A Catalyst for Change

waves striking lighthouse

Picking yourself up when you are down is an effort worth learning in this life.  It is amazing how our experience can lead us to some startling conclusions based on what we have witnessed within our own personal realm of experience.  Not having an expectation of what may come about can take a person by surprise.  When we have beliefs about the way the world is supposed to work, and then something happens to completely change our view and opinion we once held with some certainty is indicative of how this body of contrary evidence can degrade and defeat our human spirit.  The phrase “nice guys finish last” is often used when resorting to a philosophy that explains one’s motivational technique to overcome your competition, or maybe an opponent by not “playing by the rules”.  Namely when we do not predicate our behavior on an ethical standard like honesty, integrity or respect, one can still often present the perception they have these qualities often using a public relations rhetorician of sophist to spin the desired event.

Operating under questionable directives, manipulating public opinion with a voice to spin their argument can be observed everyday in social media, or in other broadcasted stories if you dig far enough into the information.  Some people, businesses, government’s, and nations all use various techniques to carry out their agendas in the public domain.  Setting yourself up for success is of course advised to get ahead, but if you succumb to using some devious tactic that would not be considered as a deed having integrity or somehow misrepresents the situation that will favor an outcome that you will profit from, then you fail to hold any esteem in my life.

I have seen first hand how the an influential power can negatively affect those that are held to a higher standard of accountability, and simultaneously how those in leadership roles give far less critical evaluations using the same technique of “selective perceptions” (Texas Sharpshooter), to those who they show favor to.  The politics of their arguments are rooted in ad hominem, straw-man, Texas sharpshooter, appeals to emotion, tu quoque, and other logical fallacious means that are by design used to support their claims since no other contrary factual evidence can be produced to exercise their agenda.

 

Most of the readers indeed should have some experience of being witness to life’s inequities primarily engineered by the politics of being human.  When we find that we cling to a path they may not truly be the best for us under the circumstances, even after all of our rationalizations, fears and the injustices, and if we do not acknowledge the alternatives, we may then forsake our own values and dwell on and cling to the rejection of this choice.  This is a where the hard part will come in; the psychological reconstruction of our thoughts, and how we are to fit into the world.  Seeking the change may be difficult, but if we do find a path in the end that will treat us in accordance to our values, then nothing will be more satisfying and we will be grateful that the angst we once suffered became the catalyst for an honorable change.

I have learned that one must push forward no matter what one may find in times of adversity.  The only way a change becomes a failure is when you do nothing and accept a fate you know will leave you unfulfilled.  Funny how one can commit themselves to a project for three decades, only to find that they have been on a wrong path.  How we despite the evidence continue to try to make the best of it, and find that after placing so much effort and sacrifice into an endeavor, we somehow are left unsatisfied knowing that it took us away from our families, remembering the countless times we gave up personal requests to “help out” ad infinitum.  Our personal health has been compromised due to the years of production in a service industry that seems bleak due to the constant threat of operations coming in using cheaper labor constraints with larger companies that continue to dominate any market share via questionable business practices.  The “bic Lighter” mentality is rife though-out our culture.  Use them up and throw them away.  Appeals to buying from slave labor countries, only to export these immorally produced goods in our country displacing many of our country’s jobs seems to be acceptable to our government.  They themselves are the biggest offenders.

Despite the challenges, we must press on.  We must not engage ourselves in the negative dialectic, but instead create something positive for us.  The world can be a harsh opponent if we concentrate our thoughts on the negative outcomes in life.  To overcome the obstacles we must somehow strive to create the world of our rendering and become ourselves an agent to ameliorate the difficulties.  We may find that it will be hard, that it will be frustrating, but we may just indeed find that in the pursuit for progress there will be a rewarding payoff if we stay the course.

Moonshadow

Cat Stevens

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land,
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if… I won’t have to work no more.
And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry,
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if… I won’t have to cry no more.

