C'MERE YA BIG LUG!


One of the larger mysteries in this life is why all the IT guys are named either Justin or Jason. There’s no podcast this week because Justin fixed only half the problem which forced to phone Jason to straighten things out. Long story short – nothing happened before the two of them took off for the holiday weekend which is just as well. It wouldn’t have been much of a podcast given the two brain-rattling phone calls I got late in the week.
The first was some kid who opened the conversation by telling me he was 28. I responded by telling him I am older than dirt. He came back with, “I’m calling today as I require your unique perspective to help a young person such as myself.” As I was busy I asked him, what part of older than dirt don’t you understand? With that he was off to the races. He went on and on jamming the unique-perspective thing into every sentence that came out of his mouth.
This lead me to wonder – did I date your mommie?
Look Junior, I don’t know what she told you, k? If she’s still mad at me I can get that, but that was a long time ago, and if this is about your paternity why can’t we do this in front of Maury Povich like normal people?
Sadly it was nothing that interesting. His idea of “sharing my unique perspective” was for me to round up my client list, stick it in an Exel file, and email it to him gratis. After that he shut up long enough for me to give him some sage advice gained from my eons on the planet about time management. Point blank I said, if you had gotten to the point sooner I could have hung up on you 10 minutes ago and gotten on with my life.
He seemed oddly shocked and said of my suggestion, “That is a perspective I am not familiar with.” He had something else to say beyond that, but I hung up on him.
Not that hearing him out mattered as he was not The Phone Call of the Week. That goes to a young lady from a p-r firm who phone late on Friday afternoon to inform us that she is the “community hugger” for a startup and she would like to talk to us in person. This left me speechless since all Scandinavian-Americans everywhere consider hugging to be foreplay. My mind was reeling at the pre-meet arrangements where we would discuss what is and is not the proper distance to keep when dealing with those of us who can easily trace their ancestry back to the Lapp ice floes. From here on out whatever kind of meeting you want Missy Hug Hug is going to require printed rules and a flow chart for what do do after shaking hands.
And let me ask you something while I got ya here Cuddles, do you think Nokia and Volvo have anybody not the payroll called a hugger?
Hell no they don’t.
The idea of a hugger really didn’t do much for me from a professional standpoint either. It kinda comes off all low rent/Aunt Gert at the family picnic. The words “community hugger” and “jet set” just don’t seem like they’ll ever play nice together. Which is why I came up with the concept of The Community Butt Pincher. (Above)
As my old intellectual history teacher liked to say, “It’s not that German men don’t want to pinch a woman’s butt, in fact several of them have developed some interesting theories on the subject, instead we must give Italian men the credit for such things as they have embraced the praxis.” Which is why a real Ricardo Suave with his sports jacket hung over his shoulders would fit the bill. First he would slowly approach the subject, then as he came quite near he would say in the theater whisper, “Bella! Così bella!” apply the pinch and shout, “Questo è per void!” Then he would roar off on a Vespa which was left parked and running nearby.
As promotions go this creates a certain amount of curiosity. Women from all over the neighborhood can begin to ask themselves:
– Will I have my butt pinched?
– What will be like to have my butt pinched?
– What will I tell my friends about having my butt pinched?
– HEY! Why haven’t I had my butt pinched?
The last one is there because all great p-r moves always have to create a certain amount of anxiety in order to be successful.
Owright?
OWRIGHT!

Oh, well that explains it


Can’t stay – I’m off to a luncheon honoring my work with at-risk youth. (Above) Meanwhile it seems that even after the passwords were recovered there was still no access to the management portion of this site. While I am able to post to the page the host has no idea where the site is. As I understand it this missive is coming to you from the bad part of the cloud where the drizzle is all run down and the droplets spend their nights wearing hot pants, leaning into cars asking lonely men if they want to party.
An intervention will be staged and there’s reason to believe a podcast will appear in this space next week.

So much for that

There was supposed to be a podcast in this space this morning. However some one changed all the passwords and now I have no ftp access.
For Father’s Day he’ll be changing them back.
We regret any inconvenience this might have caused.

Yeah, whatever…


Wanna know why there’s no post this week?
Because we went for “a drive” this afternoon.
Do I have to paint you a picture?
Write your own damn blog post if you want to read somethin’.

