I saw this film in an art gallery 20 years ago, and flirted a little with the animator who made it. I thought I would never see it again.
I stumbled across it again on YouTube today. I love living in the future.
Over on the Twitters, Marc Rettig points us to a little Forbes piece, ‘Culture of Purpose’ Is Key To Success According To New Research From Deloitte.
What’s the leader of the world’s largest audit, tax and consulting firm doing preaching about what seems like a squishy business attribute like “purpose”? As Punit tells me, “exceptional firms have always been good at aligning their mission or purpose with their execution, and as a result have enjoyed category leadership in sales and profits,” (think Whole Foods, Tom’s Shoes or even Apple). This seems particularly clear for companies where the founder is still very much involved in the business or where the founder’s ethos is culturally ingrained in the organization. Companies that are singularly focused on exceeding customer expectations tend to fall into this category. “So there is an empirical financial benefit to organizations that instill a purpose-driven culture,” says Punit.
The piece says some very good things, but it has such a stiff and awkward tone, it reads like a virgin talking about sex. Take this little passage.
Through interviews with the media and then in speaking engagements that he did at various campuses around the world during those times, the Deloitte Chairman was regularly challenged to justify business in general and even more specifically Deloitte’s reason for being beyond returning profits to its partners. “I found it disconcerting that business has been cast in a not so positive light,” said Punit.
Companies like Deloitte have earned disconcerting questions about what purpose they serve. So business has not “been cast in a not-so-positive light”, business has screwed up and we haven't held businesses nearly accountable enough.
It makes me wish this article didn't make these questions about purpose sound like the usual rah-rah corporate BS, because I believe in what it says. Devotion to purpose supports business success. It makes money.
Having been inside organizations with a strong purpose (and many more organizations without it), one can scent a true purpose focus in discussions of even the smallest projects. When one asks folks why they are doing something, they can — they will — tell you things like, “We are doing A in order to prepare the ground for B, which we are doing despite it being a compromise on C because it will help with the more important project of D and the essential project of E because D and E are both major initiatives in service of our organizational mission of F.” Not only can everyone walk up and down that chain from tactical moves to strategic projects to fundamental purpose and back again, they do it constantly. This makes the organization more effective because tactical actors keep the whole system aligned ... and they need less supervision to do it, freeing up executive attention for doing the work they need to do.
Breaks in this chain test the culture.
In truly purpose-driven organizations people will talk about a break constantly, with the expectation that fixing it matters more than the proximate work in front of them, since the fix must necessarily transform their tactical work.
In organizations without a true commitment to their purpose, people avoid talking about a break between purpose and tactics. Talking about these ruptures becomes politically dangerous, regarded as “distractions from the task at hand”.
That does not mean that every project in a purpose-driven organization must have some kind of perfect conception. People sometimes say, “Yes, we are neglecting the important principle X in service of the urgent need for Y.” But it is not only safe to say that in the organization, it is encouraged, because a purpose-driven organization makes its necessary compromises with its eyes open in order to ensure that those necessary compromises really are necessary.
This a deep organizational culture question. Having a purpose and talking about it isn't enough; you need a cultural commitment to talking about how it connects to everything you do.
And culture is hard to address.
When I was in consulting, I lost count of the number of companies I worked with who worried about keeping their culture as they grew. And I would always tell them, “That's not your problem. What will happen as you grow is you will discover what your culture really is, not what you have told yourself it is. As you get bigger, what will get harder is not keeping that culture, but changing it ....”
David “The Wire” Simon explains in a comment on his blog responding to the question, “ I’m curious to hear your thoughts regarding the Koch’s play for the Tribune company.”
First, the locally-owned newspapers went to the publicly-traded newspaper chains, which promised economies of scale and great wealth to the owning families at the point of sale, as well as the preservation of editorial independence. It was a lie.
Then the chains went to Wall Street, where analysts who only measure the health and purpose of any endeavor in terms of short-term, quarterly profits, demanded greater mediocrity long before the internet arrived to pressure the industry. The analysts promised greater profits than ever before. In the end, they lied and diminished the product just in time for digitization.
Then the newspapers went to the internet hat in hand, afraid to charge for their weakened, eviscerated product and hoping against hope that giving the news report away for free would somehow encourage a revenue stream. The mavens of new media lied.
