Monday, June 13, 2011

Thoughts of the day

On my mind: Malthusian collapse. The concept, based on evolutionary and economic principles, makes sense. Are we now locked into an economic (and competitive, ethical, security, population, cultural, and environmental) collapse of our nation and way of life? Can we still make cruel and unpopular decisions - and actions - in order to fix the problems? Is it already too late for us? My advocacy at Columbia was based on values, philosophical, ethical reform, and while I still believe a national spiritual change is necessary, I think it barely scratches the surface of what's needed of us. I just reread Ender's Game. By nature, groups are tribal and chauvinistic, and from that basis, they are competitive. If America fails to be competitive in fact and spirit, our tribe will lose. As a soldier, I conceived our country as a walled village with different rules and responsibilities inside and outside those walls. Loyal patriotic dutiful soldiers are willing to do what's necessary outside the walls for People and nation, but what about when radical changes are needed inside the walls? Real leadership must be clear-visioned, selfless, and willing to be brutal and self-sacrificial. . . . All that said, what can I really do to fix the big picture and should I care? As a freshman on 9/11, I set aside the notion of selfishness, but maybe the most positive contribution I can give to the greater good is to "do me" and seek out my own place rather than try to save the world.

Congratulations to the 2010-11 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, especially their older veterans who collectively redeemed many lost play-off runs. At the start of the play-offs, I tagged the Mavs as a higher seed likely to be knocked out in the first round, by the young-veteran Trailblazers with their talented front line. Instead, the Mavs earned the championship with cool-headed savvy veterans and a smart coach and proved to be a versatile, resilient, tough team. They have a really cool owner, too. After Brendan Heywood's hip injury knocked him out early and Peja Stojakovic proved ineffective in the Finals, the Mavs only had two quality bench players with Barea/Stephenson and Terry, and somehow got by with Mahinmi and Cardinal in the front court, against the Heat. The Mavs adjusted beautifully throughout the play-offs; Rick Carlisle thoroughly outcoached Erik Spoelstra in the Finals. The Mavs far outplayed the Heat in the fourth quarters. Throughout the play-offs, the Heat relied on two team strengths, A, a strong defense to keep games close enough for, B, their superstars James and Wade to take over in the end. But the Mavs adjusted their gameplan so that by Games 5 and 6, the Mavs had completely figured out the Heat's (according to Nowitzki) "almost suffocating" defense. Against the Mavs defense, the Heat failed to counter-adjust when the Mavs defense adjusted to contain the Heat superstars. Of long-term concern for the Heat, James seems to be developing a mental block in highest-pressure situations with the same scared tight look and frozen behavior of fellow superstar athlete Sasha Cohen entering her long programs. James turned himself into a poor man's version of the current Jason Kidd. Wade added to his track record and reputation as a strong clutch finisher. The Mavs as a team, led by Nowitzki, were clutch. J.J. Barea proved he's ready to take over a team as a starting point guard, but it needs to be the right team - Mike D'Antoni's system would fit him well. This Heat team isn't a finished product yet and achieved a lot by reaching the Finals in their first season; I look forward to watching their second year of development. It's more likely the Heat will be back in the Finals next year than the Mavs. The Heat is my pick to win the championship next season. The Heat's biggest need: a true and preferably veteran point guard.

I'm not a fan of the mean Sarah Palin treatment that Lebron James is being subjected to right now by the media. The media's treatment of Lebron James since last off-season's free agent dramatics reminds that the media is in the business of entertainment and mostly stays within a familiar range of simple one or two dimensional themes to sell stories. The media's chief motivation is not fact-finding and explanation, but rather drama - the more common-denominator and prurient the better - that holds their customers' attention. In making real-life celebrities into dramatic characters, the media mimics pro westling's storylines of faces (good guys) turned heels (bad guys) turned faces. The transformation narrative sells. The media, as they are doing to Lebron James, will manufacture a hero, then bring the hero low, then tell a story of heroic redemption in the celebrity's 3rd act.

On Bill Simmons's new pop-culture and sports page Grantland, the thorough multiple-first-hand account of short-lived national sports newspaper The National provides an interesting case study of the failure of an ambitious project despite many promising factors in the project's favor, including up-front funding, a ready audience, and the participation of the best and brightest. These best and brightest people underestimated, overlooked, and then were overwhelmed by compounding flaws that tripped up the project. ESPN.com seems to have picked up and succeeded on-line where the print The National failed.

Hm: "Women tend to have a very safe “starter” boyfriend to help them ease into sexual maturity with the men they really want. The first stage of this is the Justin Beiber fascination–that is, an early teen gal’s hormonal interest in a feminine boy who presents absolutely zero risk of sexual demand. The next stage is an awkward proto-boyfriend in junior high/high school, perhaps even into early college. Once the philly is ready for mounting, however, the nerds, nice boys, geeks and such are left behind in favor of a stallion."

The "proto-boyfriend" stage is critical information for junior high and HS boys in the early stage of their sexual development. Kids, if you like-like a girl, it is critical that you go for it in order to keep up with life - it only gets harder from the proto-boyfriend stage. The peer-group/public humiliation risk seems important at that age, but it's a small price for acquiring necessary life experience. And really, your peers will admire your courage in attempting what they desire to do, too. Fail and succeed - learn and develop, and don't be left behind, stuck and lost. Reference: A Father's Question.

Young actress to watch: Elle Fanning, Dakota Fanning's little sister. She stood out in the otherwise underwhelming Super 8. Although I was a fan of Dakota when she was a brilliant, intuitively nuanced actress as a young girl, I doubt she'll have as much success as a young-adult actress. Dakota's most recent performances have disappointed, reminding of Shirley Temple's stiffly affected final performances. Temple was also a transcendent actress as a young girl who lost her 'it' as a teenager; moreover, unlike the sexy teenage Temple, Dakota's looks as a young woman have become ordinary. Elle is already prettier than her sister and exhibited range and aplomb in her Super 8 performance that Dakota no longer seems to possess. Based on Super 8, my guess is that Elle will have a better teenage and young-adult film career than Dakota.

Speaking of film actresses, Meg Tilly, whose HAPA looks I referred to with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, has an interesting blog. She seems cool. The flak she got for looking older is unfair; Meg Tilly is an attractive older woman. Her daughter Emily Zinnemann is a cute girl who looks like her mom and aunts. Here are an interesting clip and clip of Meg as Emily's mom. They're attempting a mother/daughter-relationship-themed co-blog at Huffington Post Canada.

Breaking the seal (need a better term). Dread. Off the grid. Escape. Freedom. Duty.

Distinct modes and stages of thinking. Learning and acquisition. Intuition and vision. Assessment and problem-solving. My preferred mode is intuition, which is powerful in the right conditions such as creating a vision. But the problem is, I apply that mode to other stages. An effective mind can change gears.

Judging a course of action requires judging the alternatives and consequences, too. Assessing an argument requires understanding its premises and context, which can be bundled as perspective. Achieving important goals requires navigating true to the long-term, big-picture vision and fulfilling short-term, up-front needs, including when the vision and the needs conflict.

For relatively cheap if also riskier dental care in the city, check out CUNY City Tech Dental Hygiene and NYU College of Dentistry patient services.

Eric

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