Atlantis Alumni

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Where are the questions?

I was watching Bill Maher last night and Sean Penn made a great point; we can't divorce criticism from democracy. It shouldn't happen. Could it be that our priorities are out of whack as a nation? Much more to the point; why have we become a nation of non-critical thinkers?

That is to say, the nation seems less able to ask questions than it seems to look for answers without identifying the problem first.

How can I make this observation? Let me give you a simple example: I work in the computer industry. I work with IT people every day of the week. You know, the guys that keep computers running for big business world wide.

Now I'm going to give you, yes, give you the answer to the hard part of the SAT. Ok, maybe not the SAT but a hard question to answer in life.

Why do computers fail so often? They fail at home, they fail at work, they fail with legions of people that are experienced and there just to service them.

I can't tell you that this is the case in every single circumstance but I can tell you computers reflect the humans that use them as well as the humans that buy them and the humans that sell and design them. Go figure.

That's still not the answer to the $64,000 question. Computers or attempts at computer solutions typically fail because people in business don't ask the right business question to solve their problems. That's the answer. If you don't know the question, how in the world are you going to solve the problem?

I see it every day of the week in every variety of customer situation. People in general tend to say they don't need to write down the problem they're trying to solve or identify it, they all say to me "I do that in my head intuitively, I'm way smarter than that.". The point is that people tend to pick technology before they know the problem they're trying to solve.

You'd be suprised how many of these Einsteins have failing technology.

The lack of critical thinking is one that keeps the whole computer industry in business and keeps a ton of blogs churning out gripes about how bad companies suck and why their performance is lackluster. PS Everyone still buys computers from those same companies. Why?

Because it's easy to think everyone knows the answers and that there's no need to write down or critically think of the questions. When you ask a question, you define the scope of a problem. Not all questions are good one's but at least it's a beginning. When a question is asked, we can look at a variety of answers, not just the one's getting presented to us. We can identify problems and seperate them into solvable parts. Typically big problems can be complex thus they require answers that may not be as simple as "invade Iraq".

In The United States today, we are picking answers to problems before we know the questions.

Now let me jump to politics. You see, people like Karl Rove, Henry Kissinger and many others know the above. Framing a discussion and putting it in your own language or terminology puts you largely in control of it. If we abolish the question and critical thinking part, all that's left are someone else's answers. Isn't that easy? Well, no.

My Dad used to say you have to watch the Republican party because while one hand is doing one thing the other is picking the pockets of John Q Public. A framed debate about non-issues such as Roe V. Wade is exactly what Karl Rove lives for. Gay marriage is another such issue. Our country is inherently a place that tends to opt for equality over persecution. A few simple questions:

How can homosexuals get basic rights afforded to recognized married couples?
How can homosexuals get equal options for healthcare, insurance, estate rights and so on?
Should it be up to each state to determine?

I'll move from a question to my own statement: Thus gay marriage is only an issue for people that make it one, it's obvious to everyone else that a union between two people really shouldn't be open for questions by others and it should be recognized by everyone including the Federal Government. Gay marriage shouldn't be an issue. It is because it rallies old prejudices amongst an electorate and distracts people from the real issues.

I'll be going into greater detail on the distractions in another discussion.

Our founding fathers created a society of open thinking and reasoning. Unfortunately that leaves room for people like Karl Rove, Grover Norquist and others to manipulate thoughts and ideas into answers. I'm using the term "answer" loosely. Unfortunately these thoughts and ideas are distracting us from asking the right questions to frame our own debates. It's happened a long time and it isn't exclusive to Republicans. Democrats do it as well and so do Independents.

Here are some questions I have:

How can we have healthcare for every citizen in our country?

How can we make sure our elderly are taken care of in body and soul?
How can we treat our elderly like the knowledgable people they are and learn from them?

How can we make our schools better? How can we make our students better learners?

More importantly: how can we make sure schools are "safe places" for any child to go and learn?
How can we make sure everyone that wants to work can? How can we make sure they get a good wage?

How can we make housing affordable for anyone that wants it?

When will our streets be free from crime?

When will our foreign policy give more food to people and less ammunition?

I haven't started to scratch the surface of my questions. Perhaps some of you will post some questions and get the discussion started. Let me keep going here for a minute: "Talking Points" are pat answers to non-issues and non-questions. I know, I'm hacking up the English language a bit. Give me a little artistic license.

We're used to getting fed the answers, from Television and Radio to your favorite Blog, answers are easy to find. The questions part, now that's hard. While we're busy losing our minds over the silliness in Iraq, the question has never been answered as to why we are there. Not to anyone's satisfaction anyway. More importantly though, whilest we all dwell on the obvious and evident carnage that is taking place for no good reason, what other questions are not getting asked? Are we losing freedoms at the expense of security? Why does money have so much to do with our government officials? Why aren't we discussing things like campaign finance reform anymore?

Anyone else have some questions?


No comments: