Branded Man

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John Wayne embodies an America that once was — “La La La I’m Not Listening”  is the Land of the Free now. LA_LA_LA_GIF_SHANE

As I wrote 6 years ago:

Any question of their character is considered an “attack” no matter how accurate it is or how delicate you deliver it. Nowadays you can be rude, small-minded, idiotic, dismissive, dishonest (or all of the above and worse) — and if anyone calls you on it, you can cry foul as if your actions disappeared off the face of the Earth.

Making the Most of One's Best

OR , you can go down this dead end . . .

Talk to the Hand


The story that started this site is about a colleague’s aggravating behavior that I attempted to address. I had gotten pretty good at ignoring her erratic ways, but after seeing a project manager blow a gasket over the same knee-jerk impulsiveness — I had second thoughts.

She went on and on about this Business Analyst, venting to my manager about the BA’s behavior in how she abruptly left our meeting, and I just sat there in silence — continually telling myself:

Don’t get involved  — you’ve got it made here. If this company’s okay with being dysfunctional, let ’em . . . they’ll be in my rear view come July.

But I know all too well what it feels like when nobody backs you up, even when you’re clearly in the right — and they damn well know it. It was wearing on me, so I chimed in on my own dealings with the culprit in question. It turned into a bonding experience, as we had a little post-meeting pow-wow to pick up where we left off.

In the end, I think I helped calm the storm of her concerns (even pointing out the positive features of our mutual irritation)  — but something she said just stuck with me:

Well that’s how this behavior becomes accepted in the first place!

I’ve only been saying the same thing my entire adult life — and yet here I was trying to convince her of something I don’t believe: That we should just be more tolerant of what should be unacceptable.

In the BA’s defense, had the DBA crew gotten its act together, none of this would have happened


It’s one thing that Denver dragged this out, but once it was in your hands — it’s a different ball game. And whatever this “DR” deal is (an acronym with an inordinate number of excuses that came with it) — enough already!

Some of your people acted like the clock was ticking on Y2K — as if you were paralyzed from performing in any other domain.

Nevertheless, I’ll accept that you couldn’t meet the original deadline because things had changed since your first commitment. Fine! But then you delayed it again and then again (and with that last one came the preposterous claim that you needed another 2 weeks).


I’m guessing the head honcho didn’t buy that bullshit anymore than I did — because somehow that tiny task was magically done the very afternoon you claimed you needed a couple more weeks.

I wish you could have seen the look on my face the second I saw that email. And keep in mind — on a personal level, I was having a wonderful time. But on a professional level, I was appalled at the egregious absence of accountability at AutoNation.

In any case, the subsequent delays by the DBA team are indefensible. 

A lot of that goin’ around

On top of everything else, reps from the DBA team were either late to meetings or didn’t show up at all (without a word to let us know) — and that’s why the BA bolted. And once again, in her defense — while I thought it was unprofessional that she left like that, I didn’t think it was as bad as what the Project Manager thought (but I totally understand why she felt that way).

Keep in mind that the PM has an enormous responsibility to keep all these projects moving along (which is a level of pressure that most of us never face). So yeah, key people didn’t show — but come on, you can give the PM a few minutes to gather her thoughts and see if she needs you or not.

Even if you don’t think you’re needed, how hard is it to just extend a little courtesy?

And besides, you had already blocked out your time, and you were gonna get a lot of it back anyway, so what’s a few minutes for the PM?

That’s what this story is really all about — looking at things from another person’s perspective. I felt for the Project Manager because she doesn’t need this kind of crap — she needs cooperation and patience (and the BA is sorely lacking in the latter).

Had she shown some and stuck around a bit longer, the Lead DBA showed up and he was quite helpful in getting us going. 

What’s all the more absurd is that this was a piece-of-cake project — a Reporting Services migration that went off the rails for no reason that is even remotely justifiable.

Let’s review the bedrock of Bill Belichick’s beliefs:

The main point to me is that [the players] have to be coordinated, and the 10 people have to support what that 11th guy is doing, and vice versa. . . .

The only way that can happen is for there to be discipline, for everyone to be disciplined enough to do their job, knowing the guy beside him is doing his, too, so that you can count on him and he can count on you, and go right down the line.

The morning after the meeting that was the beginning of the end for me — the BA copied the world with uninformed questions that I could answer from 25 ft. away. After all, I’m the one who made the request — with a clear path in mind for what I wanted. And lo and beyond, I explained it to her step-by-step the week before.

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But whenever an idea doesn’t fit her frenetic pace, she abandons it with ease and reverts back to what she knows

Her email reminds of that Google commercial that’s so in tune with the contrived communication in this industry.

Note: The clip is merely a means to comically illustrate the excess around the unnecessary (her email is nowhere near the foolishness they’re making fun of).

And by the way, right around that time I made a mistake by pinging a DBA with a question that I should have thought through first. I could whip up some rationalization to make myself feel better, but no amount of that changes the fact that I wasn’t thinking clearly, and that is my fault.

I was kicking myself that I even asked such a silly question — and ya know what, embarrassment is underrated. You should harness those moments for the future, for there’s great value to be found in reflecting on even the seemingly small:

If only her desire to learn were commensurate with her effort to keep up appearances. Still, her persistence is also a strength that sometimes serves AutoNation well. Right off the bat, I made that point in a talk I requested after that email.

But she shut down the second she sensed any criticism coming her way. Specifics were immaterial to her, as she evaded it all with:

I still don’t understand what you’re trying to say

That tends to happen when you steadfastly refuse to listen

It’s astounding how the mind can pull off psychological gymnastics that allow us to believe what we say without any sense of accounting for it. Right on cue with cognitive dissonance theory, the second she felt the slightest discomfort, she locked herself in a box — a makeshift panic room for hermetically sealed minds.

When Prophecy Fails - Cognitive Dissonance (combined)

As politely as possible, I replied:

The very thing that you’re doing right now is precisely the problem. You need to take time to breathe and digest what someone is trying to tell you.

In Ford: Rebuilding an American Icon, the documentary tells of the company’s comeback after its largest-ever loss of $12.7 billion in 2006. At the helm of its turnaround was Alan Mulally — who faced quality concerns by embracing criticism from Consumer Reports. When he says the following, it’s not some fancy quote to float — it’s a mindset that can make all the difference in the world:

We’re gonna seek to understand before we seek to be understood

This 2:20 scene shows what serious-minded leaders look like (and not just Mulally). Ya gotta hand it to the great-grandson of Henry Ford for having the humility to see what was best for the company by putting the right person in place:
Mulally didn’t invent the phrase — but his version flows a bit better than Stephen Covey’s from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The synopsis for the “seek to understand” tenet is as follows:

Use empathetic listening to be genuinely influenced by a person, which compels them to reciprocate the listening and take an open mind to being influenced by you. This creates an atmosphere of caring, and positive problem solving.


The moment I mentioned the email, her entire universe revolved around defending it — never mind that it’s just a tiny part of the problem. “I didn’t mean to . . .” Even if that’s true, we’ve got other territory to cover. But while I moved on to make my case — she’s still back there and won’t budge one bit.

She has to confine her convictions to the narrowest scope possible, because victory lies in the vacuum of how she sees herself . . .

She’s got a lot of company in that camp

Electoral Map

There’s a classic scene in Seinfeld that delightfully illustrates the divide between declarations of virtue and delivering on them:


Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.

Agent: I know why we have reservations.

Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation . . . and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding . . .

Anybody can just take ’em!


We don’t solve problems in America — we perpetuate them by ceaselessly jockeying for the upper hand . . . shamelessly betraying some of the very values you supposedly hold so dear.

If we can’t even agree on the most demonstrably provable, how on Earth can we responsibly address issues that aren’t so clear-cut?

When I was growing up, I could not have imagined that our country would devolve into creatures without an atom of curiosity in the clutch of baseless opinions. The dead certain will not budge one bit even in the face of the flagrantly obvious — which is brought to light in this 20-second scene from The Insider:

And nobody could deliver this line better than Pacino:


Sir Roger Bannister was the first person to break the four-minute mile by turning a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds in 1954. Subtract sixteen years and you’ll find a track star by the name of Louis Zamperini who should have been the first to crack what was considered impossible in those days.

Louis’ story is told in Laura Hillenbrand’s spectacular book:


In 1938 word was getting around that Louis just might capture the ever-elusive record. His competition at the N.C.A.A. Championships was not too keen on that, so under orders from their coaches, some runners sharpened their spikes to cut into Louis during the race. They surrounded the star to prevent him from breaking away from the pack.

The notion of sportsmanship was lost on those who were willing to jam their shoes into Zamperini’s shins, stab him in the foot with a spike, and crack a rib with an elbow.

Amazingly, he managed to break through the mob that encircled him and just missed the mark by barely over eight seconds.

Considering that he was assaulted by the crowd that contained him for a lap and a half, Louie would have crossed the finish line in under four had he not had to escape his attackers. As you can tell from the title, Louis’ destiny lay elsewhere when war came calling.

Who wouldn’t be appalled by such an injustice? How many of us would commit such an affront to fairness to win a race? Is that the height of our standards though — that we stop short of physically gouging our fellow man while in pursuit of our precious ideals?

If you want you impart some integrity onto your kids — not cheering “4 More Years!” for pathological liars is a pretty good place to start.

As I said in my documentary in 2014:

America has gone totally off the rails in its worship of the wildly undeserving

My sites are about exposing the illusions that Vinny’s card trick so brilliantly brings to light:

How is it possible that everyone can so easily get that concept but conveniently forget it when it counts? C.S. Lewis had a nice way of putting it:


Don’t shake your head. I’m not done yet. Wait till you hear the whole thing so you can . . . understand this now . . .



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Blind Men Touching An Elephant . . .

