Enlightened Conflict

outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count

September 13th, 2017

 

vague definition unclear indistinct

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“The world is not as simple as we like to make it out to be. The outlines are often vague and it’s the details that count.

Nothing is really truly black or white and bad can be a disguise for good or beauty … and vice versa without one necessarily excluding the other.

 

Someone can both love and betray the object of its love … without diminishing the reality of the true feelings and value.

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting where all frontiers are artificial where at any moment everything can either end only to begin again … or finish suddenly forever … like an unexpected blow from an axe.

 

Where the only absolute, coherent, indisputable and definitive reality … is death. We have such little time when you look at Life … a tiny lightning flash between two eternal nights.

 

Everything has to do with everything else.

 

Life is a succession of events that link with each other whether we want them to or not.”

 

—–

Arturo Perez Revarte

 

==============

 

 

Vague sucks.

 

outline vague certain uncertaintyAnd, yet, I would argue the majority of people only really have some vague outline of how the world works, or how effective or ineffective a leader is, or even only have a vague outline of any specific relationship between cause & affect.

 

This vaguery exists because it takes a lot of work to parse the details, and the appropriate details, and the ‘right’ details to make the outlines less vague and more tangible.

 

Is this work valuable ? Sure.

 

Is this work necessary to increase some certainty in Life? Sure.

 

But the majority of people have shit to do <other than this type of work>. That is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

What this means is that in this ‘vague outline’ people inevitably create a vague/semi solid outline belief. From there they look around on occasion and question that outline. The questions raised either support the vague outline or raise doubts and … well … more questions.

 

All the while this is happening more information barrages the vague outline. In this barrage is a confusing mix of real, fake and quasi truths. All these confusing things do in the people’s minds is, contrary to belief, not confuse but rather make the person more dismissive of the incoming confusion and steadier in whatever vague outline they may have constructed.

 

Once again.

This is neither good nor bad … it just is what it is.

 

A lot of pseudo intellectuals and smartish pundits bitch & moan and gnash their teeth over this but they would lead a significantly less stressful life if they just accepted it.

 

Ah.

 

But at some point the questions gain some gravitas. This can happen several ways but let me point out two:

 

  • The questions themselves coalesce into some easy to understand ‘blob’ from which people who have a vague outline decide … my vague outline is wrong <or sucks>. Let’s say that this is the point at which the doubts and questions begin to outweigh the beliefs that created the vague outline.

 

 

  • Someone weaves a narrative using the doubts & questions into a relatively succinct, believable and non-hyperbolic driven framing of an outline which people look at, scratch their heads, go “hmmmmmmmmm …” and decide this new vague outline will replace the one they had in place. Oh. To be clear. This narrative must not only use the doubts & questions to dissolve the current vague outline but must also offer an alternative vague outline <outlines need to be replaced not simply destroyed>.

 

 

The first never happens fast enough to people who just cannot understand how and why some people have decided to live with some vague outline <that just seems ‘not really a smart outline’ to them>.

 

The second is not as easy as it appears. It isn’t as easy because problems are rarely as clear as we would like them to be and a narrative never lives without the context of all the barrage of real, fake and quasi truths impacting and denting and solidifying a vague outline that already exists. Or someone weaves a  great narrative to destroy but forgets to offer an alternative.

 

In other words … everything has to do with everything else.

 

I imagine I have two points today.

 

 

First.big-decisions-stress-uncertainty

 

We humans have come to accept a certain amount of uncertainty with regard to our lives and our decisions. This uncertainty is also built into the vague outlines we tend to construct for ourselves. What this means is that the construct of our beliefs and thoughts and ideas may be certain to us and, yet, its silhouette accommodates some uncertainty.

 

I began today by unequivocally stating that vague sucks. And I believe 99% of people would agree that it sucks. but in today’s world the majority of people have enough shit to do that they slot their thinking thoughts time. in one slot they place unequivocal certainty type thoughts. In another slot they place the “I will always be uncertain about this shit and thank God there is someone else at some higher pay grade than I who can be certain about it.” and, lastly, we slot all the shit in which we have formed some vague outline which accommodates a certain degree of uncertainty.

 

My point here is we tend to make this a binary discussion where the reality lies in a more complex mix of vagueness & clarity, certainty & uncertainty.

 

Second.

 

uncertainty-principle-here-thereCertainty, in and of itself, has degrees … it is not a simple black or white binary.

 

People can have vague outlines AND have questions with regard to their outlines … and not want to ditch the outline. “How can you still believe that?” may be one of the most misguided and unenlightened questions that has ever existed.  It completely misses the point in that it assumes ignorance, stupidity or some negative trait in order to hold on to some vague outline regardless of doubts.

A vague outline is a choice.

No more and no less.

We question choices all the time and, yet, remain with the original choice despite some fairly extensive doubts.

I say this because that said … it is silly to point out doubts and questions as a reason to ditch a vague outline. My easiest example is President Trump. His followers have a vague outline of what they like and believe about him. We scrutinize them for doubts and questions and when they share them we immediately pounce and suggest “then how can you still believe in your vague outline!?!” <usually said with a slight overall disbelief & wonder>.

Within their lives of doing shit that is important to them they created a vague outline of who and what Trump is, or isn’t, and … well … uncertainty was built into their certainty. The moment they will begin to disbelieve their vague outline is when the uncertainty overpowers the certainty. Until then … we should stop acting confused that someone believes what they believe.

 

Anyway.

 

I love the quote I opened with even though I hate vague. The truth is that we all live with some vague outlines albeit your vague outline may actually be one of my non-vague outlines, and vice versa. And when they are in conflict then … restless spirit fly vaguewell … there is conflict.

 

All that said … while vague sucks there is a reason we do it … and this reason is not stupid, nor unenlightened nor ignorant.

It is just damn practical to have some vague outlines.

 

 

Life is an uncertain adventure in a diffuse landscape whose borders are constantly shifting.

 

 

Life is restless.

Our vague outlines need to accommodate some of its restlessness. Not recognizing that is either naive or foolish.

 

wearable technology and everyday schmucks

October 28th, 2016

A19D55 COMPUTER CIRCUIT BOARD WITH BINARY CODE

 

 

“… technology companies want us to think that by engaging in self-monitoring and self-care practices using wearable wireless technologies we will be empowered to “take control” of our health.

“These apps and devices also sometimes ‘push’ or coerce us into using such technologies in the interests of other actors and agencies”, raising questions about their potential for “economic and social discrimination”.

