BREAKING: Majority of Utahns Support Gay Marriage, New Poll Confirms

Posted in Uncategorized on January 12th, 2014 by David B Baker – 24 Comments

Last week I released a poll about support for marriage equality in Utah to update a two-year-old study from BYU that has frequently been used as a proof point countering Judge Shelby’s ruling on Amendment 3 in Utah. The first poll found that in two year’s time, 13% of Utahns switched their opinions from only supporting civil unions to supporting full civil marriage equality.

One criticism about my methodology has raised some questions. Some groups said by including civil unions as a choice, the poll may have under-represented support for full civil marriage equality. For context, I included civil unions as an option in order to compare directly against the BYU study; however, when the same observation was made by pollsters from the Williams Institute, I decided to run a new poll. Here are the results.

Utah Marriage Equality Poll 1-11-14

Given a choice between civil marriage equality and no legal recognition for LGBT couples, 51.3% of Utahns support full civil marriage equality and 43.7% oppose. The new scientifically accurate poll was conducted between January 8th to January 11th, 2014.

Which groups have changed their mind the most in the last ten years? Breaking down the data, women support civil marriage equality the most in Utah at a whopping 58 to 37%. Women ages 18-34 AND women 45-64 all have support of at least 52%. Supporters of marriage equality also come from both urban and suburban regions, and typically households making more than $50,000 a year.

This is the first time a poll has found that a majority of Utahns support marriage equality. It represents a major and rapid opinion change (+17) since Amendment 3 passed with 65% of the vote a decade ago. In Utah, the tipping point has been crossed for marriage equality.

Support for Same-Sex Marriage in Utah at Record High – 41%

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5th, 2014 by David B Baker – 3 Comments

In February 2012 BYU’s Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy conducted an update to their tracking poll asking residents of Utah the same questions that the NYTimes/CBS Poll asks.

“Which of the following comes closest to your view?”

  • Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry.
  • Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry.
  • There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.

This February 2012 poll showed the continuing trend towards recognition of legal rights for LGBT couples in Utah either through marriage (28%) or through civil unions (43%) with 29% supporting no legal recognition of marriage.

BYU Poll re: same-sex marriage

In December 2013 a Federal Judge ruled that Utah’s Amendment 3 is unconstitutional. Passed in 2004 Amendment 3 constitutionally bans same-sex marriage and prevents any legal recognition of LGBT couples through civili unions or domestic partnerships. At that time 54% of voters believed that there should be no legal recognition of LGBT couples with 25% supporting civil unions and 21% supporting marriage.

This week I ran a poll using the most trusted digital polling platform asking the same question to the State of Utah. Nate Silver stated that Google consumer surveys’ election polls were ranked second in terms of reliability and lack of bias. (Disclaimer: I am an employee of Google but paid for this survey using a personal account)

The results of the poll indicate that since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and since the ruling in December the attitudes of Utahn’s have shifted to the point where 41% of Utahn’s support same-sex marriages, an increase of 13pts in two years. Opposition to same-sex marriage has also grown by 2 points up to 31%. Clearly the tides have shifted further than anyone thought as from 2004 to 2012 opinions on same-sex marriage shifted only 7pts in 8 years.

 

Support for same-sex marriage in Utah

I’ve made the results of the poll publicly available here for others to explore, the most interesting insight is looking at the age breakdown of responses. Women under the age of 55 support same-sex marriage equality at roughly 50% (F18-24 – 61%) with Men ages 45+ against marriage equality (M55-64 – 46.7% opposed)

 

How Seal Team Six is like SCOTUS

Posted in Uncategorized on June 28th, 2013 by David B Baker – Be the first to comment

ss-130626-scotus-reaction-04_ss_fullOn May 2nd 2011 I was freed from the oppression caused by growing up under the numbing fear of terrorism. The relief that swept over the nation was palatable as Osama bin Laden, the boogie-man of 10 years was gone. The night he was killed I celebrated with a few thousand people in DC as we felt a wave of pure joy wash over us.

On Wednesday June 26th 2013 I witnessed a similar experience of coming out of oppression and into joy as I stood on the steps of the Supreme Court waiting to hear how 9 justices felt the statement “All Men Are Created Equal” applied to me and my LGBT brother sand sisters.

