Category Archives: The Human Condition

America. Can we talk about the gun thing?

American-Flag-Patriotism-Blue-Red-White-Symbol-1911633.jpgAmerica,

Let’s talk.  No, I mean really talk.  We have a problem with guns and I think it’s time we got things out in the open and took some sensible measures to address it.

I’ll start. I’ll lay out some ideas for discussion and then give details why I think that way so that you understand where I am coming from.

Then it’s your turn.  I hope you will participate because…well…I love you and I want us all to get back to being normal again.  Can we give that a try?

Here are my thoughts on a 7 step program to recovery.

  1. Look at the patchwork of laws that exist across the country, rationalize those down to a smaller set of sensible, workable, laws.  Then enforce those laws completely.  
  2. We need to study the causes of the gun violence and use that information based on actual science to inform the work of #1
  3. We need to take a good, hard, look at what is covered under the second amendment.  Anything not covered – see #1
  4. We need to make access to medical care a right for all citizens.  I think this also needs to be part of #1
  5. We need to get guns out of schools.  
  6. We need to start talking to each other instead of shouting from the sidelines.  
  7. We need to say a big “Thank You!” to the kids from Parkland who have shown amazing strength both following the events and the personal attacks hurled at them afterward.  They are kids – Stop it!  

OK…take a breath.  I’m sure you have a lot of questions and I will try to answer them here.  Then, if you need more, well see #6.  I’m happy to discuss, but I will not respond to being yelled at, called names, etc.

Let’s go one by one.

books#1 – Rationalize laws

I’m not a gun expert, nor a lawyer.  But one thing I am certain about is that adding more laws on top of existing laws isn’t likely to solve the issue.

Most laws on the books are already:

  • Duplicative
  • Confusing and contradictory
  • Inconsistently enforced

I understand why the pro-gun people say that after a mass shooting is a bad time to talk about it because when people are hurting is a terrible time to write new laws.

But it is the perfect time to talk about it and get the ball rolling on some meaningful change. But, that change has to start with understanding the problem first and that takes time.

Which leads me nicely on to…

#2 Study the causes of gun violence in America

We need to take a good hard look at the root causes of gun violence and then see what we can do about it.  This needs to be actual science.  You know, the proper peer-reviewed type of work that we used to do before people started believing their Twitter feed and stopped thinking for themselves.

We can’t expect to fix a problem if we don’t know what is the underlying issue.

Once we have those facts we can start to take a good hard look at ourselves and start making meaningful changes.

wethepeople.jpg#3 Look at what is covered under the second amendment

I’m OK with people owning guns.  Really.  But I do think that we need to take a look at some of the types of guns and their capabilities.

If the second amendment really was to enable the people to resist the government then we should be loading up with tanks and rocket launchers, because your rifle isn’t going to do much against a fully armed Apache helicopter.

I don’t think personal tank ownership is a good idea though because, well, where would we put them all?  And who would move them when street cleaning rules are in effect?

Based on the above I personally don’t believe that “weapons of war” should be covered, and that extends to assault rifle type guns.   I see very few situations where people need to have a high powered, semi-automatic rifle with a 30 round magazine.  So, let’s go through a few use cases

  • Home defense
    A good friend of mine is very pro-gun, ex-military and highly trained.  His view is that the best gun for home defense is a pump action shotgun.  His reasoning was simple.

    • They look evil
    • The sound of one of those being cocked is enough to send most sensible people running for the hills
    • People that are under stress and scared are terrible shots.  A shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed accurately – just point and shoot and you’re going to get them with some of it
  • Hunting
    • If you need a 30 round magazine for hunting then perhaps you might be better spending time to develop your skills.
  • Target shooting
    • My experience of these things is that they are generally more about accuracy, and that takes time.  So is it really a big inconvenience to have to reload slowly?  It might actually help.
  • They look bad-ass and are fun
    • Yes, they do.  And I bet they are a ton of fun to fire.  Maybe there’s a place where you can go to rent them, fire off some rounds, and then leave them locked up in that place?
    • But, we have to recognize that these things are open to abuse.  The safety of kids in schools and people in theaters trumps your fun I’m afraid.
  • Zombie hoards
    • If you really are worried about that then perhaps you have a reason to own an assault rifle.  Or perhaps that leads on to…

#4 Making access to quality medical care a right for all citizens.

If owning a gun is a right then surely this is just as much of a right.  In part, because it might provide some much-needed help to those people suffering from mental illness that might otherwise do harm with guns, either to themselves or other people.

If you think that medical care should only be available to the rich then you and I have nothing more to discuss. 

And don’t kid yourself that “those people” have adequate medical coverage already through social programs.  If they did, people wouldn’t spend vast amounts of their income on medical care, and it would not be the #1 source of bankruptcies in America today.

#5 Get guns out of schools

We often hear that “the thing that will stop a bad person with a gun, is a good person with a gun”.  Frankly, as we have seen in Parkland, that isn’t the case.  And arming the teachers is a terrible idea for the following reasons:

  • We can’t seem to adequately provide school supplies and training for the job teachers already do.  How are we supposed to fund the training and equipment for this?
  • School security is not the job they had in mind when they choose that career path.
  • What do you think is going to happen if a SWAT team shows up to an active shooter situation and sees a bunch of people running around with guns in their hands?  It’s just going to add to the confusion.

