Still here

 just consumed, as most of us are, by… gestures vaguely at everything…

I've been spending a bit more time on twitter (much useful and actionable info - from certain specific sources who've demonstrated usefulness)

and on facebook (trying like hell to counter the tide of disinformation - and utter BS - there)


I write like William Shakespeare

I write like
William Shakespeare

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

How'd I do it?

I pasted some code in.

Yep, WS was a geek, too. :)


Challenges for Change (Vermont)

Since we're using management-speak: This all still sounds a lot more like "externalized cost"; it may lower *direct* taxes (for awhile) however the *actual* overall cost to citizens *increases*, by all the "little" things we end up paying for anyway, just not directly to the State. We know better than this. We can see that all the hotshot management gurus are so busy minimizing expenses (maximizing profit) that they're creating "too big to fail" and other such monstrosities. Monstrosities that not only cost us money, even worse, they dehumanize us. Anyone who has ever had to take time off work, and struggle to maintain some semblance of dignity and even sanity, while working through some whiz-bang "automated system" - only to find that they are a "special case" not addressed by that system and now need to spend hours on hold, being transferred from CSR (Customer Service Representative) to CSR, none of whom knows what we're talking about, few of whom care (after all, they may be from another state or even country), and still fewer (sometimes none) of whom actually have the power to help us... Anyone can attest to the horrible, painful failures down this road. Unless of course you're one of the execs taking home the big bonuses these monstrosities squeeze out of the rest of us poor fools at the bottom of this pyramid scheme; then you've got people to do this for you. In Vermont at least, we have not - I hope - been as blinded by dollars as some others.


Why bother shouting in the deaf ear?

(Warning: Political segue in mid-article.)

Interesting observation by Jim Dalrymple:

Apple ranks highest among Greenpeace’s top tech companies

(Via a DF tweet: Greenpeace and Apple, Sitting in a Tree.)

You may recall that Greenpeace has been all over Apple for awhile now. Regardless whether you liked the Greenpeace words/tactics, they at least recognize that Apple has become much more "green".

Aside: In Greenpeace's current analysis of consumer electronics (Which companies really sell greener electronics), Apple leads in every category. Interestingly, Apple is also the only company that has a product in every category.

In any event, Apple does seem to be a company that listens, and is inclined to "do the right thing" - at least some of the time.

Now this is no fairy tale; Apple will (generally) make decisions that are in its best interest - AND we've seen that Apple is smart enough to look to it's long-term interests rather than just this minute's stock price.

This is where we get into "enlightened self-interest" territory: Clearly (in addition to the direct reductions to pollutants) it's in Apple's interest as a for-profit corporation, to be seen as "green", especially as "green" becomes a bigger and bigger buzzword.

And perhaps this is why Greenpeace was so vocal in its criticisms of Apple; they knew there was a good chance that Apple would listen.

(Or even, for you conspiracy theorists, that Apple was already moving to "green" and that Greenpeace could claim victory afterward - whatever floats your boat.)

Now, allow me an extrapolation into politics:

Perhaps it's not so much "Democrats are imploding!!" as Democrats always argue amongst themselves - because they actually listen to each other, and have a genuine discussion rather than a one-way rant as Republicans seem sadly prone to, these days.

As a flaming liberal myself, I take it as a very good sign, that Democrats didn't immediately unite into a solid whip-dissenters-into-shape machine, and ram through all their priorities. It would have perhaps been as bad as the mess Republicans made, especially in the Bush II years. Can you imagine what a steamroller it would have been if Republicans had 60 Senate seats?

However Democrats do have a solid majority and we can get some things done in a thoughtful way - not only fixing some of the damage of the past 30 years, but actually moving forward on some things. It's certainly no fait accompli and it will take a lot of effort, not only by folks in government, but the rest of us too - especially the rest of us.

So, back to the title - keep shouting:

1) Liberals need to stop simply thinking "Policy X makes perfect sense, so it's not necessary to shout about it."

2) Politicians - especially liberal politicians - need to hear that there really is broad support for liberal ideas.

3) There's a good chance someone's actually listening.


Time to unshackle from so-called "bipartisanship"

Here's what "bipartisanship" really means right now:
  • For a Republican, in power: Political cover. ("See - they supported it too.")
  • For a Republican, out of power: The ability to derail.
  • For a Democrat, in power: Spending forever arguing vs. getting something done.
  • For a Democrat, out of power: Compromising - usually, your beliefs. ("I got what I could.")
  • If you're anyone else: A train wreck that means you'll likely not be heard.
(You may have noticed that I put them in order of most powerful to least.)

