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The author is not only himself but his predecessors, and simultaneously he is part of the living tribal fabric, the part that voices what we all know, or should know, and need to hear again. -- John Updike
My friend, Annette, writes a summary of her year. She's had a great year... I love it when the story turns out so well as hers has.
Borrowing from a few of her questions, here's my summary:
What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? My wedding is a close second, but I would have to say Christmas morning. All eight of our kids were with us that morning and we all had the best of times. "Magical" is the only word for it. And while my wedding was absolutely that, Christmas morning was the culmination of everything of Tamara and I have built in the last year together. I am in love with our children.
What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being the husband and father my family deserves.
What was your biggest failure? Can I rename that to disappointment? My biggest disappointments were the times I wasn't who I know I am and who I want to be. That's why each day is so important. A new day, a fresh start...
Whose behavior merited celebration? My in-laws. They are really, really wonderful and good people.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? A relative of mine. Utterly embarrassing.
What did you get really, really, really excited about? My budding new business project.
What do you wish you'd done more? I don't think I'd change anything.
How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007? Color.
What kept you sane? Seeing things as they are.
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I never do. We're all just people - they just have the misfortune of celebrity, so I feel sorry for them.
What political issue stirred you the most? Mike Huckabee's religious bigotry in presidential politics, and that of his disciples.
Who did you miss? My Aunt Onie.
Who is the best new person you met this year? I got to know Rich Novak.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007. I'll name three:
Be the best human being you can.
It's okay to state your own point of view.
Don't do others' thinking for them.
What was the nicest thing someone told you about yourself. My wife told me I'm a "beautiful man."
The most touching experience you've had this year? Watching all of our children play in the snow in our backyard the day after Christmas from our upstairs bedroom window while holding Tamara and knowing that I have the most fabulous life a man could ever dream of.
What did you like most about yourself this year? Persistence.
What did you dislike most about yourself this year? Occasional panic.
Was 2007 a good year for you? Very much so, yes.
What do you want out of 2008? I most want my new business to take off and do well. I've been around start-ups long enough to know that my development work only scratches the surface of the effort needed... marketing comes next. We'll see how I do, but I certainly hope to see good reward for my work in this. I'll reveal more about this in the coming weeks.
And here's a song to accompany my feelings for the year past and the year ahead:
I first became aware of Roy Pearson and wrote of him back in May. For the uninitiated, ol' Roy is the DC administrative judge who lost a pair of pants at the cleaners and then sued the cleaners for $54 million because the cleaners didn't give him the "satisfaction" they "guaranteed," even though on the road to try to please this guy the cleaners offered him $12,000. Roy wanted his answer in court. He got it big time: he lost the lawsuit. He also lost his job in the process. Who trusts a judge with poor judgment?
Sunlight is the best disinfectant. It's why I like Dr. Phil. It's amazing how many jerks show up on his show and parade their self-righteous behavior before the world and then suffer the aftermath of ridicule and horror when others they know see them on TV and react appropriately. Dr. Phil is an open forum for shaming. That's a good thing, and, in my opinion, badly in need of replication across America.
So now for his utter hubris, Roy gets more moments in the spotlight via end-of-the-year lists.
I had to run downtown this morning and this being caucus day in Iowa, I have to blog about it.
Obama supporters were out in droves this morning, standing on frigid corners, shivering with their signs held passionately up. That's cool. No other candidate has that going for them.
I personally know a couple of Fred Thompson supporters, but I don't know if they plan to caucus.
I personally know a couple of Ron Paul supporters, and I know for sure that they plan to caucus.
My family and I know other Romney supporters and we're going to caucus. Interestingly, my son had to fly back from Atlanta yesterday and happened to sit next to an important poo-bah in the Romney campaign. How cool is that? We might go to the after-caucus party tonight for a bit, if we're not too tired.
ETC: Tamara, Nick, and I went to the caucus tonight and more people spoke out for Huckabee than anyone else. I didn't speak - those who go aren't there to be persuaded.
Given that Romney fell hard tonight, double-digits behind the Huckster, I find relief in Thompson's third-place finish.
I don't know how many Christians have actually read the bible, but I'd say that the percentage that haven't is lower than the percentage that have. For those that have and take it to heart, I have to tell you, they wouldn't be Republicans or conservatives. In fact, the "Christian Right" is an oxymoron. I'll explain why...
It's always funny to me how political parties end up with conflicting groups within them.
The nanny-staters who want government to dictate so much of life hate government interference when it comes to the conception of a child.
The small government folks have within their ranks those that want government to dictate morés and protect the unborn.
I'm certainly not the first to say it, but those who want limited government should, principally, be consistent, shouldn't they?
If you read the New Testament, the letters to and accounts of the early post-resurrection church, limited government is not written there. What is written there are edicts to Christians to take care of one another, to share all things with each other as though they were common to everyone, to give out of your abundance to meet the needs of everyone. In other words, it's Christian Socialism. Biblically, there is no "Christian Right." Biblically, there is only the "Christian Left."
The bible, unlike conservatism, doesn't celebrate the achievement of the individual. Jesus and his apostles taught grace, the idea that you have no individual achievements for which you can take credit. It's only by the grace of God that you can do anything. There is no merit, if you're a Christian. Which is why football players drop to their knees when they reach the end zone and, post-game, we hear them give the credit to Jesus. Biblically, that's correct. That's what a good Christian would do.
Marxists and true Christians, in many ways, march to the same beat, it's just that one has God and Jesus at its center, and the other laughs at God and wants to take him out of every aspect of the government. Which is probably why they're not in the same political party.
But if we were to align things correctly, there would be the party of "Leave Me Be" and the party of "It Should Be," the latter wanting to foist its humanism/Christianity on the rest of the world.
I have no problem with the Christian church wanting to share things and give out of their abundance. I think that's fine. In fact, I completely agree that Christians should take the example of the early post-resurrection church and do just that. The reason I have no problem with it is that I don't read in the New Testament of Christians wanting to infiltrate government positions to force the rest of society into their view of the world. They shared their goods with each other and had all things held commonly within the church. But the phenomenon we're seeing now is Christian Socialism writ large. I don't remember a Christian candidate before who wanted to issue nanny-statism for the US, but Huckabee is the first, and the true believer crowd is going nuts for it. Yayy Jesus!
The party of "It Should Be:" Last night at the caucus, one woman stood up for Huckabee and announced that Huckabee is going to overturn Roe v. Wade (i.e., outlaw abortion). Her political ignorance is huge and alarming. First of all, it's not law, but a judicial decision. And even if it were law, presidents can't just throw out laws at will. Second, if it is overturned, it simply returns the decision of allowing abortion to the states. A second woman later stood up and said that her emotions around Huckabee's candidacy were ruling her decisions, and God was okay with that because God has emotions too. These women are swooning over Huckabee like he's the caretaker/leader they never knew. He's their closest semblance to a savior, and on a national stage. God, they love that man, don't you know.
It hit me this morning that Christian women are turned on like never before. By golly, if you don't go to church, I'm tellin' you now, church is a-coming to you in the form of Christian Socialism, and the devil is whoever the Democrats nominate - so girlfriend, you best get you and your man out to the voting booth on time. Jesus found himself a candidate, and his name is Mike.
I don't want socialism. In any form. And maybe it's our proximity to Minnesota, but Iowa voted for two socialists last night. I'm mighty concerned about that.
One of the books I got for Christmas was Influencer, and although it gets a bit repetitious (get to the point already!), it has enough great substance to make it a worthwhile read. One point in particular has me spinning, and I'll be writing about other points in the next few days.
Roughly, from the book:
People tend to be better copers than influencers. In fact, we're wonderful at inventing ways to cope. For instance, at work we abandon our quality-control program and install full-time inspectors because nobody will listen. Instead of fixing lousy schools, we complain to our friends and then backfill by tutoring our children because it's the best we can do. And when it comes to diet and exercise, we own two or three different-sized wardrobes because it's impossible to stick to a diet.
You can see evidence of coping everywhere. IT department isn't performing well? Outsource it. Recently released convicts leaping too quickly back into crime? Build bigger penitentiaries.
It's as if a steady stream of automobiles hurtles toward a cliff to plunge to destruction. Instead of rushing to the top of the cliff to prevent drivers from speeding toward disaster, we park a fleet of ambulances in the valley below to manage the carnage.
Is that speaking to you like it speaks to me? It's all about settling instead of fighting to get it right. And what's worse, we become complacent and blind to the coping mechanisms employed and just take them for granted as the way it has to be.
No, we need to get to the root cause.
The book goes into how masters of influence effectively do this, and it's an interesting read that Tamara and I are sharing together. More about this later...
I heard a long time ago that if you want to change society, you start by changing its words. Consider words like "liberal," "conservative," "welfare," "progressive" - all of these have been hijacked from their original meaning.
If you want to alter the meaning of something, you can either add to it, redefine it, or take from it. Add/Change/Delete. If you're successful, it's no longer what it was and you've changed society.
In a soundbite culture, context is often lost, but in fact, context is everything. The phrase "I bet," for example, can have different meanings. What gives you the exact and intended meaning of "I bet" is the context. Are the speaker at a blackjack table? Are they agreeing with someone? Did they say it with sarcasm? Big differences, and the only way to know is by the context.
Context: after years of having their wealth, possessions, and property plundered and abused ad nauseum by King George III, the fifty-six men who signed the Declaration of Independence set out to declare that the king was born with the same rights as anyone else. There was no great nobility deigned by God that afforded the king his willy nilly dip into the lives of others. George was born no better and with no greater rights than anyone else. Which is why the document reads this way:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Add/Change/Delete... somewhere along the way, "All men are created equal" morphed into "All people are equal," which later morphed into "All people should live equally."
Somehow this great and foundational phrase, "All men are created equal" became not a declaration of independence from governmental meddling but a declaration of the obligation of government to ensure that all people live equally.
When you are born, you have the freedom to steer your life as you receive it at birth in any direction you choose - as much as anyone else does. But your life should be the sum of your choices, and not a subtraction from the sum of others' choices.
I recently had a discussion with someone who felt that illegal immigrants are given a bad lot in life and he felt it was his Christian duty to help these people into the United States. He compared illegal immigrants to the pilgrims on the Mayflower. He asked, by what authority did the European settlers have the right to take the land from native Americans?
I pointed out, and he conceded the point, that there was no recognized border the settlers crossed. They saw no legal jeopardy. For example, they did not go to Spain, which was closer, to homestead land owned by someone else. That's not at all the same as illegal immigrants who very definitely know that they cross a sovereign border illegally when coming here.
Are illegal immigrants born equal to US citizens? Sure they are.
Does this mean that they are entitled to live equally to US citizens? That's up to them to figure out. But it does not mean that we have any societal obligation to them. Unfortunately, we have people like John McCain who want to dispense social security benefits to illegals after they become US citizens.
One of the more odious parts of the bill was the insistence that illegals should receive Social Security credit for work they did while in the country illegally. Illegals can’t have a Social Security number, so there are only two ways they can have a job here. They can work under the table, which is tax fraud, or they can steal a citizen’s number, which is identity theft.
Paying attention to these details, New Hampshire?
And at what point did the senator delete the word "illegal" from the phrase "illegal immigrant" to make it agreeable to himself to do this?
With all eight kids in our blended family with us on Christmas, my daughter, Bari, took all of them to a portrait studio and had pictures done of everyone. She's so wonderful and thoughtful. What a great gift for Tamara and me.
Tonight, we got the finalized pictures. Here are a few:
Last week, I sat down with Sherry Borzo of dsmBUZZ and she interviewed me. How cool is that? You can listen to it here.
Sherry's a good interviewer and very kind, and better - she's got some really good ideas with which she's moving forward and it's pretty exciting to ask her what she's up to. We had a great conversation.
A few days from now, I'll post a link to the beta of the big project I've worked on for the last six months. About two weeks after that, it will go live.
Around dinner-time today, I wasn't seated at the table with the rest of my tribe, but was downtown sitting with a couple of VC's I know, and they invited a guy they know. They were taking a look at what I've created.
I'm never one to take someone's word for gospel, but the guy they invited would adopt my product tomorrow, if I let him. I have to study a bit closer what he wants from it, but he does business coast-to-coast, and it's likely that we'll end up doing business if his enthusiasm is any measure. What's more, he's well-connected. He wants to help me find more companies to use my product. "Hundreds" was his word. Nice word. He also said that what I've done is "efficiency-and-a-half" for his industry. [smile]
The VC's also want to use it, but for a completely different purpose. That would make three paying customers, and it's not even public yet. That's a good sign.
It's hard not to have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. I've poured thousands of hours into building companies in the past, only to see marginal success. I hope this one soars. We'll see.
I grew up in a house where we used powdered milk because regular milk was too expensive. I was too clueless when I graduated from high school to have any idea about my future. (You mean mediocre bass guitarist doesn't pay well?) I married early and had kids quickly. I started college late and then dropped out. I divorced. Then married and divorced again. So on and so forth... the point of it is that if a schlub like me can slowly figure it out and work hard enough on myself that I can get there, I think anybody can.
In my opinion, it's all one foot in front of the other. Just keep going, work damn hard, improve yourself, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don't stop. Anybody who did anything they set out to accomplish did just that. Resolve. Persistence. Belief. No matter where they were born, no matter what their circumstances. That's the formula.
If you could do anything, what would you do?
If that's not what you're doing today, what are you doing to get busy about making your dreams a reality?
Come on now... no excuses... get a move on... one foot in front of the other.
It's funny what papers you come across when you clean out and sort through old stuff...
None of this probably means anything to anybody, although I suppose you could decipher what's happening in each, but think of the things that happen each day of our life and what record we have of significant events. The things that happen to us, the things we attempt.
My kids want this, a new car made in India that sells for $2,500.
From the article:
This is the People's Car, the world's cheapest car at a starting price of $2,500, or the equivalent of a DVD player in a Lexus.
Why the hell isn't Detroit doing innovative stuff like this? This is the perfect student car, and with a 2-cylinder engine, it'll get great gas mileage.
ETC: Chris and PR make the great points that this Bella-christened Shrinermobile obviously lacks safety features that American laws require. Yep, I get that. But if the entire car is doable at $2,500, can't we throw, say, another grand or two of innovative safety features to bring it to American standards? I think we could...
Laptops for $100. Cars for $2,500. Now let's focus on livable homes that get below $50,000 and I think we're solving real problems.
I remember living in married student housing when I lived in Ames, Iowa, with my then-wife, who attended ISU. We lived in Pammel Court, a bunch of Quonset hut-style homes rented to us married folks for - get this - $85 per month. They looked something like this:
The school later raked them over and built shiny new housing that you can rent for about $500 per month.
Frankly, though they weren't pretty, they were quite functional and they helped a lot of starting families, particularly foreign exchange students. But there was big-time pressure to make ISU's northern entrance prettier, and so they were replaced.
Why do we allow communities and society to dictate to us what our risk tolerance should be? If we want to drive a Shrinermobile that would flatten us like a bug on a windshield, isn't that our choice? If we choose to live in lesser housing to help us stave cost, isn't that our choice?
If we're so concerned for the poor, why do we let our concerns for their well-being price everything out of their affordable range?
