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I cannot think of a more funny way to end this year, than to look back at three different hilarious moments from the past..

Like the Vegan, Free Range Chicken Soup Dinner; or the crushing of the Holiday balloon floats;

And my favorite, Merry Chan-i-Kwanz-mas and a Happy Enlightenment Day

To you and yours, Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
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I have enjoyed re-reading in-depth Nassim Nicholas Talib's book "Anti-fragility: Things that gain from Disorder" now that I have the enjoyable opportunity to analyze books for my own pleasure. I quoted this book often in my research papers on what one should or should not do with regards to technologies and risk. It was a delicious twist of the proverbial knife into the dull recitation of Harvard, Wharton, or Stanford based sources against the practicality of how business operates in real time conditions. There was also a sense of two ironic factors whenever I quoted Talib's books:

-The first thing I find ironic, is the fact Dr. Talib is a Wharton (MBA) and University of Paris (MS & Ph.D) graduate; a man from a privileged family whose occupational goals was to be a Philosopher. Distinguished lecturer, successful trader, influential writer.
Someone whom I would have easily discarded as full of themselves and a dilatant.

-And yet, the most ironic, is Dr. Talib has constructed singular messages that bare a semblance of reason because it is simple. One of the messages, particularly regarding his fellow researchers and academic researchers in particular is more modeling and construct of theories than actual "tinkering"; that is doing and not making models.

This is why I appreciate Dr. Talib's work. He saw in the real world all the constructs did not apply, but real tinkering and doing was more effective, and tangible to fully appreciate risk operation by investment in their application, or to "have skin in the game".

Think about this for a moment: You do, you fail, you succeed, then you write about it; or you see others failing, you learn from those fail around you, and you capitalize. This is how business should operate because you have real capital invested in the outcome - i.e. skin in the game. You don't seek the constructs to frame how to fail, you can do this easily without the extensive research. But that seems to be a devastating issue, only theory and not real doing. For example, Harvard Business School, flatly, boasts that it instills in its' graduates a theory based background. Not a practical background, but only theory.

Even my own alma mater Walden, describes their graduates as "Scholar Practitioners", which I now find lacking. We are exhausted theories with some application to real world situations. But should this be the opposite, Practitioners whom then become Scholars.

Albeit late in the game, it has changed my perspective doing.

And that is truly ironic.
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In Jon Acuff's book, "Start: Punch Fear in the Face; escape average; do work that matters", he speaks of an event when you are learning new skills, you encounter the "not yet but I'm about to" moment.
That moment you have not done a task or skill formerly or even attempted, but are ready (by willingness or thrusted into the moment). For example, you have been assigned to take administrator and chief writer of a blog for 10K readers; you might reply, "I have not yet but I'm about to".

I had that moment last Saturday. And, what I don't think Mr. Acuff anticipated, was my actions were scrutinized and reviewed for the world to see - yes, indeed, I would make the web. At stake was over $2million in investments, branding, and sweat over what I would say.
That moment of "not yet but I'm about to" came in the form of giving a wine tasting and winery tour to four reviewers of wines and wineries.

Had anyone asked me, "Have you given a wine tasting and tour of how the wine was produced?" I am not sure I would have said willingly, "Not yet, but I'm about to"; however, I was thrusted into the moment.

By my own actions.

And I must say, it was the most thrilling and uneasy moment of my life.

Now, I'm not totally averse to changes. As a storyteller, musician, and MC, your job is often to adjust to changes rapidly to suit your audience. But this requires you to have mastery of your craft or knowledge of the subjects before you take the stage. In the "I have not yet but I'm about to" philosophy, you often learn rapidly to adjust to the moment.
It also requires something often forgotten in honing your craft, being yourself and being candid.

And it all started with driving to my favorite winery to purchase for my wife a bottle of grape juice and a bottle of wine for me. And before it was my favorite winery, it was a place I enjoyed visiting with people, chatting with the owners, learning as much about the plants - process - and techniques.
I have two ears, eyes, and two hemispheres of my brain to double my learning. Used them to absorb all the information like a sponge. Put them in context and speak of them in my own words; for right or wrong, but always ready to learn.

This day was different. The owners were out of town, and two of my friends, Anita and Eric were helping out. Eric is an Engineer and advanced hobbyist in viticulture. Anita is a Kindergarten Teacher with the gift of gab. Together, they were serving over 15 people in the tasting room with group of 30 visitors arriving in the hour. I finally asked, was there anything I could help with?
You bet!
I was immediately sent to cutting cheese and crackers, washing glasses, and serving a nice couple from Colorado who just wandered by.
Suddenly, I found I was not only pouring their wine to this nice Colorado couple, but explaining all that I knew about the grapes, the winery, the machinery. The couple enjoyed the explanation and tour of the vineyard, and I enjoyed the fresh breath of air and letting them ask all the questions and experience the same understanding I had come to learn.

This had taken three hours. Time flew. More importantly, I felt a little confident in my answers and my presentation. This was the exhilarating part!

That is, until 10 minutes before closing. Then reviewers came in; this was the uneasy part!

I had no time to fret or worry. For if I had the time to worry, I would have ran for the door and didn't stop until I reached Kansas. I had never given a professional tasting before professional reviewers. I am not a vintner nor a sommelier. Eric and Anita were the experts, I am a rank amature. But Eric and Anita were busy with the now 40 guests with Anita stopping by to visit. This was the moment of "I have not yet but I'm about to" only what I was about to do would make the web for anyone to read.

All I had were my eyes, ears, and two-part brain.

At my disposal, I had five wine lists and all the bottles were at my finger times and calmly stepped behind the tasting tables; one list was for me to keep score of what each of the reviewers like and why, and to keep me from repeating. And the rest for the reviewers to mark and discuss. It also gave me time to remember each lesson I had learned about wine; from how it's grown to how it's produced, to how each one tasted.

No, I had never, ever, given a professional wine tasting, but I was about to.

The reviewers were funny, tough, had lots of questions.
I had equal amounts for them.
I let the savior the wines then asked them for their reflections.

Then I showed them the vineyard and in particular, my vine which I leased. Perhaps it was the pride I showed in the grapes and the work, perhaps it was the storyteller weaving yarns about the winery with the hard work. Perhaps it was being an MC which taught me to think with confidence on my feet, or perhaps its being a musician to change keys in the middle of a song to change techniques in my presentation.

Whatever the skill was, I had done this review. For better or worse, I had done it. And the reviewers seemed to have had a good time.

After the reviewers left, and I purchased my own bottles, I was alone with my thoughts and my own reflections.

I still had a nagging feeling it was not enough. Or worse, I gave such a horrible presentation that it would reflect the winery. $2million were invested by the owners in the land, equipment, and the brand. Not mine money, but someone who sweats in the 100+F(36+C) temperatures, tweaks and crafts the wine, and hand-bottles each wine themselves.

Their reputation was on the line. That was my fear.

So for this past week, I have fretted and checked the reviewers' website for their impressions.

Finally, today, the review came out.

I read the review.
Twice.
Had my wife read the review.
And read it again, just to mentally pinch myself.

Found all my fears were, although at the time reasonable, not factual.
Come to discover the reviewers were impressed that someone like me, just a customer and civilian, would step up and deliver. And they like the white wines the best. Must say, it was a nice review (not to mention the winery does have amazing white wines).

So I have had my first "not yet but I'm about to" moment; I have no doubt I will have many more. But, it is warm to feel I have acquitted myself well.

And for this first test, it is something to build upon....one glass at a time.
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Was reading an amusing and somewhat disterubing article from the Ecnomist on both the glut of US Ph.D's and, in some instances, the dumbing down of the research to be confirmed a Ph.D.; and the aritcle suggests, broadly, this may be an entry level posistion with little to no tangleble benifit.

