore, America is losing this internal battle. They must be laughing their *sses off in Moscow. As far as I can tell, there is no concrete evidence of malfeasance on the part of Americans during the election - only the Russians (if I'm wrong, please point out the facts to me). Even then, the Ruskies had to do very little to create this mess! There are now 5 separate investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians - no doubt involving 100's or 1,000's of government employees (who are doing their jobs while they are "investigating"?), while it is costing "we the people" 100's of millions of dollars, and distracting our elected officials from doing the job they are supposed to be doing of running our country.
Above: Yep - Red Square and the Kremlin.

Well, I hope somebody is happy about this (besides the Russians), because I'm not. We in the private sector don't have any choice but to get up each day and do our jobs and run our businesses. If we didn't, there'd be no business left to run. But the politicians? Right now, it seems they've never met a camera or a TV crew that they didn't want to jump in front of and start accusing the other side of the most extreme things that they can dream up in their vivid imaginations. Politicians were screaming to impeach Trump even before he took the oath of office! Facts don't seem to play a significant role in any way that I can tell.

Enjoy my photos of Moscow from a trip a few years back. No, I'm not part of the conspiracy, but I wouldn't be surprised if some government AI bot (Artificial Intelligence Robot) picked up on these photos of the Kremlin and put me on their private "watch list".
Above: Yep - the Kremlin, again. On display - world's largest cannonball!

Friday, May 12, 2017

SAN LUIS OBISPO: The Faces of the Chronically Homeless


SANTA BARBARA, California: There is a group in Santa Barbara that has been operating a "mobile shower trailer" for the last few years. They are our source of inspiration for us, and you can find out more about them by clicking here. They created a short but wonderful video about their saga to bring dignity and humanity to the homeless folks in their area, which you can watch on you tube by clicking here. Their group is called HEAL (Health, Empowerment And Love) and they serve individuals in the Isla Vista and Goleta areas. If Santa Barbara can do it, then so can San Luis Obispo!!!

SAN LUIS OBISPO, California: The unhoused people shown on this page have indicated that they will be using our Hope's Village of SLO "Mobile Shower Trailer" through our "Showers of Hope" program, once it arrives. Each of them have given me permission to capture their image, and post it here. Come back often, as as I add to new faces to this page - I hope they reach out to tug at your heart in the same way these photos reach out to me.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

NATION: Feminists - Life is Tougher in Almost Every Way for Men!

THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS.

Men have it worse than women in every measurable way. Go ahead: Call me a sexist. Call me a mysogenist. Call me whatever you want - I don't care anymore. I'd say its not true, and give reasons, but you've already made up your mind. There's an interesting web site called Real Sexism that you can see by clicking here. I posted an article on this web site several years ago, then inexplicably deleted it, but never again. I'll try to make my point, starting with the most important points first.

LIFE EXPECTANCY: To see a table with the history of life expectancy in the United States, please click here. Worldwide, women live 7.3% longer than men (68 years 6 months for men vs. 73 years 6 months for women), or 5 years longer. In America, in 2000, women lived 7.3% longer than men, while in 2012, they gap narrowed to 6.4% longer.

HORRIBLE DEATH: Certainly, we all value life. In every meaningful statistic, men die horrible deaths at a far higher rate than women. Men are make up 97% of combat fatalities and 81% of total war deaths. Men make 94% of work suicides and 80% of all suicides (not just at work). Men make up 93% of work fatalities, and 77% of homicide victims are men.

GENDER PAY GAP DEBUNKED: Somehow, this obvious falsehood is still perpetuated as true. You've heard it before and it goes something like this: for every dollar men earn, women earn 77¢ or some such number. Not even close. The real pay gap, when taking all factors into account, barely exists: study have shown it to be about 3 to 8¢ - a far cry from the oft-quoted 23¢ gap. 

However, the best proof yet is this: if this gap of 23% were real, I would immediately start a company and hire only women, and have a dramatic 23% marginal wage cost benefit over all my competitors. In many industries, the entire corporate profit margin is far smaller than 23%! If I did this, I would have an incredible money-making machine! Yet I haven't done this - why not? Because the gap doesn't really exist. Put another way: suppose I ran a gas station, and could buy my fuel for 23% less than my competitors. Actually, at most gas stations, the gas business operates at a loss, and all the profit is made at the so-called "C-Stores" (Convenience Stores). If I could do this, I would absolutely SLAM all my competition and put them out of business in the blink of an eye.

