2009-05-27

Inspiration ctd.

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This post from last week got me thinking, so I thought I'd share some further insight into where exactly this Michael Ivey guy comes from.


Back when I was 15, I was over my friend James' house one lazy summer's eve, when a group of us decided to start watching Woodstock on DVD (James was the guy who always had the latest gadgets so naturally he was the first to purchase a DVD player). As far as specifics, we were really only interested in watching Hendrix play the National Anthem, but somehow we ended up watching Santana's "Soul Sacrifice" as well.

The following seriously changed my life (I've linked to the appropriate 2 minute section):



The next day I began begging for a drum set.

Eight years later, though I may not have reached Woodstock level success, I did find myself playing 80's cover songs at various establishments in College Station, TX with the infamous "Drying Off Grandpa." Which come with a certain degree of status, I think.

2009-05-25

Perspective

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Sitting here at the tail end of a 3 day weekend at Lake LBJ, I find myself struck by the fact that despite our nearly 7 year war in Iraq and Afghanistan, unless you have been directly impacted in some way, there are very few personal sacrifices we make for the tens of thousands of our fellow citizens that are currently in harms way. That being said, I've been waiting to write this story until an appropriate time but with today being Memorial Day, I figured the time had finally arrived.

A few months ago I had the fortune of attending a conference for private equity professionals here in Dallas, an event that was predictably dour. Thankfully however we had the pleasure of listening to David Feherty (the Irish voice on Tiger Woods Golf and Dallas resident), a man who despite ruffling everyone’s feathers in the room with his now infamous off-color humor, held the attention of the entire room for over an hour with stories from his travels in Iraq and through his philanthropic work with the Special Forces. Each story revealed examples of true heroism in the face of adversity, which was a message the 1000+ financial elites in the room needed to hear. This was my personal favorite:


John Wayne Walding

Back in April 2008, the Special Forces were tasked with a mission to take out a group of Taliban insurgents in the Shok Valley of Afghanistan, an area complicated by it’s high altitude (10,000 ft). It would later turn out that this was a Taliban compound with hundreds of Taliban forces pitted against relatively few coalition forces.

During the intense firefight, a 27 year old Waco native native John Wayne Walding (born on the 4th of July no less) was hit in the leg by a bullet, a wound that according to his own account, left his leg hanging by “two inches of meat.”

Pinned down by enemy fire at the time and therefore cutoff from the rest of the unit, he made a split second decision and pulled his severed leg up into his crotch and tied a tourniquet around his thigh and the dangling appendage to stop the bleeding so that he could move around.

Walding had just seconds prior to this been ordered to take some of the casualties off of the mountain, so once he had his leg secured, he began barking orders at the nearby US forces and Afghani fighters to help coordinate the effort. “He kept firing at the enemy as he moved down the mountain, hopping on his good leg, sometimes sliding on the ground and getting help from the Afghan commandos. It took Walding three hours to reach the landing zone.”

For this he was awarded the Silver Star.

Click here for the full article, and remember that this weekend is about more than just a good time and an extra day off of work. Something that I, despite having a father who is a retired Colonel in the Army Reserves, forget all too often.

2009-05-21

Mississippi Really is a 3rd World Country

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As a product of the Louisiana and Oklahoma public school systems, the graph below really doesn't surprise me (nor should it surprise the readers of this blog) as much as it does confirm my suspicion that South is well, you know, different.

The NYTimes Economix blog via MapScroll informs us that the Human Development Index (HDI) combines measures of various social indicators, including life expectancy, literacy, education, and per capita GDP, to measure overall human development, which "refers to the process of widening the options of persons, giving them greater opportunities for education, health care, income, employment, etc."

The United States ranks rather high (15th out of all countries), but the HDI of individual states varies quite a bit. Here is a map from Wikipedia of states by their human development index score:




Connecticut, which has the highest development of all American states, is roughly comparable with Ireland (the fifth most-developed country worldwide). But Mississippi has an H.D.I. level roughly on par with that of Turkey (#76 in the international development rankings).


Update:
Apparently I got a little trigger happy in my excitement to post this map last week. Mapscroll updated their post here for the real HDI data available here. It's still interesting, but Mississippi it seems is more akin to being the runt of the litter as opposed to being the black sheep, which the original map seemed to indicate.
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2009-05-20

Inspiration


We all need a little inspiration from time to time right? Well here's a great collection of quotes to hopefully do just that. Personal favorite:

"Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world."

-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

What's yours?


55 Ideas on Ideas

2009-05-14

Brown Bag Special


The Wire (season 1)Image via Wikipedia

“The Wire” is one of the greatest television shows of the past decade. More than the quality of character development or the top-notch production, it's a show that makes you think (but then again I'm white so I may be genetically predisposed to like the show). Anyhow, it's along that line that this post draws it's inspiration.


Introduction

“The bigger the lie, the more they believe.”
- Bunk


In season 3 of the show, Lieutenant “Bunny” Colvin becomes increasingly tired of the Baltimore PD’s constant focus on “jooking the stats” (i.e. turning felonies into misdemeanors, making lesser crimes disappear, etc…) and overall inability to address street crime and drug trafficking effectively. Upon realizing the fruitlessness of his efforts, he starts to think outside the box and responds by creating a decriminalized drug zone in the western district of Baltimore jokingly coined “Hamsterdam.” Here’s a quick clip explaining his thinking:




To summarize, Lt. Colvin uses a metaphor to compare legalizing drugs in the worst part of town to the usage of a brown paper bag to prevent ticketing a man for drinking in public. Essentially creating a lawful way for people to hide their relatively minor indiscretions to allow the police to focus on larger crimes without undermining their authority. This idea was on my mind the other day as I drove down Ross Avenue and passed by one of Dallas’ many day labor pickup spots…


Brown Bag Policy

Current estimates put as many as 12 million illegal aliens inside the United States, with very little political will existing at the moment to address the situation. While one side believes a path to citizenship is the right choice, the other believes that this will only exacerbate the problem and therefore deportation should be the only option. In Texas (and many other states) the lack of action on this issue has put a noticeable strain on many public services for years, namely healthcare due to overcrowding in city hospitals where illegal aliens are forced to seek medical attention within an ER at the taxpayer’s expense. Yet the status quo remains.

