Nota Bene #120: Crazy Ivan

“If you can make a woman laugh, you’re seeing the most beautiful thing on God’s earth.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #113: Seth's Near-Death

“Ordinary life is pretty complex stuff.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #111: Mmmmm… Beeeeeer

Sorry for the long absence. Let’s carry on, shall we? “If you listen to the guys up in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be up there sitting with them.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #110: WEHT SWK?

“In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #105: The Illustrated Dick

“When all you are becomes defined as the amount of information traceable to you, what are we then? What have we become, in a world where there is no separation, no door, no filter beyond which we can say, ‘No. This is my personal space. Not yours. Here I am alone with my thoughts and free of any outside influence or control. This, you cannot have.’ I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #104: Large Marge Sent Me

“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #97: toDwI'ma' qoS yItIvqu'!

“To be truly free, and truly to appreciate its freedom, a society must be literate.” Continue reading

Organizations, fear and leadership

My wife, who’s working on her MBA, is currently wading through a class that focuses on leadership. The other night she observed that “there sure are a lot of people out there developing theories on leadership, aren’t there?”

Well, yes, and for good reason. Most of those people are working to provide hooks for consulting practices, which can be pretty marketable. Why? Every company needs strong leaders. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that very few companies, if any, have as much in the way of leadership skills as they would like. Even if they have strong leadership at the top, you need leadership at all levels of the organization in order to be truly effective, and every business I’ve ever encountered had at least a little room for improvement. Continue reading

Fear is the organization killer

Once upon a time the business world was dominated by hierarchical organizations that derived both their structures and mechanistic management philosophies from military thinking that traces its lineage through Frederic the Great all the way back, literally, to the Roman legions. And by “once upon a time,” of course, I mean “at this very minute.”

The truth is that way too many American companies today act as though their employees are some combination of robot and peasant foot soldier. (Hopefully we’re not talking about the company you work for, but I imagine we’ve all been there at some point – I know I have and so have most of the people I know.) Continue reading

Reality is making us sick, and fantasy can't cure us

You’re honey child to a swarm of bees
Gonna blow right through you like a breeze
Give me one last dance
Well slide down the surface of things

You’re the real thing
Yeah the real thing
You’re the real thing
Even better than the real thing

– U2

Fantasy stories, myths, legends, tall tales, fairy tales, horror, all these have been with us for a very long time. Science fiction, as well, has been with us since Mary Shelley found herself in a bet with Lord Byron about the possibility of writing a new kind of horror, one not grounded in the gothic.* So the presence in our popular culture of stories based in unreality of one form or another is certainly nothing new.

It seems to me that there’s been a lot more of it lately, though. Continue reading

Memo to the Right Wing: Put up or shut up

By Sara Robinson

Dear Conservatives:

Your fellow Americans demand an answer — and we want it now. Just one simple question:

Are you deliberately trying to start a civil war?

Just answer the question. Yes or no. Don’t insult us with elisions, evasions, dithering, qualifications, or conditional answers. We need to know what your intentions are — and we need to know NOW. People are being shot dead in the streets of America at the rate of several per month now. You may not want responsibility for this — but the whackadoodles pulling the triggers make no bones about who put them up to this.

You did. Continue reading

From the people who brought you the echo chamber: a call to give back

By J. Pratt Vulpes

Imagine a world where children are raised to become agents of change throughout their work and lives, not docile employees, consumers, and followers.  One in which corporate personhood has been displaced, and human needs and the environment take precedence over the unlimited quest to maximize profits.  A world where every citizen feels confident speaking out and organizing to advance a shared vision of justice.

Imagine that, in this world, health care for all prevails, with no place for insurance company intermediaries or pharmaceutical ad campaigns.  Elections are publicly funded and verifiable, and politicians are responsive to the people, not to corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors.  Openness is prized, and intellectual property restrictions, proprietary software, and closed ways of doing business have fallen from favor.

Imagine people no longer stirred by religious leaders to restrict the role of women, reject science, and hate or invade their neighbors.  People boldly charting their own courses in life according to their values and sense of authenticity, rather than following standard routes laid down by others.  People living without fear of scarcity or distrust of difference, confident that together their diverse abilities are ample to meet all their needs.

For ten decades, the industry I now have the privilege of representing has worked tenaciously to protect you from this nightmare scenario.  Continue reading

Perpetual fear: a brief moment with Fatherland Security

Not everything in life is a huge deal, but sometimes the small things provide a lot of insight into the big things.

I’m sitting in the Cleveland airport right now, waiting for my flight back to Denver to board. A few minutes ago I saw one of those things that make you go “hmmm.”

Imagine that you’re in the security line, and you realize – ohmygod, I have 3.2 ounces of shampoo in my shaving kit instead of the legally allowable three ounces. You’re way to far through the line to make a break for it, but you’d hate to go to Gitmo just because you wanted fuller, shinier hair. As panic begins to set in you notice something. Beside the line is a trash can with a small hole in the top and a makeshift sign reading:

AMNESTY BIN

Continue reading

9/11: Living without fear

By Martin Bosworth

This is going to be a slightly different 9/11 recollection. I’m not going to start by telling you where I was and what I was doing that day. Because 9/11 isn’t about me, really. Or you, or any one single person. It’s about something deeper, something that touches every person, everywhere.

It’s about fear. Continue reading

Justice Department on net neutrality: “Trust us”

By Martin Bosworth

Yesterday the Justice Department filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission opposing the principle of “net neutrality” and urging the FCC not to sanction regulations to protect it. In a report and press statement that sound like they were written by executives from AT&T and Verizon, the DOJ regurgitates telecom talking points that falsely claim net neutrality will hamper innovation and that the market is somehow working awesomely: Continue reading

Rudy Giuliani: Everything you hate about Bush, and worse

giuliani.jpg“I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-gay rights,” Giuliani said.By Martin Bosworth

CNN.com Inside Politics, May 2, 1999.

Giuliani has described himself as a backer of civil unions and is frequently described that way in news reports. But he began distancing himself from civil unions in late April, when his campaign told The New York Sun that New Hampshire’s new law goes too far because it is “the equivalent of marriage,” which he has always opposed for gays.
Boston Globe, August 13, 2007.

Rudy Giuliani is definitely the “Teflon Don” of the current presidential campaign, in that even as more and more evidence surfaces about how deeply right-wing his politics actually are–or worse, that he’s pandering to gain traction with the GOP base–I still run across a baffling number of people who insist that they’d vote for him because of his socially liberal positions, or because he “cut taxes and stopped crime in NYC,” or because he looked authoritative and in command on 9/11. Continue reading

“Faith-based investing” and total economic collapse

By Martin Bosworth

In looking at the various examples of bad economic news over the last few days, I’ve been struck once again by how the supposedly rational, logical, God-forbid-we-regulate-it-because-it-works-fine-on-its-own free market is driven by the very human fears, frailties, and stupidities that govern so much else of human life. Continue reading

FISA failure demonstrates why we need real progressives in Congress

By Martin Bosworth

I’m still mulling over the massive Democratic capitulation that enabled King George to pass into law the most sweeping violation of Americans’ privacy yet–legalizing an illegal program, and making it stronger to boot. Why did this happen? Why did Democrats in both chambers of Congress roll over and give Mr. 28 % carte blanche to spy on Americans without any recourse? Why throw away all the political capital that could have been gained from opposing him? Continue reading