Monday, December 27, 2010

Neotropica

Neotropica is an online magazine nominally about Costa Rica. The current (second) issue is about regional subjects, so it might be of interest.

Personally, I found the first issue to be scattered and self-absorbed. (For example, I didn't understand the connection between Central America and the terraforming of Mars.) I haven't read through the second issue yet, though I can tell from a quick skim that there is likely to be a lot more here that I can learn from.

If you are interested in reading Neotropica, it's free though you have to set up an account at Issuu. This is odd, but, like, whatever.

The links are: issue 1 and issue 2. Or you can use the search box at Issuu.

Once you get to the issue you want you can (after setting up an account and logging in), download a PDF. Seems all complicated an' stuff, but it works.

One thing I can say, enthusiastically, is that, underwhelmed as I was by the contents of the first issue, both it and the current one are absolutely gorgeous.

Table of contents follows:

  • The Banana Chronicles: A special Neotropica treatment of the fruit that steered history.
  • A Visit to the Banana Lands, by Carleton Beals: Travel experiences in lands of the banana barons in the 1930s.
  • Anchuria Republic of Bananas: Excerpts from O. Henry's story that first named Central America "banana republics."
  • Samuel, Agonistes, by Stephen Duplantier: Samuel Zemurray, Banana Man extraordinaire, and his exploits in Central America.
  • The Legend of Z, by Stephen Duplantier: Who was that masked man? Zemurray, explained.
  • Doctoring the Tropics, by Patricia Spinelli: Adventures of a tropical medicine physician on the banana plantations of the 1920s.
  • Tristes Tropiques-- Neglected Tropical Diseases, by Stephen Duplantier: Tropical diseases you may not know about and don't want to catch. Plus a surprising account of the worst tropical disease of all.
  • El Cristo de la Bananera, by Salvador Dal. Improvements, by Stephen Duplantier: Surreal Homage to the Workers of Banana Land.
  • A Perfect Day for a Banana, by Umberto Dvila: A fictionalized story of a banana worker's day.
  • The Weeping Heart of a Banana: The mythic origin of the banana heart. The inflorescence of a banana plant produces a heart-shaped bract on a stalk. Commercial banana growers prefer heartless bananas. A pictorial essay.
  • The Great Banana Strike of 1934, by Carlos Luis Fallas: Was Carlos Luis Fallas the greatest Costa Rican ever? Costa Rican workers probably think so. This is a translation of a speech by Fallas that gives a history of the grievances of the banana workers against the transgressions of the United Fruit Company, the notorious El Pulpo (the Octopus), also called Mamita Yunai by Costa Rican workers.
  • A Working Class Hero, by Stephen Duplantier An appreciation of the place of Carlos Luis Fallas in Costa Rican history. The Costa Rican of the 21st Century Award It's only 2010, but if the winner is announced early maybe some trends can be set. Anyway, Fallas should have gotten it last century, so this is payback.
  • La Huelga Bananera por Leo R. Sack: La huelga bananera desde el punto de vista de los jefes de Mamita Yunai.
  • The Massacre in Cinaga, by Stephen Duplantier: What happened in Santa Marta, Colombia in 1928.
  • Macondo, by Gabriel Garca Mrquez: Excerpts from the fictional account of the massacre from 100 Years of Solitude.
  • The Neotropica Faux Gabriel Garca Mrquez Write-Alike Contest: Summary of the Nobel Acceptance speech of Mrquez.
  • Gloves, by Darlene Olivo.: The winning entry in the Write-Alike Contest.