Our 2nd president saw the writing on the wall long ago

In 1805 John Adams wrote the following in a letter to Benjamin Rush, a friend and fellow signer of the Declaration of Independence:

Our electioneering racers have started for the prize. Such a whipping and spurring and huzzaing! Oh what rare sport it will be! Through thick and thin, through mire and dirt, through bogs and fens and sloughs, dashing and splashing and crying out, the devil take the hindmost.

How long will it be possible that honor, truth, or virtue should be respected among a people who are engaged in such a quick and perpetual succession of such profligate collisions and conflicts?


I’ve always thought that there’s something wildly out of whack with pursuing values in a manner devoid of virtue. In one form or another, inevitably there are consequences for convictions unguided by conscience.

Humans are hardwired to want some degree of attention, and forums like Facebook are phenomenal for sharing what matters to us. But the ever-rising ocean of partisan pettiness is gluttony under the guise of concern.

How did we get to a place where regurgitating garbage gets people to “Like” you —  celebrating “victory” by clicking “bravo” to bad manners and bunk?

In 11 seconds this clip encapsulates what America has become

What it takes to separate uranium isotopes doesn’t care who’s president . . .

There’s an infinitesimal fraction of people in America who will get the connection between that comment and the guy in the video. And yet on that topic, 100% of the people who know absolutely nothing about it — are dead certain in their baseless beliefs.

This scene from Tommy Boy says it all:

What the American public doesn’t know . . . is what makes them the American public

It always amazes me that people are insulted by those who try to get them to use their intelligence, but they show endless allegiance to masters of manipulation who go to great lengths to remove your brain from the equation. 

It’s all so backassward

Our culture loves to argue but eschews the rules of argument. It’s high time we appreciate the difference between an assertion and an argument. A perfect depiction of the distinction is on a blog I stumbled across called Duane’s Mind: A Christian’s Perspective:

An assertion is just a point of view, an opinion. An argument goes further. An argument is a point of view supported by reasons that demonstrate the view is a good one.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that at least 90% of all discussion in the domain of politics is dominated by assertion.

Believe it or not, the best way to serve your interests is to first and foremost — hold your own accountable. If you wanna make the opposition look bad, try looking good. If you wanna have the moral high ground, try earning it:

The moral high ground, in ethical or political parlance, refers to the status of being respected for remaining moral, and adhering to and upholding a universally recognized standard of justice or goodness.

It seems we have all the time in the world to promote the false — but not a second to spare for the truth. “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on” — a quote that’s been around in various forms for over 300 years (evidently the original being from 1710):

Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect . . .

The road to reality is blocked by detours designed to keep you going in circles

Purveyors of poppycock reroute you with narratives that avoid detail like the plague. The way out is to start with something small — an inconsistency or two that’s narrow in scope — and take the trail where it leads.

I can think of no finer example than 12 Angry Men. This 32-second modified montage captures the core of the story — and then some:

Henry Fonda’s character stood alone in his quest to examine the evidence before prematurely coming to a conclusion. He doesn’t get any traction early on — but sticking that duplicate knife into the table worked wonders — opening the door for the el-tracks inquiry:

Let’s take two pieces of testimony and try to put them together . . .


 I raised specific examples of her behavior that I had recently described to a colleague as “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.” I was really just thinking about how she zips through every discussion. I didn’t know at the time just how true to form the moniker would become.

The kids skipping to the tune of “Everything is ‘satisfactch’ll'” attitude of contentment syncs with the self-absorbed culture we’ve created.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay
My, oh, my, what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headin’ my way
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!
Mister Bluebird’s on my shoulder
It’s the truth, it’s “actch’ll”
Everything is “satisfactch’ll”

Putting the angelic nature of it aside, the song is simply a caricature of how I see America being butchered to death by bullshit — an unyielding faith in baseless beliefs that’s beyond anything I could have imagined in my youth.

Never-ending battles to claim Victory for Values has become trench warfare between armies of unreachables. Raising questions that simply cross paths with a worldview is seen as a challenge to entirely undo it, so the good soldier pooh-poohs any effort that could tarnish their utopian image.

At the heart of why we fail to live up to our potential as a society is because we excel at polluting even the purist form of fact. 

Even in a debate where fractions of a millimeter matter — the dead certain tap dance to talking points in doubt-free delight.

The United States is now a country obsessed with the worship of its own ignorance. . . . [T]he bigger problem is that we’re proud of not knowing things. Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue.

To reject the advice of experts is to assert autonomy, a way for Americans to insulate their increasingly fragile egos from ever being told they’re wrong about anything. It is a new Declaration of Independence: no longer do we hold these truths to be self-evident, we hold all truths to be self-evident, even the ones that aren’t true. All things are knowable and every opinion on any subject is as good as any other. . . .

People don’t just believe dumb things; they actively resist further learning rather than let go of those beliefs. I was not alive in the Middle Ages, so I cannot say it is unprecedented, but within my living memory I’ve never seen anything like it. . . .

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Putting aside Bill Cosby’s fall from grace — he was a universal icon for goodness growing up. In just this 5-second scene from Picture Pages — a parallel can be drawn to everything I advocate on all my sites:

The.Deal.Is.That.We.Connect.These.Dots . . . You see

There’s a mutual responsibility in communication — and that “deal” is to hold up your end of the bargain (and it’s in your interests to do so). After all, you want others to consider your concerns — so shouldn’t you do the same in return?

Wouldn’t some good ol’ give-and-take be refreshing for a change?

Wouldn’t it be cool if we sharpened each other’s minds instead of dulling them?

From where I sit, we owe it to all those who came before us who had to fight in ways we’ll never have to. They handed us so much to build on — and this is how we honor their sacrifice:LA_LA_LA_GIF_SHANE

  • Rather than read and digest, people scan and dismiss — frantically seeking any fragment they can frame in their favor.
  • Sensible arguments are snubbed with meaningless replies that are utterly absent of original thought — mercilessly torturing reason with trite talking points.
  • Even against overwhelming evidence served on a silver platter, they will swat it away in disdain without so much as glancing at the goods.
  • Any sound bite that can be manipulated to their liking will be repeated in endless cycles of certitude.
  • Always at the ready — they’ll gleefully “inform” you with 60 seconds of “research” — compiled by copying & pasting material disseminated by the equally uninformed.
  • They’ll look away from a mountain of evidence against their side — while nitpicking over pebbles to pounce on the other.
  • Their civility is a charade in their immovable contempt for correction — playing childish games that fit a formula designed to infuriate you (at which point they’ll pull the innocence card and haughtily condemn your tone).
  • They want a presence without having to exert any effort to legitimately participate
  • They peddle their opinions while shirking any responsibility to validate them
  • They launch volleys of vitriol as fireworks for freedom
  • They see themselves as conveyors of truth while dripping in duplicity
  • They want respect without having to earn it
  • Their hypocrisy knows no bounds

Does that look like a country capable of greatness to you?

Instead of genuinely listening to each other with our fine collection of communication tools — slinging snippets of certitude has become America’s pastime. We have created a knee-jerk nation where discernment is derided and negligence is in vogue. What was glaringly impolite in the past is now perfectly acceptable.

Much to our detriment we have fashioned a society in which “I say tomayto, you say tomahto” is all the authority required to have a “point of view.” Most maddening of all is the dedication to preserving beliefs that, at minimum, would be revealed to be seriously flawed by the slightest objective scrutiny.

How much can we hope to accomplish in a culture that razes reason for fun?

Speaking of connecting the dots, it’s pretty clear to me that the mental health of America is central to the story of mass shootings. As I’ve been saying for years, the deeper problem is a culture that caters to chaos. If “normal” people refuse to work together to solve problems — and delight in derision and unfriending over the slightest “offense” — how do we think that impacts the world 🌎 around us — and those who are already inclined to gun people down?

Multidimensional problems necessitate multidimensional analysis & answers . . .


I tried to tell Zip-a-dee-doo-dah about the time she asked me to help out on something, and how I was standing behind her at her desk without my glasses . . .

In my fatigue and the fact that I can’t see details from that distance anymore (not to mention being out of work for a while) . . . it took me a moment to get my bearings.

It hit me inside of 60 seconds — and my answer was a window to getting us the information being sought. But the moment I didn’t have an immediate solution for step 2 of our inquiry, I could see she was fidgeting. In her mind she was already on her way to firing off an email about our inability to get what was requested.

It was a bit vague at first glance, but where she was happy to get rid of it, I walked away wondering what we were missing.

It dawned on me 5 minutes later and I sent her what she needed.

It’s not about being right, but rather that a little curiosity can go a long way. A genuine effort to dig a little deeper can open your eyes to a kind of clarity that lets you see in whole new light.

In The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, he shares an encounter that gave him pause for reflection:

Then one day at the end of my thirty-seventh year, while taking a spring Sunday walk, I happened upon a neighbor in the process of repairing a lawn mower. After greeting him I remarked, “Boy, I sure admire you. I’ve never been able to fix those kind of things or do anything like that.”

My neighbor, without a moment’s hesitation, shot back, “That’s because you don’t take the time.” I resumed my walk, somehow disquieted by the gurulike simplicity, spontaneity and definitiveness of his response.

“You don’t suppose he could be right, do you?” I asked myself.

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‘Could he be right?’ . . . I asked myself.”

Surely you’d like people to show you that same courtesy.

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Peck didn’t just ask himself “Could he be right?” — he acted on it (and the result is proof positive of how the even the smallest consideration can change the dynamic of your thinking).

Somehow it registered, and the next time the opportunity presented itself to make a minor repair I was able to remind myself to take my time. The parking brake was stuck on a patient’s car, and she knew that there was something one could do under the dashboard to release it, but she didn’t know what. I lay down on the floor below the front seat of her car.

Then I took the time to make myself comfortable. Once I was comfortable, I then took the time to look at the situation. . . .

At first all I saw was a confusing jumble of wires and tubes and rods, whose meaning I did not know.

But gradually, in no hurry, I was able to focus my sight . . .  I slowly studied this latch until it became clear to me . . . One single motion, one ounce of pressure from a fingertip, and the problem was solved.

