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Okay. So what are you going to do about it? (sebastianmarshall.com)
111 points by khingebjerg on Dec 5, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments



This is exactly what happened to me 2 days ago at my haircut. My barber and I enjoy talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers (American football). Somehow, our discussion turned into my nonstop complaining...

"I hate when they run up the middle on first down!"

"The referees call too many penalties!"

"The kicker should go back to bagging groceries!"

"The announcers don't understand the game!"

"Instant replay ruins the experience!"

"They should just pounce on fumbles instead of trying to pick them up and run with them!"

Finally, he said, "Well then, what are you going to do about it?"

I answered the only way I could, "I'm going to drink more beer and yell louder at the TV. Maybe, just maybe, someone will hear me and do what I say."


Yelling at the TV is a long-established American tradition. :)

Sebastian's got a great article here -- he's really been on a roll lately. The only thing I'd add is that sometimes you can't do anything. When I read that book on stoicism last month, one of the key points was that you need to sort out the things you can change, the things you can't, and the things you have some bit of leverage with. Ignore the things you can't change, act on the ones you can.

The ones in the middle -- the things you can change but only a little bit -- you internalize, separating the parts that you own and the parts you don't. For instance, you can't make yourself win a sports match. But you _can_ make sure you play the game as absolutely the best as possible.

This is such a simple observation -- almost stupidly simple -- yet we keep getting the three categories mixed up, worrying about stuff we can't change, and giving up on things we can.



Interesting comparison to the Speed-Freak Football article from yesterday (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1969332).

For those who missed it, the Oregon football team's offense is playing faster then the referees move the first down markers and return balls, changing the sport. The fans respond by booing the refs!


Ah yes, symbolic actions.

This is what is going on this weekend. My Facebook news feed is being spammed with people changing their profile avatars to cartoon characters, signifying that they're thinking of the children - honest! It reminded me of this cartoon: http://nonadventures.com/2010/01/09/the-breast-intentions/

I posted that and told people if they're having trouble thinking of holiday gifts, they should make donations on the behalf of others and give that as a gift. It solves their "what do I buy X" conundrum and actually provides some real help to the cause they claim to care about.


So about an hour and a half from now, we know you will be drinking much beer and yelling progressively louder at the TV. :)

EDIT: "The kicker should go back to bagging groceries!"

Neglected to mention that this one seems to have worked. :)


> "The announcers don't understand the game!"

Actually, this one we could do something about, no? I agree that professional sports announcing is terrible for people who are seriously into the game. So, could we build either an official or amateur broadcasting/dub-over of the commentary?

Would NFL Network carry an alternate commentary version of the game, with more football commentary and less nonsense about who is dating what celebrity? Could you do it unofficially? I bet it'd be really, really popular.

That's why I like "So, what are we going to do about it?" - Even if you don't do it, you might get some interesting ideas. If there was a serious analysis/no nonsense/no frills football commentary, I might tune in to that. Things like analyzing the plays, the line play, the coverages, how different players size/speed/length of arms make a difference, etc.

Anyway, Patriots fan but I always liked the Steelers. Classy organization, heavy focus on defense and an efficient game. Hope the two see each other in the AFC championship game.

Edit: Also, sometimes you decide it just isn't worth bothering because you've got more important stuff to do. It's still a fun thought exercise in that case, and occasionally you stumble on something cool.


Here in Pittsburgh, many people will actually turn their TV volume down to 0 to listen to the radio commentary for Penguins games. It's because Mike Lange and Phil Bourque are absolutely fantastic, and they've been covering the Pens forever.

So I don't know if the NFL Network would carry it, but I don't think that'd matter too much.


If only there were a cheap, easy way to automatically send appointment reminders in Mandarin. ;)

(Sadly, HIPAA -- American health privacy legislation -- means that there is a lot of uncertainty about whether they can actually use it or not, and since I'm not a lawyer and don't have an extra $100k lying around I can't resolve that ambiguity at the moment.)


AFAIK you're good to go as long as you don't reveal any patient information (called PHI in the HIPAA world). So instead of leaving a message like, "Calling to confirm John Doe's appointment at Johnson Health Institute" it would need to be "Calling to confirm an appointment at Johnson Health Institute". That way if the number is incorrect for some reason there hasn't been a breach of privacy.


Unless I am listening to my wife. Usually, she doesn't want solutions from me, just an ear :)

That, and no more lists...


Arguably this is more sound advice than the one in the article. More often than not (particularly in relationships) complaining is a toll on the road to getting over it, whatever it is.


Great post. This is similar to the idea of a site my friend and I put together called Lessons Learned (http://lessonslearnedby.us/).

We've only just started coding on it again after focusing on ramping up another more easily monetizable project with investor interest, but even in its simplest form we found that it makes a huge difference when walking away from a situation to say not just "well that rocked/sucked" or even "won't do that again" but to ask ourselves "what lesson can I learn from this?"

It seems being mindful and asking the right questions, consistently, pays immense dividends.

I'm adding this question to my list. One could even say I've "learned" a "lesson" :)


What do you do when the answer is, "Nothing"? I find myself in situations that I really really want to change but can't come to a solution that I feel will work for everyone involved (family). My solution is basically to delay action and tell myself that THAT is my solution, for now. One of the comments in the post was to "change your mind". Maybe that's what I'm doing.


I have come across this in my city--lots of people complaining and fewer people changing things (almost all of whom are quieter than the complainers). The easiest thing to do is complain and it's very rarely helpful. The reason why things aren't optimal (for you) isn't because no one has had the opportunity to complain.


While I agree with the sentiments behind this post, complaining is often used as a way of venting frustrations that you can't do something about (trivially anyway).

It helps people feel less frustrated if they can complain about it.


A former boss of mine had a simple rule: you can't complain unless you can suggest an alternative. It was a great source of ideas.




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