Corporate Passion!

Corporate Passion!

Traveling to a foreign country for the first time is an experience that usually leaves very deep impressions on people. The culture and customs seem very exotic as one comes to the realization that not everyone lives as they do.

One can have these same experiences upon returning to their home country if they have spent more than a few years overseas. You see your culture from the outside for the very first time. In some cases this is known as “reverse culture shock.”

Well, this reverse culture shock seems to be an ongoing experience for me. Most recently it has to do with corporate culture as the MBAs churn out ever more initiatives, goals and theories for the rest of the organization to adopt.

Once adopted, it becomes part of the culture and actually changes the behavior of the employees.  When this happens it is derogatorily referred to as “drinking the kool-aid.”  There of course is many different flavors of Kool Aid depending on the company but one flavor that seems to be quite prevalent is “Passion!”

No matter what industry one is in, it is now a requirement in Corporate America to have a passion for what you do.  That is to say that by directive of the upper management you must actually love and become emotionally excited  with your work.  This is especially true for the sales department but easily spills over into other departments and is absolutely vital if one wants a promotion.

Golden Rule:

YOU MUST HAVE PASSION IN LIFE AND IT MUST BE WORK RELATED.

I don’t remember “Passion” being part of the business curriculum when I was in college so I’m pretty certain this is a relatively new idea.  However, the idea has caught on so strongly I’ve had grown men tell me they are passionate about these:  sanitation, paper, industrial supplies, medical devices and so on.

What is a bit scary is I believe these people have honestly convinced themselves they are passionate about the mundane objects they are selling!  I’m being completely honest when I say I had someone tell me they were passionate about not only paper but toilet paper and paper towels!

For me to make a mockery of this type of passion is actually a cardinal sin in corporate land.  If you do not drink the kool-aid, you do not get promoted and if you are not getting promoted then you will eventually be fired in today’s environment.  It is not dissimilar from an actual cult in that you must adhere to the corporate line of thinking and there is very little tolerance for those who do not conform.

Thus I remain in a state of shock which I cannot seem to dispel.  At least once a month I hear grown men tell me they are passionate about some aspect of the corporation which really should inspire no emotional reaction in any human being.

Finally, here are some corporate words that bug me.

1. Challenge = Problem – Problem is a dirty word, you’re simply having a challenge!
2. Actionable – As so much junk is thrown your way during a typical work day “actionable” is like a red tag attached to the item which tells you you must do something and not just file the e-mail away.
*Junk (work/communications others have created that they have to send to someone else in order to be seen as productive.)

****Update****

After I published this post I opened up the New Yorker and read a book review called “The Iron Curtain” which examines the daily life of living in the Eastern European states under Soviet rule.

One sentence in particular really stood out which said that people are not so easily socialized, which was referring to turning the citizens into pure Communists.

You know where I have heard this word before?

Yep, in corporate america at my former company.  You see, when the MBAs’ rolled out yet another initiative that would invariably make our lives much more difficult they first went to the regional leaders who were to socialize the new concept/idea/initiative.  This is the exact word they used and when I saw it referring to Communism I had to look it up to make sure I knew what it meant.

Socialize:  Make (someone) behave in a way that is acceptable to their society: “newcomers are socialized into our ways”.

Since this coincided quite nicely with my post I had to add this update and wanted to finish with a story about how the corporation tried to socialize us.

1. Psychological profiles
– No kidding, we all had to take an hour test to determine our profile.

2. Berating by leadership in front of peers
– This was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and one of the reasons I decided to leave.  They gathered us in a room for two days and we all had to stand up in front of everyone and present what we had done and were doing with our customers.

It was the leaderships job to point out all of our faults and continually grind away until we admitted we had not done a good job.  The leaders justified this by saying they wanted to “help us.”  If you did not admit that many of the things you had done were wrong then you were in for a very rough ride as they would basically try and break you.

And you know what?  This was all seen as normal behavior!  The leaders actually had drank the Kool-Aid and honestly believed what they were doing to us was not degrading but actually “helping.”

Well needless to say my former company has had extremely high turnover.  In fact out of 25 or so people in my immediate area I can only name one or two that are still with the company.  A gulag it was becoming indeed!

Wrapping up this post, the next time the MBAs’ propose you drink yet another flavor of Kool-Aid, perhaps you could propose that they give this beverage a try instead.

 

Internet Overload plus random thoughts

A very heavy workday has ended and now I have a few minutes before I go into the evening routine.  Usually this time would be reserved for playing World of Warcraft but thankfully I think that addiction is starting to wane.  

Or, it could be that I’ve created a nice little space for myself in front of the window, assembled an Ikea desk and put a laptop on it.  So even though I’ve had no wine and do not feel especially compelled to write I’ve sat down at my desk and begun this aimless post.  

Since I’ve put “internet” in the title I should probably write a bit about that.  I wonder how many people feel a bit overloaded by all the media we are consuming on a daily basis.  I find myself checking the news on my iphone about 20 times a day and finding the same stories from different news sites.  It’s not that I even enjoy it anymore, it has become a habit, almost an addiction.  So, I open up Facebook and the problem is I’ve added all these news sites to my FB feed and I see the same stories yet again!  

I do enjoy keeping up with my 500+ friends and seeing their photos but even then, I’m getting overloaded with media.  It’s not the photos so much but the constant random complaints, quotes, meltdowns, advice, sales pitches, invites to places where I don’t live anymore and yes, news stories YET AGAIN!!   

I suspect that others may feel this way too.  It seems that in the beginning of FB we had a lot of fun reconnecting with old faces from the past and it was a party.  Now, more than half of my FB friends no longer post and it’s only the hardcore posters that are either sharing some random advice or posting something off the wall like “I hate men who don’t want anything to do with their children!”   

When people post things like this I want to be a voyeur and know what happened that brought out this random proclamation.   But, no, I’m never satisfied even if I do check the comments over and over again.  

