Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Whitman’s Coin Collecting Quantum Crossover

Question: What do you get when you cross a Red Book with a Whitman Folder?
Answer: A Search and Save book dedicated to the new collector.

Well known traditional support for collectors. 
Whitman Publishing is the leading producer of products for coin collectors. This year, they released a new entry in the marketplace, their Search and Save booklets.  They will open the doors to numismatics for another generation of numismatists – young and mature alike.  
New products for new generations.
 The median age in coin collecting is about 58, and has been for decades. These numismatists began as kids, often with paper routes.  If you could set aside a nickel worth eight cents you made a 60% profit from your knowledge. When inflation of the 1960s and 70s destroyed circulating coinage, the thrill of collecting from pocket change disappeared along with silver coins… and Buffalo Nickels, and Indianhead Cents.  But the rewards can be found again in two new series from the US Mint celebrating the 50 states (1999-2009) and their “America the Beautiful” national parks (2010-Present).  In addition, two series of dollar coins can be had: Presidents and Native Americans.  

Historical narratives that are richer than
the brief paragraphs in the Red Book
.
These Whitman products deliver the structure to collecting that can draw the new numismatist.


All federal money is legal tender.  A Jefferson nickel from 1938 is just as spendable as one from 2008. And you can find those 1938 5-cent coins in circulation if you look at your change. The new collector will eventually go to a coin store to find a silver 5-cent coin from 1942 to 1945.  But that decision can be made later.  In the mean time, five different Jefferson Nickels are easy to find in circulation, as are eight different Lincoln cents (four others will be inexpensive at a coin store).

How to hold (and not hold) a coin.
This illustration is in all Search and Save boo
ks.
Literature is the key to value. Collectors who think that they are smart will chase this coin or that, but their greed begs a question: How did they know that the coin was worth pursuing?  The fact is that they were told (often second-hand) by researchers who published articles in numismatic magazines.  A scant few aficiandos read those.  Then the facts made their way into books.  Some few more touts and buffs found out about the rarities and values. They hit on dealers to see who had what in stock. Eventually word got out.  We find it unusual today, but in the 1930s, a US $3 Gold sold for a margin over bullion spot: they were not regarded as rare. A hundred years ago, no one cared about mint marks.  In our lifetime, repunched dates and repunched mint marks have joined doubled dies as the rewards for searching your pocket change.

The 50 State Quarter book only has 11 spaces to fill,
one from each year of issue. Pick your favorite coin.
Now, these Whitman products combine the tree-top view of literature with an attainable goal for novice collectors.  You can find 50 State Quarter coins in change. You can fill this book with eleven of them: you do not need all 150 (50 states, 3 mints). Keep your eyes open because nice lightly circulated examples are still out there.  The same applies to Jefferson Nickels and Lincoln Cents.  

These tools support "type collecting." Rather than one coin from each Mint from each year of issue, you only need to find one of each type, regardless of year or Mint.

Former ANA President and former Krause Corporation president Clifford Mishler had a stump speech that he delivered at conventions.  Collectors are a type of person, he said.  He called it “a gene you do not inherit.” The children of collectors may not be collectors: it is a small tragedy that we know. The grandchildren just want the money from the coins: they do not care about the coins. But we do. And some of our grandchildren and great-grandchildren may well, also.  These Whitman products can open the doors to coin collecting, the most popular hobby in the world.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hurricane Tejas

The State of Texas ran an exercise to simulate a Category 4 hurricane strike at the Rio Grande Valley.  The main events ran Wednesday and Thursday, June 8 and 9, according to the news media. However, the execution depended on deep planning running back to January of this year. For myself, as a headquarters support staffer, I arrived at 9:00 AM on Sunday, June 5. I made my last call (from home) at 6:30 PM on Friday. My job was to run the WebEOC emergency operation center computer. Despite the short days on Sunday and Friday (8 hours each), I put in 74 hours in five days. So did a couple hundred other people.

  • Department of Public Safety Trooper Robbie Barrera says the drill began Wednesday and runs through Thursday.  (CBS news Dallas-Fort Worth here.)
Loading up on Monday morning for the trip
down to the Rio Grande Valley. This team
gathered evacuees and shepherded them to safety.

