Intelligence

I recently watched the pilot of Aaron Sorkin’s 2012 behind-the-scenes cable news program The Newsroom. As pilots go, it ranks among the best I’ve seen. (Granted, it’s a Sorkin drama, so there may be a bit of bias there.) Regardless, the show opens with one of the most hit-you-in-the-face rants I’ve ever seen on television:

But the takeaway for me was not the “America isn’t the greatest country in the world” thing. It was about intelligence, and it’s denigration. If you missed it, the line I’m referring to is:

“We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior.”

Think about that. Think about the current state of discourse in this country. It’s not just political, even though that’s where it shows up the most. (One side absolutely belittles it, and one side goes out of its way to hide that they may possibly have it, because lord knows we can’t be shown to be intelligent. What would voters think?!?)

It goes farther down, though. It goes to everyday life. I see it in my daughter’s relationship with school and her school work. She would belittle her responsibilities and/or her intelligence about a particular subject because she thought she wasn’t supposed to be smart. She wanted to “fit in”, and she believed that fitting in was to be less intelligent and less caring.

She cares about her grades and getting her assignments finished and turned in. Yet, she jokes with her friends “I didn’t feel like doing that thing, I didn’t care”. She absolutely cares. And when the friends go home, and the social pressures go away, she toils in her room to get everything done.

AND THAT’S OKAY. It’s actually better than okay. It’s good. It’s called being responsible.

I would routinely hear her talk amongst her friends and describe herself as not understanding something in class and laughing it off as if it were no big deal, when she absolutely understood it. She knew the subject matter, but didn’t want to show it because she thought it would make her look “uncool” or “nerdy”.

And that makes me sad and angry and confused all at the same time. Why does one person’s intelligence make others feel inferior? Because that’s what this boils down to. The reaction of the “other” is to belittle. And it works. It’s powerful and it works. My daughter is lucky in that she has parents like Jayme and I to fight that viewpoint. But others may not be as lucky. Kids are especially vulnerable to this. They may not have that support system in their lives.

Encourage your kids. Encourage your friends. Encourage your co-workers. Encourage your fellow man, for goodness sake. Intelligence is a virtue. Treat it as such.

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Cursed by aging

So, one of my resolutions was to cut back on one of my favorite things in the world, Coke. It is my vice, yes, but it is so good. Well, I don’t think I’m going to have much of a choice at this point. Let me explain.

Last spring (I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly when), I started experiencing serious headaches. Like not just passing things, but ones that made me hurt getting up from a chair. Thinking they were just diet-related, or exercise-related, or even environment-related (on a trip to Colorado), I fought through it a bit before seeking some medical attention. When they didn’t go away by themselves, I went to see my normal doctor, an ENT, and even a neurologist. Lots of tests, two MRI’s (a third one ordered), and two pairs of reading glasses later, we finally found a preventative medicine that seems to work pretty well.

Yay, right? Pretty good outcome, if not a bit lengthy.

Well…

I started noticing about 10 days ago that my drinks were tasting funny. Not all drinks. Not water. Not coffee. Not even cocktails. No, only carbonated drinks. Most especially, my beloved Cokes. They don’t taste like the nectar from the gods like I’m used to. No, no. Now, they just taste like a syrupy mess.

And it’s an unbelievable letdown for me. (I was going to say it’s ****ing me off, but I thought I’d try to practice a little restraint 🙂 )

Sigh…

2019 Resolutions

  • Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: In a continued effort to not drive myself crazy trying to do everything, or try to complicate everything, it’s time to really take a step back and evaluate what I should be doing every day with my time and effort. Where am I best deployed? What could I be doing right now to help further X, Y, or Z? More importantly, what should I NOT be doing? Simplify everything. Professionally. Personally. All over.
  • Less Cokes: These things are my vice, I admit it. They are so good. And yet they are so bad for you (and by you, I mean me). I can’t go cold turkey, I know that. But I can cut back. And that’s what I’m going to do.
  • Less Cursing: It’s interesting, we’ve been working on image at work. I’ve cleaned my act up a lot over the past couple of years. I will say that cursing is the last vestige of college that still exists in my repertoire. In an effort to do my part, I will make the attempt. But it also starts at home. I can’t succeed by simply removing that notion at work. It’s got to become part of my routine. And it can only help at home as well.
  • More Writing: I miss writing. Back to the first resolution above, I’ve been so busy at being busy. And I’ve let writing slip. Renewed commitment. Starting here and now. Boom. Done.

What’s with the four digit numbers in a square thing?

Ironically, the very same road I drive down to take Brian and Lucas to school has a large, brick mailbox that has its 4-digit street address arranged in a square pattern. I would have commented on it to Brian himself, but it’s going the other way away from the school. So, no one’s in the car with me when I pass it. (Of course, that didn’t stop me from commenting on it to no one in particular.)

This mailbox’s numeric address is supposed to be 1624. But that’s not obvious, nor is it easy to decipher. The numbers are stacked like this:

1 6

2 4

So, is that 1624 or 1264 or 1246? I have no idea in the quick second I glance at it. Now, I know it because of context clues, like the house before and the house after it. But isn’t the entire purpose of the number on the mailbox to make it easier to find the house in question quickly?

