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Saturday, December 1, 2012

What's Wrong With Jews?

Congratulations you've been "bait and switch"ed.

Those of you who oppose Israel and don't like Jews expecting to be given the usual host of negative reasons why Jews are bad, won't get any of that.

Those of you who are Jewish and always on the obsessive lookout for any attacks or yet another diatribe on the "Jewish Conspiracy", won't get any of that.
If you are Palestinian you may want to pay close attention because this will illustrate exactly why you are where you are and worse, and regardless of the by my count 225th UN resolution in your favor against Israel, why it doesn't look like you're getting out anytime soon.

What you will get however, is a list of reasons why there is indeed something very wrong with Jews. For if this premise is incorrect, and in fact there is nothing wrong with Jews, then there most certainly must be something wrong with the rest of us. And we already know that is not the case!

So Jews must simply be different. There must be something very wrong with them.

Allow me to illustrate by using just one Jew. Not just any Jew though. I'll use Walter Annenberg.

Annenberg was a publisher, and eventually appointed the US ambassador to the UK. Because he was a successful businessman, he could afford to be a philanthropist. But not just any philanthropist. Possibly the greatest one ever.

One Jew. Just one. That is all you need to know to be able to understand the reasonable influence Jewish Americans have had on US policy towards Israel, and why it makes nothing but sense. If you attempt to simplify it as merely bought and paid for influence, you still can't deny it. Because as you will see it was more than bought and paid for. By an immeasurable factor.

First, so as to see the historical record, Jews have been part of the very fabric that has been woven into the US for a very long time.

Jews fought in the Civil war. On both sides. That Jews would conceivably fight each other to the death to defend the US is beyond any measure. Of course they fought in both World Wars, Viet Nam, Iraq I, II, and Afghanistan.

Socially and culturally, Jews have maintained and borne the banner of whatever you care to consider as American culture. Through music, film, entertainment, literature, and art, Jews have contributed more than their fair share. When Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, 3 out of the 4 Cartwrights, Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and the directors who made their films are Jews, they're pretty much in, you think? Barbra Streisand? Bob Dylan? Whichever you prefer to consider to be the quintessential American voice. Undoubtedly so. Aaron Copland, who composed what is easily and internationally accepted as the undeniable American Ballets:  Appalachian SpringBilly the Kid, Rodeo, and Fanfare for the Common Man.

Shall I continue? Lets.

The Nobel Prize. Agreed by everyone on the planet including a majority of Moslems, to be the pinnacle of scientific and humanitarian achievement. The Swedish? Not known for their Jewish "sympathy". Yet more Jews have won the Nobel prize than any other people. No other people has won all six categories. Are Jews just more competitive? Do they cheat, or do they simply take tests well?

Oy vey, back to GeWalt.

Walter Annenberg was a publisher. He published several newspapers, including one of the most popular publications in the history of America, the famous TV Guide. His financial success, afforded him the means to build a palatial dream estate "Sunnylands" in the middle of the California desert, outside of  Palm Springs. From which he routinely hosted the MOST important American and world personalities of his day, at a level of luxury unheard of even by today's Dubai standards.
Celebrities and American cultural icons such as Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, every one of the Bushes, 3 generations of British Royalty, Margaret Thatcher, and yes, even Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were lavishly hosted, entertained, their every whim attended to during their stays.

But most often his favorite, Ronald and Nancy Reagan attended every New Year's Eve during Reagan's Presidency. A total of 18 years. In a row. For a sitting American President to forego hosting a New Years Eve party at the White House, the symbolic and cultural home of America, and prefer to choose the Annenberg party instead, during all 8 years of his Presidency, says pretty much all you need to know about the degree of commitment Annenberg had.
What was said at these parties is unknowable. Even if a single word was never uttered, about US policy towards Israel, it is irrelevant. By simply representing Jews the way Annenberg did, and by his immense selfless service and charity to America, that is enough, for policy makers to get the point.

While the ability to give a good party alone does not sway enough to affect political opinions, Annenberg was also one of the most prolific philanthropists of his day. To this day. He was one of the only Americans ever knighted by the Queen of England, and was eventually asked to be the US Ambassador to the UK.

During his philanthropic activities, one of the most famous, and indeed the greatest stereotype breaking act by a Jew, he donated $50 million to the United Negro College Fund. The largest single donation that has to this day EVER been made to it.

He also donated $500 Million to the Department of Education. To help everyone's kids get a better education.

This is one American Jew. Just One. There are many, many, many, many, more like him although none just like him. Some big, some small. But they all do the hard work to buy and pay for whatever influence that they have. This isn't unfair. Jews work hard to do this. They spend time and money to do this.

The conclusion is that Israel, and American Jews in particular, have EVERY right to the promoted status that Israel enjoys, and it's relatively high position in the US (and world) today.

Simply because they EARN it every day, and every step of the way. Undeniable. Indisputable.
Look at the number of Jews in the US. 7.5 Million vs 6.5 million that live in Israel. There are more Arabs living in Brazil than in all of Israel!

Now look at all the Arabs. Go ahead and combine them. What have they done? How many Nobel prizes have Arabs won? Have Arabs fought and died for the US in war? Have all Arabs combined, hosted half the dignitaries that Walter Annenberg did alone? Has a single Arab composer ever written a single Ballet for America? Is there a single Arab composer capable of writing a Ballet?