  •  AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), in coordination with local, state, federal and private sector partners, is conducting a full-scale air evacuation exercise in response to a hypothetical hurricane scenario in which the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) is evacuated. This exercise provides the emergency management community an opportunity to practice and evaluate local, state and federal emergency plans by evacuating a sample group of approximately 300 “general and medical evacuees” (exercise volunteers) from the lower Rio Grande Valley to the sheltering jurisdictions of San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and Irving. The exercise began on June 2 and concludes Thursday, with air evacuations and sheltering taking place today and Thursday.  (K-Star Radio/KVST 99.7 FM, Huntsville, Texas, here.)

The Texas Maritime Regiment (TMAR) practiced
search and recovery.
Of those 300, the Texas State Guard provided 226. Among those were evacuation responders who transported people out of danger, sheltered them and returned them to their homes.  We also had search and recovery rescuers. 
Our joint operations liaison officer
(Texas air component lieutenant colonel, left)
confers with our Battle Group non-commissioned officer in charge
(Texas army component) while a sergeant (Texas army component)
in the background configures
emergency evacuation handheld computers.
In addition, we worked with state agencies such as Public Safety and Emergency Management, of course, but also with the Department of State Health Services, the local city Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs), and many private responders, including the American Red Cross and the Amateur Radio Relay League. 
There were 156 unique stations participating. Of these, 89% reported an ARES affiliation, 17% reported a MARS affiliation and 30% reported a RACES affiliation. 48% reported being Winlink capable. 44% reported having backup battery power, 43% reported having a generator and 6% had solar recharging capability. …“I received a total of 108 ICS-213 forms during the exercise.” (ARRL South Texas here)
ICS Form 213 is a general message for any Incident Command Structure.  The ICS is the standardized FEMA methodology for managing events and incidents.  (An event is planned: baseball game; birthday party. Incidents include hurricanes, wildfires, floods, tornados, and traffic accidents with toxic waste spills.) The ARRL report to members cited here is an indication of the volume of traffic that these volunteers handle when they launch and boot up communications networks to remediate for the infrastructure that is lost during a disaster.
Texas maritime seaman reports
the completion of her assignment
 for a Texas army component sergeant
at the Tactical Emergency Operations Center.
If you have a Facebook account you can see more on the TXSG official pages here.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Fourth Star

“Even those who learn from history are surrounded by those who are doomed to repeat it.” – Chuck B. on Twitter, April 12, 2016.

The Iraq War tested four four-star generals: John Abizaid, George Casey, Jr., Peter Chiarelli, and David Petraeus. This is their story. (The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army by David Cloud and Greg Jaffe, Random House, 2009.) Each of them had a correct view of the challenges and answers. However, without being able to work together, their efforts could not support and reinforce each other. They were not in conflict against each other. Rather, their assignments – and their acceptances of those roles – left them distanced in space and time from each other. Beyond the specifics of the Second Gulf War, this is a book about leadership, leadership styles, and the natural limits to the complete fulfillment of our goals. The narratives here are richly detailed. The writing is tight and active. The authors were the Pentagon correspondents for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the  Washington Post.

Each of these four generals is an outside-the-box creative thinker. Each is competitive, driven, focused and intelligent. All hold advanced university degrees. Though Petraeus and Casey are connected by family ties within the military general staff, Abizaid and Chiarelli came from blue collar homes. Whereas Casey and Abazaid graduated from West Point, Chiarelli and Petraeus earned their commissions through ROTC. On their way to the top, each took detours within the military. Chiarelli and Petraeus taught in the social science department at West Point. “Sosh” is a fraternity of strategic planners and political thinkers whose connections in the Pentagon allow them to help younger peers get their careers back on track with assignments to combat brigades. Interestingly, Lt. George W. Casey, Jr. first met Lt. David Petraeus through their mothers. Casey’s father was a two-star general. That put Elaine Casey in the same social set as Peggy Knowlton, also the wife of a general, and George Petraeus’s mother-in-law. When Casey was finishing Ranger School, his mother called him and told him to introduce himself to Petraeus who was headed to the 509th Parachute Infantry, the unit Casey had just left. (page 21) 

USA Today
Ethnically Syrian, Gen. John Abizaid is a second-generation American whose foreign language in school was French. He learned Arabic later, completing his MA from Harvard in Middle Eastern Studies with a year at the University of Jordan in 1979-80. In 1985, Major Abizaid was assigned to a UN mission during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. His experiences gave him an understanding of the problems that the US would face in Iraq. He believed that sectarian divisions, discord, and violence are endemic to the Middle East: no military solution is possible. He accepted the Powell Doctrine: crush the conventional forces of a conventional opponent and get out before you get bogged down in another Vietnam. As the commander of CENTCOM, Abizaid was responsible for the work of the other generals who were charged with delivering a successful conclusion to the invasion of Iraq.

Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. earned his BS in International Relations at Georgetown in 1970. An ROTC student, he expected to repay the army with four years and then go to law school.  Instead, he followed his father, Brig. Gen. George W. Casey, Sr., who was the commander of the 1st Air Cavalry Division when he was killed in Vietnam. (His father also attended Georgetown, earning an MA in international relations in 1958 before completing an MBA at George Washington in 1965. Much more in Wikipedia, of course.) Casey, Jr., went on to complete his MA in international relations at the University of Denver in 1980.  “George had become an expert in navigating the middle ground between his Georgetown friends and his family. He generally supported the war [in Vietnam], but wasn’t the kind of person to get in arguments or begrudge his friends their opinions. Neither was his dad.” (pp. 6-7)

NBC News
Serving in Kosovo in 2000 was Casey’s experience in peacekeeping and counterinsurgency. Having labored to broker a ceasefire for one village, he saw the truce shattered when rifles and hand grenades were found in the home of the village mayor who had been on the negotiating committee. It taught Casey that the US military cannot keep the peace in a country that does not want the peace. But, like all soldiers, he served those who called.  “Just three months before the invasion [of Iraq] he assembled a small group of active and retired officers that was rushed to the Middle East to deal with electricity generation, clean water, and other expected postwar problems.” (p. 162)

Tasked with restoring the nation while fighting the insurgency, Casey’s plan was to draw the resistance into the government to defuse them, to make them part of the solution, and let them hassle out their problems within the structure of the government. That, too, failed.

Western political theory accepts majority rule that is always limited by constitutional law and tradition. That did not apply in Iraq. The authors do not mention that Saddam Hussein ruled like other strongmen by balancing his opponents against each other, while also favoring his power base. That meant oppressing the majority Shiites and minority Kurds, and giving power to the Sunnis. The fall of Saddam Hussein left the Sunnis at the mercy of the merciless Shiites who now controlled the government of Iraq.

Also here, the reader today can see the roots of the ISIS Caliphate. Back then, moderate Sunnis united with the Shiite authorities to fight radical Sunni Islamists from Al Qaeda who were making life hell for everyone. But it was too little, too late.

Conservative Treehouse
Peter Chiarelli earned his BS in political science at Seattle University where he did his ROTC. (He later completed a master’s in public administration at the University of Washington in 1980. He was granted an MA in national security strategy from Salve Regina University. Wikipedia.) Rejected three times for law school - poor at standardized tests, apparently - he entered the army. Sent on orders first to earn the master’s, Chiarelli was tapped for the social science department at West Point. He loved the challenge of teaching. He did not have to take a position personally in order to advocate it. In one class, he said that the US invited the attack at Pearl Harbor by encircling the Japanese and threatening them. Disagree as they did, the cadets were only allowed to argue back with facts. It was good training, both for them, and for him. 

Chiarelli’s goal in Iraq was to win the war by rebuilding the economy. Instead of big-ticket projects to highly-placed defense contractors like Bechtel, Chiarelli wanted many small projects paid for immediately to clean the streets of garbage, to restore electricity to neighborhoods, and to distribute clean water.  He was successful. Sunni fighters left their guns behind to do the simple and dirty work of civil engineering in their neighborhoods. When the money stopped, they went back to being insurgents, and life got worse for everyone. The Sunni grievances were real. Shiite death squads under the cover of government legitimacy as police and security forces pushed the Sunnis out of mixed neighborhoods. The government closed the only bank in Sadr City, forcing Sunnis to travel through deadly Shia territory. Gen. Chiarelli’s rebuilding faltered.

The Telegraph (UK)
General Petraeus was the most conventional of them though his winning strategy was contrary to the wisdom of the time. (Petraeus completed his doctorate from Princeton while he was teaching in the social science department at West Point.) Petraeus pushed for the deployment of 21,000 additional troops – called “The Surge” – to bolster the failing occupation. However, rather than stationing them in huge bases with swimming pools, and a BX the size of a Walmart, he placed them in 120 small detachments close to the civilians. They also worked as advisors and supporters to the Iraqi police and army who were tasked with keeping the peace. The first advantage was that the Iraqi people, civilians and military both, would stop seeing the occupying force as distant and aloof, but in and of them as collaborators. Moreover, the soldiers would come to know the people, not only gaining valuable intelligence, but also becoming less likely to stereotype the locals. More to the point, the strategy came with an exit policy: eventually, the US forces would minimize, and the Iraqi role would strengthen. The first happened. The second did not.

In the Middle Ages, military authority and civil authority were identical. As Europe reawakened, the military was subordinated to civilian control. Ever less often did dukes, kings, and emperors lead their troops into battle.The capture of Napoleon III at Sedan in 1871 was the dunce’s after school lesson. And military dictatorships are notoriously unsuccessful. So, the modern army carries out the orders it is given. The Second Gulf War was not just winnable: it was won. The fifth largest army in the world melted and evaporated. We then met them again in a new fog of war, a war that could not be won. Sometimes, being brilliantly intelligent is just not enough.


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Friday, May 27, 2016

Texas State Guard Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course


BNOC is required of all non-commissioned officers seeking promotion from E-5 (“buck” sergeant) to E-6 (staff sergeant), in my case from Petty Officer 2nd Class to Petty Officer 1st Class.  The training is offered online, but I elected to take the live classroom presentation specifically because it is delivered by the US Air Force Joint Base San Antonio Leadership School at Lackland AFB.  That course was recommended to me by one of the Master Gunnery Sergeants in TMAR, the Texas Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard. The class exceeded my expectations.

In all, we had seven different presenters. Each was an expert in one or more fields, but all were instructors at the school and each had volunteered to work with us, in addition to their regular duties.

One of the Many Sights to See at Lackland AFB

The lectures were generally interactive. Questions were always encouraged. On the second day, we had more live exercises.  In many ways, these were similar to other management classes, a comment made, also, by one of my classmates who is working on another master’s degree, this one in administration. The focus, however, was on the military. Some of it was a bit foreign to the TXSG. Although about half of us are prior federal service, what we do seems to draw little from the Warrior Ethos. We take care of people.  However, in our battle books, taken from standard military reporting forms, we do list an enemy: the hurricane, flood, or wildfire. The introductory lecture pointed out that depression is an intangible enemy.
  • Are leaders born or made?
  • What are the characteristics of a good leader?
  • What are the characteristics of a good follower?


Another Sight to See at Lackland AFB, 
Gateway to the Air Force

We explored the interactions between leaders and followers as we learned about contingency theory, skills theory, and transformation theory. We inventoried intrinsic and extrinsic values.
  • What is personal power?
  • What is positional power?
  • What a referential leader? 
  • How can you increase or decrease power? 
  • If all else fails, can you play Rock, Scissors, Stripes?

We learned about Vision Statements and Mission Statements and were encouraged to look up the ones written by and for our own commands.

Team dynamics is an ongoing process involving interaction of individuals (within a team) to achieve a desired result.
Straight out of management theory we were presented with the six stages of a project: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, (Adjourning), and Transforming.  That transformation occurs to the team, its wider organization, and to the individual members of the team.


Everyone else in the class seemed pretty sure that we were a team because we had the same goal, passing the class.  I was not so sure.  For one thing, if that sergeant over there did not take good notes, if she let it go in one ear and out the other, I could still pass the class. More to the point, the set and setting did not provide either a motive or an opportunity to help that other noncom to be successful in this class.  It was a problem that I slept on.


Of course, we explored out own personality types. This class used the “True Colors” or “Four Lenses” temperament theory proposed by Don Lowry, which is apparently based on the Myer-Briggs.  I came out Green: independent, non-conforming, head over heart, data-driven, non-decisive, curious, complex, abstract, and logical. When we Greens created a poster to show our type, we started with an ice cube at the lower left taken by an arrow to a lightbulb at the upper right. Between them were the Starship Enterprise and CDR Spock, a broken heart (yours), and a computer. “Ah!” the instructor said, “you Greens do not have feelings.” Oh, we have feelings, our leader replied. “We just don’t care about yours.”

Making Friends: Two of us were from TMAR

Then we had to devise a no-smoking campaign targeted at our opposites, the feely-squishy Blues.  “No one else is smoking,” we said. “And when you die, you will make everyone else sad.”

Coming back to Earth, we discussed the Oath of Enlistment and the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Creed, and how they define the core values of the profession of arms.

