Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ScreamBucket Moves, World Rejoices !

It happens.

We are still alive, well, and pushing out the usual consistent, informative, and easy to read drivel.

Our new address -

Could somebody pick up coffee on the way over?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Hunt for The Guilty

Aetius Romulous:
Editors Screed

It is fashionable amongst the chattering classes, when times of trouble loom, and crisis casts its cloak of foreboding across a nervous landscape, to identify the guilty, hunt them down, and crucify them. It's a full contact sport, with everybody participating. We here, on the cusp of an International Financial meltdown of historic proportions, are in our own time scouring the rocks and scrub for the culprits of the mess - the once invisible Wall Street faces of the corporate guilty, splayed out and nailed to wide screen monitors all along the road to Rome. However, Like Spartacus in Armani, just how guilty are the guilty, and of what offence? Are business "ethics" to blame for this one, or are we pinning tails on donkeys who are guilty of nothing more than following the rules?

If there is anger at all, it is because we all face the specter of having less than we did before. Less of everything, less stuff. For a generation there has never been such an occurrence, never an event of similar gravity and magnitude. Less stuff is sending tremors through everything we know, rocking our world in ways we simply can't seem to comprehend. Born on second base, the Baby Boom generation thought it hit a home run, only to be thrown out rounding third. The culprit is the system they built from the ashes of World War II, and maintained well beyond its useful life. A global Financial Architecture designed specifically to increase wealth and economic hegemony, infused with the ideals of Democracy and Freedom, nailed to the planet through ever increasing global free markets, and run on fiber optic cable that would have defied the imagination of any alive when the design was struck in 1944.

Freedom, as we in the west have come to define the term, means freedom to get stinking rich, predominantly. Similarly, Democracy allows that each and every one of us has an equal say in how stinking rich we can get. From birth - and no more so than America, "The Gold Mountain" - each member of our culture is taught two things (among others of course); that we should work as hard and as smart as we possibly can so that we may fill our scorecards with enough junk that the Jones's will never catch us, and that we should at every opportunity disavow exactly this should we at any time be captured by events. As a young Ebenezer Scrooge said so well, a century and a half ago; "This is the even-handed dealing of the world....There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty; and there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity as the pursuit of wealth."

Given those specifications, is it any wonder then the Architects and Financial Engineers - who were born in the Suburbs on the same streets as the Nelson's, Cleaver's, Bundy's and Osborne's - designed, Democratically, a system that takes full advantage of every avarice of human nature, protected under law, so help me God, Amen. For a generation wealth, status, and beauty have defined the American dream. We celebrated excess, and held it's winners high. We gloried in its wonder and perfection, and shoved it down the throats of Heathens and Idolaters', burning their villages to the ground in order to save them. We marvelled at their riches, the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the Young and The Restless, The Bold and The Beautiful.

And that was before the internet.

Bill Gates - American Icon, Boomer, Geek, and 50 Billionaire - was a game changer. He and his "gentle, this won't hurt a bit" named, International Mega Corporation, Microsoft, brought the internet to every home in America - and every 50 something Financial Wizard with an office. In an effort to re-live the carefree, all expense paid days of their youth, the Boomer Financiers plugged in, turned on, and tuned out, leaving the computers to do the rest. Imaginary wealth piled up like a virus, the Boomers adding zeros to their scorecards for the glory all Mankind. The earth shook beneath their feet as the "Masters of the Universe" spanned the globe for conquest, the booty floating back in houses, Hummers, and credit for the loved ones left behind. The only "Ethic" they embraced as they built the only world we know, was the one we all embraced together, that is, until right now.

Far from a "lack" of business ethics, it is precisely because of those same ethics that we are in the mess we are. The incessant need for more, better, faster, cheaper - hard wired into the soul of our culture - and the singular Ethic of Gain, is to blame if there is any blame at all. Not the Hero's - now myths - with whom we tasked with building the game. If Ethics are to blame at all, they are the Ethics we share, the cross to bear.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Looking for Directions on the Information Highway…

Brianna Popsickle
Letters From A Suburban Prison

I’m at the gym the other day, when a woman pointed to my iPod and asked, “What’s that? Is it for music?”

Are you kidding me? I smiled to myself; someone who knew even less than me about the latest technology.

“This is an iPod Shuffle, ” I replied proudly. “Holds about 250 songs.”
Just then another woman asked, “But how do you get the music onto it? Is it the same as an MP3 player?”

“What’s an MP3 player?” someone else chimed in.

That’s how it began. Suddenly everyone was spouting words like Lime Wire, iTunes, CD’s and dockable units, telling stories of their failed attempts to understand it all. The common theme was one of frustration.

