Friday, July 31, 2009

Being John Bogle VII

"The stock market is a giant distraction to owning business."

--John Bogle

You gotta love Jack (Bogle)! Thank you, honored sir. If you haven't read his book, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life, you must!

Now, if we can only get those CNBC commentators to read it and learn. They appear as featherweights in comparison, yet they are so vocal.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Being Devoted

No matter what you do be "devoted to the labor" of your profession, as Merce Cunningham sought to do, and do so in love. This is all about working and doing in love.

Being Inexperience

"Being inexperience has no power of walking in experience."

--Reuben Ellis

My brothers always say things that linger. They are all liscensed ministers with experiences in the "real" world as executives and entrepreneurs. Sunday during his sermon Reuben spoke these words and I jotted them down. As I pondered his words throughout the week it became increasingly clear that walking in inexperience creates experience. Is there another way of getting there?

But this is the power of inexperience: the ability to create experience through our experiences. Inexperience becomes experience through our experiences. In other words, being experience is our experiences created first by inexperience. Walk in your inexperience; it is the movement that matters.

So, worry not about being inexperience. Move!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Being Merce Cunningham

Merce Cunningham, famed dancer and choreographer, died over the weekend. He was a purveyor of the post modern era and reflected this time in dance. His choreography never ceased to evolve, taking clues from life itself.

"The most essential thing in dance discipline is devotion, the steadfast and willing devotion to the labor that makes the classwork not a gymnastic hour and a half, or at the lowest level, a daily drudgery, but a devotion that allows the classroom discipline to become moments of dancing too..."

-- Merce Cunningham

Being a great lover of dance, I used to sit in the New York Public Library, along with Jerome Robbins, another famed choreographer usually just a few seats away, watching film after film and still after still of Vaslav Nijinsky, George Balanchine, Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Katherine Dunham, and Merce Cunningham.

These great dancers and choreographers have inspired me in my pursuit of excellence in the arts and business. May we forever remember their contributions and honor those who in our time in the arts and business seek to express themselves through non-traditional means. This is the birth of innovation.

Thank you, Mr. Cunningham. R.I.P

Being PETA

While the work that PETA does is commendable in many aspects, I often think that they go too far, often infringing upon the rights of others. I have written of this here before. Listening to a PETA spokesperson on a news show say that Michael Vick should not be allowed to make a living in his profession, after having gone to jail and serving 18 months, until he gets a brain scan is absolutely ridiculous. The spokesperson was annoyed that Vick could receive millions of dollars. He thinks that Vick isn't worthy of such. But the man served his time and has been working with the Humane Society. Who is PETA to deny another a livelihood? If Vick was a garbage collector before doing time should he now not be allowed to collect garbage? Should he not be allowed to make a living in his profession?

Being Funny IX

The jazz trio along with such bad performance art, with words taken directly from Palin's speech, is a riot!

This had me rolling! I could barely breathe I was laughing so hard!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Being Compassionate and Strong

Compassion without strength is weak and strength without compassion is strident.

Cultivate both.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Earlier this year I came to know of a great organization, The BOMA Fund, which supports the majestic people of rural northern Kenya, working to alleviate poverty by assisting in the building of self-sustaining communities amid a rugged and beautiful landscape. The conditions are harsh and all of the illnesses associated with poverty and clean water are rampant. Yet, Kathleen Colson, the executive director of The BOMA Fund, returns often to Kenya, living among the people and experiencing the same in order to bring desperate change to a great people in desolate situations.

It does not take much to be in awe of Kathleen, this mother of 3 children who leaves the comfort of her Vermont farmhouse to live among such desolation to fight poverty in the most remote parts of Africa. She writes, "imagine me riding around in landcruisers with guys with machine guns and warriors with spears. Very much the reality of what I do. I don’t see another white, western person for weeks at a time, I cross deserts at night and have been shot at, almost bitten by a black mamba, had hyenas trying to break into my hut at night and have endured all of the illnesses associated with bad water and no food. I’ve eaten the raw intestines of goats, termites and the blood of cows to forge my relationships with these extraordinary people."

