My Take on Climate Change

snap braceletsIn the 1970’s and 80’s there was a phenomenon that swept America called ZPG or Zero Population Growth. It was an economic theory which actually originates back to 1693 (thanks, wikipedia), which gained some traction during the economically uncertain times of the 70’s and 80’s. Its premise is that the world should work to have zero population growth; only those that die should be replaced. It was a popular and sensible solution for a society who was highly concerned with an oil crisis, an unsteady economy, recessions, and uncertainty of the future.

For you LDS readers out there, think of “Saturday’s Warrior”…

The bottom line; it was just a fad. It came and went just like moon boots, snap bracelets, and those little plastic poof balls. It was popularized because people were looking for a solution to the increase in consumption and the perceived lack of supply. Well, here we are 20-30 years later, our world consumption has skyrocketed, new industries we never dreamed about exist, and world population continues to rise! (think China) What happened to Zero Population? What happened to the crisis of supply and natural resources that would demand such limits on world population?

The truth is: it was all bunk. There is plenty of room in the world for everyone.

My take on this current “climate crisis” is: let’s not forget zero population and snap bracelets. Don’t embrace hypotheses based on a fad. There is only one thing we absolutely know about climate change on our planet: that it’s happening and has happened throughout geologic history. We don’t know what causes it. We don’t know what the human element is. We don’t know how all our complex environmental interactions are all working together to keep our ecosystem in line. We have a lot of theories. We have a lot of hypotheses. I think we should be exploring all of them, but I don’t believe we should be making wholesale restrictions, decisions, and mandates based on hypothesis and cherry picked science.

Leading the charge in this is the political left, led by Al Gore. It’s sadly ironic that they are pushing this agenda for unilateral environmental action and new regulations based solely on their gut feeling, with poorly executed and slanted intelligence, all while ignoring the public, the world, and dissenting voices of science and reason. Hmm… the environmental left have become their worst enemy: George W. Bush.

gore and bush

As I have stated before on this blog, I believe it is in all of our interest to manage our consumption better. We should promote efficiency and conservation in our collective American mentality.  If you conserve energy and resources, you should reap the benefits of lower costs (not be charged a “minimum” like with my summer natural gas bill).

We should not be making sweeping, wholesale, potentially damaging regulations without considering the fact that we don’t really fully understand the problem we are trying to solve and don’t even perceive the problems we will create while trying to solve it.

IATSE Strike Ends, everyone says “duh”

I heard on the radio this morning that the American League producers and the IATSE Local One stagehands finally reached a “tentative agreement” and that the union will order its workers back to work tonight. After 3 weeks dark, most of Broadway will reopen tonight.

In contrast to the whiny, gimme attitude of the IATSE union (and other entertainment unions for that matter), last night I was listening to a report about the resurgence of the manufacturing industry in Wisconsin. Representatives from the United Steel Workers said (i’m paraphrasing), “we’ve realized that we have to work with industry, not against them, if we want to keep our jobs.” Out of necessity, due to globalization, they have learned that they can make reasonable demands of their employers in exchange for high productivity. The industry was saying that they don’t mind paying the workers a base $22/hr because the productivity is high, and the job performance is excellent.

Let’s take a page out of the Steel Worker’s book, entertainment unions! We too face a globalization problem. Production companies around the country (theatre, film, TV, variety artists, etc) are in a constant struggle to simply pay the bills and stay afloat. Many films are now shot just over the border in Canada because of the terrible climate for labor in California. Many of our members are going overseas to work because there simply aren’t enough jobs here at home, and there are too many union restrictions on what jobs they can take.

Our unions should be doing everything in their power to protect the workers in the workplace, but more importantly, in today’s global market, they should be especially concerned with protecting the very existence of our jobs! The UAW, USW, and other workers have proved time and again that the only way to effectively protect jobs is to work with industry, not against them.

In a perfect world, we would even go past protecting our jobs, and go even further toward promoting industry. Our unions should be looking for ways to promote industry, rewarding succesful, cooperative producers and production companies, and promoting growth of the industry as a whole.

It’s not just the big, fat cats in top hats vs the noble, everyman worker anymore. We need to open our eyes and see the reality of the economic pressure that is on the entertainment industry today, and do our part as workers to not only produce our best work, but to use our unity to accomplish mutually beneficial solutions to both the worker and the industry.

A Blog from the Air



A WhiteEyebrows first! Here I am blogging from the friendly skies… kind of. I am writing this blog as I am traveling back toward the Great State of Texas, but even though they have figured out how to accept credit cards on a plane, they still haven’t figured out how get us the internet up here (hello!?!?). To add insult to injury we have one of those militant flight attendants who takes every opportunity to talk on the intercom…“At this time ALL electronic devices must be turned off.. anything with headphones or a screen… ANYTHING WITH AN ON OFF BUTTON has to be turned off. Laptops can’t be in the seat pocket, they have to be under the seat or in an overhead compartment.”

I mean, come on. How much latitude do these people think they have in making up the rules as they go along?

And really… if the aviation industry really thinks that my iPod is going to somehow interfere with the navigation systems of this plane. That’s just pathetic.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were warned of “clear sky turbulence.” I fly several times a year, but I have never heard of such a thing… oh well. I guess we can just let her feel like she knows it all.

My vacation was absolutely wonderful, thanks for asking. Late November is a great time to visit Southern California. I spent the first two days at Disneyland with my mom, sister, brother-in-law and four nieces. It was truly the happiest place on earth. My full Disneyland experience will have to be talked about in a separate blog, but to sum it up, I have never seen four girls so excited (and four adults so tired) in my life. We had an absolutely incredible, magical time.

Returning to my uncle’s house was no treat. The morning after day 2 in Disneyland was not pretty. Upset stomach lead to vomiting which lead to headache, bodyache, and soreness. When I finally broke down and took something to try to start feeling better, my mother and aunt gave me a drug which I had never heard of before, but which I took. Then I looked it up online. It wasn’t headache medicine, it was for menstrual cramps. Furthermore it had been taken off of the market in 2005 because of evidence that it might lead to coronary problems.

Great. At least I had solved my non-existent menstrual cramping and taken another ding to my already doomed cardiovascular system.

All this nastiness lead to missing one of my most favorite-est shopping days of the year: the Wednesday BEFORE thanksgiving. Forget “black Friday.” Ask anyone in the grocery business what their worst day of the year is, and it’s gotta be “black Wednesday,” the day when everyone gets the groceries for their thanksgiving feast. So I missed my black Wednesday shopping appointment with my uncle.

I overcame all this adversity in time for Thursday’s fantastic Thanksgiving meal, with complete trimmings: turkey, stuffing, hand mashed potatoes, spinach salad, homemade rolls, etc.

Then my dear uncle infected me with his head cold. So for the last 3 days of my vacation, I have been chugging the Nyquil and lounging about.

All in all, it was a great vacation. All my family (except a brother who had to stay and divvy out the Turkeys to the St. Georgians) was there. We enjoyed many card games, movies, laughs, trips out and about, and personal one-on-one therapy. We solved the world’s (and our own family’s) problems one at a time, and enjoyed every moment of it.

I just glanced away from my computer for a minute as we traveled over the Colorado River and Arizona desert. As I look out over this beautiful blue tinted horizon on this amazingly clear day with the sun setting behind me, I can’t help but feel grateful. I have an amazing life which knows little want. I have an incredibly supportive family who has my back at every turn. I have a job I feel excited and passionate about. I enjoy great health and am generally happy and positive about life and the future.

Even if there is such a thing as “clear sky turbulence” every once in a while, there’s no reason why I can’t buckle up and enjoy the view. Here at 33,000 feet you will rarely be disappointed.

Prelude to a Thanksgiving

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. Ever since I returned from my mission, it has surpassed Christmas as my favorite holiday of the year.

I love Thanksgiving because our family always gets together in some way. We enjoy each other’s company, sharing our failures and our successes. We eat great food that we all help to prepare. We watch movies together, play card games, and often go to bed with side aches from excessive laughter. It often involves extended family, but has also been just our immediate family as well.

Christmas seems to just get even more awkward as you get older. All the gifts you want are too expensive to justify, and socks and underwear are just boring gifts… so there’s a big draw up and expectation to a bunch of stuff you really might be able to live without.

There’s another reason I put Thanksgiving above Christmas, though. Christmas has turned into a holiday that is just as much about receiving as it is about giving. We all give gifts, but we all expect and hope to receive gifts as well. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is the holiday where we all give, and yet no one receives. We all give thanks to each other and to God.

Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to recall blessings. To enjoy and remember how wonderful life is in spite of our problems. It is a time to understand and place in perspective that which we value above all else.

So here’s hoping you have a safe, wonderful, reflective, joyous Thanksgiving.

PS > I may try to post while on vacation for the next week, but don’t count on it.

The Entertainment World is Falling Apart!

Last week there were two major blows in the entertainment industry. On Monday, the Writer’s Guild went on strike and later in the week, IASTE Local One, the Broadway stagehands union, also went on strike.

Broadway has been dark for several days now, and programs which rely on fresh daily writing are in endless re-runs.

Unions have played a crucial role in our country’s history. They have been behind such things as the minimum wage, child labor prohibitions, and safety initiatives in the workplace. They have been making a safe and fair workplace for many years. They have given the worker a voice, a choice, and a powerful bargaining vehicle against unfair managers and business owners.

I am a member of Actors’ Equity, the union for stage actors and stage managers, and we have been instructed to stand in “solidarity” (whatever that means) with our sister unions. But for me personally, I see my union membership in the entertainment industry as a necessary evil rather than some great thing. Without it I can’t work in the theatres I want to work in, and because of it I can’t work in the theatres I can get a job in. My union has few benefits for me as a non NYC resident.

Union stage managers have a very strange obligation. We are directly responsible for the actors in the company, but are also a member of their union. Our job was to see to it that our union protections were not infringed by the producer, but yet we are also the go between for the producer and the company. As a result, stage mangers are constantly barraged with conflicts of interest. Do they do what the actors want, the union wants, or what the producer wants. Where should their primary loyalty lie?

To give you a taste, actors work 8 of 10, meaning they can work a total of 8 hours a day in a single 10 hour period (you have to have a 2 hour break sometime). They also get 5 minute breaks every 55 minutes or 10 minute breaks every 1:20. Actors are prohibited (by most contracts) from moving scenery, having photos or video taken of them (at any time), and from essentially doing anything but showing up, putting on their costume, and performing.

Many actors are excited to join the union because they open themselves up to the world of these union entitlements. It is very difficult for management and producers when actors play the “union” card, stating they couldn’t or wouldn’t do this or that or the other just to fit their personal convenience.

In stark contrast, a few weeks ago at my current job we had some major customer issues crop up that had to be fixed immediately. Our management called an immediate halt to all development (I’m a developer) and re-tasked every developer to be a tester to help reveal and diagnose the issues.

Had I been in some developer’s union, there would have been no end to the whining and complaining at such a re-tasking. Imagine informing the actors that they would have to put down their scripts and begin painting scenery. There would be mass upheaval. Instead, we all banded together, hunkered down as a team, accomplished our goals, fixed the customer issues, and returned to our development roles a week later. It was tiring, unpleasant work, but it had to be done.

Our entertainment unions have turned from being protectors to babysitters. They create mountains of job duplication and extra expense for producers, while also creating entitlement programs and workplace restrictions that often defy logic, just to pander to a few vocal members.

While these current strikes have some interesting and important negotiation sticking points, especially the “new media” precedent that will be set, I think unions should not have the power to hold entire industries hostage.

We all do what we want.

It’s become WhiteEyebrows’ basic philosophies week here on the blog.

Here’s #2:

We all do exactly what we want.

This is something I learned while a missionary for my church. I worked with the Brazilian people, who are some of the most loving, sincere, transparent people in the world. The object of my mission was to get people to do things. Mostly, it was to get them to be baptized.

This is no easy task. It generally involved getting people to grasp and feel strongly about basic, but ethereal spiritual truths, make changes to their habits, addictions, and daily schedule, as well as overcome the internal and external pressures that were trying to convince them otherwise.

In that fight, I observed that there were people who simply wanted it, and those who didn’t. In the end, the individual always did exactly what they wanted. In order to get them to do anything, I first had to make them want to. I had to somehow inspire in them the deep desire and want for something spiritual, religious, and ethereal in their lives.

When push comes to shove, we will always do exactly what we want to do.

You might say, but what about when I did such and such for my spouse, or when I gave all this time to this cause, and you begin to enumerate your selfless acts. Well, I would argue that “sacrifice” or “the good of the whole” is most times a smoke screen. Religious people sacrifice because they feel they are passing up something now for points with Jesus or Mohammad or whoever. Rich people give money because they want recognition, and those who do so anonymously do so for personal satisfaction. Husbands give into their wives not because they think they are right, but because they want to stay with them.

You can readily see this in action by visiting a local acting school. One of the most basic acting methods is by using “objectives” or wants of a character. The method holds that the way to make a scene compelling, to make a character come alive, and to bring even the most boring text off the page is to understand exactly what the character wants, how badly they want it, and exactly what tactics they will use to get it.

Perhaps what is most disconcerting about this philosophy is that we spend most of our lives going after that which we want, but many times end up discovering that what we thought we wanted isn’t what we wanted at all. (more on that one next Monday)

There’s only what you do.

Here’s another long standing philosophy that I cling to:

There is no what ifs in life, there’s only what you do.

When I was in elementary school, I enjoyed reading “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. At the bottom of each page or section these books would offer the reader several choices with accompanying page numbers to skip to. Sometimes these choices resulted in an exciting story, and other times an abrupt ending to the book. When I would read these books, I would often get mad when the story started going differently than I wanted, or when a decision didn’t leave to great developments in the story like I anticipated. I would then skip back several pages and make different choices. Often times I would leave a finger in the page I left before I skipped ahead to the next section, making sure that I could go back and make the other choice if the story started going in a direction I didn’t like.

Life is not like a choose your own adventure book. There are not multiple alternate space-time continuums that represent what your life would have been like if you had made some other choice at some point. There’s no flipping back the pages, going back in time, and taking another path.

Every moment we live, is a moment of conditions, of the state of the world and of our lives. In that moment, and that moment alone, we act. We choose. At that moment, there is only the choice and the consequent effects of that choice. We can’t turn around and choose again. We can’t recreate that moment and alter the course of our lives. We can only move forward, we can never move back. If we failed at decision R, we must correct that decision through decisions S, T, U and V.

I don’t believe in theorizing on the “what-ifs” of past decisions. I think it’s at best fruitless and at worst painful and paralyzing.

There is only what you do.

This philosophy empowers me to lead a “no regrets” lifestyle. There is no sense in looking at the past and playing what if games. No sense in wondering what you would be like today had you done X, Y, or Z.

You might be thinking that the danger of this philosophy is that you won’t learn from your past mistakes, but what I’m talking about is a more real-time, constant analysis of your decisions. It is a hyper-sensitivity to the success or failure of your current decisions and a constant course correction toward something better. It’s advanced learning from your decisions.

This ties right into my philosophy that we all do exactly what we want to do (I’ll write that blog tomorrow).

Lets take an example… say you are a smoker. You will likely remain a smoker your whole life, until you come to a point where you say, you know what, smoking is killing me. It’s not good for me, and it’s especially not good for those around me. When you have that epiphany, and your basic want changes (I want to not smoke vs. I want to smoke), you will change. Your next decisions are most crucial in that change. There is no more going back and taking the tar out of your lungs.

You can only start from point now.

I realize that this philosophy might not work for all, but it certainly has worked for me. It has offered me a constantly forward looking life, and has prevented me from getting too mired down when I have made bad decisions.

Green Week

I was watching NBC last night, and during one of the commercial breaks on “Heroes,” they had the cast of the show do a small commercial/feature on planting trees out in front of Rockefeller Center in NYC.

I thought, “how nice. they are jumping on this green bandwagon, trying to promote eco friendly ideas and tendencies.”

Then, every NBC show I watched had some major plot element that centered around being “green.”

Then on my local news, there was several feature stories about being eco-friendly, and NBC’s green week.

Then I checked the website to see the schedule, and the whole website is now in hues of green.

Apparently, it is Green Week on NBC.

Turns out, NBC’s parent company, General Electric, has made it “Green Week” for all of their subsidiaries.

When I went to bed, I turned on talk radio, and these guys were blathering on about NBC’s Green Week. I didn’t realize promoting “green” living was such a controversial subject, but apparently they have ruffled some feathers with their green talk. They were going on and on about how Global Warming is not a proven fact, and how the earth warms and cools every few thousands of years… blah blah blah.

As I was listening to these people blather (yes, that is the right word to describe talk radio), I thought to myself, “c’mon guys… what is “Green Week” actually hurting?”

I mean, I’m going to get sick of hearing about how to have a Green Wedding on Days of Our Lives, and leaving a small carbon footprint as you travel through time on Journeyman, or how to be an eco-friendly Hero. I don’t think all this “green” promotion will really enhance the entertainment value of NBC’s shows (which it actually desperately needs), but honestly, what is green week really going to hurt?

What does it hurt to turn the lights off, turn the air conditioning up 2 degrees, drive around less, buy a more fuel efficient car, and recycle your recyclables? Who does it hurt if I use less energy? No one. Who does it hurt if a corporation uses less energy? No one. In fact, being green usually saves you money. Lots of money.

I’m just not understanding what part of that I can feel good about crusading against…

And while I’m on this subject, let me say…

Being “green” is not something you just wake up one morning and decide to do. Being “green” is a process and a way of life. We have been thinking “green” as a nation for several decades, which we don’t give ourselves enough credit for. We have made great strides in being Green:

  • Catalytic converters on cars
  • Recycling programs in major metro areas
  • Better recycling of e-waste: silicon, toner cartridges, batteries, etc.
  • Corporate use of email and document control systems to totally replace paper (most e-corporations are almost entirely paperless)

The truth is, we have grown GDP in our nation in the last 30 years while becoming greener and greener. Now is not the time for a radical shift. Let the “green” movement continue organically. We already are green and we keep getting greener and greener as it makes business sense to do so.

We stand at the brink of a new era of “green.” There is a big inflection point in American thinking now centered around looking for the next big breakthrough in energy. Everyone wants less dependence on foreign oil, dirty coal, and politically impossible nuclear energy. Something big will break, we hope. In the meantime, just use less.

It’s really as simple as that.