Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Future is What We Make of It

This short video clip is not what you expect, and is really good. Watch and consider how our actions together determine our future together.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Too Many Choices

I have been thinking lot lately about choices, particularly vocational choices. My quest to find the perfect vocation has been a long and (mostly) fruitless search, as everything I encounter has drawbacks along with the good. My search is especially complicated because I am a generalist by nature, not a specialist. In our society, there is very little value placed on the generalist. Trust me, putting down a broad range of disparate skills on a resume only hurts your appeal, "jack of all trades, master of none" is no longer a compliment in our society. There is an incredible pressure to "make up your f*cking mind" and just focus on something!

Yet for some of us, this very act of "making up our minds" feels like a trap. With the bewildering array of things to learn about, careers to pursue, ideas to wrestle with, etc etc, it just seems plain wrong to have to limit my scope! Yet last I checked, there aren't a lot of vocation's out there for "renaissance" men and women, probably the closest you could come would be as a small business owner, where you wear many hats at once. Yet even that feels too narrow to those who want to experience it all!!! I mean, you only live one life, why spend most of it on the same thing?

And yet... The reality is that we can't have it all, we can't do it all. Not only that, but to some degree the constantly present notion that we are "missing out" may be more a product of the contemporary array of jobs than an actual reality. In other words, because we have thousands of interesting careers to choose from, there is always a sinking suspicion that we have chose the wrong one. Many folks seemed perfectly satisfied with their career "choices" back in times when they only had a dozen or so to choose from! So is our discontent a reflection that we are on the wrong path, or simply that we have a hard time believing that we have found the "best" possible vocation for our lives...

In my mulling over the issue, I stumbled across a damn good blog post, check out THIS LINK by the refreshingly blunt (albeit self indulgent) V.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fired Up Obama Addresses Virginia Crowd

In the following video, Obama addresses cheering crowds of Virginians in Richmond Saturday night, after sweeping Tennessee, Washington, and Louisiana. This is a great speech, Obama really gets fired up and demonstrates why so many of us have put our hope in him.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Obama 2008

On the eve of super Tuesday, I must confess that I have forgone my former support of Senator Clinton and now find myself championing Obama. Granted, I still support Hillary and believe in much of her agenda, but her shortcomings on the character front have become very difficult to ignore, and will clearly handicap her in a bid for the White House. At the end of the day, I want to see a Democrat in the office, so it is pure pragmatism!

Besides, what's not to like about Obama? Other than his halting speech in debates, which appears to be more a delivery style than an indication of clouded thinking. He does make sense, although I often struggle to follow him on key points. BUT, at the end of the day I find myself really trusting Barack, and believing in his sincerity and depth of character. Also, his positions have shown increasing depth, allaying some early concerns that I have had about his lack of experience and poorly define positions.

Policy differences between Clinton and Obama are not as dramatic as they would have you believe, which in the end leads me to the candidate with a fresh face, optimism, and sincerity. I hope to see him take the majority of states tomorrow night, and fully expect that will happen. I am also thrilled to see McCain will likely by the Republican nominee (even though I predicted Romney some months ago), as he is the most progressive Republican in the race and also shows a depth of character often lacking in politics. This election it may be the "better of two good options" instead of the "lesser of two evils."

Here is a graph showing the huge bounce Obama received after his strong showing in South Carolina and Edwards subsequent departure.

Click on image to enlarge

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Israel Starving Gaza

This story is both beautiful and horrible at the same time. Beautiful in the sense that thousands of desparate people from the Gaza strip are flooding Northern Egypt to replenesh critical supplies. The scene that has unfolded is a triumph of humanity over military might. I greatly applaud the Egyptian government for allowing this to occur.

The tragedy is that this had to happen in the first place. Israel has systematically been starving the Gaza strip of critical supplies in retaliation for missile attacks. The problem is that the Israeli approach is non-discriminating between the perpetrators and the innocent majority. Indeed, this borders on "passive" genocide. I don't pretend to know the solution to the Israeli-Palestenian conflict, but I can guarantee that Israel's current approach will not achieve their own goals (peaceful border), but rather strengthen and embolden their enemies. Shame on Israel.

Red arrow shows location of breach.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wasting Time

One thing we Americans hate to do is "waste time." Whether it is in the check-out line at the grocery store, during our morning commute, or running errands on the weekend. It seems that we spend the vast majority of our waking hours getting things done as efficiently as possible. Implicit in the fear of wasting time is the notion that certain critical "things" won't get done. I wonder how often this assumption is accurate?

For instance, fifty years ago we had far more limited transportation, no internet or cell phones, little in the way of fast food, and the term "multitasking" hadn't even been coined yet! Yet somehow people managed to work a job, raise a family, and have some hobbies or pastimes. I don't mean to paint American society idealistically fifty years ago, indeed I do not think that is the case. Instead I am raising the question of how much our increased speed and activity has really benefited our quality of life?

A number of thinkers such as Eckhart Tolle, have proposed that by being so busy, we actually miss out on experiencing what is happening right now. In other words, we are effectively living outside the moment by focusing on accomplishing things in the future (or alternatively obsessing over the past). By living outside the moment we are literally not allowing ourselves to experience real life as it is unfolding, so in a very real sense we are wasting time!

