Enlightened Selfies

When the press refers to “Generation Selfie,” do we sense a sneer? It’s almost as if the term selfie is shorthand not for self-portrait but for self-involved, self-absorbed, or simply selfish.

For most of human history, we got very few chances to see ourselves as others see us. 

Selfies are widespread among millennials, many of whom grew up with camera phones. A poll commissioned by electronics maker Samsung reveals that fully 30 percent of all photos taken by 18- to 24-year-olds are selfies. For many of us, the selfie is just the new normal, whether or not we fill our own smartphones with self-regarding snapshots. But, as Pamela Rutledge writes for Psychology Today, some see the selfie generation “as proof of cultural — or at least generational — narcissism and moral decline.” And calling Generation Selfie a bunch of narcissists may not be rhetorical excess: according to a paper in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, selfie-posting behavior is indeed associated with narcissistic personality disorder.

Does this mean that modern society is growing more self-obsessed?

Belief in the “moral decay” epitomized by self-directed amateur photography results from a more general conviction that the virtues of community and altruism are being driven out by our culture’s overemphasis on the individual. Whether the culprit is capitalism, technology, or Western civilization more generally, the idea is that historically recent developments are fracturing our communal bonds and leading to…

Feds release 7,800 pages of Clinton emails

Hillary Clinton (White House photo)

Hillary Clinton (White House photo)

The State Department released 7,800 pages of Hillary Clinton emails, including one marked “secret” that contained information about U.S. foreign relations.

The Hill noted that particular email spoke about the federal investigation of the 2012 attack on America’s compound in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans – including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens – dead. The email was written in the wake of the arrest of suspects “who may” have been tied to the attack, the Hill said.

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The email classified “secret” follows an inspector general report that found a couple of previously released emails from the former secretary of State’s private, home–based email server contained “top secret” information, which is the highest tag possible for sensitive data.

Just in time for the 2016 election, hear Hillary Clinton say she would NOT run for president, in “Hillary Unhinged” by Thomas Kuiper

The document dump late Monday was the largest batch of emails released by State to date. Two–thirds of Clinton’s court–ordered emails have been released, the Hill reported.

“Meeting this goal is a testament to our commitment to releasing to the public these emails as expeditiously as possible,” said State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau.

A federal court ordered the release of 55,000 pages of Clinton’s emailed messages from her tenure as secretary of State. The emails were stored on the private server she set up in her home in New York.


Are We Becoming a Nation of George Costanzas?

George Costanza, a fictional character in Seinfeld, might be the most miserable, complaining “victim” in television history.

George is a pro at shirking responsibility, making excuses, and blaming other people. He is an amateur at adding value in the workplace. 

It has been almost 25 years since NBC first broadcast an episode of Seinfeld titled “The Revenge.” George rashly tells off his boss and quits his job. Later that day, he sits in Jerry’s apartment lamenting over his future job prospects. Jerry gently probes George about his interests. “I like sports,” George replies, and muses of being a general manager or an announcer. When Jerry points out that he has no qualifications for those jobs, George retorts, “Well, that’s really not fair.”

A Distorted View of Fairness

Starting at the top of any profession isn’t an option, but George doesn’t understand that. He schemes how to get ahead and lacks all initiative to do actual work.

Organizations succeed by delivering value to their consumers. Individuals succeed by delivering value in their organizations to satisfy the needs of their managers and colleagues, as well as the consumers and suppliers with whom they interact.

George is a pro at shirking responsibility, making excuses, and blaming other people. He is an amateur at adding value in the workplace.

His misery comes from living life outside-in. When we live outside-in, we believe circumstances and other people are responsible for how we feel and the success we achieve. Living this way, we can’t help but try to control and manipulate those circumstances and people that we believe are responsible for our well-being.

It takes a lot of energy to live life outside-in; most often, our efforts to control life are futile. Our energy is depleted; we have nothing left to invest in creating value for others. Living this way is miserable.


Here’s how people can vote twice!

Sharyl Attkisson 11-29-15

When reporter Chris Papst with WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. moved to Virginia from Pennsylvania, he learned something interesting: because of lax laws, he was still registered to vote in both states and could easily have voted twice.

This experience, reported on Full Measure, made him realize our voting system has “some serious flaws.”

Linda Lindberg, director of elections and registrar in Arlington, Virginia, admits the voter registration issue is problematic, particularly when voters move between one state and another. Forms are licked, stamped, and mailed to the voter’s new state. “It’s a bit antiquated, this system, in a modern world,” she admits.

Lindberg says the process cannot keep pace with our increasingly mobile lives. When paper is still king, “a lot can go wrong.”

“That’s a big problem in the integrity of our voter rolls,” says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. “There’s a huge amount of inaccuracy.

Kobach operates the Interstate Crosscheck, a collection of 28 states that share voter rolls. In 2014, the Crosscheck found 7.3 million voters were registered in multiple states. But since 22 states don’t participate – including California, Texas and Florida – that number is likely much higher.

Kobach says this inaccuracy increases the possibility of voter fraud. In his state in 2014, more than 100 people – a record – appeared to vote twice.

“You look at the larger group of 28 states and do the math,” says Kobach, “we’re talking about thousands of double votes.”

Allegra Chapman, director of voting and elections with Common Cause, disagrees.

“No. It just doesn’t happen,” Chapman states. Chapman leads national and state efforts to reduce barriers to voting and ensure that elections are run efficiently and fairly throughout the country.

She downplays the impact of double voting, but agrees the system needs to be modernized. “Everything we do is so tech-based, and so it just makes sense that we should be modernizing our election system to come into the 21st century.”

Pabst notes that 24 states plus the District of Columbia do have online voter registration; but there is no national database to check and see if people are registered in multiple states. Since he will shortly be moving to Maryland, he will find out next November if he could conceivably be registered to vote in three states.

The lost children

I have to confess that I have not read David Paulides’ Missing 411 series. Whenever I am ill-advised enough to read about persons who have gone missing from parks and wilderness areas, I panic in the time-honored tradition of those who meet elemental forces in the forests.

The Dyatlov Pass incident

Imagine being trapped on top of a mountain in below-freezing temperatures, no food to eat, no help on the way, and the cold hard truth that death was right around the frigid corner.It is truly the stuff of nightmares when you are nestled in your warm bed with the covers drawn snuggly over your body and the room filled with a comfortable heat pumping from the furnace.