The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson


Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Until the 2020 Elections are over I am highlighting one of my articles:
The Real Issues of the 2020 Election
as I believe that it is important for Americans to consider these issues before they cast their votes.

My Personal Website

Over the last several years I have decided to write about what I have learned and loved throughout my life. They have become such a collection that I have decided to loosen them on an unsuspecting world. I hope that you will enjoy them, and perhaps it will give you something to think about. The various topics are as follows:
  • Book It – Books that I have recently read that I think are noteworthy or illuminative.
  • Chirps (Some Would Say Rants) - Paragraph sized, succinct, and pithy comments on a subject that have piqued my interest or curiosity, or my ire or indignation.
  • Classical Music - My thoughts on my passion for Classical Music.
    • Classical Music Appreciation An Introduction for those that know little or nothing about Classical Music.
    • Classical Music Chirps - Paragraph sized, succinct comments, and recommendations for listening to some of the most  understandable and enjoyable Classical Music by all who listen to it, even those who are not all that interested in Classical Music.
    • Classical Music Lists - Various lists relating to Classical Music.
    • Classical Music Recommendations - Recommended compositions of Classical Composers, with associated YouTube videos.
  • Coronavirus Pandemic Chirps – A series of Chirps that I have written the examines the Coronavirus Pandemic, that should be read in order, to understand the impacts of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
  • Documents, Letters, and Speeches - The most important documents to be read for much of the purposes of this website are, of course, The Declaration of Independence, The United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights and Amendments, as well as the Gettysburg Address. There are additional letters and speeches from American history that I have found to be very wise and inspiring that I have collected in this article. I believe all Americans should read and ponder these letters and speeches, and take them to heart.
  • Further Readings  - Books that I have read and enjoyed, and that I believe that the general public can read, understand, and enjoy.
  • History - A collection of essays on history.
  • Humor  The importance of humor cannot be understated. For humor provides the ability to laugh at yourself and with others. This is some of my favorite humor.
  • Life - A collection of different thoughts and meanderings on life, living, and death.
  • Miscellaneous Items - A collection of miscellaneous items I have written, many of which have been extracted and amplified from my "Observations".
  • Movie Commentaries - Comments and critiques of individual movies that I believe have been overlooked or underrated by the public and movie critics.
  • Now That's Music - You are all probably aware that I am a lover of Classical Music. What you may not be aware of is that I also love other genres of music, particularly Rock N’ Roll. I have not commented on these genres because I believe that I have nothing to contribute to this discussion that other, more knowledgeable, and qualified persons have said. However, I have decided to create lists of my favorite music in these genres.
  • Now That's Entertainment  - An amusing list of my all time favorite Movies & Television.
  • Observations - My observations on American Government, Politics, and Society. Please note that these observations were the starting point for this website. Many of these Observations have been extracted and elaborated upon in the Miscellaneous Items section of this website. Consequently, my latest and greatest observations on various topics will be found in the Miscellaneous Items section of this website.
    1. General (Apr 2019)
    2. Politics (Apr 2019)
    3. Political Issues (Jan 2019)
    4. International Issues (Oct 2018)
    5. Economic Issues (Oct 2018)
    6. Social Issues (Oct 2018)
    7. Miscellaneous Thoughts (Sep 2018)
    8. Epilogue and Appendix (Oct 2018)
    9. Documents, Letters and Speeches (Sep 2018)
  • Pearls of Wisdom - A collection of the Pearls of Wisdom I have learned throughout my life.
  • Readings and Literature  - Some of the books that I have read and enjoyed, and that I believe that the general public can read, understand,and enjoy .
  • Religion - My thoughts and beliefs on religion and spirituality.
  • Science - Articles I have written on various scientific topics
    (please note that this section and subsections are NOT yet optimized for phones nor tablets. Please review this section on your computer).

Fictional Stories that I have written:


Clicking on the infinity logo at the top of any web page will take you to the topic web page where you can choose another article on that topic to read.

If you have any comments, concerns, critiques, or suggestions I can be reached at mwd@profitpages.com. I will review reasoned and intellectual correspondence, and it is possible that I can change my mind, or at least update the contents of these articles. This is why these articles are dated. Whenever I make a change to these articles they will be re-dated. So check back and see if any articles have been updated (or perhaps I shall add articles).