Now look at all the Iranians. Go ahead combine all of them too. What have we done? Exactly!

Squat comes to mind.

And Iranians and Arabs have the audacity to claim what? To object to the preferential treatment Jews get in return for what Jews have given, and continue to give to the US? What Jews have done, and continue to do for the US?

Now exactly, who's cheap?

Life, but especially American life is based on the principle that you get out of it, what you put into it. Clearly Iranians and Arabs have a long way to go. Possibly too far. Probably too late. But for heaven's sake, the last thing Iranians or Arabs should be is this porroo, rude, want, but are unwilling to give, and in comparison what little Arabs and Iranians do and have done, still there is audacity to complain about American Jews helping Israel get ahead.

Vaghean! Really!

Here's one last one:

90% of the $2 billion annual Palestinian budget comes from the US, Japan, and Germany. Less than 10% comes from all Arab States combined.

Funny, I thought the Arab world loved the Palestinians? Apparently not. To fund Palestine for 10 years would cost Saudi Arabia, all by itself and alone, 1 mere month of opening the oil spigot. Not doing this, is akin to the worst tahreeem and sanctions against fellow Arabs that one can imagine. It is almost a dare-said holocaust. An Arab-on-Arab-caust!

Clearly therefore, you have no choice but to conclude that Arabs just plain don't like Palestinians. For they clearly aren't willing to spend more than 10% to help them.

Prologue:

Oddly the most prolific, productive, and time proven persuasive people in the world however, can't seem to figure out a way to deal with their karmic opposites. The Palestinians. At once, Israel's biggest enemy and single largest source of for lack of a better term, cheap labor, seems to have befuddled the best and brightest the world has ever seen.

This shouldn't be this hard. The Palestinians have been systematically shunned from every single layer of Arab society since Moses. Considered low on the unpublished but highly obvious caste ladder of Arab society. Everyone knows that Saudis eat first, Kuwaitis second, and so on, down the food chain of fat Emirates until you get to Yemen. Where you stop and go "Holy Shit!" and back away slowly. And then maybe, maybe, an Arab will grant his truck driving Palestinian some minimized begrudging.

Maybe the reason why Jews are called the "Chosen People", is because since no one else clearly wants to, God "Chose" the Jews to have to deal with the Palestinians. Which brings us back to the premise.

What's wrong with the Jews?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I am an undecided voter, I am not stupid.

Most of America has already decided. Whether to give President Obama one more term, or to give Romney a shot at the job.

47% to 47%. Dead even, right down the middle.

Or, that is what the media and the parties and their campaigns and their PACs and now SuperPACs would have you believe. That 94% of America is cocksure and ready to act on their surety, on the second Tuesday this November.

The remaining 6%, that I am proud to be a member of, are considered uncertain, low intelligence, morons for not being as clear as the rest. We even have our own denigrating demographic designation, "low information voters". What fools!

Well, here are some foolish facts.

96% of America in fact hasn't decided. Only 96% of those who vote have. That leaves a HUGE majority of Americans who after reading this, you might now consider, are FAR smarter than those who do vote. Roughly 60% of Americans never care to make it to the polls, or lift a finger to cast ballots in what most would think is the biggest commercial for Democracy in the world. They are too busy pursuing "Happiness".

in 2008, one of the most voted elections in history, President Obama won with a total of barely 70 Million votes. There are 311 million Americans. Most of them could vote if they cared to. They don't.

Like the Kinks, "I'm not like everybody else."

What I know is that this election is not in the hands of the voters. It never is. It is in the hands of the number of electoral votes each candidate wins, usually we assume that this s connected and happens by winning the "majority" of the votes that are cast in each state. Again, that does not mean the majority of people in that state want that candidate for President. Just that the votes cast, do.

So given this, anyone sitting and watching ANY of the debates, and wistfully hoping to hear something that they can relate to, is the real moron. For these entire debates have been focused on what those 40% of the Ohioans who vote want to hear. What their counterparts in Virginia and Florida want to hear. Because that's all that is left to wrap up. Win those, and you've got a chance, lose them, and you're done.

Well, that most surely sucks now doesn't it! Here you are, part of your devoted 47%, and not living in Ohio, Virginia, or Florida, and you thought you actually mattered!

I live in California. And I haven't seen a SINGLE negative ad for or against Romney. You only get one guess why. Since I'm not sure you can guess correctly, because after all you you are most likely and statistically part of the smart 47% decideds, I'm going to have to tell you. It is because there is no chance in hell, Romney would EVER win California. EVER. While Republicans do surprisingly well at the local and state level, no national candidate ever considers California as anything but a Democrat shoe-in.
You can thank the fucked up Eleclitoral College for all of this. Worse, wait until you hear that to become an Eleclitoral voter, all you need to do is Be. Be a hardcore party loyalist. So the free and fair election we have all believed is the stalwart of the quintessential American election, is nothing more than an exercise in fertility. It is all in the hands of the Eleclitoral voter. who si nothing more than a really seriously committed blind wonk.

So you can see I'm not all that inclined or eager to cast what is now increasingly looking like an utterly meaningless ballot. And now I'm also starting to think that maybe the 60% who don't bother to vote might actually know something, that the now increasingly naive and gullible voters don't seem to get.