And now, those end-game capitalists who will not be content until nothing — no societal need, no communal ambition, no other American ideal save for maximized profit — is left standing. They , will buy up the gutted newspaper carcasses, so that they can lie on a scale that makes all the previous dishonesty a trifle. They will regard what remains of the news report merely as a platform to advance themselves and their capital, just as they regard the political system as such.
Once and forever, capitalism is a worthy tool and a necessary one for creating mass wealth, but as to the distribution and uses of that wealth within a society? No, capitalism is not a metric for anything but profit itself. This is the lie at the core of free-market ideology and libertarianism. And free markets are never the whole or complete answer when addressing any societal goal, compact or responsibility. It’s easy to make money when all you give a fuck about is making money, to invoke Orson Welles. And the Koch brothers and others of their kind wish to build a society that does little but transfer wealth to a select few while obliterating any other ambition for American society. If newspapers can help them secure that future, so be it.
But journalism in those cities where they own the daily newspaper and its digitized versions will be crippled until alternative news sources are developed by independent, professional journalists.
What do you call it when capital has purchased not only government, but all plausible means to criticize governance? A prelude to fascism.
So I guess scandal season is upon us, as once again Republicans try to disrupt a Democratic President's electoral victory through a combination of legal action and press manipulation. Benghazi has been a big success with the Republican base and a nonstarter with anyone else because there's just no there there; like a lot of lefties, I cannot even tell what the scandal is supposed to be on that one. The Department of Justice getting Associated Press journalists' phone records, on the other hand, is a legitimate scandal that I'm upset about. I expect to post about again, but it hasn't quite caught fire yet, in part because it's a continuation of the ongoing development imperial executive in the name of national security which has been an uninterrupted process whichever party has held power.
Then there's this IRS thing. That one's legitimate but not actually all that big a deal; hence “mini-scandal”. I have a couple of helpful commentaries.
The first is from the Rude Pundit, who lays out what obviously happened.
Look, we know how this went down: Post-Citizens United, the Internal Revenue Service was flooded with applications for tax-exempt status for whatever organization a couple of fucksacks with a tricorner hat wanted to start. “Social welfare” groups, they were called, and they could not be involved with specific political candidates or advocacy (although, you know, c'mon). So the IRS told its low-level drones who had to look at all the fucksack applications to flag ones that looked hinky. So the low-level drones, who are overworked to begin with because Congress won't give the IRS the funding it needs to do its fucking job, used some search terms.
It's 2010 and who are the fucksacks who are everywhere? The “Tea Party” groups. So, sure, fine, let's fuckin’ search that. Low-level drone 1 tells low-level drone 2 (and for god's sake, they live in the dull, dull, boring, dull city of Cincinnati, so give ’em a little break), “Hey, just use ‘Patriot’ as a search term and you'll get your job done faster because if there's one thing we know, it's that a whole bunch of these applications are from crazed fucksacks applying for tax-exempt status because they hate them that black guy in office.” Low-level drone 2 might have said, “Oh, shit, that'll get us in trouble.” But low-level drone 1 had a convincing argument by saying, “You wanna get to the bar sooner?” By the way, chances are that LLD 1 and LLD 2 have been LLDs forever, under at least one GOP president.
Does this narrative need to be completed?
Digby offers a quote from Josh Micah Marshall which explains why this trivial thing is such a big thing.
If you wanted create a scandal to have maximal appeal to GOP base freakout, this is it. And it has the additional advantage of not creating the same sort of off-putting crazy as hitting other bugaboos beloved by base Republicans. It’s not about Obama’s ties to the Muslim brotherhood or his foreign birth. It’s about taxes, something everyone has an experience with and understands. And it’s at least rooted in something that’s true. Something really did happen. And it’s not good. It shouldn’t happen. It even has unexpected knock-on effects like the IRS’s supposed connection to the dreaded ‘Obamacare’.
So I go to see Iron Man 3 and there are a bunch of action movie trailers before the movie starts. Including this one for White House Down. I want to say something serious about it.
Hang on a second before you watch that trailer. I'd already seen an earlier trailer, cut rather differently, playing up the classic Bruckheimer stuff: explosions, crowds of people running, explosions, the US military's expensive toys, explosions, famous landmarks, and explosions. Since Independence Day opened big on the strength of an effects shot of aliens blowing up the White House, here we get the White House and the Capitol Building on fire. Jerry Bruckheimer and Roland Emmerich sure know how to hook a certain deep part of the American id.
The newer trailer, which I posted above, is more character-driven. We meet Channing Tatum as the big dumb lunk who's going to have to save the day, a failure who will be redeemed by his standing up as a hero when his moment comes. Add some rifles and terrorists and running around in corridors and our hero wearing an A-Shirt with a few scratches on his face and we've got the Die Hard formula: it's Die Hard in the White House, a perfect set-up for a big dumb action movie.
And then we meet his co-star, Jamie Foxx, who will be his action-comedy buddy, a reluctant hero who has to overcome his discomfort with violence to pick up a gun and save the day. Check them out. Does Foxx look like a dapper badass or what?
Foxx is the brains of this team, right? Of course, because This Is America, that just means that he has a lot to learn from the big dumb lunk. Still, remember that back when Emmerich did this in Independence Day, to have Will Smith as the hero we needed to give him a Jewish sidekick to figure out the brainy stuff, because racism with racism sauce. So this is progress, sort of.
Foxx is the smart one in a nice suit because he's playing the President of the United States, following in the footsteps of Action Hero President Harrison Ford from Air Force One. Because Obama. Now I don't want to be one of those White guys who's all now that Obama is President racism in America is totally solved because obviously not. But. Something's happening here.
And I cannot help but notice that the image of a black guy running around the White House with a gun ... because he's Action Hero President ... is quoting one of the most powerful propaganda images of the 20th century.
What do you want to bet that there's a shot in this movie which mirrors that photo exactly?
We've gone from the same image signifying Malcolm X deliberately stepping into the role of White fears of Black political violence to it signifying we need a heroic Black leader with a gun to save America.
God bless America.
Driftglass offers a thumbnail sketch of paranoia and deceit entangled in pseudo-libertarian politics.
For them, the world makes only makes sense as a Philip Dick novel in which everything the government does at virtually every level is suffused with monstrous intentions and dark designs. For them, the world is The Matrix: a massive scam built on top of a web of far-reaching and apparently infinite number of conspiracies in which everyone who is not 100% on their side is either a co-conspirator or a somnolent dupe.
Of course, when the mundane realities of the business of government — even government during a crisis — falls short of proving their specific brand of vast and terrible plots, they have to back-fill or pave over all bits that don't fit — all the chuckholes and logic-chasms and tire-shredding facts — with, well, bullshit.
He provides a tidy example in the form of a clip about Rand & Ron Paul.
Another item for the “Naomi Wolf is not too bright” file: she's allowed LewRockwell.com to post several articles of hers.
Lew Rockwell is almost certainly the author of Ron Paul's old racist newsletter and his site is a hotbed of goofy crackpottery, predictions that a civil war is coming when the government sends former gang members to confiscate our guns and put us in FEMA concentration camps, and other craziness. No responsible person should allow their byline under his masthead.
Andrew O'Hehir has an good screed in Salon, How Boston exposes America’s dark post-9/11 bargain, which says that the events around the Boston bombing indict pretty much every sector of the Republic as having failed in the wake of 9/11: the press, the government, the commentariat, the polity, the whole thing. Not anything anyone who's reading me doesn't know, but still: a good screed. So check it out.
I want to focus on how, near the end, this jumped out at me:
In America after 9/11, we made a deal with the devil, or with Dick Cheney, which is much the same thing.
The supposed tradeoff for that sacrifice was that we would be protected, at least for a while, from the political violence and terrorism and low-level warfare that is nearly an everyday occurrence in many parts of the world. According to the Afghan government, for example, a NATO air attack on April 6 killed 17 civilians in Kunar province, 12 of them children. We’ve heard almost nothing about that on this side of the world, partly because the United States military has not yet admitted that it even happened. But it’s not entirely fair to suggest that Americans think one kid killed by a bomb in Boston is worth more than 12 kids killed in Afghanistan. It’s more that we live in a profoundly asymmetrical world, and the dead child in Boston is surprising in a way any number of dead children in Afghanistan, horrifyingly enough, are not. He lived in a protected zone, after all, a place that was supposed to be sealed off from history, isolated from the blood and turmoil of the world. But of course that was a lie.
Well of course it was a lie. Again, not anything anyone who's reading me doesn't know.
But while I understand why O'Hehir is saying that Americans don't really think our children's lives are more important than other children's lives, we sure act like it. And that reminded me of a blog post from Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous that I've been meaning to blog about, Hey, White Liberals: A Word On The Boston Bombings, The Suffering Of White Children, And The Erosion of Empathy.
Your constant prioritization of the lives of white people over the lives of people of color is taking a serious toll on my psyche and those of many in my community. And by that I don't mean what you might expect. Most of us already know that racism and its BFF white privilege have detrimental effects on people of color. Racial oppression leads to any number of unhealthy conditions, including high blood pressure, depression, heart disease, diabetes and even asthma. But what I’m talking about is something different. Something I’m going to call DSWP: desensitization to the suffering of white people.
O'Hehir is nosing around the foothills of that mountain whose slopes McKenzie is climbing — because after all, when he says “Americans” he's mostly talking about a mediasphere of White people — and I have to admit that there are moments where I feel like I'm drifting toward the altitude where McKenzie finds herself with the DSWP. White people beating their breasts about their misfortunes is starting to feel very, very unseemly to me ... and I am a White person.
This means that this is an even worse moment for the Republic than O'Hehir says, does it not?
These words were published by a well-known radical feminist in 1974. (Note that at that time, “transsexual” was used where today one would more politely use “transgender”.)
There is no doubt that in the culture of male-female discreteness, transsexuality is a disaster for the individual transsexual. Every transsexual, white, black, man, woman, rich, poor, is in a state of primary emergency as a transsexual. There are 3 crucial points here.
One, every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms. That means every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions. This is an emergency measure for an emergency condition.
Two, by changing our premises about men and women, role-playing and polarity, the social situation of transsexuals will be transformed, and transsexuals will be integrated into community, no longer persecuted and despised.
Three, community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disppear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.
Can you guess who? Seriously, guess. Then go see; there's more.
I keep referencing this cartoon and having to track it down again, so I'm posting a copy of it here for my convenience. It makes the point beautifully.
At the Climate Summit we see a man giving a presentation, showing a slide saying:
An angry man in the audience asks, “What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?”
- Energy independence
- Preserve rainforests
- Green jobs
- Livable cities
- Clean water, air
- Healthy children
- etc., etc.
I don't know if this story is true, but I know that it's plausible.
I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women's rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.
But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of “nonconsensual sex” that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.....
On today's college campuses, neither “beyond a reasonable doubt,” nor even the lesser “by clear and convincing evidence” standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.
These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as “a preponderance of the evidence.”
It's trivial to notice that the criminal justice is horrifically ineffective in protecting women from nonconsensual sex, largely through dismissiveness about women attesting to their experience. But a standard which assumes that women would never lie is terrifying.
In a discussion of this story on Facebook, a male friend observes
Women have tremendous power over men.
I replied at length.
On balance, men as a class still have power over women. It's categorically less skewed than it was fifty years ago, but the bottom line is unmistakable: society advantages men and disadvantages women.
But this is the sum of a system of injustice which also creates meaningful injustices for men. I think we can recognize that the injustices against women are categorically greater while still objecting that the injustices against men need correcting. (Indeed, because these are interlocking systems, I suspect that one cannot fully correct the injustices women experience without also attending to the injustices that men experience.)
The model of the civil rights movement against racism adopted by feminist rhetoric proves misleading in this respect. Racism doesn't have significant injustices which cut the other way, but sexism does.
And the forms of power women have over men are largely threats that men face from extraordinarily unscrupulous women exploiting systems that serve typical women. This is very different from the way that injustices women encounter come from the exercise of power by typical men unconscious of the effect that they are having.
The flawed analogy to racism, the overall condition that women are treated less well by society, and the power that women do hold over men being largely a threat from atypical women makes men's vulnerability to the operations of power from women invisible to most women.
The story I linked is an example of a form of power that women don't notice because it would not occur to them that it could be used for ill. Women's sphere of experience is the pervasive threat of being coerced into sex through social pressures and violence. Saying that women making false accusations of rape is a threat to men sounds absurd to them, like a denial of the very real rapes that happen horrifyingly routinely.
But men have commonly had the experience of an encounter with a woman who was more unscrupulous than they realized at first and think to themselves, there but for the grace of God ....