 

—-

Deborah Lupton, a sociologist who has made a critical study of the digihealth market.

 

============

 

 

Well.

 

strategy think anger angry business ideas filterI am not a sociologist and I am not a wearable technology expert.

 

And, yet, for some reason I find myself in another discussion where I have been asked about some futuristic type stuff including:

 

What do I think will be the future of healthcare?

 

What do I think about artificial intelligence and the workplace?

 

What do I think about tomorrow’s business organizational model?

 

What do I think about 3D printing and its effect on manufacturing?

 

What do I think about Wall Street and the overall financial industry

 

What do I think about globalization and its effect on individual country’s business ,and jobs>

 

What do I think about the young <in business, in education, in critical thinking>?

 

And.

 

Now … what do I think about wearable technology.

 

Let me be clear.

 

At best … I am 50% right on thinking thru innovations success <maybe the last I got right was the double edged razor>.

At best … I am 50% right on thinking thru the future of entire industries.

 

But … that doesn’t mean I do not have an opinion … and I do know some things about people’s behavior and what they like and dislike <from a usage standpoint> … so here goes on wearable technology.

 

I read somewhere that 2014 was greeted as ‘the Year of the Wearable.’

 

Well.

 

That’s a little over-the-top nuts to me.

 

As most over-the-top futuristic type things are … someone has decided to make some over-the-top claim about an innovation and the future of “the next hot thing” <which is most likely tepid at best>.

 

I think wearable technology is going to have some major complications as it tries to become integral into people’s lives.

 

Why?

 

Well.

 

As people try to cram more and more stuff into whatever they are already doing and what they want to do there will be two main decision criteria for anything trying to work its way in to someone’s routine:change-people-technology

 

  • Lubrication:

 

We all have gobs of things to do and a to-do list longer than time available. In most cases we are not seeking to add things but are more than happy to utilize techniques & tools which make what we have to do get done more efficiently.

That’s Life lubrication.

 

If someone or something can convince me that buying it & using it will lubricate everything I already have on my plate … well … they can have my money.

 

And if it actually DOES lubricate? Well. They will continue to not only get my money but I will use the product/service on an ongoing basis because it … well … has shown value.

 

Everyone should note that the link between purchase & proof of value is tenuous between innovations and people/users which is why many them look good in trial but die overtime.

 

I will admit … for the life of me I cannot figure out why futurists or the blowhards who espouse ‘year of anything’ with regard to an innovation ignore this.

 

<on a separate note: that’s why I believe smartphone telehealth is the next generation of general practitioner medicine … it lubricates Life on a valuable consumer need>

 

 

  • Enhancement:

 

Sticking with my to-do list or stuff I do daily <regularly> … if something can

improve, maybe make more effective, something I am already doing … it is an ‘enhancer.’ In most cases we are always looking to subtract something if we can add something better. Or even better … enhance something we are already doing that we like <better because that incorporates less change in our Life and it suggests what we are already doing was smart>.

That’s Life enhancement.

 

If someone or something can convince me that buying or using it will enhance my life, make it better or more enjoyable or ‘fuller’ on an ongoing basis … well … they can have my money.

 

And if it actually DOES enhance? Well. They will continue to not only get my money but I will use the product/service on an ongoing basis because it … well … has shown value.

 

All that is kind of basic but for some reason gets overlooked.

 

That said.

 

Wearables, for the most part, neither lubricates our life nor enhances it … they simply educate us on how effective, or ineffective, or how efficient, or inefficient, we are already managing our Life.

 

It simply adds shit to what we are already doing and … well … adds work.

 

It simply provides information.

 

Good information? Sure.

 

But all it will either do is piss me off or show me what else I need to be doing.

 

Look.

 

I have more than enough things, and access to a zillion things, which will tell me what I am doing wrong or what I could be doing better … and all for less than $300.

 

If wearable technology would actually change shit without me having to do shit <kind of like a morphine drip without the morphine> then maybe it would meet lubricate/enhance criteria.

 

At the moment all wearable technology does is highlight the eliteness of the super fit and the rest of us every day non super fit schmucks.

 

They are certainly cool … but in today’s world ‘cool’ doesn’t get you too far in the marketplace. It can gain you a business niche but if the cool doesn’t Life lubricate or Life enhance … it will gain nothing more than a niche.

 

By the way.

In the business world a niche model can be quite lucrative.

 

Anyway.

 

I hesitate to jump on board the ‘digital wearable technology revolution.”

At least from a mainstream consumer choice perspective.

 

Now.

 

Let’s take a minute on corporate wellness or health or maybe … the “digitally health and fitness continuumengaged patient.”

 

Let’s say wearers can earn discounts of as much as 15% on their health insurance premiums. Well. That sounds appealing … and not just to me … 70% of consumers surveyed by PwC said they would wear a device to reduce payments.

 

Let’s say that wearable applications become more practical as both hardware and software develop where the devices can measure temperature and blood chemistry which would permit doctors to monitor patients from afar. Well. That sounds appealing … and not just for me … doctors love the idea and for people with chronic illness it could be life-saving or at least life-changing.

 

Let’s say wearable devices, which could include a smartphone that can measure blood-oxygen and blood-glucose levels <key if you’re diabetic>. Well. That sounds appealing.

 

Let’s say that a wearable device can monitor your ECG linked to an app that can tell when you’re running low on heart medication and need to order up a repeat prescription. Well. That sounds appealing.

 

Some of these devices are already on the market or coming soon via private health providers. And some people envision a time not in the not-so-distant future when physical activity and vital sign data will be collected seamlessly from devices planted on or in our bodies without our having to do anything mobile-technology-phones-antennamuch at all. Well. That sounds REALLY appealing from a lubrication and enhancement viewpoint.

 

Fitbit, and other wearables, don’t really seem that viable to me, however, they do appear to be on the leading edge of what will be valuable to us.

 

 

 

I imagine that if you have some extra money to waste or you are one of the superfit obsessed with maximizing every little edge out of your body then a wearable is well worth pursuing.

 

But for us every day schmucks who are comfortable getting what little we can out of our bodies when we do choose to do some exercise or like to take it easy on Sundays in front of a TV watching other people exercise … well … my wearable is much more likely to be a ‘cold one’ in my hand then some $300 wearable on my wrist.