YMMV

I was going to do this long, ponderous thing about some stuff I’d been thinking about, but I got blindsided by everybody who came back from the Memorial Day weekend with a vengeance. Therefore my internal monolog cam off a whole lot like this.

Otherwise it seems U2 was in town last night. (This is something we learned on Friday – not being fans kinda keeps that stuff off our radar.) The last time that happened His Holiness Pope Bono-dict had breakfast at a place here in the neighborhood. We were not there when the crowds gathered to see if they could reach out an touch the hem of his sunglasses. When we did drop by a few days later the help was still buzzing about his visitation and we tried to make polite noise as they told us how his countenance shown like the light off a velvet painting.
As I said – we’re not fans. At a Roxy Music concert in the late 70s I got an offer of free tickets to see this new band from Ireland. I was mildly interested since most bands from Ireland have a tendency to blow up on the launching pad. A quick listen to their record didn’t do much good as they seemed to be another Chuck Berry – somebody recycling the same licks repeatedly. At our local greasy spoon I kept all that to myself lest they spit in my ham scramble.
Yay and that would be most vexing.

mmmmm … brains

McLUHAN: People are beginning to understand the nature of their new technology, but not yet nearly enough of them—and not nearly well enough. Most people, as I indicated, still cling to what I call the rearview-mirror view of their world. By this I mean to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world. Because we are benumbed by any new technology—which in turn creates a totally new environment—we tend to make the old environment more visible; we do so by turning it into an art form and by attaching ourselves to the objects and atmosphere that characterized it, just as we’ve done with jazz, and as we’re now doing with the garbage of the mechanical environment via pop art. The present is always invisible because it’s environmental and saturates the whole field of attention so overwhelmingly; thus everyone but the artist, the man of integral awareness, is alive in an earlier day. In the midst of the electronic age of software, of instant information movement, we still believe we’re living in the mechanical age of hardware. At the height of the mechanical age, man turned back to earlier centuries in search of “pastoral” values. The Renaissance and the Middle Ages were completely oriented toward Rome; Rome was oriented toward Greece, and the Greeks were oriented toward the pre-Homeric primitives. We reverse the old educational dictum of learning by proceeding from the familiar to the unfamiliar by going from the unfamiliar to the familiar, which is nothing more or less than the numbing mechanism that takes place whenever new media drastically extend our senses.
PLAYBOY: If this “numbing” effect performs a beneficial role by protecting man from the psychic pain caused by the extensions of his nervous system that you attribute to the media, why are you attempting to dispel it and alert man to the changes in his environment?
McLUHAN: In the past, the effects of media were experienced more gradually, allowing the individual and society to absorb and cushion their impact to some degree. Today, in the electronic age of instantaneous communication, I believe that our survival, and at the very least our comfort and happiness, is predicated on understanding the nature of our new environment, because unlike previous environmental changes, the electric media constitute a total and near-instantaneous transformation of culture, values and attitudes. This upheaval generates great pain and identity loss, which can be ameliorated only through a conscious awareness of its dynamics. If we understand the revolutionary transformations caused by new media, we can anticipate and control them; but if we continue in our self-induced subliminal trance, we will be their slaves. Because of today’s terrific speed-up of information moving, we have a chance to apprehend, predict and influence the environmental forces shaping us—and thus win back control of our own destinies. The new extensions of man and the environment they generate are the central manifestations of the evolutionary process, and yet we still cannot free ourselves of the delusion that it is how a medium is used that counts, rather than what it does to us and with us. This is the zombie stance of the technological idiot. It’s to escape this Narcissus trance that I’ve tried to trace and reveal the impact of media on man, from the beginning of recorded time to the present.

