Socrates v Gladiators

In my sheltering in place (something clearly I excel at — excuse the brag), I have taken my normal quest for truth to a new high and am reading a ton of things that I might not otherwise have read given the constraints of having to eat lunch at Green Mesquite BBQ from time to time.

Copy of Jeff Minch June 1 2007 060

In that quest, I have reinforced something that I have noted for some time: We have no real idea of how to discuss something. I almost said “civilly” but I did not. 

I see two schools developing:

 1. The Gladiator School wherein every discussion must be an armed contest in which we — myself included — seek to make a point, but equally important to refute another’s point.

Granted the tone is often set before we arrive and take a seat, but we speak past each other and read to comment rather than read to learn. Again, I have my hand up saying, “Uhh, me too.”

Who does not enjoy a bit of Gladiator wordsmithing?

 2. The Socratic School poses questions, listens to answers, builds on those answers, and learns from each other. Impossible, you say?

I am currently a member of an informal group which has:

 1. a peg in Texas (moi),

 2. a wise Canadian criminal lawyer, media exec, startup exec, corporate spouse, strategy wizard, bon vivant ex-pat in Oil City (Houston),

 3. an author/crypto/aggregator/curator/entrepreneur in Canada,

 4. a salty and experienced Ivy League educated entrepreneur in the City of Brotherly Love with current keen insights into the medical profession,

 5. a seasoned former Chicago Mercantile Exchange member turned angel investor turned FinTech venture capitalist who winters over somewhere it is warm, currently in Las Vegas, and

 6. an American software and crypto entrepreneur who splits his time amongst Berlin, Bali, and currently resident in Singapore, hiding out from the WutangCurse.

It is a diverse group, not given to suffering fools. We are out of the initial 50,000 mile warranty period, seen some stuff. It was spawned from the ooze of a pool on the Interwebs.

We met on a blog site we all frequented, which the owner — a thin skinned, liberal, bi-coastal venture capitalist of some note who had built an incredible site — train wrecked — easily the nicest such community anywhere on the web — because he was “hurt” by the unwillingness of the site Illuminati to echo the whispers of his chamber.

He (the venture capitalist) is a good guy — well, OK guy — but very, very prickly. It would be fair to say the troubles began when that Trump guy got elected President which greatly displeased the venture capitalist compounded by those who did not find the anointing of this Trump person as POTUS to be the actual end of the world.

This group — without trying — mimics the best of a Socratic discussion in which some open ended question garners a series of responses which then triggers a follow on round until a new topic is introduced.

It is done naturally, respectfully, and with no holds barred. There is significant intellectual friction of the kind that reveals the truth, but there is always a keen insight that is unique to somebody’s life experience, and there is always an analytical thought process which is novel and well-grounded. There are also stories.

It is nearing the “more fun than a barrel of monkeys” level of enjoyment.

When one of the members was fleeing Bali to find refuge in Singapore, it was like a support group, but one in which the view into Singapore was world class and illuminating — though the traveler is currently under 14-day quarantine per local restrictions.

I tell you all of this to say — it is possible to have civil, thoughtful, insightful discussion about anything if you can find the right group of chaps or chapettes.

With that, I rise to go about my duties as a Shelterer in Place. I intend to win the Best Shelterer in Place in Pemberton Heights, Austin By God Texas award and the accompanying stipend.

Hey, you — you have a nice damn day. car