Kathleen Colson inspires me immensely. Reading these words, I am overwhelmed with the selflessness of her desire to help others. I am besides myself with joy in thinking of how her story encourages us to keep up the good fight of faith wherever we are and whatever we are doing. I am in awe of her passion and love for others. I am incredibly inspired by her fearlessness, not that there is no fear, but that she moves in spite of it. This is being fearless.

When I first donated to The BOMA Fund, I received the most gracious letter of thank you from Kathleen sent via the United States Post Office with writing in her own hand. It was nice to get a letter of thanks in this way which speaks directly to her hands-on approach to entrepreneurship. Kathleen does not send money to Kenya, she brings it and teaches women how to be entrepreneurs. The BOMA Fund focuses on alleviating poverty by providing grants for sustainable diverse entrepreneurial innovation which build communities, empower individuals, and support families.

Please consider donating to The BOMA Fund today. I do so regularly. You can too by clicking here. May God continue to abundantly bless Kathleen Colson, her family, and the individuals and communities she assists. May God also richly bless each and every person who donates to this Fund.

(Photos taken from The BOMA Fund website.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Being Knowledgeable II

In an excellent polemic on knowledge and theory, "History Written by Losers", Nassim Nicholas Taleb makes this very thoughtful comment:

The biggest myth I've encountered in my life is as follows: that the road from practical know-how to theoretical knowledge is reversible-in other words, that theoretical knowledge can lead to practical applications, just as practical application can lead to theoretical knowledge. After all, this is the reason we have schools, universities, professors, research centers, homework, exams, essays, dissertations, and the strange brand of individuals called 'economists.'

Yet, the strange thing is that it is very hard to realize that knowledge cannot travel equally in both directions. It flows better from practice to theory-but to understand it you have nontheoretical knowledge. And people who have nontheoretical knowledge don't know these things.

Indeed, if knowledge flowed equally in both directions, then theory without experience should be equivalent to experience without theory-which is not the case.
It seems like our whole educational system should be based on disproving knowledge, as opposed to approving it. How do we ever evolve if knowledge becomes a theory?

Perhaps we need more hypotheses, that which is not known or accepted as fact. It is knowledge itself that seems to come in between practical evolutionary application.

But it is also a posturing, a lack of humility, that undermines knowledge. By this I mean, those with knowledge can become non-theoretical by simply adjusting their mindsets to the vast continuous possibilities of their own limited understanding.

Knowledge is itself limiting; it is forever evolving; we enter this world in a place of unknowing and leave in the same state, for we do know from where we have come or where we will go even though we have experienced life and shall experience death and see the same in others.

Knowledge in this regard still evades us. Others spoke of our birth and will speak of our death. This is humbling in itself and should teach us something about the not-knowing of knowledge. Openness is essential to knowledge for in it lies the essence of not-knowing, the forever disproving of theory.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Being a Reproach

What is most likely to bring disgrace on a nation or cause an elderly ultra-Orthodox religious man to be led away in handcuffs? Underhanded schemes usually involving money and power. But what is done in secret will be brought into the light.

After reading the Associated Press article about the trafficking of kidneys and laundering of money from Israel to America, I am increasingly appalled by the disgraceful actions of religious leaders and the corruption of government officials.

"Righteousness exalts a nation but sin (wrong doing) is a reproach to any people."

--Proverbs 14:34

Being Mozart II

This trio is simply sublime. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Being Delusional

Without direct and forthright challenging of systems the world can be quite a delusional place. We delude ourselves into thinking that massive debt is OK. We delude ourselves into thinking that we can outsource everything and still have jobs and income to buy goods. We delude ourselves into thinking that we can break down every moral and ethical standard and call it freedom and expect that our kids will have strength and fortitude to build a better world.

