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Saturday, September 11, 2021

What You Won't Hear About 9/11

I'll probably catch hell for this, but this reading of the 9/11 victims is a massive head fake that accomplishes nothing, and is actually an insult to the country.  Sure, it looks like we're doing something, but we're really not. It makes people at home feel like they're participating, but they're really not. Nobody reads the names of sailors who died on December 7, 1941.  Nobody reads the names of the passengers who died when the Lusitania was torpedoed.

Like so much of what we see and do, these services are nothing more than a salve, designed to defray any real efforts or political actions. They serve only to provide a sense of accomplishment to a sedated population accustomed to subservience.

"Did you watch the memorial service? It was so sad."  That's it.  That's all.

There was a time when this country didn't slink off and lick its wounds. We didn't get mad; we got even. Now all we get is maudlin programming with regularly scheduled commercial interruptions.

This is the shame that is America.

Saturday, August 07, 2021

The Digital Drop Piece

You don't have to be a Law & Order fan to know what a drop piece is.  It's a fixture in just about every police detective story ever told.  But in case you've been a literary Rip Van Winkle, I'll remind you that a drop piece is a small, unregistered hand gun that police detectives usually carry attached to their ankles.   Its serial numbers have been filed off to make it untraceable, and it remains hidden under the pants leg until it needs to be used.

The gun is not there for self-defense or predatory purpose. In fact, while it is loaded with live ammunition, the gun is rarely, if ever, fired.  That's because the sole purpose of a drop piece is to plant evidence on a perpetrator at the scene of a crime.  In case a bust becomes questionable or lacks evidence, a detective can claim that "this small, illegal handgun was found at the scene," which would ostensibly escalate the event into one of life-threatening circumstance, justifying the cop's next-level behaviors.

The fraudulent use of drop pieces are, in every way, completely illegal, providing false evidence which at trial, is tantamount to perjured testimony.

And yet, drop pieces have been used plenty of times, unquestioned against the word of law enforcement and context of circumstances.  After all, it's far easier for juries and judges to believe the bad guy had a gun than it is for them to accuse the police of framing an innocent citizen. If you happen to be arrested by mistake, this forms the perfect storm for a mistaken conviction.

Enter Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple.

In case you haven't heard, Apple now intends to scan every single image on every single iPhone for "images of child pornography" or those which they suspect could be such.  If that doesn't scare you, it should, for a few reasons:

First, it completes big tech's intrusion into, and the total destruction of, any illusions of privacy you may have had about your digital data. While we all know that big tech has been sharing our sales and contact information for decades, this completes the loop to include visual data.

Second, it assigns Apple and others the dubious task of determining what is objectionable and who should be reported to authorities. Since there is no discernible standard against which these images are judged, the exact same image could be viewed as innocent for one person but criminally suspect for another. The entire program is arbitrary at least, capricious at best.

Third, these scans can and will be used as digital drop pieces, where "undesirables" (as arbitrarily defined by big tech) can and will suddenly be found in possession of said images, prompting reports to authorities and subsequent prosecution, opening a whole new world of political harassment and persecution to those that big tech simply doesn't like.

Think it can't happen to you?  Think again: Do you know anyone whose credit card hasn't been compromised?  How many have been the victim of a persistent wrong number or something as harmless as a misdirected e-mail or spam?  The FBI already has huge arsenals of digital weaponry, listening, watching everyone from muslim terrorists to anti-vaccine activists to take one wrong step.

Now think about big tech generating its own political enemies list matched up to its image scanning weapon and the picture for you -- even unscanned -- gets pretty ugly.

Be careful out there.

Friday, May 28, 2021

A Simple Twist of Fate

As I continue to clean out the garage to make way for the art studio, I stumbled on this, the sole survivor of some advertising that but for a quirk of fate, could have changed my entire life. You can tell it's pre-digital; even the fonts are hand-drawn.
In the early 1980s, a Korean car company decided to launch its operations here in America. Nobody in America had ever heard of Hyundai, and the agency I was working for was invited to pitch the account, which was by all standards HUGE. I was a Creative Director in the west coast (Los Angeles) office, and a twenty-something wunderkind, a bicoastal creative wizard who stalked the media department for gorgeous female media buyers when I wasn't killing it with advertising awards. I was, in short, impossible. So it was no small thing when the general manager assigned me to be in charge of pitching the entire national account. That not only meant heading up the Los Angeles office's effort, but flying weekly to New York to kick ass on their team, as well.

Heady stuff? You bet. Flying first class (when first class was worth flying) and staying at four star hotels, waltzing into conference rooms in my cowboys boots/no necktie to face the lineups of account executives and creatives all outfitted in Brooks Brothers.

Remember, this was the go-go 1980s, when everything, including hair, art and cars were big and getting bigger. But Hyundai was not an 80's car. Truth be told, it was more like Volkswagen in the 1950s: smaller, more efficient, less money.

My campaign featured Judd Hirsch, the down-to-earth actor starring in "Taxi", who would walk around the car on a seamless white background, cleverly extolling the virtues of Hyundai's practicality. It was, as it were, "a sensible car for sensible people," and thus the tagline, "Built on common sense."

