Saturday, January 18, 2020

Thoughts on Impeachment and Corruption

A Swiss friend of mine, Martin, has asked for my thoughts on the current impeachment of President Trump and the details surrounding it. Since these thoughts are far too long for a reasonable Facebook post, I’m sticking them up here. Enjoy! 😊

* * * * *

Hi Martin. Since you asked for my thoughts, I will share. Unfortunately, this post will be a fairly long one, since as with most things in life, neither this situation nor my thoughts regarding it are anything approaching black-and-white.

First of all, my thoughts on President Trump: I do not like the man. I didn’t vote for him in 2016, and I don’t plan to vote for him in 2020. I think he’s a jerk, and he definitely comes off as immature. In short, he is not the kind of person I want serving as President of the United States of America. (This could also be said for most of those who have run, in the past couple of decades. I really liked Mitt Romney in 2012, but I’ve even become disillusioned with him.)

That being said, I do agree with much of what he has done politically, certainly much more than I did with the actions of his predecessor. This is not to say that I disagree with everything that President Obama did, but as a social moderate and fiscal conservative, my positions frequently align more with Trump’s than Obama’s. Regardless, I fully recognize that the President is primarily a figurehead, and this does not change based on who is in office. But the current figurehead really has presided over a lot of great stuff, much of it to little fanfare. I believe this is due to the overarching liberal bias of mass media, mostly due to intolerant ultraliberals shouting down anyone who disagrees with them. (To be fair, ultraconservative media is just as bad.)

Now… as for the Biden/Shokin situation, there are two sides to every story, and Shokin’s side is extremely different than the narrative being pushed by the Left. Shokin has consistently claimed—both now and since 2016—that two active Burisma investigations were the reason for his dismissal. And like it or not, several facts surrounding his dismissal are suspiciously indicative of this. (This John Solomon piece is the most complete compilation I’ve found, but there are certainly other sources.) Obviously Shokin is operating in his own defense, so it’s not surprising that he would present a story that paints himself in the best light; but given the conflicting narratives, I don’t think an investigation is out of order.

So what does this mean from President Trump? Amidst continued cries of corruption—both past and present—he asked the new Ukrainian President to investigate the situation. There are two possibilities here:
  • President Trump wanted to dig up dirt on a political rival. Others have pointed out that Vice President Biden is no threat to President Trump’s reelection, which is definitely a reasonable assertion. It’s not like getting rid of Biden will leave the President without a viable challenger. If Biden falls, there are much more dangerous candidates behind him. However, this in itself does not disprove the alleged collusion.

  • President Trump—who, after all, was elected on an anti-corruption campaign—wanted to investigate corruption that coincidentally involved a political rival. I am not so naïve as to think he didn’t understand the political implications; that would be ridiculous. But the fact remains that just because an investigation into known corruption has the potential to implicate a political rival does not make that the purpose of the investigation.
Since posting this question, I have learned that many people complain that if President Trump is serious about fighting corruption, he shouldn’t be trying to reduce American aid that helps fight it. However, I immediately saw holes in that logic:
  • First, President Trump is a Republican, the party that emphatically favors low spending and high autonomy, both personal and national. Republicans are loathe to throw money at problems that are ultimately someone else’s responsibility, and slashing foreign aid is completely consistent with this.

  • Second, giving money to a corrupt government doesn’t mean the corruption is going to magically disappear. If the government is corrupt, they’re going to use our money however they like. (Here’s a decent piece I found on this phenomenon.)
Now, does any of this mean that President Trump is not guilty of exactly what he’s been accused of? Of course not. Does it mean that Vice President Biden is guilty of exactly what he’s been accused of? Nope, not a bit. But does it mean that investigating both situations—and both men—might be in the best interests of the people? I think so, yes. And ultimately, I would think that anyone with integrity would want to learn the truth (as best we can) about any alleged governmental corruption, regardless of the political party or even ambitions of the accused.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Coats

Alaïa python coat
a $17,540 coat that probably won’t keep
you as warm as a decent $50 one
So this morning, it’s like nine degrees outside. For those of you who use the metric system, that translates to like -56 centisomethings. For those of you who don’t care, that translates to “It’s cold.” Which got me thinking about the heavy, winter coat I put on so I could take out the trash without turning into a Drakesicle.