The cost to build and ship the houses is around $35,000 to $60,000, according to this guy. Read the link... it's a sad story of government "solutions" dictating "temporary" housing for the same cost that these permanent units would cost.
Mayor [Connie] Moran, who did the careful arithmetic with the architect, Marianne Cusato, learned that the cottages could be built for about $60,000, just about what the government pays to ship and set up a trailer. She asked FEMA to finance an 87-cottage pilot project on the east side of town.
FEMA said no. The law allows FEMA to provide housing only "on a temporary basis," and the Gulf Coast residents who qualify for one of the 10,000 trailers currently parked and going to rust and ruin on an abandoned muddy airstrip in Arkansas can have one for 18 months. So Ocean Springs will soon have a trailer park, with 600 trailers to replace the 700 houses destroyed by the storm. "FEMA," the mayor says, "is creating trailer trash."
Innovation stifled by the government. Of course.
Can we do more of this without being catalyzed by a national disaster? And I have a question - why does a 308 square-foot house cost $35,000 to $60,000 to manufacture? I might be naive, but that seems a bit high to me. By at least twice.
You know, if I ever make my wads of cash, I think I'd like to spend my time working on ways to make life more affordable for the poor. Non-government solutions, driven by innovative, cost-cutting, and functional measures. No hikes in minimum wage. Give me people who want to scramble upward in their life and I'd be glad to help where I can. I don't think life's necessities and access to credit have to be so hard to attain.
Can we please have a libertarian candidate stand up who is not a whackjob?
Fer cryin out loud...
Many libertarian ideals are fantastic. Liberating, even. Of course Ron Paul's supporters get excited about his platform - many of the proposals he makes are spot on!
But this whole denial that he never knew the racist spiel in his own publication that carried his name is ridiculous on its face.
I agree completely with Ed:
People wonder why this matters, given Paul's fringe appeal. It matters because we can't allow this kind of hatred to get legitimized in mainstream politics again. This kind of rhetoric used to be mainstream, and not just in the South, either. Republicans [and Libertarians] cannot allow [themselves] to get tainted by the stench of racism and conspiracy mongering. If enough of us don't step up and denounce it, strongly and repeatedly, we will not be able to avoid it.
I spoke this morning to a friend of mine who's really sharp on matters financial, and we were talking about budgeting tools. He told me of some customer research he'd heard where people fell into three categories:
People who hate debt of any kind and generally only hold mortgage and car debt.
People who are okay with limited debt. They'll carry a balance, but they pay things off within six months.
People who are okay with lots of debt, but they don't see their balances as "debt." As long as they're making minumum payments on things, they see it as just payments - not debt.
And here's the trick: the majority of folks fall into the last category.
I'm floored that they don't see this lifestyle as debt-ridden. My friend went on to tell me that a good portion of these folks have good credit. It's not that they're bad or anything, but rather that they choose a lifestyle of minimum payments for everything - to "afford" as much as they can. When it all gets too much, they take out a debt-consolidation loan and keep on going this way. They don't see the debt. They don't feel the debt. They only know the payments that they can afford to pay each month - never mind that everything ends up costing them three times more than it would if they'd simply saved up for it first.
Given that, is it any wonder that so many people don't see a problem with the government paying for everything?
If we really love our kids, we'll pass them as little debt as we can. People who go to the grave paying minimum payments on everything give not an inheritance to their kids but the burden of things unpaid.
If we really love our kids, we'll stave off government programs that only promise to bankrupt their future with extraordinary taxes to pay for the programs.
But I think people aren't trained to see it this way. For the majority, it's not debt, that government program. No, sir. For that government program, we get to make responsible minimum payments. Why of course we can afford that program - it's for our children.
Despite George Bush's half-hearted attempt at it, I still want the Ownership Society.
A model of society promoted by United States President George W. Bush. It takes as lead values personal responsibility, economic liberty, and the owning of property. The ownership society discussed by Bush also extends to certain proposals of specific models of health care and social security.
But that's not what we're getting in this campaign. Instead, it's a race to the bottom to see who can give the most stuff away. For the children, you know. (My ass...)
If you really love the children, you want the smallest government possible. Because children deserve to be free... and not shackled with minimum paymentsdebt that helped their grandparents retire comfortably.
I bought Tamara the book Eat Pray Love as a stocking stuffer and took a moment to read a bit from it. I found this passage, which is so well-written that it needs to be said:
Luigi Barzini, in his 1964 masterwork The Italians (written when he had finally grown tired of foreigners writing about Italy and either loving it or hating it too much) tried to set the record straight on his own culture. He tried to answer the question of why the Italians have produced the greatest artistic, political, and scientific minds of the ages, but have never become a major world power. Why are they the planet's masters of verbal diplomacy, yet still so inept at home government? Why are they so individually valiant, yet so collectively unsuccessful as an army? How can they be such shrewd merchants on the personal level, yet such inefficient capitalists as a nation?
His answers to these questions are more complex than I can fairly encapsulate here, but have much to do with a sad Italian history of corruption by local leaders and exploitation by foreign dominators, all of which has generally led Italians to draw the seemingly accurate conclusion that nobody and nothing in this world can be trusted. Because the world is so corrupted, misspoken, unstable, exaggerated, and unfair, one should trust only what one can experience with one's own senses, and this makes the senses stronger in Italy than anywhere in Europe.
This is why, Barzini says, Italians will tolerate hideously incompetent generals, presidents, tyrants, professors, bureaucrats, journalists, and captains of industry, but will never tolerate incompetent "opera singers, conductors, ballerinas, courtesans, actors, film directors, cooks, tailors..." In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.
To devote yourself to the creation and enjoyment of beauty, then, can be a serious business - not always necessarily a means of escaping reality, but sometimes a means of holding on to the real when everything else is flaking away into... rhetoric and plot. Not too long ago, authorities arrested a brotherhood of Catholic monks in Sicily who were in tight conspiracy with the Mafia, so who can you trust? What can you believe? The world is unkind and unfair. Speak up against this unfairness, and in Sicily at least, you'll end up as the foundation of an ugly new building. What can you do in such an environment to hold a sense of your individual human dignity? Maybe nothing. Maybe nothing except, perhaps, to pride yourself on the fact that you alway fillet your fish with perfection, or you make the lightest ricotta in the whole town?
What a great way to show how to enjoy incompetence. The clowning of others, such as politicians, could be a spectator's sport to be savored, and what we can really expect in terms of excellence lies in our own hands in the small things that we do for ourselves. Like watching Tamara dice vegetables. Nobody dices vegetables like she does... with such precision and care. There is love in every move of her knife. It's amazing. Or like when I pick up a paintbrush and agonize over colors and details... I put such time into it and want to capture this elusive feeling in my art...
We all have a few tasks we do that we perform with great attention to every detail because, for us, it matters. It's totally within our control.
There is a moment in Amelie (my favorite movie) where Dominique Bretodeau eats chicken. He has no moment but that one, and his delight of chicken is all that he knows in this world.
As William Saroyan said: "Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough."
God bless the Italians. And for that matter, the French.
In concert with Paragon IT Pros, Paragon 24/7 aims to help companies more easily find the right candidates for their staffing needs. It does so in four ways:
It's a very user-friendly search engine that features an iterative search. You never run into "No Matches Found" and you never have to start over if you don't like the results. Instead, you can refine your search as you go, either adding a filter to it or removing a filter from it as needed.
The search results of candidates can be viewed in a comparison chart at any time, making it easy to see the differences between candidates.
You can subscribe to the search results and get notified of updates by either email or RSS feed.
It works when you want to work, available 24/7 - late nights and weekends - and allows you to queue up conversations when they are convenient to you. Finally, you get to leave phone tag behind you.