Finally, we debated several either-or propositions, such as “What happens TDY [temporary duty] stays TDY.”  At first we thought of the analogy to Las Vegas, but do we keep commendations secret? We also examined ethical traps such as relativism and the loyalty syndrome.
This was the most professional set of presentations that I have had in the Texas State Guard. My wife thought that I was there to teach. Explaining to her that I was there as a student, referring to the instructors, I called them professors.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Grammar is Important

"The Quadrilateral Coordination Group, made up of officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, have been engaged in efforts to facilitate direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

The Taliban, who now control or contest more territory than at any time since they was ousted by a U.S.-led intervention in 2001, have attended none of the group's meetings."

Reuters, 18 May 2016 05:48 EDT
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-afghanistan-taliban-idUSKCN0Y9133

It was a minor problem, I admit. From my experience, I guess that the author wrote "... it was... " referring to the Taliban as a collective entity, and an editor changed "it" to "they" without following through.  That error was noticeable.  

Less obvious is the disagreement in the first paragraph. "The Quadrilateral group... have been engaged in efforts..." The noun group is singular. Admittedly, it sounds funny to us to say " a group of people who play softball is meeting at the park." So, we excuse the subject-verb disagreement. Perhaps English is changing to allow the creation of plural collectives nouns. Alternately, the problem also stems from using the objective noun in the prepositional case as if it were nominative.  Prepositions make nouns into objects. "I give him the ball." is the same as "I give the ball to him." (not "I give he the ball." or "I give it to he."). Men are, but a group of men is.  Other languages, such as German and Latin, have stronger, more formal, and older rules for cases: nominative, genitive, accusative, dative, vocative, ablative, locative.  (Hungarian has about a dozen: progressive, regressive, inessive, adessive ...)

Simple as English is - and simplicity is a hallmark of civilized languages: so-called "primitive" people tend to have more complicated grammars - you can still open a can of worms.

"The plank that was approved by delegates at the party's convention this month reads: "Homosexuality is a chosen behavior that is contrary to the fundamental unchanging truths that has been ordained by God in the Bible, recognized by our nations founders, and shared by the majority of Texans."
Lone Star Q, which describes itself as the state's No. 1 source for LGBT news, asked on Twitter on Wednesday to have a "grammar debate" over the wording.

"In response, grammarians pointed out that placement of the final comma in the plank could lead to understanding it to mean that homosexuality is a chosen behavior shared by the majority of Texans. They also noted that "nations" should have an apostrophe and that by using "has been," the plank gives the impression that homosexuality has been ordained by God.

"Party officials did not respond to requests to comment."
 http://www.reuters.com/article/us-texas-lgbt-idUSKCN0YA2RQ

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS
Readability is the Only Metric
Why Democracy is Difficult
The Profits and Benefits in Foreign Languages
Indian English: Totally Legend Like Anything

Monday, May 9, 2016

Song: "Texans Serving Texans"


Texans Serving Texans
Lyrics by PO3 Michael Marotta
Music by PO3 Rodney Buckwalter

We are Texans serving Texans.
We are volunteers for you.
We are the Texas State Guard.
We’re the red, white and blue.
The Lone Star shines within us.
We are equal to the task; yes, it’s true.
Your community is in our care.
To republic and union we are true.





















Second verse: 
We are Texans serving Texans.
We are volunteers for you:
Aiding civil authorities,
The defense force of our state.
We work to achieve; we are prepared.
We transport, shelter, and protect.
On water or land, search and rescue,
Hosting Web, and radio too.


 This past May 21-24, I attended the annual training exercise of the Maritime Regiment as an instructor for WebEOC. In addition to my primary duty, I was able to meet with Petty Officer Buckwalter and the band. The band worked on the music and we refined the lyrics. The band played the melody for the Awards ceremony on Saturday the 23rd.  Gen. Brian Smallwood asked to hear it again. He liked it. The lyrics here have not yet been approved by the Judge Advocate General. 

I also sent these cadence calls to my instructors from last year's Regional Basic Orientation Training. These calls are also not yet approved by the JAG.

CADENCE CALLS
We are Texans serving you.
State Guard is Red, White, and Blue.
 
Faithful, constant, strong as steel.
Train and drill and gain in skill.

Union and Republic true.
Equal to the task we do.

Transport, shelter, food, and care.
We achieve. We are prepared.