My Approach

I have often said that English is my second language, while thinking is my first language. Those that know me, and my writing, know that my second language (English) can be very poor in spelling, grammar, malapropisms, and phraseology (thank God for computer spell checkers, thesaurus, and grammar checks), and I struggle to write anything. I am a very organized and logical person, and I attempt to keep my writing organized and logical. I attempt to write clearly, concisely, completely, confidently, and understandably. As such, I hope that these articles are readable to all with a high school education. 

In writing these Articles and Chirps I have attempted to assure that the information I present is factual and accurate. I, therefore, expend time and effort in researching to obtain the facts and achieve accuracy. The process of writing for me is an intellectual, emotional, and physical strain. I have, therefore, written a short article “The Intellectual, Emotional, and Physical Strains of Writing” that explains my research efforts, and the intellectual, emotional, and physical strains of writing these Articles and Chirps.

As regards to my debating these issues, I would direct you to my Chip “Form Over Substance” as to my reluctance to engage in debate on these subjects. Essentially, I  believe that I am a poor debater. It is for this reason that I often do not engage in debates. I do, however, engage in discussions in which both sides have ample time to challenge the facts, statistics, and reasoning of their arguments to effectually explain their arguments.

I am willing to change my opinions based on new or better information or reasoned counterpoint, or as a wise sage has stated;

"For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others."
  - Benjamin Franklin

and

"Doubt a little of your own infallibility."
  - Benjamin Franklin

However, until such time as I have new or better information, or reasoned counterpoint, I will remain firm in my opinions as I am firm in what I see as the right. For those who think I may recant some or all of what I have written for any other reasons I would remind them of what Martin Luther said in defending his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", which came to be known as The Ninety-Five Theses:

"I cannot and will not recant anything,
for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.
Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God.
Amen."

Who Am I?

I am an overweight, out-of-shape, newly minted senior citizen. I am a heterosexual male, married, and father of one adult daughter. I am of European descent (mostly Scottish, English, German, and some Eastern European), but most importantly, I am a Human Being (this is what I put on all forms that require I state my race).

As a human being, I have intelligence and can think and learn from knowledge, experience, and education. I attempt to keep my mind active and engaged and learn and think about the world around me. I have interests and hobbies (mostly classical, popular, and rock-n-roll music, movies, historical America, and the history of the physical sciences, as well as astrophysics & quantum mechanics).

I was born (on the Ides of May - 1952) and raised in Philadelphia, PA. I spent my entire adult life in the northern suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. I attended Thomas Holme Elementary school and Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia, PA, and I have some undergraduate credits at the University of Pennsylvania. I was an average to a poor student in elementary and high school, as I was unmotivated, of poor eyesight (which was not discovered until I was in High School), and I believe I am slightly dyslectic. Not until I entered the real world (having a job) did I become interested in learning, which I then took up with great enthusiasm.

My career has been almost entirely in the Information technology field, as I have outlined in “My Varied Computer Career” below. I started out as a Computer Operator on mainframe (big iron) computers, became a Software Configuration Manager, a Computer Programmer, a Computer Systems Designer, then a Computer Systems Project Leader. From there, I became a Lead Computer Systems Engineer, A Chief Engineer, a Proposal Manager, and a Program Manager as a contractor on classified U.S. Government contracts. I then became an independent Computer Consultant for small businesses, the self-employed, and families in my local residential area. During this time, I have worked on Mainframe, Mini, Workstation, and Microcomputers. I am, or have been, very knowledgeable on several computer programming languages, database systems, and data communication systems, as well as various commercial computer applications (such as Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Goldmine, etc.). I have taken brief respites (for fun or sanity purposes) as a Travelling Science Show Instructor for the Franklin Institute during the Bicentennial school year and as a Pet Sitter.

I started my adult life being highly introverted and technically oriented. I have since learned to become more extroverted and people-oriented. Most people who know me now would have no idea that I was such in my earlier years, and do not suspect that I am still introverted, as I make extensive efforts to be more extroverted when I am with other people. I am considered by my friends, acquaintances, and associates (clients) to be easy-going, humorous, and a nice decent person.

I have traveled somewhat (mostly business) and have spent several months in Sunnyvale, CA, and weeks at a time in Northern Germany, Southern England, and Washington, D.C. I have also spent many days at a time in Dallas, TX and Denver, CO, as well as a few days in numerous other U.S. cities. My vacations have been spent in Bermuda (honeymoon), Cancun Mexico, central California, and my mother’s homestead in Northern Minnesota. My other vacation places have been at various places in the Northeastern USA from Maine to Virginia.

