Archive for the ‘Gripes’ Category

Gimme Some “Kick-Ass”

In Business, Gripes on May 3, 2009 at 5:10 am

“You need a man on Mars.”  That’s all I wanted to say to this young lady at a recent gathering of social media marketers.  The event agenda centered on using Twitter and blogs to raise the profile of  companies and individual professionals.  Her company was hired by NASA to re-energize the American public’s interest in our country’s space program by leveraging social media through a couple of  Tweets from an in-space astronaut, and maybe capture some short video clips of activities on-board the shuttle.   “The only people who know what’s going on any more with NASA are nerds and geeks” – her inference being the average citizen wasn’t interested in NASA due to a lack of “outreach” on the part of NASA.


Average Joe doesn’t care because NASA isn’t doing anything noteworthy.  There was a time when every rocket launch in the 60’s and 70’s was “one giant leap for mankind” and every American knew the launch date, the crew names, the mission and the risks. These days, the shuttle launch only makes the news when it fails to take off on schedule and the most interesting story about the International Space Station has been a broken toilet.  True, maybe the geeks are the only people who cared about the test-tube science carried on during the mission, but American competitive spirit, combined with really big, fiery rockets captures everyone’s attention. NASA may be carrying out interesting and unique science during every shuttle mission, but the paradigm of the program has not changed in almost 30 years.

NASA has a lack of leadership; in the obvious sense that it only has an interim Administrator in Christopher Scolese and no Deputy Administrator since the resignation of Shana Dale in January, but also in that innovative, manned space flight missions have not been the priority of any presidential administration for the last 20 years.  There has been no vision, motivation or demand for new programs that could possibly inspire the American people.

Now NASA is hiring marketing firms to engage Average Joe during shuttle sorties while scrapping plans to build a moon base.  But Average Joe doesn’t Twitter.

You know who else doesn’t Twitter? The Mars Rover.  It isn’t sentient but it doesn’t need to be because every piece of dirt it sifts through makes the evening news and people pay attention.  You know why people are interested? Because it’s a robot on Mars, man!

People will talk about success and failure.  Right now, the shuttle program is neither.


We Are Upside Down

In Gripes, Uncategorized on March 23, 2009 at 7:21 am

I was stuffing newborn kittens into plastic bags when it occurred to me that something wasn’t right.  While the duty to clean up the detritus that surrounds us falls upon all responsible people (the feral cat problem in my office’s neighborhood is a longstanding one that results often in abandoned litters, roadkill and bird carcasses) I could not be convinced that my presence at that precise moment was the result of noble intent.  I needed to be at my desk, making sales calls and writing revisions of new web pages, planning for 5 conferences we’re presenting at in the next six weeks, I needed to be working.

Details aside, my job is rewarding and I have an overriding commitment to my company’s success.  What I realized, even with all that need and reward and despite the dead animal in hand, is that I enjoyed being outside for a change.  And I knew that I was going to take my time investigating the shrubs for other frail or expired animals because I absolutely needed to be outside.  Outside of my dim fluorescent lighted office, outside of my air conditioned car, outside of my email, my on-line banking, my marriage, outside of my everyday life and faced with an absolute change in context.  I didn’t need to understand the new context, I just needed to feel it hit me in the face.

Who Are The Mice?

In Gripes on March 13, 2009 at 5:57 am

Well, I figure if the calf is running away it’s at least smart enough to know that it is being chased.  Without a doubt, it’s knows that the 230 pound country bumpkin following on horseback isn’t just trying to give it a good scratch behind the ears.  Even as the cowboy’s rib cage lands on the animal’s fore shoulder at 25 miles per hour, arms wrestling its head 180 degrees around his body to pin it down for the tap out, it is likely the calf is more aware of the lunacy on display than you’ll ever be.

The truth is the steers in this rodeo are likely to suffer no pain – they are stout creatures equal in size to their handlers.  Regardless, I wonder why such a workaday, albeit necessary, ranch skill is a matter of public spectacle to 40,ooo enchanted onlookers.  Did they not learn from their 3 hour-a-day TV habit that humans long ago bested the steer?  Sure, the animal gets away sometimes but why only then should it be the roper that looks the fool? Yeah, I know, the competition isn’t between the cowboy and the calf, it’s between cowboy and cowboy.    So is this the original American form of reality TV – let’s see who can do stupid human tricks the fastest for a little coin?  One may ask why shoveling shit isn’t also on the program for the rodeo.  Presumably, these cowboys have cleaned out their share of stables.

This ain’t no animal rights rant – the cows make out better than the ropers or the watchers.  They’ll get a steady, healthy diet until the day they die while the cowboys will be lucky to make a buck for all their knee bustin’, back breaking work and you stuff your face with overpriced garbage that would make cows turn their noses up.  The rodeo, despite the spectacular examples of animal breeding, is just another circus where the supporting clowns wear stetsons and the main event is our appetite for inanity.

I wonder if cows can clap.