Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why I distrust your neat house

Am I the only person who feels like the neat people of the world are weird? They are weird and seem sneaky. Like they are hiding their personality.

I like to know what is going on. I like to use my brain. When I meet someone I look at how they are dressed, how they talk, what they order, how they comb their hair, and the like.

I, like everyone else, am trying to figure out who I am dealing with. They say you can't judge a book by it's cover but we can only judge a person by the data they give us to work with. Wear a pro-Obama pin? I think you are a democrat. Romney pin? Republican. Is it right? No. But it is right enough.

Black? Democrat.
Country? Republican.
White working class male? Republican-ish.
White college educated male? Democrat.
Women? Democrat.
Wearing a cross? Republican.
In the North East and wearing a crucifix? Democrat.
City? Democrat.

All of these are clues. The more clues the better a picture I can get. Less clues are less reliable.

My Uncle lives on a farm in central New York but is so left he is not even a Democrat. He is further left than the greens. A buddy of mine is a black atheist who supports Obama but is a registered Republican. He is voting against the religious right. These example are just in reference to politics.

Do you like rap music?
What about classic Rock?
Are you a reader?
Do you watch "Celebrity Apprentice?" I'm sure that is a real show.
Ever been on welfare?
Went to Catholic School?

All important data points to find out more about you. To know you. Your appearance says a lot.

What I am saying is that we all judge in an effort to know who we are talking to. Not to be jack asses (though we often are). Mostly to get an idea what is going on. To know about who you are.

Neatness. Coming from a messy person neatness is simply a deliberate attempt to conceal these data points. We messy people have to expend a lot of effort to make things neat. My question is why spend this amount of effort unless you have a greater motive? It seems like you neat people are hiding something. Putting it into a closet (where we keep our skeletons and homosexuality) out of shame or other diabolical motive.

Maybe I'm paranoid. Almost definitely paranoid, but my general point is still good.

In practical reality, what it does for me is offer less data points. It prevents me from understanding you. Since I am the kind of person who gains comfort from understanding things is makes me uncomfortable. I become ill at ease. I begin to wonder why you have so much time to clean?

What do you not do that I do?
What is missing?
How are you flawed?
And there is where I become negatively judgmental.

Then there is my house. I have to become embarrassed about my house. My home. What will you think? Will you think I am disgusting? A disorganized wreck? You obviously think cleanliness is an inherent good. Do you judge me as not good? Do you think I am a bad person?

Now, I cannot invite you over for fear of being judged as a bad person.

Here is how it is like the religious. You people (both groups) have decided upon an inherent good. That which makes one good and that which makes one bad. You, clearly, have decided that cleanliness is good. Neatness is good. The sin is the mess. I become defensive and a part of me will begrudge you. A part of me will resent you. Even if you have done nothing at all. You, by your own actions, have displayed a hierarchy of goodness. I can tell where I stand on your ladder. Low.
 I assume this is how fat people think about me when they eat out with me. I am fit. Overweight people probably think I am judging them and that I think they are bad people. I have had this conversation with many of my overweight friends. My very presence makes them begrudge me.

I guess this is a matter of apology to all my neat friends for not inviting them over or for behaving weird in their homes. Am I right? No. Well, maybe no. Maybe so.

Fat people who eat potato chips and fast food all day I judge. I try not to. I usually only judge when they ask me how to lose weight (like there is a trick). And usually after the third or fourth time they ask me.  I need to realize that they have chosen the sensation of taste and the satisfaction of the sense of fullness over fitness. I can't really argue, food is good.

In turn I hope that my neat freak friends only judge me when I ask for organizational advice. They should realize that I have chosen the freedom of eclectic and abstract thought over organization.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Eat only What you kill

I am not an "eat what you kill" kind of person. I never was. I am, in fact a little disgusted by those people. I am more of a "when we succeed I succeed" type. I think we should be. I think it is good for a pack animal such as the homosapien. This is why I support a redistribution of some money to the pack from the highest earners and oppose an Objectivist "me me me" mentality.

What does "eat what you kill" mean? Well, there is a personal injury law firm in my area (a big one) that has that as part of their training. After an attorney is hired they get a small salary for six months and then they only get a portion of the fees they bring into the firm. Don't get any cases in month 7 and you get no paycheck. You eat (money) what you kill (cases). Sounds fine. Nice shallow sensible logic.

Here is the thing though... The firm has a huge turnover rate. People don't stay for very long. After a while they realize that, aside from the advertising, they get nothing from their firm and they are way better off going it alone. They take there clients and start their own firm. This leaves the firm with new inexperienced lawyers for ever.

This does not help the clients or the lawyers there. The only people this policy benefits are the Partners. Any new lawyer with the killer instinct and no learning curve will do well but they would do well no matter what and will use the firm long enough to get their footing and abandon ship. Why give part of their money away? Those who take a little longer to warm up or to get a client base will move to a different area of law.