Who's ill-informed now?

One other very big reason I am undecided, is that I don't really have the time to waste on this largely orchestrated show. I have better things to do than to have followed this ridiculous charade since 2010. Most of the campaigns focus on "building a narrative", "presenting a positive image" of the candidate, and lots of other slick advertising techniques for what ends up being an illusion of an ideal product that they think they want us all to buy. They intend to make the candidate into what we idealize, or dream of.

That's not truth. Or real. Worse, it sure isn't representative government.

So given that my vote in California does not count, most of America doesn't vote, and I don't have time for all the misrepresentations, what is an undecided voter to do?

Simple, vote my conscience. Which is exactly what I do very time. You can't give up on Democracy, just because "Democracy Inc." appears to have given up on you.

So I wait. I wait until the very last minute. Why? Well it is simple. Given all the lies we are being told bout what the real intentions of the candidates are, in their desperation to win, they often let loose and expose who they really are, and what they really stand for, right at the very end, when the stakes and stress are highest, and they have to pull out all the stops, and stretch for that golden finish line. In the last few days, you often see the light of truth shining though the bags of garbage on the heap of trash.

So here's exactly what I do.

I keep an eye on the Republican and Democrat candidates and try to filter out their bullshit. Meanwhile as a palate cleanser, I seek out the lesser parties who by the way in case you don't know, are also running, but never ever allowed onto the same stage as the two main parties, and I look for the ticket that I think, makes the most sense, appears to have the right ideas and solutions, and offers the BEST overall plan for the country over the next four years that my vote could conceivably bestow upon them. If my vote counted.

The key assumption in all of this and the acceptable entry of my delusion, is that I have to assume my vote counts. Or at the very least, is counted and recorded. If I succumb to the other advertising barrage being aimed at me, I should not assume my vote counts and simply stay home and pursue the happiness the Constitution guarantees me. And leave the heavy lifting and illusion-making to the Apparatchiks of Democracy, who would rather convince fewer people who almost all already believe everything they read and watch on TV and the Internet, than more of them. More is always unwieldy.

So I wait. I wait for a stumble, a gaffe, a foible, a fatal mistake I can identify, or a spark of an idea form ANY party that I can relate to and better, think would be better for my country.

So far, I am not interested in Obama's plans, which as I understand it, is to raise taxes on the rich, so that government can continue to try and reinvent itself as the ultimate venture capitalist and invest in things like solar energy and battery ideas so the Chinese to steal them and make cheaper and sell back to us.

I am definitely not interested in Romney's plan, which apparently is based on the assumption that every American first wants to, and second deserves to be a CEO just like him. Well, I don't want to be a CEO. I am naturally risk-averse, and would never invest my hard earned money in a "venture" simply for the thrill of "entrepreneurship". I'd rather just do a good job, take pride in what I do, and work for a good company that cares about it's employees. But I'm funny that way. Me and that whole generation of the 1950's who built America into wat it is today. And ironically what everyone seems to want to hearken back to, these days.

Neither party even understands foreign policy, so hence the problems we have being at once the most admired people in the world with the most hated government.
So far, to be honest, I'm leaning Green. What's not to like about having women for both president and veep? Plus their platform actually makes the most sense.

Libertarian? Not so much. I'm not really all that comfortable with Anarchy, although I agree, it would be interesting to take down the stop lights at the intersections. Then everyone will surely slow down and look both ways.

I am undecided, yes. But I am not stupid. I'm just waiting until the very last minute to cast my pointless vote. Stop trying to predict what I'm going to do. You'll never know.

Because I also always lie on every survey and poll. Zogby actually thinks I'm a 20 year old pro-life woman religious-communist, while Gallup thinks I am a 60 year old Catholic Gay member of the NRA, and Harris thinks I am a 38 year old Wicken Transgender Transsexual active member of the US military and the Tea Party.

My job is often a lot of fun.

Monday, July 16, 2012

iPhight

Jeff reached for his iPhone on the counter of the convenience store after he had picked out his Popsicle from the freezer. It was gone. Just a minute earlier he had placed it on the counter.

He was on a weekend camp out with his Uncle Scott, a Viet Nam war vet. Jeff himself was a veteran of Gulf War I , and for years it had been a tradition to come camping with his uncle, whom he had grown closer to after his own military adventure in Asia.

He finally gave up, and assumed he had left his phone at their campground site, and when they got back from the store, went into his tent to look for the device that he had become addicted to, but seemed to always be losing. No iPhone here either. He borrowed his uncle's iPhone and called his number. No ring sound either.

Jeff retraced his steps and kept returning to the convenience store as the last place he had had his iPhone with him. He suddenly remembered that he had brought along his iPad.

Maybe he could use one of those apps that could find your iPhone! He was happy he had decided against better judgment and had sprung for the more expensive 4GLTE version, and soon he was was looking at a map of the area and lo and behold, there was the red dot indicating his iPhone!

He started walking in the direction that the GPS tracker was pointing him in and soon he came upon another campground, he looked up and saw about 7-8 boys who looked older than high schoolers but too young to be called men.

They were the stereotypical gangbangers, with short buzzcut hair, white wifebeater undershirts, and tattoos on their necks and each knuckle of each hand.

