Some months back I left my last employer and started a new gig, and as a result I am back at zero in trying to overcome my innate introversion for long enough to meet and integrate with a whole new team. It’s a lot. It also is an opportunity to reflect on the misunderstanding a lot of folks have about the nature of being an introvert.Continue reading Outspoken Introverts and Shy Extroverts
I made the mistake of logging into Facebook this evening and reading the general mishmash that shows up on the timeline. Typically–on the rare occasions that I sign into the site at all–I have a restricted list of people that I skim through and then I go on with my day. Facebook is mostly an outbound mechanism for my Tweets to visit.
Today, though, I ran into a political post that I just had to respond to. Because these things on Facebook have an alarming tendency to just magically disappear (weird, eh) I thought I’d reproduce my rant here. I’ll not provide the original post (it’s not my post to share), but I will say the following:
- It was a link to this article with a clickbait intro saying something to the effect of “this dude won’t go to the inauguration, and his reason will infuriate you.”
- The post sharing it opined that “America has spoken” in electing Trump, that “America has had to deal with 8 years of this sort of thing”, and that Trump is our president and we should deal with it.
- The post further opined (and I’m not exaggerating here) that this must be racism because Trump is white and the representative is black–since the reason that things like claiming Obama wasn’t an American was called racist was because a white person said it.
- The post ended by pointing out that Trump’s election is a sign of the thoughts and feelings of the American people, so we should get over it.
The problem that I had was not with any of these individual points on their own–I’ve seen and scrolled past far more egregious examples in these past few months. My problem wasn’t even with the sum of these snidely delivered opinions in aggregate. No, the thing that struck me as compelling enough to write a knee-jerk rant was the implication that this is just politics as usual. That sentiment is driving me mad, and I’m seeing it everywhere. People saying “Clinton supporters are upset that they lost” or “we dealt with Obama, now you can deal with Trump” as if, by pretending that the problems are merely disagreement with a political agenda, it would erase the actual issues in play.
At any rate, my response was as follows:
First..and this is a pretty key point: the American people have not spoken…at least not in the way you imply. The American people (which would be indicated by the popular vote) have spoken in favor of Clinton. I bring this up not to indicate that she should be President, but to ensure that you don’t get mired in a grossly inaccurate statement right from the top. The American people have spoken, we instead chose to listen to the American electoral system.
And that is the right call. We should have listened to the American electoral system. It’s how this all works. So you’re right (even if for the entirely wrong reason); he’s our President-elect by virtue of the mechanism we should be using.Your conclusion, however, is beyond flawed. First, you seem to think that the reason people said that various racist things were racist was solely based on the fact that the two folks in question were opposite races. That shows that you don’t listen. That’s fair, in reality most of us do an abysmal job of escaping our filter bubble (and that includes me), so it makes sense that you wouldn’t have heard much from beyond it’s noisy walls. Wrong, and excusable.The inexcusable wrong, though, is to think that Americans have put up with 8 years of what is going on now. As a Republican until just a few months ago, I think I’d remember 8 years of active attacks on the ability of the press to do it’s job in holding folks accountable. I suspect I’d recall 8 years of increasing suspicion that our President was an agent of (or at least entirely too cozy with) an unfriendly foreign government—I further believe I’d recall our President spending 8 years preventing the investigation of that relationship. I’d definitely have some hazy inklings in the deepest recesses of my mind if our President spent 8 years threatening to make databases of people of a given religion, expressing approval of religious tests for citizenship, and appointing actual white supremacists to various roles in the government.I disagree with MUCH of what Obama did, and I disagreed with much of what Bush did. This is not that. This isn’t political disagreement. This is genuine concern being expressed by a man elected to express exactly this sort of concern. This is the result of the FBI asking to be allowed to investigate a troubling relationship between a candidate and a foreign power and being denied the ability to do so. If Woodward and Bernstein had as murky an understanding of current events as you’re conveying here circa Watergate, Nixon would have had a much easier go of things.So, you fumbled the mount, had a good time on the uneven bars, and completely blew the dismount…but I will say this, you ended exactly correctly: Trump represents the thoughts and feelings of a huge number of Americans, so if you’re paying attention, that should be absolutely terrifying.I invite you to start paying attention.
* Brought to you by a lifelong Republican that recently broke to independent based on the party’s willingness to court this exact human being. This isn’t partisanship, it’s sanity.
Another white, male conference speaker has sounded off about the “quotas” that are “stealing” “his” speaking gigs and “giving” them to women or people of color despite the fact that they are “inferior.”
In case my liberal use of quotation marks above didn’t sufficiently convey my opinion on the matter, this strikes me as absolute nonsense!
