Time to clean up and clean out to be ready for the New Year. I like to start January 1st with a clean slate, a fresh outlook. This exercise is both physical and mental. Clean closets, clean mind. As part of my annual housecleaning, here is a summary of several topics I have wanted to blog about this year, but never found sufficient inspiration to finish. I need these out of my mental in box so I can focus on 2011:
Peek-A-Boo: A New York University professor had a digital camera implanted into the back of his head to capture a still image once each minute for a full year. This was part of an avant-garde art project. This could have been a posting about how parents and some perceptive elementary school teachers already have this capability without the fuss and muss of implant surgery, or an interesting discussion on what constitutes art. We’ll never know.
Can You Hear Me Now?: The 111th Congress, to my knowledge, was not accused of Constitutional overreach when it passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, “forbidding TV advertisers from abruptly raising the volume to startling levels during commercial breaks.” I do look forward to some activist judges legislating from the bench working legal definitions of ‘abruptly’, ‘startling’, and measurements of sound ‘volume’ that cross the legal threshold, since legislators conveniently left these concepts vague. The marketplace, it seems, could not root out the loud advertisers and punish them with fewer customers, so the government had to step in. Bipartisanship works, at least when TV watching is involved. Pass the Bud Light, please.
In the Hole: According to Bloomberg.com, Americans have cut over $1 trillion in consumer debt since the 3rd quarter of 2008. This is good news/bad news. Less consumer debt means a more secure future for our country, but it also means less spending at historic levels today, and the 2010 economy takes the hit. Had Americans continued to spend frivolously, our short-term economic conditions would look better. Apparently, smart personal money management is destroying the Democratic Party. Once the GOP guts financial reform, maybe we’ll get those confusing credit card deals back again, and get America moving!
Lame Stream Media?: The 2nd largest stockholder in News Corp., owner of Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, is Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He owns $2.3 billion of News Corp. stock. Keith Olbermann is suspended for a few days for giving less than $7,000 total to 3 different Democratic candidates. I wonder if anyone who leans on Fox for information could spin this Saudi ownership fact so that it fits smartly into the slogan “Fair and Balanced.” I dare say $2.3 billion has more impact on election night than $7,000.
The War on Learning: According to the Associated Press, due to budget shortfalls, more than 120 school districts across the country hold classes just 4 days per week. The USA ranks 18th in college and high school graduation rates. Compared to other nations, we are 25th in math, 21st in science, 15th in reading literacy. 76% of Americans nevertheless report that they are completely to somewhat satisfied with their children’s public schools. Hard to address a problem that no one thinks is a problem.
The time for a revolution is our educational system is long overdue. It is not just a tax revenue issue, it is not just a budgeting issue, it is not just a union issue. Until it becomes a national security issue, we’ll continue to run our public educational system like it is 1960. What will be the next great innovation in education? (…and I don’t mean a new computer software package, either.)
The Right to Choose: The makers of Aquafresh and Colgate toothpaste are in the middle of a pitched legal battle for the trademark rights to the “nurdle”. As we all know, a “nurdle” is the perfectly swirled tri-colored curl of toothpaste on the outside of the package. Aquafresh has used this nurdle for over 20 years, and claims Colgate is trying to trick oral hygiene shopping enthusiasts to buy its brand instead. This is silly, but important, since the lawyers quote studies that demonstrate that consumers spend between 1/20th and 1/100th of a second identifying their preferred product on the shelf. For men, I’d say that’s a generous estimate.
Monkey See, Monkey Do: Humans share approximately 98.5% of their DNA code with chimpanzees. It would be misleading, however, to say that humans are 98.5% chimp. I thought of this whenever I saw campaign signs that said “______ Voted with Pelosi 97% of the Time”. The associated quote in the article in The Week read, “What makes each kind of biological organism unique is determined by their small genetic differences, not their numerically greater similarities.” Keep this in mind when watching the GOP 2012 Presidential candidate debates, which begin this April, by the way. The small differences matter when deciding who is a Neanderthal and who is presidential timber.
I feel more free already.