Monday, April 28, 2008

Individualism....To My Amiga Shirley...

We had a good little exchange discussing "Big Oil"... and in that string of posts you asked that I dig up my "Individualism" post... so I've done just that. I actually wrote the original hastily and somewhat in anger, so I took the liberty of editing / cleaning up my thoughts a tad. This post was aimed at none other than Stephanie. We had a pretty "hot" exchange on Casa Herrera. Casa Herrera , as a blog , has since Died (Sorry Adrian or Leah if you happen to read this) but that original string of posts is still there.

To read the entire context, go to Select "June" under past episodes and select the post called "Livin the Dream" posted on Wednesday June 13, 2007. There were a total of 23 comments and of course I tried to back up my assertions with as much fact as possible. I just went back and read it, its really good. LaDawn even chimed in, this was before she actually liked me as much as she does today...


... My original post, when I stated “Individualism is what made this country great” was in reference to the fact that there are blatant attempts to level the playing field and basically ban people from being competitive. Now most people’s first reaction is, I agree. Everything should be fair. But that rule applies to everyone but “you”. Whoever “You” is.

Let’s take Max for example [Joe's God Son], Leah and Adrian are going to do everything they can to give Max every advantage in life they possibly can. Love, Shelter, Educate him. Get him into the best school they can possibly get him into. (and hopefully avoid boulder High School), get him into the best college he can . All along the way, there will be people that will try to marginalize him or will be simply going after the same things he is [Updated Example: Tell people who fail, they haven't failed, telling everyone on the losing team they won as well, the elimination of honor roll's, etc]

Fortunately for Max...the US’s Capitalistic economy and culture does not make jobs and life in general a zero sum game. In other words, if Max or Baby Joe lands a good job, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t. If Max gets a great raise, it doesn’t mean someone else gets nothing. Everyone has the power to create their own happiness and its NOT at the expense of someone else’s (generally). If you got nothing, you probably deserved it. If you don’t like it, find a country that will provide better opportunities.

My point on individualism in America, is this. It is average, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The average, anonymous individuals among us (myself included) pursue the best lives for ourselves and our families as best we can. However we describe that “best life” and for whatever reason. We want to take care of our families and pursue excellence or Self Actualism (Mazlo reference). [I am not only referring to Financial Happiness, this is why I said "however we describe that best life].

Self interest, is far different than selfishness. Self interest, simply provides the foundations for America’s greatness [I know it has its drawbacks]. Self Interest and Individualism vs. Common good, I don’t see these as opposing values. I am contributing to the common good of Society, by being the best I can be or being better than what I imagined possible.

“Rugged individualism” is what made the US great, and Rugged individualism does not imply or does not mean selfishness, it doesn’t mean not caring or being concerned for others or the common good of the country.

The more people who are not conditioned NOT to seek the best in themselves, who are not challenged to meet or exceed expectations, the more people who won’t push themselves to do what they are capable of doing, then this country won’t continue to be what it has been.

Individualism won WWII, there was no plan in Normandy or Iwo Jima, other than get on the beach. We improvised. Individualism, in this country, seems to produce the right person at the right time who will make a tough decision for the common good and not “conform” to the consensus or pressures. (“Consensus, is the absence of leadership”… Leah hates that quote). Individualism will produce people that will face the “hard cold facts” (Got that one from Good to Great, Jim Collins – Excellent Book) and to the best for everyone. But it takes individualism [and someone trying to be the best they can be]to get there [in order to position themselves to make that decision for the common good]

As you can see Steph, we were on two different wave lengths. I was thinking about the common good and you were (at least from my perspective) referring to franchising and bashing capitalism. Is the Camp Bow Wow a franchise by the way? I guess Leah and Adrian are simply conforming.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ben Stein

If you are only gong to see one movie this year, go and see Ben Stein’s “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” Absolutely wonderful. Ben interviews several top scientists all over the world – the cream of the crop in evolutionary studies in biology, chemistry, geology and so on – and he asks all the questions that I have been wanting answers for since 1972. I’m sure you will find the answers as fascinating as I did.

Cell phones

There is young mother who regularly comes through my checkout line and I’ve never once seen her without her head cocked to one side, holding a cell phone between her ear and shoulder. She has a toddler at her side, usually tugging at her shirt tail saying, “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” steadily turning up the volume with each repetition. There is a baby in the cart’s baby seat, who needs help with her bottle, so Mommy is using one hand to hold it for her. She talks into the phone while she unloads her groceries with the other hand. She finishes one conversation and speed dials the next person while saying to the toddler, “Just a minute, Miranda.” She swipes her debit card and enters her PIN while leaving a message for someone who didn’t pick up. While I scan, bag and load her groceries back into her cart, she sends a text message. As soon as she’s done with that, she takes an incoming call. I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but I can’t help overhearing her say, “Can I call you right back? I’m getting another call.” She continues her cell phone conversations as she pushes her loaded grocery cart toward the door, with Miranda still imploring, “Mommy? Mommy?...” She’s never once looked up at me, or had any semblance of a conversation with me. I guess she’s in close communications with everyone she needs to be, except the people right in front of her. I try not to be offended by it, though I do feel a little sorry for Miranda. I sure can’t see how she and her family benefit from owning a cell phone.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm so embarrassed.