I was born with, and still have, a minor heart murmur that is getting progressively worse (now it is Bilateral Bundle Branch Block), and I have absolutely no arches on my feet (every doctor who has examined my feet has commented on this). I have had my tonsils and appendix removed, my nasal passages cleaned out twice, and my deviated septum repaired. I have had very poor eyesight since childhood, have a progressive hearing loss due to my occupation, and not much of a sense of smell. I had ulcers in my early adulthood (mainly due to work-related stress), and I continue to suffer from hyperacidity of my stomach) I suffer from sleep apnea, lower back pains from ligament damage, and occasionally upper back pains from a case of whiplash I suffered in an automobile accident. I also suffer from wrist, elbow, and shoulder pains (tendinitis) when I am extensively utilizing a computer. I have high cholesterol and am borderline diabetic.  I had my Droopy Eyes (Ptosis) repaired when I was sixty, and I have recently had cataract and eye lens replacement surgery. I regularly have upper respiratory infections, but I fortunately never had any broken bones or serious injuries in my life. Mostly, all of these conditions could be improved if I exercised regularly and had a better diet. But being busy, lazy, and unmotivated, I do none of these things.

People who know me claim that I have a good sense of humor, but a very poor joke teller. I do, however, have the ability to tell stories from my own life, as well as historical and scientific stories, and as such, they regard me as a good storyteller. I have tried to live a legal, moral, and ethical life, and honesty and integrity are very important to me in my dealings with myself and others (in other words, I am a straight shooter).

Consequently, I am much like most other Americans as there is nothing special about me, other than I have extensively read and researched on many different subjects (see my article “Further Readings and Literature”). I then ponder upon that which I have read or researched, which I have now written about on this website. In doing so, I have taken “A Philosophical Approach” to my thinking. I have often said that English is my second language, while thinking is my first language. Those that know me, and my writing, know that my second language (English) can be very poor in both spelling and grammar (thank God for computer spell checkers, thesaurus, and grammar checks), and I am prone to incorrect phraseology and malapropisms. I struggle to write anything, as I have outlined in my previously mentioned article, “The Intellectual, Emotional, and Physical Strains of Writing”. I am a very organized and logical person, and I attempt to keep my writing organized and logical. I attempt to write clearly, concisely, completely, confidently, and understandably. As such, I hope that these articles are readable to all with a high school education.

My Varied Computer Career

Upon my retirement from the computer field at the end of 2019, I have started to reminisce on my career, and I must say it has been a long and varied career lasting almost a half-century. Today, many persons enter and often remain in a specialized field of computer technology. A specialization made necessary with the explosion of computer technologies in the last three decades. When I started my career in 1969, such specialization was limited, as most of the computer field was dominated by IBM Mainframe computers. The only specialization was Computer Operations, Computer Programming, Mainframe Operating Systems maintenance, and Mainframe Equipment installation, maintenance, and repair.

I began my computer career by attending a three-month Computer Programming trade school after my high school graduation. A trade school in which I learned Mainframe Assembly, Report Program Generator (RPG), and COBOL Programming. However, upon graduation from this trade school, I discovered nobody was hiring computer programmers without any experience, but I was able to obtain employment in the Computer Operations field.

I then spent the next several years in Computer Operations in several different companies, which required that I work several different night shifts. My duties were as a card and paper jockey, tape jockey, console operator, to solo or duo full Computer Operations responsibilities, and finally, as a senior computer operator directing a team of computer operators. I also became an expert in IBM Mainframe Computer Job Control Language and System Utilities.

After a short break in my computer operations career, in which I became a Travelling Science Show instructor at the Franklin Institute, I resumed my computer career in a Computer Software Configuration Management role for an IBM Mainframe computer programming team for a large banking institution. A Computer Software Configuration Management task before this computer field was founded. As I was without any methodologies or tools necessary to accomplish this task, I, therefore, needed to create my own methodology and tools to perform this task. After successfully accomplishing this task, I was promoted to an IBM Mainframe Computer Programmer with another team at this bank.