We delude ourselves into thinking that we can cheat one another and it be OK. We delude ourselves into thinking that we can undermine the Constitution for certain necessary purposes and call it a righteous fight. If this is the kind of world that we would prefer to live in where delusions abound because of the lack of "We the People" to challenge them outright and even forcefully, well, that's an increasingly unhealthy world.

Instead, we need to have direct challenges any day of the week rather than soft words that maintain the status quo, a delusion of peace--then comes sudden destruction.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Being an Activist

"I'm an activist by disposition, nature and desire."

--Senator Edward Kennedy

Activism takes many forms. What cause are you active in?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Being in Two Acts

"F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives. I think I've proven him wrong, and all because I refused to settle for a one-act existence, the 30 years I taught English in various New York City high schools."

--Frank McCourt

Mr. McCourt, the author of Angela's Ashes, died today. We are grateful that he was here in his first act as a teacher and in his second act as a writer, inspringing many and giving meaning to life in both acts.

If there are known first and second acts, there must be others. Which act are you in? Live fully!

Being Inspired by Others

Elvis doesn't sing a single note but there are other things evident here: his humility and heartfelt beliefs. And what conviction and passion he possessed!

Can you imagine Mick Jagger, for example, with such conviction and passion to introduce an a'cappella gospel number amid screaming fans throwing panties?

Presley is the King of Rock and Roll and a god for more than one reason. A pin drop could be heard in the audience. Listen...

"Thank you, Father. Thank you (to the Stamps) Beautiful."

--Elvis Presley

Friday, July 17, 2009

Being Frederick Toney

Our dear family friend, my eight brother, has recently been promoted at Ford Motor Company as the senior vice president of the customer service division, taking the place of longtime senior vice president and president of Ford's customer service division, Darryl Hazel. Frederick has a unique ability for inspiring others, leading with a quite strength, and executing through consensus building. He focuses on execution without the hoopla which means that he is not driven by personality, but by results.

Speaking with him this afternoon, Frederick told me of the near two hundred notes he received since the announcement this Wednesday and the many calls which came from many throughout the Ford Motor Company from the President and CEO on down. Even as a board member at our church he leads with excellence, being able to converse with people of all classes and backgrounds. His strength and innovation for getting things done are noticeable.

Frederick's leadership is not aggressive, but is calm and steady. He can be trusted with leadership, as he honors the gifts of others and makes certain that these gifts are used for the advancement of the whole. Frederick is an excellent leader from whom I learn so much about so many things. He leads when he is not even trying to lead. Ford is blessed to have such a leader that will enhance the customer service division and grow the business. The American auto industry needs such a one during this tumultuous time.

Bravo Frederick. I love you, my brother, my friend.

Being a Judge II

Here is the relevant and funny as ever Jon Stewart on the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Senator Lindsey Graham is featured here.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
White Men Can't Judge - Sotomayor: Judgment Days
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

Being Progressive

Once when my older brothers were complaining to my uncle that they never got to do what the other kids were doing. These kids were moving about doing cool stuff they reasoned. But in reality, many were just hanging out and getting into trouble.

My very astute uncle looked at them, waited a bit, and said in his usual contemplative tone, "they may be moving, but in the wrong direction." This has stuck with me for many many years. I was five.

All movement is not progress.

Being a Friend

Let's be this kind of friend; such friendship returns to us.

Being Hypocritical II

Now, I must preface this post by saying that this is not a critical assessment on shortcomings or failures; it is a direct assessment of hypocritical men in Washington who preach one thing and do the exact opposite, who espouse family values and fiscal conservatism and are proven to be the antithesis of both. Recently, we have come to know that Senator Ensign and Governor Sanford, both conservative Christian righters who railed against the sexual indiscretions of others, calling for their resignation, have engaged in the same behavior and now refuse to resign. Sanford evoked biblical characters to excuse his behavior and Ensign resigned as chairman of the Policy Committee, but not the Senate. Is this hypocritical?