This is, give or take a day, my 11th anniversary of having some kind of blog or another. For the next few minutes we’ll once again re-examine the idea that it was either this or a metal detector and I made the wrong choice.
There’s about a 75% chance that I’ll be going to a convention this fall. The other 25% hangs in the balance as the whole sheebang might not come off and if it does I might not go. My general concern is that there’ll be any number of people there who will want, as they constantly say, “To pick your brain.” Over time I have found no good way to tell them that picking my brain is no different than looking around the bottom of your glove box. All you’re really going to find is a busted ballpoint pen, three peppermint Lifesavers, (still in the torn wrapper), and a lint covered penny. Beyond that there is the small problem that I really don’t have much to tell you about what I do every day and if you openly admit that you know even less about what I do than I do then you’re in very, very deep trouble.
And since I mentioned lice picking in the last post I shall spare you my other analogies that I could use at this point which wholly depend of certain aspects of primate behavior.
You’re welcome.
If the event happens I’m thinking about getting business cards made up which list my title as “Media Theorist.” Not that it’ll do much good as no one reads business cards, but at least I can point to the line with the title and say, I think you’ve mistaken me for some one else. At which point I can walk away from being Zombie Chow for yet another day.
Seriously, if i thought there was any money in it I would be a media theorist. But McLuhan got in the game early and really didn’t leave anything for the rest of us. The only thing I have going is the constant nagging thought that affinities do not make us tribes. Backing up a step – as you remember McLuhan said eventually electronic media would detribalize humanity. Douglas Coupland said that this was true as the Internet let people connect who had never connected before. Coupland says that the Net’s ability to bring together adult Lego builders and all the people who play with trains in the basement.
All well and good but I do not think that a tribe consists of a collection of people bound by their affinities. People can go about holding onto those affinities while not renouncing their citizenship or identifying themselves by their profession. (i.e. Hello, I’m DOCTOR Bob.) McLuhan said that radio was a very tribe-making medium and he used Hitler as one example. Hitler, per McLuhan, worked best on the audio medium because the audio medium aims for the gut. But that overlooks the point that Hitler’s message was that Germans needed to be better Germans as Germany had been insulted and only the Germans could do something about it. Make no mistake – uniting weirdoes of a kind is one of the best and most efficient things the Internet(s) can do, but Hitler’s kind of galvanizing message would be a non sequitur to a 37 year-old guy who builds prehistoric swamp dioramas out of Legos, but who still carries an Ohio drivers license and a US passport. After all while Gomez played with trains in the basement, he was still first and foremost an Addams.
And governments who would retribalize their own people in order to cut corners are on a fool’s errand.
But that is another topic for a different time.

Hot enough for ya, Monkey Boy?


In grand blogging tradition I shall now relentlessly bitch about an article in the New York Times that I could scarcely be bothered to read.
With all due respect to those of you who’ve had long standing political issues with The Newspaper of Record, I have long found that the more serious sin it visits upon us is the endless amount of emotional abuse it doles out each Sunday. One section alone of the week’s largest edition begins with endlessly prattling about how there’s nothing but heartache behind every closed door in America and end with a parade of wedding photos from ceremonies that were far, far more perfect than anything you were ever attached to. Today that section brought us the Triple Lutz of Gray Lady Dysfunctionalism. (1.) A major author, Jonathan Franzen, managed to (2.) poo-poo the Like button on Facebook which is in keeping with (3.) the Times ongoing seriously weird love/hate thing with the Internet(s).
Over the course of three or four paragraphs, which was pretty much all I could choke down, Franzen talks about loving his old Crackberry and trying to like his new one. He then shifts gears and points out that liking some one on Facebook falls far short of liking a real person.
Cripes.
All that over the ol’ like/love grammar mistake?
Where to begin?
Liking things on Facebook can be easily be mistaken for expressing yourself in Stalinist Russia, i.e. you can either like something or keep your mouth shut, there are no other options. But – while extremely valid – that point misses most of what Facebook liking is all about. It’s
It’s really just making small talk.
On Facebook you can like baked potatoes, large dogs, and Slurpees. You can like some one’s bad hair day and even like his or her cat too while you’re at it. Overall checking the little like button is just another way of saying, “That color looks good on you.” More importantly – as my old anthropology teacher used to say – it provides us with that small talk outlet that replaced lice picking as we are the most hairless of all primates. Stripped of our ability to fish for small parasites in the hot sun we have shifted our attention to saying things like, “Oh that’s nice, where did you get that? Really?!?!?”
Two major points:
1. Let’s not what a great friend Facebook is to teh_blog. Facebook managed to skim off all those bad-hair-day people. Facebook siphoned off all the people who started a blog and never got past two posts. Facebook managed to be so low effort that it left this medium to those of us who put our shoulders to the wheel at one time or another.
2. There is a symbiosis of sorts in that Facebook has benefitted so much from all the TypePad alumni out there. Each and every one of our Facebook pages is a treasure. People find you and say, “Oh your Facebook page is so interesting. I wish mine was as interesting!”Yet they never realize that we’re just recycling our interesting. We’ve been consistently entertaining for years. So it’s little wonder that we’ve taken our excess charm and dumped it somewhere else.
Seriously, now that the threat of the uninteresting taking up blogging is long past we can recreate the Versailles-like glory that was Web 1.5. We can be free once again to get all bent out of shape about three or maybe four sentences from the New York Times that may or may not have appeared consecutively.