Seems to me there are better ways to exploit the skills of more people. Reward assistance. I would use a hockey or basketball metaphor about assists if I were a sporty guy. But I am not. So I shall not. But you get the idea. There is no way to have an army full of leaders. You need followers or helpers or assists. Why not reward support staff. Why not reward collaboration? Why not consider the team? When the team benefits we should all get some. The incentive is for the individual to better the firm. Result? I think a stronger firm.

The argument against? The free rider. If an attorney gets a small paycheck without doing anything and gets bonuses based upon performance (which is what I suggest) why not just take the small paycheck and live lazy and a little poor? There is status. There is more money and therefor more economic freedom and power.

If you have not figured it out by now, I am using a metaphor to talk about the social safety net. I am talking about welfare and unemployment and Social Security and free education. I am talking about those who need help because we do not think what they have to offer is valuable. Many of us are not intellectually predisposed or have not had the appropriate early training in how to think good. It is a skill and one that needs to be learned fairly young. Those people used to be able to work with their hands and do grunt labor. They could support their family. We no longer value their work. We have outsourcing and machines. Screw dumb, strong people. I disagree, but even if we accept this idea (useless people should just starve) they have children. This is no "what about the children" plea. These kids should be able to get the kind of education that enables them to contribute to the new economy. For them and for equality and flowers and shit? Yes, but not only.

My question is about Einstein. Or more correctly, the next Einstein. Only this one never had any schooling and he works at Costco, night manager. He never got the training and the intellectual investment that makes a born genius into an actual genius. Will we produce a crapload of smart useless people like me? Yes. But every once in a while we will get that one in a million mind. The kind that can conceive of a new way to look at light, or energy, or matter, or antibiotics, or prosthetics, or discover a way to protect us from aliens or what have you. We would have lost this. A whole generation of starving children with no education gives us a dark age. What we need now is a lot of minds thinking about a lot of things. I often wonder how many geniuses our country lost by enslaving a huge portion of their population for so long, by not education our women and by shitting on people whose only sin was to be born poor.

 This is Mitt Romney's America. Poor, uneducated people have no chance for their children to move up in social standing. They are a permanent cast of the poor. The wealthy get to solidify their place as the new American aristocracy and the cycle is complete. We rebelled against the kind of Nation that Mitt Romney wants America to become.

I support a society where we can (selfishly) use the assets we have. We can educate the poor and keep them from starvation to make this country better which makes it better for all. Better for the rich and better for the poor. We need to remember that evolution is about the survival of a group first and an individual second. At least it is in pack animals. And we are the ultimate pack animal. Unlike these Ayn Rand supporters I know I am part of a pack and that pack is America and I want the city on a hill to last into the next century and beyond. I love my country and I don't think the modern Republican Party does. And the both saddens and frightens me.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Biden did his job. Well.

 VP Showdown?
Like many Americans I watched the Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. I was curious as to what the Obama team would roll out to counter-balance the weak performance by Obama in the preceding Presidential debate. Romney won the style portion of the competition and apparently that was weighted at ten times substance. Romney lied. Not according to me but ALL the fact checkers left, right and independent.

So how does this administration deal? They rally the base. That was Biden's whole performance. Rally the base. After Obama's performance there was a state of dissatisfaction among the loyal. What we have learned from past elections and largely from the conservative/religious right is that on election day you need your base. If the base stays home it does not matter if you get a single "independent" vote.

This does not seem to be the first time in this election cycle that Team Obama has used this tactic. Women's issues speak to the base. Homosexuality speaks to the base. Immigration reform speaks to the Latino base who should be Republicans on many issues. The middle, for Obama, is the white men. What does he tout? Bailing out the auto industry, health care for the working class, and strength in defense.

So what did Biden have to do last night? Biden had to kick ass! Not do well. Beat the other team up a little. Vice Presidential candidates have always been the hatchet men. We need to like the President. He can't be too much of an ass hole. The VP? He can be the bulldog.

Did Biden rally the base? Yes. Did Biden beat Ryan up a little? You goddamn right!

I think this debate went exactly as Team Obama wanted. They don't need a bump now. They need to activate the voters they already have. I think Biden gave the entire left a nice ego boost. Polls are irrelevant at this point. Both sides need to get out their base. Minds are basically made up. It is about rallying the base and keeping the other guy's base home. Biden did half the job. Lets see how the rest goes.


Anyone who is truly interested in politics should pick up and read the following. They, in conjunction, provide a good perspective to analyze the polls, news reports anddebates and how they all matter and work together.

The Myth of the Independent Voter         By Bruce E. Keith, David B. Magleby, Candice J. Nelson, Elizabeth Orr, Mark C. Westlye

Before the vote: forecasting American national elections   by James E. Campbell, James C. Garand

Attack Politics: Negativity in Presidential Campaigns Second Edition   by Emmett H. Buell Jr., Lee Sigelman