An Exercise in Divination

Owing to the mysterious nature of life, man, from the beginning, has been fascinated with divining the future. We are familiar with the story of the Three Magi, who divined from the position of the stars, that the Messiah was coming, and that the birth was to be heralded by a giant star.

Modern man cannot escape this fascination either. There are so many ways of divination according to the philosophy and group think that one belongs to. Examples are the I-Ching, the Tarot, seashells, tea leaves, runes, etc.

The Mahjong Tarot by Fiona Benjamin is a new if revolutionary addition to the arsenal of tarot divinations. Our take on it is that the reading is so alive, it is as if you are being nudged from your core–very uncannily accurate as to your present circumstances. One does hope that the future occurrences will likewise be as compelling as the present insights.

Our reading:


Should you want to avail yourself of Fiona’s amazingly accurate tarot readings, you may book an appointment with her on her website.

A Synchronicity from Orion

From the Dogon to the ancient Egyptians, the Orion Constellation is revered as gods. We have thus substantiated this fact with our current work on Orion, by focusing on the Orion’s Belt, otherwise known as The Three Kings. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Here are the recent (September 27, 2014) visual messages from Orion. The vibe is that all biological beings are born of the serpent, and the proof is the double snake of all biological DNA.


And here are the images from contemporary anthropology works.


The bottom line is that Orion is never wrong. So does this mean our creator is a Snake, and that man is basically reptilian, contrary opinions notwithstanding?

In Praise of Lanzones


September is when we have a surfeit of lanzones in Leyte, Philippines. The fruit reminds us of our dear mother, who passed away this month back in 1997–people would offer bunches of the fruit at her interment, and our grief was a bit assuaged knowing that it was the fruit of the gods.

Lansium parasiticum (syn. Lansium domesticum), also known as langsat (/ˈlɑːŋsɑːt/) or lanzones,is a species of tree in the Mahogany family. The plant, which originates from western Southeast Asia, bears edible fruit. It is the provincial flower for the Indonesian province of South Sumatra. The tree is average sized, reaching 30 metres (98 ft) in height and 75 centimetres (30 in) in diameter. Seedling trees 30 years old planted at 8 x 8 meter spacing can have a height of 10 meters and diameter of 25 cm. The trunk grows in an irregular manner, with its buttress roots showing above ground. The tree’s bark is a greyish colour, with light and dark spots. Its resin is thick and milk coloured.[2]

The pinnately compound leaves are odd numbered, with thin hair, and 6 to 9 buds at intervals. The buds are long and elliptical, approximately 9 to 21 centimetres (3.5 to 8.3 in) by 5 to 10 centimetres (2.0 to 3.9 in) in size. The upper edge shines, and the leaves themselves have pointed bases and tips. The stems of the buds measure 5 to 12 millimetres (0.20 to 0.47 in).[2]

The flowers are located in inflorescences that grow and hang from large branches or the trunk; the bunches may number up to 5 in one place. They are often branched at their base, measure 10 to 30 centimetres (3.9 to 11.8 in) in size, and have short fur.[3] The flowers are small, with short stems, and have two genders. The sheathe is shaped like a five lobed cup and is coloured a greenish-yellow. The corona is egg-shaped and hard, measuring 2 to 3 millimetres (0.079 to 0.118 in) by 4 to 5 millimetres (0.16 to 0.20 in). There is one stamen, measuring 2 millimetres (0.079 in) in length. The top of the stamen is round. The pistil is short and thick.[2]

The fruit can be elliptical, oval, or round, measuring 2 to 7 centimetres (0.79 to 2.76 in) by 1.5 to 5 centimetres (0.59 to 1.97 in) in size. Fruits look much like small potatoes and are borne in clusters similar to grapes. The larger fruits are on the variety known as duku. It is covered by thin, yellow hair giving a slightly fuzzy aspect. The skin thickness varies with the varieties, from 2 millimetres (0.079 in) to approximately 6 millimetres (0.24 in). The fruit contains 1 to 3 seeds, flat, and bitter tasting; the seeds are covered with a thick, clear-white aril that tastes sweet and sour.[2] The taste has been likened to a combination of grape and grapefruit and is considered excellent by most. The sweet juicy flesh contains sucrose, fructose, and glucose.[4] For consumption, cultivars with small or undeveloped seeds and thick aril are preferred. Source: Wikipedia

