Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Madness of Being (Part 1)

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

When I was just a small boy, around 3 years old, I “accidentally” killed a chicken. True story. I wanted one of our chickens, a young banty rooster, to ride in my little red wagon. But this chicken kept jumping out of the wagon. I got mad and frustrated… and choked the chicken…to death. I know, “choking the chicken” is a euphemism for another activity that has nothing at all to do with chickens. But this was really choking the chicken and the chicken did not recover. I have only vague memories of the event and they may only be there because family members got a kick out of telling the story as I grew older. But I really do see myself there trying to revive that chicken and knowing that I had done something wrong. I felt worse for the chicken than I did for myself. That may have been my only saving grace.

Mother was horrified and just knew that she had a budding young serial killer on her hands. But, that turned out not to be the case. By the grace of God and adult supervision, most notably from my grandparents, I did not end up on death row. I wasn’t even one of those mean, crazy kids that tortures animals and scares the crap out of other kids. My chicken choke was a turning point and I cleaned up my act. But at my core in many ways, I was and remain that impatient, easily angered, violent trigger small boy who choked that poor little chicken to death.

Over the years, I’ve taken a number of the personality assessments including the DISC, the Predictive Index and the Myers-Briggs. They all show pretty much the same profile. I am driven, competitive, impatient, hate routine and tend to be restless and easily bored. I am balanced between extroversion and introversion, somewhat of a risk taker but committed to following the rules and procedures. I am not the easiest person to work with or live with. On the Myers Briggs I am an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). From what I have read, that personality type is somewhat rare and difficult to get to know. I’m not sure an INTJ would write about their personality, so maybe I’m not really an INTJ. I’m right on the cusp of being an “ENTJ”, the "E" meaning extrovert. So maybe that explains it. I must be having an ENTJ moment as I write this.

I recently took what I think is the most accurate personality assessment I’ve ever taken. It’s a version of the Big 5 (OCEAN) that goes one more step and evaluates each of the Big 5: Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism; by two additional characteristics that are unique to each of the Big 5 traits. The overall results of my assessment didn’t really surprise me. But the degree to which I tended toward the extreme on certain traits and characteristics, tells me that I still have work to do.

Next time I’ll share the details of my Big 5 results, the good, the bad and the ugly…and the steps I’ve taken to make the bad and the ugly not quite so bad and ugly.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Elephants In The Road

Transport Topics reports the following:

FMCSA Says Rate of Truck-Occupant Deaths and Fatal Crashes Continues to Climb

The percentage of all fatal crashes involving at least one large truck also rose to 12.4% in 2017 from 11.2% in 2016 and 11.1% in 2015.
Overall, the number of fatalities in large truck and/or bus crashes increased to 5,005 in 2017 from 4,629 in 2016, Van Steenburg said. The actual number of large truck and bus fatal crashes rose to 4,455 in 2017 from 4,116 the prior year.
The top five driver-related factors for large trucks and buses in fatal crashes were speeding, distractions such as cell phones, failure to yield right of way, impairment (fatigue) and careless driving.

So if we address speeding, cell phone usage, observing right of ways, get more rest and not being so careless; we could be well on our way to reducing the frequency of fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses. But what about the Elephants?

There are problems and there are symptoms of problems. Symptoms tend to be more visible and easily measured. It’s like the old joke:
Patient goes to the doctor, lifts his arm and says, “It hurts when I do this”.
The Doctor replies, “Stop doing that…” And we could probably add, "Here’s a prescription for the pain...come back in 30 days."

That’s sort where I see us when it comes to highway safety for the trucking industry. We can stop doing certain things, penalize bad behaviors and more closely monitor drivers and equipment. But, we haven’t addressed the biggest problems…the Elephants in the Road. If we really want to make it safer to travel the nation’s highways we should focus on getting the Elephants off the road. Just like the “Elephant in the room”, that obvious issue no one wants to talk about. When it comes to safety we tend to take a detour around the two biggest Elephants…driver quality and highway infrastructure.

We have way too many big trucks on the road being driven by folks who shouldn’t be driving big trucks on the road, at least not most of the roads. Maybe some place where there’s not much traffic, the road is flat and dry and the sun is shining. But not most places. But when you have a shortage of labor for tough jobs that don’t pay enough to attract and retain those individuals who can actually do the job and may even like doing the job; you end up with people who don’t do it very well. When those people end up working in a restaurant you get bad food or bad service and you don’t go back. Eventually the restaurant closes its doors. Worst case their food makes some one sick, maybe even sick to death. When those people work on an assembly line or in a highly controlled environment where there are multiple layers of quality control, their shoddy work adds costs and delays and ultimately just becomes part of the process…the cost of doing business. When such people drive trucks, some of them cause fatal accidents. And fatal accidents become part of the process…the cost of doing business.

The other big Elephant is highway infrastructure. We’re "only" 20-30 years behind on having our highway system where it needs to be to accommodate the volume of traffic. So we have highways that are just not safe for trucks and cars. And in the scramble to fix them we tend to do a really poor job of designing work zones with safety as a priority. As a result the number of fatal crashes in work zones continues to climb as we have more work zones and more cars and trucks trying to negotiate their way through them. And for truck drivers the delays and frustration associated with congested highways, bad roads and work zones has consequences. So even when they finally make their way to a decent highway, they try to make up for lost time or just relax a little too much and end up having fatal accidents in places where the road conditions are just fine.

You want to improve big truck highway safety? Better drivers, better roads…and no Elephants.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Thinking In The Dark

I live over 70 miles from the DFW International Airport. There are multiple ways to get from there to here and depending on the time of day, traffic, road construction and my attitude; I’ve taken most all of them at one time or the other. On occasion, when I’ve been deep in thought or listening to sports talk radio or talking on the phone; I’ve found myself on a route I didn’t plan on taking. Sometimes I didn’t even realize I was on that route until I came upon a major interchange. Not exactly safe driving protocol, but it is what it is and I confess that I was not paying attention to anything other than the traffic and whatever was occupying my thoughts.

The same thing happens sometimes to me on the internet, especially with You Tube. One thing leads to another and, before you know it, you find yourself watching and listening to people who are somehow part of something called the Intellectual Dark Web. I stumbled across Jordan Peterson when looking at debates on religion. And Jordan Peterson led me to Dave Rubin. Rubin to Ben Shapiro and Eric Weinstein. Eventually I stumbled across Joe Rogan and Douglas Murray. I also found people I already knew, such as Sam Harris, out there on the same channels.

And then I discovered that I was caught up in The Intellectual Dark Web. The Intellectual Dark Web (IDW) is a relatively new term that was coined by Eric Weinstein. It has been used to describe a loosely defined group of intellectuals, academics and political commentators who espouse controversial ideas and beliefs surrounding subjects related to free speech, identity politics and biology. Critics on the left have accused it of being ultra-conservative, alt-right, homophobic, racist, sexist, fascist, and just about anything else they can think of that might discredit what’s being said there. Unfortunately, there are some extremists being linked to the IDW. However, the fact of the matter is that those I’ve noted above tend to be center right or center left. Most hold both progressive and conservative positions depending on the issue. I suppose that’s why I am paying attention to what they have to say as I tend to be much the same way.

Those who have been identified as part of the IDW are also attracting millions (literally millions) of viewers and supporters. It’s become “a thing” and as always happens, becoming “a thing” is not always “a good thing”. Becoming a thing attracts the lunatic fringe and controversial characters like Milo Yiannopoulos and Alex Jones. Becoming “a thing” puts you under the microscope. Eventually something you say will be edited or taken out of context and used to prove that you are indeed homophobic, racist, sexist, fascist, alt-right or just another tin-foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist.

I truly hope this doesn’t happen to people like Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro. What they have to say is worth listening to and considering. In a world where political correctness and feelings are more important than truth and values, we need these other voices. Now if we would just call it something other than the Intellectual Dark Web.

"Whatever differences we have, tolerating others' opinions is a prerequisite to a functioning and free society." - Dave Rubin