Clearing the clutter can be quite revealing . . .

That didn’t make Peck mechanically inclined any more than reading his books will make you a psychiatrist. But even a guy who dedicated his life to helping others through his insight into the human condition — allowed another to help him see something that was hidden.

Once I was comfortable, I then took the time to look at the situation. . . .


One day I overheard a colleague struggling and I had to convince myself to stay out of it. AutoNation wanted to keep me bracketed within the budget I belonged to — or assign me to another project entirely since mine had been on hold for weeks.

Not that anyone would overtly object to me helping out a bit, but I was just trying to just follow their lead and not get involved in areas they didn’t ask me to.

Taking initiative and doing the right thing has cost me a great deal over the years, so I guess that punishment’s taken its toll. I realize that there are reasons why companies don’t like overlap and want to keep the money aligned. But I fail to understand why an accounting classification is more concerning than wasting a lot of money on a resource who has a lot to bring to the table.

It boggles the mind that you would not broadcast to the group:

Hey, we’ve got a contractor whose project’s on hold — he’s got such and such skills, and if you need any help on anything here and there, he’s eager to assist.

You might be thinking that I was bored and needed something to do. Oh no, my situation should sit right next to “made in the shade” in every dictionary on Earth.

I won the lottery on this gig — I did whatever I wanted all day long week after week, and I made the most of every minute. I have very specific career goals and a strategy behind them, and the timing of my technical studies was perfect.

It wasn’t just that I had all this extra time, but what I discovered during it.

I wish there were words to fully appreciate all those in the online community of technical know-how who have helped me beyond measure — those who illuminate material by clearing up the very confusion that was getting in the way. I tip my hat to ’em all, but like anything else, some are on a whole other level.

The best of the best are so spectacularly refined in the crispness of their clarity, that you almost feel guilty for not seeing it before.

It’s almost magical when you find that one person who reveals the path to the decoder ring

Ya still gotta work for it — but they cleared the clutter

When Neil Young’s Unknown Legend came out in 1992, I was instantly captivated by it (and Linda Ronstadt lighting it up on backing vocals is otherworldly). On top of that, I thought the title was so cool that I came up with a philosophical twist for it. Unknown Legends signifies my long line of immeasurable influences — people who gave something of themselves that elevated my pursuits and pushed me for even more.

I wrote a poem for a girl once, and right after I shared it with her — I sent it to my English Professor friend for input on how it could be improved (as an exercise for future poetry). So in no time (I think it was even later that night), he whips up this 3-page document detailing his thoughts and ideas that formulated a framework for writing poetry.

I was pretty proud of that first poem, but those that followed are in another league. My lack of refinement in that first one didn’t matter to the Dad who pinned that poem on his wall at work. I wrote it about their deep sea fishing trip and I had captured that moment in time for him. That he was a big Robert Frost fan didn’t hurt my ego any. ;o)

I think he appreciated it far more than her, but that’s another story.

Regardless of how it all ended, she’s an Unknown Legend — as once you’re on the list, you don’t go off.

I don’t consider myself a poet, but I think I’ve done some damn fine work  — all of which resulted from The Professor’s input that catapulted my mind to new possibilities.

So one day I sent him an email and he said he’d have to get back to me later because he was swamped. I replied that the delay was no biggie — and that I’m incredibly fortunate to get his offerings whenever he has a chance.

And there ya go — seeds planted for a poem, and quick-like I cranked out the following:

Poem - Spirit of St Thomas
For the record, “You Are A Liar” was one of several book-title suggestions The Professor sent me many moons ago.

The more you sharpen your writing skills, the more you learn how to listen . . . picking up on even the slightest of subtleties. Same goes for reading.

Such skills can be honed in even the smallest of ways — your response to one text, one social-media post, one email, one comment of criticism, etc.

Don’t just fire back with the first thing that comes to your mind . . .

STOP - look both ways

And proceed as such:

“To learn to ask: ‘Is that true? Maybe there’s something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That’s interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind’.”

When is the last time you can honestly remember a public dialogue — or even a private conversation — that followed that useful course?

Life of the Closed Mind (image and text)

To qualify as a genuine conversation, at the bare minimum there must some trace of taking into account what the other person is saying. The idea is that I say something, then you get your turn, but good-faith dialogue means that you actually consider what I said — and that your response indicates that to some degree.

Then I do the same for you — and this give-and-take goes back and forth in an imperfect manner until an understanding is hashed out.

Of all the great principles that foster fruitful conversation, this one is paramount:

You Improvise, You Overcome, You Adapt

I adapt to you and you adapt to me . . .

And somewhere in the middle or on the way to it, maybe we come to a meeting of the minds.

Even after all that, you still have the option to totally disagree with your interlocutor, but at least you’ve heard them out with some sincerity.

There’s no finer example of “I adapt to you and you adapt to me” than these classic scenes from the all-time “Everyman” master.

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The coach is coming from a different place and his attitude from the start was:

I don’t have ballplayers, I’ve got girls!

But little by little, he came around — and once he saw them as ballplayers, he treated them as such.

And that’s what this first scene is all about:

But in the second scene, as much as he’d like to treat them the same as any player, he adapts to find some way of communicating his concerns without being too harsh.

You’re still missing the cutoff man. Now that’s . . . . that’s something I’d like you to work on . . . before next season.

And whad’ya know, she responds in kind! She recognizes that’s he’s trying really hard to get something important through to her, and that’s he’s adjusting his approach from last time — and she appreciates that.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah would have cried foul with:

The look on his face, his eyes, his hands shaking in my space  I felt attacked!

It’s bad enough that an insecure colleague would pull that stunt, but it’s on a whole other level of ludicrous that you bought that bullshit hook, line, and sinker.

Or did you, I wonder?

Given all the frivolous lawsuits that dominate the day, our culture created the backlash of companies behaving stupidly to protect themselves.

Now you can’t even pleasantly say, “This is something I’d like you to work on . . .”

America’s culture of coddling flies in the face of the entire history of human achievement.

Every day during lunch I’d walk back to my apartment for a bite and some MIDDAY MONK. After so many years of not seeing it, it was so fresh again. And while I’ll eventually came around to accepting Natalie way back when, nobody could beat Bitty Schram’s Sharona.

Bitty is Evelyn above — just in case you didn’t make the connection.

THIS is banter at its best . . .

I adjusted to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah but she did nothing of the kind in return. Nowhere in her mind did she remotely consider the possibility that what I had to say was in her interests and AutoNation’s as well.

Her attitude is exactly in line with what America has become.

The most costly entitlement of our times is the unrelenting devotion to your own opinion . . .

The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion … draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects or despises … in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.


“Colliding with the very air she breathes”

I was floored the first time I heard that — and still am

Somewhere on a desert highway
She rides a Harley-Davidson
Her long blonde hair
Flying in the wind
She’s been running half her life
The chrome and steel she rides
Colliding with
The very air she breathes
The air she breathes . . .

Upon hearing my neighbor’s struggles again the next day, I introduced myself and delicately offered my assistance. Being new to the tool, he felt nervous asking for help, so I set out to make him comfortable in coming to me. Little by little he came around (not only in feeling free to ask me questions, but also in how quickly he sharpened his inquiries). He was not the only one I helped under the radar.

I enjoy the feeling from helping others, but far more than that is the fact that I feel a responsibility to pay it forward for all those who helped make my career possible.

Adding to that is a lifelong passion for process improvement (which includes packaging flow, equipment analysis, ergonomics, and so on).

Speaking of ergonomics, that’s how I came up with the idea for this thing called Music in Motion. I set out to make the most unique CD storage mechanism on the planet, and I believe I pulled it off . . .

BUT only because I embraced the ideas of others . . .

And ergonomics was at the root of this idea as well:


What does ergonomics have to do with IT?

Good communication has a rhythm to it akin to any process that flows — where the placement of everything around you (including how you sit), can make a major impact on your health and productivity. Poor communication has chronic kinks that create totally unnecessary frustration and waste — all of which contaminates your culture.

And it just astounds me how big shots are so capable of the complex, but miserably fail on the fundamentals

An excerpt from my From my Language & Leadership page on my professional profile site Precision Matters:

Socrates_Shortest and Surest

Socrates also said, “Wisdom Begins In Wonder” — and whad’ya know, curiosity is linked to everything I advocate. I’ve been writing a book on the subject for years, so I’m always delighted to discover that I’m in good company with concepts that I came up with through my own experiences — a journey with a long line of immeasurable influences.

I’m no scholar on Socrates — I found that “wisdom” quote on a bookmark. But you need not be even an armchair philosopher to adopt a philosophy of fundamentals — and a breach of the basics is at the root of most problems in the first place. I’ve worked for some pretty amazing people over the years, and in each case what comes to mind the most is the caliber of their character. They weren’t quoting Greek philosophers, but their actions were most certainly in sync with what Socrates said about “strengthening virtues through practice and experience.”

Below is a book called Multipliers and the following is one of my favorite passages:


Speaking of leadership, I’m not looking to climb any ladders — but I’d like to be a team leader in the right place someday. So any chance to help out a colleague in need, is a growth opportunity for me as well. I can sharpen my skills in instruction (carefully balancing how much to teach without overwhelming, while at the same time — allowing the person to figure some of it out on their own).

But the keys to the kingdom are in the comfort factor first — easing that newbie burden on his shoulders so he can focus on the task at hand.

There’s a striking contrast between my neighbor’s attitude of openness and the fragile egos who protect their image at all costs


I had made a breakthrough with my neighbor — and that feeling of influence surely played some role in why I decided to have a talk with Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. But more than anything, it was that feeling from what the project manager said that was gnawing at me:

Well that’s how this behavior becomes accepted in the first place!

I walked over to see my manager but he wasn’t there, so I decided to go it alone. He knows what this lady’s like, and I guarantee you that there are others who feel the same — that collective enabling that becomes policy.

