Archive for June, 2012

Visions and Positions: Executive Power in 2012

June 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Regardless of one’s opinion of the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as “Obamacare,” 2012 has been the year of “Presidential Vision.” Policy in the United States is less about democratic consensus and more about democratic response: the power figure sets policy while the others react, the President works to establish his sense of an ideal society and the rest react and reverse. Politics in America function on the basis of reaction: planning is a private matter and occurs as a means of response to the actions of another.

We still exist in a democracy, but the format by which we work to consensus is very inefficient. Instead of a dialogue in which we plan where we want to go, we move back and forth as actions and reactions work to find consensus. This seems like progress: things are done but static rules the day. When reality is never really set, when policy is always in limbo there is no way to understand where things really are.

Presidential Power is critical to this state. Sense of “Presidential Legacy” evaluations of Presidents as individual actors creates a system where Presidents utilize power. Democracy suffers when individuals assert their opinions. While the system of democracy works towards consensus, powerful figures possess and are allowed to use this granted power, but true leadership is about hearing all involved. A system that creates celebrities out of Presidents creates a system of inefficient democracy as Presidents disregard the sense of others in order to create policy to establish legacy.

In 2012 we witness Barack Obama’s work to establish legacy. Secret activities and phililosophical based legislation is less about what’s best for all and more about crafting the identity of Barack Obama as President. No matter what one feels about the ACA, we exist in a time when the individual President acts in ways that are separate from the rest of society.

In order to remedy our system of inefficient democracy, or, at the very least improve it, we should move away from viewing the President in terms of celebrity. The President is a single actor in our democratic system. Yes, it is to follow and entertaining to focus on one figure, but our government is far more complex. We need to recognize our system’s complexity, work towards a more cohesive system and encourage those who both highlight and work to improve these dynamics. The United States of America uses a complicated machine for its system of government. While more entertaining to view just the headlights, a better system sees the machine more broadly and works to improve all parts and pieces. In the end we’ll only have a better car and more efficient vehicle for the road ahead.

Consumptive Challenges

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Work a shift anywhere outside a home office and one’s biology will certainly grow assertive. Stomach pangs and scratches of a dry throat prove increasingly annoying as the shift progress. To snack or not to snack? What to eat as those small reminders of life start to peck away at our attention?

A quick tour of one’s grocery store reveals a vast variety of options. Fresh food? Maybe, but will it spoil? How much time do we have to prepare our food? It’s silly to squander our sixty minute lunch break with forty-five minutes of prep?  interesting assumption many workers automatically establish is the presence of a microwave. Propped atop a counter, this box of radioactive power simplifies the work place meal question.

Given the microwave the frozen entree becomes king and daily ration for most. Tear away the

cover, punch in the time and watch lunch spin its way to completion. They aren’t perfect but they’re cheap and easy- the two most important factors in work place feeding and reason why so many choose frozen when planning out their meal. But are these items the only option? What does
Display a choice away from the frozen entree and reveal a preference of something other. Is it a diet? A sense of more exquisite taste? As with all decisions to break away from popular behavior, a decision to be different leads to assumption. one venture in selecting a non-frozen entree for work place food? Preparing one’s food at work becomes dramatic on multiple scales: assert yourself by not microwaving a frozen box and become an exception.


The meal is the most intimate moment of the work place. Selecting, preparing and enjoying food create moments of dramatic personal display. We reveal much in eating and given the controlled environment of the work place, our behaviors during lunch hour become revelations. We may hide our true selves, play it safe all day or even act as completely different people at work. No matter how hard we try all is naught when we eat: at lunch we reveal just who we are.

Maybe this is why frozen entrees are so popular with workers? Beyond ease and variety, these tiny frozen boxes deny glimpses into who we really are. Protect your real preference and stay safe. Stay hidden with your frozen lunch and fight back biology. Wait safely for home when the true self can exist and, placing fork to mouth, safe revelry can occur and the true self comes alive with each and every bite.

preparation must be minimal- speed of creation is critical when a food item’s time of consumption is limited to a “lunch hour”. Out of these limitations the frozen entree is the ideal candidate for workplace meal: rapid preparation and flavor variety work to establish these tiny boxes as logical selections for workers.

The microwave seems to exist as an assumed component of fast-created food. ie the varied cadre of frozen entrees available on freezer shelves. Herein we find the ideal solution to work place hunger.

