No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail

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Do you know the same tactic used by Democrat candidates to oust several long-time Republican Congressmen in 2018 was also used successfully by a North Carolina Republican to win his congressional election that same year?

It’s called “ballot harvesting” or “ballot collecting.” In a nutshell, it allows campaigns to organize staff who then gather mail-in ballots from legitimate voters and submit them on behalf of those voters.

Sounds efficient, right?

It is. Both for the voter and for the campaign.

The voter avoids the long lines on election day. The campaign gets to target constituencies more likely to vote for their candidate. In effect, it cuts out the “O” in GOTV (“Get Out The Vote”) strategies by transforming it simply to a GTV (“Get The Vote”) effort.

Here’s the odd thing, though. Ballot harvesting (or collecting) is legal in some states (like California) and illegal in other states (like North Carolina).

The winning California Democrats went on to serve in Congress. The winning Republican’s election was invalidated and he opted against running in the subsequent election re-do. All used some form of ballot harvesting/collecting to gain their electoral victories.

The inequity of this treatment has caused quite a debate. While it may seem like a partisan Continue Reading “No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail”

To The Class of 2020

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You live in strange times.

You dream of greatness, of achievement, of success. Others have captured their dreams. You’re no different from them. You can earn your desires. You either have a plan or you know you can make a plan, by yourself or through the aid of helpful allies.

But now, at this very moment, your life has been disturbed, uprooted by forces you cannot control. Your carefully crafted plans, your jubilant expectations, your equitable share, all have been stripped from you. Together, they represent a loss you can never regain.

You are not alone.

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a question long asked by theologians, pondered by philosophers, and analyzed by psychiatrists. Yet, for all the mental, physical, Continue Reading “To The Class of 2020”

A Bothersome Burden Has Just Been Lifted From My Shoulders, Did You Just Get the Same Feeling?

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A terrible bothersome burden has just been removed from my shoulders. Did you just get the same feeling?

The last time I felt this weighed down was, well, maybe a half century ago. For those of you who think “half century ago” must refer to ancient times, do the math. I’m talking about the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. It’s a drag. And I don’t mean “drag” in the sense that was used in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but “drag” in the sense of physics, specifically as engineers use it in automotive design and aeronautics. It a gnawing downward pressure that prevents you from moving faster or soaring higher.

Like so many others, I am free of that burden now. I didn’t do it alone. I have Hal to thank. Continue Reading “A Bothersome Burden Has Just Been Lifted From My Shoulders, Did You Just Get the Same Feeling?”

Home, Sweet Home: The Joy of Our Return to Space

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I sat fixed in front of what seemed a massive TV screen, my eyes glued to the shreds of white steam shooting from the rocket’s body.

My own body remained tense. “Would the mission be scrubbed at that last minute?” “Would there be an in-flight ‘anomaly’?” “Is there any Tang left?”

What year is it?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

1968? It was a terribly bad year.

1969? It was a joyful year of ascending achievement.

Today? Well that’s an interesting idea.

Let’s return to the beginning. If you’re a member of the “space age” generation (like me), you’ll enjoy (and reflect) on this brief trip down memory lane. If you’re too young to remember the 1960s, you’ll appreciate the eerie similarities that might have you question Continue Reading “Home, Sweet Home: The Joy of Our Return to Space”

Ready. Fire! Aim.

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Ask any entrepreneurial wannabe what’s holding them back and they’ll say, “I’m just not sure if I have everything I need.”

Ask any successful entrepreneur to name the key to their success and they’ll say, “Moving forward without having everything I needed.”

There are two immutable laws when it comes to starting a business or any new venture. The first neatly packages a box for comfortable perfection. The second… well, let’s talk about the first law first.

The First Immutable Law of Every Successful Entrepreneur: “Never proceed without a Continue Reading “Ready. Fire! Aim.”

Are You a Consumer or a Creator?

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Truth be told, you’re both. We’re all both. And that’s a good thing. It’s called “comparative advantage.” It’s what makes the world go ‘round.

But that’s not why I ask the question. Whether you’re disposed to behave like a consumer or like a creator certainly depends on the specific situation.

Here’s the important question: Do you more often find yourself in situations where you’re more comfortable taking the role of consumer or of creator? And how might this impact the depth of your overall happiness?

Here’s the twist. It’s why you really need to know the response to this question. If you own a business, if you operate a business, if you work in a business, this answer does Continue Reading “Are You a Consumer or a Creator?”

The Secret Salve of Sunday Sauce

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It begins with a wild rush, a whirlwind of frenzied activity.

You might not realize it at first. After all, the pace you set as you collect the necessary essentials can be as leisurely as you desire.

But once you make the commitment to start, you’re on the clock. And it’s a fast clock. A very fast clock.

Chopping and dicing. Dicing and chopping. Opening cans. Pouring contents. Mixing water. Adding spices. (In precise amounts). And you have to do these before the concoction reaches its boiling point.

The succession of activities must be quick, lest you burn, overcook, or merely miss the Continue Reading “The Secret Salve of Sunday Sauce”

Do You Have The Wisdom To See What’s Not There and To Not See What Is There?

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I woke up one morning to find this in my text messages: “Hi, Mr. Math Award. I need your opinion on this.”

Not “good morning” but “hi.” It was from my west coast daughter. It was a group text for some reason, so, although the question was directed at me, the whole family was involved.

About the “Mr. Math Award” thing. It’s an inside joke about a speech I once gave to a class of graduating seniors of my old high school. It told the story of my greatest high school disappointment – winning the math award instead of the science award. But, as they say, that is another story.

This story is about one of those rare occasions when my kids actually thought I was funny. Continue Reading “Do You Have The Wisdom To See What’s Not There and To Not See What Is There?”

Given a One-in-a-Million Chance, Always Take the One

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This crisis, like any other crisis, reveals the inner-most souls of many. For some, that means sharing a brightness that exudes hope, honesty, and optimism. For others, it’s a darkness of depressing despair.

It’s a glass-half-empty/glass-half-full sort of thing. People are different. Sometimes it’s easier to hide those differences. Other times it’s not. We were already in one of those times when it’s not before the crisis hit. The crisis only makes it even more difficult to hide the secrets of our souls.

We see this national Rorschach Test being played out in the media – both social and traditional. The two came together recently in a group I belong to. It gave me pause to think. Not about the superficial issue the group was discussing, but about the underlying philosophy it entails.

On the face of it, the post mentioned an article that exposed how journalists and certain Continue Reading “Given a One-in-a-Million Chance, Always Take the One”

Winning The Battle Of Bedford Falls

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“Gower and Uncle Billy sold war bonds. Bert the cop was wounded in North Africa, got the Silver Star. Ernie, the taxi-driver, parachuted into France. Marty helped capture the Remagen Bridge. Harry, Harry Bailey topped them all. A Navy flier, he shot down fifteen planes. Two of them as they were about to crash into a transport full of soldiers.”

“Yes, but George…”

“George? Four-F on account of his ear, George fought the battle of Bedford Falls… Air raid warden… paper drives…scrap drives… rubber drives… Like everybody else, on V-E day he wept and prayed. On V-J day, he wept and prayed again.”

If you’re a red-blooded American you immediately recognize these lines from the move It’s a Wonderful Life.

Good ol’ George Bailey. As honest and sincere a guy as you can come by. He’d give you his Continue Reading “Winning The Battle Of Bedford Falls”