Author of "This Is Rage" and "Endless Encores"

Posts made in July, 2018

A Beguiling 20%

By on Jul 18, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

This month our nation celebrated its 242nd birthday. As I was sitting in the stands at Dodger Stadium on July 4 watching a spectacular and patriotic fireworks display (following a wonderful midseason win) something quite obvious but strange occurred to me: I have been alive for over 20% of our nation’s history. That may not seem curious to you, but it does to me. No one in Russia, China, or most of western Europe can say that. It is only because we are such a young nation that our lives constitute such a significant portion of our nation’s entire state of being. I have been trying to put that in context. I am over a half-century in age, and the nation is less than five half centuries in age. For sake of context, I have tried to segment those de facto quintiles into what I have experienced as current events (the most recent 20%) and what I must study as history. Latest 20%: Age of economic triumph, the information age, and age of civil rights. Prior 20%: Age of two world wars, one Great Depression, and vast immigration. Middle 20%: Age of Civil War and Reconstruction. Second 20%: Age of Manifest Destiny & Industrial Revolution. Initial 20%: Age of our Founding Fathers, American Revolution, and the visionary foundation of secular democratic governance. It doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time for all that to have happened when you think about it. I guess that’s because it really isn’t. What’s 242 years? These days, it’s about three full lifetimes. If you time them correctly, you could talk to someone who talked to someone who knew someone who experienced Independence Day as current events. That’s just wild. Mind-boggling! And look how far we’ve come! Or have we? Well, we have sent humans to the moon and probes to Jupiter and Pluto. We have air conditioning, spiffy kitchen appliances, and running water in our homes (when we don’t run out). We have lots and lots of TV channels. We have supercharged computers in our pockets we call mobile phones. We have this Internet thing that has eliminated almost all barriers to information access and makes globalization a reality. Yet we still...

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Why Do We Do Difficult Things?

By on Jul 2, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

I’ve been out on book tour for the launch of my new novel, From Nothing. At one of the early talks I began with a simple question: Why do we do difficult things? I’m not talking about ordinary-difficult things like schlepping yourself to work every day or paying all your bills. I’m talking about really big stuff. Pick a career path. Marry someone. Divorce someone. Start a company. Write a book—without an advance check. Why do we decide to tackle extraordinarily hard challenges? Why do we embark on the kinds of things that change our lives? I’m going to give you the answer in just a few more carriage returns, but before I do, think about what your answer might be. Why do you do exceptionally difficult things? Is it for money? Is it for status and ego? Is it because someone else pressures you to do it? I think those enticements can play a role, but I don’t think it’s why most of us do difficult things. I think we do difficult things because we can’t not. Try repeating that in your head. Read the words “Why do we do difficult things?” Then answer aloud: Because we can’t not. If you’re not alone, say it rather quietly under your breath, but do say it aloud. If you are alone, shout it from your gut. Why do we difficult things? Because we can’t not. Excellent, I think I heard you that time! You’ll note the purposeful application of a solid double negative. Don’t worry, the grammar police aren’t coming for us, at least not this time. I want this message to encode in your mind: Because we can’t not. The topic of my book talk was why I choose to write for what amounts to the tiniest part of my income given the full span of hours invested. The question at hand was why I didn’t spend more of my time on lucrative business projects instead of sitting alone in a room for half my waking hours banging out words without much promise of real financial upside no matter how well I write. There are obstacles to book distribution at an enterprise scale that are beyond my ability to...

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