R.I.P. Terry Moran

My brother-in-law Terry Moran passed away peacefully in the UK this morning after a short illness.

He and my sister met via a widowed persons forum on social media after they were both widowed many years ago in unfortunate circumstances, and they had been happy married for 10+ years. Terry was retired, my sister also retired from the restaurant business, and they played the doting grandparents role, and traveled a lot, mostly to the Greek Islands.

Terry was an interesting character. He was very much an Englander at heart, not much of a fan of politics or governments in general, which left him and me at opposite ends of the opinion spectrum quite often. He also had a deep hatred of all things Microsoft from his time in I.T., which meant that he was a Unix and Linux geek (nothing wrong with that, we need OS diversity now and in the future), and he was a fierce personal privacy advocate, which led to he and my sister using Signal for messaging. He had a typical dry, wry British sense of humour, heavily based on irony, mixed with sarcasm. He and I looked like physical opposites, he was tall and gangly, with the figure of a marathon runner crossed with a pro cyclist, I looked like Michelin Man by comparison. I could do with being a lot more like he was physically, I have to admit.

Sadly, Terry’s time came to an end quite rapidly, but he did not suffer. My heart goes out to my sister, who has to cope with widowhood for the second time in 14 years, and to his family.

2021 is not getting any better.


Tom Baugh – 1949-2021

Tom Baugh, one of our oldest and best friends since Mary and I met, passed away on 25th May.

We first met Tom and Betty…ooh, I don’t really know, some time in 2008, at a local social venue. They were welded at the hip friendship-wise with Don and Jackie. We became friends with all 4 of them quite quickly. We naturally gravitate to people who have no pretension or artifice.

I have been pondering how to describe Tom. Describing humans in a sentence or two is actually rather difficult. But if I had to summarize a lifetime of character in several words, it would be “solid and good”. Tom was one of the most WYSIWYG people that I have had the privilege to know. He was not loud, not quiet, but instinctively friendly, with a deep but non-booming tenor voice, and a sly, slightly dry wit. He and Betty were happily married and devoted to each other, and Tom, being very steady, was her ideal foil. He laughed easily, not a forced laugh, but a laugh that you knew was coming from a real laugh center as opposed to an artifice appearances or social ingratiation center. He appeared to have no particular vices or challenges. His worldview was more conservative than mine, but we never really got into that, mainly because I had no interest in creating friction where none was warranted.

I never really got to know Tom in any deep sense, but sometimes you hang out with people and you don’t need to “know” them in any deep way, because you know from experience that the right thing to do is to just live in the moment and enjoy the company. So, over the years, Mary and I hung out with Tom and Betty and Don and Jackie in many different social situations and locations, and Tom was always just…Tom.

Tom was a solid person, grounded, devoid of pretension or artifice, without a bad or malicious bone in his body. He was, in every respect, one of the Good Guys. Which makes his sudden passing all the more difficult to process. The process of chance intervened and has taken him away from us way too soon. HIs body failed him.

My heart goes out to Betty and his family, and also to Don and Jackie, who outside his family, knew him the best.

We live (as the old Chinese saying goes) in interesting times, where circumstances worldwide are leading to stress, and a lot of people are not being their best selves. Right now, the world could do with a lot more Toms.


The temperature of social media

As people become more frustrated and ragged around the edges from being forced to self-isolate, more and more people are becoming more and more irritable and irascible on social media.

I am going to be changing my interaction model on social media at the end of this year. I think that I need to dial back my use, and be much more selective in how I comment and engage. Many people are not disposed to good-faith interactions because of their general level of stress.


My Social Media principles (UPDATED)

I wrote this in 2015, but most of it is still applicable.

