Somebody said we were allowed to think out loud. Pardon the mess.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Marketers" aren't liars. We all are.

A doodle...

(chicken scratch: (because their own self-perceptions bend the light - their view)

A thought...

I don't have access to your "truth" because you're still sorting it out. I don't have access to my "truth" because your "truth" gets in the way.

So we get dueling plausible falsehoods, propped up by circumstantial evidence:
Who I know
Where I live
What I drive or wear
What I do for a living
How much my kids are achieving...
All these things can be taken away or fall from grace or favor.

Then what?

Back to self; inner journey.

The content of our character.

Can't buy that. Can't sell it.

Have to build it. DIY.
Godspeed, Mrs. Schiavo

The gray rain curtain of this world rolls back…and all turns to silver glass. And then you see it. White shores…and beyond. A far green country…under a swift sunrise. --Gandalf

Living Will is the best revenge.

By ROBERT FRIEDMAN, Perspective Editor
St. Petersburg Times

Like many of you, I have been compelled by recent events to prepare a more detailed advance directive dealing with end-of-life issues. Here's what mine says:

* In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn't be long enough for me.

* I want my wife and my parents to compound their misery by engaging in a bitter and protracted feud that depletes their emotions and their bank accounts.

* I want my wife to ruin the rest of her life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I'd be really jealous if she waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.

* I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

* I want those crackpots to spread vicious lies about my wife.

* I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.

* I want... [here]

Me? I want a pony.

But after posting this, I'm probably just gonna be given a stinky fire-breathing warthog and an iPod shuffle with 240 covers of Puff the Magic Dragon by these guys.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Try the Machiavelli Mochciatto Venti. Or a Jonah Goldberg, small.

St Petersburg Times

Some conservatives are angered by opinionated quotes that Starbucks puts on its cups.

The Seattle coffee chain has raised some eyebrows over its "The Way I See It" campaign, which prints quotes from thinkers, authors, athletes and entertainers on the side of your morning machiatto. The goal, according to the company, is to foster philosophical debate in its 9,000-plus coffeehouses.

The quotes aren't all that inflammatory, though several mirror Starbucks' hallmark tall-grande-venti pretentiousness. Take this one from film critic Roger Ebert: "A movie is not about what it is about. It is about how it is about it."

The problem, critics say, is the company's list of overwhelmingly liberal contributors, including Al Franken, Melissa Etheridge, Quincy Jones, Chuck D. Of the 31 contributors listed on Starbucks' Web site, only one, National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, offers a conservative viewpoint.

Considering Starbucks sells millions of cups of coffee each day - some specialty drinks at $4 and up - it's no surprise some customers have complained to Starbucks' Web site, labeling the campaign "offensive" and the company a proponent of "the destruction of family values and virtues."

"I want to enjoy your product without having Earth Day Network propaganda thrust at me," wrote Malachi Salcido of East Wenatchee, Wash


Seth Hoffman, president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans and an occasional Starbucks drinker, said he tries to avoid buying some "liberal" products, like Ben & Jerry's ice cream. He said Starbucks should consider using more conservative voices, but if they don't, he's unlikely to stay away.

"I know about what the company does; I know what my money's going to," said Hoffman, 32. "For me, with Starbucks, it's not what's on the cup, but what's in the cup."
Seth! You blasphemer! Burn the witch! Poor man. He's quite comfortable tacitly supporting eco-terrorist hippie anti-capitalist worldviews like this (from the SBUX comments section)...
Thank you for “The Way I See It” campaign. You are such an impressive company for facilitating meaningful conversation in this way. In addition, I am really impressed with the following things that you do: paying $9/hour starting wage, paying benefits to part-time employees, donating money to charity, offering coffee grounds for people's yards. Keep up the socially responsible and empowering behaviors!
--Jennifer Gootnick, San Francisco CA
SFO? "...empowering behaviors"? Nice list. Must be a plant. These folks, however, have no doubts about what coffee shops' mission should be.
For what it’s worth, I do not enjoy reading the new quotes on the side of my coffee. I want to enjoy your product without having Earth Day Network propaganda thrust at me. Please stop putting quotes on your coffee cups. Let’s keep them cups and an advertising vehicle for your product, not a views billboard.
--Malachi Salcido, East Wenatchee WA
The way I see it, Starbucks is now pushing ever more than before toward the left and becoming more outspoken. It is making it clearer every day that it is increasingly for the destruction of family values and virtues. I am glad that I now have other choices in coffee shops in my neighborhood so I don’t have to concern myself with supporting Starbucks agenda. Now that Starbucks is declaring itself a moral and political spokesperson, it can get its money from liberals. Signing off, a former Starbucks customer.
-- Marty Mallet, North Richland Hills, TX
Ahh, Texas. And I thought caffeine only made me jittery and irrational. Or is it alert and fleet of mind? I forget. Finally, there's this...
This is a fantastic idea! It’s high time cafes once again become a central site for fundamental conversations concerning the arts, sciences, and politics. I applaud your ingenuity and the intelligence of the contributions, and hope you will find even more ways to further the lively discussions you’ve started. Java forever!
--Gray Kochhar-Lindgren, Clinton WA
Now, when Starbucks asked ex-Visa CEO Dee Hock to contribute, he said "Sure." I don't know if he counts as a conservative, but he's damn sure a dues paying member of the "establishment" which means about the same thing. Guys like Ken Burns or Yvon Chouinard say and do and create many things that mainstreamers sniff at or shake their heads over, then discretely (or not so discretely) imitate once they get back to their edit suites or boardrooms and notice the cashflow that seditious thinking generates.

