Support Law Enforcement, Military and Emergency Medical
People through our action's thoughts and prayers. Spilled blood
is one color - RED and all are equal in God's eyes. Live that way.

China vs The United States, Last One Standing
The Coronavirus, birthed in Wuhan, China, infiltrated health-care and then collapsed financial systems around the globe. Worse perhaps, it may intensify the political divide between the American people at the precise moment when unity is the only defense against an unbelievable outcome, the loss of American liberty.

Respect Law Enforcement
The majority of my newsletters are about change, but this one is personal.

Words and actions have the power to incite order or chaos. Order is required for people to exist in harmony, enjoy normal lives, and raise their families in a safe environment. This graphic is from the presentation of a system I am working on, illustrating the barriers between order and chaos. To ensure the safety of our children, grandchildren, neighbors-all of us in our communities requires order.

Unite In Common Purpose
America is the most innovative country in the world and must sustain that comparative advantage. Technology, across all disciplines and fields of study, brings excellent opportunities for convergence and applied knowledge. Science and technology underpin commercial success. The prime example is the space program, for decades the driver behind worldwide scientific progress. To sustain America as a free and highly competitive nation, we need to find areas of common purpose. Large ideas are catalysts for innovation, scientific breakthroughs, and capital formation.

America is a complex, free enterprise system based on controlled capitalism, which I define as a mix of basic controls and programs such as Social Security and welfare systems. In fairness, Social Security is a pyramid scheme based on an expanding population to pay for the increasing costs. The Social Security Trust Fund was solvent and self-sustaining until ...

Why Do We Listen To THEM?
The dishonest players in the upper governmental hierarchy create problems for the other 300 million-plus citizens. Joined by the press and Hollywood, both residents of image communities, these groups assume they have higher intelligence and moral authority, and then tell us how to think and do our jobs.

A Free Press
The disruptive beat of propaganda from the media, the "fourth estate" or branch of government, is disconcerting and distracting. Perhaps we all need refreshed perspectives.

The Bill of Rights established the freedom of the press and granted it special privileges. Their job was finding facts and turning them into unbiased information for public consumption. The founders believed that given accurate information, we would elect and provide guidance to officials, who in turn would take fact-based action.

The professional newspapers are now obsolete, replaced by multi-media corporations focused on the high-yield high-interest content that consumers want in one page summarized increments.

History Lesson
There is a trend to erase history by destroying objectionable imagery. Any thinking person understands that history is about events to be proud of, or ashamed. Both provide valuable lessons, helping us understand and avoid repeating the negative while setting a positive course towards the future.

"Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
George Santayana

In the early days of Christianity, the seat of power was not in Rome, but Constantinople established by the emperor Constantine. The magnificent Hagia Sophia (below) was a crowning architectural achievement from this empire.

Power Struggle
This EXTRA edition of the Focused Fire Newsletter pokes a little fun at a serious subject, the policies of two political allies (adversaries?).

Nancy is the face of the old Democrat Party, and she is struggling to retain control. Her advantage for power retention is constructing a wall of NO, preventing legislation that might reflect positively on the Republicans. The needs of the country are victims to her "win at any cost mentality."

The new face, AOC, is advocating a radical program because "if we don't start to address climate change aggressively right now, the world will end in 12 years." Titled "The Green New Deal," the plan is a reflection of "The Limits to Growth" without the scientific rationale.

Writing this monthly newsletter is rewarding, distracting, painful, but sometimes fun.

The rewarding part is researching and writing about the internet of things (IoT), and the industrial internet of things (IIoT), Artificial Intelligence, ERP, supply chain, and systems thinking. These are components of my new in-process website.

One of the research subjects is liminal thinking, dealing with our personal and professional transformation. We are traveling through a maze of "who we are," new patterns and knowledge, and after accepting a new paradigm of thought and behavior, "what we have become."

Often, immersed in the ambiguities and complexity of this labyrinth, plus personal issues, we are stuck in the process and unable to transform to the new state.

This newsletter is number four in an unintentional, but related chain of topics.

Filled with the spirit of optimism, I wrote The People Have Spoken. The 2018 election was history, and the citizens of the United States of America chose a new slate of politicians to fix our countries problems. These core issues include infrastructure, health care, and immigration. We have the opportunity to increase our competitive technological advantage and counter China's bid to dominate manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence, and eventually, the world.

My optimism for positive governance and people-based legislation lasted less than twenty-four hours.

Merry Christmas
We live in a great country. For the most part, businesses and individuals have enjoyed a prosperous year. Regardless of the boom and abundance of jobs, some of our neighbors need help. Christmas presents a unique opportunity to share our good fortune and brighten their lives.

The People Have Spoken
The 2018-midterm elections are now history. No one, Republican or Democrat, can claim victory, but somehow both parties remain relevant. From the people's perspective, the result is an ideal situation that constrains activities threatening our liberties. Both parties, if they act responsibly, will cut the foul rhetoric, contention, and mob-rule. They all need to concentrate on solving the problems facing our Republic.

Guilty because "I Said So!"
Deep in America's dark past is the sleazy act of guilt by accusation, used to vilify those who disagree.

The practice now infects our political process, augmented by those believing that any means justifies the end and ignoring the American concepts of honesty, integrity, and justice. Viewing others as inferior makes their destruction acceptable. The presumption of innocence until proven guilty, due process, and the right to confront our accusers are the roots of all other freedoms. The bastardization of due process debases all liberties.

In September 2018, during the process of confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a new Supreme Court Justice of the United States of America, the Democratic Party wiped out any pretense of adhering to the Rule of Law.

You Want WHAT? Unintended Consequences
Informed people understand that every decision carries an implied cost. What appears to be good from a social perspective may contradict economic well-being. While voting, we put one hand over our heart, the other on our wallet. Another powerful factor is emotional response, often overpowering the logic found in the other two.

On Election Day, November 6, voters will confront a binary choice, to continue down the path of economic well-being, or let emotions destroy the future.

The New Great Walls of China - Building the Ultimate Slave State
The United States of America and the Peoples Republic of China are discussing relevant trade talks, which raise an old issue. What will it take to make people realize that China is an existential threat to all world freedoms? We seem oblivious to the danger, fight with each other, and waste resources. These points are simple to understand. There are numerous social and legal issues affecting people from all levels of society.

Most people are unaware that China and the free world are engaged in the most significant conflict in history for control of the world's economy and technology. In my opinion, history may prove that inattention allowed China to build a digital coffin and hasten the death of democracy and freedom. I cannot overstress that China's leaders do not share our value system.

The Effects of "Social" on the Workplace and Decision-making
The July Focused Fire Newsletter is about freedoms, our national bedrock. An increasingly misunderstood concept, freedoms are in danger from force-fed and misrepresented socialism.

Recently, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young progressive candidate beat incumbent Joe Crowly, a long-time establishment Democrat in the 14th District of New York. She had little money but a message that resonated with young people saddled with college debt and low-paying jobs.

While pleased that her anti-establishment platform proved the dangers of the status quo, I'm troubled by the growing belief that socialism, more government, is the answer.

Understanding the term "Socialism"

Young people today are digital natives, in sync with the twins of mobile computer technology and social networking. Many, however, fail to define the differences between the various forms of government. Accurate knowledge of the term "socialism" is profoundly important in making appropriate decisions about what kind of world to live in.

The last two Focused Fire Newsletters addressed the shortcoming of regional government. This month, it is time to celebrate a success. The joy in this story is that government, business, and charities organically linked, creating an opportunity for someone who did not anticipate it.

People have dreams. Some of them want to be entrepreneurs, owners of their own business. These dreamers are the future for communities wherever they are, and society needs to enable them to become successful.

Visualizing A Virtual Metro Area
The Winter Olympics in South Korea and two recent trips have triggered a renewed interest in regional development. In full disclosure, while once involved in governmental systems (Ref: A, below), my passion is a Competitive America, resource stewardship, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), LEAN methodology, and a clean, green world.

The first epiphany was watching the fantastic technological opening of the Olympics with the super-modern drones. Most impressive was the young team from Intel that made and presented it. The second was visiting Hawaii, and then Seattle, two similar yet very different locations. The third was an accidental meeting with the type of person every viable region requires.

My early conclusion is that most regions, like most individuals, are UNPREPARED FOR THE DIGITAL DISRUPTION and ultimately destined for the backwaters of time. Think about YOUR community. Is it in better shape?

Keep-Up, Not Catch-Up
A core premise behind any change or productivity improvement effort is the concept of Keep-up, not Catch-up.

Conditions in life, science, business, medicine, and government evolve dynamically. Occasionally, the change is transformational or disruptive. In effect, the new information/knowledge gap "stacks up," and creates an obstacle to moving forward.

Failing to keep up with events or deal with the wall of new knowledge puts us at a clear disadvantage and requires hard work to catch up. When stuck in a liminal abyss, it is difficult to know what is relevant and where to reenter the process. The result may be the Alice in Wonderland effect, where you run ever faster but stay in the same place.

On a recent trip to Hawaii, I had the opportunity to visit a lava tube and gain a hands-on situational perspective.