They were all Hispanic and rough looking. Jeff immediately recognized one of the boys from the convenience store and deduced he must have been the one who had lifted his iPhone there.


He went up to boy and said,


"Dude, did you by chance pick up my iPhone by mistake in the convenience store a couple of minutes ago?" 

"I don't have your phone man." the boy replied cold and somewhat rude.

"Look man, I don't want any trouble, OK? I can see the phone is here on my iPad, so just hand it over and we can forget all about this, OK?", Jeff said, trying to get this over with as soon as possible.

"I told you man, I don't have your phone! Now fuck off!" the boy fired back.

Now his friends had perked up and began approaching Jeff slowly.

"Yeah man, why don't you be a good puto and fuck off! One of them sneered at Jeff.

Jeff looked at them and realized that he was outnumbered and although he was 6 foot 2 and could have given them a good run for it, he was not going to be ale to take all of them on by himself. So he backed off and went back to his campground. While the boys laughed.
Back at their campsite, Jeff told his Uncle Scott about what happened. Scott was furious and demanded that they go back and get his iPhone now. Jeff called the police and when he told them what had happened, the police told him that they weren't going to come all the way out there for a lost iPhone. 

Jeff went to the campground next door to see if he could muster some help. A big black man Rahim was camping with his family, his wife and 2 teenage girls who were playing cards at the campground table, and when he heard what had happened, said,

"You know, it's  been a long while since I cracked me some skulls, let's go get your phone man"

On the way, they stopped by the campground managers office, and a Hispanic man came out. Jeff rolled his eyes, there was probably no way he would help. But before he could begin to explain, Rahim said,

"Those motherfuckin Mexicans stole his phone man!" , then stopped short and added, "no offense man...".

The manager looked at Jeff and Rahim and the seething Scott, and then back at Rahim, and said,

"No man, they give us Mexicans a bad name, let's go!"

Off they went. When they got to the boys' campground tensions immediately rose and this time when the boy who denied having Jeff's iPhone walked up to him to confront him again, Jeff grabbed him by the shirt and said,

"Look, give me my iPhone and like I said, this will be over!" The boy reached in his pant pocket and pulled out Jeff's iPhone, but instead of giving it to Jeff, threw it into the camp fire!

At that point all hell broke loose, Rahim began tossing Mexicans like firewood, the manager had two of them each in a headlock and was screaming Spanish obscenities, mostly infused with "tu madre" and "puto".

Uncle Scott had gone full PTSD and with a crazed look in his eyes had one of the boys cornered saying, "Oh yeah! bring it on motherfucker!" over and over again.

After the beatings were over the J-team backed away and went back to their campground.

As they left, one of the boys yelled,

"Hey! We're going to get you, I'll bring my Glock and shoot you later tonight!" to which Uncle Scott yelled "Go right ahead asshole! I've got my SKS with 60 rounds!" Jeff yelled,"Yeah and don't forget my AR15 as well Uncle Scott, but mine only has a 20 round clip though!"

After they got back to their camp, Jeff decided to call the police again and report the stolen iPhone as destruction of private property. This worked and about an hour later a patrol car rolled to a stop at their campground. When the officer stepped out of the cruiser, then entire car squeaked and raised up about 6 inches higher.

"Jeez it's hot!" the wheezing cop said as he wiped the sweat off his bald head. After he took down Jeff's statement, he asked him where the boys' campground was.

"Oh, and they threatened to come shoot us with their Glock tonight." Jeff mentioned just as the cop was about to start walking. "Did you say Glock?" the cop asked nervously, he was sweating even more now.

After some clarification and confirmation that Uncle Scott in fact had an SKS and it really did have a 60 round clip, and that Jeff also had his AR15 and that it indeed had a 20 round clip, asked if they would mind accompanying him to the boys campground.

When they got to the campground as they approached,the cop took out his own gun, looked at it, then back at Uncle Scott and Jeff, shook his head, and put his gun back in his holster, took out his pen and pad, and told them to follow him into the campground. 


Seeing the cop, the boys became scared and were now cooperative. The cop asked if they had brought any guns and to let him see their permits and licenses. The boys brought out 4 handguns, 2 of which were Glocks as promised. As he examined their IDs and paperwork, the cop motioned for Jeff and Uncle Scott to come over.


"OK, keep an eye on them while I run these through the computer in the my car."


A that point Uncle Scott took over and before anyone could say anything, he pulled the SKS out on its strap from his neck, cocked the bolt and yelled,


"OK! Every one of you cocksuckers down on the ground, NOW!"


The cop sighed and looked at Jeff resignedly with a look of "Really?", and trudged back to his car. After a few minutes, he came back, pulled Jeff to the side and said, 


"OK, I've just called in for backup, 4 of them have outstanding warrants, so they are all going in, tell your uncle to keep an eye on them for a while longer."


