“What I hear, I forget;
What I see, I remember;
What I do, I understand.” -Confucius. 451 BC

Ask anyone that has been a motorcycle rider about what the experience is like and you will get the same response; you cannot really explain it, you have to experience it.

There are a lot of things in life that are very hard to explain and don’t make sense until you actually experience them. Part of it is that you can hear or read about something, but until you are actually in the situation you cannot really wrap your arms around it.

I have friends that are completely against gay marriage, and therefore against a same sex couple being able to adopt children. I don’t understand why the institution of marriage is a members only club for the heterosexual folks, but I find the situation very sad. It seems that nobody understands what is like to be told what you can and cannot do until it happens to you or someone you love.

I am not sure if it is because I have the experience of being an immigrant or because I have had true friends that are in the LGBT community (and some of them have adopted kids.) but I find it hard to believe that anyone would oppose another human being in any of those issues. Sexual orientation is not something you chose like what shoes you wear in the morning. It is no different than your liking being told sweet things while making love or liking dirty talk. It’s private, it’s what you do with your significant other, it has nothing to do with anyone outside of your bedroom.

I joke around with one of my friends about the BDSM world all the time because everyone that has not experienced that world to some degree thinks that is full of “freaks.” What most people don’t realize is that those freaks might be your dentist, your lawyer or the dude fixing your computer. What they do in their private life is their business… however, it does not make them any more freaks than your secret trips to the fridge at midnight when you think nobody is watching.

I am not saying that you need to go see a dominatrix to understand the world, but that judging others or even excluding them from the rights they should have is a very narrow view of the world.

Stigma is a powerful thing and makes people feel really threatened. I play video games online and I have met several people that simply refuse to let their family and friends know that they play them. I understand that the professional world might still have some negative views about online gaming, but now that everyone is playing Angry Birds maybe the stigma will start to disappear.

Don’t wait until one of your kids or someone close to you is discriminated against to change your world view. Be open minded about everything and find the root of your “moral” stances; don’t be afraid to challenge them or change them. If they are based only in fear or what someone else says, re-evaluate them.

Why the American dream is a lie that only Americans believe

Before I get into the article, I find it very interesting that a corporate firewall would block a site like my friend’s Oso’s as political/activist but lets drudge go right through.

My relationship with America as a country is a complicated one. I am an American. I have the citizenship and passport to prove it. However, I am not happy with the status quo and even angry at times for what this country does, not so much to the world but to its own people. I also long ago stopped believe that this was the best country in the world because I found the view not just inaccurate but myopic and even at times absurd. How can the best country in the world let the aftermath of Katrina happen?

Today I want to talk about the American dream, and something that conversation with one of my best friends brought out this week. There is a huge disparity between what the American dream means to an immigrant and what it means to an American. While both of them are hard to achieve, one is not just unrealistic but a flat out lie.

The American dream to an immigrant is that they will be able to feed, cloth and educate their children. That they will have the opportunity to get a job and earn a good wage in an honest way. I don’t think many immigrants come to this country believing that it will require no work or that it will be astronomical.

Not everyone can be a winner. Not everyone can be Donal Trump. Not everyone can be a sports or TV start. Not everyone can be a celebrity.

I never considered this before, but it seems that a lot in America believe they can become Rockefeller. That his story is not only possible but almost guaranteed! and that could not be further from the truth. No wonder the sense of entitlement so many people feel. Even through hard work, astronomical rise to fame and fortune is not easy to attain or sustain.

If that is what American’s believe, that everyone can be in the 1%, then the American dream as presented to them is a lie.

Capitalism is very cruel because failure is very punishing. You invest, you fail, you lose. In order for there to be winners, there has to be losers.

What frightens me the most is that the middle class is being eroded, and nobody seems to be noticing the trend. You can look to your neighbors to the south, not just Mexico but all of Latin America and you can clearly see that when you do away with the middle class, the economic system breaks down. See the huge difference between Argentina and Brazil. I mean Brazil is now lending money to the IMF.

Wake up people. If you continue to think that the country is the best one in the world and don’t pay close attention to what has failed around you, this country will end up in the same situation. I guess as long as everyone is entertained and with a full belly, we will all be ok. Having celebrities is way more important than being sold a dream that is really not attainable by everyone.

Clean The Backroom

If you think that the power of knowing what people really think about you would be an awesome one, think again. Most people that you meet never tell you how they really feel. Some people don’t want to know how you really feel either. Some don’t know how to express their feelings, some just simply don’t want to, some are just kites left the winds of change and whatever is popular or accepted by their current group to follow is what they do.

A recent conversation with someone was really eye opening for me. I personally try to get to know people before judging them, and if at all possible I try to converse about things before making assumptions. If you have ever ran a bulletin board you might be familiar with the concept of backrooms, a place where the moderators talk about issues that is only seen by them. Sometimes there are conversations about a person you are bringing into the moderator group, and you “clean up” those post if that person makes it in.

What happens when someone does not clean up those conversations before you get a new moderator in? Lets call it over-sharing.

