Friday, October 31, 2008

Calming Anxiety With Kindness

There is a lot of anxiety around at the best of times but observers say that a hard fought election only accentuates the anxiety.

Recent accounts report people are losing sleep over the rising and falling McCain polls.

Voters around the country, whether they support McCain or Barack Obama, say they are experiencing nail-biting, ulcer-inducing anxiety ahead of the election and all that's riding on it.

Antidote for Anxiety
Susan Smalley has written a practical prescription for anxiety, believing that it is important to try a little kindness. Here are her main points but read her article to get the full blast:

1. Be kind to your body.

2. Be kind to your mind.

3. Be kind to the world.

4. Kindness is on the rise.

5. Kindness trumps everything else.

Three Important Things
Smalley ends with this anecdote:

Henry James once said, "Three things in human life are important:

The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."

Now is the time to practice all three.

Source: Susan Smalley, Election Anxiety: Kill it With Kindness, Huffington Post, 30 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Poll anxiety

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Craziness and Commonsense

Walter Shurden shares in a recent journal installment his favorite story from the Riverside preacher, William Sloane Coffin:

When he was a seminary student at Yale Divinity School, Coffin worked in the summer as a chaplain at the state mental institution at Middletown, CT. Said Coffin:

“These patients were uncanny in their ability to spot pretensions. And you never knew when the wildest of them wasn’t suddenly going to make sense.”

One afternoon on the very disturbed ward a loud “POW” startled the patients. They rushed to the barred windows and saw a man who had a blowout and was preparing to change the right front tire of the car. Soon the patients were shouting all kinds of gibberish at him, doubtless making him nervous. They succeeded.

When he removed the bad tire, he stood up to fetch the spare and accidentally kicked the hub cap in which he had put the wheel nuts. They went flying down a drain. The man threw up his hands in frustration. Then one of the most violent men in the ward, one no one had ever heard complete a sentence, shouted through the bars, “Take one nut off the other three tires and drive slowly to the nearest garage.”

The man below looked up and waved his thanks whereupon the violent man shouted once again, “Just because we’re crazy doesn’t mean we’re stupid.”

William Sloane Coffin, Once to Every Man: A Memoir (New York: Atheneum, 1977), 125. Thanks to Buddy Shurden for the story.

Dr Geoff Pound

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Making It Up As We Go Along

Rick Warren, Orange County personality and pastor of the Saddleback Church, is a movie buff.

Rick shares a cameo that resonates with his own experience:

One of my favorite movies is Raiders of the Lost Ark.

At one cliff-hanging point in the story someone asks Indiana Jones, ‘What are we going to do now?’

Jones replies, ‘How do I know? I’m making it up as we go along!’

Warren concludes, “I have often felt like that many, many times…”

Source: Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996), 28.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: An interesting combo—Rick Warren and Indian Jones.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama on the Cost and Struggle of Change

David Sirota was one of an estimated 100,000 who heard Senator Barack Obama speak over the weekend in Denver. He writes:

“What really seemed to capture those 100,000 Coloradoans (including me) - was his [Obama’s] discussion about struggle. I may be an old seadog from the many campaigns I've worked, and I may have learned enough to not be easily mesmerized by politicians, but I will admit right here: the flash I saw from Obama at the end of his speech really blew me away.”

“Indeed, as he was closing his remarks, he touched on how making change is incredibly painful and incredibly grueling - and how it always has been throughout our history. And the best part - the part where the audience was most silent and rapt - was when Obama veered off his prepared remarks and made it personal.”

‘Maybe some of your parents or grandparents, they were born in another country without freedom of speech or freedom of worship, but they said, you know what, we know there's this land across the ocean called America, where it's a land of opportunity and a land of freedom, and we're willing to take the risk to travel to that place to create a better future for our children and grandchildren. In this audience, there are people whose parents or grandparents couldn't cast a vote, but they said to themselves you know, maybe my child or grandchild, if we march, if we struggle, maybe they may be able to run for the United States Senate, maybe they might run for the Presidency of the United States of America.’

“Those references to the courage of immigrants and the civil rights movement are clearly personal to Obama, and they are rarely voiced in Colorado politics - an arena that has often been about bashing immigrants. That he departed from his prepared text to talk about those issues, and tied them to a discussion about how difficult change is – well, it suggests that very "transformative" possibility of the Obama candidacy.”

