I'm slowly returning to the wider world at the end of a school term and reviewing all the chunks of information I've emailed myself to look at later.
An interesting set of tips in the NYT regarding a set of guidelines for conducting an honest argument between two entrenched sides:
1. Hate something for its failings, not its successes.
Simple idea, tough for me to execute. What I take away from this is that it's okay to find fault with, say, Paris Hilton for being a vacuous twerp but not because she has a successful television show.
2. No condemning something until you've tried it.
I hate the city of Phoenix which is peculiar considering that I've never been, never come close to going, don't personally know of anything bad that happened in Phoenix to any of my loved ones, etc.
3. Execution Matters
See John Kerry. Bless his heart but there were so many apologists insisting that he was NOT chilly, distant, aloof, etc. etc. It's a losing battle to convince someone that her experience using a product or a service (I suppose a presidential candidate is both) is not frustrating but actually delightful.
skipping number four for a moment...
5. Consider that they may have a point
from the original: Neither side's members should be allowed to cover their ears and sing "Blah blah blah!" at the top of their lungs when they hear an argument that could rock their worldview. As long as the points are factual, fair and substantive, you should consider them.
I thought this was such a nice list of guidelines that I removed them from their original context which was a David Pogue essay that laid out the ground rules for Windows vs. Mac conversations (number four is "Don't make grandiose purchasing plans by guessing on technology's future"-sound advice, perhaps, but not quite as readily adaptable to other arguments.)