  • Passion and Death--The Chemistry of Corporate Power What happened when two journalists from the Cincinnati Enquirer investigating Chiquita Brands spoke truth to power, and power won.
  • Banana Follies Playbill and Banana Erotics, by Stephen Duplantier: The doctrine of signatures as it applies to bananas was not a sign from God, but a sign from the United Fruit Company inserting bananas into the popular consciousness in a big, big way with an explosion of consequences.
  • Dancer, Expat, Singer, Spy, War Heroine, Josephine Baker broke barriers hewhole life, by Elaine Kelly: The story of an amazing woman and how she did so much more than dance with a banana.
  • Bronze Venus: Images of a great woman, La Baker.
  • Carmen Miranda -- a special section on the woman with bananas in her hat. An exploration of the life and meaning of the art of Carmen Miranda. The origins of her famous hats, how the samba developed from Afro-Brazilian women carrying loads on their head, and the music and lyrics of Brazilian samba.
  • That Tutti Frutti Hat, by Elaine Kelly
  • The Woman who Mistook Herself for a Hat; Imitation of Self; The Tutti Frutti Hat; and the Samba Aquarelas do Brasil, by Stephen Duplantier
  • Watercolors of the Brazilian Market Women: Pictorial section
  • The Botany of Desirable Bananas, by Charles Garratt: How the banana plant got to be the way it is, and what will be its fate.
  • Bananas in New Orleans New Orleans was the first and most important port for the entry of bananas into the U.S., the hometown of Samuel Zemurray, and the city where the Bananas Foster dessert was created.
  • A Bunch of Banana Books Editor's choice of the must-read banana books. To understand Central America, follow the banana.
  • Recipes: Everyone knows how to eat a banana. These recipes tell you what to do with the other parts of the plant, especially the heart.
  • Dictators Graphic art, by Stephen Duplantier
  • Good Dictator, Bad Dictator -- The United Fruit Company and Economic Nationalism, by Mario Bucheli: An analysis of the complex connections between the banana giant and its client nations.
  • Human Resources Announcement: Employment Opportunity Dictator The job requirements for a dictator sound suspiciously like the traits of a paranoid criminal psychopath listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  • Cultural Memory: Bananas as Icon, by Valeria Baker: A thesis on the iconicity of bananas in popular consciousness. Photographs by Carlos Reyes-Manzo
  • Entomologie Photograph, by Ann Mandelbaum
  • La United Fruit Co. The famous poem of Pablo Neruda.
  • Gargantua Eating his Salad and a Peasant: An Allegory of Capital and Labor; Text on Neocolonialism, by E. San Juan
  • The Periphery and the Core, by Emile Rishty: A primer on how the world, unfortunately, works.
  • A Poet named "Banana Plant" Japan's most famous poet is named "banana plant." Find out why.
  • Sloth Food--The Next Revolution, by Roan St. John: Meet Ernesto Spinelli of San Ramn, a chef and artist who discovered the glories of "slow food" long before it was trendy.
  • Why Are They Killing the Rivers of Costa Rica?, by Gene Warneke, Carol Cespedes, and Bruce Melton: Unbelievably, Costa Rica gives permits for mining gravel in pristine rivers in the Osa Peninsula.
  • Mining a River -- It's as Bad as it Sounds, by Carol Cespedes and Bruce Melton: You won't believe what happens when the riverbed miners start working on a natural stream.
  • Time to Say Goodbye, by Jack Ewing: The river otters of Costa Rica, which have frolicked here for nine million years, are at risk of extinction because of river mining.

