On Goals, Part 2: Call to Action

2013-02-02 14:42:42 by chort

In part 1 I outlined what I believe to be some of the fundamental, strategic problems facing Western society, and in a general sense how it applies to US businesses. In this part I'm going to relate that to specific courses of action and how anyone reading this can change their behavior to shape a better future.

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On Goals, Part 1: Statement of Values

2013-02-02 13:26:46 by chort

One of the things I don't do well, that I feel is characteristic of the InfoSec discipline as a whole, is setting goals. I'm talking about relevant, worthwhile, and attainable goals. In their absence, it's easy to busy ourselves with tactical issues.

When thinking about goals, it makes sense to first define your values, so you can choose goals that align with or advance your values. One of the values I hold dearly is building a future that my offspring have the opportunity to enjoy. That means many things, but one that I think about frequently is the global economic situation and where the Western world, particularly the United States of America fits into it. I think far too many people have allowed instant gratification to confuse tactical decisions with strategic decisions. If we're serious about giving our kids the opportunities we had, we need to make sure our nation and democratic values are strongly positioned in the global market.

If this all sounds very grand and abstract, that's because it is. Please be patient, since it's a necessary foundation for the rest of this post, which gets into very actionable and practical steps. It has everything to do with Information Security and how we live our daily lives.

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US Populace Doesn't Understand Satire

2011-03-07 14:00:44 by chort

I've been noticing a trend lately. The people participating in online "communities" these days are so blinded by the perceived inherent rightness of their beliefs that they are unable to see how their opinions are viewed by others.

This first struck me in an obvious way as I was wasted a perfectly good night on Youtube a few weeks ago. I got sucked-into The Key of Awesome. It's a Youtube channel that parodies pop music (fairly well, in my opinion). The creator often reads feedback on camera, most of which is facepalm-inducing. Most of the criticism goes along the lines of "dear so-and-so, I really love most of your videos, but the one about [my favorite artist] was totally ignorant! [my favorite artist] is awesome, and the fact that you made fun of them shows you don't understand their genius!"

What the hell is wrong with these people that they think any artist could be so perfect as to transcend criticism, or even caricature? They apparently have no concept of the difference between an opinion and a fact. Aside from that, if you can't even chuckle when someone adeptly roasts your idol, you have some real insecurity issues.

Another example of this can be seen in the Retarded Emails section of The Oatmeal comic. Apparently you can pick any arbitrary topic as the basis for your comedy and people will hate you for it, regardless of the obvious lack of seriousness.

This all makes me think: The massive push in the last 20 years to value self-esteem over any objective measure of merit has convinced each kid that their opinions are the only thing in the world that matters, utterly oblivious that every other human being in the world also has an opinion. We need to be teaching kids how to objectively evaluate themselves in the context of the world around them, or we are in for a future that makes Charlie Sheen look like a thoughtful critical-thinker.