So, I close Facebook and like one who engages in pleasure too much, it simply is not as much fun as it once was.

So what do I do?  Well, I look for more entertainment sources which probably means back to the news again.  I realize I’m going in a vicious circle, turn off my Iphone and stare at the wall.  

However, my brain is telling me I should be reading or be entertained in some way.  So I turn the electronics back on again.  I’m addicted and I cannot stop.  I don’t want to read the news anymore, I don’t care what states Romney won, hell, I don’t even want to go kill the Horde in WOW either!  I think this is what is called “hitting rock bottom” in other addictions.  

Further, I feel as though I’m behind the curve on technology.  There are too many new websites, too many causes, too many things the media wants us to pay attention to.  I feel like a whore, pimped out over and over again so the media and technology can ravage my brain.  Even though I think I have had enough, I pimp myself out again to digest even more of the noise.  

And what is my solution to this?  Well, to engage in more technology which is exactly what I’m doing.  On one hand I feel worn out but on the other I feel as though I haven’t had enough and can conquer technology again!!  

So, I bought a server and am waiting for it to arrive.  This site is hosted by GoDaddy and they felt the need to charge $160 for the next two years which is insane!!!!  Therefore, I thought I would give hosting my own website a try with my very own server.  I’m a bit nervous because I haven’t done it before and it is technically not allowed under my ISP’s contract but the forums tell me if I keep the bandwith low they will never notice.  I also realized that my personal e-mails are also hosted by Godaddy and I’m going to have to figure out how to run an e-mail program on my new server.  I’m a bit nervous but also excited because I sure as shit am not giving Godaddy $160.  

I’ve also become quite a sloth with this blog.  I set it up fairly quickly but have thought I could break my news and WOW addiction my devoting my energies to something more useful, namely, this blog.  It does well enough in terms of views for very little effort but to become a decent sized blog I’ll have to put in effort.  I think that with this new view of my back patio, I’ll have enough motivation to give it a shot.  

But then again, I wonder about the readers, namely you people.  The opinions I write here mostly resonate only with other international people and those that do have an open mind, or what some would call “free-thinkers.”  Unfortunately, I don’t think there are enough out there, especially here in the USA where we are portrayed as either Liberals or Conservatives.  Perhaps there are more than I realize but probably not enough to become a really big blog.  

Maybe I’m just overthinking it and there are people out there that are interested in other cultures, languages, history and politics that do not fall into the tunnel vision of both the Right and the Left.  

I don’t know, I’ll give it a shot to make a better blog and get more involved with this vast space called the internet.  

Or maybe it is just one last hurrah before I OD on the net and go become a hermit in the woods.  Sure, I might be tempted to take my Iphone but I can be fairly certain that AT&T won’t provide coverage there.  

Here is where I will end this post.  I’ll go walk into the living room and try to resist the temptation to pick up my Ipad.  

Help me.  

 

Random Thoughts – Internet

1. Internet

These days it is hard to open the newspaper without seeing an article about Facebook, Twitter or the myriad of other internet websites.  Everyone is tweeting, Facebooking and posting away it seems.

I wonder if I’m just getting old (at the ripe age of 34) but I find myself becoming less enthusiastic about all these new websites and services that keep popping up.  In fact, I find myself unplugging more and more.

Perhaps I am ahead of the curve.  I had my first website in 1995 while still in HS and joined Facebook before anyone I knew had.  I was constantly online from about 1998 to 2005 vigorously adopting every new internet fad that was out there.

Now, I’m the first to stop using it as much, to stop mindlessly posting every single thought that enters my head.  I have no idea about the new services the kiddies use these days and never really took to twitter so I wonder, am I ahead of the curve by using less technology or am I just getting old?

Part of the reason may be that I’ve simply indulged too much, like a kid who has eaten too many cookies and feels a bit nauseous.  I’ve got my news feed running, I see the stock prices next to that, I’m getting beeped and pinged and god forbid I turn on the chat.

If I think a bit more on the subject I feel a bit cheated with the social networking of Facebook.  Here, I’m suddenly connected to seemingly everyone I’ve ever known yet, it overwhelms me so I chat with none of them.  This is in contrast to the pre-facebook days when you ran into an old friend and had the joy of catching up with them and perhaps setting a date for a beer or two where you could really learn about what they have been up to.

Now, you find them online, “like” a few pictures, maybe trade a quick note or two and then simply become a voyeur.  The massive amount of pictures that previous social etiquette would have compelled me to “like” and comment on has become too much.  Every day is somebodies birthday and I feel bad if I didn’t wish them so because I forgot to check the FB on a daily basis.

I guess you could say that we are now connected but remain very much at a distance.  You just do not get the feeling of closeness from a personal encounter with an old acquaintance by using Facebook.  Or perhaps I’m just an old young adult?

There is also the issue of privacy.  That is a topic that has been slung around the internet like a bag of dog poop recently.  To be honest, younger people are not as paranoid as the older generation.  I can remember that only two years ago, people only a few years older than I were worried about perverts downloading pictures of their children that they had posted.  Well, I’m afraid now, the amount of children posted on the internet has seriously swamped and drowned any perverts out there as people have forgotten their former paranoia.

I on the other hand have swiftly moved in the other direction although it is not due to perverts.  I have changed my name on FB to a fictitious one for the simple reason that I do not feel comfortable with the various tinkering of privacy settings that FB has become known for.

At first blush, I too am not that concerned with privacy.  However, after seeing what sales teams for corporations do on the internet, which is to gather as much information about someone in order to sell something I have become more cautious.  I too must engage in this practice and it continually astounds me how much I can learn about someone on the net.  If they do not have their FB privacy settings set correctly I can quickly learn about their entire life!

For some, their privacy settings are set purposely that way.  They enjoy being center stage  and I believe use it as an emotional support to believe that people want to look at them.  How many people do you know have 100 profile pictures of themselves?  How many people record what they are doing every second of the day?