Lanzones grow wild in the hinterlands of Guinarona, although a lot of cultivars are in the front yard of homes. (We wonder now if the super typhoon in November 2013 blew them away as well.) More sweet are the wild ones perhaps because they thrive on the whispers of insects and birds–and on the banks of the Ibugue creek, the singing of rivulets. We used to have one supple true at Ibugue, which, in September, bore fruits in profusion. The joke then was that a pregnant woman should stay away for the fruits would die away. Which was why we would promise to share the harvest with anybody carrying a baby.

It’s only once a year that you get to eat lanzones. The velvety, sweet and tangy flavor of the fruit is to die for.

The Orion’s Belt: An Epiphany

A scry of Orion, September 12, 2014

A scry of Orion, September 12, 2014

Intermittently, we do have dreams about a huge spaceship hovering above the night sky, its colored lights aflicker–that seemed to have a mind of its own, intent on doing us harm.  Our heart would seem to jump out of our rib cage, and we would cower in fear.  We would dart around, and the spaceship would always be a constant above our heads, seemingly intent to bomb us out.  The constant theme is that we have nowhere to hide.

We have this epiphany of late that we have to embrace the spaceship–perhaps it is there to fetch us, to bring us to our origin in the stars.  The Orion Constellation has a huge vibe with us–the Orion’s Belt in particular, also known as the Three Kings.  Deep within we feel that the Three Kings are in the palm of our hand and that one of our past lives was being a royalty in Ancient Egypt.

The ancient Egyptians have this affinity with the Orion’s Belt–the pyramids at Giza are aligned with it.  Pyramids-Orion-761x1024_pe

Babylonians knew Orion as MUL.SIPA.ZI.AN.NA or The Heavenly Shepherd (The True Shepherd of Anu) in the Late Bronze Age and associated the constellation with Anu, the god of the heavenly realms. Egyptians associated it with Osiris, the god of death, afterlife and rebirth. Orion was also identified with Unas, the last Pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty, who was said to have eaten the flesh of his enemies and devoured the gods themselves to become great and bring inheritance of his power. According to myth, Unas travels through the sky to become the star Sabu, or Orion.

Because pharaohs were believed to be transformed into Osiris after death, some of the greatest pyramids – the ones at Giza – were built to mirror the pattern of the stars in the constellation. To make the transformation easier, the air shaft in the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid was aligned with the star Alnitak, Zeta Orionis, the easternmost star in Orion’s Belt.

The Orion’s Belt seem to speak to us in tones easy to understand. Perhaps it has something to do with a new dimension the Earth is brought into.

And no, we have not lost our mind.

A Repost: A Philippine Hero: Benigno Aquino III

By Joe America

It seems to me that it is time to stop referring to the President casually, as if he were our pal, an ordinary guy we demanded be our president because he was of good parentage and decent character.

For me, it is now Mr. President, or the President, or Benigno Aquino III, or minimally Noynoy Aquino. But no more Pnoy, no more Noy. No more casual.

This is no ordinary guy.

Now some will complain that I am a shill for the Administration, or brand me a yellow-tard, or cast some other credibility-destroying hard words my direction. And they will do this upon reading the headline, or before I even type a word past the first two paragraphs of this article.

Which basically proves the point they are not really writing about my views, but about their bias against Mr. Aquino, probably based on an incident or two that upset them. So cast your stones. It makes no difference to me.

This is no ordinary guy.

Now some want the President to look like Fernando Poe or Piolo Pascual and have a movie star wife and seven kids and a dynasty in process with a kid in the Senate and another the Mayor. They want him to crush people like Pacquiao does and cheat on his wife and get rich by sucking up the taxpayer money like ordinary power-peddlers. You know, show some manhood.

Well, to me the guy has more manhood in his character than all those addle-valued nutcases who are out to prove something to somebody ALL THE TIME because down deep they are blood-sucking leeches preying on our community, or are ineffectual pantywaists who are afraid of their own shadows.