I even noticed this at Starbucks recently. This is a picture from the coffee Caroline got on Saturday morning:

I’m assuming it’s supposed to be 1971 because 1791 or 1719 wouldn’t make much sense. But I don’t know that right off hand. The only context clue I have is that I’m pretty sure Starbucks was not around in 1791 or 1719. In fact, Washington state wasn’t even Washington state back then (that happened in 1889, if you were wondering).

But why make this difficult? To be cutesy? To be designer-y? To me, it just makes the user experience that much more difficult. And that defeats the purpose. Boo 😦

Does the “right” family = political aptitude?

When I take Brian and his friend Lucas to school in the morning, we drive by a very large political yard sign for a Republican candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives named Matt Bentley. In and of itself, this is not that unusual. There are signs on most every yard on this particular road. And yes, the vast majority of them are for Republicans of some sort. It’s certainly the neighborhood for it.

What was remarkable about this one was the blatant use of the image on the sign. The picture is of the aforementioned Matt Bentley and his wife and infant baby girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the picture. In fact, it’s a very good picture, and one they probably proudly hang in their own living room. But there’s something about the picture being used how it’s being used.

In what way does the idea that he has a wife and baby girl translate to his possible success in the Georgia House? The little baby is cute and the wife is attractive. Ok, I’ll give you that. But even that is not what the actual picture is about. It’s meant to play off of the “family” nature of this particular man. The “family values” vote is what’s being targeted here, I’m sure.

But, is that qualification enough? What are his motivations? What’s his platform? What does he believe in?

(Oh there they are, hidden in the darkness of the black couch: “Lower taxes”, “Less government”, and “More Jobs”. Really checking off the Republican talking points on that one, huh?)

Does anyone care about those things? Or is it simply because he’s a “family man”? Or could it be because they’re a white family? A heterosexual family? Man, woman, and child = healthy living, right? I mean, where’s the dog? The white picket fence?

(Oh wait, I just saw the dog’s head. Now it’s complete.)

Imagine for a second that this family was not a straight, white family with a dog. Imagine if the wife was a husband. Would that family be “suitable” for a sign? What if Mr. Matt Bentley was bald because he had cancer? What if he had tattoos? What if his wife was African American? Muslim? Japanese? Nigerian?

Would that matter?

I understand and firmly believe that it should absolutely not matter. But does it? Given the location of this particular sign and the neighborhood I’m driving in when I pass this sign, I’m guessing it matters a great deal.

And that makes me sad.

P.S. I don’t know Matt Bentley at all, or his family. This is in no way a condemnation of him, personally. This is really a commentary on society and the current social norms, specifically in Georgia.

The Home button

With the release of the new iPhone line tomorrow, Apple will no longer sell a new phone with the (now) iconic home button attached. All three major models will now be FaceID-based, and will feature no button at all on the screen.

Which is interesting, no doubt. I, myself, will finally be joining the “X Club” here soon. Which means I’ll have to get used to navigating without the trusty 11-year old home button. But it made me chuckle as I noticed an interface that I use everyday that will still sport it proudly:

Not exactly sure how (or even if) they’re going to change the UI to accommodate. Then again, there’s no FaceID in CarPlay. At least not yet. So maybe it stays for some time. Just found it ironic as I drove down the road this morning.

A Character Test? Really?!?

I was recently listening to one of my weekly podcasts (Do By Friday, if you were curious), and Max brought up an interesting conundrum that he asked the panel of hosts. It went something like this:

You are interviewing for a job. The CEO of the company invites you to a breakfast in a downtown restaurant to have a chit chat to see what you’re like. Unbeknownst to you, the CEO has asked the waiter to intentionally mess something up in your order. The breakfast is brought out, and you recognize that it is not what and/or how you ordered it. What do you do?

Max went on to say that the point of this scenario is to specifically see how you’d act in the given situation. Do you stop the waiter and say “excuse me, but I think something may be wrong with my breakfast” or do you more boldly say “Please take this back, it’s just wrong”? Are you rude or empathetic? Nice or mean? Haughty or humble?

I asked a friend of mine what she thought and she said it would depend on how messed up it was, how busy the restaurant was, and what her current mood was that would determine her reaction. But overall, she thought it was a shit “test”. “It’s not a good way to judge one’s character” is the way she later phrased it.

I can’t say that I blame her for thinking that. In the podcast, Max went on to say that this is rumored to happen in the big investment firms on Wall Street to test the candidate’s “alpha”-ness. Sigh.

What a dick way to judge someone who’s going to be working for you. I mean, honestly. Is there even a right way to react and/or behave in this scenario? Are you really expecting the candidate to be a dick to the waiter and show their butts in the middle of restaurant to prove that they’re not there to take any crap from some lowly waiter? Is that a sign that you’re looking for?

I’m sorry, but if that’s the person you want me to be, and that’s the way you want me to behave, and that’s considered GOOD, then no thank you. I’ll be looking somewhere else, thank you.