Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

May this coming year be filled with infinite possibilities and countless blessings.

“Grand Canyon”.
Oil on canvas (4½” x 4½”).
© Copyright by Artist, KA Collins.
To purchase this original oil painting, simply click over to KA’s Etsy Studio.
To find out more about the artist, go to ArtistKACollins.

Create your own reality show in 2011. Guidelines can be found in our ‘Dream Sequence’ November 29, 2009 posting "The Art of Reality”.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

T.S.A.: It’s Our Business To Touch Yours

The Thanksgiving season has arrived, and with the holiday season comes the opportunity for many of us to slow down long enough to look back in the rear view mirror and reminisce with our loved ones about the cornucopian days of old, while giving thanks for barely surviving year 2010 of the Great Depression.

As we watch the price of gas and travel predictably increase in the weeks leading up to every holiday season, we’ve come to understand that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is to the travel industry what the Friday after Thanksgiving is to the retail business - namely, the busiest day of the year.

This year is no exception, yet it seems we have last year's underwear bomber to thank for this year's viral travel advisories warning all flyers that airport security has gone "hands-on".

All of the recent brouhaha about passengers being subjected to invasive body searches in exchange for the privilege of boarding a plane with an expensive ticket bought and paid for has us convinced that many travelers will simply explore alternative ways of getting where they want to go with dignity intact.

Considering the hardline screening options flyers have to choose from these days, we can hardly be surprised by the thousands of formal complaints that have already been filed by indignant travelers who believe their rights and bodily temples have been violated.

It doesn't seem to matter whether you choose the Rapiscan radioactive see-you-naked photo op, or opt for the personal touch with a full-body fondling that has been specially designed to intimately search every type of physique - such as "The Gentlemen's Junket" which includes the old “ball and taint lift 'n shift”, or the "For Ladies Only" inspection featuring the "camel toe us apart and 'are they real?' breast test".

Whatever screening option you choose (and some lucky passengers may even get to have both), you'll be able to board that airplane with a false sense of security, and of course, the "T.S.A. Approved" inspection stamp conspicuously branded on your hindquarters.

In its arrogance, the T.S.A. has clearly failed in the customer relations department. Perhaps the T.S.A. didn’t think it necessary to provide the population that pays for its existence any kind of advanced preparation, let alone a touch of pavlovian reinforcement through a basic T.S.A. P.S.A. propaganda campaign devised to soothe what they should’ve anticipated: citizen concerns about rights violations, health risks, and the protection of children who have been taught to never let strangers touch them.

After numerous internet postings went viral, giving viewers access to live and uncensored footage that had been recorded at airport sausage factories across the land by average travelers, potential passengers got to see firsthand what to really expect when they step into a T.S.A. security screening line this holiday season. The T.S.A. has since been forced to play defense and do the damage control dance. It ain’t pretty, and it may be their un-doing.

Few should be surprised when we begin to see the more customer-oriented, passenger-friendly travel alternatives experience a significant increase in revenue, right about the time the commercial airlines get hit with substantial financial losses once again as they stand on the sidelines and complacently permit the T.S.A. to man-handle their paying passengers, pilots, and flight crews.

The most sickening part of this drama being played out on “security theater” (courtesy of Jeffrey Goldberg) is that everyone knows, even the T.S.A., that the terrorists are way ahead of current policies and procedures. Terrorism has already been found packing its explosive junk all the way up its back trunk where no one can find it without a body cavity search, not even the Rape-i-Scan.

Capitalism may not save us but it does have a tendency to one-up terrorism, for with capitalism comes creative innovation used to create cash flow not martyrs, and just in time for the holiday gift giving season.

There probably isn't one guy on your gift list who wouldn't love hearing this every time he gets a phone call (courtesy of John Tyner): “if you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested!”. And if his ‘junk’ is extra special, you might even consider giving your favorite business traveler a pair of radiation briefs with an x-ray blocking fig leaf shield.

Before we know it, those see-you-naked full body scans they say are never stored on a hard drive will be put to good use with the launch of a few trendy websites that’ll make celebrity sex videos seem passe'.

So it looks like this year will see us celebrating close to home, where we’ll be busy giving a special thanks for the fact that we couldn’t afford to fly anywhere anyway, even if we were in the mood to get felt up by strangers. Not this year, honey, we have a headache.

Courtesy of smart phones and the internet, the road to transparency has now become a two-way street. Transparently map out your trip with a little help from of our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ May 2, 2010 posting "Trolling For Transparency".

Friday, October 29, 2010

Which View Is Witch? (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we found ourselves stepping over a troll bridge into the enchanted woods of Winterthur with nothing but the moon to light our way. The forbidden faerie ring to our right was veiled in a thick midnight mist, and slipped by unnoticed as the spirits of the woods urged us forward along a serpentine pathway.

It was the eerie sound of chanting, emanating from deep in the mist, that stopped us dead in our tracks.

Our dream then took a sharp right, off the beaten path, in the direction of the faerie ring where a yellow light was faintly glowing through the heavy haze. We sucked in our breath when we eventually caught sight of the chantress, and then we quietly crouched, hiding in the shadows of a mushroom to witness with morbid fascination her clandestine mid-term ritual.

While it should’ve come as no surprise for us to witness the magick making of Christine O’Donnell since she'd undoubtedly managed to cast a spell over the people of Delaware, it's just that we never really expected to catch her in the act in the woods. 
Well God works in mysterious ways and Christine truly believed she could secretly help Him help her win that seat in the Senate. And it sure helped that no one had ever officially mandated there be any separation between church and state. It also helped that she was a member of the FOXy Palin coven. This gave her the benefit of a direct line to the spirit of Ronald Reagan, and if an astrological roadmap could help him successfully navigate a presidency, then the Book of Shadows could certainly help her sideline all of the challengers and critics she'd encountered on the way to Washington.

In a rare "Ah-Ha!" moment, Christine realized the best way to render her detractors impotent would be to simply change their point of view.

On an altar dripping in blue hen’s blood, laid O’Donnell’s opened spell book, brilliantly lit by an arc of five blazing black candles. Next to the altar stood Christine, glistening with sweat in a red business suit, busily working her magick while stirring the bubbling cauldron before her with focused intent. Her spellbinding witches' brew appeared to be a simmering mixture of rich milk, sweet goldenrod, peach blossoms and holly berries, potently finished off with a transformational pinch of DuPont chemicals. The heat from the fire beneath the pot was so intense that it even reached out to sear us in the shadows.

Like the five points on a pentagram, we watched as Christine O’Donnell commanded the spirits of her naysayers to spend one episode inside the bodies of the five women of “The View”.

Dick Cheney got to feel with heavy dreads the caring heartbeat of Whoopi Goldberg.

Bill O’Reilly got to watch his pinhead explode through the patriotic eyes of Joy Behar.

Karl Rove got to learn how to skillfully navigate America’s crossroads with dignity through the filtered lens of Barbara Walters.

Mike Castle got to taste the bitterness of defeat on the gracious tongue of Sherri Shepard.

Eric Cantor got to shoot off his young gun while trying not to repeat the mistakes of the past as he admired a body that reminded him of his feminine side, and obviously, Elizabeth Hasselbeck

Their special guest that day was Alec Baldwin who happened to know the five ladies of “The View” well enough to recognize when they weren’t themselves. And when Mike Castle in Sherri’s voice asked Alec to define what it meant to be unmanly, Alec quipped with annoyance that this was not a bake off and suggested that Mike go get his man-pants on. As Alec stormed off the set, stage left, he snidely told the others in passing to man-up.

And then we woke up and realized that anyone raised by Bozo the Clown has some pretty big shoes to fill; and just because one acts like a clown, doesn’t necessarily mean they don't have the instincts of a fox.

Have we too just been given a new view of extremism?

Merry meet, merry part, merry meet again. Happy Samhain!

Only one view can be the right view and it can be found at our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ November 17, 2009 posting "Apple Pie Goes Rogue".

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Moves To Dominate The World (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we found ourselves struggling alongside a working class crew trying to regain control of a schooner bounty that had initially been charted for Atlantic City, but was instead violently blown off course, rudder snapping in a lurch. We heard the tattered sails shutter with purpose as the hull heaved and bobbed directionless through ravenous waters that grew more dangerous with each billowing swell.