I forgot to point out that Smitty, the jockey in the picture below, is LaDawn's dad.
Please forgive me.

LaDawn is my cousin-in-law once removed and has a great blog at the Clare-Panton Family Adventures - link at left.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

See post below for the story behind this photo.
Happy Birthday, Grandpa.

Thornton W. Gatewood

(This essay about my Grandpa was written by my cousin, Paul D. Smith in March 2000. I’ve inserted a few notes.)

Thornton William Gatewood trained Thoroughbred race horses beginning about 1938 through 1969 after he left the farm in Decatur, Nebraska. He had been a farmer all his life and also a 4-H leader and breeder of Duroc hogs. He also raised and bred draft horses that he entered in horse pulls at county fairs. He was a baseball pitcher and a mentor for youth, including several nieces, nephews and grandchildren. The Depression was too harsh and he left the farm and began working at the race tracks. He worked for a couple of years for other trainers, usually in Chicago, Ohio and Florida.

The first horse he owned was Merry Bid. A lady owned the horse and gave him away saying, “If he ever wins a race, you can give me $100.” Merry Bid was a reclamation project as he had a bad cut on a front leg from running into a barbed wire fence. The horse recuperated at the farm of Thornton’s son, Jack Gatewood (Janell’s Dad) near Lyons, Nebraska. Merry Bid healed up and went on to win several races, some of them in Omaha at Ak-Sar-Ben and even in Canada.

Thornton was affectionately known as “Thornt” or “Tom” by people at the race tracks. One of the trainers who started training about the same time was M. H. Van Berg pf Columbus, Nebraska who went on to national fame. “Tom” owned and trained over 40 of his own horses and trained many for other clients. Jim and Min Pokorny of Omaha were clients for many years. Mr. Gatewood won over 170 races through the years and always had a small stable of 3 to 7 horses.

Among Thornt’s favorite horses was Extra Dividend, who was a black gelding he claimed in Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas about 1961. He went on to win 29 races for Thornt, racing and winning at age 12. (Note: Janell’s husband’s cousin, Gayland “Smitty” Smith rode Extra Dividend to a win for Grandpa at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska April 2, 1964. I have a wonderful picture of them all together in the Winner’s Circle, which I’ll try to get posted.) Another horse he claimed in 1953 at Oaklawn was Taos Cross, another black gelding who won 2 or 3 races every year in Omaha, St. Louis and Chicago, primarily. He was a front runner who liked to run one mile and 70 yards and usually was in front at least for a while. Other horses included Master Bird, Oklahoma Ted, Dark Search, Bonzar, Sirita’s Gal, Gracie Ann, Dark Powder, Jimmy Dee, Miss Woodchuck and her son, Splinter, Peggy’s Pic, Gramp’s Boots, Buzoots, Twelve Bells, Oil Prince, Kamalux, Hazlett, Batajax, Roble, Canpan, Hoss’s Pick, Red Mahoney, Don Rivers, Chet’s Column, Whirlango, Texas Beran, Beacon’s Beauty, and Bee Line Jet.

Horses that he trained for the Pokornys included Mr. Tops, Our Mistake, Glenbar, Sea Charm, Gentle Wind, and High Flame. He also trained for a Mr. Herbert Miller from Iowa and his horses included General Café, Busze, and Stormy Wan.

Thornt raced in at least 12 states and Canada, His travels took him and his constant companion, his wife, Agnes Connealy Gatewood, through 40 of the 50 states. Several of his grandsons helped out at the race track and at the home base near Lyons, Nebraska on the farm of his son-in-law and daughter John and Grace Smith (Paul D.’s parents) Some of the horses raced were born on the farm. John and Grace were partners with him in racing beginning when Taos Cross was claimed in 1953. They helped raise and board horses over the winter months.

Oldest son, Francis Gatewood, worked for Thornt at the race tracks after serving in World War II until 1949. Thornt’s daughter Kathryn and her husband Roland Nelson were also involved with horses and they traveled and raced together for a few years in the 40s. Harry Gatewood, Thornt’s brother, worked with him at the tracks for a time in the 40s and 50s. Some of the memorable tracks were in Omaha, Phoenix, Denver, Hot Springs, and St. Louis. His favorite place to run for the money was in Chicago. They also raced at the Nebraska tracks in Grand Island, Madison, Columbus, Lincoln and South Sioux City. Son Jack Gatewood also helped him at the tracks and at time wintered horses on his farm near Lyons.

Thornton Gatewood died in the early morning April 13, 1971 at the age of 83 at Evista, a retirement center in Lyons. He was buried on his 84th birthday. He and Agnes had celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary. What was he doing when he arose in the predawn hours of April 13th? He was getting ready to go to Grand Island to watch the horse Splinter run. He was the last horse raise on the farm and was being trained by grandson, James Thornton Smith. The horse finished 8th.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Hello, Friends. Have you missed me? I'm missing you.

