Comments from Paul D.

It’s Sunday.  I was impatiently waiting for the weekend to come
and now it’s practically over.  I’m really losing my grip on
time.  Today I’ll be going to Baltimore to help my sister move
stuff out of storage and into her new home.  I wonder how many
calories that burns.  And I’ll drop off Leika.  She’s been
here for, what, 3 weeks now?  Four?  has it really been a
month?  No, I think it’s more like three weeks.

It must be Spring.  She’s starting to shed.  You should see
the piles of hair I combed off of her today.  Amazing.  And
it’s just the start.

But I’m here right now writing because Paul has taken the time to leave
comments on my blog entries.  And he wrote enought to warrant a response.

Sesame Street

I hear ya.  I really don’t like the new, re-vamped SS.  Half
of it is that computer-generated background crud.  Elmo’s World
and all that.  Maybe a decade or so in the future people will be
talking about how classic the current Sesame Street is.  I can’t
imagine that, though.  I suspect that what people will remember is
Elmo dolls and stuff like that.  The marketeering, but not the
substance of the show.  I guess we’ll see.

The Landmark Forum

Paul wrote:

“I did a little research on those Landmark Forums. Let me know if you
there’s anything you want to share about your experience there,
assuming you went to one of those forums. They sound good but I don’t
think I would jump to going because I’ve had very similar communication
training through working with my boss’s class, her husband’s work, and
from other sources. Still, tempting and interesting. I’m generally
suspicious of programs such as Landmark, especially in terms of their
effectiveness. Sounds like it is a good program but many out there are
just these weekend workshops aimed at getting your money.”

Paul sent me a note saying that he wrote this before he read (or
re-read) my entries about Landmark.  But I’ll respond to this
anyway since I don’t feel like vaccuuming, dusting or doing laundry
right now.

First, I’m going to challenge you, PD, because I seriously doubt that
you’ve had very similar communication training to the Landmark
courses.  There may be some similarities but … well, let me put
it this way.  I talked to a lot of people who, going in to the
Forum, said that they had already done something similar.  They do
not feel the same way afterwards. These were people who had taken other
courses from other methods of various sorts.  Many I’ve never
heard of before but all aimed at whatever you want to call this: 
self-actualization, maybe?  I assure you that it’s not the same.

It’s kind of like saying that because you’ve driven a race car at
200mph that it must be the same as flying an F-18.  I did a lot of
research, too, before I did the Forum.  I read all kinds of stuff
and later learned more about the origins of the program.  And I’ve
heard and read lots of negative talk.  But I’ll tell you what I

Intellectual knowledge — understanding — has little or nothing to do
with it.  And I’m saying this as a guy who sees his brain as one
of the few things he has going for him.  The same way as knowing
the physics of roller coasters doesn’t really have anything to do with
the experience of actually riding a roller coaster.

“Well, you see, the G-forces on the second loop at the maximum angular
velocity will be a multiple of the mass of the train times —
whooooaaaaaa.  Look, my hands are in the air! I think I’m gonna
throw up.  Wheeeeee! — Pi squared.”

Besides, everybody’s making money off of me one way or another. 
Landmark is one of the few companies that I’m glad I give my money to
because of what it does for people.  Instead of making money off
of products that lead to heart disease or gives them cancer or makes
weapons of death and destruction, it makes money off of transforming
people’s lives so that they can live more fully and realize their own
potential and see the worth, value and humanity in themselves and
others.  And the same goes for the other programs that you

That’s a mighty fine way to make a buck.

Coca Cola at U Mich.

Paul wrote:

“Another thought I had in relation to the spread of misinformation and
people believing it…. even intelligent, liberal college kids:

Various events in the past couple years especially the last year of
college and this year have showed me that all information you hear,
even from reputable sources, is not necessarily reputable. Sometimes
even if information fits your prior beliefs, you have to step back and
say to yourself, “where on earth did they get this information?”

this was most pertinent during a recent allegation against Coca-Cola at
the UM. I was present when Coke sent four high level representatives
from the company to defend Coke on allegations that their bottling
plants in India have significantly lowered the water table levels and
that Coke had distributed poison or pesticides to local Indian farmers
claiming it to be fertilizer. Although I think there is definitely some
truth to these allegations and that the bottling plant has had some
sort of effect on that local Indian area, one thing one of the Coke
representatives said that struck me was that in Indian there are
thousands and thousands of publications looking for stories and that
much misinformation can get spread easily to media sources there.
Always the skeptic, as my former roommate calls me, I had to remain on
the fence in concluding whether it was worth supporting a vote by the
student assembly to recommend to the University administration that
they divest and cease all contracts with Coca-Cola. The assembly voted
to recommend this to the University but I’m still not sure it’s
completely warranted. I think people tend to attack companies like Coke
because a) Coke is a brand name and b) it has made itself into a
ubiquitous product in every non-US country. HOwever there are certainly
a lot of smaller companies that are doing a lot worse things on a
global scale that people don’t criticize as often because they aren’t
as visual or public.”

I do have an anti-corporation streak, though.  Let me tell you
why.  Because in the efforts to turn maximum profits, which is
fine — nothing wrong with that — they grasp for power at the expense
of the public.

Well, it’s not an anti-corporation streak.  It’s a pro-public
streak.  Here’s an example.  Coca-Cola is one of the
companies that came up with the brilliant (no sarcasm in this sentence
either) idea of sponsoring schools (middle, high school), placing ads
all over the place, and making themselves a part of the campus culture
with vending machines and such.  The effects of that much refined,
nutrient-free sugar water on people is atrocious.