YMMV


This week has largely been consumed by our ongoing discussions of whether or not our child is old enough to hear about the time his maternal grandmother appeared in a girlie magazine. Therefore the posting intended for this space went right off the rails and into the ditch. However it should be noted that Memorial Day is rapidly approaching and that on Memorial Day 2000 I launched my first blog using the Siemens Mark IV Blogeroscitor.
Anniversary posts of a sort will appear next week.

Move along, nothing to see here

“The man (Thomas Pynchon) simply chooses not to be a public figure, an attitude that resonates on a frequency so out of phase with that of the prevailing culture that if Pynchon and Paris Hilton were ever to meet — the circumstances, I admit, are beyond imagining — the resulting matter/antimatter explosion would vaporize everything from here to Tau Ceti IV.” Arthur Salm

My intent was to discuss that quote at length, but I was sidetracked this week by having to explain competitive monopolies. Those of you who can think back to your Econ 101 class will remember that these are business that essentially sell the same goods and then are put in the position of having to sell their differences to attract cutovers.
Think of it this way.
You know what grocery stores sell?
Food.
Competitive monopolies are eager to sell their differences which why you can pose the question, “What can you tell me about this chicken?” at Whole Foods and not Safeway. The ultimate example is gasoline. Gas is the one commodity we all purchase that almost requires an act of faith. With any luck- we will never see, touch, nor taste gasoline, we will only experience the bright lit gas station signs, familiar logos, and come on’s for junk food.. Some will buy into the idea that Station A’s additives are better than Station B’s, the rest of us will go about picking something closer to the house or just choosing a station out of habit. An old econ professor once said that picking one station over another simply because you don’t like making left turns is in fact a buying decision.
Where this all came up was in discussion how the conventional media is little different from selling chickens and gasoline. (coq au mobil) The whole point of being acknowledged as the Best Guest Guesser during the football season or being the fifth caller in order to win a t-shirt is a matter of selling differences. I will even go so far as to say that talk radio has been successful as it has done a great job of hitting people’s hot buttons. All that outrage gives listeners an emotional release they cannot find anywhere else on the dial. Over time you can only give away so may bumper stickers and t-shirt, but there’s no end of how much catharsis you can provide at an extremely low cost.
But then what would I know?
Come back next week and maybe I’ll have a complete thought to share, k?

Happy Mother's Day


When my mother was first pregnant with me she passed up the chance to see one of the above-ground atomic tests in Nevada.
Had she gone it probably would have explained alot.

Diminishing Returns on Lowered Expectations


Lately Dr. Random has been caught up in the Stick Alien Controversy. He’s endlessly fascinated by the whole thing and we’ve been talking about how this might apply to Jungian archetypes.
But let’s back up a touch.
Let’s say these are aliens. So like, MTV finally reached far enough into the galaxy that they saw MC Hammer videos and seeing as he had pants like theirs they decided to make the trip?
And what happened to threatening aliens?
Aren’t we good enough to be menaced from afar anymore?
Look at these two. They look like some cheap Eurotrash marionettes that were seen sandwiched between Totie Fields and Sergio Franke on the old Ed Sullivan Show. If you look at them long enough you can hear Ed saying, “Now for the kidddoooohs all the way from Sarry-ay-vooohhhh…”
But the real blow is to our collective consciousness which Jung said create our archetypes. Here the classic Jungian Little Green Man is reduced to something that looks like a volleyball jammed onto the head of the compass I had in my elementary-school pencil box. Once upon a time our collective unconscious coughed up garishly colored demons complete with brimstone smoke and the eerie sounds of minor chords played on a smoldering violin.
So how did we get to this sorry state?
More importantly, how can we blame Facebook for this?
You work that out while I bust a move.

uhhhhhh,…. yeah


Now that winter’s drug its feet and spring seems like it will never arrive I find that people are getting a little testy. Perhaps we’ve all spent a bit too much time indoors this year and the extended time in our homes has left us irritable. That’s why I took some time last night to think through what I was going to write this morning. Upon further review, as they used to say in the late great NFL, I decided to take a pass on what I was going to say about social media experts.
They don’t really mean to say what they say.
It’s just that their unemployment has run out.
And that’s likely to make anybody crazy.
See you next week.