Strange, Dr. Lawrance J. Peter suggested this event happening in 1966. Originally possed by the press and the publishers as humor. I would sumize the joke is on us.
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It is time again, to endure the vestments, symbols, and rituals of Holy Week, that is Christians descendant from the traditions of the Church of Rome celebration of the death and resurrection of Jeshuwah of Nazareth, and for Jews, Observant and non, remembering the plagues, angel of death, and exodus from Egypt.

Yes, Easter (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday/Monday) and Pescah (Passover) fall concurrent this year – Oh, Boy and Oy, Vey!

I know I have a wide and diverse group of readers, from Atheists to Roman Catholics to Orthodox Russians to non-observant Jews to Pagans (Wicca and Azure True), so Holy Week has a wide and curious meaning to you all – unfortunately, the Pagans must wait a month for their celebrations. And if you are reading this, you have sophisticated technical understanding and wide social media foot print (LJ, Twitter, FB, VK, G+).

But to even this good high church Methodist-Episcopal turned Anglican, I am finding this year even more curious. When I used the word, “endure”, I am not being ir-reverent about the celebrations; I am stating a rather curious fact.

Tonight, we will join in celebration of the Seder with friends; and come Sunday morning before sunrise, we will sit with our Anglican brethren and sisters awaiting the banners, proclamation of the resurrection, and singing the old hymns, there will be one continuous theme – enduring yet another boring service.

It is slightly sad to hear the reading from the youngest child, now 14, of “Father, **why** do we celebrate this night” in a very bored tone, and to almost hear the Father say – because we have to, again – and I HATE Morotz! Or sit with well-dressed congregants before breakfast and coffee, surrounded by regulars and non-practicing Anglicans exuding false modesty and business-like good humor, all the whilst tired old songs song by tired people with children hosting banners archaic and tired AND bored looks on their faces.

It should not be this way. Yet, it is.

I thought, I could be at home in my robe and slippers and get as much meaning as I will at these moments. We could just tweet it.

Then I remembered – that what exactly happened last year. The Pesach was tweeted!

It was an ingenious idea by a couple of Rabbis to have Mosada (Moses) and the entire Seder tweeted. That is in 140 characters extract the exact essence of the Seder – what is the real meaning, “Dayenu"! People want u dead / enslaved evry day! UR Free! God saved U. Nvr 4get .ever!” (55 Characters)

It was great! I learned a lot.

And I got to thinking, why can’t same tweet-theory be applied to the Easter celebration?!?

Think about this for a moment – cutting through the symbols to the meaning, even if you do not agree with the particular dogma or doctrine, you can get the message.

Would that be enough? Dayenu?

And no snickering from the Pagans, this could be easily applied to Beltane or Samhane too – graphic but applicable.

In my imagination, I can envision this:

A tweet – HE’S Risen #Eastercelebration.
Replies – #HIRID (He is Risen Indeed!) [or Boyah! or WORD! YES!! ect.] #Eastercelebration

A tweet – links to reading from the old testament of the bible. And this is the neat part, multiple versions: The King James, the New Revised Standard, The Russian Synod of 1986 version, ect. But you get the drift, the version that has meaning and impact for you!
End with #HEtL (Here, ends the lesson) or #WoDL (the World of the Lord) #Eastercelebration

Replies - #TB2G (Thanks be to God) [or Boyah! or WORD! YES!! ect.] #Eastercelebration

Same applies to the New Testament reading and the Gospel readings.

Standard and esoteric stuff, right?
Ok, what if you ask why? Or does this have meaning today?

Here’s where you can explore what the meaning of those readings is today.
Open and free.
No restrictions.
You could have lively and thought provoking discourse.

Now, skip a head to the homily or sermon.
Here – the minister is limited to three (3) tweets, 140 characters each. No links.

Can they actually distill the message for their congregations in that short, concise message?

Then, post the exact three (3) tweets on FB, VK, G+.
Open discussion. That would be very provoking wouldn’t it?

And that would be Dayenu! #TB2G #Eastercelebration
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The other evening, I was enjoying a cup of new varietal espresso in a café, served by a voluptuous and charming Barista named Andi. She was tastefully adored with body art on her shoulders and possessed a creative skill and flair for operating the complex machines that produces espresso and cappuccinos. We began to chat, as customer and Baristas do about the coffee, the weather, and about life, when in the course of the conversation Andi revealed to me her University Major - Fine Art.

I had to take a sip of my coffee to hid the chagrin on my face because the though which crossed my mind was “how ironic and stereo-typical to have an Art Major as a Barista”.

After I was done and walking back to my office, thinking of Andi’s beautiful shoulder tattoos, and her shoulders in general, I began to think - When did the profession of Barista become a joke? The dumping grounds for college graduates with no practical skills?

I’ve met a few grads who successfully translated their perceived lack of marketable degree into the upstanding profession of Barista, as its’ done in Italy, but those graduates were few and far between.

So following this line of thought to its conclusion, the question becomes, “has it always been this way in America?”

The answer, “so it would seem.”

see the rest under here )
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I have two thoughts regarding Public Libraries:

-First, that Public Libraries are, without a doubt, the last hope for learning a community can provide its’ citizens.

-That being said, secondly, that Public Libraries are also the last place where reasonable budgeting and understanding of commonality exists.

You might thing this two thoughts are incongruent, but I make the argument that, citing the example from our locale, it is not beyond measure the two thoughts exist.

To help understand, I suggest reading a wonderful article from Gregg Lambert at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog about the Catch 22 of Library funding. I would read this first before going any further.

read the embedded story then press here )
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Sometimes, it can be a challenge to summarize an entire year's joys and sorrows in a single essay. It has been, to be blunt, a hell of a year.

And from what I've read over the past year in other journals, a year of changes and challenges. A few triumphs over high goals meet that would make even Hercules think it's too tough.

Last night, I found the perfect wish that sums up all the changes and challenges of the past year, and the hope for the new year. An old Scottish Song.

So, raise you glass.

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There is an ironic dichotomy during the month of December, something I have found perverse in its humor: The traditional, non-specific, greeting cards and gifts.

As long as I can remember, budgets are specifically formulated to send greeting cards for most clients (customers, partners, vendors, or whatever you wish to call them) and specific gifts of food, wine, or charity for special clients-customers-whatever.

Generally these are sent out of affection for the relationship (“you are such a wonderful client, give us more of your money!”) or with the intent of strengthening the relationship (“we’ve missed your money this year, here’s an overpriced gift so you can pay us back” ).

Most of the time within a firm, the food and wine are passed along to others and the cards are displayed until Christmas Eve then tossed into the Trash. This to me seems to be a terrible waste of money and resources used elsewhere – yet, yearly this open-the-waste-bin-and-toss-it-in-the-CASH, is as much a part of December festivities as is tacky sweaters and light-up Christmas neckties.

With either affection or strengthening gifts or cards these can backfire and become insulting because of the gift– such as:
*
- You sent us an overpriced gift that we only give to our janitor; no wonder we are paying you so much!
*
- Or, you sent a ham to a Jewish client?!
*
- Or, we donated an animal to a small African town in your honor – oh, the CEO is a Vegan!
*
- And my favorite, you’ve insulted the client by either your lack of emphasis on a holiday or because you focused on Christmas instead of Kwanza or Chanukah; or to simply annoy the Atheists.
To use the English phrase, you are “Damned if you do, and Damned if you don’t”

This is perhaps the greatest irony of Christmas-Chanukah-Enlightenment Day, someone is going to get there nose out of join here in the great US of A! Which is why all cards and gifts are “Generic” – just holiday cards. So what do you say?

Merry Chan-i-Kwanz-mas and a Happy Enlightenment Day?!

Or go with simply, “Happy and Prosperous New Year”; which is mostly the reason for the gifts and food, to become more prosperous by sending preposterous cards and gifts to clients whom will send money to you.

Ironic, no?
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There is a dichotomy each November and December, between how half the world celebrates holidays that are sacred to all sects of Christianity, Jews, and secularists; that is to either feast wildly before the 25th of December or with sobriety fast until the New Year and / or the 6th of January.

