“This summer, at the age of 51â€”not even oldâ€”I watched on a flatscreen as the last Space Shuttle lifted off the pad. I have followed the dwindling of the space program with sadness, even bitterness. Whereâ€™s my donut-shaped space station? Whereâ€™s my ticket to Mars? Until recently, though, I have kept my feelings to myself. Space exploration has always had its detractors. To complain about its demise is to expose oneself to attack from those who have no sympathy that an affluent, middle-aged white American has not lived to see his boyhood fantasies fulfilled.”
-Â Neal StephensonÂ onÂ Innovation Starvation
The West went to Vienna accusing Asia of trying to undermine the ideal of universality and determined to blame Asia if the conference failed. Inevitably Asia resisted. The result after weeks of wrangling was a predictable diplomatic compromise ambiguous enough so that all could live with it, but settled very few things. There was no real dialogue between Asia and the West, no genuine attempt to address the issues or forge a meeting of minds.
-Â Ambassador Kausikan, World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, June 1993
Wow, I think I’m guilty of this. And I’m not sure I can change either.
I read “Why Muslims are still mad at America” by Steven Kull on CNN and I can’t say that I think the Muslim perception of the American narrative is incorrect. Speaking for myself, I do view freedom and civil rights for women as an evolution past Sharia law. I believe our Democratic-Republic is a more evolved form of government than a theocracy. Of course the non-sequitur in my thought pattern is that Sharia is opposed to rights for women, which I realize does not follow. Non-sequitur or not, that is how my brain processed it. And that is how governments like the Taliban implemented it.
So why are Muslims still mad at America? From Dr. Kull’s article on CNN:
“…there is one thing that is the most fundamental: their (Muslim) perception that America seeks to undermine Islam – a perception held by overwhelming majorities.”
“According to this American narrative – which Muslims perceive as arrogant and dismissive – human society naturally and inevitable evolves through the stages that the West has gone through.Â As in the Renaissance, religion is largely banished from the public sphere, thus allowing pluralism and diversity of beliefs in the private sphere while maintaining a secular public sphere.Â This leads naturally to the elevation of individual freedoms and the emergence of democratic principles that make the will of the people the basis of the authority of law rather than revealed religious principles.
From this assumed American perspective, Muslim society is seen as simply behind the West in this evolutionary process.Â Retrogressive forces in Muslim society are seen as clinging to Islamic traditions that make Sharia the basis of law, not the will of the people, and inevitably keep women in their traditional oppressed roles and minority religions discriminated against.”
I would be interested to know how many Americans, right or wrong, actually do view Islamic governments as earlier than Western governments in the course of natural evolution. I had never thought about it in exactly that way, but it makes sense. I’m guilty of thinking that. And I don’t think it was Islam where the west first threw off the shackles. I suspect we can creditÂ Henry VIII, Martin Luther and Ann Boleyn for ending the rule-by-fiat from Rome for that part of the West’s evolution in political thought.
There was an article a while back I read that opined that Muslims view Judaism as “Religion 1.0”, Christianity as “Religion 2.0” and Islam as “Religion 3.0.” Thus the later releases should be “superior” to those prior. And if Islam is indeed superior to Christianity or Judaism in the eyes of Muslims, then why do the people who subscribe to these 1.0 or 2.0 religions prosper more than the new-fangled 3.0 release?Â (I tried to find the article but instead found message-boards full ofÂ crazyÂ posts, so I won’t link them.)
I can see how the Muslim perception of the American narrative could be particularly galling from that world view. Although the irony of a perception of American arrogance based on an arrogant assumption of religious superiority means both narratives aren’t fact based. Narratives are stories. In this case it’s a perception of a story you think the other person thinks without actually asking them. This thought pattern is best expressed by a quote from VizziniÂ in the Princess Bride:
“But it’s so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you: are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own goblet or his enemy’s? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own goblet, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me.” (and he goes on and on…)
You think that I think that you think that I think that you…etc… You can’t resolve that or even have a reasonable conversation about something that amorphous. After Vizzini drops dead from switching and then drinking from the Goblet that was in front of our hero, theÂ Man in BlackÂ explains to ButtercupÂ how he did it:
“They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane powder.”
In closing, why can’t we all just get along man? And it seems to me keeping religion out of politics is the first step and was a wise decision. If any of the religions are more or less “evolved” is not really the point. It is that this quote from James Madison:
“The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed.”
Which became the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
To me at least, separation of church and state is a more evolved political structure. And that, in my opinion, has nothing to do with the superiority or inferiority of any particular religion. It simply speaks of a political system designed toÂ reduce people killing each other in the name of God.