The campaign was quickly chosen as the lead to pitch. It took six months and about $300,000 (these are 1980 dollars), but June 23 -- the day of the pitch -- was getting near. I was all set. Winning this account would mean a ginormous raise, serious national exposure for me, and more job offers than I could handle. I slept at night dreaming of general managers lining up to hand me the keys to their agencies, pleading for me to become a partner. Then something happened on June 21:

Apparently, secret meetings had been going on for some time between our agency and another major agency. Nobody knew anything about it until June 21, when management not only announced the agencies' merger was finalized, but as a result, we were pulling out of the Hyundai pitch. The other agency already had Buick as a client, and Hyundai would have been a conflict.

In sixty seconds, my entire future went up in carbon monoxide.

Every single dream, goal and wish that was supposed to drop in my lap completely missed and went down the toilet. The twenty something wunderkind would not be taking the world by storm after all.

As a result, my life changed radically. I soon left to start my own agency, never trusting anyone in business ever again. I also kissed off that young man's dreams of New York City. I decided that going my own way meant not going everyone else's. I stayed in Los Angeles for the rest of my life, eventually living the life I never could have enjoyed so thoroughly anywhere else.

Sometimes, things work out.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

You Can Look Me Up

If you're a Boomer, you may have forgotten. If you're younger than that, you never knew. But there once was a time when just about anyone, anywhere, could be found by flipping through the pages of "the telephone book."

Every city, town and village had their own telephone books. They were thick, heavy and contained every citizen's name, address and, of course, telephone number. THey were free, and if you owned a land line, they'd be delivered to your doorstep every Spring, updated with the latest listings. The larger the population, the thicker the book. If you grew up during that era, telephone books were de facto booster seats: million of children balanced precariously atop stacks of them at restaurant tables, long before Chinese car seats were invented.
Telephone books aren't really around anymore. Not because people own fewer land lines, but more because this country has long since transitioned from a nation of neighbors to a mass market of automatons. The friendship and openness we once enjoyed as a culture has been programmed out of us, replaced by suspicion, all in the name of "privacy."

Try selling a concept of a phone book today and see how far you get. People would think you're nuts. Who in their right mind would hang out their personal name, address and phone number for anyone to see? Well, not too long ago, the American culture was far friendlier. The phone book was how people found you -- mainly by those who you wanted to find you. Everyone knew that if you wanted to get in touch, all you had to say was, "You can look me up. I'm in the book."

Of course, all that is gone now. You're reading this and thinking about stalkers, murderers and Communist activists doxxing and harassing you. The world, it would seem, is out to get you, so it's far better to hide out under the specter of anonymity.

Not true. As a veritable antique, I can tell you that it was a far better time when we assumed each others' trust. It was a richer life when we opened our lives and hearts, welcoming old friends who looked us up and new connections we wanted to meet.

Can you imagine a world in which there was no orchestrated fear? Lucky me. I lived it. Not so lucky you. Now put on both of your masks and stay six feet away.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thankful Still

I don't feel so bad about losing a year of my life to this madness. I'm not exactly an antique, but my rogue years of adventures are in my rear view mirror. These days, I cocoon in my lair, when I can enjoy the world as I want it, without having to deal with mediocrity of pandemic proportions.
When they tell us "smoking will take years off your life," it's not like they let you live your whole life and then take years 24, 28 and 31 away. You live til 95 instead of 97. Those last two years have far less marginal value.
That's not what's happening now, though.
Today, if you're a young adult, they actually ARE stealing your life. They're stealing what could arguably be called the BEST years of your life -- the teens, 20s and early 30s. You can't meet anyone. Date anyone. Enjoy anyone. Go anywhere.
And those years aren't coming back.
I've got lots to be thankful for. Hope you and yours do, too.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Gloom and Boom

I'm not a young man. I'm not exactly an antique yet, but I'm old enough to have seen just about everything, particularly the legions of self-appointed experts predicting the demise of the planet, its climate, and its inhabitants. Decades ago, we were supposed to have overpopulated the Earth, run out of fossil fuels and died of AIDS. Today, gas is cheap, people are thriving and not one prediction of death by disease has come true.

If you're really into gloom and doom, you're probably inundated by social media rants about how the post pandemic economy is never coming back. "We're doomed!" cry the usual suspects, offering up nothing more than a continuation of their unbroken string of irrational and incorrect rants about people, plagues, and pointless predictions.

On the other hand, if you know your history and human nature, you'll also find that all of these experts have always been wrong about everything, and are just as wrong everything today, including what's in store for the economy. Here's why:

You read it here first: Despite the cruel, pointless destructions of state and local governments, most if not all of the businesses that were closed will quickly spring back to life even stronger than they were going into this disaster. The reasons are simple:

First, just like every hurricane season in the American southeast or earthquake in the west, the horrors of natural disasters always spur an economic recovery boom. Reclamation, reconstruction and all the ancillary services and products accompanying them flood the economy with jobs and activity. The disaster, in effect, creates a boom economy and eventually restores economic stability.

