GETTING REAL

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

Energy Visualization. Photo by the author.

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

Photo by Robinson Recalde on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Thomas Somme on Unsplash

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

Author in front of elevator doors, Duluth Holiday Inn, when Dylan won Nobel Prize, 2016.

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

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

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. …


BOOKS

An anti-dote to the seduction of pop culture.

Photo by Tim Johnson on Unsplash

I was introduced to the writings of Jacques Ellul by a publication called Radix which aimed to present a serious, intellectually radical Christianity. Through probing journalism, essays and interviews with thought leaders, it demonstrated that intelligent people could also be Bible believers and worshippers of Jesus Christ.

Having started college as a philosophy major, I found Ellul’s clarity of thought to be enlightening and challenging. What impressed me most about the French philosopher’s writings was that half the books he wrote were written to Christians, and half were directed to secular audiences. That is, he spoke in the language of…


LIFE LESSONS

Be careful not to bite off more than you can chew.

Photo by OpticalNomad on Unsplash

In 1992 I published a five-part series of articles on ethical issues in terminal health care. As a result I was asked to teach a one day class for seniors at a local university. The response was such that I decided to write a book proposal and in January 1993 submitted it to Thomas Nelson Publishing.

In February, the movie Iron Will was being filmed here in Duluth. Naturally this was a thrill for locals. Hollywood was in town.

As it turns out, one of the film’s producers was a friend of a friend, and a former Minnesotan. In my…


THE ARTS

“The sole difference between myself and a madman is the fact that I am not mad” — Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali mural in Miami. Photo by Gary Firstenberg.

Earlier this summer I was reading a book of George Orwell essays titled Dickens, Dali and Others. Most American readers know Orwell for his last two books, Animal Farm and 1984, but he was also a prolific essayist. This particular volume is a collection of essays on people such as Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling H.G. Wells, Arthur Koestler and others.

I was especially interested in his views on Salvador Dali, not only because of my own fascination with his paintings but also because I was certain that as a contemporary, Orwell might offer a fresh perspective. …


PEOPLE

“The easiest way to attract a crowd is to let it be known that at a given time and a given place someone is going to attempt something that in the event of failure will mean sudden death.” — Harry Houdini

Collector and Houdini authority, John Cox. Photo by Athena Stamos

I discovered John Cox in 2014 after writing about the late John Bushey’s Houdini memorabilia and handcuff collections . It was an informative interview that brought back a lifetime of memories regarding my own personal fascination with magic and magicians.


MOVIE. REVIEW

“If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it’s a folk song.”

The people and places of that early 60’s Greenwich Village scene are legends now. Bleecker Street, Café Wah?, the Kettle of Fish, Gerde’s Folk City, and at its epicenter, The Gaslight Café on McDougal Street.

Sean Wilentz, in his book Bob Dylan In America, notes that The Gaslight wasn’t all music. Stand up comics like Bill Cosby and Woody Allen cut their teeth there. Dave Van Ronk, Tom Paxton and Noel Paul Stookey were there. And it’s been fairly well established that Dylan was “found” there… and briefly passes through here as well, perhaps the highlight of the film.

With…

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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