Archives for category: skin in the game

Now, not to mention her in the same breath, but Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy,” he said. “I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean, President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again. Thank you.

Thank you everyone for your support and prayers as Candy and I battled COVID-19…. I have several co-morbidities and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill. President Trump was following my condition and cleared me for the monoclonal antibody therapy that he had previously received, which I am convinced saved my life. President Trump, the fabulous White House medical team, and the phenomenal doctors at Walter Reed have been paying very close attention to my health and I do believe I am out of the woods at this point. I am hopeful that we can stop playing politics with medicine and instead combine our efforts and goodwill for the good of all people. While I am blessed to have the best medical care in the world (and I am convinced it saved my life), we must prioritize getting comparable treatments and care to everyone as soon as possible.

Lewandowski is the latest person to test positive for the virus after attended last week’s Election Night party at the White House. His diagnosis follows chief of staff Mark Meadows and Housing, Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and several White House staffers.

“Don Jr is the second of the president’s children to test positive.”

Romanians have a proverb.
‘Each of us makes his own bed’.
Like all other popular sayings, this one is only partially true.
In many cases – in most, actually, our individual ‘leeway’ is limited by those who are higher than us.
In many cases, again, those decision makers have climbed there with our full ‘blessing’.
In a sense, the above mentioned proverb is true on more than one ‘levels…’

As some of you might already know, two weeks ago my wife tested positive.
Hence we had to spend 14 days in isolation.
During which we had some interaction with the government bureaucracy. Through mail and telephone.

Meanwhile we witnessed, with an even keener than before interest, the public discussion about the whole thing.

Here’s what I learned.

The government bureaucracy, no matter how well intended its members might be – many of them on temporary positions, as expected during an emergency, is very close to the brink.
Meanwhile, the public – at least too many of those sharing their thoughts on FB, is still far from realizing the depth of the crises.

And here’s what I experienced.

Not knowing what’s going to happen to you is the worst thing.
Not knowing what’s going to happen to those you love is even worse.

Because you’re so busy worrying, you’re practically useless.
OK, you know statistics are on your side.
But statistics are not infallible. Hence ‘what if?’!

On top of being worried for your own, and your family’s, fate, comes the ‘political’ incertitude.
That sowed by the ‘naysayers’. And trafficked by the equally worried citizens. Specially by those who find themselves backing the opposition.

Things like ‘the mask is no good’. From ‘the mask cannot protect you’ to ‘the mask is a nuisance’ and ending with ‘the mask is dangerous’.
And besides being ‘no good’, the ‘mandate to wear one in public infringes upon our human rights’!

On top of that, the naysayers attempt to convince us that ‘we’re on our own’! That ‘government will not lift a finger to help us!’.
That its entire attention is focused on serving the ‘special interests’ which control it.

For all it’s worth, here’s my ‘official position’ on the matter.

We’re indeed on our own.
As we’ve always been!
The ‘government’ – all governments, is composed of humans.
Of people, like you and me.
Hence no government will ever be willing to do more for us than we are willing to do for our neighbors!

We are the ones who need to survive.
Because in order to thrive – as we all wish, we need to survive first!
As a fully functional social organism, mind you.
Hence we are the ones who need to start doing things!

And the first thing we need to do is to determine what comes first.
Our right to walk without wearing a ‘muzzle’?
Or our right to protect each other against a disruptive virus!

According to Alan Hayek – the guy who claims the copyright for the relevant entry into the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the wager doesn’t make any sense unless you consider that God is, however remotely, possible.

Now, that I grabbed your attention, let me point it to the subject du jour.

The face mask!

To wear or not to wear one…

Strangely enough, many of those who believe in God are adamantly refusing to wear a mask.
They don’t actually see God yet they find the world as THE argument for His existence.
And, at the same time, they refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the Covid 19 pandemic. Which had already killed, or hastened the death of, more than 1.2 million people worldwide.