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday, Noonish, With Beak


My window continues to work magic tricks.

At odd times, unannounced, you can find raccoons, bunnies, squirrels, opossums (from the Powhatan "apasum", or "white animal"), and various cheepie things coming around to hang out beneath it.

Now this.

Best guess: an immature herring gull.

First, standing in place. Later sitting. I expected my third trip to the window to find it dead on the grass but it waan't there 'tall.

Feeding: Eats mussels, clams, fish, rodents, insects, young of other gulls, garbage. Steals from other birds.

Voice: Long call is like "ow ow ow keekeekee kyow kyow kyow". Alarm call is "ga ga ga ga".

Habitat: Coasts, lakes, rivers, fields, dumps.

Next up, I hope, is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and her gastropod dress, which would likely draw more garbage eaters.

Ga ga ga ga! I can handle it. The camera is locked and loaded.

I'd like to see her eating worms after a rain, but that may be too much to hope for.

(Notes from "Field Guide to Birds", by Donald & Lillian Stokes.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Crap Spam


re: Guest Post Enquiry for your Blog

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 10


While walking home from a class I stopped to talk.

With Henry.

Henry takes leaves. And puts them away. Safely, against future need.

It seems. With his wheelbarrow.

Henry seems. A good man.

Henry takes.

Leaves.

But I got these. First.

Sorry, Henry. I say sorry. To you. But.

First. To first things first. And.

These are now out of reach. Yours.

In my mind. Mine.

In the quiet dark.

Against future need.

Mine. And. You yours theirs ours. Too.

You have enough. For now, for your needs.

In your wheelbarrow.

And I.

Have these.

Fair.

Fair deal, Henry.


.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wet And Down


For every minute

you are angry

you lose

sixty seconds

of happiness

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Now dead)


.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winter Kommt

La muerte es en la caza.

Le sage se mettre à couvert.

Nessuno può conoscere il futuro.

Alleen de vetgedrukte een kans hebben.

Maidir liom féin, níl a fhios agam anois.


.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unclean In The Sand


When I saw the original "Dune" miniseries I was entranced. I bought a copy.

And I've watched it at least half a dozen times. Every time I do I'm amazed by how little its flaws affect its effect. Sure, the early-generation computer graphics were not the best, but hey. It was TV. You got the idea. It was fantasy. You got the idea.

The story was simple, the acting restrained and to the point, and the plot moved.

Two things were especially good: the sets and the costumes. They added depth without being distracting, and were cheap ways for the creators to enhance the experience. Constraints, if handled intelligently, lead to creativity. It worked here.

Now, a decade later, noodling around, I found that there was a followup series, "Children of Dune". Hey, why not. I bought it. Worth a look.

"Children of Dune" is everything that "Dune" was not: tedious, incomprehensible, boring, over-produced.

Yuk, yuk, yuk.

And the sound quality is bad. My hearing is not good, and getting worse. I admit. But at times I was able to get maybe 10% of the dialog. I don't have any other VHS or DVD recordings that are this bad. Turning up the sound made it louder, not better. OK, too bad.

Eventually I went into the "extra features" section of the DVD. Yeah, right.

A bunch of guys congratulating themselves on the special effects and other details of production. They could as well simply put up an org chart for the production company. It would, I think, have been more interesting, and at least as enlightening. Maybe more.

But I found what could be the cause of this sad production's problems. Two of Frank Herbert's books, "Dune Messiah" and "Children of Dune", were combined into this one miniseries.

Those behind "Children of Dune" tried, I think, to cram everything in the two books into the one production. Don't know. I didn't read the two books. But it looks like everything.

The actors skip along the high spots of a plot outline, hitting key words and then stepping out of the way before they get run over by the next bunch of actors tromping through the sets.

It's like watching crowds thundering through a bus depot at rush hour and searching for the meaning.

What should be one tight of scene after another of two or three, in three or four minutes is more like synchronized acting. Herds almost trampling one another, racing through scene after disjointed scene in seconds. Speed acting.

The screenplay is high school quality. There are huge stupid gaffes, such as when Ghanima Atreides (Jessica Brooks) nearly weds Farad'n Corrino (Jonathan Bruun). The young Farad'n kneels before her, confesses various nefarious things about his family's doings, and says that he has only the truth to give her, not even a dowry.

Duh? Dowry?

Dowries are a stupid and evil tradition, but they come from the bride's family, not the groom's. This is basic history, part of standard, worldwide, human culture. You don't change all that just to give a minor character a couple of words utter, nonsensically.

Major screenplay fail.

All that said, Ian McNeice shows decent acting. Almost the only example.

He turns up as the spirit of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, deceased but still alive somehow inside Alia Atreides. McNeice's role is small but I really perked up when I saw him. His character, though evil, brought sunshine to the production.

