no more celebrity political endoresements

June 26, 2008 · 0 comments

a rash of celebrities have, in the past weeks, lent their names to the assumed candidates of the u.s. presidential election. the issue boils down to whether a celebrity has a responsibility to be politically active given their stature, or is their endorsement an abuse of their star power. i stand here today to lodge my objection to this practice as i don't think it's good for the voting public.

What first got me thinking about this was a quote from tom hanks:

i want barack obama to be the next president of our country. as an official celebrity, i know my endorsement has just made your mind up for you.

now, that's a pretty pompous statement to make. i wondered where he got the notion that he is that important to america and the american political scene? unfortunately, this is the sad reality of our celebrity crazed society. celebrities can make these statements and the underlying truth is not lost.

to this, i also read a more grounded approach from pete sampras:

i don't personally (get involved in politics). it's not my place to tell you whom to vote for, to take and political stand, to tell you what religion to believe in. i'm an athlete. i can influence certain things, but when i see other athletes and celebrities telling you whom to vote for, i actually get a bit offended.

it's not his place, nor is it tom hanks' place to tell you which way you should vote. endorsements are part of the political game, only they should be left to the politicians. they're best qualified to make judgments on other politicians, because it's their field. it's not a celebrity's.

sure, some celebs have more credibility than others (george clooney) and others have even gone on to enter the political theatre (reagan, ah-nold). then their are people who have none whatsoever (jessica simpson). in either case, these people can't truly understand the ins and outs of the political game because they aren't in it. so they have little qualification to direct people which way to vote.

where celebrities should be involved with politics is simply to use their influence, appeal, and ability in commanding an audience to move people not toward any particular politician, but simply toward the democratic process and to vote. celebrities need to remain politically neutral and use their position to encourage involvement in the system, to push them to seek out for themselves the knowledge to make a decision and to vote their own way. not the way the celebrity sees it. celebrities are an awareness medium, not an influential one. that's right, celebrities are a medium.

using your star power to promote education is far more productive to the political realm of society than promoting who you want to vote for. incite intelligent discourse and information gathering rather than stifling it by presenting one option, theirs.

i wish it weren't so that celebrities wielded so much power and influence over the populace. it's sad commentary on our society and culture that they do. if only that power could be channeled for something that serves us and the process all better.

the problem is information and it's two fold: 1) too many people are uninformed or misinformed and 2) there is too much information out there in our media-centric world and digital age. both may very well lead to the conclusion that it is simply easier to rely on a celebrity to choose for you.

how does liking someone as a celebrity equate to you sharing the same political ideals as them, so far as to cast a vote inline with them? how can celebrities feel good about leveraging their influence this way? and how can we as people feel good about not thinking for ourselves? of all the people you align yourself with, surely celebrities, with all their wealth, fame, entitlement and stature are the furthest from our own perspective having none of those things in the quantities they do.

blogging just to be creative

June 23, 2008 · 0 comments

chris brogan wrote a blog post today encouraging bloggers, podcasters, videographers, whatever that they should approach their content from the audience's mindset; namely, "what's in it for me?"

while i can accept that from a certain standpoint, i don't think it is universal. for many, the blog is a form of expression, much like an artist's painting, a musician's song or a director's movie. depending on your blog's objectives, the audience's role is different. the blog as art (a stretch?) is simply an outlet for the author's creative energy. the audience is secondary to simply expressing themselves.

painter's didn't paint for others (unless they were commissioned of course), but because there was a burning desire within them to do so. that was their talent, their skill, their passion, their outlet. same with creatives of all kinds. it's human to want to express ourselves, for ourselves.

the audience still gets something out of it, it's just not what drives the content. they get enjoyment, maybe some information or a viewpoint and conversations can happen around the piece, but the function is less about directly giving the audience something or making special efforts to accommodate that.

not that we should never give something back to the audience, but to make all our postings with that ideal doesn't seem entirely right. at the heart of blogging are people who are communicating their interests and passions, the audience comes later. so there is inherently something selfish about it. being creative seems like an okay kind of selfishness.

as chris himself states "we're wired to think as humans" with a "what's in it for me" attitude. the same must hold true for the producers as it is for the readers as we're all human.

the audience ultimately decides if there is something in it for them by choosing to return. there doesn't always need to be a key takeaway or a lesson learned or thought starter. there could be just a subjective, emotional response (ie. love it or hate it). both give the audience something, but different in its overtness and intent. especially if creativity was the impetus.

so i sign off with a question. do we as bloggers write to find an audience or do we write to an audience? do we write at an audience or for one?

time to cash in on your house?

June 16, 2008 · 0 comments

tonight we took a stroll around our neighborhood with a waffle bowl of dairy queen. all along our path was 'for sale sign' after 'for sale' sign. people are still speculating as to what state the real estate market is in. i take this as a clear indicator.

what i extrapolate in all these 'for sale' signs is people seeing the market go into decline very shortly and are getting out at a high point. maybe not the highest point, but definitely before all the profits they've passed up in the last couple of years evaporate. a lot of this might be the particular neighborhood or the types of houses, but directionally, it's pointing to something.

many of the houses that had a 'for sale' sign where older bungalows. houses, that for a good deal, could be torn down to make way for a bigger house and greater return on the property itself. there were other types of houses as well, but i think that goes to show it's not just one type of seller looking to get out. that it is a trend everyone is trying to capitalize on.

so whether the market is actually in decline or if this is going to perpetuate the decline, the way i'm seeing it is on the way down. i like it that way. i can't stand to see such an over-inflated market, that is highly unsustainable, and will leave a lot of people with huge losses on their homes. i don't like a reality of having to pay prices it's going to be difficult to re-coop in the future when you sell. i'll take my property at a lower cost so that i can easily get my money back, even in a market valley.

try some retention

June 15, 2008 · 0 comments

i'm not denying the importance of acquiring new customers as that equates to a higher baseline revenue stream for a company, but i've not understood why more efforts are not put against retaining existing customers. never are we made to feel more special to a company as the day we enter into their fold. after that, we're relegated to second class citizens, despite being the ones who fuel their ongoing revenues.

i will assume that there is some formula out there that asserts a new customer is more valuable than an existing one at the point of renewal. perhaps it's just as simple an equation for companies to say that we already got the existing customer's money, they're already invested in us and likely won't switch anyway, so who cares.

when you think about it, a new customer comes in and signs a contract much like an existing one would renew a contract. dollar value of the contract being equal, why is the importance on the acquisition and why is more effort made to seal that deal? take the case of the wireless category that spurred this post to life. in a situation where both a new and existing customer are signing up for the same three year contract, the plan fees and prospective monthly revenue to the company is identical. so why is it that the new customer gets their pick of all the phones, at significant discounts and other incentives to their monthly fees, yet the existing customer doesn't get all those phones to choose from and certainly not the discounts on them either, nor on the plan fees themselves?

we live in a what's-in-it-for-me society where incentives reign supreme. there isn't a lot of that on the side of customers renewing. however, continuing to be a new customer doesn't make a lot of sense either. sure there are some who wouldn't mind having a new phone number every 3 years, but for most, it's not a great option. same goes for other industries and services.

a company's approach to customers is universal; acquire them, and over the course of their term with you, maximize the revenue you can garner from each individual one. with this in mind, the customer should have the upper hand but you wouldn't know it. especially if the company has not yet recouped what they spent to acquire you. while it's not impossible to get comparable incentives to the new customer, you have to raise a stink to get it. this leaves the relationship contentious and opens the door to dissatisfaction and another company luring you away.

companies need to do more to keep their customers than send a direct mail piece every now and then, which ends up in the garbage anyway. we need to feel that we are valued by companies and for right or wrong, that often times comes down to when we're renewing. at that point when we have the opportunity to get out, it's not always apparent that a company wants us to stay. it's not enough to just thank us for the business as we hold our decision to stay in the same light as our decision to come to a company and that equation is heavily imbalanced.

multi-post #5: ken griffey jr, hillary clinton, jon lajoie

June 9, 2008 · 1 comments

ken griffey jr. joins the 600 club

i will join in the chorus of merited applause and congratulations, for one of the most deserved athletes in reaching such a hallowed achievement in the game of baseball, to you ken griffey jr.

i like so many others having been waiting for griffey to reach this milestone for far too long. it wasn't that long ago that grif was ahead of hank aaron's pace for breaking the home run record, but then real tragedy struck in the form of a string of injuries that only merciless baseball gods could inflict on one of their brightest stars ever. i hated watching kgj's career getting derailed by injuries for over three years straight. it pained me to watch such a talent be sidelined by seemingly freak injuries. i hated watching a star, who was still in his prime, become forgotten and irrelevant. that he has been able to return to the game and still produce is a testament to his prowess.

griffey sits 163 homers shy of owning the home run record, something that at age 38 seems too far out of his grasp. bonds hit 149 in the 5 years after he was 38 and aaron hit 82, playing another 4 years after his 38th. with those benchmarks and griffey's already ravaged body and declining production, reclaiming the hr record for the side of dignity and honesty is a pipe dream.

i'm reminded of an article on the onion sometime last year entitled "... we wish it were you hitting 756 home runs." while it is a satire site, the sentiment is abundantly clear. i can't think of anyone better that baseball or the public in general (me especially) would rather have as their home run king. someone who has remained a pure talent and never once linked to steroids or cheating of any kind in his career.

hillary's presedential prophecy

now that hillary clinton has officially given up her bid for president, i'm reminded of a small bit, from a small show that a small part of me wanted to see the irony of it coming true. the show was TekWar anyone remember that one? it was william shatner's brainchild that lasted 3 seasons ('94-'96), focused around a crime unit that was trying to rid the world of an extremely addictive drug called tek. you see, there was a little bit in the background of one episode where a tv report was mentioning something about "... president hillary clinton..."

meant to be just a slight against the then first lady and her domineering way, who would have thought it could actually be a reality. but when you so poorly run a election campaign and drive it into the ground from such a dominating start, the irony of it all can't catch up to you. i don't know why that little bit of inconsequentia has stayed with me for about 14 years, but it was so outlandish, that it did. and now it's just as outlandish as it was before hillary clinton ran for office.

jon lajoie - canada's hidden comedic gem

i don't know how i stumbled upon jon lajoie, but am happy i did. i don't rave about too many people so effusively, but in this case, i was so smitten by jon lajoie's comedic mind that i had to. i think it's because he does what i am unable to do. i love to write extremely crass songs and sing them for people, but my ditties so pale to the genius of jon lajoie it's embarrassing.

case in point, this is the song that sold it for me. its' sublimely funny, clever and creepy. do yourself a big favor and hop on over to youtube to see his body of work. there are no misses.



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