What the hell is an “electable” candidate?

I just heard, yet again, someone talking about who they’d like to vote for (in this case, within the GOP crop of candidates) versus who they will vote for. Their reasoning for the choice is that the person for whom they wanted to vote “can’t win.”

Man, I’m getting really sick of this self-fulfilling prophecy.

Of course the person you want can’t win if you don’t vote for them. Vote for the person you want or we’re going to keep getting watered down, unqualified candidates who we all thought everyone else could stomach.

The whole point of voting is to exercise your right and infuse your opinion into the final results.

If we all vote based on what we think are everyone else’s opinions, then we’ll never know what we really want.

Wow. It’s just so convoluted…

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Why not driverless cars? Let me count the ways…

Many are predicting the coming wave of driverless cars. The claim is that soon we’ll all be in them, and this will be a good thing for society.

Personally, I don’t see the positives.

All I see is trying to figure out how to get around four driverless cars all driving exactly the speed limit next to each other on the freeway.

At least, that was all I could see until I saw this article in Wired.

In it, the driver describes a test he underwent where he was driving a Jeep and his company’s tech people intentionally hacked into the vehicle and took it over.

Has it occurred to people that anyone with the knowledge could already hack into your computer chip-dependent car? Think about when you’re sitting in the back of your driverless car. If someone wanted to send you into the next lane, over the guard rail or just shut down your motor so you’re suddenly sitting dead in oncoming freeway traffic, there’s nothing you’d be able to do.

In general, I don’t like surrendering control of anything to anyone. But this one seems like one of the bigger mistakes you could make when trusting the machines.

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It’s all going to hell?

People have been saying “society’s falling apart” for some time now… hundreds of years, really.

Usually, just pointing that out is intended as a refutation that things are actually getting worse. The underlying argument being that how could it all be falling apart for that long without it actually ALL falling apart?

But I guess the flip side is, what if they’re right? What if things have been going South for some time now, and it’s just taking longer than we thought?

That’s not to say there aren’t improvements. I mean people are living longer, we’re all safer, more clean water, etc. But speaking more sociologically, what is the health of our society (America, specifically)?

Back in 1964, Paul Harvey wrote an essay called “If I were the Devil.” He recorded a version for radio in 1965 and updated it fairly frequently to keep it modern.

It’s a fairly famous essay/recording – mostly because many point to it as being a fairly accurate, if not unsettling, depiction of what is happening to the country. Up until yesterday, I’ve been feeling a bit lost and confused about the direction we’re heading, and this kind of describes why.

In short, it’s about courtesy, respect and morality. Social media is said by many to be bringing us closer, but it’s also enabling us to think more about ourselves and less about others. It’s also removed much of the decorum and politeness that used to exist (things that are now often described as old fashioned).

What do you think? Here’s the transcript of the original essay with a recording of one version of the radio broadcast below that:

“If I were the prince of darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness.

I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree — thee.

So, I would set about however necessary to take over the United States.

I’d subvert the churches first, and I would begin with a campaign of whispers.

With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.”

To the young, I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince the children that man created God instead of the other way around. I’d confide that what’s bad is good and what’s good is square.

And the old, I would teach to pray after me, “Our Father, which are in Washington …”

Then, I’d get organized, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting.

I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.

If I were the devil, I’d soon have families at war with themselves, churches at war with themselves and nations at war with themselves until each, in its turn, was consumed.

And with promises of higher ratings, I’d have mesmerizing media fanning the flames.

If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions. I’d tell teachers to let those students run wil. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.

With a decade, I’d have prisons overflowing and judges promoting pornography. Soon, I would evict God from the courthouse and the schoolhouse and them from the houses of Congress.

In his own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion and deify science. I’d lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls and church money.

If I were the devil, I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious.

What’ll you bet I couldn’t get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich?

I’d convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging is more fun and that what you see on television is the way to be.

And thus, I could undress you in public and lure you into bed with diseases for which there are no cures.