Being hypocritical seems to cross many lines. It tends to be a lifestyle. It's sort of like lying. Once you start down that road you usually have to build a wall of lies to sustain the first. Senator Ensign not only had an affair but got his parents to give his mistress and her family a "gift" of $96,000 dollars of what we most certainly know was hush money. Who gives a gift of that amount to another unless it's truly a loved one, the mistress was undoubtedly just a piece of ass, or charity organization?

Governor Sanford not only had an affair with an Argentina woman and stepped over the line with others without crossing that "ultimate line," sort of like "I didn't have sex with that woman" while getting a blow job, "more than $468,000 worth of state-funded travel for Sanford and show that he routinely billed taxpayers for high-end airline seats, racking up more than $44,000 on business- and first-class tickets. He often stayed in pricey hotels that far exceeded the rates he imposed on other state employees," according to Politico after viewing detailed State records. While running for governor, this purported fiscal conservative spoke of excessive spending. "This kind of lavish spending with taxpayers footing the bill just doesn't make any sense to me," Sanford said. "If I become your governor, I'll fix that problem." Fat chance considering his own behavior, eh?

State Senate Minority Leader John Land had some choice words for Governor Sanford recalling "the criticism that candidate Sanford heaped on others." The Associated Press recorded Land as saying. "I reckon he's a hypocrite. He goes before the Christian right and professes to be one thing and yet his conduct is something else. He goes before the people of the state and talks about his fiscal conservatism. But yet when you see him in action, he's going first class and spending the state taxpayers' money."

Governor Sanford and Senator Ensign seem to be hypocritical Christian right ideologues. Ya think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Being Goldman Sachs II

In April I wrote a post, Being Goldman Sachs, after being thoroughly disgusted with their practices. It was recently reported that Goldman Sachs has made record profits after the government bailout, repaying the government, but continuing with the same old same old, giving record bonuses to executives, waiting for yet another bailout in ten years, while they benefit on the front in and back end with the assistance of the American people. When are We going to wake up? If We the People did not bail these Wall Street Banks out, they would no longer be. And to believe that I was initially for the support of these banks, drinking the Kool Aide being poured by the likes of Henry Paulson, "King Henry," as the cover of "Newsweek" dubbed him--that should have been the first clue, and Warren Buffett. They are the financial experts, right? What's an average girl like me supposed to think? Who am I to believe? Who has my interest at heart when it seems like all three branches of the government and big business are in bed to the exclusion of the people?

If it wasn't for the government bailout which was created by the likes of Goldman Sachs themselves with the help of AIG, and the support of Warren Buffet, the once chairman of Goldman Sachs and silent Oracle of Omaha who is appearing more on TV in the past months than I have seen in my entire adult life (Wasn't it only that we saw Mr. Buffett once a year during his much publicized shareholder meeting?) and Moody's credit agency that Berkshire has large holdings, that looks as close to collusion as anything that we may have seen, they would be out of business. it a surprise that Berkshire has large holdings in financial institutions that received TARP funds, including Goldman Sachs, US Bancorp, American Express and Bank of America? While these guys continue business as usual, homeowners are still losing their houses with little support from Wall Street banks and the government. Major arts organizations across the US are in dire straights as the economy suffers with little help from Wall Street banks who demand that they uphold their end of the responsibility but would have welched on theirs had we not bailed them out.

Goldman Sachs is making record profits again and giving bonuses while the majority of Americans still suffer after they themselves, along with Congress, out of which the People would not have been able to borrow and default, led us into this financial crisis. The more things change the absolute more they stay the same. I'm pissed! I'm really really pissed! Are you? Well, what are We the People going to do about it? As Jack Bogle wrote in his wonderful book, Enough! (I have written here of Mr. Bogle more than once and his book, Enough! True Measures of Money, Business and Life.) If you haven't read this book, it is a must read! Now, only if we can get Wall Street to read it and then act accordingly. But I have very little faith in Wall Street. They need our help. Did I ask already what are we going to do?

Being Rich

"Be rich in good works."

-- 1 Timothy 6:18

This goes for all manner of work.

