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Ain't it pretty?

Ain't it pretty?

Did you hear the news? About the stars? You know, those people we look up to and can’t wait to read about. Yes… The “stars”.

Okay, maybe not those stars. I mean the stars of Wall Street. The beautiful people on the cover of the Wall Street Journal and Business Week. Or at least somewhere on the pages in the middle. Not really a typical centrefold but still… You see, the stars are leaving the big banks and financial houses. It looks like they are leaving in the droves. Moving on to smaller investment firms still trying to make a name for itself. The “Stars” of Wall Street. Now moving on to “bigger and better things”.

Stars? Why? Because they made loads before they… hum… messed up. Just like most celebrities in the world we live in today – these stars are fake stars. Famous for just being famous. Rich for just being rich. Privileged for just being privileged.

How did they make their money? Risk… Nothing wrong with risk but it gets out of control if there is no one to check their behaviour or nothing to prevent them from crashing and burning. And taking everything in their path down with them.

Again, just like the celebrities of today. Clickity-click-click. You’re famous. Flash us some naughty bits. Or a risky deal. We love that. You’re such a star! You made the front page of People. Great… For what? For being an idiot with behavioural problems? For being the new “It Girl” or “Hawt Guy” (Sorry Paris)? Plastic lives. We look at these fake celebrities and call them plastic. Well… These Wall Street celebs knows a lot about plastic… Drive the risk high enough and go into debt and more debt. Gamble and skim a bit off the top for yourself as no one is checking while you go wild. And we’re left with some hot plastic in our hands. And not a loan in sight to cover the burns.

But they are just like the plastic celebs. They were/are a one pony trick. Risk? Actually no…

It wasn’t risk that drove them wild. Anyone with half a decent ambition will face risk and take a few risks. The problem was that they took risk without any fear of failure. Or a few rules to keep them in check. Or a threat that might come back to haunt them. “Here, have some money and then some more. You’ll never fail. At least not fail big enough…” Nothing to cover us if they failed. A bit like paying a celeb a huge sum of money to be in some B-rated movie and hope you will score big. But we know for every Titanic there is Waterworld ready to sink.

And anyway… Like “real celeb stars” they don’t want to take the responsibility of failure but happy to take it if the movie makes a mint. I don’t get it. The market runs wild and everyone is smoking cigars and drinking Cristal. And they throw money at the “stars”. But was it the market or was it the “star”? Because these same people were behind the wheel when it all came crashing down… But they didn’t want to take the breathalyzer test when they got caught driving under the influence of power… Can you dig that?

But the small firms are a bit like those cool indy films. The “stars” go to them to get some “legit”. But it is still a crap movie with a fancy name and a plot no one understands. So we felt stupid and hide our insecurities by calling it brilliant. Same with the Wall Street “stars”. They still do the same old same old crap and still have no clue what they are doing. But a fancy name for the investment firm and a sweet smell of selling of snake oil investments makes them “brilliant”. Because we are the idiots who don’t understand what they do and hide our stupidity by calling them “stars”. Puh-leeze… We have a cat who eats too much each day and throws up afterwards. I don’t understand that cat. But I do know that the cat is still pretty stupid for doing it every single day. The same thing over and over. But it’s in its nature I guess. It doesn’t know better…

So these stars are running from Wall Street. Please don’t mind me if I don’t look that worried. Or that I don’t care too much about them leaving. Maybe they can close the door on their way out. I’ll walk across the road and buy myself a Starbucks, wearing my Levi jeans and Timberland boots. Shop at Wal-Mart and drive my Ford. I’ll put my money on things that I can touch. Stuff I can feel. Stuff I can take back if it doesn’t work. Yes, I’ll take my chances on the real thing.

The King is dead. Long live the King!

Look up at the stars tonight. I love shooting stars…

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cherry

This will be short…

I was on a new business pitch with our team this week. Or as we call it in “agency speak” – new biz. Down in New York. It was fun. Great company. But more importantly, an absolutely great team from our side. It’s always fun going with our team. I always laugh my ass off at the craziness going on once they get started. I wish you could meet the people I work with. Just an absolutely brilliant bunch of people. Not only do they know their shit, but they are some of the funniest and most dedicated people you will ever meet. They want to change the world, but they want to have fun doing it.