I don’t think we are even close to fully understanding the Nuclear crisis unfolding in Japan. Just read this on CNN:
Radiation in water rushing into sea tests millions of times over limit
Tokyo (CNN) — Another attempt by Japanese officials to stop the leaking of highly radioactive water from a nuclear reactor into the ocean failed Tuesday, the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
Both the utility and Japan’s nuclear safety agency say they don’t know how much water is leaking into the sea from reactor No. 2. But engineers have had to pour nearly 200 tons of water a day into the No. 2 reactor vessel to keep it cool, and regulators say they believe the leak originates there
Earlier Tuesday, Edano apologized for the decision to intentionally dump 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea — all part of the effort to curb the flow of the more toxic liquid spotted days ago rushing from outside the No. 2 unit.
Yup, they don’t know how much water is going into the ocean. Although I’d guess it is about the same amount as has been dumped into the reactor from helicopters and fire hoses.
Here is the problem for those of us in the states. The North Pacific Gyre is the largest ecosystem in the world and it circles between Asia and the West Coast of the US of A. So when you hear “don’t know how much water is leaking into the sea” and “had to pour nearly 200 tons of water a day into the No. 2 reactor vessel” and “intentionally dump 11,500 tons of radioactive water into the sea” it starts to become our problem very quickly.
We have some experience recently on trying to take the pee out of the pool. The use of chemicalÂ dispersant apparently helped. As did microbes that eat oil (who knew?). The problem with Radiation in the water is a bit different for a number of reasons.
- Currents. TheÂ Deepwater Horizon was in the Gulf of Mexico which has a loop current, but for the most part the oil didn’t make it even to Florida. The Pacific also has a loop current but the loop goes between Asia and the United States quite efficiently.
- You can’t see radiation in the water. You can’t fly a plane over the ocean and see a sheen like you can with oil. You can detect radiation, but only people with the right equipment. Thus citizen journalism and distributed responses aren’t possible from civilians.
- You can’t control fish. They swim where they want to swim. And many swim all over the world. So beyond the currents dispersing the radiation, you have radioactive fish. Does Pike’s Place Market put in aÂ GeigerÂ counter? How long till Amazon is sold out?
- Japan makes a lot of stuff. We like to buy stuff. But we prefer if it is radiation free. Not sure how the economics on this play out.
- Japan makes a lot of pharmaceuticals. Will consumers continue to trust these products? From wikipedia:
- In 2006, the Japanese pharmaceutical market was the second largest individual market in the world. With sales of $60 billion it constitutes approximately 11% of the world market.
- China makes a lot of steel. We buy it. They unfortunately share an ocean with Japan. And even more unfortunately a tremendous amount of water is used in the steel manufacturing process. Is the source freshwater or ocean water? And if ocean water then how does this play out in the steel market.
- Culture. In Japan shame is handled quietly according to everything I have read. As Gladwell explains, a culture of deference can be deadly in a crisis. So what little we know coming out of the crisis right now is suspect. It is not that the facts they are telling the world aren’t true. It is the “what are they not telling us” that scares me.
And now I guess we should all check the WSJ to see when Berkshire Hathaway buys the leading non-Japanese manufacturer ofÂ GeigerÂ counters. Because sadly the ones from Japan might be detecting themselves.
What do I think will happen?
I don’t really know. What I hope is that given the majority of the planet is ocean, that the amazing creature that is our living ocean will be able to absorb the radiation and disperse it to safe levels. What I hope is despite the folly of man, nature will once again protect us. That is what I hope. And I continue to pray for Japan. Both for the victims of theÂ TsunamiÂ and now as victims of a nuclear disaster.
Worth a read. A revolution against Neoliberalism
Guaranteeing the sanctity of markets is supposed to be the limit of legitimate state functions, and state interventions should always be subordinate to markets. All human behavior, and not just the production of goods and services, can be reduced to market transactions.
And the application of utopian neoliberalism in the real world leads to deformed societies as surely as the application of utopian communism did.
Social media may have helped organise the kernel of a movement that eventually overthrew Mubarak, but a large element of what got enough people into the streets to finally overwhelm the state security forces was economic grievances that are intrinsic to neoliberalism.
Tells the story of Evey Hammond and her unlikely but instrumental part in bringing down the fascist government that has taken control of a futuristic Great Britain. Saved from a life-and-death situation by a man in a Guy Fawkes mask who calls himself V, she learns a general summary of V’s past and, after a time, decides to help him bring down those who committed the atrocities that led to Britain being in the shape that it is in. Written by ameelmore
New to me anyway.
