Monday, June 28, 2010

Life 2.0

When I was a kid, I remember how awesome renting a video game was (yes, I’m old enough to remember video stores. When I was a kid, we didn’t have Netflix). I’d play as long as my parents would allow it, then wake up SUPER early the next morning so I could beat my brothers to the SNES. I’d play and play and play, only stopping to eat and sleep. Because we only had the video game for a few days, it was important to play as much as I could to get as far in the game as possible. It was a good childhood.

Even though I no longer really play, I still like the idea of video games, how you can jump into an entirely different world for a few hours and do strange, impossible things. Luckily enough, we’re entering an age where life itself is turning into a video game. This is facilitated by mobile services and new technology, each seeming more like science fiction. Here are just a few of the relatively new services that make life just a little bit more fun. These technologies are probably going to become (or already are?) the next big things.
UPDATE: I forgot a few really interesting advances in technology, so I put them at the top.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What I Learned (and Still Learn) From My Dad

Father’s Day. One day a year. As a teenager, I always wondered why dads got a day, and moms got a day, but kids didn’t. Seemed unfair. The answer I got back was always, “every other day is kid’s day,” and I believe it now. Every other day of the year is devoted to children. So we have father’s day, one day a year, to honor everything our dads have done for us. Since the average cost of raising a kid these days is somewhere in the ballpark of $220,000 (if THAT isn’t effective birth control, I don’t know what is), we owe quite a bit. However, this debt goes so far beyond the physical things our fathers have provided for us. Everything I know, everything I’m currently learning, and everything I will learn has somehow been shaped by the lessons I was (and continue to be) taught by my mom and dad. I wish I had thought about doing something like this on Mother’s Day in May, because there are so many lessons from Mom too, but this post is about what I learned from my Dad.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Damage Control

BP is in hot (oily) water. With pictures like these (only look if you want your weekend/month/year ruined) almost beating out those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials for saddest-animals-ever all because of your company, there’s a lot of hatred being thrown at the Charles Montgomery Burns of oil companies (oil companies are also the Mr. Burnses of life). Rightly so. This BP disaster caused 11 deaths on an oil rig and is an environmental catastrophe. “PR nightmare” doesn’t even begin to explain the mess BP is in. “We will get it done. We will make this right” is the headline on the nine full-page ads it has been releasing in the New York Times. How do you make something like this right? Time for damage control, but how? Here are some ideas I have about getting back into the good graces of the public after something goes wrong.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Making the Idiot Box Smarter

 A few months ago, I had an interview for a company in Madison. I had to give a 10-minute presentation on anything I wanted. I chose to do a presentation on The Simpsons, but in a way that connected it to the ethos of the 90's, and how the show was an important critique of modern culture. After I started preparing for the presentation, it dawned on me how similar this show and what is generally considered the best TV show ever, The Wire, are. The Wire was a show on HBO that centered on the drug trade in Baltimore, but it was also a show about how the institutions that drive the world are corrupt and let us down. The local government, police force, public school system, and media are institutions that are supposed to aid the people, yet because of funding, red tape, and sensationalism they let us down. In its own way, The Simpsons does exactly that. What follows is a rough outline of what I said during the presentation. I may not have gotten the job, but it did allow me to think deeper about two of my favorite TV shows.