Archive for August, 2013

The “dream” died 25 years ago…

August 29, 2013

I teared up when I watched Martin Luther King speak 50 years ago. I was 20. I believed in King and the message. I was absolutely un-moved today.

It was embarrassing to watch…unwittingly hypocritical speakers from the past — who in many cases contributed to undermining social change – offering self serving speeches filled with lies and revisionist witness…and claims of success and real progress — when the evidence of today could not be more contrary.  We’ve been hijacked…and believe we can do nothing about it.

The celebration of King’s dream was a sad joke on the great Mall today.

Fact is, while not quite stillborn — the “dream” never got enough air under its wings. It sputtered shortly after takeoff — and then slipped into irrelevancy. Then was killed by apathy and antipathy and, as always, malicious intent.  Made deader than dead, by those who felt no connection with the people, the cause, and the ethics and essential morality of it all — and who saw opportunity in preserving status quo — and in stopping social change dead in its tracks.

We watched in embarrassed silence, as those who could and wanted to…re-rigged the game back, and a little differently — and then stole the dream right from under the noses and eyes of the marchers and their leaders and the self professed social visionaries.  And from under the noses and eyes of those of us who claimed sympathetic righteous support…and to care.

The dream was taken away — and it was given away. Focused, mean spirited and committed sleek headed pricks — against poor folks who never got out of the gates enough to fulfill the dreams they didn’t realize were theirs to fight for.  And it was given away by all us do gooders who got tired fighting other peoples fights just because it was the right thing to do.

The “Great Society” goes bad. Nobody cares enough. Hey we tried.

Footprints in the sand erased by persistent racial and malevolent  tides — leaving only grainy black images of a grainy black man speaking magic words that made us cry for a few moments — when we still believed that people could stop being inhuman and evil to each other — and that fairness and compassion could actually occur in our life time.

It did for a few moments, I need to remember that.  I need to remember that today — 50 years later.  For a moment, we did well in this country.

And, oh dear God — despite all the puny attempts by gifted speakers on the Mall today — to spin the time and space a different way — my how we have lost.

Even our first black president could speak only of the past horrors — and past champions who were willing to speak truth to power — loud enough to make white people cry for their sins of inhumanity to brothers…and have hearts lifted (a least momentarily) in the hope (née dreams) that maybe things could be the way they were supposed to be…if we just dreamed hard enough.

Obama could not speak convincingly about how much better things have gotten since King spoke so compellingly of the immorality of living history and of dreams…because he had no credibility to do so.

While things have gotten progressively worse for our country — and for the poor specifically (you can read the stats as well as I can) — and while the momentary national and corporate shift to the left made in the LBJ and Nixon years was obliterated during the past 25 years…Obama’s response has been mostly, to float a series of “half measure” pieces of legislation that were designed to “fail with the illusion of honor”. Talk big (not too big mind you) and fail because the opposition wouldn’t go along. If that indeed was the reason…

He never even tried to get the right thing done. He let the crooks off — he went along with ‘way too big’ corporation’s assumption of risk in our name — and waited too late with his tricky brand of moral decisiveness, to have any impact on the issues of the day.  He played safe and ineffectually when he should have been “raising hell” at what had just occurred under two terms of Chaney/Bush disaster — and a couple of preceding Clinton terms who, we can’t forget, eliminated the safety nets and social structures built to help the poor — and set the stage for corporate outsourcing, banking roll ups, and the financial pillaging of our country by those who now control it’s wealth.

And about all this…and it’s devastating impact on middle and lower classes…and on the profoundly disenfranchised and impoverished… our first black president offered little in terms of moral outrage — and said nothing of much use or value by way of explaining what was done — or why he has done nothing to discourage people from doing these things ever again.

He didn’t even offer his ‘dream’ of what he should have done…let alone a glimpse of what he might do in the future — that might offer hope to those who have come to believe that dreams about what could be and should be — just don’t happen in America anymore.

50 years later…

“Why are you still blogging after all this time?”

August 19, 2013

Well, by way of explanation…I offer the following:

I actually have an answer. Which sort of issued out of my mouth after my daughter Heather asked that exact question a while back.

I started blogging initially, to see if I could…and to see if I wanted to, or not.  I never had written much of anything but business related stuff before then…which mostly was comprised of situation analysis and business assessments anchored in real time — and framed in financial feasibility…and proposed plans on what was needed to get businesses back on track again.

Almost always my business writing included a Joe original “base piece” on the clients business — from the purchaser/user perspective. How do users, competitive users and non users see the products and business relative to competitive alternatives. How does individual product selection criteria and purchase decision dynamics influence/effect what alternative competitive products potential users are drawn to.

Assuming that businesses are comprised of people buying the same thing for different reasons — how do the differences aggregate into the key market segments that comprise the market place.

And given all that – how did the business get into the position it’s currently in (usually in trouble) – and what is needed to get the company back in the game….and where is all this going in the near and long term…so leadership knows what they’re dealing with — and what they need to be doing and thinking about for the future…and is the whole drill worth the effort.

