Armed bureaucrats at your service.

Last week, a preeminent French Holocaust historian named Henry Rousso was detained for 10 hours when he arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. Rousso, a visiting professor at Columbia University up until January 2017, was traveling to College Station to deliver a lecture at Texas A&M University. He was detained by an “inexperienced” agent at IAH, and was released after Michael Young, the president of TAMU, called law professor and immigration expert Fatma Marouf, who intervened on Rousso’s behalf.

Why was Rousso detained? Continue reading

No, seriously, help yourself.

You probably tune out when the flight attendants do their choreographed safety dance. I do, too. As I recently heard a man at 7-Eleven say to his lady over the phone, “Listen, you tell him if he gone kill me, come kill me. I ain’t afraid to die. I don’t want to die, but I ain’t afraid to.” You and me both, sir. You and me both. Continue reading

Sunlight is still the best disinfectant.

You know what they say about people who constantly accuse others of lying and cheating? They make accusations because lying and cheating are within their own repertoire, and their worldview imputes those strategies to others.

Most people don’t lie as a matter of course. Most people don’t cheat easily.

Do you know who thinks everyone lies and cheats all the time? Yep, liars and cheaters. Continue reading

7 steps to keep the wolves at bay.

I rarely feel anxiety anymore, at least not to the level that it affects my day-to-day life. I stress the word “anymore,” because for much of my life, my stomach was in a knot. As a sophomore in high school, I threw up almost daily. It wasn’t because I was physically sick. It was because my stress outpaced my coping mechanisms. Continue reading

I expect

I expect him to be a conservative, but I also expect him to be competent.

I expect him to be a rookie, but I also expect him to be respectful of the office.

I expect him to have a grand ego, but I also expect him to place his grand responsibility above that.

I expect him to be strong-willed, but I also expect him to seek good guidance.

I expect him to be different, but I also expect him to be diligent.

I expect him to upend the government, but I also expect him to uphold the Constitution.

I expect him to do what he thinks is best, but I expect that “best” to be for us, not him.

I expect him to be a Republican, as long as he’s an American first.

I expect him to hate the press he’s getting, as long as he knows the vital necessity of a free press.

I expect him to disagree with people like me, as long as he vehemently protects our right to do so.

I expect him to be a conservative, as long as he conserves the democracy above all else.

If pigs had wings, they’d probably be delicious.

There are some “conservative”* folks out there who would have you believe that the only thing keeping them from being wildly successful entrepreneurs is regulations and the tax code. It follows, of course, that these folks think the path toward American greatness starts with (a) the assumption that entrepreneurship is the zenith of American usefulness, (b) entrepreneurs do better when there’s zero regulation, and (c) entrepreneurs are unfairly targeted by the tax code.

Of course, as is the case with most things conservatives would have you believe, this idea is not only poorly thought out and negated by facts, but also represents a major blind spot in their own place as voters and citizens of this country.

I’ll explain. Continue reading

Warning: This prescription may cause side effects.

I try really hard to maintain my positivity at all times. I believe – through years of serious experimentation and reflection on the subject – that we have a significant amount of choice in how we feel. To that end, I have learned that if I choose to remain positive, I find myself feeling happier.

A few days ago, I ran into a situation that made me stop and think about what has become an automatic for me. Continue reading

Leaks are a symptom, not a problem.

Leaks are bad, I agree. But let’s take it a level deeper. Why do people leak, as opposed to pledging absolutely loyalty to the guy in charge?

When you’re in charge (if you’re good at your job) you need information. You need it from everyone – those who agree with you, those who disagree with you, everyone. You need it to make great decisions that improve the results of your endeavor.

How do you get that information? Continue reading

No more tears, part 2: It’s kinda hot in these rhinos.

At the beginning of February, I announced that I would be challenging myself to refrain from complaining for an entire month.

It’s February 15, so it’s a good time to check in and update you on my progress, what I’ve learned, and what has been challenging me.

So, how am I doing?

Pretty well, actually. What I’m finding is that, in general, my default is not to complain very much. I tend toward looking on the bright side of life. I’ve explained it a few times, like here and here, but I think it’s important to reiterate: this default of mine was not the factory setting. Focusing intently upon staying positive and avoiding complaining this month has served to solidify my confidence that the change has been a lasting one. For that, I’m truly grateful – life is so, so much better this way. Continue reading

Are you an ass or are you just stupid? Or, finding empathy in the land of cognitive bias.

Lately, I find myself having ample opportunity to test my own level of empathy. These tests are coming, mostly, as I encounter people (real, online, or imaginary) with whom I vehemently disagree politically. I’m a politics junkie, and believe it or not, I’m more of a “get stuff done” guy than I am a liberal. I think there are tradeoffs in a complex society, and no one person’s version of “how to America” is right or wrong. Continue reading