But Gray Kochhar-Lindgren, now there's a, ahem,java connoiseur. Maybe he knows that coffee houses and similar establishments have proud places in the roiling development of commerce, arts and politics.

Maybe he knows that 17th and 18th century trade with Asia and the new colonies of America was negotiated, audited and managed over a pipe and a stiff Arabica in the Starbuckses of the age from Amsterdam to Aintree to New Amsterdam. Maybe he knows that the anti-family values of their time, abolitionism and--gadzooks!--women's suffrage, were fomented over steaming coffee grounds and steeping tea leaves. He might even know that Washington, Jefferson, Patrick Henry, George Wythe et al plotted the last moves of 1775 pre-revolution in Colonial Williamsburg's Raleigh Tavern over Java and birch beer. Maybe he's read this:
Nestle: Lloyds of London was originally a Coffee Shop called “Edward Lloyds Coffee House”. London coffee houses were nicknamed “Penny Universities” because for the price of a cup of coffee you could sit and join in the stimulating conversation with the great thinkers of the day. Jonathon’s Coffee House in Change Alley was frequented by entrepreneurs and merchant venturers, and was the beginning of the London Stock Exchange.

By 1675 there were nearly 3,000 coffee houses in England. King Charles II tried to denounce them as seditious meeting places and issued a proclamation rescinding their licences - it created such opposition it was hurriedly withdrawn.
Seditious meeting places. Where anti-status quo SO/HO warriors and corporate truants congregate and escape. And plot start-ups. Everything new is old. It's a common refrain around here. Marty and his modern-day Luddism crushes coffee cups not looms. Fresh coffee and a freeze-dried America for them. The exchange of ideas, the challenging of assumptions--hell, interesting conversation or a truly decent office meeting--are just too unpredictable and damn hard work. Unfamiliar ideas--those not ones own, or, probably, those not merely given to one bit, rather, earned through synthesis of thought--those give one the willies. So spaketh King Charles II.

Keep it up, Starbucks. Toss in some quotes from David Bernstein, Barry Goldwater, George Barna and Bill Buckley just for fun. Marty and Malachi might find they're not really conservative but rather plain old impatient authoritarians who didn't read the manual.

But hey, SBUX, if you lose Marty and Malachi, add the cost of their Jonah Goldberg-small to my Indonesian venti.

[St Pete Times link via Taegan Goddard]
Derren Brown's inside your head

And he's come to kick Tony Robbins' ass.

"Charisma"? "Gift of gab"? "Moment of Clarity"? Ptosh. Welcome to
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) ...a field of human endeavor concerned with empirically studying and modeling human performance and excellence, with the goal of creating transferable skill sets.
Meet Britain's Derren Brown, magician turned "framer" and folder of ideas. Some of this and a little William James and Joseph Campbell and you're deadly. Or you've got people swearing up and down that no really means yes, or hot is actually cold. Use it for good, not evil. Link via boing2
Planting ideas

Because I told you to 'relax and see where your mind takes you', you probably settled on the first images that came into your mind. The answers I gave were those that were the most likely to have been your immediate thoughts – given the framework, wording and conditioning that I built into each of the questions. And, because most people feel pressured by the slightly complicated wording of the questions, it was likely that you would not choose to change your mind from those initial decisions.

Thinking outside the box
So what does this mean? If you had a less than 80% success rate, you're more of a free spirit, less likely to follow the crowd and less likely to respond in a traditional manner when given challenges or forced to make quick decisions under pressure.

If you were 'successful', don't feel disheartened. It doesn't mean that you are always predictable. You just unconsciously responded to the conditioning techniques that I built into the questions.

However, you should be aware that similar techniques are used all the time in everyday life.

For example, most of us have been stopped in the street by people asking us questions about a certain product or service. It is likely that those 'market researchers' were using similar techniques to get us to give them the answers they wanted, rather than the ones we would give if we took a little longer to consider our answers and didn't feel pressured to make snap decisions.

The more time we take to consider the questions or challenges we are faced with in our lives, the more likely we are to come up with more creative or individual answers and solutions. This is described as 'thinking outside of the box' and is a skill utilised by many of the world's leading creative companies.

Throwing a spanner in the works
The trick is to detach yourself from the problem and see the context in which it operates. Much of the work can be done by separating yourself from the mental images you make when you consider a problem – 'stepping back' in your mind and seeing those mental pictures at arm's length.

When more complex problems in life are being considered, you want to be able to ask:
* What is everybody presuming to be true here?
* What is the box within which everyone is thinking?
* What are the unspoken rules to which everyone is adhering?
Then you can start to think outside the box, or throw a spanner in the works by not obeying the same rules as everyone else. This shouldn't be anti-social – you're not purposely going against the grain, just thinking independently of it.

The strategy used by many people is to remain too involved in the problem, too 'inside the box'. Rather than stepping back, they examine the problem from the inside. This brings the emotions to the fore and restricts the capacity for good decision-making.

By thinking 'outside the box', undermining the basic presumptions of a situation, you can begin to think creatively.

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