So how much of a help was he really gonna be after letting it slide all this time? Besides, I watched him humor the project manager without any intention on acting on what he heard. And I think I chimed in enough for him to recognize that something should be said.

But I don’t blame him nearly as much as I blame the head honcho at the helm of a rudderless ship.

Too many missed deadlines and tired excuses for my taste

But hey — thanks for all the money and 6 weeks of study hall. 

How I long for the days when walking on eggshells was the bottom for babysitting in business, because it wasn’t nearly enough for Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. She froze from the get-go, and I should have bailed the second she said, “Why are you attacking me?”

Short of the turning of the Earth, it’s impossible to be more predictable than those who will tie my tone here to my tone there.

When I wrote the bit below about Arrival, it was in December while I was waiting for this job at AutoNation to start. I was really excited about the opportunity, and it was wonderful hanging with family knowing I had this great gig coming up. They were pretty happy too!

Who knew that AutoNation would treat me with the same absurdity I had in mind when I wrote of Arrival.

At least the aliens and protagonists were willing to put out a little effort to learn from each other

Their efforts to develop a conduit of communication is in striking contrast to how we talk to each other today.

With the word “HUMAN” written on a whiteboard, they were able to build on that by seeing patterns in seemingly-indecipherable symbols.


The internet and the cable clans paved the way for the onslaught of the utterly absurd — and with that came loose language designed to deflect and manipulate anything to your liking.

So terms like “attack” that used to have some measure of meaning, could be contorted into a claim without even a molecule of weight to it.

Anything Goes
As much as I despise the “attack” syndrome of our times, “Agree to Disagree” is the gold standard of bullshitters (as they think the air of sophistication disguises their cowardly cop-outs). Instead of acting on a set of principles that allow for a more fluid understanding of an issue, hermetically sealed minds employ all the same tactics to turn the opposition into the problem.


International Bunk Speak Organization (IBSO)

As I wrote several years ago:

You can always spot someone has no interest in considering an issue on the merits. No matter what the context, bullshitters have a bond in how they cling to the same patterns in issuing the patently absurd. As if using a Response Form template governed by the International Bunk Speak Organization (IBSO), he or she just spews out formulaic nonsense to fill in the blanks. Not an ounce of effort will be exerted in a quest for the truth — and in so doing the accuracy in one’s perception will be butchered beyond belief.

Whatever energy is applied will be in the form incoherent arguments. The party in question will whitewash any actions on their part as they paint the accuser as the problem. Far and away, the most common pattern of all offenders is that they are hell-bent on heading down the path of least resistance.

Tragically,  instead of taking the time to think things through — smugly circulating invalid arguments is the way of the world now. When debating our views, we would do well to remember the wisdom of The Deer Hunter. This 5-second scene is the essence of arguing on the merits — which means to stay true to the topic at hand. More specifically, let’s look at the definition of “merits” — since not everyone understands it (and so few practice it). From The Free

Merits are the intrinsic rights and wrongs of an issue — as distinct from extraneous matters and technicalities. The factual content of a matter — apart from emotional considerations.

By design — the debauchery of platform politicking overlaps all that you seek — so when you think you’re arguing over one issue, you’re really arguing over them all.

And ya wonder why this nation never solves anything?

Stanley, see this? This is this! This ain’t somethin’ else — THIS IS THIS!


Since the definition of “bullshitter” is critical to understanding the ocean of absurdity in our times, here it is once again (in case you missed it on the home page). . . .

The blurb for On Bullshit perfectly captures how shit shovelers spread their folly with infinite freedom:

Bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. They quietly change the rules governing their end of the conversation so that claims about truth and falsity are irrelevant.

Whatever happened to taking pride in backing up your beliefs? And how about a hint of respect for those who do their homework?

Then again — why study when you can just “agree to disagree” about everything under the sun (quoting myself below to offset the text):

We have become a society of spin doctors who manipulate language anytime it suits our needs. It took the toppling of time-honored traditions to fabricate our fact-free liberties. In days long gone, “agree to disagree” was usually engaged with some degree of sincerity in order to get beyond an impasse with civility.

The intention of the well-meaning motto is that you actually offer something in the realm of a sensible argument. Baseless assertions devoid of any effort in the discovery of truth do not qualify. Naturally, the slope got slippery over time as the egregious abuse of the adage caught on.

Nowadays you can “agree to disagree” about subject matter that you know absolutely nothing about. . . . Its indiscriminate usage is so off the charts that you could even to deny the existence of gravity and gleefully get away with it.

Being smoothly smug is now considered civil — never mind the notion of genuine courtesy that comes with the willingness to be wrong. We begin and end our conversations believing that we’re right — shunning the discipline it takes to be correct. . . .

Anything goes in our Age of Unenlightenment — where “all opinions are equal” whenever you feel the need to call on that convenience.

expert - true

I’ve been writing about “agree to disagree” for over 14 years, and whad’ya know — the author of the book below was tracking the same tactic:

The Death of Expertise - resize for quote

No matter what the subject, the argument always goes down the drain of an enraged ego and ends with minds unchanged, sometimes with professional relationships or even friendships damaged. Instead of arguing, experts today are supposed to accept such disagreements as, at worst, an honest difference of opinion.

We are supposed to “agree to disagree,” a phrase now used indiscriminately as little more than a conversational fire extinguisher. And if we insist that not everything is a matter of opinion, that some things are right and others are wrong . . . well, then we’re just being jerks, apparently.

Oh yeah, I know the routine — all too well . . .

“It happened on one them Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah days” . . .


But I had never seen anyone go off the rails with the “attack” line in person

Slow down a little bit . . .

Take the time to breathe . . .

Listen and digest what someone is trying to say . . .

Even in those “attack” maneuvers she was tensing up

Do you need to hand out candy to qualify for AutoNation’s etiquette in “constructive criticism”?

When I sent the original mock-up for the main sign, a friend of mine loved it — but she thought the “As Well As” in “As Well As This Nation” was “weak.” She suggested “Not To Mention” instead.  For some silly reason, I didn’t immediately jump on it — but 90 seconds later, “As Well As” was history and I was howling in heavenly joy for “Not To Mention.”

As I wrote in an old cover letter:

Everything of excellence that I have ever achieved was done through the welcoming of whatever was in the best interests of the goal.

I wasn’t in love with “As Well As,” it just took me a moment to recognize the brilliance in “Not To Mention.” And key to that moment was “weak” sinking in.

What a gift it was to “attack” me by tactfully telling me the truth. But “weak” would be way out of line at AutoNation, wouldn’t it!

Well, that is when someone goes batshit crazy over getting their feelings hurt — THEN you play the “concerned” card with your ridiculous mind games that have no bearing on reality (just like her).

Straight outta your feather-filled playbook: “Well, it’s good — but it’s not quite as strong as it could be.”

Actually, the line above would be fine if not for the fact that she really means “weak.”

“Not quite a strong” doesn’t have any bite — but “weak” does, and I’ll take any kind of criticism in the pursuit of refinement. I wanna know what’s on your mind — I’m old-fashioned that way.

Whatever I have to endure to get to the truth, the best idea, or whatever it might be — lay it on me, I can take it! I’ve had tons of practice.

How disgusted I would be in myself if I were sitting there on the sidewalk and finally saw “As Well As” for what it was — weak! The second I felt it, I’d be making 2 phone calls. The first would be to my sign source in Charlotte to fix ’em up ASAP. The second would be to my friend to apologize for my foolishness, and to let her know that the fix is already on order.

But fortunately, I’ve trained my mind to truly respect & value what my fellow man has to say.

So while you coddle your people with pleasantries that get them nowhere, my sign was perfected because I not only welcomed “weak,” I embraced it!

You Are A Liar - named blurred

As I wrote on The Fraudulent 5:

The names of my nemeses are nowhere to be found on this site. I believe in having a sense of proportionality in my purpose, and broadcasting their identities on the internet seems over-the-top to me. They’re exposed on a sidewalk outside Gateway Village because it’s the scene of the crime, and it’s my only conduit to communicate with them. . . .

None of this would be necessary if The Fraudulent 5 had a notion of degree — and didn’t hide behind rules that allow you to boot somebody out the door on a whim.

I’m glad I didn’t think of “Not To Mention” on my own. I’m glad I foolishly failed to jump on it immediately, because I so enjoyed that journey of turning it all around inside of 2 minutes.

“All Back Full” just came to mind as a metaphor for turning on a dime to change course — and who doesn’t love The Hunt for Red October?

At first I was just sharing the clip for kicks, but there’s a lot to to learned from this short scene.  The captain allowed some trust (and a little leap of faith) to penetrate his purpose. He took a calculated risk by looking at the totality of the situation and the reasoning in Ryan’s argument.

What made the most sensed seeped in . . .

And THAT is a beautiful thing!

Not To Mention This Nation

I can’t help but smile every time I see it or say it. I just love collaboration at its finest. 

I could barely contain myself about the very idea I had just declined. And I said, “Now you’re gonna see how I operate.” She thought I was talking about the protest in general, and I said, “No no, I’m talking ‘Not To Mention’ — because I just changed my mind and I absolutely love it now.” We went on and on about it and you can’t put a price on those moments.

All that because I was willing to take another look-see. Soooo, “As Well As” limply moves along while “Not To Mention” has bite and flows with a rhythm . . .

Hmmm -- which to choose_base - resize

To me, that moment embodies what real respect is all about. That my friend felt comfortable in expressing her honest opinion, and I responded in kind by politely declining it at first. But I wasn’t done — and with just a tiny bit of reflection, I changed my mind moments later.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah had no such notion, as she beat back every effort I made — taking nothing I said into account.

All the more outrageous is that at no time after our talk, did she muster up the courage for one second of self-examination. Did she go to that Project Manager and say, “Rick’s raised some concerns and he mentioned that you had similar frustrations with me. Would you please share your concerns with me?”

And there you go — truth ascertained and it’s only the beginning. Because now she’d have to wonder, “Who else feels the same and never told me?”

