The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog post non-fiction literature & policy analysis articles for some alternative news, views, solutions, and perspectives. We believe individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. We advocate for what we term "Libertarian Internationalism" in a time we describe as the "Post-Historical Era."

Friday, September 23, 2016

Breath

Copyright (c) 2016 The Cepia Club LLC


Breath
By Pi Kielty--(p-)


September 23, 2016


Breathless best when fresh, we view, clean mountain streams; clasp airy dew. A morning's moonrays, the morrow's wave, coming sunlit glean, can thank the god—we forgave—for the way we trod; fair winds he saved. The beaming stars, their smiling ways, gave lights we roam'd our youthful days. They guide us well to near our homes, once done wand'ring far harder loam. Time so spent, late dearly best, with friends for merry evening rest. Take our gift, our ageless breath; share our hope so winds stay blessed. Live our times, hear our best, the sublimned breeze our lives do share, with hearts a'thriving. We live. We dared.

Heavy storm some moment comes. We despair waits of many ones. Our breathing fails our weary lungs, with weighty fears that crush insides, time-shorn gasps do frail all rhymes.


Could we, though, see our mountain streams, grasp breathful winds in moon day dreams, let all we here, tell heartful core, pray godful times, let us breathe you—More.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rounding It Out Atta, Dale van. With Honor: Melvin Laird, in War, Peace and Politics.Madison, UW Press, 2008.

Rounding It Out
By Tim Krenz
April 7, 2016

Atta, Dale van. With Honor: Melvin Laird, in War, Peace and Politics. Madison, UW Press, 2008.

People in D.C. knew Melvin Laird as “the Man from Marshfied.” Growing up in that small Wisconsin city, Laird became a young state senator, a nine-time elected U.S. Congressman, and the reluctant Secretary of Defense from January 1969 to January 1973, who shrewdly comprehended that the United States needed to disengage from the divisive Vietnam War.

By his experience as a key member of the U.S. House Defense Appropriations Sub-Committee, Melvin Laird spent years learning the issues and politics, and the personalities and bureaucracies, of the nation's military affairs. Receiving a severe wounding by kamikaze air attack in 1945 while a serving officer in the United States Naval Reserve, Laird carried that moral courage needed to make hard, life and death decisions.

As a senior member of Nixon's cabinet, and friend of the President's, Laird held strong cards in how and when the pace of American redeployment from Indochina would occur. As the third ranking member his party's U.S. House of Representatives caucus, Laird ascended to the cabinet from his modest Middle American roots, and with a moderate Republican viewpoint, Laird felt the political hurricanes affecting U.S. policy like a feather-wane, and he persisted in guiding the United States out of the protracted stalemate versus the Vietnamese communists.

All of these attributes, according to biographer Dale van Atta, in his book, With Honor: Melvin Laird in War, Peace and Politics, came to focus as he outmaneuvered the stalwarts inside the U.S. Government, military and civilian, against disengagement. Countless times, it seems in the biography, Laird played strong cards, bet big, bluffed the bureaucracies and the White House (including the paragon opponent and friend, Henry A. Kissinger) and won the pot every time. In the bottom sum, in a democracy, where voting matters, Laird knew how to find votes, and knew the margins of support he had—and he counted votes very, very well.

Laird invented the term “Vietnamization,” whereby the U.S. allies in the Republic of (South) Vietnam would carry the burden of their own war against communist insurgents and against the communist Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam. To complement that strategy, the White House offered its own “Nixon Doctrine,” which told Asian nations that they needed to supply the majority of armed forces to defend themselves against aggressors, and that the United States would only provide military aid, and supporting air and naval assistance in their defense.

As the policy of Vietnamization took its precarious hold, Laird, with much force of politics, and a firm civilian control over the military and civilian policymakers, redesigned the armed forces of the U.S. Many consider Laird the “Father” of the “All-Volunteer Force,” as he determined early in his tenure to end the draft, which has not existed since 1973 when the last draft authorization law lapsed.

