The Unnamed Tom Being Tom Dot Com June Writing Project

Before I was ever a blogger I read other people’s blogs. Not with any sort of consistency or fervency, but just to see what was out there. The only three I read with any sort of semi-regularity, at that time, were from James Altucher, Steve Pavlina, and Wil Wheaton. Pavlina taught me that a 7 wasn’t good enough. Altucher showed me a wonderfully irreverent way to look at life, in general. Wil Wheaton got me to start a blog.

I admit I hardly ever read any of the three anymore, but I check in on Wil from time to time. It’s not their fault. I’m just a fickle feather floating in a stream of consciousness within the ether, mixing the heck out of metaphors. In other words, I’m notoriously short on attention span. I read a lot of Mark Manson and Ryan Holiday these days. They’re really good. I can’t imagine ever not reading their stuff. But I probably will (won’t?) soon. It’s impossible to know what I’ll find genius-y next. I’m a fickle feather floating … oh wait, I already told you that.

Moving on.

The reason I mention all of my former and current influences is because it’s almost June. Besides being my birthday month (go me!), it’s also the month I promised a couple of friends a couple of weeks ago over a couple of beers that I was going to write in my blog for 30 days straight. That idea occurred to me because I saw Wil Wheaton do it once back in December and said “I’m gonna do that someday.” I also said, “but not right now because that would be a cheap copycat thing to do so I’m gonna wait until no one remembers he did it and then I’m gonna do it organically and no one will know the difference.”

So, that’s what I’m going to do, starting tomorrow. I’m going to covertly rip off a former Federation officer. Does that make me a Ferengi?

Should that be Ferengian?

Whatever.

The other thing I’m going to do to make this work is keep each entry short. Like, under-400-words-each short. That’s not because I’m too lazy to write over 400 words every day (although that might be true, too). It’s because if I drone on and on every day for 1500 words I’m likely to lose a lot of you by the third day instead of the fifth. I’d probably also say “Donald Trump” too many times.

So, that’s the plan. Starting tomorrow I’ll post something daily for 30 straight days.*

I don’t know yet what each and every day will bring but I vow to you all that they will be concise, politely irreverent and, most importantly, Tomly in every way possible. I’d appreciate it if you joined me daily. It’ll be fun. We’ll chat. I’ll give away prizes. I’ll tell you more lies.

So there it is. Starting tomorrow Tom Being Tom will be brought to you daily while we count down the 30 days until my 49th birthday on the 29th.**

Can’t wait to see what I say!

*Technically, since tomorrow immediately follows today, and you’re seeing this today, I’ll have done it 31 days straight in June, if you count May.

**That’s new math.

***There was going to be a 3rd asterisk but I can’t remember what it was now. Squirrel!

Imperfect Information

I am by no means perfect. If your first thought of me is that I think that I am, you’ve mistaken my intent or, at the very least, my style. I think I’m probably wrong most of the time. I think you probably are, too. Why do I think this is so? Imperfect information.

In today’s world, we all have a constant stream of information coming at us from every direction. The information age is a terrifying and wonderful time to be alive. But in this powerful era of mass media and instant connectivity, information has, so far, become more commodity than instruction. Every piece of data we receive today seems to be selling us something.

Politicians try to sell a world view upon us, in exchange for support and power. Television tries to sell entertainment to keep us transfixed. Bloggers try to impress us with individual perspective and sagacious wit, in exchange for clicks and subscriptions. Social media “stars” vie for our attention and friendship. And I haven’t even mentioned commercials yet, whose sole purpose is to save our lives with drugs that will kill us or to save our lifestyles with goods that will thrill us.

But this information is incomplete. It uses selective facts to persuade us, to dissuade us, to beguile us, to distract us. And it works, or they wouldn’t try so hard.

On the other side of information is the endless data at our fingertips, for personal exploration. By recent accounts, we have entered the zettabyte era of the internet. What’s a zettabyte? Back in simple computing we learned that a bit is a binary digit and a byte is 8-bits. That’s equivalent to one character on a page. A gigabyte, a familiar term to most of us, is a billion such bytes. An exabyte is a billion of those gigabytes. In other words, a billion billion bytes. A zettabyte is a thousand exabytes. One thousand billion billion bytes. That is the equivalent, according to Live Science, to 360 centuries of high definition video. And, of course, the internet is growing exponentially. You’ll never finish it all, no matter how much you lounge this week.

But we do have access to all of it now, or at least most of it. Some of the information is kept on the Deep Net, beyond our sight. That’s probably for the best, because the stuff we don’t know is likely far more alarming than the stuff that we do know.

The stuff we do know, however, is preposterously imperfect. Even if we could sit around all day and just surf and dig and learn we’d never know, well, everything there is to know about, well, anything.

Imperfect sources of data fill our imperfect brains and form our imperfect world views.

It’s mind-boggling that any of us ever think we’re right.

But we do. I do. I have very strong convictions about a good many things. I’m one of those folks that loves to share ideas with others, even very strong ones. I love to argue debate talk about stuff. I even really feel I’m right about a good many of the things that I say. But I also know I could be wrong.

In religious terms, this means that there could very well be a God, or a bunch of them, though I don’t believe it. In fact, the universe would be a much safer place with one, great loving creator, and a richly more interesting place with a bunch of competing ones. That’s a universe I’d like to live in. I don’t think that I do, but anything is possible.

In political terms, this means that the trickle-down theory of economics may very well work one of these days, though it never has before. In fact, it likely never will because of the inherent self-interest of human nature and the inevitable corruption of power and capital. But I could be wrong. I have imperfect information.

And so do you.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have opinions. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t hold them dearly to our hearts, and have strong convictions about them. It does not mean we shouldn’t debate them fiercely. What it does mean is that we should bear in mind that we don’t have all the answers. Anyone who says they do have all the answers is sadly misinformed, dangerously demagogic, or is trying to sell you something. For some current world leaders, all three of those are true.

There’s a thousand times a billion billion bytes of information out there and none of us have read it all. And a thousand times a billion billion bytes of information can’t cover everything we could know. Not even close. So without perfect information we are stuck sitting here, in our little towns on a little planet in a little solar system in a vast universe guessing every single day.

I’m willing to bet we’re mostly guessing wrong.

But what do I know?

Predictably Corrupt

This is not unforeseen.

The chaos gripping the Oval Office today was predicted, even expected. It was apparent to anyone paying attention that the presidency of Donald Trump would be a circus show. Impropriety was assured. Everything about the man told us that. The history of Donald Trump as a businessman and a human being was accessible to all. Scandal follows the scandalous. There was no way to avoid a scandalous presidency.

Remarkably, he prepared us for this moment. During the campaign, he steadfastly refused to focus on anything, for any length of time, except for the greatness of Donald Trump. America could be great again, he said continuously, but only under one man. These are the words of a narcissist, of an egotist, of a demagogue. These are the words of authoritarian dictators. We see them in other countries throughout history and we say to ourselves, “how did the people let that happen?”

We know now how “the people let that happen.”

People are remarkably easy to fool. In times of great tumult, as in the years following the Great Recession, empty promises come easy. Easy to say and easy to swallow. Building the brand of “savior” is effortless. All it requires is a complete commitment to ego, a sociopathic mentality, and – of course – willing dupes.

Donald Trump had all of these things in his campaign run.

That is how we knew. That is how we knew that his presidency would be filled with scandal. The president Donald Trump is no different than the businessman Donald Trump, the candidate Donald Trump, the man Donald Trump. Power doesn’t turn an ignoble man noble. Power does the opposite thing. It corrupts. Absolutely. So, when you take a man who is already corrupt and give him the reins of power what you get is something exponentially worse.

Of course he colluded. Of course he ignored protocol. He believes, wholeheartedly, that he is a man above reproach, above the law. He always has. Now he’s the president of the United States of America, and he would be king if he were not treated so “unfair.”

There will still be those who follow him, those who forgive him, even worship him. There will still be those who say, “it doesn’t matter what he does, he’s making America great again.” They are the ones who ignore the history of America, the history of mankind, and the history of Donald Trump. They are the ones that enable misconduct in the name of party. Over country. Over humanity.

The hope now is that we strike this mistake from our nation in short order. Business as usual was not going so well for the United States but, sadly, business-as-usual is the redemptive norm we pray for now.

I don’t expect Donald Trump to go down in history as an evil man. A selfish man, yes. An egotist, yes. A president in over his head, with delusions of empire in his brain, yes. A mistake. Yes.

We all make mistakes, but he can be remembered as a mistake we quickly corrected.

That can make all the difference in the world.