Thursday, July 28, 2005

Interesting points

Agree with this in many senses... disagree with it on others.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Giving feedback to a problem manager

Have you ever had to submit review information about a 'problem' manager? Tongue tied? Or are you afraid to express your true sentiments and risk getting written up or fired for an HR violation.

You might want to do a little role playing and walk in your manager's shoes and analyze what he or she is doing wrong. One way I've quantified my problems with my manager is to fill out an evaluative survey online as if I was that person. Of course, you should try to be as fair as possible in assessing how your manager would actually react and respond to the questions... if they were honest about their behavior.

Maybe this isn't the right approach, but it actually opened my eyes a bit when it came to understanding why my manager did the things she did.

Friday, July 08, 2005


Corporate Monoculture beats the living spirit out of the old American Rebel

America was founded by rebels. Though we're talking very rich, land-owning and educated rebels... and rebel lawyers at that. As a people we were one of the first to give the Old Order governed by Monarchy and Divine Right the proverbial Bird. There's always been a touch of irreverence that streams through our blood and culture. It's what propelled the South to buck against the pressure to change from the North (though their drive to cling to their old order was based on the inhumane and unegalitarian practice of owning people). Rebel Culture drove our propensity for innovation in industry and technology. American ingeniuity and invention comes from our insatiable desire to make things work better and challenge older or more traditional ways of doing things. In the mid 19th Century to the mid 20th America spawned thousands of inventions and patents which powered the Engine of Progress and improved the standard of living for people all over the world (though some of these things arguably worked to actually enslave more of our time and restricted our leisure hours) including: The telephone, the lightbulb, the sewing machine, the telegraph, the polio vaccine, the computer, the automobile.

Our Rebel Attitude also fueled the ignition of a universe of music and popular culture which became beloved around the world... take for example, Rock and Roll and all it's subsequent and successive genres. Rebel Culture was what made us down right cool... black leather jackets, motor cycles, and slicked back hair... kids in bowling jackets who snap their fingers while taunting authority by yelling, "Hey, Daddio!" Later our rebllion took the form of peaceful protests. The rebellion embedded in the Civil Rights movement brought about necessary changes in our attitudes and how we viewed all Americans, all humans as people with equal rights and freedoms.

We are born rebels, damnit! It's deep in our blood. Yet there are forces in our culture and environment that are suffocating this truly American aspect of our personality. One is the giant of corporate monoculture. Within the incubators and hives of the Corporate world a new breed of drone is being spawned. In fact, the Corporate world breeds individuals who does not naturally challenge the order and structure of doing things.

Moreover, Corporations increasingly base success of their endeavors on achieving their goals at the LOWEST cost. This Wal-Martization of goal achievement results often in settling for the cheapest resources or unqualified personnelle. Furthermore, as the corporate leviathan grows its army of patent attorneys and it's legal department claims dibs on inventions that happen to pop up from honest innovators who are just trying to make a break for success. What's wrong with this picture?! Why should any would-be inventor even try to invent something if it will be swept up by an opportunistic vulture?

My list of complaints only grows with the passing of time.

So I say, in my most irreverent and rebellious American voice....



Berman savages various contemporary cultural phenomena such as the substitution of civility with corporate politeness ("thank you for choosing AT&T"), the widespread lack of motivation of youth, infantilism as ideology (flaunting the inability to grow up), entertainment substituting for education and the insipid "mental theme park" of the New Age industry. Citing the specific example of Deepak Chopra's book Escaping the Prison of the Intellect, Berman dryly notes, "The problem is that Chopra seems to be addressing an audience that for the most part hasn't managed to find its way into the 'prison of the intellect' in the first place."
All in all, Berman argues, the United States is free-falling to the garbage heap. Arising in its place is a brutal, global corporate hegemony pushing the culture of McWorld, empty of everything but schlock, social inequality and consumerism.


Response to Krawdad's comments:

I am hopeful too. Because I think that people still have the power to make choices to buck the system... and for us the under-represented it's 'la perruque' all the way, Baby. The first step to defeat is to acquiesce and relent to the notion that the megasaur businesses and organizations cannot be beaten. You may not be able to bring them down, but you can take a chunk out of them. If you look up the words "WalMart" and "Protest" on Google... at any time you will see a number of communities rising up to prevent the errection of a WalMart in their town or neighborhood... and, yes, I used the 'E' word with pun intended.

We can conscious purchases, whole/organic foods, local business guilds, and movements to buy from locally owned an operated businesses... we don't have to buy everyday, but making a purchase or two to a locally owned store, restaurant or business helps keep these places alive. We can purchase wisely and less often.

Also, style and fashion are still highly driven by subcultural inklings and tastes that marketers, try as they may to capture cannot completely harness. By the time they put it into play... style has evolved yet again. In a sense this almost always provides companies with new and innovative products. I do believe that corporations do have a good place in the sense that they proliferate some items, artforms to a larger audience. However, at the same time since they are so market driven... they often dumbdown these forms so they are palatable to the larger public. Look what they did to Hip Hop, but of course that's just my opinion.

However, at the same time... the corporate machine will always try to encompass and dominate as much of the topography or the market as possible. Sometimes you see them swell and pop like a big pus-filled boil because they simply can't hold rot in, more-likely because they have expanded without any truly well defined, goals vision and a strategy to insure the stability of the business. Corporate leadership justifies that downsizing is necessary to make a company leaner/meaner (in reality this tactic has often been used to gain approval from analysts and bring quick returns to shareholders). Yet at the same time they don't provide a good transition plan to ease the burden of the employees who must shoulder the burden of the work of their laid off peers. I've seen many a co-worker burn-out after a downsizing. Retention usually sucks six months to a year after the downturn. Most people in management and HR would argue (though not so openly) that this is a good way to wring out those who are not loyal to the company... or those who simply cannot cut the mustard.

There's just simply something sick about corporate dominance left unchecked.

Interesting though... if you want to know where companies give their money to politically/ or whom they support either side go here:

Figures where Outback Steakhouse and Applebees sunk their bucks no wonder their foetid food gives me gas.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

When Did Raspberries Become Blue?

When I was a child I longed for food to be blue. This was the late seventies and marketing at the major food corporations was still not convinced that people would warm up to the idea of eating food in the color in the color that appeared less in nature than any other color in the spectrum. Little did I know that they would finally grant me my wish by the time I was in my 20s. No, during my childhood, lemons and citrus fruits were yellow and orange, berries came in shades of purple or red. Greens were for all purposes green.

I remember reading an essay in my Childcraft Worldbook Encyclopedia about the science of coloring food. As I recall the photo display of edibles in the article included a half an orange, or was it a grapefruit, a bowl of cereal, bacon strips, and a plate of toast with an unmelted pat of butter. However, everything in the photo was white and colorless. The article noted that people had been given food in tastes tests in various colors and were asked to note whether or not they could taste a difference. The food itself was not altered in anyway; therefore, theoretically it would not change in taste. However the scientists discovered that foods' color definitely influenced the perception of taste. This essay noted that the least popular coloring for food among those tested at the time (probably mid 70s- now I've just given out my approximate age) was of course blue. Later I remember reading a hypotheses that reasoned that blue was not a commonly occuring color in nature among edibles... with the exception of blueberries.

My, times have changed.

You walk into any supermarket aisle with products aimed directly at kids and you'll find blue everywhere, and it just doesn't stop with blue marshmalllows in the Lucky Charms. Blue juice, blue fruit leather, blue candy, blue sour strips. I suppose if you put all of these items in front of anyone who would be my grandparents' age (if they were alive), they would recoil in horror and ask why we were feeding them plastic, window cleaner, and laundry detergent.

What does this say about how we view food now... or the sensibilities of our children? It makes complete sense to me why this generation seems to enjoy many things artificial. I watched a pair of children last night at a party who busied themselves with their gameboys on the couch while the adults around them chattered, ate and filled themselves with cocktails. Their eyes were glued to a video screen half the size of a scratch pad, and their eyes followed Sponge Bob Squarepants as he danced around a sea of blue dodging undersea robots or riding through a maze of coral on a seahorse. Much of what these children are atuned to is artificial. The colors, the sights, even the dimensional attributes. They view things that are three dimensional on a two dimensional screen. Their colors aren't defined only by what is seen in the natural or real world. So why then can't raspberries be blue?