So, the Republican Party decided it needed to spend some money to "promote" the trending topic #areyoubetteroff" on Twitter heading into the opening of the Democratic Convention. This is a move that, to me, seems either fraught with one of the worst cases of amnesia known to man, or makes me wonder if whomever is pulling the strings for the Repubs has suffered some sort of forceable rape of imagination.
Well, on a larger scale we were heading into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. One that shook just about everything we know to its core. Unless you were one of the folks on Wall St or in the finanical sector that brought this thing down on our heads I can't imagine that the chaos four years ago didn't affect you or someone you know.
On a personal level what happened four years ago came very close to killing the not-for-profit business I run. It's called a theatre. Ticket sales had already been slowing as the economy had already started slowing (remember we wouldn't find it out that we'd been in a recession officially since 2007 until much later). Fundraising was non-existant. Major pledges that had been made to pay for a much needed renovation on our facility did not come through worsening our debt situation. Don't get me wrong, we know in this business that when times are tough our business suffers. So, I can't blame folks who were themselves hurting. I can and do blame the bastards who brought this down on all of us, and the folks who were supposed to be on the watch for the theivery they perpetrated. And let's remember that all happened in the run up to four years ago.
Even more personal, my mother was still alive. She had yet to be diagnosed with the cancer that woud take her life. The hell she went through in 2010 brought about by her disease was going on while the debate over health care was taking place. As I lived through that with her, I watched really good people in the health care industry find ways to skirt through the rules of the game set forth by the insurance companies. Talk about a system rigged absolutely against those who need it and those who work to help those in need. I to this day wonder why the Democrats were stupid enough to let the Republicans walk away using the term Death Panels. I dealt with a few Insurance Company Death Panels for my Mom. Talk about vampires. But neither the Democrats or the Republicans have have locked in the market on idiocy. They seem to share enough of that to go around. But then there's that hashtag that makes me wonder about that currently.
So, there's two moments from my life that answer the ridiculous question that the Republcans want us to ask. Hell, yes, I'm better off than I was four years ago. Here's my question to the Republicans, #areyouguysreallythisstupid? Get a clue.
The resason the ellipsis sits at the end of the title of this post is that there is no real answer. The only thing faster and more predictable than one of Usain Bolt's sprints was the timing of the reactions to yesterday's Republican VP announcment. Seconds after the news was official on Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as VP (the news was out long before it was official) there was the expected avalanche of stories, tweets, etc... both praising and condeming Ryan. Expected. Predictable. And ultimately, well, ultimately part of a script that anyone reading this post could write.
The same will be true for the next month or so. Oh, we're going to have a resurgence of stories about Ayn Rand. She's this election cycle's Alaska. We knew she was there, just like we knew Alaska was a state, but now we have to scramble to find out about her. The only fun will be watching pundits misconstrue (both ignorantly and purposefully) her changing thinking about as much as Paul Ryan does. Actually, that meme may have already run its course. Rand ranks up there with Brecht and Stanislavski as one of the most often misunderstood European thinkers by Americans. (Note that Brecht and Rand immigrated to this country to become cultural icons and make real money.) But since she is so easily misinterpreted that means we can just talk in shortcuts and soundbites that demonize while at the same time propping her up on a pedastal. Her estate will be pleased.
As we near the run up to the conventions we'll hear the predictable predictions, polluted polling data, and pompous prognosticating that in the end... well, in the end will all amount to nothing. But stay tuned, after each convention we'll hear about the polls rising for each candidate, and then dismissed as post-convention bump. If there is no bump, or not a big enough bump, or too large of a bump, we'll hear that the election is over for one of the candidates. Those scripts have already been written. But never fear, soon after that we'll start hearing new memes about potential October suprises and polls narrowing accompanying the steady rhythm about disreputable ads and mudslinging that underscore any election cycle.
The potential good news is that I think we've just about run our course on dirt-dishing for this campaign now that both sides are calling each other murderers. About the only thing left to keep the ratings churning is sex. But the candidates running look too squeaky clean on that front. Although I guess the birthers are shifting their focus to talking Obama being gay. You don't need documents for that.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe we've run out of BS, lies by both sides, the supercilious, and the predictable. Maybe by the time October rolls around the candidates will actually have to talk about the issues.
Go read Josh Marshall's post on Talking Points Memo about voter disenfranchisment, voter fraud, etc... He makes the point that perhaps we should forget all about voter registration and simply do what we do in countries where we take over after a short war, declare democracy, and then encourage every one to vote. After voting, the folks in these new bastions of democracy dip their fingers in ink so that everyone knows who has already voted.