Some might say that it is simply the new way of communication, but perhaps older generations would call it narcissistic?

For me, I have around 600 friends on the FB and feel that is quite enough.  Therefore, people know that my pseudonym is really me and thus have no trouble figuring it out.  What is does however, is acts as a very effective block for the “snoopers” out there who want to sell me things, or use my information for some other nefarious corporate purpose.

As for Twitter, I already have enough noise I have to deal with on a daily basis and have enough trouble filtering it all out.  Why would I want to add 1 million other voices to the daily garble?  Yes, I do appreciate up to the second news but I would much rather prefer a well thought out article to some snippet from those that call themselves journalists these days.  Like I said, I never really understood Twitter.  I guess if I had to say one good thing about it, is that you really can get up to the second information if some interesting event is happening from people on the scene, but that is about it.

As for the internet in general, there are so many choices of websites and services these days that I almost feel paralyzed.  Normal people can handle a choice of 4-5 things but when you add thousands it does create paralysis and I find myself sticking to the same sites that I’ve become comfortable with.

Now the amount of sites are around 60 or so and even if I Google a random topic I always look for the same URLs’ that I trust:  Wikipedia, Yahoo, How stuff works, TED, News sites, FB, and so on.

I feel that I could probably add to my personal favorite websites if I hung out with some High School kids for a day or two, but then again, I’ve become old and find their websites just full of more noise.

To wrap this post up, I’m waiting for a story on people who are eschewing every new technological fad/website and becoming more focused.  After all, if our current political debates were to act as a barometer I would say the internet is making us more stupid by creating sites that cater to very particular and narrow points of view.  Our limited views are simply reinforced by the thousands of others who have a limited point of view and decided to make a website.

But without getting into politics or anything like that, I simply wonder when the tide is going to turn.  Perhaps an even younger generation will realize that less is better.  Or perhaps a new web service can finely tune everything I need to know into a 30 minute digest so I can stop staring at my multiple screens.

 

 

Random Thoughts

Well, I’ve gotten that urge to write again.  As is often the case the thoughts just appear serendipitously.  I didn’t ask for them, hell, I think I would like a break and just be able to enjoy the news!  But no, the thoughts come quickly and furiously and when this happens I have to post.  

1. PBS

I’ve written about the Public Broadcasting System before.  Why is it that America as a whole do not make this their sole source of news?  Ok, I need to back up and tell you a story.

I’m currently alone, my wife and son are in Japan and I’ve been surviving for two weeks with one week left to go.  I have discovered that I am indeed a family man and need my family.  I ask myself exactly when I went from being an independent world traveler to being a family guy???  

To add emphasis to this, there was a movie called “The Family Man” that came out while I was living in Japan.  One quote from one of the characters really stuck out to me then.  He was telling Nicholas Cage (forgot the character name) that being a “family man” means the fast lifestyle of hot women, bars and so on was no longer available.  At that time I recognized this and was very glad I did not live that lifestyle. 

Well, I don’t agree with my previous thoughts anymore.  In a way it is good that we are apart right now because I really really really really miss my family!  I no longer care about the bars, “fun” times or any of that nonsense.  I’ve never received greater joy than being with my wife and son.  This life is so much better than going to bars and living that type of lifestyle.  

Yes, it can be trying at times but I guess I am thankful that this short break has made me realize that.  

So getting back on point to PBS, when my wife and son are at home I’m usually not allowed to watch PBS.  Well, it is not that I’m “not allowed” but my wife prefers to watch “Friends” while we make dinner.  So even though I’m bereft of intellectual stimulation watching Friends has become the norm and I find that I miss that too when they are away.  

So watching PBS again this evening I was ASTOUNDED by the intellectual component of it.  They ask real questions, they get real answers.  It is very unlike the brain dead news that most of America watches.  

Now, I’ll tell you what was going through my head this evening.  Here I sat, watching very unattractive people debate world affairs and I thought to myself the following.

Even with all my education, all my travels, all my languages, all my reading and so on, I really know very little.  I feel that I’ve reached a certain point where, through learning a lot, one realizes how little they know.  I have to tell you it is a very strange experience.  

Suddenly I find myself interested in everything.  It is almost like I am a 2 year old again who wants to know about everything.  To illustrate the point, let me give you a few examples. 

a.  I take a walk on a nature trail and I find myself wanting to know about the plants and animals I encounter along the way.

b. I hear a word and I need to know not only what it means, but the components of it and where it came from.

c. I learn of a new city and I need to know exactly where it is as well as the history. 

d. I watch a movie or documentary and I dissect it.  I no longer can just enjoy the movie, but I start to see what the theme, I understand what the director wants to portray and I question myself about his/her motives.  

- Side note:  I just watched a documentary about WW2 and would you like to know what impressed me?  Well, it was the fact that this was an American made movie and they documented the (unintentional) massacre of Okinawan citizens.  This impressed me because I could not think of another country that would admit their mistakes such as America does.  

This made me extremely proud to live in such a great country.  Yes, we are having hardships coming especially from the Right.  But damn, when a country can own up to it’s own faults and document them for the world to see, that in my mind makes a GREAT country.  

2. Seeing History in real time

By this I mean I have a vision.  This vision is how the future historians, students or practically anyone who wishes to take a look into the past will regard what we are doing right now.  

As I watched the PBS program and their discussions of the Middle East I begin to realize how primitive we are.  I do this by looking back myself to the medieval wars in Europe between the English, the French, the Spanish and pretty much everyone else.  I analyze my own thoughts on their crazy wars often brought about by family feuds and compare it with what is happening now.  

In what we call the Arab Spring, dictators whose families have basically made entire nations their own fiefdom are brought down.  But I take it a step further.  In the more “advanced” countries we have Presidents, Parliaments and so on.  These forms of government were formed when the citizenry were pretty much from the same tribe or groupings of people.  Yet, over time they have come to include people from different tribes and with much foot dragging and hand wringing these people are starting to become included.  