The lede of an interview in which I was recently featured ended up being the notion of not being precious with your ideas—as a result, that concept has been the topic of conversation quite a bit over the last few weeks. As often happens, the most common question to arise also happened to be the most obvious one:
How do you avoid being precious with your ideas?
In the spring of 2004, Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond delivered a lecture entitled “Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?” in which he discusses the plight of the Easter Islanders. It seems that1 the when the Polynesian people settled the island, it was covered in forest that they relied upon for their way of life. Over the course of their limited time on the island, they slowly forested their way to societal collapse despite the inherent obviousness of what they were doing; a classic application of the frog-in-boiling-water allegory.2
In the US, our Polynesian lumberjacks are facilitating a slow slide into fascism4; death by a thousand axe cuts.
I would like to apologize before you attempt to read this. I’m naturally pretty verbose, but this got out of hand even by my lofty standards. I’ve attempted to trim it back some, but, it remains quite the slog. I, personally, think it’s worth it. I’m also pretty biased.
I would like to begin with a few postulates—a few things that we can assume to be true for the sake of argument. I’m not trying to play any rhetorical games here, so I’ll attempt to show my work as I introduce each postulate (after a few up top that I hope to be relatively uncontested).
There’s no real post here, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me that if I don’t organize my thoughts around Tuesday’s tragic turn of events, I’ll never get back to sleep. That’s all this will be, the text version of thinking aloud.
We are just under 13 days until the election here in the US, and I would like to remind everybody of one simple fact that will remain true no matter what happens:
The person that is elected in roughly two weeks is our President-elect and will be our President starting in 2017. Regardless of whether or not you voted for him or her, regardless of whether or not you agree with his or her policies, that’s our President. Full stop. End of story.
Debates happened, in so far as you can call what was televised a “debate.” I think that heated argument would be a fairer characterization, but that might just be needlessly pedantic. Nothing especially surprising took place, that much is certain. While I live-tweeted my reactions to much of the proceedings, I thought I would take a minute to elaborate now, having had a day to process (and having watched it several more times).
Let’s begin with a basic concept with which we should all be able to agree: time has inherent value. Nobody seriously questions this fact, what we argue is what that value is.
I was thinking about this while I was doing some yard cleanup this week and the lawn folks came by to mow. As the two of them swept in and back out in about 10 or 15 minutes, I found myself pondering the cost of that fraction of an hour in a very intellectual fashion…
“Are you fucking shitting me, that’s $100/hour to mow my lawn!” I thought, intellectually.
In a previous post, I discussed using decisiveness to reduce or eliminate decision debt; but how do you do that? I mean, if you haven’t made the decision yet, doesn’t that—by definition—indicate that you aren’t yet ready to make the decision?
From my perspective, there is only one useful way to categorize decisions: by their cost to revert. It’s less a taxonomy than a scale, but the basic organizational schema for decisions should be in ascending order from most costly to change to least costly. From there, logic dictates that you should only exhaust as much exploratory effort to make a decision as its cost to alter.
Consider your brain to be like a Git repository, constantly changing and updating and checking in new information. Everybody who has maintained a Git repo for any length of time is all too familiar with the amount of technical debt that is accrued through open branches. The more branches you have open and the longer you have branches open, the greater the likelihood that merge conflicts, hidden bugs, and other evils lurk in your future code. Continue reading Decisiveness and Decision Debt
As I discuss leadership, I often use the terms “coaching” and “mentoring” in a manner that would lead a casual reader to assume I mean them to be synonymous—that they are interchangeable. They are not.
For most of us, our first real exposure to a coach is in high school sports. My high school wrestling coach knew two important things: he knew what made up a successful wrestler and he knew that I had no idea what made a successful wrestler. With those two things, he set out to teach me the things that I needed to learn to be successful—often over my objections, frequently against my better judgement. He had a clear vision of what the goal for me looked like, and he helped me achieve.
Well, sort of, I never ended up being much of a wrestler. Continue reading Coaching vs Mentorship
The news last night was aflutter with the fact that Jeb Bush’s campaign is over; he is no longer in the running for the GOP nominee for President in the 2016 race. It took perhaps two hours for the media to set upon his still warm corpse for the last bit of sustenance that his campaign could provide their hungry news cycles with articles discussing his flubs, detailing his downfall, and—perhaps most painfully—listing his saddest moments. It’s weird to have gotten to watch his flame-out in more-or-less real time. Continue reading Death Before Dishonor in the GOP
Seth Godin wrote an interesting post about path finding a little while back and it struck me that I get very easily frustrated by the two path-finding extremes.