Let me you give an idea of how close we all are. We always say that we know you can do the job once we ask you to come in for a “chat”. But the biggest thing for us is whether you can handle being part of us. Passion, humor and just generally great people – fitting in with our culture is most likely the single most important reason for our success. We work closely together and you need to laugh and poke fun or else you will never make it here. Really, I have never experienced it anywhere else where I have worked. Every place had a great work ethic and did the work because we want to change the world. But over here we want to have fun as well. Not fake fun – real fun where you can speak your mind and tell a joke at the same time. Argh! I can’t even explain it to you. Just trust me – it’s a fun place to be in so many ways.

And it start at the top. We have one crazy CEO. I’ll tell you about him at some other time. But let me just say that when I was still talking to them about joining “the firm” he first took me to a fancy restaurant for a steak and right after that took me to a real bar where all the local Red Sox fans hang out. And some of the stories he told me and words he used made me realize this is one weirdly excellent and different place. And our Chair(wo)man. She started this place. She is the guru in my line of work. She did this when everyone else was still picking their noses. And you know what? You wouldn’t know it if you met her. So many gurus have big heads and are full of themselves, but not our guru. She’ll pop in and just have a chat about my kids or politics or whatever. And we all argue like hell. We are strong willed people who want to make a difference. But we respect and like each other. From every single level. That’s our crazy gang over here.

But back to my story…

So we were all in a cab heading back to the airport on our way home. Laughing and joking. And Mrs T told us that our first meeting with this potential client was the first new business pitch for one of our gang members. Let’s just call her “Jess” for now. So Mrs T said that right after that first meeting Jess told her this – the best one-liner I have heard in a very, very long time… If not ever.

“I just popped my new biz cherry”.

Yeah. We all pissed ourselves laughing. Our CEO was in the cab. And he egged me on to put this on the blog. As if I needed any encouragement…

Jess, thanks for that – And congratulations on getting engaged. I hope it had nothing to do with you and the cherry popping…

Seriously though, may your love be as strong and full and perfect as what I have with my lovely suffering wife…

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This post was inspired by Monroe Anderson (I still can’t believe that he reads my blog. I am not worth the crossing of his t’s. He is the man.)

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The first shop I went to when we landed here in the US two years ago was a convenience store just down the road from us. It’s called Honey Farms. Just your run-of-the-mill convenience store like a 7-Eleven. Nothing much. Bread, milk, cigarettes, Coke and chocolates. Everything I need to get through the day if pushed. That’s where I met them. The people working at Honey Farms.

The first guy I met was this old guy that must been at least 65 in the shade. But still in excellent shape. He cycles to work and back. We just called him ‘the old guy’. My lovely wife knew who I was talking about whenever I told her I had a chat with the old guy at Honey Farms. He was the first American I had a just a normal general chat with. Good guy. Exceptionally good guy.

It started off like any normal chat for us foreigners over here in smaller towns. The accent. He loved my wife’s accent. Called it “the Queen’s English”. Well, she does have a pretty good English accent even though she is South African. He made her talk just so he could listen to her accent. And then he will just be like a little kid and be all giddy. And tell all the other customers to listen to her speak. Yes, I think he had a bit of a crush on her.

I didn’t get the same treatment. But then, my accent is a bit more harsh. Less exotic, more farmer. But what can you do? We did have many good chats – me and the old guy from Honey Farms. Anything really – and he was as funny as hell.

Whenever I bought my cigarettes he would offer me “free” matches. And he used to say that they are so committed to customer service that they are happy to replace the matches if I am unhappy with them at any time. Yes, they were free to start off with.

Or the time I walked in and asked if they had dish washing liquid or tablets for the dishwasher. He made a huge scene claiming that they have the best dishwasher liquid in the whole of downtown Natick – if not in greater downtown Natick. (You can’t buy or find it anywhere else in downtown Natick.) He went to tell me how good this dishwasher liquid is. His wife swears by it. And he has never had a customer come back to say it didn’t do the job. With a smile I asked him if he has ever used it. He shook his head and said no. Never used the stuff. He still washes his dishes by hand. And then laughed a bit more. Both of us.

Yeah, he was a funny guy. Always something funny to say or a smart comment to make me leave with a smile.