Yes I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my legs, I won’t moan, and I won’t beg,
Yes if I ever lose my legs, Oh if… I won’t have to walk no more.
And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south,
Yes if I ever lose my mouth, Oh if… I won’t have to talk…

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night?

I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

 

 

 

The Sounds from 347 South Marshall

Toxic Music Studios

The year is 1998, the place is an old office above my drummers work (later dubbed: “Toxic Music Studios” or simply just “The Studio”); then known as superior pool supply in an industrial complex in El Cajon which we rented out every month.  A place where we practiced and recorded, for the band that was astutely named “Intoxicated”.  The name stuck from playing around pubs near San Diego State University, as the students would often give us their enthusiastic salutations under the influence of their favorite pints.  Thus the name “Intoxicated” became somewhat of a Trademark for us.  The “studio” we practiced in was across from a trolley station which enabled us to play as loud as we wished at all hours of the night due to the lack of anyone complaining about the music from the street below.  We would sometimes get visitors from the trolley station patrons that entered the stairwell below and walk up to peer into an opened door where we played and get a glimpse of where the music was coming from.  Our musical sets were diverse for that time, sometimes playing very loud as mentioned, but many times we had a quieter side, a melodic side that did not need a large volume of amplification.  It wasn’t the standard list of songs bands would do during those years.  We took some risks, but stayed mainly close to the songs we thought we could do fairly well.  We played what we liked, and really the “top 40” that commercial bands at the time would play, as we diverged by playing songs that many bands did not play.

Part of the fun was playing loud.  It is something that cannot easily be accomplished these days due to the places where a band can play.  Unless you have a sound-proofed garage, a studio that you rent in a sound proof complex(expensive), or some other remote area to perform (without any objections from neighbors), then you could bust loose and play without fear of noise pollution.  The amount of time to set up and break down takes effort, and if you rented a place you wanted to make sure it was secure, that you did not have to move any equipment every time you wanted to play, and that you had no restrictions to play after regular business hours.  So the idea of playing in a converted office above a commercial building in a remote area with no residential inhabitants sounded like the perfect place to set up.  Even if it was only once a week, we had a great time.

347 South MarshallWe had gone through several band member changes for the years we were together.  Some moved out-of-town, got new jobs and could not commit to the time any longer, and others just moved on to different things.  But overall we just loved to play.  When recruiting for other players we lost, I found other friends that also had a passion for playing music.  Personally I became a better guitar player, a better songwriter, and a better singer after playing with these guys.  From the beginning we may not have been the best at our instruments at the time, but we all showed a great deal of improvement through the years.  I think that has something to do with our passion and love of playing.  Having quality instruments was also huge.  The instruments we accumulated also seemed to trend with our enthusiasm.  At one time we had a complete organ, not just a keyboard that could emulate the organ sounds, but an actual Hammond B-3 organ.  Man that was a pain in the ass trying to move this from gig to gig, or even up and down the stairwell of our studio every time we had to move it.  I can say it did start some controversial conversations between why we needed a Hammond B-3!  I started with an Ibanez Artist hollow-body guitar, only to buy a Gibson ES335 studio, a Paul Reed Smith custom 22 top, and finally an American Fender Fat Stratocaster with Seymour Duncan pickups.  Not to mention all the guitar effects, P.A. equipment and sound system effects along with my Peavy 212 renown and finally  my Mesa Boogie Mark IV amp.  Man I guess I was in it for the endorphin release.  My favorite outlet was music.  It was how I could express myself.

We were a democratic band, but I must admit that if one of us wanted to do something, we all usually just went along.  Playing a particular song for instance, or playing a party gig we would usually support.  We started with some very modest means in terms of the equipment we used.  We slowly upgraded through the years that we were active.  We never really made any money when we played in public, but we were able to drink all we could drink along with a fair cash payment on services rendered for bringing in patrons to the local bar we happened to play in at the time.  I have to say that somebody suggested we call ourselves “In it for the P*#@y”!  A name we laughed at but did not employ.