These “new” people become part of society, start waiving their national flag and so on.  But I cannot help but wonder if 500 years from now people will look back just as I look back on the silliness of medieval Europe.  Perhaps in the future, entire nations will have combined and we’ll be marching towards world peace.  The “tribes” are failing and becoming nations.  As we see, the dictators are falling and new nations forming.  Yet, being in a “tribal” inclusive nation such as myself (the Right aside) I wonder how far this process will continue.  When can we simply call ourselves “Global Citizens?”  Just as tribes are integrating into nations as we progress I wonder when nations will also start coalescing?  

Finally, I took a look at one of the ladies debating on PBS and she wore a string of pearls around her neck.  They were lovely pearls but it got me thinking.  When I read a history book and read about the various feathers, furs, and other ornaments that we no longer wear today I think of these trinkets as part of history.  I think of them as ancient, as those of a primitive people.  Yet, when I look at the trinkets we today adorn ourselves with I wonder if we are really any different.  The thought is, basically you take something pretty, like a rock, metal or feather and put it on your body.  People do this so others will admire them as it shows status.  

Do we not do the exact same thing today?  We consider ourselves advanced yet we put diamonds on our fingers, gold around our necks and dead animals around our shoulders.  

Why should we think of ourselves as advanced when we do the following?

1.  We still adorn ourselves with trinkets, metals and flesh
2. We still are part of a tribe, no matter even if it is as big as a nation.
3. We still adhere to the same religions that were around 1000 years ago?  
4.  We still have the same biases and hatreds that existed a Millenia ago?  
5. We still go to war for the same stupid reasons as our medieval brethren?

So, in closing, I have no point, no conclusion to wrap it all up.  Just wanted to write down what has been going through this strange reality that I understand to be my consciousness.    

 

Thoughts of the week

I think too much. 

This is not a left handed compliment to myself.  Actually, I wonder if left handed compliment is the right word to use here.  I cannot find the right word or phrase where the speaker seems to be criticizing himself yet it is really a compliment.  

See what I mean, I think too much.  

So, as I lay in bed this morning taking the usual 15 minutes before I actually get out of bed, the thinking began again.  I cannot remember all the topics I went over in my head but the ones that stuck will be covered in this blog post.  

I asked myself, why am I thinking so much, can I just think about nothing for a few minutes?  It didn’t work.  I wonder if this is due to the massive amount of information we “internet people” receive on a daily basis.  For me, I have already scanned the major news articles, checked FB and planned out the day before I get out of bed.  I tell you the tablet is a great great invention but perhaps it is adding to this problem of thinking too much.  

So, what did I think about this morning that inspired me to write this blog post?  Let’s go in order. 

1.  TMC debuts “All-American Muslim reality tv show 

- At first blush, I am glad to see that through the popular medium of the American Reality TV show that Muslims will eventually be going mainstream in the USA.  This was bound to happen sooner or later given the increasing population of Muslims and what better way to do it than through the ubiquitous “boob tube” that so many Americans are glued to on a nightly basis.  Further, as this will be a trend, it is good to see it move along from the boisterous, angry reactions that often accompany any major change in society.  

The first part of the article reads:

Shadia Amen has plenty of piercings, a few on her left eyebrow and 20 on her ears. She says her hair changes color monthly, “anywhere from pink to blue-black to black to whatever tickles my fancy.”  

And tattoos cover 40 percent of her body, including one that depicts “the rock star sign with the hand” shaped like the devil’s horns. Despite that, the 31-year-old Dearborn woman — who calls herself a hillbilly at heart — is a proud Muslim.

From these opening paragraphs Americans should understand that many American Muslims are just as delinquent as any other major American religion!  See my American comrades, she has a “rock-star hand tattoo,” she can’t be all that bad!  :)  

I guess this is a tactic which shows the complete opposite of what is generally believed and thus tries to change opinions.  Americans tend to think that all Muslim women are oppressed but have never heard of one with crazy hair color AND a tattoo!  

But again, the change in society is happening and the sooner we move off all the angry denunciations of everything Muslim the better in my opinion.  Time to start being inclusionary.  

2.  So the Republicans are going to attack Iran 

This the actual title from The Jerusalem Post.  The journalist states that he did not learn much from the Republican debate and neither did I since I didn’t watch it.  

Is this any big surprise?  The Republicans have been on war footing for the past 20 years and even though the USA is already engaged in two of them they would like to engage in a third.  It does not matter that they hound Obama for prolonging the debt of the USA and that the levels are the worst they have ever been.  It does not matter that the reason the USA is in debt is due to financing these wars.  If there is another war to be started, let’s all just hop on board that train if they believe the electorate will like it!  

Taking a step back and looking at this from a 35,000 ft view, and revisiting themes such as American being an Empire, is this not what Empires do?  I’m not offering any opinion either way here I just want to point out that America is indeed an empire and I just wish the citizenry would accept that.  

Instead, the refrain is “Protecting Freedoms.”  People in the USA want to be free ergo, the USA must go attack other countries.  As I’ve mentioned before, this “Protecting Freedoms” is so surface, so trite, so……. non-thinking.  Why can it not be called out as it is?  

a.  America is an Empire and protects its interests regardless of the complexity of this idea called “justice,” or considering what is “fair.”  When did “fairness” ever play a role in politics, geo-politics or diplomacy?  As far as I can tell, the game is take what you can when you can.  From history we know that other nations play by these rules so why should America be any different now?  

b.  America has various influences and the strongest win.  The Israeli lobby just happens to be extremely powerful in America and thus America will now do what Israel wants.  

- Again, I’m not passing any judgement what so ever, just pointing out the glaring truth.  

3.  Prayer in American society

This is a pretty big topic but I just want to narrow it down quite a bit.  This thought occurred to me when I saw various sports teams saying a prayer before their games on Saturday.  I also saw it after the running back knelt down after scoring a touchdown.  