Everything else made me want to gnaw one of my legs off. The costumes and sets, rather than adding a nice extra dimension, were severely overdone and inappropriate, the computer effects overbearing. A hint of sandworm is better than all worms all the time.

Other than McNeice, there was Alice Krige, who played Lady Jessica Atreides, poorly. I remember her as the Borg Queen from a Star Trek movie. I've always had the hots for the Borg Queen, despite the tubes in her head and the mottled skin and all. I doubt if I'm alone. This is one gorgeous woman, with or without tubes in her head.

So then?

Well, it appears as if her entire face is one massive Botox injection site.

How someone can talk while moving nothing but her jaw baffled me. No facial expressions whatsoever. No muscle movement, no eyebrow arching, no smiles, no frowns. Nothing. I've never seen this before and really can't say how she managed it, but there you are. The Wooden Lady. Almost worth watching the whole shebang just to get the full effect of this. Entirely spooky.

I'll avoid passing judgment on the male actors, because I'm personally not attracted to men, but the women are fine. So very fine. Daniela Amavia as Alia Atreides. Jessica Brooks as Ghanima Atreides. Julie Cox as Irulan Corrino-Atreides. All get six stars out of a possible five. On looks. All turn in execrable performances because of the vile screenplay and confused production. Disaster. Acting chopped into baffling bits. No point to it at all. I know they have all done better elsewhere.

And maybe worst of all, so very much the worst of all, the relationship of the twin children (Ghanima Atreides and her brother Leto Atreides II) of Chani and Muad'Dib, played by Jessica Brooks and James McAvoy.

If I had anything to abandon I would abandon it all, forever, if I could only spend the rest of my life worshipping Jessica Brooks.

But.

I think the technical word for the on-screen relationship of the brother and sister is "eeewww". Touching, kissing, playing together, fondling. No, don't show me that. Not now, not ever.

I had to cringe, and keep cringing. Again and again.

This is unclean.

I don't know or care what may or may not have been in Frank Herbert's writing. I saw what was on the screen and I did not like it at all. The brother and sister may be close, and may be strong characters on the page, but this, no. Though lacking actual sexual contact, it was deep incest.

The original "Dune" was clean and simple, direct, compelling and well produced. "Children of Dune" is worth seeing only as an example of how poorly something can be done, despite having a terrific model to follow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Money - How About Some?

Get rich by giving it away?

I've been reading the 37Signals' blog a long time.

They are a small company successful at creating and selling services across the web. They began and remain small, self-funded by the owners and also by sales.

A key element of their philosophy is that a business isn't a business unless it makes money.

They do have "free" options. But "free" isn't their entire business model.

Why not? Think it through.

Facebook's current value is $33 billion, but Facebook has never been sold, or bought, so that value is purely imaginary.

37Signals on the other hand makes money. How much? Don't know? Privately-held and all, so they don't have to say. The point is, they remain in business by exchanging services for money.

Quaint. Against the grain, philosophically speaking, according to trend monkeys. Who say to give away services, gain notoriety, and sell out.

There are three problems with that.

First, marketing. It costs, so no matter who you are, you have outgo no matter what.

Second, "free" is all about buzz and reputation. If something "goes viral" that is rated a success though there is no revenue and no profit.

Third, planning to sell out some day is a lottery. For any web business there are 10 or 100 or 1000 copycats, and some at least are better than you. Maybe all of them. Maybe you are the copycat.

So. Then. There you are. You have a cool idea, well executed. You have a lot of users, or followers, or fans, or whatever they are. And no income.

You have have created the the next pet rock without the rock, because you have a service. And services are only ideas. You can't wrap one up and mail it off only when someone pays for it.

Even worse, most web businesses are actually entertainment. As long as what you do is amusing and people are not bored yet, you get eyeballs looking your way. But no money. "Free". Remember that part?

Which is why most vanish. The surprise is that some hang on and money appears magically, somehow. No one knows how.

Seth Godin writes a popular blog, gives talks, sells books, makes lots of money. Because a lot of people believe in him and like him and and want to give him money. But mostly because he helps others to make money.

