Saturday, August 30, 2014

Et in Arcadia ego


Even on vacation we see the demons of everyday work rising before us. Here we repose in a picturesque village on the rocky coast of Massachusetts. Seagulls cry overhead as heavy summer maple leaves rustle in the breeze.

But wait! The call of our working lives. What does the local paper say? That the little town’s Rockport Bank has just been acquired… (gasp)… bought out by outsiders based up the coast at the… (swallow hard)… Institution for Savings.  

"Institution for Savings" — a name that connotes harshness and deprivation. A name that frowns on the little Oliver holding up his bowl for more gruel. It's Institution for Savings — or else!  

I gaze across the bay. Even in this dainty New England fishing town, with seagulls calling us to daydream, there crashes the wave of bank consolidation. As Nicholas Poussin might have put it: “Et in Arcadia ego” – popularly translated as, “Even in Arcadia, there I am.”… the “I” being death.

The lesson: Even on vacation there is no escaping the firm hand of business… of bank consolidation… of cold, corporate names… of reality itself. “Et in Arcadia banco consolidatio.”

Et in Arcadia banco consolidatio sub nomen gelu Institution for Savings.

Brandsinger



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Your name is what it is

Growing up in South Texas with the name Claude — when most boys were named Roy, Billy, Johnny or Mike — I suffered a few, um, insulting variations on my name. Most often a tormentor would call me Dirt Clod or Claudette — but even the normal, friendly Texas pronunciation "Clod" was a variation I learned to accept.

Enter a new generation of basketball players! and we have guys proud of the most amazing names human ingenuity can devise. The most astounding name comes with the New York Knicks' powerful new talent: Cleanthony Early.

From the Wichita Eagle comes this explanation:
Q: What's the story with the name Cleanthony?
A: You would have to ask my mom that. I’ve never gotten to it. It is what it is. It’s unique. Until yesterday, I thought I was the only guy with the name Cleanthony. Some guy hit me up on Instagram. I put up a picture of me dunking, and he was like “Do it for the Cleanthonys.” People call me Cle. They call me Anthony. They call me everything.
No self-consciousness here! The man lets his talent speak for itself.
Cleanthony in action 

Read more here: http://blogs.kansas.com/shockwaves/2012/06/19/qa-with-cleanthony-early/comment-page-1/#storylink=cpy
Most articles on this subject are titled "What's in a name?"
I'm calling this one: When you're a 6-foot-eight millionaire, your name is what it is.

Brandsinger

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How totalitarians suppress free expression

It is plainly pernicious the way totalitarian governments crush their citizens' legal rights. Dictators toss opponents in prison to squelch the rights we take for granted—like free speech. 

As example, Brandsinger was able to obtain a copy of a political campaign law passed and enforced in North Korea. You can see from the following excerpt that, to suppress its hapless people, North Korean officials have taken a blank check. The law reads:
“No person, during the course of any campaign for nomination or election to public office or office of a political party, by means of campaign materials, including sample ballots, an advertisement on radio or television or in a newspaper or periodical, a public speech, press release, or otherwise, shall knowingly and with intent to affect the outcome of such campaign do any of the following:

“(9) Make a false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official;

“(10) Post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not, if the statement is designed to promote the election, nomination, or defeat of the candidate.”

Talk about carte blanche! This law gives North Korean authorities and their incumbent stooges a legal weapon to brand anything their opponents say as "false." The process prescribed in the law calls for an appointed commission to hold hearings on the charges, set a period of discovery during which leaflets, ads, and correspondences are gathered and reviewed—and make a judgment that can lead to six months in prison for the confirmed disseminators of “false” statements.

The message is clear: Don’t dare say anything that might be called a lie in a North Korean political campaign.

Wow. That's what makes our nation so different. Here politicians and their opponents fudge the truth—or lie—or don't—and are immune to prosecution. In our system under the First Amendment, the veracity of political claims is deemed a judgment call best left to the voters.   

Because in our democracy… wait a minute. Um. Excuse me, I think… I made a slight… uh. What does it say? Oh. The excerpt above is not North Korean. Sorry. It's on the books in Ohio.

Um... well... Fortunately we have a Supreme Court in the US that can see (the obvious truth) that the Ohio law needs to be reconsidered. In a unanimous decision this week, our Court reversed a lower court’s ruling that the law was not ripe, relevant or offensive. Justice Thomas’s excellent opinion is here and worth reading: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-193_omq2.pdf
 
Justice Thomas and team chip away at campaign laws that squelch free speech.
Given how obnoxious is the Ohio law (banning supposed falsehoods with prison as a penalty? – what totalitarian state does Ohio want to be?), Brandsinger’s reaction to the Supreme Court's unanimous decision is, “Well duh.”

brandsinger  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sports Lessons

I grew up in Texas where sports is so important that, well, let’s put it this way: There was also time for family and religion, but only as secondary matters. The typical Texas coach was heavy-set, angry, and quick to lecture you on winning, teamwork and being tough. If you were rolling in the dirt gasping for breath, his only advice was, “Git on up.” 

Playing hard in the Texas sun was supposed to teach me lessons about life—but as many times as I heard about “lessons,” I don’t think I actually knew what they were. Winning, yes, I guess that’s better than losing. Teamwork sounds good, and being tough is every boy’s ideal of himself until he catches his first elbow to the lips.

As I grew older and now experience more sports in the media than on the field, I’m beginning to see important lessons clearly. Today I won’t bore you with more than one: Graciousness. That’s right, while pounding into you that the other guy wants to eat your lunch and spit it in your face – sports can teach you the power of being gracious. 

This past week gave us an example when the Seattle Seahawks — the champion pro-football team — signed a contract with a young player AFTER they discovered he had a career-ending heart condition. That’s right, they found out about his ailment, signed the contract, and became obligated to give him hundreds of thousands of dollars knowing he might never play again. 

That’s being gracious.

But being gracious shows up in little ways all the time in sports. Like when a catcher gets hit by a wicked tipped ball and throws off his mask in pain, the umpire stops play, strolls out of position, bends over, and slowly dusts off home plate. Just giving the poor catcher time to recover. Just being gracious.

This spring I saw a catcher take a bullet pitch to his bare hand (or maybe his face or crotch). The guy buckled in pain, and the umpire — seemingly without noticing —walked slowly out to the mound to deliver the baseball in person to the pitcher. Just giving the catcher a few extra moments to catch his breath.

A bit of graciousness is imbedded in sports. It can teach us to look for opportunities to extend a hand to a struggling person — even a competitor — and give the guy a better chance to git on up.

Brandsinger

Friday, May 9, 2014

Beauty and the Publicist

Tonight's guest post comes from NYU grad student Diana Sweis—who is looking to counteract a foolish attitude.

A few days ago, I was sitting in Times Square eating ice cream with some friends in the public relations industry.
      We were laughing and talking about PR and the highs and lows of working in the industry. During the conversation, one of my friends mentioned that in order to get a job in PR one must be “cute.” This made me think about all the different PR agencies and publicists I have seen. I never really thought to look at them and say, “Wow, that’s one good-looking publicist.” 
      Is PR a good-looking industry? Are we, as professionals, able to establish credibility because of the way we appear to others? How many people in PR actually think that you have to be good-looking to succeed in the industry?
      I’m not sure this is sustainable because we may be young and attractive now, but good looks are bound to run out by the time we hit 50 or 60. I believe that established PR agencies look for people who have extensive resumes and that superficial appearances are a thing of the past.
      It boggles my mind to think that some people are shallow enough to hire a person based on appearance. Sure, appearing professional is obviously a factor in hiring, but looking “cute” should not be mandatory. Some of the world's greatest thinkers had messy hair and messed-up teeth. Imagine if an employer decided not to hire them because they didn’t fit a certain narrow criterion of beauty. 
      Talking about this reminds me of the saying, “Marry for love and not for looks because looks fade.” 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Things You Should Know About Canada

Today's guest post comes from NYU grad student Monica Rossa who is proudly from… well, you'll see. 

I’m an import. There, I said it. I’m a Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia living in New York City. If you’re wondering, that’s the West Coast. An inch of snow shuts the city down, it’s really quite funny. 

As a foreigner abroad, I embrace my international-ness, but being a Canadian in the US isn’t the seamless transition everyone expects. Americans and Canadians, we aren’t the same. I bet you’re baffled. I bet your mouth is hanging agape in stunned awe, but don’t worry, I’m about to make things a lot easier for you. Here is my list, rather, my rant of things Americans should know about Canadian culture.   

1) It’s “about” not “aboot,” “root,” not “route.” You have your words mixed up. You’re teasing me about the wrong one!

2) A toque is a knitted hat. Beanie? No. Hat? No way! Toque = ultimate coolness.

3) We aren’t “America Junior.”

4) Yes, we get a lot of American television. I’ve seen a lot of your shows –especially, American Idol. What I’m trying to say is… I get you. I get you dawg!

5) Bieber Fever is real, “it’s like baby, baby, baby, oh.”

6) We have so much space! Come and join us. I frolic, do you?

7) We love the letter “U” and we toss it into great words, like “honour,” and “valour.” – it’s colourful!

8) We love our free health care. The average life expectancy is 81 and rising. In the United States, it’s 78 and dropping. Seriously, join us.

9) “Eh?” is used to turn a statement into a question. You can’t just use it anywhere. Stop it. Use it like you would use the word “right.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Social media: Two circles, one time

Today’s guest post comes from Wahshu Su, graduate student at NYU and commentator on social media.
       I saw the movie Rio 2, then I posted on Facebook, “Rio 2 is so beautiful and warm!”, and then I went to Douban, and posted an article to discuss my understanding of the movie.
      An hour later, I got five comments under my post on Facebook saying “Indeed” or “I don’t think so”. Meantime, I received three detailed comments in Douban, which supplemented my opinions and requested further discussions.
     You see, in an age of total involvement in social media, we communicate in different ways. I classify social connection into two circles, one based on relationships, including family and friends; the other focused on interests, such as movies, drama and travel. While overlaps exist, we do use different ways to communicate in different circles.
     Facebook represents the relationship circle. On Facebook, we search families and friends; post messages and photos, and pay attention to others because we care about each other. The short posts may contain nothing special, but they show our daily life. Such social circle works as a junction of both the virtual world and real life.
     But Douban, a famous BBS in China, is an example of interest-based circles. It is a totally virtualized community in which we don’t know others’ real identity, but come here for a shared interest in movies. We write extended articles, share and discuss details—from costume design to actor/actress choices. We express our true feelings and thoughts, looking forward to resonance, which may be hard to find in real life.
     On one hand, we post information about real life on social media, though these messages may not immediately impress others. On the other hand, we want to express our interests on social media and find resonance. Today, we live out our lives in two circles at one time.