domestic imperialism

Jedidiah Purdy came to my attention because he wrote some amazing book or other and he was homeschooled.

I googled him further and discovered this article

In nearly impenetrable language, he discusses the ideals behind imperialism. To be reductive, he says that imperialist action is based on the idea that one party knows better than another. He divides imperialism into two camps, weak and strong.  Strong imperialism says “We know better than you and are going to place ourselves in a position to make decisions for you.”  Weak imperialism is a sort of emancipatory imperialism, saying, “You, the people, are under the power of other people who are not allowing you to make your own decisions. We will overpower those who have overpowered you to restore your self-determination.”

Weak imperialism contains a contradiction, because an outside party is deciding what the so-called oppressed people need. However, it is arguably a necessary thing to help the helpless on occasion.

Why do I bring up imperialism right now? Because the democrats in the united states congress have taken it upon themselves to decide for its citizenry what we need. There is not popular support for this Health Care bill, but they have come to the conclusion that they know better than their constituents.

That is just the current manifestation. What will this very deeply private health care bill further decide for Americans?

concrete tall and wide

Once, when visiting Manhattan, I stood on the roof of the Empire State building. It was dusk, and I could see in all directions. Wherever there wasn’t water, there were buildings. Incredible! With the tiny little fully encased exception of Central Park, everything was paved and built-over as far as the eye could see. And the eye could see for miles. I would not have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself.

Driving from Pasadena to Irvine (Orange County) yesterday, I had to drive slowly. It was raining,  so the traffic was backed up and I had to drive very very slow. I passed through neighborhood after neighborhood after commercial strip mall. Overpasses and exits and miles and miles of freeway. It occurred to me that the Los Angeles area is very populated and built up. It made me think of the view from the Empire State building. I wondered if L.A. had a tall building that could give a similar view. I thought of the Library tower, famous for being the first to get blown up by the Aliens in Independence Day.

Then I realized that the view of the L.A. basin is best seen from the mountains. I’d taken the Angeles Crest highway. and seen the whole thing.

But seeing the man made from a tall mountain is a totally different experience. The Empire State building is a man-made structure. Seeing all the man-made things from a man-made things takes your breath away. You realize how very much man can subdue nature.

But seeing man-made things from a mountain makes man-made things look small. The mountain will outlast us. Nature has patience with us, because we are not so very important in the big scheme of things.

the worth of truth

Reading Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done and drooling over the world they describe. Larry and Ram are going on about developing bench strength and coaching their people talent.

I did an informal poll and asked my friends if they’d ever been in a company that valued the people such that coaching and promotions were part of life. We know of this, like we know of unicorns. But do they exist? Doubtful.

But that made me think. What if we could develop partnerships with teams who could assess us effectively–a kind of support group. Perhaps a group of people doing volunteer work with the idea in mind that honest and constructive feedback about strengths but MOSTLY weaknesses would happen at the end.

Honesty is so rare and valuable.

The things everyone should be told about conferencing technology

I’m preparing a presentation about conferencing. I’ve been doing it for a dozen years now, I ought to know something about it.

“They” say that managers spend 50% of their time in meetings. And every day I see meetings that are handled so badly. I would think, if I did something repeatedly and I knew I would keep doing it, I would want to get better at it.

Interestingly, there is not a lot of information about the subject. Me and my colleagues are constantly seeing ways our users could improve their experience. But nobody asks. I don’t see any books about it.

So…once i get my thoughts organized for this presentation, I may expand the topic and make a reference book. Perhaps there are some people out there WISHING they could get better at this thing, but no one is there to teach them.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Ta dah!

Pulling up my socks

John Wooden was a great basketball coach at UCLA, and he is well known for his successful tenure. The teams he coached won a record number of championships.

 I heard him on TV, when he was talking about being in condition to win. Even little things matter; in particular he focussed on shoes and socks.

 The very real fact is, when you practice your game the way you need to to WIN your game you will sustain blisters. Blisters are such small insignificant little annoyances, right? Just the cost of doing your business.

 But the little things matter. And if you are hampered by something as small as a blister, you might not make it to your championship goal. John Wooden paid attention to all aspects of the game, and he found a way to prevent blisters. Basically, pull up your socks. Don’t let them bunch up so that you can’t be at your best.


Be careful in the little things. As I look ahead to a lot of chaos and changes in my department’s infrastructure, I am shaking in my boots a little. How are we going to manage these many many changes that haven’t happened yet?


I know how we are going to manage. I am going to pay attention to all the little things. I am going to do my best to make sure that our stuff–our game plays–are in the best condition I can make them. That way when all the changes come, our documentation and equipment will be ready.


Local conflicts

Driving to the Long Beach Hilton yesterday for a convention, I saw a line of picketers in front. I was driving past to find the parking, but they seemed to be listless, and all the signs were professionally printed.

Hired picketers, I thought. I was early, so I wanted to go speak to them to see what they could tell me about their cause. Not much, I figured, if they were temp workers hired by the union to hold signs.

As sign holding gigs go, this one would be less taxing than the one where the guy has to hold the arrow ON SALE sign and dance while waving it around.

But by the time I got to the picketers, they had turned up the volume. Literally. There was a bullhorn in use, and some marching that could be interpreted as angry. Now I felt too intimidated to go up and talk to them.

Two people were standing in an alcove to take a better look so i joined them. The woman there said “What do those signs say? What are they protesting?”

My thoughts exactly. “Unite!” I answered her, reading the signs. “But that doesn’t tell us anything. What’s the deal?”

I looked over at the second person in our alcove, and saw he was a cop. He sighed, with his thumbs hooked into his belt.

“The Union wanted the workers at this Hilton to unionize. They had a vote and the workers didn’t want it. Hilton doesn’t care; a lot of their hotels are union already. But they don’t think the workers should be forced to unionize if they don’t want to. And we are caught in the middle.”

Didn’t expect that answer. “But…They are being pretty loud…Can they do that? I’m not feeling very peaceful. Perhaps they are disturbing my peace?”

Policeman said, “That’s why I’m here. Caught in the middle.”

Hmm. “Don’ t they have a red line? I mean, when I lived in an apartment, there was a limit to how high I could turn the volume up before I got in trouble.”

Apparently the city of Long Beach does not have red line legislation.