Worldview: Random thoughts from a wandering mind: You’re so angry, you probably think this post is about you…

(With apologies to Carly Simon…)

So, here it goes: everybody is offended these days and it’s likely nobody who doesn’t already agree with you cares.

I’m guilty of it. So are you. So is almost everyone, especially if you are any kind of user of social media. We’re all angry and we’re not going to take it anymore.

Except, yes we are.

There’s a curious thing about offendedness in the current era. For the most part, people are angry and they’re doing things because of their anger. The problem is that most of the things they’re doing don’t end up doing anything about the things they’re angry about.

Instead, their efforts come down to various measures of passive-aggressive uses of force to compel others into doing things their way without making much attempt at all to convince those who may disagree of their point of view. These are, at best, hollow and Pyrrhic victories that sow the seeds of future discord and backlash.

And so we’ve entered an era of hurling insults, casting stones, passing laws, and generally brutalizing one another without any real effect.

Well, any real effect except one: the perception things are getting worse is a direct result of this nonsensical process.

This is not to say there are not real reasons to be concerned about the state of the world or to even be angry about that state. Rather, it is to call into question the way we are dealing with it. The preponderance of evidence is that the problems are real but that our responses to them are ineffective.

History shows us many things, and one of the things it shows us most is that anger and force rarely accomplish the things they set out to in the long run. What most effectively changes the course of events is dialog and compromise. What makes things better is the active attempt to make things better.

Until we set aside our angry offendedness and start looking at how we’re going to actually fix the things we find wrong with society and the world, all we are going to end up with is more angry offendedness.

The irony is that your choice of action will be defined by how you respond to this post, even if I never know what it is. Is this post about you?

DLH

Read more at my Random thoughts from a wandering mind weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Consequences for a region

The City of Dayton‘s recent decision not to extend the lease for Synergy Incubators has much larger consequences than just for the city. Synergy Incubators is a regional asset, opening opportunities for food entrepreneurs to create and sustain small-scale enterprises in seven counties bordering Montgomery County by providing them a place to prepare and package food for local markets. The decision by the city has the potential to affect as many as a million people in the Dayton Metropolitan Area, and the potential economic impact affects all of southwestern Ohio.

These observations are not hyperbolic. The Dayton area is one starved for jobs, opportunities, and hope. Synergy Incubators is one of the recent innovations offering these things to the region. By refusing to extend its lease, the City of Dayton has decided that it wants to kill these things for everyone in the entire region in favor of protectionism, parochialism and petty politics that really only benefit a few politicians and downtown Dayton businesses.

If we the people of the Dayton region cannot trust the government of the City of Dayton to show leadership on our behalf, then it is time for us to show that leadership ourselves by taking whatever power the city might have left out of Dayton’s hands.

You can do so first by signing this petition calling for Dayton to extend Synergy Incubator’s lease. Failing their action to do so, you can help by helping Synergy Incubators find a new home. In any case, you can consider helping them by contributing to their cause.

The Dayton region will live or die on the actions of all its citizens. One city government should not be able to dictate to all of us what opportunities we have. Let’s make the region a better place, without Dayton’s government if we have to.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: This is why I hate the government of the City of Dayton

Because the meat-sacks in city hall and in the executive management of that city are all short-sighted morons who deserve to have the reality of the collapse they helped engineer of that once proud city inscribed as their epitaphs:

http://www.synergyincubators.com/even-as-culinary-incubator-gathers-momentum-clients-it-must-seek-a-new-home/

Dayton will die because it kills innovation. And if you voted for the people who put these kinds of policies in place, you helped kill it.

Go ahead. Defend this. I dare you.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Liberty, and Choices

Over the past several weeks, I’ve seen a lot of posts from a lot of people on the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Online Monday, all all the other money spending days before Christmas that have come to represent our holiday season.

I respect the sentiments of the people who want to salvage holidays and redirect the money spent on those days to other things. I also respect the liberty people exercise when they choose to work and shop on those days. Whether or not I choose to participate is irrelevant to what anyone else decides to do, and everyone should be at liberty to make their own choice.

But understand, that whatever you decide to do, you are making choices. Powerful choices.

You see, the most democratic action any person in the world engages in is how he or she spends money. In spending money, each person decides what, how much, and to whom his or her money should go. That choice reverberates with every person who touches every dollar someone spends and echoes around the world.

I could selfishly try to persuade people to spend money the way I think it should be spent, but the fact is that persuasion is just my opinion. Sure, I think people should shop as locally as possible, select merchants that treat their employees fairly and their customers honestly, and use their money to help their neighborhoods, communities, and states before anything else. But, I realize that opinion is just one among many.

I don’t care all that much if someone does or does not decide to shop on a certain day or a certain place so much as I care whether that person thought through what they were doing before they did it. What I want during this holiday shopping season–and during every other time anyone spends money–is for people to be aware of what their money is doing. As surely as I want people to vote with a full view of the consequences in mind, I want them to spend with the same way of thinking.