If you browse the site now, there is only one candidate. But that's only what's public. Behind the scenes, 119 vetted candidates are entering their information into the web site, and as Paragon verifies that the data was entered correctly, more candidates will appear for public viewing. Once that's done and we take it through one last thorough testing, we'll release the public web site.
Today, over 70 hiring managers at one company alone in the Des Moines area received a link to the beta web site. In the next month, dozens of other companies in Des Moines, and then dozens more in Omaha and Minneapolis, will become aware of the site.
What is 247Toolset?
247Toolset is mine... it's my representation of me, the guy who built and owns the technology behind Paragon 24/7. Talks are underway to expand the use of the search engine into other applications, and I should be able to talk about those by the end of February.
I'm actively looking for companies that need an engine like the one I've built. I have some ideas about that, and I can tell you that I'm working to create a sample site for medical staffing, then later for engineers and accountants and so on.
I had a conversation in the early evening today that might blossom into a broader recruiting network, with the engine I've built at its center. We'll see... but people are excited.
So if you like, beat up on the beta web site and share your thoughts/experience with me. I'm wide open to critique or suggestions.
I remember back in college, I took a Georgaphy class. My instructor asked us, "What is the single reason for all weather?" He stumped us and we gave him no answer. After a significant pause, he asked again, "What is the single reason that we have wind, rain, snow, drought, tornadoes, and balmy days?" Pause again. "Give up?" We nodded sheepishly...
"The sun," he announced.
A student raised his hand and said incredulously, "The sun causes rain."
"Of course, it does," our instructor replied. "You've heard of the water cycle? How do you think water rises into the sky for it to fall again? The sun heats it."
"But what about snow? The sun doesn't make it cold," the student countered.
"Without the sun, the earth would be colder than we can imagine. The sun doesn't make it cold; the sun warms half of the earth every 24 hours. When it snows, the sun just hasn't warmed the earth enough to cause rain, and so we get snow."
"Well then, how does the sun cause wind?" another student queried.
"Why do we have wind? Wind occurs because air moves from high pressure to low pressure. So why do we have bubbles of various pressures? The same reason that we have areas of warmth and areas of cold: heat from the sun. What happens when air is warmed? It expands. And when it cools? It contracts. High pressure, low pressure. That's why the sun causes wind."
That day I learned that all weather spawns from warming by the sun.
I also learned in that class that the earth goes through periods of cooling and warming, called Glacials and Interglacials. The last Interglacial, called the Eemian, occurred over 100,000 years ago.
The warmest peak of the Eemian was around 125,000 years ago, when forests reached as far north as North Cape (which is now tundra) in northern Norway well above the Arctic Circle.
We're currently in a warming cycle called Holocene. I know that it's not yet as warm as it was during the Eemian period, so in all likelihood, it will get warmer yet - with or without man's help.
Why is it getting warmer? Because it's the natural cycle of the earth.
Is man contributing to the warming trend? That's open for debate.
Today, it's nine below where I live. We're enjoying a healthy dose of snow this winter. It's a quite normal season for Iowa. And this weather today came courtesy of the warming of the sun, as it always does.
I bought a Harvard Business Review the other day, and read an interview with Bruce Wasserstein, who has been described in a different article as the most brilliant strategist by a guy who does global lawyering for mergers and acquisitions.
Does he deserve that title?
Under Mr. Wasserstein's watch, Lazard, which ranked 11th in completed global M&A transactions last year, has become a public company and thrived. While other banks unraveled amid the deepening credit crisis at the end of last year, Lazard's solid M&A record - and its lack of mortgage-related meltdowns - has made it "a darling of Wall Street analysts," Mr. Greenfeld says.
Back to the HBR article, Wasserstein gives insight on how he hires and retains:
You attract the people your system invites. If you create a bureaucratic system and have meetings every day at 8:00 AM and send a report card in at the end of the day, you may think, intuitively, that's good management. That works for some companies. But if I did that, I'd lose my best people - the people I want. We sacrifice some degree of efficiency by deliberately having a somewhat less centrally managed culture.
We have and want to attract a network of stars - people who communicate and cooperate but are entrepreneurial and stand out as quality individuals, who are not the cogs in a corporate machine. Quality people must be managed with customized approaches. The idea is to create a hothouse where young talent is nourished by our culture and people are encouraged to think creatively, think deeply, think about the long-term client relationship - but above all, I want them to reflect on what they are doing and why, and then wonder, "Can we do it better?"
Management's role is to help them. It's an iterative process. Create an atmosphere where we can all teach one another and stimulate the imgination. Ideas are not hierarchical - they come from all levels - so allowing the talent of younger people to bubble up is our imperative. Our model also requires that senior managers lead by example - they are all "doers."
It's a good line worth considering... "You attract the people your system invites." Think about this on a more micro level...
I know some artist-types who are amazing and breathtaking people. Personally, I love them. But their system - the environment and methods they create around them in which to do business - make it impossible to business. Because they are messy personally - which is cool in a remote and observational way - they attract others comfortable with that system. And those people tend to be scattered and loose, shooting from the hip and winging it with bravado. Most of them struggle to "make it." They lack structure.
I also know some people who are wired in the most anal retentive ways, insisting on a rigid way of doing things, and wanting others around them to comform and getting irritated when they don't. Their system, boxed-in and immaculate, works on formula. And the minute that life doesn't comply with their formula, they seem to work harder to put things back in the way that they understand them (wasted energy on things they generally can't control) than they do on adapting to a new world.
What's your personal "system?" How does it affect those around you? How does it impact your success?
Now take this to a macro level... if you own or run a business, or manage a section of a business, what types of employees do you want? Do you want cogs in the wheel, professional burger-flippers who act according to the manual and job description? Do you want people who can run with little or no push from you? Do you want those who can act as Wasserstein wants his people to act, stars "who communicate and cooperate but are entrepreneurial and stand out as quality individuals?"
Personally or professionally, how is your system designed to invite those you seek?
I met with the recruiters at Paragon to train them on the backend of the system I've developed, and found that they work and think a little differently than the system presents itself to the end-user. End-users aren't always good at telling developers specifically what will work for them. It's kind of an intuition on the part of the designer.
Luckily for me, I took Tamara with me to sit in on the meeting. She's an implementation specialist, and has a strong compass to know what's going to work and what won't. So this weekend, I'm going through the backend of the web site to conform it more closely with how I understand the recruiters view their work. It means rewriting quite a bit. But if it means more enthusiasm for the product, it's worth it.
As I go through the rewrite of the menu, I ask myself constantly: how will they view this? Does this make sense? Is this clear? Is it complete and robust? That's a lot of mental gymnastics.
There's a depth of thinking that goes on while doing this that requires paying no real attention to anything.
Sometimes, my work is best done while walking the neighborhood because there is thinking involved, and sometimes, I get a lot accomplished in the shower, and sometimes, just browsing web sites absent-mindedly helps.
Does that look like work? No. Is it work? Absolutely.
Once the design is right, everything becomes obvious and easy.
I think this is true for a lot of people, but most work environments / cultures don't allow for that kind of free-activity conceptualization. If they don't see something that looks like work (typing! typing!) then you're slacking.
But how do you think things through and arrive at the right answers to problems when you're expected to be typing! typing! meeting! meeting! talking! talking! all the time. Perhaps because there is that work! work! expectation in most companies, big projects struggle to finish correctly and thus makes no sense to the end-user. The clear thinking and mental prototyping required for clean design is not visible to the observer, and in some companies, simply not allowed - which will leave a lot of unanswered questions at the end of some projects, because no one thought them through.
