Category Archives: Event Paths

Comparing historical events.

The 10,000 Day War and Ken Burns’ Vietnam War PBS Series

by Rick Bretz

Before analyzing these two documentaries, it is important to note the definition of a documentary.

From the Oxford English Dictionary–Documentary: Using pictures and interviews with people involved in real events to provide a factual report on a particular subject.

Documentaries strive to be objective but their reliance on human beings makes that goal honorable but a little out of reach. People have their own views and biases as witnesses to history and those who write their first draft of history are subjective.  Documentaries are the truth according to who produces them. In the end, documentaries can be a source for information but just like all forms of research, a scholar must seek other sources and make his or her own conclusions.

Vietnam War (1)

Many Vietnam War documentaries have been produced but two stand out.  One was done more than 30 years ago while the other aired recently on PBS.   One was produced by a Canadian journalist and narrated by Richard Basehart while the other was produced by the noted documentary producer Ken Burns and narrated by actor Peter Coyote, airing recently on PBS.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-16568035

http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/timelines/vietnam_timeline.htm

 

The Vietnam story goes back centuries before the United States became a nation. The people of  Vietnam were conquered and abused by the Chinese and French before the American government and military were major players in the Vietnamese struggle for independence.  Ho Chi Minh wanted to speak with Woodrow Wilson after World War II in Paris.  However, politics and diplomacy married with class defined government protocols can be complicated.  Not seeing then how Ho Chi Minh could be a leader is understandable.  What is not excusable is how the United States could ignore the Vietnamese leader after working with him during World War II to defeat the Japanese.  It’s only because they believed France’s Charles de Gaulle when he suggested the communist ideology would be taking a foothold in Western Europe.   Leaders saw the dominoes falling and became worried about the Red Menace.  This was also the time that the United States government thought that communism was infiltrating American society from Hollywood to the local unions.  The Korean War and the influence of Communist China was also dominating foreign policy strategy during the early 1950s.

12th_Inf,_4th_Inf_Div,_Vietnam_War_Hill_530

They documentaries interview key players or use interviews recorded years ago.   The 10,000 Day War is less passionate and more forensically produced.  It tries to stay away from making judgments and conclusions.  The recent Ken Burns documentary uses more editorial language and interviews veterans and other key players to illicit an emotional response.  Both of them use archival news footage and photographs.

They were both ambitious in their attempt to explain why the world, an especially the United States, became entangled in a war many people thought we had no business waging.  They both make the point that our commitments to our allies like France’s Charles de Gaulle and the strict following of the Truman Doctrine led to sending advisers that eventually led to more than a half million servicemen fighting there in the 1960s.

In both documentaries, the Presidential Administrations that were a part of the Vietnam problem don’t look good.  The early administrations, Eisenhower and Kennedy, look better than others because they were wary of the South Vietnamese leadership in the early stages.  In addition,  the US wasn’t fully committed yet and the early administrations conclusions were that “this is their war and the South Vietnamese were going to have to win it.”

The one criticism of The 10, 000 Day War is that it is a US dominated production and doesn’t give any other country’s diplomatic view, and that it doesn’t take to task the French Government’s insistence in occupying Vietnam after World War II when France was liberated themselves from Nazi rule.  The Ken Burns’ series points out that the only reason France wanted to control Vietnam was national pride and the economic exploitation of its resources.  The PBS series points out that the French occupiers treatment of the local population gave rise to Ho Chi Minh’s recruitment efforts.  The Burn’s PBS series also makes a better attempt to explain the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese points of view.

Ho Chi Minh for is part couldn’t understand why the Americans couldn’t see his side of wanting to gain his country’s freedom from colonial rule.  He reasoned the United States was in the same position 200 hundred years ago so they must be able to relate to his struggle.  He didn’t count on America’s fear of communism and the spread of it across the globe. What is fascinating to know from the PBS series is that Ho Chi Minh’s influence in the decision making process was diminished late in his life.