My first thought was about how Americans would feel should a sports team from a Muslim country do the same.  Would the first thought not be one of fear, of condemnation, of exulting the values of a secular American society?  However I describe these reactions I think it is safe to say that this would make an average American uncomfortable.  

Yet the Americans do the exact same thing but are blind to the hypocrisy.  

Secondly, I really wonder about the requests in these prayers.  Perhaps it is because I’ve been watching “Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.” 

I am completely astounded by these big ideas and the absolute awesomeness  of the universe.  By watching these films I am made aware of the extreme limits of my own brain and how much I do not understand.  Mr. Hawking always does a great job of explaining these mind bending theories to the lay person and it always leaves me in a state of wonder. 

So here I am, pondering the nature of the universe as fervently as my small brain can, like a blender running at 30000 rpms.  Then I see the sports teams praying and I have to ask, in the immensity of the universe and all that a supernatural being would be capable of are they asking the following?

“Please let us win this game.”  

I have to say this puts me at a loss.  Out of all the grandness of the universe, the mystery the ultimate question of “Why am I here,” and “Is there a purpose,” and “Why do I exist,” the players are simply asking to win a game?  

Going back to the beginning of this post with the Muslim reality TV show this statement also confuses me.

Amen-Fawaz, 28, also stopped wearing the hijab around age 18. But this year, she started donning it again to become closer to God.

Would this awesome supernatural being who may or may not be present in our universe (perhaps in others, maybe he forgot about us?) really care if these life forms called humans wear something on their head or not?  (This goes for pretty much all Orthodox religions mind you).  

Going further, there are a myriad of rituals, such as genital mutilation, sacred water, specific garments, sacrifices both real (killing things) and symbolic such as Communion.  Would the divine really care about all of these things or are they rituals that our species have just made up?  

I guess I’m just having a disconnect with my thoughts on the extreme immensity and wonder in the universe verses all the seemingly superficial rituals we perform here on our planet.  Stephen Hawking has explained to me how we arrived on this planet almost to the beginning of everything.  I say “almost” because I’m still waiting on what existed before the big bang.  I would also like to know the following.

1.  Do other universes exist? 
2. What is the absolute nature of reality.
3.  What existed before our universe, do these “spheres” of reality continually get bigger, one encompassing the other and if so does it go on for infinity?
4.  Does the divine exist and if so are they still here in this reality or did they move on?  
5.  Why do there appear to be ghosts or supernatural phenomena but we cannot explain it.
6.  Is there an afterlife?  

Now, if it were me and I was made to pray before the big game (since I do not want to be the only one who does not participate) I would be asking the above, not simply, please let us win the game.  

As I warned you in the beginning, I think too much.  Should there be any doubt about a self compliment here, I realize I comprehend very little and that everything I think I know may be wrong.  

Ok, enough with these issues.  As I have planned out my day I have to get back to figuring out why my Windows XP can no longer see my data D: drive.  I’ve tinkered enough with recovery, deleting various registry keys and messing with DOS.  It appears I’ll have to actually take the drive out and take it to the computer store.  This is the third time in my life I could not fix something by myself and I have to tell you, this is a serious matter!  Good news is I have it backed up but did so 4 months ago, so it is not that recent.  

Or perhaps I could just pray for it to work again.  If God is answering the players requests to win the big game, then I am certain my prayer to make the D: drive work again will take precedence.   

 

 

 

 

 

Disoriented

It has been quite a long while since a post.

Hate to disappoint but this will not be much of a post either.  I simply want to write down a few thoughts going through my head at the moment.  I’m disoriented, out of balance and instead of retreat to my online computer game (Wow) thought it would be more productive to share these thoughts.

1. I’m alone

I’m currently in a large house, by myself, with nobody but myself, my fish and the lure of the internet.  You see, I’ve just come back from Japan.  While there I had to make a decision.  We were visiting my parents-in-law with my young son.  The great grandmother lives in Tochigi Prefecture which is just below Fukushima.

The decision was mine to go and I did my research.  Never in my life would I have thought that I would have to make a decision concerning radiation.  The choice also involved my young son as well as immediate Japanese family.  I chose to go as we have a great grandmother there who is 90 years old.  It was now or possibly never that my young son could meet the grandmother.

I learned quickly that the radiation levels were not very strong and could sometimes be just as high as the worst spots in Fukushima as they were in certain spots in Tokyo.

We did have many discussions about the radiation which I hope to write about later but what really captured my attention was the picture of my boy’s ancestors.  In every Japanese house they have a shrine to the ancestors along with photos that peer down on you from the corner where the wall meets the ceiling.  In the great-grandmothers house as well as in my parents-in law’s house there was a picture of  a Japanese WWII soldier in uniform that never came home.  These men would be the great-grand-uncles of my young boy.  In the film they call them “Japs.”

My wife and child are now staying another two weeks in Saitama.  So I find myself alone, sad and for some reason have chosen a documentary on WW11 on Netflix as my weekend entertainment.

Sure I could go out, I have free reign to do whatever I would like.  Yet, I chose wine and Netflix to divert my attentions.  I miss them terribly.

As I watch the video of WW11 and the video of the dead American and Japanese soldiers I cannot help but try to recognize the same men I saw in my family’s house in Japan.

Is it not astounding how quickly times change, how quickly opinions change and how quickly we can all become allies?  In one moment our nations are shooting at each other and in the next blink we are best friends?

War is absurd.

I then read about an impending military strike from Israel on Iran.  As much as I read I simply cannot understand the rationale with “geopolitics.”  Yes, I am aware that there are very logical reasons for attack, for death, but in the grand scheme of things I cannot help but think of us as a very primitive species.  This instinct towards war, the belief that a divine power is always on our side, and that the only solution is to kill.

Being in this house alone, watching war in High Definition, watching politicians give their support for further war completely depresses me.

I almost wish I was not human, did not belong to this group that continues to kill over and over.

I hear the rationale, the reasoning and it is as if the chimps are chattering, beating their chests and I wonder, why can I not understand them?

So, further in-depth posts will come, I’ll use my tiny brain to try and reason, to argue against further destruction.  But do I really understand anything?

Perhaps it is best to retreat to my wine, to watch my movies and wallow in the stagnant waters of sadness.

Quick Update

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for the delay in posting, especially since there have been so many things going on in the news lately.  Life has been busy with much travel, new job, young child and various social engagements where young children come to my place, throw things on the floor and make lots of noise.  LOL  (All good fun though)  

Just wanted to throw out a few thoughts, insights from the past few weeks.  

1.  Life

I was sitting on a hotel patio in Cabo San Lucas a few weeks ago to watch the sunrise.  It had just begun when a gnat began hitting me in the face.  As I swatted at this creature I began to pay less attention to the sunrise.  

Then I had a quite profound insight that you only get during these moments.  

Simply being alive is a wonderful, glorious thing.  In each of our lives we will have problems, minor distractions.  If we pay too much attention to these small distractions we will miss the entire point and purpose of being alive.  We should be happy, we should enjoy this existence and if we pay attention to the immense beauty of simply being alive then our short life will be a successful one, even if small problems come along once in a while.  

2.  Occupy Wallstreet

I am very much enjoying all these protests and the attention they are receiving.  I think it is a natural outcome of the many injustices that have come to many populations recently.  I think the overriding issue is that business and the single minded pursuit of higher profits is unsustainable.  The current corporate model is simply to drive those profits higher and higher which in theory is not inherently a “bad” thing.  However, when business has bought the Democratic process (Citizens United) and the motivation to simply sell more has overtaken what is good for the individual, consumer, community through deceptive sales tactics then things need to change.  

I am in sales and understand very clearly that we are simply to sell more regardless of the sale being in the best interest of the consumer or not.  Not every consumer can understand all the complexity and is able to make the best decision.  Further, the industries become too powerful, even more so than governments (buying governments – Citizens United) and are able to trap consumers into paying more than they should.  

Examples

1.  Telecoms – Why do we need to pay $150 for a basic family plan?  More competition would be better but we are left with only a few choices who have unspoken agreements to drive the cost very high.  We need a cell phone in this age and thus must shell out major cash to have one.  

2. Mortgages – People trust that the institution is looking out for their best interest.  The sales people at these institutions know that they are rewarded on the amount of sales instead of the quality of the sales.  

3.  Credit Cards – How many offers have you received in the past week?  Why is the standard setting on paying the minimum amount?  Yes, people should have individual responsibility with less government control but these companies know quite well that the many, who pay way too much in interest should be informed that their situation is not a desirable one.  The individual companies should take some responsibility here.  Not everyone is capable of making good decisions.  

Finally, when corporations have bought the government, are gouging their customers AND STILL ALMOST FAIL anyway due to reckless risk AND ARE BAILED OUT by the same people they are gouging (tax payers) there should be some give and take!  

But this has not happened.  They simply took the bailouts, continued to gouge customers even more and have not contributed back to the community which saved them.  

In short, there is no accountability in these corporations that have now been deemed “People.”  Corporations are not people, as a regular person with human emotions might show a bit of gratefulness, a bit of gratitude for being saved from bankruptcy.  

The government tried to throw in some regulations (especially in the banking arena) but this only caused them to find ways to keep their pre-recession profit levels incredibly high at the expense of consumers.  Couple that with massive bonuses for their CEOs who caused the mess in the first place, well, this has caused the masses stomach to completely turn.  

It is time for a bit of protest in my opinion.  Things do need to change but whether or not a few protests can stop this relentless drive for higher profits at all costs remains to be seen.  Money and profit has been King since the 1980’s in the USA and it may be hard to return to a more equal society where more emphasis is put on the betterment of the community rather than a few people becoming obscenely wealthy.  

Information Overload and The Art of Forgetfulness

As usual, this post has been inspired by a serindipitous insight.  As you know, I do not enjoy taking time to edit and much prefer simply writing as the thoughts come along.  This post shall not disappoint.  

The first insight I had today occurred while going through my massive amount of daily news.  What occurred has come to my mind before and came very forcefully today.  What became apparent to me is that 90% of the things I read are simply “noise.”  

I feel addicted to my news articles.  I scan through the New York Times, The Economist, USA Today, Google News, Bloomberg and so on almost daily.  Even though I read so much am I really learning anything?  

It feels as if I’m sifting through a wide and deep river but only coming up with a lot of sand and only on occasion a flake of gold.  It is when I do my research and find an excellent book that I feel I have discovered a gold mine.  

My most recent gold mine was Thomas Paine’s “The Age of Reason.”  I’ve wrote about this in the previous post and have no intention of repeating myself here.  Before that my gold bar was 1001 nights. It seemed to me like the Arabic version of Grimm’s Fairytales.  I was familiar with all the Western tales but it wasn’t until I read One Thousand and One Nights that I laid down the groundwork to understanding Arabic culture.  It is quite refreshing to start learning another culture by what the children learn instead of jaded opinions from foreign cultures.  Children after all start with no bias.  Bias is learned, taught to them by adults.  

How interesting that we now have Aladdin from Walt Disney yet the Americans have most recently decided to hold a hearing on Muslims in the USA.  Perhaps they should have subpoenaed Aladdin and have him fly in on his magic carpet?  

As usual I have gotten off track.  My point is that most of the things we read on a daily basis are simply noise, the articles provide no real learning.  The reason for this is that news/entertainment companies are under constant pressure to come up with new content.  Every single day there must be something new to report.  What we get is a “this happened here” such as with USA Today.  If you read a bit further with good magazines like the Economist you may be able to dig a bit further.  But even magazines like the Economist only scratch the surface.  

So what would I like to see?