The next morning, Jeff went back to the now empty boys campgrounds, and kicked aside the ashes in the now dead fire, and saw his iPhone sticking out halfway buried in the black and grey ashes. The battery had exploded and was oozing a reddish fluid, the glass had shattered and was completely burned through. Jeff wiped it off and put it in his back pocket and went back to his uncle at their campground.
Later when he got back home, Jeff pulled out his burnt iPhone and looked at it sadly. Suddenly his eyes lit up and he quickly opened the sim card slot to check it out, maybe it had survived! The wafer thin card slid out of the slot and Jeff examined it carefully holding it up to the light of a desk lamp. He excitedly pulled out his old iPhone 3 from a desk drawer, and slid in the card carefully, and prayed as he powered up his old phone.


The familiar Apple startup icon appeared, and Jeff's face turned from anxious hope to a relieved grin as all of his information restored itself gloriously to the old round bottomed iPhone 3. 


Several days later, when Jeff told me this story, I asked him, 


"So, are you now going to get another 4S, or are you going to wait for the 5?" 


 "What do you think, puto?" Jeff said and grinned.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Taking Advice From Successful People

Recently I received one of those how to succeed, pump you up articles. This one was called "9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People" a piece written for Inc. by Jeff Haden. You know the drill, the usual if you emulate those who are successful, it is supposed to rub off on you.

This is almost always a distraction from the primary key element that I have found almost always missing in my own professional life and I am sure yours, namely Dumb Stupid Fucking Luck (DSFL).

Proof? DSFL seems to be inanely prevalent in those individuals labeled “Successful” who now sagely dole out their painfully obvious advice on how they got to be so successful.

Here's an offset of the real world we, who are not so lucky to be sages, live in, against the obvious advice of the sages.

Jeff says that his friends or the successful folks he writes their books for, come from different industries, yet have a common "approach", a "perspective and belief" if you will, that makes them successful. And that it works! Jeff thinks that this is the common reason why they are all so successful.

Rather, my own conclusion, based on the same observational powers as Jeff, is that the real thing that successful people have in common is DSFL. Just using the law of averages, I am pretty sure that I am right and that Jeff is wrong. That, and add to it that rarely can any of the successful repeat their initial trick, that they now claim was their plan all along. From scratch. Without using their past success as the launch pad for success #2.

Do it twice fairly, and I will believe that you are indeed a Golden God. Can’t pull it off again? Means I’m right.

Here's a simple Test:

The following people are the topmost successful people in history. Obvious for their success, or you should know what their success was. The test is to name the second success they had, that was not based on their first one.
Henry Ford      R. H. Macy     F. W. Woolworth      Soichiro Honda     Akio Morita (Sony)
Bill Gates     Harland David Sanders     Walt Disney     Jerry Seinfeld     Elvis Presley

But before I proceed to burst your bubble and explain why you personally haven't "made it" yet, and possibly offer that you may never "make it" statistically, let me qualify why these "success stories of the rich and successful" are in fact useful.

First, we who trudge around in the trenches need hope. If there is no hope the whole universe will actually fall apart right out of the sky. This can best be seen at your average DMV office. The showcase and epitome of institutionalized professional hopelessness.
The DMV exemplifies what happens to you when you lose all hope. When you go to window "C" or "Info" and ask how to replace the drivers license you lost when you got carded at the bar even though you are over 30, the life-sentence DMV staffer will tell you “You need to go to window K for that”. Then when you go to window "K" the same person has walked over and will look you in the eye and ask "How can I help you?" with less emotion than they gave you at the Info window "C".

Or, consider that the DMV has a dress code for dress down Fridays. Khaki pants, Denim button down long sleeve shirt. No exceptions. They don't want you to think they are not professional. Hope is what keeps you from working at the DMV and wearing a Denim shirt with Khakis on Fridays.

The second reason why these stories are useful is they offer a good goal to shoot for. OK, so that's another way of saying Hope. Stop trying and you can't become successful. If you don’t play, you can’t win. Or according to my theory, get DSFL. 
So, here are my reality checks in response to Jeff's "9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People". Most of these appear to be post-success philosophies, since almost none of them would get past your average weasel Mid-Manager Level I, who has to nip you in the bud, in order to get that coveted Senior Mid-Manager Level II spot. 

"If that bitch Suzie wasn't in the way. Her numbers are totally unbelievable, she must be fudging them. Why can't Mark see that I am the better choice? I mean we play golf every Friday, do you know how many putts I've blown on purpose?" Yeah, reality.

“1. Time doesn't fill me. I fill time.” Jeff would have you believe that successful people don't work to deadlines. They work quicker than the assignment or task and then fill that remaining time doing more work than everyone else.

Reality: If you do the work faster, they will only give you more work to do. If you do anything too well or too fast, they will punish you for making the rest look bad, and then make you do what you obviously and apparently now "love" to do, for the rest of your life. Always try to Fail up.

“2. The people around me are the people I chose.” Jeff doesn't seem to see the "Duh" factor here. Even though he says it quite eloquently. “Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.” No argument here, Jeff.

Reality: You don’t get to choose who you work with. That, like most success I argue, is DSFL. Treat everyone fair, don’t talk behind anyone’s back, and well, don’t talk so much. It’s how thoughtful and ponderous you look, not what you actually think. When you do speak, choose vague subtle statements and concepts that upper management can get.

Something like ”There are a lot of realistically cost effective options that we can consider for this challenge Bob, we just need to find the solution that gets the best result for the least cost.”

“3. I have never paid my dues. Remarkably successful people never feel entitled--except to the fruits of their labor.”