A pox upon thy mouse


A shadowy group of elites—mainly international bankers but also George W. Bush, Barack Obama, the Clintons, most of the mainstream media, the Saudi royal family, and Google—is trying to enslave the Earth’s population through orchestrated terror attacks and revolutions, vast economic manipulation, vaccines and fluoride, and an ever-widening system of surveillance that includes Facebook.That’s the truth—at least, the truth according to Alex Jones, a popular talk-radio host who is today’s leading proponent and marketer of political paranoia. ‘The globalists have stolen the world’s power,’ he told me recently, with surprisingly abundant good cheer. ‘Their big dream, and all they talk about, is creating a super bioweapon, basically based on a mouse pox, and just turn it loose and kill almost everybody. It kills about 99 percent of whatever mammal you design it for. It’s their Valhalla, and they’re going to do it.'” – Joe Hagan
“Nothing really matters, nothing really matters to me, any way the wind blows” Farrokh Bulsara

Let’s get the hard part out of the way first.
What follows is a comparison.
I only mention that because some one, when not busy making mouse pox, needs to spend some time researching why the human brain partially shuts down every time some one makes a comparison. For whatever reason, every time a comparison is made the part where you’re saying something is kinda, sorta like something else is ignored and the human brain goes fully auto and completely ballistic. Sure you can dress it up with one of those fancy terms you learned in high school English, (i.e simile, desiccant, metaphor, analogy, or taken together what the ancient Greeks called diuretics) but the outcome is still the same.
I am about to piss you the hell off.
Alex Jones came to light as there’s been some press devoted to whether or not Glen Beck cribs from Mr. Jones radio show. Having seen this go by on a variety of web sites I thought it might be interesting to see where Mr. Beck finds his alleged source material. Thankfully Mr. Jones program is available via the Interwebs as he’s only on a handful of AM stations around the country as well as shortwave. (Note to self, go find where the kid put my shortwave radio.) An afternoon’s listening proved nothing more – at least to me- than a trip down memory lane. Save for the mouse pox, the content was pretty much stuff I’d heard before, some of it going back 30-plus years.
So what keeps Alex Jones’s audience in place?
Ready?
Here’s the part where you’re gonna get all hissy-fit pissy.
The Alex Jones show comes off like one of your favorite albums. You bought it on vinyl, you repurchased it when it came out on cd, then you had your kid illegally download it for you just to have a backup copy.
I’m gonna pause here so you can get all that “ARE YOU SAYIN’ (insert album name here) BY (insert band and/or artist name here) IS A BUNCHA RIGHT WING CRACKPOT BULLSHIT?!?!?!?!?” mojo out of your system.
And still all the money goes to mouse pox and not a dime to studying your last thought.
But I digress.
All that commin’-for-your-guns stuff and the FEMA prisons are nothing new. Back when Dr. Random was an infant I used to put him down for his nap and fire up the shortwave radio he grew up to squirrel away somewhere and listen to Col. Bo Gritz. It was the same kind of stuff – only I will grant you – that Mr. Jones has a more secular tone. One of the principle features of Col. Bo’s show was people who would call up and say, “Know what that reminds me of? Book of Acts 3:12-14.” And Col Bo would reply, “Or Leviticus 2:24-28!” Not that they actually coughed up any verse to go with that. They just sprayed numbers around like a post-race NASCAR phone-in show. You’d think you were listening to either a numbers station or The Algebra Classroom of the Air.
And can we all take a moment to remember how great The Art Bell Show was?
When Dr. Random was a newborn and he was waking his mother up every couple of hours in the night she would fire up the radio while nursing. Back then Art still ruled the dead of the night. Some Montana Militia member would call up and subject Art to some proposition that was equal parts the Lord’s Prayer, a snippet from the Declaration of Independence, and the warning off a bottle of rat poison, which proved once and for all that the government was evil. Art, as most of you will remember, would then hang up on these people after first suggesting Luprina, the spray on aspirin, could fix all our ills.
Long story short – Alex Jones is the comfort food of radio listening for some folks. He’s like the album you want to hear in the car on the way home after a long day. For over 30 years I’ve heard just about all of it – how the money isn’t legal, nor is the America flag with the gold fringe, and who gets locked up in a FEMA prison is all based on how you voted in the last election. If all of that is at the root of your zeitgeist then please feel free to fire up The Alex Jones show and may God Bless all who sail in her.
Not that Mr. Jones will have Mr. Beck to worry about for long. As Mr. Beck’s ratings and popularity have faded we might be a year or so away from Mr. Beck having a very public epiphany. Sooner or later he’s going to turn up on some backwater cable station, tears streaming down his pitiful unshaven cheeks, and between sobs he’s going to tell us that he didn’t leave conservatism, conservatism left him. Salon’s vivisection of Mr. Beck from two years ago is very telling. Those of us who’ve spent time in radio know that the wily can turn on a dime if they think their survival is at stake.
But what would I know?
I just insulted your favorite album of all time.