 

disconnected, connected … and we are all nomads now

June 23rd, 2015

 

—–

 traffic hurry disconnectd going

 

“The secret to living in the rush of the world with a minimum of pain is to get as many people as possible to string along with your delusions.“

 

 

=

 

 

Philip Roth

 

—–

 

 

“Most of us are “nomads” when it comes to computing and communications.

 

We live in a disconnected world much of the time as we travel between our office, home, airport, hotel, automobile, branch office, bedroom, etc.

 

 

As nomads, we own computers and communication devices that we carry about with us in our travels.”

 

 

=

 

 

Leonard Kleinrock

 

—–

 

 

 

There is a threshold beyond which one becomes a Cultural Nomad.

It is usually measured in the time one has spent living in a foreign culture.

You don’t reach the threshold when you have completely integrated into the new culture – that hardly ever happens – you reach the threshold when you realize that you can’t go back to your own.

 

 

Some Cultural Nomads return home to find that they no longer fit in (if indeed they ever did) and become bitter or cynical critics of what was once their home.

Others come back and devote themselves to preaching the ways of “the rest of the world” to their ignorant friends and family members.

Others simply never return.

We believe that the most fortunate Cultural Nomads are those who are able to accept their Nomad status, and move easily between many different cultures – including their “home” culture – while recognizing that none of these cultures will ever be home. This type of Cultural Nomad has done something the others haven’t: given up the dream of ever having a ready-made “home” provided by their culture — in exchange for the privilege of designing their own “home”.

Cultural Nomad

———–

I’d rather give up, like, a kidney than my phone.

How did you manage before?

Carrier pigeons?
Letters?
Going round each other’s’ houses on BIKES?”

=

Philippa Grogan, 16

———

 

 

Ok.

 

 

broken egg

 

Me, being older, .. I have a bunch of older friends … so the discussion <despair?> about ‘what a disconnected world we live in’ seems to come up a lot <and, in fact, this thought piece was actually a request from one of the smartest friends I have>.

 

 

 

Oh. By the way.

 

And disconnected is very quickly attached to “something is broken.”

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

Let’s discuss if anything is broken in the new connected disconnected world of ours.

 

 

At its most basic level I kind of find this whole “disconnected’ topic a contradictory discussion in that … in such a connected world … can we truly be disconnected from each other?

 

 

In addition … are we simply embracing the freedom and less defined <or confined?> Life of a ‘nomad world’?

<I will discuss this nomad thing ad nausea throughout>

 

 

I tend to find this quite the generational discussion.

 

 

I also find this entire conversation revolves around how you may define ‘connected’ <or disconnected>.

 

 

I also find there is an underlying angst within this discussion based on the fact many of us feel like we are suffering from a mild form of do not go gentlechronophobia <fear that time is moving so fast I’ll never be able to catch up>.

 

 

 

In today’s world the usual assumption that most of us make about our computing and communication environment is that we are “always” connected.

 

 

Indeed, most of us are “nomads” when it comes to computing and communications. We live in a disconnected world much of the time as we travel between our office, home, airport, hotel, car, coffee shop, bedroom, etc … and yet remain connected.

 

 

We now recognize that access to computing and communications is necessary not only from one’s `home base’, but also while in transit as well as wherever we end up.

 

 

It is an anytime, anywhere access world. And we not only expect it … we believe it is necessary in the new Life normal. And this new Life normal has many characteristics of ‘nomad.’

 

This mental tug of war we go thru with regard to some lack of boundaries in a nomad life yet always tethered to the connected aspect which … uhm … creates the whole disconnected aspect creates the societal flux we are dealing with.

 

 

The mental tug of war?

While the majority of the connected activity is with other humans it seems like many people are worried we are entering a disconnected human world.

 

Huh? Disconnected?

 

 

It’s because this generation’s connected looks different than past generation’s connected.

 

What everyone seems to be overlooking in this whole discussion is that handheld mobile technology has actually disconnected us from traditional forced connections <home, home computer, land lines, retail stores, etc.> … and we like it.

 

The tradeoff is that in this nomad like lifestyle we are actually now MORE connected … and in different ways.

 

 

 

I did some research on this nomadic system and lifestyle and found a technical paper written by some impressively smart technology gwonks who outlined all aspects of the technology <or Life enabler> aspect:

 

 

————

One can easily identify the physical parts of a nomadic system as consisting of the following (among others):

People that move (or don’t).

Things that move (or don’t).

Things that communicate (or don’t).

Things you connect to (or not).

Things that can process, store, etc.

Things that can sense.

Things that can actuate.

tech nomad music

On the other hand, the logical parts of a nomadic system are more slippery to define. Among others, they consist of the following:

Context (what things surround and touch my current activity).

Individuated nexus (what is the set of currently working objects).

Shared objects (what things are shared with me and others).

Replicated objects (what things are copied in multiple locations).

Cached objects (what do I hold onto as I travel and use objects).

Nomadicity exacerbates a variety of issues <problems?>:

Disconnectedness.

Variable connectivity: unpredictable and voluntary.

Variable bandwidth.

Variable requirements as the nomad moves.

Resource replication.

Awareness of the environment by the user (environment discovery).

Awareness of the user by the environment (user discovery).

Adaptivity/compression to match bandwidth and platform capability.

———————–

 

 

Being a nomad is freeing … but within the freedom is an underlying stress driven by the fact this is a new world with no established “how to live this kind of Life” rules.

 

 

In general, this means two things:

 

 

– we continue to try and use the ‘old Life rules,’ which were drive by location grounded boundaries, in this boundlessness nomad world

=

– we are often overwhelmed in this environment by the management of distributed “stuff”

 

 

 

In addition … the things on the lists above are capable of changing extremely quickly, making things even more problematic <and challenging>. This creates even more angst.

 

 

One of the key characteristics of this “way of Life” paradigm shift in the way we deal with the information is that while our systems have been nomadically-enabled, in that mechanisms have been developed that deal with such changes in a natural and transparent fashion, our brains have not adapted completely to being nomadically enabled <and it varies by generations>.

 

 

Suffice it to say we are connected 24/7 … living in an age where there are numerous ways of communication.

 

The user of advanced mobile technology is empowered to have more control over the multiple spaces they inhabit <the place they stand> and the numerous boundaries that can be crossed.

This empowerment bleeds into everyday behavior <to the distress of many>.

———–

It’s an unmissable trend.

