Who Do Representatives Represent?

I’ve often wanted to ask candidates for various representational positions in government a very simple question: “who do you represent?”

Or, perhaps more specifically, “how do you represent?”

There are several possible answers, and at least a couple of them are very valid. And yet the answer shines a very interesting light on exactly how government might work.

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A Crisis of Facts

How do you know what is and is not true?

I mean, how do you know?

It’s always been a tough question, but it seems even more difficult of late because of the explosion of fake news and information sources. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff?

I’m not sure I have an answer to this critically important question.

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Retirement is Death

Technically I’m “retired”. I left Microsoft in 2001 at the age of 44, a few years after some numbers on a spreadsheet said I could afford to.

I’ve been working hard ever since.

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Misinformation At Your Fingertips.

It’s trendy to bad-mouth social media right now as the source for all things fake and misleading.

Social media is not the problem. It’s a problem, in a sense, but it is not the problem.

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In Search of Simple Answers

There’s an interesting fall-out to this year’s election season: an amazing amount of “Monday morning quarterbacking”.

With the election results being what they are, it’s difficult to read much media that doesn’t include someone’s attempt at explaining exactly why things turned out the way they have, as well as trying to understand exactly why it seemed such a big surprise.

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Thanks, Giving

I realized yesterday that the election results have impacted me at a deeper level than I originally anticipated it would. I posted on Facebook that I was still in the throes of “post-election depression”. My productivity and ability to focus has been impacted. I’ve had a difficult time actually sitting down to write content for Ask Leo! as I have in the past, for example.

One person mentioned the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. It’s a model that seems to fit, and I’m currently, and solidly, at stage four.

Falling back to meditative practice and even some Buddhist philosophy, the key to moving on would appear to be gratitude. How timely, then, that tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

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A Problem-free Life Would Be Boring

The solution to one problem is merely the creation of the next one. – Mark Manson(†)

Common thinking is that a life without problems would be idyllic. “Not a care in the world” is the operative phrase. Sitting on a beach, sipping Mai-Tai’s is another vision.

Even if it were possible, thanks, but no thanks.

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Looking for Constructive Conservatism

I don’t consider myself a conservative. But then I also don’t consider myself a liberal. Rather than aligning myself with one set of policies or philosophies my approach is to take it all one issue, or one candidate, at a time. I’d probably call myself a “free thinker”, but I’m afraid that term has overly-liberal connotations to those on the right.

One of the things that this recent election cycle has made crystal clear is the existence of, and the dramatic impact, of what we’ve come to refer to as the “echo chamber”. By exposing ourselves to only those ideas and ideals with which we agree we deny ourselves the opportunity to objectively evaluate opposing views and values. If you lean liberal, for example, not only are you more attracted to like-thinking opinions and sources of information, but social media – specifically Facebook – reinforces that environment by showing primarily things that agree with its perception of what you “like”, and are thus more likely to interact with.

This isn’t good. This isn’t healthy. This isn’t how rational and reasonable discourse happens.

This is how polarization happens.

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Jack of All Trades

Being a “jack of all trades” gets a bad rap.

The traditional criticism is that instead of doing one thing very well, a jack of all trades does a number of things poorly. The full title in cases like this is “jack of all trades, master of none”.

I am unabashedly a jack of all trades. I’m quite proud of it, for that matter.

And I don’t think the whole “master of none” thing either applies or matters.

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The Kids Don’t Read

As part of a recent talk to a group of university students, I emphasized my biggest “if I had to do it over again” thought: I wished I’d spent more time in English class. The big lesson was that I’d undervalued writing and communication skills as I made my way through school. In hindsight that was a mistake.

It’s something I’ve written about before. I wished I’d done things a little differently and invested more time and energy on those skills.

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There’s No Such Thing As Luck

I’m a lucky guy.

I’m truly grateful for the many moments, coincidences and random events that lead me to where I am today.

So, if I’m so lucky, why do I say there’s no such thing?

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Who Am I Writing For?

Having a discussion with someone and the concept of who (not what) I’m writing for came to mind.

This personal blog is easy: I’m writing purely for myself, and anyone that cares to pay attention is welcome to do so. Similarly, everyone else that cares to ignore it is also more than welcome to do that, too.

No, this is more about my professional writing efforts over at Ask Leo!.

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Why I Donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation

I just signed up for a monthly cash donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), increasing my support of that organization.

I want to share a little about why.

I’m not expecting anyone who reads this to follow suit … though of course, it’d be great if you did. What am expecting is that if you’ve read this far you’re open to thinking about the issues at hand, and taking action that you feel is appropriate in the face of changes in the current political climate.

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Our Precious Ideas

Our ideas are precious, especially to ourselves.

However it is that we arrive at them, we come to believe that they have immense value – so much so that we often consider them more than mere ideas or opinions, but elevate them to “The Truth”.

Our ideas make the leap from opinion to fact.

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Is There … Hope?

Yes, there is always hope. Hope is not a binary, yes/no condition. Hope is not absolute.

When we ask whether or not there is hope, what we’re really asking is “how much hope is there?”

When it comes to our new president-elect, many people seem to be reacting in binary fashion – all or nothing, joy or despair, parties or riots.

It’s not that clear. Not at all.

Even I have seen some glimmers of, dare I say it – hope – in recent days.

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Placing Blame

As you can imagine there’s a lot of finger pointing today. It’ll continue for some time to time, I’m sure.

What it brings to mind is something that I read not that long ago with respect to blame.

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Be The Change…

I’m dumbfounded. I’m ashamed. I’m embarrassed.

I’m dumbfounded by the results. Like many I never thought someone this clearly unqualified for the job stood a chance of getting it.

I’m ashamed of the results. “We the people” are not at all who I thought were were. I am ashamed of the fact that so many people honestly, truly believe that someone who speaks to the worst in human nature would be the better choice to lead this country.

I’m embarrassed by the results. Nothing more publicly demonstrates what “we the people” really are than who we elect to lead us. We’ve just confirmed every outrageous stereotype of “the ugly american” to the rest of the world. As a people we are more like him than not. And that’s embarrassing.

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