Category Archives: Psychology

He Said That? 1/13/18

From Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894), American physician, author, poet, and polymath:

Don’t flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become. Except in cases of necessity, which are rare, leave your friend to learn unpleasant things from his enemies; they are ready enough to tell them.

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An Officer’s Path to Dissent, by Major Danny Sjursen

The politicians who send our military off to wars and the populace that generally cheer them on rarely ponder what those wars do to the men who fight them. From Major Danny Sjursen at truthdig.com:

Maj. Danny Sjursen gathering coordinates to set up an airstrike while under fire during a patrol in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. (Danny Sjursen)

For a while there, I was a real star. High up in my class at West Point, tough combat deployments in two wars, a slew of glowing evaluations, even a teaching assignment back at the military academy. I inhabited a universe most only dream of: praised, patted and highly respected by everyone in my life system and viewed as a brave American soldier. It’s a safe, sensible spot. For most, that’s enough. Too bad it was all bunk. Absurdity incarnate.

The truth is, I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place. Even back in 2011—or even 2006, for that matter—I was just smart and just sensitive enough to know that, to feel it viscerally.

Still, the decision to publicly dissent is a tough one. It’s by no means easy. Easy would be to go on playing hero and accepting adulation while staying between the lines. Play it safe, stick to your own, make everyone proud. That’s easy, intellectually immature—the new American way.

When you take the journey of dissent, you lose friends, alienate family, confuse confidants and become a lonely voice in your professional world. I’ve spent years sitting in military classrooms from West Point to Fort Knox to Fort Leavenworth as the odd man, the outlier, the confusing character in the corner. It’s like leaving the church, becoming an atheist, all while still living in the monastery. Still, the truth is that the military is more accommodating than one might suspect. I wrote a critical book, published some skeptical articles, but it’s not as though anyone ever outright threatened me. The pressure is different, more subtle: veiled warnings from superiors, cautious advice from mentors.

To continue reading: An Officer’s Path to Dissent

He Said That? 1/4/18

From Richard Nixon (1913–1994), 37th President of the United States:

The man of thought who will not act is ineffective; the man of action who will not think is dangerous.

Is President Trump’s Nuclear Button Tweet a Sign of Insanity? by Scott Adams

Anyone who tries to analyze President Trump solely by what he says is doomed to wrong predictions and ultimately, failure. From Scott Adams at theburningplatform.com:

On CNN yesterday, Jake Tapper described President Trump’s recent behavior — including the President’s tweet about having a bigger nuclear “button” than North Korea — as abnormal and unstable. In other words, crazy.

Is it?

One folksy definition of “crazy” is that it involves trying over and over again a solution that has never worked while hoping it works next time. President Trump is doing something closer to the opposite of that. He’s doing something new, both strategically and verbally. To be fair, new things can be crazy too. But usually only if they don’t work. When a new and unexpected thing works out well, we call it genius. And that begs the question: Is President Trump’s approach to North Korea working?

We’re seeing economic sanctions on North Korea that have the support of the UN Security Council. That part is working, and it took diplomatic skill to make it happen.

But we also see satellite images of tankers smuggling oil into North Korea. The sanctions looked as if they were not effective until South Korea detained two tankers involved in smuggling oil to North Korea. Grabbing two tankers doesn’t do much in terms of limiting supply, but it does dramatically change the perceived economics of being a smuggler. And if grabbing two tankers doesn’t get the message across, South Korea can keep detaining tankers until the economics do change. North Korea would be willing to take big risks to break the sanctions, but the shipping companies on which they depend will not. Shipping companies will only participate in wrongdoing when they are confident they won’t get caught. That calculation changed when South Korea detained two tankers.

To continue reading; Is President Trump’s Nuclear Button Tweet a Sign of Insanity?

He Said That? 1/2/18

From Charles Dickens (1812–1870), English writer and social critic, Oliver Twist (1839):

Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts, exercises, even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the sombre colours are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.

How President Trump Changed Your Imagination, by Scott Adams

Scott Adams is boundlessly optimistic. From Adams at theburningplatform.com:

Do you remember when candidate Trump told us (in effect) that he would be the first non-politician to win the presidency? It seemed impossible to even imagine such a thing. Then he did the impossible.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that if the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it would be a huge problem? President Trump did it anyway. So far, it looks like a minor problem at most.

Do you remember when experts said President Trump shouldn’t mess with the Iran nuclear deal because it could cause a huge problem for the United States and its allies? He did it anyway, and it is likely a supporting variable for the Iranian protestors who don’t like how their government is creating problems that don’t need to be problems.

Do you remember when experts said China will never help squeeze the economy of North Korea because China fears a refugee crisis? President Trump encouraged China to squeeze anyway. Then he helpfully provided satellite photos of tankers cheating on the high seas. After South Korea grabbed and held a second cheating tanker, the economics of smuggling oil have turned negative, or will soon. And North Korea is sounding — at least to my ears — more flexible than ever.

That branch is stronger than you imagined.

Do you remember when it was common wisdom that we couldn’t put enough pressure on Pakistan to make them stop harboring terrorists because Pakistan is also an ally in many ways? President Trump just cut off their funding and put them on notice.

Do you remember when experts said withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord would be a catastrophe? President Trump did it anyway because he didn’t like the deal. I’ve seen no indication that exiting the deal made the climate worse. Here I’m only talking about the quality of the Accord and what little impact it would have had in the best case scenario.

To continue reading: How President Trump Changed Your Imagination

He Said That?

From Charles Dickens (1812–1870), English writer and social critic, A Christmas Carol (1843):

No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.