1. I am not online to make money. I have no advertising revenue income from any of my blogs or other social media locations. I am not writing to gain, keep or impress an audience. Essentially I am writing for my own fun, and to improve my writing for other reasons (I am writing books that I hope to self-publish). If other people like my writing, this is good. If other people hate it, this is also good. The last thing I would like to be is non-memorable. I can achieve that latter goal by not writing at all.
2. My approach to identity is to post as myself. As far as revealing information about myself other than my given first and last names, I adhere to what a former work colleague defined to me as The Concept Of Minimum Effective Fact. I reveal only the minimum amount of information about myself. For example, I never reveal my home address to others in casual conversation. Why would they need to know that piece of information?
3. I seek out different views, and I am interested if those views are articulately and usefully expressed.
4. Not everybody is going to like me or my views after reading what I have to say. I call this the law of averages. One cannot be liked by everybody. I accept that.
5. I use humor and irony a LOT. Humor and comedy, apart from making people laugh (which is a hell of a lot better than almost anything else, except possibly sex), also allow for the subversive exposure and ridicule of all of the weird, illogical and stupid things that tend to take root in modern societies and inside the heads of people.
6. I extend the Principle of Charity in discourse. I will adopt the most benevolent interpretation of somebody’s statement, not the most negative one, initially. I will revise that approach rapidly if I detect that the other parties to the discussion are not interested in interacting on the basis of good faith.
7. If you want to engage in discourse with me, provide some evidence that you are thinking as you write, and that you can construct arguments. Hitchens’ Razor is my general response to assertions without any supporting evidence.
8. If you write postings or comments that mostly recycle talk radio or partisan media outlet cliches, I am unlikely to respond. See (7)
9. If you want your ideas to be respected, have good ideas. I have a tendency to engage in ridicule if people espouse ridiculous ideas and either cannot support them or try to engage in sleight of hand, fallacious reasoning or other forms of sophistry. Ridicule is a logical response to the promulgation of ridiculous ideas. Please note that in line with extending the Principle of Charity (see above), I will be endeavoring to critique the ideas, not the person.
10. There is no Constitutional right to not be offended. If you find something that I wrote is offensive, you need to ask yourself if it is because I have expressed it offensively, or whether you simply do not like the viewpoint. If it is the former, feel free to call me on it. If it is the latter, let’s debate it, but starting with “I am offended” is likely to result in a response along the lines of “and your point is…?”. You, not me, control how you react to viewpoints and ideas that conflict with your worldview.
11. If your posting is clearly a toxic rant on a subject that you cannot stay away from, I am unlikely to respond. I learned some time ago that engaging this level of toxicity is a waste of everybody’s time. In my experience, the people writing these sorts of rants most of the time are seeking affirmation, not debate or discussion.
12. If your posting or comment contains juvenile sneers like “libtard” or “remoaner” and/or engages in broad-brush negative stereotyping of individuals or societal groups using tired cliches like “liberals”, “atheists”, “republicons” or similar, or contains suggestions like “leave the country if you don’t like X”, or contains statements that prove that you consider groups of individuals as some lower form of life, I am probably going to rip you a new one rhetorically, or Block you. Processing elementary school insults and dealing with exclusionary and mean-spirited worldviews is a waste of my time.
13. I love to understand the world, via information and facts. That leads to me using fact checking extensively. I can and will fact check claims and allegations off the internet, and from time to time I am going to declare some stuff to be bullcrap, nonsense, or poorly formulated or argued.
14. I have a reasonable working knowledge of the modern world political landscape. This does mean that I am likely to call out bizarre or distorted worldviews. For example, there is a tendency right now to call out any political view that is perceived to be more progressive than the mean in the modern USA as “socialism ” or “marxism”. This is likely to cause me to eventually engage in ridicule. See (9) above. The reasons for this are varied and several. One of them is that I grew up under socialism, so I know more than a little about its operation as a political system. The second reason is that most people in the USA, when asked to define the meaning of “socialism”, are unable to do so. When you cannot adequately define a concept, you’re really not at all qualified to discuss how it might apply to the real world.
15. I have a reasonable understanding of the types and usage of various logical fallacies, and I will remark on their usage if I encounter them in postings or arguments. Logical fallacies undermine the validity of arguments. If you don’t know about logical fallacies, here is a list of the most used ones. 
16. YouTube videos do not magically confer credibility and gravitas on ridiculous, dysfunctional or illogically dystopian opinions and worldviews. Anybody with $100 of camera gear, spare time, editing software and a resonant, well-modulated voice can create a YouTube video. Many people on the political and societal fringes of the modern USA such as Qanon adherents, Sovereign Citizens, Birthers, adherents to all kinds of conspiracy theories and religious crackpots, turn out YouTube videos at almost the same rate that I breathe. My analysis and questions will revolve around the content. I try to distinguish between quantity and quality when the time comes to analyze outputs on that channel.
17. Capitalizing whole words or sentences LIKE THIS in your enthusiasm or zeal to make a point is counter-productive. It is shouting, which works about as well in the internet world as it does in the real world. It also makes me wonder if you have a problem with the underlying argument or point, if you feel that shouting is the only effective way to communicate it.
18. If I walk away from a discussion, you have no right to assume that you have “beaten” me, or somehow impressed me into agreeing with you. Just because you have silenced somebody, it does not entitle you to conclude that they now agree with you. Most probably I walked away because I determined that further discussion was a waste of my time, which is my prerogative. However, you could check this by asking. Conversely, I am not into declaring rhetorical “victory” in discussions. That sort of approach belongs in elementary school.


