The Outlier mystique.

What do LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, the Beatles and Bill Gates have in common? They are outliers. Merriam Webster definition: a person or thing that is atypical within a particular group, class, or category.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers begins with the observation that a disproportionate number of elite Canadian hockey players are born in the earlier months of the calendar year. The reason behind this is that since youth hockey leagues determine eligibility by calendar year, children born on January 1 play in the same league as those born on December 31 in the same year. Because children born earlier in the year are statistically larger and more physically mature than their younger competitors, and they are often identified as better athletes, this leads to extra coaching and a higher likelihood of being selected for elite hockey leagues. This phenomenon in which “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is dubbed “accumulative advantage” by Gladwell, while sociologist Robert K. Merton calls it “the Matthew Effect“, named after a biblical verse in the Gospel of Matthew: “For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance. But from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” Outliers asserts that success depends on the idiosyncrasies of the selection process used to identify talent just as much as it does on the athletes’ natural abilities. But there’s an even bigger factor in creating an outlier.

A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the “10,000-Hour Rule”, based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of the Beatles’ musical talents and Gates’ computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time the Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, and quotes a Beatles’ biographer, Philip Norman, as claiming “So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. Gates’ mother was an executive at IBM with computer privileges. At a time when computer time to practice, write and debug code was at a premium, or not even available to nascent programmers, Bill Gates had access to the most advanced machines in the world.

Some athletes are extraordinarily gifted naturally and on talent alone can go far, and even farther if they are willing to hone their talent with dedicated practice. But what it takes to go beyond very good to being outlier good is vision or outrage. LeBron James is an outlier not because of his extraordinary talent, physical gifts and dedication. His vision to be an empire builder rather than just a basketball star is driving him to celebrity in entertainment as well as basketball. Michael Jordan was similar. He had the talent and the dedication to be the best basketball player in the world, but beyond that to not only endorse products but to create them and the marketing strategies. Tom Brady didn’t have extraordinary physical talent but he was able to harness extraordinary outrage at being slighted, from being the 199th player selected in the draft and being a backup instead of a starter most of his college and the first few years of his professional career. But he had a vision of what he could be, and the mental discipline to transcend his physical limitations.

Outliers are not just high achievers, they actually create new paradigms and become the sun around which their chosen professions revolve. Steve Jobs was not a brilliant programmer, but rather had the vision to create products that didn’t previously exist and the marketing strategies. Donald Trump was probably the least likely Presidential candidate imaginable, and destroyed the mold of campaigning and governing as President, in keeping with his vision. He is an outlier as a first term president, but if he wins in 2020, without being conformed to the presidential mold, what will he be? Note to Democrats: If the best you can do are the candidates who are already vying for your nomination, second term Trump will break another mold.

Yeah, Chris Pratt has the problem, not you?

Chris Pratt is now a big star, just the wrong kind. Once he opened up about his faith, the usual suspects began to sling their arrows.

On Christmas Day, TV Guide published an article on the popular actor, titled “How to Love Chris Pratt Without Hating Yourself.” After listing some of Pratt’s many professional accomplishments and acknowledging his meteoric ascent, the author lamented, “And yet: despite all this, Pratt remains the most complicated and divisive of the (many famous young actors named Chris). When you take a deeper look at Pratt the man and not necessarily Pratt the actor, some of the shine wears off. Although he can be as funny offscreen as he is on … it’s impossible to ignore some problematic aspects of his life offscreen.” Though the writer didn’t directly attack Pratt’s Christianity, she ticked off a series of silly non-sins for which he should be shamed, such as his hunting habits, an allegedly insensitive Instagram post about raising lambs to eat them, giving away the family’s cat before having children, and another Instagram post that supposedly offended the hearing-impaired community because he told his followers to “turn up the volume” and not just “read the subtitles.”

So who really has the problem, Chris Pratt or such people writing about him? Who is really showing their ignorance, bigotry and “hate”(I use this word simply to mock a popular, and stupid, claim for mind reading). Did you ever read 1984? What were some of the slogans of the Ministry of Truth? The Ministry of Truth (had) three slogans: WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. The critics lambasting Chris Pratt and other Christians who mostly try to live up to the gospel consider themselves the “great and the good”, as they advance their own “ministry of truth.” Really, who gave you the right to pass judgement on those with higher standards than you, or anyone for that matter?

“Diverse weights, and divers measures, Both of them are alike abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 20:10). “Thou shalt not have in thy bag diverse weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house diverse measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Deut. 25:13–15). In ancient times, the only way a customer would know if they were actually getting the amount they had paid for was by trusting the standardized weights used by the merchant. If a merchant wanted to cheat his customers, he would have a set of weights for poor people who couldn’t afford their own set of weights, and another set, an accurate one, for rich people, who usually had their own sets of weights.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:1–5). Probably the most misinterpreted and misquoted of all of Jesus’ commands. He is actually saying two things: judge rightly, by judging yourself first (casting the beam out of your own eye), and you will be judged by the same standards you have judged others. The common misquote is leaving out everything but the first sentence, and the common misinterpretation is “don’t judge anyone else.”

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Rom. 2:1). Paul is saying most people are hypocritical judges, in that they are guilty of the offenses for which they judge others. The sins of others are so much clearer than our own, especially when they are the same as our own.

I like old saying, “every time you point a finger at someone else, there are three pointing back at you. Go ahead and point your index finger, while curling the others. It isn’t Chris Pratt with the problem.

Thanks Jussie for balancing the scales.

Some recent headlines from various sources:

*Store Clerk in Kansas Curses Out MAGA Hat-Wearing 14-Year-Old. Mass. *Woman Charged with Assault After Attacking MAGA Hat-Wearing Man in Bar. *Man Pulls a Gun on Sam’s Club Customer Wearing MAGA Hat. *Liberals PUBLICLY CHEER Attack on Teens for Wearing a MAGA HAT. *Thug Caught on Video Assaulting Conservative Activist at Berkeley While Students Laugh. *Silicon Valley Restaurant Chef Says Patrons Wearing MAGA Hats Won’t Get Served. *Miami Cheesecake Factory Employees Threaten and Harass Black Trump Supporter. *Woman Brutally Assaulted in D.C. Restaurant After Professing to be a Trump Supporter.

Trying to balance the scales, to find MAGA hat wearers attacking random others for either their clothing or political beliefs, I went to Huffpost, about as liberal as you can get, and found this headline: 13 Times Apparent Trump Supporters Attacked, Harassed Or Plotted To Kill Muslims. However, it wasn’t about MAGA hats or random violence, it was about anti-Muslim incidents or plots being expressed which actually had nothing to do with Trump per se. Hardly in the same class as random people attacking others for the acronym on their hat. I wonder how many Muslims were plotting violence during the same time period.

Addressing the discrepancy between how easy it was to find anti-Trump violence vs. how difficult it was to find pro-Trump violence, Jussie Smollett probably wanted to balance the scales a little. Nuff said.