But at this point — it doesn’t matter, because you start working the problem by making adjustments little by little, and guaranteed — they would take notice.

But no, you all go nuclear over nothing . . . par for the course of the unconscionable

I handed her a golden opportunity to step up her game, and you squandered it away (and who cares if you ruin a guy’s career while you’re at it).

Embracing criticism is easy for me because I’ve made a practice of it for most of my life. So with each instance, I become even more open-minded, because I know how much value there is to be found in reflection.

It’s the exact opposite for the closed-minded. The more they shut people out, the more calcified they become.

Ages ago I wrote about Apollo 13 and the NASA etiquette Ron Howard talked of on the feature commentary. I recorded that clip below and added in a couple of others to further the point:

It was explained to me that, outside the Mission Control room, it could get downright heated . . . that it was allowed . . . that the NASA etiquette, allowed for screaming matches when it was about the work, when it was about solving the problem . . .

How could ya have a heartbeat and not be inspired by that?

I’m not advocating for heated discussions to hash out our concerns, but at least NASA’s argument-etiquette provided the freedom to tell people what you think. And hey, they did go to the moon multiple times and brought Apollo 13 home — so there’s that.

But what have we done lately?

We don’t do big things anymore — but what disturbs me even more is that we can’t even do the small stuff. And it’s precisely because we are shamelessly dysfunctional that we are incapable of accomplish anything. We’ve made it impossible to have rational debate.

And by your babysitting standards, you can forget about having all the conveniences we take for granted today. That level of excellence didn’t happen without some people going NASA from time to time — hammering it out with a purity of purpose.

And ya know what, most of ’em probably got right back to work the moment the argument was over, because true professionals have the ability to bounce back at a moment’s notice.

But your mentality took all that away. You’ve paralyzed people by pampering them — making them numb to their true potential. And politicians are masters are preying on those weaknesses — “inspiring” you by dumbing it all down with an endless supply of sound bites for belittling your fellow man with ease.

EVERYTHING is about #Winning at all costs — and it shows . . .

Quoting myself from my documentary:

Being true to your word is more involved than simply telling the truth. More so than ever, people feel free to believe whatever they want and still see themselves as honest. As Mr. Blust essentially put it with pride: “It’s not a lie if I believe it’s true.”

All the more reason why intellectual honesty is far more demanding than honesty itself. The former requires the curiosity to question, a willingness to reflect, the welcoming of criticism, the acceptance of correction, and an objective interest in the truth — whereas with the latter you can be satisfied in your perception alone.

Undeniably, the exponential increase in self-righteous certitude is tied to technology. Instead of becoming more worldly with our exceptional tools — our conveniences are eroding our ability to think things through. In our brave new world, we seem to thrive on being dismissive, distracted, distant, and shortsighted. After all — who has time to be thoughtful anymore?

With upmost sincerity, I started out complimenting Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah on on the very things I defended her on during my delightful discussion with the project manager.  And there’s one I just remembered — how she made a point of mentioning to my manger that I raised the issue of the database discrepancy that she was digging into.

It impressed me that she did that!

So whad’ya know, people show different sides — and sometimes the very things that annoy you, can be positive too. She did bring clarity to our project, and I made my appreciation of that abundantly clear to her and others.

But she was fighting my every move — creating a combativeness that was totally uncalled for. At that point, I’m done with pleasantries. I told her that while my manager tasked her with reproducing her previous analysis, she didn’t have to do it the same way now that I’m here.

Keep in mind that I didn’t even care if she did it all by herself in whatever method she wanted — I didn’t invite myself in. 

She asked for my help a few times, but it all seemed hinged on her terms. Anything that required even an ounce of devotion outside her timetable (even a matter of minutes)  — was deemed unworthy of the effort.

In my frustration, this is where I became blunt:

I know my around databases in ways that you don’t. You did great work in Excel, but I can help you compile that same information far more efficiently — and make it a repeatable process.

That’s an “attack”?

But she was claiming an “attack” back when I was delicately trying to tell her that she doesn’t take the time to listen and digest before racing off to something else. I was trying to find a way to reach her, and no matter how tactful I was, she just twisted it all around. So the above was an element of me essentially saying:

You asked for my help and then repeatedly got in the way of me giving it

Why I did press the issue at that point? While none of this was that big of a deal to me in the first place, now it’s created frosty friction for absolutely no reason — so at minimum, there’s gonna be a wall between us going forward and I was trying to avert that.

Guaranteed, everything I’ve described about Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah will register with anyone who’s worked with her. It’s her M.O. — plain as day. And I’m an observer by nature, so I couldn’t help noticing her frenzies on the phone (or whatever the hell was going on over there with colleagues and whatnot).

I saw not an instance of calm ever coming from her

And don’t forget that the only reason I raised my concerns is because of what the Project Manager said — and she was really pissed off at Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. At no point in time, did I ever feel that level of frustration with her (not even close) — but I could most certainly understand where the PM was coming from.

And this is the attitude I got for tactfully suggesting that she has a few things she could work on . . .

Talk to the Hand

When she walked away with her “talk to the hand” haughtiness, I casually followed and said:

You see that “Excellence” on the wall — we’re supposed to be better than this!

In today’s world, “attack” is a tried-and-true tactic of the “malignantly narcissistic [who] insist upon ‘affirmation independent of all findings’” (borrowing from M. Scott Peck’s masterpiece below).

Crank out some tears and go running to report the “assault” — and conquest complete, self-delusion cemented.

Don’t think for one second that this fraud wasn’t swallowed in the light of the #MeToo movement — where you’ll indiscriminately slap a scarlet letter on anyone for even the mere appearance of impropriety. 

Note: Other than walking away in her refusal to listen, she held her composure just fine. I wasn’t terribly concerned, because I’ve been blown off many times throughout my career, and the “attack” line is a just watered-down defense mechanism to derail discussion.

That kind of crap goes on 24/7 on social media, but to see someone pull the “attack” ploy in person was new for me

With all the wickedness I have witnessed over the years, nothing should surprise me. But this was not some big idea I was promoting to improve a department. This was not some widespread shift in mindset I was seeking. This was not some company or colleague who committed a major breach in my principles.

For anything I’ve ever done when I might have pushed too hard for it — I cared about it a good deal. That is not the case here at all.

So there’s no motive for me to be excited enough to overly press anyone on my aim (let alone “attack” them). 

And in light of getting royally screwed over multiple times, you really think I’m gonna do anything to risk a good gig for something I don’t even hardly care about it?

It was just an annoyance that I wouldn’t have to put up with for much longer anyway, so I could have just as easily not said a word.

But it’s just so out of whack that colleagues can’t even sit down and have a candid conversation anymore. If she takes my input, great — and if not, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

A younger version of me might have, but I don’t waste my time on people anymore

But I do believe that we owe it to our colleagues to hear each other out. How you act on that information is up to you, but the bare minimum of listening shouldn’t be too much to ask. And it’s laughable to me that you manufacture this myth about how your actions are in accordance with the mealy-mouthed hogwash of:

Here are AutoNation, we work to ensure a comfortable and safe working environment . . .

Somehow it doesn’t feel too “safe” that colleagues can’t even express the most delicate criticism without being railroaded for it.

Edison - quote on percent who think defines “insight” as: “penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.”

That kind of insight takes years to develop, and you don’t get there by taking shortcuts.

She fabricated this fiction for a pity-party and to push me out. Anyone with an inkling of objectivity could see that a mile away . . .

Peck would have field day with her — and you!

Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs . . .

Our capacity to choose changes constantly with our practice of life. The longer we continue to make the wrong decisions, the more our heart hardens; the more often we make the right decision, the more our heart softens — or better perhaps, comes alive.

People Of The Lie - Resize 2

Most people fail in the art of living not because they are inherently bad or so without will that they cannot lead a better life; they fail because they do not wake up and see when they stand at a fork in the road and have to decide.

They are not aware when life asks them a question, and when they still have alternative answers.

Then with each step along the wrong road it becomes increasingly difficult for them to admit that they are on the wrong road, often only because they have to admit that they must go back to the first wrong turn, and must accept the fact that they have wasted energy and time.

Excerpt from my unfinished book:

People Of The Lie - evil 2

  • We have extensively examined the ways in which evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies
  • The uncanny game of hide and seek in the obscurity of the soul, in which it, the single human soul, evades itself, avoids itself, hides from itself.
  • The blindness of the narcissist to others can extend even beyond a lack of empathy; narcissists may not “see” others at all.
  • It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.
  • Actually, the lie is designed not so much to deceive others as to deceive themselves. They cannot or will not tolerate the pain of self-reproach. The decorum with which they lead their lives is maintained as a mirror in which they can see themselves reflected righteously.

People Of The Lie - Resize 2

Probably the most powerful of these group cohesive forces is narcissism.

In its simplest and most benign form, this is manifested in group pride. As the members feel proud of their group, so the group feels proud of itself.

A less benign but practically universal form of group narcissism is what might be called “enemy creation,” or hatred of the “out-group.”

We can see this naturally occurring in children as they first learn to develop groups.

It is almost common knowledge that the best way to cement group cohesiveness is to ferment the group’s hatred of an external enemy.

Deficiencies within the group can be easily and painlessly overlooked by focusing attention on the deficiencies or sins of the out-group.

And THAT — is the American Way

After every game in Little League we lined up to high-five our opponent with “Good game!” Back then we were told, “It’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game” (an honor code not to be confused with the “everybody gets a trophy” business).

I imagine coaches still preach the same thing today, but what’s the point if we’re just gonna abandon our sense of honesty and fairness for political gain?

“Two wrongs don’t make a right” is the kind of policy I care about most

Electoral Map

Before she “escaped” on the elevator,  I said two things that I shouldn’t have. Both are true but still inappropriate. Unlike almost every person I’ve ever seen in any conflict, I don’t frame anything in my favor — I simply tell the story.