OK, almost no mask – specially the ones worn by us, civilians, is 100% fool-proof.
But wearing one is far better than none at all…
OK, most of us would weather the infection with relative ease.
But some would die!
Then why spread it around?

For that, if you didn’t already know, is more than half of what the masks do!
They make it harder for those of us who already have it – but don’t know it yet, to spread it around.

Help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by protecting yourself and others. Keep in mind that you may have the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

You still consider it to be a muzzle?

Why? Only because it is mandated by the government?
And you don’t trust your own government? While living in a democratic country?

But since when do you rely on your government to tell you which is the sensible thing to do?

Being married doesn’t come with such a huge array of ‘perks’.
Specially when you know how to cook a meal. Wash your underwear. Use the vacuum cleaner. Own a dishwasher…

The main ‘attraction’, for me, being the presence of the person I married.
The daily interaction with her.
Sex included!

No, we don’t have it every day! It would be nice but we’re not sexual athletes…
Which brings me to the point I was trying to make.

We’re currently isolating because of Covid.
She had lunch with some of her coworkers, one of them had it – a-symptomatically at that moment, and now all of them are quarantined. Rather mild symptoms for all of them, a week into the whole thing.

‘Isolating’ means that we no longer share a bed. That we no longer eat together. That when we need to talk to each other we wear masks and stand as far apart as the geography of the room allows it.
And, of course, no sex!

Which, for both of us, is a real loss! Specially for me…
I’m almost 60 now. I don’t expect to remain ‘fully functional’ for very long.
Five more years? That would be some 250 weeks…
Loosing two of them for nothing isn’t my idea of a ‘fair deal’!

Hope I made you laugh. Or at least smile.
Even if this isn’t a laughing matter!

Put your mask on!

Monotheists insist there’s only one.

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.”

– And why would this be of any interest?
– All current civilizations are off-springs of an Weltanschauung built on ‘monotheism’, aren’t they?
– Really?!? How about India? China? The Buddhist countries?
– Have you noticed the scare quotes? In my book, Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism are all forms of monotheism. Atheism also qualifies as such.
– ?!?
– I’ll make that point a little later.

Then, if monotheists insist there’s only one God, which one of them is the ‘real McCoy’?

“The real McCoy” was the inventor Elijah McCoy, born in Canada in 1844. He had many different inventions including an ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Other companies copied his devices, but these never worked as well as Elijah’s so people would say, “I want a… , and make sure it’s a real McCoy.”

When humans had first became conscious, as in aware of their own frailty, they needed a way to assuage their new acquired scares:
‘What would happen if the Sun will not come up tomorrow morning? If spring will never come back? If Mother Deer will not allow me to hunt another of her children?’Mother
So they started to raise prayers towards the Sun God. And towards other various agents held responsible with diverse aspects of human existence. Nowadays known as ‘totemic figures’.
Please note that each totemic figure was simultaneously responsible for one aspect of the human existence and the ‘founding father’ of a certain group of people.

After the advent of agriculture had transformed everything – including human social arrangements, things dully changed.
Agriculture gave birth to private property. Individuals needed to know which was their land and who owned the harvest. Otherwise, why bother?
Private property needs to be protected. Which demands a certain social structure. A hierarchy of social roles.

Around the Mediterranean Sea – due to geographic conditions, the ‘top brass’ were never that far removed from the ‘bottom’ as to make them ‘impervious’ to the social reality. Hence the hierarchy of Gods. Belonging to successive generations. Very similar to the succession of the dynasties which ruled the ‘land under the sky’.
At the opposite end of the Euro-Asian continent, were the emperor was further removed from the vulgus, things took a different path. Since no communication was any longer possible – between the ordinary people and the rulers/gods, gods and rulers were melted into one. Confucianism mandated that people cherish their ‘elders’.
Meanwhile Buddhism made away altogether with gods. And rulers.
The most interesting situation had evolved in India. Due to the high density of population – coupled with the diversity of languages/subcultures, the local leaders continued to be in touch with the general population while the highers up were equally insulated as their Chinese equivalents. Hence the survival of the plethora of Indian gods coupled with the advent of karma. The concept of individual responsibility for ones own fate.