But it always bugged me. Why is he still working when he should be taking it easy? When he should be retired. So I asked him. I asked him why is he still working. And he stared at me for a little while. And then just uttered a simple little concept…

“healthcare…”

“Why healthcare”, I asked. Simple, he needs to be covered if something happens to him or his wife. Especially in their old age. And he needs the extra money to pay for it. As security for when they really need it. The government will help but it might not be enough. In his old age he has to worry about that. He never had to worry about it when he was covered when he was young and healthy and looked after.

He also told me that he got his daughter a job at Honey Farms. But that he had to make her stop working there and found her another job. He was worried about her safety. When she worked the late shift. When some of the rougher and drunker guys came around. Nothing ever happened. But it wasn’t good for her to be exposed. It was good enough for the old man, but not good enough for his daughter.

He left my Honey Farms a few months back. He got a better offer to actually run a Honey Farms in the town next to ours. We still walk into each other now and again. And we still have our chats then. He still makes me laugh. And he still cycles to work.

Actually, he is doing more than that. One of the many discussions we had was about American addiction to cars. Hell, people will drive 200 yards to Honey Farms to buy their stuff. But more than that, single drivers keep on driving to work and back or to downtown Natick on a beautiful day when they could be walking. It bugged him. And he decided to do something about it. A campaign. A campaign to get Natick people to cycle more.

This old man decided to do it on his own. He got a plan together that we spoke about a few times. And he took it to the local authorities to get their backing. And convinced them to support him. Not with money. But with communications – posters, notices, free bicycles etc. And off he went. His “cycle more” campaign. Good for traffic and good for your health. This old man that should be retired did it because it bugged him. Never made a cent out of it. It was all about getting people out of their cars and start cycling when they go to downtown Natick. Yep, he was an activist in his own way.

I really liked him. Still do.

He is America for me. Him and the other people I have met at Honey Farms. The other slightly less old guy who knows everything anybody ever wants to know about the history of coins – American coins. Or the gay middle aged woman who suffers from depression. Or the woman whose kids always come to visit her when she works the late shift on a weekend. Or the young black kid from the wrong side of Natick that is taking extra jobs to stay out of trouble and build himself a future. All of them. They have been America to me. Proud. Strong. Easy to talk to. Friendly as hell.

Yes, they might not know as much of the world as what the world knows of them, but these people are good decent people that I would be happy to call my own. I can see in their eyes why America is great. Because they are great people.

So why am I telling you this? Why is this even important? I’ll tell you why…

…McCain and taxes…

What?

Yep, McCain and taxes. McCain is attacking Obama for wanting to raise the taxes of the wealthiest of Americans. One key line of argument from McCain is that the top 1% of Americans will pay almost 35% of American taxes under the Obama plan. That just doesn’t sound right. That is just unfair. It isn’t just. Why should 1% pay so much of the taxes? Well… Because that same 1% also own almost 35% of America’s net worth. That’s why. Mr McCain.

If you own 35% then it makes perfect sense that 35% of the taxes will come from you. Easy economics. Not socialism. Just easy economics.

And before I forget. Just 10% of the population owns 71% of America’s wealth… I expect that 10% to pay 71% of the taxes…

I won’t even mention that “in a survey of 120 major cities, New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable “alert” line used to warn governments”. I won’t go into that. Just saying that the distribution of wealth in America is beyond unfair. It ranks with the most unjust systems in the world…

Tell me why should the wealthiest not pay according to the share of wealth they have? Are they better than the old guy from Honey Farms? Do they mean more to America than the Honey Farms people? I don’t think that either group means more to America than the other. Or at least, I don’t believe that either group should mean more to America. CEO’s can be replaced as easily as the guy in Honey Farms. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. I work with CEO’s of some of the biggest American companies out there today. The biggest of the biggest. The best of the best. Make no mistake… I can count on my one hand how many of them are truly irreplaceable. And they generally earn a sh*tload of money. Way more than their counterparts from the rest of the world.

I get it that they earn more. I have no problem there. Maybe I have a problem with the extremes of what they earn, but I do get that they should earn a nice package to keep them in the job. But they are not more American than the old guy from Honey Farms. That much I know.

He has worked his backside off for this country. Never moaned. Never bitched. Never complained. When they ask him to serve he serves. When they ask him to sacrifice he sacrifices. He, and everyone else at Honey Farms, are the backbone of this country as much as what the CEO is. Without him there is no America. America is not a country of CEO’s. America is a country of Americans. And everyone should pay their share of being able to call themselves American. The old guy paid his dues. Through sweat and taxes. Even today in his old age. He kept that CEO in his job. Buying his stuff and protecting his rights. The CEO can afford to pay more taxes so that the old guy doesn’t have to work in his old age. Or that the woman suffering from depression can get good help even though she can’t afford it. She works her butt off. Each and every day. She doesn’t sit back and do nothing. She contributes. She pays taxes. According to what she can. Her share. Even though her share of the American wealth is nothing compared to the CEO. We can’t expect him to let it “trickle down”. It won’t. It never has. It’s a fallacy that Reagan tried to sell and we now know it doesn’t work. Mr CEO doesn’t buy from Honey Farms.

One more thing… Patriotism.

Conservative Republicans keep on saying that the American companies will take their business elsewhere if they don’t get the “breaks”. Can we then please question the patriotism of these companies? Who are they? Let’s all stop buying from them if they hate America so much. They made their money off the back of American sweat and American consumers. And now they want to leave? They made their American Dream come true through the hard work and money of other Americans. They made their American Dream off the back and sweat and hard earned cash of those Americans who defines the true American Dream – freedom, justice and liberty without the money attached. Let’s leave them alone if they don’t show the same commitment to America as the old guy from Honey Farms.

I like my old guy from Honey Farms. I like everyone who works at Honey Farms. They taught me about America. Not the CEO and his buddies that I have known for many years. They are also Americans. But they are not America. It was Honey Farms that made me realize what America is all about. The spirit. The belief. The patriotism. The people.

I earn more than the guy at Honey Farms. Way more. I don’t earn $250,000 p.a. (Not yet!) But I am willing to pay a little more to make sure that the old guy from Honey Farms can just ride his bicycle and not worry about the cost of his healthcare. He is America and I am willing to do what it takes to make that work. I am willing to pay my share according to the share I own and earn. That should be the American way.

Dear John,

I know we haven’t spoken for a while. Not since I broke up with you a few months ago. You remember my Dear John letter? Did you even get it? Very rude of you not to write back. I mean really. Did you have to take breaking-up so seriously? Live with it John. It’s over between the two of us. But I thought we could still be friends… Not that I missed you or anything. Puh-leeze… I need you like I need another 100 years of war.

What have you been up to? No, don’t answer. I don’t really want to hear. I see and hear enough on telly. You are seriously messing up my Lost and Raising The Bar time. Talking about Lost, how’s the election going? That Obama dude is really Raising The Bar isn’t he. The audacity of the man. To actually stand for something. And something good as well. I know, it is just not on in politics. But hey, what can you do?

But I am here to help John. Wait! Really, I have a few tips for you. (Just ask Sarah, I gave her a few tips as well.) Things you can use as you try and scare enough people to vote for you. Trust me, it comes from the deepest part of my heart. You know, that part that belongs to only you. The deepest and darkest part. I give you these tips in the hope that you could use them as you move along in your life outside of politics. I mean as you move along to retirement.

Missus in a bottle...

Missus in a bottle...

1. Having a beer woman on your side gets you no points if you don’t share.

Come on John. Didn’t you learn anything from Barney they Dinosaur?  Remember what he said? “Sharing is a special way of caring?” Not sharing isn’t very nice you know. Do you know that people voted for Bush because they think he is the kinda guy they would like to have a beer with? I know, it shouldn’t really be a criteria for who you want to run the country. But hey, what are you going to do? You get what you voted for. But you can learn from this. These people don’t really care about wars and money and stuff. So don’t worry about trying to figure that one out. If you don’t have it or get it by now you really shouldn’t bother. But dude! You have a babe with over $100 million worth of beers on your side! Not fair for not sharing. Why don’t you just promise a free round for everyone? No! Not a free round of more wars you idiot. A free round of beers! Hell, people are losing their homes and the kids are fighting a stupid war in Iraq – They could do with a drink you know. Come on John, ask Cindy for a few beers to share around. I would take one as well. You know, to drown my sorrows if you win. It might just make me forget.

2. Flip-flops are shoes and not a policy.

Summer is almost over dude. You have to get rid of the flip-flops. Both. Yes, the shoes and the policies. I mean really. The shoes are only good for one season but the policies… They come back to bite you in the ass for years to come. Oh, you can have more than one pair of flip-flop shoes, but you should really try to stick to one set of policies. Treat it like you would treat your wife. Have one and stick to her. Oh wait… Sorry… But on the policy front. Pick a policy and stick to one. I don’t care what it is, just make up your mind. Sooner or later people will start noticing the closer we get to winter. And they will realize you still have your flip-flops on. But then, I guess it is better than thongs. The shoes and the underwear.

3. A chick that smiles at you isn’t always hot or a running mate.

Dude! Nice one! I see you got a chick to run with you. Unfortunately she wasn’t running away with you. Or even away from you. That would have been so much easier. But man, you gotta learn. Even at your old age. Not every girl you meet that smiles at you has got the hots for you. Or should be your running mate. Look she isn’t hot. And I don’t just mean her looks. I mean her baggage. All those rumors up there in Alaska. The firing of the Commissioner. The debt she left behind in that little town. She’s a bit lightweight isn’t she? Or as we would call it in South Africa – wet behind the ears. And she might be foreign to mainland US or far off or spaced out, but it doesn’t give her foreign policy experience. What the hell do you think Putin is going to do with her? Hey, he is second in command over there in Russia you know. Doesn’t quite compare now does she? I hear he loves barracuda for breakfast. Sorry John. You’ve been had. She isn’t hot – no matter which way you look at it. But at least you have something in common I guess. You both love flip-flops.

4. Hugging a man does not make you gay. Just stupid.

Come on John. Be honest with us here. You have a man-crush on him don’t you? I saw that look in your eyes. That big hug with your head resting on his shoulder. A sweet whisper in his hear. A brush of the cheeks. It made you feel all giddy didn’t it? It made you feel all warm inside. But don’t confuse that with love John. It isn’t love. It’s envy. You are just envious that a little man that couldn’t run a baseball team to save his life beat you back then, aren’t you? And that he started a senseless war before you could, aren’t you? And that he became the worse President before you could ruin it, aren’t you? I know John. It is difficult to take. But you don’t have to become him or love him to be your own man. Come on. You are a big boy now. You just look stupid trying to be a Little Dubya II. But you two sure look nice in that hug. Twins almost. I could hardly tell you apart. Almost like your policies. Ever seen the movie Dumb and Dumber, John?

I love your wars big fella

I love your wars big fella

5. John, you are not del.icio.us. DiggIt?

I know you are trying to be all cool and hip. But really, it isn’t working that well. You gotta get with it John. I know you don’t get “the Internets” and all that computer stuff. But you are not helping yourself here. Email has nothing to do with she-males from Taiwan. They are similar in that they can deliver a message. But it is a message we should rather not go into. And MySpace isn’t the Reagan space programme. FaceBook isn’t about you being on the cover of “Guns Daily”. Digg isn’t an oil policy. StumbleUpon isn’t the way to get a foreign policy or any policy for that matter. MicroSoft isn’t something that can be fixed by Viagra. iPod isn’t something used to escape from the Starship Enterprise (that’s fictional by the way). Apple isn’t what the doctor told you to have. HP isn’t a sauce for you meat. Del.icio.us isn’t Sarah Palin’s vetting process. LinkedIn isn’t about your relationship with Dubya. RSS Feed isn’t an official aid policy. TreeHugger isn’t a Gore family member (well, not really). FeedBurner is not about GM crops. Spock does not know Captain Kirk. PayPal is not a donor. And Twitter is not for the birds. But okay, you might be a Twit.

6. Say after me, “P” in POTUS stands for President.

It’s easy, I taught my kids to spell this way. Say after me… P.O.T.U.S. stands for President Of The United States. You knew that’s POTUS stood for that right? No, not POT-ASS. That’s something else. It stands for PRESIDENT of the United States. I know it is a big surprise. But there you have it. I didn’t make the rules. It does not stand for Pandering OR The Ultimate Sell-out. Or even Pathetic Overtures That Ultimately Suck. No-no, John. It actually means you have to have the balls to run this country. You can’t pander just to try and become President. You actually have to stand for something other than just becoming POTUS. Look at what happened the last time you went for the “Don’t-Know” option. Endless wars and an economy that is tanking. And you are owned by China and the Middle-East. Balls please John. Or else you will make the US into Please, Our Time’s Up Sir. How low can you take it John? We are pretty rock-bottom as we speak. And do remember that the POTUS is also FOR the United States. Not for McCain. There is no J or M in POTUS. You should do it for the country and not for yourself. You should want to be President for and of the US and not just to be called President McCain. So don’t just say anything to become President. Rather say something “just” to become President. Hum… that last “just” is like in righteous or truthful. We get it from a little word that might be foreign to you – justice. This isn’t about you wanting to be President. This is about being the President Of The United States. Putting yourself first is not what America needs. Putting America first is what America needs.

7. The comb-over is not even old school.

I know you are trying hard. Hard to be one of the cool boys. But that hair just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in the same way that you weak attempts at telling us nothing about yourself doesn’t work. No matter which way you comb it. You can brush it to the left or brush it to the right. We still know that it is a comb-over. Like we know you are anti-sex education, anti-choice, anti-peace and anti-everything in line with more of a typical Republican right-winger. It remains a comb-over and it sucked even in the 70s. But I guess it doesn’t suck as much as your policies and the party you stand for. Your comb-over isn’t “old school”. But your politics are old school. Straight from the books back then in the 60s (and even today) – control through fear. Shave your head McCain. It might look a bit cooler. Or hang your head in shame McCain and realize that people have freedom today. Of speech. Of choice. And of self.

8. Only Texans make more sense when speaking louder.

I have seen it before. People from Texas start speaking louder the further they get away from Texas. They have “Texan logic” to back-up their claim that people from a foreign country, like Massachusetts or France, will understand them better if they speak louder. But you are not Texan my friend. You don’t make more sense the louder you speak. You just create more white noise. A lie is a lie no matter how loud you say it. No matter how many times you say it. A lie remains a lie. No. Matter. How. Many. Times. You. Say. It. Take it from me. Slow down, speak softly and tell the truth. Like the fact that your tax proposal will actually increase the taxes I pay. And that you stand for… Hum… What do you stand for again?

9. Kool-Aid can be bad for your health.

I know you used to drink this stuff when you were a kid. But hey, we didn’t know about the problems with smoking or big fat hamburgers back then either. Kool-Aid is bad for you John. You shouldn’t drink it. The Kool-Aid that the economy is just fine. Don’t drink it John. And don’t sell it at your lemonade stand either. Or would that be a soap box? That Kool-Aid that drilling would make you energy independent. Don’t drink it John. Bad for your health. And bad for the health of the economy. That Kool-Aid that Iraq is doing just fine. Don’t drink it John. It’s not Disney you know. It’s Baghdad where the bombs still go off daily. Remember that walk in the market? Did you see they didn’t sell Kool-Aid? It’s because of the 100 troops on the ground, gunships in the air and armored vehicles on the roads that kept you in fresh Kool-Aid. That Kool-Aid should be left alone John. It’s no good for you and no good for America. And no thank, I don’t want any.

10. Please don’t scare the kids.

Last thing John. You really shouldn’t scare the children. You know how easily they scare. How easily they fill up with fear. Not nice John. Not nice at all. You should really let them grow up a bit. Let them decide for themselves. Tell them the truth. Tell them they are old enough to stand on their own two legs. I mean really. They aren’t even kids anymore. They are grown ups. Maybe you should share some truths with them. Tell them that America is a powerful nation. Tell them that America stands for something good. Tell them that not everyone hates America. Tell them that it is better to love as Americans than to hate as a world. Tell them it is better to talk first as America than to bomb first in the name of America. Tell them there are no monsters under their beds. Tell them that you might not know the future but that you stand for more than being anti-everything-Obama-says. Tell them that Obama was right about the withdrawel date in Iraq. Tell them that they will pay more taxes under you than under Obama. Tell them that you made a mistake in your first big decision by nominating Palin as your running mate. Tell them that you voted for the scary monster under the bed 90% of the time while he has been in the office. Tell them that your oil policies won’t get America an inch closer to energy independence. Tell them that you love big oil and anyone else who are willing to fund your run at the White House. Tell them that your senior advisers are all big lobbyist from DC and that they run your campaign. Tell them that you don’t need universal healthcare because you can afford you own private healthcare. Tell them you aren’t one of them because you are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Tell them you don’t worry about them losing their house because you have 7… 10… 12… Who knows and who is counting? Tell them that gas prices will remain high as hell as long as you sit in your big fat SUV with your big fat ego. Tell them that you will strip the forests to make sure that you have more paper to write your memoirs of pain. Tell them that you will continue to torture people in their name. Tell them that you want them to be at war for at least a 100 years and that they will suffer the consequences long after you are gone. Tell them who you are John. Tell them the truth. But then… Maybe not… Because that would be really scary and then they might know real fear.

 

There you go my boy! Ten easy tips even you can understand. I hope you have a fun time. Just look in the mirror and repeat after me John… “I must be better and more honest than what I really am. The truth will set me free. And I’ll just sit down and cry if that doesn’t work”. Repeat a thousand time and take an Aspirin.

John, John… John. What are we going to do with you? Or rather, where are you going to take us John? I’ve been there and it is not pretty. A country filled with hate and fear. We don’t need that John. We need love and hope. Give it to us or please leave the room.

Remember John, if you want to play this game of hate and fear then we’ll play the same right back at you! No more Mr Nice guy. You must be confusing me with some liberal. I am not. I am African.

Worst wishes, no love and hope to never see you again,

Angry African (on the Loose)

The more things change the more they stay the same. And that is no difference when looking at the news…

1. Canada loses shelf… not self

Well it seems as if the head of steam being built up here in the US is at last hitting Canada. Yes, the hot air created by the Republicans at the convention seems to contribute to climate change for their neighbors up north. Can’t be any other reason now can it? Republicans don’t believe in global warming so it must be the hot heads down in St Paul who did this. Or windbags. Poor old Canada. They have so little going for them when it comes to history and now they just lost an ancient ice shelf that is almost the size of Manhattan. Luckily Canada isn’t as populated as that little island off the east coast. They suspect only one person died but the nation is in mourning because about 7,286 moose died. That is the same ratio of moose per person in Canada. The Canadian authorities are still counting all Canadians to try and confirm the death of the unlucky fellow. One person is counting every Canadian and is expected to be done by early Saturday. All Canadians was asked to stand in a straight line but there was a delay because the counting guy had to go to a blubber fest first. He’ll start counting on Friday evening.

2. “Uncertainty looms in Sudan”

That is the actual headline of the report – “Uncertainty looms in Sudan”. WTF? What was there before? Hope? Love? Peace? Stability? Democracy? Ubuntu? Change? Certainty? I think not. Can “uncertainty” be a weather pattern? The Sudan version of a monsoon? It comes in and destroys everything in its path. Or maybe “Uncertainty” is some god we never heard of. You know, like Apollo or Zeus or Atlas. Wonder what “Uncertainty” does? Squash all sense of justice in his path and murder the innocent for breakfast. Sound about right. Also known by another name. President Omar “The Bastard” al-Bashir. No. Sorry. “Uncertainty” would be a step up for most Sudanese. At the moment they only have “Genocide”.

3. Obelix with no Astrix?

The great Obelisk of Axum returned home at last. Okay. It’s been there for a while already. About 3 years. It was unveiled this week. Come on people, it’s African time. You know. “Just now” means anything between within the next two hours and 2 decades. But we should be happy the Axum Obelisk is back. Now if we can only find the great Astrix of Governance somewhere…

4. From Palin to Pale-One

You thought Palin was more than just a pretty face? Think again. The McCain campaign now says that she won’t be talking to the media on foreign or domestic policy. Apparently “the American people don’t care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy… the American people will learn all they need to know” (and all they deserve to know) from Palin’s scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads. Talk about Hollywood moments and acting like a celebrity. Mr McLame and Pale-one, this is called acting and not leadership. Maybe scared that she can’t hold her own? Here is your problem. She might be able to pull the wool over the eyes of (some of) the average American voters out there but you might have a bit of a problem if she travels outside these US borders. Haha! Actually, I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall. Putin will have her for lunch. Oh man you are in so much trouble with this one. Not quite the PTA now is it?

5. Let’s be honest… hum, maybe not

Citibank used to have a nice little racket going. And hardly anyone noticed. What they did was to remove the positive balances on the credit card accounts of their poorest and “deadest” clients. Yes, they targeted the vulnerable (poor) and really vulnerable (dead). But those damn pesky little whistle blowers. Someone thought that stealing money from their clients might be going too far. And that damn liberal State Attorney of California agreed. And won! Yes, poor Citibank lost settled the case and paid all the money back. And a bit of a fine to top it off. The clincher? An executive trying to justify their decision really went all out with the “feel sorry for me” line. With difficulty. He said, “Stealing from our customers is a business decision, not a legal decision.” The same executive later said that the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool. I don’t think he gets the humanity part that well. Maybe he was taking a bit off the top because he is missing a bit on top. For some or other reason I don’t feel that sorry for Citibank.

Hey, I have a job as well! Imagine that. Someone actually pays me to have an opinion. Anyway… Thought I should give you a peek at the type of stuff I write for work. This will go on our work blog in the next few days. It’s been edited. You’ll see that! A bit different from my usual style and topic. But it gives you an insight into some of my other work-related thoughts.

Build it (green) and they will buy?

Everything seems to be turning green. And there is nothing wrong with that – companies creating new, innovative products and services that are good for them and good for the environment. But consumers haven’t completely bought into this yet. A number of green products aren’t flying off the shelves the way companies anticipated. Why is it that the green revolution has taken companies by storm, but not consumers? With the environment at the forefront of consumer concerns, it makes one wonder, why consumers aren’t dropping the bad stuff and buying the good stuff. We build it, but they just won’t come.

Why?

Some products are a big hit with consumers – the Prius and CFL light bulbs are taking off in a big way. So why aren’t they buying green shoes, food, computers, etc.?

There are many reasons why people buy certain products and not others – price, functionality, “coolness,” brand loyalty, etc. One often overlooked factor is: how do the environmental aspects of the product help the consumer?

Let’s first look at why the Prius and the CFL light bulb are so popular. They allow consumers to feel better about themselves when they use these products. A person starts their Prius and immediately feels “greener” than their neighbor with the gas-guzzling SUV. They feel better and more environmentally responsible with every mile they drive. It is the action of driving that makes them “green.” The same goes for a CLF light bulb. They feel better about themselves each and every time they turn on the lights. The simple action of switching on the light enables them to feel like an environmental “activist” – that they are making a difference.

You said you wanted a green car...

You said you wanted a green car...

The environmental benefit doesn’t come from the company making the Prius or the CFL light bulb. The “goodness” comes from the consumer using the product instead of an alternative product. A Prius isn’t a car – it is an environmental tool for the consumer. The CFL light bulb doesn’t just provide light – it provides the consumer with an opportunity to make a difference through the simple action of flipping the switch.

The success of these “green” products lies in enabling the consumer to take action. The act of making a difference through using these products makes them successful. So many green failures can be traced back to lacking this fundamental element – allowing consumers to feel “green” each time they use a product. When all the “goodness” is in the making of the product and not in the using of the product, no other action is expected from the consumer. The only action the consumer needs to take is buying the product. But the act of buying is not perceived as an act of environmental activism. This doesn’t allow the consumer to feel that they are taking environmental action.

Buying a green product, that’s green qualities are all in the production phase, leaves the consumer with a very basic question: what about me?

You want to sell a green product? Then let your consumer be part of the “greenness.” Give them something that they can do apart from just buying the product. Give them a way to take action. Let it be easy – like starting a Prius or flipping a light switch. Give consumers simple actions that make them feel like they are making a difference each and every time they use your product. Let them be part of the change.

________________________

More green stuff from me:

Can I interest you in a green Blow Up Doll?

Okay, so I don’t really want you to buy a blowup doll. Not even a green one. But it seems as if we think consumers will buy anything green – or rather that a green product will have an edge over competing not-so-green products. Consumers might be more interested in the environmental factors of a…

How friendly is eco-friendly?

Every single day we are bombarded by someone telling us to be more eco-friendly in our lives – and the choices we make. But can we really be eco-friendly? …

What’s the emissions of your local warlord’s car – and do you care?

Man, these umlungu’s over here really like their big cars. Okay, not all of them. And I have more of a problem with those who don’t drive big cars than those who do. They are all up in arms about the impact on global climate and the emissions by these big trucks – bakkies back…

It’s not always greener on the other side

Everything is green nowadays. It’s the talk of the town. Newspapers are full of the latest green apocalypse heading our way. Bloggers blog green left, right and center – with fonts and pictures to match. Activist are up in arms about green washing and washing our greens. Governments want to govern what green means. The…

We eat meat – get used to it

Being green or protecting wildlife means almost nothing outside US and Europe. There are bigger issues facing people in places like Burundi, Guyana, Yemen and North Korea. They continue to struggle to survive each day. The cheapest bidder always wins when you live off less than $1 a day. And you don’t know if there…

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