Being Empathetic

Empathy matters. With this whole discussion of Judge Sotomayor with the members of the Judicial Committee on the Right, who are all Christians, I wonder what they might think of one of the greatest and wisest kings, King Solomon.

King Solomon decided a case regarding the birth of identifying the real mother of a child by determining who would be the most empathetic. King Solomon, considered among the wisest judges who ever lived, used empathy to determine empathy.

I Kings 3:16-28

16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, “My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.

19 "During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne."

22 The other woman said, "No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours."

But the first one insisted, "No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine." And so they argued before the king.

23 The king said, “This one says, "My son is alive and your son is dead,' while that one says, 'No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.'"

24 Then the king said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. 25He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other."

26 The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don't kill him!"

But the other said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!"

27 Then the king gave his ruling: "Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother."

28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.

Empathy matters and how it is administered in wisdom makes the difference. Judge Sotomayor's rulings seem to be empathetic, wise, and governed by the law.

Being Condescending

"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."

--Romans 12:16

This is a lesson for all of us which affects our relationships and performance. Be condesending. There is knowledge and beauty there. There is also forward movement personally and professionally.

Being in Time

Time is motion and we are forever moving in it. We never stand still. But the direction is key. Time as a creation of man not only moves forward; it moves backward. We called movement time.

Forward movment is progression. Backward movement is inhibition, a result of negative thinking. Within being in time it is important to not only think differently but to make a difference.

Do something that matters everyday no matter how small. Being becomes much in time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Being a Bully

Senator Lindsey Graham in essence called Judge Sonia Sotomayor a bully today. While listening to his attack on her temperament, I couldn't help but to think that Senator Graham himself is a bully. I have never known male judges seeking such a distinguished position asked whether they were bullies.

The whole line of questioning from Senator Graham just seemed sexist. How many times are men labelled as difficult? Many of these guys just seem so out of touch with the era. Please excuse my ignorance, but is this a southern thing? Senator Graham of South Carolina and Senator Sessions of Alabama were way out there today. They appeared so personal and not so professional.

When Senator Graham asked Judge Sotomayor about her opinion of being called a bully, he interrupted her response saying, "If I may interject judge. They find you difficult and challenging more than your colleagues. The only reason I mention this is because it stands out." Graham mentions other negative labels. I wonder if women find her "difficult," "challenging," "excitable," "angry," and "temperamental." Who made these assessments? Men perhaps? Graham continued: "These statements about you are striking...This is pretty tough stuff that you don't see about others judges on the 2nd Circuit."

I did not like these questions that did not focus on her many years of judicial rulings, but one line spoken in a speech. The questions appeared to be sexist and demeaning. The look on Judge Sotomayor's face evokes sympathy, while Senator Graham seems clueless to his bullying. Is he not even aware that he has an audience? Everybody knows that she will be confirmed; Senator Graham himself even said so yesterday in the hearing. So, the question is, who is he performing for and I wonder if women are among these?

Being Creative and Confident

Create choices. Confidence allows this. "Cast not away therefore your confidence which has great recompense of reward."

--Hebrews 10:35

Monday, July 13, 2009

Being Patient II

Growing up patience was never my strong suit; my mind was always racing ahead and my intuition was forever out front. But I have learned quite a lot of its value and can rarely be provoked simply by the words and deeds of others, especially in settings where my opinion matters. I have become by far more rational and discerning in my actions, though no less fervent.

Driving today I was reminded of how small daily actions can grow patience. When people are trying to get over, I allow them in. When I am in a hurry, I remind myself that nothing is more important than arriving safely. When someone has given me the bird for something that I thought they were at fault for, I smile more instead of reacting.

These things may appear to be small, but what I have discovered is that they matter; they make a difference in building patience. They also make a difference in the big things too. Practice doesn't make perfect; practice makes better over time. I find that I am by far more patient having practiced patience in small ways everyday.

