Tales from the MidWest

What’s a work ethic?  It might mean these things:

  • I like working.
  • I don’t mind working.
  • I’ll work as long as I can find something to do.  Helping the host of the party set up.  Cleaning up afterwards.
  • Maybe work is good for my body, good for my mind, good for my soul.  So the more work I can do today, the better I’ll feel in the long run.
  • Maybe I’m thinking ahead to the day when, like my hard-working father, I won’t be able to work no matter how much I want.  So I’ll get in as much work today, because someday I won’t have a choice.

This kind of work ethic used to be called Puritan.  I’m not sure why, certainly not because it was Pure.  I think it had something to do with Pilgrims and Religion.  What in the world this means is beyond me.  But that’s what I was taught way back when.

Today the work ethic seems to be something you’ll only find in the history books.  I like to think that in the “back country” of the American Midwest, we still mostly live in the past.  Most of us are very modern, but many people here still think the old ways are best.

However, there’s a funny / sad story my brother-in-law told me the other day.  Brother in law shortens to Bil, so I’ll call him Bil.

Uh oh, out of allotted time.  There’s other work that needs doing.

Stay tuned.


Party like a Scientific Conservative

I’m a Sci-Con, a scientific conservative.  It’s not a party, it’s a political philosophy.  As far as I can tell, it’s new.  But it doesn’t tell you how to throw a party.

Political parties were invented shortly after the US of A.  Tom Jefferson gets credit for being the most political, and used every trick in the book to secure fame and fortune, including inventing the first political parties.

One of the basic beliefs of being a Sci-Con is that political parties are bad, in and of themselves.  It doesn’t matter if they are blue, red, green or black.  Any party that exists for the sake of the party works against democracy, works against the good of the public.

Yet there is some good in having a party.  For one thing, a party can present a “platform,” fighting for specific laws or directions that the government should take.  The party also helps integrate many people for the sake of improving the chances of making change.

So how does a political philosophy incorporate the practical necessities of having a party, without accumulating all the negative baggage?

We allow for the creation of a Sci-Con party that is position specific.  If a Sci-Con party must be created, we give it a name, such as Sci-Con Gun Control.  And let the debates begin.  From those debates and specific position is developed, and all the resources of that party focus on that alone.

Along with that, we add a clock.  Say, ten years.  Whether or not the Sci-Con party hasn’t made any headway into the issue by then, it simply disbands.  The goal is that some kind of improvement to society is made within that time frame.

The fundamental point is that the goal is specific, the work focused.  No extra money spent on lobbyists or fancy conventions.  Focus on one problem.  Define it, get everyone’s input, and work to make it better.

Is this going to be slow?  Of course, that’s what makes us conservative.  Is this going to be hard?  Yes, but we’re not afraid of hard work, especially if it costs us less money and pain in the long run.

So, that’s how a Sci-Con throws a party.  Not exactly beer and nachos, champagne and petit-fours, but still a party.

It may even be fun.


Vote Against the Evil Empire

Voting isn’t just when your government says it is.  Voting isn’t stuffing the ballot box and hoping the least worst politician gets into office.

No.  Voting is your eyeballs.  Voting is your feet.  Voting is the apps on your device.  And voting is your dollars.  Especially your dollars.

I have a cousin who’s an uppity up doctor, taking care of kids.  The other day she came to visit and used one of the new ride sharing companies to come out.

Here’s the problem.  For one, I know that the ride-sharing companies are effectively building their empires on the backs of people who 1) need ready cash, and 2) don’t take the depreciation of their vehicles into account.  Basically it’s a hidden subsidy operation, and history has shown that this kind of business model never lasts very long.

The biggest problem is number 3; this particular company has a history of exploiting women.  In fact they have some big problems with women they have trampled in the few years they’ve been in business.  Certainly my cousin knows this.

But she voted for them anyway.  She’s busy, doesn’t have time to worry about the hidden details behind all those layers of management.  And I certainly was not going to be the person to tell her.  After all, I’d much rather enjoy our short time together talking about her and her family.

Think about what you’re buying.  Think about who you’re buying it from.  And think through the implications.  It’s one thing to say we’re green and love the environment.  But to turn around and vote for those very same organizations that want to tear it apart seems a bit confused.


Voting for Fun and Profit

We need to start a reality show based on how we vote.

Are you thinking that trek, one Tuesday every year, to your local polling booth?

If you are, good for you!  You are the minority.  Most people don’t care about visiting the polling booth and casting their vote for a politician.  Our democracy is directed by a minority; but that’s normal.

Surprise!  That’s not the kind of voting I’m talking about today.  No, this is the kind of voting you do with your eyeballs.  Did you know you vote with your eyeballs?  Every time you get an advert thrust into your retina, and you spend time on it, that’s a vote.

Now, most companies can’t measure how much time you spend looking at that ad, but they do count your clicks (another vote) and more importantly, they count your dollars.

Yes, dollars are by far the best way to vote.  Every time you spend a dollar you are saying, I vote for you.

Who is you?

You is that product or service.  You is the person behind that product.  You is the entire organization that offers that product.  And you is the philosophy behind that product.

So think about how you vote.  Think about the YOU you are voting for.

Vote wisely.  And often!


Post Office Purgatory

True story.  Even the name of my friend is real, because how can you get better than the name of Mike in a story having to do with being tortured by well-meaning US post office protocols?

In fact, if I hadn’t been there to see the whole thing, I wouldn’t believe him.  After the fact, I’d wished that I’d taken video.  It was that good, and unreal.

Setup:  Mike is mailing a box of cookies and candy and a birthday card to his daughter.  She lives on an island.  He’s done this before, as she’s lived there several years.

He comes up with the box and the teller puts it into the system and says the system is rejecting the box.  It’s not the right box.

What?  I got this box from you guys! says Mike.  It’s rejecting the box, you have to get another one.

Like a good guy, he goes to the table and open his box, takes everything out, gets one of their suggested boxes (no charge) and seals it all up again.  He addresses it and back to the counter.

Box is good, but now the address is being rejected.  What?  It’s the same as last year.  We have a new system, maybe that’s part of it, but it says this street doesn’t exist.

Mike tries calling his daughter to confirm her address, and leaves a message.  The USPS employee, to her credit, is trying to get her system to work as well.  She finally suggests, that perhaps, a different box with that address could work.

Mike gets the different box, reboxes everything all over again, and comes back.  Strangely enough, the box and address both work.  Except for one small thing.

The price.

That’ll be $100.  What???  That’s ridiculous.  It’s cookies!  It’s never cost that much!

By now a supervisor hears what’s going on, and visits.  Looks over the situation, hears about all the boxes (3 so far) and comes to this conclusion.

The first box was the right size, but the wrong code.  There’s an entirely different box, that is exactly the same size (I know, I don’t get this either) that you have to use.

I’ve been trying to console Mike all along, and at this point I realize I need to buy him a bottle of sedatives.  He gets the “right” box from the supervisor, reboxes everything AGAIN, and gets to the counter.  The address goes into the computer.

Now it gets back to real surreal.  The employee has to ask all the exact silly questions all over again, for the fourth time.  Is there anything dangerous?  Do you want stamps?

NO NO NO!  Please just mail it!

The box did finally get accepted, for far less than $100.  Mike did eventually get out the door.  But neither of us were sure what to make of the situation, except that we need to avoid anything like that at all costs!