Liberal Noise

Ironically enough, the following Letter to the Editor appeared in The Kansas City Star on May 23 under the title “Conservative Noise”.

Why would any intelligent, fair-minded liberal or conservative listen to the putrid garbage spewed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck? It just boggles the mind to think that anyone thinks that these two promote our Constitution. They do nothing but promote hate, denigrate our president and hope for his failure, and consequently, the failure of our country.

It’s too bad that both of these “patriots” didn’t keep their promise to leave the country if health care reform passed. Now that would not only be a great good riddance but would truly promote our Constitution.

Delores Mair

When I come across folks like Delores, I challenge them to get a piece of paper and a pen and listen or watch an hour of their shows and write down the points they made that they disagree with or support their claims and then come back and we’ll talk, otherwise you’re just creating noise.

Chris Stigall Holds KC Mayor Accountable

I recommend listening to the Friday’s With Funk podcast from the May 28Chris Stigall Show on KCMO 710 AM in Kansas City.  Since Mark Funkhouser became mayor of Kansas City, Chris has had him on his show on Fridays for a Q&A session.

Yesterday, the Mayor and Kansas City’s City Council voted to reprimand Arizona’s immigration law.  In the podcast, Chris holds the Mayor accountable.  You don’t often hear radio like this. Typically hosts treat their guests well to keep them coming back.  Guests don’t like hostile environments.  Chris lets the Mayor have it.

The biggest shocker of the segment is that the Mayor has not even read Arizona’s law.

I agree with Chris’s point.  Whatever you think of the Arizona law, it should be a non-issue for the elected officials of Kansas City.  That’s Arizona’s business.  Funk tries to make the point that a similar law could be in Missouri.  But, it’s not now.

This was a clear waste of city government official’s time.  They were not elected to pass judgment on laws of other states.  They were elected to pass laws for the City and run the City services.  If they want to use their personal time to write opinion pieces about what they think of Arizona’s law, fine.  It’s a free country.

But misusing their elected positions to convey the opinion is ludicrous.  It shows how out of touch and elitists politicians have become.  Most don’t know their job description.

LOST

Lost is over.  Here’s an interesting post from Tyler Cowen about the final episode.

Here’s the comment I posted on his blog:

It’s a TV show. I enjoyed, I liked it. I’m glad it’s over so non-Losties in my vicinity won’t think ill of me for talking about smoke monsters, frozen donkey wheels, pockets of energy anymore.

I don’t believe Lucas knew Darth Vader would pop when the first Star Wars came out. DV did pop and I believe that helped Lucas focus the story around that moral equivalent flunkie. But it worked. People love that story and how it was told. I enjoy watching the Clone Wars (with my son, of course!) thinking it’s pretty cool that I first heard about the Clone Wars decades ago as something that happened “long ago”, and now here I am watching those stories unfold decades later with my kid.

The thing that bugs me about the ending of Lost is that they didn’t attempt to explain any of the stuff that was popping. Perhaps like the Clone Wars, we’ll be watching a cartoon series in a couple of decades about what the Island is.

I struggled with figuring out what David’s character was. Ultimately, I think he was a decoy to make the obvious a little less obvious.

I also interpreted the ending shot as – they died in the crash – but thought that was in direct conflict with Christian’s, Hugo’s and Kate’s lines, as others pointed out. I believe it was just a final set shot of “where it all started”, outside the fiction of the show and showing that it’s not active now as they all get ready to go onto what’s next for them.

I am thankful that Lost got me to explore some books. I recommend “The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brien. It contains variations of many elements that made it into the show, even perhaps into the final show. It’s a quick read and it’s funny.

Questions for a Manager

I’d like to know how you behave when you don’t understand something.  Can you give me an example where you didn’t follow what was being discussed in a meeting and what behaviors you used to catch up?  Can you give me an example where you thought you understood something, but didn’t, and you came to realize that and the behavior you used to understand it?

I believe effective managers — whether they’re managing a professional sports team, a big company or a small plumbing shop — are good at understanding what’s going on around them.

Ineffective managers are good at pretending to know.  I’ve seen these managers use intimidating, bullying tactics as a defense mechanism to keep others from recognizing that the manager doesn’t understand.  These managers seek leadership roles to satisfy their own ego and can wreck a place because they rarely get good answers.   Sometimes they Continue reading

Wise Words from Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is correct in this paragraph from his column today, Justice and Injustice.