You are not Seth Godin.

He is famous. He is respected. He is magic. People want to be part of his team. You can't copy him so forget about that. Unless you are Seth Godin you are not Seth Godin. And never will be.

If you want his kind of success then invent something completely new.

Like what? Like something completely new. Go ahead. Do it. We'll wait for a few.

Tick.

Are you there yet?

On the other hand, suppose you have an idea and want to make a web application. Thousands will use it. Tens of thousands. Millions. Everyone.

OK, fine. Plan on giving it away and earning zero.

No, wait. Worse even.

Plan on each new user costing you, because they will cost. So there you are, gaining users, spending millions, having no income.

Pencil that one out. We'll wait.

Tock.

See, the secret is to find what you can sell, and then selling it. In case you want to be in business and stay in business and all.

And that, mostly, means dealing with other businesses.

Because about the only successful web businesses out there that do not sell physical products are those that serve other businesses so those other businesses can make money at whatever they do.

Dealing directly with individual fun seekers is not how to make money. They're only in it for fun, which excludes payment, to you, ever, because all that web stuff "wants to be free". And like that.

Right?

But if you can help another business make money, way more than it could without you, then you have a deal.

What kind of deal?

The real deal.

Actual money-making businesses will pay you because what you provide helps them to make more. More than they could without you. And they know that. And will pay for it.

So that's how that works.

From buznutt.

.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whistle Me A Happy

Simplicity in the Age of Everything

Have you ever decided to put your lips together and blow?

I mean, in a happy way, a carefree way.

Maybe you haven't, but you could. If you wanted to.

But maybe you have done it. You have put your lips together and tweetled a lively, comforting, life-affirming tune because.

Because you felt good about something.

And because you wanted to let some of it out so it could fly around the universe and make others happy too.

So you whistled, which almost everyone can do.

What you did not do was to whip out your full-size replica Salt Lake Tabernacle organ sporting 11,623 pipes, or fire up that Moog Synthesizer you were dragging along in your tabernacle-sized red wagon.

If you wanted to whistle, you whistled. Intimately, simply, cleanly, instantly.

And that whistle did what you wanted done.

And only that.

Which is the point, or points: simplicity, relevance, sufficiency, intimacy.

It ain't different with web sites. Not one bit.

I recently heard a great ad. Well, the ad wasn't great in itself, but what it offered was. Verizon has a plan whereby you can sign up, at $40 a month for wireless internet data service. A bunch of wireless internet data service.

Since I loathe the option I have now I thought I'd check the Verizon site.

Bad, bad, bad.

It's very pretty.

It's very bad.

Starting with the trendy aspects, it has that light gray text on a slightly lighter gray background. Luckily browsers these days can blow off style sheets and return a person to 1995, though my first choice is to simply enlarge the view. I had to do both of these before I could actually read anything. Tiny, faint text is not good design.

Part deux, the view.

The top third of the page was visible but the bottom third covered up most of the middle third. I can't fathom how they did this. More clever, trendy design. I have absolutely never seen this before. So very, very clever of them.

Let's not mention how to find detailed information.

On second thought, let's.

Forget it.

There are tantalizing crumbs hidden here and there among the fine looking design fillips, but you know? I didn't want to hunt for crumbs. I wanted to take big bites and actually come away informed. Not easy, my friend.

Like how to find if my address is covered by Verizon, and if so, by what services.

Should be easy, right?

They have a map, from Google. I know this! Google maps! OK!

But this one has a cute twist. Because they're smart, these designers! And trendy! And ahead of the curve! And think outside the box! And yet somehow have not escaped stupid cliches!

And that is. That the map. Shows various kinds of coverage in different colors, all of which look the same to me.

And there is. No alternative.

Good old black-and-white crosshatching would have been fine. Even better guess what?

How about a little box next to my address (which I had to enter). A little box that listed the services available at that address? My address. In text? Would old-fashioned ASCII text be too old fashioned?

