Archive | January 2007

Equality and Power

My friend sent a couple of us a thought that was worth exploring: Can we ever achieve equality? And if we can’t, why do we strive for it?

By equality, I’m assuming he means power as it seems to bleed into all aspects of life.

I’m leaning on no. We can never achieve equality because human nature wouldn’t allow it. Power is a commodity in a sense that there are those who crave it and those who will trade it for something else (like security and stability). Also, when people organize and get together, we seem form hierarchies as a means of operational efficiencies and that is another exchange of power. Lastly, even political ideologies centered on equality (like communism) have failed because of corruption and greed at the top. It’s an issue of those who don’t want to or care to handle power and those who want it too much.

However, it doesn’t mean that we should stop fighting for it. Abraham Lincoln once said: “For better or worse, our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real.” It’s nearly the same concept as faith. Faith gives purpose. And everyone wants their life to be purposeful, be it to serve a god, procure tons of crap, or pursue a hobby.

One thing I noticed during college was that all the young activists loved to talk out their asses about equality coupled with grand, abstract visions of this and that. Then when you talk to the older activists, you don’t hear any of that. Instead, they were talking about line items in the State’s annual budget, or raising money for their programs, or figuring out a way to serve ten people at their agencies when they could only afford to serve five. Frederick Douglas once said “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Equality now is much more personal and intimate than before. What we strive for now is different, but it’s still driven by the same values. And while the steps we take toward equality are not a running start to kick the Man square in the nuts, we’re picking up the fallen and feeble who can’t walk themselves. It’s less glamorous and heroic, but probably much more fulfilling.

I want to hear what the lovelesscynic, Hongie and Wu-ster have to say about this.


NYC’s Grafitti Problem

Stolen from the Wooster Collective, who stole it from the Antiadvertisingagency.

Dick’s Media Strategy

If you were not cynical enough about what is being reported as the news these days, consider this article I found on Yahoo. It’s about the media strategy Dick Cheney used to cover his ass during the CIA leak fiasco. The best paragraph in the article about the strategy:

The uses of leaks and exclusives. When to let one’s name be used and when to hide in anonymity. Which news medium was seen as more susceptible to control and what timing was most propitious… Even the rating of certain journalists as friends to favor and critics to shun — a faint echo of the enemies list drawn up in Richard Nixon’s White House more than 30 years ago.

Stunts like this damn the credibilty of mass media outlets for everyone and should put journalism students to shame. The fact that they target journalists who were more likely to take a more favorable angle has to break some sort of ethics code. This is the kind of stuff makes the Daily Show the most credible news program out there.

Also, this idea makes me question how authentic even something like Current TV can be because the stories are filed by people and then edited by people who might prefer a perspective over another.

Either people have to learn how to piece together the truth from a variety of sources, or they live in their bubbles guided by a certain reality they choose to subscribe to.

Segmentation Study of Anti-Americanism

I found this off the Wilson Quarterly.

The most benign, “liberal ­anti-­Americanism,” thrives in some former colonies of Great Britain, the authors write. These and other advanced indus­trialized communities mourn America’s failure to live up to its high principles. They see democratic America as a hypocritical, self-­inter­ested pow­er, for example, supporting dictatorships or ad­vo­­cating free trade while protecting its own farmers from ­competition.

Social ­anti-­Americanism,” found most commonly in Scan­dinavia and Japan, decries Uncle Sam’s relatively unfettered capitalism and ­go-­it-­alone exceptionalism in international ­affairs.

Sovereign-­nationalist ­anti-­Amer­i­canism” is particularly strong in China, where the history and aspirations of the ancient kingdom combine to trigger virulent outbursts in response to any perceived lack of “respect.”

Elitist ­anti-­Americanism” is not confined to French intellectuals, but they form its epicenter. Americans, Katzenstein and Keohane write, are viewed by this small but vocal group as uncultured materialists without concern for the finer things of ­life.

Legacy ­anti-­Americanism” lingers in societies such as ­Iran, where American intervention in the past sup­ported despised rulers.

The most dangerous form is “radical ­anti-­Americanism,” whose adherents see America as so de­praved that it must be destroyed. This brand of hatred animates suicide bombers and the remaining ­Marxist-­Leninist rulers. Only America’s renunciation of its ­political-­economic system and culture can rectify the situation, the radicals ­say.

Selling Out

A friend found this article about the boom in espresso stands featuring super hot baristas who are usually half naked and flirty when they serve you your coffee. Business owners started doing this because it makes way more money than having ugly, fully clothed baristas. I guess it was only a matter of time we added coffee stand to the list of businesses that use some sort of “faux-affection” as a valued added component.

What worries me, besides the obvious, is that I think affection is a very genuine thing. It’s something we learn from our mothers and give to those we love. It gives us strength and it makes us vulnerable at the same time. What I think these sorts of operations do for people is that it either teaches them to “commodify” affection or become leery and suspicious of it.

Commodification of something like this implies detachment because the middleman is money. With money in the middle, it ceases to become something earned and looses much of its meaning. It’s more of a physical rush than an emotional one as people learn that they can get it through a vendor. Usually, I think affection involves a whole range of other things that come with the person you’re dealing with, by isolating it away from all of that, we make it very easy, almost too easy, to get it. We also strip away the complexities of the relationship, and managing those complexities, as I have found in my own life, is what makes us human and who we are.

If affection is something that can be bought and sold or used as a tool, then we begin to question whether it’s genuine. Is that girl batting her eyelashes at me because she likes me, or is it because she wants something from me? These sorts of inner monologues complicate personal communications and changes the way we relate to one another as our interactions become less innocent and wholesome.

I’m not saying everyone who goes to one of these stands or Hooters or strip clubs succumbs to this. Neither am I condoning it because in it’s a win (customers) – win (workers, big big tips) – win (business owner, $$). But again, the concern is that it changes things.

Pop Culture and Art

I went to the National Art Gallery yesterday with a friend and saw a ton of paintings inspired by the Bible. I think it’s fair to argue that we are a much more secular society today than before, therefore our art looks like this:

(Click to make them big. Right click to save them as your desktop =)




It’s Over for Us Ad People

I found this on TechCrunch. A student from Parsons created a bunch of fake ads by remixing “words and semantic structures from real corporate slogans” and pairing them with pictures he found on flickr. All of this is random generated.