Finding Out You Are Wrong, Should Be the Best Feeling.

The human mind is a complex device, but it is not perfect. Everything we learn, we learn through a combination of comparison to previous experiences and then using learned logic techniques to extrapolate new information, which we then can use to compare to already learned information. This is not a simple process, and much of the information we learn is interpreted by filters before being made available to the comparative engines of the brain.

I’m simplifying everything of course, because this is a short blog and I’m an opinion that is based on my own experiences, comparisons and logic.

But simply this process is fraught with potential errors. It’s very easy to learn things which make no sense outside the framework you have already learned.

When you were a child you were taught many subtle things that were only designed to make your parents lives easier. They may well have not been true. Some of these you will encounter as a child and will cause you to question your earliest beliefs, but some will pass through your experience untested and will become true to you as an adult. If these are then proved to be wrong later in your life, you will have a very hard time deciding what is true.

If you believed Santa Claus was real through to your late teens, it’s very likely you would have a very hard time ever considering that he was not real. Imagine if you had received presents under the tree every year until you were 20, and had absolutely no reason to question where they came from, because no one had ever had that conversation with you. What would it take to then persuade you that it was just a story made up my marketing companies to sell more coke.

We all have our versions of Santa Claus; some believe people of a different skin color are a difference species; some believe that socialism in the form of social security or government run healthcare are inherently evil; some believe that their particular variant of religion is the only one that is “true” and everyone else is going to hell; some believe that their family and friends are superior because they all came from the same country in Europe and all became rich due to their grandparents work. And some beliefs are very subtle, but no less damaging to our ability to learn new ideas.

The basic issue is one of trying to change a “core belief”, something that was learned at a young age and has never been tested by your personal experience.

The way the brain works creates fixed pathways for specific situations that become impossible for you to think outside of.

As a species, we must continuously test core beliefs, and where we see evidence that contradicts what we inherently know to be true, we must be willing to look deeply at the evidence and question our own reticence.  It’s hard, but it’s how we become better people.

Here are some statements that cause this form of cognitive dissonance for some people:

  • The earth is round.
  • The earth revolves around the sun.
  • The moon is not a source of light, and revolves around the earth.
  • Evolution is the name of the process of random mutations providing variety that make some variants more likely to survive changing environmental conditions than others, and over very large timescales explains the variety of all life on earth.
  • Skin color is just a simple environmentally preferential variance in a subcutaneous dye found at a lower level in the skin and is not an indicator or any other attribute.
  • The universe was not created for the pleasure of one single species on one single planet out of billions, but is most probably one universe of billions in a much larger system than we can perceive.
  • Guns are dangerous, and their use should be carefully controlled.
  • Trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

At this point a lot of people’s brains may have exploded (of course since those people are unlikely to read my rant or care about my views, It’s not so much of an issue, but maybe some exploding brains (metaphorically speaking) would do the world some good)

When you challenge a core-belief and break its hold on you, you open a world of personal possibilities.

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Who Is Better at Making Mountains Out Of Molehills (Or Molehills Out Of Mountains)?

Politics is obviously a very dirty sport, the idea seems to be that the one covered in the biggest pile of crap loses. And so politicians of every affiliation do whatever they can to dig up and throw as much shit as they can, hoping some of it sticks.

Sometimes they dig up stuff that is factual, and sometimes they just make stuff up, with little or no basis in reality. And sometimes the stories are relevant to the role they are aiming to fill and other times it’s irrelevant and just personal or humorous.

The hope is that with so much shit being thrown around, it will be possible to make the other person look unelectable. Truth, relevance and the issues at hand actually get lost.

If you like your candidate you want to believe everything they are saying, and if you hate the other candidate(s) you want to disbelieve everything they are saying.

The roll of an independent press is supposed to be to weigh the merits of all this, check the facts and present a simpler and cleaner view of the positions taken. But that ideal has disappeared in a cloud of money. Today’s press is poor, and will do anything to increase their revenue. The simplest way to get people to read/watch/listen is to use every technique possible to keep their audience long enough to increase the ad revenue. They do this my replacing journalists with opinion editorial. The stories today are nearly all interviews with pundits talking about their views on the latest view of another pundit.