As the news came down and over the past 2 days I have felt a lift in oppression. No longer does my country discriminate against who I can civilly marry and the rights we are entitled to.

There is still oppression in over 30 states where LBGT families are not recognized as married and in 29 states LGBT people can be fired without cause just for being gay. Just as terrorism is not dead, oppression is still acceptable in many states.

Yesterday my friend and former boss asked me which of these 2 experiences was better and to me they both represent witnessing a uniting force of love lifting us up out of the normal human condition offering us a chance to glimpse the divine.

Oscar Wilde penned these lines that express how powerful this moment was:

“There was a time I might have trod the sunlit heights, and from life’s dissonance struck one clear chord to reach the ears of God.”

GOP 2.0: How the Internet is Forcing the Republican Party to Modernize

Posted in Uncategorized on November 26th, 2012 by David B Baker – 2 Comments

As some of you readers have heard me joke, during Election years all I do is eat, sleep & work once October hits and in November, sleep drops off that list completely. On my team there was a running joke that I worked so hard that Election Day was going to be the day I died. It is in that light that this might seem a bit delayed, but here are my thoughts on the Election results and what it means for the next few years for any interested party.

1st off I was personally overjoyed when I heard the news that in all 4 states Marriage Equality was on the ballot we won, handedly. More than any other race in the nation I was most proud that in not 1 or 2 but in ALL of the states where my civil right to marry was placed up for popular vote, that right was affirmed (or in MN’s case not rejected) by straight Americans, and more importantly given Prop 8, by religious Americans without whose support we would have failed.

In terms of the Presidential Election I spent most of the race apathetic to either candidate feeling that either way I would come out a loser. Because of this my plan was to write-in Jon Huntsman for President.Why? Because if President Obama won he would have a mandate on his last 4 years of economic policies that had helped to increase, not reduce our debt and we would be faced with a hard struggle to find a balanced budget with President Obama having less of a reason to compromise with stubborn Republicans. On the other hand if Governor Romney had won I had no doubt that he would feel the need to appease his masters on the evangelical right on social issues and propose a constitutional amendment to Gay Marriage and appoint anti-equality justices to the bench.

However, as the next couple of weeks should indicate, I might end up with a pro-equality President with a Justice Department refraining from defending DOMA at the Supreme Court, and a budget deal that will help us avoid the fiscal cliff that reduces both spending and increases revenue by both rates and eliminating deductions. Rep. Beohner seems to be playing ball with the President on a compromise and even more miraculously is getting his caucus in line despite Eric Cantor and the Tea Parties misgivings of raising any additional revenue complete with defections away from ATR’s No-Tax pledge.

Additionally I seem to have received an early (or late if you look at my hopes from 2009) Christmas present in the form of a resurgence of growing change in the Republican party. Younger Republican operatives like myself have seen 2 Presidential Elections lost utterly by policies that are too negative, counter-intuitive, and out of date with where the country is ultimately headed. Look at it this way, in 2008 America elected a very liberal president and the Republican Party’s reaction was to put forward candidates as conservative as President Obama was Liberal. While it might win you support in small races (read congressional) where turnout and mobilization of the base is crucial and when coupled with anti-establishment views effective it will ultimately cause you to lose in Senate and Presidential races where a broader audience is more engaged with the candidates.

We saw this happen in big ways when 2 Senate candidates were elected by narrow margins in their primaries because of their conservative record and who continued to run on that same conservative platform to the shock and bewilderment of the rest of America who doesn’t think in terms of legitimacy or God’s intent when it comes to something horrific as rape. Those old, evangelical, white men grew up in a world where they saw a shift from radio to TV as the primary news source and who don’t understand the important impact of the Information Era’s last 15 years in refuting stupidity (while celebrating its humor – lookin’ at you Honey Boo Boo Child) and connecting every person, every voter to a handheld fact checker. Does anyone know if Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock understand the concept of a phantom vibration whereas now more than 53% of all Americans have smartphones. In addition to connecting voters to facts the Information Era has also hyper-connected people who 20, 30, 40 years ago would never have come in contact with each other.