Performance Entire

June 21, 2012 1 comment

Often a great performance is seen as a triumph of the individual. The athlete’s buzzer-beating shot or musician’s lyrical breakthrough become personal feats against the odds, moments when; despite all assumptions, a conclusion was defied and reality was redefined. Too often internal factors are given credit as talent and skill sponge up the reason for the performance. This is a simplification that disregards the more numerous external factors that played a factor. As an example, consider the athlete:

In the final seconds of a basketball game, one player will hold the ball and possess an opportunity that other players do not. Possessing the ball, this player has the direct ability to change the score. Hindering his or her ability are the external factors acting for or against the ability to affect the score. We can re-categorize the player’s team members as everyone working for an action that benefits the player and likewise the player’s opponents are anyone working against the player. What of the other factors? The fans in the stand, the external factors of weather, uninvolved sounds and the countless other “non-game” factors within the player’s perception. Anything perceivable by the player becomes a component affecting the player.

When we fail to consider these factors we fail to see the true sport. The greatest moments in sports are not so much triumphs of great athletes but moments of incredible luck, times of whimsy when the world shut down briefly to allow success. Are these religious moments? Perhaps for some they are, but what we can know is that great performances are moments of incredible rhythm where the plethora of factors that make up our world gel in such a way to allow a player’s intention to take place. View a great performance and see the individual’s majesty on display, take heed of the great skill and perhaps assume such skill is beyond one’s ability. Say, “I couldn’t do that” or “He’s amazing,” but be aware of such a hazard. One may find these moments of witness as assuring signs for self-doubt, but what of the other factors. Should we not everything at work. Should not the greatest gust of awe go to the sheer absurdity of the moment.

Safe in Saying Safely

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

Dare a curator violate our perspective? The internet is often presented as a land of “silos” where content suited to one’s perspectives can easily be accessed. Easy access, some argue, leaves us less interested in differing ideas and locked inside silos of understanding. Whether the internet limits our perspectives is beyond this post. What about those sources? Whether silos or simply sources, we use internet sites as resources to gain info. Whether CNN, NPR or Fox News, we trust sites to give us info and use them as access points to information.

Why do we trust these sources? Major networks hold most of their trust on the basis of history. ABC, NBC and CBS have existed since the dawn on broadcast news. “They’ve always been there” is the argument here and source for common trust. Newcomers like Fox News and

MSNBC have proven their worth through time via high-profile stories and mention in our trusted forms. If ABC, NBC or CBS mentions you we grant value to your existence and garner legitimacy. Maybe the reason failed was a failure to garner major network attention. Working to function as an alternative does not mean you can disregard those who you seek to defy. Function in the system to violate and, after all, where will your audience come from if not from the very sources you despise and took inspiration from.

Media authority comes gradually but once attained must be carefully maintained. Violate your audience’s expectation and the ability to go elsewhere is far too easy. There are no second changes in the media: if you suggest ulterior goals you will lose readers. Ulterior motives can exist but one must hide them very carefully and present the desired content as desired. The audience rules.

Curators must tend their flock carefully. A content creator cannot rest on content alone. Curation and presentation are two critical tools in maintaining power. The audience trusts the curator to present the info. “Maintain my perspective” is a silent mantra playing through the use of resources. Curators who maintain tone and content hold audience. Those who fail reveal their real goals or fall victim to a failure to communicate. Clarity is simple and balance is not about equal coverage. In this world a curator’s “balance” is with tone and voice. The audience isn’t interested in objectivity of coverage. Diversity of voice means death and the only objectivity desired is voice. “Stay real for me resource, “Be just who you are when I first found you.”

Ears Beyond: Detecting Assumed Audience

June 19, 2012 Leave a comment

A curator is one who collects and distributes content to others. A more prominent role in our age of countless sources, these figures function as “content filters” from whom we seek the information we know holds value. The curator’s function (and existence) is dependent on trust: give us something we don’t want and risk losing our attention. Based on this relationship the curator must walk a fine line: present quality content and do so in a way that caters to the assumed audience. Who are these people, though; and how does a curator know who reads their presentations? Both crucial questionsmustbe answered by a curator and we can detect such conclusions on the basis of presentation.

How does a curator present certain stories? How is text styling used to convey tone? Consider Matt Drudge’s use of italics. After an initial headline, Drudge lists additional stories in italics and presents critical snippets of material in the article. We read these italic stories as add-ons, as entries not worthy of the headline role but which feature interesting info. In essence these stories have a “But, Wait, There’s More!” goal. Herein we can gather a sense of how Drudge perceives the use of his site. Not merely factual in presentation, the content presentation includes an entertainment dimension that shows Drudge’s perceived role. Drudge wants to entertain and seems gleeful in with his collection of stories. Drudge uses his “Drudge Report” as a collective statement on existence. Visit the Drudge Report and Matt Drudge has collected life as he sees it and, via styling, his sense of what it all means.

