Monday, December 31, 2012

Two Videos that Inspired Me This Year

Not really a political post today, but I just wanted to capture a couple of videos that I found to be inspiring this year.  Not in the sense of getting you fired up to go run a marathon or something, but just a couple of videos that motivated my behavior.  They helped me recognize what's important in my personal life and also inspired me to pursue a goal that I've aspired to accomplish but never have.

The first is from a guy that lives as an extreme minimalist.  I found the whole concept that we don't really need much stuff liberating.  Also that the things we really value are things money can't buy.  It tells me that it can make sense to work for others (like a corporation) in order to meet my own basic needs, but beyond that I should focus on myself.  So I don't want to work like a mad man so I can have money to buy a bigger house that I wouldn't care about.  Doing that deprives me of time I could spend doing things that are actually valuable to me, like cultivating relationships with friends and family, or developing an interesting skill.

I think this guy doesn't have children, so he has different options than I do, but this doesn't change the underlying point.  The main thing that will keep me working for a while is that my kids will probably want to go to college and I want to help them with that, but after that I could see myself exiting the corporate world, assuming I've managed to save enough to meet my own basic needs.  Living simply makes that feasible.

The next is from a guy that simply convinced me that if you've long aspired to learn a foreign language and have failed it's not because you have some personal inability to do it.  Anyone of normal mental capacity can do it.  This kind of reinforces the above video.  The things that I really would value are not posessions, but things that are within me.  If I possess a skill, that would matter a lot more to me than a fancy car.  I've always been impressed with others that can speak multiple languages, so I guess I also aspire to have that skill as well.  This guy convinced me that I can, so I'm trying.

Almost arbitrarily I picked Mandarin.  I just happened to be at the library and saw some materials.  Also I work with people from China and also in China regularly, so I figured I'd have plenty of people I could talk to and ask questions.  It's been fun so far.  What I didn't realize though when I started is I've picked a language that's pretty tough for native English speakers.  I assumed it would be tougher, but according to the FSI it's more tough than I realized.  If I could go back in time I might instead go with Spanish.  But I'm having fun anyway, and I think it will feel all the more rewarding if I can achieve it.  And I can certainly learn Spanish later, which I actually plan to do.


Examinator said...

Here's an interesting read that touches on aspects of your topic

Our children were raised with the spontaneous play principal and now they are all doing what they love doing for jobs

4tomic said...

Yea. The language thing is all about immersion and leaving your own language behind. That's 90% of it. I used to teach English as a second language to special education students in Japan. The conclusion I came to is that anyone can learn to speak any second language as well as they learned to speak their first language with patience. Some of my special education students actually learned faster than my non-special ed students, likely because they had less anxiety about using English than "normal" people. Some languages are tougher though. After spending 3 years learning Japanese, I tried Portuguese and was blown away by how easy it was. But I wouldn't think about the difficulty too much... what's important is that you have friends who you can use the language with (or you travel to that country often). And what could be more useful than Mandarin anyways?

As for the minimalist... I am so jealous of the stuff he doesn't own. I'm fairly minimalist but not to that extreme. But it was great to watch. It reminds me how lucky I am to not own a car, TV, or much clothes. I forget that sometimes. And how extremely lucky I am to have a girlfriend who is also a minimalist (she's a keeper).

@ Examinator

As an educator, Noam's writing was a very interesting topic to me. On a similar note, the department at my school has been doing work in a program called the Learning in Depth program. The idea is to give students a single topics (e.g. "apples") and have the students explore that topic in extreme depth over years (usually from grade 1 and 12). The idea is that the It's proved extremely successful. I'll just link a video if you're interested:

Jon said...

Interesting article, Ex. Chomsky offers more personal insights than he typically does in that one.

4tomic, so you speak 3 languages? Or more? Not sure I'll get the kind of immersion I would like, but I'm not necessarily shooting for an extremely high level of fluency. Maybe. I guess it depends on how much I enjoy the learning process. So far so good. I'm thinking I'd be thrilled if I achieved B1/B2, but maybe if I do get to that point I'd want to get beyond that. It's good to hear that others regard it as feasible. I sometimes need the reminder.

Examinator said...

Loved the videos all 2hrs of them. I am a devout philomath.
The one thing he didn't go into is the "cross conditioning"(my term). Simply put the best thing I ever learned from University was how to research and how much fun it is to discover the true nature of a topic. While my degree was a double major in Marketing and psychology (both so so) the above the research skills and the fun of learning (conditioning) has permeated/ applied every topic I cross to day.
i.e. My family use these skills of analysis research to bounce their issues and needs for say something as mundane as the best insurance policy or a washing machine. They know I'll research it to death and give them an detailed short list.

In the second 11minuter he confirmed a number of principles I adhere to
One is "the more I know, the more I know that I don't know"
Hence I never claim any expert status nor do I proselytes to do so would be to implies an absolute knowledge. And as he says about the taxi driver its either an opinion or its a conclusion determined by the facts not the emotions/prejudices,pre determined limiting parameters .

Glad you found it interesting.
To some degree I can identify with what he says. I too skipped a grade in elementary school... But I dropped out mid High school....didn't get my H/S diploma until mid 20's and went to university at 30. Fortunately in those times Jobs were plentiful and reference checks were slack or else I wouldn't have been able to rise the way I did. Again it taught me to be humble in that while I worked hard with a job a young family and University a big part of it were fortuitous breaks and circumstance(context)that got me there. I find it arrogant/misguided for anyone who claims that they did it on their own. Hence I find it difficult to look down on those who didn't have my breaks or inmate skills (including IQ ? smarts). Let's be clear I am neither as old ans Noam nor anywhere as smart. He is by most terms into the genius level.
Nor does that mean that he is correct in every context.

Hope you all had a Great New Year celebrations (a little paganism does the soul a lot of good.

Examinator said...

While I'm by many standards a minimalist I would agree with my family's definition of me as a functionalist.
i.e. does what I have/want serve an important function. To a large point it must fulfil a functional NEED.

As we've sort of covered before. I wouldn't buy e.g an I phone because Many of the 'functions' I don't need. My cell phone needs are covered by my 8year old cell phone.
Likewise my vehicle is nearly 20 years old..I fail to see that I functionally need a new one. Much less a RV when my all wheel drive Subaru get me to most places.
Also note that I didn't rigidly enforce my standards on anyone else. yes I had influence but that was it. e.g. I didn't stop computer game for our children only limited the types and the length of exposure.
Even my computer is less fancy than my wife's it is functional to what I do. Hers is functional to what she does.
I don't have an air conditioner I simply have a house that is well insulated eaves, blinds etc . and when it's cold (relatively speaking) I put on more clothes.
I guess we could buy more but we ask why? Having said that we do have matching furniture Just not a lot of it. My computer desk is an old dysfunctional electric organ frame I converted. Yes I could have brought my solid oak leather topped antique one from Charleston but why? I sold it at auction and donated the proceeds.
Mind you I'll never more into a retirement home or a single bedroom apartment. I've organized my body to go to the apprentice surgeons training school in Aust rather than an unnecessary funeral with expensive coffin etc.
Then again I did that years and years ago with the hospital in the US (nothing new). My bit were on a donors list from my 30's...
And what's more Chad I couldn't have given a toss if the recipient was one of your 'freeloaders' (sic), who knows it may have saved a late bloomer Like me.

Examinator said...

Oh dear me again,
If you guys are interested in really looking at the other perspective.
browse this site and particular the one about Saudi Arabia and the US disgraceful links.Fascinating.
One of my independent Journos sent it too me

Chad said...

JC - obviously we have different overall goals, but I wish you the best of luck minimizing and learning a second language. Was blessed this past year to reach all the goals set for '12 which were pretty aggressive. We even met several of the long term goals making it difficult this week to come up with new ones for '13. The RV puts a new spin on things and it looks like we might have goals more in line with the minimizing idea your discussing. By definition camping is kind of unplugging and heading out to hook up so we might have some similar goals this year. Happy New Year!

Jonathan said...


I liked your video on language (haven't seen the other one yet). My goal is to learn Hindi better this year - A big part of my strategy is letting other people know like the video said - works really well with exercise goals as well. Anyway, I posted a little avatar on my desk with some of my goals for the year so help motivate me to learn Hindi better.

I like the skype idea as well of just speaking the language with others. Are you planning / have you been speaking Chinese with anyone in real life much? Maybe we should have a friendly competition or something about language learning...

Jon said...

I didn't know you knew any Hindi. That's great. How far along are you? Sure, some competition would be cool. Not sure how we gauge it. You'll think my Mandarin is awesome and I'll think your Hindi is awesome since neither of us know anything about the other.

Benny would probably be disappointed in me, but I haven't taken that next step and spoken on Skype. I guess I'm too much of a wimp. I do speak with lots of people at work. Usually at least a little every work day. They tell me I'm doing great, but you know how it goes. They're very nice, and often kind of pleased to see a white guy like myself even bothering. On the other hand maybe they are telling the truth.

Hindi is high on my list of languages I would like to learn. Spanish, Mandarin, and Hindi. That's a lot of people that you now can communicate with in their native language, and I like that concept. I know that's getting ahead of myself, but you look at a guy like Benny and you know that it is possible. Would I achieve that? Probably that's a stretch, but who knows.

Jon said...

I should say I have also spoken with people just out in public, and it's really fun to see the look on their faces. I was at Panda Express at the mall and this guy is ringing me out and his English was very bad, so I say "Ni hui shuo putonghua ma?" (Do you speak Mandarin?) and his eyes totally lit up as he replied "Hui" excitedly. Then he went off with a bunch of other stuff and I was lost, but we had fun. That was at the very beginning when I had just started. I've done that sort of thing a few times. So I'm not really afraid to approach people, but so far I haven't committed like 30 minutes to sit down and strain away with a native like Benny advises. But I'm nearly ready I think.

Examinator said...

Jon, Jonathan.
Fella's have you watched this video ...less gee up and more issues involved. i.e. their definition of fluent is far more reasonable.
AS I've said before I could speak two local languages from PNG but only one, I could write intelligibly in.
Perhaps the greatest 'advantage' for me was that I became better aware of their view of themselves in the cosmos....their context (without which we as whities tend to be blind sided by our cultural conditioning.
Where as my family were more *tolerant* (almost patronisingly so) than most other whites Mom and Dad were often unaware of the sub text of what was really going on in many situations with the natives.
I guess I'm saying that because I didn't have pre set prejudices I learned their culture at a deeper level and as such I learned that in languages without actual superlatives They could still express them. This required a knowledge of their beliefs etc.

Chad said...

I've found this discussion rather interesting. Jon and others talk about unplugging and sacrificing dollars for family time, but it is okay to sacrifice family time to learn additional lessons? I am sure there is a cost to do so as well, but probably minimal.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for self improvement - I am slowing growing through the Six Sigma training, have my cert from 7 habits and Franklin Covey while looking to possible do a couple more on-line business courses as well. My intentions for taking those courses are probably very clear to all, but it is fascinating that it okay to sacrifice time to learn a language - go out on skype to talk to complete strangers - all the while not spending that 'extra' 'unplugged' time with your family and that of course is okay? Yet when I use that time away from my family to earn additional revenues that - in your mind - is poor use of time.

I find that very interesting.

Jon said...

Ex, yes I had seen that (Benny's interview with Tim Ferris). Ferris has some good ideas that I'm going to try out. Stuff I've also seen elsewhere, but good ideas.

I also think it's really cool that he'll take two weeks and do all he can to learn a language simply because he knows that he will soon visit. So just being able to string a couple of sentences together in Turkish or whatever they speak in Indonesia creates a connection with locals and can have a big impact on the experience you have, as opposed to just barging in as an English speaker and expecting everyone to accommodate you. Even though he may never use them again, the investment is rewarding for him. As I said I'm learning Mandarin now and would also like to know Spanish, but maybe prior to moving to Spanish I'll take a couple of weeks and just dip my toes in another language that maybe is a bit more obscure before aggressively pursuing Spanish. It happens I have a friend from Pakistan. Maybe Urdu would make sense. I actually did walk up to him out of the blue and say "Hep Engreze bote hen" (maybe not spelled right) which means "Do you speak English." The look of surprise I got in reaction was priceless. "Where did you learn that" he said. It was funny.

Jon said...

Chad, I think you've touched on the key point here, which is this. Humans are in their very nature creative and free. That which you do which is a product of your own free expression is something others look to and admire.

But on the other hand if what you do you do because you have been commanded, or threatened, that is not admirable in the same way. One way of saying it is you can look to a craftsman and see that he built a beautiful thing. If he does it because of external coercion we admire what he's done but we despise what he is (this is a quote from Von Humbolt).

What we are doing with language is we are acting in ways that reflect our own freedom of interest. Nobody wants to go to six sigma training. That is boring as hell. I see these quality people walking around feigning that they are actually interested in the material. Who would do that if not for the dollar signs? This is not an interest that flows from inside you, but is a result of external compulsion. This is not the true expression of what being human is.

It's not that everybody needs to spend time with their families. To experience being human in the fullest sense it's more that you simply need to do things that you want to do of your own free will, whether that means cultivating those family relationships or pursuing other interests. Life is so interesting and fun that way. Of course I also do things due to compulsion and need for the paycheck, but the sooner I can move away from that and pursue things that are in my own interest the better.

One other thing I've thought about. When I'm done with work I won't give two shits about some stupid manufacturing process I improved, or the fact that I managed to calculate resonant frequencies of circuit boards. Nobody cares, including me. What I will care about and what I think would give life more meaning is developing skills related to cultivating relationships, which leads to interesting experiences with others. Life is empty without that. So for me focusing my energy on optimal torque settings for screwing stations or creating a stiffening feature to survive a vibration input is necessary because I need to pay bills, but it's not what defines me. At the end of the day nobody cares. Your grand kids really won't care if you become a six sigma black belt. Yeah, they may like that you have money and I'm not suggesting you shouldn't do things that make you better able to make money, but I guess for me I don't want that to be what defines me.

Chad said...

Unfortunately I believe your very much mistaken - legacies are created by accomplishments and I believe that a persons body of work does in fact define thier life.

I don't want to put words in your mouth - so are you saying that it is your personal interest that trumps all then? Your willing to sacrifice a standard of living you could achieve (if you applied yourself in the nasty money making world) for your family because it is your personal wish to learn additional languages and to maybe learn the guitar?

Jon said...

I agree that what you do defines you. I'm saying I don't want to be defined by the work I do for a wage. To me it's not really all that meaningful. I do it because I do need an income. I do it for my wife and kids.

What the minimalist is saying is yeah, do that work because you have a certain amount of basic needs. But once those have been met you should think twice before focusing so much energy on that which takes you away from doing what you crave to do in your core. You are depriving yourself of that for unnecessary things. That's not going to bring you as much happiness and joy.

That means my standard of living will suffer, but only when you define it in terms of net worth. Define it in terms of satisfying experiences. Now my standard of living is higher (assuming I have enough money to meet my essential needs). I value what is within me more than what I possess. I value the experiences I create.

And I want my kids to absorb this way of thinking. Thinking that you need to accumulate for happiness leads to endless accumulation, work, and sacrifice of personal time. Time that you now can no longer use to pursue whatever interests you.

My son recently said something that was very encouraging. He had friends over for his birthday party and he told my wife to tell everyone not to bring presents. He doesn't need anything. What I want for my kids at the end of the day is their happiness, and I have learned that to achieve that it's important to recognize that these things we strive to accumulate won't bring it.

Examinator said...

Chad is off on his extremes kick again.
Questions like ["Your willing to sacrifice a standard of living you could achieve (if you applied yourself in the nasty money making world) for your family because it is your personal wish to learn additional languages and to maybe learn the guitar?"]
Says it all about his mind set.
Where is the sacrifice?
My children are grown up and what do they remember about me ? my august corporate status? the trapping of wealth? No. in their words the remember me as the guy who accompanied them to neat places like science clubs, Field naturalist meeting.Fiends of the museum, fiends of the Zoo. Took them to interesting outings where they saw and did things that many children didn't the back labs of the morgue, to where they did DNA analysis. Inside Electricity generators down for major maintenance, On archaeological digs, a scientific bat catching trip, Fishing at lonely places. As an organizer for those. Digging for gold, Tracking wild Lerdegergs. And OH yes visiting different religions places of worship and conversations with their keepers/ priests/ rabbis/ imams etc.
They remember me for being there and not affraid to defend them or "kick their asses" if they were in the wrong. Now-a-days I'm the go to person . As my 25yo daughter put it I always seem to know or get to know someone who can help.
WHAT THEY DON'T care about is if I have money for them.
Jon I'd also suggest if Chad's grand children's recollection of him is his money/he's rich then they don't care about HIM rather what his money can do for THEM!
I hope my grand children if they come they will think of me as a fun person to visit. I doubt they'll give a toss about my degrees or certificates or that I was a corporate big wig.
I reckon you are right BTW get your children to learn a language by visiting places where they can react with those of that language...I think they'll pick it up quicker than you..
BTW my children could converse in one of the languages simply because it was part of family conversations.
The same went for my son's Chinese lessons we all learned some Cantonese
Chad it's about involvement not sacrifices.

Chad said...

Sounds like we are getting similar results from opposite ends with our kids. Similar conversation happened with my son, he said that he has all the toys he could ever want and would like his friends to bring two toys they no longer play with to give to the shelter and none for him.

You certainly know how silly it is to say that people's happiness is not affected by what they own or have in their possession right? Again I truly hope and pray that your children are the happiest kids ever and that they absorb what your attempting to teach in a meaningful way. Being an arm chair QB here it doesn't appear that they get the opportunity to see a different way. If I am not mistaken you have decided to home school so their interaction with children and the outside world seems pretty small so I guess that I am not surprised that your son said that - my son is a Michigan Wolverine fan because I am a Michigan Wolverine fan - he does what dad does.

I don't see and will never believe that our possessions limit our family environment, it is a very silly notion. We have the blessed ability to do things that other families can not and we do those things together for the most part. Memories made, things done, accomplishments met and celebrated as a family. In our family no dream is unreachable, mountains are there to be climbed and a bloody nose just means your in a fight not that your losing one.

I would be honored and a proud parent if my kids dedicated themselves in the same manner as their mother and father are doing now - proud. Being successful, a hard worker and being the best at what anyone does should be lifted up. The notion/idea to work the fewest amount of hours possible is exactly how we get to where things are today.

The best athletes in the world have to make sacrifices to be the best - they can take Sunday off because everyone takes Sunday off, but their CORE drive is to be successful, that is the drive I have - didn't make it to the bigs in sports, but that doesn't mean I can't make the bigs in business.

Just a difference in philosophy.

Jon said...

Chad, the idea that your happiness does not derive from your possessions is not only supported by a good many case studies, but it is also a reflection of the teachings of the people that are regarded as among the greatest philosophers the world has seen, like Jesus, Confucius, and Buddha.

Remember though that I'm talking about possessions that are above and beyond the requirements you have to meet your basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, health care). Yes, those are relevant to your happiness. Not extravagant shelter, but the kind that prevents discomfort from the weather and so forth.

Are you going to dismiss the ideas of the world's greatest minds as silly? I think you've been spending too much time studying up on six sigma and haven't even dipped your toes in the vast reservoirs of knowledge that exist outside the world of business and personal wealth accumulation.

Chad said...

So how do you measure 'above and beyond' your basic needs? Is having a television in the home above and beyond? Is having 1 television per person excess or is the size of the TV that is the measurement? How about having a microwave - is that a need or an unnecessary appliance. What about a dishwasher? Is having a house with 1 extra unused room excessive or does it have to be 3 empty rooms? What is your benchmark to measure excess JC? If it is okay to own some of those things in your home, is it excess then to purchase the biggest and best model?

I guess we need a better Jon definition because the teachings of those men would suggest that we all live way beyond our means - is your goal to live by their strict teachings or to pick and choose what is convenient to you and your beliefs? You quote these philosophers when convenient and adopt bits and pieces to suit you, but your not willing to really adopt the teachings you claim to believe in. Or is this one of those do as I say not as I do type of thing again?

If happiness is to related to wealth or possessions then why do people buy up? If those studies were actually true then the number of gadgets in this world would be declining not rising. Putting possessions against experiences or against love of family is not a measurement - I would tell you that no single possession makes me more happy than my family, but I would also tell you that the possessions enhance the level of happiness we enjoy. In order to gain experiences that are valuable it takes wealth or possessions to get there. You can't go to Disney with the kids without means to do so.

Examinator said...

you are trying to make too many conclusion from too little information.
You need to consider the base nature (genetic) instincts and their input influence it has via hormones etc that influence emotions.
It is be argued that Black Friday is works because of two emotions one excitement and survival mechanism.
It is part of our psychological make up.
NOTE: The DEGREE of influence varies from person to person but collectively it makes for a highly charged event.
Fighting over $2 off the price of a pair of briefs? but it does happen.
Marketing are good at turning on these emotions.
There are heaps of research that shows the impact of emotion.
An uncle of mine got a price and sample for some carpet at $ 15 per foot came back a week later during a sale and the same carpet was marked as a sale price of Down from $23 to a "once only below cost $17!". He kicked up a fuss in the store waving his sample and the quote and guess what he got it at $11.50.
Likewise have you heard of lost leaders at supermarkets ? they put a product on special at near or below cost. Yet research shows them that someone who buys this product also buys on average X,Y,Z and they put UP the prices on the others net result MORE profit.
Have you ever wondered why ads appear louder more full sound? yet they get attention but they excite. Baseball has the organ music to excite.
One doesn't make the most logical or rational decisions when excited.
Haven't you ever bought something in a shop but when you calmed down wondered why you bought it in that a little more research would have resulted in a better or cheaper product? most people have? have you ever taken something back for cheaper or 10% back deal? Most people won't, too embarrassed.That's why most returns are gifts from other people or broken.

As I've said before I'm not as ascetic as Jon but neither am I quite as consumption inclined as you. E.g I wouldn't buy a any I product (clever marketing in the name...subliminal ownership) because I simply don't need the aps etc it offers. My wife has an Android thingy that does all the features she ACTUALLY uses at less than 1/2 the price.
My phone is a hand me down smart phone it does what I NEED actually use.
Again Jon is right that there is no clear defining line it is all based on NEED as opposed to excited want.
I'm buying a road cycle to improve my fitness avoid type 2 diabetes heart attack etc. My current bike is too small for me and is causing biomechanical problems....I have arthritis in one foot so walking jogging is out. But the purchasing process has taken weeks of research and lots of pissed bike shop salesperson who want an instant sale....tough!
Now one shop has walked my through my questions etc and has told me that a the sale to me is now a matter of professional pride and is the sale he's most proud of. It tested his knowledge and forced him to really be up to date with his skills... all for $1300 sale! Chicken shit compared to the $15000 bike in his shop.

Examinator said...

One final point I'd make about children and the 'Disneyland'.
Disneyland visit is way down on THEIR list of important memories.
In fact today it get's little more than a disinterested(?) "Oh yer.. but do you remember the 3 wheeled Soap box derby car dad built from the old fashioned big wheeled walking frame?" and then comes a regurgitation of events and the dog that pulled them around in it. Then the tree house they built with minimal help from me...then the giant 'christmas tree' (blue spruce) that grew in the driveway that was so thick that they could climb up on the inside then Jump off the top and the sloping branches/foliage acted as a soft slide to the ground.
BTW the Walker was a swap for an old accounting machine a client asked me to dispose of for them they paid me!
In short the it was a freebee just a little ingenuity from me in helping the eldest to convert it.
In short Chad, Money isn't what they treasured rather the involvement.
Also note all the clubs would have added up to less than $200 over 4 years.
It is false reasoning to assume that you need money to create dominant memories or indulge the children.
Their favourite paid adventure was the monthly sunday afternoon tea at a local cafe that sold desserts like 'Wicked evil Chocolate' desert, 'Death by Chocolate' and their favorite "Wild thing' a chocolate dessert mainly icecream with 8 types of chocolate.. Grand sum of $4.50 each.

Jon said...

You're missing my point, Chad. I'm not saying it's not OK to own things that are not absolutely necessary. A TV isn't necessary, but I own one (and only one, frankly if it were up to me we would get rid of that one too). I own a microwave and all that. But studies I've seen indicate that having more than that which meets your basic needs doesn't improve your happiness.

Additionally that's what a lot of the world's greatest philosophers have said. So for you to dismiss that as "silly" seems pretty bizarre to me. The findings of studies and recommendations of the world's most highly respected thinkers can just be dismissed as silly?

No, I don't treat these people like gods and say we must accept everything they said. I'm just saying that when the world's greatest minds agree on something you should consider it, rather than dismiss it as silly.

Ex has covered your question about why people buy up, but I'll just build on that. The purpose of marketing is to get people to make irrational choices, buying stuff they don't really want and certainly don't need, to impress people they don't like, with money they don't have. Just turn on the TV and you immediately see how irrational it is. Does Ford hire athletes to pitch products because they think this makes the consumers better informed about what is in their rational interest? No. Billions have been spent figuring out ways to get people to irrationally purchase stuff they can't afford and don't even want, so long as this means more profits. That's the end goal, not satisfied and happy people.

I like the way Ex puts it with Disney World and I think it's a perfect example. It happens I went on 3 major family trips this year. Two involved flights for 4 people to popular vacation destinations. One was a short trip to the UP. Obviously the later was much cheaper. But guess which was the kid's favorite? You are conditioned to think that blowing thousands on a trip to Disney World is what is needed to bring happiness to your family, but the reality is just the opposite. So people slave away at jobs in order to afford a trip to Disney World when they would be happier and their kids would be happier if they just worked less and spent some time working on a boxcar together. The reason you don't see that is marketing.

Chad said...

What an interesting conversation, my siblings and I enjoyed a fairly decent childhood of experiences, but the one family event that stood out head and shoulders above all others was Disney. We actually talked about those memories over the Holiday when mom busted out the family vacation albums. We laughed because we all remembered Disney like it was yesterday, but the pages and pages of other trips were a blur - hardly remembered, but the Disney trip was like it happened yesterday.

With 1 TV, home schooling and a very limited social scope outside the home that your kids seem to have are you surprised at their answer. Do they even know what/who SpongeBob is? Was one of the major family trips to Disney - that would certainly help an apples to apples comparison. Obviously your in control of what your kids are exposed to. If they only know that there is channels 1-8 on the TV then until they come in contact with friends who have more than that they won't know any different. What about the internet - are you going to police that as well? What if they decide that they want a TV in their room like other kids or would like to surf the net for some new clothes - is that going to be allowed?

JC - Got be straight up here and I am not forecasting what will happen or saying your wrong in anyway. You are a good dude with good intentions and I know that you love your family, but what your describing at the moment seems to match up to the environment that my wife and her sister grew up in almost to a T. Their dad was in the Air Force then was a Firefigher - retired now, but their childhood was very sheltered and very structured. They were not allowed to participate in sports, watch the Television, have other kids over to the house and so on. The man has mellowed with age and I can hardly believe the man I know was that way back then, but he admits that he was very flawed when we talk - he wanted to live with only what was needed. The end result of that kind of upbringing was for both of them to leave home the day they turned 18. There were other major social stumbling blocks, learning experiences as a result, but let me just say that my wife and her sister feel as if they lost their childhood - it was taken from them and they are not happy about it. The wounds are still deep - comments still made on occasion like I wish we could have gone to Disney (or anywhere fun) when we were little or could have had a TV to watch. It is a big wound for both of them - just food for thought there. Enough of that.

Ask 100 kids today ages 8-12 what they'd rather do. A trip to the UP or Disney - lets see what they say they would rather do. Going further than that - I would like to take all 100 to both locations for an equal amount of time then ask the same question again.

Results probably in the 90% or higher for Disney is my guess.

Chad said...

I've considered the teachings and look over the studies you provided and have determined that they are dramatically skewed is all. Another words - no one object will ever replace the love of family or the want to be with family. That is 100% true - I would choose family over money, love over possessions all day long.

My argument is beyond that first wave of thinking and that is given a level playing field of happiness - we all have shelter, we have food, we have some small equal level of entertainment that we can enjoy. Having the ability to enhanced the happiness through possessions is a real measurement. What your trying to argue is that the stable family with a swimming pool is not as happy as the stable family without and it is just not true. Assuming of course that the family in question enjoys swimming as an activity - I would venture that 99% of the families without a pool would enjoy having a pool more than not having a pool. That is the measurement I speaking about. Watching sports on my HDTV makes me far far happier than watching on a standard definition television - it is not even close. When I get invited somewhere for a college football Saturday - there is one question that is asked immediately - what are we watching the games on TV wise. If not an HDTV I am not going.

Going camping in a pop up tent with no bathroom, no running water to speak of and limited power or going camping in an RV with TV's, fridge, toilet, sink, shower and another level of protection for the elements - which is better? Goodness it is simple.

In regards to Marketing - I find that part of our discussion the most concerning from your point of view. If you banned TV ads tomorrow it would not stop the desire of people to upgrade. In fact I would argue that marketing has increased consumer knowledge by a great percentage than ever. Consumer's today are smarter than they have ever been - ever. We have the internet to evaluate pricing, we have it available to read buyers comments and we in most cases download the entire manual prior to purchasing anything. Black Friday is a success because it flames the fire of a couple things - one it gives people the chance to purchase something that may otherwise be out of their immediate reach and two an opportunity to shop many places to get that said goods. People have a laundry list of wants today already in their head or on paper - the advertisements are there to keep that goal in focus is all.

Besides the brutal truth is that if we stop buying the desireable items what happens to the economy - it tanks so what are we talking about here? It is silly.

Chad said...

Ex - my genuine hope is that my kids experiences are so rich that they forget about many of them, but I suspect that many will stick in their mind forever. Besides with the digital world, Facebook, pics and video's they will be able to re-live just about every experience they may have forgotten.

To set the record straight, we live in a fairly modest house with aged furniture, older model cars, I don't own a riding mower or a snow thrower - all in all we don't have a lot of crazy possessions other than the RV now which we saved to get for years.

Like so many in our position with young kids, we are currently saddled with a big daycare bill ($28k/year) so our play money is limited right now so even though I argue on the behalf of consumption - my wish list is far far far greater than the own list at the moment.

Just so you know.

Examinator said...

I remember what you've written before. I READ ALL particularly if addressed to me.
I guess the point I'm making to you is that you need to be very careful not to impose YOUR attitudes TOO much. It's not how YOU see the strategy but how THEY see it . The imposed attitudes has an odds on chance of "Blow back" and failure. When all is said and done your children are individuals and will find their own level or will be so hung up as to be unhappy adults.
Obviously they will take on board some of your and your wife's traits BUT their take on them WILL be different and each from the other.
Among my miscalculations/ regrets is that to THEM, I was a little *too * achievement orientated (my justification was that I didn't want them to leave school too soon Like me and have to go back later.) they saw that as pressure.
You are correct about the outside influences they will have a significant impact...regardless of your wishes, roll with them, is the best advice. “ resistance is futile”
Keep in mind also times have changed, I too was desperate to go to Disney land as a didn't happen.
We took our children there largely because WE thought it would be a key enjoyment for them. Yes they had oodles of fun, But as I said after the day, they wanted to go home to their soap box car etc. Surprisingly they weren't interested in a second day. My wife and I wonder if we were projecting. I suspect there was an element of it .

Experience both as a parent and a volunteer crisis counsellor (whose role help people hold themselves together long enough for them to get professional help) has taught me that the best (only meaningful) thing is to provide them with the tools and some non directive guidance and stand back and let them do it their way.
This is best illustrated with young children who ask 'THE QUESTIONS' .... in reality they will turn off once THEIR IMMEDIATE cause for the question is answered in their terms. It is wise to ask why they want to know so you can tailor the answer to *their immediate * need. No need for big lectures biological or theological. They will pick them up from what they perceive you as doing.
Jon, this applies to you also. Extremes on either side will back fire. If they see you as frugal they will tend to be the same.
as I've said before, they will choose your role. My wife is the unloading, sounding post.
I'm the researcher or(Mr Fixit). Neither was our choice.
Nor did they follow our script for them.
One child ( the electronic engineer) is all for trivial toys and I mean toys giant sized peek a chu; a pirate marionette on his wall; and a large square pants sponge bob as a target for his nerf gun(s) bullets for his shihtzu to chase, all in his his lounge, he still has his original Donald Duck cuddly toy.(he's the family clown and a technical nerd)
The middle son is relatively ascetic, with an interest in anime ( and an authoritative type). The youngest daughter is into all things emotional, for a mine and is a career with a bullet person. She's been nominated for a national award.
The eldest daughter is well.... an alternative life styler, subject co-ordinater at a high school.
They share some 'family traits' but are very different to us and each other in many ways.

Jon said...

Chad, sounds like I'm pretty much the opposite of your father in law. Kids have been everywhere. Hawaii, Grand Canyon, Disney World, Florida, Myrtle Beach, many more. Kids watch basically whatever movies they want. The boy will watch R rated movies, but my girl likes more girly movies of course. He plays a variety of rated M video games. That's not an issue for us. We have no limits on internet usage. Obviously I wouldn't approve if they went certain places and wouldn't allow it, but it's just not an issue. Heck, I take my kids to church if they want to go and I find somewhere quiet to just read my books or whatever. I parent with an extremely free hand. They get allowance money and can buy whatever they want with just some minor restrictions (we don't let him buy just any rated M game, we do screen that a bit). So they are free to buy stupid toys that they will get bored of in a week if they want, and they've done that a few times despite my disapproval, but what's good about it is they do it and they then come to realize it's not worth it. So now they generally buy stuff that they get good use out of.

Of course his anti-consumerist mindset is due to my influence. I'm not denying that. But it's not that he isn't exposed to the other side.

You wrote:

your trying to argue is that the stable family with a swimming pool is not as happy as the stable family without and it is just not true.

No, that's not what I said. I'm not saying those that go without are MORE happy. I'm saying that those that go without are not LESS happy. According to the studies I've seen.

I have to take back what I said earlier though because our Hawaii trip was this year and my kids do say they prefer Hawaii to the UP. I guess I can't blame them for that (have you been to Hawaii? Holy crap is it ever wonderful.) The underlying point though is we do spend a lot of money on stuff that we are conditioned to think they want, and perhaps they are conditioned to think they want it to (Disney World would be an example) but I have some reason to think that this stuff doesn't make us as happy as a cheap vacation with more human interaction, like what I had in the UP.

Chad said...

Appreciate the reply and clarification.

Examinator said...

Your are absolutely correct that those with assets are more unhappy than those without.
One could easily argue the converse
i.e. those without assets aren't more unhappy than those with.

Chad's dodgy logic has sidetracked you from the key issue.
Keep in mind two key concepts of Chad's. The first is that he believes that he is special(entitled) to have children BECAUSE HE can afford( he doesn't define the term)them.

Next he questioned you for "SACRIFICING" potential earnings for your personal selfishnesses.

The clear theme in his writings is the importance of money as a determinant of prestige/ rights.
He flatly refuses to accept that there is a middle ground.

He is ok with your 'self indulgences' simply because You have the money.

My argument to him has always been that money and happiness are not related beyond survival ( one of your videos point that out).

The issue is way more important it is fundamental. i.e. it can be shown that children of a single mum on welfare (can be just as happy or happier than a family that is so obsessed with money etc that the TIME/Quality as to be secondary, status symbol,extension of self-preoccupied parents)

I Cite the example of two children who were forced to live with the richer father than the mother. To him they were a means to get back at his ex-wife for rejecting him.
Within 6 months of the court decision one child 13 had been rushed to hospital for a drug overdose while dad was O/S on business and the other 10 had attempted suicide. they were in the 'care' of a qualified governess on his estate in Mass.
The Governess testified that dad was rarely home but they had all the 'advantages' of being rich.
Another case was a ex- senator who dumped his wife and two children one of who was Asbergers. Because his new girlfriend 'felt uncomfortable' around disabled children. He offshored his money so they couldn't get his money and paid minimum maintenence. She was forced to go on Social security.
The disabled son needed a full time carer at the time.

Likewise a neighbor won custody of all his 3 children. The mother took off with the children in another state for 6 months. She clung onto the younger child so she wouldn't have to work. He is a concreter subject to bouts of unemployment beyond his control. In court all 3 children through their own lawyer clearly stated that they WANTED to live with dad more stable.

My point is that it isn't as black or white as Chad says and as such Money isn't the key factor in a child's happiness or best interests.
I would also comment that child raising is a special task it *doesn't* mean that the parent is likewise special with or without money. Qualification for parenthood is about being prepared to 'sacrifice(?)' income potential etc if it's in the interests of the children.

As an aside my middle Child was courted by a college sport scout (partial sport scholarship +, for 4years. He said he wasn't interested he wanted to leave school and travel back to Aust.

After some negotiation we convinced him into going to college for a two year Diploma.( structural drafting) This meant I had to stay in a job longer than I wanted to.
BTW he borrowed the money from us "so that if he screwed up it was his money not ours. When he graduated we wanted to write the debt off but he refused we negotiated half the cost. The extra money allowed us to migrate back to Aust.
He's now living with his girlfriend and funding his own degree in Environmental engineering.

Chad said...

I cold site thousands of stories opposite of your odd ramblings.

The welfare kids might be happy, but only because they know no different. Allow them to stay with me and my family for a month then let's allow them to choose which they prefer.

It is that black and white. I have 2 Nephews both of which have one through difficulties with attitude, school, discipline and one life. I volunteered to help taking them in - good environment, clean clothes, structure, responsibility of work and reward turned them both around. I was and still am hard on them, but they would rather live with us because of the entire package. I expect one to stay on a decent path, one will mostly not graduate and will be trouble. Ask them where they want to live Ex.

Money does matter and it matters a lot. It opens doors and windows otherwise closed, on occasion it can give someone making a mistake a second chance and it is liberating to know that through hard work, discipline and dedication you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Liberals want to police, control and regulate every possible little aspect of everything except when it comes to having or aborting children. That for some reason is off limits - everyone is allowed to have a kid regardless of their ability to pay for said kid. When it pops out with no daddy and mommy on welfare - its okay daddy gov't will pay without penalty and hell just have 3 more. Eventually 1 or 2 might turnout good.

Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it certainly is leasing the largest, most beautiful part of the Estate my friend and there is not a study in the free world that can change that fact.

Examinator said...

I find it fascinating that you aren't able to see anything in context. you are simply unable to follow a thought pattern other than your own limited one.
You could quote thousands from what source? My bet is most are 3rd of fourth hand.

With your attitude it would be from an extremely narrow base. Your lack of regard for people not like you would exclude you from a wide referenced experience.
Your lack of reading skills (bias/ impatience ) would also exclude your reading of much more than the sensationalised (factually unrepresentative) MSM I doubt that you would bother to get source documents, stats on anything other than your business or religious interests.

Chad said...

And your thoughts were just full of links to to studies, facts and figures.

Chad said...

Hey big guy, does the American Psychological Association pass your litmus test as a source to back up my narrow view that Socieoeconomic Status does affect a childs life? Is that good enough for you?

Their finding are clear to that fact. How, where and with what money you grow up has a significant factor as to the outcome of a child - at least early in the development years.

Or maybe you prefer CEPA?

So now how are my thoughts/opinions off topic and under informed again?

In the study it outlines that both low SES and high SES kids report about the same level of happiness, but the results are dramatically different. So am I a fool to infer that they report the same level of happiness only because they do not have a frame of reference to compare? We don't need a study for that to know the outcome. Take a low SES kid to a high SES environment and they will never want to leave.

You said that money is not key to a childs happiness or best interest yet studies prove that money has a direct influence on their overall success. That goes againt the other studies that happiness is not gauged by possesions to some degree now doesn't it?

What I have been pointing out - successfully I might add - is that the study or arguement that happiness is not gauged in some manner by possessions (ie wealth) is dramatically flawed. Asking someone who has all the essentials and far far more a questions about happiness is automatically skewed. What do they have to lose - they are happy. For those who are on the opposite end - they know no different, happiness is only relative to their surroundings.