Normally, one’s legacy comes in the future. That gives time a chance to apply its talent to reveal the full meanings of acts undertaken today. Well, let’s just mosey down the road a piece, maybe 10 or 15 years, and look back at now. If we do that, we will see that some hints exist today about President Aquino’s eventual legacy.

Two such hints appeared in articles that popped up on Rappler the other day. They were like flint on steel, generating a spark that simmered in my mind and then, overnight, turned into a blaze of comprehension.

One article talked about the Administration acknowledging that it was falling short of social development goals, specifically a reduction in poverty.
The other reported on Ayala Land Corporation’s proposed investment of P70 billion in new projects this year.

Behind on Social Development Goals

Do you realize how strikingly unusual it is for any public servant to acknowledge he is not doing what needs to be done? That he is not up to HIS OWN expectations?

It doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. This is the land of blame and excuse, of accusation and denial, of sly deceits aimed at preserving face and pasting over insecurities or lack of confidence. This is not a land of forthright honesty, of candor, of confidence.

EXCEPT for the rare executives in the crowd. The pragmatists. The realists. The people who honestly want to do a good job, who strive for real achievement.

President Aquino entered office as a reserved, quiet, humble man. And he went to work. Somewhere along the line he grew backbone to replace passivity, determination to replace hesitation, and maturity unmatched by ANY other leader in Asia and perhaps the world.

Now he has the unmitigated EXECUTIVE GALL – that state of overbearing managerial or presidential COMPETENCE – to look at his own stated measures of performance and to call it as he sees it:

“We aren’t doing enough. We must do more.”

Astounding. Truly. His desire to do well by the Philippines is more important than spinning things pretty.

My dear Filipino friends, enemies, and neighbors, your President is a smart man with good values, determination, and an eye on getting good things done.

He faces up to sultans and rebels and crooks and headstrong mayors and epal-addicted politicians and outrageously negative media and leaders of Taiwan and Hong Kong and China, and he represents us – you and me – with calm intelligence, determined strength, peaceful intent and an end result in mind.

He is building the Philippines like no president before him. None. Zero.

He keeps after his subordinates, cabinet members of no light reputation or character, to stay focused and produce results. Who else built over 66,000 classrooms in three years, or chartered so many road, rail and airport investments that Manila risks crashing to a standstill so that valuable infrastructure can be put in place?

And you don’t see him wasting money pasting his face on big signs near all the construction projects that are under way across the nation.

Who else would have the patience and endurance and maturity to put together a Mindanao investment agreement (that’s what is is, you know), face up to the US at the bargaining table with dignity as equals, and calmly put up with a Vice President of different values who keeps throwing wrenches into the government’s difficult works?

I look at the other clowns in leadership positions in Asia. Emotional loudmouths in Taiwan and Hong Kong, an insane murderer in North Korea, a right-wing reactionary in Japan, insecure bullies in China, politically immature leaders to the left and right . . . you want to know who shines? Who stands out as a diplomat of principle and intelligence? Who walks a straight path and talks a straight deal? Who needs to prove nothing to anybody because he has no aspiration other than to build a better nation?

President Benigno Aquino III

Well, heroes are usually not named during their own time, but after it. But can’t you read the tea leaves? Peer into the future and look back? I do, and I end up looking back and saying, “wow, that man remade the Philippines.”

Ayala Land Investments

Ayala in 2013 spent P66.26 billion on various projects. This year, they expect to spend P70 billion. They are not alone, as other property developers and businesses do the same. Malls and residential tracts and office buildings and hotels and retail stores are being built across the Philippines.

You know what else Ayala and others are building?

Jobs. Careers. Small businesses. Managers. A middle class. Wealth.

Will Ayala shareholders and executives get rich? Yep. They get rich for a reason. They are creating wealth, and it is to the nation’s benefit that they do so. They are not commie leftists with nothing to show for anything, a tower of babble leaning into the 1950’s wind spawning a bunch of gangsters who invest in extortion and destruction.