There are some notable exceptions to this normal, but in world of millions of news sources, the few that actually investigate just seem slower and are often overwhelmed by opinion. And when they try and compete by moving faster they risk giving away their advantage of credibility.

A candidate (or their team) will say something directly (or indirectly) about their opponent, and all the pundits will report it, and then talk about it. They don’t go and check it, just “report” that it was said, and then ask as many people as they can find about their opinion. These people will be a mix, it’s possible one or two may actually have facts, but it’s impossible to spot facts in a fog of disparate opinions.

According to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is an entitled, misogynist, racist, fraudster and a bigot with fascist tendencies. And according to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is terminally ill, a liar and a murderer and should be in prison or hanged for treason.

If you support Hillary Clinton, you will be able to point to hundreds of comments that “The Donald” has said, that support your position about him, and if you are a Donald Trump supporter you can point to many articles written by publications and pundits you like that support his position. Neither group is likely to change their position, irrespective of any further stories about your opponent.

There are (in theory) a small group of people who have not made up their minds, and it is these people that can be swayed. I’m not sure if these people actually exist or are postulated by the poor media as a way of ensuring maximum spend takes place until the very last moment in the election cycle.

And while all this goes on there are issues that need to be solved, and each candidate has positions on each of these issues. Many of these positions are not going to be enacted whoever wins, due to the layers of checks and controls, money and influence designed to stop significant change. But each of these is terribly important.

I’ve read the proposals from each of the candidates (and filtered out what I believe to be hyperbole), and I have an opinion on which one makes most sense, and I will be voting based on that. Like most people I have a visceral dislike for one candidate and find the other candidate capable and acceptable and even likable.

I hope my candidate wins, and I will be unhappy if the other one wins. But whoever wins and whoever loses, the world will keep turning and I will live with and support the result. That’s the responsibility I have, in living in a democracy.

They say in a democracy you don’t get the government you need; you get the government you deserve.

 

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Verbal diarrhea has a new analogy

Thinking is a complex activity, often when you think through an idea, your state to yourself inside your head a point of view, which you can quickly realize is wrong, and so you discount and keep working through all the rest of the possible ideas. This is how each of us considers complex issues and decides on a course of action that is reasonable and we then open our mouths and share the idea with others.
Sometimes even then we realize on reflection of other people’s responses, that the thing that we have said was wrong, and we take a moment to consider a reasonable response. In this way through a mix of individual thoughts and shared ideas we generally can come up with a position on pretty much anything.

Of course there are some people who just cannot ever let an idea stay in their head, or when it comes out and is clearly inappropriate, don’t have the common sense to say so, apologize and take a more reasonable position.

It seems that right now many of the people hoping to be president of the USA have no idea how to either keep stupid thoughts inside their head or when they have popped out, how to say “sorry, that was a silly thing to say, let me try that again”.

The most amazing “postulater” of half chewed misinformed and ignorant statements is quite clearly Donald Trump.

In just a few short weeks he’s accused all Mexican illegal immigrants of being drug dealing, murdering rapists and he’s publically stated that one of the leading elder statesmen of the US government was not a hero because he was shot down and captured while performing a mission during a war.

Everyone at one time or another has said something stupid, it happens, but no one can be that arrogant to think that when they have said something really inane that it’s okay to stand behind the statement, just because it came out of their own mouth.

There are clearly problems with illegal immigration in the US, but the issue is not just the migrants themselves, it’s much bigger than that. Economics drives migration, farmers who use undocumented labor should be imprisoned. Those who help traffic migrants illegally should be imprisoned. There are tough and reasonable actions that must be taken to provide a framework for legal migration for all levels of workers. But it is not by claiming that all immigrants from a specific country or region are immoral at every level.

John McCain is not everyone’s ideal senator. He’s vacillated between being a free thinking “maverick” and a right wing party mouthpiece, but one thing absolutely everyone can agree to, is that he was and is incredibly brave and a hero of the wars he fought in. He took amazing risks to perform his duty, was terribly injured and while in captivity under extreme duress did not tell the enemy what they wanted to hear. And he has spent most of his life serving his country. In the hierarchy of heroes he’s pretty much up there with the best.