In 1967 the National Advisory Committee on Civil Disorders focused on figuring out what happened, why it happened, and what could be done to prevent instances of rioting that lasted nearly 2 weeks in Newark and Detroit. The Commission reported that America was “moving towards two societies, one black, one white, separate and unequal.” The report concluded that segregation had created a destructive environment in the racial ghetto that was “totally unknown to most white Americans.” The information age started online communities where the 2 Americas (or by 2000 more like 5) could combine in such a manner that younger Americans immersed in the digital age could see the racial ghettos, the sexuality ghettos, the ghettos for the dreamers, the gender ghettos and all of the segregations that made us unequal.

This same tearing down of social walls thanks the digital age is one of the main reasons the people of Egypt, particularly the youth, were able to lead a rebellion against their military dictatorship and topple their government in a matter of days, not months or years.

I call this an early Christmas present because the younger Republican political operatives are starting to take control of the party and shift it into a competitive party that doesn’t accuse women of claiming rape as an excuse to use abortion like birth control, a party that doesn’t demonize gay and lesbians who want to join society at the fundamental level of a family, a party that doesn’t cast the sins of the fathers at the feet of their children who are Americans in every way that counts except by birth, a party that doesn’t enter military actions when we don’t have a declaration of war, nor the means to pay for the war both in economic costs and in the costs to American lives.

Some of my Democrat friends have told me that they would prefer a Republican Party that continues to be as backwards as it has been, a party that refuses to see the “totally unknown” ghettos in America because it means that the Democratic majority will grow to a point where the Republican Party is irrelevant and then the needs of all of those groups that have been ghettoized will be serviced. I reject this concept on many levels but the main two reasons are; first are that a single party is always bad for democracy and if you have any doubt look at DC’s Democratic Majority and all the uncorrupted good it has produced. As Rachel Maddow said recently two healthy parties allows us to have intelligent debate about substantive issues in which will create the solution best for all parties. Second, when a political party has 90% support from a voting bloc they don’t have to do anything to promote solutions for the problems felt by those 90% because there is no danger, no fear in losing their vote. I am a realist who knows that every political party doesn’t want to help you as much as they want to help you vote for them.

So I urge all of you, regardless of party, to participate not only in the general election, but especially in the primaries. These contests decide which path your party takes, one that is towards the center with the majority of America or one on the extremes. The only reason we had politicians like Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock in 2012, or Mike Lee, Sharron Angle, Christine O’donnell, or Joe Miller in 2010 was because the extremes voted in the primary.

Aaron Sorkin famously popularized the phrase that “Decisions are made by those who show up” and currently the majority of Americans who do show up for the general election are not showing up to the primaries and conventions where the decisions that matter are made leaving the country with choices that are equally unpalatable to many Americans.

As the 2012 cycle comes to a close and the 2014/16 cycle starts up for me I urge you to support the new shift toward the center by the Republican Party as it is healthy for this country and to go vote in your primary to make the decisions that matter and not leave them in the hands of the extremes of the nation.

A Day of Thanks

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12th, 2012 by David B Baker – 2 Comments

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Affirmation’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner. This is the highlight of Affirmation’s DC Chapter events. Normally I am not a big fan of Thanksgiving. It was never big in my house and we always spent it with family friends and not our own family. Christmas was the bigger holiday for us.

But this year was different for me. I don’t know if it is because I have changed or because the world has changed, but this Thanksgiving I was so grateful to be surrounded by so many people who are a part of my “family” of sorts. And I think that has a lot to do with the changes that have happened inside Affirmation in the past year.

My first foray into Affirmation was tense and brief as they seemed to me to be an organization for bitter men and women who weren’t seeking anything spiritual but instead a connection of friends who had gone through similar trauma. I saw this mindset last year at the Affirmation conference in Cleveland where I presented on a couple of panels where audience members thought I wasn’t being critical enough of the Church and that the Church should “be damned for what it did to us.”

I wasn’t shocked by that mentality as I had discovered it before, but it was juxtaposed with a beautiful spiritual moment and gathering at the Kirtland temple. That same spirituality and focus on faith AND sexuality and not just sexuality was a highlight that was again on display last night.

Affirmation has a ways to go before it shakes off the perception that many have of it as an organization for bitter men and women that is far too the left of the spirit and anti-church, but I believe that the groundwork for that shift into a new generation has been happening for some time and will continue to happen as Randall Thacker steps up as the new President of Affirmation.

