Whorled View

February 15, 2007

Dealing with jerks.

Filed under: Communications,Sociology — lullabyman @ 11:18 am

When it came to jerks I used to think “just you wait … someday you’ll die and then see the video of your life and realize what a jerk you are – and then you’ll feel really bad”. No anymore. Maybe it’s cynicism, growing pragmatism, or maybe I just don’t care anymore, or perhaps justice just isn’t so important to me anymore. Regardless, I don’t think the after-life will provide any chances for smugness.

Chances are that if someone does get a complete overview of thier life after they die, they’ll still think they were in the right when they weren’t. Regardless of their eternal destination they will probably be self-satisfied wherever they are, as they would eventually feel uncomfortable spending eternity with people who were better than them. Besides, although justice may be met, those who plan on feeling smug about it probably will suffer justice for their unrighteous desire to be smug.

I’ve also gone through the pathetic “I know you’re a jerk, and knowing that is good enough for me” phase, and the spiteful “just you wait, what comes around goes around” phase. Both perspectives provide hollow solace though, and they’re both just a little despicable.

But we all observe this, right? You see the victims of henious crimes and they fall into one of two groups – those who seek revenge, and those who don’t. The second group, the “forgivers” who can let go of feelings for revenge, are a rarity because forgiveness for henious acts is so contrary to our nature as human beings. I don’t think any other species does that, although they may carry out vengeful acts out of anger I don’t think it is out of a need to implement justice in order to maintain a certain order or balance. That is a uniquely human need.

But those who master their desire for revenge seem to be the only ones who can carry-on without being consumed with anger. I don’t know if I could do that in some circumstances and I never want to find out if I could.

So why am I rambling on about this? Because it’s a constant daily struggle with me and I wish it wasn’t. I wish I was entirely selfless simply because those who are selfless seem to be the most at peace with the world. And yet that seems strange that my desire for selflessness stems from a selfish desire to be at peace with the world.

Somewhere in there I know that love plays a critical if not the central part. The scriptures certainly seem to indicate that and real life examples of peaceable people all seem to bear that out. And it’s hard to love a jerk, or a person who acts like a jerk. How do you do it?

I had a close freind who was at peace with the world and once he said to me that when dealing with jerks he’d look into their eyes and try to see them as a sibling and say in his heart “I love you”. He said that when he did that his composure changed, enough so that the “jerk” naturally responded in like manner and there were able to find common ground and the “jerk” wasn’t so much a jerk anymore. Of course you have to be in person for this technique to work – and with email, and phone calls, that technique just isn’t possible.

Indeed we’re all jerks about one thing or another, and in every case selfishness seems to be the root cause of it. Which of course makes sense since selfishness is the opposite of love-motivated selflessness.

Stephen Covey says the key to dealing with jerks (not in so many words) is to first seek to understand then seek to be understood. I’ve found that works almost always, but not if the other person doesn’t trust your sincerity. Covey then says to not expect a reciprocation and to even make it clear that you don’t expect any reciprocation on their part – only that you want to understand them, above all other things. Again, the principle enabling this whole technique is a disarming display of selflessness.

It never fails to amaze me how many salespeople are jerks. Apparently being a jerk produces results so for many of them it becomes the modus operandi. Same goes for many managers. Covey’s approach often seems to work with them, but when it doesn’t it’s time to move on.

The worst thing to do though is to lower yourself to their level and be a jerk yourself. It simply provides no useful long term results, even if the short term results are temporarily satisfying.

Okay enough of my rambling. Time to take my own medicine (I’m dealing with some jerks right now).

February 8, 2007

Energy conscious and cold cold cold!

Filed under: Politics — lullabyman @ 3:42 am

I saw a PBS special (or was it a CPAN thing? – can’t remember) recently called “Peak Oil”. If you get a chance watch it.

Let me repeat myself: If you get a chance watch it.

Apparently in about 5 years we (mankind) will reach a point in oil production called “Peak Oil”. That’s when we’ve tapped pretty much everything there is to tap. From then on oil production will decrease. It will be gradual, and over the next 30-50 years oil production will drop at about the same rate it has increased up until now. Of course all this is theoretical, but it was very convincing and based on as about solid evidence as anything that I’ve heard.

It sounded more believable than global warming – and I believe in global warming. I became a believer about 5 – 10 years ago. Even before then however I thought that prudence was the best policy and have disapproved of the negligent attitudes that our government has had toward the issue.

Anyway, Peak Oil is a very closely related topic to the global warming topic, but in my opinion it is far more frightening. Then there’s global dimming – which is apparently far more statistically significant, and perhaps more influential on the world’s weather patterns than gloabal warming. The upshot of global dimming is that it is likely easily purged from the atmosphere within a short time, greenhouse gases aren’t though. What’s worse, when Peak Oil is reached then global dimming will likely go down while greenhouse gases remain or increase.

It is now known that the phenomena known as global dimming has counteracted the effects of global warming to a very significant degree. The result is that when the global dimming decreases then the earth will become very very hot very quickly. And that seems to be right around the corner.

The economic impact of Peak Oil is even far more significant. I used to work in a PV Solar Cell factory as an engineer. I know the alternative energy market industry, and believe me when I tell you it sucks. Nothing comes close to petroleum when it comes to bang per buck. Coal is the closest thing – but it has such a long way to go. Bottom line: when petroleum becomes more scarce (only 5 years away) all hell will break loose.

It kind of puts the Iraq confict into a whole new light. I don’t know all the alterior motives that may have existed for going into Iraq, but if we’re in for what it sounds like Peak Oil will give us then we would have been stupid to not secure a large portion of the middle east for ourselves to keep from being financially utterly destroyed after Peak Oil production is reached. Maybe we really did go in there to secure for ourselves a little future. Maybe, however unpopular it is now, in 5-10 years we’ll be very glad that we did.

So here it is, unbelievably cold … what do I do? We’ve dressed our kids in thermals and thick clothing. I’m wearing 3 pairs of thermals, warm clothes and a turtleneck sweater. We keep the temperature in the mid 60’s and let it get real cold at night. We have a pellet stove hooked directly into our forced air system that I plan on using next year.

I’ve been doing a lot of programming lately. Thank heavens the orders for kiosks have slowed down, as my shop is freezing and I don’t want to fire it up. Too expensive to keep warm when it gets down to the sub-zero temps (F).

So sadly I’m incredibly reliant on heating oil, and there’s little I can do about it. At a minimum I do think an extra hefty gas guzzler tax should be waged on gas guzzlers. Yes, that’s coming from me, a Republican that hates big government and beauracratic red tape. I also think they should triple the incentives given to adopt non-fossil-fuel technologies. Don’t give the money directly to the energy companies to develop new enery technologies – instead give it to comsumers who will invest in them. It should be financed with the gas guzzler tax.

Huge incentives should be given to make homes better insulated. Public awareness campaigns should advocate dressing warmly and keeping home temperatures at a lower setting in the winter. Public transportation needs to be made more inviting and convenient. All these things need to happen, and most of them aren’t even being discussed.

And no more Hydrogen Economy flap. Where do you think the hydrogen comes from? It comes from either water that is split by fossil fuel technologies, or directly from fossil fuel itself. H2 Economy is a clap trap and the public has been all too engaging.

And on top of that we need to secure for ourselves a mutually beneficial relationship with the bulk of Middle East countries as we prepare for this transistion.

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