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I’ve had a difficult time really gearing up today to scour the tech industry landscape for a perspective to share or anything interesting to write about.  Newtown is too top of mind.  Too sad.  Too awful.  I’ve been reading a lot of perspective on the tragedy, and here are some thoughts.

Of all the opinion I’ve read, I thought Buzz Bissinger‘s piece in the Daily Beast was the most stark, the one that I’m going to save and keep nearby.  It’s classic Bissinger: pulling no punches, Bissinger isn’t for someone who wants a pat on the head and told there will be a silver lining.  No, he takes the culture to the woodshed in the article that he condlues:  His concludes the piece, titled, “Sorry But Don’t Expect Any CHange After Newtown,” this way:

We cannot let go of the violence.  And as long as we cannot, these tragedies will continue, seemingly inexplicable—but not really, given our history. There is an answer. We could ban handguns as the United Kingdom did after a mass murder at a school in 1997. We could weigh the societal priorities of gun ownership, and psychotic killers getting access to semiautomatic rifles with the most potent ammunition available, versus not ever allowing an innocent child to die again for the sin of going to school and getting ready for the holidays.


But we won’t…  Guns in this country still pump people up.People still like the concept of taking the law into their own hands because the law is a toothless pussy, the giddy thrill of an intruder coming into their house, assuming he is an intruder because he may not be, and blowing his head off with the bonus extra of brain-matter spattering on the wall.

I fear that he could be right, and that would be too bad.

There have been other, more productive, threads of thought that I’ve been following.  Raising more awareness on the issues of mental health in children and young people.  Discussing gun control and the need to do more, much more, here.

And these are both vitally important discussions.  I will watch and listen to these debates closely and try to be useful in whatever way I can.  And I will keep Bissinger’s piece nearby  hopefully as a prod to lean forward to try and push more and demand more of our government and all of us, to not let our violent past dull us into the continuing sameness of accepting the unacceptable.


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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy thanksgiving all.  A favorite American holiday, Thanksgiving is a  an opportunity to watch football, eat turkey and reflect on our circumstances, what we’re thankful for.

Every year, I look forward to re-reading The Desolate Wilderness, published every day before Thanksgiving by the Wall Street Journal.  If you’ve never read it, I’d encourage you to read it.  It’s a great account of the first settlers/pilgrims and their journey from Holland to the New World, and the crazy foreignness of what they experience here.

This section in particular always impacts me:

Being now passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before them in expectations, they had now no friends to welcome them, no inns to entertain or refresh them, no houses, or much less towns, to repair unto to seek for succour; and for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of the country know them to be sharp and violent, subject to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search unknown coasts.

Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.

Whenever I read this, I find it bolsters me.  Be not afraid is the message I take.  No matter what challenges one finds in front of him or her, they likely pale in comparison to this account.  Showing up on the banks of New England, with literally nothing established.   Truly, the ultimate startup.
Be not afraid.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
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Quick thoughts on last week’s Presidential Debate

Last week, I was home taking care of the kids, and had TiVo‘d the Presidential Debate, figuring I’d watch it after homework was done and kids were asleep.  Like most, I thought Obama had this thing sewed up, and I expected the debate to be a low risk affair in which Obama rose above the fray and continued his glide path to a re-election.

As I was getting kids into PJs and checking homework, I did glance at Twitter as the debate was going on.  Romney was clearly winning, based purely on the Twittersphere. I later did get to watch the debate.  3 quick observations:

This wasn’t a debate, it was a performance review meeting.  I think this was one of the two most damaging things about the night for Obama.  Listening to Romney’s tone and approach, along with Obama’s lack of fight and rebuttal, left me with the impression that Romney was a manager telling his employee that his performance wasn’t making the grade and he needed to be fired.  Romney’s tone, approach, and manner are very similar to how a professional manager goes about telling someone that they aren’t making the grade and need to be fired.  It’s specific, thorough, direct.  Obama basically assented on most of these critiques, leaving the impression that he basically agreed.

Mute the audio, and forget which of the two was President, then ask yourself which one is President.  This is the second big wound the Obama campaign took, in my view.  If you buy into the Malcolm Gladwell concept of Blink, then you believe that people make snap decisions based on very quick impressions of people.  This can be applied to hiring, to whether you like someone, etc.  I think if  you were able to set aside whichever candidate you favored, you turned off the audio, and you just watch both candidates for basically any 30 second segment, you’d probably conclude that Romney was the more Presidential, whatever that means.  This can’t be verified, but I do think that this is a big impact.  For the first time, people saw a picture that was so different and so jarring.

Complaining about a moderator is like an NFL coach blaming the refs for a loss, it’s a waste of time and it just reinforces that you’re losing.  During the debate, the big surprise was Obama being so flat and unprepared to debate.  Post debate, the big surprise, to me at least, was how much criticism was heaped on Jim Lehrer, the moderator.  To me, this is like complaining about the refs in football.  It sets the wrong tone.  I recommend Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s approach.  Whenever we lose, he says basically, “We lost.  We accept that.  We are not happy about it.  It is what it is and we accept that.  We have a lot of work to do with urgency.”  And that’s that.  He moves on.  That’s the recommended path.  Don’t spin when it makes you sound like a sore loser.

A final conclusion… As a free markteer, I generally favor competition.  We now have some in this race.

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Graffiti of Edmund Hillary on St Benedicts Str...

After several weeks on the road, I’m back in my beloved California.  Lots to talk about from the travels–notably, wow is New York a hotbed of strong startup activity!  But for now, just happy to be back on the West Coast.

Always reminds m

e of this great quote, which I took from Sir Edmund Hillary‘s obituary a fwe years back:

I discovered that even the mediocre can have adventures and even the fearful can achieve. I had the world beneath my clumsy boots and saw the red sun slip over the horizon after the dark Antarctic winter. But for me the most rewarding moments have not always been the great moments, for what can surpass a tear on your departure, joy on your return, and a trusting hand in yours?

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