Friday, July 7, 2017

When will the Democrats make the first step of the 12-step program (admitting!)?


When will the Democrats make the first step of the 12-step program (admitting!)?

Recently I added my two cents to a Facebook discussion on the nature of the current political environment. I also published a post “Peering through the fog of brainwashing”. (https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/07/fog.html).

Soon a Facebook comment brought a reaction to my post.
One writes: “"What do democrats do about it? Nothing" Maybe because they don't control any of the three branches of government. That line is written by someone who is ignorant of how the american political system works.
I always welcome critical comments; they energize my thinking.
I posted a reply “Keep being an ostrich with the head in the sand. Good luck in 2018” and a comment: “Hey, we are The Democrats, we KNOW how the American political system works. What? Contradiction? What contradiction? Why did we lose elections? Why don't we control any of the three branches of the government? Well, we KNOW how the American political system works. I guess we just don't use it. I guess we just don't do anything about it” and waited. I knew I would get a further response.
And it came: “It's almost as if the extreme left spent the entire election sabotaging them over nonsense...”.
While waiting for the response, I have prepared the new post – this one.
Quote: “It's almost as if the extreme left spent the entire election sabotaging them over nonsense...”.
That line is written by someone who is ignorant in logic, and arrogant in the nature.
This type of a “song” is old as the Nature.
“I know what I need to do!”
“OK, why then nothing changes?”
“F U! I am telling you, I know what I need to do!”
Like “I can quit smoking (drinking, using drugs, playing video games, … - you name it, there are so many addictions people may have) ANY time I want!”
“So, why don’t you do it?”
“F U! I can quit smoking (drinking, using drugs, playing video games, … - you name it, there are so many addictions people may have) ANY time I want!”
If only that would be so easy to do.
Human nature is not so simple; otherwise no one would need the 12-step program (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve-step_program).
What is the FIRST step?  - Admitting!
The Democrats still cannot make even this first step! They are still in the state of denial.
The Democrats have not offered a single truly new idea.

Ideas like a universal healthcare, $15 per hour minimum, etc., etc., have been around for a long time. However, they have not attracted people in numbers enough to win the elections.
People who supported Bernie Sanders supported him because of the same reasons people who supported Trump supported him – personality, charisma, being an outsider, being bold, saying what comes to mind, being just unusual.
Still, expecting Bernie Sanders winning in 2020 is a delusion.
However, even more important than that, the Democrats have not offered
any new political instrument
The Democrats are eager to point at two facts:
1. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote;
and
2. More people have become politically energized.
OK.
1. Saying: “Hillary Clinton won the popular vote” is NO different from saying: “Our team lost, but it made more ball throws to a ring”; “Our team lost, but it made more kicks to the goalkeeper”; “Our team lost, but it made more throws of a puck toward the net”; etc.
It only demonstrates the fact there was indeed an opportunity for the Democrats to win, but they were simply incapable to use it. What to expect when that opportunity is decreased (the Democrats do not have any more neither the White House, nor the congress)?
2. Regarding having more energy at hand, I would like to offer an old joke (taken from this post https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/04/progress.html).
Scientists study if monkeys can solve problems. In a big glass cage they planted a tree and placed a banana on a top branch. A monkey enters the cage and sees the banana. It jumps, but the banana is too high. It tries to clime the tree, but there is a very slippery plastic wrap around it. It looks around, finds a long stick and uses it to hit the banana down. Success! Then the researchers prepare the tree for the next experiment, place the banana on a top branch, but leave for a lunch. A hungry physics student sees the banana. He jumps, but the banana is too high. He tries to clime the tree, but there is a very slippery plastic wrap around it. The student starts shaking the tree, but the banana does not fall down. The researches come back from a lunch and see a student shaking a tree. After watching for a while one guy says via the intercom: “Hey, have you tried to think?” And the student says: “I’m not stupid. F@#k thinking! Just has to shake it harder!”
I guess, it is clear that I see the Democrats  - as that guy – trying just “shake the three harder”, in hope “the banana would fall” (the elections would be won).
In politics, like in physics, the amount of force or energy does not matter on their own.
What is much more important is how that energy is being used, directed, utilized, organized (a short video about what liberals could learn from physics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwzKlFpIt_E).
I’ve got much more on the matter at http://www.gomars.xyz/op.html.


Appendix (added a day later).
Bernie Sander’s quote from the transcript of his speech:
"Now, I am often asked—I’m often asked by the media and others: How did it come about that Donald Trump, the most unpopular presidential candidate in the modern history of our country, won the election? And my answer is—and my answer is that Trump didn’t win the election; the Democratic Party lost the election. Let us—let us be very, very clear: The current model—the current model and the current strategy of the Democratic Party is an absolute failure. This is not—this is not my opinion. This is the facts. You know, we focus a lot on the presidential election, but we also have to understand that Democrats have lost the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of the governors’ chairs throughout the country. And over the last nine years, Democrats have lost almost 1,000 legislative seats in states all across this country. Today—today, in almost half of the states in America, Democratic Party has almost no political presence at all. Now, if that’s not a failure, if that’s not a failed model, I don’t know what a failed model is."
My question is – if the model of a LARGE social organization is a failed model, how much time would be needed to make a transition to a working model?
I am not a historian, or a sociologist, but I am absolutely convinced, that one or two years would not be enough – simply because of the huge social inertia. This bring us to the question of 2018 elections. It is absolutely clear to me – based on the evidence at hands – that 2018 elections will repeated the fate of the 2017 special elections. Fixing the Democratic party is a long-term goal. But preventing Republicans from keeping the majority in the Congress is a short-term goal. That is why I insist on separating two questions:
(a) What do we need to do to bring the Democrats in the Congress to majority?
and
(b) What do we need to do to bring the Republicans in the Congress to minority?
These are two different questions, and they have two very different answers!
The first goal requires long and painful reforms inside the Democratic party (simply because social inertia is huge; inside fighting is vigorous and makes all factions weaker; but none of the factions will give up the fight).
The second goal requires formation of a third national party – and it needs to be done NOW!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Peering through the fog of brainwashing.


Peering through the fog of brainwashing.
The fog machine is working and is very effective.
People are debating what health care plan is god, bad, or ugly.
No one seems to get to the roots.
And the roots are very simple. 
1. The globalization  had resulted in that many white Americans lost their highly paid jobs - and NO one (neither Republicans nor Democrats) know what to do about it, so they do nothing, but blaming each other.
2. For the last decades (at least) the American demographic has been drastically changing in such a way that non-white Americans soon should become the majority (http://www.epi.org/publication/the-changing-demographics-of-americas-working-class/).
Everything so-called “conservatives” do is to prevent the white soon-to-be-minority from losing the political power.  
Gerrymandering, voter suppression, unreasonably strict anti-drugs laws was just the beginning.
Conservatives have been quietly building up a brainwashing media machine.
If you think FOX News, or Breitbart – you are wrong. Those guys are not quiet.
BTW: what do Democrats do about it? Nothing. They do not have any vision. Thy just happy that more people get upset with Trump and express their anger. But what do Democrats do now what we could called NEW and SIGNIFICANT? Nothing. They just keep doing the same thing again and again and waiting for new result to happen, but just with more energy (lots of posts on the matter at https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/; for example https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/04/clinton.html; or https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/03/warren.html).
GOP’s healthcare plan is new tool to keep the status quo. It is designed to hit the poorest. Anyone who says: “but it also hits Trump’s base” does not see far enough. It may seem like the plan hits the Trump’s base, but when it comes to its realization, some adjustments will be done, but not for everyone.
In his recent interview to NPR Dr. Rod Hochman said: “America as a country is older and poorer.” (http://www.npr.org/2017/06/28/534681846/hospital-official-waits-to-see-when-senate-votes-on-gop-health-bill).
The GOP’s plan is to deal with this problem to let people who cannot afford health (minorities) insurance to die out.
Politics is never about anything but POWER (for good or for bad).
What we see is the process of building the political machine which would keep minorities out of power even when they will become the majority.
And EVERYTHING what "conservative" do, they do it out of one single motive (so, just ignore anything they say). 
They do it out of fear.
They do it out of fear of loosing power.
That fear navigates all their action (often on a subconscious level:
- a strong book on human behavior). 