If you drive down Ross Avenue in Dallas, or I-35 in Lewisville, or a multitude of other locations around the metroplex you’ll notice scattered parking lots full of day laborers (many of whom are illegal) all looking for an honest day’s wage. For me, this was where the immigration issue took turn as it became abundantly clear that any policy must be weighed against the implications of that decision. So though it seems odd that this very obvious congregation of lawbreakers would be allowed to exist, it's hard to fathom a policy decision that suddenly prevents 12 million illegal aliens from being able to provide for their families.

The few police officers I’ve known even indicate that due to the magnitude of this issue, enforcing immigration laws would essentially preclude them from performing their other duties, and as a recent study indicates that immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes, there is little cause to change this tactic.

So what is a reasonable person to do?


Going Forward

Step one on the road to recovery is to admit that you have a problem. Right now our country has admitted that there is A problem, but no one seems to agree on THE problem. Though I don't know the answer to this question, I do know that it will not be easy. Case in point, recently in Irving, TX the mayor came under fire due to a new policy that checks into the immigration status of anyone arrested within city limits. I was shocked not by the public reaction to the mayor’s policy, but the realization that this is NOT national policy.

It seems that here in the states, illegal immigration is more a part of our every day lives than we are ready to admit, but with public opinion shifting in favor of immigration reform (myself included) ignoring the problem may no longer be an option for those seeking to avoid controversy.

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2009-05-12

Failure or Good Decision?

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This morning i was confronted with a dilemma, and my choice has been gnawing at me all morning. I'll give you the short and sweet version.

Situation: switching trains at l'enfant waiting to go down the escalator. I spy a teenage kid creeping up on a short chubby business dude with a devious look in his eye. I watch him (10 ft away) quickly jam his hand in the guy's pocket and steal the wallet. The kid looks at the stunned dude w a Sh** eating grin and begins to sprint away as the chubber chased in futile pursuit. At this moment, the kid probably had 20 feet on me, but I could have caught him as he had to club through the throngs of people, and I could have followed the trail (much like getting behind an ambulance or cop car).

My decision: I slunk out. I watched him sprint away, and peform one of the most athletic moves I have seen in a while by one foot leaping over the metro exit gate in a full sprint. Could I have caught him?.....maybe. It would have been great to test the speed out, and pull the guy down from behind with full speed horsecollar tackle, becoming the hero of the morning. Would it have been worth the potential danger, either from him or any potential lurking cronies?

I have been at work feeling a bit inadequate after the episode. What would you have done?

2009-05-07

Best of the Web



Who Are They?

We Are Hunted is an online music chart.

It listens to what is happening in online music across blogs, social networks, forums, Twitter and P2P networks to chart the top songs online.

In the physical world, charts are built on shipped albums. Online, traditionally, they have been a count of digital downloads.

We Are Hunted is different in that it tracks sentiment, expression and advocacy.

Visually driven, intuitive and simple, We Are Hunted seeks to be a daily destination for music lovers looking for their next favourite artist track or song. Through We Are Hunted, music fans can discover new music and more importantly, join the conversation about it.


My Two Cents

One of the simplest and slickest ways to follow what bands are garnering the most attention online, as opposed to simply listing the top 40 songs on the radio or iTunes.

Bonus: you can talk to your kids about music again.

Technorati Tags: ,,

2009-05-05

Bizarro World

4 comments

Over the weekend, something that I’ve been trying to articulate over the past couple of weeks about the torture issue finally broke through the fog and resulted in the following realization; is the left’s moral posturing over torture frustrating to conservative Christians because it is essentially the bizzaro world equivalent of their absolutist stance on abortion?

I believe the answer here is yes as we now have two state sanctioned practices (though only one is actually illegal) that one side views as deplorable, while the other side believes can be justifiable on certain conditions. The arguments both for and against differ in many respects obviously (and I don't mean to downplay the seriousness of either issue), but the hard-liners should at least acknowledge the similar philosophical approaches they are taking in making their claim. And for the record, I’m personally against both.

On another note, who would've thought that this would put me in the same camp as both Ronald Reagan and the far-left? Times, they are a changin...

(more to come later)


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2009-05-01

Talking Points


I've watched the debate widen over the past couple of weeks regarding the Bush administration's "enhanced interogation" / torture program, and tried to determine as best I could the talking points coming from all sides. I have been surprised to see this turn into a right-left issue as opposed to a for-against issue, but I suppose that was inevitable. So here we go:

The official narrative as told by the anti-torture camp (via McClatchy):

The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.


Same series of events as told through the Bush perspective:




Related
:

Who supports torture?

Didn't Ronald Reagan sign the UN Convention Against Torture? Yes.

Spencer Ackerman opines on waterboarding and the flaw in the ticking time bomb theory.

Via my brother in law, CNN reports that "The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey."


UPDATE 1:

Turns out Condoleezza was more like Wrongdoleezza in her impromptu interview while visiting Stanford University. Scott Horton feels us in on all the details.
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