GETTING REAL

The first to present his case seems right, until another comes forward and questions him. — Proverbs 18:16

It happens on Wall Street. It happens in Washington. And it happens in board rooms across the country. What we’re talking about is the misreading and misuse of data. This article is directed toward online marketing decisions based on analytics.

It’s self-evident that without accurate facts, you’re usually not going to make good decisions, except by accident. Unfortunately, we’re so inundated with data that learning how to determine what data has value is a skill in and of itself. The information may be accurate, but those reading the data may lack the skills, or be too biased, to translate it…


PROPAGANDA

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past. — Geo. Orwell, 1984

When future historians write about the 20th Century, it would not surprise me to find it had been nicknamed The Century of Spin. Today more than ever we see that the battle for the minds of the people revolves around the manner in which events get interpreted, not necessarily the events themselves.

Social observers have long noted this trafficking in interpretations. Who decides what is good and what is bad? Who decides who the good guys and bad guys are in this battle for control of the narrative?

We live in a mediated world. Before entering World War One, very…


Two views on the pursuit of happiness.

I am proposing that what the Founding Fathers meant when they wrote “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” is totally at odds with what it has come to mean today. To elaborate on how this came about is not my aim here. Instead I wish to compare two ideas about happiness and suggest that somehow we’ve now got it all wrong.

What I’m attempting to express here comes from notes I took in response to a lecture on Aristotle that our philosophy club discussed a number of years ago.

Aristotle, one of…


NOSTALGIA

“My work is a moving thing.” — Bob Dylan

The Minnesota music scene has produced some sensational talent through the years. Rock, folk, jazz, blues, bluegrass and even gospel music circles have developed exceptional performers and recording artists. One of these was David Curtis Glover, better known as Tony “Little Sun” Glover. A harmonica player with the folk group Koerner, Ray and Glover (inducted into the MN Music Academy Hall of Fame in 1983) he was also a notable rock critic who wrote for many of the best-known music mags including Crawdaddy, Sing Out, Creem and Rolling Stone.


WORK LIFE

“We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we respect, trust and care for each other.” — Vala Alshar

For years I have referenced data from the Gallup organization for insights on various topics. What I like about Gallup Polls is that they stake a claim on getting the most diverse viewpoints from the broadest field of data. They have the resources to do this because they do it well and have become trusted for it, unlike many news polls that pretend to do so.

When companies measure ROI, they are measuring results after the fact. …


CONTEMPORARY ISSUES

“How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?”

Today, Juneteenth has officially become a National Holiday. What follows are some thoughts I shared in 2013 regarding Bob Dylan’s “Oxford Town.”

We often hear people talk about the 50’s as the “good old days.” In reality, the very things that were wrong in the 50’s are what led to the upheavals of the 60’s, no issue moreso than racism.

The conflicts over race long preceded the Freedom Riders who put their lives on the line to draw awareness to this special problem of…


LEADERSHIP

Dilemma: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more equally undesirable alternatives.

This past week I came across an interesting story about a dilemma involving two competing agendas. According the story, the Bustard is an endangered species of bird. It is protected because it is purportedly in danger of becoming extinct. But there’s a problem.

It is one of the largest flying birds and doesn’t maneuver very well. In addition, it has poor eyesight, therefore it doesn’t fly up high where eagles soar. As a result, it has a lower flight path and tends to not look where it’s going. Instead it flies forward while gazing downward as it crosses India’s flatlands…


IT’S YOUR BUSINESS

You’re only as good as your team.

One of the most frequently cited statistics that I run into on a periodic basis is how disengaged or dissatisfied employees are in America. A hundred years ago much of the chafing was due to long hours and high pressure to do more while being paid a pittance. Those circumstances are what drove the move toward unionization so that workers had rights. Sick pay and pensions were unheard of in 1900, but eventually became more the norm for companies that wanted to retain good employees.

Today, dissatisfied employees find themselves in a wholly different set of circumstances. We’re all familiar…


HISTORY LESSONS

Was it all just an illusion? Was it only make believe?

This past week I was listening to an audio book called The Next 100 Years, which begins with an insightful re-cap of the past 100 years. There is one given, if you take a forward look from any of the 20 year vantage points (1900, 1920, 1940, 1960, 1980 and 2000.) You will readily see how wrong your expectations would repeatedly have been.

In 1900 did anyone expect a world war in less than 15 years? Or that that global conflict would bring down five monarchies? …


“If you’re travelin’ in that North Country fair…”

This weekend is the beginning of a weeklong celebration in Duluth, Minnesota, honoring one of the Northland’s native sons, Bob Dylan. One of the features of our annual Duluth Dylan Fest is the John Bushey Memorial Lecture Series. The lecture program derives its name from a man whose influence and impact goes far beyond what even his closest friends realize. For more than 26 years he was the voice of KUMD radio program Highway 61 Revisited, the Dylan-themed music hour that reached listeners around the globe.

This years speaker will be Dave Engel, author of Just Like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues…

Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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