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This Iceberg Will Never Melt

This day offers an everlastingly chilly reminder to us all…

On April 14th, 1912, the RMS Titanic famously hit an iceberg in the frigid North Atlantic. The initial contact did not instantly doom the ship of all ships, but did introduce one of the most infamous slow-deaths in modern memory. Just as you are about to say the names, James Cameron, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio (all Oscar winners), rightly and wrongly, are immediately associated with this historic journey and tragedy.

On the one hand, we should know the names of those who perished and those who survived before recalling any thematic treatment. The RMS Titanic was a real ship and it really hit an iceberg and this mightiest of vessels slowly disappeared beneath an icy surface.

On the other hand, one can wonder if we would remember this disaster if not for Mr. Cameron’s cinematic masterpiece that captured the essence of early 20th century adventurism, innovation, optimism for a supremely bright future and the full-weight of “class structure” and how it shaped society. Would you? In a way, Titanic serves as a, yes, vehicle (driven by a powerful love story) for honoring everything that fateful trip  represented as the epic ship battled waves and icy currents towards that magically opportunistic place called America.

Today, on April 14th, we should pay our respects and learn about at least one of the victims. What was their story? Why did they board the RMS Titanic bound for America? Was there a passenger who we, personally, can relate to?

This small tribute will ensure the hearts of all those brave men, women and children will go on for eternity.

Literary Literalness

Words have a way of taking on a life of their own, grasping the pen or keystrokes from the writer and venturing off into far and away tangents with no rescue line back to the original point in the first place. This, of course, begs the question of what was attempting to be answered in this evolving collection of increasingly obscure sentences? Where is the clarity, the weapon of choice for wordsmiths to make simple of the mysteries around us that results in before unknown and, therefore, profound revelations?

Let me take a second pass at this.

A scene from the upcoming film Genius starring Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Laura Linney captures the contentious, even torturous, relationship between writer and editor.

The process for great writers is often unconventional. Bottling the inspiration for the next great American novel is impossible to predict and anticipate. It happens when it happens for that patient, and ironically persistent, author. In rare circumstances, a finished product, after dozens of scratch-outs, edits and Whiskey splotches, upends the literary world.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby comes to mind.

Fun Fact: Speaking of the late great Mr. Fitzgerald, Max Perkins (portrayed by Colin Firth) was his editor.

Returning to the clip above, Jude Law plays author Thomas Wolfe in what looks like a fascinating journey back to an age of literary giants in the early 20th century. Set for a June 10th release date, Genius is based on National Book Award winner Max Perkins: Editor of Genius.

Get ready to engage in another book vs. movie debate with notes of your own…

or edits, if you will.

Trying to Hold onto Something

What do “The Goldbergs,” a CD player with headphones and telephone poles have in common?

They’re all connected: 20th century style.

Oddly enough, being connected used to be construed as a bad, complicated mess. Wires would hang from everywhere…and then pop up somewhere else. Recall the triumphant house lighting scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” when Ellen has to navigate her fingers through a clutter of over-plugged outlets? This maze of confusion led innovators and inventors to draw a blueprint, but without a pencil or pen.

In a single word: wireless.

This reality was new, cleaner and more efficient. Consequently, we discovered space in our lives we never knew existed or thought was even possible. Along this evolutionary track came cell phones that increasingly functioned as handheld computers with surreal power. Included in the capability to make phone calls internationally while situated in virtually any location (as long as Sprint is not your provider) is the capacity to share random events, thoughts, pictures and videos through a myriad of social media platforms.

The range of practicality ranges from necessary to fun, as most aspects in life should. But will this ultimately be a good conversion for society? While wireless technology certainly has its benefits, there are drawbacks as well. For instance, what if a satellite is down (“Gravity”) or what if there is too much signal traffic that prevents the completion of a simple phone call or necessary internet search? What if there is an emergency, but every phone or communication device is formatted to the digital grid and the grid is temporarily malfunctioning or is broken?