Unfortunately, that fear resonates with many, and ignored by even more. 
Why can't the Democrats to use this knowledge for advancing their agenda, is a different conversation (e.g. https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/07/admitting.html)

Appendix: 
A couple of weeks after this post was published, the Republicans came up with the new version of the health care bill. In that bill they proposed to treat differently rural folks and urban folks. This is exactly the type of adjustment I originally mentioned! When they say "rural" they mean "white Americans". "Urban" means either rich people who will not be affected by any version of the bill; and poor minorities who will be kicked out of the health care if the bill will be accepted.
There are however two commonalities in how Republicans treat all the poor, white and non-white.
1. The Republicans do not want people to think.
And the best way to keep people from thinking is to make them work so hard, they have no energy left for anything else. When one has to work 60 hours a week, juggling two jobs to only make it a paycheck to a paycheck, one has no ability to think about social and economical issues. One just comes home, drinks some bear, and falls into a bed.
2. The Republicans do not want people to know.
That is why they fight anything which may help improving public schools, especially in urban areas.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ignoring sloppiness: a sign of tolerance or mismanagement?


To one reader who may have been wondering – I have been out of the country, and I’d say, out of a social life, and spent some time with my close family.
I am back and I started teaching my summer classes. During my years of teaching I have developed a certain routine. Since I arrive very early, my first trip is to the office kitchen, where I charge the coffee machine to make my first mug, which would keep me for a couple of hours. This time, however, my routine had been broken. Since recent time, the office people keep the machine working only between 9 am and 5 pm. When the office is closed, the kitchen is still available, but the coffee machine is off. Turned out, one night a janitor saw a smoke coming out from under the kitchen door.  Evidently, some grad student, or a postdoc, left the machine on, with an almost empty jar sitting on the heater. Naturally, the facilities classified this incident as a fire hazard, and as the result – the first time in a decade – I was not able to use the office coffee machine in the morning.
That made me to bring my own personal small coffee maker. It also made me think. I realized that for the last several years our office kitchen has been encountering more and more issues. Lately, almost once a month we had circulated an email asking everyone to keep the kitchen clean.
This is the beginning of one of such long letter:
“Dear all, Unfortunately, I need to be reaching out to our community about kitchen etiquette.”
An excerpt from another one: 
“Hi All, I wanted to address an issue that we have been having with the break room coffee machine. If the coffee machine is in the process of brewing, DO NOT remove the pot to pour a glass. No matter how quick you swap out the pots, some coffee is spilled onto the burner and damages the machine. A couple weeks ago the machine had to be replaced because the burners were no longer functioning, which was caused by coffee being spilled and left to burn on the hot plate”. 
Several years ago, I would read similar emails maybe once a year. Nowadays, I see fairly regularly spilled coffee, stains from food, dripping socket, leftovers from cutting paper (see the above picture), empty boxes from fast food, etc. Or look at the pile of graded lab reports just left on a floor, despite the fact that 5 feet away there is a recycling bin.
Some of my teaching fellows cannot manage to remember when they should do their office hours. But more importantly, they do not think it is a big deal.
One might think that I am whining about “the youth”. That would be a wrong impression. “The youth” (grad students, even postdocs) do exactly what they are supposed to do – being absent minded. They are too old to have a babysitter who would be reminding them what to do and when. But they are too young to have a personal assistant who would be reminding them what to do and when. They are at that age when they need to learn from other professionals, first of all from the people managing their professional actions, what does it mean to be a professional.
Every institution, every social organization should have people designated specifically to teaching “the youth” what does it mean to be a professional, i.e. to teach the basics of the professional ethics (etiquette).