OH PIONEERS!

“I would rather look good than feel good.” generally attributed to Fernando Llamas
“For the record, a rockstar is someone who has achieved stardom through their music. A guru has religious wisdom. A ninja doesn’t tell anyone.” Tara Reid


This was the week when I was stopped in traffic and noticed the woman in the car in front of me. While waiting at the light she took out a brush and, as the kids like to say, started fixin’ her hair like a boss. Then in one graceful, unbroken moment she reached over to the passenger seat and started perking up her dog’s coiffe. As I get older I find it’s the poetry contained in certain moments that make them memorable. Not that it was enough to distract me from my ennui as I began the week falsely accused of being an Internet pioneer.
As Prof. McLuhan would say, “Oh yes!
For those of you just tuning in this is the return of The Poorly Thought Out Sunday Think Piece. (™ pend.)
I read the accusatory email in question about a half dozen times and it didn’t seem to be the least bit humorous. Each reading made the prose only that much more dry and stolid. Beyond that it was every bit as ironic as a Presbyterian clutching a club soda and lime. Not that I know where the author came up with this information and I’m certain that you, as some one who has read all of some of the 80-plus blogs I’ve maintained in the past 12 years knows, there have been exaggerations, conflation, and outright lies set down in print- the highlights of which include:
Claiming to be Adnan Khashoggi’s life coach.
Passing myself off as the leading distributor of feng shui for the Willamette Valley.
Offering my services as a whuffie fluffer/digital phlebologist.
The last one is a regionalism. It’s something along the lines or bag vs. sack or whether you come home with a Tyson or a Perdue chicken. In some cases which one you use is based on whether or not you went to parochial school.
Where were we?
When it comes to blogging and social media certainly the ninja definition posted above applies to the some 120-plus blogs I’ve maintained since 1978. During all that time I’ve worked as far under the radar as possible so that you could feel better about yourself. That by not banging the drum loudly and dabbling endlessly in useless self promotion I have been able to bolster your self esteem by making you feel special – feel as if you were part of a secret society or possessed of esoteric knowledge which in turn gave you the ability to take one last look across the cube farm on a Friday afternoon and say to yourself, “Sleep tight you bastards!”
Not that I know how to convey this to the author of the email as he insists we meet for coffee.
And how is it that none of the people who write to me seem to know how to use the word ‘martini’ in a sentence?
Which is another tropic for another time.
I suppose I could meet with him and give him some 21st Century variation on Adlai’s Stevenson’s speech about how America was built using little more than a plow, a Bible, and an ax. I could even make up something about how we called her Ma back then and go on and on about how she stuffed a mule full of sorghum so that we could venture out from the Geocities with nothing more than a pound of salt and a side of bacon strapped to wee Dr. Random’s back.
But then he’d probably go ruin it by Googling everything I said.
Oh well.
BTW – you can follow Tara Reid on Twitter here.
Me?
By now you should know well enough to leave some things alone.