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First Day of Spring "Rant"

by Mac McMullen / March 22, 2007 6:08 AM PDT

A recent news article set forth that America is seriously suffering from a growing shortage of engineers, scientists and mathematicians. It went on to describe how the youth of the nation in the 1930?s were inspired by the Lindberg trans-Atlantic flight, and in the 1960?s the space program ignited their interest and imagination, and how many went on to become engineers and scientists.

Today, these persons are retiring and the younger generations are not choosing these professions. Just as America?s manufacturing capability has all but dried up, our engineering, mathematical and scientific capabilities are evaporating, and we watch as this work leaves our country to be performed by professionals in distant lands.

Why ?

As an example, if we look at China, we find that most of the members of China?s Politburo have an engineering education. What do we find in the government in the USofA ? Professional politicians with legal backgrounds.

Which group provides the strongest motivational environment that will lead to development of future generations of engineers, scientists and mathematicians, and provide the leadership potential to maintain a strong Nation. We have those from the ?hard science? fields to thank for America?s position in the world, not those that dot the eyes; cross the tees and define ?is?.

Look at some of the current ?product? from State Governments:

State wide Smoking Ban, but contains language that ?allows? individuals to smoke in their homes, IF, they are not caring for someone else?s children.

Legal consequences for the woman and the doctor if an abortion is performed without the woman having first undergone a supervised sonogram viewing of the fetus involved.

Mandate requiring employers provide flexible break times, and provide a private and clean space, other than a bathroom, for breastfeeding employees to use to pump breast milk, while they are away from their children.

Are these the kinds of leadership examples that will create an environment within which our younger generations gain the imagination and drive to become scientific, industry and government leaders ?

Are our testing regimens in school the way to go ? Designed so that we don?t embarrass or discourage a student with a failing grade.

Look at our federal government. They are so busy eternally campaigning, and castigating the other side, they don?t have time to analyze the needs of the Nation, and legislate. The only legislation that does take place, takes place behind closed doors while they divide up the tax dollars for their favorite personal projects. What kind of an example or motivation does this provide ?

With the ever increasing intrusion of government into private lives, and government hand-outs, setting goals for the future, and realizations of personal responsibility are fast disappearing.

Have you picked out your island in the South Pacific where you will live on fish, bananas and coconuts ?

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Engineering, training ... and spring:
by drpruner / March 22, 2007 7:04 AM PDT

"To-day we have naming of parts. Yesterday,
We had daily cleaning. And to-morrow morning,
We shall have what to do after firing. But to-day,
To-day we have naming of parts. Japonica
Glistens like coral in all of the neighboring gardens,
And to-day we have naming of parts ..."

"Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed. Published in New Statesman and Nation 24, no. 598 (8 August 1942): 92.

Any bees down your way?

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Re Any bees down your way?
by Mac McMullen / March 22, 2007 7:17 AM PDT

Yep. Some honey bees have set up housekeeping under the corner of a storage shed. So far, I can walk among them and no problems. Fingers crossed.

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You're far enough south to have an African bee problem.
by drpruner / March 26, 2007 4:31 AM PDT

My understanding is that 'walking under them' would have triggered an attack, so they're probably the 'good' kind. I used to worry about the wasps that set up on fences and other woody places, like my storage shed, but I've noticed they leave me alone if I don't bother them. But it is unnerving to see them watching me as I move around - like a science fiction movie. Happy

BTW my reference was to the rest of the poem, which I remembered from HS English. Turns out he wrote several other parts, each dealing with a different aspect of boot camp training.

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My take.
by Angeline Booher / March 23, 2007 1:41 AM PDT

China, in the scheme of things, has only recently entered the Industrial Revolution. Perhaps this has accelerated after Mao was gone because their engineer governing body saw the need.

We and our allies were instrumental in the rebuilding of, for instance, Germany and Japan after WWII. We got as many of the German scientists as we could before the USSR did.

NASA produced astronaut heroes. And we benefit from products, like computers, developed for the space program. We landed on the moon. We sent Rover to Mars. We launched the Hubble telescope, and repaired it not that long ago. Most of our space shuttles have made safe round trips.

Now a pretty decent PC can be bought for under $400. Google gets thousands of applications for employment every year. We can find information on the net as never before. Well educated people are responsible.

I do think our public school system fails in parts of the country, but I also think that some students overcome it. School systems are run by local school boards under guidelines set by the states. Standards in one system can be less than in others. I understand that European countries and Japan have national standards. They give all a good basic education, and provide opportunities to learn a trade for those not going on to the college level. I know that in Ireland the "leaving" tests are much harder than any done here.

I believe that blame for underachievement often lies in the home. I think kids have been pushed into adulthood too early.

We elect those who govern us. If our representatives do a good job for us, we re-elect them. We may or may not be interested in issues in other parts of the country. We base our decisions on what they can do for us, and if they support our views. So, if we are unhappy about what our government does, we do have a voice, and a secret ballot.

From what I read in world news, I doubt that any freely elected governing body is as pure as snow, and some of them are more intrusive "into people's lives" more than ours.

So, I am an optimist. I wouldn't trade how our government works for any other. And I believe there are enough kids (and, BTW, good teachers) out there who will become engineers and scientists to keep us competitive.

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