About

This page has gone unfinished for sometime because I keep waiting for the opportunity to write it up completely and that opportunity never comes (and the one time it did the browser crashed).  So what I’m going to do is complete it bit by bit until its done.  If there’s a “to be continued” at the end of the page that means I’m not done yet. 

(Update: I’ve come to accept I’ll never quite be done so just assume this is always a work in progress)

With that said, on with the show…

What is this?

This is everything you could ever want to know about me. If you’re really that curious, this should answer any questions. That said, I wouldn’t read it if I were you. I’m not that interesting I assure you.

But if you just can’t help yourself, I offer it up as an explanation of who I am and what makes me tick.

Who Am I?

I’m a male in his late 20s who lives and works in Southern California. More specifically, right at the eastern edge of Los Angeles County (about 30 miles out of Los Angeles).  I’m single though happily dating someone as of this writing (but short of getting married I don’t plan to update this bio so take that with a grain of salt depending on when you read this).

Career wise, I’ve been working with computers since I was 16 years old. Early in my adult life I was recruited to work at a startup which lasted about a year but that is the only time I’ve had a job that didn’t have anything to do with the actual administration, programming or repair of computers. Once that company (and the industry for a while) went down the tubes I returned to Southern California.  Though after that experience, I had a decent amount of money for the first time in my life (I’d grown up reasonably poor)

Money had a pretty profound impact on me.  What it did was get me to realize that I’m not really interested in making a billion dollars so I probably wasn’t cut out for startups (at least at this point in my life).  I need enough money to be comfortable but since I had that there wasn’t a drive to make tons of money anymore.  I certainly wasn’t the guy who was willing to sleep on the floor of his office to get a billion dollars. 

But I’m also not the guy that sits around and watches TV all day so the question became: what was I willing to sleep on the floor of my office for?   That question led me to my current job.

What Do I Do?

I guess I should expand on that a little.

I’ve been extremely lucky in life.  The majority of kids that I went to, for example, 6th grade with are probably career criminals or dead right now.  That could easily be me.  A little push here, a little pull there and I don’t make it.  But I did make it and to my eyes that gives me responsibility.  A responsibility to make a difference in the world and to prove that I was worthy of what I was given. 

For that reason, I’m a bit of a work-a-holic.

So when I realized money wasn’t really my end goal and that the startup world wasn’t really what I was looking for at this point in my life I had to find some other place to pump those energies into.  That’s where my current job comes in.

Basically the agency I work for is comprised of two things, a group home and school.  The group home houses kids that have been removed from their homes for whatever reason and who need mental health treatment while the school caters to the kids in the group home and others from the outside that need a special environment.  “Special Enviornment” can range from dealing with abuse to our autism program.  Basically it just means “kids who need treatment of some kind”

The treatment provided at the agency is in line with how treatment is supposed to be provided but I personally am of the belief that something from that equation is missing.  The industry as a whole has a 90%+ failure rate which I feel backs up that hypothesis.

Now there are tons of explainations for why that is but I personally believe it has something to do with the fact that there is no institutional memory in these types of agencies.  Once a kid is treated any information gained by treating that client is locked away never to be seen again.  So if another client comes in with the same diagnosis and symptoms the staff basically start over from scratch. 

That’s where I think I can help.

I believe in the power of statistics.  I believe that a computer can look at kids with similar backgrounds and see patterns than no human ever could and I believe those insights could make the treatment provided more effective.   Beyond that a computer can do so without violating anyone’s privacy which makes it all the more powerful.  So what I’ve been doing for the last few years is trying to figure out a way to encode the data collected in a way that allows the computer to do what it can to help in treatment. 

That, in a nutshell, is what I do and why I do it.

What do I Believe (Politics)?

I go out of my way not to talk about politics here but for the record I’m pretty moderate. I’ve often said I have the amazing ability to be in the room with a Liberal and a Conservative and manage to come up with a political opinion that annoys both of them equally. That said, in short my politics boil down to two basic principles…

1. Government doesn’t seem capable of doing anything right but there are some things that only government can do. So Government should do all the things it must do and nothing more.

