Common Sense Tuesday

binsite1Most of you know that I really like the liberal arts, especially history and English. Kind of shows in the blog, doesn’t it? Taught properly they teach one critical thinking skills that one needs to get through life properly.

But they are my avocation, I spent many years as an electrician and a lineman, and that’s what I identify as. The guy with the most common sense that I know of is Mike Rowe, and he’s been on Tucker Carlson’s show a couple of times. Let’s see what he has to say.

 

Tucker makes a good point here, there is a real satisfaction in doing good. I’ve never seen a lineman that was real unhappy when we come in from storm work, bone tired, grumpy, and cold, yes, but also very happy that we got the lights back on. Yeah, we all like the money, but the job satisfaction is priceless. Besides, basic liberal arts should be taught at the secondary level, it was when I was a kid, that’s the basis of what I know, sure I’ve read a lot since then, but the basic structure of it all comes from high school, and to be honest, so did my vocational choice. Here’s another from Mike and Tucker.

 

He’s right, of course, if you can stand the lifestyle, Dakota is write your-own-ticket-land for a skilled man or woman. It’s rough, it’s lonely, and part of the year it’s cold as the dickens and summer is hot as hell. I’d be there twenty years ago, cause it’s also fun, and a lot of guys work from March or April till about Thanksgiving, and go south for the winter. Especially for a young guy without a family, booming, as we call it, is great fun. But if you want a settled life, in any of the technical trades, it’s pretty good there too, you won’t make as much, but you’ll be home at night, and you’ll do fine.

Another thing Mike doesn’t talk about here is that I know exactly one electrician on my level younger than forty. No doubt there are others, I like the rural lifestyle, and you’ll probably find more in the cities. My level is to be able to take a block diagram of a system and make it work safely and efficiently. Like one I did twenty-five years ago, before we computer controlled everything, where Joe Farmer drives up to his bin site and dumps wet corn in the pit and the system puts 14% moisture corn in the bin, automatically. Yes, it’s easier now, with computer controls instead of relays and discrete sensor systems, but it’s still not easy. It looked a lot like the one that leads this article

And it’s the same in all the trades, one generation behind me, it’s going to end if somebody, like Mike, doesn’t get people excited about it. It takes some brains, a willingness to learn, and an ability to do the work, and the combination is exceedingly rare. It’s also a big part of how we got here, the ability to solve problems in the field, without calling in every time we hit a snag.

But yeah, I’m one of the guys that will argue with engineers trained in the classroom. I’ll win too, not always, but often. I know because I’ve spent a lifetime doing this stuff, and I’ve pretty much kept up with technology, even if I write crap code. It’s at least as challenging as anything you can learn to do, and the job satisfaction, when it all works, is simply incredible, and the money isn’t bad.

And way back up in the first video, Tucker was right, people who deal with the real world, don’t burn the flag, mostly because we’re too busy earning a damned good living at 25 without student debt to have time to be silly like that. And besides, even if we are liberal (and some are) we know damned well that without America much of this wouldn’t exist. And it’s a lot more fun than sitting in an office playing with a computer, especially if you don’t get much feedback on how you’re doing.

And hey, Kipling even wrote a poem about us, don’t think he did that for junior accountants with a quarter million in student debt, It’s called the Sons of Martha

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !

Whittle, Rowe, Common Sense, and Common Core

Mike Rowe had some advice on his Facebook for a guy, a while back. It applies to all of us, and here it is in its entirety.

Saturday Mail Call

Hey Mike!

I’ve spent this last year trying to figure out the right career for myself and I still can’t figure out what to do. I have always been a hands on kind of guy and a go-getter. I could never be an office worker. I need change, excitement, and adventure in my life, but where the pay is steady. I grew up in construction and my first job was a restoration project. I love everything outdoors. I play music for extra money. I like trying pretty much everything, but get bored very easily. I want a career that will always keep me happy, but can allow me to have a family and get some time to travel. I figure if anyone knows jobs its you so I was wondering your thoughts on this if you ever get the time! Thank you!

Parker Hall

Hi Parker

My first thought is that you should learn to weld and move to North Dakota. The opportunities are enormous, and as a “hands-on go-getter,” you’re qualified for the work. But after reading your post a second time, it occurs to me that your qualifications are not the reason you can’t find the career you want.