The 10,000 Day War documentary is called that because it lasted that long.  Scholars might say the United States is still fighting the war by the decisions they make concerning other wars and because they are trying to make up for the ill-treatment of the Vietnam veterans after they came back.  The PBS series does a good job of telling the veterans story and their experiences there.

Vietnam veterans are looked upon wrongly as fighters who went over, lost the war, were there to do drugs and commit war atrocities.  As with many events, negative headlines become the perception and finally the reality.  The movies from Hollywood never helped the perception.  This is far from the truth.  The majority of Vietnam veterans were honorable and went over there to do a job and come back alive. They were put in a situation they had little, if no control, over. They made the trip, they didn’t skip out or make excuses.  Some of them came back alive but 58, 220 didn’t make it.  That’s a high price to pay for a generation.

Both documentaries are worth watching but they are both just additional sources. Do your own research and make your own conclusions.  You walk away from both of them shaking your head and wondering why decisions were made and why opportunities were not explored, especially after World War II.

Notable Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam:_The_Ten_Thousand_Day_War

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvo3yeTYvNc

https://topdocumentaryfilms.com/vietnam-ten-thousand-day-war/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0174323/

https://undertheradar.military.com/2013/04/revisiting-the-ten-thousand-day-war/

http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/the-vietnam-war/watch/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vietnam_War_(TV_series)

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/ken-burnss-vietnam-war-is-no-profile-in-courage/

http://kenburns.com/films/vietnam/

 

 

When War Invades Your Personal Universe

tanks rolling through town

 

by Rick Bretz

“The Gate of Hell has opened and shrapnel came through the windows,” a Gaza resident said today. The Gaza resident’s statement could apply to any war throughout history.  One hard truth remains: Once the gate of hell opens it is difficult to close.

When people can’t settle their differences through diplomacy, civilians inevitably see the failed results at their front door step. History has proven that leaders and generals believe adversaries surrender when spears and arrows find their way to a civilian’s living space. News channel broadcasters describe horrific tragedies from current events daily.  It happened in Persian Gulf and Afghanistan Wars, the Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II, World War I all the way back to the first earthly disagreement over territorial rights.

It’s happening now in the Ukraine and in the Middle East while Hamas and Israel fire rockets at each other. For most non-combatant civilians, it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. Some civilians even pick a side until they see at what a cause costs. What matters then is the smell of death has entered their universe and they want it to stop.

The First Battle of Manassas Battlefield
The First Battle of Manassas Battlefield

July 21st marks the anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas or the First Battle of Bull Run as the Union Government called it. The battle marked the first major fight between the Armies of Virginia. If there is one truth other than death inside the universe of battle and that is the fight will always involve civilians on the battlefield. Such is the case at the Battle of First Manassas or Bull Run depending on your loyalties during the Civil War.  The Confederates refer to the battle as Manassas while the Union called it Bull Run.  The signs leading to the battlefield today read “Manassas” as you travel down Interstate 66 in Virginia just outside Clifton and Centreville, Va.

Judith Henry's grave site along with her children.
Judith Henry’s grave site along with her children.

A key part of the Manassas battle occurred on Henry Hill around the Henry House. Judith Carter Henry, 84 or 85 years old, stubbornly refused to leave her upstairs bedroom while the battle continued around her house. Judith Henry was killed by a Union cannon shell meant for the snipers who were using her house. She was the first civilian killed at First Battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861. The house had been in the family for a number of years and grave markers remain on the battlefield in front of the house rebuilt in1870.

General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's monument.
General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s monument.

The battlefield is a place where you can get a sense of the “Universe of Battle.”  This is where armies and governments from both sides may have formulated the idea that this war would be over later than sooner as General Tecumseh Sherman predicted at the beginning.  Another dynamic general,  General Thomas Jackson got his name that would go down in history when General Bernard Bee yelled, “There is Jackson standing there like a stone wall.”  So it was General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson as the name remained throughout history. Some accounts have claimed that the statement was meant as a criticism of Jackson’s refusal to move and help his fellow units. However, history proves that Jackson’s unit suffered many casualties during the battle.