Let's suppose this 23% gap does exist. Surely female employers are not responsible for this, are they? Let's look at Hillary and the Clinton Foundation during the last presidential election. Surely, this is a bastion of equal pay by gender? Not even close. The men on her staff earned a whopping $81,000 more (on average) than the women! Don't believe me - read it here. Even more, the Foundation employed far more men than women. This must be an anomaly. What about our President of the last 8 years - Barack Obama? Surely, our first black president, having felt the burn of discrimination based on race all his life, would not extend the gender discrimination pay gap? Well, if you guessed he did better than Secretary Clinton, you would be wrong. Read about it by clicking here. This gap on President Obama's staff persisted at different (high) levels throughout his entire administration. But hey - who cares? Hillary and Barack's heart is in the right place, correct? That's all that matters.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Hope's Village of SLO: Showers of Hope!

Showers of Hope!
Raising Funds for a Desperately Needed Mobile Shower Trailer in San Luis Obispo (SLO), California
Please consider making a donation for the purchase and operation of our "Showers of Hope" shower trailer to serve the chronically homeless in San Luis Obispo (SLO) , California.
Above (click to enlarge):  SLO Laguna Middle School students held a bake sale to raise money for Hope's Village of SLO to help the least fortunate amongst us - please, can you help too?

So many homeless in need of getting clean! California has 12% of America's population but 32% of the country's homeless! The county of San Luis Obispo (SLO) has over 2,000 homeless people (including children & seniors) and not a single public shower. Hope’s Village is raising funds for a desperately needed mobile shower for those who have nowhere to get clean. We are also recruiting for a volunteer crew to operate the Shower Trailer in SLO. 

Reduce illness and disease in SLO: Showers are needed to reduce disease and illness, but more importantly, to restore the dignity of our homeless and give them a boost towards getting back into housing. Hope’s Village is staffed 100% by volunteers and all donations go directly towards purchasing a Shower Trailer to serve our community. 

3 WAYS TO DONATE:
(1) Showers of Hope "Go Fund Me" site: https://www.gofundme.com/showers-of-hope
(2) online via Pay Pal at: www.HopesVillageofslo.com
(3) send a check to: Hope’s Village of SLO, PO Box 100, Santa Margarita, CA 93453
Questions? Call, Text or Email:
• Tim (805) 440-9144 TimWaag@gmail.com,  
Becky (805) 234-5478 (President, Hope's Village of SLO)
All donations 100% tax deductible. EIN# 46-0526792

Fundraising still needed! So far, we have raised approximately $30,000 and have ordered our "trailer with two showers" to be built. We need to raise $10,000 by the end of May 2017 when construction will be completed. We must have an additional $10,000 in funds to provide showers to the homeless for a year (water, soap, propane, towels, etc.). We have ordered the trailer and it will be here at the end of May, 2017. 

Volunteer funded and operated: The trailer will be operated entirely by volunteers. In fact, we are putting together a list of volunteer crew members right now - if you are interested, email TimWaag@gmail.com. We have only taken donations from non-government individuals and groups. This is a program of regular people like you and me, taking care of  our less fortunate homeless, who are simply trying to get by and stay CLEAN!

Thanks to Dignity Health of San Luis Obispo: Dignity Health in SLO recognized the need for our local homeless population to stay clean, thus reduce disease and illness in our community. They are the fifth largest health system in the nation and the largest hospital provider in California. So far, Dignity Health has made (by far) the largest donation to our "Showers of Hope" program and we thank them from the bottom of our heart.
Above (click to enlarge): Even more SLO Laguna Middle School students held a bake sale to raise money for Hope's Village of SLO to help the least fortunate amongst us - please, can you help too?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NATION: Trump Inauguration Thoughts