If newly hired employees misbehave, the main reason for that is - the management allows it, the management does not spend enough time for… and does not see the necessity in… teaching to the “youth” the structure of the professional behavior. The result is – a slow, graduate, almost invisible rise in the overall sloppiness.
If you start thinking about it, you will remember things which were not acceptable in the past, but have become normal these days. It happens everywhere, in stores, at hospitals. You cannot believe what is happening behind closed doors in nursing homes (and don't make me start talking about potholes!). And one more thing; for the last five years I have not attended a single big meeting that would start on time.
I am absolutely convinced that the rise in the sloppiness at all social and governmental levels was one of the factors which helped Donald Trump to win.
People do not like sloppiness.
Or, rather, people do not like when somebody else's sloppiness negatively affects their everyday functioning. But people do not want to confront those managers who tolerate the sloppiness (people in general try to avoid any “confrontation”, even if it is a discussion about how to make things to work better). Instead, they turn to a “strong leader”, who is (a) an outsider (i.e. does not belong to the current managers hated by people), and (b) promises to solve all the problems at once.
A week ago I would not let myself to publish this piece. I know that many readers would find it (for whatever reasons, some of which mentioned here http://gomars.xyz/op.html#stag) “offensive”, or “patronizing”. But in his latest “The New Rules” segment Bill Maher expressed a very similar sentiment (http://deadline.com/2017/05/bill-maher-hbo-real-time-superheroes-new-rules-1202098782/). He described Donald Trump as a Super Hero called upon by people to solve all the existing problems. 

So, all I did in this piece is - I just added some personal perspective on the matter.
One might ask, why do I care so much?
Well.
Before I moved to the U.S. I held some managerial positions (http://www.GoMars.xyz/vv.htm). 
In fact, my professional career looks like a zigzag; rise and fall, another rise and another fall, and another rise (plotting all my rises together one after another, the total line would have ended very high :) ). After getting my M.S. diploma I was moving up the ladder up to the assistant professor, but then the Perestroika destroyed the Russian economy and everyone was brought to a square one. Then eventually the new economy stabilized. I moved up again. For example, I ran an IT department at a state teachers’ school; I also used to work as a managing consultant for schools and school districts. I rose to the interim director of a small but important institution (a research arm of a city department of education). But then I moved to the US and started from working as a janitor at a supermarket. If I would not move, I could have landed at a position at the state department of education, and nowadays could have been working in Moscow (people with the knowledge of the matter told me that I was one of those who were on the list, and the list was short - if I knew all that, I still would have moved, but I would be building my career very much differently; people who were supped to be smart, honest, visionary turned out to be not as smart, honest, visionary as I thought; and of course, I was not visionary enough to see it then).
What I see now is that overtime more and more managers adopted "a reactive management style", and less and less managers use "a proactive management style"; instead of thinking ahead, anticipating what might happen and organizing - a.k.a. managing - people accordingly, they just wait until something happens and react; "don't fix it if it ain't broke" type of "management".
So, I know a thing or two about management. But when I moved to the U.S. I knew I would not be managing anymore. I have found a good and comfortable job, and just ignored all the sloppiness and all the signs of mismanagement around me. 
I had one simple reason for ignoring those things – they did NOT have any effect on my life.
Until November 8, 2016.
For me, November 8th, 2016 was the result of (a) a "half" of a country was not thinking and voted for Trump (more on the role of "thinking" is here https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/04/cyber.html); (b) another "half" of a country was not smart enough to prevent Trump from winning (starting from pushing for the worst Democratic candidate: https://teachologyforall.blogspot.com/2017/04/clinton.html).
Trump’s presidency had shown me that I should not have been ignoring the sloppiness around me. No one should have been ignoring the sloppiness around them. Maybe, just maybe, we would have had a different president. With the Trump at the helm all my hopes for a simple and quiet retirement are at risk. I am not old yet, but I want to know that when I will, I will be able to afford my medical bills – at the minimum. So, my current strategy is borrowed from The Department of The Homeland Security: “see something – say something”.


This is me saying what I see.
And I see a lot of sloppiness.

Appendix:
a week later had read this:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-millennials-keep-dumping-you-open-letter-lisa-earle-mcleod
"It’s downright debilitating to a high achiever. I’m working my heart out and every time I look up Donna-Do-Nothing is contemplating how long is too long to take for lunch. I start wondering why leadership tolerates this."
Very resonating.