Even if you don’t have teenage kids, you’ll see other people’s offspring slouching around, eyes averted, tapping away, oblivious to their surroundings. Take a group of teenagers to see the seven wonders of the world. They’ll be texting all the way. Show a teenager Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi. You might get a cursory glance before a buzz signals the arrival of the latest SMS. Seconds before the earth is hit by a gigantic asteroid or engulfed by a super tsunami millions of lithe young fingers will be typing the human race’s last inane words to itself:

C u later NOT :(

—————————–

 

 

 

Some people suggest this means that we stay disconnected within the connected world.

 

 

But we seem to be missing the bigger societal or cultural issue as this thing called ‘Nomadic computing and communications’ enters Life as we know it.

 

This makes us all a variety of nomads.

 

 

I am not sure this is a paradigm shift or not but what I do know is that it clearly has shaken up our life etch a sketch.

 

 

We thrive in some aspects … balk at others … slow to embrace some and are baffled by others.

 

 

However.

 

All of us are intrigued by it <and have some angst at the same time>.

 

 

 

Angst & desire?

 

 

Here is the interesting thing about an innate desire to be a nomad <we all want freedom> … technology simply frees this innate desire … well … to some more than others.

 

————

Douglas Adams’ rules about technology:

1) Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2) Anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.disconnect tv text

3) Anything invented after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.

======

 

 

 

I imagine my point here is that there is an interesting clash between what we, almost all of us, innately desire – nomadic – and … well … change. We desire one thing almost desperately and yet find ourselves fighting the opportunity to do it.

 

 

This maybe a case of ‘be careful what you wish for.’

 

But.

 

What is winning?

 

 

The desire.

 

 

bond smartphone why attitude

 

 

All demographics are embracing their nomad desires.

 

And at the same time it creates a new Life normal which makes us feel uncomfortable.

 

The nonstop connectedness can feel very disconnected.

 

It seems like we are constantly trying to shove 25 hours’ worth of Life into 24 hours.

 

 

Let’s face it.

 

We are in the ‘adapting mode’ <adapting to a new Life normal>.

 

Adapting can be painful, stressful and generally uncomfortable.

 

 

But the whole disconnected thing gets thrown a wrench because it also permits someone to build stronger connections with those you know by sharing your disconnected 1story in a way only you can.

 

 

These connections lead to a strong support system and allow you the opportunity to actively engage in a large knowledge base of people with whom you share interests and experiences. The communities built around these social media tools offer us access to a wealth of information from peers to experts that help community members to make better informed decisions and better shape disconnected 2opinions.

 

 

In addition … there is perception and reality with regard to disconnected and ‘being connected.’

 

 

—————-

PewInternetResearch:

disconnected 3“Our research shows face-to-face time between teenagers hasn’t changed over the past five years.

Technology has simply added another layer on top.

Yes, you can find studies that suggest online networking can be bad for you. But there are just as many that show the opposite.”

———

“Our research shows face-to-face time between teenagers hasn’t changed over the past five years.

Technology has simply added another layer on top. Yes, you can find studies that suggest online networking can be bad for you.

disconnected 4But there are just as many that show the opposite.”

Lenhart

—————–

 

 

The mobile phone, smartphones, is now the favored communication hub for everyone … not just teens.

 

 

 

The difference is that digital communication IS teenagers’ lives while it is a ‘bolt on’ to adults lives <although that is also changing>.

 

disconnected 5

 

 

———————

“Simply, these technologies meet teens’ developmental needs.

Mobile phones and social networking sites make the things teens have always done – defining their own identity, establishing themselves as independent of their parents, looking cool, impressing members of the opposite sex – a whole lot easier.”

==

Amanda Lenhart

Pew senior research specialist

—————————-

 

 

But, let’s be clear, this whole disconnected versus connected thing ain’t just about kids <remember the smartphone demographic chart used earlier>.

 

==

 

Hardly another month goes by in which there isn’t a new article or book released on the question of whether the Internet brings us together or separates us.

Alternating between lamentations by pundits on how social media tools are allegedly hollowing out our relationships (Deresiewicz 2009; Mallaby 2006, Turkle, 2011), or by breathless reporting in newspapers about how everything is now online, the debate refuses to die, and often seems unaffected by empirical research on these topics.

 

 ==

 

 

Perception-wise, it seems natural to think that the rising number of people who are on smartphones and the internet for hours a day would be less likely to interact with the people around them. Focusing on being on the internet would seem to pull people away from their immediate surroundings.

 

 

Well.

 

It does and it doesn’t.

 

 

But I am not here to discuss how the internet can, or cannot, affect personal relationships or a sense of impending individual isolation <mostly because I do not believe it does … nor does research suggest it does> but rather this is a thought on how the internet has made things … well … smaller & bigger … connecting in a larger scope.

 

 

Smaller groups of people have become bigger groups … all with the same ideas and thinking <which suggests the ideas & thinking do not get any larger but rather they get smaller and more concise as they get honed within the group>.

 

I call it cocooned thinking & connection.

 

 

So it is possible that the internet increases connection and decreases connection at exactly the same time.

 

 

Yup

 

The Internet connects and isolates.

 

 

flying away group together directon employeesIt connects us with a larger group of ‘birds of a feather flock together’ which also isolates us from other birds <who are also flocking>.

 

 

We increasingly choose filtered communications over unfiltered communications thanks to more ways to digitally connect to other people and there’s less and less time spent being present to those we are physically near.

 

Why we do this is simple <and we do it in the physical world as well>.

We tend to be happier and less stressed and anxious when we are part of a community that thinks like you do … and even better? This community exists everywhere … in that it extends globally <outside of your normal everyday physical reach>.

 

 

We love the fact we can find people like us all over the world with whom we can connect in a meaningful way about a certain idea, topic, or shared interest. The Internet has made that kind of deep, direct communication a reality and it’s helping people find others who are like them.

 

 

 

Now.

 

 

PewResearch has conducted two studies <in America> which provides us with at least a baseline to challenge my thinking <or clarify it>.

 

 

Alone on the internet? Hardly.

 

The internet expands people’s social networks and even encourages people to talk by phone or meet others in person studies find.

 

 

The Pew Internet and American Life Project also finds that US internet users are more apt to get help on health care, financial and other decisions because they have a larger set of people to which to turn.

 

 

Further debunking early studies which suggested that the internet promotes isolation, Pew found that it “was actually helping people maintain their communities.” <Barry Wellman, a University of Toronto sociology professor and co-author of the Pew report>.

