Thursday, January 28, 2010

Questions From My Childhood

1.  Whatever happened with the ozone layer?  Is it still there?

2.  Whatever ever happened to the Montreal Expos?  Or should I say what has happened to the Washington Nationals?  They always had young talent.  Now...

3.  Why do elementary schools have mascots?  We were the Eagles, but we didn't have any teams.

4.  Why does the NFL play the Pro Bowl?  I would rather watch these NFL guys play basketball or flag football or something.

5.  Is overpopulation the problem?  I see guys (here is Paul Shirley's blog post and here is the New York Times giving crap to Andre Bauer) catching a bunch of crap for suggesting this, but I used to stay up at night thinking about it.  I remember telling myself that overpopulation is the essential problem.  Too many people searching for too little resources.  I feel differently now.  But I haven't seen anyone address the underlying point that Shirley and Bauer are unsuccessfully trying to make.  I guess it goes back to the first paragraph of this post.

6.  What am I going to do when I grow up?      

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Politics, The Environmental Movement, And Special Interests

Every time I think this country's government is going lead us to become NAZI Germany or France, something breaks.  A special election shifts the debate.  A conservative grassroots movement reminds elected officials that most people have some conservative tendencies (in the sense that they don't want drastic change).   The competing of the special interests leads to nothing changing.  Every time I see government or environmental groups discussing environmental regulations that have uncertain short-term and long-term impacts, I start to appreciate the fact that these groups and government will never be able to get together and fully commit to anything.  

I find this very comforting.  

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Falling Down Or I Need To Go Back And Listen To U2's Early Albums Or Another Healthcare Post

As I took one step out of my apartment complex yesterday, I slipped on the ice feet over ass.  I saved my coffee.  I saved my backpack with my netbook.  But the top of my back wacked against the stair.  It felt like someone had hit me with a baseball bat six inches below my neck.  It knocked the wind out of me, and for a minute I felt like I was going to die.  But I walked it off.

Throughout yesterday, my back felt like it was going to spasm.  I have played enough football to know that there is no structural damage, but my lat muscles are bruised and tight.  I could go to a doctor/emergency center.  They would probably x-ray me to make sure I had no structural damage.  They might even give some good muscle relaxers.  Of course, I have played enough football to know that you never go to a doctor/emergency room unless someone absolutely makes you go.  But if my wife wasn't a thousand miles away, I would have to stop complaining or do something about it.  And I do like complaining.

I am afraid this "do something about it" mentality is another one of these factors in healthcare that isn't getting enough attention.  

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick And Incomplete Thoughts On Economic Development And Haiti

There is a little talked about psychological-behavioral dimension to economic development that many respectable people don't want to discuss.  

When the crap hits the fan, the best immediate development (disaster) policy is to throw money, food, medicine, and bottled water at the problem.  Notice I start with money.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Morning Thoughts

1.  Yesterday morning the bus was 20 minutes late.  Yesterday evening the bus went the wrong way.  I wasted almost an hour on bus rides yesterday.  I still rode the bus this morning.

2.  The bus was on time this morning. 

3.  Part of me wants to really delve into men's fashion.  I enjoy looking nice, but I don't want to look too nice.  But a nice pair of pants that fits well feels is wonderful.  (Some of these feelings is inspired by the suits in Mad Men.)

4.  My holiday weight gain has not helped in the "nice pair of pants that fits well" feelings.

5.  I read an article yesterday that emphasized the necessity for fitness goals.  For example, you should sign up for a half-marathon in four months.  I don't know what I think about this.  I am certainly never going to be able to run a half-marathon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

“Quiet Desperation”

The last few nights I've been riding the bus with this crazy guy. He is younger than me. He sits to himself and swats flies and elbows and punches enemies. I don't know what his disease is. I don't know who is enemies are. Part of me wants to help him. Another part of me envies him. God knows that inside of me I want to swat and fight the air. I can barely contain myself, but I do.

I have no idea how these first few sentences sound. But the idea is that "supposed to" and "should" tends to rule our lives. And no matter how enlightened we think we are, most of the time we follow rules without fully thinking them through. This probably isn't a bad thing. But it is a thing.

NFL Thoughts

1.  Kenny Albert did not look like he belonged on TV on Saturday.  I didn't get to see how bad Nixon looked in 1960.  I am not saying other announcers are attractive.  I am not saying I would look better. I am just saying Kenny Albert didn't look human on Saturday.  At least, "Moose" wore an expensive suit.

2.  "Moose" Johnston tries so (too) hard.  It reminds me of this clip of him at the Emmit Smith roast.  After watching that game, I started listening to the Colts-Ravens game on the radio.  I think I prefer the radio.  This reverse-technology-preference intrigues me.  I think these types of preferences are going to be important to selected businesses in the future.  I guess what I am saying is audio broadcasts of games are going to stay around longer than I initially expected.      

3.  I guess I am rooting for the Vikings.  But the Saints, especially Reggie Bush and Shockey, impressed me on Saturday.  My dislike for them certainly centers around Gregg Williams, Sean Payton, and that Redskins game.

4.  Rex Ryan is following Brian Billick's Super Bowl XXXV strategy of already scheduling the whole post-season.  I like this confidence.  But I also like Pierre Garcon's DIII ties.  It should be a fun game.  I can see Ryan finding a way to get pressure on Manning.  No matter what, I think it will be a close game.

5.  The NFC Championship has a chance to be great, but it also has a chance to turn out like the Saints-Cardinals game.  It should be fun.      

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin reminds of the first paragraph of this post.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Things I Wish People Would Learn, Know, Understand Or Thanks Bruce Springsteen

1. There would be no non-profit jobs without profit.

2. There would be no charity without excess.

3. There would be no excess without individuals who search for better ways.

4. There would be no excess without the exploitation of people or natural resources (including the brain) or time or energy or something.

5. Exploitation is just getting the most out of something, just pushing life beyond preconceived limits.

6. Rand and Marx both have points. Completely ignoring either one is a mistake.

7. Every one us has to decide what side of that line they want to be on.

8. No one of any real importance will ever ask me (you) what my (your) dissertation is about.

9. But important people will want to know what side of that line you're on.

Disjointed Ideas

1. I find Artie Lange, and comedians in general, fascinating. Listening to Adam Carolla's podcast should count as 12 credits to a psychology or sociology major.

2. This holiday season has forced me to go back to Phase I of the South Beach Diet. This is life. This is the rest of my life.

3. This weekend I wrapped sliced portabello mushrooms in thin cut stir-fry steak. I marinated the mushrooms and steak in some Worcestershire sauce and a little Teriyaki marinade. I then grilled the steak wrapped portabellos. They were pretty good. I dipped them in a little horseradish sauce (not Phase I approved).

4. I also made some Rum Raisin Ricotta Dessert. I mixed Ricotta cheese, imitation rum extract, Splenda, and raisins (raisins are certainly not Phase I approved). This was a nice addition to the Ricotta Dessert menu.

5. I would really like to open up a South Beach Diet-themed restaurant. It would probably be a diner-like place. I have some ideas, but they will never come to fruition.

6. Friday, I listened to a local sports radio host poo-poo Alabama's national championship. He said he felt cheated by McCoy's injury. I usually like the host, because he is a good non-sensational guy. He seems to be happy being a local non-controversial guy. But he made some comment like "Alabama will always know in the back of their mind that this championship was tainted." His comment reminded me of everything I hate about sports media. McCoy's injury was just football. You play the game. A lot of guys get hurt. But don't poo-poo winning. As my coach used to say: "I don't apologize for winning. I won't apologize for success."

7. Maybe number 6 is because I was on the right (wrong) side of this game. Here is some video. Notice I was in the bleachers recovering from a broken leg. I still think coach is right. You can't apologize for winning.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Is Life A Zero Sum Game? Or "Cuz when it's over it's all over And what you gained you throw away"*

1. You know you're getting old when you become concerned about your urination schedule.

2. I've been contemplating Bono's lyric from Hawkmoon 269 when he says 'he needs (your) love' "Like a boxer needs pain." (Ok, I looked it up and he seems to say like a preacher needs pain, but we're going stick with what I've been contemplating.) To me, the lyric represents this beautiful truism in life. Our essence requires something, and that requirement makes us who we are. All good boxers go back to something in their past that hurt them, that caused them pain. And that pain makes them want to inflict pain on their opponents. Young boxers "go soft" when that pain disappears, when the money has healed most of the pain. (Old boxers just continue to fight after their physical skills have deteriorated.) It is like successful athletes who need competition to define their self-worth after retirement. Most (successful) people have something that defines them. Something that they need to make them who they are. To make them successful. The thing is finding that "need" and never letting go of it. The most successful people openly and honestly recognize their need and are never ashamed of it. Moderately successful people just don't think about it.

3. When I was in high school, some local newspaper did a profile of me. I was a decent shot-putter. I told the reporter that I picked out one of my competitors, found a reason to hate him, let that hate build up into a rage, and used the rage to throw the shot-put as far as I could. It was something a stupid kid would say, and I was a stupid kid.

4. But that anger, that passion, that ability to see something that isn't right and comment on it with confidence and pride and humbleness, that is who I am. That is my essence. It isn't anger about individuals anymore. It is anger about ideas and operations and my lack of toughness and the bullshit of the world. Bono needs (your) love like I need discontent.

5. Or is it? I also took great pride in practicing longer than all of my shot-put teammates. I would stay in the cold, and in the rain. I had to prove to them I was tougher. I might not be able to throw farther, but damn it, I would outlast them. Bono needs (your) love like I need to feel that I am tough.

6. Maybe Bono needs (your) love like I need anger concerning my lack of toughness.

7. No. That's not true. The reason I stayed out in the rain and cold was because I thought you should stay out in the rain and cold. I was angry at my teammates running inside. I was angry at their lack of toughness.