And why are the Ayalas of the Philippines willing to invest so much in this nation of ours?

Because it is stable. It is financially, socially, and ethically stronger than before Mr. Aquino took office, finances are managed professionally, the coup mentality is going, going . . . gone. Crooks are being rooted out one at a time. Tax revenue is up, leakage from corruption is down. It is a different nation.

They invest because it is a growing nation worth investing in.

You say the wealth is not reaching everyone?

Ha, that’s what President Aquino says as well.

Give it time and some tweaking. Time and the responsible work of doing it better. The US economy collapsed in 2008 and it is now six years later and businesses are still getting back on their feet.

Gadzooks, we found out yesterday that Mercury Drug is moving into my home town of Naval Biliran next month. Jollibee is looking at the market. The municipality is clean, honest, healthy and growing. Bamboo shacks are coming down and hollowblock homes are going up. I’d bet this is a national trend.

Do a stop action photo, like they do of flowers growing, and you will visually see the Philippines emerging into robust, modern times.

Reality Check

Has the President made mistakes? Well, each observer has his own eye (partially blind I might note, as we do not have information the President has) and each has his own interests. But for me, personally, I’d rate the following as “mistakes”, rated on a scale of importance, 1 to 10, with 10 being very, very important. Like, defining a nation.

Not backing FOI as a priority (10).
Not giving a visible priority to murder of journalists (7).
Not being more liberal/aggressive on modernization (ending bank secrecy, divorce law, telling the Catholic Church to move back to the pulpit) (7)
Backing the Cybercrime Prevention Act in its constitutionally challenged state (5).
Politicizing Yolanda recovery (3).

You may have your own list of his “mistakes”. But I find that he has delivered favorable results in so, so many complex areas that the mistakes fall within the realm of acceptable executive choice. They shrink when put up against the achievements, Mindanao, focus on corruption, handling crises calmly and maturely – sultan, Taiwan and Zamboanga – firm against China, economic revitalization, new contract rules to eliminate kickbacks, focus on education, building a healthy US relationship, cutting red tape, turning Customs inside out, building new alliances (Japan, Malaysia, Australia), building infrastructure, raising taxes by insisting people pay what they owe, and much, much more. Superb, mature work in very complex arenas.

You don’t change the direction of an aircraft carrier in a hundred meters and you don’t change the direction of a nation in a year. Or even six. But President Aquino has this baby cranked about.

The important thing is the stability that he brought into office on the dreams of the voters and his own hard, earnest work.

That stability – nay, that promise – is due to the “aura” of President Aquino and the application of the power that came with it to do good deeds. He built a rock-solid core foundation for the nation. It will be up to others – and to voters – to make sure the building continues. But for now . . . before the legacy is recognized worldwide . . . we only need say . . .

Keep up the good work Mr. President

What is the Inquirer’s game?

The Daily Inquirer walks on thin ice. . .

The Society of Honor: the Philippines

ethical-journalism pushdotpkMy general impression for some years has been that, of all the nation’s newspaper publications, the Daily Inquirer is the best, the most respected and popular. It offers broad news coverage and appears to have no discernible axes to grind.

The newspaper does work the sensationalist angle to boost circulation by emphasizing scandal or  conflict in big bold headlines, as do most of the Philippine media. This has the unfortunate consequence of showing the Philippines to its citizens as a nation under constant strife.

Stability is what the nation needs to do good works with a minimum of interference, to keep the economy growing and to attract travelers and investors.

It seems to me the columnists in the Inquirer Opinion Section are the best in the Philippines, as a group.

My confidence in the Inquirer gets shaken

But I must say, my ideas about the Inquirer’s integrity were shaken the other day by one editorial that took the…

View original post 1,718 more words

Mike Rowe: A Transcript: Learning from Dirty Jobs

Note: My fascination with the nitty-gritty jobs done by farmers, carpenters, jobbers, shipbuilders and others, has not gone away. considering that theirs is the bedrock of society. Development is nothing without the input of hard labor. Very wrong indeed for us to insulate our progeny from doing the hard choices. After all, even the electrons in the atom are constantly whirling around in work. Very wrong to put emphasis on computers and iPods and on sedentary jobs that shorten one’s life span.