No. It would work. I know how to make text work, since first grade. I can read. There are no confusing colors involved at all.

But there I was at a lovely web site, ever so complex and cleverly designed, that I could not get information from.

Precisely because. It was. Ever so complex and cleverly designed.

Think twice, Boys, and think again, then trice. And think some more.

What is it you really want to do, and what is it you really need to do, and do those two coincide at all? Huh?

Think, huh?

Is a great, with-it, up-to-the-minute design worth having if it drives potential customers away?

"We don't care about you now, so don't expect us to care about you later because we are too insanely awesome to care about impressing anyone but ourselves." Is this the message you want to send?

Is your business so cool that you do not need customers?

I have not become a Verizon customer.

Want to guess why?

The Revenge of the Intuitive Turn off the options, and turn up the intimacy. By Brian Eno

From buznutt

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Loneliness is when you dont know yourself.


 Times of India:   An island, a rock

People don't get the fact that in this world of talkative, monophobic individuals, on whom the welfare of cafes and phone companies rely, there also exists a minority who likes to be left alone and theyre not suicidal either. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Famous Is Famous


If you're famous, you can get away with anything! William Burroughs spent the last ten years painting, and makes a lot more money out of his painting than he does out of his previous writing. If you establish yourself in one field, it's possible that people then take you seriously in another. Maybe too seriously. I know lots of great photographers who are a lot better than me, who don't have a big, pretty coffee table book like I have. I'm lucky. -- Allen Ginsberg

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

I Am Finally Rich



 Doing the Bopp:    Things have just gotten so much bette.

Washington State's campaign finance laws are about to be changed by court fiat. The force behind this, James Bopp Jr., was a mover in getting corporations defined as citizens under the "Citizens United" U.S. Supreme Court ruling. According to him there is no problem. The rich always have an advantage, but the solution is simply for everyone to become rich. Once that happens we will have a level playing field. Considering that Exxon Mobil reported the largest annual profit in US history in 2009 ($45.22 billion), most of us have a way to go. But it's actually much better than that. We are already rich. One third of humanity lives on $2 a day or less, and th e next third isn't much better off, so all Americans, even those living in cardboard boxes and cadging quarters on the sidewalk are actually rich by world standards. Then rejoice, my fellow Americans. Now you can put your pocket change directly up against Rupert Murdoch's $100 million gift to the Republican Governors Conference without shame or fear. You obviously will prevail since you are now also rich. WA story

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Monday, September 06, 2010

Swedes v. Hats



"Living in Gothenburg, Sweden, hats are not easy to come by, wide-brimmed hats even worse," says Per-Erik Ekberg, a man with a suspiciously Swedish-sounding name. So maybe he knows. Nevertheless, he likes the Duluth Trading Company Crusher Hat. Go figure.

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Perused By Bears



 AlterNet:   What Happened When I Decided to Live Out My Ultimate Escape Fantasy

There was that little voice inside that had never gone away. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Friday, September 03, 2010

Cuba! Cuba!



 Global Lens:   Cuba: Time to go

Have you wanted to visit Cuba for a while? Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

People are generally good.



 Gary Arndt:   20 Things I've Learned

From Traveling Around the World for Three Years Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Wealth Is Evil



Right. I know.

Not evil for me you say, only for everyone else. Maybe.

But no, no maybe. It's not so.

Wealth is evil.

Before the development of agriculture people had wars, but they were mostly symbolic, more like football. People did a little posturing, some hooting, got it out of their systems, and went home to catch the latest on TV.

There was no ownership of land because, well, people had to keep moving and couldn't own thngs.

But after agriculture got a good start, there were surpluses.

Culture exploded. Land became something to own. Slavery and a lot of other things came into being, because people lived lives in fixed places and could afford to buy and sell anything, including one another.

Monogamy became both relevant and important when people had things worth keeping and worth owning, and the of passing on wealth.

Now we have entire armies composed of mercenaries, whole industries devoted to counting out wealth, socking it away, and defending it.