Randall and his partner are strong members of the LGBT community and Randall has helped open the minds of leadership here in the DC Stake and in his ward. He wants to have a renewed focus on both spirituality and sexuality within Affirmation and not just a discussion of one or the other.

I hope that Randall will become the new president and that under his leadership there will be continuation of the changes made in recent years to work with the Church on improving the lives of LGBT LDS youth instead of working at ends with the Church. And for those of you unable to attend the event just watch this short clip and imagine a room with 55 more people in it and you have an inkling of the power I felt last night.

Did Elder Cook just stretch the truth or was it the Correlation department?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30th, 2012 by David B Baker – 1 Comment

In December of 2011 Elder Quentin L. Cook gave a commencement address entitled “Restoring Morality and Religious Freedom.” I’m going to put aside the fact that Phelps v. Snyder would indicate that we have not lost our “Religious Freedom” just like our country hasn’t been “taken from us,” for a minute.

This address was given to a BYU Idaho graduation class, however it was re-published using the same data and questionable sources despite having 8 months to review. Thus I believe the article should be held to a tighter scrutiny.

While the article talks about how we int he Church are under attack and how we can & need to work with other religious groups, Elder Cook seems to grasp at cases where religious freedom is being trampled upon. In this attempt the example he uses touches on homosexuality and being myself I am going to focus on that piece of the article.

For your reference, the article can be found here - http://www.lds.org/ensign/2012/09/restoring-morality-and-religious-freedom?lang=eng

Elder Cook in discussing the shift in our religious freedom states “A British high court recently denied a Christian family the right to foster children because the children could be “‘infected’ by Christian moral beliefs.” 21

“The ruling demonstrates just how radically things have shifted.One of the reasons the attack on moral and religious principles has been so successful is the reluctance of people of faith to express their views. 22″

When I read this I thought to look at the citation and in the footnotes, the citation links to an article from Charisma Magazine (A Pentacostal magazine who’s recent OpEd leads with “We stand with Todd Akin”) - http://www.charismamag.com/site-archives/570-news/featured-news/12897-uk-court-rules-christianity-harmful-to-children

Elder Cook’s assessment of the case in his above paragraph states the opinion of the court was that children could be “infected” by Christian moral beliefs. The article itself that he points to reads “The Judges stated that Christian beliefs on sexual ethics may be ‘inimical’ to children, and they implicitly upheld an Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) submission that children risk being ‘infected’ by Christian moral beliefs.”

By the article’s own admission the Court didn’t state that children could be “infected” by Christian moral beliefs, but that this was the opinion of the magazine. By the use of “implicitly” rather than “explicitly” we know that the court never stated that the children could be “infected.”

In fact, in reviewing the judgment of the actual case the word “infected” or any of its variations is not used once in the entire 34 page opinion. -http://www.scribd.com/doc/49752804/Johns-Approved-Judgment-2-11

Furthermore, the only reference to the view of “infection” was that during the case, the Equality and Human Rights Commission argued that children risk being ‘infected’ by Christian moral views.

Thus if we follow the daisy chain backwards Elder Cook is quoting Charisma Magazine, who is using a phrase from the arguments as a de facto representation of the courts opinion. As a graduate of Stanford Law school in 1966 and as an attorney for 27 years it is safe to presume that Elder Cook understands that arguments made in court by the winning side do not mean the judgment agreed with every argument and that without explicit reference to the argument of “infection” that there is no sound reason to suggest that the court agreed with that piece of the argument.

In fact, as a practitioner of the law, Elder Cook should have known far better than to represent the words of the British high court in such a manner as to imply that it was the court’s opinion that “children could be ‘infected’ by Christian moral beliefs.”

What is even worse though about this situation is that in looking at the previous version of this address Elder Cook doesn’t cite Charisma Magazine as a source and doesn’t quote “infected” in the text. (See http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-restoration-of-morality-and-religious-freedom &http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Graduation/2011_12_16_Cook.htm)

Instead it appears that this citation has been added explicitly in the past 8 months. This means that someone (Elder Cook, Correlation, an intern) felt the correct need to cite this strong assertion made by Elder Cook. In doing so they chose a source that illustrates the exact opposite without correcting the message going out to members in this month’s Ensign.