With the Philippines on the cusp of industrialization. there is no way to hide under the rug the reality of dirty jobs, as they are even more crucial than the soft ones.

We should gain insight into the brass tacks with the following transcript of a talk by Mike Rowe on the subject, as follows:


The “Dirty Jobs” crew and I were called to a little town in Colorado, called Craig. It’s only a couple dozen square miles. It’s in the Rockies. And the job in question was sheep rancher.
My role on the show, for those of you who haven’t seen it — it’s pretty simple. I’m an apprentice, and I work with the people who actually do the jobs in question. And my responsibilities are to simply try and keep up and give an honest account of what it’s like to be these people, for one day in their life. The job in question: herding sheep. Great.
We go to Craig and we check in to a hotel and I realize the next day that castration is going to be an absolute part of this work. So, normally, I never do any research at all. But, this is a touchy subject, and I work for the Discovery Channel, and we want to portray accurately whatever it is we do, and we certainly want to do it with a lot of respect for the animals. So I called the Humane Society and I say, “Look, I’m going to be castrating some lambs, Can you tell me the deal?”
And they’re like, “Yeah, it’s pretty straightforward.” They use a band — basically a rubber band, like this, only a little smaller. This one was actually around the playing cards I got yesterday, but it had a certain familiarity to it.
And I said, “Well, what exactly is the process?”
And they said, “The band is applied to the tail, tightly. And then another band is applied to the scrotum, tightly. Blood flow is slowly retarded; a week later the parts in question fall off.
“Great — got it.” OK, I call the SPCA to confirm this — they confirm it. I also call PETA, just for fun, and they don’t like it — but they confirm it. OK, that’s basically how you do it.
So the next day I go out. And I’m given a horse and we go get the lambs and we take them to a pen that we built, and we go about the business of animal husbandry.
Melanie is the wife of Albert. Albert is the shepherd in question. Melanie picks up the lamb — two hands — one hand on both legs on the right, likewise on the left. Lamb goes on the post, she opens it up. Alright. Great. Albert goes in, I follow Albert, the crew is around. I always watch the process done the first time before I try it. Being an apprentice, you know, you do that. Albert reaches in his pocket to pull out, you know, this black rubber band but what comes out instead is a knife. And I’m like that’s not rubber at all, you know. And he kind of flicked it open in a way that caught the sun that was just coming over the Rockies, it was very — it was, it was impressive.
In the space of about two seconds, Albert had the knife between the cartilage of the tail, right next to the butt of the lamb, and very quickly the tail was gone and in the bucket that I was holding. A second later, with a big thumb and a well calloused forefinger, he had the scrotum firmly in his grasp. And he pulled it toward him, like so, and he took the knife and he put it on the tip. Now you think you know what’s coming, Michael — you don’t, OK? He snips it, throws the tip over his shoulder, and then grabs the scrotum and pushes it upward, and then his head dips down, obscuring my view, but what I hear is a slurping sound, and a noise that sounds like Velcro being yanked off a sticky wall and I am not even kidding.
Can we roll the video? No I’m kidding — we don’t — (Laughter) I thought it best to talk in pictures.
So, I do something now I’ve never ever done on a “Dirty Jobs” shoot, ever. I say, “Time out. Stop.” You guys know the show, we use take one, we don’t do take two. There’s no writing, there’s no scripting, there’s no nonsense. We don’t fool around, we don’t rehearse — we shoot what we get!
I said, “Stop. This is nuts.” I mean, you know. (Laughter) “This is crazy. We can’t do this.”
And Albert’s like, “What?”
And I’m like, “I don’t know what just happened, but there are testicles in this bucket and that’s not how we do it.”
And he said “Well, that’s how we do it.”
And I said, “Why would you do it this way?” And before I even let him explain, I said, “I want to do it the right way, with the rubber bands.”
And he says, “Like the Humane Society?”
And I said, “Yes, like the Humane Society. Let’s do something that doesn’t make the lamb squeal and bleed — we’re on in five continents, dude. We’re on twice a day on the Discovery Channel — we can’t do this.”