Is that success? Just meeting a deadline and looking like you're working! working! is no success at all if the end result doesn't amplify the productivity of the end-user. It's amazing to me how often this obvious requirement for every project gets lost in the path to production! production!
I listened to the South Carolina returns come in last night as I drove back with Tamara from Kansas City. Good news aplenty, and some bad news.
The good news - even great news - is that the Mike Huckabee took a loss last night, and that's probably the end of his campaign. He couldn't belt it out in the Bible Belt, and if he can't win there... well, that's about it. And thank God.
The bad news is that John McCain has the big mo' at the moment. He's sure to get the Huckster's supporters after Pastor Mike bows out in the next few weeks and endorses him. And I'm pretty sure that Fred Thompson will endorse his senate buddy. Which leaves Mitt standing alone, chugging it out on his own. Those key endorsements will make it tough for Mitt to win, and in all likelihood, McCain will be the nominee.
The good news is that McCain strongly supports our troops and wants to restrict spending in government. I can easily get behind those.
My chief beefs with McCain are that he pushed amnesty and limitations on political speech. If he continues to keep his big mo', he'll get hammered big time on these issues by Rush, Sean, and the blogosphere. He'll have to listen and give strong reassurances to the right if he wants to win in November, and I think he wants this badly enough that he'll do that, but... he loves to have the media love him. How will he play to these two opposing groups? Hard to say...
Good news: Hillary leads Barack in the Democrat delegate count. I want her to get the nomination. It will drive every conservative bonkers, the idea of Hillary and Bill back in the White House. That's a one-way ticket to record turnout. Go Hill!
Let's see how Florida turns out, and then Super Tuesday.
I recently heard a definition of the Republican Party that I think nails what Republicans have tried to be:
limited government, traditional values
In the past, I think that pretty much translated into a push for a small government that would create laws to protect the family and to protect individual religious freedom.
It might be me, but I think it's morphed into something else along the way. It became a movement to create laws that insisted on biblical principle. People saw the word "God" in the founding documents of our country and came to believe that all of our founders were devout Christians and intended for God to written into the government.
As such, a significant part of the Republican party now believes that the definition of Republican is "traditional values, woven into government." I think this notion is best represented this way:
They want values elevated, and post-Bill Clinton and myriad political scandals on both sides of the aisle, they want the government cleaned up and brought back in line with traditional values.
I get that. It would be nice. But as you increase the desire on the level of government to represent "traditional values," you can't help but increase the scope of government solutions as well. A yearning for traditional values in government inescapably becomes this:
That's the fracture in the Republican party right now. The limited government folks want exactly that: limited government. The traditional values crowd wants exactly that: traditional values in society.
The two are diametrically opposed. The traditional values crowd wants government-imposed solutions, which can't help but grow the government. The limited government folks want personal liberty.
At one end of this spectrum, there will inevitably be a third party. It might not be for a couple of years, but there will certainly be that. It's just a question of time.
"Today I have withdrawn my candidacy for President of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort. Jeri and I will always be grateful for the encouragement and friendship of so many wonderful people." - Fred Thompson
He's not endorsing. Smart move. And I have even more respect for the guy in his willingness to care for his mom, who is ill.
"Throughout this campaign, Fred Thompson brought a laudable focus to the challenges confronting our country and the solutions necessary to meet them," Romney said in a statement. "He stood for strong conservative ideas and believed strongly in the need to keep our conservative coalition together."
Without a doubt, Thompson's legacy in this campaign will be his strong conservative and constitutional voice, and his damming of any momentum Huckabee might have gotten by rightly disagreeing with Huckabee's positions and statements.
Most of the commentary I've read through the campaign leads me to believe that Fred's exit will only spill over into votes for Romney. Go Mitt!
Candy Tistadt is married to the Fairfax County, Virginia, public school administrator, Dean Tistadt. She thought she would help her husband.
It started with Thursday's snowfall, estimated at about three inches near Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke. On his lunch break, Lake Braddock senior Devraj "Dave" S. Kori, 17, used a listed home phone number to call Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer for the county system, to ask why he had not closed the schools. Kori left his name and phone number and got a message later in the day from Tistadt's wife.
That phone call to her husband, left on her home voice mail, prompted this response from Candy on the student's voicemail.
From the article:
Dean Tistadt credited Kori for having the "courage of his convictions to stand up and be identified." He also credited him for causing the high volume of crank calls, not to mention considerable grief and embarrassment for his wife.
"This has been horrible for her," he said, adding that he and his wife both learned a hard lesson about the long reach of the Internet.
Humans are wired for mulling over the potential negatives of life. Our survival instinct drives this behavior. Like Jason Bourne, we're aware of the exits in our situation should we need them. Our minds play out scenarios to have a ready counter for adversity. There's nothing wrong with this. As mentioned, it helps us survive.
But something I've considered lately is that maybe we miss out on a lot of good that might come our way because of this instinctual wiring. We don't give the same weight of thought to the potential positive outcomes. I think if a situation goes well, we just kind of sit back, and we see that's there's no survival reaction necessary, and then we just say, "Okay," and climb down from our negative expectations. We're surprised, caught unprepared for an easy success, and there is no plan for what to do next.
Think about what happens when someone tells you, "We need to talk," or when a co-worker tells you that your boss has been trying to reach you. Your mind races with everything that might be wrong. Do you much consider that maybe it's good news, or at least positive?
Your boss: "Hey, you did a great job on that proposal. I just wanted to let you know." You: "Oh. Okay. Well, thanks." Your boss: "You bet."
You're flat-footed and that's all that you can muster to say.
But think about it: what if you had spent time thinking of the positive outcome?
Your boss: "Hey, you did a great job on that proposal. I just wanted to let you know." You: "Thanks. I'm glad it was well-received. You know, our next steps should focus on the strength of this opportunity. If you have a few minutes, I'd like to go through those with you." Your boss: "I do have some time. Come into my office and let's see what you have."
I think part of the reason that success doesn't just bust through the ceiling and into the blue sky for us is because we're usually not ready for success. We spend so much time in mental preparation for what can go wrong that we're unprepared to capitalize when it goes right.
We do this in relationships. We do this in our career. We do this all the time.
If we spend our time traversing negative roads in our mind, it might be the only road we can see to travel in real life.
Ever wondered how many political parties there are in the good ol' US of A? Yes, effectively "Two" is the right answer, but check this out... here's a list, copied and trimmed from this site:
America First Party: The AFP vows to "protect our people and our sovereignty... promote economic growth and independence... encourage the traditional values of faith, family, and responsibility... ensure equality before the law in protecting those rights granted by the Creator... [and] to clean up our corrupted political system." The party failed to nominate any candidates in 2004, and has been almost totally inactive since then. One AFP faction, based in Iowa, vowed in 2006 to start rebuild the party.
American Independent Party: Governor George C. Wallace (D-AL) founded the AIP and ran as the its first Presidential nominee in 1968. Running on a fiery populist, right-wing, anti-Washington, anti-racial integration, anti-communist platform, Wallace carried nearly 10 million votes (14%) and won 5 Southern states. The AIP still fields local candidates in a few states - mainly California - but is now merely a state affiliate party of the national Constitution Party. For the past several presidential elections, the AIP simply co-nominated the Constitution Party's Presidential nominee.
American Nazi Party: Exactly what the name implies... these are a bunch of uniformed, swastika-wearing Nazis! This miniscule party - while purportedly denouncing violence and illegal acts - blends left-wing economic socialism, right-wing social fascism, and strong totalitarian sentiments.
