Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Free Market & Family Values

I wonder if those people who loudly embrace both traditional "family values" and free-market capitalism give much thought to how capitalism actually mandates the family structure. For example, it apparently takes two people to work to own one home nowadays or to pay the rent, but companies haven't exactly gone out of their way to help families deal with growing issues like, how to care for your children and hold two full-time jobs down at once. Meanwhile, we work harder, longer hours.

The older I get the more I think blind faith in the tenets and strictures of capitalism impacts our daily lives in myriad debilitating ways. We've a fundamentalist's respect for capitalism in our society, which ignores its affect on family, workplace, politics, religion, and our sense of purpose. And, obviously, our fundamentalist's reverence for capitalism has a tremendous, deleterious affect upon our politics. As we're currently witnessing. We've a political party that would rather see us sail off the edge of a "fiscal cliff" rather than simply raise taxes on those who can most easily afford it. The so-called "job-makers." Those people who'd have no money if they're employees didn't design, develop and distribute their products on their behalf.

We've been brainwashed not to question the authority of the capitalist system. We should work harder, for less money (relatively), even as those in the upper echelons of the agencies, which employ us enjoy historically high incomes. That's not an exaggeration. CEO wages have increased 725%  since 1978. Everyone else's? 5.7%.

Furthermore, computers, email, teleconferencing, and many other digital tools allow us to crank out far more work, to be far more productive in a day than we've ever been able to do in the history of humanity (this sounds grandiose, but it's literally true). Although we supposedly have a 40-hour work week, many of us work far longer, and as salaried employees we get paid for a 40-hour work week but get little, generally nothing for exceeding that 40-hour work week again and again and again. But we seldom complain. We work on.

We apparently do it in the name of pursuing happiness. Yet, as this article points out, happiness actually peaks at a modest income level. “[Governments] that stick to GDP growth as their primary measure of national well-being will be forced to find increasingly inventive ways to explain their failure to very unhappy voters.” Still, we've learned to push and push and push, ever chasing the carrot, seldom remembering it's intentionally being tugged away, every time we're about to close in for the reward.

It's almost as if, to pull a well-worn example from popular culture, which nonetheless rings true, it's almost as if, we're working within The Matrix. A matrix, anyway. One where we've been conditioned to accept a reality that hardly corresponds with the fantasy we're sold by the most dogmatic free market advocates and by the extraordinarily successful and competitive world of commercialized industry. So we work and buy, buy and work. Day in and day out. Day in and day out. Day in and day out.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Recent Writing: How to Get Into IA

Recently I wrote a post for the Onward Search Blog, which detailed my thoughts on how to break into the field of information architecture. It's entitled Information Architecture: A Guerrilla Guide to Breaking In.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

R.I.P. Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012

"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small." - Neil Armstrong

Rest in Peace.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What Makes for a Nemesis?

Yesterday, Rachel Lovinger and I were discussing what the characteristics of a nemesis, partly inspired by an essay Rachel read by Chuck Klosterman entitled "The Importance of Being Hated." In other words, we wondered, how would someone qualify to be your nemesis? We came up with the following thoughts.

A nemesis:
  1. Should be someone who people might normally assume you'd be friends with because of what you have in common
  2. Should be someone you have respect, or at least grudging respect for, due to your respective strengths, weaknesses, and interests (nemeses may likely operate within the same field
  3. Was a childhood or long-time friend, but you and your nemesis eventually had a parting of ways
  4. Cannot just be an arch enemy. Wile E. Coyote is not the nemesis of Road Runner. They are simply mortal enemies
  5. Is like the other side of a coin, making nemeses inseparable, perhaps meaning that someone could only ever have a single nemesis. (However, are numbers 5 and 6 below an exception? Or is Jay Leno simply evil enough to be a nemesis to two individuals?)
Who would qualify then as famous nemeses?

Arguably the following:
  1. Sherlock Holmes and Moriaty
  2. Superman and the Lex Luthor
  3. Professor X and Magneto
  4. Seinfeld and Newman
  5. Stalin and Trotsky
  6. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs
  7. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson
  8. Conan O'Brien and Jay Leno
  9. David Letterman and Jay Leno
In his essay, Klosterman argues that The Joker is Batman's nemesis, but I'm not buying it. I don't see the Batman as admiring the Joker, who simply thrived on chaos and insanity. See Klosterman's essay, however, for more characteristics of what makes for a nemesis and for how to distinguish between a nemesis and an arch enemy. It's quite entertaining.