Let's be clear: What's being called "bipartisanship" now, makes as much sense as a scientist accepting a debate with a creationist - at *best* it's a waste of time.

Though it can be more insidious; an attempt to mire, delay, drag down, suck the energy out of... - just look at our so-called "debate" about healthcare. There certainly are critical things to debate, though the vast amount of energy spent is not debate at all, but a naked attempt to maintain the status quo - of healthcare's overriding goal being, not healthcare, but profit.

So, what to do?

Here's what not to do: What the Bush (II) administration did; bulldoze anyone who wasn't 100% signed on to your version of the truth. They certainly got things done - in the same way Mussolini made the trains run on time.

So what's the "happy medium"?

Certainly everyone should have a chance to be heard - for a time. And after that time, it's necessary to take stock and move to the next phase - actually getting something done.

There's nothing impolite or non-inclusinve about this - we have limited time in the same way we have limited money.

This is what governing is: Actually getting something done.


yet another way we can help - or hurt - each other

yes; we are all wired differently.

and yes, something that *seems* completely reasonable (necessary even!) can in fact be detrimental to someone else.

bonus blast-from-the-past link: Caring For Your Introvert (Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic).


Help Governor Douglas

I've lambasted the Governor - lately, for his vocal opposition to the gay-marriage legislation making its way through the Vermont State Legislature.

While being angry can lead to angry words, it's not productive. So I just wrote him a much more positive note; it's copied below.

I hope you'll find yourself motivated to do the same; nothing good ever came of negativity. However, we can help each other, even - and especially - when we disagree.

Dear Governor Douglas -

You've made a mistake.

It's OK; we all do - maybe you got some bad advice; it happens.

However, as with most mistakes, it's correctable - and, here's the great part: When you rise to the occasion by doing the right thing, you end up in an *improved* position - even relative to *before* the mistake. A beautiful thing "enlightened self-interest" is.

So, please *do* the right thing: Do not veto the gay-marriage legislation.

You might refer to the "will of the people" - which I'm sure is making itself extremely clear right now. You might wait until the bill is presented to you, agonize over it a bit, and then graciously and humbly admit that allowing it is, after all, the right thing to do - and it will correctly be viewed as courageous. Obstruction never is.

It is not only the right thing to do, it is also the best course politically.

Thanks and good luck,



Hearings on same-sex marriage need a bigger room

So, they ran out of room on the widely-publicized first day of hearings, regarding same-sex marriage in VT.

They got a bigger room the next day - and hardly anyone showed.

What's it mean? Most of us have figured out that same-sex marriage makes perfect sense, and have moved on to other crises.

Update: 1,000 people showed up the next day - overwhelmingly in favor. Then the Senate panel approved it - 5-0.


What's the Biggest Drag on the US Economy?

The current US health care "system".

Dig down far enough, in almost any budget battle - federal, the cost of a college education or a local school budget - and one cost that has continued to rise, driving virtually all others, is health care.

The US has, as has been so often stated "the best health care system in the world" - IF, of course, you've got the cash.

If you don't, you either roll the dice or find a way to pony up. See this National Coalition on Health Care article on health care costs - interesting tidbit: "50 percent of all bankruptcy filings were partly the result of medical expenses."

This, as we listen to the ever-increasing whine of US industry about how they're being dragged down by the cost of health care. Certainly, health care costs continue to increase beyond anything rational. The problem however, is not that people need health care.

Is there perhaps a silver lining in the current economic crisis? In how it drives more of us to be entrepreneurial? Well, Bad Times Spur Entrepreneurship, But There's a Catch - the money quote?

America's health-care system makes it all but impossible for an older worker to try something new.

Even younger startup owners who are relatively healthy and have insurance are just a half-step from disaster.

So the bulk of our wisdom is hamstrung from the start. And the rest of us, well - step right up and take a spin. You may win big! Or just learn to live under a bridge.

So what is it, exactly, that's "best" about the US health care "system"? One might be forgiven if one were to conclude that it's best at redistributing wealth to the rich, from the rest of us. (As so many things are, in our new Unfettered Capitalism society.)

What to do? Let's go the the Wall Street Journal: Why Obama's Health Plan Is Better.

And as we begin to address the real issues facing us - rather than this quarter's (or this minute's) stock performance - we will see real long-term benefits spread.