Donald Trump should be ashamed of his words, that’s a natural response when you have verbal diarrhea. But instead the “donald” seems to believe that his shit stinks of roses. I really think his arrogance is boundless. If there was ever a need to use tar and feathers and carry someone out of town on a rail in humiliation, it’s now and it’s Trump. Maybe they can turn the process into a reality TV show.

I personally will be telling people they are “pulling a trump”, when they say something really ignorant and insulting and then stand by it.

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Orifices, Politenessman and the Train

As someone who commutes and often travels via train, I feel I must speak. Much like a certain human orifice, the train doorway is not meant for simultaneous entry and exit.

When a large group of people need to exit the train to create the room for new passengers to enter, you should let them exit. It is the most efficient, most polite, and most appropriate approach. And yes, politeness matters.

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In fact it’s in your best interest to also ensure there is a path for them to get clear of the train entirely if you actually want to get on. It’s also in the best interest of our society and mankind, and I know that Politenessman would agree.

The idiocy of a few (or just one), causes a problem at every station, numerous times everyday. Polite people colliding and stuck as they try to get out, because one inconsiderate idiot has to get on immediately. Since I no longer have my Politenessman steel hanky to inflict appropriate justice to the worst offenders, I vow to continue to serve as an example to all – a forceful example in fact.

I get to the front of the crowd, spread my arms wide and pivot as the doors open, so as to act as human windshield wiper and both clear a proper exit path, and prevent the rude and the uneducated from entering until all have exited.

Now, back to the aforementioned orifice; anyone who’s tried to simultaneously to ingest water while either sneezing or vomiting can attest to it just not working. -Of course that’s what orafice you were thinking of too, right?

Politenessman knows (and you may have a steel hanky coming your way if you don’t clean up your act).

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Plausible Deniability

There is a very well understood concept used by politicians, secret services , business leaders and pretty much any organization that has ever wanted to create a barrier between leaders and illegal actions, this concept is plausible deniability.

When a leader creates a culture of “the result justifies the means”, and makes it clear that it’s okay to bully people or perform unethically or illegally as long as you are not caught then it should be expected that the people that follow this leader will perform unethically or illegally and know not to let the leader know of these actions.

A great example of this is the bully who runs the state of New Jersey. The governor is well know for verbally beating up those who he disagrees with, and often makes the case for pushing ahead with ideas that are unpopular with groups he personally does not respect.

He clearly is a person who believes that the ends justify the means, and is very clear in his words and actions that he is okay bullying people and walking over those who disagree with him.

In this climate, I would expect the people who work for him to show the same level if disrespect for others. And I see no reason why these people would feel the need to ask for approval for these types of actions.

When people who worked for the governor chose to create massive traffic issues at the bridge in Fort Lee, with the conscious reason being to annoy the mayor of that town. I would expect them to see this as business as usual.

I would not have expected them to feel the need to tell the governor, as this would have felt like a normal kind of bullying tactic that they use every single day.

The fact that this particular piece of power play actually was specifically illegal just didn’t occur to them. It was just part of business as usual.

Did the governor do anything or know anything specifically about the bridge? Probably not, and we will probably never know for sure. But we need to go with the evidence and say yep he wasn’t directly involved.

When you elect a bully for governor, who shows disrespect for those he disagrees with, shouts them down, and acts like the bully in the playground, you can expect the kids that hang around him to just act the same way.

The head bully may not be stupid, but the kids that hang around him may, and they are going to act like the bully.

It should be a requirement on everyone to act ethically and with respect for others at all times.

If you elect someone without these attributes overtly, then you get what you deserve.

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Advice to tourists in New York City

Yes summer has arrived, and so I’m being annoyed by tourists (again)

Yes it’s true, New York City is the best city in the world, and while in theory there are 5 boroughs in New York City, this is just a technical “fact” , and is worthy of dispute. If Brooklyn were situated fifty miles or more away from Manhattan it would probably be the second best city in the country, but it’s not.