We in the “west”, that is to say for those whose tradition’s stems in Europe from the influence of the Catholic Church, is a time of excess of food, sweets, and drink of all kinds and varieties. A time of wild feasting and parties for days and often before December 25; and a time to give lots of foods to the needy for one day for our benefit to feel a sense of charity.
We are taught that Santa Claus (Père Noel, Father Christmas, or Saint Nicholas – with or without his helpers like Schwarzer Peter or Zwart Petrus) visits every child on the whole world in one night. And so we shower gifts on people, from loved ones to those we tolerate; and generally in excess leading on to that one day.
Even the Jews are not immune to this phenomenon, particularly in America since the counsel of Rabbi’s in 1896 decided that Chanukah should deserve as equal celebratorial footing as Christmas. And so, the menorah is lit for 8 days with prayer and reflection; seven days of small gifts, family celebrations, and gatherings at the synagogue with one day of great gifts!
Lastly, one may think of secularists not wishing any celebrations considering them philosophically and financially incongruent. Yet I hear and read of gatherings on the 25 of December for secularists to celebrate the human mind – with feasting and gift giving.

In contrast of those in the “east”, that is to say for those whose tradition’s stems in Europe from the influence of the Orthodox Church, it is quite the opposed. Yes, Father Frost with his relatives (like the snow-girl, his grand-daughter) takes a slower circuitous route to visit children, but until this time there is no feasting; only fasting. No wild drinks, but water, tea, or coffee. It is a time of reflection and of gratitude for what a person possess in their lives. Some have argued that this tradition was caused by 70 years of communist rule; and some believe that this was the way for a thousand years before and will be for a thousand years in the future.
But, when Father Frost does arrive – in Bosnia, Russia, Slovenia, Ukraine, ect. – on New Year’s eve, it is more precious; the ending of the old and the beginning of the new with strength of spirit in joyous celebration. Then on to Armenia, Greece, Turkey, ect. – on the 6th of January with the same spirit and celebrations.
To the Jews of the east, it is a minor celebration with some interesting food and small gifts.

As I enter this time of feast or fast, I am filled with questions. They are not as to why both traditions exist, but why such extremes in both? And more over, what can we learn from both “western” and “eastern” traditions? Neither answer seems forthcoming.

Therefore I shall have my Turkish coffee and biscotti, which was a gift, and contemplate more.

Slighted

Sep. 25th, 2012 11:11 am
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Since 1998, the Good Friday Accord for Northern Ireland has held up remarkably well. I have heard from both official and unofficial sources that the wires are down, prosperity is up, and that the rule of law and justice is progressing; that the old slights have no longer the justification for either Orangemen or Croppy, Englishmen or Irishman, to wage protracted retribution.

Yet, you will have the occasional idiots for whom justice and peace is not a world they wish to participate; particularly those with long standing grudges and slights whom simply cannot let go! This is true in both the 6 counties, and the 50 states.

The later, the 50 UNITED STATES, is one that has particularly irritant in my view; the one which has by far the lest vested interest in a peaceful and just Ireland. That is to say, especially those Irish-Americans for whom a generation or two have lived within the peace and justice of America, far away from the wire and the Falls Road.

Case in point: The Ancient Order of Hibernia, or AOH.

This fraternal pro-catholic and pro-republic order was formed in the United States in the late 19th century for the sheer purpose of sponsoring groups in Ireland for home rule with any means necessary; some quite shadowy in the means department for a few years. Membership is very exclusive, authoritative genealogy of Irish ancestry and a letter from a Catholic Priest annotating membership in the church is a must for joining.

Quite the opposite of our local Irish Club; memberships is open to all whom are interesting the promoting and maintaining Irish culture; Irish or not. We have no interest in discussing “The Troubles”; and we are not a pro-religion group – Catholic, Anglican, Baptists, and Atheists all share interesting views on life and culture; which is the point of the Irish Club.

A point which the President Emeritus of the Irish Club made very publicly and very directly to our friends at the AOH local chapter. Which I believe was not taken well by our AOH friends, perhaps they felt slighted.

I had not realized how slighted the AOH felt until today.
The Catholic Cathedral in Tulsa today hosted an Irish Festival. How does this relate to being slighted?

About three weeks ago, I was surprised and excited by the announcement in the local newspaper that someone was giving a go at an Irish Festival! So I contacted the Cathedral by email for information and mentioned that some of the local Irish Club members were also interested.

I got an immediate reply from the Cathedral: The reply was, sorry the festival was cancelled, scheduling conflict you see. A bit disheartening, but things do happen.

Then yesterday, I read again in the newspaper that the Irish Festival was scheduled for today. I thought to myself, "this must be a typo on some ones part; hasn't the Cathedral contacted the paper to tell them the festival was canceled?"

Today, Westpig read on Facebook an announcement that the Irish Festival at the Cathedral was a success with many people attending and everyone had a good time.

Wait...how can this happen?!
I emailed the Cathedral, I got a written reply saying the festival was cancelled.

Then Westpig read further the Facebook announcement and found much to our surprise....the festival was sponsored by.....The Ancient Order of Hibernia. She tried to direct contact the AOH to ask some questions.

So far, the silence speaks volumes of information: As if to say, we do not believe you are Irish enough to celebrate with us at the Cathedral, susnoch! We did not take your slight lightly.

I would like to think this was a mistake on someone’s part; however, I too felt....well, a bit slighted.

But just like the Good Friday Accord, the old slights were slowly going away; but took the courage of old adversaries to make peace.

So it was a bit of a surprise to me when both the Monsignor of the Cathedral and the new President of the local AOH reached out after the festival to the President Emeritus of the local Irish Club. A sort of Reverend Ian Paisley shaking Gary Adams' hands moment.

The old lads of the AOH, the one's whom would sing "The Men behind Wire" were gone, displaced and scattered. They are replaced with a group whom want to celebrate both Ireland's past and future in fraternal order. And the Monsignor served in Ireland before taking his current post, and publicly acknowledged there was a complete error in the message sent to me.

In fact, both groups reached out to ask if the Irish Club would help for next year.

So, the old slights are fading. Perhaps there may be peace in Ireland and on the Prairie.

Leadership

Aug. 31st, 2012 01:48 pm
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Have you ever wondered why there is such discontentment in employment? Even today when employment rates globally are at historic high levels, there are employees whom dream of nothing but walking out on their employment situation and bid their tyrannical overload superior a short and acetic adu. Here is a rather funny but quite sad example.

A colleague of mine at the Law Firm of Armand Legg(*) regaled me with a story about how she was appointed by her section to be on the United Way Committee and what happened during the “kick off” meeting; which is the initial planning meeting for the fundraising events.

For those of you who don’t know A) what the United Way is; and B) Why it’s not a good thing; let me explain. First, the United Way is an umbrella organization which raises monies for community based social services. Laudable and noble in its’ efforts. But, those whom are assigned to be on the United Way Committee usually must entice and cajole their colleagues into giving money or organizing events which will produce organizational giving. Normally not a post of honor – like a used car salesperson to an unsuspecting customer.

But, I digress.

My colleague began her tale with the normal chaos associated with a luncheon meeting, finding the line, selecting a plate, serving your selections. No one really wanted to be there, and the lunch provided was really a Pro Forma to foster a sense of camaraderie before the drudgery began.
Then she said something odd and amazing, she said that Attorneys and Secretaries began re-arraigning the chafing dishes, the office administrator instead of directing the staff person who set up the room to bring more tables and chairs, began without a word to change the set up. And the staff person whom was in charge of setting up was left standing bewilderment.

This struck me as odd; I thought, why would you do this during the luncheon? Why not ask the staff person to change if something was not working or had planned in advance to change on the fly?
If this were the only indicator of something not quite right, it would be enough for any business consultant to zero in on the mechanics of leadership and what was missing from the equation.

But it was not.