American Party: The AP is a very small, very conservative, Christian splinter party formed after a break from the American Independent Party in 1972. Beyond the pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax views that you'd expect to find, the American Party also advocates an end to farm price supports/subsidies, privatization of the US Postal Service, opposes federal involvement in education, supports abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency, supports repeal of NAFTA, opposes minimum wage laws, opposes land use zoning regulations and opposes convening a Constitutional convention. Of course, the AP also opposes the United Nations, the New World Order, communism, socialism and the Trilateral Commission.
American Patriot Party: The The APP, established in 2003, was "founded on the basic principals set forth by our founding fathers, that the federal government should only have the powers set forth in the framework of the Constitution and all other power to be delegated back to the states. Although everyone has thier own opinions on all issues, we believe it is up to the states to decide what should and should not be mandated, banned or regulated." The APP supports a crackdown on illegal immigration, making English fluency a requirement of US citizenship, abolishing the IRS and repealing the federal income tax, imposing steeper taxes and tariffs on imported goods, abolition of the centralized Federal Reserve System, withdrawing the US from the Untied Nations, imposing a foreign policy of non-interventionism, and ending federal involvement in education.
American Reform Party: The ARP, formerly known as the National Reform Party Committee, splintered away from Ross Perot's Reform Party in 1997. The ARP chafed at Perot's heavy-handed desire to maintain total control over the RP. In 1998, the ARP fielded some candidates for state and federal offices in "Reform Party" primaries against candidates backed by Perot's Reform Party with mixed results. The ARP soon shifted left and opted to "endorse" (but not co-nominate) Green Party Presidential nominee Ralph Nader in the 2000 elections.
American Socialist Party: Despite the word "Socialist" in their title, this new group, founded in 2004 and based in Arizona, is far out of the traditional definition of socialist parties. The ASP denounces "immorality, and materialism," supports "the removal of illegal immigrants... [and the imprisonment of] businesses/officials who hire, or allow them to enter," sees capitalism as "failing," and - in a language that make them sound more like a crypto-fascist group - promises to "defend you and your family if faced with government officials intimidating you, or, violating your rights, with the same force."
Christian Falangist Party Of America: A "Falangist" is a follower of the authoritarian political views advocated by the late Spanish dictator Francisco Franco (to wit: largely a blend of 1930s fascist ideology, strong nationalism and conservative Catholic theology).
Communist Party Usa: The CPUSA, once the slavish propaganda tool and spy network for the Soviet Central Committee, has experienced a forced transformation in recent years. Highly classified Soviet Politburo records, made public after the fall of Soviet communism in the 1990s, revealed the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) illegally funneled millions of dollars to the CPUSA to finance its activities from the 1920s to the 1980s. The flow of Soviet dollars to the CPUSA came to an abrupt halt when the Soviet communists were ousted from power in 1991 - ultimately causing a retooling of CPUSA activities. As for issues, the CPUSA calls for free universal health care, elimination of the federal income tax on people earning under $60,000 a year, free college education, drastic cuts in military spending, "massive" public works programs, the outlawing of "scabs and union busting," abolition of corporate monopolies, public ownership of energy and basic industries, huge tax hikes for corporations and the wealthy, and various other programs designed to "beat the power of the capitalist class... [and promote] anti-imperialist freedom struggles around the world."
Constitution Party: Former Nixon Administration official and one-time Conservative Coalition chair Howard Phillips founded the US Taxpayers Party (USTP) in 1992 as a potential vehicle for Pat Buchanan to use for a third party White House run - had he agreed to bolt from the GOP in 1992 or 1996. The USTP pulled together several of the splintered right-wing third parties - including the once mighty American Independent Party - into a larger, more visible political entity. Renamed as the Constitution Party in 1999, the party is strongly pro-life, anti-gun control, anti-tax, anti-immigration, protectionist, "anti-New World Order," anti-United Nations, anti-gay rights, anti-welfare, pro-school prayer... basically a hardcore Religious Right platform.
Constitutionalist Party: This quasi-libertarian new party "seeks to improve America and preserve the freedom of the people by supporting a closer adherence to the Constitution." As for specific issues, the CP is pro-choice (but believes abortion issues need to be decided at the state level), pro-gun rights, anti-death penalty, anti-Affirmative Action quotas, anti-regulation of sexual activities between consenting adults, pro-medical marijuana, pro-flat tax, pro-tax cuts, and anti-United Nations.
Democratic Socialists Of America: The DSA is the official US full member party of the Socialist International (which includes UK's Labour Party, the French Parti Socialiste and nearly 140 other political parties around the globe). The DSA explains their mission as follows: "building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly socialist presence in American communities and politics." Thus, the DSA is less like a traditional US political party and much more like a political education and grassroots activism organization.
Family Values Party: This ultra-conservative, theocratic party seems to exist mainly to promote the frequent federal candidacies of party founder Tom Wells of Florida. Wells explained that God spoke directly to him on December 25, 1994 at 2:00 a.m. and "commanded him to start" the FVP. To be exact, Wells said God specifically told him to encourage people to stop paying taxes until the public funding of abortion ends. The FVP political platform is largely derived from religious fundamentalism, including many specific citations to Bible passages. This "party" remains largely an alter-ego of Wells - who seems to run every election as a write-in candidate for President or Congress (or both).
Freedom Socialist Party / Radical Women: The FSP was formed in 1966 by a splinter group of dissident feminist Trotskyites who broke away from the Socialist Workers Party to create a new party in the "tradition of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky." That's the reason they also refer to their entity as "Radical Women." The FSP describe themselves as a "revolutionary, socialist feminist organization, dedicated to the replacement of capitalist rule by a genuine workers' democracy that will guarantee full economic, social, political, and legal equality to women, people of color, gays, and all who are exploited, oppressed, and repelled by the profit system and its offshoot - imperialism."
Green Party Of The United States (Green Party): The Green Party - the informal US-affiliate of the leftist, environmentalist European Greens movement - is one of the two largest third parties in the nation. The party regularly fields candidates for local, state and federal offices in many states, and has established active state affiliate parties in nearly all 50 states. The Greens scored a major political points when it convinced prominent consumer advocate Ralph Nader to run as their first Presidential nominee in 1996. Spending just over $5,000, Nader was on the ballot in 22 states and carried over 700,000 votes (4th place: 0.8%). In 2000, Nader raised millions of dollars, mobilized leftist activists and grabbed national headlines with his anti-corporate campaign message.
Independence Party: After two years of openly feuding with Ross Perot's allies in the Reform Party, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura and his supporters bolted from the party to launch the new Independence Party in 2000. While this splinter party shared the Reform Party's call for campaign finance and other political reforms, the IP shared Ventura disagreement with the more social conservative and trade protectionist views espoused by the Reform Party. The IP - which describes itself as "Socially Inclusive and Fiscally Responsible" - is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-medical marijuana, pro-gun rights and fiscally moderate.
Independent American Party: The small Independent American Party has existed for years in several Western states - a remnant from the late Alabama Governor George Wallace's once-powerful American Independent Party of the 1968-72 era. Converting the unaffiliated IAP state party organizations - united by a common Religious Right ideology (similar to the Constitution Party) - into a national IAP organization was an effort started in 1998 by members of Utah IAP.
Labor Party: The Labor Party is a liberal entity created in 1996 by a sizable group of labor unions including the United Mine Workers, the Longshoremen, American Federation of Government Employees, California Nurses Association and other labor union locals. The party explains it was formed because "on issues most important to working people - trade, health care, and the rights to organize, bargain and strike - both the Democrats and Republicans have failed working people."
Libertarian National Socialist Green Party: This party purports to be comprised of atheist, peaceful, pro-gay, pro-drug legalization, anti-racist, environmentalist Nazis who acknowledge the Holocaust likely occurred (but are neutral as to its justification) and oppose the government sponsored killing of Jews, Christians & gays and the disabled.