I suspect that, if people thought more about how they spent their money before they spent it, the world would look quite a bit different than it does. So, I challenge you: prove me right or prove me wrong. Think about it and be content with your choice.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Crowdfunding and risk

I’m a big fan of crowdfunding, that idea put forward by websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo that allows people with ideas to connect with groups of people interested in their idea to help fund it. I’ve helped fund a few ideas myself.

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about crowdfunding initiatives that have failed and the various amounts of ire felt by the people who helped fund those initiatives. Most of these articles leave me shaking my head.

What it seems that most people who engage in crowdfunding fail to realize is that it is simply another form of venture capitalism, one with usually lower dollar amounts and with the risk distributed among far more people. Venture capitalists will tell you that such initiatives are fraught with risk and that many, if not most, of them fail at their initial premise even if they eventually go on to succeed.

Crowdfunding is not some kind of magic elixir for success for ideas the Man won’t fund. Instead, it is venture capitalism for the masses, a mechanism to bring ideas forward that would not otherwise have a chance for all sorts of other reasons, usually profit margin.

In realizing that crowdfunding is venture capitalism, crowdfunders should realize there is going to be risk. A lot of it. Not a small number of projects are going to fail. Even after they are funded. Sometimes even after the product has been produced. There will be all kinds of reasons for these failures. They can’t be helped. They can’t be stopped.

And none of these things should stop dedicated crowdfunders from continuing to crowdfund. I know, for me, realization of this risk has made be a particularly discerning funder. I watch a lot of projects for a long time before I commit, and there have been more than a few successful projects I decided not to invest in because I was not sure. There have been some projects that I have invested in only to have them fail. That’s how the system works.

But, beneath all of those ideas, is the critical idea that makes crowdfunding worth it: giving life to ideas that might not otherwise succeed even though they are worthwhile simply because they will never make enough money to become a larger venture. Crowdfunding bypasses the court of the big venture capitalists and gives the little guys a chance.

Risk and all, that’s a venture worth supporting.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Why I’m not talking about a lot of things these days…

I’ve begun to wonder if there are many, if any, conversations worth having anymore in the public space. Most everyone seems so entrenched in their self-confirmed view of the world that it’s impossible for them to hear, let alone understand, anyone else’s point of view.

Do I exempt myself from that indictment? Hardly.

Perhaps the only difference between my worldview and most anyone else’s is that, if mine prevailed, you would be free to believe and do whatever you want so long as believing and doing it doesn’t encumber anyone else who did not voluntarily enter into such an encumbrance. That standard would be the standard of law.

Of course, I understand the many, many reasons why my worldview would never work, mostly noticeably because of the fact that, as I write this, I am also encumbered by the many, many things so many other people have decided to force upon so many others by the threat of government and law. Far too few people see this fact as a problem. And so we all pay.

Ultimately, we pay by becoming so entrenched in our self-confirmed points of view of the world that it has become impossible to for us to hear, let alone understand, anyone else’s point of view. As a result, when our points of view gain even a little bit of power, we use that power as a cudgel against those we presume are adversaries. We want them to pay. We want them to be punished.

And so, we become the very caricatures of the things we hate. Be become intolerant, boorish, unable to understand, wishing harm upon our supposed enemies. We cry out for blood and demand recompense for every perceived slight, all the while ignoring the fact that our highest calling is to discover, even in the midst of adversity, a way to leave the world better than we found it.

I, however, have not forgotten that calling. Do I think that makes me better? No, because I fail at it everyday. But if there is any last thing I think I should talk about, it is to encourage everyone to take a deep breath and to ask each of yourselves how you are fulfilling that calling.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Why I’m not talking about a lot of things these days…

I’ve begun to wonder if there are many, if any, conversations worth having anymore in the public space. Most everyone seems so entrenched in their self-confirmed view of the world that it’s impossible for them to hear, let alone understand, anyone else’s point of view.

Do I exempt myself from that indictment? Hardly.

Perhaps the only difference between my worldview and most anyone else’s is that, if mine prevailed, you would be free to believe and do whatever you want so long as believing and doing it doesn’t encumber anyone else who did not voluntarily enter into such an encumbrance. That standard would be the standard of law.

Of course, I understand the many, many reasons why my worldview would never work, mostly noticeably because of the fact that, as I write this, I am also encumbered by the many, many things so many other people have decided to force upon so many others by the threat of government and law. Far too few people see this fact as a problem. And so we all pay.

Ultimately, we pay by becoming so entrenched in our self-confirmed points of view of the world that it has become impossible to for us to hear, let alone understand, anyone else’s point of view. As a result, when our points of view gain even a little bit of power, we use that power as a cudgel against those we presume are adversaries. We want them to pay. We want them to be punished.

And so, we become the very caricatures of the things we hate. Be become intolerant, boorish, unable to understand, wishing harm upon our supposed enemies. We cry out for blood and demand recompense for every perceived slight, all the while ignoring the fact that our highest calling is to discover, even in the midst of adversity, a way to leave the world better than we found it.