The New Change Journey
My work life revolved around change management, including numerous complicated software and business systems implementations. Implicit with any field is taking every opportunity to update our thinking and perspective. Recent studies have provided greater insight into why some change is/was so hard, and what is required to facilitate any conversion. Liminality, briefly discussed in January's newsletter, is a significant tool for project management and change agents. The concept has contemporary application for today's business world, with contract workers, temporary teams, international teams, and the use of outside services. Everything is fluid, even ambiguous, complicating the process of bringing everyone through the learning and acceptance curve.

Habits, Portals, and Business Opportunities
Each New Year we make resolutions to change behavior or circumstances and, just as consistently, break them with little more than a twinge of regret. The reason is simple. We are creatures of habit, repeating behavioral patterns based on experiences and education. It is difficult for us to see what needs to change. Without the supporting inflow of new information or circumstances, we are blind to possibilities. We don't know what we don't know, and without cause, there can be no effect.

This Focused Fire Newsletter reflects a change in my past habits, where political commentary mixed with business subjects was normal. The concern today is not how the government is affecting freedoms and opportunities, but on the business systems and workplace issues that are prerequisite to future success.

The True Spirit of Christmas is Giving
This Christmas Eve, most Americans will sleep comfortably in a warm house with electricity and running water. On Christmas morning, families will gather around well-decorated trees and open presents. Most of the gifts will be material things adding to present levels of clutter. The process is the spirit of Christmas, often without including Christ in the celebration.

Unfortunately, some people lack the essentials. While poverty is a global problem and the Christmas solution is giving to charity, some natural events demand human compassion and a massive infusion of resources.

Dominica is one such place. On September 17, 2017, hurricane Maria wiped out the infrastructure. The people have nothing themselves, and there will be no Christmas trees or presents for the children.

Forgotten Purpose
I am most thankful for two wonderful revelations. The first is new clarity of purpose and values. The second is converting potentially negative time to a positive purpose. While celebrating the effect, the cause is both troubling and sad. The feeling is akin to leaving an old friend and knowing you may never see each other again, but if you do, that warm feeling will be gone.

History is replete with examples of systems, countries, institutions, and businesses failing when they lose focus on their purpose and mission. In America, many systems are fragmenting into the concrete of institutionalization and lost purpose.

Among these is the National Football League.

A Call For National Unity
Given the news of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, I scrapped the planned October Newsletter.

The shooter planned the event very well, raining hundreds of rounds of bullets down on a defenseless concert crowd. It was a massacre unprecedented in American history. Many people ran towards the danger, trying to save or help others.

I had a flashback to Hurricane Harvey, where everyone also helped each other. Race was not an issue, there were victims of all colors and economic status working to save and provide for others.

Plight of the Dreamers
Approximately 850,000 Americans are in danger of deportation. These are the grown children brought here by illegal immigrants while quite young. The USA is the only home they have ever known, and most contribute positively to society. Following is a brief summary of the plight of the Dreamers.

Fire the Whole Damn Bunch (well, most of them)
This Focused Fire Newsletter is about the malfunction of our federal legislative branch. Our Senate and Congress are the greatest constraint to economic growth, health care, and solving the immigration issue. They are responsible for legislation enabling the citizens of the United States of America to pursue the rights spelled out in the constitution. It is their job. They are not doing it, and the cost to our society is enormous.

God Bless America
Today is June 30, 2017, the Friday before a long 4th of July weekend. Millions of Americans worked hard, in factories making products, offices providing services, on construction crews building roads, in hospitals treating illnesses and injuries, and at fast foods flipping hamburgers for minimum wage. On summer vacation, students are working at any job they can find.

Some families will be on vacation, spreading across the country enjoying the almost limitless recreational opportunities found in America. Others, caught in poorer circumstances, will spend another day fighting the endless war to feed and clothe their families.

The Cold, Unforgiving World
Writing a monthly newsletter is always an adventure, involving research that inevitably causes reflection on humans as a species, and how we act and react in recurring situations. The result can be the disequilibrium of the labyrinth, or the Minotaur challenging what I think I know. At other times, I am blessed when enlightenment shines brightly, albeit briefly, making the search for truth, knowledge, and opportunity worthwhile.

Ignorance vs Knowledge

This month's newsletter is a convergence of technical and metaphysical research applied to our world today, and the potential effects on the world tomorrow. While not a Buddhist, this ancient philosophy helps bridge my research, linking the hard science of technology to mental clarity and wisdom. I charted the chain for both knowledge and ignorance, as gleaned from Buddhism. I think they are universal truths phrased in beautiful, very human terms. They have great application in these times of conflicted social issues and the technological disruption. Currently, half the country is resisting change, but it will happen anyway. The disruption will leave the unprepared behind, with no one else to blame but themselves.

Rethink Global Warming Solutions
Earth Day and two National Geographic feature articles, "The Age of Disbelief," and "Climate Change: 7 Things You Need to Know", state that science is under siege. The two issues of interest for this newsletter are evolution and global warming.