Laird also redirected and reinvented much of the military planning and investment into new forms, including the “Total Force Concept,” which integrates the Army and Air National Guards and the organized armed forces Reserves into any active deployment, as seen fit by the National Command Authority (i.e. the President and the Secretary of Defense). In his policies concerning Vietnam escalation, then-President Johnson from 1965 to 1969 had (with very limited exceptions) not used these vital components for the goals of U.S. policy, hoping to avoid domestic schism.

With his wrong and half-stupid commitment to intervention, Johnson had condemned his policy and the country to the very division in the country he sought to avoid. With Laird's system, during the 1990-91 Desert Shield/Desert Storm conflict, and during the present and ongoing, 15-year war, the guards and reserves have found themselves active and deployed, which might explain some of the overwhelming political commitment and public support for the enduring current conflicts. Other Laird-directed investments continue to this day, including the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the KEY wild card in the United State's nuclear deterrent since its conception.

Aside from these important contributions to U.S. military history and policy, Laird during his terms in Congress supported and mentored many of the nation's leaders who have since guided the nation, including former Secretary of State General Colin Powell. Laird also did a great deal to further the health care and public health systems. As an untainted White House aide after serving in the Defense Department, according to author Atta, Laird proved instrumental in the nomination of Gerald Ford as Vice President. And when Nixon's presidency disintegrated over the Watergate investigations, Laird emerged with his Middle America integrity intact, and his friend, Gerald Ford, assumed the Office of President. For all these reasons alone, Laird has his place in American history, as “the Man from Marshfield.”



Friday, May 27, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #44: Questing for Normalcy: Allowing What Type of Change? How?

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
April 17, 2016

Chronicle #44: Questing for Normalcy: Allowing What Type of Change? How?


Part 2. Based on the installment of “Sub Terra Vita,” “Part I: Allowing Change to Happen,” (The Sun, April 6, 2016), we can “examine how the changes through technology might come, and how people can evaluate it. . . .”

We must accept everything in our lives, even some beliefs, as temporary. Change has a constant equilibrium, however, between things that change fast—such as personal aging, economic cycles, modern technology, and cultural fads; and those things which change slowly—bureaucracies, the nature and type of work, physical geography, and the mind's capacity to apply knowledge to future opportunities. Even the form and shape of the St. Croix River, for example, has changed in its course through geological time. The river, like all natural things through erosion and entropy (look up the word: entropy), changes through the movable course of time. And regarding political, economic, social and cultural institutions, they all move at the same velocity of constant time, but always evolving forward. Science calls that process inertia. (Look up the word: Inertia).

When things change by forces of personality or willpower, history terms it a revolution. When that changes people's perceptions, philosophers call it a shift in paradigms (i.e. “worldview”). On the other hand, people can moderate and guide change. If peacefully done, leaders call it reform. When violently done, everyone will know it as war.

Considering all the above, how can the greater St. Croix Valley moderate and guide change here, in order to preserve the semblance of the normalcy of living, and at the same time enhance the quality of life as much as possible.

First, take it personally. Absorb the factors involved. Weigh them. Lead by the example. And as Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Second, the nature of work and economics, already moving, has to grow and mature to accommodate equity and balance. Work and economics though, both depend on the principle of risk and reward, the laws of supply and demand, the nature of diminishing returns, and the willingness to invest now for a return far later. Economics requires a policy of foresight and planning. Without those two attributes, it fails to help for the common benefit of all just as much as it fails for the individual.

Third, keep the connections between people based on real interaction. The DEVICE facilitates communication and mutual understanding. It can not replace the hard reality of living, nor should it create a phony relationship far away at the expense of nurturing ones nearby. Fourth, education determines destiny. Keep educating yourself, in any way. The nature and opportunities for education have changed and opened with the advance of technology. Yet, keep the process practical and the goal useful, not esoteric and frivolous. And whatever studied, help yourself and do the greatest good with it. All can benefit—a family and a community, if an individual succeeds.