Those that never look for a new path—the typists rather than the writers—stagnate and mire themselves in complacency’s stationary momentum. I’m sure there are people for whom such quiescence is comforting, but for me it is maddening. Continue reading Path Finding
Why is it that people with beliefs that I respect so often don’t actually practice those beliefs? I am time and again frustrated and upset by people that express a core belief structure that really resonates with me…something with which I really connect…time and again I find myself disillusioned by those same people.
Yesterday, an author and female that I respect as something of a self-professed feminist posted this picture with the associated text as follows: “This is the single manliest image evar. @justbeast’s dad at age 18”.
If you don’t immediately see the problem, don’t fret—it took me several minutes to recognize what the nagging in the back of my mind was trying to make apparent. Ultimately, what did it for me was to switch up the genders a bit, as I did in a follow-up tweet: “THIS is the portrait of femininity… http://twitpic.com/vo9q6…” with a link to picture of my wife in a classic ‘female’ gender role situation…holding a laundry basket.
You see, regardless of which genders’ stereotypes you are upholding, it sucks. It doesn’t just suck for that gender, either. I have a number of close friends with any of a number of gender identity disorders ranging from merely enjoying wearing clothes outside of those assigned to their gender to full on dysphoria, and when you draw gender lines like that—intense gaze, furrowed brow, cigarette gripped before face equals masculinity—it reinforces something hurtful to those people. Just as important, you can’t reinforce only one boundary on the gender-identity continuum; it doesn’t work that way. No, when you reinforce that masculinity is the milieu for a hawk-like stare into the distance while enjoying a cigarette, you reinforce that femininity isnot associated with that. When you say that picture is manly, you imply that women who look this way or do these things are somehow being manly. You also imply that men who do not are not manly.
And really, if we are all about breaking down the gender stereotypes, don’t we really owe it to ourselves to shatter them in both directions? Especially if we acknowledge that breaking them down in one direction really solves nothing? I mean, I think we can all agree that ridding ourselves of the notion that pink is ‘girlie’ does us little good if we retain the notions that pink is not manly, but blue is. What good is making ‘women should be cooks and maids’ a thing of the past if we cling to ‘men should be firemen and police officers’? What good is saying that it is wrong to say that real women do this if we are running around saying that real men do this?
So I pointed this out to the feminist in question, assuming that she merely hadn’t thought it through…and it was dismissed in a way that was amusingly…well, I would have to say the best description for how it was dismissed was in true masculine fashion: “for contemporary definitions of such, it is. Now, add that the man in the picture spent his spare time in Kazakhstan knitting. Still manly.” I refer to this as a masculine evasion because I see the same responses belittled on feminist forums constantly when men are called on their sexist terminology for saying things like “man up”, “don’t be a pussy”, or “grow some balls” and respond with things like “it’s just an expression, it doesn’t actually mean that men are braver or bolder than women”. It sounds thin and transparent when we do it, and it’s equally transparent when it’s done by women. It was with this poor rationale in mind that I included my disclaimer in my example tweet above; instead of just saying that my wife with a laundry basket was truly feminine, I added this caveat: “(Don’t worry ladies, it’s not misogynist…she reads Bitch magazine!!)”
So those are the rules of the game—rules which will now be my go-to anti-sexism spray. Whenever I am about to say something overtly sexist and gender-stereotype-reinforcing, I will be sure to point out that I’m only doing so from the perspective of ‘contemporary definitions’ and that it doesn’t matter, because in some untargeted aspect of my subject they break gender roles.
This is why, although I consider a great many feminist goals and ideologies important, I do not identify as a feminist anymore. I identify as a humanist (at least from a gender and racial standpoint). I feel like the goal of third-wave feminism has shifted from breaking down gender stereotypes and barriers that prevent equality to some agenda that I neither believe in nor entirely understand. Sadly, that seems to be the feeling of a lot of would-be feminists that find themselves unable to stomach the current politics of the movement; or the current evasions.
Edited to Add:
I recognize that this is almost assuredly going to be perceived as a personal attack. Things like this always are. There is nothing I can do about that. I considered for several hours how I could write this without directly addressing the photos in question and ultimately decided that without the context of the actual situation, the discussion loses a great deal of impact; too much impact for my liking. So, what you have is this; potential for hurt feelings and all. I will have to live with that. I would only ask that readers do two things for me before getting too terribly butt-hurt on the author’s behalf:
- Recognize that I stripped personally identifying information from the situation to every degree possible while still maintaining the context of the situation. I like the author a great deal, consider her a friend, and genuinely wish that this had been written by someone else so that I could be my aggressive self about it.
- Consider the merits of the argument posed before you complain that this is an attack. Perhaps, just maybe, I have something legitimate to complain about. Just sayin’