Archive | September, 2011

Dear Hottie Smoking a Cigarette

26 Sep

You are very attractive, but I am not attracted to you. That cigarette in your hand ruined it for me.

It’s not about the smell, I can get over that. It’s not even about the reflection upon your intelligence, although it certainly doesn’t help.

It’s about the future. How are we going to build a better tomorrow when you are so short sighted?

It’s about inspiration. How are you going to inspire me to be a better man when you settle for blatant imperfections?

It’s about respect. How am I supposed to respect you when you don’t even respect yourself?

 


Photo: quicheisinsane

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Smart People Are Dumb Too

22 Sep

Lately something has been bothering me – why are smart people so dumb? What is it with the focus on careers, working 60, 70, 80 hour weeks for money they don’t need? Don’t they realize money is worthless without the time to spend it? Don’t they realize the opportunity cost? Life is passing them by, yet it is often enjoyed by dumber people with less money!

If they are so smart, they should simply figure out what will make them happy and their life a success. Instead, the smartest of the smart receive an elite education and quickly get funneled into jobs with vague titles like “consultant”, “investor”, or “capitalist”. They receive promotions, make buttloads of money, and surround themselves with luxuries. These people fall into two categories: those that justify their behavior and those that don’t think about it.

Justify

Some people are happy working 80 hours a week and truly believe it is what they want. To them I say – show me just one person on his death bed that wishes he had spent more time in the office. Even those who did very meaningful work, helping others, providing for a family, realize just how valuable that time is when it is gone. There is more to life.

Some people try to front load their careers, thinking, if I can just last in this job until I’m 35, I’ll have enough money to be set for life. That is a slippery slope and quite a sacrifice. If you don’t walk away when you are on the bottom, what makes you think you’ll walk away when you are on top, making even more per year? After sacrificing your youth and damaging countless relationships, how enjoyable will your retirement be?

Even worse is the feeling of entitlement – “I have worked hard my entire life and I’m incredibly smart. I deserve to make $150k, drive a BMW, and be the envy of my neighbors.” Ew. You are not entitled to anything, I’m sure there are others that work just as hard at the bottom of the totem pole. Quit justifying your lavish behavior and start appreciating the fact that the best things in life are free.

Don’t Think

I believe most smart people don’t think about happiness and the definition of a successful life. They just put their head down and devote the majority of their time to kicking ass at their job – have they even thought about what is at the end of that road? Is it really what they want?

These are important questions, but they are rarely even considered. Why does this happen? The people that go to elite universities are overachievers. They grew up smarter than their peers and likely dominated in a number of other areas. For whatever reason, they love to win, and their career is the most obvious way to dominate in adult life.

When people who have a high need for achievement … have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted. In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.

                      Harvard Business Review – How Will You Measure Your Life

The tradeoffs are very subtle. Bob Barker is not going to present you with two Showcase Showdowns and ask which one you want. It’s a gradual process built up by hundreds of daily micro-decisions stacked up over years. In fact, no individual decision is even multiple choice. Smart people prove to be just as capable at ignoring the innumerable options as dumb people.

Social Pressures

If only it were as easy as identifying all the possible choices and making the correct decision – there are external pressures in play as well. Many smart people spend the first quarter of their life in school, showing exactly how awesome they are. An elite education provides the opportunity for a wonderful career, something largely beyond the grasp of the general populace. In fact, not only do you have this opportunity, it is expected of you to capitalize on it. The majority of your drinking buddies from school move on to big things in the working world, providing a comparison pressure. You don’t want to let down the family that sacrificed to give you the opportunity. Many high school friends, and all those less fortunate, would kill to be in your position, how can you throw that away? It’s a good thing most of them will never have to grapple with these questions!

A Less Fulfilling Life

These forces add up and result in a less than fulfilling life for many of the smartest people in our great country. It is a shame. They take the sure thing (career), misallocate their time, and don’t consider the other options. But I don’t blame them. If you knew you can make over $100k per year just by putting in the time, had everything your heart could desire, and were the envy of those around you, would you turn that down on the off chance that you could look back on your life and deem it time well spent?


