Category Archives: Rants


Happy Fourth of July Y’all!

Hard to believe it’s been 237 years since John, Ben, Thom, George, James and all the rest started their little experiment in constitutional democracy. Not that long in the grand scheme of things, but in the wake of recent global turmoil, can’t help but be glad it’s lasted as long as it has. So, all due thanks to you gents (and probably your wives and moms, too). Now let’s go to the beach and burn some burgers!

Sorry, Charlie Sheen

Many years ago I was seeing a fellow from Los Angeles. Let’s call him Don Draper. Apart from his being a decent guy, one thing I still remember about Don was that he said he had been to a few parties that Charlie Sheen also attended. Which is different from partying with Charlie Sheen, it must be noted. Not that I would judge if Don had partied with Charlie Sheen, something to tell the grandkids about, after all. And Don, who was in all respects a clear-eyed assessor of situations, reported that “Charlie Sheen was the drunkest conscious person I have ever seen in my life.” He said it was sad. And that people were laughing/aghast at the the spectacle. Now if D., who was not in the entertainment business, had seen this, then hundreds if not thousands of others must also have seen it. And this was way before Denise Richards and the third wife with the knife and the adorable little kids. (But apparently not before the porn stars … ahem.)

Now if Charlie Sheen were a struggling, say, bicycle messenger or assistant librarian or homeless guy, his story would be tragic. Pure and simple. In fact, if Charlie Sheen were someone I actually knew, his story would be tragic. But given the safe remove of celebrity and the fact that Sheen has millions of dollars and every resource imaginable, there is something awfully, terribly, ironically comical about his situation — and let’s not deny it schadenfreude-able.

Maybe it’s better to just think of Sheen as someone for whom money has distanced “the bottom” that everyone else hits so much sooner. Sorry, Charlie. Really.

Why I like Hillary Clinton and Tonya Harding

Can I just say that I’m back in love with Hillary Clinton again? I fell a little bit out of love over the past few months, and I’m not proud of it. I had doubts. I had cold feet.

But her concession speech was gracious and enthusiastic and didn’t have a trace of an asterisk in it. To me, many of things that people don’t like about Hillary Clinton are the things that make her an excellent leader: her supreme emotional control, her ability to depersonalize, her refusal to do what the masses want her to do, just ‘cos.

Which brings me to what she has in common with Tonya Harding, disgraced figure skater. (Nancy Kerrigan, that spoiled whiner — why, why? Not that she deserved a beating, but …)

So Tonya Harding is the most hated and shamed participant in Olympic history and everyone associated with the event wants her to drop out. But she says to herself, and I admire her for it, “If you all don’t have the stuff to fire me, I am not gonna fire myself.” An extreme example, perhaps. But sometimes I wish we all had a little more Tonya Harding in us. Like Hillary does.

Advice for living better from an Austrian guy

While often wary of lists that tell me how to live better, I do appreciate it when someone coins a few new and true bits of advice for humans. And so, a list from Austrian/NYC designer Stefan Sagmeister’s diary:

  • Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
  • Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.
  • Being not truthful works against me.
  • Helping other people helps me.
  • Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
  • Everything I do always comes back to me.
  • Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  • Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.
  • Money does not make me happy.
  • Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
  • Assuming is stifling.
  • Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
  • Trying to look good limits my life.
  • Worrying solves nothing.
  • Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
  • Having guts always works out for me.

There is also an interesting 15 minute video on a presentation from Stefan — if you noodle around on the link behind the picture here.

Another Reason Why Branding is Evil

Remarks from Debbie Millman who is, somewhat inexplicably, the president of design for Sterling Brands:

“If we aren’t careful, by 2025 our culture will have reached a place in our collective history where it is almost entirely composed of brands. The more information we have, and the more access to information we have, the more capacity we’ll have to participate in the composition of every human experience.
  By 2025, there’s the potential that for every human experience there will be a corresponding brand. There will be branded relationships, branded sexuality, branded religion, branded war, even branded children. There’s the possiblility that a branded government will rule us. Brands will be just about anything those in power can get away with.
  There will be a backlash of sorts —movements such as No-Logo and Slow Food—but those, in fact, will also be branded in order for them to be understood.
  The state of brand experience has more impact on our culture than any other medium. It’s circular; its reach is insidious—and if we’re not very careful, it isn’t going to stop.”

From the first moment I heard some executive blowhard blow branding out his blowhole, I knew branding was insidious. But why? Isn’t branding just another alias for advertising (60′s-70′s), and marketing (80′s-90′s)? Both of which I’ve been a cheery party to. Is branding simply more focused? And thus, somehow, more vulnerable?