 

 

———–

<PewResearch study, “Social Networking Sites and Our Lives” … a survey which builds on Pew’s 2009 report on technology and isolation>

 

 

——————-

Another knock on the Internet is that it isolates its users from the broader world in the embrace of familiarity otherwise known as an echo chamber — and so prevents us from a full expression empathy.

To measure the validity of that idea, the report’s authors measured what psychologists call “perspective taking” — the ability to adopt the viewpoint of another person (or, in the context of politics, to consider “both sides of an issue”) — on a scale that ranged from 0 to 100. And what they found is that social network participation, while it doesn’t necessarily encourage empathy, doesn’t seem to harm it, either. “Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are no more or less able to consider alternative points,” the report puts it.think global worldly

Interestingly … research also suggests that the Internet actually increases connectedness and fights off isolation.

People who can use the Internet better to find and/or keep in touch with people with whom they share affinities with are more likely to be able to compensate for losing the neighborhood/family ties.

————–

 

 

Research actually suggests that disconnectedness is increased by factors like suburbanization, long-commutes, long work hours, decline of community and civic institutions, etc. …. not being online.

 

 

I could also use research to suggest our QUALITY of connectedness has improved. A huge positive of social connectedness is that it allows the crucial identity-establishing behavior … without the embarrassment or typical ‘fear of speaking out’.

 

 

—————

 

“These technologies give their users a sense of increased controllability. That, in turn, allows them to feel secure about their communication, and thus freer in their interpersonal relations.”

 

“Our research gives no reason at present for concern about the social consequences of online communication.”

 

 ==

Valkenburg

 

———————————–

 

 

 

“Controllability” translates into a newfound freedom to communicate. and within the freedom to communicate resides a fuller ‘connectedness’ with Life & people.

 

 

The average person has in fact double the amount of online friends than physical ones, according to research commissioned by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which found users of such sites have 121 online friends compared with 55 physical friends.

 

 

 

===

“In wider society, the ways in which friendships are formed and nurtured is changing with people recognising that they can develop deep, meaningful connections with others that they’ve never met, and may never meet”

“It can foster a sense of social connection for those who can frequently feel isolated, which is important to psychological wellbeing.”

===

 

 

 

I personally believe we are no more disconnected than we were in the past … it is just that our ‘connection world’ has changed so radically that people feel uncomfortable leaving what they know.

 

 

In the end.

 

 

Change is painful.

 

 

And within that pain many people start identifying all the reasons why change is bad … or wrong … or harmful <even from “experts” … who sound like old stubborn unchanging curmudgeons>:

 

===

impatient think question look

 

“continuous partial attention” — two people doing six things, devoting only partial attention to each one — she remarked: “We’re so accessible, we’re inaccessible.

We can’t find the off switch on our devices or on ourselves. … We want to wear an iPod as much to listen to our own playlists as to block out the rest of the world and protect ourselves from all that noise.

We are everywhere — except where we actually are physically.”

CURMUDGEON #1

Linda Stone

the technologist who once labeled the disease of the Internet age

—————-

“‘This was what was keeping me awake at night,’ Walter said. ‘This fragmentation. Because it’s the same problem everywhere. It’s like the internet, or cable TV – there’s never any centre, there’s no communal agreement, there’s just a trillion bits of distracting noise … All the real things, the authentic things, the honest things, are dying off.’

CURMUDGEON #2

Jonathan Franzen

====

 

 

 

On the other hand … change is exciting to some people.

 

 

 

—————–

“In a world full of people, only some want to fly.

Isn’t that crazy?”

=

(Seal)

 

 

Yup.

 

Nomads fly.

 

 

 

—————-

“They told me to grow roots, instead I grew wings”

=

(Lou)

 

 

 

Regardless.

 

disconnect old phonePlease. Please everyone stop having all this angst that being connected all the time is creating a disconnected society.

 

The wireless cable. The telephone. The car. The television. All changed the way people relate to each other.

 

<p.s. – the world did not crumble>

 

 

And how did their parents respond? With the same kind of wailing and gnashing of teeth we’re doing now.

 

 

Technology is simply today’s “how we live Life” change agent.

 

 

 

People stuck in the past … well … want to stay in the past … and while they may want the best for us they also tend to try to push everyone to a safe place <which is simply the trappings of ‘what we used to do and have always done’>.

 

Sure.

The web and everything that comes along with it has some uncertainty … and some risk .. because it is creating societal construct change <and therefore affecting people’s behavior … which impacts people’s attitudes>.

 

But more importantly than risk it has shifted some of our Life boundaries … and that just makes us feel uncomfortable.

 

 

Nomadicity versus some stability.

 

Most generations are embracing the freedom of a nomad lifestyle … with some boundaries. And within that ‘yes & no’ relationship resides conflict. Holding on to somethings and letting go of others.

 

 

 

Let us remember … children under the age of 15 have never known a world without the internet. It’s revolutionized how they learn, play, will work and communicate with each other.

 

 

Any time a younger generation embraces a revolution of any kind older generations want to squash it. and they will do so by any means possible <and wave their hands in the air suggesting civilization is crumbling as they do it>.

nomad culture

 

Look.

 

 

Tune in. Tune out.

It is your choice.

 

 

The babbling insanity that surrounds us can certainly eat your Life alive but it can also feed the quality of your Life more than ever before.

 

The one thing you cannot ignore?

 

Your new nomad Life.

 

It will come with some trappings you will love … and some you will hate.

 

But.

Trust me.

 

You are now a nomad.

right beneath your feet

June 17th, 2015

 

 

—————Bad one less CorruptDream

“The path is always right beneath your feet.”

=

Issan Dorsey Roshi

—————-

 

 

Ok.

 

 

This is a quasi-rant on hope.

 

 

We so often speak of hope in big sweeping terms scanning aspirational horizons for something better … yet … more often the reality of hope resides right under your feet on a path you currently stand, walk, ride or run.
Bad travel move idea

 

Your choices, decisions and where you elect to place one foot after another is where hope resides.

 

 

 

It’s not found within a thankless society, a selfish culture nor an ever increasingly appearing unstable world … it is within us.

 

 

 

That’s why when I read Donald Trump said “the American dream is dead and I can make it alive again” I wanted to say “fuck you.”

 

 

And I am not being just an American nor am I just talking about some esoteric American dream but rather anyone’s dreams & hopes in any country.