As a youth, I read Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species by Natural Selection: or, The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life." Evolution is the theory that all living species evolve over time. Attributes that provide greater survivability progress at a higher rate, and recessive attributes weaken or disappear. All living creatures, including humans, started in the appropriate chemical "muck." In summary, the theory establishes a progression from lower life forms to higher, including the human species.

The National Geographic articles make the case that government and individuals are rejecting the concept that carbon burning created global warming for a variety of reasons. A catastrophe with the potential of global warming is well outside of our experience. While many can intellectually assimilate the facts, denial of the potential threats is also widespread. By ignoring the problem, we fail to take the actions required to save ourselves as a species. In many cases, the discussion has degenerated into polarized politics.

Science shouts that an environmental Armageddon is occurring. The only way to prevent the catastrophe is drastic reductions in global carbon emissions (greenhouse-gas GHG), accompanied by massive changes in human behavior.

Our Community Mourns
Three communities, Rothschild, Schofield, and Weston, Wisconsin, came together for a common purpose on March 29. We mourned, yet celebrated, the lives of four neighbors killed by an enraged husband intent on shooting his wife.

The Great Wall of China is a magnificent engineering feat, and a sobering lesson about constraints. The first impression is just how massive it is. The second is the sense of purpose required to build the 5500-mile long project, constructed over a 2000-year span. It took time for the most profound fact to penetrate my consciousness. One million people died constructing the wall. Incorporated in the masonry like any block of stone, they rest in what many call the "longest cemetery in the world."

The historians can ponder the subject, but the wall was effective against small groups of Mongolian raiders, and provided little return on investment.

America is preparing to build a wall on the southern border. The objective is to manage the flow of people and protect our assets from criminals. Given today's technology, it could be effective. The premise is little different from locking our doors at night, or bedding down in the comfort of Hollywood, itself a city of walls and gates. Granted, the humanitarian issues are pervasive. (See Page 5).

Change At The Edge Of Chaos And Order
The driving force behind my deep dive into the disruptive issues is discovering precisely how technology is/will affect entrepreneurs and users of enterprise systems, the primary subjects of my passion and writings. All authors have an implied responsibility to their readers, to thoroughly research technical subjects before publication. I take pride in doing extensive research to supplement real-life experience when publishing a book, newsletter, or photo/essay. Readers need to know the information is current and accurate. My goal is, and will always be keeping you informed and enabling your success.

Our last month's newsletter, Data Rules, summarized a reordering of society and the workplace as the world enters a time of massive digital disruption. The first layer reveals technological and social implications with mind-blowing consequences. The unprepared will pay dearly, but unlimited opportunities exist for individuals capable of adaptation and willing to embrace change by taking the appropriate actions.

Data Rules
The reordering of society and the workplace are entering a period of hyper-convergence driven by the digital disruption. These forces, like invisible tsunamis, will change our lives so completely that in four years, 2017 will be the dark ages. Some writers call this a singularity, but this may be a stretch. What we know is a data-driven society will transform the way we live and work. The result will potentially be a more competitive America, offering greater opportunities to every citizen.

Meltdown means losing control of a nuclear power plant core. It also means the loss of rational behavior. The election of Donald Trump ignited a partial social meltdown, made worse by the normalcy bias, where people refused to believe a "worst-case" outcome was even possible, but then it happened.

Election 2016 Hold Your Nose, but VOTE
I have performed multiple research projects, authored eight books, and written numerous photo/essays. I admit to intense editing and debate over word usage, but have never struggled for words to express my analysis or feelings until now. The unsavory presidential election delayed the publication of the October newsletter. For the record, I passionately HATE this election, and most of the people I know, from both parties, dislike it as much as I do.

My evaluations of the options and consequences for this election are complete, and once past the odor, I found some room for optimism.

The population of the United States of America is approximately 320 million. Out of this large number, the 2016 election features Hillary and Bill Clinton running against Donald Trump, all seriously flawed human beings, as candidates for the most powerful office in the world. There are numerous conflicts of ethics, both personal and societal, of the status quo vs. transformation, and raises serious questions on the issue of "for the greater good." Of more importance, is the risk presented to our Republic and Constitution.

Information Echo Chambers
Information Echo Chambers are a troubling social issue I found while researching The Little Boy Asked-WHY. The Search for Answers. The purpose of this newsletter is to share this information, its effect on every American, today and in the future. The young adults are a special concern, because they are in greater danger.

During the 2010 elections, I attended the Johnson/Feingold Senatorial debate at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon Campus. One of Senator Feingold's criticisms was that Ron Johnson, a successful business owner, had stated his favorite book was Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957. The reason Senator Feingold picked this point for criticism was semi-elusive at the time. Ron Johnson defeated Senator Feingold in the election, so I put the book and research aside, and moved on to more pressing priorities.

