November 29, 2012

Venting Isn't Helpful

Venting isn't helpful. It rationalizes your hatred.

You must separate the individual from their behavioral patterns you find to be difficult.

Venting rarely accomplishes this.

November 28, 2012

The Selfish Man Wasn't Always That

The kid who grows up with a video camera perpetually attached to his hand isn't a materialistic sell out.
The kid who grows up wanting to be President isn't held hostage at the mercies of special interest groups. The kid who grows up watching episode after episode of Perry Mason isn't sucking the very essence of the medical profession dry with frivolous malpractice suits.

The truth is, our circumstances can indeed change our motivations over time. But, the politician isn't inherently corrupt. The lawyer isn't inherently crooked. The film director isn't inherently a sell-out.

Deep within them are still the children who desire to do beautiful things.


November 27, 2012

Finding Middle Ground with the Environmentalists

He doesn't take environmentalists seriously, because he finds the value of a seal and a human to be intrinsically different.

He doesn't take global warming seriously, because he believes their $80/ton carbon tax solution to be an economic death sentence.

And so he retaliates. He lowers the value of a seal to nothing, which is less than he truly believes. He denies any and all consequences of living on a warmer planet, which is less than he truly believes.

November 26, 2012

Respect Must Always Be Earned

The day will never come when you can walk into a room and command respect simply because of your title or position. Respect must always be earned.

Consider the President of the United States. Half the country disdains him. The other half thinks they could do some things better.

So what makes you think that getting a promotion - becoming a manager - also grants with it some sort of commanded respect? Now, those who report to you might provide you with some sort of reverent deference - but only because you possess firing privileges over them. We must not confuse that kind of quasi-fear with genuine respect.

To get that, you must earn it. Every time. And with every person.

November 12, 2012

Rethinking the Now Non-Threatening Romney

Once someone's no longer a threat to be in charge of you - they instantly become a little harder to dislike. Consider the Republican quasi-admiration Bill Clinton has garnered post-Presidency. So, I started thinking about it last week - what a "CEO" President would have looked like.

I think the average person would have liked Romney as President.

Of course, not after beating "their guy". But in general. The guy's fairly middle of the road - in practice if not rhetoric. He's where a lot of people are. Perhaps only because he specifically caters to the masses. He governs, rather than legislates.

I think most people would have liked most of the decisions he would have made. Of course, I'm only saying that because I know it's no longer an option.

November 09, 2012

Moneyball Works For Everything

This year, Nate Silver shocked the world by correctly predicting, to a remarkable degree, how each and every state would turn in the Presidential election - despite many Republican pollsters predicting a Republican edge...

But I wasn't shocked...because Silver was 49/50 in 2008.

This stuff works. Not just for baseball. Not just for politics. And it's not computers replacing people, either. But people USING computers, and in-depth and beautiful data analysis to make better decisions than ever before. Get on board folks.

(My league's fantasy football rankings as of this morning - want to guess who I am?)


November 07, 2012

The Republic Will Stand...

FOR THE JOYOUS
Do not stop. Your desire to pursue the alleviation of the social injustices you see does not end at the voting booth. There are non-profits around the world doing amazing things. Join them. Help them. Do not wait until others are forced by legislative mandate to fund these next social programs you desire, but pick your priorities, and work toward them yourself, while persuading others to join your fight.

FOR THE DESPONDENT
Do not stop. A boring rich, white robot just about tied the coolest President we've ever had.

November 06, 2012

Why Hurricane Sandy Doesn't Really Matter and Why it Does

Presence in the Age of Trivialities
by Quinton Peeples

It came as no surprise that as Hurricane Sandy brought devastation to the Eastern Seaboard, the internet lit up with arguments, tweets and Facebook posts about the Disney/Lucasfilm merger. We are what we practice and we practice trivialization on a daily, almost hourly, basis. We have second screen experiences, scrolling headlines, live “timelines”, niche markets, microbrews and on and on and on. While I enjoy having choices, what has happened along the way is an unintentional and devastating reality: we are unable to stop choosing. We have lost our ability to sit, to simply be present with something painful and discern its relative value. While I am not criticizing a serious discussion of entertainment conglomerates merging, I am concerned that in the current context, it is better suited for a later date. We are limited, finite beings, with limited and finite energies and resources. Our ability to choose, and choose wisely what we think about and engage reveals who we are and what we value. Averting my gaze from people in need to discuss rich people getting richer, says an awful lot about me. Things I might not want to consider. And why should I? Someone just “liked” my post on Pinterest.

The Subjectivity of Horror
by Eric Olsen

Quinton argues that Hurricane Sandy is one of those moments that deserves our full attention. Perhaps because of its cataclysmic nature (and powerful imagery), its financial destruction (~$30 billion), its human devastation (current death toll: 110), and likely also, its placement in beloved New York City. It is unquestionably a tragedy of epic proportions. And yet, like Quinton mentioned, we are limited, finite beings. And we are surrounded by tragedy. There is so much horror in the world that if we choose to focus on it all, we run the risk of being swallowed up altogether - we could mourn with those who mourn until we question whether there is indeed goodness left in the world at all.

So, often without choosing, we prioritize what we allow our heart to hurt for. And Chicago's record homicides this summer (we're on track for 500 for the year) hit me harder than Sandy. Now, I can actually argue that Chicago's tragedy is "worse" objectively. Acts of man, not mother nature. Acts of hatred. Pride. Jealousy. Evil. But, it's probably just because I live here. New York is a somewhat fictional Woody Allen backdrop in my mind - despite having been there. Chicago is real to me. And there will be always be subjectivity in what we find important - what we feel connected to - what we cry for. If my daughter were diagnosed with diabetes, I would likely devote my life to finding a cure. Many in that situation do. The circumstance they find themselves in instantly changes their empathy.

I don't want to live in the trivial world Quinton described. I don't want to ignore the true acts of horror that really exist - to hide in the beauty of the world, of which there is also enough to rejoice in forever. Yet, I don't want to fall in the pit altogether, despite the seeming nobility of lying in the ashes.

November 05, 2012

7 Debate Questions I Wish the Candidates Were Asked

Don't get me wrong. I think saying as little as possible as aggressively as possible is brilliant debate strategy. I really do. But here are 7 questions I'd love to hear honest answers for, just for the sake of our greater understanding. Feel free to add your own questions, or answer those you'd like in a way that empathizes with the "gray" nature of the questions themselves.

  1. What if any ethical concerns do you have with the use of drone strikes?
  2. What do you see as the pros and cons of decriminalizing non-violent actions, such as drug use?
  3. Under either a universal or single-payer healthcare system, does the government then have a fiscal responsibility to either incentivize people to make better health choices, or penalize individuals for preventable healthcare costs caused by their lifestyle choices?
  4. Often, even the most well-intentioned legislation has unintended negative economic consequences. Should the sheer complexity of our economic markets slow down our belief that any legislative interventions we make can be moderate, predictable and wholly positive?
  5. Does your foreign policy distinguish between acts of national defense and acts of national “offense”?
  6. In late 2011, it was still illegal for openly gay men and women to serve in the U.S. military. Is it silly of us to assume the federal government can ever be a true leader in social progress, rather than a laggard follower of mass opinion?
  7. Should our social service budgets (and all budgets for that matter) be prioritized on a good-per-dollar basis? Therefore, we stop doing quite as many “good” things in order to focus on the “great” things – the ones that produce the most economic good per dollar?