Jealousy – What’s It Good For

I had an interesting discussion last night….

In one corner, a swinger friend: jealousy is a useless emotion and setting aside jealousy is the key to happiness

In the other corner, an engineering buddy: jealousy has been the motivator of every significant cultural and economic advance in human history.

The argument goes this way.  Pro-jealousy folks say that some level of envy is critical in driving us to want to achieve and have more.  On the surface this seems like facile consumerism, but he argues it more broadly.  The scientist is driven to work through the night on a new drug vaccination because he wants to achieve a status be sees other scientists attaining, but which he has been denied thus far.  His desire for this status and the driver for his inventiveness is, really, jealousy. And the world gets a new vaccine as a result.

For the swinger, jealousy is the source of irrational conflict.  They see couples who feel and express jealousy as a source of drama, tension and conflict that turns fun evenings into ruined evenings.  In this conversation (last night)  my friend took this farther, to say that jealousy is bad not only in the swinging sexual milieu, but in all aspects of life and society. Hmm?

My take: jealousy is natural and, in many instances somewhat useful. The real questions is what we get jealous about.  I have real respect for swingers who have managed to not have natural sexual interest and expression be a source of jealousy.  It is not that they are incapable of jealousy.  It is that, for them, their relationship is not compromised by outside sexual interest and expression, so they do not feel jealousy in that regard — well done.

Time for Pleasure

I received an email today from an over-busy, over-programmed friend complaining about how over-busy and over-programmed her life is.  She has reason to complain.  Her kids are in a lot of stuff, she has a part time business that eats up a lot of time and energy and she is not all that well organized, so stuff takes her a lot of time.

And she is miserable.

I have tried to be sympathetic in the past, but the more I listen, the more I realize — WE MAKE CHOICES!

As adults, we have the capacity to choose how we spend our 24 hours a day. I am getting ever more frustrated with those who choose to allow their loves to get overly programmed and overly busy and either wear it as a badge of pride, or, worse, expect pity.

Granted, some have to work ridiculously long hours just to make ends meet. I am fortunate that I, and most of my friends, are not in this camp. We are professionals and many of us work long hours, but it is not because we need the extra hours to get by.

I am proud that my wife and I a careful in the choices we make about how to spend our time.  We don’t do a lot of housework, but we have lots of quality couple time – as a result our sex lives are great and we are a very happy couple.  We  don’t put our kids in activities all over town, but we spend tons of time playing with them, as opposed to chauffeuring them all over the place.

Having a balanced life is easy to say, and easy to achieve.  It is about the choices we make — we have more control than many seem to believe we have.

Teaching Kids Self Control

When I was a kid I (i) never had money at school; (ii) had three channels to choose from and no other screen time other than those three crappy TV channels.  Today, my children each have a “swipe card” they can use at the school cafeteria and  choice between 75 TV channels, 3 laptops and 5 itouch/ipad devices in our house.  

Today, my 9 year old asked, very sincerely, to have her school swipe card taken away because she couldn’t help buying things when her friends did.  My initial response was no – she had to learn to control her use and by taking it away she would not learn to discipline herself.  She asked if whether, when I was little, I bought things every day at the cafeteria.  Well, I didn’t — because I never had an option to, having no money and a cafeteria open only on Fridays.  It made me think — could I have held up to the temptation of have what is, in essence, a credit card in my pocket every day when I was 9?  Probably not.

I do wonder if, by giving our kids access to so much, are we setting up impossible or unrealistic temptations.  

The Great Gatsby — The Critiques got it Wrong

I just watched the 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby.  I was not expecting much given the drubbing it got form critiques.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

Critiques panned it for being shallow, over sensationalized and placing style above substance.  That was the whole point of the Great Gatsby.  This is the film F Scott Fitzgerald would have made.

When Blackberry was Cool

I was reading the morning that Blackberry is writing off almost a billion dollars in inventory – unsold units of their new Z10.  What a huge fall for the company that once dominated the handheld market and in interesting reminder of how quickly a company and a product can lose its edge.

We can all remember when owning a berry was height or technology and fashion. I was watching an oldish episode of 90210 the other day. I am sure there was marketing deal with Blackberry, but all of the cool characters carried a berry; I was reminded of Zack Morris and his first portable phone.

So what happened.  Obviously IPhones.  But it is more than that.  Blackberry still had a price advantage and other handheld providers have fared just fine, even gaining market from Apple.  I think they simply lost their edge.  They continued to develop good tech, but they forgot that their future customers where young college students and high school student, as opposed to their current stable to business men and women.  Blackberries main domain – the workplace – got flooded by new entrants that grew up on hipper iphones and other products.  They did not want to “downgrade” to a berry.  And they lost their base forever.  A good cautionary tale.

Is the Pope really coming around?

The Kinder, Gentler Pope is certainly getting some good press lately – John Stewart was drooling over him and mainstream media seems to see him as the big bridge between religion and modernism.  I hope so, but I think we need to listen carefully to what he is saying.  

On the positive side, I think he is legitimately conceding that Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, contraception, sexuality is hopelessly out of date (and wrong). I think this is very welcomed and I am interested in how he will square this concession to the “infallibility of past doctrine” that the church has long upheld.

I am more nervous about the degree to which he wants to take all of these social issues off the table.  He has said that too much time is spent debating a small minority of the church’s positions and beliefs and this causes the church to be misconstrued.  I really hope that this is not a PR end run to look soft on these issues to get them off the agenda and then allow the church to go back to hatred as usual.