What happened next was the truest indicator of something rather wrong with the structure under the veneer of paneling. She said, many of the secretaries and staff members began voicing discontent over a proposed change in the buy-in where you can purchase for a monthly donation the opportunity to wear casual clothing on Friday. A lot of resentment poured into the room from this discussion; such as why did the Attorneys win all the raffles and never the staff; why the bidding during the auction, the largest fundraising event during the United Way compaign, traditionally exceeded most staff members budges within the first 15 seconds of bidding? And most galling for the staff was why during the United Way campaign only fraction of the Attorneys participated and nearly all of the staff contributed the work?



These were only the tip of what was disclosed by my friend’s story; there was much more.
But I think you can see the point - that there are some management employer relation issues boiling over. Anyone who has serviced under Arms understands what was wrong; anyone who has worked for a Sigma 6 company knows; or anyone who has worked for a fantastic core-competency company knows what was wrong. And before my conservative friends can make the argument that the Attorneys generate all the revenue, are entitled to the perks, and therefore should make the rules; let me say this, what are the rules the Attorneys are making and are those rules and expectations clearly expressed in writing and in action to the staff? If those rules and expectations exist, why were they not clearly communicated in coaching and in action? And lastly, why did they interfere instead of letting the staff DO THEIR JOB?

Employees want to be lead; want to know where their leaders are taking them; desire to know what exactly their jobs are and what is needed to do the job; and want to perform the job with the leeway to make corrections if something does not work.

It does not happen overnight, and it does not happen without all of management agreeing on a common shared goal. It takes time and long-term commitments.

For example, written job duties and do they clearly note what is going to happen without any vague language. In those duties, clearly write out what is expected from the staff to encourage optimal performance, and what intrinsic rewards can the staff expect (such as public recognition of their efforts, or a thank you note or card, or just someone saying, “You did a great job”).
Using the luncheon as an example, what were the exact duties for setting up a luncheon and did they have a clear understanding of what could happen if more people showed up (or should they be permitted to show up if the rules were not clearly noted to reply by such a time or don’t come by). From my colleague’s story, it appears none of these questions were asked or written out before the luncheon.

Another point here was why wasn’t the staff people asked to make changes? By doing the re-arranging themselves, they clearly communicated to staff that their actions were not welcomed, wanted, appreciated, or they had the skill to correct the situation. Simple ask bring in more chairs, tables, and serving ware to accommodate the additional people. And if the chafing dishes were not accessible, ask the staff to make the change; that’s what the staff is there for, to ensure the event was correct. In short, HANDS OFF; use your words. Another way to have handled this situation was to advise in advance that some changes may be required at the last minute and they should have the leeway to make changes and corrections as needed; in short, if they see more people than was arranged, let them make the decision to add more and back their decisions with encourage for taking initiative.

Now, not every Law firm will adhere to the principals of leadership. Some will continue to manage as does Armand Legg. But, some will take the lead in the 21st century and focus on more leadership – definition, expectations, and initiative. And those will be the firms to watch out for.
In the meantime, I gave my colleague the name of a great head-hunter.

* = Armand Legg is not a real firm.
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(This paper was originally published by Walden University, 2012, under the title "Bio-genetic Innovation in food production – Benefits and Un-intended Consequences"; ID- 254037869. All duplication rights reserved)

Abstract:
Although Genetic Engineering on Food Production is an ancient practice, production of plant and animal food for consumption has increase in disruptive innovations in the past 92 years. This paper briefly looks at genetic bioengineering of Corn, Wheat, Soy, and Animal proteins to increase yield, disruptive innovation non-food based derivatives from innovation and reduce disease. This paper also looks at the unintended consequences human allergies and sensitivities as a result of the innovations, and how business using both Ettlie’s and di Norica’s models can reduce or eliminate harm of these innovations. The Author notes that further research is required.

The field of bio-genetic engineering is not new scientifically or from a business prospective; in fact innovations from both fields of study have produced disruptive and compatible innovations since 50,000 B.C. (Faerber, et. al., 2005). Jones would further defend the point by stating, “Genes change every day by natural mutation and recombination; humans have been exploiting this for centuries” (1999). What has caused marked, and disruptive, innovations is within the last 92 years is due to the advent of two global wars that strained production and ability to produce food for consumption (Connell, 1942; Dubner, 2012); converse decrease availability of arid land; and innovations in the production of foods from plants and animals become essential in a highly competitive market (Ettlie, 1983; Nordin, 2010). The vast hosts of bio-genetic engineering innovations are too broad to be reviewed in depth. Therefore, this paper shall briefly review three topics bioengineering that are both positive disruptive innovations (White and Bruton, 2008) with detrimental unintended as a results of the innovations (Taylor and Hefle, 2001; O’Brien, 2011; Merton, 1936; Jones, 1999). They are the innovations of plant genetics of corn (also known as maize), soy bean, and wheat; disruptive innovations as a result of genetic modifications of corn, soy bean, and wheat; bioengineering innovations in sequencing of proteins in livestock production to resist disease and increase valuable products. And lastly, this paper will annotate one detrimental result within the food production value chain, which is an increase of systemic allergic reactions in humans as a result of the above mentioned innovations. At this time, the Author offers a prospective for business leadership, particular to the study of management of technology and innovation within the strategy phase, how to minimize or eliminate these un-intended consequences (White and Bruton, 2008; Merton, 1936). At the same time, the Author acknowledges that the subject requires more extensive research and literature which can be conveyed or annotated within this paper. To start, an examination of the events which lead to both the emergence of genetic alteration to particular foods and the systemic reaction is vital to put this topic into prospective.

As Dubner notes, in the United States between 1914 and 1950 production food became a serious study for both business and government (2012); even though food production was a chief factor in the early study of economics, the sheer volume of production now required in shorter periods of time became the factor for business to devise disruptive and compatible innovations. The reason was twofold: First, two global conflicts which required large amounts of food for troops and civilians exported in addition to internal consumption. In fact, it was Wickard who quipped, “Before this thing is over, (the United States) will have to feed other countries besides ourselves” (1942). Connell was more blunt, “The American Farmer must feed himself and 54 other (persons)” (1974). Second, the United States decision to reduce imported foods products, and labor required to process and harvest food products, due to tariff and legislation caused abnoral strains on food production (Dubner, 2012; Wickard, 1942). The normal techniques of plowing and sowing more crops or reproducing more livestock was a natural reaction, however, as Merton noted, both had direct and un-intended consequences (1936). Those consequences were the dust bowl during the 1930’s (Wickard, 1942) and increase diseases in livestock; with a glut of beef and pork production resulting inflated prices (Connell, 1974). Again, another standard method and technique to reduce harm was for the US government setting controls on pricing marketing (Wickard, 1942) which did not affect the prices nor spur innovation effectively (Shapira and Rosenfeld ,1996); in fact, it had the opposite affect a two year reserve in beef and pork meats at inflated costs (Connell, 1974).

However in 1950, science and business in the United States began reviewing production of food both as a means of sustaining the growing domestic population, and as “a political weapon” to prevent detriments of loss of arid land for crops or disease to livestock in order to produce food for future war-time consumption as a measure of national defense (Nordin, 2010; Connell, 1974). It also should be noted this decision was also based the broad migration from urban areas into rural areas and increase of diseases in plants and moving into non-fertile areas with the goal of successful production (Dubner, 2012). This required a “Radicalism of modern food, production, protection, and processes (by) producing more high quality of Animal protein (and) increase farm output by 53%” (Connell, 1974). After 1950, famers increase effective production (Connell, 1974) by reducing the diversity of crops down to three aired crops (maize, wheat, and soy) and diversified the breads of livestock into newer stock for greater outputs of meats or derivatives such as eggs or milk (O’Brien, 2011; Dubner, 2012). This was due to disruptive innovations in genetic bio-engineering of corn, wheat, and the introduction of soy from Asia (O’Brien, 2011; Jones, 1999; Dubner, 2012). Which leads to the first innovation, altering genetic structures through bioengineering.