Finally, nothing will ever come free. Materially speaking, to expect to get something so-called “free” means no less than someone else paying for it, often unjustly. Ethically, if people in the Valley and the community of Osceola want to see the types of change that will bring the area into its future, it has to pay for it, but the Valley WILL OWN IT, and no others. Like all choices in life, change involves a cost. But wisely planning it with foresight and resources, the benefits of investment accrue. (See Part 3 to follow in a future installment of “Sub Terra Vita”).

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #42: Questing for Normalcy—Allowing Change to Happen

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
April 4, 2016

Chronicle #42: Questing for Normalcy—Allowing Change to Happen

Part I: The whole world sits at the threshold of some of the greatest and most difficult changes. The change does not mean the end of history. It does not mean the beginning of the end of humanity, nor hardly even “the end of the beginning,” to borrow a phrase from Winston Churchill. Our country as a true union of common purpose, and our community of Osceola itself, confront a new challenge of how to use the technology available now and that which will come soon.

The new tools in our hands already can transform before our vision the world we think we see, literally. It can define our future and destroy the urge of our worse instincts, and it should create better worlds by keeping the good character of faithful saints fulfilled.

The bad things, human greed and fear, we can surely dampen and limit to our overall benefit. We can also creatively absorb the advantages that the sciences have given and will provide for us. The best things, to love thy neighbor as thyself, and the strong individual character to find wiser solutions in the logic of practical reasoning, all could advance our ethical use of the tools at the fingertips.

The normalcy at present, and possibly about to fade, has inter-connected parts. The politics now uses more technology and statistical modeling than ever before in history. The very nature of labor and work, and the expectations of producers and consumers, change faster with the new technology than we have ever known. People's social times now use the non-described “DEVICE” as much as people used to wonder and think about people and things they did not know or did not understand. These changes, however, have not yet become permanent because culturally in how people identify themselves and relate to others remains normal to the core constructs of life in Osceola, Wisconsin.

A century ago, the great changes in the world more or less began in heavy doses and quick succession. World wars, national and ideological revolutions and de-evolutions, globalized finance and trade, and abundant energy, all came together to define the rest of the 20th Century. Even the educational revolution that arrived later, and the social evolutions of the late 1960s and 1970s merely added to the consistency of the century, instead of radically changing the permanent nature of the culture.

The cultural normalcy relates directly to life in the St. Croix Valley. First, bloodlines and ancestry and relations of non-traditional households describe how people refer to their family, still a predominate feature of the Valley. Second, work still uses some description of money to regulate the exchange of property, in an economy overwhelmingly carbon-fueled. In the Valley, this economic system goes back to farming and the business exchanges with the Twin Cities in Minnesota.

Third, people, rightly or wrongly and without judgment, still determine their social identities, social time, social associations, friendships, and even the choice of their spouse, based in a great part on their religious or philosophical beliefs, or lack thereof. In the valley, the various immigrant families and their established churches in each others' proximity have allowed a more diverse and tolerant community than other parts of the world, the country, or even in the state of Wisconsin.

Finally, almost every person lives somewhere near a community for companionship, work, supply, and entertainment. In the valley, the proximity connected many communities in such things as a competition between schools, in sports, arts and academics, etc.


The Valley has consistently maintained these cultural constructs over the past century. All I have described, even if in dispute, I consider absolute goods upon which to build a better world, here. In the next chronicle, I will examine how the changes through technology might come, and how people can evaluate it, and keep and refresh the new and better normalcy possible.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #41: Questing for Leadership—Learning Toward Community Leadership

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 28, 2016

Chronicle #41: Questing for Leadership—Learning Toward Community Leadership

Leaders lead, by definition. And as the phrase goes, “Managers will do things the right way, but leaders have a way of doing the right thing.” Leaders do, and they do not do nothing when situations require decision and action. Leaders make all the difference, in most things, large and small. Nothing can work without a capital stock of sorts. True enough. Yet, much more than money to fund a private enterprise or a public agenda, successful action depends on leadership, to do it correctly, and for the right reasons.

