Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Things Are Looking Up

Image result for Joy and sadness

My last political post must have struck a chord;  I know it was uber-negative.  Because of that I realized that I complain a lot here about the state of things in our political system.  Actually, I realized that long ago, but that’s kind of my thing around here, I’m the pithy part-time political blogger.  That's ok, except that I sound so doom and gloomy and there’s little upside to my writing.   While Sarge allows me to use his blog to rant about this or that, sometimes extensively, I actually live a pretty happy life and I’m a very positive person.   Things in my personal and professional life are going really well and I do realize I’m fortunate.  Sure, I don’t particularly care for the level of discourse among people and politicians, and the constant hatred some seem to have for our President, but if I step back and take a broader view, maybe one that’s more of global nature, things are actually not so bad. 

I’m mainly talking about poverty, literacy, health, but I’ll get to those later.  There are plenty of other ways life on God’s good earth is joyful, beautiful, and pleasant if one just stops to look.  Sarge shows us often, when he posts stories and pictures of his grand kids, all smiles and full of happiness.  He shares with us pictures of his immaculate castle grounds, and the vibrant colors that come from the changing seasons.  This is a small representation of his world, but that can be representative of the world over if one stops looking down at their smart phones and looks up at the real world. 

Speaking of smart phones, they aren’t all bad.  The world is a whole lot smarter and smaller than it was in the past, mainly because of the internet and the access to it given us through those smart phones.  In economics one of the assumptions with the law of supply and demand is the absolute knowledge of all prices for a given market or product.  With a touch of a button or even just speaking into our phones, we can almost definitively know the lowest price and location of something we want to buy.  This drives the price of goods and services to a far more affordable level and helps refine the supply.  I won’t get into whether or not Google analytics and data mining is far too intrusive for our own good, but the trade-offs can be advantageous.

I haven’t yet tackled our annual Christmas letter, and signing/addressing over 100 Christmas Cards, and to be honest, I might never get around to it.  I blame that partially on the internet.  With social media, my life is somewhat of an open book and everybody knows what is up with the Tuna household this year.  Because of that, I struggle to come up with something that is somewhat informative, semi-entertaining, and isn’t repetitive or sounds like we’re bragging.  That’s a good thing though.  Because of the internet, distant family and friends are closer, and the world we live in is smaller.  They just need to perfect the food replicator and transporters from Star Trek and we’re all good.   Until then, if someone could teach me how to do those address labels I’d be happy.

In my complaints, I may have mentioned how things used to be, reminiscing about life in the past.  Nostalgia is nice, but it's not what it used to be!  It's not just smart phones, but I have to admit there are all sorts of things are better now than they were in the past.  For instance, we didn’t have Costco back then and that place is awesome!  Amazon?  If you want a good price on something and need it in two days?  They’ve got your back.  Is it hurting brick and mortar retailers?  Yeah, there is that.  So it’s not perfect, but still good.  Uber and Netflix are awesome as well.  Am I sad that Taxi drivers are hurt by ride sharing services?  Not at all.  Access to affordable transportation is far better than it was before Uber.  By the way, Ozark is an excellent series.  Daredevil is as well.  

I’m getting off topic and jumping around a little here, but I’d have to say that the internet probably helps with access to programs and services as well.  My son is a 22 year old Autistic man who needs help for all sorts of needs.  Several years ago we were able to get the school district to fund an additional classroom aide to help him with his needs in class.  There was another child who was worse off than my son and his mother asked my wife how we got the aide.  She had no clue that something like this was possible.  Today, because of online forums and community groups sharing their knowledge and experiences, there are hopefully fewer children falling through the educational cracks.  While they may put far more demand on existing services, that is needed.  And those services and interventions early on in a child’s life probably make them less dependent on more intensive services later.  Today my son is doing well in a program teaching him job skills and independent life skills, probably because he had the help earlier to develop more basic skills.   He might have trouble comprehending a bus schedule and figuring out some financial transactions, he can just ask his phone “when is the next bus to the mall?” or ask it a simple math problem.  While I hate the “It takes a village” ideology, in my son’s case, it’s true.  In years past, these people were dependent on family only, which probably stifled their growth, but I know for a fact that society is easier and more accessible because of smart phones. 