He says, “OK.” He goes to his box and he pulls out a bag of these little rubber bands. Melanie picks up another lamb, puts it on the post, band goes on the tail, band goes on the scrotum. Lamb goes on the ground, lamb takes two steps, falls down, gets up, shakes a little, takes another couple steps, falls down. I’m like, this is not a good sign for this lamb, at all. Gets up, walks to the corner, it’s quivering, and it lies down and it’s in obvious distress.
And I’m looking at the lamb and I say, “Albert, how long? When does he get up?”
He’s like, “A day.”
I said, “A day! How long does it take them to fall off?”
“A week.”
Meanwhile, the lamb that he had just did his little procedure on is, you know, he’s just prancing around, bleeding stopped. He’s, you know, nibbling on some grass, frolicking. And I was just so blown away at how wrong I was, in that second. And I was reminded how utterly wrong I am, so much of the time. (Laughter) And I was especially reminded of what an ridiculously short straw I had that day because now I had to do what Albert had just done, and there are like 100 of these lambs in the pen, and suddenly this whole thing’s starting to feel like a German porno, and I’m like … (Laughter)
Melanie picks up the lamb, puts it on the post, opens it up. Albert hands me the knife. I go in, tail comes off. I go in, I grab the scrotum, tip comes off. Albert instructs, “Push it way up there.” I do. “Push it further.” I do.
The testicles emerge — they look like thumbs, coming right at you — and he says, “Bite ’em. Just bite ’em off.” And I heard him, I heard all the words. (Laughter) Like, how did — how did I get here? How did — you know — I mean — how did I get here? (Laughter)
It’s just — it’s one of those moments where the brain goes off on it’s own: and suddenly, I’m standing there, in the Rockies, and all I can think of is the Aristotelian definition of a tragedy. You know, Aristotle says a tragedy is that moment when the hero comes face to face with his true identity. (Laughter)
And I’m like, “What is this jacked-up metaphor? I don’t like what I’m thinking right now.” And I can’t get this thought out of my head, and I can’t get that vision out of my sight, so I did what I had to do. I went in and I took them. I took them like this, and I yanked my face back. And I’m standing there with two testicles on my chin. (Laughter) And now I can’t get — I can’t shake the metaphor.
OK, I’m still in “Poetics,” in Aristotle, and I’m thinking — out of nowhere, two terms come crashing into my head that I haven’t heard since my classics professor in college drilled them there. And they are anagnorisis and peripeteia. Anagnorisis and peripeteia. Anagnorisis is the Greek word for discovery. Literally, the transition from ignorance to knowledge is anagnorisis. It’s what our network does; it’s what “Dirty Jobs” is. And I’m up to my neck in anagnorises every single day. Great. The other word, peripeteia, that’s the moment in the great tragedies, you know — Euripides and Sophocles — the moment where Oedipus has his moment, where he suddenly realizes that hot chick he’s been sleeping with and having babies with is his mother. OK. That’s peripety or peripeteia. And this metaphor in my head — I got anagnorisis and peripetia on my chin. (Laughter)
I got to tell you, it’s such a great device though. When you start to look for peripetia, you find it everywhere. I mean, Bruce Willis in “The Sixth Sense,” right? Spends the whole movie trying to help the little kid who sees dead people, and then, boom — “Oh, I’m dead” — peripetia. You know? It’s crushing when the audience sees it the right way. Neo in “The Matrix,” you know? “Oh, I’m living in a computer program” — that’s weird.
These discoveries that lead to sudden realizations; and I’ve been having them, over 200 dirty jobs, I have them all the time, but that one — that one drilled something home in a way that I just wasn’t prepared for. And, as I stood there, looking at the happy lamb that I had just defiled — but it looked OK. Looking at that poor other little thing that I’d done it the right way on, and I just was struck by if I’m wrong about that and if I’m wrong so often, in a literal way, what other peripatetic misconceptions might I be able to comment upon?
Because, look, I’m not a social anthropologist but I have a friend who is. And I talk to him. (Laughter) And he says, “Hey Mike. Look, I don’t know if your brain is interested in this sort of thing or not, but do you realize you’ve shot in every state? You’ve worked in mining, you’ve worked in fishing, you’ve worked in steel, you’ve worked in every major industry. You’ve had your back shoulder to shoulder with these guys that our politicians are desperate to relate to every four years, right?”