“Whether you believe Obama represents real change or not, I came away believing that he understands the challenge of actually making change, should he win. That is, he understands that if he really attempts to fundamentally alter the status quo on major issues, it is going to be a very tumultuous and difficult process - one that only begins on election day.”

Source: David Sirota, The Moment Obama Grabbed 100,000 Coloradoans, Huffington Post, 26 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Obama Grabbing 100,000 Coloradoans. (Courtesy of David Sirota and HP at the above link. This picture has been modified into an artsy style for use as a desktop photo.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Refusing to Live in the Margins of Another Person’s Life

The emotional wisdom in Jhumpa Lahiri’s book, Unaccustomed Earth is rich and is evident in these thoughts of Ruma’s father who had been invited to stay permanently with Ruma and her family but who at the end of his visit was coming to this conclusion:

“Being here for a week, however pleasant, had only confirmed the fact. He did not want to be part of another family, part of the mess, the feuds, the demands, the energy of it. He did not want to live in the margins of his daughter’s life, in the shadow of her marriage.” (p53)

A review of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “He did not want to live in the margins of his daughter’s life.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Barack Obama Pays Tribute to His Grandmother

In his memoirs, Dreams of My Father, Barack Obama writes about being sent by his mother from Indonesia to Hawaii so he could enter the American education system. He lived with his grandparents for many months before his mother and sister shifted to Hawaii.

Here are some memories of Barack’s grandparents, especially his grandmother, Toot:

Such exchanges became familiar to me, for my grandparents' arguments followed a well-worn groove, a groove that originated in the rarely mentioned fact that Toot earned more money than Gramps. She had proved to be a trailblazer of sorts, the first woman vice-president of a local bank, and although Gramps liked to say that he always encouraged her in her career, her job had become a source of delicacy and bitterness between them as his commissions paid fewer and fewer of the family's bills.

Not that Toot had anticipated her success. Without a college education, she had started out as a secretary to help defray the costs of my unexpected birth. But she had a quick mind and sound judgment, and the capacity for sustained work. Slowly she had risen, playing by the rules, until she reached the threshold where competence didn't suffice. There she would stay for twenty years, with scarcely a vacation, watching as her male counterparts kept moving up the corporate ladder, playing a bit loose with information passed on between the ninth hole and the ride to the clubhouse, becoming wealthy men.

More than once, my mother would tell Toot that the bank shouldn't get away with such blatant sexism. But Toot would just pooh-pooh my mother's remarks, saying that everybody could find a reason to complain about something. Toot didn't complain. Every morning, she woke up at five a.m. and changed from the frowsy muu-muus she wore around the apartment into a tailored suit and high-heeled pumps. Her face powdered, her hips girdled, her thinning hair bolstered, she would board the six-thirty bus to arrive at her downtown office before anyone else. From time to time, she would admit a grudging pride in her work and took pleasure in telling us the inside story behind the local financial news. When I got older, though, she would confide in me that she had never stopped dreaming of a house with a white picket fence, days spent baking or playing bridge or volunteering at the local library. I was surprised by this admission, for she rarely mentioned hopes or regrets. It may or may not have been true that she would have preferred the alternative history she imagined for herself, but I came to understand that her career spanned a time when the work of a wife outside the home was nothing to brag about, for her or for Gramps—that it represented only lost years, broken promises. What Toot believed kept her going were the needs of her grandchildren and the stoicism of her ancestors.

“So long as you kids do well, Bar,” she would say more than once, “that's all that really matters.”

Source: Barack Obama, Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1995, 2007), 56-57.

A review of this book can be found at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Gramps, Barack and Toot.

Tony Campolo on the Value of Tradition

In an address on visionaries and dreamers Tony Campolo speaks of the importance of tradition:

Indeed, religious experience is partly ritual, isn’t it? It’s partly ritual. That’s why, if you’re Jewish, you know there is such a thing called the Seder Feast.

I taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and the students who even were atheists would always come and want to borrow my children. If they were Jewish, they wanted to borrow my children for the Seder Feast. And dumb me — I would lend them out. I say “dumb” because I could have rented them.

And I would say to these students, “Students, you don’t even believe in God,” and they would say, “Yes, but we’re Jewish.” And the rituals kept them Jewish.

Tevya understood this. Remember in that wonderful musical, “Fiddler on the Roof” — he said, “Tradition — because of our traditions we know who we are, where we come from, and what our lives are all about.”