Being Dr. Regina Benjamin

President Obama has nominated Dr. Regina Benjamin as the surgeon general. As the top advocate for the people, this nomination strikes me as a supreme choice, as Dr. Benjamin has long been an advocate for the people, especially for the least of these among us. According to the Associated Press she "made house calls along the impoverished Gulf Coast, paid whatever her patients could scrounge." Dr. Benjamin has "received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights in 1998, and Pope Benedict XVI awarded her the distinguished service medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice." We would be so honored to have such a surgeon general as an advocate for the people, even those "powerless" poverty-stricken among us.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

Here are two incomparable artists for eternity: Barry White and Luciano Pavarotti. Enjoy!

What amazing voices! What largesse of spirit!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Being Bold II

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Many years ago as a struggling artist I was at my wits end. It seemed like I was always beginning again. Some years later as an entrepreneur I felt the same nagging overwhelming feeling. Why must I begin again and again I wondered. Yet, I kept going, having some successes but mostly failures, exhausting experiences and learning for that time, until yet another--beginning again.

This morning as I was walking carefully through one of my rooms that I had not fully unpacked I stepped on an old book bag and a recording with my voice quoting the above passage rang out. I stepped again and the the quote was repeated. I did so again and yet another time. I laughed aloud, remembering the time, but not particularly the event or place. I seemed to have always been beginning again after thoroughly exhausting my way through a number of professions though perhaps not reaching the pinnacle of any in the sense that nobody knew my name, not that this was important. The living was. Nothing has changed.

Initially, I didn't know from where my voice had emanated. There were book bags full of years of journals, folded wool sweaters, papers strewn over the floor and books stacked everywhere. I searched through the book bag upon which my foot had landed. But I couldn't find the device. I was looking for a hand recorder I once used to record rehearsals, bypassing years of writing, and, ah, there it was: a small key chain made as a microphone that simply had two buttons, one red one for record and one black one for play. I pressed it again, this time with my finger. Memories rushed in.

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

Be bold. Begin again and again even if, especially if, in one area alone personally or professionally. Strike out, yet again. Embrace newness. Just begin. "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Being a Judge

This morning I had to do something that I absolutely hate doing: evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent. She had owed for two months and nearly over $700 dollars in a water bill. We were simply submitting a Summary Judgment as the tenant had agreed that she owned us in excess of nearly $4,000 dollars. I tried to work with the tenant, considering that she's a singel mother with two children who had lost her job. But she had refused to call us over the last two months and would not return any calls. My partner is by far less sympathetic. But we both agreed it was time.

When I have to go to court, I usually take a good book as the court is usually full of tenants, landlords and lawyers. This time the book was Works of Love by Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, one of my favorites. Although our lawyer was present, I had written in my book all the back pay in rent, including late fees, lawyer fees and court administration fees. All are in our contract and all were gone over carefully before the tenants sign the lease. I go over this thoroughly myself beforehand.

After the judge had awarded us the judgment, I noticed that she was glaring at me.

"What are you reading?"
"Yes, I thought so. Do you just read that stuff for fun?"
"It's interesting stuff."
"I know I studied history and psychology, even reading a bit of philosophy."
"That's great, Your Honor."
"Have you studied philosophy?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"That's great. It's not everyday that those entering my courtroom are reading such books."
"I enjoy it. It helps me be a better person, challenging my assumptions."
"Yes, Your Honor, not that I'm successful all the time."
"You're an interesting lady. I'm impressed."
"I'm pretty inquisitive; that's for sure."
"I think that's clear. You have been in my courtroom before, haven't you?"
"Yes, Your Honor."
"Yes, I remember you. Have a good day."
"Thank you, Your Honor. You too."

As we left my lawyer who has appeared before this particular judge many times said, "Wow, she rarely interacts with those in her courtroom the way she had with you." Now, the judgment granted was surely by the law and I do not expect anything else should I appear before her again. But judges do use their judgment on human beings and the arguments from all sides being told to them. That's why they are guessed it...judges. Getting in my car I thought about Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Many people seem to feel as if judges should leave their humanity and experience at the door upon entering the courtroom. While their decisions should be governed by the law, their humanity without a doubt influences their judgment. How can it not?

