Compleat Idler, Education

Why MBA – A question to ponder

 

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The dean of the local business school was discussing the MBA program which may expand. Now I knew all the selling points for the program. I had a coworker who complained that the average salary for the MBA was considerably higher than the average for the MPA (master of public administration) which should have surprised no one since at that time the money was in the private sector.

The question I was asking for years is why we had separate degree programs for business administration, public administration, criminal justice administration, educational administration, etc. But I now wonder whether we really need a program in administration or management at all when the skills can be learned on the job. Is it for the CEO’s semi-literate nephew?

I may discuss this further.

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Education, Humor, Technology

Assumptions

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Assumptions will ultimately lead to disappointments. This is one of the reasons I do not accept any politician as the answer. The fact that a person says he or she is going to do something does not mean it will get done. Sincerity is the essential tool of the con-man.

When someone is elected there will be disappointment, especially on the part of ardent supporters. Yet they tend to use the denial mode provided by cognitive dissonance. What candidate X ran into was the delaying and blocking tactics of the reactionary opposition. What supporters then do is double down and eventually begin looking for another champion—and go through the same set of assumptions–like my friend who was anxious to get married for the fourth time because “this is the right one.”  Ah, the triumph of hope over reality.

In ordinary life, the same thing happens. Because I have had the good luck to get the computers and printers going at some point in the late Pleistocene, certain people have made an assumption that I know what I am doing. I have been able to get the printer to work using the options that are right there. One of these days, however, my luck is going to run out.

It is somewhat like the lawyer “Uncle Paul” Wilson talked about who seemed to be the master of every task until the day he got in his balloon and went back to Omaha.

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Compleat Idler, Preparedness, Tool user

Idler’s tools – parachute cord

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

My Swiss Army Knife Zermatt pouch arrived Saturday, September 8—it was scheduled fotr Monday, September 10. So far, so good. I had been thinking of getting a Huntsman with pouch after seeing one in the store for less than forty bucks. My Leatherman tool is too heavy for waist carry and I could use something more than a blade. Plus, the corkscrew says I am sophisticated.

When I went back the one with the pouch was gone so I went home and searched through a drawer because I remembered seeing a basketweave Zermatt pouch for the old Explorer that I cracked the spine on. My memory still tricks me and, as I said in a post on cutlery, when I go through my old stuff, surprises await. I did not find the pouch—it probably went in a lapse in the Scout Leader accumulation instinct. No, there was my Victorinox Huntsman, waiting to be picked up and used. The scales were darker than the new ones, probably due to handling and the oils from my hands—lanolin, neetsfoot, gun oil, machine oil etc.

So I went on line to find a pouch. The general run of stuff appears to be either cordura or a black clip-on case. An outfit called Swiss Knives Express had real Zermatt pouches. I ordered one with a sharpening steel for twenty bucks. And it arrived. The knife slid in tightly. It pulls out with effort. A thong on the lanyard ring would help.

My first choice would be leather, but what I had was parachute cord which is the subject of this post. At this house we buy 550 cord occasionally, but when we do we buy spools. A 1000′ spool will provide 10 100′ hanks which is the smallest amount I carry. And if there is 25′ still intact at the end of the weekend I roll it and stick it in a drawer or the bottom of a pack. So there is always some around when I need it. About six inches was all it took to give me a small loop that leverages the knife out of the pouch.

Shelter: Using the 550 is much more convenient than carrying 3/8 inch Manila—and about as strong. Combined with a tarp or sheet of Visqueen, this provides sturdy support between poles or trees. While all nylon has more of a tendency to stretch than hemp, the parachute cord is not as loose as the polypropylene rope used for marine purposes. And it has the advantage of tying almost like natural fiber. In erecting shelter use of the taut-line hitch is critical as this allows you to loosen or tighten the lines. (The aluminum or plastic line adjusters that come with commercial grade tents get lost.

Lashings: I began scouting in January of 1955. I spent that month learning knots, hitches and lashings because that is what the troop leadership was into and I had already learned woods tools from my grandfather, having taken out a three-inch sapling with a ¾ axe at age 10. This is not the way we do things now because there are fewer necessary knots: sheet-bend, bowline, taut-line hitch, clove hitch, timber hitch, square lashing, diagonal lashing, shear lashing and tripod lashing. There are other lashings, knots and hitches but these are the essentials and are learned over a year period. In the Pioneering merit badge program the standard is ¼ or 3/8 inch hemp or sisal rope because that is the way it was done back when. (Note: were the Mountain Men still around they would use the 90 mph tape.) In training we used sisal twine that comes in 100′ bales. But I like the 1/8 inch diameter parachute cord because it lays down nicely and I generally have some.

Securing gear: Because you can tie secure knots and use the taut-line hitch, 550 is preferable to bungee cord which gives and uses hooks that break at the least opportune time. (Is there any gear failure that does not occur at the least opportune time?) My grandmother had me use cotton clothes line for this project which wears quickly and she could cut into the right length with kitchen shears. It is nearly impossible to untie when wet and starts to smell.

Bootlaces: Cut to the right length, these are the laces that say, “I can improvise.” They started as a quick fix on a weeklong outing and ended up on the boots in the closet—when you have them in, it does not pay to buy commercial laces.

Limitations: This is not rescue rope. And, unless you get the military stuff with threads inside you are just getting an outer shell—it might fasten gear but it has little utility in the field. As with all polymers it will melt quickly.