 

Practicing in Toxic Music Studios c. 1998Its interesting when you think of a band and the influences they have on you.  Playing songs that others would suggest that you wouldn’t have thought to play without their comments.  Or maybe its the politics that develop over a time when a band of people come together to perform a united love and past-time.  Sharing musical influences that you like with influences they like doesn’t always sync together without some discussion of what we should play and what we should not play.  Thought must be placed in these decisions.  Just because we liked a song doesn’t mean we could necessarily pull it off given our talent level and our equipment limitations to emulate it, or even give it our own spin.  We found that after we became a tighter band, we were able to read each other better musically, and we could put our own “sound” upon a standard classic.  But there were times that we did not do the song any justice at all, even though the song itself was a great song.  Bands have to be their own critic’s before they try to perform a song that may not be right for them.  What would be a crowd pleaser and what would be very questionable for us to try had to be decided.  Could one of us sing it like them, or would we sing out of range?  It took some time to develop just what kind of band we would be.

Intoxicated My vision narrowed us down to playing more originals and the ranges when we did do covers, and for the most part I wrote original songs that I was happy to play with the band because they became our songs!  They defined us in more ways than just being able to play a popular song well, but playing a song we wrote ourselves.  Most of the influential music I liked was blues-rock based and had a huge impact on me when performing.  I was very passionate about some of the material we played.  Simply because I was proud of it.  Sometimes Clarke my keyboardist and rhythm guitar player begin a riff that he used while trying to do a blues jam, I would spontaneously come up with lyrics while jamming to it, and later we would turn it into an original song.  Other times I would introduce a song I had written playing it alone for them while they got the idea.  We would then all come together with our parts on the song as it took shape and form.  A team effort with everyone including the Bassist Dan, and the drummer Tony filling in with their parts they created.

Rotating Colored Christmas Lights!“Amanda”
Don Williams

I’ve held it all inward
Lord knows I’ve tried
It’s an awful awakenin’
In a country boy’s life
To look in the mirror
In total surprise
At the hair on your shoulders
And the age in your eyes.
[Chorus]
Amanda light of my life
Fate should have made you a gentle man’s wife
Amanda light of my life
Fate should have made you a gentle man’s wife.Well the measure of people
Don’t understand
The pleasures of life
In a hillbilly band
I got my first guitar
When I was fourteen
Now I’m crowding thirty
And stillwearin’ jeans.[Chorus]

The song above reminds me much of those times.  I refer to the parts in the main lyric in each verse.  The pleasure of playing in a band can be very rewarding.  Singing a fair number of songs in this band I somewhat worked myself up into an alpha role within the band.  Writing the originals, singing the stuff I liked gave me a very enthusiastic performance level when we did it well, and placed me into a forefront place inside the band.  Only Tony was in the band before me being an original founding member.  I came into the band’s second generation a little later after they formed.  I was the “new guy” that could sing in higher ranges than some of the other guys and could play decent lead guitar.  As time developed, we changed players, and my role increasingly became more central as our song base featured more of my vocals.
Most of us were family men who on a part-time basis played for a few hours every week at the studio.  The rest of our free time was devoted to the wives, girlfriends, or children depending on the time we had all known each other during the later part of the decade and the earlier part of the next.
Boogie-Rock Band Intoxicated
“The more you drink, The better we Sound!”

The commitment to play under these conditions can be taxing on one’s life.  Sometimes we could not arrange schedules to play that week.  But when we made it, we made it.  We were hobbyist’s anyway.  There is nothing like performing for other people.  Playing songs you enjoy as well as others, seeing them appreciate what you play is second to none.