You’ll notice I didn’t say it’s a “warm” coat. It’s not. I’m guessing yours isn’t, either. If you stuck a meat thermometer in your “warm” coat right now, it would probably register something like the exact same temperature as the inside of your house, unless you’re outside, in which case it would probably be considerably colder. (Unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case shut up.) But chances are pretty good your coat is not warm.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m sure somewhere out there, there’s a coat that’s actually warm. When I was in high school, I had these things called electric socks that were like a little radiator on each foot. Each one had a pouch on the side, in which you were supposed to put a D battery and then walk around with these giant bulges sticking out of the sides of your pant legs, occasionally running into things because human evolution hasn’t yet produced the kinesthetic awareness that accounts for D batteries. But they were warm—so warm, in fact, that they practically burned my feet off. If I wanted to wear them at all, I had to wear two pairs of athletic socks beneath them, which further increased the size of my lower legs and resulted in me running into even more stuff. And to top it all off, these extra socks totally defeated the purpose of having the electric socks in the first place, since three pairs of thick socks will keep your feet pretty warm anyway.

Which brings me back to coats: they’re not warm.

You know what is warm?

You.

Seriously. You’re like a hundred degrees (metric: 26.5 parsecs). All things considered, that’s pretty darned hot. If it were 100˚ out, you wouldn’t need a coat. In fact, you’d probably be ready to head back into some air conditioning or a pool or something. But when it’s not 100˚ out—like when it’s one of those temperatures Snow Miser sings about—then you being 100˚ makes the 30, 20, 10, 5 degrees feel cold. Don’t believe me? Try it. Don’t wear a coat. Dress like a middle schooler waiting for the bus in shorts in the dead of winter because human evolution has caused middle schoolers to be idiots. Unless you’re currently a middle schooler (Hi, kids!), you’ll notice that it’s cold.

But penguins don’t notice, because their bodies lower their temperature to be more like the world around them. Same goes for lizards and fish and frogs and certain romance novel protagonists. Why? They’re not warm-blooded. We are. Like 100˚ warm.

So what do coats actually do, if they’re not warm? Well, if you went outside naked (notice I say “you”; I wouldn’t do it), you’d notice that whatever temperature it is outside, the degrees in your body want to be that temperature because, you know, science. If it’s 30 ˚ outside, science wants your body to also be like 30˚, so the degrees start breaking free and running away like parents from the average children’s YouTube channel. By making the degrees leave your body, science thinks that maybe they’ll make the air like 30.00001˚, and your body will also be like 30.00001˚, and everyone will be very happy because equilibrium. But science is dumb. It doesn’t understand that your body won’t be very happy, because it will be very dead. Which is why we have coats.

Coats basically break both the parents’ legs and the remote control, so they’re stuck watching the YouTube video whether they like it or not. They’re humans’ way of saying “Go home, science. You’re drunk,” which science doesn’t like very much, but it can’t do much about it because the parents’ legs are broken and science doesn’t have arms or legs in the first place. The coat insulates the warm you from the cold air, so those degrees have a much harder time getting out. This keeps the air close to your body closer to the 100˚ inside your body, so you feel warmer than if science had its way with you.

Science is weird.

Friday, September 4, 2015

A Year Later…

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I posted to my blog. I guess I’ve just been so busy on Facebook that I haven’t bothered to post anything here. What strikes me as tremendously unfortunate is that I’m compelled to post on roughly the same topic as my last post, and for very much the same reason. Hopefully I can find something else that warrants a long enough post to be worth this blog’s while. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this entry.

As many people probably know, the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, Kim Davis, was recently jailed for having the audacity to uphold the Constitutions of both the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, as per her oath of office. Of course, since people defending the Constitution cannot be tolerated in 21st-century Amerikkka, millions of people are supporting her illegal incarceration at the hands of a rogue district judge and a Supreme Court that recently ruled the Constitution null and void. One of these millions is my wife’s uncle Hank, who is a wonderful person, but stated the following on a thread on my Facebook timeline:
“The court ruling is based on the 14th amendment (ratified in 1868), which further clarified the 10th amendment. The 14th amendment prohibits state laws that restrict civil rights.
“The relevant passage is ‘No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ “The right to marry has long been recognized as a civil right to which every citizen is entitled. In 1967 in Virginia, the supreme court struck down a state law that prohibited interracial marriages. There is no substantive difference in this case. State law cannot prohibit marriage - even or same sex couples. “The supreme court did not ‘pass’ a law. Instead they nullified blatant discrimination and are enforcing the constitution. The county is not a religious institution, and is required to follow the law. The court eliminated one more form of illegal discrimination, and the confused clerk should resign her position if she wants to discriminate and fulfill her oath of supporting the constitution.
As my response is so long, I am doing what I have done several times in the past: posting it to blog for legibility’s sake. So Hank, the rest of this post is for you.