2. Government should exist to protect people’s right to live however they want provided they aren’t hurting anyone else.

Though I obviously have opinions on all political issues those two are the beliefs from which all my others come from.

What do I Believe (Religion)?

My religious beliefs are kind of complicated but the reader’s digest version is this: I believe in a God and I believe that God is all powerful. Beyond that, my religion is based on two things…

1. I believe that God would not allow people trying to do the right thing to be led completely astray

2. I believe that the world needs all kinds of people in it.

Those two principles led me to my basic religious belief that God realizes there must be many religions and to some extent endorses all mainstream religions. By mainstream I mean those that share a common set of principles, the 10 commandment principles if you will.

So for example, if you look at the differences between Judaism and Buddhism they basically have the same moral core. Don’t kill, don’t be dishonest, treat people with respect, etc… Their difference is in how they teach their followers to view and react to the world. Jews are taught that they have a moral obligation to fight something they believe to be undesirable while Buddhist principles teach their followers to learn to accept the undesirable so that it might become desirable. The world needs both kinds of people and I think God is wise enough to know that.

All that said I believe it is imperative for a person to pick a religion they believe and devote themselves to it (even if that religion is a secular moral system like objectivism). I don’t buy into the principle of “just do what feels right because God is love”. Religion exists to provide humanity with a moral compass and to remind humanity that there are things higher than their individual whims. I don’t judge what religion people choose and even accept those who choose to just study secular morality but I have very little respect for those who think they can just “follow their heart”

As far as my choice, I make a point to study all religion but my personal beliefs are in the Judeo/Christian tradition which is to say I believe in the God of Abraham.  Though again, I don’t think that invalidates other people’s beliefs necessarily.  God is incomprehensible to the human mind so it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the cosmic forces that Taoism believes in to just be another way of seeing the personal God that I believe in. 

The FAQ

These are questions I’ve been asked in various e-mails since starting this blog.  I’ll add more as they become available

Who do you think you are? Tom

Why should I care what you say? Maybe you shouldn’t.  I am who I describe above.  To the extent that makes me knowledgeable that’s how much you should trust me.  I don’t represent myself as an “expert” in anything because I’d just assume let other people make that determination.  So listen or don’t. 

What’s your favorite quote? It’s a cop out to a certain extent but I go with an old faithful from Edmund Burke…

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

Whose your favorite musical artist? Solo Artist: James Taylor, Band: Tears For Fears.  Both because I basically grew up listening to them (ironically, or perhaps not, those are my Father’s favorites as well.  Or at least they were when I was growing up).  With that said I have really varied tastes.  I just looked at the top 10 most listened to artists in my iTunes from the last month and they were (not in a paticular order): Jim Brickman, Steve Perry/Journey, James Taylor, Firehouse, She and Him, Eminem, Guns ‘n Roses, Rick Springfield, Rascal Flatts and the composer Aaron Copeland (by various orchestras).  So I’m all over the place. 

What’s your favorite movie? Don’t really have one in paticular but by sheer number of viewings I guess I’d say “It’s a Wonderful Life” if I had to pick one. 

What’s your favorite Theatrical Play? Three way tie between Les Miserables, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  Each has a very different emotinal core and each appeals to a very distinct part of me so I don’t think I could choose between them. 

What’s your favorite TV Show? This is obviously going to vary (I couldn’t even begin to give an “of all time” answer) but right now probably House (though I’m not a fan of recent cast additions)

How can you be religious, you seem smarter than that? Well first, thanks.  You insulted about 85% of the world but you complimented me so how can I complain. 

That said, I don’t think religion is illogical.  If you walk into your office and find a PC on your desk I think the logical explanation is that someone designed, built and installed that PC there.  So in a world filled with organisms far more complex than a PC (our bodies chief among them) I don’t think it’s at all illogical to think there might have been some design in place.

Beyond that, though I believe in the overall concept of evolution there are some pretty huge flaws in that theory if one doesn’t assume some outside force wasn’t guiding the process.  Things like sex organs which develop simultaneously and compatibly in males and females even though both are completely different organisms. 

Finally everything seems to have fallen into place awfully well for a completely random process.  A perfectly balanced, self sustaining eco-system populated with enormously complex organisms capable of instinctively maintaining themselves.  That’s quite the lucky break if its all random.