I had drinks last night with a woman I know. Let’s call her Claire. Claire just turned 42. She’s cute, smart, and successful. She’s frustrated though, because she can’t find a man. I listened all evening about how difficult her search has been. About how all the “good ones” were taken. About how her other friends had found their soul-mates, and how it wasn’t fair that she had not.

“Look at me,” she said. “I take care of myself. I’ve put myself out there. Why is this so hard?”

“How about that guy at the end of the bar,” I said. “He keeps looking at you.”
“Not my type.”

“Really? How do you know?”
“I just know.”

“Have you tried a dating site?” I asked.”
“Are you kidding? I would never date someone I met online!”

“Alright. How about a change of scene? Your company has offices all over – maybe try living in another city?”
“What? Leave San Francisco? Never!”

“How about the other side of town? You know, mix it up a little. Visit different places. New museums, new bars, new theaters…?”

She looked at me like I had two heads. “Why the hell would I do that?”

Here’s the thing, Parker. Claire doesn’t really want a man. She wants the “right” man. She wants a soul-mate. Specifically, a soul-mate from her zip code. She assembled this guy in her mind years ago, and now, dammit, she’s tired of waiting!!

I didn’t tell her this, because Claire has the capacity for sudden violence. But it’s true. She complains about being alone, even though her rules have more or less guaranteed she’ll stay that way. She has built a wall between herself and her goal. A wall made of conditions and expectations. Is it possible that you’ve built a similar wall?

Consider your own words. You don’t want a career – you want the “right” career. You need “excitement” and “adventure,” but not at the expense of stability. You want lots of “change” and the “freedom to travel,” but you need the certainty of “steady pay.” You talk about being “easily bored” as though boredom is out of your control. It isn’t. Boredom is a choice. Like tardiness. Or interrupting. It’s one thing to “love the outdoors,” but you take it a step further. You vow to “never” take an office job. You talk about the needs of your family, even though that family doesn’t exist. And finally, you say the career you describe must “always” make you “happy.”

These are my thoughts. You may choose to ignore them and I wouldn’t blame you – especially after being compared to a 42 year old woman who can’t find love. But since you asked…

Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs.

Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel. But trust me, Parker. Those people are mistaken. That was a big lesson from Dirty Jobs, and I learned it several hundred times before it stuck. What you do, who you’re with, and how you feel about the world around you, is completely up to you.

Good luck –

Mike

PS. I’m serious about welding and North Dakota. Those guys are writing their own ticket.

PPS Think I should forward this to Claire?

Hat tip to Chicks on the Right

I’ve nothing to add to either one of these, other than “Rock on Bill and Mike”


 

And just to round out the problems, a couple of short excerpts about Common Core

Common Core Illustrates that We Just Don’t Get It

The following came to us courtesy of Townhall.com.   We’ve seen some of this ‘math’ brought home and the process challenges us and confuses us because for the most part we simply learned arithmetic  and when it came time to figure what 15-7 was we learned to do it in our mind—we didn’t even have to take our mittens and socks off.  Apparently, this is how Common Core teaches ‘critical thinking’.

In any event, we hope you can figure out the correct answer after you’ve already done so in your head without the contortions involved in Common Core.

Common Core Math is Ridiculous

Christine Rousselle

10/4/2013 12:00:00 PM – Christine Rousselle

“Quick! What’s 15-7?

From Objective Conservative
And

Title: Common Core Meets Education Reform: What It All Means for Politics, Policy, and the Future of Schooling
Translator / Editor: Frederick M. Hess & Michael Q. McShane
Publish Date: 2014
Publisher / Edition: Teachers College Press

In 2006, resident education policy expert at the D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Rick Hess wrote in his book Common Sense School Reform about a conversation he had with a school leader:

I told him that the first steps in real improvement had little to do with instruction and a lot to do with sensible management… and that no amount of new spending, professional development, or instructional refinement would change that…. These truths went overlooked year after year because reformers kept approaching school improvement as a matter of educational expertise rather than common sense.

Common Sense School Reform draws broadly on the experience of successful education organizations. Hess promotes reforms that drive educators toward constant improvement through management structures that include incentives for good performance and disincentives for poor ones. This is inarguably a “common sense” approach.

From Online Library of Law and Liberty

There you have it: two home Runs and to strike outs. Could be worse I suppose, follow the links and think for yourself, and for your kids as well. You are supposed to be parents, not your child’s best friend.

