Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rise of the Global Republic (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we saw Julius Caesar riding into Pittsburgh for the G-20 Summit on his white horse, just about the time Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi was trying to pitch his party tent on The Donald’s Bedford lawn. It took 94 minutes for Caesar to maneuver through the fray of plebeian protestors before triumphantly marching up the civic center steps where the new millennium’s world leaders were assembled en masse under the banner of economy and democracy.

Caesar may have lost a battle or two in his day, but he never lost a war, and his dark age old debate with Jupiter was no different. None of the gods were surprised to see Jupiter finally acquiesce in allowing Gaius Julius to transcend the millennial span on a dream ride into 2009 A.D. so he could see what remained of his illustrious legacy.

Sitting astride his fine steed 'Toes' in the middle of Pittsburgh, Caesar broadly surveyed his modern day surroundings, took inventory of what old Republic hand-me-downs were still in evidence today, and made a summary assessment of Roman contribution to 21st century operations.

Every direction he surveyed prominently flaunted vestiges of ancient Roman-Greco urban master planning. J.C. found himself surrounded by a forum of modern day government buildings, civic centers offering public gathering places, plenty of holy temples to the gods, sports stadiums modeled after the beloved Coliseum, amphitheatres for the performing arts, parks, and even the standard victory parade route.

Togas were obviously out, and sadly there was not a public bath house in sight. The closest he could get was a 24-Hour Fitness and everyone he saw sweating in the window had their clothes on ... well, sort of. Surprised by the overall plumpness of the populous not sweating at the gym, Caesar thought a vomitorium comeback might not be such a bad idea.

And the month of July? It was still coming around once a year right in time for his birthday.

While he can’t take credit for the Caesar Salad or the lifesaving Caesarean Section (even though he and Queen Cleo did have a son name Caesarion), J.C. was shocked to see that his melting pot blend-n-merge approach to religious doctrinal unification had been cast aside in favor of pronounced civil dissention born out of intolerance and arrogant sect supremacy.

Back in Caesar’s prime time, marriages were simply mergers designed to create corporate-styled alliances for the purpose of growing the family business. He could see little had changed in that arena. As far as strong, powerful women who knew how to rule a kingdom went, few could equal Cleopatra in his experience (and his old buddy and cousin Marc Antony could back him up on that one). As far as women knowing their place in a man’s world, it looked as if the campaign for gender equality was still waging on.

Little seems to have changed in the political arena as well. He watched as those G-20 global governments predictably finessed their way through the agenda in the traditional part-democratic, part-oligarchic elitist manner he knew so well. Caesar did, however, find the new Republic’s budgetary crisis a bit intriguing. Perhaps that’s because Rome had ruled for a millennium without ever having a budget. He couldn’t help but laugh though when he heard the familiar high-pitched squeals of the upper classes when the subject of them paying taxes came up, again. Some things just never change.

Gaius Julius Caesar had naturally been born into patrician high society, yet he’d always prided himself on being a populist and man of the people. The Republic of Rome was more important than the individuals it was comprised of, and he was pleased to hear that a contemporary world leader named John F. Kennedy had kept the torch burning when he proclaimed “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

After gloriously expanding Rome’s real estate holdings during the course of an exemplary military career, Caesar could deservedly declare in triumph “I came, I saw, I conquered”. Unfortunately the fateful demise of Julius Caesar didn’t occur on the battlefield as one would expect, but it came shrouded in cowardice from those closest to him. Like the Roman Republic itself, Caesar was taken out from within. Et tu, Brute?

And then we woke up and knew the die had been cast. It seems the world leader crusaders have mobilized a campaign in earnest to defend democracy as the new religion, and internationalism as the new book of doctrine. As the crusaders press on for absolute global conversion, do we need to worry that the new global government will become too big to fail?

America made us do it. Find out why in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ April 13, 2009 posting "Greed Goes Underground".

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wait Weight

The times they are a-changin’, and America’s double helping of new century change has stimulated its population to TARP their tears away three times a day with take out. True capitalists know that when it comes down to the emotional buttons pushed by recession and social depression, there’s little a super sized, super value menu can’t fix.

Nothing like a severe economic downturn, no paycheck, and a heap of recession depression to tempt even the heartiest of weight watchers with the promise of an extra large, cheap meal offering little but a week’s worth of empty calories in one sitting and high cholesterol. The fact that cultural perceptions about food consumption have shifted (to the delight of advertisers) from healthy sustenance to an emotionally needy pastime hasn’t helped either.

High speed technological advancements have obviously changed the way we work and play as well. One side effect of this change has been society’s overall devaluation of basic social skills and interpersonal connection. The ensuing social retardation, and the isolation and loneliness it begets, goes a long way toward creating a void that only sugar, fat, salt, and lots of sense-assaulting noisy stimulation can fill.

