Saturday, November 23, 2013

New measures of success

The Eskimos have all those words for snow, and it seems the only language we have for expressing success is numeric. It may be a universal language, but it’s an impoverished one. Maybe we need a word for “never having to sit in a meeting where someone reads long power point slides out loud.” Maybe we should have an expression that captures the level of success you’ve achieved when you do exactly what you love every day.- NYTimes "I want to be a Millennial when I retire"
 And how were you told to measure success?

Sean Ogle highlights the above NYTimes piece on his blog this week and does a really nice job tackling it: 
- I Want to Be Me When I Retire - 

As he points out -
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted.
When you look at the realities of what we’ve seen during our 20s, it’s no wonder our view of success and what’s possible is completely different than that of our parents.
For 100 years we've had an economy where we could reasonably expect incremental progress.  We would have "it" a little easier than our parents, go to college, get a degree (didn't matter in what), and someone would pick you. And you would be "successful"... We have developed a culture, and built institutions, based on this and now neither the culture or institutions work.

The rules are completely different and the way we measure success will be completely different going forward.
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted.
When you look at the realities of what we’ve seen during our 20s, it’s no wonder our view of success and what’s possible is completely different than that of our parents.
- See more at: http://www.seanogle.com/entrepreneurship/when-i-retire#sthash.YXgiIB8z.bU7pUbrl.dpuf
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted.
When you look at the realities of what we’ve seen during our 20s, it’s no wonder our view of success and what’s possible is completely different than that of our parents.
- See more at: http://www.seanogle.com/entrepreneurship/when-i-retire#sthash.YXgiIB8z.bU7pUbrl.dpuf
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted. - See more at: http://www.seanogle.com/entrepreneurship/when-i-retire#sthash.YXgiIB8z.bU7pUbrl.dpuf
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted. - See more at: http://www.seanogle.com/entrepreneurship/when-i-retire#sthash.YXgiIB8z.bU7pUbrl.dpuf
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted. - See more at: http://www.seanogle.com/entrepreneurship/when-i-retire#sthash.YXgiIB8z.bU7pUbrl.dpuf
Between the economy collapsing and technology advancing, all bets are off. If you were raised during my generation (I’m 28), you’ve seen a completely different set of rules.  You’ve seen your parents who you once thought were invincible fall upon hard times, you’ve seen tech startups sell for over a billion dollars, and you’ve seen just how quickly new ideas can be adopted. - See more at: http://www.seanogle.com/entrepreneurship/when-i-retire#sthash.YXgiIB8z.bU7pUbrl.dpuf

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happy, Happy, Happy

Barbara Ehrenreich's - Bright-Sided: How The Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking has Undermined America
"In fact, there is no kind of problem or obstacle for which positive thinking or a positive attitude has not been proposed as a cure." ... "AT&T sent its San Francisco staff to a big-tent motivational event called "Success 1994" on the same day the company announced that it would lay off fifteen thousand workers in the coming two years.  As Time's Richard Reeves reported, the message of the featured speaker - the frenetic Christian motivator Zig Ziglar- was, "It's your own fault; don't blame the system; don't blame the boss- work harder and pray more."
Jackson Lears in the Nation - Get Happy!!: For Margaret Thatcher as for today’s happiness industry, there is no such thing as society.
"It doesn’t take a social scientist to see that a blizzard of how-to books on “positivity” suggests its lack in everyday life. Behind the facade of smiley-faced optimism, American culture seems awash in a pervasive sadness, or at least a restless longing for a sense of fulfillment that remains just out of reach."
"It's an ingenious business model, when you think about it: promise to help people think positive, then when your techniques fail, conclude that they weren't thinking positively enough--sending them back for more."
It's obviously your fault.  No money?  The lack of middle-class jobs aren't because of  the vanishing platforms that created them, or the 1% and their greed, the fact that you don't have a decent job is a sign of personal weakness.  Sick?  It isn't the chemicals, pesticides, corrupt medical and insurance industries - it's you, and your lousy attitude.

The other piece of this, which Ehrenreich goes into, is that your job loss, your sickness, etc. isn't just your fault, but since you find yourself in this position, you can't improve unless you embrace it.  You should consider your sickness as a gift, one you should learn from and use to improve yourself. Thus, it's not only not "our" fault you got sick, it's not "our" fault you aren't getting better.