When walking most battlefields including this one, the observer gets the sense that communication must have been difficult. They used flag signal codes and runners for communication. Command and control as well as integrating battle elements such as cannon units, cavalry and infantry must have been difficult. Today’s satellite communications and almost instant intelligence data from the field gives today’s commanders more time to make decisions.

The phrase “Universe of Battle” suggests different meanings to a person’s point of view. It can represent the horrors of war invading a civilian’s universe as in the case of the recent downing of Malaysian  Flight MH17 or the conflicts in the Middle East between Hamas and the Israeli defense forces.

The universe of battle could also mean the particular space you’re living in when fighting in a battle. The kind of universe where all your senses reach a new level  from hearing every audio wave,  and smelling the cannon’s gunpowder to seeing the blood on wounded soldiers and civilians.  It’s a bubble atmosphere until it’s all over.

IMG_3295

I choose to visit battlefields to honor those who find themselves, through the accidental fate or personal choice, in a situation where they have to fight or die for a cause, defense of a country, for the elimination of a social system,  for a particular religion or for the continuance of mankind’s maturity.  Maybe there will be a time when people will cease creating new battlefield parks.  Imagine.

 

Notable Links:

http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/bullrun.html

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

http://www.nps.gov/mana/historyculture/first-manassas.htm

http://civilwarwiki.net/wiki/Henry_House_(Manassas)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_A._Haskell

http://www.stonewalljackson.org/

 

 

 

 

American Battle Monuments Commission

I just learned a few weeks ago that one of my distant relatives from my Mother’s family tree was killed during the Civil War,  near the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. After I heard that, I started thinking about the Arlington National Cemetery and all of the other Veteran’s Cemeteries. They  remind us that several have put on the uniform and put their lives in danger so that others can have a chance at the American dream. The headstones in the cemetery usually designate their religion of choice. For me, when I visit the cemeteries, I first notice two things. I note when they were born and when they died. Most of the time, the age is under 30 years old. I always think about the realization that when I am having a bad day, some people don’t have a day at all.

When I think about it that way, driving home in a traffic jam doesn’t seem so bad at all.

The US military cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France
The US military cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

Memorial Day is when we stop to remember our veterans and especially the courageous souls that gave their lives to support America and, more importantly, to prevent their battle buddies from getting killed on their missions. We honor those who came back but we should especially remember military men and women who gave everything and never returned. These people rest in several overseas cemeteries that honor our fallen. It is striking  to see the number of service men and women buried in foreign lands, almost 125,000 souls resting in 25 burial cemeteries throughout world.

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial
Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial

Congress established the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1923. The Executive Branch organization honors the service, achievement and sacrifice of the US Armed Forces. The commission establishes and maintains US military memorials, cemeteries and markers where the US Armed Forces has served since April 6, 1917.

Here is a list of the American Battle Monuments Commission cemeteries the organization maintains along with other pertinent information.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Battle_Monuments_Commission
also
http://www.abmc.gov/
I am a veteran and my wife is a veteran. My father is a Korean War veteran. Several of my family members are veterans. Several of my friends from all the services who served with me are no longer alive today. I miss them and I honor them every day.  I honor and remember all of my Armed Forces brothers and sisters who gave their lives.

 

Notable Links:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/10/travel/american-cemeteries-overseas/index.html

1984-Thirty Years Later

nsa-operations

by Rick Bretz

George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, published in 1949, has been reestablished as the go-to book for all things wrong with government privacy invasion and society’s ills.   With government-funded security professionals scrutinizing some or all of the internet usage and phone conversations that are happening today, it does reflect the worst themes of 1984. Of course it is more complicated than the government watching over people. September 11, 2001, showed us that proper vigilance can go a long way toward keeping people safe from terrorists who want to prove a point by killing innocent people. Orwell’s novel remains a commentary on communist practices in the Soviet Union and modern relationships between governments, media and citizens throughout the world.