 

 

The Brand: i-SELF ™

Brand: i SELF™

The object on display and pitching a sale is the product “ME”.  The Brand i-self ™.  I copyright me. ©

When did we become products for consumption?  When did we sell the Brand that is otherwise known as “me” or (insert name here)?  We have somehow started the commercialized selling of some aspect of our person-hood to the public and we may not even realize it.  Something on the order of a salesman we perpetuate notions of our abilities in the professional world, equivalent to the nature of a Sophist, we have branded ourselves for our pursuit of social and professional goals.

To be competitive in a shrinking market economy we must sell ourselves, but some may not call this for what it is.  It is rather considered self-promotion, or motivational glimmer, as opposed to advertising some function of our lives to others for some goal.  We learn that to make a difference we must put our best foot forward and get the attention of those that are in a position to advance us into a desired job where others may compete.  Maybe it is for the attention of some love interest, and in the social arena, we have to “step up” and “show our game” to get the attention of another.  This often requires self-promotion, the rules of courtship employed to capture the interest of another.  The subtleties of communication can be a very slippery slope.  Foot-in-the-door, Boiling frog, Ben Franklin effect, If you give a mouse a cookie, various Selling techniques, and Compliance all come to mind when we behave in ways to get others to respond in kind.

Philosophers view compliance in the context of arguments.  Arguments are produced when an individual gives a reason for thinking that a claim is true.  In doing so, they use premises (claims) to support their conclusion (opinion).  Regardless of utilization of fallacy forms (i.e., apple-polishing, ad hominem) to get their point across, individuals engaged in philosophical arguments are overtly and logically expressing their opinion(s).  This is an explicit action in which the person on the other side of the argument recognizes that the arguer seeks to gain compliance (acceptance of their conclusion).

In studying compliance, social psychologists aim to examine overt and subtle social influences experienced in various forms by all individuals. Implicit and explicit psychological processes are also studied since they shape interactions.  This is because these processes explain how certain individuals can make another comply and why someone else succumbs to compliance. (Think of the Wolf of Wall Street)

Informative social influence (goal of accuracy)

People are motivated to achieve their goals in the most efficient and accurate manner possible. When faced with information, an individual needs to correctly interpret and react—particularly when faced with compliance-gaining attempts since an inaccurate behavior could result in great loss. With that being said, people attempt to gain an accurate construal of their situation so they may respond accordingly.

People are frequently rewarded for acting in accordance with the beliefs, suggestions and commands of authority figures and/or social norms. Among other sources, authority may be gained on the basis of societal power, setting and size. Individuals are likely to comply with an authority figure’s (or group’s) orders or replicate the actions deemed correct by social norms because of an assumption that the individual is unaware of some important information. The need to be accurate—and the belief that others know something they do not—often supersedes the individual’s personal opinion.

Normative social influence (goal of affiliation)

Humans are fundamentally motivated by the need to belong—the need for social approval through the maintenance of meaningful social relationships. This need motivates people to engage in behavior that will induce the approval of their peers. People are more likely to take actions to cultivate relationships with individuals they like and/or wish to gain approval from. By complying with others’ requests and abiding by norms of social exchange (i.e., the norm of reciprocity), individuals adhere to normative social influence and attain the goal of affiliation.  An example of both normative and informational social influence is the Solomon Asch line experiments.

consume me

The craftsmanship of a past time has now been replaced largely by a society that has a tendency to maximize the profit, minimize the cost, and a built to a planned obsolescence philosophy.  These tactics can be observed in circumventing higher labor costs by producing the item using slave labor in a foreign country, using NAFTA to circumvent the UNION longshoremen in the USA, and ship through Slave Labor Countries into the US; (i.e. from China to Mexico into the US via the NAFTA superhighway).  We as a nation no longer produce what our former Country used to produce.  We are not the American Powerhouse of industry we once have known.  Trade deficits of this nation are astounding when in comparison to an earlier time.  For the evidence look to the products that have the stamp “Made in China” on them.  We have outsourced the jobs of our countrymen to increase the profit of those companies.  Why we do not have needed jobs, and why our tax structure is anti-business in that the fewer companies that are multinational seem to have the edge.  Many of us can assume this is by design.  Just look at the legislation, heck, just look at the differences in the ways our States handle this problem.  Companies moving from state to more friendly less tax aggressive states or even move out of the country altogether has been the decision many of these US companies are forced to make to stay competitive in a global economy, (think Caterpillar).  Once again, by design!  But I digress from my original point: the person, but the analogy seems to be spot on.  The pressure to self promote increases when the market economy decreases.  The pressure to self promote increases when the love object has more attending interests in the social pool etc.

