Friday, September 30, 2011

Irony. Oh, Sweet Irony

I believe that irony can best be exemplified by one seeing a banner ad for Bank of America on the Anon News website.


Irony. Oh, sweet irony.

Good night, everyone.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reflecting on 8 Years with Detroit Synergy

It all started back in 2003, for me.

On the set of "Checking In"
At the time, I was working on a feature-length documentary entitled Checking In: The Story of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, which focused on the historic Book-Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit. The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, which was the quasi-governmental agency that was working on redeveloping the hotel, wouldn't talk to me on camera about the project so I turned to some of the historic preservation groups, who were all too happy to talk about the hotel.

Back then, I had already decided that I was going to leave Detroit permanently as soon as this project was done. Regardless, during that time, I met Francis Grunow. He invited me to attend a meeting of this new group called Detroit Synergy. I was hooked after that first meeting. I met so many people who had such energy, enthusiasm, and determination to get things done.

I got involved in organizing a pub crawl where I met a man who often seems more like a force of nature than a human being, the legendary Alok Sharma. At one point, Alok asked me if I knew how to write a press release. I told him that I had written several for different political campaigns that I had worked on over the years. He asked me to draft one for this pub crawl.

Everyone at Detroit Synergy seemed to love my work. They kept asking me to do more.

Ain't No Party Like A Detroit Party
As for the pub crawl that we organized, it was truly legendary. Imagine, if you will, close to 400 people bouncing from one bar to the next in downtown Detroit. Most of the people on this pub crawl were young professionals. Some of them were even inspired to move to Detroit based on how much their experience downtown surpassed their expectations.

Eventually, I was invited to apply one of the two public relations slots on Detroit Synergy's Steering Team, which is their leadership team/board of directors. The first time I applied for that position, they actually turned me down - opting instead to bring Paula Turner onto the team. I applied again in the summer of 2004 when another vacancy occurred on the Steering Team.

This time around, I was able to join their Steering Team in September, 2004 as one of the public relations co-chairs. I ended up working closely with Paula for a couple of years before she left the team to pursue other interests.

Over the next few years, I:

  • Was a part of seven more truly legendary pub crawls;
  • Got to dance on the field during the Super Bowl XL Halftime Show;
  • Helped the group get media coverage not only with the local news media, but with CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and the Italian news media as well;
  • Helped organize the group's Shop Detroit, which brought people from as far away as Toledo to do at least a portion of their holiday shopping in downtown Detroit;
  • Worked with a variety of developers to market their residential properties; and
  • Helped the group get the publicity they needed to launch new projects like Detroit Bikes, Pecha Kucha Night, and Supper Club.
In February 2009, I decided that it was time for a change. I transitioned from their public relations role to the fundraising one where I got to work more closely on the group's fundraising efforts.

One of Detroit Synergy's Meetings
It has been a fantastic voyage. However, like all great voyages, there comes a point where it is time for it to end.

Detroit Synergy today has an amazing group of people who remain on its Steering Team. The team is smaller in number than it was when I joined back in 2004. However, in my opinion, they are stronger than have been at any point in the group's history. They are perfectly prepared to not only continue on the group's nine year old legacy, but to take it to the next level. I'm excited for the group and for myself.

As for me, I'm taking some time away to finish some work projects. Regardless, I will still serve as project lead for their Pecha Kucha Night and I'm sure I will find some other capacity to serve as well, just not on the Steering Team.

It's been a great 8 year voyage with Detroit Synergy. I'm thrilled with what we managed to accomplish and I look forward to seeing a lot more from my successors in the organization.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Retiring the Space Shuttle

NASA brought the Space Shuttle program to an end this July after more than 30 years of service to the nation and to cause of space exploration. Since I continue to hear the occasional complaint from one person or another about why NASA brought this program to an end, I thought I would write this post so I easily link to it later when I might need it.

The Space Shuttle was a terrific vehicle for taking us into Earth's orbit. It enabled us to launch and repair satellites and to build the International Space Station. Those were fantastic missions, but they're done. It's time for NASA to move onto the next level of exploring space. Unfortunately, the Space Shuttle simply isn't the right vehicle for our next steps in space exploration.

As an example, former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, as well as President Barack Obama, all endorsed the long-term goal of a manned mission to Mars during each of the respective tenures in the White House. It's time for NASA to start preparing for such a mission.

The problem, of course, is that the Space Shuttle needs a runway in order to land and there are no runways currently on Mars. Without such a runway, the Space Shuttle could only circle around the planet. It could never land astronauts on the planet's surface.

The Surface of Mars, Without A Runway In Sight
The same holds true for NASA's plans for a manned mission to land on an asteroid as well as the possible return to the Moon for additional long-term scientific research. None of these places have a runway. Therefore, the Space Shuttle couldn't land there.