Hank, there are a few problems with your comment. I’ll attempt to deal with each separately.

1) I’m not sure how the 14th Amendment clarifies the 10th in any way relevant to Obergefell v. Hodges. The 10th Amendment states, in its entirety:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
I can see where the portion of the 14th Amendment you cited can be construed as relevant to the 10th, but since Davis wasn’t doing that to anyone (nor was anyone doing it to Obergefell in the case that started this whole mess), this passage is also irrelevant.

2) The 14th Amendment *does* support Kim Davis, specifically in §3:
“No person shall … hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath … as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
Not only has Davis not done this, but there are five relevant individuals who have done so and are somehow not in jail: namely, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan; each of whom signed the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, which explicitly states that The US Constitution is trumped by any random individual’s personal opinion. Per the very amendment you’ve cited, their commission as Supreme Court justices is null and void, as is their ridiculous opinion.

3) You are correct that “The right to marry has long been recognized as a civil right to which every citizen is entitled.” However, that does not give individuals the right to enter into extramarital unions and have said unions recognized as marriages. The basis of contractual law in America is the fat that words have meaning. So if, for instance, I were to include in a contract the sentence “For the purposes of this contract, the word ‘table’ means ‘chair’,” that contract would automatically be null and void. Such is the case with people who attempt to claim that “For the purposes of this contract, the word ‘marriage’ means ‘garriage”.” It is equally illegal and must be struck down.

4) You are also correct that “In 1967 in Virginia, the supreme court struck down a state law that prohibited interracial marriages.” However, you are absolutely incorrect that “There is no substantive difference in this case.” The case you cite is Loving v. Virginia, which took issue with the Racial Integrity Act of 1924—specifically, the portion which states:
“It shall hereafter be unlawful for any white person in this State to marry any save a white person, or a person with no other admixture of blood than white and American Indian [criteria for what determines race omitted for brevity]. All laws heretofore passed and now in effect regarding the intermarriage of white and colored persons shall apply to marriages prohibited by this act.”
This very document proves its own invalidity: it recognizes the union of a white person and a black person as a marriage, which as SCOTUS correctly stated in the majority opinion, is “one of the ‘basic civil rights of man’.” However, this is not the case in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the relevant passage in the Constitution of the state of Ohio was as follows:
“Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”
Unlike the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which rendered interracial marriages illegal, the Ohio Constitution did not render same-sex “marriages” illegal; it merely reiterated what everyone—including the Supreme Court—already understood, that the word “marriage” is defined as “a union between one man and one woman.” Both Obergefell and his boyfriend, John Arthur, were more than welcome to marry; they just couldn’t enter into a union that doesn’t meet the definition of marriage and expect the state to recognize it as such.

5) You claim that “The supreme court … nullified blatant discrimination and are enforcing the constitution.” This is obviously not the case, as the law being challenged did not discriminate against anyone (see point #4). Before Obergefell v. Hodges, homosexuals could get married just like anyone else. After Obergefell v. Hodges, homosexuals can get married just like anyone else. The only difference is that now the states are forced to claim, despite the protests of the great majority of the people in almost every state, that a man can “marry” a man and a woman can “marry” a woman—again, regardless of sexual orientation. This isn’t a matter of a disenfranchised people getting a right that everyone else already had; it’s a matter of everyone—gays, straights, whatever—getting a new “right” that previously, nobody had.

6) You claim that “The county is not a religious institution,” and you are correct. However, the SCOTUS ruling inflicted a religious belief upon the county, its residents, and its officials. If your argument is that one’s religious beliefs cannot trump the law, then it evaporates in a puff of logic because Justice Kennedy, et al’s religious beliefs are doing exactly that. That’s why Kim Davis is in jail: because Kennedy’s religious beliefs, despite being in direct opposition to the Constitution, are somehow more legal than Davis’, which are completely in line therewith.

7) You claim that “The court eliminated one more form of illegal discrimination,” which is also incorrect: what it actually did was enshrine one more form of illegal discrimination, which again, is why Kim Davis is in jail.