 

 

I just want anyone & everyone to stop fucking with my dreams and my hopes.

 

 

Now.

 

 

I won’t argue that the world today is challenging enough to make it feel more despair than hope … more bad than good … and that the system makes it more difficult for individuals to attain some of their hopes & dreams … but that is external stimulus not internal resolve.

 

 

And I, frankly, don’t want to give my dreams and hopes to some external cloud storage system for care … I want to store them in me.hope versus positive thinking

 

 

 

They are mind to protect and project.

 

 

And this leads me to destiny, fate … and hope.

 

 

 

Well.

 

 

This all means that I believe we make our own destinies. Every day we are presented with choices. Some we don’t even recognize. Some we don’t even see <until they are past>. Some we see and make a choice. Our destiny is a reflection of these choices … made and not made.

 

 

Our hopes and dreams are made right there.

 

 

This does not mean our independence is not interconnected in an interdependent fashion in some ways … just that in order to cut through the spiderweb of random things you may be dependent upon you have to independently make choices and decisions.

 

 

If you do not?

 

 

Well … that makes your own hope also dependent upon this spiderweb of … uhm … shit.

 

 

This all means that I believe we assume, and have, responsibility … as in responsibility for your own actions <and hence your dreams, fate, destiny & hope>.

 

 

Today it seems more likely someone will suggest their behavior, mistakes, flaws and even their dashed dreams & hopes … are a reflection of outside influences, a ‘lesser than’ home life experience growing up, poverty, ethnicity, or some painful experience that impacted us in childhood.

 

 

Some people … that is what they learned.

 

 

And some people were taught otherwise by their adult mentors.

 

 

Some learn that when you screw up it is on ‘you’ and no one else.

 

 

Some learn you can be frequently wrong, frequently stupid … but if you have been taught to be accountable … to admit it … you may get some shit from people but you will also be known as someone who is accountable for their own actions.

 

 

And you will also have assumed accountability, and responsibility, for your own hope & dreams.

 

 

So … please, PLEASE, don’t try and tell me my dream has been killed.

 

hope just fucking stop

 

You are fucking with my hope.

 

 

And you are fucking with people’s minds.

 

 

 

 

Someone trying to fuck with our minds matters … it matters because … well … Susan Neiman, a social philosopher, said it maybe the best:

 

 

——————

“As long as your ideas of what’s possible are limited by what’s actual, no other idea has a chance.”

=

Susan Neiman

————–

 

 

 

Someone may suggest a dream is owned by a country … but they are wrong.

 

 

Someone may suggest hope is in the purview of some mystical leader who can deliver it in some way upon us … but they are wrong.

 

 

Someone may suggest both my dreams and hopes are at the mercy of some system or obstructed by some evil activity in my past … but they are wrong.

 

 

They are wrong because the moment you actually agree you have permitted your ideas of what is possible to be limited by what appears as actual <and let me tell ya … ‘actual’ is a moving target in and of itself’> … and no other idea … no dream … no hope … has a chance.

 

 

 

My hope is my hope.

 

My dreams are my dreams.

 

sunset paint path
Quit fucking with my hope.

 

 

Quit fucking with my dreams.

 

 

 

They are mine.

 

 

And the path to them is right underneath my feet.

life as a renovator (versus a builder)

November 24th, 2009

puzzle progress build

 

 

So.

 

 

This is a business post and not about architecture or home building or even Home Depot. This is about renovating businesses. Fixing business problems.

 

Taking stagnant businesses and getting them on the move again.

 

All that said … I guess I have always seen myself as a fixer. Or let’s call it ‘a renovator’.

 

I have always been at my best when stepping in to manage a business where maybe things have become stagnant (sales, ideas, whatever).

 

Maybe stepping in when someone well thought of, who has been in a position for a long period of time, has left and making them not missed as much as what everyone thought they would.

 

Stepping in usually at a place and time where shaking the etch a sketch was needed (although it may not be liked/appreciated by all at the moment).

 

I enjoy taking existing pieces and rearranging them. Maybe what people have liked (or what has worked for me) is that I don’t like to throw everything out (mostly because I tend to believe there are people a lot smarter than me and one or two of them had probably thought about this situation before I came along) and I don’t really like – or think about – putting my own thumbprints on something.

 

I just like to reshape things a little so that maybe people think it’s bigger than it really is but pretty easy to do because it’s just not that new.

 

 

I had a business associate tell me once after I told him all of this that there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be good at building because the thought process underpinnings were exactly the same. I agreed but noted this was more about mindset. I would suck as an entrepreneur. I just don’t have the head for it.

And I guess I just can’t cross that mental block that would make it possible for me create something from scratch.

 

 

Some guy named Pareto (an Italian sociologist) suggested there are two types of people. The Speculator and the Rentier.

 

The Speculator is constantly preoccupied with the possibilities of new combinations.

Rentiers are more conservers of the routine .. stockholders he calls them.

 

While I am not sure I agree life is as simple as he suggests I do agree different people think different ways. And it is in my DNA to be “constantly preoccupied with possibilities of new combinations.” Now. That can make me a pain in the ass to work with. One time a mentor, and a manager I loved working for, once said to me, “sometimes you are a pain in the ass, but I am glad you are my pain in the ass.”

 

And if you visit my LinkedIn site you will see a past client says,

 

If you don’t want to be “nudged” into new ideas and creative solutions – don’t ever call Bruce McTague. If, however, you want to look at things through a different telescope and find 3-dimensional ideas you’ve never considered, call Bruce now. Not tomorrow. He’ll make you uncomfortable, but I firmly believe that if the idea doesn’t make you uneasy, it’s not a big idea. Easy to work with, but always stretching your mind, Bruce is a true business Partner. You’ll grow working with Bruce.

 

I guess we renovators (if we don’t want to be order takers) have to be a little unpermanence impermanence bludgeon objective changecontrarian at times.

 

And I don’t mean to be just to be one but to actually put that contrarianism to work.

 

But I do love putting new combinations of things together.

 

I do love taking something existing and breathing new life into it.

 

I do love taking something that maybe standing still and getting it to not only move … but start running (if not jogging at least) again.

 

And maybe that isn’t really being a contrarian … maybe that is just what being a renovator is all about.

some enlightened conflict things worth reading

November 18th, 2009

enlightened conflict sand less

Welcome to Enlightened Conflict.

