Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thoughts of the day

My occasional Thoughts of the day posts remind me of Twitter, except they answer "what am I thinking?" right now rather than "what am I doing?".

Focus. Wherever you are, be there. Whoever you're with, be with them. Whatever you're doing, do it. Good advice for someone who tends toward introspection. Introspection is healthy, to a degree. Past that degree, there's little more to be gained from introspection and it becomes merely recycling within a comfort zone. At that point, it's better to have extroverted inputs and development. (Caught this quote from John Robb, discussing military theory: To wit: any organism that operates without reference to external stimuli (the real world), falls into a destructive cycle of false internal dialogues. These corrupt internal dialogues eventually cause dissolution and defeat.)

I'm anxious waiting for the law schools to respond me. I made a very late decision to apply to law school. Up until the moment I actually applied, and while filling out my first few applications, I wasn't seriously committed to the decision. Now that I've applied, I want it and I'm nervous. When I joined the Army, I didn't invest much thought into it, either; I just walked into the Times Square recruiting station and what happened from there happened. NEG: I applied late; my cumulative GPA is a huge negative; my LSAT isn't a deal-breaker, but not high enough to compensate for my GPA. POZ: my letters of recommendation are good; I believe my professional and extracurricular activities hold up. UNKNOWN: I think my essays are okay, but I also recall that my application essay for Columbia had to be torn apart and reformulated.

Once upon a time, I thought Traci appearing in my life in a storybook manner was fate in the "meant to be" sense. Well, it didn't work out that way. Recently, a girl from my childhood - a classmate acquaintance, not a love interest - has appeared. She lives in my neighborhood and we occasionally take the same train to work. She called me out in the subway stop, which reminds of Traci stopping me in Yongsan Lanes. I wouldn't have recognized her. I could (should) ask her out for coffee, or drinks, or dinner, or even lunch, and I know it's premature for me to predict anything leading anywhere, but still, I hesitate to make even the innocuous friendly gesture due to historical precedent.

I am disturbed by the calls to prosecute Bush administration legal officials for their official advice about harsh interrogations reacting to the 9/11 attacks. Our legal system, as I understand it, is not inelastic and is adaptable as a lawful approach to resolving real-world difficulties. As such, I believe the exigent challenge of anti-American terrorism, which still exists, and our government's real-world responsibilities justified the response by Bush administration legal officials. In order to fulfill their responsibilities in response to 9/11, the government's lawyers acted in good faith in their attempt to formulate a very tough balance of a lawfully constrained and practically sufficient response to an extraordinarily difficult situation. The current calls to prosecute Bush administration officials for doing their jobs are post hoc and based upon a demonizing narrative that switches the government's highest priority from facing real-world challenges to enforcing narrow ideological limits. I believe it is fair and proper for a current administration to reevaluate and change course as circumstances change, and philosophical differences can differently color decisions from different actors in the same roles. However, it is frightening when a current presidential administration invites the notion of criminalizing their previous administration counterparts, who acted responsibly and in good faith, due to ideological differences. Personally, as I contemplate becoming a lawyer, I hope to be an activist lawyer who participates in and enables exigent responses to real-world challenges by making the actions stable and sustainable through legal formulation. But, if I am to be prosecuted by vicious ideologues for doing my duty under extraordinary circumstances, then that would discourage my career ambitions.

In my lessons of my stars post, I stated an important lesson learned is that I need to be able to evaluate things analytically while also retaining my strength, intuition. That's easier said than done because the two are fundamentally different ways of thinking. When I try to parse through intuitive impulses, they tend to disappear on me because they exist as a whole - more fuzzy feeling than a manipulatable collection of component parts. Is the trick to hold onto an intuitive impulse as it is, copy it, and then separately apply analysis to the copy?

My dealing with the CU Mil Comm (MilVets, Hamilton Society, ROTC movement, the notional military alumni group), of which I am a founder (arguably the founder) is complicated. I am traumatized by the personal cost I paid from 2001-2003. Bottom-line, I cannot afford to repeat the consuming personal investment from that time that derailed my academic career. I've become very thin-skinned and impatient about CU Mil Comm activities. Since 2003, I've had a very low tolerance for BS and developed a circuit-breaker that triggers when my tolerance is exceeded, so that I shut down on the CU Mil Comm. The condition I gave to Oscar in order to be his MilVets VP in 2005-2006 holds true: do not waste my time. On the other hand, the CU Mil Comm remains the right thing to do, I support it, and want to participate in it. I just hope other people will do the leadership actions for the CU Mil Comm that I've done and make decisions that accord with my preferred direction (i.e., expansive and progressive, activist, and fraternal).

My dealing with the alumni group, which I have sought to start, is up in the air because the meeting at the University Club tripped my circuit breaker. As I said to Erich, the group is now off my plan. My Plan-A course of action balanced progressive action and collective dispersed responsibility. As I said from the outset, I'm interested in investing in the alumni group only insofar as collective CU mil grads will invest in it. As such, Richie and Justin made a fair point at the meeting about alumni-veterans of other demographics not being present at the meeting and the need to second-call the invite. I'm willing to help enable and nurture the alumni group, but I do not want to pull the movement as I've done with the CU Mil Comm in the past, especially when doing so involves fighting against the drag of fellow military Columbians. The University Club meeting challenged me to take on a much greater leadership commitment than I want right now. I refrained from making certain responses despite the egotistic incentive to respond forcefully, because those responses would have committed me to a 2001-2003 type of involvement. Now with my law school apps out of the way, I should revisit the alumni group. My hope is that other people will have picked it up. If they haven't, I need to decide whether I am willing to take on a more dynamic and forceful leadership role that will demand more of me than I want to give at this point.

When I was an undergrad at Columbia, one of my favorite activities was walking down to the northern border of Central Park and then walking through the park, often late at night, usually exiting the park at Tavern on the Green. Many of my best ideas as an activist came to me as my mind sorted itself on those solo walks.

The "just in time" way we do supply at every step and area of our economy, where we rely nearly exclusively on a fantastically complex and stretched out transportation system to distribute goods at the time and to the places they're needed, worries me. I read about the vulnerability a while ago on John Robb's Global Guerillas. If no shocks to the system occur, the "just in time" way does save the expense of maintaining reserves; however, it seems to be inflexible and lacks resilience, so that if the system is sufficiently shocked at any key point, the effect will not be contained and will be felt at every other point.


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