Again, from Barbara Ehrenreich:
"Breast cancer, I can now report, did not make me prettier or stronger, more feminine or spiritual.  What it gave me, if you want to call this a "gift," was a very personal, agonizing encounter with an ideological force in American culture that I had not been aware of before- one that encourages us to deny reality, submit cheerfully to misfortune, and blame only ourselves for our fate."
 "An ideological force... that encourages us to deny reality..."  Brilliant.  And the challenge is this denial of reality, is becoming the essence of our normality (as I've continuously suggested on the blog).  As a culture we are becoming incapable of looking at the structures, and the destruction of capacities and platforms needed to address our serious challenges.  We blame ourselves, and we blame others who don't have the "right" attitude. I challenge us all to stand up to those who blame the victims.  Fight for programs that lift up, just laws, and living wage jobs.  And show compassion for those suffering... finally, again from Ehrenreich:
"The threats we face are real and can be vanquished only by shaking off self-absorption and taking action in the world.  Build up the levees, get food to the hungry, find the cure, strengthen the "first responders"! We will not succeed at all of these things, certainly not all at once, but- if I may end with my personal secret of happiness- we can have a good time trying."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What I'm reading, listening to, etc.

Some articles, quotes, podcasts, youtube clips that I've been reading/listening to of late - some I may have linked to in recent posts, other not.

Articles, Blog Posts, etc.:
I'm Wrong Most All of the Time -James Altucher
Escape from the Zombie Food Court - Joe Bageant
The startling amount that children can learn from play - Peter Gray
How to Democratize the US Economy - Gar Alperovitz @ The Nation
Anyone can learn to be a polymath – Robert Twigger – Aeon
(See also book, "Shop Craft as Soulcraft" - interesting to read together)

In most of our human relationships, we spend much of our time reassuring one another that our costumes of identity are on straight. ~ Ram Dass
“If I knew what the meanings of my books were, I wouldn’t have bothered to write them.” —Margaret Drabble 
Podcasts, Video's, etc.:
Dan Pink's "Office Hours" interviews with Diane Ravitch, Malcolm Gladwell, and Paul Tough
The Veil of Thoughts - Alan Watts
Lecture to IBM Engineers - Alan Watts
Do Schools Kill Creativity? - Sir Ken Robinson
TEDx MidAtlantic - John Forte
   

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"How the 1 percent always wins"

Good piece at Salon from David Sirota - "How the 1 percent always wins: Liberal washing is the right’s new favorite tactic"

 Liberal washing has always been around, of course. But it has really risen to prominence — and dominance — in modern times. Indeed, one of the most reliable political axioms of the last 30 years is this: If corporate America cooks up a scheme to rip off the middle class, Republicans will provide the bulk of the congressional votes for the scheme — but enough establishment-credentialed liberals inevitably will endorse the scheme to make it at least appear to be mainstream and bipartisan. Yes, it seems no matter how venal, underhanded or outright corrupt a heist may be, there always ends up being a group of icons with liberal billing ready to drive the getaway car...
Sure, it may seem counterintuitive that liberalwashing has come to prominence at the very moment American politics has become more partisan. But it is entirely predictable. With politics more than ever becoming a mind-deadening video game between two principle-free teams, the oligarchy is no longer betting on one of those teams. Instead, it is employing liberal washing to hack the whole red-versus-blue operating system.

As a political tactic, it makes perfect sense. Whether it is a company, a trade association, a front group or a lobbying firm that is pushing a particular policy, corporate America knows that it has a better chance of getting its way if it can portray its goals as an apolitical agenda with support from both sides of the ideological spectrum. Liberal washing is the key to that formula; it helps depict the radical as mainstream, the ideological as pragmatic and the old-fashioned heist as an act of bleeding-heart altruism.
Reminds me of a great piece by Joe Bageant, "Escape from the Zombie Food Court"
We suffer under a mass national hallucination. Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a "theater state." ...

You are as conditioned as any trained chicken in a carnival. So am I. When we go to the ATM machine and punch the buttons to make cash fall out, we are doing the same thing as the chickens that peck the colored buttons make corn drop from the feeder. You will not do a single thing today, tomorrow or the next day that you have not been generally indoctrinated and deeply conditioned to do -- mostly along class lines.
For instance, as university students, you are among the 20% or so of Americans indoctrinated and conditioned to be the administrating and operating class of the American Empire in some form or another. In the business of managing the other 75% in innumerable ways. Psychologists, teachers, lawyers, social workers, doctors, accountants, sociologists, mental health workers, clergy -- all are in the business of coordinating and managing the greater mass of working class citizenry by the Empire's approved methods, and toward the same end: Maximum profitability for a corporate based state. 