The genetic bio-engineering had three principal goals: increase the yield of each plant’s viable consumptive value, reduce destruction of crop from insects or micro-organisms, and grow the genetic seeds in non-aired soils. This was accomplished by isolating specific DNA sequences, copying other DNA sequences, or introducing organisms into the genes in a direct and controlled method into the nucleus of a plant cell (Jones, 1999; Faerber, et al., 2005). Using corn and wheat as the examples of bio-engineering, the result was production of larger and more viable wheat and corn kernels, that could be grown even in salt polluted soils (Faerber, et al., 2005), resist disease and organisms which promote spoilage after harvest, AND at a production rate of 333% for corn and 136% production rate for wheat (Jones, 1999; Faerber, et al., 2005). Even O’Brien conceded at the initial review of the figures, and paraphrasing for the innovations, demonstrated a viable business model (2011).

With better production rates and yields for crops which undergone genetic manipulation, the surplus can be made into newer disruptive innovations that are not food related but derivatives from food.
The second disruptive innovations are products created from the surplus of the innovations which complement existing technologies and markets. For example, Jones noted that soy and maize products have pharmaceutical applications in preventative human vaccines (1999). And Faerber and his colleagues at UCLA note not only the creation of vaccines from soy and maize, but specific vaccines which can be consumed and not administered via intra-muscle injections; reducing both cost of equipment and the risk of reduction of needle based infections (2005). A much wider application with broader appeal and compliment innovations is plastics from soy and corn instead of using petroleum at one third costs to produce (Jones, 1999; Faerber, et al., 2005). One needs look further than your morning Iced Late or your neighbors Frappuccino© at your local Starbucks’ store or franchise to see corn based plastic cups instead of petroleum based plastics. Harrington advises the cost of cup is 50 percent less with the “Greener Plastics” than with regular plastic composites (2010). With the cost of corn or soy based plastics, comes the final innovation, the increase production of livestock at a rate of 300% return with one-half the cost today than in 1950 (Faerber, et al., 2005; Dubner, 2012).

In 1950, scientists discovered that vaccines for use in livestock, when administered in smaller, daily doses yielded greater muscle density and bulk (Dubner, 2012) which lead to the third disruptive innovations: Better livestock growth and yields based on vaccines and genetic bio-engineering of livestock. This meant that livestock breeds not associated previously with mass animal protein production could be included into the food production value chain. For example, diverting production from the Dexter bread of Cattle, traditionally bred for meat and dairy production, into breeds like the Limousine Cattle which was genetically bred for lean meat production or the Swiss White for dairy (Myers, 2012). Likewise, most common diseases which keep muscle mass low or infection which deters growth rate can be eliminated with vaccines and advance livestock medicines (Jones, 1999). And, a very important innovation, large amounts of livestock can be kept in closer proximity before processing without infections or diseases affecting the meats or destroying the whole animal (Dubner, 2012). This discovery of small dosage vaccines also lead to innovations in high yield production of derivatives from animals such as greater yields in cattle dairy production and eggs from chickens (Jones, 1999). With rates of production in excess of 300% in both plant and animal based food production, the question raised then is what evaluations during the control phase should be raised about the life cycle of the innovation and what results have occurred as result of the innovations. Professor Robert Merton of Harvard University raised such a question in 1936 when he devised the model of Unanticipated Consequences in the American Sociological Review; which now is colloquially known as Unintended Consequences. This portion will examine briefly, the unintended reactions of bio-engineering with regards to food production.
In 1974, Philip Connell, raised the question and challenge of innovations in food production and consequences when he said,

"As Businessmen, you are really the people whom the consumer hold responsible for the price and quality of her food. It is your name on the package, and you are the ones who take the consumers money at the cash register. There is no question that we need to maintain and increase the supply of food, and that this food must be safe (emphasis added)". (Connell, 1974, p. 70)

It would appear that questions of safety, as an unintended consequence, due to disruptive innovation in food production are being raised as a consequence of bioengineering. O’Brien noted that an increase of allergies and sensitivities to foods in humans has increased as disruptive innovations and technologies in food production increased (2011). The reason for levitated allergies and food sensitivities, notes Taylor and Hefle, in non-technical terms, is during the bioengineering process a string of eight particular amino acids, ir-regardless of plant or animal genomes, form a protein called a novel gene within the cell nucleus (2001). When the novel gene is introduced by food into the mouth, it potentially reacts adversely with human immune-suppression system causing the body to react “as though it is under attack” (O’Brien, 2011). Over the past 40 years, the reaction to the novel protein appears to be unified in the literature and exponentially increasing each year (Taylor and Hefle, 2001; O’Brien, 2011), however the reasoning how the novel gene is formed still is unclear and contested within the literature (Connell, 1974; Taylor and Helfe, 2001; O’Brien, 2011; Jones, 1999). Moreover, this also leads to questions about the safety of the bioengineering innovations, which scientifically are inconclusive in the absents of direct causality of harm (O’Brien, 2011; Connell, 1974; Taylor and Helfe, 2001). That is to say, “The absents of harm does not mean it is safe” (O’Brien, 2011). Safe is the hallmark of any consumer trust in business. If a brand or item cannot be deemed safe by it’s segments, a firm cannot continue to operate. Holding in abeyance the legal and scientific debate over innovations and safety, as business leaders the question becomes how then can business create innovations which are either disruptive or complimentary into the market, with regards to food production which are deemed scientifically safe. This last part shall briefly address how business can innovate with some modicum of safety.

In 1983, Professor John Ettlie of DePaul University devised a model for innovation and policy with regards to food process called, Organization Policy and Innovation among suppliers to the Food Processing Sector. Within Ettlie model are two factors that directly correlate to the issue of safety, the first is Environmental uncertainty and the second is the rate of product innovation (1983). These factors can be employed during, what White and Bruton calls, the Planning and Gathering Data process in which the innovation is analyzed and should be considered within the strategy of planning innovation (2008). During this phase, Ettlie demands that the firm posse two question before formulating a strategy: First, What is the motivation for developing the innovation? Second, “How does one reconcile the apparent contradictions in the literature?” (1983); especially with regards to safety within bioengineered genes in the food production, there are many apparent contradictions which have not been answered by firms producing the bioengineered proteins. The questions, according to di Norcia, distill into the application and adherence of ethics (1994). During both White and Bruton’s (2008) Planning and Gathering Data phase and Ettlie’s (1983) Environmental uncertainty question, di Norcia firmly advises that a firm assess that, “complexity of technology development and the broad range of social issues involved, an ethical framework for controlling a technology is needed” (di Norcia, 1994). This must include a SEER evaluation of both the demand for the innovation and bringing an ethical prospective to reconcile the conditions in the literature during the gathering data phase: the Social, Economic cost to society and companies in defense, Environmental, and the human Rights of the stake/share holders in the innovation (1994). If any of the datum points have direct negative impact in result of deploying the technology, di Norcia suggests holding in abeyance diffusing the innovation until the datum point is resolved. This would suggest that any direct or indirect harm can be minimized or eliminated by deploying or diffusing innovation which could potentially cause a safety or risk factor. Though more research is required to fully evaluate the SEER model within the context of Food Production and innovations; do to both a lack of literature and research on the subject.

In conclusion, although bioengineering has held ancient place within the food value chain, it is within the last 92 years that innovations have increased with the diffusion of genetic bioengineering of crops and animals for greater production. It has resulted in greater consequences which call into question safety of food consumed. Before further innovations can be deployed into food production, business must assess during the innovation phase the ethics of un-intended consequences and how to minimize or eliminate these consequences.

References:
di Norcia, V. (1994). Ethics, technology development, and innovation. Business Ethics Quarterly, 4(3). (Pp 235 – 252). Retrieved from Business Source Complete.