Sometimes advice is populist, but there is a logical flaw. A company who follows the infamous â€œwork smarter not harderâ€ quickly falls to a company that believes â€œwork smarter AND harder.â€ Working smarter-not-harder would only work if hard workers were dumb. But we get smarter through experience! So unfortunately, hard workers are typically also smarter than you. Oooops. But we donâ€™t like to admit that. What we want to hear is that theÂ 4 hour work week is a winner. Â I certainly wish the global economy worked that way. (But it doesn’t)
You can read the full post at When to Apply Business Advice.
“I once watched a highly intelligent Pueblo Indian engaged in intercultural education programs struggle and sweat to put into words a problem he and his people were having to cope with. Whenever a white man is put down in the middle of a pueblo, the Indians must cope with his narcissism as expressed by his almost total preoccupation with how HE is doing (providing he is well motivated) or how HE is being treated (if he is less idealistic).
Regardless of motives, behavior of this sort is threatening and disruptive to Pueblo life, because the Indians are just the opposite. Their concern is not with themselves but with the group and how the group is faring.
The Indians see what we call narcissism in all whites â€“ a trait that goes far beyond and is much more inclusive than self-love and individual differences. Since the Pueblo Indians themselves are not this way, how can they describe what they themselves do not include in their experience?
And what does the well-motivated concerned white man do when he has devoted much of his life to â€œhelpingâ€ the Indians only to discover that cultural insight reveals him as a disruptive force in Pueblo life, even though he considers himself an ally?
Why hadnâ€™t any of his Pueblo friends told him this?”
– Beyond Culture, Edward T. Hall, pg 153, Copyright 1976
Yali’s famous question from the book Guns, Germs, and Steel:
â€œAll of those things must have been on Yaliâ€™s mind when, with yet another penetrating glance of his flashing eyes, he asked me, â€œWhy is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?â€ â€“ pg 14
â€œThe, questions about inequality (Yaliâ€™s question) in the modern world can be reformulated as follows. Why did wealth and power become distributed as they are now, rather than in some other way? For instance, why werenâ€™t Native Americans, Africans, and Aboriginal Australians the ones who decimated, subjugated, or exterminated Europeans and Asians?â€ â€“ pg 16
and the conclusion
â€œYaliâ€™s question went to the heart of the current condition, and of post-Pleistocene human historyâ€¦ how shall we answer Yali? I would say to Yali: the striking differences between the long-term histories of peoples of the different continents have been due not to innate differences in the people themselves but to differences in their environments.â€ â€“ pg 405
Ecosystems matter. Our environment matters. And in fact it becomes a matter of human rights in the long term. Yali was a wise man.
It is a common mantra in marketing that our brands live in the mind of the consumer. A recent television commercial for a major software brand quotes the Chief Marketing Officer of a major beverage brand saying
“Our brands are owned by the consumers who love them.”
Or as the Social Customer blog quotes:
You Don’t Own Your Brand – Your Customer Does
– Christopher F. Carfi, CEO of Cerado
Perhaps the first people to observe this are Ries and Trout in the book Positioning. That brands occupy a small space, a niche, a “creneau” as the French say, in your mind. The brands are in your brain and you can’t remove them. We can not remove Coke-a-ColaTM, MicrosoftTM, DisneyTM, GoogleTM, ExxonTM, SonyTM, NFLTM, The Super BowlTM, The Olympic GamesTM, etcTM, etcTM, etcTM from our minds even if we wanted to!
And brands, mine included, invest heavily to achieve this. To place our brand in your brain we use PR tactics and advertising. And to defend our brands against infringement or dilution. Now that we own a creneau in your brain we do not want someone else to come along and mess it up! That is OUR corner of YOUR brain. Don’t touch it.
That is a hypothetical of course but the point is that if one brand tries to access that portion of your brain encoded by another brand in your brain, then we have a legal battle of the brands. Fighting. Over a space. In your brain.
Disney and the NFL are fighting over a space in YOUR brain.
And who is paying YOU for the lease of the space in your brain? Who gave the Super Bowl brand-colocation rights in your brain? And if not, can you reasonably avoid the barrage of branding messages out there designed to write on that spot in your brain? Of course not.
So why aren’t you being paid a brand colocation fee, rent if you will, by brands that are occupying your brain? You are watching tennis with your kids in the room on TV and the GEICOTM advertisements places a freakin lizard and money with googely-eyes into your head. What’s in it for you?