In other words, if I were the devil, I’d just keep right on doing what he’s doing.”

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The lost art of critical thinking: believing what you hear

I recently had a conversation with a co-worker where he was telling me a few stories of how he’d been burned by friends who told him things that turned out to not be true.

My first question: Did you do your own research or consider what was driving their perspective or interpretation of events? The answer: no.

This brought me back to a conversation we had a few weeks earlier. He had told me about some bad experiences he had been having with an employee of mine. I listened to the story, took notes and then did my research.

I started investigating the facts and talking to others who were involved in the incidents about which I was told. In fact, I also talked to the person in question to get their side of the story.

There’s a phrase for this: Trust, but verify.

I trusted my co-worker person as a source. In fact, it was my trust in him that led me to do my own investigation.

Whenever I hear an assertion or news story, my first reaction is to consider what is the other side of the story. Chances are, some of the key facts are being omitted to serve the side of the one telling the story. Other times, they just don’t know all the details – some of which may be critical to the story.

Sometimes, our previous biases against a person or organization can alter our filter. Take the Donald Trump story.

When Trump was announcing his candidacy, he said about Mexican immigrants:

“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

A lot of people went immediately to mocking his statement because they think he’s dumb and expect to make a joke of everything he says. He is, to many, a joke.

But whether or not he’s a joke, you still have to consider his words. He didn’t say all immigrants are rapists, as many would have you believe. He said some are, and some are good people. It’s right there in his statement.

And the facts are on his side. Look no further than the woman killed by an immigrant man who had been previously deported several times. But if you want to go deeper, there are plenty examples of crimes committed by illegal aliens.

If nothing else, they’re here illegally, and that, in itself, is a crime.

Bringing it back to my co-worker, my investigation revealed that his concerns about my employee were correct. But he ended up quite angry with me for not trusting him and just taking his word for it.

But that’s exactly what got him in trouble with his friends in the first place. (As an aside, it’s also why he made fun of Trump’s quote to me… because he had heard people make fun of Trump without actually researching the quote and the veracity of it.)

The lesson? Before reaching a conclusion on any information you hear, you have to dive deeper and do your research. Consider what the other side of the story is saying and why. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself always vulnerable to being manipulated by people who may have an agenda that goes against your own.

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Only in the Pacific Northwest

photo-10

This is a photo of the intersection where I pick up the bus every morning. I get there about 5:30 every morning, when this was taken.

Those cars there to the right? That’s about as heavy as the traffic gets at that time in the morning.

Nearly every morning, any number of walkers or bikers arrive at any of the four corners with the intent of crossing the street. And yet, with that little traffic, each and every one will press the walk light and then stand there until the light changes and they get a walk light.

Every single one.

And for months, if not years, I’ve watched this go on.

I’ve tried to lead by example. Often I arrive as someone is waiting and I just walk on without hitting the walk button. I don’t wait for the walk light. I just go. And they just stand there.

I’m not sure why they’re waiting. There’s no one around. There are also no police who could possibly give them a jaywalking ticket (not that they would, anyway).

And aside from waiting for no reason, they also unnecessarily inconvenience driving traffic by making the light turn red just so they can cross – when they could have crossed anyway without interrupting the flow at all.

Human nature continues to fascinate me, and every so often, I tell one of them to just go and not hit the light. They say they want to be safe. I guess the common sensical “look right, left and right again before crossing the street” advice we all got when we were kids is out the window. Now people need flags and cross lights to make it across the street. Yet another small sample of our growing dependence on outside influences other than ourselves.

Today, though, there was a hopeful twist.

A guy on a bike rode up, stopped, hit the walk light, and then crossed against it, anyway. While exciting that he chose to go on his own, this was actually worse. His actions resulted in the light turning red for traffic after he was long gone, making it even more unnecessary.

I’ve lived here six years, and I’m still trying to work out the militant rule-following of the native Pacific Northwesterner.

One thing you can bank on, if you see someone crossing against a light, you can bet they’re not from around here.

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