Reality: I am stunned by the audacity of this statement. Until I realize that it is of course absolutely true. A successful person benefiting from DSFL couldn’t have possibly had any time to pay any dues, so hence the obvious philosophical insult. The sudden speed of success makes one think you can cut corners, bypass, and end-around to get to your destination.

You actually can’t.


More often you don’t have the authority to make any big decisions, and if you do, your superior is waiting to take the credit for your moment of misguided bravery. Only if it succeeds. Which it rarely will. If it fails, which it almost always will, you are on your own, and your boss will weigh taking the heat for your “moment” from his/her boss, over letting you try out your ideas, just in case you somehow get DSFL. Then prepare yourself to find out he/she told the boss that it was his/her idea all along. To reward you or shut you up, he/she will take you along when he/she gets promoted. Go with him/her.

“4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.”

Reality: Actually this one I know does not work. Especially in that crucial job interview. There is a nose or sense of smell that an HR or Mid-Manager has that can sniff the scent of unlikelihood on you. If something seems too good to be true, it is usually bullshit. Even if it is true.

“5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn't just happen to me.” This and the other moronic concept that the more you fail the more you learn from failure, and that successful people fail a lot or that you should “embrace” failure. I disagree. I think successful people  fail about the same amount as anyone else. They just say that to avoid the harder explanation for DSFL. Because no one mentions the nutritional value and health benefits of failure when they are unsuccessful, they always do it after they have become successful. Then it suddenly becomes an obvious chantable mantra.

Reality: Failure is something you knew would happen, but ignored the many warning signs and sirens in your head telling you not to do it, and then you finally failed to avoid failure. Usually this is the result of someone “Tryin’ Shit” they should not be “Tryin’”. It spills over onto you and your colleagues. Quickly. Failure becomes known quickly and is unstoppable. That’s why it is called failure. Kind of like Faith. Or Death.

“6. Volunteers always win. Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.”

Reality: The early bird gets eaten by the waiting fox. Again, show too much enthusiasm, or scare the rest of your colleagues into worrying about what you are really up to, can lead to disaster. Be as average as you can be. It is a marathon with no end in sight, or one that is eventually going to head towards a cliff. You don’t want to actually win this race. Coming in third or fourth is just fine. If you are first or if you sprint, you may not be able to stop fast enough to change course.

Not too hot. Not too cold. See the Porridge. Be the porridge.

“7. As long as I'm paid well, it's all good. Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good. Generating revenue is great.“ Again, audacity and cocky philosophies especially comes with undeserved success. Or DSFL.


Reality: if you are paid well, you are usually overpaid. Don’t ever be overpaid. if you are, you are a target for the slightest RIF (corporate parlance for “reduction in force”, or layoff). If you get laid off, yes, it might very well be the “best thing that ever happened” to you, but you will only say that if you become successful. Which will only happen if you get DSFL.

“8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do. Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do. Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.” Or, listen to whatever they tell you and then do whatever the hell you want afterwards

Reality: Not a good idea if you get caught. And unlike DSFL, disobeying an order or “going off the reservation”, is the anti-DSFL. And yes, you will get caught every single time. Meet expectations. Barely. Survive. Don’t thrive. The fat get eaten first. The lean are too stringy.

“9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland. That's why the extra mile is such a lonely place. That's also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities. Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don't wait to be asked; offer. Don't just tell employees what to do--show them what to do and work beside them. Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do--especially if other people aren't doing that one thing. Sure, it's hard. But that's what will make you different. And over time, that's what will make you incredibly successful.”

Reality: I left this one completely intact, because this completely exemplifies the utterly cluelessness of successful people with DSFL. “Going the extra mile” is code for kissing up. And the punishment for it is swift and harsh. Usually meted out in generous portions by Mid-Manager Level I. With glee. Make an extra phone call, or send an extra email or do some unauthorized research, and you risk jeopardizing an already sensitive customer or vendor relationship. Better to not meddle. Especially if it ain’t broke. Help a customer unpack or unload? And you risk a union lawsuit.

Be different and be let go.

Final Reality: There is no statistical possibility or probability that everyone will be successful. Most of us will not become successful. It’s not so much that the world needs ditch diggers, but it kind of does. And like a bee sting, or a lightning strike, or a bird shitting on you in mid-flight, the harder you work, the luckier you might get, and sooner or later, or never, you just might find yourself staring straight into the gleaming jaws of DSFL.

Shortly after that, your phone will ring. It will be Jeff asking you what the secret of your success was. Give him any or all of the 9 above. Or make  9 up. Then Jeff will ask to write your book for you. Let him.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Enemy at the Gates


The tragic story of Jacob Neitzel and his personal nightmare trying to escape the maze that is the California Mental Health and Penal System.

… He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven…Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it." And he was afraid, and said, "This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." - Book of Genesis (28:10-19)

Jacob Neitzel's story is the horrifying real-life account of events, of just about everything that can go wrong, and then went wrong, when the parent of a child suffering from mental illness, loses their child to California's deteriorating and corrupt Mental Health system, and ultimately ends up trying to rescue that child from the equally corrupt California Penal system.

This is a story of truth against power. As with any such story, power has the ability and desire to stifle truth, so in the interest of protecting truth, we must leave out specifics, for surely we will hang. That, and these kinds of details are best left for the lawyers to sort out anyway.

