Showing posts from February, 2019

Political Math and Creative Accounting

Amazon recently had to abandon a major construction project in New York City because of various political protests. It's a great illustration of how politicians do math.

We have to get a few basic viewpoints and then we'll look at how the math is done. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo posted an "Open Letter From New York State Budget Director Robert Mujica Regarding Amazon" on his website last week. Here are a few pieces from it.

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"In my 23 years in the State Capitol, three as Budget Director, Amazon was the single greatest economic development opportunity we have had. Amazon chose New York and Virginia after a year-long national competition with 234 cities and states vying for the 25,000-40,000 jobs. For a sense of scale, the next largest economic development project the state has completed was for approximately 1,000 jobs."


"Incredibly, I have heard city and state elected officials who were opponents of the project claim that Amazon wa…

The Compliance-Agreement Matrix

Last year I gave a presentation titled "Why Some Meetings Work, and Some Don't". I used a lot of great concepts from other people. I adapted a few. And I invented one because it needed to exist. It's simple, but useful.

Here's a quick rundown of the topics I covered, then I'll dive into the Compliance-Agreement Matrix.

The Semantic Triangle and Square - a concept about communication, understanding, and misunderstanding.
The Pyramid of Abstraction and Concretion - a concept about how vivid or how general to make descriptions.
Aristotle's Rhetorical Triangle - about how to persuade using ethos, logos, and pathos (ethical appeals, rational appeals, and emotional appeals).
Personality Traits - the Big Five personality traits: extraversion, openness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness.
Jim Lundy's Subordinates Lament, Supervisors Lament, Mushroom Farm Lament, and the four most important questions that a supervisor should answer for a subordi…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - February 27th, 2019

The writing group was a full table today, and great as always.

The prompt today was to write a story about a door. There were six pictures given, along with descriptions at the bottom. It's amazing what people come up with, but I'll go into that after my story.

It's so hard to capture what I'm thinking while I'm writing fiction. So much is occurring subconsciously that it's hard to be aware of it. I thought it would be cool to have an observer looking out of a window and something mysterious about the door. Then, I thought it might be interesting if he was watching a kid kick around a ball, and then involve a door somehow. Then I thought it might be interesting to move through character viewpoints throughout the story. It's risky, it could go bad, but writing exercises are a place to experiment. That experiment didn't work out. I was thinking about writing that way, but it just wouldn't go that way for me. So, it turned out differently. Here it is, …

The Legal-Moral Matrix

This is a simple framework that allows us to think about what is ideal and what is not in our system of laws as a society, and our actions as individuals.

We all know that what is and what should be are not the same thing. It's easy to get lost when evaluating complex things or making complex decisions. These decisions can be especially hard when it's your moral system struggling with the legal system. Both individuals and societies have this same problem. These decisions and actions can fall into one of four categories. Thinking through this may help us to understand our situation and what we should do about it.

Legal and Moral

The first is the ideal. An ideal is not always achievable. That's not even the purpose of an ideal. The purpose of an ideal is to set the direction. We want to be moving towards the right thing and having an ideal helps us to do that. Ideally, everything we do is both legal and moral.

Legal and Not Moral

We can all think of things from history that w…

Bad Advice From Yoda?

I shouldn't write this article. I'm going to anyway.

Yoda and Darth Vader are the most quoted characters from "Star Wars". I think Yoda is probably quoted a bit more. His most famous line is "Do or do not. There is no try." I'm proposing that the way most people use it is bad.

By itself "Do or do not. There is no try." is just wrong. There is trying. When a child is learning how to stand they don't "Do or do not. There is no try." Rather, they try and try and try. Without the trying there can't be the doing. The statement by itself doesn't incorporate time. It takes time to learn. So, the statement eliminates the ability to learn. If there is no room for failure then there is no room for improvement.

The key here is that the advice is taken out of context. Let's look at what was really happening when Yoda said this. Many of Yoda's most famous quotes come from this scene in "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire S…

A New Plan for the International Society For Philosophers

I need to reassess my original plan and formulate a new one for the International Society For Philosophers.

I wrote one essay for the ISFP quite a while ago on this blog. The director liked it so much that he put a link on his website, but I never officially submitted it. Then, I didn't do the other three that I need to do to complete their Associate certification.

My original four ideas were: The Meaning of Life, The Most Important Question in Philosophy, The Creative Ape, and Violence and Society. Here's the original article on those four ideas.

I did four blog posts on the most important question in philosophy. It came out well. Here's the link to the first in the series.

I didn't do the other three ideas, even though I have published something like 100 blog posts since then. The meaning of life subje…

A Play in One Table - Part 2 of ?

While I was falling asleep last night the next part of the conversation came to me. I turned on a book light, grabbed a notebook, and quickly jotted it down. It ended up in a different notebook than the last set of notes on this play.

Let's see part 1 first.

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Man sitting in booth at restaurant reading newspaper. Modern gangster/mobster feel.
Kid slides into seat across from him.

man - "Who are you?"
kid - "Jack."
man - "Well, Jack. What are you doing?"
kid - "I want to hire you."
man - "Listen kid. That spot, that's a spot where men sit. You're not a man. Get out, maybe come back when you are."

Man looks at newspaper again.
Kid says nothing, doesn't move.
Man looks up.

man - "I'm not used to repeating myself."
kid - "You're right. I'm not a man."

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And here's what I wrote down last night.

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kid - "You're right, I'm not a man. My dad wa…

On Resentment as the Path to Destruction

Resentment is the most destructive emotion. It seems like hate and anger might be, or jealousy. But, notice that all of these things spring from resentment. Resentment is the underlying foundation that fuels these other destructive emotions. Let's take a quick look at six demonstrations.

Aesop created some fables 2,600 years ago. Those stories are still popular. That's impressive. "The Fox and the Grapes" deals directly with resentment. There are many versions, here's one.

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ONE hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. “Just the things to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his …

A Play in One Table - Part 1 of ?

I think it would be interesting to have a play where the entire thing is a conversation across a table. Because just a single conversation can be intense. I thought of this quite a while ago, but no great ideas came to me. Today, I shall begin the work.

I've been researching comics recently because a friend of mine connected me with an illustrator. He has an idea for a comic book series and needs a writer. So, now I'm working on writing a comic book. There's a superhero comic book that I came across a few days ago, Venom #10, where there is an intense conversation at a booth in a restaurant. It's a lot like how I imagined this play going.

I thought it might be more of a unique idea to have a story focused just on a conversation at a table. Alas, it has been done. I also realized at that same store that my idea about mercenary superheroes is already a thing too. It's funny to think of something new, and then find out someone already thought of it a long time ago. It…

Cain, Abel, and Carnivore

I've never heard anyone else talk about this. Genesis 4 has a lot of lessons, but the dietary recommendations are ignored.

Different versions of the different Bibles can be debated endlessly. In this case it doesn't really matter too much if yours is based on the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch, or the Septuagint. Here is the first part of Cain and Abel from the New International Version.

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1 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was …

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