Upon heavy reflection in the rear view mirror we couldn’t help but see that extra large “Closed for Repairs” sign hanging on the entrance gate of Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” attraction for the good part of a year.

Originally designed in the 1960’s, the ride was unquestionably in need of some 21st century updating. The sense of urgency prompting 2008’s closure, however, seems to have sprang from a chronic dilemma that even strategic rider placement couldn’t resolve ... the ride’s fiberglass boats were routinely bottoming out on cellulite sandbars and protruding paunches, thereupon bringing the entire ride to a constipated standstill. Logically, swift removal of the damming girth from the grounded lead boat was the sole remedy for restoring the ride to a normal flow.

With this recurring delay in passage came the certain knowledge that our world wasn’t so small after all.

While Disneyland eventually got around to dredging the plus-sized waterways it needed to accommodate the bulk of Americans, newfangled stadium movie theaters were long in the game with a “build it and they will come” approach to larger cushy seats, king size cup holders and mega-sized buckets of popcorn that any properly stocked self service condiment counter could help saturate in buttery flavored grease.

Hollywood then hit a homerun by offering more to love in casting plenty of big screen super (sized) stars who delivered body image peace of mind to movie goers as they pac-manned their way through the raisinettes and the previews.

In an era of survival aero-mergers, the airline industry has taken a more tightening-of-the-seatbelt approach to the expanding American waistline. Weight restrictions aside, the more seats crammed on to an aircraft, the more tickets to be sold. No one cares whose roly polys onto whom. Instead of enticing passengers to fly with the promise of a comfy seat and airy comfort food, they just stopped feeding everyone altogether. Everyone except perhaps the growing number of highly stressed, plump pilots who hold our lives in their hands at cruising altitudes (and are severely under compensated for it when considering their liability), yet look like a heart attack waiting to happen when the plane is parked at the gate.

Time has always been of the essence, but anymore, time is just a mcflurry in our world of instant gratification at the speed of a search engine set to find “now fast”, “a lot a deal”, and “cheap free”.

Yet when it comes down to the fundamental task of feeding our bodies, we suspect if one were to simply practice a slower more nutritious approach to dining – or to wait – odds are the load will become lighter, both emotionally and physically. And conversely, to habitually gulp down fast food on the go –or to not wait- odds are the load will end up much heavier all the way around.

It would appear excuses hold little weight when personal prerogative gives us permission to prioritize the time we need to properly nourish our bodies, for in the end, we alone are physically accountable for what we put in to our mouths.

A very weighty issue indeed, but what we really want to know is how do you weigh in? and what are you waiting for?

Sleep it under the rug with our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ February 15, 2009 posting "Catching a Few Xe’s".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Reinczarnation (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we saw Nicholas II, the last Czar of Imperial Russia, standing with great distinction in his trademark uniform before an otherworldly horde of dearly departed leaders from history past.

The people’s revolution was as much a thing of the past as the eclectic group standing before him, but after Czar Nicholas had been officially canonized ‘Saint Nicholas the Passion-Bearer’, his ethereal vocation aspired to that of magisterial guardian.

History’s penchant for repetition supported Saint Nick’s dreamy notion that there was no time better than the present to decree the reincarnation of a new Czar-based administration consisting of several well-chosen individual Czars, each to be placed in charge of its own single purpose fiefdom.

Consideration for each incarnated inauguration was to be based solely upon the candidate’s special abilities, and not necessarily upon any aptitude for running an empire. Saint Nick immersed himself accordingly into the rigid Czar selection process by meticulously profiling this pool of old world ringleaders and how their best abilities could be utilized.

Although Nicky had plenty of royal relatives to pick from, our dream showed that he had no propensity toward nepotism this time around, for his elevated position had offered him an awareness level enhanced enough to realize that ancestry does not always a good Czar make.

And so we watched as he threw himself into the momentous task of divvying up his old Czar job between some of the local talent...

BANK CZAR: J. P. Morgan. Don’t just control it, own it all.

BIG TOBACCO TAR CZAR: Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, Co-Czars. Teepees, hookahs, and riding the “Wild West” war path going East.

CAR CZAR: Genghis Khan. All terrain Land Rover with the ability to conquer invaded markets.

CENSUS CZAR: Pol Pot. Committed to keeping the numbers manageable.

CYBER CZAR: J. Edgar Hoover. Where paranoia is the name of the game.

DOCTRINE CZAR: Torquemada and Saladin, Co-Czars. A perfect blend of “it’s the one true religion or the rack” and jihadic crusadism.