 

This is my 1st post. And I will begin with words … and thoughts. This seemingly random list of things to read have several things in common:

 

– makes you think

 

– beautiful words used beautifully

 

– you may learn, and unlearn, some things

 

 

Here you go.

Some essential reading.

 

 

 

The Culture Code

 

 

“The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way To Understand Why People Around The World Live And Buy As They Do” by Clotaire Rapaille examines how different cultures view products and industries (conceptually). Rapaille, a cultural anthropologist, has helped many international companies explore these cultural codes by examining how consumers really feel about products.

I believe this book should be required for any strategic planner, brand planner, heck, any company that has a customer. Clotaire Rapaille may have Albert Einstein hair and kind of look like a mad scientist or a kook in general, but conceptually his stuff is straightforwardly brilliant (as long as you are a little selective because on occasion he does make some sweeping generalizations). I loved reading the book and I do know that I was at a place where we used his information to create an amazing strategy to help a client out (of course the client ignored it).

But I have now seen embodiments of that same strategy in marketing for a variety of companies (and it appears to be working).
Rapaille argues each product makes a unique imprint on members of any given culture. This imprint can be described in only a few words. For example, Rapaille says the American code for cars is “Identity,” while the German code for cars is “Engineering.” Rapaille states the obvious that ‘different cultures are different’ but expands on that idea by explaining how a nation’s history and cultural myths are psychological templates to which its citizens respond unconsciously.

The book is easy to read. Thoughtful. Provides nice general thinking fodder to develop some specific thinking of your own (depending on the situation you yourself are facing).

 

 

The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia by Peter Hopkirk

 

 

This extensively detailed book chronicles the imperial struggle for power in Central Asia (Afghanistan is central to the book) between Victorian England and Czarist Russia. In a phrase coined by Captain Arthur Connolly of the East India Company before he was beheaded in Bokhara for spying in 1842, a “Great Game” was played between Tsarist Russia and Victorian England for supremacy in Central Asia. At stake was the security of India, key to the wealth of the British Empire. When play began early in the 19th century, the frontiers of the two imperial powers lay two thousand miles apart, across vast deserts and almost impassable mountain ranges; by the end, only 20 miles separated the two rivals.

It is a fascinating book telling an extraordinary story of ambition, intrigue, and military adventure. As you read it is amazing how relevant some of the discussions are to today’s issues and actions in that area. The Great Game was Russia’s version of America’s “Manifest Destiny” to dominate a continent, and the author is careful to explain Russian viewpoints as fully as those of the British. The book ends with the fall of Tsarist Russia in 1917 (but he also wrote a great book about this area and the transition o soviet empire). Today world peace and stability are again threatened by tensions in this volatile region of great mineral wealth and strategic significance and this book can give you some great background as to why it probably will be that way for decades to come.

 

 

Aimee Leduc Investigation Series by Cara Black (the 1st one is Murder in the Marais)

 

 

If you love Paris, or are interested in Paris, and like a good mystery this series of books by Cara Black is awesome. Each book has a little detailed map upfront showcasing the section of Paris the book focuses on. Aimee Leduc (the main character) lives in one of the neatest sections in Paris – the Ile Saint-Loius. The Île Saint-Louis is one of two natural islands in the Seine river (the other natural island is Île de la Cité and also gets featured in a book in the series).

I love how you get a feel for the real Paris, the gritty side, the ease of access to all points in the city and the hidden special places only the locals frequent, as you weave your way through the mysteries.

If you cannot visit Paris then read the series. If you can visit Paris, well, read the series before you go.

 

 

The lyrics from Madman Across the Water

words know what to say

 

Bernie Taupin is underrated. He provided Elton john a mix of lyrics that tell amazing stories.

  1. “Tiny Dancer”
  2. “Levon”
  3. “Razor Face”
  4. “Madman Across the Water”
  5. “Indian Sunset”
  6. “Holiday Inn”
  7. “Rotten Peaches”
  8. “All the Nasties”
  9. “Goodbye”

 

Each song’s words are pretty amazing, some overall, some just have a section with a sound bite that captures a great thought. To me, metaphorically, this was Bernie/Elton’s strongest mix of songs. And Goodbye is one of the sweetest minute and half songs you will hear.

 

 

Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan and Richard Holbrooke

 

 

I am going to write a lot about his amazing book but all you really need to know is that this book explains a lot about the current tensions we face between many countries across the globe today.

The book explores the original intent, constraints, and goals of the diplomats who sat down to hammer out a peace treaty in the aftermath of World War 1. The narrative revolves around the “Big Three” Wilson (United States), Lloyd George (Great Britain), and Clemenceau (France) who dominated the critical first six months of the Paris Peace Conference (although the PM of Italy was also part of the council).

 

The book walks through how the peacemaking Council of Four, representing Britain, France, the U.S. and Italy, conducted six months of parleying concluding on June 28 with Germany’s coerced agreement to a treaty no Allied statesman had fully read. And in the end although President Wilson had insisted on a League of Nations, even his own Senate would vote the league down and refuse the treaty. As a rush to make expedient settlements replaced initial negotiating inertia, appeals by many nationalities for Wilsonian self-determination would be overwhelmed by rhetoric justifying national avarice. The Italians, who hadn’t won a battle, and the French, who’d been saved from catastrophe, were the greediest, says MacMillan; the Japanese plucked Pacific islands that had been German and a colony in China known for German beer. Wilson got nothing; returning home, he suffered a debilitating stroke. The council’s other members horse-traded for spoils, as did Greece, Poland and the new Yugoslavia. There was, Wilson declared, “disgust with the old order of things,” but in most decisions the old order in fact prevailed, and corrosive problems, like Bolshevism, were shelved. Hitler would blame Versailles for more ills than it created. The book extensively encompasses all the continents the peacemakers vainly carved up.

 

 

–  The Economist

 

 

 

This magazine is oh so British. Oh so worldly perspective (versus USA today).

Oh so well written.

It is insightful. Maybe a little liberal in its views but I have always found it generally fair in its coverage of topics globally. And I love the fact they (in a very interesting way) provide an opinion on every topic (and generously lampoon anyone at anytime). How they provide opinions is wonderfully entertaining (snapshots of some headlines and subheads):

 

Binyamin Netanyahu cocks a snook at the American president

 

An Irish riddle wrapped in a mystery

 

Coconut Leader: A coup leader who is tough on the outside and softer underneath

 

A New way to Annoy a Neighbour

 

The War on Bambi: taking back the gardens

 

Delightfully irreverent tone even when talking about serious issues.

