Ramblings and Revolutions

I think, therefore I'm dangerous.

Warning! Books Can Change Your Life!

It’s easy to talk of dangerous weapons these days. Guns, bombs, missiles, chemical weapons, bioweapons, nuclear weapons. Such devices are a frighteningly common part of our shared lexicon.

But it’s easy to forget the most dangerous of all weapons:

Words.

No, really. Words have led to brawls. Murder. Duels. War. Revolution. Words have brought down presidents, governments, kings and queens. Whether for good or ill, words have power.

Some people fear that power. They try to ban some words — or collections of words, a/k/a books. They fear the words will give people (especially children or young adults) ideas that they might not otherwise have. Under the guise of protecting the innocents, some folks want to prevent them from making up their own minds.

This is Banned Books Week, a time to remember, and celebrate, the literary and not-so-literary works that have been banned or challenged by those who would “protect” us from ourselves.

Some of those books are quite popular. You might have heard of a few of these:

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

The  Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling

The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss

The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank

Maybe every book should come with a warning sticker: “Danger! This book might challenge your preconceptions. It might make you question what you’ve been told by people in authority. It might make you wonder about ideas you’ve been taught since you were a child. It’s entirely possible this one book could turn you into a wiser, more compassionate, more thoughtful human being. Read at your own risk!”

Or maybe it’s better to leave all that unspoken. Wouldn’t want to give the people who ban more ammunition, would we?

In honor of Banned Books Week, go do something dangerous: READ!

Crisis Management 101

It looks like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t get the memo on crisis management. His press conference this afternoon was little short of a disaster.

Note to Commissioner: You missed the most basic rule — when faced with a bad public relations situation, say as little as possible. You’ve addressed the issue more than once, so SHUT UP.

The fact is, most p.r. crises do eventually blow over if the company or individual lets it. The best way to do that, most often,  is by saying nothing, at least temporarily. Journalists don’t like it (trust me, speaking as one, we really don’t), but it can be effective if the beleaguered target just shuts up for a while. That means:

No Twitter.

No Facebook.

No interviews.

No press conference.

Do nothing to stir the hornets’ next, and the hornets get bored and leave. Keep stirring it up occasionally, and they’re sure to sting.

Don’t misunderstand. I don’t condone what Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson did in any way whatsoever. Nor do I believe Goodell has handled the situations properly from the beginning.

I’m just saying that Goodell, whose job is on the line, did himself no favors with today’s press conference. He would have been far better off to maintain a dignified silence for a few more days, perhaps taking the time to more thoroughly think through his responses to likely questions. Then, a press conference could have mitigated some of damage to both Goodell’s and the league’s battered images.

There are exceptions, of course. When a murderer adulterated Tylenol capsules with potassium cyanide in the early 1980s, Johnson and Johnson, the product manufacturer was out front with the story fast. The company halted production, announced changes to packaging and warned the public and medical facilities. The company was rightfully lauded for its straightforward handling of the situation.

But in Goodell’s case, he was ill-served by the press conference.

 

 

Priorities

As this is written, Scottish voters are deciding whether their country will break free from the United Kingdom to become a fully independent nation. It’s a big deal. There’s been lots of debate leading up to it, and observers have been predicting a close vote.

A lot is riding on it. A vote for independence could change the lives of millions of people. By all accounts, the Scots are taking it very seriously. Voters age 16 and older are eligible to vote. A group of teenagers, interviewed Wednesday, sounded every bit as thoughtful and sober about the implications of the vote as their older counterparts.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, people are lining up in front of Apple stores to buy the latest shiny gadget tomorrow. We get our news in soundbites, and debate issues by demonizing the other side, but we can all unite in the cause of a new cell phone.

Scotland wrestles with independence. The United States wrestles with deciding between the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Priorities.

Still good advice…

The answer is 42.

Speaking of Revolutions…

The home of Rambs and Revs is not exactly the busiest place in the world. We’re in a town of about 50,000 folks, not really a hotbed of industry or tourism. Just your basic midsize corner of central Florida. It’s a place that doesn’t see a whole lot of cutting edge stuff.

But that’s changing fast. We’ve just discovered that we’re getting a Tesla supercharger station at a local mall.

That’s a pretty big deal. Tesla, as you may be aware, is revolutionizing the automobile industry with its groundbreaking electric car technology.  With a zero-to-60 time of about 4 seconds, massive torque and a  200-mile-plus  range — all without using a drop of gasoline — the Tesla Model S is a marvel of modern engineering.

Tesla Motors is developing its charging infrastructure nationwide, rapidly expanding the availability of public charging stations for its vehicles. IF — and it remains a big if — the infrastructure develops, electric vehicles of all sorts are likely to be the wave of the future.

With that in mind, here we are in our little town, right on the crest of that wave. It’s an exciting place to be, a spot where we can see a glimpse of the future. Tesla’s eight charging bays are expected to be operating here by the end of the year.

What’s more, Tesla vehicles are NOT cheap. They sell to upscale consumers. Folks who are likely to spend cash at local businesses while waiting 30 to 40 minutes for their batteries to charge. It’s a boon for the shops located near the charging stations.

Can’t wait to see how this develops.

The More Things Change…

Once upon a time, people wore wristwatches. Men, women, children. Watches everywhere. If you wanted to have a way to tell time anywhere you went, you wore a wristwatch. (Yes, there were pocket watches before that, but we’re talking about the last 50 years or so.)

Then along came the cell phone. Presto, you have a digital clock in your pocket already. Who needs to wear a watch too? So began the slow fade of the common wristwatch.  Take a look around. How many folks, especially under 30, do you see wearing a watch today?

But now the famous fruit company has introduced a watch. A so-called “smart” watch, that does smart things. It interacts with a compatible phone, it shows you messages, it does all kinds of Web-based wizardry.

The question is, will this lead to a renaissance of wristwatches? Will 20-something hipsters be wearing watches and muttering about the good old days of LED digital displays?  Yes, such things existed, in the 1970s, before the brighter, more efficient LCDs took over. Will children soon be wearing kid-sized, fruit-branded mini-computers on their wrists, the way I once wore a simple Timex?

Let us watch and see….

Some Thoughts on 9/11

Thirteen years.

That’s how long it’s been since our nation changed, perhaps forever, at the hands of terrorists.

Thirteen years that nearly 3,000 people have been gone from our lives. Mothers. Fathers, Brothers. Sisters. Lovers. Husbands. Wives. Children.

Thirteen years today since that horrifying morning that at first seemed just like any other — but would be like no other in our recent history.

The only near-parallel is the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor. The shock, the anger, the horror. But even that fails, because the 9/11 attacks targeted not soldiers, but civilians.

In less than two hours, our complacency, our sense of security was shattered. We were forced to reckon with the idea that there are people in the world who want to kill us just for being Americans.

Beyond that, there was also a sense that we take too much for granted. People doing nothing more than living their everyday lives saw their worlds change in an instant. Those of us with friends and loved ones in New York or Washington were jolted by scenes we couldn’t have begun to imagine.

Here’s the thing — cataclysms like that can happen to any of us, at any time. Just about anything can shatter our orderly existence — a stray bullet, a wet road, a blocked artery, a loose wire. Any of them can take away someone we love, instantly.

OK, so what’s my point? That we take too much for granted. Take time to appreciate the people in your life. Let them know how much they mean to you. Tell them you love them.

You never know when you won’t get another chance. Tell them. Now.

What Ever Happened To…

For many years, I’ve wondered whatever happened to that great 1980s backup singer, N. Yoletta.

A major talent. Still waiting for the VHI Behind The Music that N. deserves.

Music for a Rainy Friday

It’s raining this afternoon in our little corner of Florida, and for once, it’s cool enough to actually feel a little bit like autumn.

For some reason, it feels like an ’80s music kind of day. But I’m torn — not sure whether it’s time for semi-mopey New Wave or classic Hair Bands.

Decisions, decisions. The Cure’s “Lovesong”? Poison’s “Fallen Angel”?  Synths? Guitars?

Just kidding. Guitars, a pounding beat and howling vocals win that battle every time.

“Win big, Mama’s fallen angel

Lose big, livin’ out her lies”…..

Crank it up and dance in the rain!

R.I.P., Joan Rivers

May she find the peace she apparently lacked in life.

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