Put yourself in their shoes.   If your company came to you and said “Hey Mr. Lawyer/Dr./Chef.  I know you’re pretty busy anyway but would you mind adding building security to your list of tasks?  It won’t take much, but if there’s an active shooter situation – would you mind grabbing your gun and shooting it out with them?  Thanks awfully.
I know some of with visions of grandeur might think that’s pretty cool.  But I also bet that at least 50% of those would wet their pants in a real situation.

Bringing more guns into schools is (IMHO) going to increase the number of killings in school, not decrease it.  Sure, it might stop a mass shooting but I worry we will instead replace that with a steady stream of 1 or 2 deaths across the country that adds up to more deaths overall.

coffee.jpg#6 We need to start talking to each other instead of shouting from the sidelines

The Internet is a wonderful, and scary, thing.  It tends to amplify whatever we are doing so if we are shouting at each other, it just leads to more shouting.

It also creates filter bubbles that reinforce existing views to the point where people think anyone with a different point of view is just an idiot – and that is on both sides.

So, let’s debate things openly.  Preferably in person!  Yes, I know that is scary for the keyboard warriors but I think if we all sat down with a nice cup of joe I bet we would find that we are closer than we think.

We all love our children.  We all want a peaceful and safe world to live in.  Let’s start there and then we can debate the best way to achieve that.

Speaking of children…

#7 We need to say a big “Thank You!” to the kids from Parkland.

The kids in Parkland have been through a horror that none of us should ever have to experience.  They have taken that and, in just a few days, turned it into a movement that has moved the needle further than ever before.  They are to be applauded, supported and thanked.  Frankly, they have shown us what is possible. Whether you like it or not, they have taken a stand for what they believe in and that, my friends, is the most American thing you can do. 

And, for those who have drunk the cool aid that they are “crisis actors”.  Please go and do some actual fact-checking from a reputable source before you share that post in your news feed.

Phew!

Well, that was a lot.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Yes, I’m willing to concede I might not have it all right.  But I’m open to debating it and even learning a thing or two.  So feel free to leave a comment.

Want to meet for a coffee to discuss it?  I’m OK with that too – let’s figure out where and when.  I’m willing to learn and open my mind to new ideas…are you?

 

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

Could Drone Registration Actually Increase Incidents?

 

Tiny hex

Register it?

This week the Department of Transportation announced the formation of a task force to create a drone registration process with registration to begin as soon as the holiday season.

Setting aside my skepticism that any government body can design and implement a robust registration system in just two months, it occurs to me that this registration system might actually increase the number of drone related incidents.

How?

Up to now the legality of drones has been a bit of a fuzzy area with almost no regulations in place that cover this new field. This means that while they are not illegal, they have not really been approved by any official body either.

Under this setup enthusiasts (such as myself) are understandably wary when other people are about. I have literally set up to fly at a wide open space only to pack everything up before getting off the ground because a jogger showed up.

There are also quite a few people that want to buy a drone but have held back convinced that the Government was about to ban them outright.

By providing drone registration the government, at a stroke, legitimizes drones.  A situation similar to what six day-care centers discovered when they accidentally legitimized late pickups of kids by implementing fines.

Once my drones are registered I guarantee I won’t be packing things up when Mrs. Smith shows up to walk her dog.  I’ll still be safe and courteous but I will no longer be invisible, happy in the knowledge that if challenged I can whip out my registration card and show that I’m legit.  

Similarly people that have been waiting to see if drones will be banned will suddenly be given the green light just in time for Christmas.  DJI and 3DR may well be rubbing their hands in glee at the moment.

More people flying  +  less inhibition = more incidents

One would hope that the anticipated increased education that comes with registration would help keep incidents to a minimum but that, of course, assumes the buyers actually read the instructions.

You know what they say about unintended consequences…they are still consequences!

3 Comments

Filed under Building Multirotors, Drones, The Human Condition

Did I Hear That Right?

Mandatory training in America is usually there to protect the company rather than teach you something new.  But a number of years ago I attended a class that taught a life lesson I have tried to pay attention to every day since.

This particular class was entitled “Diversity Training” and I expected the usual loss of an hour of my life while someone explained things that were (or should be) patently obvious to anyone with an IQ above that of a hammer.

flipWe knew something was up when we arrived to find a room with no tables or chairs, just flip charts and some pens in each corner.

The instructor got down to business by dividing us into groups and giving each group a piece of paper.  Our instructions were simple: Read the paper, listen to the scenarios that she would read out and then write down our thoughts on the flip chart we had.  

After several scenarios were read and thoughts written we compared the results.

The first scenario she read was as follows:

“The person on your sheet has just brought in the biggest account the company has ever had.”

The flip charts were arranged such that the groups could not see each others answers so imagine our surprise when we found the following results:

Group 1

Group 2

  • Fantastic!
  • What a guy!
  • We should take him out for a drink to celebrate
  • Give him a big bonus!
  • Give him a promotion!
  • I’d like to shake his hand
  • He got lucky
  • Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while
  • Probably stole the account from someone else and didn’t give credit
  • If he can do it then anyone can

Huh?  Same question, read by the same person at the same time.  What happened?

