Monthly Archives: March 2013

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For Your Consideration: 3/29/2013

Because Holden and I constantly share and read news articles all week we decided it would be a good idea to share them with you too. So, every week you we will drop our favorites here “For your Consideration” (FYC). Feel free to post your favorite links in the comments!

1. Same Sex Marriage and Gilligan’s Island Game Theory
2. ‘Stop the bullshit’ in wireless pricing says T-Mobile CEO John Legere
3. ‘Combat-ready’ North Korea threatens US mainland, Hawaii
4. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un threatens attack on US bases in Pacific
5. Mayor Bloomberg says surveillance drones are inevitable in NYC: ‘get used to it’
6. Could Facebook Have Prevented the Georgia Baby Shooting?
7. Boxee TV update brings DLNA access, on device DVR management and more
8. Hate paying income taxes? Try these 7 states
9. Monsanto Moves Towards Total Dominance of the World’s Food Supply, and They’re Making Sure You’re None the Wiser
10. The spoils of industry

Thoughts on Successful People

I have an unusual ego. I always have. It probably borders healthy confidence and a hint of arrogance. I try to avoid the ladder, but it comes out occasionally.  I think it was all born out of my Mother treating me truly special growing up. See, before I was born two things happened that make my birth somewhat unique.

The first thing was that the doctor told my mother it was unlikely she would ever be able to have children. At least this is what I’ve been told.

The second thing is that my Mother was in a terrible car accident about 6 months prior to becoming pregnant with me. The car accident left my Mother paralyzed from the waist down. It was a hit-and-run.

Still, to my parents surprise my Mother became pregnant and out popped a tiny 6 lbs 3 oz me. So throughout my childhood my Mother planted seeds of “you are special” in my tiny brain and there it grew. It’s a good thing too because I would need that later.

We were poor growing up. We lived in a bad neighborhood where drugs and violence were accessible to anyone who cared enough to ask for it. I learned to accept certain things that when I look back now it seems almost unbelievable.

I remember being fed alcohol before I was a teenager. I remember being taken to convenient store trips to steal as much merchandise as possible – then being praised for it by my parents later. I remember my dad growing marijuana plants in the woods and taking me to see them. I remember the pills, the cocaine, the fights… None of it took hold of me though and I’m not sure why.

No one was there to prevent me from doing the drugs, from committing a crime, or making the wrong friends – somehow I managed to hover just on the outskirts of it all. I also managed to maintain a freakish confidence that everything would be okay.

It’s not that I didn’t have my problems. My Father when to jail a few times, my Mom was mentally unstable with a little too much frequency, and events that would undoubtedly shatter a young man’s psyche somehow spared me. To this day I’m not sure what separates me from the countless others who gave in. I don’t know why.

I always knew it would be alright in the end. Maybe it’s just the expectations I set for myself. Maybe I was just lucky and ignorant enough to believe it. Maybe part of it was just believing it at all. Maybe that’s the key – having something you believe in – especially when that something is yourself. Believing leads to determination and determination drives hard work and eventually success. Eventually someone will notice and then you’ve made it. Perhaps confidence in general is a self fulfilling prophecy.

But how do you convince a young person to believe in themselves – to have the belief that it will all turn out okay in the end. How do you teach them to make the right decisions that will keep them out of trouble. How do you teach them morality and ethics when there is no discernible roll-model to learn from? Who teaches a child in these situations the subtle social interactions which makes them successful? Why did I pick up these skills when others didn’t?

I know people who were given every opportunity, but failed. They failed by their own doing. I also know individuals who conquered adversity despite it all. What is it that differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful? It has to be something in that person, I’m convinced.

Something in that person that refuses to give up. That refused to accept less than the expectations one has set for oneself. Sometimes you just set the bar for yourself and decide there is no lowering it – no matter what. I’m not sure why some people do this and others do not. But it seems to me that makes all the difference.

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PeePaw on Dying

My wife’s “PeePaw” is 89 years old. Though I’ve barely spoken to him over the past decade I admire him. Once a year at Christmas parties or perhaps at a special event our paths cross and we exchange courtesies, but I’ve always known instinctively he was something special. One of the good ones, I guess.

This past Christmas our family gathered like always, but I could tell that something was different with PeePaw. He moved a little slower, his complexion wasn’t quite as vibrant, and it was evident he was in poor health. Having noticed this I even mentioned to my wife she should be sure to spend a little extra time with him – he may not make it to next Christmas.

The Call

Then, two nights ago my wife gets a phone call. PeePaw is in the hospital. The third such time since Christmas. He’s a strong old man with high spirits so death never seems to be able to take him. She is informed, like the other two times, this might be “it”. So she visits.

PeePaw’s spirits are high and he has no delusions regarding his impending death. He faces it and even jokes about wanting to eat nothing but cake – and does – because he’s going to die soon anyways. We talk about travel, which he informs us he and his wife of 70 years did a lot of in their youth.

He shares stories of WWII, travels in Peru, Guatemala, and his personal favorite – Switzerland. I’m amazed at the detail of his memory, the anecdotes and witty stories he shares. This man, perhaps lying in his death bed, shares stories of a life well lived.