Tony Campolo, Visionaries and Dreamers, 30 Good Minutes, 30 December 1984.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “you know there is such a thing called the Seder Feast.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Parable of Immortality by Henry Van Dyke

At Tim Russert’s funeral (18 June 2008) Maria Shriver read an abbreviated version of this poem, written by Henry Van Dyke:

A Parable of Immortality, by Henry Van Dyke
“I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “There she goes!”

Gone where? Gone from my sight … that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “There she goes! there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.”

Monday, October 20, 2008

John McCain Contemplating Defeat

Mr McCain, speaking (19 October 2008) moments after his old friend Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, had endorsed Mr Obama, said that a loss would not devastate him. He said that he had thought about it, “but I don't dwell on it”.

The Republican nominee continued: “I've had a wonderful life. I have to go back to Arizona and live ... with a wonderful family, and daughters and sons that I'm so proud of. I'm the luckiest guy you have ever interviewed and will ever interview. I'm the most fortunate man on Earth, and I thank God for it every single day.”

Source: I Can Live With defeat, says John McCain, Times Online, 20 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: John McCain

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama Expresses Debt to Mother and His Humble Beginnings

In his book, Dreams from My Father, Barack pays tribute to his mother:

“Her initial efforts centered on education… [She] had arranged to supplement my Indonesian schooling with lessons from a U.S. correspondence course.”

“Her efforts now redoubled. Five days a week, she came into my room at four in the morning, force-fed me breakfast and proceeded to teach me my English lessons for three hours before I left for school and she went to work…”

“It was those sorts of issues, I realize now, less tangible than school transcripts or medical services, that became the focus of her lessons with me. ‘If you want to grow into a human being,’ she would say to me, ‘you’re going to need some values.’”

Source: Barack Obama, Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1995, 2007), 47-49.

A review of this book is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Barack Obama and his mother.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tendulkar Turns Stones into Milestones

The India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has become the leading all-time scorer in Test cricket, surpassing retired West Indies batsman Brian Lara’s record.

Afterwards, Tendulkar said: "It has taken me 19 years to get the record. It can't happen overnight.

"It has been a fantastic journey. There have been ups and downs in the process of success."

Tendulkar, among the team's senior players faced with questions of retirement, added jokingly: "If stones are thrown at you, you convert them into milestones."

For the Complete Report:
Tendulkar Breaks Test Batting Record, The National, 17 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Sachin Tendulkar celebrates on becoming the leading run-scorer in Test Match Cricket history during the first day of the second Test match between India and Australia in Mohali on Oct 17 2008. (Courtesy Manan Vatsyayana / AFP from the above link)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What Don’t You Know and How Will You Learn it?

There is not too much I recall or want to remember about the second US Presidential debate (7 October 2008) but the final ‘zen-like’ question posed by Tom Brokaw is resounding in my ears.

The question, or two questions in one, was sent in by ‘Peggy from Amherst’: “What don’t you know and how will you learn it?”

It was the best question of the night. I don’t think either candidate answered this question satisfactorily. Their approach was to turn the question into an opportunity to tell viewers what they did know.

Barack Obama made a quick joke (“My wife, Michelle, is there, and she could give you a list”), observed that it's the unexpected challenges that often consume most of a president's time, then changed the subject to the American dream.

John McCain explained that “what I don't know is what all of us don't know, and that's what's going to happen ... what I don't know is what the unexpected will be.” Then he too changed the subject. [See both candidates answer the question at this link]

I have got lots of mileage from this question as I have kept mulling it over each day since that debate.

In order to assert his experience and readiness to lead from Day 1 John McCain keeps on saying that the Presidential role is not one for ongoing training. I understand that he is saying that the job requires gifts and competencies right from the start. But hopefully a President will identify areas for improvement and surround himself with competent people so that he will be a person who is for ever growing and learning.

The questions are usually more important and instructive than the answers. I am working on my answers and identifying some learning challenges.

What about you?

What things don’t you know or what things do you need to know?

How will you learn them?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Presidential debaters.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Risking Your Life but Never Your Honor

The John McCain of “Faith of My Fathers,” [one of his books] … bears more than a little resemblance to the fictional Robert Jordan of “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” the Hemingway hero Mr. McCain later celebrated in another book with Mr. Salter, “Worth the Fighting For,” which was named for a line of Jordan’s dying thoughts.

He was “a man who would risk his life but never his honor,” Mr. McCain wrote with Mr. Salter, a model of “how a great man should style himself.”

David Kirkpatrick, Writing Memoir, McCain found a Narrative for Life, NY Times, 12 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: John McCain and Ernest Hemingway.