The difference was what was on the piece of paper.  

Group 1 had a paper that read “The person you are about to hear about is well liked, hard working, intelligent and expected to go places.  Everyone expects that he is on the fast track to senior management.

Group 2, by contrast, had a paper that read “The person you are about to hear about is lazy, not particularly intelligent, never helps anyone out and is fully expected to be let go in the near future.

There were more scenarios such as the person losing the biggest account (Group 1 commiserated while Group 2 wanted him fired) but I think you get the picture.  The message was the same, but what people heard was completely altered by what they personally brought to the table.

This is human nature and it is very hard, if not impossible, to avoid infecting what you hear with your own biases, but I still try.  More importantly I try hard to keep my thoughts about someones faults to myself to avoid infecting others.  I can’t say I am always successful, but at least I try.

So the next time you hear something that you feel negative about take a moment to think about it.  Are you getting the real message, or the message you wanted to hear?  

2 Comments

Filed under Career, Education, The Human Condition

Self Assessment #Fail

On Monday I sat down to pull together the dreaded self assessment.  As a manager this is doubly hard because there’s a fine line between giving all the credit to other people (“you did nothing“) or taking credit for things that you managed but didn’t actually do yourself (“credit pirate“).

buzzWhile performing a brain dump of the accomplishments this year I typed the words “right sized” and, before I knew it, my ADD kicked in causing me to search for corporate BS generators.  I was chuckling at some very humorous lines created using nothing more than random buzzwords when my manager stopped by my office.

” What’s that on your screen?”  he asked as he leaned over for a closer look and I turned around to see my draft self appraisal on one monitor and a page with a huge banner headline of “Corporate Bulls@@t Generator” on the other…

It’s a good thing he has a sense of humor!

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, Career, Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

Inspiration

Words can lift spark new ideas, lift spirits, and provide the support needed to get through tough times. Collected here are words that have helped me over the years.  I hope you will stop by when the need arises and feel free to add your own.

Inspiration by photosteve101, on Flickr

Inspiration by photosteve101, on Flickr

  • “The enemy of great is good” – Jim Collins
  • “Being a man of integrity means doing the right thing when no one else is around or watching you and NEVER being ashamed of your reflection when you look in the mirror” – Anon
  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.-Anon
  • “If you’re going through Hell. keep going.” Winston Churchill
  • “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.Henry Ford
  • “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense”-Winston Churchill
  • “No army can stop an idea whose time has come”  – Victor Hugo

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you But make allowance for their doubting too, If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master, If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim; If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same; If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss, And lose, and start again at your beginnings And never breath a word about your loss; If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew To serve your turn long after they are gone, And so hold on when there is nothing in you Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; If all men count with you, but none too much, If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

I’d love to hear some words that have helped or motivated you.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

If you’re trying to change how your company works, you probably won’t

“What’s happening instead is the near-extinction of the people inside large companies who are trying to change things. Not the pundits but the people leading change from the inside.”
“In a room full of senior people whose missions were changing how our respective firms work…our running joke was that one objective was simply to keep our jobs.”

As a self confessed agent of change…this rings all too true!

John Stepper

If you’re trying to make work better, you may be feeling, as Margaret Wheatley writes, “exhausted, overwhelmed, and sometimes despairing even as you paradoxically experience moments of joy, belonging, and greater resolve to do your work.”

You may believe in and like what you do, but you’re under-gunned, under-staffed, and under-appreciated. And the thing you’re trying to change – the corporate machine that has dehumanized work – seems impermeable to change anyway.

Now what?

The management revolution that isn’t 

A recent article in Forbes claims “a veritable revolution in management is under way.”

That’s simply untrue. We’re not even close to changing how companies work. A few select anecdotes and some books on new management approaches don’t add up to much. (It’s like claiming the Occupy Wall Street movement revolutionized financial services. That movement was interesting, maybe even inspiring, but it fell far short of producing meaningful change.)

The…

View original post 702 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Career, The Human Condition

An Open Letter To The Fathers Of Daughters Around The World

Great advice for all the Fathers out there…

Theycallmejane's Blog

father-daughter

An Open Letter To The Fathers of Daughters Around The World:

Starting at a young age, at a very young age, make father/daughter time a priority. Make it a such a regular, natural occurrence that by the time she is a teenager, she expects you to take her out for sushi or ice cream.

When she’s six, laugh at her knock-knock jokes, teach her to fish. Walk the dog with her and dance the Macarena. Listen to her giggle about her favorite television show. Sit in the front row at her school music assembly. Let her fix your hair with barrettes and bows. Tell her she’s beautiful, inside and out.

When she’s ten, indulge her passion for ice cream. Ask about her teachers at school. Know her best friend’s name. Ask about her friend’s friends. Tell her about your friends when you were a kid. Go to every gymnastics meet. Play catch with her…

View original post 400 more words

1 Comment

Filed under Life - or something like it, The Human Condition