Some of the themes of 1984, nevertheless, seem to be blanketing our society as we live and work carrying our information devices. Smart Phone and internet monitoring are instances of privacy concerns. In spite of this fact, millions of people publicize their every move on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media. This fact makes it difficult to take the side of a person wronged by the invasion of privacy. People want privacy only on their terms. Like the movie star or celebrity who craves success but doesn’t want the paparazzi baggage that comes with it. If you want safety and security and still need your family and friends to know about last night’s pizza party, you have to compromise a little, maybe a lot.

Below is a 1984 to present comparison.

1984 Themes Today
Invasion of Privacy-1984————————2014> Phone Surveillance, internet tracking
Constant Surveillance1984———————2014> GPS Trackers in Vehicles, Cameras on Streets and at traffic lights. Aerial Surveillance
Torture (Room 101)-1984———————–2014> Pick a country
Double Think-1984——————————2014> Advertising, college professors
 

Cult of personality1984————————-2014>

World Leaders, celebrities, musicians, talk show hosts, and televangelist
Tele-screens (two-way Monitors)-1984——2014> Overhead surveillance, street cameras, two-way camera software
Class System (Proles, Outer Party)-1984——-2014> The 1 Percent, Poor, Working Class, Blue Collar, Middle Class, the Power Elite, Educated Elite, Fortune 500 CEOs, Government Officials (Elected and Appointed)
News Speak-1984——————————-2014> Affordable Healthcare Act, (government catchphrases used as titles for legislation)
Ministry of Plenty (Food Supply)-1984———-2014> Rising Oil Prices, Government Regulation, Inflation
Ministry of Peace (War)-1984——————-2014> World Leaders and Defense Ministers
Ministry of Truth (News)-1984——————2014> CEOs and managing editors of news organizations dictate the headlines and stories seen by consumers. Federal Communications Commission. Advertisers
Ministry of Love (Dissidents)-1984————-2014> Whistle blowers usually pay a price
Poverty, Vices-1984—————————–2014> Making vices like alcohol and drugs (marijuana) available control the public and provide needed revenue.
Censorship-1984——————————–2014> If a show or story does not please a power player, they have monetary and power influences to make it disappear.
Controlling the Middle Class-1984—————2014> Taxes, regulations and travel restrictions or religious and government organizations (Republican and Democratic Parties)

 

There are many ways to track a person today. It would be difficult to get lost when the hunter really wants to find you. Let me count the ways: GPS Device, Car Computers, Credit Cards, Smart Phone, Home Phone, Social Security Number, Driver’s License, Aerial Reconnaissance, Drones, and Toll Roads just to name a few.

Cars today have what is called a “Breaking Coach.” It tells you that you have driving skills. Don’t kid yourself. It is a way to determine how safe our driving habits are in case we are in an accident. Insurance companies and law enforcement officials really want to know this.

Your MAC (Media Access Control) address is a unique set of digits that identifies your particular computer or Network Interface Card, and with the IP (Internet Protocol) address, can determine your internet history. It’s a digital signature.

When you drive through a toll booth, a camera records your drive through and your license plate and if you have a toll sticker on your window it identifies that too.

Officials in several states are studying the feasibility of adding hardware to vehicles to track the number of miles a car travels on the highway to determine a road tax.

And the hits just keep on coming.

 

Notable Links:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/george-orwells-nineteen-eighty-four-is-published

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Folly of Perception over Reality

by Rick Bretz

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what is real but what people think is real.

The list is long about what the majority of the population thinks is true about someone or some event that turns out to be nowhere near what the reality is.  The perception doesn’t line up with reality.

Vietnam, Nixon, the Economy, the Depression, Democrats, Republicans, Tea Party, Liberals, Occupy Wall Street, Elections,  Law Enforcement, and many others are subject to internet falsehoods and a long history of bad information being passed from one person to another.