My computer is at the Wizard's getting fixed, so I'm on the one at the Public Library. I'm hoping to be back online within a few days.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Welcome, new OSM visitors.... (Holly, Jim, Keven, Nettie and other friends of Joe B)..This my first post in about two months. Let's call it..

Big Oil, Energy and Liberalism - what the hell...

On Tuesday of this week, congress held hearings on capital hill. The "victims" of this inquiry, Oil Executives. Yes, congress is pressing "big oil" on why gas prices are so high and why they are not investing in alternative energy? To most Americans, the initial emotional reaction is "YEAH! You get those evil oil companies!" Not sure where you stand on this, but to me this is nothing more than a ridiculous dog and pony show. If anything, Big oil should be conducting hearings and question congress on why they are standing in the way of progress. Let's practically analyze this.

Energy prices, and subsequently oil prices, are driven by the free market. Specifically to factors in the US. 1. The commodities / speculation market and 2. Summer driving season. The first has nothing to do with consumption, however the ladder does. Our oil supply is roughly the same, in other words, regardless of the season we import roughly 14 million barrels a day. With our supply staying roughly the same, demand generally increases in the spring and summer. Common sense would dictate that when your supply remains constant and demand increases what happens to price? It goes up. This law of economics prevails in energy all the way down to your local fruit stand and grocery store! In other words, Big oil doesn't set the price of gasoline anymore than your local grocery store (Hy Vee for example) sets the price of tomatoes. The price is set to what the market will bear. Gas, also has close to zero price elasticity. In other words, price has very little effect on consumption. Sort of like milk, bread and water. The price of this could triple tomorrow and you would still buy it. You'll probably buy less donuts or potato chips, but your milk, bread and water consumption will not decrease significantly.

Despite that, let's carry forward the premise of these hearings. Congressman Ed Markey, who chaired these hearings, was quoted as saying "These unjustifiable profits are reflected in how little some of these companies put into renewable energy resources to find an alternative to oil, and the incredible profits which the companies report and it's time for them to come to explain to the Congress, but more importantly to the American people, what they plan on doing on alleviating this enormous attack upon consumers and upon the American economy, which oil prices represent." Barack and Hillary, both pretty much socialist, are jumping on the band wagon and are proposing windfall profit taxes. How do you determine how much profit is too much? Who determines that? Where does the money go?

I don't know about you, but this is disturbing to me. First of all, the US oil companies are collectively investing more money into alternative energy. There are a couple of dirty little secrets here. 1. Most alternative energy's either don't work for mass consumption, have a worse impact on the environment than fossil fuel or have adverse impact on other industries. 2. Congress and the environmentalist will not allow us to build refineries or nuclear power plants. We haven't built a refinery in 30 years. Doing so, would have a huge impact on oil prices. A new refinery would allow for significantly higher efficiencies and outputs which would reduce our price. Part of our price is drive by capacity constraints not DEMAND. Nuclear power would allow us to use all the oil we use for electricity to be shifted to gasoline. (Did you know that France is 100% powered by nuclear energy?) 3. Approximately, .50 cents of every gallon of gas you consume is a tax. 4. Ethanol fuel drives up the cost of food - Ever hear of the tortilla riots? The basis for ethanol is corn and other crops, by switching to those fuels what do we do? Drive up demand on a constant supply. Well, guess what that does to prices? Corn goes up, subsequently our export price of corn goes up. The price of tortilla's tripled in the last 14 months in MX (and other Latin American countries we export to). We are causing more poverty as a result. Where is the compassionate liberalism now? Not to mention, increased production and demand on crops actually add to fossil fuel consumption. How? Well, we need tractors and other machine devices to farm, pick, pack and ship this stuff don't we? Maybe we should use illegal labor for that, specifically the ones rioting in MX (Just kidding).

My point, the very people holding these hearings are the ones preventing us from lowering energy prices. Alternative, we need to be able to drill in Anwar and North Dakota. Get the environmentalists out of our way. Now, does that make me a evil person? Oil, is what fuels this economy. American's are not desperate for Healthcare as lower energy prices. Imagine if you gas bill suddenly dropped by $100 per month and suddenly you have $2 gas again. Want to talk about an economic boom, LOOK OUT!!

Anyone remember when Microwave's first came out? They were $1500 weren't they? Well, if we found the break through fuel today we would need to build the infrastructure to harvest it, refine, store it and ship it and get it in your tank. This new alternative fuel would probably be around $15 per gallon, and very few people would initially (only the "evil rich") until we get economies of scale to drop the price. I own stock in Conoco Philips (NYSE: COP). Guess what, if you invested in about 25 shares of Exxon Mobile or Conoco about 10 years ago, you would have made enough money to pay for free gas for about 1 year (or any oil company).

That's almost all I have to say to say about that.