Is there truly any privacy anymore?

With the onset of the digital communications, smart phones, and variety of  electronic communication methods that are now available to us – our lives have become infinitely more simple, right? Probably true: but they’ve also become considerably more open to scrutiny as well.

A few years ago, I was holding workshops for parents designed to teach them about the need for developing solid internet security practices for themselves and their families. For instance: how to spot insecure photo postings (blur all addresses, license plates, etc., to inhibit the ability for anyone to place a geographic location on your posting); placement of home computers to inhibit young people from visiting inappropriate websites; developing a new set of digital parenting skills to accommodate our rapidly shifting tech structure.

Now employers are rapidly jumping on the information planted randomly around the internet.  I don’t know about you, but in my youth I often made judgement calls that were less than ‘educated.’  In fact, I made some downright stupid decisions:  but that was part of a learning process, and consequences were often limited to private indiscretions that involved a minimal number of people.

Not today.

Now the internet is akin to plastering a billboard of your most embarrassing moments in front of every one of your relatives, surrounded by floodlights.

The concept of freedom of speech has completely changed. While in years past, one could easily have a radical point of view on a certain topic, and usually not experience too much confrontation over it:  not anymore. Be ready to defend your POV, and make sure that you want to share it (even with complete strangers).

Employers started demanding Facebook passwords (thankfully, this is now under control); but nothing stops them from searching you out on the ‘net to make sure that your POV will fit in with their corporate structure.

I’ve always told my kids that whatever they post, assume I will see it. Keep that in the back of your mind, as you are composing a rant about whatever topic you feel passionate about this week. Once it’s out there: it’s out there. Forever. Thirty years later, it could come back to bite you in the a**.

Don’t let it.

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Online opinions can be dangerous…

Wow.  Years ago, my father warned me against discussing religion and politics with friends – that if I insisted on doing soapboxso, I would likely lose most of the friends that I have. They’re hot topic issues, with passionate and emotional issues attached.  Now, with the onset of the “Springer/Povich” media effect (low-class verbal vomit passed off as entertainment) I’m beginning to see the fearlessness that the Internet has generated in some people – especially when they limit interaction to posting online.

As many are now attached to either Facebook, Google+, etc:  a new digital soapbox has emerged. While I will (occasionally) take a stance on these sensitive issues publicly via these networks (as it is a group of ‘friends’, right?) – I still try to live by my father’s wise advice:  watch what you say around certain topics, or risk losing friends.

The other day, when Hostess announced their impending liquidation, and the executives of the company were laying blame at the feet of the baker’s union, I got a little incensed.  While on my G+ account,  I started spouting off to people (not rudely, from my point of view – but definitely pro-worker, as I could not imagine how an iconic brand such as Hostess could be sunk by barely above minimum wage employees).

In the space of less than 24 hours I had received more “slap-downs” that I had ever experienced in my life: analog or digital. Wow.  As an example:  “I’d be surprised to find out that I was the first man to call you an ignorant left-wing sh*t d**k, care to surprise me?” – this coming from a man who later referred to me as a “retard” and told me he was a comedian, therefore it was his job to ridicule me…

Again: wow.

So today I write a note to myself.

Dear self,

A few points to for you to follow:

  1. Never allow a person to intimidate you into changing your mind due to insults and extreme negative feedback.
  2. Look for those who disagree with your point of view, and have the patience to explain why.
  3. Relish a diversity of  opinion; as that is how one learns. 
  4. Enjoy debate and conversation, as knowledge comes from sharing.
  5. Finally, never EVER resort to the emotional vomit put forth by some people attempting to make a point.

Now you know why you have so many politically diverse friends on Facebook:  they are there to share their life experience and POV’s with you, so that your experience on this earth is as diverse as possible.  Learn how to see through the eye’s of others, and hopefully they will allow you to share your POV with them.  While you may end up having to ”agree to disagree” – at least the conversation happened. 

Best regards,
The ignorant left wing sh*t d**k 

Have a nice day!

Twinkies shelf life reached

Hostess files for liquidationIn case you haven’t heard, the iconic bakery Hostess (home of the famed “Twinkie”) appears to be headed out of business.

  • What does this mean?
  • Why did this happen?
  • Who’s responsible?
  • How can we survive in a world without Twinkies?

The most important question would be the first: it means that over 18,000 people will lose their jobs.

Right before the holidays, the venture capitalists (who control the company) filed for an expedited motion to shutter the company’s doors forever and liquidate all holdings; the courts will review this request on November 19.

This is the second time in recent years that the company has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A company whose annual revenues exceed 2.5 billion (yes- BILLION) dollars.  Why is this happening?

Many of the mainstream media outlets are regurgitating news releases from the corporate offices of Hostess, which place the blame for this fiasco on the unions that have been on strike. What they fail to mention is that the officers of the corporation all received salary increases of to 80% before the bankruptcy filing (as the bankruptcy would have prevented the increases). Instead, these well-paid executives opted to ask for more wage concessions from hourly, middle-class workers, elimination of retiree health benefits (God forbid that those who supported the company for decades should rest easy during their retirement!), and cite un-funded pension obligations in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Probably the best  overview of exactly what happened to the company, and the reason it ended up in such a shamble is available at: http://money.cnn.com/2012/11/16/news/companies/hostess-closing/

While the article points out that there is little that is black and white about this issue, one thing bothers me.  How does a company with revenues in the BILLIONS fall apart?  While the public battle appears as corporate vs. union – this is too simple.

I’m hoping (though I doubt it will happen) that the court’s will closely look at the reasons behind this financial debacle. How did the executives of this American legend allow it to flounder so badly? Two bankruptcies since 2004 and they’re unable to pull themselves up and re-design their business successfully?

In the meantime, we’ve got over 18,000 people looking at a very bleak holiday season.

Where have all the hippies gone?

Was talking to a friend the other night, after having read an article an article on a blog:  20 Things I Should Have Known at 20.  An excellent list that I wish I had thought up – please read it.

That evening, I was up late and scanning the options available via DirecTV and found the movie “Hair” playing on Ovation (one of my favorite channels) and I remembered:

9. You will become more conservative over time.

Suddenly the Tea Party movement began making more sense…

Hippies haven’t died out: they’ve simply cut their hair and began watching Fox News.

What a concept! The same determination for a cause, the media hype and attention; it’s all there!

Then, while bouncing around the internet a little while trying to locate the blog article mentioned above, I ran into another blog article:    Hippie, Conservative Republican! Oh My!

My observations / worst fears were confirmed…

amazon.com = David to Apple’s Goliath?

I have always been a die-hard Apple fan. The style, efficiency and pleasurable experience that this company lends to a tech experience has enthralled me for years. I have yet to be able to afford an iPad – and though I mocked the name when it was first announced – I’ve always wanted one.

Today – amazon.com announced the release of the Kindle Fire. This new full-color tablet is sleek, with a polished Android operating system, and directly connected to massive amounts of media via one of the largest distribution networks in the world.  Similar to iTunes, but better – because once you purchase something from Amazon.com – you always have it. (Apple is nowhere near as generous with the rights management.) Plus – while the Kindle Fire has 8GB of internal storage – you actually have virtually unlimited storage as all of your purchases are stored at Amazon.com!

The best part of this entire announcement? The price.

$199.00

Yes – you read it right.  For the price of one iPad – you can buy 3 of these new Kindle Fire (one for yourself, and a stack for this year’s Christmas presents…).

This is going to be a very interesting Christmas season, indeed.  Now for the iPhone 5 announcement (the day after my birthday) – what’s a guy to do?

A few additional resources to check out:

Being half-assed never made anyone happy

mediocrity image from avitable.com blogDid that headline get your attention?It certainly grabbed mine…

First, please know upfront that these words appeared in an article from the blog Brazen Life (credit where credit is due).

Through my ramblings on the internet, I came across it by accident (some long-forgotten link) – and their upfront style of writing attracted my attention. This sentence caught my eye and I just had to run with it; it was just too good to leave alone.

Today I see too many people settling for ‘getting by.’ Just doing enough to satisfy the minimum in almost everything they do.

I am at a loss as to why they would do this to themselves.

Why would people not want to put forth the best possible effort when dealing with life issues? A positive approach to challenging issues will not only contribute to your happiness in the end run, but it might just make a small part of the world a brighter place.

A little too sappy for you? Sorry, but I’m the kind of guy that has watched “Field of Dreams” over 20 times and never tire of the effect that the story has on me. Same with “Pay It Forward” – another tale of going above and beyond what most expect, to share a special emotional human interaction with another person.

The real Antichrist is he who turns the wine of an original idea into the water of mediocrity. –Eric Hoffer

Rediscover yourself as a child – exploring life fearlessly, and devoting yourself to fully experiencing those moments when you share the best of yourself with others; friends, family, coworkers, and strangers.

It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.

Portraying an Icon

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe
Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe

I am the definition of movie fan. I attribute this to my mother, who dragged me to a showing of “Gone With The Wind” when I was in elementary school.

Wow.  It overpowered me, and I fell instantly in love with this alternate universe.

This introduction inspired my first career choices; always entertainment-based. While in college, I booked films for the student film series (causing a controversy when I lost a horror film on Halloween, and ended up booking Andy Warhol’s Dracula as a replacement – when it was still rated ‘X’ – whoops!).

In the mid-1980s, I ended up in Dallas, Texas – hired by Blockbuster Entertainment as a product specialist – purchasing ‘genre’ films and ‘demographically friendly’ product for their stores. Then I ran a film and video distribution company for almost 15 years – producing a feature film (“The Seller“) and a number of music videos (“Look Away My Love” – not my cup of tea, musically – but the band and I shared a lawyer, and I wanted the hands-on production experience).

During this time, I had the good fortune to meet a number of people in the industry who spent a lot of time in front of the camera. Some of them were exactly what you see on the screen, others were polar opposites of their on-screen persona.

Two of my favorites were Marilyn Monroe and Mae West.  West I interviewed when I was in college (while she was shooting ‘Sextette’). Monroe had died while I was still in elementary school. Plagued by insecurity, unknown by the public that adored her, she was a complex and misunderstood Hollywood icon. Hopefully, the new film “My Week with Marilyn” – a new film by Simon Curtis, and starring Michelle Williams as Monroe, will let us inside her world during one of her more troubled film shoots.

Based on a book by Colin Clark, it documents one week in his life as her assistant during the filming of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” Less than two weeks after her marriage to Arthur Miller, Monroe flew to England to star in this film directed by Laurence Olivier.  There are a number of articles that document the issues that plagued this production – but this is a diary kept by Clark – and the film is coming to the New York Film Festival for its world premiere this October.

This is one to watch…