For the 2016 election cycle, these two candidates are in a rematch. With the old and new research in hand, the reasons for the disagreement over the book are clear, raising significant questions about power and control.

Treating People Like Mushrooms
One of the fondest expressions in business is "our people are our most important assets," then failing to inform or involve them.

There is an old but appropriate joke about treating team members (people), as mushrooms. "Keep them in the dark, and shovel them _____, or____________or___________!"

I submit this practice extends far into many human interactions and is pervasive in the political arena as well as the workplace. It is one of the world's greatest turn-offs and the source for negative conflict between the people and the government, employees and management.

Lean Success Factors
Recently, I read a Linked In posting by Paul Docherty, titled 6 Common Reasons for Six Sigma initiative failure. The reasons Mr. Docherty provided and supports are:

      1. Lack of benefit quantification
      2. Lack of management buy-in
      3. Lack of tangible results from a pilot
      4. Lack of coaching and skills
      5. Lack of resources
      6. Is it seen as too complicated?

This is an interesting discussion. The points are valid, but appear to be academic instead of honed on the grinding wheel of the shop floor. It is, to me, a growing conflict of perspectives applicable to Lean and ERP.

I want to win, not avoid failure, and approach program/project management from a success factor perspective.

ERP Systems As Capital Equipment
Following a recent SME (Society Manufacturing Engineering) plant tour, an executive for a high-technology company in the early stages of evaluating a different ERP system, asked, "What software package do you recommend?"

My response was the same given numerous times. "Your question addresses the solution; first you must define the problem."

It is easy to think about software when performing an ERP investigation, but the right solution for one company may be wrong for another, even if the two companies are outwardly similar.

The decision to purchase an ERP system is a major decision, and the process needs to be elevated to the appropriate level. It is a capital investment, and requires all the due diligence afforded to the purchase of an expensive multi-axis milling machine. It is strategic, requiring advanced knowledge of the business direction.

Shop Floor - ERP
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), forged in the fires of necessity, addressed the needs of the vertically integrated manufacturing system. By every measurement ERP is a blue-collar, engineering driven system developed to make the right product right, in the right quantity, at the right time, and meet the needs of the customer.

With this in mind, we can depart on our shop tour.

Shop Floor - Taking a Tour
There are different types of shop tours.

The first type is informational. One example is the ongoing series of tours associated with MFGDAY. Member companies provide tours to student groups, teaching them about contemporary manufacturing and the related career opportunities.

Another example is customer visits, or learning/sharing tours for groups such as SME. This month's newsletter focuses on this kind of an informational tour.

The second basic type is assessments, viewing the shop from a performance perspective or as part of a GAP analysis. This requires skill and knowledge, and while experienced shop people may take a tour for informational purposes, there will always be an element of the second. Next month's letter will cover assessments, specifically as it applies to ERP.

Shop Floor Perspective
For the next three months, the Focused Fire Newsletter will discuss the shop floor, a favorite place for the author.

        March     Shop Floor Perspective
        April Shop Floor Tour
        May Shop Floor - Is your ERP System Broken?

They once called people who spent a great deal of time in operations "shop rats," some in a derogatory context, others with great affection. Operations are a world of productive people making things, and contributing to a competitive America. It is where manufacturing and distribution companies make their money, and a place easily forgotten when drinking coffee in the comfort of one's office.

Our Broken Bureaucracy - Enough!
Enough! Every time I turn on the news, the talking heads repeat the mantra "Americans are angry at the establishment and therefore voting for Donald Trump and/or Bernie Sanders." The second phase repeated ad infinitum is how "fearful we are."

When the voters attempt to alter an entrenched course, in this case, the direction America is heading, but repeatedly fail, the result is a quiet rebellion. If people riot in the streets and burn buildings, that is anger.

The genesis for our unhappy state occurred at the nexus of two disruptive, fractured continuums. It started in mid-1950 with the civil rights movement, and ended in 1975 with the conclusion of the Vietnam War. Both generated true anger, scarring our political process. The civil rights issue continues to fester, but Vietnam cut a deep, still unabridged, political chasm.

Time Capsule - Reopen on Dec. 1, 2016
It is January, and tradition dictates a sunny perspective for the New Year. I am passionate and positive about life and the future, but also a hardheaded realist. Our country is in deep trouble and the future of America is very much in doubt. This year's election is pivotal, and it will determine if our Constitution continues as the law of the land, preserving our liberties, or we sink further into dystopia.

This Focused Fire Newsletter is for future generations. Its purpose is to project the macro consequences of the national election on November 8, 2016. This decision will determine how you live, what freedoms you will enjoy, and what potential opportunities will be available.