Hoover addresses a large crowd in his 1932 cam...
Hoover addresses a large crowd in his 1932 campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, the reputation of Herbert Hoover as someone who didn’t care for the working man and never lifted a finger to help the struggling poor while being solely responsible for the Great Depression is way off the mark.  This perception is mostly due to his policies in reaction to the great depression and the unfortunate name given to outdoor shanty towns, Hoovervilles.  However, that perception couldn’t be further from the truth.  As Food Administrator during World War I, he was responsible making sure enough food rations were sent over to Europe to keep the war effort rolling.  After the war, Europe was left without enough food to feed its population for the winter. Hoover organized food shipments to Europe and sent food to Russia as late as 1921 so that millions of people could survive.  Concerning the depression, He also warned President Calvin Coolidge in 1925 about the folly of excessive stock market speculation. He knew that practice would catch up to the health of the economy and it did in 1929.  After the depression, he also took steps to try to end the depression such as moving construction projects ahead of schedule, cutting taxes, and increasing the funding for public works.

After, being treated like an outsider by his own party and the democrats for several years, one person invited in for his organizational skill and history of helping people in need.  In fact, President Harry Truman invited former President Hoover to the White House to organize the war relief effort after World War II.

So, for someone who gets the majority of the blame for the great depression, it seems he was one of the first to warn us about Stock Market speculation that was a major cause of the crash.  He was also more concerned with helping people in need than what is in generally perceived.

English: Elvis Presley meeting Richard Nixon. ...
English: Elvis Presley meeting Richard Nixon. On December 21, 1970, at his own request, Presley met then-President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office of The White House. Elvis is on the right. Waggishly, this picture is said to be ‘of the two greatest recording artists of the 20th century’. The Nixon Library & Birthplace sells a number of souvenir items with this photo and the caption, “The President & the King.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The phrase “perception is reality” is an expression used to convey the idea that how you look sometimes matters more than what you do. As Billy Crystal’s character said on SNL, “You look Maahvelous!” It got a laugh but with most first-rate comedy it has a ring of truth.  The best dressed office worker who portrays confidence may get a first look when it comes to a promotion and a key position over someone who looks average but performs at a high level.

History is supposed to correct perceptions and publicize the greater truth.  The following is a list of subjects with perceptions and realities listed.  Is it better to look good than to feel good?  I prefer both.

  Perception Reality
President Herbert Hoover Cause of Depression, didn’t care about working class Warned government about stock market speculation, organized war   relief efforts
Vietnam United States lost war We won all of the ground battles, including the Tet Offensive.  Withdrew due to Nixon/Kissinger peace   agreements.
The economy President responsible for state of the economy Several factors influence economy more so that POTUS, Wall Street,   Federal Reserve Chairman, Treasury Secretary, Global economies, and overall buying   public
President Richard Nixon Failed President Accomplished several initiatives while POTUS, establish EPA and Dept,   Natural Resources, improved relations with China and USSR. Ended Draft.   Signed into law Title IX.
North Ultra liberal, jaded urbanites, elite college intellectuals who   consider themselves at the top of a class divided society Although liberal candidates win a majority of the elections, places   like NJ, and Massachusetts sometimes elect conservative candidates. Many   northern states enjoy a vast rural areas.
South Mostly rural.  Uneducated, lazy   populace, rejection of evolution in favor of religious dogma. A majority are   bigots. Technology Companies do business there. Many Northern professional   transplants. Most accept evolution outright and a majority understand both   views.  There are just as many bigots,   racists and segregationists in the North as in the South. Just as many opened   minded progressives live in the South as in the North.
Teachers Overpaid and ineffective A majority are effective, underpaid and forced to teach using local   policies and to pass tests
Communism Failed social and government experiment True communism never practiced or implemented
Lawyers Responsible for higher costs, cost money with little or no return People are fine  lawyers when   they need one
Law Enforcement Power Hungry government representatives out to harass populace A majority of law enforcement professionals are subject to rules of engagement and internal investigations.
 TSA Airport Security Government reps who invade your privacy.  Security professionals assigned to do an impossible job following government protocols and rules.
 Veterans and Active Military Not intelligent enough to get a commercial job.  Aggressive people who are blood thirsty. Damaged by war and can’t function in society.  More often than not, people in the military have some college education or a degree. People trained to make logical decisions in a split second. A majority of veterans have integrated within the work force.
 This Blog Post  Highly Entertaining  Highly Entertaining

Today’s traditional broadcast and print media coverage of a particular topic is constantly challenged by the public’s use of social media.   However, with PR firms, marketing representatives, and spokespeople, getting out in front of an issue or an event is just a matter of your story being told before someone else’s version. History shows that the victor gets to write its version of events.  Sometimes it’s the truth and sometimes it’s just a shade of it.