This represents either a serious mistake that needs to be corrected or perhaps something more meant to highlight religious freedom on the eve of Mitt Romney receiving the Republican nomination for President on Today.

I hope you take the time to read through Elder Cook’s address and my thoughts around this line and comment below on them.

The “Assertive” Spider-Man

Posted in Uncategorized on July 8th, 2012 by David B Baker – 6 Comments

This week I caught a showing of Spider-Man and besides the fact that I think it was very well done and much better than the 2002 version, it taught me a few valuable lessons. 1st, Martin Sheen & Sally Field are the best TV parents of my generation.

Second, and on a more serious note, I realized a flaw in my own character that I need to work on and fix. In the movie Andrew Garfield acts very naturally using a similar style as some of his other work (Boy A, Social Network & Death of a Salesman) that indicate it is Garfield and not Peter Parker doing this. There are times int he movie where he is awkward about asking Gwen Stacy out on a date and the awkwardness manifests itself in some physical motions. This drew it to my attention and during the movie I wanted to shout out and say “Just ask her out already, what’s the worst that can happen.”

It was at this point that I also remembered that he is supposed to be in High School and so this made sense. Meanwhile I am at the movie not because I took the initiative to set something up, but because a friend of mine asked if I was free and wanted to hang out. This juxtaposition of events weighed on me until today when I realized that I have been lost in high school mode when it comes to my social life. While I feel quite confident in my ability to flatly ask someone out on a date (assuming I know they are gay), and my newly found confidence to introduce myself to someone and start networking, I am still that scared little kid who is afraid to call his friends to do something fun for fear that they will say no.

I don’t know why, but I like being invited to things and not doing the inviting. I have faltered to take the initiative and it has been pointed out to me a couple of times, most recently by a great friend who is the only one who stayed in contact with me after I left DC. Not because of anything I did, but because of the effort she put into maintaining our relationship.

This is probably a fatal flaw in my dating life as well as I tend to want things to develop without effort, without initiative. This attitude might be flowing over into other areas of my life as well. It is for these reasons, and because I finally stopped re-assuring myself that I really am an adult now, that I have decided the next piece of personal progress that I am going to focus on is taking the initiative in my own social calendar.

Some of this will involve staying in contact with friends who live on the Left Coast, some will involve writing physical letters to dear friends on missions, and some of it will involve reaching out to existing & new friends in DC to actually do stuff rather than try to let things happen organically.

However this manifests itself, I feel that it will be for the better and that my life will improve because of it. I am not going to sit idly by and watch the world pass by me, I am going to take up my responsibility and reach out. This is likely to change who I am a good deal because as I write this I have thought of other areas of my life where I have faltered in being assertive, but that will be okay. Because while I might change and grow I always know the answer to the question “Who Am I?”

I am Spiderman David B. Baker

Anniversaries

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6th, 2012 by David B Baker – 2 Comments

In my past anniversaries have been periods of depression and fear. I actually have had a psychological reaction when my body & sub-conscious recognize that something traumatic happened a year ago even if I haven’t remembered.

I have seen this manifest itself in August when I relive getting kicked out of BYU and, because the trauma was so intense, a year later coming out to myself. I have seen it in March around my parents divorce date. I have seen it around the holidays around  my deep depression in 2008. Remembering the anniversary of these events usually knocks me out of commission for a few days as I am feeling depressed as my psyche unconsciously relives the initial trauma. This is not unique to me, but is a human condition.

What is also a key human condition is for us to remember the good anniversaries as well as the bad and to revel in them to the point that the bad are removed from our minds.

Today is the anniversary of me getting quite possibly the coolest job in working for Google. I am truly blessed to be given the opportunity to succeed that I have and I truly hope that I have many more anniversaries in the years to come. Some will be bad, but most will be truly wonderful.

The Buck Stops Here!

Posted in Honesty, Politics on April 11th, 2012 by David B Baker – Be the first to comment

I have always loved President Harry S. Truman as a sort of mythical underdog who beat “Dewey” (whomever that was) who jokingly commented that his middle initial shouldn’t have a period because it doesn’t stand for anything, and who championed the phrase “The Buck Stops Here.” Granted that was back in 5th grade when I knew very little about the man and even less about politics and DC.