Second, human nature is far more resilient and determined than you might imagine. Think about it: If, for example, restaurant owners were forced out of business by random, baseless state and local edicts -- and I'm talking about these victims going flat broke -- what do you suppose they're going to do when all those pointless restrictions are lifted? I'm talking about a thirty, forty or fifty year old restauranteurs who have been doing this work their entire lives, who have no idea how else to make a living. Do you really think they're suddenly going to change course and start writing code or selling jet skis? No way. They're going right back to what they know best, only this time, you can bet they're going to be eligible for and supported by easy SBA loans with incredible terms.

Third, the goons who have clearly enjoyed creating this inhumane fiasco are completely tone deaf to the pent up demand that all Americans of every political stripe are experiencing with every passing day of their incarceration. Humans are, after all, social animals, and more than 300 million people now understand and appreciate how dismal life can be when there is no watering hole around which to gather. When the hoax is finally obliterated, stand back and watch them stampede in record numbers.

In my years, I've found that the people who are usually wrong are the people who want you to believe they're always right. You might say that includes me. Fine. Think what you like. Just make sure it's after you've finished a great meal at a fabulous bar with plenty of your close friends -- none of whom is wearing a mask.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Irrelevance of Black Lives Matter

Of all the woes one can cast upon the United States, among the worst is its citizens' widespread lack of historical knowledge.  If only people really knew what's happened in the past, they'd be a lot less fearful of their present.  Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, teachers, administrators and school superintendents decided that gender studies was more important than understanding the Constitution, so now we have a Nation of Children who are more focused on their genitals than on their life goals, freedoms and liberties.

Of course, being the boomer that I am, I harbor no such misalignments of priorities.  I prefer to sit on my porch, chuckling over the repetition of foolishness throughout the ages.  I watch with amusement as others wring their hands over everything from diseases to politics and race wars, all the while knowing the eventual outcome -- because it has all happened before.

Oh, sure, there are those who believe that Antifa and Black Lives Matter are for real.  I agree, they are real.  But they're certainly nothing to be taken any more seriously than their predecessors, because if you know your American history, you'd agree that these types of organizations generally have desperately short half-lives.  They're here one year and gone the next. 

Don't believe me?  Read on a bit and see if you don't agree:

Remember when Bernie Sanders was going to change the country -- twice?  There was a time that Bernie Bro's were swelling college campuses with their message of "free everything."  Sanders took a commanding presence in the primaries of 2016 and 2020.  But then what happened?  Nothing.  Thousands of young people flushed away years of their lives and got sold out.  Now they're nothing but five years older with nothing to show for it.  The same thing happened in 1972, when George McGovern and his anti-Vietnam War youths were supposed to wipe out Richard Nixon.  Even with the new 18 year old vote, that plan didn't go so well:  Nixon won 49 states.  McGovern won one state and Washington, D.C.

In 1968, Jerry Rubin painted himself up as a latter day Ché Guevara, declared himself a Yippie and led the riots at the Democratic National Convention as one of the infamous Chicago Seven.  What you may not realize is that just a few short years later, Rubin got a haircut, traded in his headband and poncho for a three-piece business suit and took a job on Wall Street as an investment analyst.

How about Linda Sarsour's Women's March? Lots of feminists marching down streets chanting and yelling. Lots of media attention.  But at the end of the day, aside from knitted hats that were, at best, a questionable fashion statement, what did they accomplish?  If anything, the march turned feminism into a cartoon, dismissed by the public and evaporating from view.  No new legislation.  No new anything.  A big zero.

Now the same things are happening with Black Lives Matter and Antifa.  Don't get me wrong, there are way too many people getting punched and killed.  Too much property being destroyed.  Too many elected officials abdicating their oaths, for sure.  However, when you really look at either organization, what have either really accomplished?  Nothing, with the possible exception of some temporary intimidation, and that's nothing new.  If you really want to see racial intimidation done by the master, look no further than Jesse Jackson, whose talent for racial arm-twisting remains unparalleled to this day.  When he was in his prime, the mere threat of a Jackson march on Washington, D.C., was enough to garner him and his family all kinds of cash and prizes, including a Budweiser distributorship in Illinois and much, much more. These guys today?  They don't even know enough to muscle a piece of the pie.  They show up, get some air time, collect a check and go home.

Yes, it's really that simple, and you don't have to go back much further than the 1960s to see this, either.  Anyone remember the Black Panthers?  They're dust.  What did they accomplish?  Nothing. The Ku Klux Klan?  Destroyed by the FBI.  What did they accomplish? Nothing.  Hippies?  Long haired in the 1970s, flipping real estate by the 1980s.  What did they accomplish? Nothing. And that's just in the last 50 years.  If you know your American history, you can see this stuff cropping up about every 50 years or so, but nothing ever really lasts, because in our society, change is brought about by evolution not revolution.

Let's see where Black Lives Matter and Antifa are in a few years -- that's if you can find them.

If history proves anything, it's that media is always looking for the next big story so it can sell more advertising.  Not all of them make it.  Murder hornets, for example, didn't play.  But pandemics, racism, political disinformation -- none of it is new.  And in the long run, none of it is relevant.

We're America.  We endure.  We survive -- no matter how irrelevant the threat actually may be.