• Kaboom
  • The Big Story
  • Port Town
  • Nothing Is Forever

FEATURED POSTS

  • June 29, 2019

    WHY ARE EXPERTS SO OFTEN WRONG?

    MY DIPLOMA – Photo by Carmela Cunningham

    I don’t trust experts. I never have, and I doubt that I ever will.

    Experts are the guardians of the common wisdom. They are captives of the group-think of the day. That’s the reason for which they go to school – to learn what they are supposed to believe. And most of them do exactly that.

    When somebody tells me they have a PhD in Early Childhood Education, or Women’s Studies, or Psychology, or Creative Dance, I am immediately suspicious of everything they have to say, even though much of it may be true.

    What is the old joke? A “specialist” is someone who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.

    I am also suspicious of people who went through elementary school, then high school, then college, and then they graduate and are officially anointed with a certificate (basically a piece of paper signed by some institute that charged them a lot of money) of expert-hood.

    The secondary school system was created more than a hundred years ago to prepare workers for factories. A bell rings and you change classes, another bell rings and you go to recess, another bell rings and you eat lunch. It doesn’t matter if you are really excited about what you have just learned and want to hear more, when the bell rings you go on to the next assignment.

    Today, it’s still the same old shuck and jive – although the world has changed completely in the meantime.

    As you might guess, I really hated school, and I wasn’t too crazy about teachers.

    And though at the end I was awarded a bachelor’s degree, my time spent at the University was mostly a waste. The only thing that saved me from the nonsense taught at college was the perspective I gained working construction, as a party chief on a survey crew, fighting in a war, and living life.

    When I completed my time at the University, I skipped the whole stupid cap and gown ceremony. I told them to send me my degree and I split for California. I still have the degree and it’s still in the little shipping tube in which it was mailed 50 years ago.

    So why do I still have it, stored in a tube in the back of the closet? To remind me, always, of what a waste of precious time it represents.

    The point is that the overriding purpose of a formal education is to pigeonhole people into some kind of occupational box. I have talked to numerous successful people, who when pressed or drunk, would confess that what they really wanted to do was play the saxophone or create art or putter around in their garage inventing products that just might change the world.

    It’s those dreamers and the workers that push civilization forward, not the university-indoctrinated “experts.”

    At least that’s the way I see it.

    George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have an opinion on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • June 19, 2019

    WHEN YOUR DOG IS AMBIURINOUS

    HENRY BEING A LITTLE BOY DOG

    I learn a lot about life when I’m walking our dog, Henry.

    One thing is that Henry tends to be politically incorrect. Maybe even a little bit of a bigot.

    When he meets another Yorkie, like himself, he is ready to jump and play with a new friend. When he meets another breed – especially those damn Pomeranians, he is ready to attack.

    It’s as though he’s thinking, “we don’t like their kind in our neighborhood.” Nobody taught him that. It’s just what he feels. And I have to admit, after hanging around with Henry, I don’t much like those damn Pomeranians either.

    The other thing I noticed about Henry, is that he is ambi-urinous. Sometimes he lifts his right leg to pee and sometimes he lifts his left. Sometimes, in cases where the bush or the fire hydrants is on his left, he will turn all the way around and lift his right leg to do his business.

    And sometimes, just sometimes when it’s late and he’s tired and there is no tree or big rock available, he will squat like a little girl to pee. Maybe, it’s just his feminine side coming out – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    The point is, I’m not worried about it. No gender reassignment surgery is planned. Henry proves every day in many ways that he is pure boy. Henry loves his mama, but he and I understand each other in ways she never will.

    Cause, she’s a girl, and we’re not.

    George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • May 17, 2019

    I’VE TURNED INTO A BLOOMIN’ IDIOT

    THE IMPORTANT STUFF OF LIFE

    Maybe it’s just my age or maybe it’s the political and social times in which I live, but the older I get, the more I find myself disliking people and politics and the more I am drawn to dogs and flowers.

    There was the Socratic Age, the Roman Age, the Medieval Age, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Modern Age. Throughout history, people looked at the world and tried to understand it and figure out where we all fit into the scheme of things.

    Here’s the truth.

    We are currently living in the age of stupidity.  It’s an age where people stake out a political or social position, and only talk to people who agree precisely in whatever dogma they happen to favor. And the more they talk to people who are in complete agreement with them, the more convinced they become that they are the enlightened ones and people who disagree with them are a bunch of ignoramuses, or in the words of one politician, deplorables.

    TOO SMART FOR THE PRESENT DAY

    I have decided to start my own age – the age of dogs, flowers and good food.  The roses are in bloom. The pups are enjoying the warmer weather. And Carmela has a big pot of Jambalaya simmering in the kitchen.

    The age of dogs, flowers and good food may not go down in history as a major movement, but that’s OK.

    It’s a nice place to spend time – and a lot less stressful than watching the news.

