Archive for July, 2009

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We’re All So Meta

[ 4 Comments ]Posted on July 31, 2009 by admin in Popular Media

Friday, July 31st, 2009

I want my Verfremdungseffekt back. Our collective tech and media savvy makes me feel like I’m living a fictionalized version of my own life.

William Shatner Gets Meta

Sometimes I feel like my friends and I are living a fictionalized version of our lives as products. How many times a day do you hear someone reference what they said or heard on Facebook or Twitter that day, rather than talking about something that occurred in reality? How many times a day do you hear someone who doesn’t even have a job in advertising or marketing talk about branding, or someone who does have a marketing job talk about utilizing social media as if they have the secret that makes it work? We live in a culture that thinks itself so media-savvy that the best source of news is a comedy show , the most revered art form is reality shows, and the hippest people totally aren’t. I mean, once you move to Williamsburg to be hip, how hip are you? I love metafiction, in fact, I have a half-written novel (Don’t we all? Here’s an excerpt of mine, 116KB PDF) which uses the narrator’s time-traveling and alcohol abuse as the device to explain the writer’s block that prevents him from resolving the story for you. To add an extra layer of “meta” to the whole thing, I plan on not finishing the novel. This kind of hip media self-awareness was cool back when AdBusters was new, or when William Shatner acknowledged his own absurdity in things like this parody trailer for the movie Seven, but now it’s so pervasive that it’s actually cannibalized back into advertising. It’s gotten to the point that I honestly can’t suspend my disbelief about my own life any more, let alone a movie or a product. My fourth wall is gone. I want my Verfremdungseffekt back.

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American Health Care – Isn’t The Problem Really Just Greed?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on July 30, 2009 by admin in Politics

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

What would YOU do to fix America’s health care?

I’ve always thought that health care would improve significantly if doctors started out at a very high salary which went down with every patient they lost. Since that will never happen, it appears health care costs are going to remain a slight problem. I must confess that I’m about as ignorant as one can get when it comes to what’s going on with the health care plans the senate is working on right now (it’s more than one bill). I’m also astounded that there is so much disagreement about the root causes of our high health costs. I have a simplistic belief about why health care is such a shambles in the states, and almost zero faith that legislation will fix it. I believe that most discussions about the topic skip over the two fundamental causes: greed and denial. I think that our national psyche has lost touch with the fact that taking care of each other is a fundamental aspect of being a happy human, and that when we turn human life into a commodity that can have a price, you’ll end up with the morass that is American healthcare. And if you don’t think it’s a mess, look around at other capitalist democracies . Pretty much across the board, America fails, with the highest cost per-capita , lowest life expectancy (38th out of 100), and highest infant mortality rate. Do you think Washington is on track to fix these problems? What do YOU think is the problem or the solution?

So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star – Part I

[ Comments Off ]Posted on July 29, 2009 by admin in Music

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

A few of the music industry’s most successful artists share how.

Are you sure you wanna
go down this road?

Music won’t leave me alone. Not that I mind; I’ve been in love with music since I was about four, when my mom managed a music store and would bring home demo models of pianos and dual-keyboard Hammonds with beatboxes built into them. As a teen, I had an Arp Axxe synthesizer before most people knew what a synthesizer was. In the early 80′s I had a good-looking but tragically Human League-like band, and in 1989 was convinced by a very savvy manager to turn down a major label deal. At that point I put music on the backburner as a career, doing occasional soundtrack drivel (well, maybe my stuff’s not that bad) through the nineties, until 2005 when I came close¬† to jumping into the fray of on-line music distribution by expanding my web business. Recently, I’ve been hired to research and plan some marketing for a couple of artists (including Ann Arbor’s Khalid Hanifi), and among other things, was blown away by this 2007 article (which I somehow missed at the time) in which Columbia Records’ Rick Rubin actually says out loud that the traditional music business model is toast. More interestingly though, I’ve been impressed by the wealth of information shared by artists who’ve been very successful with the new business model, much of which can be distilled down to one simple idea: forget unit sales and Read the rest of this entry »

If Beef Is So Bad For Us, Why Are Aliens Always Stealing Our Cows?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on July 28, 2009 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Some say you can’t beat the meat for nutrition. I disagree. To quote Rutger Hauer’s character in Blade Runner: It’s not only irrational, it’s unsportsmanlike!

I haven’t been much of a meat eater for a long time, but I think I’m going to finally commit to a rule that will make me more or less vegetarian: I won’t eat it unless I kill it myself. When you take an objective look at eating meat, there’s virtually no rational reason to do it. Even if you don’t care about the brutality of “harvesting” it, it doesn’t offer nutrients that can’t be found elsewhere, it’s arguably unhealthy, it has multiple negative impacts on the environment including deforestation and habitat destruction, excessive water consumption, pollution and greenhouse gas production, and on top of all that, it contributes to starvation worldwide. Not a very good scorecard. I’m even finding it hard to justify eating fish; as I joked with a friend the other day: Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll be starving in 50 years. So why have I suddenly decided on the change in diet? It’s not really so sudden. I’ve avoided corn-centric food and gone light on meat proteins since the 80′s, because of Diet for a New America, but recently I watched three films in a one-week period that drove it all home: Read the rest of this entry »

Just Who The Heck Do You Think You Are?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on July 27, 2009 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Whatever your answer is, I hope you’re happy with yourself. Find out who you are with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. And then get happy!

I am absolutely fascinated with people’s fascination with personality quizzes, which is why I’ve written about the topic before. I don’t need a multimillion dollar study to tell me that clearly, people take them because they either truly want to understand themselves better, or they simply want to reaffirm whatever they already believe about themselves (or in the case of Facebook quizzes like “Which Old-School Obscure Seasame Street character are you?“, do neither, while entertaining their friends). If you answer a well-designed test honestly and with self-awareness, they can be very helpful, but obviously a poorly-designed test leaves a lot of room for “Self-Report Bias”. So. If you really do want to to get to know yourself better, there are only a few credible methods on line to do so. And you can trust me, because according to this simple Jungian word pair test, I’m an ENFJ. Which means I’m a “Persuader. An outstanding leader of groups. Aggressive at helping others to be the best that they can be, and represent only 2.5% of the total population“. Hmm. I always suspected I was an outsider somehow. But my low self-intelligence result on this Multiple Intelligence Quiz prevented me from figuring it out. But now that I know, and since I do want to help you be the best you can be, here’s a whole page of these tests. After you’ve spent most of the day coming to a better understanding of yourself, ask yourself: are Read the rest of this entry »

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