Choice and Responsibility
Last Sunday, the homily in Church was about choice and responsibility. The essence was that we are all responsible for society and the choices made for the common good. The homily dealt with the need to take responsibility for the immigrants from Syria, South America, and Mexico.

Affinity Systems LLC, a project management company, developed materials to train ERP selection and project improvement teams. Decision-making was one of those classes. For me, the sermon raised some troubling issues about choices and responsibility.

The Evolution of Production Planning and Hot Lists
This month I am returning to the shop floor and information systems, the essence of Affinity Systems LLC, to provide a comparative historic perspective. Today, manufacturing uses highly sophisticated computer based production planning and control systems to manage and synchronize business operations, from demand planning through completed order arrival at the customer. We look at how people performed important tasks in the dark ages before computers, and then measure progress.

We are traveling backwards in time, to 1970, arriving at a furniture company located in the north woods of Wisconsin.

Internet Predators
Internet crime is one of the most serious issues facing society, moving from the Lone Wolf attacks of yesterday to the vicious pack mentality prevalent today. The FBI reports that drug cartels using highly sophisticated methods have multiplied the dangers, and international criminals steal intellectual property and identities with impunity.

Each year, Senior citizens have the opportunity to make changes to their Medicare programs. This presents a window of opportunity for Internet criminals of every type.

The problems faced by seniors on Medicare make it vital that we inform everyone about the clear and present danger from phishes and frauds.

The Bear is Back
Our Phase Four Graphics photography trip to Alaska provided yet another analogy, one addressing recent economic issues. Natalie took the images for this photo/essay under difficult conditions. Collectively, they tell a great and appropriate story.

The financial bear has returned to the economy. After devouring most of the stock market gains realized during the year, it is hungrily eating our savings and wealth. While the pundits and talking heads differ about the reasons, be it China, the world economy or an overheated stock market, the answer is as obvious as ______.

Predator and Prey - An Analogy
This month, the Newsletter takes the form of a Photo/Essay, an analogy. This real-life photography experience occurred when Natalie, my wife and partner in Phase Four Graphics, traveled the Alcan Highway. We share the photography work and the credit.

We use the photography to draw an analogy to the recent agreement between the President of the United States and Iran. The analogy, extended, includes other countries representing threats to American freedom, our way of life, and the future for our children and grandchildren.

The Freedom Test
Each year our nation celebrates the Fourth of July as the birthday of the United States of America. It is also the celebration of our liberties.

Many people, both military and civilian, have died in the process of obtaining and preserving those freedoms. We offer a prayer for our military, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency personnel, past and present.

We need action as well as prayer.

The military continues in harm's way, operating under dangerous rules of engagement. Gone are the advantages of force multipliers, superior strength, and the speed of execution. Gone are the lessons learned. The pacifist, Arthur Neville Chamberlain, enabled Adolph Hitler, and a holocaust followed. Conversely, speed, power, and resolve combined to optimize force during Desert Storm, when Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf kicked Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

Racial Killing in South Carolina
Outrage, compassion, and prayers, all are reactions in the aftermath of the horrible hate crime perpetrated by a young white supremacist. He shot and killed nine innocent members in an African-American church.

The way it happened is sickening.

GREED over Common Sense
Once upon a time in a country named America, times were prosperous. The great conflict, World War II, was in the rear-view mirror and the future was bright and shiny. Every day millions of people, lunch pails in hand, kissed their family members, got into their cars, and drove to high-paying factory jobs. They made every type of product required for their society, and in turn, bought products from other local and national suppliers. The money cycled within the American economic system, and everyone who wanted to work, could find a job. Every manufacturing job generated six to ten other jobs in health care, banking, services, transportation, and synergistic manufacturing.

The Rule of Law or Chaos
The riots in Ferguson, MO, Baltimore, MD, and other American cities have ripped the scabs off deeply painful wounds, festering for decades. The root causes are difficult to understand and correct and society has looked around for a scapegoat, someone easy to blame. Many well-meaning people, upset by the reports of police brutality, decided law enforcement is the "root of all evil." They have joined the chorus condemning all departments. The focus has been harsh, and all across America, our blue guardians have become a target for protestor's at all civic and governmental levels.

Since most of us live in more stable circumstances, it is useful to address the issue differently, and understand the frustration and causes precipitating negative actions.

Revisiting Generation X
The subject of the April Focused Fire Newsletter is Generation X, the children of the Silent's and the Boomers. Our children belong to this demographic. All have college degrees, are in original marriages, and we are very proud of them. They have, and are, doing an amazing job of raising and educating their children, the Millennials and the Gen Z, preparing them to participate in a complicated and very competitive world. Like every demographic, there are degrees of success and all will not profit equally. Education, for the most part, will determine who will succeed.