Manhattan is the best city in the world, and those who know Manhattan call it New York City. Everything else (while full of sports teams with the NY association) are not New York City. The other boroughs of NY (Bronx, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Staten Island and Queens) along with the wannabe states are just not New York City.

As a resident of Manhattan you may think this is just arrogance, but actually I would love the world to recognize that NYC is more than just Manhattan, but it just does not!

I would love it if the world recognized that NYC was a much larger area, and then maybe some of the more annoying attributes of millions of tourists would be diluted.

Here are a few of the most annoying summer actions of your average tourist.

1. NYC is a fast moving place, where walking speeds of 6mph are normal. Therefore walking at 1mph 4 abreast is a terminal crime.

2. Map reading and photo taking are activities that can only be accomplished while standing AT THE SIDE.

3. Red lights for pedestrians mean you should only cross the road when it is clear; it does not mean you have to stand on the street corner blocking the junction for all normal people if there are no cars coming. Also don’t blindly follow someone else as you will be killed crossing the street. Lean to use your eyes.

4. Renting a bicycle when you have no idea how to ride a bicycle is not a good idea on NYC streets, unless you want to win a Darwin award.

Actually if you are planning to be a tourist in NYC here is some excellent advice:

Either:

1. Book a hotel in time square, see the lion king, eat at buba gumps, get photographed with elmo, take a bus down to wall street and then go and spend a week in Brooklyn. You will have a great time and you won’t pollute the delicate sensibility of the city .

Or

2. Stay at the Waldorf, get a great pair of walking shoes, put away the phone and map, walk in single file for eight hours a day at six miles per hour for four or five days and see it all. Just don’t try and rent a bike, take photos that block the flow of others or mess around crossing the road.

It’s one or the other, you’ll have a great time, and so will everyone else.

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Commuting made worse by commuters

It does matter if your commute is a 20 minute walk across town or 2 hours in the car or train, there is no reason to be a selfish bastard.

I’m amazed that there are so many idiots who have no concept of others when they travel.

People who insist on a double seat on the train, or even a quadruple seat (feet up on seat in front and wheels bag across two seats). I focus on these people and make a point of getting them To move.

And the drivers who have lane torrettes and twitch between lanes on the highway for no discernible advantage.these plonkers I avoid, as invariably sticking to one lane without changing is just as successful as any number of lane changes, as is a lot more comfortable.

But the common denominator with all these idiots is that they are causing slow downs and discomfort for everyone, and they end is lowering even their own comfort.

I still think that a cattle prod with a single change per week for everyone would encourage better behavior.

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Lessons in driving that teach deeper life lessons

When I get into my car now to go anywhere, I have two things on my mind, safety and courtesy.

I used to worry about how quickly I was to get somewhere, but as I’ve learnt more about driving I have come to realize that there is very little I can do to influence when I will arrive once I get in the car, when you arrive is simply a function of when you leave.

Driving like a bat our of hell, weaving between lanes, pushing every just turned red light and basically being a total asshole to everyone else on the road is not going to make up for leaving just a couple of minutes earlier.

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A few minutes of traffic jam will eat up any performance gained by driving like a maniac.

Many a time I’ve watched cars around me swap lanes and cut each other off trying to eek out a few inches of advantage while I’ve stayed in my lane, only to find myself ahead of the O.C.D. A.D.D. plonkers.

If I want to arrive somewhere earlier, I leave earlier, and then smile at every driver who wants to come into my lane. I leave room for others to merge and guess what I arrive on time, and I truly enjoy being nice to other road users.

Rather than being stupid, I’ve learnt to be smart, and in the process I’m happier and get to be nice to others.

Who knew!

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The 7 Habits of Corporate Executives

I’ve read and listened to a good number of books on business, marketing, management, etc. which offer many excellent approaches, techniques and tips to run a successful, innovative, motivated team and organization. These books were/are best-sellers.

7_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_PeopleI know that the senior management of virtually every organization reads them and that many assign them to their teams and the next generation of leaders. “Long-term thinking,” “train, nurture and retain staff,” “always look at things from the perspective of your customers and prospects,” “treat everyone with respect and assume positive intent,” etc.

So my question is, “Why is it so rare that senior management actually follows any of that advice?”