Why do you hide your last name? Because…um…it’s Chamberlain…I didn’t know I was hiding it. Did I ever say I was hiding it? Seriously though, this blog is about sharing thoughts. Not about self promotion (which seems to be the goal of many bloggers). So when I introduce myself or write something here I do it as Tom just as, if you were talking to me in real life, I’d represent myself as Tom. So I don’t put my last name out there because in my own small way I’m saying “this isn’t about me, it’s about ideas”

Why are you so Judgmental? Did it occur to you that in saying this you’re passing judgment on me? That aside, the reality is this: we’re all judgmental. We have to be to survive. Because we categorize people and in doing so we have to pass judgment on them to determine what category they fit in. Are they your friend, a good person, a bad person, etc…

So I don’t think I’m any more judgmental than anyone else.

What I am is open and honest. If I pass judgment I’ll say it out loud and to your face and I’ll give you a chance to defend yourself against the charge. In that way my judgments are up for review and correction and that’s exactly the way I want it.

Why are you so mean? I don’t think I am mean but I know where the sentiment comes from.

Here’s the thing, I can be hard on people from time to time but that’s because I actually do care. It’s easy to just say “you’re great” to a person and then go on your way but to me that’s dishonest. That’s really saying “it doesn’t matter what you do it’s of so little importance that I’m just going to tell you how great you are no matter what”

I believe what people do is important and I believe that I have an obligation to tell them when their actions don’t deliver the results that their words are intending.   So I’m not going to tell you how great you are unless you actually ARE great but I am willing to do everything in my power to help make you great.  That’s the sentiment I live by.

If that makes me look mean then so be it. I’d rather look mean and be comforted by the fact that I did the right thing than look nice and be the guy who just doesn’t give a damn.  

Why are you so Self-Righteous? To start to address that I’d like to quote the definition of self-righteous 

 ———————————-

Convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others : narrow-mindedly moralistic

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I’m sorry but that’s simply not me. I specifically go into painstaking detail about lessons I think are learned and the logic process by which I come about those lessons because I feel the need to justify what I’m saying.

People convinced of their own righteousness don’t do that. They don’t feel the need to justify themselves by writing page long entries because they’re already convinced they’re right. You seem to be equating “concerned with morality” with “self-righteousness” and I think that’s a huge mistake on your part. That’s the point I was trying to make above which is that society isn’t concerned enough with the very important topic of morality and that’s something I don’t agree with.

Do you really believe that anyone who states a forceful opinion on morality is self-righteous? Or I guess more importantly, in your opinion how would you suggest I speak on morality without coming across self-righteous?

How many Pageviews do you get in a Month? I have a rule that I only check site statistics every 6 months because I don’t want them to influence the site’s content.  Which means I won’t know until January ’09.  With that being said, the last full month I could check I’d gotten 82,000 (and some change).  With that said, I really have no interest in running ads on this blog so if that’s why you’re asking I must respectfully decline.  I don’t like the idea of someone’s corporate identity being tied to what I have to say (you’ll notice I don’t even publish the name of where I work or any place I’ve worked in the past for that very same reason)

Also, I have to say I have no idea how accurate that number is.  I employ three different page view counting systems and they all deliver vastly different results.  Plus you have RSS readers which are people technically reading the page but not really visiting the site (I use Feedburner).  and so on.  My feeling after doing this for a while is that there’s no real way to tell exactly how many actual people  you have dropping by so it’s best just to ignore the numbers completely.  Again, I do check every 6 months or so just out of curiosity but that’s all it is, idle curiosity (and to a certain extent a way to gauge how I’m trending even if I don’t know at what level I am)

Why do you Blog? Because I feel what I’m saying needs to be said.  That’s the simplest answer.  Well, and chronic insomnia which also helps. 

Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party? No, but I’ve been at a party hosted by a communist on a couple of occasions.  Though I didn’t know he was a communist at the time. 

Mac or PC? Generally PC though I have a Macbook Pro for iPhone development (and I obviously have an iPhone)

What The? I don’t know.

Who The? I don’t know.

How The? I don’t know.

To be perpetually continued…