The pretense of having solutions can be more dangerous than the problem. Yet there are whole armies of shrinks and social workers, whose jobs depend on pretending that they have answers, even when no one has answers.

The same can be said about any number of experts in almost any field.  Many experts pretend to have answers.  They often even believe themselves.  But, in truth their livelihood depends on their con skills.  All too often we disengage our common sense and listen to these boneheads to our own peril.

Next time you hear an expert pushing their solution, take a moment and ask yourself how he or she knows.

Good Reason to be libertarian

Thomas Sowell hits on a very good reason to be libertarian in his column, “Enough Money”.

Once you buy the argument that some segment of the citizenry should lose their rights, just because they are envied or resented, you are putting your own rights in jeopardy– quite aside from undermining any moral basis for respecting anybody’s rights. You are opening the floodgates to arbitrary power. And once you open the floodgates, you can’t tell the water where to go.

New Threads – Questions for Politicians and Questions for Managers

I’ve seen enough clueless elected officials and business managers in my day to make me wonder what questions were asked of these people before they got their jobs.  I thought it would be a good idea to add categories to this blog to list questions to ask political candidates and managers along with answers that I would like to see.  Hopefully some reporters or board members will find these questions valuable and ask them.

Here’s an example of how these categories will work.

Question for Political Candidate for President

If elected President you will take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Can you briefly explain what that means to you?

An acceptable answer for me to this question would be something like:

The Constitution of the United States defines the powers of each branch of government to maintain checks and balances on power.    The authors of the Constitution were concerned about government power becoming concentrated at the expense of the liberty of our citizens.  As colonists, they saw firsthand the ill effects on liberty of unchecked power by the arbitrary decisions made by the King of England.

To me, protecting and defending the Constitution means ensuring that the powers I exercise as President are those that are specifically defined in Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution and I will use those powers to ensure that other branches of government only exercise authority in which they are empowered by the respective sections of the Constitution.

Protecting and defending the Constitution means that when my replacement assumes power through the peaceful election process, as defined in the Constitution, that the source of the power of government will still be the consent of the governed and nothing else.

Testing the Invisible Hand on “What Would You Do?” and The Office

In his Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote about the Invisible Hand of markets.  The Invisible Hand can allocate resources without  specific, direct action.

I don’t have to order gasoline from an oil company weeks ahead of time, I show up at the gas station and it’s ready to be purchased.  The Invisible Hand works through self-interest, supply and demand and competition and is guided by price and buying signals.

In his Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith also writes about four sources of moral approval that keep our behavior in check.  Those sources of moral approval are our senses of prudence, propriety, benevolence and justice.  These four sources govern our interactions with others.

I consider this an extended Invisible Hand.  Our behavior toward one another is guided by signals from others that let us know how well we are applying our four senses of moral approval.

While watching ABC’s What Would You Do? this evening, it occurred to me that the idea of the show is to push beyond the edge of the envelope of our senses of moral approval and see how others in the area react.

What happens is that we see the Extended Invisible Hand in action.  Other people act as a check on behavior that is deemed inappropriate.

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Black Swans at McDonalds

Nassim Taleb wrote a book named The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.  As you can tell from the title, a Black Swan is what Nassim calls a highly improbable event.  He asserts that these events are highly improbable, not predictable and they drive much of what goes on around us.

Many successful companies and products are the results of Black Swan events.  As much as we’d like to think that there are formulaic ways of building successful companies, there isn’t.  The best formula is lots of experimentation.  The successful companies are the one experiment that works out of many.  We just never really see the many because they die off before we ever take notice.

Many successful companies get their innovation wrong after they’ve become successful.  They try to innovate from the top down.  That is, high level management sit around at HQ thinking it’s their jobs try to dream up the next big thing.  They forget where they started. Continue reading

Talking Past Someone

Steven Landsburg’s video embedded in his blog post, Why I’d Rather Be Blogging, is an excellent example of what happens in discussions all too often that prevents actual exchanges of information and ideas.

In this case, the host of the Fox News program, John Gibson, desperately wanted Steven Landsburg to be saying something he wasn’t.  What Gibson thought Landsburg’s position was would have been an easy take down and made Gibson look like a hero for blasting someone with such an obtuse viewpoint.

Gibson couldn’t adjust after figuring out that he misunderstood Landsburg’s point.   He wasn’t giving up the hero mentality.

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