I can still see Hillary doing the shots of rye, dribbling down her chin, with the steel workers. I mean, these are the people that I work with every single day. “And if you have something to say about their thoughts, collectively, it might be time to think about it. Because, dude, you know, four years.” You know, that’s in my head, testicles are on my chin, thoughts are bouncing around. And, after that shoot, Dirty Jobs really didn’t change, in terms of what the show is, but it changed for me, personally.
And now, when I talk about the show, I no longer just tell the story you heard and 190 like it. I do, but I also start to talk about some of the other things I got wrong, some of the other notions of work that I’ve just been assuming are sacrosanct, and they’re not. People with dirty jobs are happier than you think. As a group, they’re the happiest people I know. And I don’t want to start whistling “Look for the Union Label,” and all that happy worker crap. I’m just telling you that these are balanced people who do unthinkable work. Roadkill picker-uppers whistle while they work. I swear to God — I did it with them. They’ve got this amazing sort of symmetry to their life. And I see it over and over and over again.
So I started to wonder what would happen if we challenged some of these sacred cows. Follow your passion — we’ve been talking about it here for the last 36 hours. Follow your passion — what could possibly be wrong with that? Probably the worst advice I ever got. (Laughter) You know, follow your dreams and go broke, right? I mean, that’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I was told if you follow your passion, it’s going to work out.
I can give you 30 examples, right now — Bob Combs, the pig farmer in Las Vegas who collects the uneaten scraps of food from the casinos and feeds them them to his swine. Why? Because there’s so much protein in the stuff we don’t eat his pigs grow at twice the normal speed, and he is one rich pig farmer, and he is good for the environment, and he spends his days doing this incredible service, and he smells like hell, but God bless him. He’s making a great living. You ask him, “Did you follow your passion here?” and he’d laugh at you. The guy’s worth — he just got offered like 60 million dollars for his farm and turned it down, outside of Vegas. He didn’t follow his passion. He stepped back and he watched where everybody was going and he went the other way. And I hear that story over and over.
Matt Froind, a dairy farmer in New Canaan, Connecticut, who woke up one day and realized the crap from his cows was worth more than their milk, if he could use it to make these biodegradable flower pots. Now, he’s selling them to Walmart. Follow his passion? The guy’s — come on.
So I started to look at passion, I started to look at efficiency versus effectiveness — as Tim talked about earlier, that’s a huge distinction. I started to look at teamwork and determination, and basically all those platitudes they call “successories” that hang with that schmaltzy art in boardrooms around the world right now. That stuff — it’s suddenly all been turned on its head.
Safety — safety first? Going back to, you know, OSHA and PETA and the Humane Society: what if OSHA got it wrong? I mean — this is heresy, what I’m about to say — but what if it’s really safety third? Right? (Laughter) No, I mean really. What I mean to say is I value my safety on these crazy jobs as much as the people that I’m working with, but the ones who really get it done, they’re not out there talking about safety first. They know that other things come first — the business of doing the work comes first, the business of getting it done.
And I’ll never forget, up in the Bering Sea, I was on a crab boat with the “Deadliest Catch” guys — which I also work on — in the first season. We’re about 100 miles off the coast of Russia: 50-foot seas, big waves, green water coming over the wheelhouse, right? Most hazardous environment I’d ever seen, and I was back with a guy, lashing the pots down. So, I’m 40 feet off the deck, which is like looking down at the top of your shoe, you know, and it’s doing this in the ocean. Unspeakably dangerous.
I scamper down, I go into the wheelhouse and I say, with some level of incredulity, “Captain, OSHA.”
And he says, “OSHA? Ocean.” And he points out there. (Laughter) But in that moment, what he said next can’t be repeated in the lower 48. It can’t be repeated on any factory floor or any construction site. But he looked at me, and he said, “Son” — he’s my age, by the way, he calls me son, I love that — he says, “Son, I’m a captain of a crab boat. My responsibility is not to get you home alive. My responsibility is to get you home rich.” (Laughter) You want to get home alive, that’s on you. And for the rest of that day, safety first.
