Uber Drivers are a Source of Ideas?

Yesterday I wrote about an Uber driver whose wife Skypes China daily, and an old friend immediately accused me of being too dependent on Uber for stimulating ideas.

And, immediately this morning, I met another driver who provoked me with his amazing story and perspective.

He is a 46 year old Ecuadorian who has been in the US for 25 years. His wife is a nurse and they have raised three successful children. He had little education but was good with his hands and loves to work with tools. He bought his first house in Queens in 2000 and today owns two large houses—one three-family, and one  four-family. He owes about $1 million on the mortgages and each house is worth about $3 million. On paper, his net worth is about $5 million.

I asked if he was planning to retire. “No way!” he said. I am too young and I like to work.

He added “in today’s world it takes $100 million to be rich, and I am nowhere near there yet!”

WOW! Some of us who think we have done well may be have some more thinking to do!


Tribalism Despite Social Media??

As deep as our human need for oxygen is our need to belong to some group of other humans. In this modern world the meaning of ‘belong’ seems to be changing but perhaps not enough to reduce tensions among humans.

Most of us learned as kids about evolution. We probably came from the oceans and slowly evolved, shed our tails, and learned to use our noggins to solve problems and peer into the future. Strangely, though, our ability to evolve our emotions, feelings and inner needs has lagged behind our physical evolution. We still go on killing each other, presumably to gain the other guys’ turf and/or feel safer at night.

Meanwhile, there are amazing things going on in the world, increasing connectedness among humans who live FAR apart. For example, an Uber driver the other day told me that his wife, who is very lonely in New York, speaks every day with her mother and sister in China via Skype at no cost.

WOW! Multiply that idea by 7 billion people—who in theory could do much the same thing—and you have connectivity strong enough to make all earthlings into one tribe. That idea may have to wait until Martians threaten Earth in some visible, scary way?

But, so far social media has not yet become a link among humans sufficient to satisfy humans’ basic tribal needs and instincts.

How might that become possible?

The Chinese lady in NY at least partially overcame her loneliness by speaking {and seeing on Skype} to her sister and mother. Still, her instinctive need to smell and feel their breath, their familiar skin and touch in a loving way still remains elusive—perhaps some genius may yet figure out how to do that?

Short of that, social media appears perversely to have magnified the ability to be connected while creating a greater expectation for such a feeling. Having failed to fully satisfy our need for connection, social media leaves too many people effectively worse off.

The roots of tribalism are Fear, Food, and Fondness.

Perhaps, if Facebook and Twitter etc. could address and fulfill the need for the three Fs, more disconnected people today could discover a new workable form of tribalism, which might discourage more people from continuing old fashioned tribalism in such a counterproductive way, for example, in the Middle East.

There is no question that the power of telecommunications, along with social media, are the main overpowering new elements in the world we have to evolve into.

It seems to me that, if we use our noggins the way nature intended, we may be able to turn those factors to our human advantage, sooner than later.


Beware What You Wish For!

If you had asked me a few days ago, did I favor removal of Trump from the Presidency, I am quite sure I would have said YES!

Since then, while he has done nothing to change my mind, common sense entered my worried head and I now think ‘we’ all should have second thoughts on that question. Do not worry. I have not gone soft on Trump.

IF Trump is dumped, Pence obviously becomes President. He appears to be a steady, calm man, but his views on too many subjects are too far to the right: e.g. abortion, taxes, health care, immigration etc. AND, he and the Republican leaders in Congress likely would get along beautifully and enact what they can NOT with Trump as President.

On the other hand, if Trump remains in office, he in all likelihood will continue to roil the waters with his nutty tweets, alternative facts etc. That will continue to get in the way of much that the Republican leadership wants to achieve in Congress. And, on balance we will continue to experience three more years of fatiguing wrangling but probably less long term damage than if Pence became President.

AND, an even bigger reason to leave Trump in office now is that with him and the Republican leadership prancing around the maypole, the chances grow stronger that the electorate in 2018 may have become so disgusted, that they will turn a lot of Republicans out of office, which could lessen future political damage in 2019-2020. But, if Pence is President during that period, things could become boringly predictable and conservative, which quite likely would help congressional Republicans in the elections in 2018 and 2020.

I strongly suspect that a lot of folks will disagree with me because they so hate Trump and in different ways trust Pence even less, but it cannot hurt to give real consideration to this thought process.

In addition, the odds still are that Trump will remain in office without any new  ‘forbearance ’ from Democrats, to the point that the Republican leadership may themselves take the bull by the horns and wrestle Trump out of office, just to get to the Pence option?

Strange world that we live in?

The Brain of Stephen Hawking Speaks Loud and Clear

Perhaps the only person alive who captures the world’s attention as the smartest person since Einstein is Hawking.

His recent observation that MAN should hasten to begin colonizing another habitable planet—anywhere and however reachable—before it is too late and all the product of man’s invention, science and genius is swept up and away from Earth in tidal waves of global warming must become a number one goal and objective IN THE NEXT 100 YEARS!

If that is not a wakeup call, I do not know what could be?

Of course, there is some hyperbole in his 100 years. But, whether it be 87 or 213, it is less than a blink even in the scale of human time and needs to be taken very seriously!

Hawking apparently did not specify why he thought the problem was so immediate or so tragic.

Immediate has, of course, a lot to do with the priority of really attacking the problem. If our national leadership continues to disbelieve that global warming has anything to do with human behavior, then we are doomed for sure if Hawking is right. Given only about 100 years, it is unclear whether there is anything man can do enough of in that time to make a difference.

Then there is the question of who cares? If 100 years from now the cataclysms occur and we become like what we see on Mars today, who would be left to either know or care—here or wherever?

One World Government?

On August 10, 2010 I wrote that there likely would be ONE worldwide government by 3010 that would help manage life for the benefit of all citizens of the globe. I added then that one of the main functions of such government would be the allocation of global resources and expenditures in support of global goals.

The achievement of such a governance process obviously would have been the ultimate elimination of local global conflicts and military clashes. That most likely would have come about as a consequence of a real global need both to desist from the waste of local conflicts and focus global efforts on ultimate universe survival.

In the last few months, we in the US have been up in arms about Russian interventions in our democratic election processes. Very recently the same problem occurred in the French election, though it fortunately did not prove decisive.

It probably never occurred to you that those interventions may in due course lead to a good thing: global governance for everyone’s benefit.

Historically, elections were localized because of obvious limitations on communications. Today, there are essentially no such limitations. Digital communications penetrate all corners of the earth.

At the same time, governments everywhere have realized that the politics of another nation will have massive consequences beyond that country’s borders. The obvious next step is a degree of participation in the internal politics of other countries.

Because we celebrate freedom of speech, we have a hard time saying we are not open to hearing whatever we hear, whether the source is CNN or Le Monde. Witness Barack Obama’s endorsement of Emmanuel Macron for a more positive version of multi-national politics.

We are still a long way from 3010, and this entanglement of democracy processes across national boundaries is still very young. The interventions are naturally, and also properly, still worrisome to some. I am not suggesting for an instant that Trump’s alleged campaign effort to invite Russian intervention into our election was legitimate or a good thing. I absolutely do not think that at all.

But I do think that we should begin to think where all this is headed and how to manage it in the best way for the long term.

3010 is after all really not that far off!

Deaf Symphonies

An interesting, thing is going on today all around the world.

The other day, I was at a dinner with several interesting people—experts in science, the Middle East, social sciences, criminal justice, and children’s issues. Though they were mainly conversing about the need to get more young people to understand the sciences and think scientifically, each expert was pretty much singing independently—partly because their average age was about 88 and almost everyone was more than a bit deaf. The result was independent strands of thoughts trying to weave themselves into a symphony of understanding.

It occurred to me in the next days that something similar happens on a larger global and national scale. Our political situation (both in the United States and the world as a whole) seems to be an ever rising crescendo of insanity and crisis. Unlike dinner table strands of thought, however, I suspect that the current state of conversations around the world is not so much a result of world leaders being unable to hear, but of their being unable to listen.

Consider Korea, Syria, France, Russia, the Mexican border, the US tax system, global warming, and US healthcare. All are important and complicated. All require a lot of hard thinking and serious consideration.

Often today it seems that the really serious issues are no longer receiving the disciplined thinking that they sorely need and deserve.

What can be done about that?

I have an idea.

Dinner party conversation does not need to reach a conclusion. It is sufficient that the participants go home better informed and a bit wiser.

Perhaps the leaders around the world could agree to devote sufficient time in public (on TV) to air and analyze each relevant issue at a single time in group settings that could shine light on that issue for them and the publics they serve.

That way, each issue might become better illuminated and all the parties might go away better informed—to the extent that they were capable of listening and taking on board new information.

Musical symphonies can be magical experiences.

And well informed and balanced conversations at a dinner table, or even on nightly news, can leave many people better off for the experience.

But when there is too much dissonance and if the various sounds and voices are not really heard, the result can be both meaningless and even counterproductive.

People who truly “talk together”, both HEARING and LISTENING, walk into better futures together.

March ON!