In 1972 Jacob Neitzel was born to Catherine Neitzel Powers and David Neitzel. Throughout his childhood, Jacob was considered "slow", that usual kid you saw in the special-ed class, the one with the distant stare, looking uncomfortably at you as you look away uncomfortably, from the window of that uncomfortably short school bus at a traffic light. Before he was 18, Jacob began to hear voices, and showing all the telltale symptoms, and later was finally and fully diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia.

Not such a big deal at the end of the 20th century. At first he was treated effectively by various treatment centers in Marin County, treatment consisting primarily of the by now usual prescribed medication, primarily Haldol.

When he turned 18, Jacob left home, and like most kids in America living with a debilitating condition that was under the control of his "meds", began his life as a young adult in American society. Just one more disabled American, with a handicap. At various times he lived with his grandfather, his mother, and his friends, as he made his way in the world.

And even with this most daunting challenge of her lifetime, one that would best the very best of us, Catherine would have gladly lived this life, with pleasure, content, happy, even grateful for the honor to occasionally care for her only son, as he made his way. But this is just the beginning of a story.

The story really begins in June of 1995, during a period when Jacob was living on his own, with some unwise friends, who like most unwise friends, unwisely introduced him to recreational drugs, specifically cocaine. The effect that a highly effective stimulant has on someone who is already taking medication for paranoia can be even more addictive and intoxicating. Jacob was very soon hooked and in trouble.

Upon hearing about Jacob's addiction and drug abuse, and worse, that he had stopped taking his medications, Catherine ultimately decided to arrange to commit Jacob to a drug treatment center. So she called a local rehab center to arrange for her son to be placed in treatment, and then went to meet Jacob to tell him.

Jacob thinking he was meeting Mom just to say Hi, and if he was lucky he'd borrow another $20 from her, upon hearing what she wanted him to do, and commit him to drug treatment, became very angry, and as a result of the cocaine in his system, and not having taken his medication for several days, lost control, became irate and overly agitated, and that is when he picked up a rock and began to hit her on the head. The cut ultimately required 9 stitches.

Neighbors hearing Catherine cry out when Jacob struck her, and realizing the situation, naturally called the Police, and Jacob was quickly arrested for assaulting his mother. An understandable if unfortunate domestic disturbance by a family in crisis. At best.

The other conditions that somewhat explain Jacob's mental state in the academic moment in a person with Paranoid Schizophrenia, and a more than plausible reason for his outburst and sudden loss of temper and ultimately his control, was that a short time before meeting with his Mom, Jacob's father had passed away quite suddenly, due to a rapid and aggressive onset of liver cancer. That sadness aside, for someone like Jacob, on the edge, but add to it, Jacob's grandfather had also passed away as well, from colon cancer.

It is important, if not obvious to understand that losing his grandfather was especially hard for Jacob. Jacob had been very close to him, and had lived at his home during various times over the years. Being a US Army psychiatrist, Jacob's grandfather especially, understood Jacob and his condition better than anyone in the family.

At the hearing to decide what to do with Jacob and his attack on Catherine, the initial prosecutor and judge hearing all of the facts, recommended a reasonable 2-year sentence at Atascadero State Mental Hospital. Appropriate, and even necessary, given Jacob's condition.

But then, just before the sentence could be passed, the prosecutor became ill and was replaced by a new prosecutor, one with ambition, and an eagerness to boost his conviction record, regardless of whether the cases merited that or not.

This prosecutor wanted a more prestigious Attempted Murder conviction under his belt, and stopped at nothing, including threats, coercion, and lying, to get it. Using a subpoena and ignoring her police statement in which she had denied that she ever felt that Jacob was trying to kill her in the attack, the new prosecutor even went so far as to use his fiancée, who was a Victim's Advocate at the time, to coerce and convince Catherine, that if she agreed to testify that her son had in fact tried to kill her, the best treatment and facilities in the State would be made available to him.

Trusting the power and authority of a prosecutor, and not knowing that the Victim's Advocate was his fiancée, with the very life of her son in the balance, Catherine unknowingly and unwisely, made a very big mistake, and a deal with the devil-prosecutor, and agreed to testify as recommended, against her son.

Thus began Jacob's 6-year sentence to not the Atascadero State Mental Hospital, or better, or best, or as needed, or even as the initial prosecutor and judge had promised, but to the very gates of San Quentin no less! 


To put this in proper perspective, San Quentin is considered to be one of the most dangerous prisons in the country. The subject of numerous stark films and horrific folklore. The very cliche and industry standard of what Prison means. Sending a young man with a lifelong mental condition, un-medicated, in a state of panic, and fear, having just lost most of his family, confused, and upset and full of regret at how he could have lashed out so violently at his own mother, should make anyone reading this, stop. Short of breath.

To make things worse, Jacob's medical paperwork, which would have at least kept Jacob safely in the psychiatric ward of San Quentin, never made it with him to the prison, thus placing Jacob in the midst of the general population of the most violent criminals and deviants.

Jacob was almost immediately and precisely beaten, repeatedly raped, and forced to perform oral sex on the prisoners one after the other for days on end, with no help from the prison guards, some of whom even received bribes for pimping Jacob to other prisoners, who could (and would) pay.

