Culture of Fear

Corporate management loves fear, because they do not have to take the blame for it. They just passively allow it because it helps keep employees under control.

However, it it the employees themselves who are responsible for fear. It is just an emotion. It isn't real. Fear is a mental constraint only. We live in a culture of fear that significantly constrains human potential and creativity. The corporate charlatans who control the world do not want to see the culture of fear go away. It keeps employees obedient and enslaved.

Ultimately, the slavery itself is economic in nature. People today are beholden to corporate America for their middle class lifestyles. You cannot just quit your job when it sucks. You have to suck it up out of fear of economic disaster, especially if you have a family to support.

But the fear comes in as a catalyst for keeping you cowed and suffering. Humans naturally imagine the worst case scenario, even though the scenario that manifests would most likely be an average between the worst and best case scenarios. The worst case scenario is both imaginary and highly improbable. Yet in people's minds, the worst case scenario is considered highly probable.

In early 2009, at the rock bottom of the economic downturn, I "fired" my employer for sucking. The worst case scenario did not occur. In fact, it was the most liberating and educational thing I ever did. I threw myself into creative pursuits and expanding my horizons. It was like a personal development sabbatical. I found some adult services programs through the University of Wisconsin-Madison outreach that were completely free.

Granted, I had savings and no debt, other than a mortgage. So I had a lot of cushion between me and economic collapse. Even so, I was terrified before I took the plunge, because like most people, I envisioned a worse case scenario. It was completely fabricated in my mind, but it inhibited me from doing what I should have done a lot sooner.

A stressful job that you have no passion for WILL kill you, if you do not get out of it. Only fear of the consequences is keeping you enslaved. Stress kills. There are hundreds of scientific papers on this and all of them show that stress coupled with powerlessness is correlated with higher mortality (death) and morbidity (sickness). This is true throughout the animal kingdom and is not unique to humans.

Debt is a real factor that can enslave you because you don't want to be jobless with bills. But consider that the fact you have debt means you already have bills you can't pay and likely won't ever pay off.

Change your lifestyle and learn to live well within your means. You don't need bigger, better, faster, more if it means you can free yourself from a very real bad situation. The worst case scenario of quitting your job is not real. It is imaginary expectation fabricated entirely in your mind and preventing you from escaping a bad work situation, which is REAL.

So if you stay in a crappy work situation, you have a very real scenario that is probably a lot closer to the worst case scenario than would happen if you just walked away from it.

Make a list of pros and cons to help you decide rationally what the real state of affairs is. Think about the stress of commuting that could be alleviated by quitting your current job and the cost savings in terms of gas and car maintenance. Think of the soft costs in terms of more time for your family and creative pursuits. Think about it.

Best Jazz Piano: Oscar Peterson

In my opinion, Oscar Peterson is the best jazz piano player.

Of course, you may disagree, and that is OK. Everyone has different musical tastes. But Oscar Peterson's piano playing is what really does it for me.

In fact, it is Oscar Peterson's album "Oscar Peterson Trio Plus One" (with Clark Terry on trumpet) that inspired me to start jazz piano lessons.

I think this is the best jazz record I have ever heard and I have listened to quite a few. It is definitely my favorite Oscar Peterson record. Some of his other records are a bit toned down compared to this one. It is also recorded phenomenally well. It sounds like you are in a small jazz club when you listen to it.

The lessons are going well. So thanks, Oscar Peterson, for inspiration!

Year Round X-Mas

I am going to try something this year that is actually kind of what everyone should do, when you reason it through.

We celebrate Christmas but once a year and from like Thanksgiving to New Years Eve, we are all supposed to be kind of more nice and giving to one another. But at the same time there is the cognitive dissonance of going to overcrowded shopping malls, compelled to buy gifts for everyone who falls in your sphere of friends and family.

If we spread the holiday cheer out over the whole year, two things would happen. The first as that we would be nicer to each other all the time, instead of just hypocritically for a month at the end of the year. The second is that we could be thinking about how to celebrate friends and family with gifts during the "off season" when you don't necessarily want to rip the head off the guy who stole your parking spot at the mall and shit down his neck.

There is also the added bonus of partying more because it is like the holiday season all the time.

So going forward, I am going to do my Christmas shopping in the background at all times. When I see something I think would make a good gift for someone I know for Christmas, I will score it (at off season pricing no less) and set it aside for the holidays, provided it is non-perishable. Then when the holidays are actually upon us, all I will need to think about is wrapping the pile of stuff I got.

This will be easier on the checkbook by distributing the hard costs of Christmas over the whole year instead of January, which also happens to be my birthday month.

I will be thinking about my friends and loved ones more often as a result and the only struggle I will have is keeping a secret all the cool gifts I got for people. I wonder why more people do not do this.

Your thoughts?

Bratfest (Madison WI): Why I Am Not Attending (But Will Attend People's Bratfest)


The "on paper" reason I am not attending the original Bratfest in Madison WI this year is that I have decided to become vegetarian. Proponents may say Bratfest has veggie brats. But please don't, proponents, because I am going to tell you something you probably don't know...veggie brats suck the balls of a goat. They are tasteless and horrible. If you want to attract vegetarians to Bratfest (and we know you kind of don't), try serving up vegetarian chili or lasagna instead. You can make huge quantities of those things dirt cheap and vegetarians will thank you for it. Even non-vegetarians will eat veggie chili or lasagna.