8) You claim that “the confused clerk should resign her position if she wants to discriminate and fulfill her oath of supporting the constitution.” Again, you are the one who is confused. Every law ever written is discriminatory. Laws against theft discriminate against thieves. Laws against speeding discriminate against speeders. Laws against tax evasion discriminate against tax evaders. Laws requiring dogs to be on a leash discriminate against dogs. The whole purpose of law is to discriminate, and if you believe otherwise, I think you might want to check the definition of discrimination. Conversely, Kim Davis is “supporting the Constitution.” That’s the whole point: the law she’s refusing to uphold is itself unconstitutional; the Constitution is what justifies her actions!

In conclusion, I reiterate what I have said before: Kim Davis is a hero. While she—like all of us—has obviously made some unfortunate choices in her own life, this does nothing to negate the validity of her actions in this case. The longer she stays in jail, the more outraged the people will become. It is my hope that she will be freed quickly, but I hope even more that her leadership will be a call to action for the tormented few of us who still believe in the United States of America and its Constitution.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bullying

Yesterday I came across this picture and posted it to Facebook:


Shortly thereafter, my friend Tim posted the following comment:

“Can you explain this quote to me? How is it Bullying to fight for the right for gay people to marry. Why should they not be allowed to express their love and devotion to each in the same manner that you and I can?”

As is my custom, I’m taking a response that turned out to be rather long, and posting it to my blog for ease of reading. Tim, the rest of this is for you. :-)

First of all, I’d like to point out that that’s actually a great question. The problem is that it’s unfortunately based on a false premise. If I may, I’d like to deal with that part—the false premise—first.

Gay people have always had the right to marry. If an man and a woman walk into a courthouse and ask for a marriage license, their sexual orientation is never an issue. They can be straight, gay, bi, pan, or whatever other term they might choose to identify as—or any combination of the above. What matters is that marriage is defined as the union of a man and a woman, so the fact that they are a man and a woman is sufficient proof that they can logically be married.

Likewise, if two men walk into the same courthouse and ask for a marriage license, their sexual orientation is also a nonissue. Since marriage is the union of a man and a woman, the union of a man and a man does not meet that criterion. It doesn’t matter if both men are straight; they still can’t get married because two men cannot logically form a marriage. It has nothing to do with sexual preference; it has to do with the definition of a word.

The only way one can argue that the above scenarios create a situation of inequality for gays is if one argues that the definition of a straight person is someone who marries a person of the opposite sex, and the definition of a gay person is someone who wants to marry a person of the same sex. Unfortunately, this definition poses a significant problem for the marriage redefinition movement because it relegates homosexuality to being a choice. If whether or not someone be gay is wholly dependent upon the type of person he or she chooses to be with, then being gay does not constitute an immutable condition and thus cannot be subject to “equal rights” legislation. Conversely, if whether or not someone be gay is not dependent upon the type of person he or she chooses to be with, then the definition of marriage does not constitute an unequal condition because a gay person has just as much right to marry as a straight person does.

This is that major difference between the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and the so-called Civil Rights movement of the 2010s. In the former, individuals were fighting for rights that others had but they did not. In the latter, individuals are fighting for new rights to be created for all. (For example, redefining marriage as including the union of a man and a man would give two straight men just as much right to enter into such a marriage as two gay men—which, as demonstrated, is exactly what we have now—unless, of course, being gay is a choice, in which case the entire argument disintegrates in a puff of logic.)

So, all that being said, let’s turn to your question: what is the quote referencing? In the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, people turned to the law to protect them. Where the law failed, they worked to change the law; and when the law failed to be enforced, they worked to vote out those who failed to enforce it. In the so-called Civil Rights movement of the 2010s, people are searching for any random judge who is sympathetic to their cause, then having their case tried in his or her jurisdiction so they can override the will of the people and force a new definition upon all of us.

Let’s imagine the following scenario: I am pulled over for doing 100 mph in a 55-mph zone. When I go to court, I plead “not guilty” because I define the word “mile” as “10,000 feet”, so I was really only doing 52.8 mph. Because I explicitly planned to do this in a jurisdiction where the judge will sympathize with my cause, the judge rules in my favor and forms a legal precedent. I then demand that everyone else accepts my definition of “mile” as equally valid to the other, established definition. which I enforce by starting a massive media campaign that labels anyone who disagrees with my definition as a hateful bigot who is out of touch with the needs of mays (a word I invented, meaning “people who prefer a ‘mile’ to be ‘10,000 feet’). After all, we can’t help that we prefer that definition; we were born that way, so everyone else has to abandon their definition of “mile” and accept our competing definition as the valid one.

