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Did you know that the number of pilots in the U.S. has dropped by a third from 1980 till now? We have about 600,000 today. How come? Word War II trained hundreds of thousands of pilots, and many more learned to fly on the GI Bill. Now those left from that era are in their 80s and 90s, and many not flying anymore. Private training programs don’t begin to make up the difference.

How do I know? I’m a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, and I read their Sport Aviation magazine (p.6). You could too, by going to I don’t fly myself, but the discounts on John Deere lawn equipment, Ford and so on more than cover membership and it’s fun to keep up on this stuff, and go to the annual monumental Oshkosh Air Show (

There are about 200,000 private planes registered in the U.S., and 71 of them are Russian made MIGs! Here’s a shot of an all-american classic I took at this summer’s Walworth, WI Fly-In.

When the White House press secretary said this is what the President wants, as part of their response to the Wikileaks new avalanche of damning secret diplomatic innuendo, I couldn’t help but wonder at the dichotomy between that rhetoric of transparency and honesty compared with the overwhelming condemnation by Administration officials and pundits of Wikileaks and PFC Bradley Manning for poisoning the public air with the truth. If diplomacy is all about relationships, why must the candid reports of that diplomacy need to be hidden from public eyes?

Why must “open government” be conducted in secret? Yes, I know that the real world is complicated, and I understand the concept of understanding things in context and being candid in our sharing of assessments, but I think the kind of unanticipated periodic airing of our diplomatic “dirty laundry” ala vehicles such as Wikileaks may have the salutary effect of helping keep our “diplomatic conversations” more in line with our stated motives and objectives. If we really believe in “responsible, accountable and open government around the world,” as the White House officially claims we do, such an airing of the truth should not produce a scandal, as has this latest round of revelations, but should be an affirmation of that admirable, trust-enducing standard.

Dennis West, publisher of the Beacon, our local paper, not only ran the pic of me reading his rag on the Great Wall, but he ran in the very same issue, on the opposite page, another not so hot shot of me reading it in our suite overlooking Pudong, Shanghai’s financial district. A “twofer,” indeed. Befitting the relationship between any good PR person and the media, I bought him lunch at a nearby Asian restaurant, as thanks.

— The Toyota GT2000 of 40 years ago!

Read about the role of public relations in building the “Acceleration” of Toyota into favor in the U.S. market of the early 1970s, in this insightful first person account.–%20Acceleration.htm

All of a sudden, we’re staring down the barrel of severely regressive policy proposals that would make Dick Cheney and Milton Friedman smile.

Three ideas were floated last week in Washington: backing away from the Afghanistan troop withdrawal deadline, handing $700 billion to the wealthiest Americans over the next ten years and cutting Social Security benefits.

On top of this, George W. Bush announced his support for torture techniques the same week the Department of Justice announced the destruction of torture tapes – and no one will likely be held accountable.

is called Chongqing (you remember Chung King frozen foods?). The population of ChongQing is 34 million, but it does cover a provincial sized area. The urban center, pictured here at night, is “only” about 15 million — is that 3 or 4 or 5 Chicagos? It’s an industrial capitol, especially for autos, with one of the most polluted atmospheres to be found, but they’re working on it. Chongqing is located in central China, and is on the Yangze River (the Chinese don’t call it that — they know it simply as the ChangJiang, or Long River, since it runs 3900 miles from the steppes of Tibet to Shanghai and the Yellow Sea. One third of the 1.2 billion Chinese live in the Yangze River Basin. The river divides the north and south of China, both geographically and culturally. The Three Gorges Dam reservoir, runs from ChongQing to Wuhan, the three-plus day scenic route we followed on the cruise ship the Yangze Explorer, in late October. The recently completed Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric facility, the equivalent of 24 nuclear reactors. We went down 536 feet in the 5-stage locks of the dam, an awesome experience.

Lower Manhattan became famous, as it has for so many things when in the 30s, more than 200 skyscrapers (of more than 20 floors) were built there in a decade. Since 1990, when Chinese Premier Deng proclaimed that Shanghai would build a world-class financial district on the mud flats across the river from Shanghai proper, some 400 skyscrapers have been built there. We recently visited, and viewed the awesome day and night skyline of the Pudong district, as it is known, both from our hotel rooms at the Peninsula Hotel on he famous Bund, across the river, and down from 93rd floor restaurant the Shanghai World Financial Center, in the Center of Pudong, now I believe the world’s 3rd tallest building. A Chicagoan, Marshall Strabala, is the lead architect of the Shanghai Tower, now under construction there, which will soon soar above the Financial Center. Seen from across the river, Pudong resembles a space-age version of the Financial District in Lower Manhattan. If architecture can connote such a thing, we may be looking at the world’s financial capitol of the 21st century.

From this year’s wooden boat show at Geneva Lake’s Abbey Harbor. Wouldn’t you rather lean on a restored Chris-Craft helm from the 50s than a conventional bar?

An enlightened comment by “Vincent” appearing on http://www.readersupportednews,org. ” I don’t understand how corporations can be deemed people and make enormous political contributions to the candidate of their choice, but people can be prohibited BY corporations from making personal campaign contributions as a contingency of employment.

Isn’t that enslavement?”

The first and second article of the Virginia Declaration of Rights adopted unanimously by the Virginia Convention of Delegates on June 12, 1776 and written by George Mason, is:
That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Benjamin Franklin was in agreement with Thomas Jefferson in downplaying protection of “property” as a goal of government, replacing the idea with “happiness”. The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily drafted by Jefferson, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The text of the second section of the Declaration of Independence reads:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of HAPPINESS.

November 2010

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