By these terms, one can measure a function of “normalcy” dominant in American history, one that ensured the transaction of leadership in every period: That of ordinary people rising to great challenges in extraordinary times.

The country needs leadership, and requires everyone to assume it in their lives, at home, in the neighborhood, and in their community. This does not mean electing legislators or chief magistrates, like the president, a governor, or even a mayor or village president. Legislators, presidents, and governors sit too far from the village square to make any real difference. Local officials sit too close.

People do not necessarily elect leaders. Voters elect overseers of the public business, mere custodians of the public trusts and monies. All of these have their place, and importance to the system that both created them and the one that they uphold. What the country, and what communities like Osceola need, come from the informal leadership opportunities: Here, now, close, and very personable.

People choose leaders, and they choose to follow them. Between leaders and followers exists some “contract of understanding,” if not a formal and lawful obligation in some aspect of personal or commercial affairs. Instead of putting people into office or regulating the means and terms of their public service, our world all-around needs leaders in the informal, active, and positive role of helping others, and young adults especially, toward their own roles of leadership and living responsible lives. Individual actions can truly make a difference for the betterment of the world.

Better for who? For everyone , beginning with self, and carrying it forward to others. It arrives at the common denominator for good. Everyone working to improve things, or fix wrongs in their nearby-society, makes all things rise with the tide. This does imply a circular argument of sorts, but it works by the virtuous cycle of leadership empowering other leaders.

Without details, I have learned a lot about leadership, by doing and by a careful study of those who led. I offer the summation of these lessons.

Lesson #1: Take care of your people. By either the formal arrangement or the informal “contract of understanding,” leaders have responsibility for the roles they assume. Those who refuse to take care of the just needs of those who follow forfeit their right to leadership.

Lesson #2: Work with what you have, and do not worry about what you wish you had. Put your team on the field. Good things WILL happen with leadership and plain old hard work.

Lesson #3: Have clarity and focus; and communicate that up and down, so that the leader knows what he can expect and what others have expected of them. Keep that clarity and focus at all times, with everyone working together toward the goal.

Lesson #4: Empower others, to act for themselves independently and confidently, and toward the defined goal(s); give the initiative to others where appropriate; and empower someone's enthusiasm if a clear and reasonable action towards the desired goal.


In my varied experience, these leadership ideas work, and work very well. Take them as I offer them, for leading in the areas of life that demand ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the places they live. You might change the world, staring with yourself and those you lead.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #40: Questing for Normalcy: Passing a Future Day

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 21, 2016

Chronicle #40: Questing for Normalcy: Passing a Future Day

Whatever one man is capable of imagining, other men will prove themselves capable of realizing.”
--Jules Verne

General Eisenhower once supposedly said, that when things happen, “plans mean nothing. . . , but planning is EVERYTHING.” Can anyone predict the future? Not a chance, but we make plans anyway.

Even when everyone makes plans for the future, like their children's education, or for retirement, unexpected things happen, things like life intervening to disrupt a sense of security and stability. We might know only two things about the future for certain: 1) It has not happened yet. 2) Things as they exist now will inevitably change in some way.

In the uncertain angst and some fear about the future, we pine for and attempt to build, or at least label, our lives in the normal routine, the familiar, the stable foundation that defines the day to address the tasking at hand. And that describes fairly well the questing for normalcy for the entire world: A routine, a stability, a foundation, something that narrows uncertainty to manageable risks. Yet, we still have the future to consider, especially in our dynamic community of Greater-Osceola.

“Dynamic” implies change in many directions. It aptly describes our area, at this point in time, where technology advances and encounters cultural values; where population demographics meet physical geography. Instead of any sort of “clash” between old and new, different and the conformity, we actually have a union of forces—technology, culture, people, and geography—that can push back barriers of growth and development. By itself, these forces could conflict. Or, some individuals may lament and obstruct their irresistible momentum to everyone's detriment in the community.