Now I have grown up more and I have spend some time learning a bit more. I know who Dewey was and how President Truman wouldn’t go down without a fight and that spirit helped him beat Dewey in the Presidential Election of 1948 despite everyone at the convention thinking he was down for the count. I am currently reading a couple of books about Truman to learn even more, but the most interesting thing happened to me the other day as I quoted his favorite phrase in a discussion to a friend.

As I was telling my friend, in Washington DC everyone thinks that they know it all or at least pretends to know it all so that they don’t look dumb. If you’ve ever had that friend who is too stubborn to ask for help in understanding something and then went along as if they understood it, she probably would fit in well in DC. I fully admit that I do this as well at times, but I am working on it.

The problem with this attitude is that it often causes problems and when those problems start no one wants to step up to the plate and say “I did it, it was my fault.” I have talked about this before when an Umpire owned up to his mistake making national news and later when Sarah Palin claimed that a typo was her coining a new word. These are just a couple of examples, where I have discussed this, but I have seen it take place on a smaller scale all the time.

Now this is what is so profound about Truman, he made certain everyone knew that “The Buck Stopped Here” with him, and that he wouldn’t pass the blame but own up to it. It wasn’t until this last week that I realized how rare this was in our society and especially in DC.

I want you to do something for me, next time you get a chance to talk to your Representative or Senator ask them the question “When was the last time that you truly messed up in such a big way that you couldn’t fix it?” This is a standard job interview question that I bet most politicians will be ill-prepared for and will likely involve some buck passing.

When you find someone who is willing to own up to his mistakes and tell you why he did what he did and that he messed up, but for a reason that makes sense to the broader good, then that is your guy and you should stick to him until he starts passing the buck. Why? Because in DC, we need Honest people leading, not those who are afraid to admit they are wrong or they don’t know.

So Much Better

Posted in Uncategorized on March 17th, 2012 by David B Baker – 3 Comments

Does anyone else find that moment when you uncover another of Satan’s tactics to be just delightful? My experience as a Gay Mormon has been defined by many periods of depression, failed relationships and frustration with the Church mixed with equally happy periods of joy, imaginary dreams coming true, and peace.

As I was sitting here today the thoughts of the last few weeks crept up on me and I realized that this thought of mine that I should stop looking for love and a husband and instead marry my career is another of Satan’s techniques to make me feel like I am worth less than I truly am.

For the past while I have been contemplating just taking a clean break from my personal hopes and dreams for the future and instead focus on the future of my career and my long term goals. For a short while I loved this idea. After all I had just spent 8 months bouncing around the country for my career and I am loving every long day i spend doing work.

But lately as I started to go on dates just to stay in the loop I have started to get depressed more than usual. I have been worried about what the next steps and how I get from “A” to “D” in a slow, steady, smooth way and not in the typical LDS way of 3 dates and your engaged. I’ve never really had a relationship last for longer than a couple of months and I am terrible and even keeping friendships up for a decent amount of time (especially when separated by a lot of distance).

These thoughts have all paralyzed me, left me frozen in depression leaning more and more towards saying “Enough” and simply living a life married to my career. The problem with this is that after coming to terms with personal revelation I received int he temple about how I need to search for a husband I made a covenant with the Lord to put my trust in him and follow where he led me. That I didn’t know where to go but that if he showed me where, I would walk.

The thought to abandon this search would be breaking my covenant with the Lord. As I sat here tonight pondering all of this I remembered a line from my patriarchal blessing that reads: “[Satan] would harm you terribly if he could but, because of your determination to keep the covenants you have made, he will have no power over you.” In recalling those lines tonight it was like a light shone in on my sadness and I knew why I have been feeling terrible over the past couple of weeks.

This light unmasked the tactic Satan was using and I now can adapt to it and work to get happier. My cynical side of course tells me that this means his next tactic is going to be that much harder to spot and my optimist side tells me I’m free. Meanwhile, the realist inside is reminding me that behind every great man in history is a strong partner who is their helpmeet. How can I marry my career successfully without a partner by my side and children to motivate me to do better?