Dubner, S. (2012, May 23 and 2012, June 6). You are what you eat, Part1 and Part2. Feakonomics Radio [Audio Podcast] Retrieved from www.npr.org/freak

Connell, P. G. (1974). Radicalization in Food Production. Vital Speeches of the Day, 41(3). (Pp. 70 – 72). Retrieved on May 30, 2012, from Military and Government Collection Database.

Ettlie, J. (1983). Organizational Policy and Innovation among Suppliers to the Food Processing Sector. Academy of Management Journal, 26(1). (Pp. 27 – 44). Retrieved on June 1, 2012 from Premier Business Resource Complete Database.

Faerber, J., Edwards, T., Goenawan, A., and Osawa,S. (2005). Genetically Modified Foods. A discussion posted to CMPE 80e discussion board, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Jones, L. (1999). Genetically Modified Foods. British Jounral of Medicine, 318(7183). (Pp. 581 – 584). Retrieved on June 4, 2012 from http://www.ncbi.hllm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115027/

Harrington, S. (Personal Communication, April 22, 2010). Noting changes in green plastics save the cost of a Starbuck’s store about 50 percent per cup less than traditional plastic composits.

Merton, R. (1936). The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action. American Sociological Review, 1(6). (Pp. 894-904). Retrieved on January 13, 2012 from SocINDEX Database (Full Text).

Myers, T. (Personal Communication, Tulsa Zoon and Living Museum, Education Division, June 1, 2012) Regarding the decline of Antique Animals such as the Dexter Cattle due to changes in vaccines and GMO in animal husbandry.

Nordin, K. (2010). The Politics of Stigma: Starving on the Land of Plenty. Human Rights, 37(1). (Pp 6 – 8). Retrieved on May 30, 2012 from LegalTrack Database.

O’Brien, R. (2011, March 24). The Dangers of Genetically Modified Organism Food. [Video Broadcast]. TEDx Talks series. Austin, Texas. Retrieved on April 10, 2012 from http://youtu.be/rixyrCNVVGA

Shapira, P., and Rosenfeld, S. (1996). An overview of technology diffusion policies and programs to enhance the technological absorptive capabilities of small and medium enterprises. Paper prepared for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry. Retrieved on May 21, 2012, from http://www.prism.gatech.edu/~jy5/pubs/oecdtech.htm.

Taylor, S., and Hefle, S. (2001). Will genetically modified foods be a allergenic? The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, DOI: 10.1067. Retrieved on June 4, 2012, from http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(01)39154-6/abstract

White, M. and Bruton, G. (2008). The Management of Technology and Innovation. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Wickard, C. R. (1942). Our Food Production Program: Food is too precious to waste. Vital Speeches of the Day, 8(6). (Pp. 177 – 180). Retrieved on May 30, 2012 from Military and Government Collection Database.
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
If you will recall from my essay I mentioned a legislation from the World Trade Organization (WTO), called ACTA. If you don't remember, please take a moment to read.

Now that you are read up, let me give you an update to this essay, and one that is very amusing to me.
It would appear that the European Union will not sign this treaty, you can read an interesting story from the UK, here.
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
Is there a fine line between the narrative of the facts and the narration of the facts? This question I have pondered now for a month, and find the resolution as a whole allusive; stemming between my profession and avocation one as a scholar and the other as an artist. Both scholar and artist are at odds over the concepts of narrative of facts and narration of facts after listening to two conflicting accounts of the same facts. The scholar and artist take diametrically stance on the issue.

The scholar firmly reasons that the narrative of facts, carefully verified and tested, resolve in absolute agreement; only then defining the facts for context through careful analysis.

The artist whole-heartedly exclaims the narration is key to connecting peoples intellectually common facts first, then through the telling the story in the 1st person can a human embrace their emotions by connecting their heart & mind to the context and the artists’ intent.

Note I do not use the word, STORY, in this essay. STORY to the artist has one meaning and to the scholar has a completely different meaning.
Because to the scholar, a story can be biased and unreliable, but compelling anecdotal evidence when carefully reviewed and analyzed to support the facts. However, to the artist, the story is everything; facts are intertwined into the story to fit the theme to impact the emotions of the audience; sometime exactly, but sometimes imperfect and must be woven into the story to fit time and place.

Very similar to the accounts I heard recently, and conflicting.

In the United States, on the National Public Radio (NPR) network (well, the American Public Media distributing the program on NPR), there is a very popular radio show which employs both the scholarly narrative and the artistic narration in reporting their stories. The show is called, “This American Life”. Both the show and network are slightly underwritten by the government, charitable foundations, and a wide segment of listeners whom donate funds for continual programming. Sometimes “This American Life” will be dedicated to the scholarly narrative with a team of seasoned reporters, producers, and directors carefully reviewing the facts and then using a 1st person narrative to support the eyewitness accounts of the facts. Sometime a whole show is dedicated to the artistic narration, using popular essayist and writers to support the show’s theme weaving 1st person tales into the emotional consensus of the audience.

But sometimes, you have an intersection when narrative and narration come into conflict; with an audience who is accustomed to narrative and narration, this leads to questions of:

Who is right: The narrative or the narration?

And is there a right or wrong between narrative and narration?

And what happens when the scholar eagerly seeks narration of facts and an artist desires to have his narrative heard?

You have this scenario.
On January 6, 2012, Catholic or Western Epiphany day, “This American Life” released a perfect storm of narrative and narration in a program entitled, “Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory”. Aptly timed, or accidently coincidental, since the meaning of this day for a person to obtain sudden enlightenment.

The narrator and narration of facts for this program is from author and storyteller, Mike Daisy. Since 2010, Mr. Daisy has travelled the US in his one-man show called, “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. Daisy’s show is not an expose of Jobs himself, rather recounting Daisy’s visit and impressions of the working conditions of Apple’s largest Chinese vendor, FoxxCon: Excessive work hours, child labor, crippling injuries and exposure to toxins, even mass suicides to protest working conditions were the themes of both the narration and the narrative. The show had a small following, mostly playing to smaller audience.
In Autumn of 2011, producers from “This American Life” approached Daisy with the intent of dedicated an entire show to an edited version of “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” with background reporting by the shows news staff; Mike Daisy agreed. After meeting with producers and reporters to check the salient facts of Daisy’s narrative, the show was produced for broadcast with the absents of one small narrative, verifying and contacting the translator Daisy employed on his trip to FoxxCon to confirm his itinerary and events told in his narration.

I surmise and guess that for “This American Life”, here was a story that seemed perfectly crafted to both stimulate the intellect and strike deep into the heart of its audience. A viable piece for capturing this segment of new listeners, and for generating revenue during the shows pledge week. Here the scholarly narrative appeared to support verifiable facts by employing 1st person narration and made a conscious decision, based on the sum of evidence presented and desire for prime ratings, to not research the evidence in totality.

For Daisy, I also surmise and guess that here was the defining moment of his work. He could have a national audience in the hundreds of thousands listening to his narration. “This American Life” was his prime segment, and a spring board for pushing his theme beyond the small theatres to the forefront of the American conscious; larger theatres, television appearances, greater benefit artistically.
But “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” was not a scholarly endeavor, it was artistic endeavor; it was a narration by distilling of all the facts about FoxConn and all Chinese vendors for Apple, woven into a compelling tale perfect for broadcast. I surmise Daisy knew this, and likewise let his desperation and desire for a wider audience overcome his knowledge of the facts were distilled; or perhaps he was so married to the text, he could no longer separate the whole facts from the distilled facts; the narrative from the narration. Thus, Mike Daisy made the conscious to withhold disclosure, in particular the whereabouts of his translator.

So, on the Epiphany, “Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory” was broadcast. In fact, it was the most popular broadcast and MP-3 download in the history of “This American Life”. Shortly after the broadcast, The New York Times published an extensive report on the issues at FoxxCon and Apple. Apple, in response to both, released a report on all aspects of foreign vendors, both what is lacking and what is improving. And finally, an independent auditor openly reviewed the FoxxCon facility for faults and improvements.
By all accounts, it was a win-win scenario for both Daisy and “This American Life”; the narrative and the narration were wildly effective engines of change. That is until someone decided, in kind, to take a closer look at both “This American Life” and Mike Daisy. No, not Jobs or Apple with vengeance, but NPR.