What Makes Trump an "Illegitimate" President: This is a serious issue, promoted by so many Americans, so let's take a look at the best case for Trump's illegitimacy, shall we? It was hard to find a serious article that Trump's election was illegitimate (most were just expressing extreme anger at his election), and thus, that impeachment proceedings should begin immediately. I settled on this article by leftist Michael Moore: 6 Reasons Trump is an illegitimate president.
Here are Moore's 6 reasons. We'll take a look at all of them - maybe Michael can change my mind?
1. Hillary had won the popular vote. 2. Trump is mentally unstable. 3. The Russian government interfered in the election. 4. The FBI interfered in the election. 5. Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, would enrich himself. 6. Trump is a criminal.
1. Hillary had won the popular vote. Ummm. This one is easy - ever heard of the Electoral College (EC), as enshrined in the constitution? I'm a big believer in the EC for too many reasons to list - regardless of which party it happens to benefit. However, the biggest reason is that during the constitutional convention (a subject of many books that I have read), the smaller states were afraid of being steam-rolled by the bigger states - a legitimate concern. To this day, states have different interests - we're not one big blob, despite some who argue otherwise. The EC gives more weight to smaller states (just like in the Senate, and to a lesser degree, in the House), which seems reasonable to me. Without this granting of rights to smaller states, we may not have formed this "perfect union" and would not have a country at all. http://www.270towin.com/maps/2016-actual-electoral-map Even if you believe the EC is unfair, it is the law of the land until it is overturned, which will probably never happen.
Interesting Electoral College Comparison: the EC is kind of like how you keep score in the game of Basketball (stay with me here). Each time the basketball goes through the hoop, you get either 3, 2, or 1 point. Outside the 3 point line, you get 3 points; 2 points when it goes through while inside the 3 point line; 1 point for a free throw - those are the rules of the game. Replace "going through the hoop" with "one vote". Just like making a hoop depends on where you are on the court, the value of casting your vote depends on which state you are in. Basketball coaches use the variable point rules to plan their game strategies (think Golden State Warriors), same as presidential candidates when it comes to the Electoral College.
Precedent: Trump is the 5th incident of a candidate winning the EC but not the popular vote. Each time, the opposition claims "illegitimate". The claim holds no water, and never will, as long as we have fair judicial oversight of the election process.
2. Trump is mentally unstable. 
I spend a lot of time with mentally ill people - Trump is not one of them. I doubt there is a mental health professional that would find Trump mentally unstable and thus unfit for office. This one has no merit whatsoever.
3. The Russian government interfered in the election. 
This is perhaps my favorite reason - to rebut. Interestingly, U.S. has a long history of attempting to influence presidential elections in other countries – we've done so at least 81 times between 1946 and 2000, according to a database amassed by political scientist Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. Apparently, we think its okay to do so - so when others do it to us, how loudly should we complain? Read more here.
Is this a reason to overturn the election? Recently, Obama famously tried to alter the democratic election of our ally in the middle east, Israel. Yes, Obama dislikes Netanyahu, and did much to make sure Benjamin Netanyahu did not prevail (yet he still did). Countries try to influence the outcome of the elections of other countries all the time. IMHO, that is grounds for overturning an election ONLY IF the candidate aided the foreign countries efforts to do so. No evidence, so far, that Trump aided Putin in publicizing the emails of the DNC on Wikileaks (saying kind things about Putin doesn't count). Interesting to note, however, that there is plenty of evidence that the DNC tried its best to trash the candidacy of Bernie Sanders; if Bernie was my candidate, I would be particularly angry about this one. The democrats don't seem upset about that - not even Bernie!
4. The FBI interfered in the election. 
You mean, the FBI headed by a person appointed by President Obama? Maybe Obama should have chosen more wisely? Does Obama dislike Hillary that much? I'll let you answer that one. First, Comey was a hero (Hillary is not a criminal), then he was a zero (we're still looking into it).
5. Trump’s Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, would enrich himself. 
You mean, the nominee for Secretary of State who has yet to be confirmed by the senate? This might not even happen, as Tillerson is the most likely of Trump's cabinet selections to NOT get appointed to Trump's cabinet. Maybe we can wait to see if Tillerson is confirmed? Even if he is, NBC reports that Tillerson is already worth $150 million - how much more enriching would he need? 
Plus, consider this: on a salary of $400k as President, the Obamas together (Barrack and Michelle) are exiting the White House worth an estimated $24 million - how could this be on a salary of $400k over 8 years - I'll do the math - 8 x $400,000 = $3.2 million (even if they didn't spend a penny). Maybe someone else more important than a cabinet member is enriching themselves excessively? Small wonder that Trump gained a lot of traction by claiming that he would "drain the swamp".
6. Trump is a criminal. 
The easiest left for last. This is a legal distinction. I think we would know it if Trump was a convicted criminal - being an "alleged" criminal doesn't count. Just like Hillary, Trump was not charged and convicted of a crime - the thing that would make him a criminal.
Conclusion: Done. That was too easy. I didn't find anything that would lead me to believe that Trump's presidency was illegitimate, and that he should be impeached. Your reasoning might differ.
Fascinating fact: Previously, the oldest elected president was Ronald Reagan, who took the oath of office at the age of 69 in 1981. Donald Trump is 70 years old. Interestingly, had Hillary Clinton won election, she'd have been our second-oldest president-elect at the age of 69. Of course, unlike countries like Japan and Korea, the US just does not respect the wisdom of our elders - we find respect in Silicon Valley-style youth, but not in the ancient amongst us.
Above: Valley of Fire petroglyph, Nevada. Bighorn Sheep.

