The truth is, None of Us Can Breathe

So, please mark December 5, 2014 in your calendars. It is the day that I agreed with George W. Bush, when he said the Eric Garner grand jury results were “hard to understand.” Sure, we look at the video and say “how the heck can a cop get away with choking out a man on a sidewalk for a non-violent offense?” If anybody other than a police officer had killed Eric Garner, this case would be a slam dunk.

Instead, the system worked to protect cops at the expense of those they are supposed “to protect and serve,” just as it did in Ferguson. And really, any of us could have been Eric Garner. Any of us could have been the person breaking a minor law and ending up  — more or less — publicly executed. And let’s just face the truth: the odds of that happening are simply higher if you are a person of color. Then, you might get a public execution for picking up a toy gun or some other stupid pretext, or you might end up being kidnapped by cops in your own yard. Furthermore, it would be stupid for me to pretend any longer that the same rules apply equally to both blacks and whites.

One thing that gives me hope is that many people are feeling like they can’t breathe. Like they’d better stand up and do something. And even though a full 1% of our population is either in prison or on probation — think about it, one out of every hundred kids you went to school with, one of every hundred people you ever knew from work, one out of a hundred of everybody who was ever your neighbor, now a criminal — even though that’s true, it’s not the only thing that makes it hard to breathe.

A lot of us understand that freedom is more than not being executed in public, is more than not actually being in prison. It’s not much good to be free if you can’t afford the trappings of liberty: food, a roof over your head, medical care when you need it, little picky things like that. And sure, we had some very good employment data yesterday! There are more jobs, more jobs in more different industries, fewer unemployed people. All those are good things. However, median weekly wage is still within a few bucks of where it was in 2007, a shade under $800. Have your expenses gone up since 2007? Mine have. Take a look at the rest of those charts. Somehow, long term unemployment is down, but labor force participation is also down. Isn’t that interesting.

So yeah, the middle class can’t get ahead. People below the middle class aren’t even doing that well. And even though there is evidence that higher wages wouldn’t cause corporate profits to collapse, there are people who consider wage growth to be a problem. Yeah. It’s a real problem when people can work their way out of poverty instead of deeper into it; you might have to treat them like human beings.

In a very large nutshell, there’s laundry list of reasons why “I can’t breathe” resonates more than “Hands up, don’t shoot” ever could.


Uber Alles: I’ve given up trying to write something about that not-cab company that thinks it is above the law (maybe that’s how they came up with the name?). They didn’t bother to actually suspend operations until a couple days after the judge said stop it, and then they whined about how this cost Nevada 1000 [part time, contractor, no benefits, oh yeah and provide your own car] jobs.  I’ve already been shouted down about how I don’t know what I’m talking about, and yet a Nevada judge used many thoughts similar to mine in his ruling: there’s no promise that Uber drivers can be held to the same public safety standards as cab drivers (commercial level insurance, DOT physicals, ongoing vehicle maintenance/condition).

In Closing: alert the media, give a kid a job and he’s less likely to become a crook; literary words; a car, a car, my kingdom for a car; which big cat are you?; diet; circumcision; Democrats.

You can’t breathe either? Here’s some music for you.

Cognitive Dissonance

Hey Christians, can you do me a favor and stop pretending this song has anything to do with Jesus?

Ok, yeah, Light of the World. I get it. The lost without him thing. I get that too.

But there’s no way around the fact that none of you can think of a reason it would be appropriate to say “How can it be wrong when it feels so right” to Jesus.

In Closing: more nonsense they want to stick in the immigration “reform” bill; information coming out confirming what some people already suspected, Bank of America was actively trying to screw underwater homeowners; sociological research; and cheetahs.

Practice Makes Perfect

I have a degree in music. Many hours of my life have been spent practicing piano, voice, and flute. Many more hours of my life have been spent leading others in rehearsal. Moreover, I have spent yet more hours of my life practicing physical activities such as yoga, weightlifting, dance, and drama. I know a few things about effective practice and rehearsal.

My current occupation has skills that must be practiced as well. We even have scripts to read and use. Whenever someone has to explain something many times, a script naturally develops. If you check in on a math teacher’s classroom, you will find that she has her own way of explaining concepts, and that she does it almost exactly the same way every time. She may not know it, but she has developed a script. Even when she gets derailed by a question, she will give an answer and then return to the unwritten script. Some people think they are above the use of scripts: “it sounds stilted” or “that’s not me.”  Actors use scripts every day: they work to make them not sound stilted, and they are paid to be someone other than themselves.

Just like some movies are better than others, some scripts are better than others. The math teacher in room 101 may have better scripts than the teacher in room 102, and her students learn more as a result. Which would you rather use: an organic but untested script, or a carefully developed and tested script?

Realtors generally don’t like to use scripts, or at least ones they are aware are scripts. Real estate trainers, on the other hand, are big on the practice and use of scripts. Trainers insist — and rightly so — that these scripts are proven to work, and will practice they will sound natural. However, first you have to learn the script. This goes beyond knowing what the words are and what they mean. It must be internalized, so the next line is the most natural thing you could possibly say: yes, just like “who’s there” naturally follows “knock knock.”

Recently, a trainer advocated “internalizing” by reading the script as quickly as possible and/or in funny voices and accents. I could not disagree more with this approach. The natural tendency is to perform in the same manner that we practice. For example, I once had to break a performer of doing a funny walk between music stands. He’d always done it that way in the practice room, and now he was unconsciously doing it on stage!

Practice itself does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.

In closing: 500 new fairy tales; fact checking; the TSA is a security risk; national debt; an excuse to keep people in prison past their sentences; federal deficit; and Too Big To Fail.