Every single word I say or write must conform to the truth — whether it meets my interests or not

Before I divulge the last thing I said, please keep these definitions in mind:

  • A delusion is a mistaken belief that is held with strong conviction even when presented with superior evidence to the contrary
  • Characterized by or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument
  • Something a person believes and wants to be true, when it is actually not true

You’re delusional if you think I’m the only one who thinks this — ask [project manager] what she has to say.

Even with the fact that she is delusional by definition (right along with most of America), I should not have used that term in a business setting. For anyone thinking, “Well there you go, that’s the ‘attack'” — you forget that she the made claim while we were still sitting down, in my delicate-mode, no less.

And for the automatons sitting there thinking they’re a bastion of etiquette while paying lip service like: “Here at AutoNation, we don’t use words like ‘delusional’ to describe colleagues“:

How about “FUCK!” being blasted across the room and used regularly in conversation? 

How’s that fit into your “Here at AutoNation” handbook?

The point is that you people cherry-pick from whatever works in the moment to frame the narrative in your favor, truth be damned. You have no scrutiny for the elephant in the room, but no shortage of it for those who dare to ask:

Wouldn’t we be able to move around far more freely without this elephant in the way?

Here’s what I think of your duplicitous “professionalism”

You don’t do jack to solve any of these problems (which you helped create) — but when someone does, you’ve got all the wisdom in the world for how it should have been handled.

There’s a name for your kind — and it’s called The Critic:


I was pretty calm for being treated so dismissively, but in a moment of weakness, I roped the Project Manager into the story. Tossing “delusional” out there with the PM’s  name tacked on, was a Hail Mary in hopes of jarring her senses. In that split-second moment I was thinking:

How would she handle knowing that there was another who is unhappy with her?

Nevertheless, even though the project manager felt the same, I should not have brought her into it without her knowledge.

Ironically, she was the one who was really upset with the BA — whereas I was just chronically annoyed by her. ;o) The point is, I didn’t deeply care about any of this in the first place — I just thought it was worth a shot to try. Given that, it stands to reason that I wasn’t upset enough to “attack” her over any of my concerns.

The fact that I didn’t follow her on the elevator should speak volumes. I imagine we’ve all been in situations where we were trying to reach the unreachable. I’m betting that 100% of the people hell-bent on making their points, would get on that elevator and use every last second they could to turn her around.

But I just hung out and finished my coffee in that lovely atmosphere on Intersection — where it’s bright and cool, plenty of fresh coffee, an assortment of settings for meetings, casual chats, and whatnot. You couldn’t ask for a better setup to have a talk like this.

When I went back down to our floor, she was making a scene with my manager (choking up and predictably still stuck on that email — defending it while flagrantly ignoring my concerns that came before it).

And guaranteed — any angle that could be twisted to her liking was seized on

The silence of my colleagues and the look on their faces told me that I had missed the worst of it while I was upstairs. My manager disappeared without a word, and after he was gone for a while I suspected I was doomed.

I held onto a sliver of hope that cooler heads would prevail, but that’s not the world we live in — thanks to the likes of you!

That reminds me of this great scene in Contact . That with a straight face someone could stand there “wishing” for a world of fairness (after robbing her with lies that people so love to hear) — is the height of hypocrisy . . .

a.k.a. America

When I came back from lunch, security asked me for my badge. I didn’t say a word and just put my head down on their desk, and in that moment all I thought about was my parents and all that my principles have put them through.

Einstein - violent opposition

Rick’s the type of guy who would lose his job on principle

When a friend and former colleague said that over 10 years ago — while I knew it to be true, even I’ve been surprised how many times it’s come true.

As happy as I was here with all that I had, I was thrilled for them the most

My dad’s had peripheral neuropathy for over 20 years — an extremely painful disease, and prescription narcotics have significantly waned in their effectiveness over time. I cannot overstate that I do not bring this up to elicit sympathy, but rather to illustrate the impact of imprudence.

Even if only in the slightest, my joy lessens his suffering — in a world of chronic pain most of us can’t even imagine.

And you buckled to pamper the pain of an emotionally bruised ego

Truth or reality is avoided when it is painful. We can revise our maps only when we have the discipline to overcome that pain. To have such discipline, we must be totally dedicated to truth.

That is to say that we must always hold truth, as best we can determine it, to be more important, more vital to our self-interest, than our comfort. Conversely, we must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth. Mental health is an ongoing process of dedication to reality at all costs.

The Road Less Traveled - 2 - resize

That companies will so callously cast people out over nothing is a disgrace — doing widespread damage in multiple dimensions (including their own organization, and the very person that they were ostensibly out to “protect”).

And when I raised my head seconds later, a tidal wave of rage rose with me — not just about this job, but a lifetime of disgust in mankind’s character beholden to a black hole devoid of doubt.

Took the badge off my belt loop, threw it against the wall as hard as I could, and belted this out as loud as I could:


And calmly walked out the door without uttering another word


I’ve been combating your kind since I was 17 years old — the intellectually lazy who are too preoccupied in their self-importance to even consider the possibility of a bigger picture, let alone see it.

The likes of these people will blow smoke in the belief that their business is a bastion of virtue. They become increasingly comfortable with mediocrity that allows them to flagrantly ignore the undercurrent of conflict and toxic waste all around them — poisoning the waters of possibility on a daily basis.

The sniping and griping goes on while they pretend it doesn’t exist, then throw a party to congratulate themselves on performance.

But it’s always about the numbers in some slick report that hides the hackery behind the scenes

I don’t care how many billions a company brings in — you’re not minding the store when you pay no attention to the senseless waste in the trenches. But what do I know—I’m “just a contractor” who can be fired with lickety-split judgment to pacify an employee’s pride (who couldn’t manage to be an adult, let alone a professional).

But in reality, it’s not nearly as much about serving her interests as it is theirs. In an interview, James Woods was talking about playing the CEO of Lehman Brothers in the movie Too Big To Fail, and said the following:

Here’s the problem with what’s happened to our culture: You’re not required to be ethical — as long as you’re legal.


Bank of America - 4

Life of the Closed Mind (image and text)

“To learn to ask: ‘Is that true? Maybe there’s something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That’s interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind’.” When is the last time you can honestly remember a public dialogue — or even a private conversation — that followed that useful course?

Flight Risk - 2

Not long after I walked out of Wells in sheer disgust, an agent called me and we had a nice chat about some opportunities. He was happy to work with me — but he pointblank told me the inescapable reality:

The problem is that companies are gonna see you as a flight risk

Catchy metaphor for “job hopper” — perfectly depicting the problem on my hands.

That was February 2016 — which is nothing compared to now (all of which started after moving to California for a full-time consulting job on a project that never started). I was paid for 5 months and never worked a day (didn’t even go into an office).

That might sound good to a lot of people, but it was the last thing I needed — and my career has yet to recover. I share some blame for that, but I’ll return to that momentarily.

To put company credos in comical terms, there’s that vintage My Cousin Vinny scene where he says, “You were serious about dat?” — in response to the judge reprimanding him once again for not looking lawyerly in his courtroom.

It’s not so funny when companies have that same look on their face when I hold them accountable to their claims:

What? You thought we actually meant all that stuff about higher standards, accountability, integrity, and iron sharpens iron?

Promissory estoppel . . .

A legal principle that a promise is enforceable by law, even if made without formal consideration, when a promisor has made a promise to a promisee who then relies on that promise to his subsequent detriment.

The double standards in our society are revolting — and the company-credos crap is all part of the same facade. I’m not as hardcore as I used to be (two decades of ridiculous excuses took its toll). I’ve had to continually lower my expectations of others if i wanted to continue in this career.

All I ask now is for people to be in the ballpark, but even that standard has been too much of a burden to some.

Companies tend to come down with a case of collective amnesia when you have the nerve to wonder why their actions are wildly off the mark from their so-called company values. They don’t care one bit that you took the job based on the standards they sold.  And what we do have for the guy who thinks accountability still matters

We’re gonna turn you into the problem for not being more accommodating of our mediocrity.

I just have this old-fashioned idea that your claims should square with your record (or at least be reasonably in sync). But none of that matters anymore,  as America has become a free-for-all for whatever you wanna believe, no matter how dumb, dishonest, or delusional. 


An accurate accounting of any situation should include your role in it

Due to some poor choices in jobs, I am not without blame in how some of this unfolded over the last few years. With age adding up, bouncing around the country, and being plagued by my “past” — yeah, I made a few dumb decisions.

But again, it’s hard to regret it in light of all the good that came out on the other side. Sooner or later though, ya gotta get some stability going (and even a year on a job would be some semblance of “stable” at this point).

Time matters to me more than ever now. Because of that, along with my goals and getting shafted and deceived too many times, I broke my word by bailing early on some jobs that weren’t serving my interests. If other people wanna jump ship for whatever reason, that’s their business and I don’t care what they do.

But for me, I signed on to do a job and handshake integrity demands that I deliver in full. That companies will thoughtlessly throw you out on the street over nothing doesn’t change that. Their bottom-of-the-barrel standards have nothing to do with mine.

But I did start slipping a bit . . . 

Suffering through a lackluster role or two would have been no big deal even a few years ago — but the baggage was wearing on me.

Jobs that would have been okay earlier in my career made me furious, because I couldn’t escape all the wrongdoing that put me in positions that propelled me nowhere . . . .

Fraudulent 5 - straight trees

Just get up off the ground, that’s all I ask. Get up there with that lady that’s up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won’t just see scenery; you’ll see the whole parade of what Man’s carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting.

Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so’s he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That’s what you’d see. . . .

Great principles don’t get lost once they come to light. They’re right here; you just have to see them again!

It’s not as simple as just walking out on a company just because I wasn’t happy. I could have forced myself through it for a while, but that’s not operating in good faith from where I sit. In one place there was a lot of training involved for on-call support, and in no time I knew I’d wouldn’t remain after the 90-day probationary period.