DRUG CZAR: Ronald Reagan. Just say NO.

FOOD CZAR: Henry VIII. Corpulence is King!

HEALTH CZAR: Achilles. Uncompromising mercenary with a talent for strategy and group motivation, in spite of that little hitch in his giddy-up. Second runner up for the post was Empress Alexandra’s favorite, Rasputin.

INSURANCE CZAR: Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Fascism and survival of the fittest.

PAY CZAR: Caesar, Julius. Rape, pillage, and enforcement of the “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” bonus payment system.

TARP CZAR: John D. Rockefeller. Failure is not an option, especially when you’re big.

And then we woke up and realized that by assigning these historical vanguards a mini-Czardom in accordance with their best abilities, Nicholas had unwittingly employed a basic tenet of the very ideology that had ultimately rendered him impotent and superfluous. While communist credo had promised the people “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, the overall consensus seems to be that the people never really did get what they needed, regardless of the regime ruling the land.

It appears the real Czars assigned to do the regulatory paperwork these days, however, are merely public relations puppets whose strings are being adroitly manipulated by some unseen puppet master hidden behind a stage curtain. Will this Grand Puppet Master ever come out into the light and offer us unveiled illumination?

What goes around, comes around, and the proof is in the publishing of our ‘Dream Sequence’ April 5, 2009 posting "When Karma Comes Calling".

Friday, September 4, 2009

Mediocre Minds Think Alike

The 1894 legislation making Labor Day a national holiday essentially worked out to be a hasty bureaucratic effort to appease American labor forces after the militia opened fire on striking railroad workers in the Midwest. Few today, however, would expect that bit of ancient history to influence procession motifs along the nation’s holiday parade routes.

For many contemporary Americans, Labor Day is simply considered the symbolic end of summer, and a day of rest from the laborious task of looking for a new job.

For those a little more prone to introspection, this legislated day of rest can offer pause for reflection about what sort of creative approach might be needed these days in order to secure substantial and sustainable employment during the festerings of a chronic corporate dumb down overrun with mediocrity.

When the bar is never set above mediocre, it’s quite easy to be lulled into a false sense of competence…until one is downsized, that is.

Truth is, consistent guidelines and standards that support an entire organization as its staff works toward a common and (hopefully) profitable purpose are not only necessary, but can be mutually beneficial as well.

Obviously balance and common sense haven't always prevailed. Too many rules and suppressive regulations imposed by corporate brass onto its workforce have served not only to firmly secure the power held by those making the rules (since they are typically the exception to the rules), but appear to be the inspiration behind the mediocre brainstorming that has filled corporate think tanks across the board.

Hollywood satirists have yet to fail in scripting profound dialogue that truly mirrors this anomaly of corporate culture in a way that ironically makes us laugh about it.

We laughed when Jim from “The Office” said, “I’ve always subscribed to the idea that if you really want to impress your boss, you go in there and you do mediocre work, half-heartedly.” We also laughed in “Big” when Jon Lovitz’s “Scotty” said to Tom Hanks’ “Josh”, “Listen, what are you trying to do? Get us all fired? You gotta slow down. Pace Yourself.”

The propagation of modern day mediocrity has unconventionally integrated old world Machiavellian principles to culivate a corporate “crab bucket” mentality in the workplace. Sure we’d all like to see our friends and colleagues get ahead, but not too far ahead. So we work hard to never outshine our corporate comrades lest we forget that the tallest blade of grass is the first to get cut. And those clutching the ladder’s top rung continue to rule with little concern for those clinging to the bottom rung, for those at the bottom are too busy taking each other out vying for a position to ever challenge the powers roosting at the top.

We looked in the rear view mirror while listening to our iPod and watched the CEOs of the music industry spin 78 RPMs as they whirled to preserve their dominion when creative technology began to weaken their syndicated stronghold. Amazingly, instead of spending their billions on competitive innovation and integration, they chose to invest their dollars in litigation to halt the progress and then try to control it. Perhaps they thought they were too big to fail and didn't need to keep up. Or maybe they just believed the surrounding corporate yes-men spawned out of mediocrity who routinely tickled their executive ears with disconnected reinforcement.

And the music industry clearly isn’t the only industry reeling from the limitations inherent with mediocrity, for mediocrity and creative innovation are incompatible co-workers.

Albert Einstein’s belief that "Great spirits have always encountered violent oppositon from mediocre minds" would rarely find a true innovator and creative thinker in disagreement. So does this mean that when we hit a blockade rĂ©sistance from the prevailing Lemming-Groupthink majority, then maybe we’re really on to something?

For a little mind control, surrender yourself to our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ July 4, 2009 posting "Carnac the FMRI".