    George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

  • THE LONELY DRAKE

    LOOKING FOR HIS MATE

    I know it’s wrong and stupid to anthropomorphize animals, although we do it with our dog all the time. But is it all that wrong to feel their pain?

    We have a mallard and his mate who have been hanging around our neighborhood for a couple of weeks, landing in the wet grass and finding things to eat in backyards when they’re not swimming around in one of the nearby ponds.

    Everywhere he went, she went. They were always together. But something happened. I don’t know what, but she has disappeared. Maybe she was run over by a car, or killed by a bobcat or coyote, or maybe she just flew off with a better-looking beau.

    But he obviously misses here. For the past few days, he has been wandering around the neighborhood on foot, calling for her. It almost makes me want to give him a hug and let him know how badly I feel for him. But that would be really stupid. It would scare the hell out of him and make him suffer even more than he already is.

    Even as I write this, I know how silly it is. Let’s face it, if I was killed tomorrow, jumping over motorcycles in a school bus, he’s not going to feel compelled to let Carmela know that he feels her pain.

    Still, as a believer in true love, it makes me sad to watch him.

    George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

     

  • May 10, 2019

    super bloom and history

    SEA OF FLOWERS STRETCHES TOWARDS THE HILLS

    Carmela, Henry, and I went traveling last month to see the famous Southern California super bloom and experience a little history.

    The super bloom doesn’t happen every year, only when the state has experienced a lot of rain. And when that happens, the hillsides and valleys erupt with a full display of botanic beauty.

    We’ve seen super blooms before, but to see this year’s super bloom, we got in our car and drove 231 miles to the Carrizo Plain National Monument, a 250,000-acre preserve in the southeast corner of San Luis Obispo County near the Kern County line. There were spectacular flora displays closer to home, but my sweetheart and I weren’t just looking for flowers, we were also on an historical quest.

    The Carrizo Plain, according to Dr. Paula M Schiffman, is one of two places in the state that comes closest to what the Los Angeles basin was like when Cabrillo arrived in California in 1542. Dr. Schiffman is a terrestrial ecologist at California State University Northridge, “who uses quantitative and experimental approaches to address questions about plants and their ecologies.”

    Carmela and I first came across Dr. Schiffman’s work when we were researching background for Port Town, a history book we wrote about the Port of Long Beach. The coastal plain of Southern California exists on a somewhat narrow prairie between the mountains and the ocean. In earlier days, the flatlands were covered in wildflowers, grasses, and other short plants. Oak, sycamore, willow, and alder trees lined the creeks and rivers that ran to the sea.

    CARMELA AND HENRY CHECK OUT THE VIEW

    Ground squirrels, rabbits and gophers who lived in burrows beneath the ground were so numerous that it was dangerous to ride a horse across an open field at a pace faster than a walk.  Numerous grizzly bears, which prefer open areas to woodlands, roamed the area, using their long claws to dig up the ground in search of the “rodents, roots, bulbs, fungi, and insect grubs,” according to Dr. Schiffman.

    The bears and the burrowing smaller animals aerated the soil and helped prepare it for the next bloom. California then, as now, was a land of drought and flood. Winter rains would stimulate the seeds to grow into plants, flower, produce new seeds and die, all within a few weeks or months. During years of drought, the seeds were able to remain dormant for years, until the next rainy year came along.

    When the Spanish arrived in great numbers, the ecology of the coastal plain quickly changed. After the mission settlements were established, the surrounding property was converted to agricultural uses. Cattle, sheep, horses, and farming quickly replaced the wild environment that had existed in the past. Plant species from the Mediterranean area were carried to the new world either by plan or by accidental introduction of seeds stuck among the arriving cargo and people. The cattle would eat the plants and spread the seeds in their dung.

    A FOREST OF PURPLE BLOOMS TOWERS ABOVE A CARPET OF YELLOW

    The changes in the Southern California environment were gradual enough that the new European residents paid little attention. But slowly the natural wild landscape began to change to an agricultural environment.

    Today the grizzly bears are gone from California – the last ones killed off in the early 20th century – but the vacant spot they left in the environment continues.

    There are no grizzlies in the Carrizo Plain, but there are pronghorn antelope, gophers, kangaroo rats, and numerous birds and insects, plus 200 native plants – more than 60 percent of which were found in the original Southern California coastal plain.

    The road we drove on that spring day was rough, unpaved for miles in some places with a great rocky and gavel washboard surface. But the weather was fantastic and the view unsurpassed. Carmela and I were spellbound by the natural beauty of the place.

    Henry followed Carmela down the trails and across the fields like a faithful little boy, pausing only to sniff the bushes and pee on the rocks.

    We all had a grand and glorious time.

    George Lee Cunningham

    Do you have a dissenting opinion or any opinion at all on the subject? Contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com and let me know. Meanwhile, you can always subscribe and get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.

    Dr. Schiffman’s account of the Los Angeles coastal prairie can be found in theLand of Sunshine: an Environmental History of Metropolitan Los Angeles.”