So as bad as it was to bail on them — it seems even worse to waste their time. I would add that in almost all the places I left over the last few years, I left with no job to go to (so it’s not like I kept jumping ship for something better). And whatever wrong calls I made, at least I have guilt — it bothers me that I let people down and didn’t fulfill my obligation (especially for the people I liked who did no wrong — the job just wasn’t right for me).

But for the companies who have no humanity, no honor, no courage, and no curiosity — the only thing that burdens them in bouncing you out the door is the paperwork and finding a replacement.

As for the firings, I stood my ground on principle and paid the price.

If you wanna operate with questionable billing practices and provide poor service, don’t hire me. . . .Oakwood 3 - resize

Oakwood has some top-notch people — but their leaders are unworthy of them.

They shot their mouths off about their atmosphere of excellence, but it was just another illusion . . . another lie.

A huge problem in IT is that you have a ton of technical people who have no business being managers. They end up in these slots because they gotta get promoted somehow, or there’s a void to fill, or they’re connected to the person who put them there (the good ol’ boy network of white-collar chaos).

But what’s worse than their shortcomings is that they seem oblivious to them

Don’t get me wrong, some of these people handle things that are beyond me — but they blow it on the basics.

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If you wanna be a good manager, ya gotta not only be interested in what your team is telling you, but also in what they’re not telling you — and have the guts to wonder why that is.

Racing around from meeting to meeting with an occasional pit stop with your team doesn’t get it done. You need to be proactive with your people so you can most effectively harness your resources.

I’ve spent my life building on knowledge from one stage to the next (learning from all those around me — amateurs, experts, and every level in between).

Throughout my career, I’ve been amazed by the lack of thirst for knowledge by so many people in IT — a line of work that’s packed with possibilities. Even when I worked on a stamping press right out of high school, I found ways to challenge myself. My attitude was:

As long as I gotta be here, I might as well make the most of it.

I did that on a greasy job with my wrists latched to a safety cable while standing in the same place all night long. And whad’ya know, in a factory I faced the same pooh-poohers of possibility that poison the white-collar world.

But there was one leader in that shop who changed the trajectory of my future — as she had real insight in spades:

penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.


So I know the power of inspiration and what real leadership looks like — and I’ve got plenty more examples where that came from.

Even those who aren’t exactly thirsty for knowledge, are usually still interested in it. But many of them get so overloaded with responsibilities both inside and outside of work, that they just don’t have the time and energy to proactively advance their abilities.

That’s where leadership comes in, and if you get the best out of your people, they’ll get the best out of you. Undoubtedly, some “insight” slinger is sitting there citing a top-10 hit from the rolodex of excuses:

This is a business, not a think-tank — so we gotta get things done and don’t have time to do adhere to your academic ideals.

Yeah, I’ve seen your “getting it done” . . .

I will say that I saw some pretty good code at AutoNation, and I have no doubt I’d find plenty more things to like (as I always see both the good and the bad). Whenever I would go get some coffee, I’d walk by multiple cubes with SQL Server up on their screens — and I’d wonder:
When’s the last time these people talked to each other unless it was something urgent they needed help on?
Most shops develop in silos (even those that think they’re not). It blows my mind that a company could have someone spinning their wheels for weeks on something that a colleague has already solved. Some of that’s bound to happen, but most of it can be eliminated.
There are 2 things that every IT team should be doing. The first is having bi-weekly brainstorming sessions (or at the very least, once a month). And those meetings should be set in stone (with only genuine emergencies allowed to postpone them). Because once you start slacking on ’em, you can forget it — it’s over, as your people won’t take the sessions (or you) seriously, so you gotta commit.
Each person should bring at least one thing to the table (a new idea, a problem they’re having or solved, a concern, and so on). And you might have someone like me who will go out of their way to do a demo some kind.
Secondly, the incremental sharing of knowledge on the fly would work wonders. If you come up with something you think the team should know, spend a few minutes jotting down some thoughts in OneNote (add in a few screenshots) — and send it out to the team. You might even have someone reply to say, “That’s pretty good — but have you tried this?”
That way you get your crew used to being challenged on a regular basis — eventually to the point where it just becomes habit to to adopt the best idea (regardless of whose it is).

Speaking of habits:

Habit of Thought - book cover -- with list - 3Moreover, instead of scoffing at “documentation” — perhaps you might try looking at it in a less-formal light. Documentation has historically been seen as a heavy burden because of the typically formal nature of it.
But platforms like OneNote can help remove that mindset for informal illustration (hence the reason I purposely used “jotting” above). 

Sharing knowledge on-the-fly like is beneficial on multiple fronts:

  1. You sharpen your team’s ability to illustrate & interpret concepts
  2. Explanation can expose holes in your logic
  3. If you find it’s too convoluted to explain, even if it works — there might be a concern on clarity
  4. Injecting new ideas into your day would jar people from their routine. Even if they only spend 5-10 minutes looking something over, that’s an investment that can pay off in more ways than one. Not only are you gaining the benefit of some new knowledge, but you’re also freeing your mind for a few minutes. That “break” might be just the thing you needed to see something your were missing before.
  5. Incremental exchange would increasingly improve your brainstorming sessions (as your people would become more and more comfortable collaborating openly)
  6. Such an atmosphere would organically create a feeling of participation in the air that’s probably gonna inspire you get involved.
  7. OneNote intrinsically trains your mind to think more structurally (as you’ll continually refine how you organize material over time).
  8. You’d be amazed by the knowledge base of best practices you’d be building. And yeah, you’d need somebody to keep it organized, but there’s usually some one (like me) who likes to do that sort of thing.

If I were running a company, I’d have something like that enterprise wide — with even a board of developers and BAs who managed the knowledge base of best practices. I’d even have it built into an incentive program (where you could submit a suggestion to challenge the existing best practice).

I would add that both peer and code reviews would prevent a lot of problems all by themselves

Even if you did only half of any of this (or even 25%) — you’d still be in a whole other universe of thought from where you are now.

I think it would be a pretty cool for people to feel connected throughout a company — a sense of belonging that would organically cultivate a culture of authenticity (leading by reputation instead of empty claims).

It always bugs me that there’s this attitude that essentially says, “Well, we can’t have all that, so let’s have none of it.” For that crowd who claims “we don’t have the time” — you should open your eyes to the waste of time and money that practically become policy in some places.

With all the waste I witnessed inside my circle at AutoNation, how much more you think I’d find from one floor to the next?

In most shops, people are glued to their “preferences” — which more often than not means, “I’ve been doing it this way for years and I don’t wanna change.” OneNote is an excellent example of that — because it’s one of best tools in the business and I hardly ever seen anyone using it.
I was one of those people who didn’t see OneNote’s potential right off. Then I saw a colleague using it a couple years later and the possibilities were as self-evident as it gets (I was kicking myself for being so blind before). I became something of OneNote evangelist — always excited to share the good news, and I’d do a demo showing far more features than that moment that turned the tide for me.
But even with all that on a silver platter — few expressed much interest, and those who did never followed up (except for one girl who comes to mind — and she was soooooooo happy that I had opened her world to OneNote). The more organized you are, the more clearly you can think. And ya wanna talk time management and multi-tasking — what better way to bounce between tasks when you know right where everything is.
On that note, let’s say you hand off an unfinished project for whatever reason. Done the traditional way — information is scattered all over the place between emails, Word docs, Excel files, PowerPoint and whatnot.
Even if you find it all — there’s no continuity to it (which means it’s a mess for the next person). Put that exact same material in OneNote, and voilà — a roadmap.


In my mind, we have a inherent responsibility to get better at our jobs, and key to that is communication — so that we can objectively assess anything that comes our way (including feedback we don’t like).

If we’re in IT, shouldn’t we be excited about technology and anything that can elevate our abilities?

  • Shouldn’t be always be on the lookout for anything that brings fluidity to the flow of information?
  • Shouldn’t we show an interest in things that can make our jobs easier and more organized?
  • Shouldn’t we leverage the knowledge of our colleagues instead of reinventing the wheel?
  • Wouldn’t it be much more exciting to learn new tidbits from time to time — and get to know your colleagues better in the process?
  • Shouldn’t we show some respect to our colleagues who brings things to our attention that others were unwilling to? Perhaps put yourself in their shoes an

But my evangelist days are over — now I just float an idea and if I get some interest, great, but it not — I won’t lose any sleep over it.

And all that ties back to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, because I sure as hell wasn’t gonna be burdened by her blowing off my input (as I’m groomed for that behavior now).

But I’ll damned if I’m gonna let anyone sit there and tell me that I’m “attacking” them for politely trying to express a concern.

I was lucky to land this job at AutoNation. I’m qualified to do so much more, but I didn’t care for now — I was just happy to have some good work and it would help my career move along a little, and for the time being — that was good enough.

I had laser-like focus on my studies in pursuit of my next certification. I was on a mission from the moment I awoke every day to the time I went to sleep. Everything was coming together and getting closer and closer to being ready for my exam.

And then you went and ruined my rhythm so that you could preserve your falsified image. But as bad as Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’s unconscionable insecurity is, that AutoNation fosters it is a gross failure of leadership from the top on down.

I paid the debt I owed ’em, but they’re still not satisfied

I’ve never “owed” anyone for having higher standards, but if I wanted to remain in this line of work, I’ve had to find ways to tolerate the systemic mediocrity that surrounds me (at least until I find a place that sees a river of waste as unacceptable as I do).

But Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is now the poster child for “they’re still not satisfied” — those who know no low in service of how they see themselves. She joins the ranks of the dead certain who skate on by scot-free without a worry in the world about the damage they do.

But no matter where I’m living, the black mark follows me
I’m branded with a number on my name

I’m a “flight risk” now more than ever — and who can blame any company for skipping over someone who hasn’t stayed longer than a few months in any job since I moved from Charlotte in July 2015?