Since the Space Shuttle can't land anywhere that doesn't have something like a runway, and NASA's next steps in the voyage of discovery are all to places without runways, the unavoidable conclusion is that the Shuttle simply isn't the right vehicle for what comes next in human discovery.

There are, of course, those who argue that NASA should have kept the Space Shuttle going until its next vehicle is ready. Once upon a time, I would've argued the same thing. However, one of the things that NASA has learned the hard way is that it's exceedingly difficult to build the next thing while one is still doing the old thing. This is particularly true when the next thing is something as big and complex as exploring space.

The fact of the matter is that NASA has made more progress towards designing and building the Space Shuttle's replacement in the past two years, when the end of the Shuttle was announced, then they did in the five years prior to that. It is simply better for an agency like NASA to put all of its resources towards preparing for the next thing, rather than try to juggle old and new technologies.

The timing for all of this has also never been better. There are now private companies that are on the verge of launching commercial ventures into space. They can take care of launching new satellites and servicing old ones, which is a task previously done by the Space Shuttle.

For anything that the private sector isn't currently equipped to handle, the Europeans, Chinese, and Russians can take care of it. They are doing today the sorts of things that NASA was doing thirty years ago and they will continue to do them. It's time for NASA to continue its leadership in space by moving onto the next thing.

It's time for NASA to land a spacecraft on an asteroid; to launch a manned expedition to Mars and to return to the Moon. These are the challenges that await NASA. They will be met, not with the Space Shuttle, but with our next generation of spacecraft. I, for one, eagerly look forward to what is next for America's space program.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life is Too Short

I believe that life is too short to deal with ugly strippers. Of course, I also believe that life is too short for booze to go wasted, for watching reality television, to believe in honest politicians, or to listen to almost anything from Britney Spears.

For more wisdom, please check out my latest book, Zen and the Art of Drunken Debauchery.

Ron Paul for President

I've been listening to Congressman Ron Paul talk about his campaign for the White House, what he would do if elected, and why we should do such a thing. While I admit that he is consistent and candid in his views, I also have to admit that I've come to the conclusion that there are basically two types of people who support his candidacy.

  1. Those who don't know much about Ron Paul; and
  2. Those who don't know much about history.
For example, he argued that the mortgage crisis came about because we had too much government regulation. That's simply nuts.

The fact of the matter is that we as a nation repealed a multitude of regulations that we designed to prevent such a thing from happening. If we hadn't done so, we still would've had a recession but it wouldn't have reached the levels that it is now nor would the mortgage crisis have ever reached the levels that it has.

Thomas Hobbes remarked more than four hundred years ago that, in its most natural state, the life of man is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short." The institutions that Mr. Paul wishes to rip down are the ones that prevent us from slipping back into such a condition.

Use of Pepper Spray at Occupy Wall Street Protests

NYPD Patrol Guide 212-95 lists five situations in which an officer in the New York City Police Department may use pepper spray. Pepper spray may be used when a police officer “reasonably believes” that it is necessary to:

  1. Protect himself, or another from unlawful use of force (e.g., assault);
  2. Effect an arrest, or establish physical control of a subject resisting arrest;
  3. Establish physical control of a subject attempting to flee from arrest or custody;
  4. Establish physical control of an emotionally disturbed person; and
  5. Control a dangerous animal by deterring an attack, to prevent injury to persons or animals present.
Quite frankly, I would like to know which one of those five instances existed in the videos below, all of which show NYPD officers using pepper spray on unarmed protesters.



Or in this slightly longer view, from a different angle.



Or in this video that shows both videos simultaneously

What is Wrong with Occupy Wall Street?

Occupy Wall Street is now in its tenth day. It is, by all accounts, larger than most of the events that the Tea Party has organized over the past two years. However, as I look through my local newspaper, listen to my local radio, and watch my local television, I see hundreds of different stories - but not a single word in any of them about Occupy Wall Street.

Not a single one.

The Tea Party, in contrast, has done smaller events that didn't even last a full day. However, they got lots of coverage from the news media. They were, in fact, the lead story on most days.

The news media covered President Barack Obama's efforts to get support for his jobs bill. That made page eight of my local newspaper.

If the peaceful protesters in New York carried guns, maybe then the news media would cover the story.

If the peaceful protesters in New York carried signs with racist or homophobic language, instead of simply saying "Wall Street Is Our Street", maybe then the news media would cover the story.

If the peaceful protesters in New York dressed up in silly costume and showed only a fifth graders understanding of American history, maybe then the news media would cover the story.

And that, my friends, is just sad.

Once upon a time, the news media was a serious business that was run by serious people. Today, unfortunately, the local news is little more than a low budget version of America's Next Top Model.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stephen Colbert Tells A Detroit Joke

Let me get this straight: for the past 1 1/2 years, Mayor Dave Bing has been talking to every media outlet on the planet about how much population Detroit has lost and how much empty space we have. He's told this story to everyone from The New York Times to The Irish Times to Time magazine and a few hundred others.

Now Stephen Colbert makes a joke about the same thing on his show and some folks are up in arms? Please, people. Pull it together.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Frictionless Experience???

Mark Zuckerberg referred to the Ticker as being part of "frictionless experience" on Facebook during the F8 Conference.

Really?!?

That's like referring to the Pacific Ocean as a "waterless experience."

Phelps Defined

If anyone asks, the word phelps means "the act of farting during anal sex."

Thank you, Philip DeFranco.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Girl Reaches a New Low

New Girl premiered on Fox this evening. Like most new shows, it had some good moments and some bad ones. Unlike most new shows, the ratio between the two was hardly in its favor.

The good news is that this show opened with an implied nudity scene of Zoe Deschenel. One can never really go wrong with that.

The bad news is that everything that followed was badly written, badly acted, and looked like it was put together by a 5 year old with Tourette's syndrome. Not even the nudity of Zoe Deschenel can redeem this show.

I stopped watching after the first 16 minutes. It was simply too painful to continue. My only question now is: who can I see to get those 15 minutes (you know, the ones after Zoe Deschenel's nude scene) back?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Keira Knightley Is Coco Mademoiselle

I finally got to see the new commercials for Chanel Coco Mademoiselle that feature Keira Knightley in them.

I was expected a lot from them since they were, after all, featuring Keira Knightley. However, it was simply amazing. The commercial was even better than the television show that it appeared in - and I liked the show a lot.

If they gave out Academy Awards for commercials, this would be the hands down favorite to win it all.

My Thoughts on the Fall Premieres for Monday

Today was a good day for television.

The season premiere of How I Met Your Mother was on CBS and it was legend - wait for it -ary. It was well written with the same top-notch acting that I've always expected. To top it off, the second episode of HIMYM was just as good as the first one.

I have to admit that I was irritated with the Two and A Half Men commercial that CBS kept showing during HIMYM. I was pretty much tired of that show, even before it started. Of course, once Two and A Half Men did start, I almost forgot how annoying that commercial was.

Almost.

I liked Two and A Half Men, I really did. I wasn't totally sold on how they wrote Charlie Harper's death. Regardless, I enjoyed seeing all of those cameos so much that I'm sold on the idea of Ashton Kutcher taking over Charlie Sheen's role. I look forward to the next episode.

Of course, the true hit of the evening was 2 Broke Girls. I had no intention of watching the show at all when I sat down on my couch. If my remote was a foot or so closer, I might not have seen it. However, I'm really glad that I did.

The cold open for that show was one of the best written and best delivered pieces of situation comedy that I've seen in years. The rest of the show kept it going throughout. I'm starting to fall in love with Beth BehrsKat Denning, and the rest of the cast. The writing is smart and the director pulled everything together perfectly.

I think this show has a lot of potential. I can't wait to see the next episode. In the meantime, there's a lot of cool extras on their web site.

After that, I flipped over to watch The Playboy Club. This show is good. It has a lot going on, almost a bit too much, but it has a lot of potential.

On the off-chance that the producers ever find their way to my blog, the one suggestion that I would give them would be to ditch the occasional voice over that Hugh Hefner does. With so many plots and sub-plots going on in this show, adding those voice overs simply adds one more thing into an already crowded plot line.

Ditch Hugh Hefner. Keep the focus on the club that he created.

Besides, I've read dozens of articles about how create the Playboy Club was back in the 1960s and 70s. None of them mentioned a single word about Mr. Hefner. If I want to see him, there's always The Girls Next Door. I don't need another outlet for it.

Ditch Hugh Hefner. Keep the focus on the club that he created.

Daily Show Wins Again

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart won the Emmy for Best Comedy/Variety Show for the ninth year in row last night. This was on top of their win for best writing in a comedy show.

I love The Daily Show. However, with them winning an Emmy for nine years in a row, I'm starting to think that it might be time to retire the category.

Keira Knightley Makes Me Talk Like a Pirate

Keira Knightley Shivers My Timbers
Avast, me mateys! International Talk Like a Pirate Day has begun, at least on the East Coast and in most of the Midwest.

My friends on the West Coast still have to wait a couple more hours for this magnificent event to start. (Arr... I do feel sorry for them, even if they do get to make it last a little later.)

I will celebrate this occasion by watching Keira Knightley in all three of her Pirates of the Caribbean performances.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Things Rick Perry Should Already Know

I would like to remind Governor Rick Perry of Texas that states already have the ability to opt out of Social Security. They've had that option since Social Security was enacted in way back in 1935. As one of the longest serving governors in this nation, one who has spent more than 20 years in statewide elected office, he should know that already.

Moreover, if Governor Perry believes that Social Security is a "Ponzi scheme," as he argued recently, then I must ask why hasn't he protected Texans by opting out of it already?