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Thursday, June 29, 2006


Commentary: Evita and Marketing Ethics

Evita and Marketing Ethics

(see Lyrics to Rainbow High)


Key Concept: Style vs. Substance

This lyrics from Rainbow High are particularly illustrative of the emphasis that Marketing communications can place on the Style of a product/service/person versus the actual Substance of the subject.

Think about toothpaste: On the shelves of Walmart are already 40 different kinds of toothpaste; yet consumer product companies continue to 'develop' and introduce new toothpastes to the market. Is there really a need for the 41st kind of toothpaste? More to the point, will that 41st kind of toothpaste do something substantively new or different that the 40 other kinds do not?

Now think about men's shaving razors: The Gillette Fusion -- what does a 5-bladed razor do that its 4-bladed and 3-bladed competitors do not do? Most men will agree that the substantive differences are marginal at best. Yet Gillette spent $100 million (if memory serves me correctly) on a marketing campaign for the Fusion.

Question: What aspects of these products are being 'marketed'???

Answer: The Stylistic elements that have been conjured up and created by the marketing firms that created the advertising and branding campaigns. To borrow key words from Rainbow High, its the style, glamour, excitement, and image that's being marketed.

Is that ethical? Is public value being created, or is there merely a transference of wealth that is occurring from consumers to the marketing company and its client?


Saturday, June 24, 2006


Commentary: Holistic Education and Learning Context

Holistic Education and Learning Context:
The "Stop and Smell the Flowers" Model of Pedagogy

Sometimes the the forces of nature and God's Creation can have an overpowering and stimulating effect on the mind.

As a gentle rain fell, I decided that it would be good to spend time strolling around campus, enjoying the always-stunning landscaping of my campus. As I walked out of the Library with my umbrella in hand, a nearby cluster of flowers captured my attention. The interplay of the raindrops on the petals, the colors, the textures, the form of the flower -- all of these elements coalesced into a profound experience of the Aesthetically Beautiful.

In the core Humanities curriculum of my college, Art is one of the topics covered. But "good" art is what if it is not a representation and recreation of the Beauty as found in nature?

When we study art in college, we read about it, we look at pictures in books or projected onto luminescent screens, perhaps even venture to the local art gallery. This is all well and good. But if one of the goals for learning to appreciate art is also to learn to develop a refined sense of and appreciation for Aesthetic Beauty, then what restricts us from studying beauty as it is found in nature on the very confines of our own campus?

The Power of Context
Malcolm Gladwell in his wonderful book, "The Tipping Point" discusses the power of Context and the effects of Context on our attitudes, behaviors, emotions, actions, reactions, thoughts, etc.

Question: In Higher Education, why is our dominant tendency to ignore the Power of Context in favor of the artificially constructed contextual environment of the classroom?

This is not to say that the classroom is a wholly irrelevant and useless context; certainly it does tend to produce the desired effect of focusing the attention of the "Learners" on the "Teacher" (think about all of the assumptions about the nature of education implicit in that statement!).

But if a Teacher wants to cultivate in his students a sense of the Aesthetically Beautiful, what is wrong with beginning with an Authentic Experience of that which is truly Aesthetically Beautiful? (Recall the painting of a pipe labeled, "This is not a Pipe") Go out side in the Fall or Spring! Stop, look, smell, touch, envelop the senses in the Authentic Experience of Beauty!

Broader Implications
At this point it would be appropriate to back up one step before tumbling over the edge and descending down the slope towards an aphoristic/Nietzchean-style of writing.

The broader implications of this experience with the flower is that teachers, as the more experienced conversants in a conversation with less experienced learners (Paul Ramsden, "Learning to Teach In Higher Education, 2nd Edition") need to attend to the alignment of LEARNING CONTENT with LEARNING CONTEXT. My thesis is that the least friction between CONTENT and CONTEXT, or, to put it in a positive sense, the more that CONTEXT can complement CONTENT, the better.


Friday, June 23, 2006


News: Forcing Athletes Off Facebook

Forcing Athletes Off Facebook

"Laing Kennedy, the university’s athletics director, told The Columbus Dispatch that the Facebook ban was intended, at least in part, to prevent students from being contacted by strangers (or, worse yet, sports agents). In that case, why not just ask students to delete phone and e-mail information from their profiles? As Mr. Kennedy said, Kent State is also trying to protect its own reputation: Pictures of hazing and underage drinking aren’t exactly good news for athletics programs."

Oh, I see, instead of trying to address the problems of hazing and drinking, the response of Kent State is to cover-up the facts of the situation, to hide them from the prying eyes of the public. What an unprincipled stance.



Commentary: Summer Reading Recommendations

Summer Reading Recommendations
Cutting-Edge Ideas for the 21st Century

For all of you students not busy with summer classes, below is a list of 5 excellent books to keep you entertained and your mind stimulated and out of the summer slump. All of these books present new information or opinions that are highly relevant for this new century. Enjoy!

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age
by Daniel H. Pink (2005)

Teaser: Is the Information Age already over? What are the effects of Abundance, Automation and Asia on job prospects for this new century? Great perspectives on Right-Brained vs. Left-Brained thinking.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
by Malcolm Gladwell (2000)

Teaser: Who determines what is 'Cool' or Fashionable? Are you a Connector, a Maven, or a Salesman? Find out more about the Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
by Malcolm Gladwell (2005)

Teaser: What is the value of first-impressions? Why do some people have an ability to instantly form opinions and judgements that turn out to be correct? What is 'thin-slicing'?

The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
by Tom Friedman (2005)

Teaser: This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the effects of globalization and the formative power of the information-based economy in the 21st century. How has the Internet contributed to the 'flattening' of the world? What is the connection between 9/11 and 11/9? This book is of particular relevance to students and scholars of political science, economics, business, and sociology.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner (2005)

Teaser: What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? Would a Roshanda by any other name smell as sweet? Facinating questions and connections explored in this book. Of particular sociological interest is the authors' look at the effects of Roe v. Wade and abortion -- not what you might expect!!!


Monday, June 19, 2006


Commentary: Shame on Google AdSense

Shame on Google AdSense...

It seems as if Google is being highly selective in its acceptance of who to include and who to exclude from its AdSense program. I received the following response to my AdSense application:

"Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. After reviewing your application, our specialists have found that it does not meet our program criteria. Therefore, we are unable to accept you into our program...."

Just what exactly are Google's "program criteria"? Whatever they are, rest assured that they are intended to maximize Google's revenue while giving no consideration to the little guy trying to make a few bucks. And a cursory Google search (isn't that ironic) shows quite a few anecdotes of AdSense program participants who have had their accounts cancelled just before payday... Hmm...

Doesn't Google own I wonder how long it will be before this site gets cut off for criticizing th--


Friday, June 09, 2006


Commentary: Terrorism, Suicide & Demon-Possession

Terrorism, Suicide & Demon-Possession

The recent death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi led me to consideration between Terrorism, Suicide Bombings and Demon-Possession. Why would anyone want to commit suicide in the act of killing others? Wouldn't it be more practical to one's cause to remain alive (and able to kill more) as long as possible?

There is something intuitively wrong with the conception of suicide bombings. Certainly it is not a sound military strategy -- it is not valid as a key/core tactic of warfare. So what is it that seems positively inhuman about these acts?

Reflect on a short passage from the New Testament narrative account of Jesus: Mark 5:1-20. In short, Jesus casts a "Legion" of Demons out of a possessed man into a herd of pigs. Upon entering the pigs, the demon-possessed pigs rush into the sea and commit suicide.

Terrorism & Suicide. Demon-possession & Suicide. Terrorism & Demon-possession???

I am left to wonder whether the most heinous of terrorists and suicide bombers are not in fact demonic spirits in human flesh...


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Commentary: "Western Standards" of Democracy in Iraq?

"Western Standards" of Democracy in Iraq?

Consider for a moment the incidents of sectarian violence reported on a near-daily basis out of Iraq. Such Muslim-on-Muslim acts of killing have little or nothing to do with the on-going war in Iraq, led by America and the coalition of nations.

The sad and contrasting fact is that Iraq under the murderous and brutal regime of Saddam Hussein seemed to provide an effective level of containment to reduce (or at least control) the sectarian violence. The ironic state of affairs is that although the people of Iraq are better off (according to Western standards) having been released from the grasp of a tyrant, that tyrant and his 'unorthodox' methodologies (by Western standards) seemed to have been the only effective way of maintaining a modicum of 'peace' in Iraq. It somewhat resembles a backwards, 'Bizarro world, measured by Western standards, where a brutal dictator was most effective at maintaining 'peace', and now that Freedom and Democracy have been put into place, brutality and terror rule the day.

Question: Can "Western standards" be applicable outside of the Western world?


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