I then became a maintenance programmer in a small department of a large insurance company. Within six weeks of starting this job, I was promoted to the unofficial title of “Super Programmer”, responsible for undertaking the most complex and difficult programming tasks for the entire computer programming department. Within ten months of becoming a super programmer, I was promoted to the Senior Designer and Programmer for a project that, as far as we could determine, had never been done in the computer field. A project that was for the Automatic Program Generation for Database Population and Database Reporting. This project consumed the next two years of my professional life, a project that many believed was not possible, but a project that succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations.

I then found a new job as a Systems Engineer for classified government programs in a large Aerospace company. A job that I am still not able to discuss in any specific detail due to the classified nature of the work that I performed. A Systems Engineering task that involved the Software, Hardware, Databases, Data Communications, and Computer Operations specifications and design utilizing Structured Analysis (SA) and Structured Design (SD) techniques. A job in which I was a Program Change Control manager, a Computer Systems Lead Engineer for Multi-contractor Coordination, a Computer Systems Chief Engineer, and a Computer Systems Proposal and Program Manager responsible for the Management, Financial, and Technological aspects of classified government programs.

I then left this company to strike out on my own as an Independent Computer Consultant for small businesses and the self-employed in my local area, a task that I spent almost three decades performing. An Independent Computer Consultant responsible for the installation, configuration, and maintenance of Personal Computers (both Windows and Macintosh computers) at my client’s locations. This also involved the installation, configuration, and maintenance of Computer Applications on these computers. Applications such as Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access), QuickBooks accounting, and Goldmine Customer Relations Management, as well as several other computer applications that my client’s needed to run their businesses. I was also responsible for creating the Business Process Automation for my clients, utilizing this computer equipment and applications, as well as the training for their employees on these computers, applications, and Business Processes. I also learned how to create simple web pages at the start of the Internet revolution for my client’s business. I have also assisted my clients in incorporating the Internet and Cell Phone technology in their business operations.

During all these efforts, I had to learn and become proficient on Mainframe, Workstation, and Personal Computer Database Query and Reporting Languages, Database Analysis and Design utilizing Entity-Relationship Design, Database Normalization techniques, and Database Structure Design for Hierarchical Databases, Inverted Index Databases , and Relational Databases. I also learned and became proficient in Computer Programming with Structured Systems Analysis and Design Methodologies. I also learned and utilized Network Topology, Analysis, and Design on Mainframe computers, as well as Peer-to-Peer and Client-Server Networking on Personal Computers. During my career, I became very proficient and skilled in Computer Systems Training and Computer Systems Testing, as well as documenting computer systems and applications.

In all these efforts, I have learned that it is the people, not computer technology, that is responsible for the success of any computerization. Computer Technology is important to achieve success, but without the people involved, the technology will not be utilized properly and fully to achieve the goal. I, therefore, approach every computer task from a people perspective. A people perspective of computer technology usage that without the personal involvement of the persons so affected, there can be no success in instituting computer technology. A perspective that is often lacking with today’s computer specialists. However, the most successful computer technologists are the ones who have this perspective.

I did all this without any formal education, as I have no College Degree. Consequently, I extensively read user manuals, textbooks, and magazine articles on these technologies, thus becoming autodidact in these technologies. I also, fortunately, had the assistance of several people who were experts and College Degreed and experienced, who assisted me in my learning. None of this could happen in today’s specialized world of computer technology, and I was fortunate to have lived in an era when specialization had not occurred.

I have written this not with a sense of braggadocio, but with a sense of pride in my accomplishments. I have also written this to provide my readers with a sense of how broad and knowledgeable I am in computer technology. I, therefore, believe that I am much more than competent in commenting on the issues of computer technology. I have also learned the importance of people and how to best consider the actions and motivations of people. I have also learned, as in one of my “Truisms”, to:

Remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.

My Qualifications

It should also be remembered that intelligence and wisdom are two separate items. Many intelligent people lack wisdom, while many wise persons are not as intelligent as other persons. As I have written in my article. “Pearls of Wisdom” section "A Wise Person", and elaborated further in my “Life” article sections “Knowledge, Experience, and Wisdom” and “Knowing vs. Understanding”, wisdom is much more than intelligence. It is the application of knowledge, intelligence, and “Reasoning” to reach sound conclusions that delineates an intelligent vs. a wise person. While I admit that I am not as intelligent as many persons, I have tried to apply my knowledge, intelligence, and reasoning to become a wise person. I also have the wisdom to know that I may be wrong, and the humility to admit my wrong headedness when it comes to my attention. It is my knowledge and wisdom that I am trying to impart in these web pages.

