The Rapey Boy of 21st St

He wants it intensely. No matter how many times you say “no” or try to push him away, he keeps coming back, holding your leg, pressing himself against you. He has needs. How can you be so cruel as to deny them?

Readers may be relieved to know at this point that I am not describing a human assailant or an even slightly traumatic experience. Rather, I am talking about my puppy’s desire to get on the couch with me. Continue reading “The Rapey Boy of 21st St”

Throwback Thursday: Knowledge of Good and Evil

When I made the goal of posting once per month this year, part of the intention was to blow through some of the backlog of abandoned post ideas. Accordingly, a few months ago I read through the over 50 pieces sitting in the Blog folder. A majority were fragmentary, things I didn’t have any really developed thoughts about at the time and which, on review, I still don’t have much to say about; those were discarded. A handful were worthy of further development. And one or two were more or less completed but, for whatever reason, never quite satisfactory and never posted.

This is one of them.

It’s a bit odd to reread something I had no memory of and which is completely, absolutely out of date. Nearly 6 years after writing it, neither of the relationships written about in it still exist, or exist in the form written about. The questions asked are not ones I would ask now. Or rather – it is not the way I would ask them. And I think that is progress, which is about the only reason I’m mustering the courage to toss this out into the world at last. Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: Knowledge of Good and Evil”

With Liberty and Justice For All

I had a vague idea I might do something about Independence Day for my July post, but we were busily on vacation and there wasn’t anything I particularly wanted to say, anyway, so I let it slide. In fact, my muse didn’t show up until a few days before the end of the month (right around the time a client requested that I do three months’ worth of work in the space of two weeks, which I take as more than excuse enough for this post being late), and when she did, she wasn’t bearing tidy platitudes. But she sure had something to say about Freedom. Continue reading “With Liberty and Justice For All”

December Book Review: The Prince

The Prince has been on my reading list for the better part of fifteen years and I borrowed it over a year ago, so it is a bit ironic that my first reaction on finally cracking it open and reading the first few pages was, “Wow, this is so useful! I should have read it years ago!” That reaction fluxed and changed over the course of the book, and this is the story of how that happened.

Of course, The Prince is often spoken of in shocked terms as being an amoral book, and certainly, as the introduction to this edition readily admits, “Machiavelli’s chief contribution to political thought lies in his freeing political action from moral consideration.”

True, Machiavelli does not insist upon morality if that will lessen power. But neither does he completely ignore moral considerations Continue reading “December Book Review: The Prince”

Balance v. Fairness

Talk to me about history and you will almost certainly come away convinced that I’m a militant feminist. The injustices and limitations wreaked on women through the centuries do make me boiling mad.

And yet, on a recent wine-tasting trip, I had no desire to visit the winery which touted the fact that it was “all woman owned.” In fact, hearing the fact trumpeted made me wish to avoid it.

Yes, I know the stats. Twice as many businesses are owned by men as by women. Working in the legal industry, I hear the constant hullabaloo about the fact that only about 31% of lawyers are women. “We need to make more opportunities for female lawyers so the legal profession reflects the wider population,” I hear over and over again.

Yet only 5.8% of nurses are male, and I’d guess there isn’t the same concern in that industry about evening out the sexes. If men are less drawn to nursing than women, as it appears they are, isn’t it possible that women are less drawn to lawyering than men? And if so, is that a bad thing?

It’s not to say that there aren’t still real injustices between the sexes, such as the fact that women make 77¢ for every dollar earned by men. Even when the sample is adjusted for the usual justifications for why that is, such as maternity leave, it doesn’t get much better. That should not be the case, and I know that – like the civil rights movement of the 60s – it will only change once an intense glare of attention is directed at the issue.

But when a business makes a big deal over the fact that only women own it, I can’t help thinking that a business wouldn’t think it necessary to advertise that it’s “all male owned.” It seems to me – correctly or not – that emphasizing it betrays a desire to raise women over men, not just bring them equal.

Women dominating men for the next 10 centuries or so would certainly bring some balance to history.  But it wouldn’t be fair.

So much of life is a pendulum, and there often aren’t easy answers about how to correct injustices without perpetrating them on the opposite side. But when looking for those answers, there are two things to remember: “balance” is not the same thing as “fairness” – and “equality” is not the same thing as “being the same.”

Intersections of Responsibility

Read someone like Seth Godin regularly and you quickly become a convert to the idea that you should always bring your A-game to your work and your life and your “art”, that you should never give less than your full allowance of passion and energy, that you should never just show up and think you’ve done your duty.

Great. Agreed: that is ideal.

But what about those days when your A-game just isn’t going to happen? Continue reading “Intersections of Responsibility”

Ethics, Sleep and Creativity

Lately, I admit, I’ve been fudging the posting timeframe a bit. So, to make some amends, a bonus post with links to some helpful articles I ran across this week.

First, an interview that takes the ethics of everyday decisions to a whole new level:

people have to understand that there’s no latitude, that there’s no such thing as a little bit wrong, like there’s no such thing as a little bit pregnant… if you look at things that way, even a bad attitude is an ethical issue, because it might mean your own work isn’t being done properly, and you’re probably infecting others so their performance suffers, too.

Then two posts that made me feel both better and worse about my productivity levels:

From the Wall Street Journal, why some people can sleep so little and get so much done.

For a small group of people—perhaps just 1% to 3% of the population—sleep is a waste of time. Natural “short sleepers,” as they’re officially known, are night owls and early birds simultaneously. They typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine.

From Rands In Repose, a discussion of how creativity can be harnessed.

Those who do not understand creativity think it has a well-defined and measurable on/off switch, when in reality it’s a walking dial with many labels. One label reads “Morose and apathetic” and another reads “Unexpectedly totally cranking it out”. This dial sports shy, mischievous feet – yes, feet – that allow it to simply walk away the moment you aren’t paying attention, and each time it walks away, it finds a new place to hide.

Finally, a long, beautiful, depressing and inspiring story about an experiment in which a world-famous violinist played for a crowd of commuters.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn’t you?