Libertarian Party: The LP, founded in 1971, bills itself as "America's largest third party" (and, along with the Greens, are definitely among the two largest third parties in the nation). The Libertarians are neither left nor right: they believe in total individual liberty (pro-drug legalization, pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-home schooling, anti-gun control, etc.) and total economic freedom (anti-welfare, anti-government regulation of business, anti-minimum wage, anti-income tax, pro-free trade, etc.). The LP espouses a classical laissez faire ideology which, they argue, means "more freedom, less government and lower taxes."
Light Party: This San Francisco-based party's platform promotes holistic medicine, national health insurance, organic foods, solar energy, nuclear disarmament and a flat tax.
Moderate Party: The party platform covers only a few main points: ending the Iraq War and returning the US "to its primary role as international peacekeeper," cut federal spending, abandon the current tax code in favor of a flat tax or consumption tax plan, protect the envinromnent, strengthen the separation of church and state, protect second amendment gun ownership rights, protect a women's right to choose on abortion, and support for same-sex civil unions.
Multicapitalist Party: This quirky party supports "capitalism for all people equally" - but it is hard to tell exactly what that means. The MP claims to be an economic ideology whereby "the government insures that every citizen will become a successful capitalist and land owner without excessive taxation or loss of privacy or freedom."
National Socialist Movement: "We co-operate and work with many like minded white nationalist groups such as the KKK (Ku Klux Klan), Aryan Skinheads, the Racial Nationalist Party of America and many others which are either neo Nazi or at least, racially aware of our Aryan Heritage," explains the NSM website.
Natural Law Party: The Natural Law Party was a New Age entity founded and run by followers of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the founder of the TM movement - a movement that some have labeled as a cult). The NLP - under the slogan "Bringing the light of science into politics" and using colorful imagery - advocated holistic approaches, Transcendental Meditation (TM), "yogic flying," and other peaceful "New Age" and "scientific" remedies for much of our national and international problems.
New Party: This leftist party advocates a "democratic revolution" to advance the cause of "social, economic, & political progress" in America. Their agenda is much in the style of the Western European socialist and labor movement - and somewhat similar to that of the late-1990s formed Labor Party (but the NP has more of a controlled growth outlook on environmental issues).
New Union Party: Founded in 1980 by defectors from the Socialist Labor Party, this DeLeonist militant democratic socialist party "advocates political and social revolution" but denounces violence and is "committed to lawful activities to overthrow the capitalist economic system."
Pansexual Peace Party: The PPP is a generally left-wing party that has yet to field any candidates - they don't take themselves too seriously - and, oh yeah, and the PPP is founded on Wiccan (i.e., witchcraft) roots.
Party Of Socialism And Liberation: The Party of Socialism & Liberation (PSL) is a revolutionary Marxist party created "to be a vehicle for the multinational working class in the struggle for socialism... Only a multinational party can create the unity necessary to defeat the most powerful capitalist class the world has ever seen... We aim for revolution in the United States."
Peace And Freedom Party: Founded in the 1960s as a left-wing party opposed to the Vietnam War, the party reached its peak of support in 1968 when it nominated Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver for President.
Pot Party: ThePot Party is exactly what you'd expect - a bunch of marijuana legalization advocates.
Progressive Labor Party: The PLP is a New York-based, militant, Stalinist-style communist party dedicated to bringing about a world-wide, armed, communist revolution.
Prohibition Party: "If you are a reform-minded conservative and a non-drinker, the Prohibition Party wants you," exclaimed an official party message in 2002. The Prohibition Party - founded in 1869 and billing themselves as "America's Oldest Third Party" - espouses a generally ultra-conservative Christian social agenda mixed with anti-drug and international anti-communist views.
Reform Party: Once a rapidly growing, populist third party, the Reform Party shifted far to the right in recent years - but then experienced massive waves of conservative defections away into the Constitution Party and the new America First Party in 2002. After running as an Independent in 1992, billionaire Texas businessman Ross Perot founded the Reform Party in 1995 as his vehicle for converting his independent movement into a permanent political party. In 1996, Perot ran as the Reform Party's presidential nominee (8,085,000 votes: 8%). The party traditionally reflected Perot's center-conservative fiscal policies and anti-GATT/NAFTA views - while avoiding taking any official positions on social issues (although much of this group seemed to hold generally libertarian social views).
Revolutionary Communist Party USA: The RCP is based upon the teachings of the late Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-tung (a form of communism derivative of Leninist-Stalinist Marxism). The party strongly denounces capitalism and advocates a "Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Programme" as "a battle plan for destroying the old and creating the new [and] is a kind of road map for how to win the revolution."
Social Democrats USA: Like the Democratic Socialists of America (above), the SD-USA is the other official US full member party of the Socialist International. The SD-USA is a group more ideologically centrist, more staunchly anti-communist and more directly aligned with the Democratic Party than the more traditionally leftist DSA.
Socialist Action: SocialistAction is a Trotskyist political party originally founded by expelled members of the Socialist Workers Party.
Socialist Equality Party: The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) was originally named the Workers League (WL). They believe that "the egalitarian and internationalist legacy of the Russian Revolution" could have succeeded, but was "betrayed by Stalinism" and its progeny.
Socialist Labor Party: Founded in 1877, the SLP is a militant democratic socialist party.
Socialist Party USA: The SPUSA are true democratic socialists - advocating left-wing electoral change versus militant revolutionary change. Many of the SP members could easily be members of the left-wing faction of the Democratic Party.
The Greens/Green Party Usa (G/Gpusa): When people talk about "the Green Party" in the US, they are likely NOT talking about this entity. The G/GPUSA is the older, very much smaller, and more stridently leftist of the two Green parties.
The Revolution: This party - simply named "The Revolution" - seems to be an ideological hybrid between libertarianism and environmentalism, with a dash of New Deal liberal views thrown into the mix. The Revolution's 20-point platform calls for the legalizations of all victimless crimes (drugs, prostitution, etc.), the use of clean energy to stop global warming, massive tax cuts, an end ot corporate welfare, military spending cuts, an emphasis on human rights in foreign policy decisions, abolishing the CIA, government funding of the sciences to encourage "altruistic scientific and technological projects," and a promise to "repeal five times as many laws as we pass."
The Third Party: Frustrated by traditional partisan politics and the quality of national media coverage of elections, this party proposes to seek "direct input" from the public to mold this new politically centrist party into a vehicle that unifies America in the 21st Century.
U.S. Marijuana Party: Founded in 2002, the US Marijuana Party (USMJP) is - as you would expect - a marijuana legalization entity espousing generally libertarian views.
U.S. Pacifist Party: The party opposes military actions in all circumstances and wants to transform the US military into "a non-violent defense and humanitarian service corps."
Veterans Party of America: The Veterans Party was founded in 2003. The party vows to "give political voice for the first time since 1776, to the men and women who were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for this country. No longer will they have to grovel and beg and fill out paperwork for years just to get what they proudly earned and were promised."
We The People Party: A politically centrist entity, the WTP bills itself as "the American People's Party."
Workers Party, USA: The party was established to "bring the working class out as an independent class force." The WP-USA shares much of the CPUSA's ideology - and likely is a splinter group with CPUSA origins.
Workers World Party: The WWP was formed in 1959 by a pro-Chinese communist faction that split from the Socialist Workers Party. Although the WWP theoretically supports worker revolutions, the WWP supported the Soviet actions that crushed worker uprisings in Hungary in the 1950s, Czechoslovakia in the 1960s and Poland in the early 1980s.