I would like a publication that has an immortal as an editor.  This person has lived for 50,000 years and has experienced it all before.  What I’m getting now resembles a young child trying to ride a bike.  This reporter knows how to get on it and maybe peddle one pedal.  However, an immortal would know how to work both peddles, turn the wheel, dodge bumps in the road, fix the bike should it break and tell me how the bike is actually built.  

I guess this thought comes from listening to populist politicians who manipulate the energy and issues of the day.  The reporters as well only have a hind sight of 1 mile and can see nothing of the road ahead in heavy fog.  

I want a sage, or as Don Quixote puts it, a veritable Solomon.  Solomon was seen as a prophet but what I have recently learned is that prophet may mean “to authorize singing human compositions with musical instruments.”  In “The Age of Reason” Paine points out that this word used to mean simply making music so when people used to “prophesize” they were simply singing.  

By this example, I’m illustrating what I would like to see in a daily publication.  I want insight, I want history and I want an explanation that spans all human knowledge.  I want a big fat nugget of gold every time I decide to read an article, not just a bunch of sand that tells me nothing other than there is sand under the river.  

I want to know how the sand got there, I want to know what it is made of and from where it came.  And if it is a most excellent article, I want to know where the sand is going.  I want to know what the original meaning of “sand” is.  Currently, all I get is, “There is sand here.”  

Forgetfulness 

The more I read and the more I learn I find it simply astounding how quickly we forget the past.  We now have universities, great institutions of learning, yet why is it that we never really understand history? 

We read about the atrocities of the past, but how many people really *feel* those atrocities.  We read about entire cultures being wiped out but we never really internalize the gravity of the horrific act.  How many of us can put ourselves into the lives of those destroyed by the conquering power?  

If you read the bible it is full of death and destruction.  You have Judah vs. Israel and it claims the destruction of one was due to the will of God?  Why is it that even today the victor, the leader of nations will often claim that God has chosen them specifically to lead?  

Time and time again, as I read history, the destruction of an entire group of people was due to “The Will of God?”  

How many of us can put ourselves into the mindset and lives of those that were slaughtered?  

Or do we simply say that the act was in the past and we are much more sophisticated and enlightened now? 

This brings me to my next point. 

If we were to look back 500 years and condemn the Spaniards for destroying the Mexica, the Americans for destroying the Natives, and the Natives for destroying those that came before them, what will people 500 years from now say about us?  

Again, we consider ourselves extremely sophisticated and look upon those that lived 500 years ago as not being “humanitarian,” as being “sub-intelligent.”  If we can do that now, then again, what will people 500 years from now say about us? 

With all our education, with the complete sum of human knowledge that the internet brings us, why can we not recognize our faults as they happen?  

Why can we not understand that loving each other is the true path?  

Why do we continually find faults and actively strive to find differences in order to condemn others?  

Why is it that many feel so uncomfortable around people that are different from them?

Instead, we read the news, learn to solidify our bias and feel intelligent when we can point out how our hatreds and bias are justified based on the little we think we know? 

Perhaps it is due to all this knowledge on the internet and my insatiable curiosity to continually want to learn more. 

To illustrate I recently found a piece of music called “Saltarello.” 

But I am not satisfied with just listening to the music.  I want to know what Saltarello means.  I want to know the culture it comes from.  I learn it comes from the Kingdom of Naples and I want to know how this Kingdom was formed and what happened to it.  I also want to know what the dance steps are.  I want to know where it was played and who composed it.  I want to know how “Saltar” came to mean what it means!  What language does it originate from?  What sounds did humans make that eventually came to form the word!  

I feel that this kind of curiosity is lacking in the world today.  We are content to simply listen to the music and express if “we like it” or not.  

*Side Note: *In America the thought would be how to make money off the piece.*  

Again, with all our learning and access to information where has the curiosity gone?  Why are we so content and happy with whatever *new* drivel the news organizations decide to tells us about, especially when the news is bereft of real historical and wise insight?  

To be addicted to the news as I am is akin to a Koala bear eating Eucalyptus leaves.  Sure, I eat a lot but I am getting very little nutrition .  


” 

Human Evolution – A Long Way to Go

I have to say, I really love Netflix.  Every night we watch part of a movie from a seemingly infinite array of titles.  The great thing about Netflix is I often choose movies I would otherwise never have watched simply because I watch so many of them, I can just stream it and choose something else if the movie turns out to be bad.  

From these films, I’m exposed to many ideas that would not have popped into my head before.  Tonight was no different.  

The title we chose is not important.  What caught my attention is that it was set in the 1960’s in America and there was a sign in a neighborhood yard that said “Support LBJ in Vietnam.”  

Looking back, we all now know that Vietnam was a catastrophe and the USA was wrong to go there.  Watching this movie however, put me in the frame of mind of the time and how unsophisticated I began to think those people were.  They simply chose to support the war because they are American and their country told them to.  There is nothing more complex about it then that.  

Those people had never been to Vietnam, do not know the history, had very little understanding of the politics involved and most likely had never met a Vietnamese citizen.  Yet, they are willing to support the killing of many people just because their country told them they should. 

Fast forward to today, I began to ask myself “Has anything changed?”  We now have the internet, can see video from across the world in real time and consider ourselves much more learned.  

However, the answer I come to is that not much has changed at all.  If we look at Iraq, a majority of America yet again supported a war in a place they know absolutely nothing about just because they were told to do so by their country. AND, that reason turned out to be false.  

I then began to think about the various reasoning for wars and how it must have all made sense to people of various time periods.  The Crusades, the many European wars, the conquest of America both North and South.  In every case, human beings used logic and otherwise sound reasoning (of the time) to justify each and every single war.  The scholars, the learned, would craft arguments about why others had to be killed and the majority of the population supported it.  

We still do this today.  We believe ourselves to be educated and that our reasoning is correct, but we have the same outcomes over and over again.  It all boils down to “We must go kill those people for reasons x, y and z.”  