The individuals’ responsibility for their own fates…
This being the common place between all ‘monotheistic’ religions. The way I see it, anyway. All three ‘sisters’ relying on the Holy Book, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism… Atheism…

So, then again, how many Gods are out there?

Or, more likely, how many images of the same God – a.k.a. ‘reality’, have we, humans, carved out? Out of the before mentioned reality?
How many faces of the single reality available have we been able to identify? According to the prevalent local circumstances?

And how much more time do we need? To understand that we live under the same umbrella? According to the same set of broad rules?
Which makes us all members of the same family?
Children of the same God?

Smart enough to brag about it when attempting to become the next President of the United States…. at least according to Donald Trump… and to those who had voted for him – numerous enough for him to achieve his goal.

Smart enough or smart, period?

Let me put it differently.
You have no car. Yet you need to go to work and to shop for groceries. Hence you use public transport. Do you pay for it?
What would happen if a sizeable portion of those who use it would find a way to stop paying while still using the service? Those who continue to pay would have to pay more to keep the service going? Or the community at large would have to subsidize it?

You don’t care for my example because you do have a car… Then you need roads to drive on… hence you have to pay local taxes. And federal ones for the interstate highways…
You’d like them all to be privatized? Then you’ll pay gladly?
And how much will that be?
At this point I must remind you of Ma Bell. The telephone company which had to be dismantled, by the government, to make room for the present ‘data revolution’. If prices to move information from one place to another would have remained in the same range as in Ma Bell’s time you wouldn’t have had access to internet today. Unless you were a millionaire…

Taxes, local and federal, are ‘access fees’. If you want to operate – as a corporation or as an individual, out of a civilized place – safe and all, then you incorporate your business/set up residence in a civilized country. And pay the taxes collected by the administrators – read governments, to run those places.

Taxes are too high and or ill spent?!?
That’s a completely different subject!

Most civilized places are run as democracies.
You don’t like the way your money is spent? Or how much of it is collected to run the place?
Then what’s keeping you from voicing your concern? From holding accountable those who misspend your taxes? From doing whatever you see fit? After you pay your taxes, of course…

You feel ‘crushed’ by the majority? Whom you despise, by the way?
Then you don’t live in an actually democracy.
That’s either a ‘mob rule’ – a.k.a. populist regime, or the population is so divided that no real conversation is taking place between the various social segments. And democracy without honest conversation is nothing more than make believe.
I had chosen very carefully the word ‘population’. When something like this occurs, ‘nation’ is no longer appropriate.

Still unwilling to pay your dues?
Still convinced it’s a good thing to turn your back to what’s going on in your front yard?

Still convinced that remaining ‘sane’ is more important than finding out what’s really going on?

Further reading:

“Why arrogance is dangerously contagious”.

Division of work was the first milestone we had passed in our quest to reach humanhood.

If not convinced, compare the effectiveness – in any situation, of a team composed of identically educated and similarly skilled people versus one comprising individuals with various skills and diverse exposure to the world – a.k.a. education.
In other words, compare a bunch of ‘robots’ to a gang of people who complement each-other.

Historically, societies – when and where enough resources had been present, have become increasingly complex. While those composing them have become more and more specialized. And more and more dependent on the rest of the society. On the smooth functioning of said society.
In Adam Smith’s words: the baker, the butcher and the brewer depend on each-other to feed their respective families.

In fact, all of us depend on the smooth functioning of the market. Those of us who had experienced communism had learned this on our own skin.
Same thing is valid for all totalitarian societies. Any attempt to run complex systems from above – in a centralized manner, will – sooner rather than later, end up in failure.
For no other reason than the fact that nobody – individually or in a small team, is above error. No matter how smart or well intended, all of us make mistakes. If the system allows for those present to point out errors – and to demand those errors to be fixed, things may continue.