No one saw it coming. Or at least that’s what they all said. It was as if the atmosphere had turned on a dime, right about the time the East Wind began squalling with subversion. One minute we were coasting through prosperous trade routes on confident sails bloated with warm sea breezes, not a storm cloud in sight; and the next saw our ship taking on water so fast that sinking appeared inevitable.

As we scurried to bail out the water one bucket at a time, we never even noticed the growing wall of water that was mobilizing to put us in our place. And when that financial tsunami finally got our full attention was when it capsized our boat without remorse somewhere in the middle of the Devil's Triangle, where it dumped us unceremoniously into a very rough sea without so much as a safety net.

We managed to keep our heads above water just long enough to see a monstrous whale the size of China circle and descend with rapacious jaws intent upon swallowing us up.

Our dream then dropped us deep within the belly of the whale where we could hear the reverberating voices of those trapped around us long before we could actually see them.
From the surrounding conversation, we soon learned that the whale had a name, ¥uaning More, although the group regularly referred to it as simply ‘MORE’.

The more we listened, the more we understood how much MORE prided itself on being the hardest working predator in the sea. It thrived on the chaos that comes from war and ruin, and there was no time for rest because voracious accumulation is a 24/7 enterprise. MORE was cleverly adroit at tickling desperate ears with politeness and dangled promises, a master in the fine art of bait and switch, and not above making thy neighbor beg. Apparently MORE honored only one golden rule: “he who has the gold, makes the rules”, so consequently refused to play by anyone’s rules but its own.

When our eyes finally adjusted to the darkness that held us hostage, we became better acquainted with our fellow captives, including a few Pleasure Island castaways.

Wall Street GetOver
This GetOver could do little more than boast about being the original woodcarver, when in fact he was the rainmaker who brought on the storm.

Pinocchio had always dreamed of having a life with no strings, and MORE had slyly seduced him into thinking he could have his cadmium and eat it too. Well someone once said that Pinocchio was Italian for a reason, and this Pinocchio had absolutely no intention of ever being made in China, for he had a plan. A strategy designed to beat MORE at its own game. Pinocchio figured that the more he lied, the longer his nose would get, until eventually its length would allow him to pry open the jaws of MORE just enough to slip away relatively unscathed.

Caracas Cricket
No matter how hard he tried to stop the incessant chirping, Caracas Cricket just couldn’t keep his knees from rubbing everyone the wrong way. He spent most of his chirping hours looking up through MORE’s blowhole into the night sky as he wished upon the stars for higher oil prices and for someone to rub just a little bit of that oil between his knees.

Someone has to pull the strings behind the biggest show on Earth and StromRuski believed himself to be the perfect puppet master.  

Goodluck Jonah and his simpleton sidekick GideGaddafi
Goodluck Jonah may have gotten his start as Honest John but he realized pretty early on that honesty wasn’t what put him on the winning side, it was self-made luck. And GideGaddafi was a blustering windbag who'd shown himself to be an agreeable feline comrade because he was agile enough to blow in the direction of any winning wind and still land on his feet.

Had it not been for that obnoxious braying which never seemed to stop, we probably wouldn’t have even noticed AhmadineDonkey sulking off on the side alone. Someone lurking behind MORE's ribcage tried to shut him up by throwing out a few USB worms which he gobbled up with gusto. The braying thankfully stopped when AhmadineDonkey began to hawk up stuxnet code, then proceeded to vocally reproduce "myrtus, myrtus, myrtus, ..." without control. 

Mingling amongst the group ensnared by MORE’s bottomless pit were plenty of other nameless naughty boys in business suits who'd been sucked in from every nation throughout the world. “But I run a business”, they all declared defensively, “if somebody’s buying, I’m selling." Apparently that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

And then we woke up and realized that when we whittle away at our own foundation, the structure will invariably weaken and the resulting gaps will beg to be filled with MORE.

After all of this we can't help wondering, does the Blue Fairy really have the power to turn those trapped inside the belly of the whale into true human beings? 