Why do its readers go from "Good to Ghastly?"
Why do its readers go from “Good to Ghastly?”
Are they just not bright enough? Weak minded? Unable to change bad habits? Prefer “politics” to actual achievement as a strategy to advance? I mean really, WTF?

Did they mean well but revert to “Lord of the Flies” behavior after one bad quarter? Or are they just hiding their “crazy” in public most of the time? I’m asking because now that I’m back on positive side of the ledger I’m horrified at how bad it had been so often at so many places for me, my family and my friends. I had a chat with my first real business “mentor” the other night regarding helping his daughter get started in her chosen field and I was reminded how shocking it was when I first worked with him and was truly trusted, supported and empowered by him and the entire management team when we worked together in the 90’s.

We were all “jazzed up” to go to work every day, weren’t afraid to take calculated risks, and achieved great success with a small team and virtually no budget. Motivated, smart people we were and we innovated virtually every day to make the place better. Did I find a great leadership through my own research? LinkedIn? FuckedCompany.com? No, it was pure luck for me (and for them), that we “found” each other and were able to do great things and enjoy the process.

Why is that so rare today? Are 70% of Americans just idiots (as one of my best friends continually points out)? Do people really just not listen and comprehend good advice anymore? Are all “organizations” above a certain size just destined to go horribly dysfunctional because of their size? Is even the best corporate culture guaranteed to dissolve above 100 employees?

Soooo many "leaders" need to really read this book.
Soooo many “leaders” need to really read this book.
I don’t know the answer and believe me, I’m not complaining – I love competing against badly managed companies with toxic management styles and dysfunctional cultures. The bigger and better resourced they are, the better; it makes for greater satisfaction when you beat them and have your pick of their customers and their best employees.

I still would like to know the answer but until then I’ll just enjoy the fact that the competition is not going from “Good to Great,” doesn’t live by the “No Asshole Rule” and clearly hasn’t adopted “7 (or even 1), Habit of Highly Effective People.”

p.s.: When asked what my favorite “business” books are, the response is simple: “The Essential Drucker” and “The No Asshole Rule.” Great advice to work and live by everyday-

Best. Business. Book. Ever.
Best. Business. Book. Ever.

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Breakup Note Signed by “Autopen” in Question; Relationship End Delayed 2 Months Pending Inquiry

January 3, 2013: Average Angry Wire Service:  A controversy is brewing in Washington, DC around the use of an autopen to sign an important document, namely a document which would end a controversial agreement between often arguing parties.

This is a boy-meets-girl story that began well enough on a Capitol Hill bar crawl stop at the Tune Inn dive bar and evolved into a semi-commited relationship between the two long-time singles. The relationship now includes a drawer at each other’s apartment, a joint credit card and an assumed “date” each Saturday night.  But as with many boy-meets-girl stories it got ugly after one unfortunate “toilet non-flushing” too many. Screaming, name calling and a storming out followed and then a few days later the “note” appeared in the boy’s Google + account.

The autopen is mightier than the swirl?
The autopen is mightier than the swirl?
The girl in question (Nancy), states that “It’s over!” and that autopen is a perfectly acceptable way to authenticate a breakup, BFF status change or other relationship decision.  Her former love (John, but known as “Boner” by friends and colleagues), disagrees and adamantly states that the breakup “isn’t the real deal without a real quill.”  He also refuses to relinquish her drawer, end their fiscal entanglements or change his Facebook relationship status until she returns from her family vacation in Hawaii (so they can come to a resolution face to face on neutral territory in Washington).

His challenge to the validity of the “Dear Boner” letter has caused Nancy stress on her Hawaiian vacation, according to her spokesperson, and almost led to her canceling a much anticipated golf game and cliff diving tour with the newly elected president of the local American Legion hall in Waikiki Beach.  Her spokesperson also stated that she’ll deal with the problem in 2 months when she returns to DC and that her debt to him will eventually be paid off and won’t cause his Visa account to reach its ceiling and hurt his credit rating.

Sources familiar with the couple said they couldn’t elaborate on the bathroom incident but heard her threaten him with a “swirly” or similar swirl related toilet action if he didn’t “clean up his act.”

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