Various nations, states, and municipalities then vote on legislation defining the world “mile” as 5,280 feet. Where the legislation passes, mays in the area go out and vandalize churches and temples whose members tend to espouse this definition. Several churches are burned to the ground, and one individual is caught on surveillance video planting a bomb at a rather large temple. The police are never able to break the code of silence surrounding his identity, despite the thousands of counts of attempted murder; no one will identify him because, after all, he’s a hero!

If anyone in a position of particular authority is found to espouse the traditional definition of “mile”, mays tell the media how horrible this person is and, if they can’t sue the individual, keep his name in the news while boycotting his organization, until he is finally fired for being a bigot (because, after all, anyone who believes a mile is 5,280 feet obviously hates those who believe otherwise). Police officers who pull over mays for doing 130 in a 70 are vilified in the press and lose their jobs and pensions; those whose children are run over by mays doing 45 in a school zone are told that they can’t complain, because that would infringe upon the rights of others.

Mays who use the metric system take upon themselves the name of “Spartans”, and those who can’t decide which system to use become “bidistincials.” Anyone who wonders if he or she might be may is labeled “questioning” and encouraged to explore those feelings, since that will further swell the numbers of the group. The group then invites vematies—a group of people who feel that the word “vegetable” should be redefined to include tomatoes—to join, thus creating the SMBVQ movement. (Most mays think vematies are fairly subhuman, but some vematies are also may, and after all, including them further increases their numbers.) Anyone who feels that any of these opinions are even slightly wrong—or even that those questioning their distinciality should consider the actual definition of the word “mile”—are, again, made out to be bigots.

As things start to go the mays’ way, other groups emerge claiming that they, too, deserve equal rights. One such group believes that a mile should be 20,000 feet, not just 10,000, and that their definition should also be included. People who maintain the true definition of “mile” point to this as evidence that no good can come of all this redefinition on the fly, but the SMBVQ movement dismisses these other groups as extremists whose beliefs don’t matter, since they’ll never pose any danger to respectable people. (Yes, that’s what people said about mays, just a few decades ago, but that’s different. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

My point in this analogy is that everything I’ve mentioned corresponds directly to the fight to redefine marriage. It’s not about equal rights, though obviously many people have been led to believe this; it’s about forcing everyone to believe the way they do, regardless of what or how valid others’ differing positions might be. Furthermore, redefining words on the fly strikes at the heart of American contractual law, which explicitly states that this is illegal. If we can redefine “marriage” over the strenuous objections of We the People, why redefine “mile”? How about “life”? “murder”? “rape”? “love”? “assault”? We are literally in the early stages of an Orwellian, Newspeak-driven dystopia, and it all comes back to a small minority of individuals in a coordinated and calculated effort to suppress freedom of thought and dissenting opinion.

That is why this is a “bully movement”, Tim, and if the United States Supreme Court reverses its judgment in Baker v. Nelson (1972), I would be completely unsurprised if it literally tears our nation apart and takes us into a second Civil War. And frankly, the only thing I find scarier than that possibility is the alternative: that We the People are already so complacent as to roll over and let the entire nation implode around us, instead of just the portion so enamored with ignorance that it attempts to suppress others’ ability to think.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Relocation

Just a cross-post to my other blog:

Relocation

Downsizing

For those of you who aren’t regular readers (either here or on my Facebook page), I’ve been self-employed and working from home, for most of the last 10 years. While I’ve absolutely loved almost everything about this arrangement, I suddenly lost my largest client in November, decimating my business and making short work of our family’s finances. Since my wife, Anna’s, parents and several siblings all live in the Lafayette, Indiana, area, we’ve usually lived there or, when work took us elsewhere, at least within an hour’s drive, give or take 15 minutes. It’s all my children know; it’s about all that Anna knows! But now, out of sheer desperation, we’ve had to widen our net. The result: last month, I accepted a job in Birmingham, Alabama, over 500 miles away. We’ll be moving there in about five weeks.

This past weekend, our family made the 1,000-plus–mile round trip to go house hunting. While there are certainly a lot of positives about the position and the area, one of the major downsides is financial. Despite what every cost-of-living calculator assures me, the cost of living is way higher in the Birmingham area than it is, in Lafayette. Bottom line: we were extremely blessed to find a house to rent for only 20% more than our current mortgage, but it’s less than half the size of our home in Lafayette. While we knew this going into it, it still left me feeling a failure as a husband and father: not only am I uprooting my entire family because I can’t support us here, but I’m forcing them to live in a relatively tiny home—even smaller than the one we moved out of, seven years ago, because it was too small for our family of four (one fewer child than we have now).