More knows no bounds in our "Dream Sequence" January 24, 2010 posting "Walled Off".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bigger Than Life

Our little ITRVM summertime-out road trip had us thinking that if the Olympic committee were to hand out medals to competing nations based upon how much space they take up, the United States would probably get the Bronze for square footage and the Gold for living large.

Whoever said “if a little is good, more must be better” succinctly summed up in eight little words humanity’s rational propensity towards big and the inherent need to have it all.

One look in the rear view mirror at the blueprints for the Tower of Babel reminded us of just how far back this need goes. Unfortunately for Nimrod the bottom fell out of the biggest-building-in-the-world market when some of his builders showed up for work one day speaking Greek and the jobsite collapsed in chaos.

It hardly seems a coincidence that the big catch phrase for today’s Great Depression is “too big to fail”. Everything around us is BIG. Too big. And unlike parenthood, no BIG specialist ever got around to publishing some sort of “BIG Manual” to prepare mankind for what going BIG really means, let alone how to keep it going and growing.

Our ignorance to the growing affects of BIG has obviously resulted in an interesting conglomeration of contemporary dilemmas:

Big Food, Big Bodies, Big Medicine

Apparently the only way our bodies can keep up with the heaping helpings and super-sized meals is to wash everything down with some big gulps and essentially grow bigger all the way around. With the bigger bodies come the bigger health problems, and with the bigger health problems come the bigger medical bills, and with the bigger medical bills come the bigger health insurance premiums, and all of this grows bigger pharmaceutical companies that are fully stocked to medicate the masses for big profits. 

The old adage “pay the farmer or pay the doctor” may still hold true when natural and healthy processing standards are adhered to; however, when the farmer becomes so big that it swallows up all of the little farmers, and then fails to protect the health and welfare of the public it's in the business of feeding, we are left with a big country that is largely undernourished.

But there's always room for dessert, and for some, that might include bigger breasts, bigger lips, and bigger penises that last longer.

Big Government, Big Deficits, Big Business

It looks as if the turn of the century has delivered unto us a government largely out of balance and deeply mired in the big tasks of war and nation building. Big egos expecting big paybacks proceeded to legislate big spending to bail out their big corporate buddies responsible for mismanaging the industries known as Big Banking, Big Auto, and the Big Boys of Wall Street. This has left the little taxpayers for many generations to come holding a very big bag of debt and a very big tax bill.

Big Housing, Big Transportation, Big Entertainment

There was a time, not so long ago, when Wall Street made it possible for Main Street Americans to live in the McMansion of their dreams with no down payment, thereby blowing the Joneses out of the water. Which was probably doing the Joneses a favor since most of the housing industry is now under water. Not everyone in possession of an underwater mortgage needs to be thrown a life raft though, for some have opted to strategically default on their big mortgages and save money while living free throughout foreclosure until the eviction notice is finally served. Until then, at least they have a nice place to park the big SUV.

Airports have now become so big that they can only be likened to an international sausage factory where every passing second sees thousands of travelers compressed into cat gut casings and tautly squeezed out of the homeland security assembly line like a sausage ready for flight.

The politicians of ancient Rome rarely hesitated to deplete the treasury coffers when it came time to distract the plebian population with really big entertainment, and this time around is certainly no different. We watch our big screens with enormous fascination as big bucks are routinely paid to lure professional athletes and performers with big names to big venues that are oftentimes built in communities where the coffers have been so depleted that city employees have to take pay cuts and the local library is padlocked shut due to lack of funding.

While it didn’t take a sea-to-shining-sea road trip to show us that America is filled with a large array of all things BIG, it did show us that the middle isn’t the middle anymore. And that too big is simply too big to manage and a set up for failure. 

This made us wonder. How can we possibly declare something “too big to fail” when it’s been set up that way?

If you don't want to be hustled, maybe you shouldn't ask to be served. Walk through the revolving door in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ June 28, 2010 posting “Dialing For Your Dollars”.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Dialing For Your Dollars

Being ordinary American consumers, we feel pretty safe in assuming that we’re not alone in our diligent commitment to utilizing every possible self-service option at our disposal before we eventually suck it up and make that dreaded 1-800 customer service call for help.

Nothing short of exasperation gone wild can seduce us into thinking that the indefinite phone time on hold (so as to not lose priority placement in the queue of course) will be worth the wait … a hope briskly shattered the very second a customer service representative answers the line in an unintelligible accent far from home who then launches the dialogue with a monotone recital of some scripted corporate sales pitch, instead of the proper, and expected, “how can I help you?”

They say when one door closes another one opens, yet in the world of guerilla marketing, the door seems to simply revolve. Just look in the rear view mirror at the national “do not call” registry. Exasperated consumers believed themselves victorious back when the “do not call” list had been legislated for the sole purpose of closing the door on intrusive corporate telemarketers who made it a point to barrage households with unsolicited sales calls at dinner time.

But the door never really closed. It just swung around, and now these same telemarketers lay in wait as a captive consumer audience is forced back through the door with an in-coming 1-800 phone call when in need of “customer service” assistance.
There was a time prior to 2010 when a new credit card received in the mail could be easily activated by punching in a few correct numbers from our home phone. Well those were ‘the good old days’ because now card activating customers are advised to hold on for the service rep whose primary purpose is not to simplify the card activation process, but to promote and sell ancillary add-on products.

Most of the major airline carriers have fairly sophisticated websites filled with important information including policies, security procedures and carry on restrictions for air travel. When what we needed to know before making a trip abroad couldn’t be found on the airline’s website, all it took was one phone call … then another … and then another, to the airline’s 1-800 customer service line for us to concede that the phrase “customer service” has now become a front for guerilla corporate marketing.

And as we tried to get an answer to what we thought was an uncomplicated question, we ended up going around the world without ever boarding a plane. First it was Mumbai where she tried to arrange for a rental car without even attempting to answer our question. As she started in on booking a hotel, we hit “Click-End Call”. Next it was Jamaica where we were told to go to the website for the answer. “Click-End Call”. The last attempt took us to South Africa where he pushed for us to apply for an airline credit card, book a hotel, rent a car. “Click-End Call”. After burning up more cell phone time than we care to admit, we were back where we started, answerless.

It's official. The phrase “customer service” has now become another “Oxymoron of the 21st Century”, right behind “private sector transparency” and “self-regulation”.

The commercials aired on network television aren’t what they used to be either. Between the endless election and political smear campaigns trying to buy a vote (maybe we should take a tip from the Brits on this one), and the pharmaceutical commercials looking to medicate the masses, it’s all a bunch of white noise that is vapidly fast-forwarded through on the DVR.

As 21st century advertisers persuasively strive to overcome their self-inflicted handicap of marketing to a highly desensitized population, it’s painfully obvious that the “Mad Men” days of effective advertising are long gone. The advertising strategies seen today are no longer designed to provide useful or beneficial information, but to assault the senses and provide entertainment. And apparently with disappointing results.

Most of the country is currently feeling the pinch that squeezes hard during a depressed economy. The call to employ significant cost cutting measures has been heard across the board. Since customer care has evidently depreciated to just about valueless, corporate management has shown it’s hardly worth the bother anymore and undeniably merged sales/marketing with “customer service”. This little streamlining maneuver goes a long way towards keeping the executive bonus budgets in tact.

Every once in a rare while, we gratefully experience the relief that only a true “customer service” professional can administer, and it’s as refreshing as a cool mist in the desert. Sick and tired of being sold to, all we really want to know is if there’s anyone over at the airlines who can answer our question?

Break from the herd with our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ September 4, 2009 posting “Mediocre Minds Think Alike”.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Figure In

“Father's like Mothers, are not born.
Men grow into fathers -
and fathering is a very important stage in their development.”
- David M. Goffesman

Who’s your daddy? Celebrate, then invest in your favorite nurturer with our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ May 4, 2009 posting “New Century Nurturing

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tea Hee Haw Sing Along (VVV)

A companion sing along and hootenanny for “Tea Hee Haw”.

A 'Vice Versa Verses’ parody to be sung to the tune of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” (written by Paul Henning) AKA the theme song from “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

Come and join a party Jed-Dubya once led,
A simpleton pappy had silver spoon fed,
Shootin’ for some way to ease his aimless mood,
While steepin’ in the ground rich Texas tea brewed.

Oil that is. Black gold. Texas tea party.

Well, JethRush’s arm rasslin’ made Jed a billionaire,
And Drysdale said “time to party in our lair”,
Said “the Oval Office is the place you oughtta be”
So they packed up the truck and moved to Wash D.C.

N.O. that is. Beauty queens. FOX knows news.

Well scrap all yer plans, let the grassroots march begin
Do the hokey pokey with yer pickets and Palin,
Moby gets a handshake from the folks who come to tea,
And serves a heapin’ helpin’ of more fear and panicky.

O.K. that is. Bottomless pit. Come stub yer toes on the 'turf.

Y’all come back for tea now, ya hear?

To derive the greatest possible enjoyment from this theme song, first read our ‘Dream Sequence’ May 20, 2010 posting “Tee Hee Haw”.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tea Hee Haw (DS)

We had a dream……and in that dream we found ourselves standing in the middle of a vast Texas wasteland next to a large cluster of sagebrush that was still dripping from the recent rain storm. The cracked earth that had previously lined the nearby creek bed was now engorged as the rain waters rushed by in a hurry to fill the scrubby pond down yonder.

That was where we first saw Jed-Dubya hunkered down with his locked and loaded rifle, fully poised to pick off the croaking frogs just as fast as they could leap out of the flooding pond.

It looked as if Jed-Dubya’s short attention span was about to accidentally be the making of him, for our dream then showed him getting easily distracted by an unidentified shiny object across the pond, and his first reaction, of course, was to shoot at it. He missed, but hit pay dirt for up from the ground came a bubbling crude. Oil, that is. Black gold. Time to throw a Texas Tea Party.

With the help of one Mr. Drysdale of the Red Shield Bank, Jed-Dubya eventually got around to selling his new oil field to the president of the OK Oil Company, Mr. Dick. Mr. Dick had always considered himself to be the biggest fish in a little pond, and rarely failed to stand a bit taller when afforded the opportunity to introduce himself to big clients with his favorite nickname ‘Moby’.

Dubya naturally saw no need to jump into the middle of the funding fetch with Moby Dick when all the price beatin’ could be left in the robust hands of his nephew JethRush. Heck, before Jed could whittle a whale out of a piece of driftwood, JethRush had strong-armed a deal that saw Moby Dick’s right forearm smacked down on the table backward after JethRush had arm rassled it flat like a carnie at the county fair. This is what the kinfolks call “doin’ business on a handshake”.

During the weeks that passed between shootin' and sellin', Dubya’s velvety oil spewed from the earth unchecked, and the waters of that scrubby pond turned black and toxic with crude oil. Any frog that had been lucky enough to survive Jed’s shooting party was now thickly coated in heavy crude and washed up along the shoreline never to hop again.

Now Jed’s ole Granny Armstrong was a rootin’ tootin’ Texan to the core, and she’d taken an unusual liking to OK Oil’s Moby Dick. Granny Armstrong offered Mr. Dick a rare invitation to do some big game huntin’ on the ranch before it was all packed up. Good thing Granny was an M.D. too cuz it sure came in handy when Moby Dick unwittingly took a pot shot at the Texas law man who’d only joined the hunt to flush out Jed's baby girl and the county’s hottest looker, Elly May Palin, from behind the bushes where she was busy winkin' at all them critters running for their lives.

As soon as Jed-Dubya had securely deposited his copious bounty in the Red Shield Bank, it was time to load up the truck and move to Washington D.C. Thanks once more to the tacit manipulation of Mr. Drysdale, Jed-Dubya was able to buy up the biggest White House that Pennsylvania Avenue had to offer. When the seller couldn’t afford to pay its underwater mortgage to China, let alone the back taxes, it was without a doubt the best deal the new century had to offer.

Dubya was thrilled. He had the whittling porch of his dreams. But poor Granny Armstrong. She just wasn’t sure what to do about that huge steeple facing the long cement pond that was taking up too much space on her green grassroots backyard so richly enhanced with astroturf.

As far as Moby Dick was concerned, JethRush had found his calling. Whenever Mr. Dick would throw one of those regular White House Tea Parties he was wont to have for our friendly neighborhood OPEC drillers, the party would invariably conclude in the parlor with a little JethRush price fixin' ‘handshake’. And every once in a while, M. D. would even secretly arrange for JethRush to do some pharma-rassling with his good buddies over at the OxyContin dispensary, just because he could. No pain, no gain.

JethRush’s kissin’ cuzin, Elly May, had her own common sense solution for growing Pa’s oil empire, and family values would firmly govern her grand plan which was steamrolling forward nicely under the rally cry, “Drill, baby, drill!”. Elly May couldn’t wait to grab her Uzi and jump on board the Exxon Valdez for a tanker cruise along the pipeline to Alaska. What she didn’t expect to see on the expedition were all of those trees. A tree’s a tree. How many more do you need to look at? Oh - oh - oh!! Maybe the family should think about expanding into the lumber business. **wink*~*wink** 

And then we woke up and realized that even when the body appears to be running around without a head, it always seems to get where it’s headed. We can only wonder now where the Tea Party is headed next.

Y'all come back for tea now, ya hear?

Yabba, dabba, D.C. Take your shoes off and let the dirt gather under your toenails in our Stone Age ‘Dream Sequence’ November 14, 2008 posting “Washingstone B.C.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

MOMs The Word

"To the world you might be one person,
but to one person you might be the world."
- Anonymous

Happy Mother's Day!
“Mother’s Day Flower”. Original oil on canvas (5” x 7”). Beautifully presented in a gold-washed frame with a finished dimension of 10” x 12”. © Copyright by Artist, KA Collins. To purchase this exquisite original work of art, contact KA directly ("Author Links").

Who's your mama? Celebrate, then invest in your favorite nurturer with our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ May 4, 2009 posting “New Century Nurturing”.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Trolling For Transparency

We’re not sure what’s worse – having to learn about something we never thought we needed to know, or coming to grips with the verifiable truth that our private pursuits are being systematically archived for future use against us.

As corporate America continues to tighten its chokehold on the nation’s workforce by installing a battalion of Trolls on every Bridge (see definition), we’re getting a crash course in what publicists have known all along; namely, managing our public image is a full time job.
In the rear view mirror we saw a time, not very long ago, when an impressive resume’, written referral letters and a great personal interview would reward those in search of suitable employment with a hired position commensurate with education and experience. The times, however, are clearly a’changin’, because what we see now are invasive corporate Trolls making damaging judgment calls based solely upon an applicant’s on-line social life … and oftentimes without even confirming that the screened profile under review actually belongs to the applicant, and not to some random unknown who just happens to have a similar name.

While contemporary society works hard to exonerate its dark side by pretending the shadow doesn’t exist, corporate America is busy working in the shadows trying to sustain a hypocritical double standard of 'full transparency'. This shady approach has not only created a unilateral opportunity for the corporations making all of the rules to micro-manage every worker’s life under the pretense of smart business, it has also given its Trolls the power to kick off of the bridge any poor wretch who has the misfortune of being virtually connected to the wrong “friend”.

Now that we know that we need good credit in order to get the very job that we need to get the good credit, and that we’ll be indiscriminately judged guilty by association for connections with the wrong “friends” (as may be arbitrarily determined by any Troll working the Bridge), we now know that it’s time we take charge of our virtual, and very public, persona.

Well, “WhoIs” may claim to provide an identity for everyone, but the new beta “WhoIsMiniMe” has set its user-friendly platform up to provide the perfect virtual image for everyone.

WhoIsMiniMe” heralds itself to be the foolproof virtual PR platform from which to launch your own personal publicity campaign. "WhoIsMiniMe" allows its users to seamlessly manage and manipulate their alter egos from one simple phone app. False first impressions are effortlessly minimized with the one-dimensional perfect career avatar called the “Soigne’ Self”. The “Soigne’ Self” never sees its shadow (and it never lets anyone else see it either) because all users are directed to deposit their secret, private selves into the avatar aptly called the “Shadow Self”. And ne’er the two shall meet within the matrix.

Frankly, there appears to be no difference between the strategic actions of a private individual who elects to transfer any detractive character traits off of the public records and onto a self-created “Shadow Self”; and the actions of a Lehman Brothers who premeditatively transfers all of its risky assets off the public books and onto the records of its shady alter ego, Hudson Castle.

Word on the street is that necessity is the mother of invention, and it certainly looks as if the survival of personal privacy in today’s voyeuristic climate has necessitated a creative approach to playing the corporate game. So will your virtual, “Soigne’ Self”, be playing the game to win?

Put your best face forward, twice, in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ February 24, 2010 posting "Seeing Double”.

Joe McPain, TROLL

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pomp and Promises

The end of the school year is fast approaching. With this ending comes the beginning of an off-campus chapter in the lives of thousands of university students who have completed their core curriculums, and are now ready to enter the realm of the educated professional with freshly printed diplomas and loads of academic debt clamoring for repayment.

By the time their alma mater marching bands get around to stepping up the “Pomp and Circumstance” rehearsal schedules, most of the eligible graduates will have already been fitted for cap and gown, and be intently focused on the hunt for post-graduation employment in a paid position that even remotely corresponds with their chosen fields of study.

For the graduating majority who were assured that a college education would be an investment in their future fulfillment, and well worth the expense and resultant debt load, the job pickins are slim.

A sign-of-the-times reality check can be readily found with any routine sweep of the circulated job postings on the more ‘reputable’ employer job boards over the last several years. Naturally many large employers listing positions to be filled have unabashedly demonstrated their intentions of turning today’s economic lemons into profitable lemonade through unpaid internships. The approach is avariciously rationalized when one considers the trade off – educated slave labor in exchange for dangled promises of a long term position that eventually pays, maybe.
As the nation’s unemployment rate continues to realistically hover in the double-digits and still neglect to reflect the real time stats of the severely under-employed, we can’t help but wonder what our lettered citizens are expected to do with their education and expensive training…especially now that the Census Bureau has all of the doctorate-to-door census taking temps it can handle.

When it came time for us to be counted, it came with a hard knock at the door, followed by a hard look in the rear view mirror that put us back on the revolutionary road of the 1960’s where we could compare the indelible skid mark the 60’s social revolution left on society with the financial revolution that is currently underway.

The 1960’s unquestionably saw a collective insurgency that ultimately dismantled the traditional and established social structures which were perceived to be oppressive and limiting. To conform to the expectations set forth by the ‘establishment’ was to have individuality suppressed by those standards, and personal freedoms unacceptably confined. For many the answer was to simply drop out…drop out of college, drop out of society, fall off the grid.

Today’s financial revolution, however, seems to be rooted in financial oppression and the subjugation that comes with financial slavery. If society as a whole can no longer be effectively manipulated to submit and conform through fear of communal ostracism, then apparently it can be shackled and whipped into submission through heavy debt. Yet instead of dropping out, the revolutionaries of today truly want to contribute to our GDP, and have literally bought into the belief that higher education is their way to a secure future.

Consequently, too many have now been left burdened with unmanageable debt and no job to show for it.

The United States of America has certainly not been immune to the shackles of heavy national debt either; nevertheless its corporate children appear to have openly abandoned the needs of their Motherland while hiding behind the veil of ‘free market capitalism’, now that they’ve been bailed out of course.

Once again the discord between corporate America and her U.S. Mother is being publicly waged at the expense of the people. While corporate America loudly whines on about how it just can’t seem to find qualified domestic workers in order to justify its outsourcing cheap labor from abroad, Mother America takes her corporate children to task with accusations of unpaid intern abuses under the guise of federal labor law violations. In the end, all accounting points to payroll tax dollars – corporate America doesn’t want the payables, and America's Treasury wants the receivables.

All speculation now goes to how the newly-educated, over-educated, unemployed and under-employed will find new income opportunities during the transition.

Clearly not motivated enough to create quality domestic jobs at this point in the revolution, corporate America continues to blatantly exploit the fresh ideas and innovative concepts of the vulnerable without paying for any of it. It reminds us of an old saying, “Why should they buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?"

Debt is sinking the U.S. America and the bulk of her passengers are going down with the ship - the safety nets are gone, even the lifeboats have gaping holes. Get a view from the porthole in our ‘In The Rear View Mirror’ March 31, 2009 posting "The American Myth”.