You may be wondering about my qualifications to pontificate on these subjects. I believe that I am qualified because I am a thinking human being. I utilize my knowledge and experience in life, as well as researching both the facts and opinions of others, including those with whom I may disagree. I then apply my reasoning and logical skills to reach an opinion. And it is just my opinion which I readily admit, and I am also willing to admit that I may be wrong. If I discover that I am wrong I am just as readily willing to change my opinion and update this website, which I will often announce in  a Chirp. Therefore, you should check back every so often to determine if I have changed my opinion.

To those who would say that I have no academic credentials, formal instruction, nor training on these subjects I would plead “Guilty”. For I am autodidact - A person who has taught himself. Decades of reading, listening, and viewing information, and most important reasoning on these subjects has led me to where I am. For those who would discount what I am saying because of this, I am reminded of a story of Galileo Galilei.

In 1633, after facing the Inquisition, Galileo was forced to recant his claims that the Earth moves around the Sun, rather than the converse. He abjured, sworn, promised, and obliged himself to abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or from discussing it... to abandon completely... the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing. It was reported (though unconfirmed) that Galileo mumbled "And yet it moves" as he was leaving the Inquisition.

So, for those that would discount what I say and have written due to the lack of my formal education I would respond:

“And Yet It Moves”

A Personal Note

The incandescent light bulb has often been described as a heat source that provides some light, given that a light bulb generates more heat than it does light. In today's public debates we often find the proponents of an issue providing a lot of heat and only a little light. These observations are meant to provide illumination (light) and not argumentation (heat).

Opponents in today's society often utilize the dialog and debate methodology of Demonize, Denigrate, and Disparage their opponent when discussing issues, policies, and personages. To demonize, denigrate, or disparage the messenger to avoid consideration of the message is not acceptable if the message has supporting evidence.

The only acceptable method of public discourse is disagreement - to be of different opinions. If you are in disagreement with someone you should be cognizant that people of good character can and often disagree with each other. The method of their disagreement is very important to achieve civil discourse. There are two ways you can disagree with someone; by criticizing their opinions or beliefs or critiquing their opinions or beliefs.

  • Criticism - Disapproval expressed by pointing out faults or shortcomings.
  • Critique - A serious examination and judgment of something.

Most people, and most commentators have forgotten the difference between Criticism and Critique. This has led to the hyper-partisanship in today's society. In a civil society critiquing a viewpoint or policy position should be encouraged. This will often allow for a fuller consideration of the issues, and perhaps a better viewpoint or policy position without invoking hyper-partisanship. We can expect that partisanship will often occur, as people of good character can and often disagree with each other. Criticizing a viewpoint or policy position will often lead to hostility, rancor, and enmity, which results in the breakdown of civil discourse and hyper-partisanship. It is fine to criticize someone for their bad or destructive behavior, but it is best to critique them for their opinions or words. We would all do better if we remember to critique someone, rather than criticize someone.

I would ask anyone who disagrees with what I have written here to please keep this disagreement civil. I am open to critique and will sometimes take criticism. I will always ignore demonization, denigration, and disparagement, or point out the vacuous nature or the character flaws of those that wish to silence the messenger rather than deal with the message.

Please remember that if you disagree with the messenger it is not acceptable to kill the messenger. You may kill the messenger, but the message will remain.

If you have any comments, concerns, critiques, or suggestions I can be reached at mwd@profitpages.com. I will review reasoned and intellectual correspondence, and it is possible that I can change my mind, or at least update the contents of these articles. This is why these articles are dated. Whenever I make a change to these articles they will be re-dated. So check back and see if any articles have been updated (or perhaps I shall add articles).

Acknowledgments

 The Author wishes to thank the editors and contributors of the Wikipedia website. Their many fine articles on this subject have made my task in creating these articles much easier. I have attributed and hyperlinked the Wikipedia article whenever I have utilized it in an article (and often place the Wikipedia article in a frame such as this). For a more fuller understanding of these topics, I would direct you to the appropriate Wikipedia article.

 

I would also acknowledge that the graphics contained in these articles were obtained from various websites. I have tried to obtain non-copyrighted images, and if I have failed to do so I would sincerely apologize to the copyright holders for not attributing the image to them.