PeePaw is a millionaire too. But I’ve not heard him share stories about his days in the office or growing his business (of which I have never heard him talk about, ever), but rather the highlights of his life are stories of exploration, adventure, good food, love and family.

PeePaw is a wise man.

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Ireland in 2 weeks

I don’t know what life will teach me in Ireland – the lessons are all unique – but I do expect Ireland to be beautiful. I’ll be going to these places and writing about it here soon.

Staying in Dublin.
Visiting Cliffs of Moher (Pictured below)
Visiting Wicklow
Visiting Cork and Blarney Castle

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North Korea and the Possibility of Nuclear War

The U.S. will be adding 14 new ground based interceptors in response to threats made by North Korea. This comes at a time when the white house claims they can’t even afford public tours. So I have to ask myself what’s going on here.

I have two key theories:

1. This is an excuse for additional military spending and continued weaponization of the country. North Korea is the new “terrorist threat” in an new fearmongering tactic to prevent American’s from complaining about increases in military spending while public services continue to be cut. Simply, a new threat to justify cutting teaching jobs while maintaining the bloated military, or

2. Is the situation with North Korea much, much more serious than we thought?

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Religion and The Power to Change

Today my Mother called me. I hesitated to answer the phone because – to be frank – her phone calls annoy me. She always seems a bit whiny and I can never listen to her go on for more than a few minutes. I usually pick up the phone and put up with it – for at least a few minutes – just because she’s my Mom.

A call about my Dad

The call goes something like this:

“Daddy really wants you to call him.” She has referred to him like that since I was a kid. “He’s off drugs and called me crying, he really wants you to call him.” I’m annoyed at this point – like going to church is someone’s free pass to sympathy and forgiveness.  I want actions – not a crutch used to help someone to feel less guilty!

“I know, I know. I’ll think about it.” I tell my mother I will consider calling my Father, but the truth is I won’t. I will not even entertain the idea. The phone works both ways and if God can miraculously get him off the methamphetamine then it can help him use the phone to call his son – this isn’t my job.

I get off the phone with my Mom as quickly as she called.

Change is happening everywhere, it seems

I tell my good friend Holden about what’s happened and he shares a similar story. He describes an experience that occurred just last weekend between he and his Father-in-Law (who he shares years of bad blood with).

Dude, I have a pretty fucking crazy story of a similar nature of my own.

So, I told you my father in law has been going to the church of tongues, being ordained as a minister… etc.

Well, last weekend I go to my wife’s grandmother’s house to get a shovel to do some yard work and her dad is back there with a truck, loading it up with old limbs and stuff.

He’s trying to lift a huge ass limb, so I get a hatchet and help him cut it up, load it up, etc. We just exchange small talk and pleasantries. We’re civil to each other.

Then I ask him if he needs help unloading all that shit at the landfill. He says no but says we need to talk.

He proceeds to apologize for every shit thing he’s ever done to me, thanks me for taking good care of his daughter, applauds my work ethic and getting the MBA even with a kid, preggo wife and full time job. Apologizes about everything, tells me he loves me, hes proud of me…

I return all the same gesture, we shake hands and that was that. He didn’t say anything to anyone, I didn’t say anything to the wife, nothing has been said about it since..

I was floored. WTF. Wow. If the attitude sticks, I will forever be proven wrong about the guy. Amazing.

Religion Allows Change

Can religion really change a man? If so, how?

I think there is no doubt that religion allows for change. Especially for the stubborn or prideful (aren’t we all…). However, I doubt the solution is a malevolent one. I mean I somehow doubt the grace of God or Jesus’ hand touches a man’s soul granting serenity. That’s all hocus-pocus to me – but I’m being cynical.

Rather than the mystic – I think the change religion grants a man is more natural, more obvious, and surly as equally effective. My theory is religion gives a prideful man an opening to change his bad habits without losing face to himself, his friends, and family. It give a guy an out, a second chance, a clean slate – and a chance to feel okay about it!

Maybe Christianity really is about forgiveness – like it says in the bible. Except in reality I don’t think it is God or Jesus who is doing the forgiving – rather it allows you to forgive yourself and allows your family to look beyond your mistakes and forgive you too. That is very positive and very powerful.

Maybe for those of us who aren’t religious we can learn an important lesson about the power to truly forgive our fellow man and ourselves. Almost all major religions teach these same lessons – To lose one’s ego and to forgive – I think they’re on to something.

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Atlanta’s Suburbs are Succeeding: Rich advantage or Efficiency realized?

As an Atlanta resident I can confirm these are the nicest areas of Georgia. Also predominantly white and affluent. Is this a case of unfair wealthy advantage or evidence socialized Government is doomed to fail? Thoughts?

Liberty

TSA Opt-Out Experience: “Sir, the agent will touch your groin and buttocks.”

I am westward bound. Thirty-thousand feet above the earth’s surface with nothing, but my thoughts and a laptop I have been allowed to temporarily utilize to curb my boredom – that is until the pilot indicates I have to “shut down all approved electronic devices”.