Well, after looking back over a couple of years of blogging – it is obvious, to me at least, that my blogging posts look a lot more like my business writing than I every would have thought would be the case.

Most of my blogs are on the same pretty explosive and timely subjects that everyone else is drawn to. My blogs – when you get right down to it – are my attempts at trying to figure out what’s going on here… and to gain some level of understanding of how all this came to past the way it did. What made them/him/her do it.  What’s the root cause of the problems that set all this in motion — and underlying dynamics that got us here to this point.

And then if I’m really focused and pumped — I well might spend some time thinking about what might be considered that isn’t on the screen yet? And on  what can we possibly do to stop really bad things from happening again and again?  And what are the implications if we do nothing and continue to let things slide? Where are we right now? How did we get here? Where is all this going? What do we need to do to turn things around?  How serious is it?  Who’s driving the bus on this stuff?  Who’s on our side?  Why isn’t anything getting done to fix things?  Joe’s “base piece” stuff.

Mostly, I think I write for me.  In no small way it’s therapy.  It satisfies my need to understanding complex issues and the interconnections with other elements that comprise the total system – simply.  It (the writing) forces me to critically think things through…at least to the point where I have enough of an understand of what’s going on – at a very fundamental and dynamic human level – to feel I can legitimately have a point-of-view on the subject.

One of the consequences of writing from a human behavioral and motivational perspective — and with personal passion — and out of a personal sense of ethics – is that sometimes I sound angry and frustrated…and that…flat out…is because I am really, really upset at what has happened to our country — when those who chose to hand the game over to those who have gamed us completely without consequence.

I also am frustrated beyond belief at our inability to act…and to fix what is so clearly broken…and to regain the ethical and moral high ground – and to regain a worthy compassion for others  before it disappears completely – and to regain a sense of functional community we once held high as our nations banner.  For that I’m sorry – and if I seem a bit more rabid than you’d like – or if I’m banging up against your personal notions and beliefs, I’m sorry for that too.  Let me know sometime…and let’s talk about it.

But since the blog and the thoughts expressed within, are mine – and because I believe that almost always the writing process, and the critical thought supporting it, manages to provoke a thought, or insight or two, in the blogs I’ve posted over the years — that may not have been considered before…and that maybe reduced the complexity of the issues being dealt with a notch or two – and maybe shed some light on how the humans involved — all got to where they did — I’m going to keep on for a while more.

It’s therapy after all.

Bezos at the Post.

August 12, 2013

(Sort of like “barbarians at the gate” but different. Maybe)

It’s not too far — and certainly not a big reach — from Amazon, the place where one’s past purchases form the data base generated suggestions for future purchase — to a Washington Post where past data based readership behavior patterns would be used to determine future interest in reporters articles and content bias — and Op-Ed/opinion writer’s points-of-view.

Nor is it a big jump to see Bezos taking all the individual readership tracking data generated by the entire WaPo readership base and combine it with the Amazon personal purchase information to create a pretty robust and pretty detailed profile of readers and readership patterns — and their personal levels of interest in various subjects…and imputed political persuasions, philosophical leanings and religious orientation value and ethical biases.

And it certainly is easy for me to assume that todays digital champion of modern marketing will use much the same data manipulation techniques and algorithms to not only direct readers to articles and editorial pieces that would appeal to each reader specifically – based on past readership patterns — but can and will use said personal data from all associated and related data base sources a available to him — to build quite detailed data and usage, attitudinal and motivational information about his readers individually — and as members of various “affinity” clusters  or attitudinal market segments — which can and will be used as a basis for editorial content development direction to appeal to those individual interests and biases — and to build customer loyalty as being editorially representative of their aggregated affinity “position”.

And in this digital world of one-to-one communications where the ability to tailor content on-line, and in real time, to directly appeal to each individual reader’s interests, tastes, biases, and points-of-view — using data base information to do so — pretty much insures that Bezos’ acquisition of the Washington Post will result in a way trickier rag than its been It’s been in the past.

So, be apprehensive and cautious and suspicious with the Bezos takeover.

Anybody or any organization who has the ability and technical know how to track readership patterns and to combine data base information from multiple sources to create interest and political and attitudinal profiles — with the ability to create “content” tailored to historical readership interests and personal politics, philosophical and ethics and value orientations — is a frightening “manipulation of power” looking for a place to happen.

I frankly see nothing much good coming out of Bezos at the Post.

Mostly I see it as another scary and increasingly refined/sophisticated (albeit frighteningly manipulative)   conduit allowing folks who might be so interested — in blowing agenda loaded  “disinformation” up our collective asses…for who knows what purposes.

Sort of the “action arm” of the surveillance business that we suddenly find ourselves suffocating under.  You know…like 1984 thing was supposed to be like. And pretty much now is.

Makes me wonder who’s behind it all. I’m afraid I already know.

We’ll see…