Not much. You are just the real estate where brands live. And you get nothing for it.
Brand Colocation Fees: a Modest Brand Proposal
You should charge brands a fee to live in our brains. Lets think about it:
If the dude was sleeping on your couch for a day and then left, you call that a “favor for a friend” or a “minor inconvenience.” But if the dude MOVED INTO your house and stayed in that same spot in your house day after day, sooner or later you’d give him a bill for rent, right? So how is this different?
In fact the unwelcome-boarder analogy can be extended. Say that another vagrant shows up. The two proceed to fight over YOUR sofa in YOUR living room. Then if you mention either of them by name they SUE YOU! Yet aren’t THEY the interlopers? Have THEY not taken residence in YOUR living room? Aren’t they quite literally fighting over your sofa, disrupting you, in your house? Why do you put up with this?
Well I tell ya, in Texas, we don’t. No sir. We all have guns and drive pickup trucks and by golly we’ll chase them out screaming like Yosemite SamTM shooting at them as you run so far awaySM. By golly. Or we’ll charge them a fair rent. Either works. You gotta be flexible in a recession, right? So anyway.
The only reasonable conclusion is that a Brand-Colocation-Fee must be charged for the brand to “co-locate” in our brain.Â A Brand-Colocation Fee (BCF) is the only fair solution to reconcile the years of free rent accumulated by these interlopers, these free riders, residing in and fighting over the sofas and man-chairs in our minds. Even that extra comfy chair your Dad always took when he got home from work. The brands want to sit in that chair too! It is only reasonable that brands must purchase the brain’s equivalent of the very fair and equitable NFL Personal Seat License (PSL).
And like a PSL is not a seat, just the rights to buy a seat, so too a BCF doesn’t guarantee a space in your brain, just the branding rights to that corner of your brain. If I have no need for a number-one-or-number-two creneau for aircraft engines, then you can ignore the brands anyway.
Hey, it’s YOUR BRAIN, right? RIGHT?
How to calculate the Brand-Colocation Fee
This of course brings us to three new challenges:
- How to calculate the appropriate BCF for a given brand and;
- how to collect the appropriate fees from a brand and;
- how to disburse the interlopers’ money to the brain-land-owners
First lets agree that the average consumer knows thousands of brands and has many many “positions” in her mind as a consumer. Each of these positions is unique and has one, maybe two brands, that occupy that space. Number one or number two.
Additionally brands are faced with a global marketplace and regional competitors. It is very confusing to track whose brain has recorded which brand. And so as not to be a burden to the brands, we humbly suggest that brand colocation fees should be modest on a per-person scale. But how do we manage this?
A Brand Colocation Fee Union (BCFU) to Manage BCF Collection and Disbursement
We need an efficient oversight committee to calculate and manage the collection of brand colocation fees. To take into account birth and death so Disney isn’t paying a BCF to a deceased account. Yet we, the brain holders, need equitable representation. We need in fact a Union to ensure our brain space is properly represented. But what do we call this Union? I propose a Brand Colocation Fee Union.
The Brand Colocation Fee Union, or BCFU for short, will manage the calculation and collection of brand colocation fees in a fair and equitable way for brands and the consumers alike.
Given this is a complex matter we further propose to put all of the Corrupt New York Bankers back to work creating brand lookup tables and more imaginary math to calculate a fair and equitable and defensible (and probably corrupt) set of rate tables.
The BCFU brand source tables should take into account factors including but not limited to:
- Some brands are welcome and I, as a consumer, will gladly waive the fee. Yes this means I am brain washed, but why else do open source advocates love the completely proprietary Apple brand? So sometimes the BCFU fee should be zero. We can sort the crazies using demographic data.
- Fees should be equitable and reasonable. Given the relatively low cost of many consumer products, say a Coke, an annual fee for even such a strong brand might only be one (1) US dollar per person per year (not consumer as even non-buyers carry the burden of the coke brand in their brain).
- Brands that insist on existing in our brains, but serve no purpose but to annoy, should be penalized! Just cause they bug us. Specifically brands should be penalized for advertising to the wrong demographic. Think “Head On” or “The Clapper” – two brands closely followed by Capital One, AFLAC and Geico for seriously-damn-annoying factor. These people should pay a reasonable person $10 per year.
- Political brands, as much as I hate to say it, should be exempt from BCFU fees when sending information for the service of their constituents. But should reasonably be charged a penalty for negative campaigning. After all, they are working to reposition a brand in your brain to a new position in YOUR BRAIN. Again, we leave this to the BCFU to calculate with their fancy economists.