I won’t go into the mess that it can create. It is at best amusing at worst hurtful, but through the situation I got to learn something that had someone calling me naive. Funny enough this was not the first time that I had seen similar situations both online and in real life. I have been in a motorcycle message board for years as part of the backroom and also seen situations when others find out what is said behind their back about them.

One thing about me is that I do like being a happy person all the time. It might not be sustainable forever or in every situation but I sure as heck try. The thing about it is that one of the things that it entails is thinking the best of people and try not to become jaded. I don’t expect for people to psychoanalyze each other without conversation first, and when it does happen that you try to figure someone out or come to a conclusion about them, I think it is important to discuss it with that person. The issue arises (at least in my experience) when the person that you talk about is not part of the conversation.

Granted when you are choosing a new moderator that person is not part of the conversation, but then the conversation should be cleaned up, burned or whatever. People online seem to have a persona, what they put out there, but it is often quite different from who the person really is. It is worse when the conversation might make insinuate that someone has no depth to them.

I guess I am in the minority once more when I think that you can only get to really know people through conversation and that assumptions about them are best checked well, with them. I guess it is naive of me to want to get to know people before I assume I know them, but it seems to be common practice. I am not sure if this is purely cultural or not. I guess this society grows up putting people in the jock, chess geeks, cheerleader and outcast groups.

So are you a person that gets to know people and check your assumptions with them? or do you draw conclusions based on first impressions or the “group” you think they fall under. Its weird that it sounds exhausting to people to get to know others, I think that is the fun of human interaction. Every person is a world and there is lots to learn about them. I guess I am as naive when I did know for a fact that the biggest issue with not having cleaned up a backroom was to left evidence of assuming someone is one dimensional.

Mid Life Crisis

It seems that now you go through a midlife crisis when you hit 30 rather than in your 40s. That is what I am starting to realize about people around my age. Why are we having this happen earlier? Or is it that we really are not growing up until we turn 30?

The current economic climate is making people think more than ever. The “when poop hits the fan scenario” is not that impossible now. Recession? Revolution? Rebellion?

Those are things that used to sit quietly in history books, but now more and more seem to be back in the newspaper. Or rather internet publication, because even newspapers are going away.

I am always curious to see how each generation feels about their identity. I am kind of stuck in the middle of a couple of generations because of several factors… so I am not quite a kid of the 80s or the 90s. I have a little of both. Then the whole being in Colombia in the 80s and being in the US in the 90s makes it even more difficult to define what my generation really is.

The people I am putting in the peer bucket are the ones from their late 20s to their mid 30s. We are talking a lot about accomplishments, who recognizes them, what they really mean to them and others. Also, who would survive the post apocalyptic world and who would not. The common theme though in the end is, who am I and what defines me.

I had a good laugh recently when someone in an discussion tried to establish superiority by rattling off their employer and salary to let the other person know their “worth.” It seems that some people are really stuck on thinking that money is the only think that can define people, or that shows how successful they are.

It is still baffling to me that people take their own lives. It makes me sad. Then I realize that so many people in life have tried to tell me personally that I am not worth it, or that I could have been a doctor, or a lawyer, that it would have made me “worth” more. I wish that everyone could shut up the furies of the world and live a life where we all know how much we are truly worth.

My midlife crisis has been happening for a while now. I have re-evaluated relationships in my life and reconnected with people over the last couple of years. I still have plenty of places where I could have better relationships with people, but that is where my focus is now. I think that is what makes people rich.

One of my old chess partners and I discussed the topic of where to live… Colombia or here in the U.S. my take away out of that conversation was simple. It really does not matter where you live, it matters who you share your life with. Hopefully all of the people that go through a midlife crisis, or even those that even think of suicide as an option see that the connections, the true connections they have with people is what makes life worth living.

Real Progress

While a lot of people, my wife included, are discussing the current state of affairs in the world, I am a little more concerned with the future. While I might not be as extreme as Peter Thiel saying “I Don’t Consider [The iPhone] To Be A Technological Breakthrough” he does make a good point.

I have been reading a lot about Steve Jobs lately. I actually have to claim a free copy of the book from audible (if I did not miss the chance already.) On the excerpts that I have read though, he was not as much of an inventor but more of a tinkerer.

The part that troubles me is censorship. Sure, we might all have computers in our pockets, but are we going to get more information from them or less. Seriously, just follow the current SOPA noise and you will see that eventually we might be getting a lot less.

“The techno-ignorance of Congress was on full display. Member after member admitted that they really didn’t have any idea what impact SOPA’s regulatory provisions would have on the DNS, online security, or much of anything else,” said Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center.[79] ” “One by one, each witness—including a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America—said they weren’t qualified to discuss…DNSSEC”, CNET reported.

Edited information is not new… I mean all of our news sources are edited for content most of the time. True unfiltered information is hard to come by… but what if that extended to also the books you read. That is the conversation that DeGuia and I were just having.

The other part that makes me uncomfortable is that while innovation in today’s sense of the word might be creating convenience and comfort, it is really not creating new jobs. Not here in the US anyway.

Not sure how close we are to all being replace by robots or not, but I seriously think that we are being distracted by a lot of “issues” and not really looking into the future. Like Theil brings up we need to make progress when it comes to transportation, health and energy.