However: I consider parachute cord to be an essential part of any preparedness supply.

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Compleat Idler, Surplus Stores, Tool user

Surplus stores — suspicious behavior

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

So one of the signs of suspicious behavior in a surplus store is discussion of means to convert items to uses for which they were not intended. Now this may go back to when I spotted the jet-fighter canopy and had the brilliant idea that, combined with a cot, it could provide the perfect bed for sleeping under the stars. It certainly was not Pete’s idea to use a three dollar pilot’s helmet for a football helmet.

But a few years later (and about 11 inches taller) I no longer had that fantasy and Pete was elsewhere. Who knows? He may have figured out how to build a communications system into a football helmet so the coach and the QB can talk to each other. But you have to realize that the tools of war may have other uses.

“ And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” [Isaiah 2:4] I read that when I was eight years old and still grappling with the insipid stuff in school—I now understand that early modern English is a different language and that the 1611 Authorized Version is EME. But this has always intrigued me.

The things I remember from surplus stores is looking at the bayonets and comparing the length of the blade to the cattail roots by the pond. I have been told that cattail roots are edible—the problem was how long they needed to cook. But we obtained machetes which can be used to top sugar beets and old first aid supplies. The WW2 canteens were better than Official BSA and you could hang two of them on a pistol belt for balance. The guys who built the slat pack frames used ammo packs for their main bag—a fishing trip was not the intended use for the bag, but it worked.

I would tend to worry more about people talking about using the bayonets to stick people—you say things like that in bars. I stay out of bars—it is intentional as I do not like fights.

Meanwhile, that bicycle generator intrigues me.

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Citizenship, Education

Antique Roman

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

 

Never believe it.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here’s yet some liquor left. – Horatio in Hamlet act V

It takes awhile to find that line though it rings true to me—it always has and yet it is not found in the memorable quotes because it is not “profound” to English lit professors. I admit to having not read the play itself since high school, following the admonition of my Shakespeare scholar father to watch rather than read.

Why I relate to the specific line is that I, too, am more antique (republican) Roman than 21st Century progressive American. The Roman republic was created when Lucius Junius Brutus defeated the tyrant Lucius Tarquinus Superbus (the Proud) and ended the monarchy in 509 BCE. From this republic which was defended by blood—Brutus watched the execution of his own sons for attempting to restore the monarchy. During the Republic 509-44 BCE the people of Rome began referring to themselves as Citizens and at Brutus’ insistence took an oath:

Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare.
First of all, by swearing an oath that they would suffer no man to rule Rome, it forced the people, desirous of a new liberty, not to be thereafter swayed by the entreaties or bribes of kings.

We have never, since the beginning of the American Republic, been required to take such an oath although we insist on school children repeating a mindless pledge to a flag that was written by a socialist minister and used to enforce a belief in a unitary democracy.

At any rate, the antique Romans believed in defending the Republic but not giving power to a king or a dictator. Unfortunately, as time progressed the Senate allowed generals their way and was happy with conquest. While maintaining the trappings of republicanism, the actual form of government that began to develop was an empire. Cato the Elder, Rome’s Joe Lieberman, would end his senate speeches on any topic with ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam or “in my opinion we should destroy Carthage.” While Republicans would counter this, in 146 BCE Rome destroyed the Phoenician port of Carthage and the die was cast about a century before Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

At any rate, Caesar was content to keep the fiction of a Republic—the Senate made him dictator for life in 44 BCE. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a shorter term than expected as Marcus Junius Brutus, descendant of Lucius Junius Brutus, led the assassination that got him mention in Dante and Shakespeare. With Gaius out of the way, his nephew Octavian defeated Antonius and Brutus to become Caesar Augustus. Plutarch used the term “fall of the Republic” rather than “rise of the Empire.”

I am more of an Antique Roman than a 21st Centuty progressive. I am a citizen of the Republic.

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Education

Western Civilization

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In the category of the decline of education, I got news the other day regarding the University of Kansas where I took baccalaureate work more years ago than I care to remember. The College of Liberal Arts and sciences is discussing eliminating the requirement of the “reading heavy” Western Civilization discussion course which also included a four hour comprehensive examination (I really hated Rousseau).  There is a statement that the course is not going away but that there will be “other options” for the bachelor of arts degree. The College also awards a bachelor of general studies degree that eliminates onerous requirements.

As I recall, the discussions and the works were sometimes long and, from a 20-year-old point of view, not really relevant to the world of 1964. They did cut into study time for other courses, not to mention pool playing, but the discussions could be very interesting. Why did I need to read The Communist Manifesto although it was considerably more readable than Marx’s Capital? What did long dead philosophers have to do with the gritty world of the 20th Century with its “new” ideas and problems. And we still ask the same questions in discussion groups that are more voluntary in nature. Forty years makes a lot of difference in perspective. If someone wants to discuss political ethics, I start with recommending Plato’s philosopher king and work through Aristotle, Machiavelli (The Discourses as well as The Prince) and even Bonhoeffer—if you want a heavy discussion you do heavy reading.

It is 2012. And we still have arguments flying around as “new” and innovative.  And, unless we are required to the majority of us do not discuss the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Western culture.  I hear people talking about defending western civilization from people who have no clue as to what they are defending and what are the consequences. Hint: Our political and social system owes more to Greece and Rome than to the Bible.

New needs to be tested and sometimes there is no substitute for heavy reading.

 

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