Nobel Winners Selected for Their Discoveries and Contributions Not Their I.Q.’s

Nobel winners are selected for their discoveries, not their I.Q.’s, and most are not geniuses, said one Nobel laureate, Dr. Michael S. Brown of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Illustrating his point with a humorous anecdote, Dr. Brown recalled a moment when laureates met in Stockholm at the centennial of the Nobel Prizes: “If you really want to know what Nobel Prize winners are like, you should have been in the breakfast line seeing all these brilliant people wandering around randomly trying to find the scrambled eggs. It was like anything but a group of brilliant folks.”

Lawrence Altman, Alfred Nobel and the Prize That Almost Didn’t Happen, N Y Times, 26 September 2006.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, shown in 1853, left the bulk of his estate to create the prizes.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Presidents Practice Principle of Rest and Exercise

A CNN article reports that Presidents work best when they take regular respites from the burdens of the presidency, according to Duberstein and other White House insiders from the Nixon presidency through the current administration.

"The time off at the ranch or at Camp David was more than an escape," Duberstein says. "It was good for his physical and mental well-being."

"The daily routine of a president is really grueling," says Ron Nessen, press secretary to President Gerald Ford. "It's hard to get thinking time. Ford talked about how when he was swimming laps, it gave him time to think about things."

No wonder then, that the most recent presidents have turned to sports as a diversion from what's been called the toughest job in the world.

Presidents have enjoyed mountain biking (George W. Bush), golf (Bill Clinton, Ford, Dwight D. Eisenhower), tennis (Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush), jogging (Clinton, Carter and both Bushes), swimming (Ford), bowling (Richard Nixon), horseshoes (George H.W. Bush) and horseback riding (Reagan).

"Exercise was a huge part of his life," says Jody Powell, Carter's press secretary. "He enjoyed tennis very much. He ran just about every day."

To blow off steam, Clinton would go to the putting green outside the White House.
"Everyone knew to leave him alone," says Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. "It had to be a national security crisis to go out and interrupt him."

Even presidents who were not particularly athletic made a point of taking a break.

President Nixon had an office with a comfortable sofa in the Old Executive Office Building (now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building), next door to the White House, says John Dean, former White House counsel.

When Ford came down with the flu, he was forced to take four days in the residence. "His workload was cut way back so he had more time to think, and he came back and decided to make some major, major changes to his staff," Nessen says.

An avid runner, mountain biker and fisherman, "President Bush is good at finding ways to separate [from the job]," says Ari Fleischer, his former press secretary. "But even so, you never have an uninterrupted day as president. Every day, you have a National Security Council meeting. Every day you get interrupted by an intelligence briefing."

To read the full article, follow this link:

David S Martin, Even Presidents Need Time to Chill out, CNN.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Pick out the US Presidents.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Alfred Nobel and His Image Makeover

Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, had a rude awakening when in 1888 a French newspaper, printed his obituary. Thinking that Alfred had died, instead of his brother, the premature obituary was headed, ‘The Merchant of Death is Dead’ (Le marchand de la mort est mort").

Alfred Nobel was shocked, not only to read his own obituary but to learn that he would be remembered in such a negative and destructive way.

So in his will he ordered that his considerable estate be invested and that the interest be awarded each year as prizes “to those persons who during the previous year have rendered the greatest services to mankind.”

Alfred Nobel succeeded in transforming his image and his legacy.

How are you going to be remembered and what will be the legacy that you leave behind?

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Alfred Nobel.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Michelle Obama Talks About Sarah Palin and Other Women

This is not a story but part of an interview of Michelle Obama by Larry King (8 October 2008).

It is posted here not to put one candidate against another but to give an example of how to disagree while maintaining respect with someone who has gone onto the attack and how to react when tough things are said about you and/or your loved one.

KING: We're back with Michelle Obama. Sarah Palin has been taking the role kind of attack dog in recent days. Here's an example. And we'll get a comment.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AL), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country.


KING: That don't get you any mad?

M. OBAMA: You know, fortunately, I don't watch it.

KING: Oh, well now you've seen it.

M. OBAMA: I've seen it.

KING: All right. She said that your husband pals around with terrorists. And she's referring to William Ayers, I guess.

Do you know William Ayers?

M. OBAMA: Yes, yes, yes. Barack served on the board of the Annenberg Challenge with Bill Ayers and –

KING: That was started by the Annenberg family, right?

