Wednesday, February 17, 2016

WWJV: What Would Jesus Vote?

Is it a crazy thought that Jesus both advocated for paying taxes to Rome, with it's imperialism and military-industrial complex, and encouraged his fellow citizens of Israel to submit to the higher, unauthorized, tyrant powers of Rome, yet simultaneously encouraged his brethren to give of themselves to the poor and needy, to clothe the naked and feed the starving?

Could it be possible that voluntarism AND paying taxes to government powers that we disagree with are both the responsibility of Christians, and that we're supposed to give glory to God in both?  Could it be possible that Jesus was not an anarchist or a socialist, because he believed that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and not some distant utopia meant to be crafted by men on a hill?

And lastly, could it be that if Jesus were a citizen of the United States, he would say to the refugees and to the illegals 'let all those little children who would, come to me', and then promptly tell them to pay their taxes and encourage them to 'go the extra mile' for those who oppress them?

Picking and choosing lines from Jesus is what people do when they want to shame other people for their beliefs and manipulate their political point of view using religion. Squabbling like Christ's teenage disciples. Perhaps the solution is to focus inwardly, render to Ceasar, owe no man anything but love, feed the hungry, and simultaneously be wise stewards over the gifts we've received, searching the mountains for one lost sheep and scouring the house for one lost penny.

Individual responsibility, social voluntarism, and civic duty are not mutually exclusive concepts. Society collapses when people try to pick one as their overarching principle at the expense of the other two, and you can see people advocating with extreme prejudice for one, neglecting the other two, who all go to church together and worship the same Jesus. Crazy.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some Comments on the CNN Presidential Debate

I haven't been particularly aggressive about maintaining this blog in the midst of a two month sprint to complete a recent project titled Chasing American Legends.  But yesterday I took a few hours out to watch the debates between the current Republican contenders for the 2016 Presidential nomination.

I was surprised by somethings, less so by others.  At first, I was weighing the merits of the individual candidates.  But as the debate progressed, it became incredibly clear that there were trends of what the party prioritizes and what the leadership within the party considers to be the most important topics to tackle.  Here are the comments I shared on social media as the debate transpired.

It's odd to me that this debate is so focused on war and wartime circumstance. America's military is not only the greatest superpower the world has ever known, but now the world is terrified that we could mobilize even a fraction of that to serve private interests. The greatest threat to our security is being such a gigantic target, with boots on the ground in so many countries.

But ya know what? The Iran deal doesn't affect the 10 million Americans who can't feed themselves or their children tonight. The trade relations with the Middle East and other governments affects other politicians more than other Americans, and this discussion has become one of the most self serving I've ever seen in debates. 

The American economy is sick and dying. We won't be able to pay for all those jets and aircraft carriers and boots on the ground in all these other countries if we don't start dealing with the slow slip of the pyramid off the economic cliff. Threatening the security of the middle class is getting tiresome and makes the party seem even more past oriented than ever before. As a black American, you're more likely to be killed by an American in a police uniform than an ISIS terrorist. This is a hot topic in America.

You're more likely to be imprisoned in America for safe homegrown herbs than you are for being a Christian in China. You're more likely to go to prison for failure to pay the debts of the American economy than you are to be a victim of terrorist attacks on any soil in the world, by a ratio of 8 to 1.

Why don't we stop talking about the wars against terror overseas, and start talking about the war against free and independent American citizens here on our own soil?

This debate is a mockery. These candidates are a mockery. Donald Trump isn't a candidate, he's a mascot of the disengagement, delusion, and utter disconnect from the moms, pops, students, and children of this country.

Points to Rubio, Paul, and Jeb for keeping the talks about the home front wherever possible. Everybody else, do better.

The debate then transition to topics surrounding the home front. Jeb Bush admitted to using pot, as Rand Paul tried to point out that the Drug War has had a very racially disparate effect on the population, leading to radical injustices.

My comments:

Does anybody not see the insane irony in discussing how ineffective anti-gun laws would be after ranting about how crucial anti-drug laws will be? 
This is embarrassing. Again, Rand dominates the intellect with clear resounding logic and constitutional consistency. Advocating freedom and liberty, even when it may have a few negative consequences. 
Also, a presidential candidate just stood on the stage and admitted that he participated in a crime that has hundreds of thousands of Americans serving years penalties in prison, then proudly standing by his vote AGAINST legalization. 
Go spend a few years in prison. Then come back and finish this race. That would be justice.

 Simply put, the hypocrisy of Jeb being willing to continue incarceration for pot usage and for other politicians on the stage to insist that marijuana will lead to an addicted, dysfunctional life is insane, untruthful, and ignores the obvious - Jeb Bush is standing on the stage as a successful Governor, and current Presidential candidate with favor in the polls.  He obviously hasn't suffered from his drug usage, which includes not only pot, but cocaine and reportedly others.

We will take a woman trying to buy medical oils for her child and put her in prison for ten years; we will then build a wall to prevent the gangs from coming over the border to distribute those drugs that are no longer part of the free market economy. We will also partake of those same drugs and tell you proudly that we demand the war on drugs to continue.
You get to pay for the wall. You get to pay for the war on drugs. You get to be caught between gang violence and police overreach under the drug war. You get to pay for that woman's time in the prison complex. You get to pay for my paycheck. But the laws and wall you're paying for won't apply to me.
Great mantra.

Oh I forgot. You also get to pay the state to take care of her child, who will become 5 to 1 more likely to be involved in violent crime by being raised in this system. And when her mom gets out of prison, she will be unable to get a job to participate in the economy because nobody wants to hire felons. And then you will pay to support her since she is unemployed.

This is awesome.

My tweets included:
Who would have thought that Paul would be one of the most relaxed, articulate, confident non-isolationists in this debate. 

Trump, Cruz, and Fiorina are all railing on talking points and arguing against Hilary. Rubio and Paul are cleaning house.  
Fiorina is back in with that Planned Parenthood comment. Worth watching entire debate for that. Well done, I'm impressed.  
Fiorina brought her best zingers tonight. Trump thought he was the king of put-downs, looks like he needs to hand over the crown.  
Debates follow controversy. It's hard to get air time as , because liberty and limited government aren't controversial.  
Trump doesn't want Mexican gangs; How about defunding the war on drugs, which gives profit incentives to border running and gang activity?  
Drinking game: Take a shot every for every, "I'm the only one on this stage who..." and two for every time Trump yells "wrong!"  
Oh yes. Please talk about raising the minimum wage AND ending illegal/undocumented workers. One brings the other.  
Between the war on drugs and minimum wage hikes, we have MASSIVE incentive for border crossing and undocumented workers.  
Isn't it crazy how making more things illegal, makes illegal activity more prevalent? Let's try liberty. Some say it works.  
Is Paul being snubbed because he focuses on economic disparity in justice based on racist antiquated and failed laws?  
"Yeah, sure, some people are in prison for decades. But... I can talk about it on national television and it's fine." - Jeb.  
Christie just said people are more productive in prison than smoking marijuana. And Jeb can do illegal things because... why?.  
It's established scientific fact that drug addiction is not as debilitating as being killed by cops for owning drugs.

All in all, a very frustrating night.  Rubio stepped up and impressed me.  Cruz fell further in my estimations of him.  His single note focus on Israel and Iran makes me wonder if he shouldn't be running for Prime Minister of Israel instead.  A more fitting gig considering his passions right now. 

I also think Fiorina nailed it.  She's the female candidate the democrats wish they had.  As far as moderates, she's leading the pack.  A Fiorina/Rubio ticket could be quite compelling for the party and certainly would look a lot different than the last decade's Republican offerings.  Then again, I'll still be sad that Paul didn't get a shot. 

I look forward to the offerings being cut down to 4 or 5 candidates.  Hopefully a pack including Rubio, Fiorina, and Carson.  Paul seems ready to go home at this point.  So we'll see. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Prophets and Profits

I posted this on Facebook not long ago after a scandal regarding Ashley Madison, but I think it bears repeating and reposting.

In response to the recent scandals someone said, "oh how the mighty continue to fall." But I think there's a paradigm problem; Nobody was ever mighty. Nobody will ever be mighty. People who lead organizations and people who appear on TV and are celebrated for being 'perfect' representations of the gospel because of how unflawed their life is, are actually just demonstrating how well they can 'manage' their sin and hide their demons.

People like Will Smith and Angelina Jolie have consensually non-monogamous marriages, and are cursed from pulpits for their decision; though they perfectly live out their own conscience and ideals as they know them.  Meanwhile, many of those that condemn that lifestyle secretly practice it without the consent of their spouse (now making it adultery, not simply non-monogamy) and are addicted to it, whether pastors, CEOs of theology mills, reality stars, or political candidates.  In some way, they benefit from those who cast all their hopes of perfection on them. Making a profit from selling the idea of human perfection and an unbroken fundamentalism. People are broken. People aren't perfect. People are not clean and tidy. People are marred and messy and insecure and afraid. People hurt and cry and people lust and people die.

But when somebody stands up and says, "I'm a Christian, I have no flaws, I perfectly conform to the myriad of theological demands of a diverse and demanding audience," they're automatically lying and can't uphold such a standard. I've had my own scandals and had my own brokenness and will continue to have them 'til the day I die. We all will, and you will too. I don't need to make a profit off of you and tell you to support me financially because I'm more sinless than you though, and that's the distinction.

The gospel of self-perfection (and a Jesus that demands self-perfection to deserve his sacrifice) is ludicrous and disastrous, and ends with people being taken advantage of, every single time.   Those that decry the prosperity gospel preachers on TV, come up with their own versions of it every single time. "Send your money, I'll be righteous on your behalf." It doesn't work that way. It's a system that panders to cunning manipulators, who wouldn't have to manipulate if they didn't put themselves at the receiving end of the financial gain.

IN SHORT: When there is a profit incentive to appear sinless, liars and hypocrites will get rich. When there is profit incentive to produce nothing but an image of picture perfection, those who are willing to lie about their demons stand to gain the most.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jordan and Melissa's Wedding, August 2013

So there are 7 of us kids in the Moore family.  Jordan, Derek, John (me), Jack, David, Reagan, and Gator.

The last two years have seen two new marriages.  First, between my oldest brother Jordan, currently serving in the U.S. Navy, and a lovely girl named Melissa Platt whom he met while stationed in the U.K.  They decided to get married at my parent's house in Kaufman. 

At the ceremony, last minute, I shot some video on a DSLR (Canon 7D) and tried to record audio (Zoom H4).  The audio recording failed, and the video looked like a junkie needing a fix was the camera op.  However, it found it's way into the hands of a very talented editor (Katelan Hessel, whom I was dating at the time) and she cut it into a beautiful piece.  I recorded some material from Melissa's Dad reading a quick letter, and sent it along with the raw footage.

A couple years later, as a birthday gift to Melissa, Katelan sent this video.  I think it's rather lovely, and realized that the blogosphere has been out of the loop on weddings and proposals and the like.

So here it is, in it's finished form, along with a few photos of the day.  :-)  It was quite lovely, and we're all thankful for the addition of Melissa to our family.  I'm even told that the Platts are ok with Jordan being a part of their family...  Shocking, I know!

Enjoy!  (if you want to watch it in HD, you can watch it at this link: Melissa and Jordan)

Thanks again to Katelan for putting this together!  Y'all might not see it here, but she had almost nothing to work with in terms of material, but she figured out how to make the meager footage tell a story rather brilliantly.  I'm impressed.

Next time, my baby sister's wedding!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The 7 Shades of Christian Film

Christian film is a very small subgenre of a very large industry, in spite of over seventy years of fighting for an equal seat at the table.  Perhaps the biggest reason, is that there are so many people arguing over what a Christian film is and is not.  Many times, an artist will pour hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of their life into a film, only to have other believers attack them publicly, and insist that they're not serving God with their particular flavor of film.  Other times, filmmakers just complain about each other's low quality of production.

The good news is, if you're a fan of Christian movies, there are more of them being made with higher budgets, better talent, and stronger writing.  In spite of those developments, however, they seem to fall within the same old stale genre guidelines and never depart.  Each of these genres can almost correspond to a denomination from which the style originated, interestingly enough.  Take a look at this list of Christian movie types, and feel free to chime in with your own.

The 'Say This Prayer' Movie

It has one goal.  It's obvious.  This film has done it's job if it presents the salvation message and a character goes through the sinners prayer.  Fans of this movie tend to disown all the other types of Christian movie (much like the denomination from whence is stems, disowning all other theological persuasions of Christianity) and it's considered by some to be the most concentrated or 'true' form of Christian film.  In this film, the protagonist's world gets worse and worse until he eventually breaks and prays a prayer of repentance to God.  Rich Christiano has notably done these sorts of films with the most dignity.  But most End Times movies like A Thief in the Night and Left Behind sit in this category, but they also have a category of their own.... 

The Biblical Prophecy Movie!

The end is nigh.  Repent.  That's the entire message and goal of this film.  To incite fear and panic through teaching atrociously superstitious interpretations of the final book of the New Testament.  In these films, either the Rapture has just happened, or the Tribulation is underway.  There is some form of oppressive government with one goal; exterminate Christians.  Of course, this is a radically simplistic storyline that believes that half a billion people can vanish from the planet, all of them conspicuously Christian, and somehow the priorities of the world will be to hunt down and kill any new converts to Christianity....  Alas.  The films do have a good track record for scaring youth groups into praying the right prayer, and that's all that counts.  I've met directors of these films who openly admit to not believing an ounce of the theology they preach.  In this film, the protagonist must escape the one world government as long as possible. 

The Christian Pigskin Movie

Blessing your food is probably a habit, unless you're an A-list star.  Then you only do it in movies revolving around pigskins and high school dreams of championships.  If country music had a film equivalent, it's this.  This movie is a down home story of American small towns, Christian mamas, and corn on the cob.  Films like The Blind Side sit square in the middle of this genre, with films as conservative as Facing the Giants on one side and movies as gritty and foul mouthed as American Sniper or Machine Gun Preacher on the far other side of the genre space.  Are they made by Christians?  Not necessarily.  The audience is part of the mainstream, but has a bit more drawl, gumption, and likes their food fried.  In this movie the protagonist must win the big game or die trying.  My movie The Widow's Might plays to this story model.

The Self-help Movie

"With great power comes great responsibility" is a message.  "Follow this 40 day game plan until your wife loves you again" is a set of instructions.  Fireproof, The Ultimate Gift, and other modern films in the Christian genre aren't as interested in winning the lost, but guiding the found.  I expect this genre to increasingly be based on popular self-help books, and it will appeal to the massive Christian middle class entrepreneur community.  In this movie, the protagonist must learn all the lessons in the right order.  Eventually, like George Bailey, he learns how good he really had it to begin with.  

The Bible Epic

The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt, the many retellings of the life of Christ.  The Passion of the Christ.  The Bible on HBO.  Each new version of these films attempts to layer the filmmakers personal interpretation of the personalities of biblical heroes.  Was Noah a madman?  Was Moses angsty?  Was Jesus witty?  One filmmaker is rumored to be working on a film depicting the Apostle Paul as an opportunistic cult leader who undermines the work of the other disciples.  The Bible epics seem to be increasingly fantastical reinterpretations, testing how far American audiences will be stretched.  Interestingly, while Christians do typically watch these movies, many Christian movie-goers describe these movies as unbiblical or even as an attempt from the devil to lead believers astray.  In the end, they're actually attempts by Hollywood to make money, regardless of your beliefs.  Oddly enough, these movies don't really have protagonists.   Just characters controlled by the fate of the story universe. 

The Biblical Worldview Movie

This is almost the opposite of the 'faith-based' film, not in intentions, but in execution.  In this world, every word, piece of clothing, character action, relationship, and plot arc is carefully weighed under a huge variety of theological tenets.  The object is to paint a world where the entire perspective is heavily biased to a conservative Christian outlook.  This can be seen in the way the characters romance one another, the particular word choices used by characters to refer to family members (mother and father will be more common than mom and dad, for instance), and the types of career choices characters take.  The most defining factor of these movies is that there tends to be an 'issue' that is getting tackled from a biblical worldview.  In this movie, the protagonist must discover or realize the biblical way to understand an issue.  I really think October Baby  did this well, but most films in this category tend to be very low budget and poorly executed so I don't have many other examples.  This was what I wanted Ace Wonder to be, but it instead seemed to follow a crossover of the 'faith based' and the 'say this prayer' movie.

Last, but not least, there's a itsy bitsy growing movement trying something new.  

The Life-Giving Movie

A man stood in front of a gathering of Christian media leaders and said essentially this - if the Church was tasked with providing oxygen and water to the world, we would deliver these mountainous boxes, ornately decorated with scripture verses proclaiming the hope of the gospel and the majesty of God.  Or with directives like 'Repent!'  We would place them in every field and on top of every mountain, and the world would come to these boxes for their life giving water and air to survive, as along the way, we used the opportunity to force them into hearing our message.

Meanwhile, God chose a different tactic.  Beauty.  Lovely things.  Trees. Rivers.  Gorgeous flowers in every color, size, scent, and style.  Trees that reach to the heavens and bushes that barely reach to your waist.  All completely different, and all providing us the air we need to live. They don't congratulate themselves, and for thousands of years nobody even knew these plants were providing what we needed.  They just simply grew and surrounded us.  We selfishly wanted their beauty and they selflessly gave us life.  This seems silly in a way, but the New Testament points out that even Nature leaves us without excuse as to the knowledge of God.  Why is it that subtlety and nuance are so powerful in leaving us without excuse?  Because they reveal the nature of goodness, and perfection, and majesty.  Because they show us who God is, instead of telling us what God demands.

I hope that one day Christian artists might choose to create as the creator did.  With a focus on the beauty of the craft, a focus on mastery, diversity, splendor, and majesty....  And the oxygen it produces, the life it gives.... well, viewers won't even be able to say no.  You cannot smell a flower without breathing in life.

That man's name is Andy Librizzi, and his film Beyond the Farthest Star is one of the best examples of a life giving film I've seen.  It has no directive. No rapture.  No stars and stripes or country song to lead the charge.  No five step plan to improve a marriage or lead a friend to salvation.  It does not attack lifestyles or insult people.  It doesn't try to bait and switch the audience.  It pulls no punches, it does not apologize.  It simply tells a story with authenticity and love.  Is it a cinematic masterpiece?   Come on.  It's an independent film.  But I've watched it a few times now and I always get more from it every time.  And that's something I can't say about any of the other genres.

Reading; The War of Art
Watching; Empire
Thinking; What subgenres did I forget? 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Product Insurance Story with a Happy Ending!

Do you ever choose to insure large electronics purchases?  You know, when you're checking out of NewEgg or Best Buy and certain products have the option to 'insure' or 'extend this warranty to 3 years ultraprotection' or some nonsense like that?

I normally don't, but the salesman at AT&T asked me if I wanted it on my recent iPhone 6 purchase.  As some of you know, I tried to show my Dad that my phone was waterproof once... and it didn't end well.  What you didn't know is that shortly before that, I knocked my phone off a balcony and shattered it.  So when the salesman asked if I wanted insurance on my purchase, I only had to do about 48 hours of reflecting to make a decision.  I purchased the insurance.

And I'm glad I did.  This is not a joke. I dropped my iPhone 6 for the hundredth time, and the screen shattered. AT&T overnight shipped me a new unit immediately.  It's weird, because this is the only time I've 'casually' broken an iPhone.

This is my third iPhone 6. I'm pretty sure they're going to send me a letter pretty soon asking me to please treat technology with the respect it deserves.

Because as I was restoring my apps and music and talking to Nathan Webster on Skype about Chasing American Legends, I managed to drop my phone, face down, again.Thankfully, it was the old phone. But still.

Reading; Manage Your Day-to-Day
Watching; Indie Game: The Movie

Thinking; How much longer til another rapture prediction?

International Childhood Frenemies?

Interesting fact, Texas is narrowly staying ahead of Mexico in terms of world economic power, but is vastly ahead of Mexico in terms of how much of it's potential is being utilized per person. Mexico's economy and upper middle lass have risen in multiple percentage points per year, with quality of living, justice in law enforcement, and other 'standards' rising radically every year as well. When Mexico's Goldman Sachs says by 2050, Mexico will be the 5th largest economic power in the world. Already they're a larger power than many countries in some very important ways.  They build more cars than any North American country including the US.  They export more electronics to the U.S. than any country except China.  

Texas has 27 million residents and about a 1.4 Trillion dollar GDP. Mexico has 117 million citizens. With the massive, massive advances in technology and economic opportunity in Mexico, those 120 million people currently producing a 1.8 Trillion dollar GDP will start developing natural resources at a vastly higher rate, and are already building manufacturing facilities that make most in the US look like we're from the dark ages.

The advantage is Mexico is often not held back by unionization. Imagine if the industrial revolution of the late 19th century and the 'middle class revolution' of the 1940s both happened again, but today. And instead of 50 million participants, it's 120 million. And instead of switching to railroads and the assembly line they're switching 3D printed medical technology and communications infrastructure?

2050 may be a conservative view, Goldman Sachs. I expect Mexico to be our most serious threat or our most important friend in the next 15 years easily, if they aren't already. If one China under communism on another continent makes a military economy nervous, what about a China within walking distance operating under a more capitalist economy that speaks Spanish and doesn't much like how immigration has been treated?

I'd love to invest in land in Mexico, but unlike the United States of America, they only sell to citizens of their own country. You can buy America from whatever country you please.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?

Willpower Management, Creative Energy, and Productivity Morale

Ooph.  Productivity.  And I'm writing this post why? 

Productivity scares me as a topic.  It's this ethereal, unmeasurable thing that we all aspire to do more of without fully comprehending what it is.  When we're doing it, we feel it.  We have a sense of satisfaction at the end of each day. When we're not doing it, we sense the fatigue.  Sometimes we are doing it, and have resigned ourselves to the fact that being highly fatigued is a part of being highly productive.

Then again, haven't we all seen those people who go to sleep satisfied and feeling accomplished, but in our eyes they've accomplished nothing at all?  Then we second-guess our own habits, wondering if we really are getting things done or if we're just psyching ourselves out.  I'm going to show some of my personal implementations of these thoughts next week, but I wanted to write this post while these topics were VERY fresh on my mind.

I've found that two things tend to be most true when it comes to my high intuitive/creative friends and their projects and goals.

1.)  They feel productive in the wrong way.

They're productive, and know they're highly productive, but feel like their 'real goals' or objectives get further and further away from becoming a reality.

This could be an entertainment project like a film, a book project, or video game, or it could be personal aspirations for emotional success like finding a spouse, mastering a a skill, or achieving new health goals.

2.)  They don't feel productive at all.

This might be true, it might not.  They feel like they're busy, they fill their days and don't have enough time to actually move things forward, personally or professionally.  Maybe they don't even want to move forward, they just want to catch up. It's a weird cosmic void that they live in of self-loathing and then helplessness against the prevailing currents of life.

The snowball effect goes both ways. Winding up productivity and winding down productivity not only change the temperature of your professional and personal ambitions, they adjust the thermostat.  

What I have learned. 

I don't have productivity solutions.  My productive life is much like a slinky.   Moment by moment, I am starting new projects, reopening old projects, and abandoning projects. I may have a ton of momentum, but I have to transfer that momentum into the next project or the slinky stops.

I don't have an employer.  I have clients for my small production company, and I do the occasional freelance gig outside the scope of what my business offers, and I try to stay always outside my comfort zone with new projects that stretch my boundaries.

As a result, I don't have a boss to be accountable to.  I don't work certain hours.  I am responsible for 100% of my productivity, and more importantly, 100% of my 'productivity morale'.  This means that my day is completely at my mercy, and simultaneously, my morale is completely at the mercy of my day.

Here are a few things I've learned as a result.

#1.  Momentum is Rare and Sacred

Once you have productive momentum, guard it with your life.  It will run out, don't expect it to be eternal.  But it is something you should expect to come and go at a predictable rhythm.  Don't try to keep it going forever, or beat yourself up if it dies, but definitely understand that each 'momentum' cycle can be stoked and maintained, so that it lives longer each time you catch it.  Keeping momentum isn't about making sure every single day is filled with wall-to-wall exhaustive productivity.  It's about making sure that once you catch a feeling of productivity, you don't go celebrate;  instead, plug in just as much effort as the day before.  Don't burn yourself out, but go do it again.  Repeat the productive process.  You can celebrate once the 'harvest season' is over.   Which brings me to my next point.

#2.  Know your Seasons.  

Maybe this isn't as true for a nine to five situation.  But for freelancers and creatives, it's really important that though you need to do work every day, the TYPE of work you need to do is going to change a lot.  And for some of us, the season is very different and takes a very different type of energy.  For me, certain 'seasons' naturally draw and feed me energy in a perpetual loop.  I could do creative meetings 'blowing up' potential projects all day long.  Spinning up new ideas with new characters, challenges, markets, etc, are fantastic.  And live events.  Working through the emotional arcs of a live event is a blast.  I could do it day after day.  Production budgets?  Accounting?  Invoicing clients?  Navigating terms of a deal?  I find myself drained for days after just one day focused on budgets.  This radically reduces my 'productivity morale'.  I feel like I accomplished little in comparison to the amount of energy it took, and I have no energy leftover to do the things that I normally love doing.  My productivity morale is at an all time low, if I'm not careful.

What does this mean?  It means I need to anticipate the way I'm going to spend my emotional energy on certain projects.  Ironically, it means I need to 'budget' my creative energy, and make sure that I don't do budget work at the beginning of the week before needing to do a lot of other high energy projects.  Instead, projects that drain my 'productivity morale' should be planned near intense play time.

Tip:  Make a list of the types of work you do, then 'rank them' based on how much 'productivity morale' they leave you with after you're done, and how much 'creative energy' they take to complete.  Projects that take a great deal of creative energy but leave you with low productivity morale, are big scary demons trying to kill your productive life.

#3.  Write Everything Down.

Not some fancy schmancy organized list.  And I mean it, write everything down.  Things you're thinking, things you want to do.  Things you HAVE to do.  The next immediate action step towards every goal, project, or idea you might have.  Your questions.  Your answers.  Things you never want to do.

Just start writing things everywhere.  Because the brain is linear in it's thinking model, 'mind mapping' or just putting things to paper allows your mind to form reality out of abstracts by connecting dots between 'two thoughts at one time'.  Paper extends the power of your brain by adding 'RAM' to your computer.  By adding newly available, randomly accessible memories to your thinking power.  But not only does it make abstracts a reality before your eyes, it allows you to derive abstracts from reality.  By writing down ten real problems, your mind can suddenly seek patterns in your problems, and derive an abstract conclusion.

I've explained a thousand times that it's not what  you write, it's the simple fact that you are writing everything that makes list making a powerful tool.  If you have to process everything into tidy little details first, you probably won't start.  Especially if it takes a lot of creative energy to do this.  (note:  if you gain tons of productive morale from detailed listmaking, you'll enjoy this process more than others;  but don't forget the importance of making messy lists too.  Those will unlock secrets you don't know you have lurking around in your task lists.  Being too tidy can keep your problems from manifesting on paper, which is one of the best areas to tackle them.)

#4.  Willpower is Finite

I'm going to do a full list of books to recommend on the topic of productivity.  It's a lot shorter than you'd think.  There are a handful (five or so) books that are radically transforming in terms of understanding productivity and fully utilizing your energy.  Books filled with tools to transform every aspect of your being into productivity perfection.  Unfortunately, with these, you're fighting an uphill battle.  Because most of them involve complex systems that require energy and willpower to integrate, on top of requiring will power and energy to complete tasks within those systems.

But a book that forever transformed my understanding of what Willpower is, where it comes from, and how to manage it, is called (wait for it!) Willpower by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney. The book is far more than you'd expect from a science writer and psychologist, and I promise you won't regret reading it.

#5.  Life is a Highway

Thinking of your life as a highway with multiple lanes is important.  You can be on any lane at almost any time... but you can't be on two lanes at the same time.  If you're working on one project, you're not working on another.

Yes, you can manage multiple projects.  But you can't do multiple projects.  In fact, you really can't even do one project.  You can only do tasks-  drive a mile- on any given project at any given time.  And it's important to make sure you finish the mile on one task before switching lanes.  I have tried to constantly switch lanes on my projects, but much like traffic, it's the illusion that other lanes are going faster.   Sure enough, traffic can stop in any lane, and you may need to switch to another to get out of a traffic jam.  But when all lanes are stalled, just stay with it until you break through.  Or pull off and get lunch.  Traffic will be flowing again when you get back on the highway.

Just know how far you're going today, and don't take the exit until you've driven far enough to meet your goals.  If you don't, you'll go to bed with the 'unfinished lane' in your head, which will slowly whittle away from your productive morale, and you'll start the next day depleted of the creative energy you need to get back on the highway.  Leave yourself in a place where your productive morale grows while you recover, instead of being drained.

Next Week!

More on this later.  More specifically, a book list that has 'made it all possible' for me in terms of creative productivity, and a 'where are they now?' post about what has happened with HeuMoore Productions, my personal projects, and my family in the course of the last five years.  That's right.  I'm gonna be blogging like it's 2004, people.  The days when I still had to explain what a blog was to my friends.  Yeah.  That 2004.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Witchcraft, Lunatics, and Radicals

I am a fan of the work of Alan Turing, a British Mathematician and Cryptologist.  Creation of non-linear thought power and intelligent machines began under his genius (and the collected genius of many other mathematicians and inventors) during WW2, and eventually became what we know as 'computers'.  There's an exceptional film about this on the market right now, called 'The Imitation Game,' which tells his life story.

I liked the film enough to make a facebook cover image paying homage to him.  The image is of the 'Turing Machine,' the quote however, is original.

It reads, "You are surrounded at this very moment by countless inanimate luxuries, most of which were ridiculed, condemned, even feared such as the device you're reading this on right now.  Airplanes, radio, cell phones, computers, the internet, credit cards - all Witchcraft to the masses of yesteryear.  Imagine Harder. Imagine Bigger.  Imagine the Unimaginable, and remember:  Your entire life was once the imagination of a few insane radicals.  Be like the radicals, not like their critics."

Also on my facebook, a discussion about tools, multipliers, and how things will continue to accelerate in terms of technological and social advancement.

"It's a simple miracle of multiplied human effort that multiple gallons of gas requires an hours worth of labor, in dollars. Same as it did 25 years ago. (Thanks capitalism! If I had to go get that gasoline myself with manual labor, instead of currency, it would take far more than an hour) But now you can fit a calculator, camcorder, a supercomputer, dictation machine, walkman, GPS navigation system, atlas (those two were separate products in 1990), an entire library of every book published before 1900, every arcade on the planet, a radio, a walk talky, a television, calendars, photo albums, all on a credit card sized piece of glass that fits in your pocket. It's so cheap that if it breaks, you don't hire a technician, you throw it away and buy a new one.  Technology begets technology as well, and implementation is rapid.  Technology offering more features at a lower price, means more people using technology.  And more technology in the hands of more people, means more dollars flowing through technology, and more information as well, making that technology EVEN MORE valuable.

Most Americans for 15 bucks can have a breakfast that a king could not have had 100 years ago. And their kids own technology that presidents, princes, and billionaires could not have purchased 25 years ago. A month's worth of labor now purchases access to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of actual wealth, and billions of dollars worth of 1990s technological wealth. In my lifetime, gas went from 1.20 to 4 dollars. Technology went from millions to a few hundred bucks.

And this wealth was created and developed by corporations. Somebody complains because this year a CEO makes 350 million dollars as head of some technology group. But a CEO making 350 million dollars 25 years ago would have given every cent of it to have your used iPhone 4. A king in Europe 100 years ago would have given his kingdom to own what every American can acquire on a minimum wage job.

Wealth is compounding at unimaginable rates."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Reflections on 2014

Many things strike you in the course of a year.  Either in their significance eternally, or of their significance temporally.

A few of my reflections on 2014 are important to me.  I started this blog in 2004.  Over ten years ago.  It's amazing how much the world has been rocked in that period of time, and how much I have been rocked in that period of time.  I look back at posts over the years and squirm at my brash, naive confidence.  Looking back at who I was and what I endorsed, is almost painful.  But more on that later.  For now, some things I found just in the course of 2014.

#1.  No two loves are equal.

Either qualitatively or quantitatively, love comes in a highly specific way.  Not superior.  Not inferior.  But different.  Unique.   And with that love, come responsibilities, blessings, and burdens, each as unique in it's qualitative and quantitative requirements as the love it accompanies.

Love does not drain you by emptying you into another person;  it fits you like a key, which unlocks the fullest potential of your soul to care for another person selflessly.  Love is a superpower made possible by the way another person fits us.  And when we both unlock that superhuman capacity to pour selflessly into one-another, it's a match made in heaven.

#2.  Love can be one-sided.

Much in the way Christ loved the Church or that a Woman loves her Child, the ability to give 100% of yourself in a way that never returns you anything worthy of that sacrifice, love is gift that trains the heart to know, "I am not my own."

#3.  Love requires pain, because love requires growth.

Growth is painful, growth can't always be measured, and sometimes growth is forced upon us.  But growth amplifies our capacity for love, and love requires growth to exist.  Love cannot be stagnant.

#4.  Love sometimes creates hate.

Love is a constantly escalating force.  When that force continues to escalate, it creates hatred for it's inverse.  For instance, love of healthy eating means staying away from junk food.  Eventually, if that love of health escalates, hatred for junk food will escalate.  It becomes something you despise.

While hatred does not create love, love will with time eventually create hatred for the opposite.

This is significant, because when we find out somebody is not who we believed they were, but we love them, it can create a confused pain.  Hating the one we love, because of what we loved about them.

#5.  Honesty is the child of Love

Dishonesty is distrust, ironically.  It's putting distance between yourself and whomever you're deceiving.  It's holding something back.  When you share the truth with somebody, you're conjoining your realities.  When there is a chasm of realities, there will be a chasm of desires, intentions, and ultimately, futures.

Honesty means forcing the realities together, even if it means hurting someone.  The only reason for this conjoined reality is true love.

#6.  Love is truly a spirit

Love will not be confined to age, color, gender, tribe, politics, or numbers.  Love, like the AI in Spike Jonze' Her, multiplies and grows in it's capacity with every new connection.  Don't hide from that which will make you grow.  Don't hide from that which will make you honest.  Don't hide from that which will make you sacrifice, or become unique, or even to have new passions.  Embrace it, and swiftly.

That's all for now.  I hope to revisit this old habit again soon.  I'd like to post soon about what I've been up to since the start of Ace Wonder, and answer some questions people might have had about my career and life in the last two years.  :-)

~ John.