- Crappy brands like Larry Flint or Girls Gone Wild – they owe me BIG. I want 1 million dollars per year for these stupid brands! But again, being a reasonable and represented person, I’ll defer to the wisdom of the unions when it comes to equitable brand taxation.
Next Steps in the Battle to Win Back Your Mind (or at least charge rent for the space)
To recap, given Brands exist in OUR BRAINS. we should charge a fair rent.
We propose to call that brand-rent a brand colocation fee (BCF). And, being American, we wish to outsource the hard part to a union called the Brand Colocation Fee Union (BCFU).
What are your thoughts? Which brands should pay the most? The least? Which politician or law firm can get this started for us? A brain-space space-race. Our new bureaucracy, the BCFU, surely wouldn’t let us down?
A great re-post on Media Orchard’s blog – 9 ways to commemorate 9-11
- Fly an American flag.
- Take time to reflect on the loved ones you have lost during your lifetime.
- Treat people the way you did in the days immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
- Listen at least twice as much as you talk.
- Don’t watch the major cable news channels.
- Don’t listen to talk radio. Same reason.
- Don’t read political blogs. Ditto.
…ya, I left you hanging. The last two, 8 and 9, are great … click through to Media Orchard for them.
Many of us went to see John Prendregast on Darfur with the Houston World Affairs Council. One of the strategies he mentioned was economic pressure on China because China strongly supports the Darfur government.
Specifically Prendergast mentioned an initiative called the â€œgenocide Olympicsâ€ which was an attempt to tie the next China Olympics to their complicity with the government of Darfur. It appears to be working. From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON, April 12 â€” For the past two years, China has protected the Sudanese
government as the United States and Britain have pushed for United
Nations Security Council sanctions against Sudan for the violence in Darfur.
Now this is China. So seeing the press in the US may make them reverse directions just as a show of power. But one can hope.
… a small group of us came to the
realization that schools need to start serving the tension between
ego-centered, personalized, individualistic society and globalized
society. There used to be scales – people would be part of local
communities, broader communities, nation-states, etc. Networked society
is altering the relationships between people and communities are
suffering because of the lack of cohesion, social norms, etc. When we
think about education (especially when we talk about its role in
relation to civic life), we need to stop damning technology and start
engaging with the shifts that have occurred in the architecture of
This is the first time I felt challenged to look at education from an ego-centered tension between personalized and globalized society. Interesting.
Of course the problem may be, not sure, buy may be serving tension between areas implies an awareness of the boundaries. And that isn’t easy.
On a related note, be sure to read CAE’s posts on the attention economy and organizations.
You can’t discuss child labor without also discussing globalization, marketing and collective action. I really do try to keep this blog on marketing, public relations and social software. But sometimes those topics are a bit bigger. You can’t discuss public relations without knowing that Ferdinand Marcos was created by a PR Practitioner. You can’t discuss Bernays or Ivy Lee without also discussing pre-war Germany and McCarthyism.
I think (and this is me exaggerating a bit) that most Americans view child labor as kids being made to work in mills and sweatshops instead of staying home and playing Playstation and getting an education. Like their lives at home would be so much better if only someone blew up Starbucks.
In reality, it seems that many would stay home and watch their siblings die from lack of medicine and food, see their parent(s) struggle to find work that is not there for them and would have no school to attend because there simply is none to go to.
I was thinking, when reading this newsbit, that a problem I have with obie-noxious outspoken protesting go-against-the-grainers is that they have many, many complaints against… well, sometimes everything… but no solutions.
What is known is making donations of goods through NGOs is not the solution. Pure free-trade-zones also cause problems because they do not contributed tax back to the local society and create an uneven playing field, thereby encouraging the creation of more free-trade-zones in other countries which also don’t contribute to the local society. Capitalism with limits (reasonable taxes to solve collective action problems for example) actually does improve the lives of the many. The question is where are those limits?
May I suggest four books that relate:
- NOLOGO, Naomi Klein (despite being sensational at times, a tremendous concise history of marketing is included as a bonus)
- The World is Flat, Thomas L. Friedman
- George Soros on Globalization (bad writing style, but he makes some good points about the anti-globalization process being co-opted and solving the right problems with the right groups)
- Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, Mancur Olson
As for me, I have studied the topics of PR, collective action, social software and politics to the point that I no longer believe I have any answers. But I definitely DO believe in the wisdom of crowds and therefore distributed authoring. So back to programming the systems to help others solve the problem collectively….