M. OBAMA: Absolutely. And Mrs. Annenberg, in fact, endorsed John McCain. So, I don't know anyone in Chicago who's heavily involved in education policy who doesn't know Bill Ayers.

But, you know, again, I go back to the point that you know, the American people aren't asking these questions.

KING: You don't think it affects the campaign?

M. OBAMA: You know, I think that we've been in this for 20 months and people have gotten to know Barack. He's written books. Books have been written about him. He, like all of the other candidates have been thoroughly vetted. And I think people know Barack Obama.

They know his heart, they know his spirit. And the thing that I just encourage people is to judge Barack and judge all of these candidates based on what they do, their actions, their character, what they do in their lives. Rather than what somebody did when they were eight, or six years old.

KING: When someone calls, and says, he's running for vice president, that your husband associates with terrorism, that upsets you, I would think.

M. OBAMA: You know, that's part of politics. But –

KING: It doesn't -- it goes right off of you?

M. OBAMA: You know, these issues have come up before. But, the one thing that I'm proud about with Barack is that one of the things he's been talking about is our tone.

And it's the notion that he says, we can disagree without being disagreeable. And that's, you know, where he's trying to get to in this campaign. The notion that we can disagree on some fundamental issues in this country. But, we have to do it without demonizing one another, without labeling one another.

Because we're in some tough times now. And what we can see from the fall of this economy is that when we fall, we all fall. And when we rise, we all rise. And whether we're Republicans or Democrats or Independents, or black or white or straight or gay, that we're in this together. And that there are times that we will disagree, that we won't share the same policies. But, we're going to rise and fall together. And that's the tone that I like. And I think that's where Americans want their elected officials to be.

KING: So you bear her no umbrage?

M. OBAMA: Not at all. Not at all.

I mean, that's not where we need to be right now. I mean, we need to be at a point where we're figuring out how to work together. Again, whether we agree or disagree –

KING: What do you make –

M. OBAMA: -- so that we can move things forward –

KING: What do you make of her running for a vice president and having many kids and being a good parent and bouncing all the balls?

M. OBAMA: You know, I think she provides an excellent of example of all the different roles that women can and should play.

You know, I'm a mother with kids and I've had a career and I've had to juggle. She's doing publicly, what so many women are doing on their own privately. What we're fighting for is to make sure that all women have the choices that Sarah Palin and I have. To make these decision and do it without hurting their families. And we're in a position now, as I go across the country and I've had conversations with working women and many find that they have to do the juggling. But, they're doing it without the support.

They're living in communities where jobs have dried up. So, their family members have had to move away so they can't rely on mothers and all those informal support structures. They don't have access to decent child care. They're worrying about health care. So what Sarah Palin and I have that all women deserve is the choice and the resources to make their choices work. And I think that's what we need to fight for.

KING: And the Senator shares that view?

M. OBAMA: Absolutely. I mean, he's seen -- you know, Barack's grown up with strong women. He's seen me. He grew up in a household where his grandmother was the primary breadwinner. Saw her juggling to support the entire family. Saw her working her way up from being a secretary at a bank, to being a senior official. His mother was a single parent, saw her struggle in many ways

He's seen the struggles of women and knows that there's an inequity there. That we're still in this country dealing with pay equity issues for women. Women still earn $0.79 to the dollar, compared to men for the same job. And that's where we have to move from, you know? We have to move out of that inequity and give women the salaries that they need so that in the event that they have to make the choice, or want to make the choice to work, that they're able to support their family like I can, like Sarah Palin can.

KING: The extraordinary Michelle Obama. We'll be back in 60 seconds.

To read the full transcript that is rich in insight follow this link:

Michelle Obama Asked about Bill Ayers by CNN’s Larry King, Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun Times, 8 October 2008.

To watch a clip of this interview on video follow this link or see these clips from CNN Video.

Not Offended by ‘That One’ Comment, CNN
Michelle on Ayers Comment by Palin, CNN
Michelle Obama on Hilary Clinton, CNN

Image: Michelle Obama on Larry King Live, 8 October 2008.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Tina Fey on What Parents Should Do

These Tina Fey words on Saturday Night Live had nothing to do with politics, Sarah Palin, John McCain, Barack Obama, Joe Biden or television.

"I thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence that is disproportionate to my looks and abilities. Well done. That is what parents should do."

SNL, NBC; Via: Candy Spelling, Live from LA, It’s Tina Fey, Huffington Post, 7 October 2008)

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and ‘Hilary Clinton’.