I, however, have not forgotten that calling. Do I think that makes me better? No, because I fail at it everyday. But if there is any last thing I think I should talk about, it is to encourage everyone to take a deep breath and to ask each of yourselves how you are fulfilling that calling.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Where do I stand?

Someone commented on a Facebook post today that she wasn’t really sure if she ever really knows where I stand on the issues I tend to discuss on Facebook and elsewhere. The fact is that I’m not trying to be vague or mysterious, though I do like provoking people to think.

No, instead, I think my views are complex and they’re mine and I’m unafraid to dig into the nuances of why I think the way that I do. Every single one of us cannot help but be the result of the collection of our unique experience in life. Even people who have traveled similar paths travel them differently, and the result is different views of the world.

I cannot emphasize this point enough: my views seem vague because they are uniquely mine. They’re derived  from an informed and rational opinion created by decades of observation, learning, and experience. I do not feel the need to be beholden to any particular ideology or philosophy because I see such things as the lazy way out. Yes, it is entirely possible that the conclusions I have reached may be wrong, but I will say with the same certainty that the burden of proof to convince me of that is very high because it should be.

If I may be so bold, I think that what has happened in the past forty years of my own experience is that people have become eager for simple answers to very complicated questions. There are myriads of reasons for that trend, but the result has been that many people do not want to think about the problems that confront them with any kind of sophistication. Instead of thinking things through on their own, they pick the ideological or philosophical answer they’ve heard from someone else that they think fits them best and stop thinking about it. I never do.

I grant that this view of mine single-handedly insulted just about everyone, yet any argument to prove me wrong must, by necessity, delve into the very kind of nuances and complexity so many people try to avoid. God gave us our minds and learning and experience to help us understand our universe. When we fail to use those things to their fullest extent everyday, we are wasting one of the greatest blessings we have been given. I stand with Galileo in his famous defense of intellect, “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use,” and refuse to back down from my positions simply because they make people uncomfortable or confused.

I understand this position means I live a somewhat isolated existence. So be it. My hope is that everyone will rise to the challenge I see in understanding the amazing and complex world in which we live, but if they do not, I will not stop for them.

I stand where I stand because I am doing my best to climb to the top of this mountain we call life. Join me.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Philosophy: Thinking about radically extended life

David Ewing Duncan recently gave a TED interview about the possibilities–and problems–created by the fact that we are figuring out how to radically extend life as part of his promotion of his new book When I’m 164: The new science of radical life extension, and what happens if it succeeds.

I know it sounds weird, but I think about this very same question often. The fact of the matter is that I could easily live into my 90s and be productive well into my 80s. Where does retiring at 60 or 65 or even 70 fit into a life that could go on for two more decades? Where will the money come from? What will I do?

Again, I know it sounds weird, but my wife and I decided back in our 20s that we did not plan to retire. There are practical as well as idealistic reasons for that decision. Having made that decision that long ago has changed our entire outlook since then. We plan differently. We work differently. We save differently.

And, frankly, the result has been that we are, in a lot of ways, far better off right now than a lot of people we know. We owe less. We’ve saved more. We have less stuff to take care of.

I think the consequences of extended life will be one of the defining factors of our time. Are you thinking about it too?

DLH

Read more at my Philosophy weblog...

Read more at my Worldview site...

Worldview: Lego Kidsfest Cincinnati 2012

I have come to believe engaging in the act of creation brings out the best in many of us.

Granted, that’s not a hard and fast rule, but I witnessed something amazing this past weekend when I attended the 2012 Cincinnati LEGO KidsFest with my niece and brother-in-law: thousands of kids and parents, building things with LEGOs, and without the anarchy one normally associates with such large gatherings of modern children and adults.

Frankly, I was flabbergasted at just how civil and fun the whole thing was. I watched hundreds of kids, most of them strangers, wade through a two foot deep pile of bricks, searching for pieces and helping other kids find what they were looking for. I watched parents and kids work together to build fantastic buildings to populate a huge outline of the United States. I watched kids and parents wait patiently in line to participate in activities without the fighting and fuss one normally associates with such things.

I blame the bricks.

From my point of view, it was easy to avoid all the fuss and fight because everyone was focused on creating something. They could see the outcome and they wanted to be a part of it, and I think everyone knew that they had to stay civil if they wanted to participate. It worked, and it was amazing.

Now, here’s where I wax philosophical about what I will grant you was really a giant commercial to sell more LEGOs: I have to admit that what I saw in that gathering could easily be a thing that could happen in our nation and our world as a whole if we tried. If we look back at our own history and think about all the times we have been united to accomplish common causes, we can see the same effect. It is possible for us to unite to accomplish amazing goals if we want to accomplish them, but the secret to such goals is that they have to be focused on creating something.

It is my fondest hope that the parents and kids at the LEGO KidsFest caught a glimmer of what I did and that it planted a seed. It’s one we all need to nurture and grow.

DLH

Read more at my Worldview site...