The wealthiest 1% of Americans have as much income as the poorest 50% of Americans, and own as much, in dollar terms, as the poorest 90% of Americans.

That's you and me, Babe.

I'm willing to work for things but the game changes when no matter how much you work it ceases to matter because nothing will change.

I don't care what you call it.

I call it evil.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Where The Boring Things Are



 Dudley Dawson:   Life in the Cubicle Examiner

12 books that can help children curb their enthusiasm for working Go

Faux News


Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, through his Kingdom Holding Company, owns 7% of News Corp.'s (Fox News) shares, making Kingdom Holdings the second largest shareholder.

Prince Alwaleed is a major funder of the proposed "Ground Zero" community center, which is closer to a strip club than to anything else.

.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's Next?

Let's think about creativity.

I have a quote from the CEO of HugeCorp, which says (I paraphrase) "On a good day we may hit 10% efficiency."

I put that on the wall of my cubicle back in the old days.

Because it resonated. With me. And with a few sharp people. Who got the point.

But no one who needed to see it did see it. And they would have missed the point. Wouldn't have cared either.

They would have been surprised though. At a large company being inefficient. Without a clue that they were in a worse organization, one that could never even approach 10%.

Because to them large meant successful and good and safe. Having rules and following rules was good. Obeying orders was good. Thinking was not.

The watchwords were
  • We've always done it this way
  • Wait
  • If it ain't broke don't fix it.
The whole concept of cluefulness was beyond understanding.

After all, what was the point? Work not done today would be there tomorrow, and so would the office, and the paycheck, and the routine.

I'm lucky to have been there and to have suffered. Because now I know. How bad it can be.

Which is why a lot of businesses are disappearing these days, and a lot of employees are becoming ex.

As in ex-employees.

Because times are different and harder.

Because 19th century technology can take you only so far.

Take "supervisor". Did you know that it means "one who watches from above"? In early factories the supervisor sat in a high chair and watched to make sure that
  • Everyone kept moving
  • No one talked
  • No one stopped to think.
An overseer.

Too many businesses still work like factories of 150 years ago, where value came from doing simple, mindless things endlessly and quickly, over and over, without thought.

When work changed the assembly line mindset didn't. It moved into the office and we got the organization man, whose rules of engagement were
  • Keep your head down
  • Get along
  • Be agreeable
  • Don't rock the boat
  • Follow the rules
  • Be a team player
Do those and all would be fine. Until.

Until everything changed and it all hit the wall, which is where we are now.

The world is suddenly full of hungry, intelligent, well educated, ambitious, and capable billions, and they are all out to be better at everything than you are. Than your business is.

And a lot of them are.

Going along for the ride is no longer a good game plan. Biding your time, waiting for that gold watch to appear on the horizon is not the royal road to success.

Being a comfy parasite within a comfy system ain't good enough no more. Now is the time to be a hunter: intelligent, well educated, ambitious, and capable. And creative. Better at everything. All the time.

It's harder but more exciting, and works better.

Being smart, savvy, and technologically adept gets things done. Things like ensuring continued employment. Like staying in business. Which is still the goal.

It takes thinking, and understanding, and nimbleness, and willingness, and a sense of play. And intelligent use of technology instead of mindless use of brute force. Or rote repetition.

And creativity. Don't squelch creativity, or work where it is excluded.

Efficiency, which we started with, isn't the point. Efficiency is a dead end concept. Efficiency is measurable and understandable, and a predictable output, given standard input.

Creativity isn't.

Creativity is life.

Creativity is inexplicable and ineffable and quixotic. And essential. And is never found near assembly lines or conformist team players.

Any company, large or small, that relies on discipline, and rulebooks, and supervisors, and a rigid mindset will now fail. Such a company is rumbling toward extinction in an unstoppable automatic way, dinosaur-like.

And so are you, if you work there, are only an unimaginative parasite, and think that riding a dinosaur is a good business strategy.

So maybe embrace what technology can do. What the web can do for even the smallest business. What it can do is amazing. Check it out.

From buznutt.