The Promissory Estoppel principle was literally breached by Bank of America, Oakwood, and Wells Fargo. Other places like Sally Beauty and AutoNation are philosophical breaches (in that while they made no explicit promises, they still did exactly as the others:

Shirking their inherent responsibility and showing a flagrant disregard of company claims

None of this has anything to do suing anyone — I’m simply saying that there is a legal foundation upon which you can be held accountable to your word. But in my book, handshake integrity trumps all, and that even without the handshake — that there’s an implicit promise that you will be treated with some degree of fairness.

Booting me out the door at AutoNation in the way you did — is prejudice by definition:

  • an opinion formed beforehand, esp an unfavourable one based on inadequate facts
  • a preconceived judgment or opinion
  • an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge
  • Preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience
  • a partiality that prevents objective consideration of an issue or situation
  • an unfair and unreasonable opinion or feeling formed without enough thought or knowledge:

If I were running a company, I would require certain questions be asked for anyone seeking a leadership role of any kind, and one of them would be:

Tell me about a time you had a conflict between a contractor and an employee. How did you handle that?

To which the likes of AutoNation automatons would reply (in the unlikely event they told the truth):

Well, we took the employee’s side of the story, didn’t ask any probing questions, didn’t talk to the contractor at all, and picked up the phone and fired him.

To which I would say:

We like to use our minds and be diligent in our decisions here, so this is not the place for you. Thank you for your time.

Aren’t you lucky to be living in a world of #Winning — where no one burdens your brain with the demands of discernment. How blissful it must be to behave with cavalier expediency one moment and speak of “Excellence” in the next. And what will the token offering be next time in your little charade of “Love You Working Here“?

Note: It’s probably sincere by those who actually do the work on those things, so I don’t include them on that “charade” commentary.

You screwed over the person who appreciated that Starbucks card more than anyone. I guess in that moment maybe I thought you might be different and actually mean it. How can you possibly say, “Love You Working Here” and turn around and be so ruthless — without an atom of regard for anything in the realm of reason and what’s right?

You trampled on time-honored traditions of decency — and you did it with ease

When I made this word cloud, I could have gone on and on with all the virtues I had in mind. In how you railroaded me, you’d measure up to exactly zero of them.

WORD_CLOUDYou didn’t create the culture of the unconcerned — you just further calcified it

On top of all that, you learned less than nothing, for all you did was reinforce the ridiculous. You could have seized on the opportunity to sharpen your minds and improve your employee — by showing her the wisdom of sucking it up and shaking it off.

And if you were so bold to go that far, perhaps you might recommend the revolutionary idea of listening and working things out like real professionals do.

But you had no such notion — right on cue with the freedom from doubt that has contaminated our culture. My career has been severely damaged by your dereliction of duty, but that’s not even what bothers me most:

It’s the lie of it all . . .

Upheld by a brand of self-delusion that’s become fashionable

Mark my words, if you ever feel the weight of injustice, you will finally understand.

This is how I imagine the AutoNation powers that be trying to protect their image . . .

Never mind that your employees will identify with everything I wrote — as well as the socially sanctioned stupidity that persist in our society.

Please disperse - Nothing to see here.gif

By late summer of 1756 Adams had made up his mind about the future. . . . Beholding the night sky, “the amazing concave of Heaven sprinkled and glittering with stars,” he was “thrown into a kind of transport” and knew such wonders to be the gifts of God, expressions of God’s love. But greatest of all, he wrote, was the gift of an inquiring mind.

“But all the provisions that He has [made] for the gratification of our senses . . . are much inferior to the provision, the wonderful provision that He has made for the gratification of our nobler powers of intelligence and reason. He has given us reason to find out the truth, and the real design and true end of our existence.”

To a friend Adams wrote, “It will be hard work, but the more difficult and dangerous the enterprise, a higher crown of laurel is bestowed on the conqueror. . . . But the point is now determined, and I shall have the liberty to think for myself.”

John Adams - Book cover and Overlay on Boston Massacre

. . .

The following day thirty-four-year-old John Adams was asked to defend the soldiers and their captain, when they came to trial. No one else would take the case, he was informed. Hesitating no more than he had over Jonathan Sewall’s offer of royal appointment, Adams accepted, firm in the belief, as he said, that no man in a free country should be denied the right to counsel and a fair trial, and convinced, on principle, that the case was of utmost importance.

As a lawyer, his duty was clear. That he would be hazarding his hard-earned reputation and, in his words, “incurring a clamor and popular suspicions and prejudices” against him, was obvious . . .

quote-facts-are-stubborn-things_John Adams

I think this scene from Braveheart symbolizes the decline of America:

You’re so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from Longshank’s table . . . that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.

I don’t spend my life adding to the bunk-filled barrage of rapid-file ridicule that has taken over the times. If browbeating for sport is your game, so be it — but perhaps you could take a break once in a while when you see someone who doesn’t fit the mold?

The advent of the internet along with the hostile takeover of the cable clans — created a madness in America that makes it nearly impossible to cut through the crap to get to the compelling.


Imagine entering into a discussion on Shakespeare with a world-renowned expert — and the extent of your knowledge is from DiCaprio’s Romeo and Juliet. You can hate Shakespeare and that’s a valid opinion — but to debate anything of substance, you need to do some homework first.

And whatever your view — shouldn’t you show at least a morsel of deference to the person who’s an authority on the subject?

But that’s just it — our culture has no notion of deference to expertise anymore when challenged on our opinions. For me, there’s a work ethic in all that I do — so how I establish my take on an issue just innately follow that form. But with what our country has become — there is no ethic and there is no work.


The freedom from doubt that has contaminated our culture is perfectly put below:

It is as though with some people — those who most avidly embrace the “we are right” view — have minds that are closed from the very get-go, and they are entirely incapable of opening them, even just a crack.

There is no curiosity in them. There are no questions in their minds. There are no “what ifs?” or “maybes.”

Laura Knight-Jadczyk in her article Official Culture in America: A Natural State of Psychopathy?

And the dead-certain skate on by scot-free as the country goes to hell in a handbasket without an atom of reflection on their role in our decline!

Don’t shake your head. I’m not done yet. Wait till you hear the whole thing so you can . . . understand this now . . .

Volume 4 - resize

Psychological Gymnastics


And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence . . .

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never shared
No one dared
Disturb the sound of silence . . .

But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence . . .

Study: Falling Man (Wheelman)

Shown here is a somewhat dehumanized, life-size bronze figure of a human being of no particular sex, age, race, culture, or environment. Compressed between the two wheels, it seems to present humanity as the victim of its own complicated inventions. The wheels also symbolize the blind ups and downs of fortune. The date 1965 is inscribed on the base, and the whole sad assemblage seems to say that human history and civilization have not exactly turned out as was once more hopefully expected.

A History of the Modern World - resize


To close out on a hopeful high note, I was a bit bored by my World History professor at Purdue University, so I started flipping through the back of the book — and my mind was blown the moment I saw the page above. Adding to this inspiration was the TA who made history exciting by requiring us to make connections — correlating events and the people around them.

With all the reading & writing we had to do, the knowledge sunk in and it was a conduit for critical thinking.

That was about to come in handy . . .

Unfinished Block P - 2

The meaning of the “Unfinished Block P” has also grown. At first, the memorial was going to be in honor only of those students who had passed away while at Purdue. However, the basic concept has evolved to symbolize that all students, alumni, community members, and friends of Purdue University are a work in progress and will never be completely finished growing and learning

I’ve always had a knack for finding the perfect person at just the right time for whatever I needed most — and my political science teacher was next in line.

This story succinctly captures what this site is all about

I admired Yasmin’s passion, objectivity, and desire to make the material as enjoyable as possible. She made an impression with me right off when she told us that she did not vote so that she would not harbor any political leanings in her teaching. While I always did well on my papers, I fell short a time or two on the exams, so I was on the border for getting an “A” in the class. I knew the final paper would put me over the edge, and I was dead set on making that happen. But when I got my paper back on Nazi Germany, I found that she had not only given me a “B,” but she also provided plenty of red ink to point out my mistakes.

I wasn’t too happy about it and went to her office hours to discuss it. I was not angry, but I wanted to raise my objections.

We went over every single item, and while I disagreed with her here and there, on the whole she made quite a convincing case. By the end of the discussion she could tell I was still frustrated and she looked right at me and said:

If you still think that you deserve an ‘A’ on the paper, I’ll give it to you.

That concession would have meant an “A” in the class, and in so doing provided a boost to my lackluster GPA. But here we go again with another moment of truth. Without hesitation I replied, “I’ll take the ‘B.’” To accept the “A” would have been tantamount to disrespecting Yasmin and everything I had learned in her pheonomenal class  — making it more about a grade than the value of the knowledge.

“I’ll take the ‘B’” has never stopped paying dividends — and it never will

The next year I took dual-level course on Hitler and 20th Century Germany — just for fun after being so inspired by those teachers above. I was the only undergrad in the room and boy I did feel the pressure, and it felt good! I loved the serious-minded passion they put into their pursuit of history as a profession.

The best way to respect that is to step up your game.

But instead inspiring people for more, you’ve made it policy to settle for less. In your endless efforts to comfort the few, you’ve made the many uncomfortable. Every time I turn around, people like you are putting up barriers to block Saint Jerome’s journey:

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.

Surely you’ve been sharpened by someone with superior abilities in some form or another? I mean, this is all pretty obvious stuff, right? So why do I need to go to all this trouble to explain what you already know?

Because you lost your way — toeing the line with America

It seems like only yesterday
I didn’t have a clue
I stood alone not knowing where to turn
Now suddenly I look around
And everything looks new . . .

They call it understanding
A willingness to grow
I’m finally understanding
There’s so much I could know

Until the day you came along
I used to just get lost
I only heard the things I wanted to hear
It always seemed like no cared
Then you took the time
And now I look and everything seems clear . . .

Johnny Cash - Till Things Are Brighter


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What Is Truth?

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Trillion Dollar Tube

Johnny Cash - Jimmy Iovine quote

Johnny Cash - Till Things Are Brighter