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Something From Nothing

“We don’t like him/her/them.”

This pretty much (though not entirely) sums up the 2014 midterm election messaging strategy from both Republicans and Democrats. That, and the convenient amnesia of whether Democrats voted for President Obama and the audacious weight that comes with asking such a prying, personal and Constitution-violating question (at least in Kentucky…apparently). The conventional statistical analysis currently points towards the Republicans gaining the majority in the Senate, improving their legislative power and influence. It would be, undoubtedly, a partial result of the relentless incompetence of President Obama and his administration and the continuous stream of national scandals and terrible foreign policy decisions (Romney…Romney), plus the current Senatorial gridlock led by Sen. Harry Reid. However, it would potentially be achieved without any clear, inspirational policy initiatives for the 21st century American worker: employed, unemployed and underemployed. This is a major problem, but also the key opportunity for 2016 and the 21st century from a governing standpoint. The political party that can develop, articulate, implement and defend broad and specific economic policies for the ever-changing globalized economy in a “turn-of the-century” kind of way that proves compatible with the many challenges facing white and blue collar workers today and tomorrow will take the future.

It’s really that simple. Be true to your convictions and do so with intelligence, purpose, composure and sympathetic awareness.

That will, in a macro sense, be the 2016 election (well, should be). Which candidate and political party can produce the most competent, innovative yet simple, inspiring and inviting economic message for a second American century? Whoever it is, this person will be sitting in The White House in January of 2017.

Returning back to the 2014 midterm election today, many of whom have declared it the “Seinfeld election,” as it’s basically about nothing with regards to specific policies and the consequences of these invisible policies. But that can only be partly true because the Senate will likely flip control, indicating it’s at least about something/someone.

Although, Seinfeld was a brilliant television show with engaging characters, talented actors and a surprisingly original, intelligent premise that endured and happily entertained and satisfied its audience for nearly a decade (not counting syndication).

On second thought, maybe this isn’t the “Seinfeld election” after all. What the country wouldn’t give for a dramatically energetic Kramer entrance right about now, declaring the next wildly imaginative invention to solve the world’s problems.

That would really be something.

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.

What Will We Look Like in a Museum?

The incredible power of looking at a painting or sculpture is imagining what the artist was thinking over a period of time that took him or her from a blank sheet, or even nothing at all, to a colorful, even transcendent, finish. What was the thought process? The inspiration? The meaning?

Art is a fantastically ambiguous medium that stirs up emotions and reactions that range from happy and joyful to curious and confusing to sorrowful and heart-breaking to inspiring and magnificent. In some senses, art is universally objective and other times is purely subjective to the viewer.

Starry Night (of the 19th century) is beloved around the world. The perception of a vase from Ancient Greece with a story illustrated around the top rim is more subjective.

I wonder what the defining piece of art will be for the 21st century (so far)? What image or shapes will resonate with entire generations?

I have a strong inkling it won’t be a 2-dimensional painting or marble sculpture, but instead will be an experience.

Ask yourself: What is it like to live in the 21st century?

Whatever you decide, be inventive.