World Socialist Party of the USA: The WSP-USA are seemingly utopian Marxists. They believe true socialism can only work when it is established worldwide.They renounce violence, Soviet-style totalitarianism, money and all forms of leadership. They advocate a classless, "wageless, moneyless, free access society" without any national borders.
Just a thought for those who despise corporations...
There are four ways to make money:
Work for yourself.
Work for someone else.
Ask for voluntary donations.
Force someone else to give you the money involuntarily.
And here's an example of each:
Just about every American worker
It seems to me that if anti-corporate types loathe the corporation so much, shouldn't they be strident entrepreneurs? That's the only true escape from "corporations," because if you work for yourself, you can choose to be a sole-proprietor. No corporation necessary.
On the other hand, workers work at corporations.
Non-profits rely on the money generated at corporations for donations by either business owners, businesses, or the employees of businesses.
And the blood sucker who parades around shouting down corporations, while trying to extract money from them? He relies supremely on confiscation from corporations in order to attain any wealth. How does the role of anti-corporate crusader deserve any dignity whatsoever? "Hypocrite" is a more likely and worthy title.
It all begins with the entrepreneur.
The confiscators - played by anti-corporate lawyers and the government, for example - don't do anything to create value in society. Why anyone champions confiscators is beyond my comprehension.
One of my favorite features of the system I've been developing is the comparison chart that spawns dynamically from the search results. I've opened that page because I'm up late testing, re-writing the recruiter's user manual for the latest usability changes, and making "public" a few of the approved candidates on the beta site. As I'm doing this, I hopped into the comparison chart.
Know of another search engine that allows you to create a comparison chart like this? I'm hoping that features like this one will set this tool apart from other options.
The suggestion for it came from John, Paragon's ace marketing guy. I'm a very big believer that development should take place right next to the end users so that the right tools can be written. I don't care how genius a person might be, they can't in any way imagine every scenario in a user's day.
I heard a guy once say in a meeting with about 70 other people that developers don't need to know how a user does their job - that's what business analysts are for, he insisted. A brawl damn near broke out over that remark as I heartily disagreed with him. The more layers between the developer and the end-user, the less the application will fit the needs of business and the more it can't help but create frustration for the end-user.
Can't listen well if you're not near your customer, ya know?
Our American president has to have an attitude of "America First," not Mexico first, as McCain-Kennedy would do. And while I completely expect politicians to juxtapose their own positions to that of their opponents, lying about an opponent's record is not "straight talk." It's misrepresentation, and coming from the guy who co-authored McCain-Feingold to "clean up" campaign speech, McCain is too obnoxious in his piety to earn my vote.
I'm not sure why, but government just loves PDF format. Nonetheless, here's a link to the web site for "Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy." In the closing paragraphs of the section titled "A Message from the Chair," the report says:
If we are to grow, we need more and more people ready to take entrepreneurial risk. And, we need them flowing from institutions attuned to producing particularly creative people for the new economy. Recent economic and psychological research has confirmed what scientists and entrepreneurs have known for decades: innovative breakthroughs frequently come at the estuary region where different fields, not necessarily related, intersect. This means we need more cross-disciplinary training where the edge between fields can be developed for the innovations that lie within.
The chair recognizes that it's not just depth of industry expertise, but how you juxtapose that with other expertise and other ways of doing things. Invention happens when I mix and match ideas and tools and processes, not when I stare deeper into the singular tunnel of a particular industry. One leads to new approaches; the other leads to just more of the same.
Words that kill companies:
That's not how we do things here.
You're just wasting time.
That's not your job description.
We've already tried that.
No one will back you up on that.
Mix and match... variety makes you vibrant. Consider that biology doesn't endure incest. Only cross-breeding produces the hardiest stock in any species.
Want innovation? Be prepared to traverse the uncomfortable and unfamiliar.
Why is it that after weeks of being beaten to death by talk radio, John McCain emerges as the probable leader for the Republicans in the 2008 election?
Because people would rather dance with the devil they know than the devil they don't. And America knows John McCain after all this time.
Plus, talk radio pushed Bush big time, and he wasn't exactly the conservative hero we wanted. We wondered, would Romney be any different? In answer: we honestly didn't know. He already has an reputation as a flip-flopper for some. That will only get louder in the general election. He's new on the big scene. He's ambiguous. We, as a nation, don't know that we can trust him because we don't know his true principles and see them in action consistently over time. For a first-time national candidate, his was a good showing. But he has to prove himself to us over time, I think, so that we know that we know him.
People opted for the man they knew better, warts and all. He showed that he wasn't afraid to get down and get ugly, if that's what it took to win. And ugly he got, in twisting Romney's record.
But he was known, and ultimately, that was more comfortable.
Obama started campaigning very early. I think before anyone else did. Frankly, he was right to do that. It allowed him to get acquainted with America, and vice versa. For that reason, he stands an even shot of beating Hillary now to the nomination. He's been very consistent in his message, making it easy for us to know that we know him.
Giuliani ignored those of us in the cheap seats, and when he turned away from us, he turned us off.
Fred? He's the right philosopher, but a poor large enterprise manager.
Today, McCain is the very probable nominee for the Republicans.
There's a lot of angst on the conservative blogs today. And while I'm not listening to it, but I'm sure that there's a lot angst in talk radio too.
No candidate is perfect. One is strong on the war, but weak on border security. One is strong on the economy, but doesn't think smaller states are worth the trouble. One is deep in money and organization, but not deep in conservative philosophy. One's got the philosophy, but didn't leave his room to tell it to us.
Out of 300 million people and in this immediate-satisfaction culture, is it wrong to expect a great candidate to step forward?
"Great" is subjective.
A reminder: congress enacts laws. The president executes the laws. The president cannot write legislation.
Which says that it's all about our local candidates.
If you want change, you have to influence change where you can have impact. And all politics, as they say, is local. You have to start there.
If conservatives are fed up, the hard and correct answer is to get damn involved and vocal locally.
I wrote a post that got lost about creating a political party called The Achievers Party. It would go something like this, with six core principles:
Own my life, my choices, and my circumstances.
I am responsible for my own life. I need to provide for myself and my own. I am responsible for the choices I make in my life. I blame no one for my state of affairs. I recognize that if I want my life's circumstances to improve, it's up to me to strive for my own betterment. I refuse to vote for politicians who want to save me or others.
Preserve and promote freedom.
I will do what is within my power to preserve the freedom I enjoy in America, the most free country on earth. Every person on the planet is born with their inalienable right to freedom. I will protect my own and fight for the freedom of others, which is only preserved and promoted through democratic government. I refuse to vote for politicians who do not believe in democracy or a democratically representative government.
Champion free markets and competition.
Nothing propels us to improvement like competition, which is the basis of a free market economy. Free markets encourage people to explore their own entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial venture alone creates jobs and opportunities and provides the basis for the economy. I refuse to vote for politicians who do not vigorously celebrate business.
Crave religious freedom.
My religious beliefs are my beliefs. My faith is a matter between God and me. I don't want a government that legislates faith for anyone, and I refuse to elect politicians who want to install their faith into law.
Limit government and make government transparent.
The chief role of government is to preserve my freedom and to prevent others from hindering me to be responsible for myself and to live my own life as I choose. Government should always, except in matters of national security, allow complete transparency into its dealings. Government should be in the business of removing barriers, not installing programs. I refuse to vote for politicians who want to use their power to confiscate for themselves, for those they know, or for their constituents.
Insist that American citizens determine America's direction.
You cannot speak for the family if you are not solidly in the family, and no person who is not an American should have any substantive influence in any of America's affairs. I refuse to vote for any politician who seeks approval from those outside of America before getting the approval of Americans first.
Achievers promote self-reliance, freedom, free markets and competition, religious freedom, limited government, and a rigorous attitude of America first.