Think Time Warner Cable…or Sprint. But with a wider reach and dependability.

Marco Santana of the Des Moines Register wrote an article about wireless and landline phones that was printed in USA Today on March 31st of this year. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which twice a year tracks the percentage of households that still use landlines, reported in December that 35.8% of U.S. households have gone wireless-only, a 77.2% bump over late 2008.”

Landline phones and landline technologies seem and feel ancient, uncool and not applicable to 21st century endeavors. Except that, in emergencies or situations when a person wants to actually feel connected to something, he or she would probably find assurance in holding an off-white receiver with a stretchy cord dangling around like a cosine wave.

It feels as if we are all entering the digital era of no return. However, like most things, balance is a good thing. Will the future be purely digital or will it develop into a hybrid of the past and present/future? Will analog become a legitimate backup system?

Point of consideration: Retro is considered cool for a variety of reasons and can even be viewed as a pausing mechanism to modern practices. This goes for clothes, lingo, general behavior, music, movies, toys, communication devices, etc.

It’s strange: the more connected we get by transitioning to digital technologies actually makes us less connected in the literal sense. More of our lives continues to float upwards into the ever-expansive and mysterious cloud.

What’s next? Fishing without a pole and worm?

Rule #21: When Possible, Change the World

The United States of America is struggling. Among its many, many issues, the workforce is experiencing a paradigm shift. The world we live in today is collectively causing and forcing friction with the nation’s population by forcing 20th century norms and preconceived notions to crash, coincide and adapt to 21st century promise, mystery and reality. The debate of public vs. private extends beyond technology and is a dilemma that will long hang over our society like an overcast cloud for years to come.

“The Internship” is a buddy comedy starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn who star together in a movie for the first time since their 2005 smash hit and cult classic, “Wedding Crashers.” The opening sequence will undoubtedly get you psyched out of your mind for the long-awaited comeback!

It’s a film about great watch salesmen, Billy (Vince) and Nick (Owen), who discover during a pitch at a fancy restaurant that their company had recently folded. The time had arrived for two stellar salesmen of the 20th century to slowly walk into the strange playground of the 21st century.

The premise of the movie is that they are two individuals, who are not tech savvy, that apply for internships at technological giant Google.

Let the hilarity ensue.

Not only does the story contrast and expose generational differences between ’70s kids and Millennials, but it presents a pretty fantastic template for the immediate and far off future:

The competitive internship program.

“The Internship” has, without revealing any critical story or plot details, shown that a competitive internship program with a pool of 5-10 or even up to 100 people (depending on the company) could be the perfect test for employers to assess, judge and determine if an applicant or applicants are truly qualified for a job at their company. Individual and team exercises, plus voluntary employee interactions, would ultimately determine if an offer would be extended for employment.

Instead of relying so heavily on a résumé and a singular interview, an engaging competition of sorts could be the bridge between not only employers and hopeful applicants, but also the bridge between the 20th century and the increasingly interactive and connected 21st century.

Yes, it’s true that most companies do not have the free flowing cash for such an extravagant program like portrayed in “The Internship,” but it should be used as a template to varying degrees. It has been reported that companies are cutting back on training, which contributes to an applicant having to try to unrealistically meet 100% of the advertised skills for a job opening. Even with a great education, not everybody is perfectly fit for a job in most any industry on their first day. There is a learning curve. An important quality to consider is if the person applying is like a fine wine:  great core knowledge with exciting flavors/skills that only get better with each passing day.

Competitive internship programs, for certain industries, could provide the public with one of the most critical qualities missing from most of today’s employers: an opportunity. Just to give people a chance to try, learn and shine.

That’s really what most people are yearning for these days.

Correction: That’s what most Americans are yearning for these days.

After all, the concept of opportunity was part of the foundation of the United States of America. It’s time for a 21st century reboot of that brilliant idea.

It could work.