Yet it all seems so normal. Certainly the psychologists who have prescribed so much Prozac that it now shows up in the piss of penguins, saw what they did as necessary. And the doctors who enable the profitable blackmail practiced by the medical industries see it all as part of the most technologically advanced medical system in the world. And the teacher, who sees no problem with 20% of her fourth graders being on Ritalin, in the name of "appropriate behavior," is happy to have control of her classroom. None of these feel like dupes or pawns of a corporate state. It seems like just the way things are. Just modern American reality. Which is a corporate generated reality.
As Sirota suggests, it's all the more fascinating because they're doing this in an age of what is seemingly zero bipartisanship.  Brilliant on their part, and the result is "maximum profitability for a corporate based state."

Increasingly, our daily presentations (see Goffman's "The Presentation of Everyday Self") are dictated by our corporate puppet masters and at the end we'll be able to look back on our lives and relish nothing more than the corporate shows we watched, the money we made for corporations, and the corporate produced crap we bought to fill up our corporate financed homes.

 




Friday, November 1, 2013

On being wrong


The world should be more like the U.S., we've got "freedom", we've got "the american dream", we've got lots of guns and honey boo boo.  Many are convinced that our way is the only way to live... yet we chug down more vitamins, alcohol, and mind-altering (though often prescribed) drugs than ever before (not to mention waste hours watching honey boo boo). And this is the life you want for others?  Then many bitch and moan about our "socialist" President and long for the creation of a U.S. they believe once was, but their dream state is really a fantasy brought to them by propaganda from the likes of the Koch brothers.  And frankly this is why we have things like government shutdowns... so self-righteous, and manipulated, that we can't for a minute imagine a question  like Snoopy suggest in the cartoon above, "Has it every occurred to you that you may be wrong?"  No, for most they can't.  Politicians think it would be political suicide to say, "I don't know" or "I haven't thought about that before"... so, their costume is that of an all knowing, self-righteous, never wrong, never questioning, never in doubt person.  But, on serious issues we face if you talk with someone who has actually done the research and thought about that particular issue for any length of time what you will hear them say, "I'm not sure I understand this completely, but it appears the evidence suggest..." or something like that.

But, for most to face the reality that they just don't know... is more than they can handle.  

But, I would suggest, it's our only way moving forward. We must admit that we don't have a clue, that we're learning more everyday, but there is so much yet to learn... and we'll never get there.  That the founding fathers, well they may not have understood globalization, demographics, and technological changes when they were founding this country and perhaps, just perhaps, some things need to be tweaked.  

So we make up shit, entire worlds, fabricated versions of the truth usually based on what our mama's and daddy told us, and the fabricated tribes we aspire too, just to try and convince ourselves we've got some clue, that we're not out here flailing away like a fish out of water...

It my blog, so I can write this to the fictional "you", even though we haven't met.  You probably aren't that great, yet you are really damn sure of yourself.  Your past, if we were to look closely, is most likely not the one you romanticize but is one you made up based on the one you wished you had led   You've lied to yourself so convincingly, that now you believe you've "pulled yourself up by your bootstraps", when in fact you've either stood on the shoulders of giants or haven't got anywhere important yet.  More likely, you've either defined you own meaning of success or became convinced you would have succeeded if _________ (pick a group) hadn't held you back.  And don't get me started on the BS you're feeding your poor child.  The lies you've told yourself are turning them into a mini-me, and making them aspire to be your own middle management, occasionally lucid, pontificating self... it's not helping.  But, it's just not your kids life your interested in, it's the neighbor's and the neighbors kids. We all, in fact,  should be more like you apparently,  in most of life.  Religion, politics, foods we eat, activities were pursue, hobbies, you name it...  Your self-confidence has convinced you you're that damn good, that we should all aspire to be just like you.

The lefty's get blamed for their smugness and self-righteousness, but it's the tea party who epitomizes this attitude. Not many a tea partier has ever said, "wonder if I'm wrong about ole' Sarah Palin?"  They know they are right about her, about schools, about guns, about religion, and  it's never once occurred to them to wonder, "any chance I'm wrong."