I was like — So, the idea that we create this false — this sense of complacency when all we do is talk about somebody else’s responsibility as though it’s our own, and vice versa. Anyhow, a whole lot of things. I could talk at length about the many little distinctions we made and the endless list of ways that I got it wrong. But, what it all comes down to is this. I formed a theory, and I’m going to share it now in my remaining two minutes and 30 seconds.
It goes like this — we’ve declared war on work, as a society, all of us. It’s a civil war. It’s a cold war, really. We didn’t set out to do it and we didn’t twist our mustache in some Machiavellian way, but we’ve done it. And we’ve waged this war on at least four fronts, certainly in Hollywood. The way we portray working people on TV — it’s laughable. If there’s a plumber, he’s 300 pounds and he’s got a giant butt crack. Admit it. You see him all the time. That’s what plumbers look like, right? We turn them into heroes, or we turn them into punch lines. That’s what TV does. We try hard on “Dirty Jobs” not to do that, which is why I do the work and I don’t cheat.
But, we’ve waged this war on Madison Avenue. I mean, so many of the commercials that come out there — in the way of a message, what’s really being said? Your life would be better if you could work a little less, if you didn’t have to work so hard, if you could get home a little earlier, if you could retire a little faster, if you could punch out a little sooner — it’s all in there, over and over, again and again.
Washington? I can’t even begin to talk about the deals and policies in place that affect the bottom line reality of the available jobs because I don’t really know. I just know that that’s a front in this war.
And right here guys, Silicon Valley, I mean — how many people have an iPhone on them right now? How many people have their Blackberries? We’re plugged in; we’re connected. I would never suggest for a second that something bad has come out of the tech revolution. Good grief, not to this crowd. (Laughter) But I would suggest that innovation without imitation is a complete waste of time. And nobody celebrates imitation the way “Dirty Jobs” guys know it has to be done. Your iPhone without those people making the same interface, the same circuitry, the same board, over and over? All of that? That’s what makes it equally as possible as the genius that goes inside of it.
So, we’ve got this new toolbox, you know. Our tools today don’t look like shovels and picks. They look like the stuff we walk around with. And so the collective effect of all of that has been this marginalization of lots and lots of jobs. And I realized, probably too late in this game — I hope not, because I don’t know if I can do 200 more of these things — but we’re going to do as many as we can. And to me the most important thing to know and to really come face to face with, is that fact that I got it wrong about a lot of things, not just the testicles on my chin. I got a lot wrong.
So, we’re thinking — by we, I mean me — that the thing to do is to talk about a PR campaign for work, manual labor, skilled labor. Somebody needs to be out there talking about the forgotten benefits. I’m talking about grandfather stuff, the stuff a lot us probably grew up with but we’ve kind of — you know, kind of lost a little.
Barack wants to create two and a half million jobs. The infrastructure is a huge deal. This war on work, that I suppose exists, has casualties like any other war. The infrastructure’s the first one; declining trade-school enrollments are the second one. Every single year: fewer electricians, fewer carpenters, fewer plumbers, fewer welders, fewer pipefitters, fewer steamfitters. The infrastructure jobs that everybody is talking about creating are those guys — the ones that have been in decline, over and over. Meanwhile, we’ve got two trillion dollars — at a minimum, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers — that we need to expend to even make a dent in the infrastructure, which is currently rated at a D minus.
So, if I were running for anything, and I’m not, I would simply say that the jobs we hope to make and the jobs we hope to create aren’t going to stick unless they’re jobs that people want. And I know the point of this conference is to celebrate things that are near and dear to us, but I also know that clean and dirty aren’t opposites. They’re two sides of the same coin, just like innovation and imitation, like risk and responsibility, like peripetia and anagnorisis, like that poor little lamb, who I hope isn’t quivering anymore, and like my time that’s gone.
It’s been great talking to you and get back to work, will you? (Applause)