Being Pleasant II

This evening in one of my favorite markets, a local Arabic open air one with loads of exotic fresh fruits, prime meats, and various imported items, I ran into a very lovely middle-aged African American woman who was in front of me in the checkout line. I noticed she had items in her basket that I had not tried before. We talked about how the items were to be prepared and she gave me tips. It was her husband's favorite dish. She was so very pleasant. She was sunshine and I liked her. Heading out, she wished me a pleasant evening and I wished her the same.

As I was walking out, Mrs. Sunshine was pulling out right in front of me in her big SUV. Just as she was backing up there was a young African lady in a beautiful colorful headdress in an economy sized car. There was a near miss. The young African lady lightly blew her horn. Mrs. Sunshine laid on hers and yelled something profane out of the window. It was just the most amazing thing to witness. Was this the same lady that I had just spoken to that was so very pleasant? Was this the same lady whose disposition had changed in a matter of mere minutes? What could have transpired between the checkout and her loading groceries in her car? My impressions of Mrs. Sunshine changed quickly.

The young African lady did not respond negatively at all. She, in fact, smiled. Mrs. Sunshine pulled away in a hurry. The African lady got out of her car and her dress was as beautiful and colorful as her headdress. "How are you," I asked? I told her how absolutely beautiful she looked and asked which country she was from. She smiled the most beautiful smile, showing all her pearly white teeth against smooth beautiful dark chocolate skin. She was from Ghana. My cousin, Sybil, has been in Ghana for nearly two years and my Aunt Hilda has invited me to join her there over Christmas. I think I'll do so.

Just as we were parting an elderly Chinese woman came out of nowhere yelling at the nice young African lady and asking why she had not backed up. What? It felt like all things were conspiring against this young lady. Did we witness the same thing? I interrupted the negative energy with "Isn't that a beautiful outfit?" The elderly woman looked at the young African lady and in a thick Chinese accent said, "Yes, it's beautiful. Turn around." It was like the eldest of us all by many years needed to exert her seniority. OK. The African lady smiled, turning around. The Chinese lady smiled. I smiled. We all parted pleasantly. But what was absolutely for sure was that this young African lady was determined not to let others disrupt her pleasant demeanor. I admired her immensely and thought of her as I drove home. It was a great lesson.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Being Remembered

Thank you, Michael Jackson. R.I.P.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Being Beautiful

"Beautiful" is from Eminen's Relapse album which has to do with his battles with depression and drug addiction. But ironically he can see how the cut relates to a city that he loves. As a Detroiter, many of the sites that he walks through in the video I too have walked through. In fact, the once glorious Beaux-Arts train station and the Packard Motor Car Company plant designed by one of my favorite architects, Albert Kahn, are prominently featured in video. Both remain favorite structures of mine, even amid ruins.

Before the final tear down of the original Tiger Stadium a friend and I went and took pictures of what remained. "Tiger Stadium is being torn down, and the train station is supposed to be demolished too," Eminem said. "This video is one of the last times anybody outside of Detroit is going to see them...('Beautiful') is a reminder to keep your head up, and to see who you really are despite what you may be going through. Now that I've gotten through the toughest part, I see how the song relates to Detroit, and it feels even more powerful."

Being Wise III

"Wisdom comes with winters."

--Oscar Wilde

Why does wisdom not come in summers?

Being Undermined by National News

The Washington Post has done something that comes as close to undermining our democracy as anything. It sought to sell tickets to lobbyists for fees up to $250,000 that would provide access and a cozy atmosphere at the home of publisher, Katharine Weymouth to "'those powerful few'" - Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and even the paper’s own reporters and editors," according to Politico.

The flier distributed by the Washington Post reads:

"Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization's’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and Congressional leaders."

"Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No," the flier states. "The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it."