The Millennials-America's Future
I have an affinity for the demographic group labeled "Millennials," Generation Y, or Echo Boomers, and extending through Generation Z. A more inclusive label is young adults. Although our grandchildren fit within these categories, the identity goes deeper, and for very good reasons. In many ways, we share the same values, but they are the face in the future. Mine is the past.

Previous generations really stuck it to the young adults. Their idealism, unfortunately, exacerbated the situation. Following is a situational summary, and why older generations owe them big time.

The USA is Now Number 2
I congratulate all of you, my fellow Americans. We have succeeded in achieving the inconceivable. It is so preposterous, that twenty years ago I would have laughed at the thought. Unfortunately, humor is missing in action. In any event, it is a self-imposed agony with enormous consequences. Worse, our children and grandchildren will ultimately pay the price.

While Americans looked inwards, engaged in politics between Democrats and Republicans, the consequences of redistribution and downsizing are now real and absolute. China is the new world's Number One Superpower. They surpassed the United States in late 2014, in industrial output and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), by adjusted Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), measuring actual outputs on an equivalent basis.

Trashing Ignorance
Thrashing ignorance (The Ladder of Inference) is a wasteful and universal process that most of us periodically engage in. It means stacking up assumptions as if they are valid facts, then adding additional dialog, debating the issue, and defining a solution. None of it is real, and it does not require knowledge. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge, and the process perpetuates the ignorance. The problem occurs when we accept the false premises as facts, and put them into action.

The problem is extremely acute when law enforcement is involved.

Make a Difference
Christmas and New Years day are times for celebration and giving. They provide the opportunity for self-reflection and centering our lives on family and friends. We need to take time and think about who we are as individuals and members of a complex society. This little photo journey is a trip through a natural winter wonderland, Sequoia National Park.

Your Choice - Policy or Opportunity Driven Society
America needs to rebuild an opportunity society, where hard work and effort pay off for the individual and society in general. An opportunity society, while free market based, is not the same as capitalism or laissez faire, viewing all governments as an intrusion, nor supporting exploitation of labor, capital, and resources for pure monetary gain. At the same time, in an opportunity society, government cannot exploit business, labor, capital, and resources to achieve unrealistic or artificial economic parity. Nor can it implement transformational programs, by the name of a non-specific greater good. Nor can it use its position to justify and/or achieve dystopian objectives. When it attempts to do so, historically, it actually increases the overall waste through the cost of government and the inefficiencies implicit in "big bureaucratic systems," while wreaking lasting damage to our freedoms.

The Redistribution of America
Throughout history, disparate ideals converge, retaining their respective paradigms, but creating intense energy for change. Environmentalism and President Obama are uneasy partners in a net sum game where the total resource consumption and capital must remain in equilibrium to achieve sustainability. While environmentalism is concerned about the overall concept of resource conservancy, Obama is committed to an ideology obsessed with how wealth and resources are distributed and who gets what.

Obama's concept of redistribution extends far beyond the rich sharing more with the poor. His vision is vastly different, redistributing wealth to the third world while downsizing America in the world economy and as a super-power.

Coming Soon - A National Database of You
Information is a tool for great good or evil, depending on how and who uses it. It is critical to understand that information is the new currency of global exchange. Governments, industry, and individuals spend billions of dollars in search of every type of information. Our personal data is the most valuable and highly sought-after possession that we own. It directly links to our wealth and personal power. Every citizen of the United States, and most of the world, is in danger of losing personal freedoms by the misappropriation or misapplication of their invisible data self.

of Cows and Cattle (political satire)
There will be two September Focused Fire Newsletters. The scheduled issue is still in process, but the deadline for the newsletter is now. Visiting a farm, our youngest adult daughter inadvertently provided a solution of how to meet the deadline and have a little fun. She had some interesting snapshots of cows, but one photograph really stood out. It represented an opportunity to poke some fun at our government. When asked if I could use the photo, her first response was "yes." Given further details on content, she declared they were just cute innocent cows, and the photograph was not available for political purposes.

Now emotionally committed to a humorous interim newsletter, I took a series of photographs, serving the purpose while allowing her cows and superior photos to retain their integrity. Perhaps she will share the very cool photograph on Facebook.

The Children Immigrants
Today, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants, many unaccompanied children, illegally surge over the US/Mexican border, and then surrender to the border patrol. The masses are multi-sourced, from the Caribbean, Central America, and other countries. The trip is perilous, made possible by organized criminals and corrupted officials, who welcome two additional revenue streams. These are extremely violent people, with little regard for life, who use and abuse the children. The criminals make money by funneling the immigrants through Mexico and across the border, but also by supplying the sex trade across the world with untraceable young women.