If it is good enough for new democracies, shouldn't it be could enough for one with a little age to it? But then again, it is probably too simple of a solution. Imagine the possibilities.
Is the limbo an Olympic event? Because If this was a limbo contest, the only country that could continue to compete would be Lilliput. Yeah, I know it's a fictious place, but then so is the Olympics coverage fictious. I'm also guessing the NBC producers and announcers wouldn't know that either based on their performances so far. There's lot of jumping up and down about NBC's coverage of the Olympics, tape delays, getting ticked off at Twitter users, and generally acting like the clueless corporation that it is. Note that we've been down the tape delay path previously and as cyncial as that manuever is, it has become expected behavior. We've also seen the protect the brand at any costs manuevers before as well.
What's not expected though, and what I continue to marvel at, is NBC's insistence on trying to pretend there are two worlds out there: one that is aware and one that isn't. Now, let's be clear. There are two worlds out there. One is aware and one isn't. NBC (and they are not alone) knows that, and plays to the lowest common denominator of the world that isn't aware. It's no different than politics these days. I mean if we follow the media we actually think we have two worthy contenders running for an office that doesn't matter anymore. Actually, it's no different than anything that those who run the media conglomerates purport to cover and bring us info about.
But give me a break on a couple of things here. NBC says we needed context to appreciate the opening ceremonies from its crack team of professionals. You know, the ones who proceeded to make snarky remarks and show their ignorance during the tape delayed broadcast. Watching a little bit of that, you would have thought NBC had pulled over the Saturday Night Live team to provide commentary. The commentary and the context was that not funny. How anyone can take any of those announcers seriously ever again is beyond me. And remember this was tape delayed, so someone with some smarts could have done some judicious editing here.
It's one thing to have a business model to try and maximize profits by taking advantage of the lazy, the ignorant, and the uneducated. That's what passes for business in today's world. It's slightly another thing in today's world to try and pretend that those who are aware won't call you on it, and then get all huffy and defensive when they do. Especially when you are secretly enjoying the raft of publicity created by your own failures, knowing full well that is driving traffic. Of course, if there was a big story at these Olympics that caught someone with their pants down the way NBC has been exposed, you can be sure that the NBC producers and talking heads would be bashing those with their fannies hanging out in much the same way that NBC is getting bashed right now.
It's a shame really. We've reached a point where spoonfeeding the masses has forced us to disguise the spoon. But then again, we all share a bit in that. Unless we just turn the crap off.
Doesn't mean I haven't been observing, thinking, ranting, or smacking my forehead.
Anyway, here are some thoughts and rantings.
The Olympics start. Occaasional great celebration of atheletic acheivement mixed in with commerical greed that makes American Pro Sports blush.
Some say we need a debate on guns. Some say we can't because of the big bad NRA. Some say that its all about the 2nd Amendment and rights and that pesky comma. Some say cars kill more than guns do. Really? Give me a break. We know when we get on the road we are putting our lives in our own hands and the lives of those sharing the road. When we sit in a movie theatre, or anywhere else, I don't think that's part of the bargain. But I guess it is in these sick minds. As for that whole second amendment thing? Give me a break. It's there, it's real. It's open to some interpretation. But for the love of Pete, it doesn't give any of us the right to own an arsenal. Some say this will never change in this country. They are correct. Because all, including those with the automatic weapons are cowards and slaves to money. Yeah, slaves.
There's a presidential election going on. Well, there's supposed to be one. Everyone is pretending that this is for real and the result will matter. It will, but not in any great way. We've succeeded in destroying anything and everything about what real consequences mean by turning politics into a charade of itself, and the power of governance into a casino. All sides own this. All sides are slaves to this. Owning and being a slave. Fancy that.
The economy continues to sputter. Really? You're surprised and excpect different results? Give me a break. Those who think things will continue this way until after the election are dreaming as well. It's not going to change. Too many folks making too much money to put people back to work. Unemployment will remain above 7% for some time ahead and guess what. Those who control the game have no interest in seeing it change. Slaves to some concept that says investors are owed profits for gambling. And we think Vegas is Sin City.
LIBOR. Yeah, it's getting some play, but should get more. Thievery isn't sexy when the media (what, we still have a media?) can't explain what the theft is without using numbers. Greatest theft of all time. These guys make the Mafia look like amatuers.
Derecho. I guess we need a new term to describe these crazy storms. Greenland's ice cover is gone. We're in a drought. Storms pillage areas like rampaging Bank Executives. (Don't you wish Capital One would replace its barbarians in the commericals with Bank Executives. They rape and pillage better than the cuddly barbarians.) But goodness me, we can't talk about this in a scientific way, because, you know, that would maybe piss off someone who might vote for someone.
Voter suppression. So, it's pretty obvious (so much so that it seems to be a fait accompli) that those who can't stand a black man as president have engaged in some pretty shifty (and clever) voter suppression tactics in some states. I've got a suggestion. Let's change all the voting laws, so that only those who keep their income in US repositories get to vote. That kind of heralds back to the days when only property owners could vote in this country. Got to love those founding fathers.
Congress. Since all we have is a reality show masquerading as a Congress, don't you think it's time to change the channel or cancel the show?
Like everything else in my life in this insane year this post is a day late and a dollar short. The seventh anniversary of this blog was yesterday, December 3. But things in my life kept me from putting the finishing touches on the post and getting it published on the big day. On some level that's unacceptable. On others it is entirely in character this year. But then, maybe we'll see that change in the new year.
Seven years. (and a day) That's how long I've been presenting the Ink Blot Awards as my way of recognizing the anniversary of this blog. It's been a fun ride. It's been full of laughs. I'm hoping this year's awards will also provide a few chuckles to folks who stop by and give them a read. Although the history is mostly ancient and perhaps bordering on the irrelevant, I think it is important to provide some of it as context. So here goes:
I created The Life On The Wicked Stage Ink Blot Awards as a celebration. Yes, it's a celebration of the 1 year anniversary of this blog. But it is more than that. It is a celebration of a community that I have come to know and admire. The Tableteers that make up the Tablet PC Community are an amazing collection of individuals who know and work with the Tablet PC platform. They are fiercely protective of it, insatiably curious about advancing it, very intelligent, often wickedly funny, at one time very forgiving and patient, and in the same breath, scathingly critical when the need arises. They are also exceedingly willing to evangelize the platform to anyone who will listen, and in my humble opinion, have helped keep the spotlight on The Tablet PC in ways that may, in the long run, prove to be responsible for keeping the platform thriving.
So much has changed in the time I started blogging that first year. It's changed with me and also that community has certainly changed. Those around me have changed as well in an eerie parallel to how things with Tablets have changed. Tablets mean different things now-a-days, although some of those who make them seem to have less penchant for success than Microsoft did.
What hasn't changed and what's consistent about Tablets is that they are still the very personal devices that they started out to be. Microsoft never recognized that. Apple did. Others tried to emulate without acknowledging the core reasons for Apple's success. And by and large they failed.
What's also changed is my attitude about politics, cultural happenings, and other things that I observe on this blog. I've also changed how I observe and remark about them. The convenience of Twitter and Google+ take something away from this blog. Sometimes I worry about that. Sometimes I don't.
I've become increasingly disenchanted with quite a few things this year. To be honest, I don't know why. I used to find it all entertaining in a "Human Comedy" sort of way. I don't find it that entertaining anymore. The ins and outs of life begin with the foibles of humans. It used to be that somewhere along the line we acknowledged that, celebrated it, and moved on, bettering ourselves in the process. While I think we still acknowledge it, and we might celebrate it, the only benefit we're deriving by moving on is to repeat the same things over and over again with an increasing frequency. I think this year's Ink Blot Awards reflect that with the number of repeats. Or they reflect my warped sense of things.
This was a year that so many things resulted in a "FAIL" that I think we have to look for a new buzz word for failure. Politics and the circus around it started performing without a tent and nobody cared that the clowns weren't funny any more. It's not that the clowns weren't funny that is maddening. It's depressing that no one cared anymore. Major tech companies became exposed for what can only be described as abhorent stratagies. New gadgets now depend on the same fickle first weekend sales that movies do. Of course if we had better gadgets being released, we'd probably see better results. Social networking became a parody of itself and all of that sharing resulted in a few shares too many or not nearly enough, depending on your perspective. Big media continued to prove that it doesn't have a clue. Little media seems to inexplicably want to follow that path as well. Oh, and Mother Nature reached up and smacked the planet around trying to get our attention. But aside from watching the compelling video and pictures we continued to just be thankful it wasn't us feeling her wrath, and sympathetic to those who did. The 99% became the Tea Party without the tea but with lots of party, because in the end the complaints are the same. For its efforts it got criticized by the 1% for being unorganized, dirty, and partying too much by the 1% that defines itself by making money and not making anything else so it can party. I think the 1% are just jealous because they feel like they have to dress up and shower in order to play their game. There's an old saying in show biz that if you put real life on the stage no one would believe it. I think if you put this last year on the stage, not only wouldn't anyone believe it, but Groupon would have a hard time selling discount tickets to it.
Last year's many repeats were due primarily to me spending the year dealing with my mother's terminal illness and ultimate passing. This year's repeats, I think, deal more with the fact that nothing has really changed. Change used to be a constant. I don't think it is as constant presently. On some levels I find that depressing, on larger levels I find that extremely human. I also find that it focuses those who are looking at life with 20/20 vision into a clearer view that someday may pull us out of the rut we're in.
Any pretense at aspirations aside, the rules for inclusion on the list are the same. Award winners are subject to my own whims and fancies. Some are best in class, some are just frivilous, some deserve the small heaping of scorn these awards might cast their way. Human nature, no matter the field of endeavor, is ripe with that which needs celebrating and that which needs derision cast its way. Good friend, Tablet PC MVP and fellow GBM contributor, Mark “Sumocat” Sumimoto, christened these awards with the nickname of ‘The Blotties’ in year one, and that sorta stuck. So we'll let it keep sticking. And finally, if you don't like the list, go make your own.
So, as always, hit the jump, cue the dancing girls, beat out a tattoo on the drums, sound the trumpets (or the theremin) and get ready for the Seventh Annual Life on the Wicked Stage Ink Blot Awards .
If there was a shark that was still circling the wading pool after all the splashing we've been through so far in this political season we would now have jumped it. It's been apparent for some time now that what passes for presidential poltitics has become not only irrelevant, but a continual mockery of itself. All players in the charade have been unmasked and anyone passing for an Emperor can't be that embarrassed to be exposed because all of the exposers are just as unclothed.
I suppose we've exhausted the clichéness of the cliché that George Santayana is credited with, "those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it." All you need do is look around, if you have the courage to fix your gaze on just about anything that is happening in the world today. The picture that heads this post from an OWS protest at UC Cal Davis is just one example of how we've either lost any perspective on our current roles in the continuim or have just decided, in some astonishing feat of hubris, that what we're doing has no connection to the magnificient human errors that we and our ancestors stumbled into in the past.
What's that lesson we all learn as children? Stick you hand in a flame and you get burned? Why have we seemed to take a collective leave of our senses (both physical and intellectual) when it comes to dancing so periously close to fires we thought we had extinguished? Is the burning heat and glow of the fire so seductive that we ignore the potential for pain?
Here's a small list of seemingly collective memorable moments in time within which we seem to have collectively forgotten to remember our past.
The ridiculous responses to the OWS protests.The crackdowns serve to inflame not douse. These efforts to diminish the protests only serve to diminish the diminishers. I mean seriously, you write a memo explaining our you are going to spend money to discredit the protesters and let it leak?
Wall St and the finanical world, you know that place where people make money by not making anything, are heading us all into another crash. Of course this behavior and our lack of a government with any desire to do something about it led to the OWS movement in the first place.
The Republican presidential circus primary. I mean if Newt Gingrich can be on the ascendancy then those who are boosting him upward either don't care, or the office of the presidency has lost all meaning. Probably both. But then, I think the last decade has proven that what we call the US poltical process is nothing more than a hand maiden to bigger interests.
The list could go on and on, because as a species we just go on and on. But somehow in the going on and on, we've forgotten to carry any baggage with us from out collective past as we try to step into the future unfettered. But the only thing that is unfettered or unencumbered seems to be our destiny to find ourselves, again, on the bottom of the cycle that is life, crying about the burns on our hands.
I'm certainly not a Republican so I have no skin in this game. But I do follow what is going on in that three-legged sack race, because, well, like it or not one of the folks currently running is likely to be the nominee. So far that race has been full of nothing but the expected, even when it has been disugised as unexpected. This latest moment was also, sadly, expected, and proves just how absolutley insane, inane, and devoid of real meaning our political process is.
And of course we're off and running with this as new red meat to be gnawed on by the press and the candidates. That will continue into the first part of next week because the news broke on a Friday, so it will have a lingering effect. Of course Perry's campaign is in cover its butt mode and so far Romney is playing it on the high road.
But in the end, regardless of how you feel about the particulars of the moment, this just proves how dangerously low our political process has descended. The muck and mud on the waders is probably embarassed. And remember, this is what we force candidates to go through so that they can prove that they have what it takes to lead.