Archive for Random Thoughts

The spin doctor will see you now

Miriam Webster defines a spin doctor as a person (such as a political aide) whose job involves trying to control the way something (such as an important event) is described to the public in order to influence what people think about it. Considering the number of spin doctors that currently preside on both sides of the political isle – who knows what to believe?

kscn3545_hiI recently read an article about the one year anniversary of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and I then checked a few other sources to compare statistics, claims and facts. According to one source, the taxes on marijuana that Colorado made in one year was 76 million, another source had it at 40 million and still another, a meager 30 million. Any way you grow it, that’s a lot of weed … but how can these writers obtain such divergent statistics? Is anyone fact checking anymore? Or is this an example of selective spin in spite of the facts.

After Rolling Stone published an article on a campus fraternity gang rape that literally tore up families at the University of Virginia and enraged a lot of women, it was discovered that this event never even happened. The publisher was forced to officially retract the piece and apologize to its readers. My question – how do we as readers differentiate between spin doctors and journalists? What is the truth and how do we recognize it? It used to be that news stations and newspapers investigated, fact checked, then reported and/or published the news. Now it seems that stations or publishers have their own political and economic agendas and they report (and I use the term loosely) whatever they like – spinning information to heights that support those agendas. So now what?

After the events in Ferguson, Missouri last summer there were apparently questionable reports that the media ran which resulted not only in race riots, heavy damage to small businesses and angry residents, but a countrywide racism debate that grew pretty heated. Then, when the trial of Michael Brown actually happened and the truth was reported, it was nothing like the media reports. I imagine we can thank those in the Al Sharpton camp for inflammatory speech that swept up angry young people and their families along the way. So what is the answer?

For me – I shall pay attention to the spin surrounding all sides of an issue, especially during the season of political campaigning. Then, in gathering as much information as I can across the full spectrum of perspectives, I’ll decide the truth for myself. *rolls eyes*

Logos for President!

hillary logo - CopyHere it is – the new symbol of brand Hillary. The colors are certainly predictable, even presidential and it is a good strategy that the name Clinton is played down and the name Hillary played up. What does the arrow mean?   Let’s see, moving ahead, this way, points to America, Hillary is pointing to America – ok – that works. In substance and strategy, it’s not bad, but is it presidential? Probably not, and for a brand logo there are way too many words. I would think Hillary.com would be enough – oh wait, that’s actually a software company … a word to Hillary’s campaign manager “Time to make a deal”.

rand logo

Ok, here is another candidate who has tossed his hat into the ring – Rand Paul. It’s certainly short and sweet and the colors are certainly bold – but are they presidential? Hmmm What is the flame all about? Are we talking about the Olympics? The flame of Liberty … the Statue of Liberty … ok – I’ll bite. It certainly is more powerful than the Hillary logo when appearing at the same size.

ted cruiz logoAnd here is another candidate logo, colors are presidential, name is large and easy to read … is that a flag in the shape of a flame? What are we saying here? Eternal America, burn the flag … no, I’m sure that’s not right. Is the 2016 necessary? Too small? For me the flag in the shape of a flame doesn’t work – just my personal opinion … and therein lies the rub. All these logos will be seen and interpreted through different eyes and political orientations.marco rubio logo

And here is yet another campaign logo with a graphic of the United States dotting the i? Um, no. That will just become a blob (or a fish) when the logo is reduced and no one will even get it. Otherwise I love the font and all those round vowel shapes are very nice graphically. I also love the way the name is separated by color so the last name is emphasized – perfect! A New American Century – now there’s an idea.

logo_jill_2016_revI’m not exactly sure who Jill Stein is – but apparently she’s running for president in 2016. This logo looks more like margarine than a political candidate … but it has a very sunny feel. *winks* I would have separated the color between the two words and used a much more serious color – but hey … it sure is different!

Are Your Employees Your Biggest Fans?

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According to Forbes, in 2012 forty of the Top Companies to Work For were also the top companies in social media. Many companies are turning to their employees to help them achieve social media success via Employee Advocacy Programs. Tapping into employees’ vast array of social connections offers a company a far more diverse and broad reach than they could achieve on their own.

Employees are instrumental to social media success because:

  1. They care about the company brand and want to see the company succeed
    2. They are trusted by the public far more than the company itself
    3. Corporate messages are filtered by social media; individuals are not

Starbucks refers to its employees as ‘partners’ and they have Starbucks Partners accounts where they are encouraged to interact. The Twitter profile reads tweets for partners, about what it means to be a partner (employee). Recent tweets and retweets highlight employee and customer interaction. The company launched a campaign called Race Together, which encouraged opening a dialogue about racial diversity between Starbucks employees and its customers. The 28,000+ followers of the account were encouraged to spread the word of the new campaign across social media channels. That’s what Employee Advocacy is all about.

Are there possibly negative points to consider? Sure. The Starbucks campaign, a week after its launch, was calleda marketing fiasco that could rank right up there with ‘New Coke’, by FOX Media.

The campaign was criticized as ‘opportunistic and inappropriate’, especially after recent racially charged events and national protests about police killings of black men. Some critics disparaged the idea of opening up the topic in the few minutes a Barista should be selling drinks.

Corey duBrowa, senior V.P. of global communications, received so many inflammatory and negative tweets when the plan was announced, he deleted his Twitter account. Ouch! (It was reactivated 24 hours later). Having all employees stop referencing the failed campaign on social media is one possible problem.

Employers may be concerned about reining in negative posts and tweets. (What if your disgruntled former employee starts spewing #hate?) There’s only so much control over what’s put out there. So, how to avoid potential negativity? While you can’t empower an employee and excite him to share ideas and then censure his input, and there is a certain amount of trust that goes hand in hand with this type of outreach, employees are given guidelines, instruction and often post via portals to prevent issues from arising. Employee Captains and Social Media Leaders are also designated to coordinate and manage posts. There are steps to creating and maintaining an effective Employee Advocacy Program including: strategy, research, metrics and software. This helps ensure positive results for the employer and employees.

If a company’s employees are its “fans”, no one will be better at spreading the word, sharing “sneak peeks” and “insider info” and getting new customers. Employee Advocacy Programs utilizing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of contacts who already know and trust its employees may the best inroad to social media success that a company can take. What’s not to “like” about that?

Keeping up with the Websters

New words are being created every day, many due to the influence of technology and social networking. Here are some fun new words that you have likely heard and used already … now sanctioned by Merriam and company.

  1. big data: data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools … as Ed Sullivan would say … it’s really, really, big
  2. catfish: someone who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes … gives a bad name to a pretty good fish (Have you ever seen the reality show on MTV? Oy.)
  3. crowdfunding: soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people especially from an online community … political contributions come to mind … hmmmm
  4. fracking: injecting fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources like oil or natural gas … not exactly a new practice … but a seriously new name that sorta sounds like what it does
  5. freegan: an activist who scavenges for free food in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants as a means of reducing consumption of resources … ok, this is a little crazy and dangerous, not to mention potentially stinky
  6. gamification: the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something to encourage participation … I confess that we have been guilty here … but who knew there was a word for it. *laughs*
  7. hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet). Ahem … seems a little on the late side, Merriam, since we have been using this word for years.
  8. pho: a Vietnamese soup made of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles, herbs and a protein (Yum. I think I’d like some mo pho please.)
  9. poutine: a dish of French fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds … this one is a heart attack waiting to happen
  10. selfie: an image of oneself taken by oneself using a cell phone especially for posting on social networks … guilty again
  11. social networking: the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships especially online … and again
  12. steampunk: subgenre of science fiction and fantasy steampunkliterature featuring 19th century society dominated by steam-powered technology. Steampunk has developed in recent years to become a craft and lifestyle movement.
  13. turducken: a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey … for those who cannot terducken 2decide and want it all (but the bones), I guess
  14. tweep: a person who uses the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets … what?
  15. Yooper: a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan —used as a nickname (um, why?)

Words in general fascinate me … and new word development is even more fun … and it’s easy to see how they evolve. As Cameo would say … Word up!

 

Political jargon …

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Ok … I’m guilty. I listen to political talk radio and television way too much. Hey, I’m practically having relationships with pundits and news anchors. And goodness knows I love a rousing debate. What I also find pretty interesting is what I call politispeak … the jargon of politics. Do any of these sound familiar?

“At the end of the day
Geez… everyone seems to know what will happen at the end of the day – the proverbial “wrap-up” phrase which I find to be hilarious. Know what actually happens at the end of my day? A really good cocktail.DemocraticLogo

“The fact of the matter”
Oh this is good. What fact are they referring to exactly? This expression often precedes a diatribe from one side or the other which covers talking points and serious partisan rhetoric about that darn matter. Maybe it’s just time filler… a breath catcher, if you will.

“Fundamentally flawed”
This is a big favorite since I love alliteration and this expression says “Your idea sucks” in such a polite way.

“The American People want”
Now there is a broad brush expression if I ever heard one, and it’s one that many people use. The fact of the matter is (sorry, I couldn’t resist but this is true) we are seriously divided as to what we want … and no one side can claim to know what The American People really want unless some bipartisan legislation has a 70-80% approval rate (I highly doubt it).

“The war on …”
Apparently we are always fighting a war on or about something … women, race, taxes, religion, drugs, 16 oz soft drinks. Pick your noun and head for the bunker as a war may very well be declared on it.

“With all due respect”
This one is very entertaining and generally precedes a real clear insult to the opposing side. After all,  one can hardly say “I’m going to be disrespectful to you and your ridiculous p.o.v. right now”, so one uses the disclaimer to sugar coat the diss. Then pow!     *rolls eyes*

“Frankly”
Does this really mean one is about to be candid or honest?

“The folks”
Ah yes, we are often referred to as folks. Is this a warm and fuzzy colloquialism for the American people? Or is it referring to commoners? Because in my world “folks” means my parents. I’m just sayin’.

“Bailout”
Let’s see. We had the auto bailout, the bank bailout and the Mac and Mae bailout. Since when did a term associated with doing (or not doing) jail time become synonymous with government lending paid for by the taxpayers?

“Too big to fail”
This is the ever famous theory which asserts that certain corporations, particularly financial institutions, are so large and so interconnected that their failure would be disastrous to the greater economic system, and they therefore must be supported by government when they face potential failure. Oy vey.

In my view, we are currently experiencing the most polarized political debate in decades, with rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle (ah…another interesting term) at an all time fever pitch. I can only hope things will calm down so the changes that this nation so desperately needs can actually get accomplished. As “the folks” used to say, actions speak louder than words.

(Laughs … instead of cries)

Making a Case for “Case”

Fps or FPS …

Here is where case makes
a big difference.  If displayed
in logreg-shorts-1aflatedtsmwer case, fps is short for frames per second, a measure of how much information is used to display motion video. The term applies to both film video and digital video.  Since each frame is a still image, displaying frames in quick succession creates the illusion of movement. The image of the skiers is approximately a half second of frames display.

If seen in capital letters FPS is short for “First Person Shooter” … and this pertains to the video game genre where the gamer can only see the character’s hands holding a weapon on the screen. Games that involve first person shooting are great for letting off steam. While playing, one often times dies, or in attempting to heal, grabs a medical kit and as we say in gaming, lives to die another day.

Gaming has served yet another educational function … especially for people like myself … the visually cursed. I realized very soon that the resolution and display of the graphics in my video game needed to be very crisp and fast – for this the fps (the refresh rate of video) needed to be 30 frames per second for a great display experience sFirst-Person-Shooter-games-1024x819o a high definition graphics card is essential. Only Nvidia or AMD will do. Every time I buy a new computer I need a high end graphics card … cha-ching (see what I mean about visually cursed?).

This also means a fast connection is required – so no DSL for me. Fiber optic is supposed to be the fastest – so depending on where you live and how the data is delivered determines your speed for MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game). Also, many of us are in voice as we game together … so that also drains your signal.  I never knew I would learn so much about computers playing online … but hey – it’s good to still think like a 23 year old on occasion.