The use of apostrophes categories a term as unfamiliar. Using apostrophes triggers the reader to consider these terms as different and react to them with distance. Apostrophes can create distance and distinguish certain terms as belonging to the outsider. Strange terms from different races, younger generations or foreign culture can be placed in apostrophes to label them as strange. Drudge uses apostrophes to castigate terms for these goals and on the basis of this use we see additional details of perceived audience. Drudge sees his audience as older, conservatives and uses his apostrophes to distinguish material from outsiders for its differences. Casting these terms in this way caters to his assumed audience by presenting himself as “insider”, as an individual whose status involves an awareness of common language and the ability to use it.

Curation is power.


This Hyphenated Age

June 17, 2012 1 comment

We exist in an era of hyper hyphenation. Just a dash of ink, a la (-), the hyphen may seem minor but with it we express the details of our complicated world. A hyphen creates simplicity where change compounds existence and new details make life murky. Make sense of a life where movement is constant: express the many worlds that define the constant traveler. Working to accurately express an identify becomes challenging when one’s life has fractured countless times. How we do communicate effectively? Risk failure and disregard these complications or sit comfortably in insult as we disregard critical experiences?

Our hyphen is our magic glue: linking the uncommon terms which modify us into unity. Perhaps a Welsh-American will find his rose-tinted glasses smudge free when considering his hyphens. Herein lies great clarity- a true tool for making sense in complication.

A society in which the hyphen exists is one in which combinations not only exist but prosper. Popular recognition of the hyphen is an act of respect, a reaction to the complicated nature of our world. Via the hyphen our language extends beyond biology to express change.

Combination breeds confusion. New breeds and forms demand clarification and distinction. Twenty one dollars or twenty-one? African-American or African American? Hyphens create sense, explain details and reveal by their very presence a linking and need to recognize distinction.

Through our movements in life we become new people who, though unchanged biologically, become new people with new perspectives and identities.  Given the choice between denial or expected absorption we honor change with the hyphen: though changed we retain features of our past and our present. We are complicated people constantly adjusting to the world. Language is our common tool for making and expressing who we are and via the hyphen we strive further to more accurate expression. If tools reflect who we are and what we need, the hyphen is revelation. Via the hyphen we express change and complication. One minor dash communicates not only where we are now but where we’ve been and where we plan to go.

Essential Truths and Mentors

June 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Certain figures play critical roles in our lives. Parents, teachers or authority figures become more than individuals in our world: they become mentors and models for our lives. Why do we seek out these figures? Do we need these models to teach us how to live? How do we remedy the conundrum of our own limitations by seeking out figures cut from the very same “cloth of limitations” from which we spawn?

Humans are linked by limitations. Much of our world exists beyond our perception and as a result we not only miss much of what surrounds us but also interpret what we can know in wildly incorrect ways. Paranoia is a broad example of these errors of perception. Despite our best intentions we cannot know how to function in society and depend on our fellow limited actors to guide us and explain the world in which we exist.

These guiding figures, though also limited by their own faulted perception, become our mentors. The roles by which we find these figures varies, some are family while others are figures who we respect or who simply hold positions of authority. Perhaps we can evaluate the strengths of our social networks by considering where our mentors come from. Those utilizing parents as mentors likely have a closer knit and perhaps broader network of support than one whose support network is cast largely with politicians or figures of authority.

No matter where these mentors come from they play a critical role in our lives. What do we do when these figures fail us? We cannot blame them for errors; after all as humans we should be well aware of their limitations. They are faulted just as we are, but in providing us with perspectives on our world we depend on them for so much but what do we do if a failure stems from something other than human limitation? What if our mentor actively deceives us or, worse yet, purposely hides or distorts details to manipulate us?

Herein an example from popular culture:

In the above clip, Luke is told that Obi Wan lied to him about his father. Yes, he lied. Obi Wan, the man in whom Luke invested his sense of reality denied him these critical details of life. What do we do in these situations where mentors distort reality. Such distortion is inevitable as these figures act in ways to “protect” us as a means to shield us from details they feel may damage us.

Mentors are important figures in our lives but such dependence links us to greater limitation. Ironically, in working to escape our limited perspectives we seek out figures who further limit our perspectives. If we invest trust in someone else to help us understand the world we become more vulnerable to confusion. We are limited but must steer clear of comfortable tools that may seem worthwhile but ultimately function to further limit and distort our sense of life.

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