Sure, it’s not as deadly as cigarette smoke (don’t even get me started
on the tobacco industry) … well, maybe it’s not.  But we jack
our kids up on this stuff — sugar and caffeine rushes — and then
brand them with a label when they’re hopped up and don’t sit in their
neat little rows and act like drones.  We are complicit in
promoting a culture of sugar and caffeine addiction, basically.

And we do it because of the power of a corporation that uses its
influence and wealth to place ads (and funding) for blatantly unhealthy
products in a public, government-run educational setting.  And
then we tell them to eat healthy, the food groups (and don’t get me
started on the FDA either) and all.  Got milk?

Our whole culture is “corporatized”, is my point.  Corporations
peddle a lot of unhealthy things (encouraging various forms of
addiction), we get sicknesses of all kinds by “drinking the kool-aid”
while riding on the bandwagon, and then we look to pharmaceutical
corporations to suppress the symptoms of our illnesses.

Uh oh, I can feel the pull of the tangent.  My point is that by
law corporations have the rights of an individual and none of the
responsibilities.  They aren’t benevolent, community-oriented
doers of good.  They also aren’t all agents of darkness run by Bob
Evil, CEO.

BUT they wield their power with abandon and we all end up paying the
price for it.  An obvious solution is for the public to excercise
their own power and avoid things that are bad for them, but that would
require the public to have access to facts — real facts — not
mainstream media facts.  But that information rarely reaches us
because it’s filtered through corporations that are related in some way
to the other corporations or lobbying groups.

I mean, if I see one more news segment telling us that Welches grape
juice is good for you heart (the research being funded by Welches) …
I do like that stuff, by the way.  I have to resist buying it
whenever I go grocery shopping.

Oh.  That reminds me.  I was watching the news one morning
here on a news station that’s an affiliate of ABC.  There was a
health segment and a woman, a nutrition or diet expert, came on and was
giving pointers on eating healthy foods.  The news guy asked her,
“What about all of the low-carb diets?  Those are popular now.”

The woman answered him by saying that carbohydrates are good for you,
of course.  So my ears perked up, curious to hear what was
next.  Then the camera pulled back a little to show her standing
behind a table with a bunch of food products layed outon it.  And
she went on to extol the virtues of a number of General Mills food
products — everything from sweetened cereals to pancake mix to other
pre-packaged foodstuffs.  I realized that I was basically watching
an ad for General Mills.

I think it was General Mills. If not, it was Kraft Foods.  I went on to do some research and found
that ABC is owned by Disney (we all knew that, right) and has had
cross-company deals with General Mills, who has sponsored, for
instance, Disney on Ice shows in the past.

I was irate.  The station was showing this health segment as if it
were an unbiased news segment, and not an advertisement for a
mega-corporation’s refined carbohydrate and trans-fat laden products.

Thishappens all the time, by the way.  Public relations firms for
corporations and, increasingly, the government (including the Bush
administration’s programs) make fake news segments — often hosted by
former-reporters or journalists — and sell them to TV stations. 
The TV stations use this filler because it’s cheaper than hiring and
sending their own reporters all over creation to gather news and don’t
report that the segment is sponsored by so-and-so.

How can we be informed and hold these powerful entities accountable if they’re the ones crafting the information?

Oh.  Man, I’d better get ready to get on the road here.  So,
yeh, be skeptical.  For sure.  But hold those with power and
influence accountable at every opportunity.  Coca-Cola came to U
Mich. because of the money involved in losing a conract.  Whether
or not it should continue, I couldn’t say.  But make them work for
their profits.  That’s what I say.

Thanks again for your comments, PD.  Good show.


Add Yours
  1. linkfelix2

    “Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News

    It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

    “Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.,” a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of “another success” in the Bush administration’s “drive to strengthen aviation security”; the reporter called it “one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history.” A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration’s determination to open markets for American farmers.

    To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The “reporter” covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department’s office of communications.”

  2. linkfelix2

    Wow! My own extended blog response from the G himself.

    Go do your laundry and vacuuming young man!

    I particularly enjoyed reading your comments about the Coca-Cola people coming to defend themselves at U Mich. I wanted to clarify: I was so suspicious of whether the SPECIFIC allegations were true because for the previous 3 weeks there had suddenly arisen a “Killer Coke” campaign that a large portion of the student body supported. In the student assembly chambers were a large number of students there in support of banning Coke from campus but barely any of them new anything more than the allegation that Coke people had somehow gotten 9 union leaders in Columbia assassinated. I’m afraid of McCarthyism and witchhunt mentalities, especially when it comes to individuals being accused of a wrongdoing. However, when it comes to corporations who already have a detrimental effect on the world and little kids’ teeth and hyperactivity, I’m not so concerned with their wellbeing.

    In fact, if the anti-Coke campaign had started to cite the various detriments of Coke that you cited, I would instantly be convinced to boot them from our campus.  My reaction to the whole ordeal derived from the fact that they were using one or two allegations and making a huge deal out of it. I was thinking, "Aren't there more important corporations you could be fighting that the University has contracts or connections to?" Maybe not.

    By the way, I think you’re dead on with the piece about corporations and government producing media segments and proclaiming them to be real news. Recently, a highly publicized article in the NY Times described the situation with numerous government organizations that have been producing pro-government “news.” It’s no longer on the web – you have to PAY for the article that was up less than 2 weeks ago. Ugghhh. You have to pay for information these days. In any case here’s the first 200 words or so since I saved it before it got archive

  3. linkfelix2

    By the way later in the article, it cites that Bush has spent twice the amount of tax payer money on public relations than Clinton did.

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