The New Year

By Jim Selman | Bio

The last 10 years seems to me to have been a long decade. I know that time is supposed to  ‘speed up’ as we get older, but the “Millennium” celebrations, Y2K and all the hype about the 21st century seems like ancient history. A decade ago, we still weren’t at war in two countries, 9/11 hadn’t happened, George Bush was still promising a bipartisan administration, climate change was still a bit of an arcane scientific debate for most of us, New Orleans was still having a non-stop party and Google was a minor start-up. YouTube didn’t exist at the turn of the century, eBay and Amazon were still babies, and the real estate bubble was just beginning. Steve Jobs had recently returned to Apple after spending 13 years with NeXT, the iPod and iTunes were concept just beginning to be developed and the iPhone wasn’t even in sight.

We were all younger and, I think, generally more optimistic than we are today. We’ve lost a lot of our innocence in only 10 years. From Al Qaeda to Bernie Madoff, we’re waking up to the realization that the world is not our oyster and that the American Dream is just a dream if we aren’t responsible for it and act upon it.

Personally, I think the saddest thing that has happened to us in the past decade is the political and ideological polarization of our nation. I don’t

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Dreaming of a Dark Christmas

By Jim Selman | Bio

I am one of the folks who love Christmas. I am not particularly sentimental, nor am I into elaborate decorating or gift-giving. I just like the music and the general shift in mood that seems to come with the season. I recognize, however, that not everyone is ‘happy’ around Christmas time. This is the season for lots of ‘relapses’ in 12-Step programs, a ‘blip’ in suicides, and (of course) the usual problems associated with too many parties and too much alcohol. Whatever the reasons, there is definitely a dark side to Christmas.

As I’ve grown older, I see more clearly how difficult this time of year can be for many people. For many families, Christmas is about children and ‘Baby Jesus’. But for some, there is a sense of failure and defeat in not having ‘enough’ to participate in the economic gift-giving juggernaut: for others, a kind of ‘reactivation’ associated with family reunions and memories of Christmas past. Some experience a kind of generic depression associated with too many people

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A Taste of One’s Quality: 3 Rules for Good Temperament (Part 2)

By Stuart James Whitley | Bio

Continuing on from yesterday’s post….

2. Be patient
As the Biblical injunction provides, all things good come to those who wait. This precondition for good temperament has two elements to it: time and wisdom. Part of wisdom is the understanding that active listening is a form of generosity, a key element in a mature temperament. Waiting for the other point of view, the various possible perspectives, or even the depletion of emotion, takes discipline.

Deferring

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A Taste of One’s Quality: 3 Rules for Good Temperament

By Stuart James Whitley | Bio

Always a fan of pith & substance, when I wrote out the three rules for a good living in my last post (Wolf’s Theorem), it occurred to me that the same formula might apply to the development of good temperament. In common parlance, ‘temperament’ is the kind of person we are. One supposes it’s what Shakespeare had in mind when he bid Hamlet say: “Come, give us a taste of your quality.” (Act II, Scene ii)

Temperament is more formally defined in the Oxford

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Dealing with Vision Difficulties & Computers

Many of us–the vast majority of Boomers in fact–deal with the trials and tribulations of vision loss. Corrective lenses address some issues, but not all. Reading glasses can help focus on things within 12 to 18 inches. Progressive lenses allow for relatively natural vision for anything that is close, far or in between. And HD lenses, offering the latest in technological improvements, provide maximum clarity at all distances, reduce distortion and increase your field of vision (as compared

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Second-Guessing

By Jim Selman | Bio

Over the past few years, I have written about how life in our society is increasingly becoming a ‘spectator sport’. I am again reminded of this as I listen to week after week of pundits second-guessing President Obama and other leaders as if their points of view are a) true, b) somehow contributing to a civil public discourse, and c) honest and not contrived to produce controversy or provoke conflict and drama. I am not naïve: I am aware that the media is in the business of creating and satisfying audiencesand that drama, conflict and controversy sell more than relatively straight-forward information. Personally, I’ve managed to disconnect from the mainstream media channels about 90%, but even so the conversations are persuasive whether we’re getting them first or second-hand. If my observation about all of us is valid that we’re becoming spectators rather than being active participants in the democratic process, then the question becomes what can we do about it? As an example, a majority of us voted for a President and before the ink was dry we began to hear daily ‘score cards’ about his ‘popularity’ and is he doing a good or a bad job. Mostly we’re second-guessing his decisions and undermining his (or anyone’s) capacity to lead. Imagine what it would be like if you got married and then had a daily report by all your neighbors of how the marriage was going and how you were doing as a spouse. Either you’d have to stop listening or you’d end up reacting to the feedback to the point where you are a pawn of public opinion and no longer an actor in the relationship. I admire any leader’s capacity to balance sage advice and counsel from those committed to making things work and their ability to ‘screen’ out all the ‘devil’s advocates’ who have no other commitments than to destroy whatever possibilities may exist for change and/or to forward their own points of view.  Lately there is a back-and-forth argument about whether the President is being tough enough on Wall Street. Frankly, I don’t know what his longer-term game plan is, but I would bet the story isn’t finished. He is fighting wars on a dozen fronts. He must pick his battles. He must be strategic. If any president were to declare war on Wall Street, it is not clear who will win and, as has been the case with healthcare, we will, in all likelihood, lose the opportunity to correct and clean up the mess we’ve created.

There is very little (if any) benefit to second-guessing our leaders. If we have personal priorities and requests, there are lots of ways for them to be communicated. There are lots of forums for discourse and debate that are not daily ‘spectacles’.
 
We remember the story of Emperor Nero watching Rome burn. We forget that, for years before it burned, the population was drawn to the Coliseum to watch the gladiators live or die. They voted on the life

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