8. Bono needs (your) love like I need anger.

9. Bono needs (your) love like I need anger about things not being as good as they could be.

10. There we go. It looks bad written down, but there are a lot of successful people who have built their success around "anger about things not being as good as they could be."

*From Rosie Thomas' "Death Came And Got Me"

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Future Of TV

(I've posted about this before, but my concerns have become a business question.)

The last few weeks I've been watching too much TV. But I've been watching these "TV" shows online, OnDemand, and on DVD. I can't remember the last time I really followed a show on the TV. It isn't just the commercials. Online and OnDemand shows have some commercials too. The question becomes: What is the future of TV?

Shows like Mad Men almost require buying or renting the DVD to really follow them. They're just so well done that they're movies broken into 42 minute segments. Even if you watch every first airing on TV, you want to go back and watch them again. (Mad Men is by far my favorite entertainment going right now.)

Shows like The Office and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia are just 22 minute laugh fests. Extending them to thirty minutes and forcing me to watch them at a certain time each week makes them less funny. They are designed to make us laugh, and laughing isn't about schedules.

So what types and how many comedies or "serious" shows do I buy for the video store?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looking Back

When I was in the 11th grade, I had to write a paper about a magazine advertisement. I chose a Microsoft advertisement. I can't remember the complete copy of the ad. I am pretty sure it was kind of like their ads today. I am sure Bill Gates was trying to convince me that Microsoft was catchy, young, and inspirational. I am sure the ad was trying to convince me that Microsoft was just as good as Apple but with greater market share. I do remember that the bottom of the ad had something like this: "We want to thank Bob Beamon for breaking the world long jump record by over a foot in Mexico City." The idea being that Beamon's jump gave them the courage to build better Microsoft products.

I took offense to this last line about Beamon. I wrote in the paper about how Michael Powell had broken Beamon's record by a significant amount. My point being that Microsoft made itself look uniformed and lacking in the research area. My English teacher didn't like my paper much. She thought Beamon's jump held more cultural significance than I was giving it credit for. Beamon shocked the world. He proved that the limitations of humanity were illusions. We could "out-jump "our pre-conceived notions by leaps and bounds.

I didn't understand her in the 11th grade. I don't understand her now. Some of it is age. I am sure if I was alive and alert, Beamon's jump would have meant more to me. But the problem is deeper than age and cultural significance. I hated 11th grade. A large part of that hate was due to too much homework and me being sixteen and me playing football and throwing shot and discus. But part of it was the fact that my English teacher couldn't see that if Bob Beamon didn't speak to me then the ad had failed. She wanted creative arguments. But she wanted reflections of her creativity. She wanted honesty, but she wanted her honesty. To me as an 11th grader, the assignment itself reflected a lack of creativity and a lack of honesty. At heart she wanted her students to see the art as well as the manipulation involved in advertising, but she wasn't going to allow a student to say "it is what it is, and Bob Beamon is not the long jump king anymore" without deducting points. She and I's subjective utility functions were not overlapping, but she "couldn't find it in her heart to get out of my way." (John Hiatt)

The point here is that the biggest mistake a teacher or a leader or a boss can make is to not recognize that people are different. I probably deserved the grade I got on the paper, but it would have meant something to me if my 11th grade English teacher had the courage to say, "You know what; all grades are subjective." She liked some kids more than other kids. I think it would have made me a more balanced and hopeful individual if she had told me and the class this. The best teachers I have ever had told it like it was. None of them were overly concerned about grades. It was more about the ability to think and be happy in your own skin.

We work so hard to create ourselves. We work so hard to create and find a persona. It is easy to see this in celebrities and athletes. But the fact of the matter is that they are just personas. They are just something we create to survive and thrive. We find who we really are when the personas crumble, and we have to be really honest and creative.



Monday, January 04, 2010

Posting Football Thoughts Will Hopefully Help Me Work On More Important Things

1. The Minnesota Vikings are a good football team. They have talent. I feel the same about the Arizona Cardinals. Talent wins football games. I wouldn't bet on either team winning the Super Bowl, but they do have talent. The same can be said about Dallas and San Diego.

2. All I could think about during the Florida-Cincinnati game was "This would have been informative a month ago." But in January, it was a meaningless exhibition and not informative in determining the best college football team.

3. I would like to see a third-party out-of-conference scheduling agent for college football. The Tech-Alabama game was informative. The Ohio State-USC game was informative. Cincinnati-Oregon State, Cincinnati-Fresno State, I don't think told us much. These bowl games (especially if they didn't play them after being off for month) do shed light on strength of conferences and teams. If Alabama blows Texas out, all I will be able to think about is how good is Florida and the winner of the TCU-Boise State game. I know Boise State beat Oregon, but other than that, I just don't know anything about Boise State. I (think I) know more about TCU because they beat Clemson and Virginia, along with BYU and Utah, but it would be nice if Boise State and TCU had to play a few more top-tier BCS teams.

4. The NFL playoffs are great but completely unpredictable.