Wednesday, June 13, 2012

beautiful unique snowflake in a blizzard

You are not special. You are not exceptional.

Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you're nothing special.

Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That's 37,000 valedictorians… 37,000 class presidents… 92,000 harmonizing altos… 340,000 swaggering jocks… 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you're leaving it. So think about this: even if you're one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you.

You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.

Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It's what happens when you're thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion-and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special.

Full transcript: "You're Not Special" speech - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Monday, June 4, 2012

beyond reward and punishment

this is a personal record of a conversation which stimulates any number of philosophical paths... i record it here for future digestion.
the names have been superficially veiled to protect the anonymous...
Dr. S.
"In a recent conversation with a student, I was reminded of this quote from Rabi'a, a woman mystic in the Islamic tradition: Lord, if I worship You from the fear of Hell, then let me burn in Hell. If I worship You for the hope of Paradise, then deny me admittance to it. But if I worship You out of reverence for You alone, then do not deny me the joy of Your Eternal Beauty. - Pretty well captures my Jewish-Christian-Muslim-Buddhist-Confucian-Daoist-Hindu-Shinto convictions ..."

Mr. M.E.
"also, something to put into everyday practice... don't act out of expectation of reward or rebuke... act with a genuine desire for the act, itself... ties in nicely with 'do unto others' philosophy."

Dr. H.
"But it isn't do unto others, it's worship another. I suppose the devil (so to speak) is in the details, but if the Eternal Beauty is precisely in its impermanence, in its ephemerality, and in the immediacy of the act, it strikes me that reverence and worship of First Causes or Final Outcomes (whether or not it is personal Hell or Heaven) takes away time and effort from fully appreciating the our fleeting relationships and experiences. It takes fairly selective reading of most of those traditions (although it's easier with some flavors of Buddhism & Daoism) to see 'worship' and 'reverence' as simply a well-lived life--and our choices as gods."

"not to fill up Dr. [S]'s post with discussion and debate, i am writing directly to you with a response for your consideration... i think, in some minor way, we agree on something... i didn't expand on my post, but i'd like to beg your indulgence and do so here.

you said 'to see worship and reverence as simply a well-lived life'... i agree... it is my belief that the Christian 'do unto others' either stems from or parallels that Buddhist philosophy... in the negative (as many Christians read it) 'do unto others' means NOT doing bad things... in the positive, it is an action; of DOING... it is my belief that living a well-lived life, in a Buddhist sense, is a philosophy of action; of doing things for the sake of the action, itself... this ties back to [S]'s quote from Rabi'a, of worship without consideration of reward or rebuke... if we take 'worship' in the Buddhist sense of a well-lived life, as you noted, then our everyday life is a series of acts which are done without regard to the self; only for the sake of the act... in the negation of the expectation of reward/rebuke, we begin the negation of self... and isn't that a beginning to the path to nirvana/enlightenment?"

Dr. H.
"Yes, I think that's what I was getting at. And yes, I think there is an easier path toward this in Buddhism (and perhaps Daoism and maybe--strangely--Shinto). But I think you really have to bend the Judeo-Christian religions pretty radically to have it fit that model. Thanks for taking the time to reply..."

i'm not sure you have to "bend" Judeo-Christian religions very radically, if at all, to fit that model... it just takes a broad reading of the text in context of the times and peoples involved...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Obama's private Bain Capital

President Obama is coming on strong against Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital... he implies that Romney's record makes him unfit to handle government capital finances... well, if that's the case, Obama should excuse himself from the position, too... Romney may have lost people money to the benefit of private investors, but Obama has been losing the money of public investors, i.e. taxpayers.

Raser Technologies. In 2010, the Obama administration gave Raser a $33 million taxpayer-funded grant to build a power plant in Beaver Creek, Utah. According to the Wall Street Journal, after burning through our tax dollars, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. The plant now has fewer than 10 employees, and Raser owes $1.5 million in back taxes.

ECOtality. The Obama administration gave ECOtality $126.2 million in taxpayer money in 2009 for, among other things, the installation of 14,000 electric car chargers in five states.
... According to ECOtality’s own SEC filings, the company has since incurred more than $45 million in losses...

Nevada Geothermal Power (NGP). The Obama administration gave NGP a $98.5 million taxpayer loan guarantee in 2010. The New York Times reported last October that the company is in “financial turmoil” and that “[a]fter a series of technical missteps that are draining Nevada Geothermal’s cash reserves, its own auditor concluded in a filing released last week that there was ‘significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.’ ”

First Solar. The Obama administration provided First Solar with more than $3 billion in loan guarantees for power plants in Arizona and California. According to a Bloomberg Businessweek report last week, the company “fell to a record low in Nasdaq Stock Market trading May 4 after reporting $401 million in restructuring costs tied to firing 30 percent of its workforce.”

Abound Solar, Inc. The Obama administration gave Abound Solar a $400 million loan guarantee to build photovoltaic panel factories. According to Forbes, in February the company halted production and laid off 180 employees.

Beacon Power. The Obama administration gave Beacon — a green-energy storage company — a $43 million loan guarantee. According to CBS News, at the time of the loan, “Standard and Poor’s had confidentially given the project a dismal outlook of ‘CCC-plus.’ ” In the fall of 2011, Beacon received a delisting notice from Nasdaq and filed for bankruptcy.

A company called SunPower got a $1.2 billion loan guarantee from the Obama administration, and as of January, the company owed more than it was worth.

Brightsource got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee and posted a string of net losses totaling $177 million.

And, of course, let’s not forget Solyndra — the solar panel manufacturer that received $535 million in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees and went bankrupt, leaving taxpayers on the hook.

if this is your record of handling the finances of a company, or a government, maybe you shouldn't be casting aspersions at anyone else.

Forget Bain — Obama’s public-equity record is the real scandal - The Washington Post By Marc A. Thiessen, Published: May 24