I think we’re all in agreement that many politicians like to use certain segments of society (the poor, some minorities) to advance their status, and that of their platforms.  Some claim to be on the side of the poor and that the other side isn’t, but I would say all of us are on the side of the poor, the marginalized, the weak and the oppressed.  That’s for whom and why our great nation was founded.  That’s why many of us served this country.   And nowhere else in the world are the poor and other segments of society, actually doing quite well in comparison to the rest.  We have more people in the US who care for them, more laws to protect them, more jobs to advance them, and programs to assist them than anywhere else on Earth.

The poverty line here is far higher here than in other countries, but in those countries, extreme poverty is actually shrinking.  Statistics show that over the past 50 years (my lifetime so far), huge gains have been made in many countries that were once considered to be in abject poverty.  So much so, that less than 10% of the world’s population is now living in that extreme poverty.  This is despite the fact that the population has grown and there are more people in demand of scarce resources.  Sure, I like to complain about the state of the union, and the media absolutely loves to report when things go wrong in society, especially when a politician does wrong, but all in all, the world is actually doing a lot better than we know. 


Besides poverty, literacy and health is also improving greatly.  Modern medicine is a big factor in improved health and a reduced child mortality rate, but also because of better housing, better sanitation conditions, and easier access to food.  The access to food, while I admit is much better here in the US than in underdeveloped countries, is partially due to food programs, both domestic and internationally, but also because of improved crop yields.  The land which we allow for farming in some parts of the country is being developed for housing (my Florida neighborhood was once an Orange grove), but the amount of food we’re getting from the remaining land is actually increasing.  Is this because of pesticides and genetically modified foods?  Yes, most definitely, but this isn’t the boogeyman that some may want us to believe.  Organic foods?  I rarely indulge for a couple reasons.  First is that they are damn expensive.  They might taste better, but a $7 gallon of milk doesn’t taste twice as good.  Then again, regular food isn’t all that cheap here.  California might be where a great deal of the milk and produce you and I consume comes from, but the shorter logistic chain doesn’t seem to help.  How about where you live?  Anyway, the second reason I don’t do organic is out of principle.  Lots of Californians and others worry about our Carbon Footprint.  The amount of land and water used to grow organic is far greater than the food grown on mega-farms.  So I don’t buy into the whole carbon footprint guilt that some people have, as it’s hypocritical as all hell.  Hybrid or electric cars save fossil fuels?  Sure, but unless you’re in an area where renewable energy is prevalent, coal and oil are King and that’s what’s generating the electricity they’re putting in their “gas” tanks.  Then again, if you do have access to solar, those EVs will save you a ton of coin.


Freedom is easier to come by as well.  We're tossing out the politicians who don't represent us and electing populists in their place.  Not just here, but around the world.  Dictators are almost a thing of the past.  Autocratic governments, China and Russia not withstanding, are going by the wayside.  With that comes improved civil liberties, burgeoning capitalism, and lessening poverty.  And for that I’d have to give some credit to the internet and education yet again. 

Now if we could just get the educators in this country to stop brainwashing our kids, and the media to cover the news in an unbiased way, we’d be far better off.  C’mon, you didn’t think I could go a whole post without ranting a little bit did you?

Look, it’s not going to be all puppy dogs and kittens in my blog posts from now on.  I just can’t do that.  But I can try to not just look at the bright side, but write about it as well.  We’ll see how that goes, but no promises.  

Yes, things are looking up, we just have to look up.

By the way, I don't write about my family too often, but you may remember me mentioning my daughter who I refer to as the Teenangster.  Well, I'll need a new moniker because she turned 20 on Monday.  She attends SCAD, which is the Savannah College of Art and Design, so she shall now be known as...the Artist.


  1. One of my cousins does the Christmas letter, gives me the chance to kinda catch up with them so I get a kick out of it. Any blog posting will be construed by SOMEONE as negative though I have seen far, far fewer instances of that here in the short time I've been visiting. Any topic will have yin and yang issues, not everyone agrees on everything, that's life. It would be dull to live in a echo chamber.....although I would say that we are living in interesting times.