I remember as a child, my mother dancing through each room as she did the housework, listening to the same 45 record, playing over and over again. Women today are so much better off. We can listen to all of our favourite tunes through our earphones, while gardening, biking or working out. Well we could, that is, if we could just figure out how to get the #@$!!!!! music on to the #@$!!!!! little iPod thingy.

I’m big enough to admit this. My son downloaded all my favourite songs to my iPod, which I never leave home without by the way, before he left for university. He showed me a couple of times how to do it, and I thought I had it, but didn’t. Needless to say whenever he’s home for a visit, I ask him to add more songs.

But I‘m not alone. I realized this that day at the gym, when the word iPod created more buzz than who got kicked off The Bachelor the night before. It was like an AA meeting for the technically challenged.

”My name is Susan, and I can’t program my DVD recorder”.

“My name is Maureen and I can’t download music”.

And it wasn’t just about the music. The talk turned to cell phones and text messaging, DVD players and digital cameras. Now who can find fault with digital cameras? You can delete pictures you don’t want, you can crop photos, it’s amazing technology, what’s not to love? But please, someone, for the love of God, show me again how to get the pictures from the camera to the computer and printed out. Show me one more time, how to remove red eye without little brown spots appearing everywhere.

As the discussion continued between moans and groans, the topic turned to emailing and MSN. I have to say I was impressed. These same women who could not play a movie on a DVD player, could not download photos from their digital cameras and didn’t know what an iPod was, sang the praises of MSN. The reason? Their kids are at university. Which proves women can, and will do, anything, if it means talking to their kids. Even if it means, learning the technology.

I happened to mutter the word Facebook to the woman beside me. The room fell silent. She looked at me in awe and said, “You have Facebook?” Everyone listened as I explained I got it because everyone I worked was half my age, and I didn’t want to feel disconnected.

Do I use Facebook? Rarely. Do I enjoy Facebook? Not so much.
Have I made friends? Oh yeah.
I received a message on Facebook from my cousin saying “Hi Brianna. Smile, you’re on a hidden Eyecam right now”. “I sure hope not, I replied. Because I’m sitting at my computer in my bra and jeans, waiting for my top to dry.” Turned out not only did my reply go to her, it followed some sort of ‘thread’ and went to everyone that had received the original message. I started getting messages like, “Where do you live?” and “What colour’s your bra?”

I scan Facebook periodically, whenever I feel the need to know exactly what people are thinking or doing at that moment. One friend’s update said, ‘Eliza is busy bathing the kids’. Another said, ‘Trudy can’t believe how there’s not enough time in the day’, another, ‘Sherry is thinking about the weekend’. I don’t mean to be rude, people, but seriously, WHO CARES? I want to scream that if Trudy didn’t spend so much time on Facebook she might find there’s plenty of time in a day. And who takes time out before bathing their kids to tell everyone, they’re bathing their kids?

So when a colleague asked me the other day what women’s issue I was going to write about next, healthcare, equality in the workplace, or daycare? I replied, “Those are all very important issues that everyone is talking about, but I’m going to write about what’s really pissing women off. I’m going to write about the forty-something women out there who are lost in today’s technology. We’re traveling down the information highway with no one to ask for directions.

In these days of hard economic times and layoffs, I have a suggestion for teenagers everywhere. Start your own consulting business. Now! We forty-something women will be happy to pay you to teach us all you know about iPods and MP3’s, text messaging and Facebook. Your business will flourish, your savings account will grow. Just don’t ask me to pay you on-line.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Who Is Terra Naomi ?

Who Is Terra Naomi?

Just a girl. A person amongst billions, a voice within the choir.

In the summer of 1957, on the other side of a generation and half a century away from Terra Naomi, George Harrisons mother bought the 12 year old a cheap, department store guitar. No doubt, the young prodigy spent many useful hours, locked in his dockside Liverpool bedroom, thrashing away at the tin strings that wouldn't hold a note against the adolescent hands of genius. From the first garbled "G", through the steady stream of wonder and discovery, Harrison worked that guitar. Across the stinking town, whose docks received the failing plenty of Empire, and buried in another bedroom, thrashing at another tin guitar, was another awe struck adolescent, another dull seed of change and revolution. Paul McCartney met Harrison on the bus to school, which took them on a long and winding road towards John Lennon's house, and history.

The Beatles need no introduction - a noun, a verb, a universal word on the tower of Babel. And as always, a chance confluence of human destinies, all slammed down upon the planet within walking distance of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, time to impact dependant solely on the opportunity that all should meet on a grimy bus in an unknown place where a black and heavy telephone was a wonder and a luxury. A random act of fortune, and nothing more.

Terra Naomi is John Lennon. Terra Naomi, - alone in a room in a house in a town in a place on the earth we know not where, thrashing away at a guitar - is a genius, a potential point of change and revolution, waiting for the bus to come and wisk her off to history. The world is full of young John Lennon's, thousands - maybe millions - spread across the earth in rooms and towns and places that are the true community of man. Human beings, human voices - individuals with thoughts and ideas and problems and solutions...and that basic human yearn to be heard. Terra Naomi is John Lennon, born in the age of the internet.

When Terra Naomi got her first guitar, she already had the internet. As she banged away at the same strings Lennon did, in the same way and for the same reasons, she did so with sound, video, and YouTube uplinks; MSM, Yahoo and Twitter. Millions across the planet, speaking a universal language of music, text, and emoticons, shared her joy and the wonder of discovery. Her world wide web of family and friends attach, imbed, and post in exponential fashion, her long and winding road but a millisecond from her bedroom, to click, to view.

And so, here she is - Terra Naomi, just one of thousands of John Lennon's who together are building a new earth out of the rubble of the old, a community of expression rising from the bedrooms in the towns and the places on the earth we know not where, all delivered to our own homes and towns and places, "Across the Universe".


Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys . . . Until Now

John Weber:
Editors Screed

When I was a small-town teenager, sports heroes and movie stars were the role models of my generation. And while dreams of becoming the next Dr. J made me spend hours on the hardcourt, Hollywood’s Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood—the two major stars of the 80’s—contributed to my character in an entirely different way.

Reynolds, the number-one box office attraction from ’78 to ‘82, played a smarmy, grinning, Trans-Am driving cowboy who removed his hat often, but for “one reason only”. Eastwood, meanwhile, played both the mysterious “Man With No Name” and Dirty Harry—cowboys of a different sort—dispersing hardcore violence cum justice in a way that film critic Pauline Kael described as “right-wing fantasy”.

So there I was, a vacuous teenager, with Hollywood happily filling the void. Burt and Clint, Sex and Violence: the two defining forces of a “make-my-day”, “feels-good-do-it” generation.

But as Heath Leger’s Joker (a villain, not a role model, you understand) might ask, “Why so sad?” Well, it’s this. I’m feeling a little betrayed. Betrayed by a media machine that made me think that women were nothing more than sex objects and that Clint’s strong, silent type of violence served as a reasonable facsimile for depth. In short, they were wrong . . . as was I.

But these days, thankfully, there’s the emergence of a new kind of role model, the kind born of hard times and desperate measures. And if you believe author Malcolm Gladwell, it’s no accident.

In his fascinating book on sociological change, Gladwell describes The Tipping Point as “the level at which momentum for change becomes unstoppable.” And while Obama’s election is a great example of that crest-of-the-wave momentum, I believe the movement towards this particular tipping point began years earlier.

In other words, the same kind of social intuition that caused Clint to start making a new genre of movie (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino—movies with a new depth, a reap-what-you-sew morality), set the stage for Obama to become the right man in the right place at the right time. Or, as Gladwell might say, personify the last stage of a social epidemic that’s been spreading for years.

But don’t take my word for it. Put Obama’s incredible success to the Gladwell test, or what the author calls the Three Rules of Epidemics.

First, The Law of the Few states that, “the success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of three kinds of people—Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen—with a rare set of social skills.”

Connectors, for example, are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. Think Hollywood—in the form of Clint Eastwood and other morality-conscious directors—fits the bill? How about the incredibly popular Texas tele-pastor Joel Osteen and his positive message of victory through excellence?

Mavens, secondly, are “people who accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.” Think Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe suffices? All Plouffe did was combine on-line technology with grass-roots activism, mobilizing 1.5 million donors and raising hundreds of millions of dollars to derail the Clinton juggernaut and set a new standard for political campaigning and communication.

Finally, Salesmen are “charismatic people with an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, making others want to agree with them. Have we ever wanted to agree with a politician more than Obama? A still-reeling Republican Party says “no”!

Gladwell’s second rule of epidemics is The Stickiness Factor, or “the content of a message that makes its impact memorable”. Not since Kennedy asked “what you can do for your country” have three words—“Yes, We Can!”—been so positively and inextricably linked to a politician.

And the final rule of epidemics? The Power of Context. As Gladwell says, epidemics are sensitive to the conditions of the times and places in which they occur. For example, in the same way in which efforts to combat vandalism on the New York subway led to a decline in more violent crimes, Obama’s call for sacrifice and individual responsibility could lead to economic turnaround, increased tolerance and a less partisan government.

Furthermore, while the President’s message might go unheeded in a strong economy or a period that was any other than post-Bush our post, pigs-at-the-trough context means today’s people are more likely to listen. Just what the doctor order for a tipping-point “epidemic”.

So, in the same way that Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood became the role models of my day—riding a social epidemic of recreational sex and unapologetic violence—Barack Obama is both the virus and the cure for what ails us today.

And what of George Bush, you may ask, the latter-day cowboy out of touch with today’s tipping point times?

Well, consider it like this: he leaves us on the same dead horse he rode in on—a new Man With No Name, the role Clint abandoned (like the Gladwellian plague) nearly 30 years ago.

Coincidence? Uh-uh. Unforgiven? You bet’cha.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Cold Rivers Of Change Flood Streets Of Washington

Aetius Romulous:
Editors Screed

How different is the world today, a world now so distant from just a day before.

Yes, of course America has reached a historical milestone by electing its first non-white, non obscenely rich old white guy...I suppose one would have to be blind to miss that. If we did, CNN was there to remind us, thank god. And yes, it's a new age for American Political Bipartisanship, something the rest of the world knows as consensus building,or as it is also known in some places, working together. It's a big deal for Americans, the winner of the SuperBowl of American Idols, Entertainment Tonight for the main Stream Media. Brittany Spears in black face.

As the world followed the young and self confident President and First Lady though their ascension - the Ken and Barbie couple that never really sold well all these years now given shelf space as wide as Pennsylvania Avenue - pictures snapped from thousands of digital cameras and cell phones, media cameramen and satellite uplinks all focused closely on the World's most famous smile. Like wallpaper, the millions who crushed the American Capitol for a distant glimpse of Jumbotron history turned their faces towards the podium, stamped their feet and melted together to preserve their excitement in the teeth of inclement weather. The subject of their awe was nothing more than a dark shadow against white marble, a speck in the distance, an illusion. Buried beneath layers of clothing, scarves, mitts and hats of all description, the world was changing in the churning throngs, had changed by their very being there in the cold, did change by the millions who marched that day to Washington as a new generation, a new age of tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

George Bush the younger, Bill Clinton, George the Dad, and Jimmy Carter. My god how old they looked. My god how old they are. Bush Sr. with a cane and Darth Vader in a wheelchair, icons tumbling from luncheons and health update bulletins. Aretha Franklin, majestic and designer hat besotted, the voice of a generation straining against the cold and bitter winter winds of change. The Baby Boom generation is dying across a billion flat screen monitors, right before our eyes. And cheering them on, hastening their exit, handing them their hat and coat (don't let the door hit you on the way out) were all those "huddled masses", all breathing free of a generation that robbed and pillaged like 21st century Vandals, sacking Wall Street and burning their "citty on a hill" to the ground. The bulge in the snake had digested it's host, and barfed out a world destroyed for those who followed. And those who follow couldn't be more happy about it.

History was not made in Washington on January 20th, 2009. It was made around the world as the great, demographic tidal wave born at the end of World War II heaved the beginnings of its last breath, and the smaller, leaner, world connected generation behind it realized - perhaps for the first time - that it is their world now. Like a glacier tears away at the earth as it recedes, the Baby Boomers will claw away at their remaining time while the waters of change rise all around them. It ain't gonna be pretty folks. Now is the time for the next to seize the present, to utilize the strengths of the internet and a new global community to build and organize, to grow and assert. There is a vacuum developing between those that had it all, and those who must clean up the mess. A vortex of change into which the motivated, the dreamers, the talented risk takers of tomorrow must step.

The worlds Financial architecture must be rebuilt. Nationalism must be shelved on the back rows of history. War must be rethought and understood for what it is (Good for absolutely nothin'...say it again, ya'll). The Earth itself must be attended to and injustice, poverty, and inequality now must be examined by a globe of humans with the ability to work together like never before. The default position must now be consensus.

The internet remains an untapped wonder, and must be freed from all regulation and those who would harness its power only for cash. Print media is dying, it has yet to be replaced. TV has become the idiot box its promise always held out, and radio....what is radio anyway? Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. By that standard alone, the coming generation will be the most powerful the earth has ever experienced.

No more "us or them". No more "I", but Wii. Text is the language of the future. A language that just won't work on a cell phone text screen or chat board simply won't get it done anymore. Text is international, brkng dwn wals arnd the wrld :). Barack Obama (we are confidentially told by Wolf Blitzer) is struggling to give up his Crackberry as he joins an analog White House in a digital world.

Obama is indeed the right man, in the right place, at the right time. To him will fall the task of shepherding America from its craggy hillock down into the valley of the shadow of everybody else. It will be the toughest job in history, saving new Rome from the fate of the old. Providing a soft landing for a people now unshod of any manifest destiny, overnight and on a cold, winter January. A new Caesar, a Barbarian one of different birth and heritage, has come from the darkness of obscurity, without noble birth or heritage, to seize the reins of empire and rein in its profligate ways before history deals it a mortal blow. Embracing change, consensus, and co operative leadership, Obama has the opportunity to herald the age of the next, and carry the standard for a generation that can simply backspace the old text.

Failing that, he risks becoming nothing more than a dark shadow on a pedestal deep in a Washington hallway, a historical curiosity, a shiny marker on the sunny, breezy, corpse littered slopes of decline and fall.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't Be An Ass....

Brianna Popsickle:
Letters From A Suburban Prison

Don’t be an Ass….

Greg Bebrendt and Liz Tucillo’s book, He’s Just Not That Into You, has created a lot of buzz, as has the movie, set to open next week. Bebrendt and Tucillo attempt to bridge the gap in communication between men and women. They set out to teach women to interpret the actions of the men in their lives. They claim that despite women coming up with every excuse in the book for a guy’s behaviour, he does what he does, not because he’s stressed, afraid of a relationship, or misunderstood, but because he’s ‘just not that into her’.

Although the book may be helpful in interpreting men’s actions and words, it still doesn’t answer the most important question. Why? Why do men say what they say, do what they do, often oblivious to the affect their words and actions have on the women around them.

For instance, a guy asks a girl for her phone number. She gives it to him but he never calls. Is she expecting too much? Is she wrong in assuming he wants her number in order to call her? Maybe he has a collection of numbers and is merely adding to it. When you order a pizza over the phone, they ask for your number. Do they always call you?

Bebrendt and Tuccillo believe he’s just not that into her, and they’re right. However, I think, his behavior is also an indication of something else, something bigger, much bigger. Which brings me to suggest there be another attempt at bridging the gap. Another book, only this time, a book for men. It should be titled Don’t Be An Ass.

It’s too bad this book couldn’t have come first. It could have saved women a lot of confusion and heartache. Don’t Be An Ass, would be a guide for men on what to do and not do, what to say and not say, in order to attract (and keep) the women they are ‘into’. It will be written in words even they can understand.

For example:

Your girlfriend is out of town, you’re at a party and this hot blonde is all over you. What your girlfriend doesn’t know won’t hurt her right? I mean, it’s not like you’re married.

STOP! Don’t be an Ass. They always find out, and it always hurts. Before you know it, you’ll be the guy in Carrie Underwood’s song, ‘Before He Cheats’. You know, the one where she digs her key into the side of his 4-wheel drive, and takes a baseball bat to his headlights? How about you guys stop and think before you cheat?

It’s late, things are winding down at the bar, your buddies have all hooked up and you’re left with no one. Then you see her across the room, and surprisingly the girl you avoided like the plague at midnight, is looking a lot better to you at 2:30 a.m. You’re not coming away from the night with nothing, you’ve got to get her number at least.

STOP! Don’t be an Ass. You really don’t want her number, you’re not going to use the number, walk away. Why put her through the whole wondering why you didn’t call paranoia. Don’t be an Ass, just walk away.

Your girlfriend has been busting her butt at the gym for weeks to squeeze into her little black dress for the party. The big day comes and she barely squeezes into it. Her butt hasn’t gone anywhere. She asks you “Do I look fat in this dress?”

STOP, for the love of God, don’t be an Ass. It is not the time or the place to offer
helpful suggestions on increasing her workouts or cutting back on her food. Now
is the time, and you won’t hear this often, to LIE. Tell her she looks amazing and
both of you will enjoy your evening out.

Your friends set you up on a blind date it goes O.K. but you know it’s not going anywhere. The next day you see she’s changed her face book profile to ‘in a relationship’ and she’s left ten messages on your cell. It’s apparent she’s the stalker/nut bar type but you can’t help but think of the ‘fringe’ benefits.

STOP, don’t be an Ass, walk away. Don’t lead this psycho on. Better to end it before it begins. You’re familiar with the whole Fatal Attraction thing right? You don’t want any dead bunnies.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Women everywhere want to scream “Don’t be an Ass! They’re tired of men saying this and doing that, and to add
insult to injury they have to hear ‘he’s just not that into you’.

Here’s your opportunity girls, let’s hear it! What advice do you have for these guys?