Friday, December 23, 2016

NATION: You Do Realize They Are Human, Don't You?

Working Theory: I've stated many times that in my anecdotal experience, about half of our SLO population hates the homeless, and about half feel that we need to do more to help them. The high "hate" percentage has always confused me, because basic humanity calls for treating all people with a certain level of dignity, even those we don't like. For instance, the Israelis and America both give 100's of millions of dollars to the Palestinians every year, even though the Palestinians primary reason for living appears to be the killing of all Jews. So why so much hate for our homeless brothers and sisters? That is the topic of this article.

The Spanish Ruled our California Missions: I've been putting together a presentation on the California Missions for a local community service group on 2/3/2016. While thumbing through my extensive library on the California Mission System, I made the connection: the Spanish Conquistadores of New Spain in the 1500's, as well as the more recent Friars and Soldiers of our California Mission system in the late 1700's and early 1800's, both somehow saw Native Americans as less than human. In addition, a theory has been posited that in order to treat slaves in our early days of America so poorly, you had to see them as somehow less than human. 

Let's start with this book I just ordered from Amazon, called Less Than Human: The Psychology of Cruelty, which you can read about by clicking here

An excerpt from the book: In ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Mesopotamian literature, the author found repeated references to enemies as subhuman creatures. When people dehumanize others, they actually conceive of them as subhuman creatures. When the Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen, or subhumans, they didn't mean it metaphorically. They didn't mean they were like subhumans. They meant they were literally subhuman."
Above: Our stone age Indians crafted deadly arrowheads from obsidian, as in this beautiful example from California. What are our homeless capable of, if given the chance to be productive? At this rate, we'll never know.

Friday, December 16, 2016

HISTORY: Things you didn't know about our central coast missions - 2/3/2017 Presentation

I will be giving a presentation on the Central Coast Missions to a service group on February 3, 2017. I doubt that it is open to the public, but in case it is, I will post information about how you can attend. I will be collecting some of my concepts for the presentation on this web page, so check back often.

I have visited all 21 California missions, and have studied them all in detail over the years. It was an amazing and transformative time in California history - not necessarily for the better, either! I have never given a presentation on this topic, but that is a good thing. I don't like giving presentations that I have already done before - I like new subjects that allow me to pull together my resources in an area of interest such as this. Stay tuned...
Above: My most favorite mission of all - La Purisima! Why? It's fascinating history, and the fact that it is the most completely restored of the 21 missions. Research continues, as the site is among the least disturbed of the missions, thus allowing new facts to continue to reveal themselves. 

Speaker Biography: Tim Waag has a BS in Math and Computer Science from UCLA, and an MS in Math and an MBA from USC. He has been an adventurer and explorer since the time he could walk, and is a featured speaker at various historical societies across the state. He is an amateur archaeologist and is a member of the SLO County Archaeological Society, and works with various Native American tribes in a variety of social and cultural arenas. He is a trained archaeological site steward for several culturally sensitive sites around the state.


Featured Presentation: While we are all familiar with the California Mission system, there are many surprising facts that have been buried in history and mythology. For instance, Fact or Fiction: There were 21 California missions? Answer: Fiction. There were actually 48, founded between 1697 and 1834, with most located in what we now call “Baja" California. Tim will lead a lively discussion featuring little known facts about our central coast missions, focusing on San Antonio, San Miguel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Ines and La Purisima. While raising his 2 sons, Tim took them to visit all 21 “Alta” California missions, and along the way, was able to dive deep into their rich history.
Definitions. 
New Spain in the 1700's:  colonial territory of Spain in the new world north of the Isthmus of Panama

Truth or Myth? The Spanish created the mission system in order to convert the Native Americans to Christianty? False. During the 1760's, officials of New Spain heard rumors of Russian and British advances towards the west coast of North America - a territory that Spain considered to be "theirs". Though this rumor was totally and completely false, as a precaution, the Spanish crown ordered the colonization of "Alta" (or upper) California. "Baja" (or lower) California had already been colonized and missionized in the region of Mexico that we know today as Baja California. 


See the 2 maps above for the locations of the Alta and Baja California missions systems. Many believed that the mission system was forged in order to exploit gold and other resources in the area - also false. The Spanish had determined during previous colonization efforts in the 1500's that there was no gold or other resources of value in California. Oops! Of course, they got that wrong as well! Oh my. The new world, and especially Alta California, was a big place, and not much was actually known about it by the Spanish during their times of conquest.


Truth or Myth? The 21 California missions were spaced to be “one days ride apart”? False. This is a myth that seems to have been created by the AAA (Automobile Association of America) and perpetuated by our United States school systems, as well as, apparently, the Southern Pacifc Railroad. Interestingly, it’s veracity is actually up for debate for a variety of reasons discussed below. However, at the heart of the matter is the questions: were the mission locations determined primarily or exclusively by their distance between each of them? That claim is, almost without doubt, not true.


All one has to look at is haphazard order in which the missions were built, and the slow and weak funding mechanism from Spanish authorities for creating the missions. Just for fun, I took a look at the “modern driving distance” between the 21 California missions today, with some interesting results. From south to north, here are the distances between the missions today on modern roads, as measured by Google Maps (numbers are in miles): 41, 33, 61, 29, 61, 30, 32, 19, 60, 37, 41, 45, 45, 37, 36, 32, 16, 54, 19, 27. The average of these 20 distances is 38 miles. When using Google Maps, they give alternate routes and mileages. When given a choice of routes, I used the shortest distance and rounded up to the nearest mile. Two types of distance outliers are of interest: those that are much too long for a “day’s ride” and those that are much closer than average to each other.


Missions that are much longer than one days ride apart - distance in miles: 61, 61, 60, and 54. Let’s take a look at an example on our central coast of two well-known missions that are much more than one days ride apart at 60 miles. This 60-mile distance is from one of my favorite missions, La Purisima Conception (the 11th mission, founded in 1787), near Lompoc, to our very own Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa (the 5th mission, founded in 1772) in San Luis Obispo. 


In the late 1700's, there is no way you are riding a horse, driving a wagon, or walking on foot and to get from Lompoc to SLO in one day. My research has shown that a prudent horse and rider can cover 20 to 30 miles in a day, thus seemingly to eliminate the longer distances from “one days ride” contention. Modern endurance horse riders often cover more than 30 miles in a day, but horse mortality rates and negative impact on the horse's health increase significantly. It is unlikely that a horse owner in the mission era would risk permanent damage to their horse, just to get from one mission to another in such a short amount of time. Exceptions might be for trained horse and messenger teams of the era, who were prepared for just such tasks.




Asistencias and Estancias:  It would seem that one example alone would blow apart any conception of traveling between San Luis Obispo and La Purisima in a day. Research into whether there were interim facilities between La Purisima and SLO de Tolosa does not indicate that any known assistencias existed along that stretch of the “King’s Highway”. See link to a find web site on known asistencias associated with the California mission system.

Above (click to enlarge): Santa Margarita Asistencia, circa 1906 - author unknown.

Another interesting phenomen with regard to distance between the mission are the outliers that are much closer than the average of 38 miles. These distances in miles are: 19, 16, and 19 miles, respectively. These closer distances are worth investigating another time.


The Franciscan missions didn't start in San Diego. The first few we're already in place Baja California in the Sierra Gorda (today Queretaro state, Mexico) before Junipero Serra ever arrived from Spain. As he expanded the central Mexican churches, he built a series of missions stretching from Jalpan (today Jalpan de Serra) to the northwest, with each mission a days apart at walking speed. Junipero Serra was always known for walking. 


He was later transferred to the California missions, which already were established in Baja California before he arrived. They were spread out along the peninsula and travel between them was normally done by water. Mission San Diego (de Alcalá) was Serra's first new expansion to the already established Baja California missions. From there he moved further into Alta California, establishing the 21 missions in Spanish territory that we know today as "the California missions". 


During Spanish rule and expansion, any road built by Spanish forces (including the church) was known as a Camino Real (royal road). Official Spanish roads extended all across Mexico, including from Mexico City to Serra's nine original missions and on (overland) to California. The Camino Real from Baja California to San Francisco was just one of many Caminos Reales across Spanish territory. 



Works Cited:
Taylor, Alan. American Colonies - The Settling of North America. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

Links Cited: