The RP: Fancy Farm 2014 — A Twitter Recap

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Will Meyerhofer: Caregive. Caretake.

Will MeyerhoferIt seems oddly fitting that the words “caregiving” and “caretaking” mean precisely the same thing.  Perhaps that linguistic oddity reflects the salient characteristic of care itself:  a tension between our desire to receive it and our countervailing feeling of obligation to provide it.  Human relations, generally, can be summarized as an on-going battle between those who provide care and those on the receiving end.

As a human child, you started out your life as the ultimate care-collection machine.  Children are designed to make you want to provide them with care – and you’re designed, as an adult, to feel a profound impulse to provide children with care, especially your own children.  It’s no coincidence that anything you identify as “cute” – i.e., feel an impulse to care for – will have child-like features, such as large eyes in proportion to its face and a large head in proportion to its body.   These are all evolutionary triggers designed to make us feel like providing care.

The human instinct to care for youngsters transfers over to other young animals as well, and explains, at least in part, your relationship with “man’s best friend.”  Everyone loves puppies – baby dogs.  But with canines, the phenomenon extends further than that.  Adult dogs retain many juvenile features – a phenomenon called “neoteny” – because by continuing to appear puppy-like up to and through adulthood, they can convince humans to keep wanting to offer them care.  Dogs literally evolved to look young and cute just so you would care for them – and it’s worked!  Unlike most species, the dog’s trick to evolutionary success wasn’t to display aggression, like a wolf.  As evidenced by the wolf’s current struggle to survive in a human-dominated habitat, ferocity only gets you so far.  For the dog, docility, rather than aggression, was the answer.  By appearing cute – a bit like our own young – they mastered a strategy of symbiosis with another species, humans, with a strong instinct to provide care to their own young.  The result is humans calling their dog “baby” and bragging to their friends that he’s “just like a member of the family.”  In many respects, Fido actually is just like another child.  Dogs are a bit like cuckoos in that respect – enlisting another species to do the work of raising their young – but in this case, by remaining young-looking throughout their adulthood, they lead another species to treat them like its own children for the duration of their lives.

Human children are also master care-harvesters – they have to be, because they remain dependent on adult care for survival for much longer than other species.  Adult humans possess large brains, which could never fit through the human birth canal.  Our children are thus, of necessity, born with a relatively tiny, undeveloped brain, leaving them utterly helpless and dependent on the care of others for many years.  Humans thus possess a strong instinct to summon care as a child, but also a corresponding (and conflicting) instinct to provide care for helpless young humans.  Awww…it’s a cute little baby.  I want to take care of it.

Thus do we perpetuate our species.  But this evolutionary arrangement sets up an internal battle between the child within you who’s hungry for care and the adult who feels obligated to provide it.

 

Some humans work pretty hard to be treated like children – and receive care – for their entire lives.  One trick is to keep acting helpless and wait for someone to come and care for you.  One of my clients was complaining about her parents recently in this regard.  She grew up knowing she would have to care for them – they steadily broadcast helplessness, “parentifying” my client from her earliest years, leaving her in the position, even as a child, to tackle most of the care-providing.  This year, as always, my client took her mother out for her birthday, then fumed silently as Mom ordered the most expensive items on the menu.  Christmas will be the same thing – her mother will insist on exchanging gifts, with the understanding that the daughter will be expected to lay out big bucks – and the mother will buy tokens in return.  In any case, this client’s parents were living on her handouts – they’d overspent for years, digging themselves into a deep financial hole.

In my client’s case, her parents are demanding care – behaving, in fact, like children.  But if it’s unpleasant having an adult demand constant care – why should it be any different with a child?  Why introduce someone into your life who is expected to rely on you for care?  This raises the question of why people have children.  And indeed, some parents seem to misunderstand the roles of parent and child, seeing the child as the provider of endless love and care instead of the receiver of it.  Ask one of these folks why they’re having a child, and they might even say so outright:  I want someone in my life who will love me completely.

The idea seems to be that endless care will produce endless gratitude – to put it bluntly, a payoff.  You do absolutely everything for the child – attend to his bottomless need for love and care…and then he looks at you with those big eyes and says “Mommy, I love you”…and it’s all worth it.  And maybe, sometimes, it is.

A more purely mercenary perspective argues that at some point the tables inevitably turn anyway, and the children – now adults – are supposed to take care of you, the parent.  This switching of roles is played down in Western culture, but in Asia, it’s taken for granted.  Many of my Asian friends simply shrug and write a check to their parents every  month because that’s what’s expected of them.

I’ll never forget a television ad I saw once on a flight to Hong Kong.  Western Christmas advertising is all about the children – the iconic image is delighted little ones hungrily tearing open gifts under a tree, with the worn-out but adoring parents thrilled that the heap of capitalist loot they’ve provided has once again managed to please the appetites of the youngsters.  But this Hong Kongese ad, framed around the Chinese New Year, presented precisely the opposite scenario – a shock to my Western sensibilities.  In the advert, a humble, slightly intimidated-looking young couple arrive at the entrance to a house and ring the doorbell.  The door opens, and grandma and grandpa loom in the threshold.  The young couple bow humbly, mumble ritual pleasantries and present gifts.  Behind the young couple, barely visible, stand two young children, heads bowed in reverence.

The scale can tilt either way – toward the elders or towards the children, but it all still boils down to who gives care – and who receives it.

One big step forward comes with learning to ask for care directly – not acting out your need silently by collapsing and going victim or martyr, or going co-dependent and expressing your need by providing the care you yourself crave to others (seethis post for more on that pattern.)

A second big step – the one that counts the most – is realizing that you contain both a helpless child within you and a parent who is more than capable of providing all the care that child needs.

There is a loss, giving up the fantasy of a perfect other providing all the care you need.  Some people cling to religion to avoid this loss, and construct an imaginary provider of care – a god or saint or the like.

But there is also a gain that comes from letting go of the fantasy.  In separating from your parents, and the dream of perfect care, you transform into an adult, and gain a new strength that comes with self-sufficiency.  You can no longer be abandoned, because you always have yourself, a capable adult, by your side.  You no longer have to experience solitude as abandonment.

This doesn’t mean adulthood equals solitude.  You can gather friends, and your family, around you, and ask them directly for care – and they might even provide it, and you might chose to provide them with care, too, out of love and gratitude for their friendship or just because your own cupboard is full and you wish to celebrate your abundance by sharing care with others.

But you are no longer the infant, abandoned in the cradle, who screams and cries because his life depends upon someone else coming to his rescue.

You can come to your own rescue.
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My new book is a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance.

Please also check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way-Worse-Than-Being-Dentist

My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy: Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

(In addition to Amazon.com, my books are also available on bn.com and the Apple iBookstore.)

The RP on Rebuilding West Liberty

At the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative America Meeting, Jonathan Miller announced a new CGI Commitment to Action by Rebuilding West Liberty, Kentucky:

Matt Ranen: GROWING PAINS FOR THE INTERNET ECONOMY

Matt RanenThe debate over what the FCC should do in regards to net neutrality is getting a lot of coverage these days. It’s no wonder, since where the policy lands will have immediate impact on profits and strategies in the media industry. But more generally, this is also a debate over our assumptions about and aspirations for what we want the Internet to be, and whose values are most important to respect. Is “open” more important than “speed” and “innovation”? And which type of innovation is most valuable given today’s economic and social context—one very different from the late 90’s boom time.

Turns out, this is just one of a number of more broadly impacting policy issues that are about to come under the microscope of public debate and government action (or, inaction…which itself is also a choice), as the Internet and the “online” economy of digital goods and services re-integrates with the “offline” or “real” economy.

One of those issues will be about data—big and small—and the property rights assigned to it. There is no need to repeat the hype about how big data is changing everything. Everything from the mundane (cost effective 1 hour delivery!) to the profound (our understanding of climate change impacts!) will look to use data—about individuals, groups, places and things—to find patterns that suggest ways to improve services or deepen our understanding of how our world really works. And as with most technological revolutions, the ability to use data most effectively will lead to changes in who has the potential to hold power within an industry.

But because most of the applications for big data so far have resided in either niche areas or beyond the public’s view, we have not yet seen what happens when the promise of ‘better with data’ rubs up against real human lives and emotions on a large scale. As data-enabled business models grow in their reach and have more economic impact, more questions loom and will have to be addressed by the consuming public, regulating agencies, or the courts. For example: is your refrigerator or car or any other high end consumer good a natural monopoly when it comes to the data it collects?  Who should have access to your consumption patterns—just the company that made the product?  To what extent is targeted pricing—which some would label as simple a highly efficient market clearing mechanism—discriminatory?  When is it okay to essentially make public information about someones’ private life  through commercial behavior(e.g. Target and its infamous promotion of pregnancy products)?

Read the rest of…
Matt Ranen: GROWING PAINS FOR THE INTERNET ECONOMY

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Miniature Cars

10389605_10154346724520515_1184003438670753102_nTwice in two days I have seen these new miniature cars.

They make me nervous but I wasn’t sure why.

10303873_10154346724605515_2012575358965154725_nBut I think I just figured out why.

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Some days…like today…you will be feeling the perfect combination of older, calmer, more experienced and confident…and at the perfectly timed moment in a conversation you will open your mouth to dispense, finally, what everyone else will instantly realize is indisputably as wise as it is correct…and just as everyone is looking at you in anticipation…you will draw a complete blank.

And you never saw it coming.

jyb_musingsAnd fortunately, graciously, you will forget most of that horrifying experience in about an hour-and-a-half.


 

 

The RP: Survive and Advance at the World Series of Poker

WSOP Day 2As millions of Americans celebrate our nation’s birthday with parades, grill-outs and firecrackers, I will be stuck in a cavernous, over-air-conditioned, non-descript warehouse, leaning over cushioned tables with several hundred other exhausted, bleary-eyed (mostly) men.

And having the time of my life.

Yes, in a few hours, we will begin Day 2 of the World Series of Poker’s “Little One for One Drop” tournament, and I’m still in the hunt.  (Read more about the tournament and the incredible charity it supports in my Daily Beast report from last year’s event.)

Precisely, with over 14,000 chips, I’m in 529th place out of the 887 remaining players who have so far survived 10 hours through a field of more than 4400 poker-star wannabes.  (Is it fitting that I built my political career around the creation of a 529 pre-paid tuition plan in Kentucky? Naahhhh.)

I am really lucky to be here, and that’s not just some Gehrig-like humility.  A little over an hour into the event, I made the stupidest, most regrettable move that I have ever attempted in my three years of World Series events.  I was dealt an Ace-10, and the flop revealed a 10, 8 and 6.  The betting got intense, and a talky, charismatic Californian at the other end of the table with a larger stack than mine ultimately made a very large bet.  I impulsively went all-in, having the top pair on the board (10s) and the biggest kicker (an Ace).

However, with all of the betting, I should have realized that I did not have the best hand.  In retrospect, it was very possible that the Californian had flopped trips (three of a kind).  Indeed, when he called me and turned over his cards, he held an 8-6, therefore having two pairs.

I was in serious danger of leaving the tournament VERY early.  I thought I had 6 “outs” — there were 3 Aces and 3 tens left in the deck that could possibly save me.  When the turn (fourth card) revealed a 4. I had one chance left.  Finally, came the river.  Praying in vain for an Ace or a 10, instead another 4 appeared.  I got up thinking my tournament ended with a stupid mistake.

Then, the player to my right quickly informed me that I had just won.  I was now the holder of two pair — tens and fours, and my two pair was larger than the Californians.  I had doubled up through my stupid luck.

The poker miracle served also as a wake-up call. I became a lot more focused on my conservative/aggressive game (playing only the top hands and playing them with boldness) and played perhaps my best poker ever.  I was up to over 20,000 chips, and was poised to jump to 26,000 until I got rivered in an all-in against a short stack.  (He had only two cards that could save him from elimination, and one of them showed up.) Still, while the loss took me down to 14,000, I’m still very much in the game, starting today in a slightly below average stack position.

So, now it’s time for your help.  Yesterday, I wore my lucky outfit — my Cincinnati Reds Joe Morgan jersey and No Labels ball cap.  I’m wondering if I should wear it again (with different undergarments, of course!) — or if I should switch up to my Anthony Davis UK jersey or my Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey.  Please provide your counsel in the comments below.

Meanwhile, if you need to get away from Fourth of July festivities, you can follow the action here at the WSOP Web site, starting at 4PM EDT/1 PM PDT.

Josh Bowen’s Thursday World Series of Poker Workout for The RP

Globally-recognized personal trainer Josh Bowen will this week be providing intensive physical workout routines for The RP as he prepares to compete in the World Series of Poker.

This morning’s workout is below.

Visit Josh’s web site here and sign up for his newsletter here.

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The RP at the WSOP — Day One of the “Little One for One Drop”

Johnny pokerYesterday’s $1500 no limit hold ‘em tournament was a wild ride.  For hours, I was grinding and grinding effectively, doubling, then tripling my stack.

Then, I was dealt the worst hand of all:  Two Kings.  Of course, two kings is the second best opening hand in all of hold ‘em.  But when one of your table mates is dealt the best hand — two Aces — you are in a whole mess of trouble.

When you are dealt two kings, you feel like the world is in your hands — and a whole mess of your opponents’ chips.  You are in clearly a dominant position against any other hand, and when no ace appears on the flop, you are almost guaranteed to be in a heavily dominant position.  You know, after all, your opponents only have a .45% chance of drawing aces.  A mathematical game, you can’t operate so cautiously as to fear that slim a probability.

So when it happens, two kings are a killer.  You have less than an 18% chance of prevailing.

And in my case, the odds held.  And I was knocked out of the tournament.

Good news is that there’s another tournament that begins today, and it is one of my favorites: The Little One for One Drop.  I wrote about last year’s event and the incredible “One Drop” global water charity it supports here.  And I’m back for another try today.

I’ve also tried to change my luck with a new fashion strategy.  Take a look at my outfit, and the first person who guesses my shirt fabric wins a prize.

Wish me luck.  And hope that I don’t get two kings again.

Update from WSOP, 2 rounds down

After two hours, I’ve built up my stack from 4500 to 5950. No special hands, just grinding out small victories. My best move was folding an ace queen when I was convinced my opponent had an ace king. I was right!

Biggest news: I met Trishelle from Real World Las Vegas

Most embarrassing news: I recognized Trishelle from Real World Las Vegas and introduced myself to her.

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My World Series of Poker seat awaits…

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