What’s weird is that despite all this, I’m completely at peace with this decision, and it’s all thanks to an answer to prayer. About 4:00 yesterday morning, I was tossing and turning in the hotel bed, wondering just what the heck we’re doing and how we’re going to make it work. As I lay there, I prayed for guidance in my decision, especially how to proceed. I’ve prayed for this many times, in the past few months, but yesterday it was suddenly clear. For years, I’ve been praying for the ability to overcome my greatest failing, pride. While this seems obvious in hindsight, I realize that my large home—including the 2½-car garage, over 4,000 square feet—hasn’t done me any favors in this area. My children have also been growing up with a severe sense of entitlement, which this house is also not helping. Despite the apparent difficulty, I’m finally receiving an answer to my prayers: a very modest home that will both force us to simplify (which we’ve needed for a long time) and compel me to be humble.

The Prophet Alma, son of Alma, taught the poor Zoramites:
“I say unto you, it is well that… ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble. And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the end the same shall be saved.” (Alma 32:12-13)
Similarly, the Prophet Brigham Young, Sr., stated:
“The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich…, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty and all manner of persecution, and be true. My greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth.” (Preston Nibley, Brigham Young, the Man and His Work, 128)
I know we’re not going to be in extreme poverty; my income should keep us fed and clothed and with a roof over our heads. The house we’re renting is only five minutes from the temple, which will be absolutely amazing. But after 39 years of living in particular comfort, I’m finally going to be in a situation where I have to work hard and economize, and you know what? I love that.

Here’s the Google Maps shot of our new home, taken in December 2013:


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Suits

From 2002-2003, I was the marketing director for S&S Fire Apparatus Co., a small business in northern Indiana that built—surprisingly enough—fire apparatus (i.e. fire trucks and similar anti-incendiary devices). It was my first job out of college and the pay was less than I would have liked (like whose isn’t?), but I loved the company and I loved the work I did for them.

Near the end of my first year there, the decision was made to cut costs by merging our three successful tanker lines into one. We began the project as these things usually begin: with a meeting. After a couple of hours, there were still very few good ideas on what to call the new product family, which encompassed the old Infinity II®, Infinity+3, and FC Series. Finally, I piped up and asked, “How about Infinity III?” Amazingly, everyone liked that suggestion and the Infinity III line was born.


That’s where things started getting interesting. My next task was to create a marketing campaign for the Infinity III™ product line. Of course, nothing is ever that simple, and this task was even less so than most. It was the end of November, but my boss wanted the first Infinity III ad to run in the January issue of Fire Engineering magazine. This obviously requires time—a luxury we didn’t have—and to make matters worse, the prototype wasn’t even built yet! Even if I’d had all the time in the world, I couldn’t reasonably show people a product that didn’t exist. There had to be some other way.

After  I decided to focus not on the apparatus itself, but on its qualities: specifically, that it had a lifetime warranty and was therefore designed to last. I began by considering other things that were designed to last

The ad would take a few weeks to appear in trade magazines, by which point we would have a prototype finished and photos on the web site. The ad was solid enough to pique people’s curiosity, which would drive them to the site and help them understand, in ways the limited space of a magazine ad never could, why our new apparatus was the best for their needs. As I polished the concept, I showed my drafts to several friends outside the company, who all agreed it was awesome.


Finally, the day came to present the campaign to the sales department. Rather than call a meeting, I decided to show each person in the department—there were only seven of them—the new ad, one on one, so we could discuss. I kid you not: every single one of them asked the exact same question: “Where’s the truck?” They couldn’t even fathom a fire truck ad without a fire truck in it, even though the fire truck in question didn’t actually exist yet. They also couldn’t deal with just having the web site on it; it needed to have the company logo and phone number, period, end of story.


Suffice to say I wound up Photoshopping a “photo” of the truck, cobbled together from parts of other trucks that actually did exist. I then placed the piecemeal truck off in the distance of the ad, so no one would know the difference. Then I reformatted the contact section to include the company logo and phone number. I again showed it to the sales department, and every one of them loved it. Eleven months later, 10% of the company was laid off (myself included); and five years after that, they were out of business.


Moral of the story: leave the marketing to the Marketing department.