.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Quickly Rich To Get?

No, it's about richness, not riches.

If everyone got rich we'd all be rich, right?

No.

We'd all be average, like that one fish in a vast school of sardines in a boundless sea of ordinariness.

Take someone with a goal. Who has a job. Has chops. Is established and making a living.

Fine.

But this person, instead of being a decent and reliable certified public accountant (or whatever -- take your pick), really and truly wants to be a famous and rich [novelist / chef / rocker / sports star / actor]. Insert your favorite word.

Also fine.

But there are problems. Who that person IS versus what that person DOES, or vice versa. Also known as The Meaning Of Life versus what's happenin'

There are huge rewards in doing the right useless things well, if you happen to be in the sweet spot and luck gives you a big wet kiss.

Consider being the world's greatest chef. Then consider a can of sardines and a pack of soda crackers. They are interchangeable. The fillips, filigrees, inventions, twists, turns, surprises, knobs, dials, bells, whistles, and doodads are fun but not essential.

Sure, every now and then someone so surprising and inventive with food attracts throngs who only want to throw money and be excited. No, not that often, but it happens. Pick another field: sports, acting, music. Same random effect.

Plan on hitting the jackpot as your career goal though and you're not likely to end up both happy and rich, or just happy, or just rich either, sad to say.

Reliable income for you comes from only a few areas: doing what others do not want to do, or doing what others can't, or doing what others can't and don't want to anyway. Basically, things that provide measurable value for others, and are a pain.

Do you really want to garden for dollars? Be paid for trout fishing? Lie around watching loot roll down the chute? You bet. So does everyone else, and most of them would kill you for the chance. At best you could find a volunteer opportunity, and still get death threats.

So utility works, but it's boring. And takes a long hard slog to get good at. And won't make you rich. And the glitzy stuff is like being hit by lightning. Like out of the blue, you know?

Disappointment is likely in the scenario of
  • Having a great idea at dawn
  • Getting noticed by noon
  • Selling out by evening
  • Going to live under a palm tree.
You can't do business that way. You can't do life that way either, really.

What works is
  • Finding a pleasant niche
  • Filling it well
  • Paying attention to details
  • Grabbing opportunities that do come by
  • Being honest and fair
  • Doing some fun stuff on the side "just because".
No, the fun stuff won't make you rich overnight, or at all, but it will keep your hand in. Will maintain the excitement, keep you alive, reaffirm who you ARE.

Don't go out shooting hoops hoping that the NBA will be begging you to sign.

But do keep shooting hoops if you like it. Keep in touch with your passions. Stay on your toes. Maintain your practice. Develop a sense of balance.

You never know when a skill you have or an idea you have or an odd bit of knowledge you've picked up will be the icing on a surprise cake.

And if you work both sides of the street, you'll be ready for anything.

So show up and do your job. But don't turn your back on those useless, wonderful, inspirational things either. Not now, and, come to think of it, not ever.

Because you never know.

From buznutt

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dee Doodley Not Dum



 Tiny Cat Pants:   Yeah, I Laughed at This

Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister speaks on evil. [video clip] Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Pussy On The Loose



 The Oregonian:   Oregon State Police ask for help finding cat that caused crash

State's largest police agency issuing a "missing cat" alert. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Stuck In The Office



 Bellingham Herald:   Patient left on table in Bellingham acupuncture clinic

The woman pulled out the needles and tried to leave, but the doors were locked. Go

Posted via email from Dave's posterous

Friday, July 23, 2010

Horace's Circular Thinking





 Twiddling: 
  
In July 1979, Horace A. Knowles applied for a patent "novelty toy which assists the user in twiddling his thumbs. Heretofore no equipment has been available to the thumb twiddler to assist him in the twiddling procedure. To those twiddlers who lack sufficient coordination, not only is the repose and peace of mind which thumb twiddling normally brings not available, but the inability to carry out the twiddling successfully, including the inadvertent bumping of the thumbs against one another during the twiddling motion, causes additional frustration."