And here is the problem finally manifested itself, the intersection of narrative and narration finally collided in direct conflict for an audience who is accustomed to narrative and narration. Both “This American Live” and Mike Daisy were so eager & desperate for both narration and narrative, that the lines were blurred. Willingly by both sides. It would be like demanding an eyewitness to an event reported to write a 500 word essay to support the facts, or demanding David Sedaris fact check his essay about his trip or childhood before broadcast. Both are unreasonable, which is why you carefully separate the narrative from the narration; which neither side did in its desire for each other.

As a result, another NPR news outlet, with a reporter who was very knowledgeable about FoxxCon and China’s labor issues found some of the narration in error. Some of the key facts of Daisy’s narration did not match the narrative exactly. It started with simply with NPR making a Google search finding the translator, contacting the translator by phone and in person, and asking about the narrative and the narration in ‘Mr. Daisy and the Apple factory’.

Which is why in March, 2012, a broadcast entitled, Retraction, was aired by “This American Life”; one which “American Life” would expose the ‘inconsistencies’ and ‘fabrications’ Mike Daisy told on the program. And it did. It presented the narrative in a manner that was clear and scientific. Illuminate that Mr. Daisy was so married to the narration that he could no longer separate the narrative fully. However in doing so, it likewise expose to the general public a more subtle message, “This American Life” was so eager to tell the narration, it forego the narrative. It blurred the lines and was unrepentant in its broadcast; and did not clearly annotate how “This American Life” will safeguard the lines to protect blurring in the future. Likewise, Mr. Daisy was un-repentant in defending his narration; clearly noting it was an artistic endeavor and if the lines were blurred it was unintentional.

Which brings me back to my original question: Is there fine line between narrative and narration? In doing so, I had my own epiphany; not on January 6, but on April 21. The scholar and the artist found a commonality and thread of truth: The line between the narrative and the narration is not fine but very broad. The artist and the scholar know that line clearly. And know instinctively not to cross the boundaries of that line.
What blurs the line is when it then becomes conscious choice to move from narrative to narration based on desire. You know, that cardinal sin, which ethicist, parents, and Priests, warn never to yield to desire. Yet, desire seemingly overrode both scholarly and artistic instinct. A desire to become so intertwined and not separate narration from narrative, or desire to seek reward (from revenue to popularity) based on illusionary mutual commonality.

In other words, “A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be." (Albert Einstein). And never confuse the two.

I now listen to “This American Life”, but clearly differently. Knowing that the line was blurred, makes for an amusing narration, but clearly weary of taking stock of the narrative; because I know where that line ends and begins.
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
Recently, I was in a discussion regarding justice and likability; and it's easy to take the populists view of judges in the United States. But to you, the discerning reader, I'd like to offer this thought.

We can agree or disagree with any decision, case, or reasoning a sitting judge renders; that cannot be separated from the human experience. Sometimes, the judge associated with that particular rendering is either vilified or canonized in the process; which is also a part of the human experience.

But, when we attach direct affection or animosity toward a sitting judge no matter what that judge renders, we have a situation of unimaginable horror for any citizen to contemplate.

For we as citizens’ loss the appearance & application of justice as blind, based solely on the stronger argument and reasoning with adherence to strict rules of order; not based on popular sentiment or popular ire to rules based on flights of fancy.

And that truly is a chilling thought.
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
There has never been a more exciting and turbulent time for the civil right of free speech, such as SOFA and PIPA protests; in part due to and because of the internet. Civil rights movements can occur rapidly with global high impact that expands beyond the limitation of geo-political boundaries, such as a country or region, with just a click of a mouse.

I think even Peter Marber 1 would be amused at his own ground-breaking work on globalization, which is now being applied in the form of peoples demanding a higher guarantee of civil rights along with a higher standard of living.

Because citizens around the globe via the internet are demanding a higher standard of free speech in tandem with physical protests and making the case before their governments, the impact is being felt by governing bodies.
When citizens begin demanding a higher-standard of civil rights and freedom of speech, those governing bodies now more than ever are confronted with the unimaginable changes in globalization, and confronted with the question of if they should or should not conform.

And if they conform, will the actions those governing bodies take create mostly social and legal positive changes or fall within the realm of what Robert Merton’s called unintended consequences2. Yes, some of the consequences are very obvious, such as Regimes which have not permitted free speech are toppled; or legislators confronted with mass outcry over draconian legislation limiting the right to free speech withdraw or amend offending legislation.
However, consider some of the unintended consequences. A repressive Regime is toppled and free elections are held to guarantee free speech, only to elect religious extremists whom repress yet again those peoples civil right to free speech. Or if you make speech too open, your ideas are used without your knowledge and without compensation to you; which hurts your creativity and possible people’s livelihood. Both are unpalatable, yet one directly affects most global consumers more than repressive Regimes is that ideas being absconded in intellectual theft. It is those consequences which leave the conundrum of either the lost of taxes, creativity, and jobs, or the citizenry cherished loss of free speech via the internet.

Intellectual theft is not a new subject. Over the last 20 years consumers around the world have lost a staggering 20 Billion US Dollars3. That amount alone is staggering for companies and governments to tackle within traditional legal settings; you cannot confront nation-states like criminals clapping handcuffs on national leaders; who will claim the nagging escape of sovereign immunity, over what is considered a “white collar” crime. One simply can walk into Bosnia – Herzegovina and find stolen ideas and duplications of poor quality in the open markets. Or walk through the streets of Hong Kong, Beijing, or Chengdu, and find a host of duplicated goods and services in the markets and sold on line, because those ideas are transmitted by the internet and shamelessly copied intellectual thieves in Sarajevo or Hong Kong easier than sending people to examine the product in person.
Both China and Bosnia-Herzegovina must face the consequences of their actions in the form of the world’s de facto policing body for trade and intellectual crimes, The World Trade Organization, or WTO.

The United States and The European Union have open cases against both countries and particular reprimanded China. This caused more tightening of policies within China to protect intellectual piracy and in doing so caused an extraordinary event. China is now a member of the WTO, which in turn now is the world’s largest consumer of goods, stands to lose revenue for Chinese workers in the billions of US Dollars, began its own action against countries like Moldova for intellectual infringement.

Such actions are welcome, but do not address the fundamental fact of how the ideas were originally stolen. That circles back to individual countries, like Britain and the United States, or wider bodies such as the European Union, to create individual and personal mandates to prevent intellectual theft. This meant each geo-political legislative body created laws or regulations to prevent intellectual theft, but also created as an unintended consequence a broad mandate for censorship, a heinous impairment to the civil right of free speech. The ‘net’ result is that citizens within those geo-political zones protested with ‘the net’ against these mandates, causing an abrupt halt 4. And since individual nation-states or wider geo-political bodies could not properly legislate preventative measures for intellectual theft within their own boundaries, it was time for a different tactic.

If nation-states could not stop intellectual theft do to inability to enact laws or legislations, then the next legal step is to make those same nation-states responsible for permit intellectual theft by assessing monetary damages through the WTO. The members of the WTO have drafted a resolution, called The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA for short. Thanks to Canada’s trade ministry which reveled the proposed legislation through their govement website5. The premise for ACTA is simple and direct: Make the nation-state pay dearly for permitting intellectual theft to occur.

This tactic is different because not individuals or business are not directly targeted, but the nation-state that houses all the routers and ‘last mile’ connections. It is also a tactic which cannot be easily held in protest of individual citizens or legislators. The tactic has also the benign diplomatic effect that nation-states relay on the good will of other nation-states for trade, taxes or tariffs, and law enforcement.

And these things are important to our lives, just as the right to speech. We need products and service just as much as other nations and be paid for our work, our government needs the revenue to do very basic things, like catch criminals before heinous actions can occur on our sovereign ground. All these things require money. Money that trade brings to ourselves and our nation-states; the United States Constitution, the hallmark of democratic documents, would suggest that, first “Provide for a common defense” then “promote the blessings of liberty”6.


But here again, Merton’s pesky unintended consequences returns in the form of fear for consumers and citizens whom cherish the right of free speech, fear of a faceless nebulas multinational organization imposing purported sanctions on all citizens in what is perceived as an overreaching attempt quash free speech.

I would have contended that WTO’s solution may have more positive benefits than detriments. I would have inferred that the perpetrators of intellectual theft do not believe free speech is a right, like China and Bosnia.

However, I was proven wrong this week, in a perverse Mertonian way, by representatives to the WTO from their own nation-states in the strongest language protesting the adoption and implementation of ACTA 7. David Tusk, Poland’s Ambassador to the WTO said, “"I consider that the arguments for a halt to the ratification process are justified," and has suspended the ratification for his country. Likewise, the European Parliament, has already made clear its weariness of ACTA, especially France’s representative which was quoted to say,

“This is relevant for the trade of fake shoes or bags, but what about data downloaded from the internet? If a customs officer considers that you may set up a commercial activity just by having one movie or one song on your computer, which is true in theory, you could face criminal sanctions.”

And this is undoubtedly changed the face of the civil right of free speech, when governments are binding together to defend against legislation which they see as overreaching and potentially targeting their own citizens. And will defend their rights of fellow nation-state citizens.

Yes, these are exciting and turbulent time for the civil right of free speech. When the citizen and the government are working, for the moment, “Provide for a common defense” and “promote the blessings of liberty”. Crossing the boundaries of the geo-political divide and united in cause over singular mouse clicks.



References:

1. Marber, P. (2007). Globalization and its Contents. In F. H. Maidment (Ed.), International business. (14th ed. Pp. 2.4) Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill Contemporary Learning Services.

2. Merton, R. (1936). The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action. American Sociological Review. 1(6). Pp. 894-904.

3. Sterling, B. (2007). The sham economy. In F. H. Maidment (Ed.), International business (14th ed., p. 119). Dubuque, IA: McGraw-Hill Contemporary Learning Services.


4. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/data-protection/news/120125_en.htm

5. http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/fo/acta-acrc.aspx?lang=eng&view=d

6. Alden, J.E. (ed.) (1787). The Constitution of the United States of America. Preamble. Retrieved from http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=bdsdcc&fileName=c0801//bdsdccc0801.db&recNum=0&itemLink=r?ammem/bdsbib:@field(NUMBER+@od1(bdsdcc+c0801))&linkText=0&presId=bdsbib

7. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/03/acta_protests_grow/

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the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
I was struck with the odd thought over my evening coffee and the latest article from the Harvard Business School Journal, "The trends and scholarly research I am digesting to become the next generation of leaders, will this become at best a fad, or at worst a disastrous trend?!?"

Considering I am a devote of Schott Adams' work, who himself earned an MBA from California State, the thought was not a random flight of fancy, but a creeping fear up my spine; yes, it could be also the angle I'm holding my head, but I'd like to associate the sensation with enlightenment.

The thought occurred while one of my professor's was lecturing on the new philosophy of global corporate responsibility - fair treatment of workers, ethical decisions, and long term planning. The concept of long term planning is not as clear cut as you think. My professor, a graduate of Harvard, amused us with this anecdote. In 1968, Sony Corporation's CEO visited Harvard and delivered a lecture before the School of Business. These young lions were devouring every word and at the end of the lecture, wanted to question a new idea touted as scientific, "The Five (5) Year Plan". One young lion ask the CEO, "Sir, does you company have a five year plan?"

The CEO replied, "No, we do not have a five (5) year plan."

The room was a buzz; these young lions were incensed at the fact here was one of the fastest growing companies in the world, the most skilled in providing the latest technologies and they did NOT have a five year plan?

The CEO interrupted the buzz and said, "Let me finish, please. We do not have a five (5) year plan, we have a 500 YEAR PLAN (emphasis added)"

This immediately invalidated the scientific research on the five (5) year plan; which was replaced by the five year-ten year-15 year plan. A topic which Scott Adams has found delight in lampooning often, especially in Adam’s book, “The Dilbert Principle”.

And now, in my materials, we are discussing yet again long term planning. Not as a Adam_ess humor, but with serious scientific research. Given the Professor’s lecture, my one and only thought was:

To what extent is my thought?

* Do we base the plan like that of many of the defunct Energy Trading companies, which had a 30 year plan, based on profits at the height revenue intake and not averaging overall progress?

* Do we base plans based on American retail giants of the twentieth century? Now facing bankruptcy for changing their long-term goals for short term capital?

* Do base companies strategies, in essence, on plundering human beings in other countries at the expense of both forgoing their own citizens and turning a blind eye under the name of governess to human rights violations until globalization equates all parties IN THE LONG TERM?

In this, I do not know. I do know the scientific research has cause more disasterous than realized or rationalized. I do know this, that Scott Adams has penned most of the trends, including long term planning into very pithy commentary. However, the subject of plundering human beings is something even Dilbert would not wish to compute.

For now, putting down my journal and refilling my cup is as long term planning as I wish to tackle.
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
“Packing up Christmas, it’s like a Joy Bomb exploded.”Tom Bodette

It is the day after the Epiphany, and a time for cleaning up to bits of joy in the form of tissue paper, gift bags, and small pieces of wrapping paper. Time for the “Christmas” UXB1 lads to come in and defuse the remaining joy bombs from leveling the house. However, unlike the thunderous cheers from the throngs of Londoners, my task will be met with only silence and a bit of sadness.

Sadness of enjoying if only for a fleeting moment, a time of festive play and comfort back to the world of responsibility and sober actions. A Sadness of seeing cursory peace and goodwill toward our fellow humans, only back to the sober reality of avarice and cruelty in the human condition. In the inverse of seeing the UXB lads fail in their appointed task and the bomb explodes.

And a sadness of failing also to understand and remember the meaning for our festive merrymaking, peace, and goodwill; that in the chaos of war, sober actions, and quarrel a single reason against the world stood for peace and hope.

So now, I continue to clean up the “Christmas” UXB, hoping no more explosions happen at close range. And knowing my purpose for cleaning is not the festivities but the peace for the whole year. Defusing one “Christmas” UXB at a time.


1) Hawksworth, Jack. “Danger UXB” ITV Production, 1979 London.
the_sn0wygoose: (Default)
"I must stop Christmas from coming, but HOW?"Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Anyone whom has ever read the story, seen the animated cartoon, or the live-action remake will hearken to this words with some amusement. A town in preparation for Christmas Tide with trimming and trappings for festive and merrymaking. A sour and vengeful creature on stopping the merriment. The crime of the century.

This is the premise. An unthinkable crime for its time in 1950. Who would dare to do this, moreover how would dare to interrupt a holiday?

"Your a rotter, Mr. Grinch!" Lyrics by Dr. Seuss; Song by Thurl Ravenscroft
Well, someone dared. Our home was burgled on Christmas Day. Fortunately, the gifts were not harmed, but valuables were taken and the home was placed in shambles. It meant cleaning up and repairing instead of merrymaking. It meant drying tears and keeping tempers in check. It meant summing the Police and filling out reports. Filing proof of claims. And a host of other mundane tasks instead of merrymaking.

But in this, the burglars failed to achieve on goal: They failed to stop Christmas.


"IT CAME WITHOUT PRESENTS?!Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Christmas did come. And will come. We are shaken but have not forgot the meaning. We have replaced one or two items for our son, noting Santa Claus heard his plight and answered. We have celebrated the Christmas with music, food, joy, and laughter. Those items which were taken are just that...items. Transitory bits of pleasure, but not joy.

So, sorry Mr. Grinch, you did not achieve your goal. But, we have a place at our table for dinner tonight if you wish?
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