Book projects – what the hell have I been up to?

Since I keep telling people I am a writer, it is logical that the next question I get is “Graham, what are you working on, and where is it?”

There is a single impediment that gets in the way of rapid progress. My day job. That takes up a LOT of time. It is a reasonably well-paid job, and it is secure in the short-term. This is good. I cannot complain on that score.

When I remove the time for the day job, It leaves me with a limited amount of time to devote to writing. I have too many things i would like to do, and there are not enough hours in the day.

Until recently, I was working on fiction projects, but Covid has nuked my creativity in that area. So I have turned back to non-fiction.

I have the core Corporate Realist book project in work, which is probably going to be a single volume drawn from Diaries of a Corporate Realist, which is going to be at least 2 volumes. Corporate Realist deals with a zone that never gets discussed in any real detail; that zone between front line and leadership, where misunderstandings, mis-communications and mutual disrespect abound. It is a zone poorly explored in management writings, which almost exclusively focus on how to be a better leader. This overvalues leadership,leading to the phenomenon of manifestly incompetent CEOs and such like being paid ludicrous amounts of money for mediocre work.

Also in work is a book that will discuss the many ways in which we reveal our thoughts, values and approaches to interaction to others, without realizing how. It builds to some extent from work done by Steven Pinker and others on indirect speech, but it is updated for the era we found ourselves in.

A medium-term project deals with accountability, why it has disappeared from societies,and why that is a Very Bad Thing.

One day, when I get rid of this day job, all of these projects will come to fruition. I will be self-publishing via WhiteCat Publishing.


Dear City of Duncanville

So you think that citing us for having kept tree logs on the back of our property for 5 years (in order to prevent people using the back alleyway from driving over our grass area, running into sprinkler heads, and churning up our grass) and for having a piece of fencing leaning against the fence for 7 years to act as a cat ladder, is somehow useful and constructive?
This is bullshit.
If this censorious nonsense does not stop, we will move to a different city. You have been warned.

Scaling back my Facebook presence

After watching recent developments on Facebook, partly involving an influx of people who spend a lot of their time behaving like trolls in discussions, and then having to see Jim Wright suspended from the platform temporarily due to a co-ordinated set of complaints of abuse by people he upset with one of his postings, I have been considering how I might scale back my presence on that platform. Jim has already taken one of his groups Private, and he is considering his future on Facebook.
Facebook has no idea how to cope with UseNet syndrome (the tendency of any social media platform, over time, to move towards a zone of spam and junk) and it will not effectively moderate threatening content or give persistent trolls the heave-ho.
Now, after writing a strong note about my lack of patience with absolutists and name-callers on the subject of abortion, I find myself reading comments from people on my Friends list that I need to be careful what I say and how I say it on this topic, unless they end up (as one of them said) “reading about me on the news”.
This is both disquieting and dispiriting.
If we have reached a point on social media where honestly expressed (albeit blunt) opinions are regarded as potentially dangerous to a person’s physical well-being, then this is telling me something rather worrying about not only the state of the nation, but also about the level of discourse on social media.
It is also telling me that it really is time for me to modify and re-scale my Facebook presence.
So…I will be thinking over the weekend about what actions to take.
Most likely that will take the form of my abandoning Facebook for any day-to-day interactions, retaining Facebook Messenger for private interactions with trusted friends, and using only my related pages such as White Cat Publishing and Aerial Savant for posting information on my writing and UAS activities respectively. I will retain memberships to closed groups of interest such as my aviation group memberships. I may post there as time allows on topics of interest.
All new content on topics that I find interesting will only be published here on this blog.
I will also delete most of my prior postings on Facebook on serious subjects. Most of that content, if not overtaken by events, will be transferred to the blog if it did not already exist there in some form. I have no intention of allowing Facebook to capture the IPR for that content more or less in perpetuity, when their current behaviors show that they are not prepared to be wise stewards of the platform.
Short Summary – be prepared to see a lot less of me on Facebook.


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