  2. Great post Tuna.

    For the Chanters' sake, this is the Tuna I know and love, I'm glad he shows that side (the larger part of him actually) from time to time here at the blog. But where would we be without his occasional rants? Less informed and certainly less entertained, that's for sure.

    The Artist, it fits her!

  3. Freedoms need to be protected, one person's freedom, is another man's cage. It's an issues thing. Oh, I love the looks of ev's, but I have to opt out, because of range and foul weather. I regularly travel over the two hundred miles limit. And the recharge of 80% in one hour? Would not get me where I want to go, today. But an interesting read anyhoo.

  4. Speaking of efficient vehicles, this has huge potential---

  5. It’s pretty easy to point out all the negatives in the world because most folks recognize them immediately.
    The good news posts are more difficult because they require some researching, even if it’s only in our own brain.
    But, when the time is taken, the balance is on the good news side.
    Great post.

  6. Organic food is anything that has C-N-H-O molecules in it. Organic Chemistry was a favorite class of mine.

    As to 'Natural' foods, well, if it comes from the Earth and Mother Gaia (gak!!) it must be good, right? So does Anthrax and Arsenic, which I love to remind all the granola-crunching tofu munchers.

    Dwarf Wheat has revolutionized the grain industry. More than 20% of the plant goes into making the seed head. So, YAY GMO! Go-go-go.

    And for those olive aficionados, it used to be olives only came on trees, which matured rather slowly, like in decades, not individual years. An area that wasn't thrashed by constant wars would be able to grow olive trees, which is one of the reasons for olive branches being the sign of peace. So what do the big-brains do? They gave us olive bushes. That mature in years. And produce many-much-more olives per square foot of ground than trees. So olives are affordable. Which means more olives are grown and consumed. Which means more carbon sequestration... Muhahahaha. I love turning Science loose on the pseudo-intellectuals.

    Glad your son has found services that have aided him. Still not a village, as the 'village' tries to hide services and access from deserving individuals. But more like 'fraternal organizations' like the Masons used to be, a network of information and access.

    Yes, EVs do make some small sense if you are the one solar powering it. Tossing one on the grid? Nope. Great way to kill a grid. And take away the gubmint subsidies and we'll see. Technology is almost there. Just not mandatable enough, oh great State of California.

    And my stupid city which had at one time the highest bond-rated public utility, has now attained almost junk-bond status with their push to 100% sustainable. Yikes. The hippy freaks have taken over the asylum.

    Other than that, glad to hear your daughter has evolved into a new call-sign. And if she gets out of the art field, will she be The (Blank) formerly known as 'Artist'?

  7. That was a great read. Tuna. May the next several weeks bring much togetherness and joy to you and your family. And the new year be safe, happy, and prosperous for you and yours.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

  8. Dwarf wheat is almost as good as quadrotriticale?

    1. Tribbles will eat them both, so be careful!


    2. Dwarf, freeze and drought hardy wheat, one of the greatest unsung achievements in the last 50 years, and nobody in the meedja or academia is singing it's praises. Silly bastiges.

      Tribbles, rats, mice, nutria and other rodentia on this and other planets do love their triticale varieties, one of the reasons badgers are so darned important...

  9. RTB from the Pentagon with 2% battery left. Thanks is all I can say to everyone for now!

  10. That graphic for the 50-year operating costs of vehicles makes at least one wildly unrealistic assumption.
    It allows for two replacement inverters, though it's entirely possible to build an inverter that'll last 50 years (designing for a shorter service life and planning on occasional replacement may make more sense, though).
    What's not so likely is a consumer-grade solar panel with a 50-year service life! Solar panels deteriorate gradually as a result of radiation (sunlight) exposure. It's very much not a "buy once and use forever" thing.
    Then, too, it's not factoring in the cost of whatever subsidies are in effect for the initial solar installation. Nor the environmental costs of fabricating the panels, generating the electricity used to refine the silicon, etc.
    Hm. Also, note the "infrastructure cost included..." - the price of gasoline includes road taxes; the price of the solar installation does not. So in fact infrastructure costs are being omitted from the solar/EV side of the picture.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

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