Women and Other Women

The elephant in the room for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign is the fact that women are harder on other women.
This goes deeper than lingering fears of another marital scandal during a Rodham Clinton Presidency. The media doesn’t ask, for example, whether America is ready for another Oval Office affair. Rather, it poses the question over and over again, “Is America ready for a _woman_ President?”
As far as I can tell, no one has come up with a good answer.

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Does the Taliban Run Your Office?

I started thinking about this while reading “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, a novel about a family in Afghanistan that spans the twenty or so year period from the mid 1970’s to the takeover by the Taliban:
Fact: the American starry-eyed worship of youth is not just a marketing device, but a dominant factor in molding the corporate culture of businesses and especially office environments.
Fact: the eager young MBA’s and especially the over-competitive, short on social skills tekkie types that populate American offices have a lot in common with the “average” al Qaeda terrorist, as profiled by terrorism expert Marc Sageman back in July 2004.

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Extreme Absurdity

I’ve been watching a couple of series on the Discovery Channel, about people who voluntarily put themselves into extreme survival situations, like climbing Mt. Everest.
Everest is 29,035 feet high, poking its way into the jet stream at an altitude beyond which helicopters can fly.
Summitting Everest requires a 12 hour climb from the highest base camp; the last 300 feet alone take 1-2 hours. Having not slept for the 48 hours before beginning their ascent, climbers must reach the summit and then descend safely past the “Death Zone” in a continuous 17 or more hour non-stop trip.
Oxygen levels at the top of Everest are about 1/3 of amounts at sea level, leading to hypoxia and cerebral and pulmonary edema: if someone were dropped directly from sea level to the top of Everest, they would die in 3 minutes.
Wind speeds can exceed those produced by a category 5 hurricane like Katrina. In July, the warmest month, the average summit temperature is -19 degrees C.

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Belief in a Just World

There are people out there – in fact, the great majority of Americans – so divorced from reality that they believe – no, they _have_ to believe – that the world is fair.
Recently, a group of Harvard and Stanford researchers led by graduate student Kristina R. Olson concluded in a study of American children that kids as young as five to seven believe that luck is not random, but explainable by “good things happening to good people”, and vice versa.

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An Hour

Today, I got an extra hour. It wasn’t due to a time change, but an adjustment in schedule.
A whole hour, and I have no idea where it went.
Non-office time is like that. Before we know it, it’ll be Monday morning, and everyone will say, “Where did the weekend go?”

Mechanical Ability

Save being able on a good day to hammer a nail and drive a screw, I have no intuition about how things are put together, especially electronic and mechanical devices.
I’m pretty good with sniffing out software issues, but that only came with years of banging my head against the cyber wall and learning from mistakes.
Fortunately for all of us, Peter is amazingly talented with electronics, especially computers.
Last night, he was able to repair my cell phone, which had decided it wasn’t able to send calls or to turn itself off.
This morning, my neighbor John, who is an equally incredible mechanic, managed to get my furnace blower going. He’s downstairs now, tinkering.
Like Peter with electronics, John can fix almost any machine. He has that intuition about where to look and the skills to make things right.
Thank goodness for people like Peter and John. Otherwise, the rest of us might as well give up and move to a one-room hut with a firepit, a privvy and a nearby fresh water supply.