Notable Links:

http://www.hoover.archives.gov/

http://people.howstuffworks.com/communism.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/11/prin-com.htm

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/richardnixon

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/key-legacies-president-richard-nixon-100th-birthday/story?id=18160523#4

http://www.alternet.org/story/154794/5_big_media_stereotypes_about_the_south_(and_the_real_story_behind_them)

http://www.teaparty-platform.com/

Planes, Trains, Automobiles And The Sea

by Rick Bretz

A look back at transportation modes throughout history tells us that when using new technology is left to humanity, moving from one place to another can bring joy or pain.  The horse could carry someone coming back to see their family or someone to conquer their homelands.  A plane can bring needed supplies like the Berlin Airlift or drop bombs bringing devastation as the world saw at Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Civilization has sought to contract space and time so now a person or country’s military can move across the globe in a few hours or days.

Grand Canyon in Winter
Grand Canyon in Winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Driving across a country also gives the passenger a different perspective than say flying and looking down at the same landmark or land mass.  Driving and stopping makes the experience more personal while flying and looking down presents someone with a spectacular view but distant.

Two perfect examples of two different personal experiences are flying over the Mississippi River or the Grand Canyon before landing at the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.  The two land marks look awe-inspiring from your window seat in the airplane but seem are breathtaking when driving and seeing them up close, especially when you consider where you cross the Mississippi River. Let’s compare are primary ways to get from point A to Point B.

First flight of the Wright Flyer I, December 1...
First flight of the Wright Flyer I, December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Automobiles

Trains

Planes

Sea Travel

First True Automobile (Internal Combustion Engine) 1885/1886 (Karl Benz) 1804-First Steam Locomotive for the road hauled freight in Wales 1903-Wright brothers achieve sustained flight flying a properly   engineered aircraft in NC 4000BC-First sailing boats built from reeds in Egypt.
Steam Engine Auto (1769) 1825-The Stockton and Darlington Railroad company hauls freight and   passengers over 9 miles using George Stephenson steam locomotive for tracks 1904 First airplane maneuvers (Turn and Circle) Wright Brothers) 1000BC-Vikings build long ships using oarsmen.
Electric Carriage (1832-1839) 1826-Col John Stevens demonstrates the feasibility of steam   locomotives on experimental track in Hoboken, NJ. 1905 First Airplane Flight over a half hour (33 minutes, 17 seconds) Orville   Wright 1100AD-Chinese build junks with watertight compartments and strong   sails using a rudder to steer.
1886 (First Four Wheeled, four Stroke Engine) Daimler/Maybach 1830-Peter Cooper operates the first American built steam locomotive   on a common carrier railroad. 1908-First Airplane fatality Lt. Thomas Selfridge, US Army Signal   Corps. During evaluation flight propeller hit bracing wire. 1400s-Three and Four Mast ships introduced for cargo transportation,   military power, and passenger travel
1876-1895 George Baldwin Seldon combine internal combustion engine   with carriage 1857-George Pullman invents the Pullman sleeping car. The first   comfortable overnight sleeper. 1910- First licensed woman pilot. Baroness Raymonde de la Roche who   learned to fly in 1909. 1819-First Steam ships used to cross Atlantic using steam and wind   power.
1893-Charles and Frank Duryea set up first Car manufacturing company 1881-Mary Walton receives patent for an elevated train noise   dampening system. 1914-First Aerial combat between German and allied pilots 1845-First ocean-going liner using engine power and propeller driven built
1908-Henry Ford introduces Model-T 1855-First land grant railroad completed, The Illinois Central 1910-First Flight from shipboard 1914-Panama Canal opened
1913-Ford Motor Company perfects moving assembly line 1856-First Railway bridge across the Mississippi completed between   Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa 1927-First solo nonstop transatlantic flight (Charles Lindbergh) 1825-Erie Canal Opens
1921-Italy constructed first limited access road (Auto Strada) 1932-German   Bonn-Cologne Autobahn Constructed, 1922-First Blue Print for US National   Highway System, 1956 The Federal Aid Highway Act allocating funds for   extensive US Highway System. 1862-President Lincoln signs the Pacific Railway Act authorizing the   construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad 1929-First blind flight using instruments. Took off and landed using   instruments. (James Doolittle) 1811-First steamboat used on Mississippi River.
1938-1940-Merritt Parkway opened as first US fully controlled access   parkway (Barrier Toll Plazas) from Hartford to New York City. 1869-The Central Pacific and Union Pacific meet at Promontory Summit,   Utah for the driving of the Gold Spike. 1932-First woman to fly transatlantic solo. (Amelia Earhart) 1900-First cruise ship, the Prinzessin Victoria Louise, built for the   Hamburg America Line, begins moving passengers using 120 first class cabins.
1899-First Speeding infraction in NYC committed by Cad Driver going   12 MPH in 8 MPH zone. 1872-George Westinghouse patents the first automatic air brake. 1933-First round-the-world solo flight (Wiley Post) April 15, 1912-RMS Titanic Sinks crossing the Atlantic
1868-First Traffic Light used in London operated by Gas Lamps 1970-Congress passes the Rail Passenger Service Act creating Amtrak 1952-First Jet Liner Service between London and Johannesburg, South   Africa. (23 hours, 38 minutes) 2012-Oasis of the Seas, largest cruise ship in the world
1913 photograph Ford company, USA
1913 photograph Ford company, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people have a favorite way to get to their destination.  What determines the final decision? A fellow traveler bases where to place his soul thinking about several factors–time, money, convenience and the fear of travelling by certain modes.  Phobias can play an important role when travelling, sometimes more than funding.  Beyond a person’s individual preferences, the comparison chart above shows that each form has benefited from the creativity, intelligence, courage, sacrifice and fortitude of many people to arrive where we are today.