This breaking news begs the question as to how long has this been going on and what other national news organizations are engaged in such activities? What should the general public do to express our tremendous outrage at the undermining of our democracy? I, for one, will not subscribe to the Washington Post. But how can we come together as citizens of our great democracy and make them feel the impact of their action?

Thank God, literally, for new media.

Being a Joke III

Finally, the truth from a conservative female pundit, Liz Trotta, on Sarah Palin on Fox News. No truer words could have been spoken.

"The woman is inarticulate, undereducated...A lot of this criticism is well-deserved...This is a woman who has used her good looks and gender to really get ahead in the political world..."

"So, what are we talking about here. We're not talking about a great statesman of profound experience whose banner is integrity...She really has no credentials for any job."

Thank you, Liz Trotta.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

— Marcel Proust

The most effective way of discovery, of "having new eyes, " is to associate with those with different ideas who challenge yours.

What's needed most here? I'd say humility, openness and strength.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Being Blessed

America is a blessed country, despite the difficulties we now face.

There is much to be grateful for and a great future to look towards.

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Being a Joke II

I've said this before but I need to say it again: Sarah Palin is a joke. Senator McCain is also a joke for nominating such a one who could have been a heartbeat away from the presidency. Palin will step down from being the Governor of Alaska next month. (Just imagine if she was in the White House now? Perish the thought!) Maybe Senator McCain should step down from the Senate too.

Besides being a joke, Palin's a beauty queen opportunist who was given a national platform because of the foolishness of Senator McCain. It's hard to believe that she has ever had any real political ambitions; it's hard to believe that she ever really cared about the people of Alaska. If she does not care about the people of Alaska how will she care about the people of the entire nation?

What a joke! Now go away and return to your winking and prancing on another stage in another arena. Maybe there's a reality show down the road. Good luck with that.

Being Simple II

Simplicity is more than simple; it's grand.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Being David Brooks II

In considering health care reform, David Brooks of the New York Times makes some very relevant points in his article, "Lombardi Politics." He smartly outlines the dilemma of the executive and legislative branches and two kinds of pragmatism, "legislative pragmatism — writing bills that can pass" and " policy pragmatism — creating programs that work."

What was interesting immediately was the definition that both are pragmatic. When one usually thinks of programs they are either pragmatic or ideological within both the legislative and executive branches. (They could also have elements of both.) But here when considering both a Democratic president and Congress, Brooks defines both as pragmatic. Are Democrats seen as pragmatic and Republicans more ideological?

Brooks makes an excellent point which has more to do with politics than programs in that the stimulus bill, cap and trade bill, and now the health care bill all have to be negotiated so that a bill that could actually work becomes so convoluted by politics that by the time it passes it has no effect or even increases the problems that the bill itself sought to alleviate. He cites the European Union's cap and trade bill as increasing emissions after it was passed as opposed to decreasing them. In relation to health care Brooks writes,

On health care too, the complicated job of getting a bill that can pass is taking priority over the complicated task of creating a program that can work. Dozens of different ideas are being added, watered down or merged together in order to cobble together a majority. But will the logrolling produce a sustainable health system that controls costs and actually hangs together?

The great paradox of the age is that Barack Obama, the most riveting of recent presidents, is leading us into an era of Congressional dominance. And Congressional governance is a haven for special interest pleading and venal logrolling.

When the executive branch is dominant you often get coherent proposals that may not pass. When Congress is dominant, as now, you get politically viable mishmashes that don’t necessarily make sense.
Brooks does not offer a solution, but he does give us much to think about. In considering a solution I wonder if getting big business out of campaign financing would be a great start. Bills then would not be laden with such pork and the probability of passing one that will actually make a difference will be far greater, not to mention that the power element associated with members of Congress will be lessened and servant leadership more possible.

Being Subjective Beings

While we are subjective beings the alignment of what is clearly objective truth does exist. For example, E=MC Squared already existed before Sir Issac Newton thought of it and Albert Einstein formulated it.

The beauty is that human beings are all coming to know what has already been known. This is the evolution of beings, that is our understanding and alignment of objective truth that is already known.