The TSA

Before arriving at this cozy little window seat a lot happened. I was obediently herded from the airport entrance, through check-in, and to security. In an orderly fashion I obeyed the TSA overlords and moved in a single file line toward the security checkpoint. As instructed I handed over my identification and carefully removed anything that could be utilized for terrorist activities.

Such items for removal include my belt, watch, shoes, and jacket. All electronics, liquids, and my personal hygiene items must be emptied into a bin for closer examination. Now barefoot, I must agree to a full body scan of my entire skeletal structure – I must prove I am not harboring any items of ill will – all to guarantee safety, of course. The giant body scanner stands before me.

The Opt-Out Experience

Since I value my personal liberty and would rather my body not be bombarded with protons, electrons, back-scatter rays, or magical beams – none of which I fully understand – I choose to opt out and accept the fully body pat-down. This of course brings a certain amount of public criticism and shame. I am being a difficult slave so an appropriate amount of public humiliation must follow – per protocol I’m convinced.

Loudly: “Sir, you are aware that by opting out an agent will be touching your groin and buttocks?” I confirm.

Another agent, sarcastically: “Sir, you know this machine doesn’t cause cancer, right?”

Me: “Yes, sir. I’m aware of these facts and I would still like to opt out.” I’m a black sheep now. Time for the pat-down. For everyone’s safety, of course.

I’m pulled aside. A few slaves look at me uncomfortably. They can’t be sure I’m not a trouble maker. My actions have confused the herd. I have separated myself from those obediently following the rules set forth by the system.

The Pat-Down

My baggage is laid before me, but I cannot touch it. Not until they are sure I am not a criminal – a terrorist. Like a convicted felon I hold my arms to the side, palms up, as instructed. The TSA agent inspects my hands, rubs my thighs, groin, back, chest, and buttocks. No surface of my body is untouched. The agent then takes his gloves to a magical machine which confirms no traces of terrorist residue have made their way to his hands during pat-down. (I wonder how much that machine costs? Our tax dollars at work – nothing wasted.)

A few seconds later the TSA agent returns and allows me to be on my way. I thank the agent for his time with a smirk.

Some slaves feel degrading and I see why, but this does not phase me. I smile and thank each agent for their time as I gather my things. I decide the experience was free and public body massage. A normal person may have been humiliated – fuck it – I am happy to oblige.

All of this inconvenience, humiliation, forfeiture of your rights, and submission of your personal information (down to a scanned blueprint of your body) in the name of safety. In effort to combat against a terrorist threat we slaves are apparently too stupid and too naïve fully to understand.

I can’t help but ask myself: “Is our sacrifice of personal space and privacy worth it? Is the precedence we have established justifiable?” The answer is no. Undeniably no.

Forfeiture

We have to be careful what we get used to. I mean this sincerely. We are experiencing a slow yet steady forfeiture of our basic rights as human beings – not just as Americans – but as flesh and blood human organisms. Our right to move about has been encroached. Our right to personal privacy – even in the most intimate way – has been thrown out. Taxes slowly increase (we now work almost 6 months a year to pay taxes alone). We are monitored continuously – via email, photograph, surveillance cameras and drones, and innumerable registrations.

And perhaps worst of all, if the Government finds reason to label you a terrorist (in which the rules of obtaining such a label have not been explained to the public) the Government can legally hold you without trial, forever, and kill you.

All this in the name of public safety? How long will this excuse suffice? Where do we draw the line?

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People are no longer Free Thinkers

It never fails to amaze me how easily people are fooled by propaganda. Especially if said propaganda aligns with the beliefs an individual already holds. I find case after case of this on Facebook. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t find Facebook terribly scientific nor do I care for it much; however, I do find it a useful tool to check the pulse of people’s thinking. Especially people whose views are being shaped by popular media sources.

A prime example was today when I logged in and found literally a dozen of my connections sharing an article supposedly written by Bill Cosby. (You can read the entire article here.) The article goes on to critisize social programs, “spread the wealth” ideaology, lazy people, and even Muslims. I immediately knew this couldn’t by something legitimately accredited to Bill Cosby – especially publicly.

I did a quick Google search and quickly found dozens of sites (including Bill Cosby’s personal website) saying the article was a fake. So why was everyone else so easily fooled, so apt to propagate the lie, and too lazy to fact check? Was it because it so easily confirmed their own beliefs?

This is a pattern. People immediately accept whatever falls in their lap as complete truth. People are no longer free thinkers – rather they are sheep-sponges who obediently fall in line, absorb, and spread any information provided to them in which they find convenient.

A respected pop-culture icon and black leader, like Bill Cosby, spouting popular conservative ideals was just too delicious to pass up – thus it spreads like wildfire on social networks. A few items of hate speech, sprinkled in with a few lines of truth, and suddenly the entire message is accepted at once. The lies and hate are absorbed in the blood stream as inconspicuously as they landed on everyone’s homepage.

My biggest fear is that my peers have forgotten how to think for themselves, how to distinguish a lie from the truth. They are now good slaves propagating whatever they hear or see on whatever screen is in front of them. That is dangerous.