Saturday, December 3, 2016

When Trump Moves to Mars

I'm beginning to suspect that the Donald Trump presidency might provide students, educators, entrepreneurs, project managers and really anybody anywhere with the best evidence for the intrinsic value of preparedness.

To be clear, I don't hate Donald Trump, I strongly dislike the rhetoric that, like dead skin, sloughs off of him only to be consumed, punctuates, and regurgitated by an electorate desperate to believe in that dead dreams can be reincarnated.

I also wish that he was curious about things other than how many minutes he was discussed on morning political shows, why certain news programs continue to use unflattering photos of him, and if his classic "winging it" ideology got him to the white house, what else can he achieve. Maybe he's curious about how to gain world domination or how to be even more complimentary towards Vladimir Putin.

It would be helpful if he was curious about history. Maybe if he'd understood the basics about the One China Principle, or even what a blind trust is, or if he was interested in understanding exactly how his campaign helped promote hate, then maybe people all over the world wouldn't be feeling confused, slighted, and increasingly vulnerable because the most powerful man in the world doesn't seem to be aware or interested in any of their individual stories, he is blind to their struggles, yet he gets to decide their futures.

I suspect that in the long run, no one will win in the world Trump intends to create. Hopefully after it has fallen away either with Trump being fired and driven away in a taxi cab like a head hanging down apprentice contestant, or maybe once ignoring global warming has caused the world to heat to a level where that even Carrier's air conditioners can't save us (a deal that oft-confused Sarah Palin was able to see right through), Trump will test his "winging it" paradigm in a new settlement on Mars.

When that day comes, thinking people, the curious, or anyone with eyes to see will realize that having a 30 year career in public service is not something to hide. Maybe then preparedness won't seem like a snotty notion reserved for the coastal elites.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Failure of Imagination

I feel like I'm going to explode. Thinking of solutions usually helps me. The problem that's currently causing my heart to race is the people who aren't alarmed by Donald Trump. I was just chatting with a friend who told me that Trump's ideas would never happen, that he'd never be able to get those laws to pass.

Halfway through the conversation it dawned on me that my friend didn't understand how a bill becomes a law. I'm beginning to suspect that he doesn't know the difference between the House and the Senate, what a filibuster is and that he lacks even a cursory understanding of Presidential Executive Orders, and my friend is a really good guy. But he's asleep because he can't imagine that anything truly terrifying will actually happen.

Not long before the election I went to the movies to see  The Girl on the Train and fell hard for Edgar Ramirez. After the election I was moping so I sought comfort in my new crush. While in that state of loneliness and self-pity I was making my way through Ramirez's old movies when I heard something really insightful in the trailer for a film called Vantage Point. One of the characters says that, "the beauty of American arrogance is that they cannot imagine a world where they're not a step ahead."

I know these weren't the words of God, but they still struck me as incredibly insightful. Maybe we can't imagine because we don't fully understand the steps required to make the unimaginable a reality. Maybe the basic structure of our society has held for so long that we don't feel compelled to understand it and can't imagine a scenario in which we'd have to defend it.

The bottom line is that I need solutions to keep myself from hiding on the floor of my closet with a bag of tortilla chips and a slew of DVDs featuring the lovely Edgar Ramirez (those! Anyone suffering from the same obsession should check out a movie he made called Carlos, that got me through some cold nights). Anyway, where was I...

Long term solution #1: We need a stronger education system.

No one has to agree with me, but my friend was trying to base his optimism on something he'd heard from a guy at the gym. A fucking guy at the gym. Optimism that completely ignores data should only be relied upon in moments like this.

Thankfully, things aren't that that bleak, yet.

I will now pull myself out of this stupor, say good-bye to my newfound lover (Adios, sweet Edgar) and I'll get to work. I want to begin thinking of ways to improve education across the county (smaller classes sizes, more cash for teachers, innovate solutions that don't require decades of evidence before implementation). Education is critical to ensure that future generations of Americans don't end up knowing more about the Khloe Kardashians of their time than they do about the voting records of their senators.

Am I excited? No. But I'm getting ready. This is the best way to describe my current mood. I may only have 15 minutes to reach a minimum safe distance, but I'm going to use that time to prepare and to fight like hell. I would urge you to do the same.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Donald Trump and the Supreme Court

I just read this on The Daily Beast. Is it possible that president-elect Donald Trump (aka President Putin) doesn't know how the United States Supreme Court works?

Yes, it was settled. However, if the composition of the Supreme Court becomes more conservative then all that's needed for marriage equality laws to be reversed is a test case. The same goes for Roe v. Wade.

Radiolab's A More Perfect Union has an interesting, funny, and frightening story called The Imperfect Plaintiffs about how test cases work. Many of the court battles in the history of our nation that have set precedent, changed laws, and allowed us to create a country that reflected our evolving values do not reach the Supreme Court organically.

Instead, throughout our nation there are well-funded attorneys who select laws they'd like to challenge and then search for cases they can use to challenge those laws.

As a matter of fact, the minute Trump was elected, many of those attorneys probably began searching for the cases they'd present to the court once its back up to nine judges...the final judge being selected by Donald Trump.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Damsels Not In Distress

"It's all in you head."  "You're making too big a deal of it."  "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill." "Just stop worrying about these things."

Have you been on the receiving end of these types of statements?  When you express concern or point out a potential problem, are you often treated as though you're overreacting or thinking about things that you shouldn't be thinking about?

Then you're probably a woman.

One of the primary ways women are held back in today's business world is by making them question themselves.  We're trained to question our instincts.  We're told that when we notice a potential problem, that the real problem is the fact that we noticed anything at all.

I've had this experience and it is daunting.  It's not daunting when it happens once, but it's when these types of statements become the anthem of your work life that they begin to weigh you down.

I think of myself as someone who is self-reflective.  So, when a colleague I respect tells me that my concerns are all in my head, I want to listen.  I want to step aside and think about it.  However, when the same colleague has concerns that he expresses to me, I am quick to take responsibility and to apologize.  I've noticed that this same level of respect and responsiveness is not given to me.  Instead, it's as if my colleague believes his job is to console me.

There are two stereotypes at play here men are fixers and women are worrying, damsels in distress.

My colleague isn't a bad guy, he's just unaware of his own unconscious bias.  Are you aware of yours?