But, by definition, a totalitarian – a.k.a. centrally planned, system has no feed-back loop. The planners have ‘no’ information about the consequences of their decision making. Well, my experience suggests a combination. Those at ‘the bottom’ gradually loose their appetite for sending information topside – because those at the top had the habit of ‘killing’ the bearers of bad news, while those at the ‘top’ gradually loose any interest in what goes on at the bottom.

Working democracies are organized around the principle of ‘separation of powers’. Another form of ‘division of work’. Each ‘power’ does what it’s supposed to do and, together, balance the whole system.

Nothing ‘fancy’.
For as long as those involved pay due respect to the principle instead of lip service to the form…

Nassim Taleb had coined an interesting concept.
Intellectual yet Idiot.
Any individual conceited enough to believe he’s always right and arrogant enough to try to impose his worldview on those around him.

Or, in Karl Marx’s terms, an individual who has convinced himself that the world needs to be changed according to his own precepts.

‘What?!?
Are you implying that Marx was the first ‘intellectual yet idiot’?’

No, only the second…
Remember Plato’s ‘king priests’?
What’s the difference between those who, according to Plato’s advice, were to be groomed to govern and those who had been conditioned by various totalitarian parties and sent out to ‘spread the word’?
What’s the difference between Plato, Marx and, say, Alfred Beumler and Alfred Rosenberg?

Plato had been inspired by what Pericles – a dictator, had managed to achieve and his most prominent ‘product’ had been Aristotle. Who, in his turn, had educated Alexander the Great. Supposedly one of the greatest generals and statesmen in human history. According to European historiography, anyway…
If you ask to those of his contemporaries who had happened to be in Alexander’s path to glory… you might get a different opinion!
And what’s so glorious in being the immediate cause of death for so many people across three continents only to die of alcoholic poisoning?

Marx had come up with a brilliant explanation for what went wrong in early capitalism and with an abysmal solution for the problems he had identified.
The worst thing being that he didn’t stop at proposing aberrant solutions.
He was actually instrumental in several attempts to put them in practice.

Alfred Beumler and Alfred Rosenberg. Is there any need for me to comment on them? On their absolute arrogance?
How else to call their willingness to declare that some people are to go on living while others should be disposed off?

This being the moment I’ll be pointing the finger to what Plato, Marx and Beumler/Rosenberg have in common.
All of them share the willingness to divide people into ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’. The arrogance to put forward criteria which are to be followed by the rest of us.
The arrogance to consider the world should follow their teachings.

Division of work had done it’s job.
Invented by nobody in particular, used by most of us – and many of our ancestors, it had brought us to where we are now. When so many of us have time to think.
Technology – maybe the most evident consequence of ‘division of work’, is proficient enough to feed us all. If we use it right.
Or to kill us all. If we use it wrong.

What will it be?
Are we going to remember what, time and time again, our forefathers have figured out? That ‘together’ we can ‘move mountains’? That diversity is the key to survival? To finding new paths into the future?
Or are we going to fall pray – not for the first but, certainly, for the last time, to those who teach us to despise our neighbor? To stay separate? To consider some people – mainly ‘us’, as being above the rest?

A new pandemic is gripping us.
By our egos!
One which is a hell of a lot more dangerous than Covid….

In fact, narrow mindedness is a disease which occurs naturally. It probably affects some 10 percent of the population in ‘normal’ times.
When things are no longer normal – and people become nervous because uncertainty does all kind of ‘funny’ things to our minds, narrow mindedness becomes an opportunity.
A golden opportunity for those who ‘professionally’ fish in troubled waters.