What will Osceola look like in the future? No one knows. Any plans, of course, will not survive contact with reality (to quote another long-dead historical figure). But a process of planning will provide guidance, and set the people, places, tools, and information in position to benefit Osceola and its neighbors. The hard part? That those changes reflect the past values that strengthened the community. (For these, see Chronicle #39)

How do we want Osceola to “look” in the future? I have my own ideas.

--Osceola might have an opening to attract a privately-funded, or state-sponsored community-oriented technical college. Such could focus on work-force development in training, skills, trades and programs for the industrial park and the airport facilities. Also, such things as manufacturing management and quality-control, airplane mechanics—indeed, anything to give the work force in Polk County an advantage to attract high-quality industry to locate HERE, in our area.

--An extensive, privately-funded, and -run, renewable-agricultural and -energy co-op (or company), one that does both marketing and development of these industries, but also one that might have a hand in education, and developing some new ideas, research, etc. And, also, some sort of business model that could sustain a year-round open-market, indoors or outdoors, that functions more like an agora (google it), several days a week, and open to vendors and customers.

--Some form of privately-owned media center, that has at least radio broadcasting, and a cable/internet video station, one that can better connect the citizens in the St. Croix Valley to Osceola's offerings. Such a center should include educational instruction for those who wish to learn more about the media arts.

I consider these my own pet ideas on what I would like to see in Osceola come the future. Let's hear yours.


[Author's Note: A couple of errors cropped up in last week's column. Sorry about that. One, concerned the location of the feed mill in Osceola in the 1970s. It actually stood in the current Ace Hardware parking lot. My memory? Good, but sometimes in error. TJK]

Sub Terra Vita #39: Questing for Normalcy: Roots Evolving to a Future of Growing

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 14, 2016

#39: Questing for Normalcy: Roots Evolving to a Future of Growing

Osceola's roots go deep, and far back, as a commercial center serving a farming area. Founded in the 1830s, the Osceola area welcomed Scandinavian, French, German and other immigrants during the post-Civil War boom. Through to the end of the 19th Century, the new farmers cleared the wilderness of forest, planted crops, raised livestock, and grew families The people of the heritage married neighbors, setting forth more generations, gave them schooling, set them to work very, very hard, every day and all day, to build a great Middle America.

The values of that Middle America continued, and Osceola families continued to seed generations to local schools, to two world wars, and Korea and Southeast Asia, and to work in the Twin Cities, and even to return to the heritage to live. They built a community around Osceola. In the late 1950s, the changes in the USA following the Second World War started to seep and filter into the roots of local life.

The changes in Osceola, like changes everywhere in America, began as an evolution of slow growth and adaptation. As a result, the change might have succeeded to reflect and keep those past values. Yet, things inevitably changed, as things always do. Even as the education boom post-Sputnik radically changed America's demography, and people's potential and expectations, so too did education, work, play and fun change in Osceola.

In my youth, things looked cosmetically different in town, although the values of heritage, neighbors, work, church, factories, soil, crops, dairy, schools, athletics, and family remained the long standing values until I graduated from high school. In Osceola, we knew these values “our Normalcy.”

Of the more noticeable differences since then: the current post office housed the Bank of Osceola; the dry cleaner today housed a smaller post office; the laundromat/car wash lot had the milk house (from where Wendy Viebrock delivered milk to houses individually, and drank a cup of coffee with the family, on occasion, before the next stop); Osceola had two hardware stores; a co-op sat on the corner of US 243 and the WI Hwy 35; the feed mill worked for farmers on Second Avenue, where the grocery store now sits; and, the industrial park, just beginning, contained mostly an open, empty field; few houses outside of the village limits; and working family farms all around it all.

Many of these appearances have changed, because these structures outgrew their presence or usefulness. But other communities in the valley closer to the metropolitan area exploded recently. In those places, demography and economics changed the nature of work, play, entertainment and education. Whether they did so successfully and preserved their core values remains for their own evaluation.

