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Friday, January 21, 2011

HALF A CENTURY AGO THIS WEEK

Fifty years ago, President Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower, in his final speech as President, warned America of the Military-Industrial Complex.  Three days later, John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, at his inauguration, said:
   And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do   for your country. 

Yes, they were back to back Presidents of the United States of America.  Wonderland by Night was the most popular song, with Will You Love Me Tomorrow next.

I was a junior at Stanford, and a small group of us were planning to drive to Fort Lauderdale to experience "Where the Boys Are."  Then, as we were there anyway, join an expeditionary force to investigate Cuba.  In one of the better decisions I ever made, I exhibited incredible discretionary judgement (also known as downright chickening out), and so did my friends, by staying on campus.  That was the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

These were indeed dangerous times, for later that year the Soviet Union exploded the Tsar Bomba (what a fantastical clip--I urge you to click on it), at 50 megatons, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated--ten times larger than all the explosives in World War II and a factor of four greater than any American bomb.  Runaround Sue was #1.  The following year saw the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Nikita Kruschev showing infinite wisdom (yes, the chicken out syndrome), saved the world from a nuclear winter.  This is the closest Humanity came to destroying itself.  Appropriately enough, Monster Mash was coming on as #1.

The top grossing film of 1961 was the animated One Hundred and One Dalmatians ($69 million), and number two, earning only $20 million (of course, this is worth $145 million today), was West Side Story.  Tossin' and Turnin' was Billboard's #1 song of the year.

I somehow was not all that worried about doomsday then.  The future looked great, for I was set to graduate with a chemical engineering degree in a little more than a year and already had a job waiting for me in Hawaii.  Today, with no Cold War, the end of the world is no more, though, granted, there is now the dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Heating.  At least these will take a long time to attain any kind of doom, save for The Venus Syndrome.  Anyway, if North Korea or Iran lobbed a nuclear warhead, they would be toast; our society would still be around.  So why are spending so much on War?  

I've long been saying that China only spends one-sixth what we do on defense.  The latest TIME (24Jan2011, pg 13) magazine actually shows that the USA in 2010 had military expenditures of $729 billion, while China was at $78 billion.  Thus, China devotes less than one-ninth that of the U.S.  My 10% solution is more than ever now that ultimate legacy for President Obama.  While he won't even get close to mentioning this strategy in his State of the State Address next week, 2012 could be that monumental year, for our country will host the G8 gathering.  

President Eisenhower was absolutely right.  In 2012, President Obama can join the ranks of our greatest presidents just with one simple 10% solution.  If he misses this opportunity, I'm still working on Xi Jinping for 2013, the next Mikhail Gorbachev, who brought an end to the Cold War.  Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan, is a famous folksinger and a Major General in the People's Liberation Army, while his daughter, Mingze, is now at Harvard.

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The Dow Jones Industrials reached a two and a half year high, up 49 to 11,872.  12,000 on Monday?  World markets mostly increased, gold fell $6/toz to $1341 and petroleum dropped just below $90/barrel.

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