Other Modes: Walk, Jog, Bicycle, Tricycle, Motorcycle, Scooter, roller-skate, inline skate, Skateboard, escalator, surfboard, swimming, snowmobile, four-wheeler, Riding Lawn Mower, Farm Tractor, Public Bus, Horse, Camel, Llama, Oxen, Donkey, Mule, space shuttle, space capsule, hang gliders, trolley cars.

Notable Links:

http://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/auto.html

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/dt13as.html

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/05/the-first-speeding-infraction-in-the-u-s-was-committed-by-a-new-york-city-taxi-driver-in-an-electric-car-on-may-20-1899/

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blrailroad.htm

http://inventors.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.sdrm.org/history/timeline/

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0004537.html

http://www.seahistory.org/

http://sea-transport.wikispaces.com/Sea+travel+timeline

Government Power (Control) and Religious Power (Control)

by Rick Bretz

From the moment you become aware of yourself as a human being, the truth begins to modify your behavior.  What is the truth?

Control, or lack thereof. We realize at an early age during adolescent cognitive development that, although you may have control over when you close your eyes, your parents dictate when you crawl into bed.

As a person matures into an adult, they begin to understand that many people control their lives.  Some of these are high school attendance times, sports practice times, who is first string and who isn’t, college fraternities, corporate hiring and maybe even when to retire.  You can also choose to not follow the accepted rules or laws but these mavericks tend to be either shunned or made an example by being ostracized or incarcerated. Control means power and power is control.  Some people get it through wealth and others get it by office or status. Some use one to get the other.  When someone on the news programs mentions that an official or citizen speaks “Truth to Power.”  What it really means is “Truth to a greater truth.”  Certain Truths are flexible while everyone recognizes Power when it comes for payment.”

So, who has control and why? The Government and Religion.  Those are two monoliths of control that many people do not try to fight against.  If you do challenge them, you may win but the consequences and price may be enough to second guess your decision. The following is a study comparing these two bastions of control.