 

And don’t worry.

The US edition is exactly the same as the international version as far as I can tell (they simply shift the entire American over view article section upfront to appease our egos).

 

 

The J Peterman catalogue

 

 

Ah, J Peterman clothes and items, the stuff is pretty nice. But the descriptions are written so you don’t buy the stuff. Really if you do end up buying something you are buying what you will become if you wear or use the stuff. Wonderfully written catalog. Mini stories about each item. Hey, it’s not just a striped shirt you just bought. You are Picasso at the moment he is sitting behind an easel. It is not a dress. It is a quiet moment with Audrey Hepburn at a cocktail event. Maybe what I like most is that I learn something. About someone. About a moment in time.

Standing on the quay at Douarnenz, watching the sardine fleet head out into the Atlantic, just as it has done for eons.

A stiff breeze blows in from the southwest. Not a chilly breeze, but you definitely want to be wearing something.

After a few millennia of fishing under these conditions, this is what the fishermen on the Brittany coast have come up with.

Breton Sailor’s Shirt (No. 2499). Found in a marine supply store near the harbormaster’s office.

It’s made from 100% cotton canvas sailcloth, which makes it sturdy enough to stand up to about a 5 on the Beaufort scale, yet soft to the touch.

Pullover style with a sailor’s collar, v-neck and loop and button closure.

There’s also an inside chest pocket for valuables. Perfect for taking out the E-Scow, raking the leaves, or a walk across the commons.

To_Kill_a_Mockingbird_-_Riverwalk_Theatre-resized200

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird is a piece of our American history that depicts racism and prejudice, childhood innocence, and the perseverance of a man who risked it all to stand up for what he believed in. Wonderful book and one I will read again .. and again .. and again (and I will give a copy to everyone I know). If somehow the book itself has passed you by, or if (sadly) it was imposed on you for a class assignment when you were young, revisit it. It’s one of the best books ever written.

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus the story surrounds the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. The book explores big issues through the eyes of a child. The result is tough and tender talking of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up. Everyone who reads it has a favorite section in the book. Mine will always be the relationship between Dill and Scout.

 

 

 

The lyrics to Sheryl Crow’s Wildflower

 

 

Oh, what an overlooked CD Wildflower is. Sure. There are some forced rhymes here and there.

 

(but that is the bane of a songwriters’ existence)

“Good is good and bad is bad but you don’t know which you had.”

 

Plus. I am not sure there is a better female singer out there delivering lyrics when she stays in the lower range of her voice (which she does a lot on Wildflower). Some great metaphors.

And, in general, some straightforward lyrics communicating some really nice thoughts.

 

 

It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven by Purpose by Roy M. Spence Jr. and Haley Rushing

 

 

I have noted several times I don’t particularly like reading business books. And then you run across one like this one and it renews your faith in perusing the business book section seeking something to read. This book is chockfull of interesting anecdotes and sound bites.

The premise of ‘purpose driven’ has been talked about before but possibly never so articulately. While I believe every business owner should read this (I believe it should be mandatory reading for every business class in universities) I hope that readers take to heart the individual message. The message that if you, as a person, can identify the purpose that drives them that they can truly live an extraordinary life.

This is an extraordinary book. It communicates some great messages and gives you some excellent behind the scenes stories which are just plain fun to know about.

 

 

Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

 

 

This book (which was written in 1937 for advertising people) is relevant to anyone’s work. This little book is one of the simplest summaries of commonsense—and articulating common sense is this book’s greatest virtue. The book lays out a five step process for generating novel and not-so-novel ideas, crisply articulating them so that you can put to them to immediate use. It is a powerful guide for gathering information, stimulating imagination, and recombining old elements into dramatic new ideas. It is so simple you wonder why so many consultants make it so much more difficult.

 

 

Mostly True Collected Stories & Drawings by Brian Andreas

 

 

I didn’t even know Andreas existed until 2000 when an amazing young woman I knew gave me a print as a gift. I know he creates things as life lessons for kids (kind of) but his little drawings and quirky thoughts are wonderful insights into everyday life. While every little book he has published is worth it. If you don’t trust me on this go for one of his first two books. I guarantee you will find at least one thing insightful that will make you stop and think and probably want to share with someone in either of his first two (Mostly True… and Still Mostly True). If I were an advertising guy I could build a great campaign around his thoughts.

The Lost Constitution by William Martin

A rare, annotated draft of the U.S. Constitution is at the heart of this entertaining historical fiction novel. Throughout the book you get an understanding of how people have always tried to use the Constitution for their own purposes, including right-wing Christian fanatics, survivalist gun nuts, liberal gun-banners and greedy entrepreneurs now seeking the lost draft. It is also clear that the Constitution—drafts and all—was intended as a unifying agent. This is a good mystery and an excellent examination of constitutional issues. It is a fun read with some historical significance.

 

 

The Constitution of the United States

 

 

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

constitution-we-the-people-american-01

 

This is a powerful document that stands the test of time. This is the American vision of what government should be. Many people think that America is a democracy but it is actually a constitutional democracy. The Constitution of the United States sets limits to the powers of government and outside of these enumerated powers the government has no authority to do anything else.
Along with the Bill of Rights, which lays out the few rights of the people and states that are absolutely not to be infringed upon, if you want to get a sense of how frickin’ smart our forefathers were then sit down and read these documents. It will make you appreciate what they did (and maybe what you have for a country).

 

The Eight by Katherine Neville

 

Even readers with no interest in chess will be swept up into this really fun fantasy-adventure-historical fiction novel. The story revolves around a search for a legendary chess set once owned by Charlemagne. All characters in the book covet the fabled chess pieces, because the chess service, buried for 1000 years in a French abbey, supplies the key to a magic formula tied to numerology, alchemy, the Druids, Freemasonry, cosmic powers. As the story shuttles between the 1970s and the 1790s, you are introduced to 64 characters, including Mireille, a spunky French nun who helps scatter the individual chess pieces across Europe lest the set fall into evil hands. Involving Napoleon, Talleyrand, Casanova, Voltaire, Rousseau, Robespierre and Catherine the Great in the quest, Neville has great fun rewriting history and making it all ring true. With two believable heroines, nonstop suspense, espionage, murder and a puzzle that seems the key to the whole Western mystical tradition, this is first-rate escapist entertainment.

Enlightened Conflict