 

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Working

So the unions want a $15/hr minimum wage. Who makes minimum wage? Mostly fast food workers, at $15/hr they will look like this.

xsnJe74

By the way there a robotic machine that can replace three burger flippers as well. No problems with employee discipline, no breaks, and no Obamacare. Do you really want to go there. We call these entry level jobs for a reason. They’re designed for people in high school and college who need to make some money while they’re learning about the real world. If you want a career in fast food, you can. It pays pretty well, otherwise find a different job.

While we’re at it Nick Gillespie has some advice for you (and the trades unions as well) if they want to survive into the 2d decade of the century.

[…]

It needn’t be. While there is nothing wrong with any job, the simple fact is that nobody is going to get rich—or even comfortably middle class—if his or her main gig is punching the buttons at a McCafe. The skills necessary to work there are simply not that advanced to increase wages exponentially and the entire economy of fast food is based on keeping prices—and by extension, wages—relatively low.

Rather than focus on fast food, it would be smarter to focus where the jobs—and wages—are. There’s something on the order of 3.7 million openings (about the size of the entire minimum wage workforce) in various trades ranging from construction to carpentry to ++electrical to welding. These are jobs that are not only in high demand but pay relatively high wages, often around the median household income of $51,000. Mike Rowe, the former host of the cable show Dirty Jobs, makes a compelling case that these are exactly the sort of gigs that can secure people steady work that allows for advancement and serious benefits.

Read the whole thing Big Labor’s Big Mac Attack

Nick also talked some about Mike Rowe’s’ Profoundly Disconnected, go there too.

Listen Up, you will never hear me disparage the wonders of the liberal arts. They are an unalloyed joy, and I love nearly all of them, especially history. But do you, or your kid really want to be 24 years old with a hundred plus K debt and no job? That’s what studying the liberal arts are going to do for you. You’re right, it’s probably not fair, but it is. Deal with it proactively, the world really does have enough lawyers for the moment. Electricians, not so much.

This has been around a while but, it’s as valid as it ever has been

Courage, Cowardice and the Wordsmiths

ByStephen Rittenberg, MD

“…there must be a wonderful soothing power in mere words…. I take it that what all men are really after is some form or perhaps only some formula of peace.”
– Under Western Eyes
, Joseph Conrad

When I served as a Navy psychiatrist during the Vietnam War, one of my weekly duties was interviewing and assessing potential draftees who were seeking to avoid service by claiming mental illness. Many of these were recent Ivy League graduates, students of the humanities, who were active protesters of what they insisted was an immoral war. They thought of themselves as idealists.
Yet they were not principled conscientious objectors. Instead, they were glib, had read up on symptoms of psychosis, and could feign the manifest behavior of any disqualifying syndrome-including homosexuality. Their efforts to dissemble were usually rather obvious. They were predicated on the arrogant assumption that they were smarter than any military psychiatrist.
Once it was pointed out to them that if they avoided the draft, someone else, less educated and less favored by fortune would go in their place, they quickly revealed their true motivation: fear. I realized I was observing cowardice masquerading as idealism. These young men would do anything to avoid the risk of fighting and dying for their country.
I then would return to my hospital responsibilities, working with wounded vets. These were not glib wordsmiths. It took real effort to get them to talk about their experiences. They didn’t think of their courage in battle as anything special. When they did talk about it, they often worried that they’d let down their comrades. The contrast with would-be draft evaders was striking. There was absolutely none of the self-preoccupation of the Ivy Leaguers. Instead these were men who had done deeds, fought battles, rescued other wounded platoon members, risked their lives. They readily acknowledged having been afraid, and many paid a high emotional price. They felt fear, but unlike our Ivy Leaguers, the force that propelled them was courage, not cowardice.
Over many years of clinical observation, I repeatedly confirmed the truth of Wordsworth’s observation that “the child is father of the man”. So who were these wordsmith cowards as children? In his great essay Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?, Robert Nozick pointed out that wordsmith intellectuals-writers, journalists, liberal arts professors, film makers, television pundits-had frequently been children who achieved success in school, based on their verbal skills. They were rewarded with elite status within the school system. As adults, however, they were not similarly rewarded. Capitalism rarely gives its greatest rewards to the verbally skilled. Nozick tried to sort out the puzzle, and concluded that it is our educational system, where, as he put it:

“…to the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher’s smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards. The wider market society, however, teaches a different lesson. The greatest rewards do not automatically go to the verbally brightest. Verbal skills are not most highly valued… Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority “entitled” them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?…The intellectual wants the whole society to be a school writ large, to be like the environment where he did so well and was so well appreciated. “

As Eric Hoffer succinctly put it:

“Nothing so offends the doctrinaire intellectual as our ability to achieve the momentous in a matter-of-fact way, unblessed by words.”