Who do you think also qualifies?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You Don't Own Your Tweets?

This may prove an important case: Staten Island Judge Sciarrino Jr. has just ruled that an Occupy Wall Street protester can’t complain that the police searched his tweets, not only because they’re public (fair enough) but also because he doesn’t own them. It'll be interesting to see what if anything Twitter says about this ruling. Twitter has previously warned folks when the authorities were reviewing their tweets.

The fact(?) that you don’t own your tweets though, if true, would seem to have potential ramifications for anyone wanting to repurpose their tweets or monetize them. By the judge's logic, do all photographers who upload their photos to Flickr lose ownership of them? After all, this is his flippant regard for the idea that anyone's data has a "home"on the Internet:
As a user, we may think that storage space to be like a “virtual home,” and with that strong privacy protection similar to our physical homes. However, that “home” is a block of ones and zeroes stored somewhere on someone’s computer. As a consequence, some of our most private information is sent to third parties and held far away on remote network servers.

Now, Twitter may not care what you do with your own tweets. Still, this doesn’t seem like a helpful precedent. Does it mean that anyone could publish a collection of someone else's tweets, for example? That might be good news for some people, I suppose.

Also, an interesting side note: Judge Sciarrino was disciplined in 2009 for attempting to friend on Facebook lawyers who were scheduled to appear before him.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Flex Is Kings

So many great projects to support on Kickstarter. The site's really creating a renaissance for artists who've had no outlet before. Count Flex Is Kings as another great one in the making, certainly worthy of your support.

Twitter | Facebook

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Recent Professional Writing

Something I've been meaning to do for a while. Here's a listing of my recent professional writing.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This Is Not A Film

Just saw the excellent guerrilla documentary This Is Not a Film by and about the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. Panahi is under house arrest and was when he made this film. He was told he could direct or script films, so he made this documentary in his apartment in a single day and had it smuggled out of Iran on a USB drive in a cake. He's currently under threat of 6 years in prison, plus an additional 20 years in which he's not supposed to make films. Which makes this documentary quite a brilliant middle finger leveled at the Iranian government. A must-see for fans of film-making, Iranian film, Iranian culture, protest and anyone who decries censorship.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Updated: I Was a Twenty Something Gay Basher

Several years ago, I wrote a post here entitled I Was a Twenty Something Gay Basher, which quickly laid out my thoughts on gay rights and my own evolution from a pretty homophobic youth into a vocal gay rights advocate. Recently, I was given the opportunity to develop that theme at length and the results can be read over on the LGBT-BJU blog. Yes, that's a site for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Transgender alumni of Bob Jones University. Here's my much-expanded piece, which I hope will be a source of encouragement to LGBT people struggling within and coming out of fundamentalism. An excerpt:
I don’t remember how the subject of homosexuality even came up, but one Sunday morning on the way to breakfast at the Bob Jones University dining common, I told one of my friends that “gays ought to be lined up and shot.”

“Oh, you mean people like my brother?” my friend replied. I literally stopped in my tracks. I don’t remember how I responded, but I do remember I instantly understood I was in the wrong. Those two sentences between friends proved a catalyst to me. The frankness of my friend’s response to my words shocked me into realizing how I sounded. I knew his brother, knew he was likely gay and still I had made this incredibly callous comment. Nonetheless, my friend’s frank yet polite response had an extraordinary impact: It coupled my vulgar generalization to the specific humanity of one single person. Someone I knew. Someone I most certainly wouldn’t want to see “lined up and shot.” That remark made me instantly aware of an inconsistency in my thinking. So I began to think further and having begun to think, I couldn’t turn back.

I’m horrified that I ever spoke those words. I was 20 years old at the time. So why admit to them now? To underline the fact that at one time I was very anti-gay, so anti-gay that I would’ve have thought the very word “homophobic” nothing more than politically correct propaganda. Part of the “gay agenda.”

Sadly, my words wouldn’t have been terribly out of place at Bob Jones University. If many people there may not have used the same words, many also would not have disagreed entirely with the sentiment. To this day, my alma mater stands by its belief that homosexuality is an “unnatural affection,” an “abomination,” a “sinful lifestyle choice.” I’ve moved on, changed my opinions on this issue. The school has not. So it’s somewhat ironic that as a freshman student at BJU, I began a journey of the mind, which lead me away from such deeply-ingrained homophobia.