Stopping to experience what is happening right now is often much harder than it appears. For example, walking to my car after work is a great excuse to lose myself in thought, instead of being present to my surroundings. Why would you want to be present to a parking lot you ask? Good question indeed. For one thing, it is real life occurring around you. You are a physical body located in space and time, which currently happens to be a Friday afternoon in an asphalt covered parking lot. Escaping this reality into mental abstraction is terribly tempting, but is it really beneficial to you and your quality of life. Something worth thinking about (no pun intended there!).

I wonder if we stand to learn a lot from other cultures that do not have this deeply ingrained fear of "wasting time?" For instance, during my summer stay in the impoverished country of Mozambique, I noticed that many inhabitants were content to allow the day to unfold at a leisurely pace, to respond to needs and situations as they arise, not obsessing over them in advance. I can't pretend to understand the Mozambican mindset, but I might offer that in a country where the life expectancy is a mere 47 years, that living "in the moment" becomes all that more critical then working toward the future. We have all heard stories or seen films regarding someone who found out that they only have 1 week to live, thus setting them on a fantastic journey to experience as much of life as possible in such a short time. Can you imagine someone who only had 1 week to live spending an inordinate amount of time working toward future goals? It would be silly, as at that point your only goal would be to live as fully as possible.

In the overall scheme of things, is 47 years (or 85 for that matter), really that much different than a week left to live? Of course no one can live all the time in the moment, some planning and working towards the future is inevitable. But will anyone lay on their deathbed and bemoan that they had not spent more time planning and working toward the future, or rather that they had not "wasted" more time in relationship with people and nature?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Huckabee Scares Me

As the results of the Michigan primary come in, I am very satisfied to see Mike Huckabee is a distant third place. His rapid rise to become a front runner for the Republican nomination has been very disturbing, as he holds many unusual, if not downright frightening ideas. For one Huckabee favors amending the income tax to represent a flat tax, instead of a progressive tax. This would be a huge boon to upper middle class and above, as the "tax brackets" would be disposed of. The entire premise of the tax brackets are that low income people cannot give up as large a percentage of their income without directly impacting their ability to provide for basic needs. The progressive tax has been away to bring equity to the system, and it certainly hasn't impoverished the rich, as the gap between the upper and lower classes continues to widen.

However, perhaps the scariest thing about Huckabee is his "faith based" form of politics. We have seen the results of this type of politics before, and we should be extremely wary to even consider going down that path again. Indeed, Huckabee is even more brash than Bush with regards to his religious views, stating that we should "amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view." Folks, this is scary shit. At a time when we are trying to somehow rectify the animosity felt in the middle east toward perceived (or real) religious persecution, we have a presidental candidate who thinks this is a theocratic war, where it is us or them!

So it is with a great sense of relief that I see what appears to be early signs of the Republican core turning away from Mike Huckabee.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Truth is Useless

Jeb Bush: "The truth is useless. You have to understand this right now. You can't deposit the truth in a bank. You can't buy groceries with the truth. You can't pay rent with the truth. The truth is a useless commodity that will hang around your neck like an albatross all the way to the homeless shelter. And if you think that the million or so people in this country that are really interested in the truth about their government can support people who would tell them the truth, you got another thing coming. Because the million or so people in this country that are truly interested in the truth don't have any money."

Spoken by Jeb Bush in conversation with Retired Naval Intelligence Officer, Al Martin, and Cited in Bushwhacked, by Uri Dowbenko, September, 2002

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ron Paul

I don't know that much about Ron Paul and his ReVolution movement, but I have to admit I am very intrigued by his message as relayed in the following video clip. The man talks a lot of sense IMHO. Even though I am most likely to vote for whichever Democratic candidate wins, I would sure like to see Ron Paul do well. New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday appears to be his best chance to get national recognition, lets hope he gets voters out!


I just recently encountered the term freeganism, used to describe a movement of people committed to reducing waste. From wiki, "Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed." Wow, doesn't that sound wonderful! Indeed, while it is a cool new term, it is an idea that is rooted in the founding works of many of our religious traditions. It has become much easier to be a freegan with the social networking provided through sites such as Freecycle or FreeAlert. People are empowered to share quality used items with other individuals, and since everyone can both give and receive, the desire to make a profit is removed. In my experience it is actually a cleansing feeling to give something away!

Another aspect of freegan life is dumpster diving, an activity that I have had recent encounters with, following the lead of two professional dumpster divers, Dee and Becky. Dumpster diving is a rare win-win for the individual and the environment, as "waste" food is used to feed families, reducing the impact on both the pocketbook and the environment!

A great introduction to freeganism can be found on GroovyGreen's blog, check it out. I certainly do not qualify as a freegan, as I am still stuck in the consumer model our economy is built around, but as I continually deconstruct my own consumerist mentality, I hope to begin my freegan novitiate.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

MIT Offers Free Course Materials

This is pretty amazing, MIT is now offering free course materials as part of their OpenCourseWare initiative. This is way, way cool! Check out their course material offerngs HERE. Particularly for someone like myself, who has a penchant for continuing studies for self-edification, this is a much cheaper alternative than enrolling in an online degree program (this doesn't mean I will drop out of my MA in Org Leadership though...!).


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Eve of Iowa Caucus

On the eve of the Iowa caucus and with politics very much on my mind, I thought I would post an interesting electoral map from the 2004 presidential election. It shows how population density plays a major role in determining which party an individual supports.

click to see larger image