Nonetheless, they serve as harbingers of what Osceola must confront very shortly, and more rapidly than in the past transformations. As past provides prologue, the future of Osceola offers many exciting opportunities as a model for other communities to do something others failed to do before: Get their transition to the future right. How? So as to save the essential values—the normalcy—that provides strength; guides the updating and transformation of old structures (both physical and social); and allows a stronger, prosperous, safer and healthier community to emerge from a radical 21st Century pace of transition.

If the change in Osceola reflects its roots, instead of digging them up for valueless and uncertain foundations, it must combine old and new, both people and structures. The community as a whole made mistakes in the last 25 years, part too-much politics and money, and part too-little involvement by people directly affected. We cannot change any of the past, whether good or not. From here, to create a future, where the normalcy that made Osceola a great home and community will continue, the process of change has to involve everyone. Consider this, with the utmost seriousness. Prepare to engage the future, in person.



Monday, April 04, 2016

Sub Terra Vita Chronicle #38: Questing for Normalcy: Terms on Community

Sub Terra Vita
By Tim Krenz
March 7, 2016

Chronicle #38: Questing for Normalcy: Terms on Community

A quest implies a search to discover something rare and precious. In this quest for the more normal things—the everyday, the simple, the plain vanilla—we can go the next lap and seek to understand the “normalcy” of something a community would like to attain as a condition of existence. This condition can provide for a stable, regular, and enduring foundation of values as to how we do things, or how we expect things to happen within some template of “regular living.”

By default, cultures sometimes can only define the conventions of normal by recognizing the opposite, or rather those things NOT normal. We may not fully realize it, but “average” in a statistical set has a close association to “normal.” Above average; not normal. Below average; not normal. Neither of those two types of average has anything inherently good or bad in them. People just define them as not normal if not of the average in the middle of statistics. It gets worse. Normal's true opposite, “abnormal,” means, in the clinical sense, “NOT a good thing.”

Like everything in writing, science, social studies, medicine, law, philosophy and even in the mundane topic of weather, much of the reality we know depends on how people define the terms in use within the conversation . How people define terms—or eliminate, discard, abuse or ignore the terms—will determine to a great extent the relationships between individual people or in larger groups and communities.

To define the terms of “normalcy,” for our purpose here, what does “normalcy” as a purpose or condition offer life in Osceola? In the greater St. Croix Valley? Or elsewhere in the world?

Normalcy does not mean blindness to injustice or wrong, but normalcy does mean a certain freedom to do one's part to better their life, and make it healthier, understandable, and prosperous. Normalcy does not provide license to disrespect anyone's person, their beliefs, styles, work or self-worth. It does, however, demand an attitude of open-mindedness toward new things and different people. Normalcy even asks for healthy agreement to disagree, and then to leave matters of pure opinion alone.

Normalcy does not condone neighbors to take opposite sides of an issue to the physical or moral detriment of the “community-of-all.” Normalcy needs to find a common point of agreement and work for some better solutions from there—for all concerned. Normalcy cannot offer a truly free lunch for everyone. Yet, normalcy in a community intends that families can feed themselves. A person can even choose to buy that “free lunch” for others. Also, normalcy in our area has a community organization feast or a church dinner after fall harvest or at holiday time—where things of normalcy gel into better understanding.

Normalcy does not mean holding on to old ways, by forcefully clawing them to shreds. That only destroys the value of their benefit to us. Normalcy honors things and people who knew it the way before now. Normalcy then getstheir insight, wisdom, and their simple experience of times before, to help the present generation understand new things, etc. Old and new helps the old and new work better together, and to the benefit of the present and future people who use it.


The rest of the world can always dissolve its strengths into a fury of ideology, conflict, worry and fear, all of which will consume the world which embraces those negative, abnormal impulses of human greed and fear. A community—anywhere—at its basic best can always survive upheavals elsewhere. I expect every community to do so, if it can understand the “normalcy” all desire as common to innate good natures. We have a common goal, in Osceola, as people have everywhere—to thrive, and to exceed the limits placed on people, those limits started when humanity divided itself.