Monday, January 25, 2010

Anything on T.V. tonight?

Not one of those holier than thou rants against television, because I've watched more than my share, but seriously, perhaps the saddest conversation you can have with your spouse is this:

- "anything on t.v. tonight?",
- "no, I don't think so"

Then you spend the next 3 hours proving this to be true.

Pickle Vendors:

A classic Joe Bageant piece, "A Republic of Pickle Vendors"...

True in every community I've ever lived or worked.

An excerpt:

"I am talking about the realtors, lawyers and middlemen willing to cooperate in whatever it takes to destroy land use and zoning codes, bust unions and keep wages low, rents high, the liberals down and the "cullids" out. This group of second tier conservative professionals and semi-pros are dead set on being real players someday. On their way up the ladder they will screw you blind and make you beg for your change.

America's small and medium sized towns are run entirely by their business class, those countless little sparkplugs of the American capitalist corporate machinery. They are where the institutionalized rip-off by the rich corporations finds its footing and support. Serving on every local governmental body, this mob of Kiwanis and Rotarians have connections, and collectively can get that 200 acres rezoned for Wal-Mart or a sewer line to that 2000-unit housing development at taxpayer expense. When it comes to getting things done locally for the big guys, these folks can heal the sick, raise the dead and give eyesight to the blind. They are God's gift to the big non-union companies and the chip plants looking for a fresh river to piss cadmium into -- the Rotarian, Lions, Kiwanis Club can-do boys. What makes them especially dangerous is that they are politically active, and have a cumulative effect on the national corps politique."

Pulling back the curtain

"The only problem with pulling back the curtain and seeing the Wizard's butt crack is that after you do so there are very few people with whom you can socialize."

Don't know the author, but thought this was darn funny...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Group Think...

Interesting piece on problem solving, but with implications to politics and lots of other things…

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/12/fail_accept_defeat/

Couple of excerpts…

“Over the past few decades, psychologists have dismantled the myth of objectivity. The fact is, we carefully edit our reality, searching for evidence that confirms what we already believe. Although we pretend we’re empiricists — our views dictated by nothing but the facts — we’re actually blinkered, especially when it comes to information that contradicts our theories. The problem with science, then, isn’t that most experiments fail — it’s that most failures are ignored.”…

The second point reminds me of one of Tom Peter's mantras... Are you hiring enough Freaks?...
“But his larger point is crucial: There are advantages to thinking on the margin. When we look at a problem from the outside, we’re more likely to notice what doesn’t work. Instead of suppressing the unexpected, shunting it aside with our “Oh shit!” circuit and Delete key, we can take the mistake seriously. A new theory emerges from the ashes of our surprise. Modern science is populated by expert insiders, schooled in narrow disciplines. Researchers have all studied the same thick textbooks, which make the world of fact seem settled. This led Kuhn, the philosopher of science, to argue that the only scientists capable of acknowledging the anomalies — and thus shifting paradigms and starting revolutions — are “either very young or very new to the field.” In other words, they are classic outsiders, naive and untenured. They aren’t inhibited from noticing the failures that point toward new possibilities."

From one of Tom Peters' slides...
"Our most beloved products were developed by hunch, guesswork, and fanaticism, by creators who were eccentric- or even stark raving mad" Jack Mingo, How the Cadillac Got it's Fins

Yet, our politicians, economic developers, community leaders... they all look alike, went to the same schools, read the same things... pickle vendors one and all...