Photo: Street art by Bansky. Picture by Chris Devers

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Happiness, Blogging, and Idiots

14 Sep

Happiness

I have been in a rut recently. Don’t worry, nothing to worry about too much, just not as happy-go-lucky as I am normally. Despite some great times and surrounding myself with wonderful people, I’ve been returning to a baseline that is simply not where it should be. My plan is to purposefully over-correct – check back for updates in this area.

Blogging

You may have noticed I have been blogging less recently. This isn’t a conscious effort or because I have been abnormally busy, rather it appears to be a lack of inspiration. Less crazy ideas are popping into my head, and the ones that are aren’t being acted upon. Heck, even the few posts that I have started sit unfinished.

Idiots

Less blogging and less happiness? Sounds like blogging leads to happiness. Or if not, happiness causes people to blog. Wrong, that’s what idiots would say. Data geeks will quickly let you know that correlation does not imply causation. What do you think, is there any causation here? Does it flow both ways, and if so, are there limits or will it just continue to snowball until I’m spending every minute blogging and loving it?

 


 
Along with the over-correction in happiness, I’d also like to over-correct in my return to blogging. Just hang tight!

Something else for the data geeks to check out – Uberdata: How prostitution and alcohol make Uber better

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt

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Brogramming 101: What Is It and Why Should You Care?

1 Sep

Oh brogramming! What a beautify made up word. It is a combination of two words I hold near and dear to my heart. BRO + PROGRAMMING = BROGRAMMING. Yes, the meaning matches your current mental picture – a sickass dude programming a computer.

What does this involve? It is up to interpretation, but it definitely involves wearing your sunglasses indoors while using the computer. Lifting weights is important – and don’t forget your protein shakes. Drinking alcohol while programming is encouraged. The more caffeine consumed the better.

You may be absolutely puzzled right now. How the heck did these two worlds collide? Well, in the land of software, the Silicon Valley, pretty much the coolest thing you can do is code. And to show how sweet you are, instead of pictures on your desk of your loved ones, people here decorate their desks by displaying the largest and most intense energy drinks you can find. Yes, it is a unique place.

Starter Kit

Now that I have you excited, how do you join the team? Copy this desk setup:

You must be concerned about health – at least to an extent. Eat healthy food and be sure to pair it with a workout regiment that focuses on the beach muscles. Bicep curls, bench press, calf raises, repeat. Next, (this may seem in direct conflict with the previous point, but just go with it) drinking a ton is cool. Beer, vodka, or Jager. You can drink while at your computer, or alternatively you can return to coding after a wild night in the club. Be sure to have powerful energy drinks within arm reach to stave off the inevitable crash when it arrives.

Congrats, you have passed Brogramming 101 are now a brogrammer! This answer on Quora provides some addition reading material for those of you that want to advance to 201 next semester. Let me give a sneak peak for the Pedantic Post readers that don’t click on links…

Here is a flow chart to study before next semester (programming logic is similar to the logic of flow charts so they are useful for communicating how a program should behave):

If you are ready to start writing code, here is a pretty solid example. Do the same for the song Lip Gloss or any Little Wayne jam and email it to me for extra credit:

 

Why should you care?

Nerdy and cool are colliding whether you like it or not. Need evidence? Chess-boxing is the fastest growing sport in America (I always thought it was hilarious how many sports claimed to the fastest growing in America, so what’s one more claim?):

This collision is great news for everyone. If you are a nerd, you get the opportunity to battle the jocks that made fun of you in high school. If you are a hella chill dude, you get the opportunity to compete with people way smarter than you on a slightly more even playing field. What a great opportunity!

Faithful readers, what bro-sports and dude-tivities can we invent? The top idea gets to challenge me for slammers and/or pink slips.
 


 
Everyone is trying to hire programming talent these days. But the smart start-ups are trying to hire brogramming talent.

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