My Side of the Fence

The danger isn't going too far. It's that we don't go far enough.

Hillary, Trump, McDonnell and the smell test

Plenty of outrage over the past week concerning the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling concerning our former Governor.  You remember, the one who got the free Rolex, trips and cash from a guy who had business before the state?  Turns out that such activity isn't illegal….pretty much the entire political establishment pitched in to ensure this outcome.  They were scared to death that the gravy train might end.  And then we have Hillary and her email server.  Despite a forever inquiry and Hillary clearly having lied about the entire thing, the FBI announced that they found plenty of evidence of wrong-doing but no intent – so they elected not to prosecute.  My lawyer friends might argue the particulars but that's the end result.  She setup and used her own email server to conduct government business….and lied about it.  Oh, but there were no classified emails…oh, wait.  But we turned over all of the emails….well, not so much.  Even a local-yokel Councilperson knows better.

And yet there are those that are shocked that some large number of Americans support Trump.  "How can these people support Trump?" many of my friends out there in the world moan.  As I read the papers and watch the talkers I start to wonder why *more* Americans don't support him.  That's right.  Read that again.  The American people are smart and, as a group, make pretty good decisions.  However, look at the options on offer from the two political parties.  Americans know when they are getting taken for a ride and, as a result of that awareness they may well hand the ball to Donald Trump who really is a "Republican in name only".

Now, many of you that read this will wonder if I've lost my mind.  Ask yourself this:  what part of our governing institutions are worthy of acclaim?  The General Assembly hasn't had the fortitude to govern for some time now.  If you doubt that, fire up your ride and drive to Washington at 7:00am on any weekday.  Get back to me when you get there.  They only passed ethics legislation when the "gifts" got to be so outrageous that they were – at long last – embarrassed.  Congress has achieved exactly zero for the past 10 years.  Not a single budget.  Hell, they can't even fund a defense against the Zeka virus that kills babies!!!!!  The American people might be willing to tolerate a bozo-laden institution that provides meaningful outcomes – "yeah, they're idiots but they do good work" – but not one from which they feel increasingly disconnected.

They start to feel like they're being taken for a ride.  As my friend Mr. Stokley put it: it doesn't pass the smell test.  When things stop passing the smell test the people go shopping for new things.  Enter DTrump.

Bye-Bye Facebook

Mobile phones have become central to what most people do all day long.  Walk in any restaurant or coffee shop and half the people might as well be someplace else.  Go to a concert and you will see among the most ridiculous things ever: rows and rows of people holding their phones up, eyes locked onto the phone screen, recording the concert….at a live event.  I often wonder: Why bother going to a live event?  Why go have coffee with someone if you're going to ignore each other?  Just go to lunch with yourself or, better yet, just sit in your office and stare at your phone.  You'll save money.

For my part I admit that, while I resisted being as obnoxious as others, I was doing the same thing.  So what changed?  Well, a couple of weeks ago I was sitting in a restaurant and nearly every table was occupied by people completely buried in their phone.  I could have run around naked and nobody would have noticed.  I know this goes on all day long and, maybe it was the moment, maybe my frame of mind but it struck me.  A vision of pure absurdity.  40 humans, most of whom might as well be sitting on the moon\ for all the good being in that restaurant did for them.

So I did the only thing I could do: I deleted Facebook off my phone.  Yes, yes….that's stern medicine but the fact of the matter is that Facebook wasn't adding anything to my own sanity on a day by day basis.  I suddenly had all this free time to talk to other people…if only they weren't on their phones.  

Oddly, this also changed how other people interacted with me.  I'd go to lunch, sit down and look at the menu.  Select what I wanted and then look over my menu – and my lunch date was still staring at her phone.  I waited.  She looked up.  I could see her eyes dart around my side of the table.  Searching in vain for my phone.  She smiled and put her phone down.  Processing what was going on and figuring out what to say all at the same time.  I've done the same thing 3 or 4 times now and the outcome is pretty much the same every time.  When we, as a family, have dinner we have a thing where we pile all the phones up in the middle of the table.  Nobody pulls their phone out.  When we're at to dinner, if you pull your phone out of the pile, you pay!

Now, I run a technology company so I'm no Luddite and I do enjoy the connections that Facebook provides – especially now that I've mercilessly cut down my friends list and unfollowed people who routinely irritate me.  However, on a day by day basis, Facebook doesn't make me happy.  It drags me back into high school – level baloney.  I don't need it.  So, what I've decided to do is delete Facebook off my phone during weekdays and if I want I'll install it on my phone for the weekends.  That seems like a reasonable compromise….I'll let you know how it goes.

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