Government Control Religious Control
Controls Behavior Controls Beliefs and Behavior
Influence Trust and Confidence Influences Spiritual Strength
Created to curb anarchy Created to control fear and behavior
Wealth Generator Wealth Generator
Local, National, International Local, National, International
History of using war for diplomacy History of using war, violence, intimidation
Source for good if used correctly Source for good if used correctly
Erects monuments and buildings to display prestige and power while   demanding respect Erects religious structures and houses of worship for religious   gatherings and inspiration
Promotes public events to promote agenda Invites people to worship and to gather donations
Some see man and woman as inherently evil and need to be governed. Some see man as subject to temptation and need to be guided by rules   and commandments.
First place people look for relief during natural disasters First or second place people turn to during natural disasters and
At least 5 basic government systems (Anarchy, Democracy, Socialism,   Dictatorship, Monarchy) Four main types of religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism)   but as many as 15 or more are practices throughout the world.
If used correctly could save humankind If practiced correctly could save humankind.

Religions

Many theories exist as to why people formed religious beliefs.   A widely held concept states that religion helped people cope with fear and gave them a sense of control over their haphazard environment.  When people began to realize that their lives were finite and that their sense of the earthly world would end, the practice of religion began to take shape and help people cope with what comes after.  The daily tribal existence and group living depended on team work so that food and could be gathered, shelters built, and society fluent so that the clan or community could continue to thrive.

Diagram of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.
Diagram of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maslow’s Hierarchy  of Needs begins with the Psychological, food, sleep, and health at the bottom.  It then poses that safety is the next need, getting shelter away from the dangers of nature.  The next couple of needs play into both government and religion but especially the spiritual side.  The psychological need for belonging to a group and receiving love and affection is purely emotional and can be strong.  The other important need but toward the point of the pyramid is self-esteem and esteem from others. The need for respect, value and approval from others plays into controlling people within the community.  The last need at the point is self-actualization or achieving your maximum potential.  Keeping these pyramid of needs in mind, a set of belief systems along with a priest, priestess, appointed or elected head of the belief system goes a long way toward controlling and keeping order.

With sets of rules to govern behavior, fertility and other aspects of tribal and community life, the control and power was firmly in place and remains to this day.  As religion grew and power was taken by force or given by acceptance, religions came to understand that to deal with the other power base, government, other power tools had to be used, money and politics. So the merger and blurring of the religious and government lines is understandable.  Many leaders have seen the corruption of both and have tried to separate them by trying to keep religion on one side of the community aisle and government systems on the other.

One observation about religion.  For something that seems so personal, there are many who need to practice their belief system among large groups of like-minded people.

Government Systems

Government systems formed to provide services that the individual could not provide.  They have been responsible for building roads, providing health care, providing security, developing educational institutions and funding science and medical advances.

There is a huge trade-off for these services.  The power of the government to tax the citizens.  In addition to that power, they also have the authority to punish individuals, corporations and other entities who don’t pay taxes.  Governments inflict several forms of control over lives.  For example, the permission to drive based on taxes, registration, license, and tolls.  One truth also applies to governments, they almost always get larger and more bureaucratic as they develop.  With more government comes more laws-federal, state and local.  With more laws at each level, the public has less freedoms and less control.

What is the answer?  Well, anarchy isn’t the solution.  Restraint with laws and regulations while re-assessing government’s role in taxing and ruling over every aspect of our lives can be the way forward.  It’s good to have some rules to govern and believe in but not at the expense of freedom and lack of control.  A government’s job is to provide national security and provide essential services.  It should not control every part of our lives.  Think about that every time you drive on a toll road or cross a bridge with a toll.

Notable Links:

http://www.wou.edu/~aramoshernandez06/techlesson.html

http://phrontistery.info/govern.html

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/different-types-of-governments.html

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2128.html

http://www.typesofreligion.com/

http://www.religionresourcesonline.org/different-types-of-religion/

http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/02/04/religion-and-political-power/

http://www.libertarian-logic.com/abuse-of-power.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_theory1.htm