When on one occasion, Jacob tried to defend himself, the guards considered that to be a violent act and Jacob was summarily shipped off to Pelican Bay. Incidentally, when you behave badly at the worst prison in the country, they send you to Pelican Bay, so you can really learn your lesson.


The rest of Jacob's sentence was spent the same, beatings, rape, day in and especially at night, and when he was administered any medication at all, it was experimental medication, and the treatment of his condition varied, testing bizarre theories and unproven techniques on a new guinea pig. Whenever Jacob tried to defend himself, he was always deemed at fault, and always placed in solitary confinement for extended periods, the longest being 524 days in a row. That is almost 2 years in solitary confinement.

When Jacob was eventually paroled in 2001, he was dumped unceremoniously outside now Soledad Prison gates, in the same flip flops and the prison one-piece jumpsuit that he had been issued upon his arrival, with $190 in his pocket.

The terms of his parole however, prohibited him from having any contact with Catherine, and so less than 48 hours after being paroled Jacob, unable to comprehend what parole even meant, was picked up for violating the very terms of his parole, landing him back in prison for another six months.

And so it continued, each time, being released and each time, ill-equipped and unable to process what living normally was anymore, Jacob was sent back to jail. Over and over again. To the same horror and hell reception.

The reason this happens, is that according to the system, a California parole officer actually gets bonus points for committing prisoners back to jail, and since they get more points for felonies over misdemeanors, the slightest violation by a parolee, is incentivized to be trumped up as a felony, which lands the parolee right back in jail again, and again, and again. You can see how this institutionalized corruption might work to keep career criminals of the street, but get caught into this whirlpool as an innocent and it quickly becomes Hades.

In 2004, Jacob fearing for his life after being re-incarcerated in the Marin County jail, during one of these trumped up felonies, decided he had simply had enough, and rather than spend one more sleepless night in terror, did what oddly enough, any sane person in his place would have done, and jumped from the second tier balcony in the prison ward, landing on his head, sustaining a sweetly massive head injury.

Jacob had attempted suicide many times before while in prison, however each time he had been saved by the guards and had been unsuccessful at ending his torment. This time too, he was saved, by the attending physician at the Marin County jail, however because of the severity of the injury to his skull and brain, he spent 8 months in the hospital, 9 days in a coma, 30 days in the intensive care unit.

Jacob had now lost the ability to walk, talk, or eat, and his mental condition had worsened from the surgery to repair the damage from his head injury, removing one third of his brain. Although Jacob had lost and lost and lost during his young but tortuously long life, he had now at least, at last, finally gained one priceless victory. Utter numbness.

Throughout his recovery, in full defiance of the court order forbidding her from seeing him, Catherine sat now patiently by his side and slowly and with the dedication and determination and optimistic fortitude that only a mother can summon and muster for her son, began their long process of reunification. Her own customized "rehab" program, if you will.

After he was finally released from Prison, and placed into a proper health facility, Catherine and Jacob continued fighting the Marin County Health system. Which audaciously and arrogantly dared without shame to cowardly fight them off and back, by refusing to release Jacob into the safer hands of Catherine. When they did provide any healthcare at all, it was often in the wrong dosages and combinations, with errors that were carefully screened and caught by a wary Catherine, and almost always too little, and of course too late.


Tactics of delaying and refusing to provide the necessary medications and care, caused Jacob's condition to worsen, and the very gates of heaven that were supposed to provide treatment to Jacob had become yet another twisted sentence, yet more false imprisonment.

This can only be defined as an almost patent and institutionalized denial of Jacob's human and civil rights by a process, an entire system stacked against the individual, a person that their very charter is defined to serve.

No one within the system wanted to acknowledge their case, or accept their version of the story, and in almost every example, the internal paperwork proving their case had been misplaced or lost entirely. Because if anyone in the system even came close to acknowledging even the slightest part of this humanitarian disaster, they would of course have had to inherit all of the responsibility for righting the many wrongs that had been done to Jacob since 1995.

In January of this year 2012, after a version of this story was presented to the other side. Catherine and Jacob were finally granted the release they had been seeking. They have now since relocated to another state, and are beginning the long hard road, not to recovery, but just to a life free of terror.

But none of this really matters. What's done is done, Jacob is at the end of this chapter of his life, confined to his wheelchair, missing a third of his brain, and most of his mind, unable to control what fate remains for him, just as he is unable to control his bladder.

Forget courtesy or common decency. For Jacob to be in his mother's care, so that he can live the rest of his life with the merest safety and security. To simply be granted the gift to place his head down to sleep one night, deep and in peace for once, a gift you and I take for granted without the slightest thought. This thing that you and I don't think about once, or ever in our lives.

Epilogue:

In 2001 in a supermarket parking lot, the former fiancée, the "victim's advocate", of the prosecutor who mis-tried Jacob's case as attempted murder, happened to see Catherine, and ran up to her in tears, and began apologizing to her, exclaiming that she had not stopped thinking about Catherine and Jacob all these years, and spoke about how wrong it was, and how she had blamed herself all these years for what had been done to them.

"Men's wretchedness in soothe I so deplore,
Not even I would plague the sorry creatures more."
-Mephistopheles, Faust