They come for many reasons, primarily opportunities for a new and better life in America, enabled and encouraged by conditions created by the Obama administration. The problem is not the children, who must be provided safety and with compassionate concern for their current and future welfare.

Our Turn
The 4th of July is a time to celebrate America, and the values it stands for, with flags flying, bands blaring out the National Anthem and fireworks exploding in the night sky.

Joy is elusive this year. This week, I attended the funeral for a veteran from the Vietnam era. Following the Catholic burial service, he received military recognition. The honor guard was impeccable in pressed Navy whites, with properly worn chrome helmets. Every action was precise, salutes sharp, arms straight. The barks of the M1 Garand's in the 21-gun salute were as one. The bugle player for Taps was older, and the music wavered slightly, but still reminiscent of the nights in the barracks and field. The music sadly floated over this warrior, as it has millions of others, a final farewell to arms. The honor guard folded the flag carefully and correctly into a triangle, and then reverently presented the symbol to his widow.

The ceremony recognized this veteran for deeds, not words, serving America honorably to preserve our values and system, as men and women have done since the American Revolution.

The funeral was a reminder of how our military is under attack. The bomb blasts are political and unheard or ignored by the media.

Trust is the glue for civilized interaction and essential for sustaining all relationships, whether personal, business, or political. While an intangible, trust is one of the most powerful words in our vocabulary.

In a society, at work, at home or as part of our religion, there are shared values, including ethics, morals, and implied responsibilities for others. Obviously, religions and populations throughout the world have different value systems. In many cases, although flawed logic, people interpret shared values as being for the greater good, and violation of standards results in distrust and soiled reputations. In some countries, the consequences are extremely severe.

Happy Mother's Day
May is for Mother's Day, but it provides an opportunity for all men to honor the women in their lives. This newsletter is to tell all the women in my life they are loved, and thank you for enriching my life.

Throughout history, in many places and forms, women were/are treated as second-class citizens. The justification is that women were subordinate to men. In some situations, family fortunes go to sons, ignoring daughters.

Fortunately, there is a generational progression of women, each building on the strengths of the previous. Unfortunately, progress is not worldwide.

Apr 2014
For the past four months, it has been a pleasure working with Mike Theiss, Information Technology Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon Campus, and Tony Omernik, RSVP Director for the United Way of Marathon County. They have worked diligently on programs to educate senior citizens though an outreach program. It is an honor to be a member of their dedicated team working to help seniors enjoy their computers while remaining safe both on and off line.

Mar 2014
Upon discovery, lying and/or deceiving potentially results in angry consequences, with reaction often proportionately more severe than the lie itself. The greatest casualty is a loss of trust and respect. There will be accountability in some form, perhaps severe. The best resolution is taking responsibility, admission, and accountability. Regaining trust requires investment in the relationship, and honest actions, not words. This presumes others are considered to be worthy of an apology, and continuing relationship.

Match this private reaction to the public tolerance of near pathological lying by our elected officials on both sides, even after the lie is irrefutable

Feb 2014
In practice, the definition and context changes with viewpoint. For example, manufacturing may define it as conformance to design and specifications, while a customer measures it by how well it meets expectations and needs. Health care measures quality in terms of patient outcomes. A different measurement is value perception as a product and its associated usefulness.

Jan 2014
As the dream unfolded, I am riding an ATV on a strange, oil slick, dark road with mud-like, but glassy texture. All structure and life were totally absent until I approached two racially mixed boys, sitting on this strange substance, dressed in patched but spotlessly clean clothes. The oldest, about four, was repairing a nondescript device while the smaller boy, quiet throughout the encounter, played with a broken toy truck.

I asked the older boy, "Where is everyone?"

Dec 2013
As these images clogged one part of consciousness, the experience of childhood and poverty slowly began to flood another part, and then they merged into one set of conclusions. The first merger point was recognition that poverty is real, not an abstract social discussion about redistribution.

Nov 2013
Political Humor

Sep 2013
The August Focused Fire Newsletter broadly addressed business fundamentals. To recap, all business people need to share entrepreneurial goals, regardless of ownership or professional management, and implement programs to ...

Aug 2013
Ushering in Church one Sunday, I observed a wasp fighting furiously to exit via a side window, separated from the open door by a six-inch support structure. The wasp repeatedly assaulted the pane, buzzing furiously in frustration. When ...

Jul 2013
The joy about being an American is in having the freedom to write anything. We sit behind our desks surrounded by comfortable objects. Facts to support our opinion are available via the Internet, and picked to support starting premises ...

Jun 2013
Freedom is the essence of America, cast into the foundation of the Republic by the Founders, then locked into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of ...

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