“The Petersons weren’t wearing pro-police T-shirts,” notes Churchill. “They weren’t carrying a banner, holding a sign or waving a black-and-blue flag. They appear to just be listening. But merely listening to an opinion that some Skidmore students find objectionable is apparently enough to get a professor in hot water.”
Professor Greg Patton at the University of Southern California (USC) was telling students in a communications lecture last month about filler, or pause words, such as ‘err’, ‘umm’ or ‘you know’ in English.
Footage of his lecture, which has now gone viral, shows Prof Patton saying: “In China, the common pause word is ‘that, that, that’. So in China, it might be na-ge, na-ge, na-ge.”
Enunciated, na-ge sounds like the N-word, which led several of the professor’s students to complain to the university. Responding to the complaint, the dean of the university, Geoffrey Garrett, told students that Prof Patton would no longer be teaching the course.
“It is simply unacceptable for the faculty to use words in class that can marginalize, hurt and harm the psychological safety of our students,” he said.

As a mediator, I was trained to differentiate between needs and wishes.
Between something which will actually make your life easier and something you just fancy.
And to understand the fact that everything we do has consequences.

A father has asked me the other day:
‘What had I done wrong? My only son hardly ever speaks to me…’

‘When did the rift became apparent? How early?’

‘Things went fine until he had become an young adult. OK, we had some ‘misunderstandings’ when he was a teenager but he seemed to had overgrown them… Until sometimes in his early 20-ies when he really rebelled. And told me everything he couldn’t tell me – his words, about how he felt while growing up.”

‘And what exactly were his grievances?’

‘He was cross at the manner in which I was telling him things. At the manner in which I was trying to stimulate him. He’s very bright, you know, only didn’t do much in his life. Not by a long shot! And I kept telling him that. I still do, as a matter of fact.’

‘You see, no matter whether you go to the church or to a brothel, the soles of your shoes will get thinner. This doesn’t depend on where you go. It only depends on the road you chose and the manner in which you shuffle your feet.
Same with words. What you’re trying to say is, indeed, very important. But even more important is the manner in which you try to get the message across. Whenever your ‘target’ becomes angry at you … the message will be truncated in the process… Even more importantly, the ‘target’ will retain a ‘bad’ memory of the whole incident. And if more and more ‘bad’ memories keep piling one on top of the other…
But not everything is lost! The very fact that he took the trouble to talk out the matter with you means he was not ready for a ‘divorce’. Not then, anyway…’

“For a proposition to be true, it is not enough for it to be logically correct. It also needs to make epistemological sense.” Oscar Hoffman

Ricky Gervais is right, right?
There’s no logical connection between being offended and being right…
There’s no doubt about this!

Only Gervais is wrong.
Wrong in saying it, not in what he said.

Yes, there are people who declare themselves to be offended in an attempt to get something. Sympathy, some slack… or even the others to accept their version of things. That ‘they’ are ‘right’.

But this is not always the case!
Some (other) people are so offended by the manner in which things are unfolding that they actually need to express their feelings.
To send the warning ‘don’t continue in this manner or you’ll loose my attention/will to cooperate’.

In this sense, Gervais is actually wrong.
His saying had been used by numerous meme builders to create a bubble inside which callousness is actively encouraged.
‘Go on disregarding other people’s sentiments. They’re nothing but pussies.
It’s just words, not sticks nor stones.’

Here’s a more detailed analysis:

So fucking what?!?
Somebody just told you they are not going to stop paying any real attention to what you are trying to say to them and you don’t care?
Why did you start communicating in the first place? Or ‘performing’ the ‘offensive’ thing in public?
Was the ‘offense’ premeditated? For a reason or just for fun? Then it’s not ‘so fucking what’ anymore…
Or you just hadn’t thought about it beforehand? And you’re looking for an easy way out?

No, you don’t have to pretend to like people when you don’t.
But, in the longer time frame, it pays to honestly respect those you get in contact with. All of them.

Your life will get a lot better!

%d bloggers like this: