Thursday, October 20, 2011

About "About Me"

I am currently involved in international marketing projects in New York. Please let the following serve as an introduction to my work and career.
DEC.BIO.AD.03.14.12 or view my profile and references on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To "Occupy" Wall Street - It's My/Your Civic Duty

Posters Squared
Yesterday police arrested 80 people for marching from the Occupy Wall St. site at Zuccotti Park to Union Square in New York. They pepper sprayed protesters and generally made a mess of things whilst giving the movement some much needed publicity. Today things were much more calm after a ton of bad press for the NYPD in main stream media (MSM). In the park was music, food and plenty of friendly and interesting people. Also, plenty of cardboard and markers and paint were available for poster making. The grounds are covered with thousands of posters made by participants supporting the event, now in day 10. See I sat next to a girl from Bahrain who was making peace posters and answered questions from a Chinese student as to how democracy and freedom of speech should and are now working in America. I made two posters. I got paint on my hands. And I saw a few thousand other people who feel as I do about the current state of the broken American economic machine. It's not working well for us. But today made me feel as if it can change. It was nice. It was liberating. It was my America back again - and why I'm back home again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A New York State of Mind: Armed Paramilitary Police Guard Penn Station - and Other Small Observations

This is not America
Two huge armed guards, New York City paramilitary police, wearing flak vests and bearing M-16s with more gear and other weapons on their belts than Batman, standing in front of an otherwise pedestrian entrance to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, basically intimidating citizens under the guise of protecting us from terrorists. Ridiculous, commented a bystander. "Even the Shoe Bomber could get past these guys", said I to him. Any self respecting terrorist is going to have a better plan than running straight on to two heavily armed gorillas at the front door. A man comments on how this is simply government intimidation of its own citizens. "This is fascism in its purist form", he says. On the train and in digital signs all over the subway system fear is reinforced with messages encouraging all of us to look for 'suspicious' people or activity and report it. Let's make everyone paranoid. I remember being told that, that was how the Soviet Union was when I was a child. Comrades spying on comrades - never knowing what your neighbor might report to the authorities. Even Tony Bennett was made to apologize for comments he made regarding 9-11 that were essentially dead on correct. When we, as a nation, behave like this - the terrorists win. Maybe we need a psychologist on the Homeland Security team.

Today I sit with Dr. Dan Winchester at Starbucks. Dan and I have seen each other a few times over the past few weeks, but just today made proper introductions to each other. Dr. Dan is disabled with Cerebral Palsy and works from a wheel chair without his hands - just an iPad and a mouth held stylus. But still he writes a blog and has his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the Ferauf Graduate School of Psychology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. So Dr. Dan is no dummy - and he talks about how there are people in America who are trying to take away everything we have fought for - the freedoms, the liberties, the opportunities - the concept of America. He speaks in the context of how disabled people are marginalized in our society. But he speaks for us all - in this, today's New York state of mind. You don't see armed police in anything but third-world countries and even in them, not often. You certainly don't see them in Asia or Europe. Why here? This is not America, this police state. This is not proud, nor free nor us. This is just plain wrong.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wall Street Protester Arrested for 'Using a Bullhorn' Without a License

And the land of the free passes another day. Metro New York reports that not only was a man arrested for using a bullhorn, but gasoline for an electric generator was confiscated by police and cited as a 'fire hazard' - fuel that would be otherwise legal if used for a lawnmower, chainsaw or motorbike. Welcome to America, where freedom of speech is ok, so long as you don't use a bullhorn and petroleum products, the ones we wage wars over, are reserved for those who don't have a problem with the current economic situation. I have personally seen the protest and can tell you that activities are entirely peaceful, but it certainly seems as if the police are being brought in to disrupt things. And they are doing a fine American job of that. Luckily, attorney Samuel Cohen supports our right to free speech and is representing the protesters. "What these people are doing is the essence of the First Amendment. We want to make sure this is allowed to continue", he said. For video of police brutality against peaceful protesters, click here.

In other news, Mayor Bloomberg warns of "Panic in the streets if companies don't start hiring". Maybe finally, somebody in some position of power is getting it. Maybe.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

U.S. "Day of Rage" Protesters Hit Wall Street Against the Financial Corruption of America

Make Jobs Not War
According to CBS News protesters have been occupying Wall Street and surrounding streets since Saturday in an effort to call attention to the real terrorists of the world financial crisis - the banks themselves.I and a friend walked down Sunday to lend support only to find the police had blocked off Wall Street itself and shuttled them into less obvious areas. We found a town hall meeting with protesters in a small park featuring a speaker with a bullhorn and a rather calm and reasoned discussion of the current financial mess. Whatever suspension of disbelief the participants might have originally brought to the subject of the financial crisis was firmly dissolved and replaced by indignant condemnation of the unhealthy bed partners of big bank business (read Goldman Sachs) and government. Geithner and Paulson as wolves guarding the hen house comes to mind.

U.S. "Day of Rage" Protesters Hit Wall Street Against the Financial Corruption of Our Homeland

Make Jobs Not War
According to CBS News protesters have been occupying Wall Street and surrounding streets since Saturday in an effort to call attention to the real terrorists of the world financial crisis - the banks themselves.I and a friend walked down Sunday to lend support only to find the police had blocked off Wall Street itself and shuttled them into less obvious areas. We found a torn hall meeting in a small park featuring a speaker with a bullhorn and a rather calm and reasoned discussion of the current financial mess. Whatever suspension of disbelief the participants might have originally brought to the financial crisis was firmly dissolved and replaced by indignant condemnation of the unhealthy bed partners of big bank business (read Goldman Sachs) and government. Geithner and Paulson as wolves guarding the hen house comes to mind.

If you haven't figured it out yet, since the Patriot Act, we are all living in a police state. Peacefully protest in whatever way you can, but protest for sure. I traveled to ground zero on Sunday with a Navy vet who served in Afghanistan and on the way he said to me, "Terrorists? Nah. I think we did all this ourselves to distract the people while Wall Street robbed all the money."

And the new Skidmore Owings and Merrill Freedom Tower? It's ugly and uninspiring, from a firm who specializes in precisely that kind of building. I also overheard a 9-11 tour guide telling a group of visitors that jet fuel burning and burning building contents brought the towers down - a fact that any first year structural engineering student knows is not true. Wake up America. Things are not exactly as you have been led to believe.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying to NYC on 09.11.11 Finds a Paranoid, Manipulated and Depressed Nation Upon Arrival

Those little town blues
Flying from Asia to New York is punctuated by an announcement on the PA from the pilot leaving Taiwan that says they are required by US law to tell passengers that they are not allowed to congregate in groups of more than two, anywhere on the aircraft during flight. It is only a small notion of the American paranoia to follow. You don't hear that going to China. On the flight from San Fran to NYC the first sign that America is in deep shit is that there is no free food on the flight as there had been from Saigon to Taipei and Taipei to San Francisco. Nope. You can buy a breakfast cookie for $3 on American Airlines or a limp shrink-wrapped croissant with ham and cheese for $6. It sucks. Welcome to the good ole US of A. Time to pay for everything - including the free-everywhere-else carts that you use to get your luggage out of the airport. In America, those cost $5. In Europe, Asia and Africa, all of which I visited in the past two years, they are free - and supported by advertising on said carts. "Sorry, we're fresh out of money in America because all the war and shit over the past 10 years", reads the idea and fresh out of things like 'freedom' and 'liberty' too according to the press I read.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Bernie Sanders for President. Who - Colonel Sanders?

During the recent Republican Presidential debates Michelle Bachman answered, "What, like on a map?" when she was asked if she would recognize Libya. So goes the intelligence of the current side show known as the Democratic process as candidate after candidate goes on pontificating about nothing, encircling the problem but all failing to hit the nail on the head. I have danced around it too, in my posts, "It's Not the Economy Stupid" and "Squandering the Peace Dividend on War". But Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has hit the nail on the head: "While everyone understands that we have got to reduce the deficit, the number-one challenge America faces right now is a jobs crisis," the independent senator declared, while decrying the fact that more than 16 percent of American workers (25 million) are either unemployed or underemployed. Geez, why didn't anyone else think of that?

And he goes on, "Rebuilding the nation's crumbling infrastructure, transforming our energy system, and rewriting our trade policy so that American products - not jobs - are our number-one export." "Everyone in Vermont and across the country understands that we can put millions of Americans back to work rebuilding the nation's bridges, roads, schools, dams, culverts, rail systems and public transportation, among other vital needs," said Sanders. "We must also transform our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. A significant number of jobs can be created through weatherization, and the manufacturing of American-made wind turbines, solar panels and heat pumps. Also, we must make fundamental changes in our trade policy so that we rebuild our manufacturing sector. Corporate America must invest in the United States and stop the outsourcing of jobs to China, Vietnam and other low-wage countries."

And how might we do that? Well, not by attacking Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid he says. "Social Security has not contributed a nickel to the deficit, it has a $2.6 trillion surplus, and it can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next twenty-five years. It must not be cut," explained Sanders. Rather, he would balance the budget by eliminating tax loopholes for the wealthy and large corporations and taking a hard look at excessive military spending. Damn, that all makes a wonderful amount of sense. Maybe that's why Senator Sanders is staying as far away as he can from running for President - ideas like those wouldn't make any sense at all in the current race. (Thanks to John Rachel for highlighting the sense of Sen. Sanders.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

America's #1 Export? Debt

According to Time Magazine in 1988, the US' largest export was debt - Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities that we sold to other countries. Japan bought tons. But now, post financial crisis, the question remains. Since we borrowed billions from China to bail ourselves out, what do we sell to China to make the money back? And the answer seems to be, according to news site The Economic Collapse, garbage - waste paper and scrap metal. Just the same as the Romans exported out of their empire towards the end of it's days. For every American household to get themselves back on solid footing and out of this government induced overseas money drinking binge the answer is not so difficult. Save. Don't take that raise. Put the extra in the bank, and then take this year's raise next year, and put next year's raise in the bank - year after year. Maintain your car. Pay it off and then take a fraction of what you used to pay in interest every year and use that for upgrades - new tires, a nicer stereo, whatever. Keep the house. It's a lousy time to sell a house anyway so simply refinance it if possible, at the lowest rate possible, and then add a room or a deck or a patio. Stop borrowing money for at least 10 years and you'll find yourself a lot more comfortable and possibly able to buy a house or car or an education like the Asians do. In cash.

The government is spending your tax dollars recklessly, as the video above illustrates. The $850 billion dollar bank bailout is more than the entire NASA program budget over the its history. It costs us $6.5 billion a month just to be in Afghanistan. And you don't have a job? Save your money. And give the government as little as possible - until they get their own financial house in order.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"Advertising happens to be an art, not a science." - Bill Bernbach

Bill Bernbach would be 100 years old today. Instead of suspending disbelief to warm you, he simply created belief - an unusual thing in advertising. Happy birthday Mr. B. And thank you.

It's Not The Economy Stupid! So WTF Is It?

Military spending
in billions
Over the last few months any number of publications including the Wall Street Journal and Businessweek have used the headline above (You can't copyright a headline can you?) but all with different answers to the question, "But WTF is it? I proposed an answer in my post, "Squandering the Peace Dividend on War", along with Seth Godin, as did Author, John Rachel in his blog using the illustration to the left. If you haven't sorted out the answer yet, look again at the chart. The big bar on the left is America's military spending in comparison to the rest of the world. Hmm. Simple you would think. But our government seems to think that all this war is somehow good for the economy, and job growth, and innovation, and whatever else we lack. Clear answer: It isn't. And hasn't been for the last ten years. Time Magazine asks recently, "Is America the World's Next Banana Republic?" in its comparison of North and South American financial standards - as China keeps military spending in check whilst building a modern infrastructure that makes America look like the 1800s. Sure, we may be able to beat the crap out of any banana republic or even China or Russia in a war, but what is that buying us? Not a future, that's for sure. 

WWED Stories Now Available for Syndication

The Wild East Dailies (WWED), my other blog, is a collection of over 500 stories relating to Asia, Korea and Vietnam over the past 3 1/2 years, from an American expatriate POV. All stories are protected under a Creative Commons license that encourages reprinting but only for non-commercial enterprises. Our stories have been linked or quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and New York Magazine.

If you are a commercial print publication, webzine or other site and have interest in reprinting WWED stories, please contact us. We offer very reasonable rates and can even write on demand for Asian related issues. Contact for more information.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Buddhist Funeral Prayer - WWED Greatest Hits II

This week I was reminded again of Ramsey Montgomery. Ramsey was a friend of mine here in Vietnam who passed away a few years ago. He was 40 years old and died, reportedly, from a stroke. This week another 40 year old man named Craig passed away as well, reportedly, from a heart attack. I didn't know Craig but word on the street of his death was a lot different from that of the coroner's office. Over the last six years here I have been aware of no less than three people who have died from seemingly mysterious circumstances for their ages - but a little street-side investigative reporting reveals something indeed not mysterious at all. Drink and drugs - coupled, if not preceded by, a massive depression. Another guy in his 40s named Rico went the same way - and we all saw it, in a sort of slow-motion train wreck scenario. Unless one sees it, it's impossible to understand the amount of prescription drugs in people's systems at any one time - or heroin. Another guy we know is supposedly smoking heroin 10 times a day just to maintain normality - he doesn't even get high anymore.

The availability of cheap drink and over-the-counter medications that range from codeine to uppers and downers in a myriad of combinations and less legal things simply does them in.  They're all fine, and happy, and fucked-up, until they don't come out of their room for three days and the homeowner opens the place to find a body. That's become a common story of late unfortunately.

When Ramsey passed, I attended his funeral and met a lovely grieving family. At the service we were given the following Buddhist Funeral Prayer. It is lovely as well, and has become the most viewed post on The Wild Wild East Dailies. Please say it for anyone you may know who may be living in harm's way, before it comes time to say it too lately. As Amy Winehouse joins the 27 Club, it's a prayer for the times.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How to Solve the Jobs Crisis in America? Re-Elect Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton
Newsweek and Bill Clinton tackle the sticky question of how to get America back to work this week with Clinton's 14 ideas on how to get the wheels of commerce rolling again in the good ole US of A. Over the last few weeks, many of you may have begun to wonder if I have somehow become un-American, what with my calling out all the ways we are having our lunch eaten by our Asian tiger friends and basically calling America fat, lazy and out of touch - when what we are really doing is fighting a series of unnecessary wars in the name of a fuel that has gone the way of the dinosaurs - wait a minute, it is called a fossil fuel, right?

But what I am really trying to do is play a small part in waking America up from a dream that is not real and certainly not working. In the last 10 years, China has built the world's largest high-speed rail system whilst we have steamrolled over a number of banana republics in search of that "Bubblin' crude", "Oil that is - Texas Tea", us hillbillies we are. But the question remains, how can America reverse this and many other economic  discrepancies and regain its luster as an entrepreneurial and economic powerhouse?

Cutting military spending and redeploying the monies in other more friendly ways is certainly a favourite option for many, but Clinton steers away from grand gestures like that and instead offers more practical solutions from getting congress off their asses and speeding approvals for new initiatives (In 1933 the Civil Works Administration put 4 million people to work in a month), or government funding for start-ups in green businesses, to painting roofs white (A white roof saves 20% electricity costs on a hot day) - suggestions which ween the country off its current oil dependence and eventually the wars it has created.

With 14 million Americans out of work, the last thing any of us wants to be us un-American. What we need to be is pro-American and realize that we have 14 million soldiers fighting an economic battle that has insufficient government support and we need to fix that. Mr. Clinton's comments simply help us to begin to give us a workable start.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emerging and Submerging Markets: The Morton Report Shows Me the Difference

Andrew Morton
Funny. Having dinner with Dr. David Williams from Mojo Innovations in Shanghai and the ideas roll around to 'submerging markets' (David coined that) - the idea that we work in emerging markets but David, an Englishman, and another Brit, a woman from The Netherlands and myself are having a bottle of white and figuring out why we are all here, instead of living in our birth countries - the submerging markets - rich countries and the only victims of the recent financial crisis (and then we order the fish).

The woman from Holland, a young professional, is leaving an executive job at a foreign university here, to move to Istanbul, Turkey, with no job at all - just to live life, and live the best. Neither David, nor I nor the English interior designer showed much interest in going back to our home countries, for individual reasons. And so many of those reasons have nothing to do with money.

We are all career professionals, all capable of getting name-your-number six-figure salaries back home, yet we do not. Why not?

It's all about where the future is, and we have all run into the roadblocks of our western countries trying to maintain the status' quo of an old century while things here are just the Wild Wild East. It's fun, and a whole lot better than pushing sand uphill back home to feed an economic model that is so obviously broken.

This all came to real this week when it was time to be paid for my first month at an American webzine, The Morton Report. When it came time to pay, an editor said they would 'send me a check'. Ha. I laughed. Were they serious? Turns out they were.

When I explained that the check system they used in the US (Yes, printing personal money that may or may not be any good) did not work outside country, they truly didn't understand - and then they got mad. "Wire transfer? WTF is that?", they said. Now, this particular webzine, luckily has an online shrink, so I'll leave it to her to figure out how f-ed-up that is - but that was the story. Getting mad over watching the world change? "Gee, American money is no good anymore?". Call the Chinese.

And in telling that story, David chimed in, "Ha! I had an American client look at my invoice and say 'What's EFT?" - Electronic Funds Transfer. "I'm not sure we know how to do that", the American company responded.

So it's true, in submerging markets they will never understand that the reason the other markets are emerging, is that they are not just not doing the SOS. They are building something, something their children won't have to pay for like America's children will have to pay the Chinese.

So we are in Asia, emerging, and America is submerging. Do the math. Good Morning America!

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday America! How's that workin' out for ya?

As this 4th of July begins I find myself in an interesting position on the present state of our country. I don't live there. Recently,when discussing being asked by an editor to look at a story on the release of Tran Khai Thanh Thuy, a writer and pro-Democracy advocate here Vietnam, a British friend reacted, "Ha, Democracy, how's that workin' out for us these days?" And that's a more than reasonable retort considering the world's economic changes over the past 10 years or so. Is it democracy that makes people happy, or economic prosperity and the peace of mind that their government is doing the best job they can on behalf of all of its citizens?
Promoting the wealth and prosperity of citizens doesn't seem to be a hallmark of democracy alone. Does it really matter that countries have one party, or two, or tens - or a monarchy, or even a benevolent dictatorship? The United States supports any number of monarchies throughout the world, including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia with nary a lecture on 'democracy' to them and our history of supporting dictators of the non-benevolent variety and then not supporting them later is spotty at best.
And when was the last time anybody voted on a war, or an economic stimulus package or anything else that mattered to their daily lives? We just voted for the people who made those decisions. And did that make the decisions better? Over the last 10 years, democracy has been behind the evaporation of a federal surplus left to us by President Clinton, two new war fronts we didn't have (or need) previously, and the single worst 10 years in the stock market ever. How's that workin' for us? Need we credit or discredit democracy?
Democracy had nothing to do with any of that. And our efforts in Vietnam over 50 years ago to "stop the spread of communism" didn't do much in our favour either. So it seems that labeling governments by their brand of politics has little to do with the policies those governments produce. China has endured harsh western criticism of its human rights record in the past but has also doubled its GDP, twice, in the last 30 years, bringing modernity and prosperity to the greatest number of people on the planet ever. Somehow now, with our new enormous debt to that country, I suspect there will be a lot less diplomatic finger wagging towards them in the future. A very democratic decision, for sure.
So Happy Birthday America. That's 236 years of Democracy and freedom from British taxes - now, if we could just pay those Chinese taxes.
A suspension of disbeliefs is a desirable delusion when watching a film or play, but a less desirable one with regard to participating in the politics that shape our lives. Once this anniversary party is over it's time for Americans to get back to the real-life game plan of providing appropriate jobs and social welfare on a standard with the top countries in the world (which we currently don't). The question is, what can you do to help?

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Agency - A Concept

I dealt with a Japanese advertising agency recently in which all of the above excuses were true - "It's not my job, my boss won't let me, we're prohibited, that's our policy, etc". And I dealt with a man who was arguably the #2 in command, but he couldn't make a $2000 decision. He couldn't sign a contract.

With my small company in Korea I had only three employees, and all of them had agency to an assigned degree. They had the ability to act and to spend money in their appropriate assignments. After two years of running our company, I felt the need for a long vacation. We had won the big account, were financially on good footing and I felt I had earned the holiday. In making plans for the trip, I told my #2 in command that there were only three reasons to call me while I was away, "Death, famine, nuclear warfare" - somewhat in jest, but basically true to make the point, "Don't call me".

I went to my lakehouse in Michigan, listened to the ducks, read and just enjoyed the hell out of myself. I was in the middle of a divorce and knew that I might never enjoy that house again.

Upon my return to Korea I was informed that a 'client emergency' had cropped up and my staff had taken appropriate steps to make the client happy and solve the problem - and they had committed $5000 to various suppliers to get the work done. This was not the thing to do without a signed agreement from the client. But my staff had acted in good faith, and to serve client needs - a good thing. I suddenly realized that the number $5000 should have come directly after 'nuclear warfare' in my instructions of when to call me. But the failure, if any, was mine for not explaining fully and maybe giving a little too much agency to my #2 in the situation.

So I quickly set about to repair the damage - calling suppliers, cancelling jobs, stopping printing presses. The client in this case, a marketing assistant, had no authority to have been ordering the work. But my staff didn't know that. In the end, it cost us $2500 but I was very careful to not put the blame on my staff and let everyone know that I stood behind the person who made the decision to do the work. Over time that stood as a pillar of our company's trust in our employees and let them know that we would stand behind them when they made decisions, even some wrong ones, for the greater good.

The poor Japanese man I met with last week. No power to make decisions. No power to even sign for work he was ordering. No agency at all - and he worked for an agency. Go figure.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

'Motivated Reasoning': The Opposite of A Suspension of Disbeliefs

Illus: Jonathon Rosen

Now I know what theoretical psychologists sit around and argue about over beers. So I was left to consider and reinterpret what I believe the core concept of 'A Suspension of Disbeliefs' to be in relation to how we live our lives. Essentially, I consider it a positive faculty - to suspend ones disbelief that they can be a great writer, or a rock star or a president. Maybe you don't believe you can be an NBA draft pick, because the odds are so horribly against you, but suspend that disbelief and you release energies that say "I can", not because it's mathematically possible, but simply because you have removed your greatest obstacle - your own disbelief. Removing other's disbelief is more difficult and many times, impossible. I fell on an article in Mother Jones magazine that illuminated to me what the opposite of a suspension of disbelief might be.

The theory of  'motivated reasoning'. This is held by people who do not want to believe something. They strongly want to disbelieve it. Even though it may be true and even offer good things, they choose to hold on to their old beliefs because those beliefs are so deeply ingrained. "The earth is flat". These are people who refuse to suspend disbelief because that would be too challenging, too uncomfortable.    

So if I am willing to continuously challenge my beliefs, I am employing a suspension of disbeliefs, in search of new knowledge. I am willing to consider things I don't believe in. A positive thing - as opposed to using 'motivated reasoning' and just sticking with what I already know - a not so positive thing. 

I have found there is little greater motivation than being told one can't do something. The only person I need to convince that I can is myself - and I do that by challenging my ingrained belief that I can't. I suspend my own disbelief, and then I can.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Wild Wild East Dailies Lives at The Morton Report - Your Man in Saigon Reporting

Today marks the first publication of the Wild Wild East Dailies for The Morton Report. This blog has now matriculated to a daily column in a publication known for arts, entertainment, and I love this, swanky living - as Andrew Morton describes it. Go figure, WWED is now a beacon for a more stylish life! Our first story "Your Man in Saigon" introduces the column and points to things to come. All stories will be new, but carry the WWED spirit into the future and a whole new audience. Andrew Morton is most known for his biographies of Princess Diana and William and Kate and has launched his daily culture updates on the heals of the royal wedding. I and The Wild Wild East Dailies are proud to be part of this new effort and hope to contribute a bit of Wild Wild fun from an Eastern perspective. Take a look. It's good.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n

Motorbike Helmets for Kid's in Vietnam? Not yet.

A few years ago Vietnam finally passed a law requiring motorbike riders to wear a helmet but this law only required them for adult riders. Kids don't need them. Is somebody kidding somebody? We could blame the lawmakers for not seeing the fatalities and injuries amongst children but that shouldn't release parents from their basic responsibilities to protect those children should it? I didn't think so. And so an idea was hatched (yeah, bad pun) to do a public service campaign to speak to parents about the importance of the whole family wearing a helmet. In a country of what might be easily, 30 million motorbikes for roughly 80 million people the motorbike is a way of life in Vietnam. In fact it's an extension of life, an extra limb it has been called. But it's also a way of death, the highest rate of highway fatalities in Asia before enactment of the law.

On launch day, the government deployed 5000 police around the city (Saigon) to enforce strict fines ($10 is strict here) and lo and behold - one day nobody had a helmet and the next day they did. Except for the children. And this baffled the crap out of me. Didn't the people understand that a not fully formed skull can be crushed up to 60% easier than an adult's? Didn't they see it as important? And the answer is, 'no they didn't'. What was important to them was not paying a fine to comply with the law. Sad, I thought. No thought about the reasons one should wear a helmet at all.

Ask anyone what they believe to be a symbol of birth and childhood and you will eventually hear the word 'egg'. So I took that visual and put a helmet on it. It was funny. And it worked. We all know eggs crack easily and putting a helmet on them just reinforced the point. Photographer Mads Monsen and I worked together to create this campaign and we did it without a specific client in mind - because we thought the idea was important. Should you know of any organization in Vietnam who might be interested in running this work as a public service, please contact me. We would love to get this campaign up and running and doing the job the parents should be doing - getting all their kids to wear a helmet.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Why are Manhole Covers Round?" - WDYWFT?

Answer that question and you're on your way to winning a $50 Visa gift card, or a couple of other cool prizes courtesy of @WDYWFT is a website and social network for people who work in virtually any form of management. In contrast to sites like LinkedIn and Xing that focus soley on networking and recruiting, WDYWFT strives to provide information, guidance, mentoring and career growth strategies for managers at all levels - and it does that all, for free. The question, "What do you want from them?" comes from something that was told to Anna Smith, the site's founder, in relation to addressing people she worked with. That way one is always looking at how to resolve issues as opposed to putting people in an uncomfortable position. A very good management lesson indeed. One so good that it inspired Anna to inspire other managers, and become a mentor herself. Check out WDYWFT's website and Management Contest - and be sure to join the group. It's a working management forum that could use your knowledge, and perhaps, impart some.

I met Anna over a year ago when I was living in Munich - but met might be a stretch in that Anna and I have never personally met - rather, she had found my website, The Wild Wild East Dailies, courtesy of a friend in Germany who had come across our podcast and knew Anna would love the music on WWED Radio. So Anna contacted me in Germany from the US to see if she could feature our music on her site, and a friendship was born. I said, "Yes", of course. Anyone who likes the music I like is a friend of mine. The other interesting parallel here is that Anna is originally from Germany and I from the US - but we had changed places. Funny that way. Unfortunately, the WWED podcast went the way of Napster in that what I was broadcasting was applying a more than liberal shellac to the concept of 'fair use' and the copyright gods shut down my podcast provider. Too bad. But Anna and WDYWFT continue to survive and thrive and I'm more than happy to lend a hand if I can. Now, can you tell us for real, why manhole covers are round? Most creative answer wins!

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

'Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness' by Nicholas Humphrey - a Revelation or Just an Academic Suspension of Disbeliefs?

Had I been educated as a theoretical psychologist instead of a writer, graphic designer and advertising guy, I might have come to have used the word 'consciousness' to describe the end result of what I have designated as A Suspension of Disbeliefs, the title of this blog. No matter. In any case it turns out that my thesis, that we all create realities that are essentially states of suspended disbelief by our choices of religion, political persuasion, career, country, love, belief or not in the magic bullet theory, or choice of architecture' is paralleled by Nicholas Humphrey, emeritus professor of psychology at the London School of Finance, in his new book, 'Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness'. Combining theories in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, he argues,"consciousness, is nothing less than a magical-mystery show that we stage for ourselves inside our own heads - this self-made show lights up the world for us, making us feel special and transcendent - or by my description, consciousness is just the result of our own little suspensions of disbeliefs.

In the New York Times, Alison Gopnik, illuminates Humphrey when he says, “The bottom line about how consciousness changes the human outlook — as deep an existential truth as anyone could ask for — is this: We do not want to be zombies,” he writes. We like ‘being present,’ we like having it ‘be like something to be me.' " Humphrey ingeniously works out the many consequences of this apparently simple fact. He points out, for example, that we humans will work as hard to get a newer or more vivid or more intense experience as we will to get a meal or a mate. Almost as soon as we could use tools to make hearths and spears, we also used them to construct consciousness-­expanding art installations in painted caves like Altamira. But this grand desire to be fascinated with life and continued learning and creation also comes along with a very human fear of death, not because it means the end of our body but because it means the end of our consciousness — "better to be a spirit in heaven than a zombie on earth." So essentially, consciousness is a show we stage for ourselves - a show that keeps us alive and potentially happy.

The origin of the modern concept of consciousness is often attributed to John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1690. Locke explicitly defined consciousness as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind". The earliest English language uses of "conscious" and "consciousness" date back, to the 1500s. The English word "conscious" originally derived from the Latin conscius (con- "together" + scire "to know"), but the Latin word did not have the same meaning as our word — it meant knowing with, or having joint or common knowledge with another - not the same as Locke's more singular explanation of knowing oneself. But where Humphrey's theory seems to break with ideas of the past that consciousness was simply a passive state of being and being aware of being, is that he surmises that we actively choose to write whatever drama it is that we ascribe to the concept of being. And we like being us!

Of course, to have a conscience, to have consciousness of ones own mind and to be physically conscious are all different in relation to the science from which they are derived - Conscience as a philosophical concept (right & wrong), consciousness in a psychological sense (self awareness) and conscious in a medical/neurobiological sense (brain functioning). Many philosophers have argued that consciousness is a unitary concept that is understood intuitively by the majority of people in spite of the difficulty in defining it. Others, though, have argued that the level of disagreement about the meaning of the word indicates that it is an umbrella term meaning different things to different people. And then there are the spiritual definitions of achieving consciousness - But Humphrey argues that our quest to live, love and learn is the result of a benign evolutionary illusion. Something ineffable - too extreme for words. It does feel good to be alive, and it feels especially good to be me being alive. And that in turn makes us go to great lengths to extend our lives and to fend off death. Similarly, we are most vividly conscious of the unexpected and the novel — consciousness is linked to curiosity and exploration. So, Humphrey argues, the thirst for consciousness keeps us on the move, reveling in new information even when the immediate usefulness of that information isn’t apparent. In the long run, though, pursuing new information does give us important and distinctively human evolutionary advantages. - So maintaining an active and positive suspension of disbeliefs about the world around us is a good thing. According to Nicholas Humphrey biology, psychology and neurobiology all combine to drive us to be more happy, more creative and more curious about life, because it's our life.

It's good that a theoretical psychologist of considerable world-renown and a blog writing advertising guy in Vietnam can agree on something. Of course, it will take years for many other scientists to go about proving or disproving Humphrey's hypothesis - so in the meantime, I hope A Suspension of Disbeliefs becomes a place for all of us to write the best possible script we can for ourselves - and find Humphrey's magic of consciousness in that.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.