PREVIOUSLY ON NECESSARY FACTS
Primary Leadership Training
Community Emergency Response Team
Evaluating a Dive Team
Texans Serving Texans 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

George P. Mitchell and the Idea of Sustainability

Everyone knows Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Few recognize the name of George P. Mitchell (1919-2013).  However, in a tribute after his death, The Economist said, “few businesspeople have done as much to change the world as George P. Mitchell.” The easiest label is that he was “the father of fracking.” Fracking is news. In fact, Mitchell worked for over 20 years to bring the idea to fruition. Working in the oil and gas industry, he earned billions of dollars building a Fortune 500 company. He also funded research into sustainablility.

I, too, was ignorant of Mitchell’s works until I was given this book by the author. Jurgen Schmandt worked for Mitchell’s Houston Advanced Research Center. Schmandt also served as the director of the Mitchell Center for Sustainable development. This book delivers an insider’s view of the creation and development of an idea both more powerful and having more potential than the oil industry.

The concept of sustainability is not deeply rooted. Like science and constitutional government, hints of sustainability can be found in ancient texts, but the seed really was planted in 1713, as the Age of Reason blossomed into the Enlightenment.  Schmandt credits Hans Carl von Carlowitz with the invention of the word “nachhaltende” in German, i.e., sustainable in English.  He coined the phrases “nachhaltende Nutzung gebe” (sustainable yield) and “nachhaltende Entwicklung” (sustainable development).  Carlowitz was a mining administrator. Mines are shored with timbers. No hardwood, no mines. And hardwood grows slowly. Carlowitz wrote a book, Sylvicultura Oeconomica.

For 150 years, although forestry and fisheries knew the terms, most of the world was not awakened to the concepts until the late 1960s and early 1970s. 

Schmandt nicely segues from two chapters on the history of sustainability into a third on the Club of Rome. Mitchell supported the Club of Rome and its Limits to Growth thesis with his checkbook.  At the same time, as this book lays out in careful detail, Mitchell sought a business model that would make sustainability profitable. He was partially successful.
 
Report by the  US Energy Information Agency
George Mitchell, who died on July 26th, was a one-man refutation of the declinist hypothesis. From the 1970s America’s energy industry reconciled itself to apparently inevitable decline. Analysts produced charts to show that its oil and gas were running out. The big oil firms globalised in order to survive. But Mr Mitchell was convinced that immense reserves trapped in shale rock deep beneath the surface could be freed. He spent decades perfecting techniques for unlocking them: injecting high-pressure fluids into the ground to fracture the rock and create pathways for the trapped oil and gas (fracking) and drilling down and then sideways to increase each well’s yield (horizontal drilling).   The result was a revolution.-- The Economist, August 3, 2013 here.

The Woodlands community outside Houston did not mature according to the plans Mitchell envisioned, but it is nonetheless an island of sustainable calm in the permanent sea squall that is Houston.  That perpetual storm is a consequence of two colliding economic fronts: the success of the urban metroplex and the need for developers to offload their true costs as externalities for other people to bear.  Schmandt’s presentation is dispassionate and analytical, an engineer’s report, not a jeremiad.

 And, just as scientific literacy and liberal democracy are far from ubiquitous, so, too has sustainability proved to be a difficult problem. Despite his obvious efficacy with oil and gas, George P. Mitchell never created a business model for sustainability. We have no sustainability industry, but, rather, a myriad of local and personal efforts, most of them  marginally successful.

Mitchell himself was a man of two passions. One of his children called this “the Mitchell paradox” and that is title of Chapter 10.  It was the author’s choice: Chapter 10 could have been Chapter 1. Define the man, then show him to us.  Rather, Schmandt first introduces us to his employer, friend, and mentor. Then he provides the conceptual wrapper. 

Mitchell was not a Luddite. He parted from his ecologist colleagues when he insisted that economic growth and even expansive development may well be appropriate, especially if the billions of people in the less developed regions are to enjoy the prosperity of the Western democracies.  That does not change the fact that Earth is an island. 

Today’s news is dominated by the US Presidential election campaigns and the military campaigns in Syria and Iraq. But underneath them, continuing, and consistent, never to be completely forgotten and often to be a burr in our running shoes, are the problems of sustainable growth.

And, it is one thing to have some few privileged people working in science (as in 1713), but another that (in 2013) millions of people on every continent can recognize the periodic table. Similarly, the quest for sustainability crosses geographical, political, and economic boundaries, encompassing millions of people who can recognize the word, and have both an interest and (most important) an investment in its meaning.

This book is about the man who made that happen.

ALSO ON NECESSARY FACTS