I try to find one example where the reasoning must have been justified and the only one that even comes close is World War II.  But then I have to stop myself because the Nazi party also had brains, they also had logic and reasons why they believed they should go kill others.  The majority of the world condemns them but what they fail to ask is what they would have done if they had been German and listened to the Nazi speeches, would they have had the intelligence to realize that what they were doing was wrong.  

I strongly believe that the majority of any population put in this situation would not.  There are very few people in the world who can realize a wrong when the majority around them supports it.  

This leads me to believe that as human beings we are not advanced, we are not civilized and we still not that different from animals.  The only difference is that we are now able to craft what we believe to be intelligent arguments to hate others.  We are able to convince ourselves that based on our logic we are just in our own hatreds.  

How often have we asked ourselves, who do we not like, who would we not want to associate with and who do we hate.  How many times do we ask ourselves why we feel this way?  And how many times do we come to the conclusion that our hatreds are justified due to our reasoning?  

I have come to the conclusion that in the course of evolution from Ape to intelligent, superior beings, we as a human race are only 30% of the way there.  

Anonymous and LulzSec

 

Well, I was just about to fall asleep while reading the news on my IPad and caught the story about LulzSec hacking into the Arizona Police department, “because we are against SB 1070 and the racial profiling anti-immigrant police state that is Arizona.”

 

Don’t feel like writing an in-depth post tonight so just going to write down a few thoughts.

I HAPPEN TO REALLY REALLY LIKE ANONYMOUS AND LULZSEC!
(Well, I like LulzSec for getting Arizona and Fox.  Seems like this Wild Child of Anonymous is throwing quite a tantrum.  My opinion of them is evolving.)

It was not long ago that Anonymous really was anonymous unless you happen to be a Japanophile like me.  As you know I have an an affiliation with Japan and it seemed these guys shared that as well as my obsession with computers.  I never really liked /b/ though which is where the group originated.  I guess I imagined these people to be the ones who play World of Warcraft (like me, but was able to tear myself away last year), like internet cats and are just looking for more interesting things to do on the internet.

Well, it seems they found that “something interesting” and it is a lot more important than simply leveling up the Night Elf Rogue to get epic gear or doing interesting things with Photoshop.

So I followed their adventures online and as it turns out, , Anonymous and LulzSec share the exact same opinions as us regarding oppression, closed mindedness and the authorities being mean to others.  If you read just a few of our posts you’ll quickly see we are on board with just about everything they now stand for.

1. Call of Duty – Black Ops
Anonymous said: “You can`t shoot people in real life, therefor you play a game and go online to shoot people. But now that you`ve also been denied that you rage mindlessly, maybe it`s about time you put your mind to productive use?”

We said: Global Citizen vs. Call of Duty Black Ops

2. Arizona Anti-Immigration Bill – SB 1070
Lulz Sec: *Said the above, no need to repeat*
We said: Arizona Immigration Law – A Unique Perspective

3. Wikileaks
Anonymous Said: ‎”Censorship; it will always force itself upon us…. and we will always be there to vanquish it.” ~Anonymous X

We Said: Forum Post – Wikileaks

4.  And many many other examples.

It seems like the internet has come alive to all these wrongs and they know more about computers than the bad guys.

I’m sure people are still trying to figure out what to make of these two groups.  Well, they are most likely the same, only LulzSec are the super intelligent Anons and are seriously hyper-active.  It was also not long ago I believed that Anonymous was a secret and the biggest sin was talking about it.  Well, seems those rules went out the window.  Here is my favorite explanation about Anonymous

What really appeals to me about this video is their statement “the influence of thought.” They ask difficult, unpopular questions and do something about it as well!

*As a side note I’m not smart enough to do what these Anons do but I sure support what they have become!

The Arizona bill is wrong and it does terrorize communities.  Governments should come clean and dispense with so many secrets.  The war on drugs HAS been a catastrophe that has wasted countless lives and an enormous amount of money.  Hell, there is even a bill going through congress to legalize marijuana.

http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x2069920958/U-S-Rep-Barney-Frank-looking-to-end-federal-pot-penalties

Think this is outlandish?  Well, Ron Paul agrees with the dispensing of government secrets part and he has been re-elected for as long as anyone can remember.  The politicians talk of change yet it never comes.  Now, you have a bunch of Netizens simply calling out a lot of things that are wrong with the world.

Of course not everyone agrees.  PC Mag called them “Thugs.”  But who cares what stodgy old PC Mag thinks.  They went out of style with Windows ME.

It is impossible to say which way these groups will go, because as the video mentions, there are no leaders, no authorship, they just do what they want to do.  And recently, if we look at the big picture, the things they are doing are very positive.  The collective has shed light on a lot of hard, unpopular truths.

For my part, I wish them all the best.  It also feels good to have fellow internet geeks taking on the powerful and winning!  =)

* Follow up 6.24.2011

The following just occurred to me.

When you go live overseas and meet other adventurous people you quickly realize that just about everyone would be considered “Liberal.”  I don’t mean this in the American sense but rather that they are more open minded, understand how the world works more clearly and more keen to point out enormous wrongs that go on internationally.  They have a much better sense of justice and are usually quite intelligent.  After all, they have learned to survive and most often thrive in an environment that is not their own, many of them even speak the local language.

Anonymous and LulzSec (Well, LulzSec on rare occassions) currently seem to espouse the same type of political/social ideas (proven by their most recent actions) that you will find among expatriate populations.

At first blush, people who are not thinking clearly or do not understand “The Bigger Picture,” think them simply criminals.  But if we look at history a lot of injustices required more than a bit of civil disobedience.  What makes Anon and LulzSec so effective is that there is no point of origin, no real leaders.  What you have is an awakening that it is quite fun and there can be plenty of Lulz by doing something meaningful and for the greater good.

Yes, some may do some bad things under the Anon umbrella but it looks like the battleships are aiming mostly in the right direction even though a few bystanders might get injured.