The unofficial reason I am not attending is that the Johnsonville company that supplies the brats for Bratfest is still an unabashed donor to the douchebag Scott Walker's administration. Proponents may say (and have said) that Johnsonville donates a percent of the Bratfest profits to great charities. That's great. You want to know something else? The People's Bratfest in Madison, which was started last year as an alternative to the corporate Johnsonville event, after the protests at the Capitol, donates 100% of its profits to charities. They also have many great local no-sellout bands performing. CHECK IT OUT HERE.

No one can change the world, but that doesn't mean you can't do your small part. Apathy will not stand. A good day to you.

I Am a Person. I Have Value.

I do not like being lied to, as I was twice this morning.

But then I have to ask myself, "Is it possible the liar doesn't know he is lying?"

Maybe in the liar's mind, things really did happen as they were described. Maybe they heard a different conversation than the one I heard. Maybe they experienced the way things went down differently than I experienced them.

I don't doubt that things happened and were said exactly as I recall them, because there were other people present during the time in question who can validate and confirm that I am the one experiencing reality more or less accurately.

So, if I give the liar the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he does not believe he is lying, but is, in fact, just perceiving reality differently than me and everyone else, does that mean he is insane?

Which is less bad? To be a liar, or to be stark raving mad?

I am not sure there is a good answer. But I am a human being and I have value. So I am not going to change my story to fit someone else's incorrect view of what happened and what was said.

Liar or mad man, the truth at any cost!

If Management Only Knew What the Rest of Us Know

Most managers become managers because they are good at being douches, not because they are good at doing their jobs. This is why most managers are awesome douchebags, but ineffective leaders.

When employees understand the mission and goals of a project, they are very effective at coming up with efficient strategies to get the job done. This is because they want to get down to the Irish Pub as early as possible.

So employees are focused on getting the job done quickly, without a lot of bureaucratic nonsense that wastes time and helps no one.

Deleting My Old Facebook Was the Best Thing I Ever Did

I am feeling really good ever since I canceled my old Facebook account.

Yes, I canceled it entirely. I deleted it and everything on it, just to let it go.

I had to. It had become congested with a lot of acquaintences that were not friends and a lot of pages I didn't "like."

Plus, the timeline was a dumb idea, Facebook. I wanted that history deleted.

The thing I won't miss at all is the right wing haters who somehow managed to soil my FB page with their venom. Ugh, so glad they are gone.

I have a new FB page now. I can't tell you what it is. It is privatized and only available to friends and people/pages I like.

Now go away.

Conformity Enforcers vs. Peacocks

In Howard Bloom's book, "The Global Brain," which I am currently reading, he talks about how important conformity is for social animals.

He claims that "beautiful people" are not beautiful because they are unique, but because they represent the median of beauty in society. In experiments in which scientists create faces by blending together the traits of several individuals into a conglomerate, the resulting image is deemed most attractive to study subjects.

However, this doesn't jibe well with the idea of "peacocking," in which a male primate, such as a human, dresses himself up in such a way as to stand out from the crowd, which makes him more attractive to females. This is a fairly well recognized and studied phenomenon (I, myself, have even tested it in the field with some success).

How can we reconcile "attractiveness" as an average with attractiveness conveyed via the uniqueness of peacocking?

What are your thoughts?

I think it has something to do with risk-taking and innovation, a topic Bloom discusses in his book, but which I have not yet read. So the answer may become clear soon.

What Would Scott Walker Do?

As Wisconsin goes to the polls to vote in the Recall Primary tomorrow, ask yourself, "What would Scott Walker do?" had he been the Republican Governor in 1887, when the Bay View Massacre in Milwaukee went down.

Would he have ordered the National Guard to "shoot to kill" union laborers who were only asking for an 8 hour work day, as Governor Jerry Rusk did at the time?

Regardless, this tragedy in Milwaukee teaches us how much of a struggle it has been for the working poor to get labor rights over the past 150 years. Scott Walker would most definitely turn back the calendar on those labor rights by many decades, with a commensurate increase in pain and suffering.

Happy Election Day, Wisconsin!

REFERENCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_View_Massacre

Bus

When I take the bus to work, I lop off about 30 miles from my commute. I still have to drive to the bus stop on the east side of Madison WI, a small price to pay for the luxury of living "in the country."

In simple IRS terms, I am saving myself about $15 in total car maintenance costs (including gas) by taking the bus. However, that is probably an over estimate due to the fact that I drive a fuel efficient Toyota Prius that has little need for maintenance other than regular oil changes.

Assuming oil changes occur every 3,000 miles, I would have to take the bus 100 times to save myself a single oil change.

The bus costs $2 (or $1.50 with a 10 ride pass). My Prius gets 50 mpg. So every time I take the bus, I am saving about 3/5 of a gallon of gas. When gas is $4 per gallon, I am saving $2.40. When it is $3 per gallon, I am saving $1.80. Since gas is closer to $4, you can plainly see that its economically a better deal for me to bus it, set aside the other cost savings.

Then of course there are the "soft costs" like peace of mind in letting someone else drive while I read my library book, which I am going to do now.

See ya.