Continue reading Courage, Cowardice and the Wordsmiths. Do, it’s all this good.

Mike Rowe and Working for a Living

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We all know, I suspect, who Mike Rowe is. Yeah, that one, the host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. He testified to Congress recently about real jobs and college, he has a lot to say as well as being on point. I found this over at Chicks on the Right, and am reliably informed by them (and their readers) that he’s not too hard to watch. So watch the video and then we’ll talk about it.

The first thing that struck me is how much like my Dad Mike’s Grandpa was. Able to do everything needed and do it professionally. Reshingle the roof? Sure, and build the house under it too, and it was the best built house I’ve ever been in. Want a color TV? Build it from a kit. Need a car to tow behind your motor home? buy one from a friendly wrecker operator with a frozen engine and rebuild it over the winter in an unheated garage.

I will always remember shortly after Dad died, I was out at a fabrication company that did all our welding, I was talking to the owner, mostly telling each other stories about Dad, he told me that Dad was the best engineer he ever worked with. I believe that, but the kicker is, in the fall of Dad’s senior year in high school, his Dad died, Dad was the oldest boy at home, so it was time to go to work and support the family, I’ve heard that Grandpa died in his arms, but not from him. That was the last time he was ever in school.

I can do most of those things, too. Why? Because Dad was a hellova lot of fun for a boy who was into mechanical/electrical/electronic things to be around, as long as you didn’t make the same mistake twice, anyway. But, you know, by the time I was around, Dad was a general manager, white shirt, tie and all. He made decisions and led his company, and very well, too. Although, I do remember Mom complaining about grease on white shirts 😉

None of this should be taken as denigration of college, I did some time at Purdue, one of my brothers-in law is a Purdue CE, the other was a ME from North Dakota State and both of my sisters have BS degrees too.

If he had worked for a big formal company, I would have learned from him at home but, I learned at work, too. You see I started as an engineering rodman and sometime groundman when I was 13 during summer vacation. I lived by the same rules, probably enforced more vigorously than if I had been an 18 year old new hire. Incidentally, I loved it, I was doing a man’s job and doing it well. I went on and became what we called a first class lineman, in that company it was a journeyman who was qualified to do hot work. he trained me to be a very good electrician, also, and, it seems, to be a reasonable manager too. Thanks Dad!

Anyway this was in the 60’s and it was pretty damned uncommon; today, it’s unheard of, I can tell you why but, it’s pretty much irrelevant. But here’s where I’m going, and yes, I know I’ve written it before, when I and those like me pass on to retirement and death. Just who are you going to call to fix your electricity, plumbing, or structure? The kid that just got a degree in engineering but can’t tell copper wire from aluminum, let alone tell you what 6/1 ACSR is? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know that but, I do.

College isn’t for everyone. Once I found out I had a medical history that the Air Force wouldn’t waiver, it wasn’t for me. I like getting dirty, cold, and sweaty, and fixing and building things. It’s what I am, my body isn’t too happy when I do physical work all day anymore but, when I’m in the office too long, you don’t want to be around me! I haven’t been able to hook a pole in about 15 years but, I still miss that wonderful feeling of being up in the air, where only qualified people can go.

Anyway, if you’re around young people keep in mind that not everyone was born to shuffle paper (or today, to inconvenience electrons) there’s a whole other world out there where things are made, and, broken, and fixed and it’s a lot more fun than staring at a computer.

I heard today that there a lot of manufacturing jobs going unfilled and I can tell you from experience that it is very hard to hire apprentices with enough brains to go on to be journeymen, the day is coming when market value for a good plumber will be higher than a good engineer, and God help our country when there’s nobody left to fix things.

You know, in reading this over, there is one more benefit that we never talk about, I’m nearly 60 years old, and until the last couple of years, when I’ve been in the office too much, I wore the same clothing sizes as I did when I was 15. No, I haven’t been in a gym since I graduated high school either. And I have very little sickness, even my hay fever has cleared up.

I’ve also enjoyed nearly everything I’ve done and everyone I’ve met. In truth, I’ve had a great life.

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