No Maverick by any Sense of the Word

Applying the word ‘maverick’ to Mr. McCain is a bit of a stretch — and to one Texas family in particular it is even a bit offensive, reports a New York Times article.

“I’m just enraged that McCain calls himself a maverick,” said Terrellita Maverick, 82, a San Antonio native who proudly carries the name of a family that has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s, when an early ancestor in Boston got into trouble with the law over his agitation for the rights of indentured servants.

In the 1800s, Samuel Augustus Maverick went to Texas and became known for not branding his cattle. He was more interested in keeping track of the land he owned than the livestock on it, Ms. Maverick said; unbranded cattle, then, were called “Maverick’s.” The name came to mean anyone who didn’t bear another’s brand…

Considering the family’s long history of association with liberalism and progressive ideals, it should come as no surprise that Ms. Maverick insists that John McCain, who has voted so often with his party, “is in no way a maverick, in uppercase or lowercase.”

“It’s just incredible — the nerve! — to suggest that he’s not part of that Republican herd. Every time we hear it, all my children and I and all my family shrink a little and say, ‘Oh, my God, he said it again.’ ”

“He’s a Republican,” she said. “He’s branded.”

To read the entire article:

John Schwartz, Who You Callin’ a Maverick? New York Times, 4 October 2008.

Image: Samuel Augustus Maverick.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Importance of Being a Good Sport

At one point during a game, the coach called one of his 9-year-old players aside and asked:

'Do you understand what cooperation is… what being a member of a team is?'

The little boy nodded in the affirmative.

'Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose together as a team?

The little boy nodded yes.

'So,' the coach went on: 'I'm sure you know, when a decision is called against you, you shouldn't argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him a stupid ****** idiot. Do you understand all that?

Again the little boy nodded.

He continued: 'And when I take you out of the game so another boy gets a chance to play, it's really not good sportsmanship to call your coach 'a dumb @#$%& !!! '… is it?

Again the little boy nodded.

'Good … now go over there and explain all that to your grandmother.'

Source: Thanks to BH.

Dr Geoff Pound

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thomas Merton on the Real Journey in Life

Our real journey in life is interior; it is a matter of growth, deepening, and is an ever greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts. Never was it more necessary for us to respond to that action.”

Source: Jim Forest, Living With Wisdom: A Life of Thomas Merton (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1992), 198. Quotation from unpublished document: Thomas Merton, Circular Letter to friends, September 1968.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “Our real journey in life is interior…”

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Paul Begala’s Coaching Tips for Communicators

Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House.

He has been involved in most of the presidential and vice presidential debates over the past 20 years.

He has done debate prep, been a spin doctor, convened the greatest comedy writers in Hollywood in a one-liner factory and even played George W. Bush for Al Gore's practice debates.

Here is a taste of Begala’s tips for political debating on the eve of the much-awaited US Vice Presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

They have application for most other forms of oral communication:

Don't cram: If your debate prep is dominated by propeller-heads, you're in trouble. I love the nerds, Lord knows, but they can overwhelm you. In 1984, the brilliant Richard Darman overloaded Ronald Reagan with minutiae, perhaps in an effort to dispel rumors that the Gipper had lost a step.

The strategy blew up in the Reagan campaign's face. In his first debate with Walter Mondale, Reagan stumbled and stammered. There was too much new information clanging around in his brain. But by the second debate, he blew away concerns about his age. He did this not with a rapid-fire recitation of statistics, but with a classic Reagan quip: "I will not use my opponent's youth and inexperience as an issue in this campaign." Which leads me to my next rule:

Wit is Sticky: John Kerry bested George W Bush in all of their debates, according to the polls. And yet voters were left without any take-home point. That's because Kerry not only lacked a clear, coherent message (see No. 1 above), he didn't use humor. In fact, I was told that one of his aides later bragged that Kerry had refused to use any of the "cute lines" my Hollywood writers had sent his way -- as if being witty were beneath him.

The most memorable lines are often the funniest. Think of jug-eared Ross Perot crowing, "If you have a better plan ... I'm all ears." Or former POW McCain saying of a plan to build a museum at the site of the Woodstock concert, "I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmacological event. But I could not attend. I was tied up at the time."

Chris Rock recently told Larry King that people only laugh at a line if they see some truth in it. Smart candidates ought to heed Rock's observation.

To read the ten top tips for debaters and oral communicators follow this link:

10 Rules for Winning a Debate, CNN, 1 October 2008.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: Some US Presidential and VP Nominee Debaters.