I would like to return to the idea of the craftsman.  The work of the craftsman was the direct result of their hard work, skill, and quality.  The ware or service provided would itself be the selling point for customers to keep coming back.  Due to many of the changes in our world, we have accepted less from our providers of goods and services, and have conceded to the vises of mass marketing and a business model that’s only goal is global domination.  The consumerism of a cultures is the end game of those in the highest most prominent places of business.  The evidence is startling when one looks to the “WalMart” model of business.  In the market with little or no ethical boundaries, substandard wages, engaging in bribes to the local authorities, city planning board, and local politicians to open super centers around the country even if they wipe out the small towns they enter.  There is no craftsmanship found in a Walmart.  The majority of substandard goods are produced overseas, with little regulations about their production and concern for the consumers buying them.  (See statistics for Recalls on foreign made products in US).

Nothing new here, if one looks at the history of those who have monopolized the markets.  Some used shrewd business decisions, some illegal practices. In some instances, states sponsored it, in some, the nature of the market promulgated it.  No matter how they rose (and fell), these monopolies gained more than money.  They achieved something some governments dare not dream: power, influence and enduring legacy:

  • Standard Oil -JD Rockefeller

  • History’s richest man, John D. Rockefeller, presided over an oil monopoly a century before the Middle East sheiks do. Formed in 1870 mainly by John D., who had already made a substantial fortune by commodities trade during the Civil War, Stanford Oil incorporated oil producing, transporting, refining, and marketing into one single behemoth which grew both vertically and horizontally (purchase of producers and distributors).  In 1882, all of Standard Oil’s properties were merged into the Standard Oil Trust, and by the end of the decade (1890), it controlled 88% of the refined oil flows in the United States.  That same year, the Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act — the source of all American anti-monopoly laws – which was used two years later against Standard Oil. In 1911, the corporate behemoth was divided into smaller companies (which included many currently famous oil companies Amoco, Texco, Exxon, Chevron) but the monopoly wasn’t broken because the old John D. still controlled all those smaller companies.  The real competition began only years later when Rockefeller’s heirs sold the inherited shares.
  • Salt Commission – Tang Dynasty

  • In Tang China, (618-907 AD), the Salt Commission is one of the most influential agencies.  After a peasant revolution, the land tax revenues fell in China and salt commission was created in 758 (based on Guanzi, a book written in 3rd century BC book which proposes various salt taxation methods) to intensify the taxation of salt. Salt was essential for its nutritional and preservational values.  Since the government controlled all major salt productions, the Tang dynasty was able to maintain th virtual monopoly on the salt trade, and benefited greatly from allocating licensed producers and licensed merchants.  The enfranchising of licensed merchants enabled the imposition of the policy even to the further reaches of the nation.  The revenues from salt taxation of salt slowly exceeded half of tax revenues within a few years of its inception, and by 1300 AD, it was creating 80% of all tax revenues in China. Although the salt commission began and ended with the Tang dynasty, the state monopoly on salt in China existed from sometime in 1st century BC to the end of Imperial China in early 20th century, making it the most enduring monopoly of all time.
  • De Beers – Cecil Rhodes

  • For a firm that started out by renting water pumps to miners during a diamond rush, De Beers succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of its founder, Cecil Rhodes. In 1888, De Beers Consolidated Mines was formed with the sole purpose to be the owner of all diamond mining operations in South Africa.  Using his colonial influences, Rhodes negotiated a strategic agreement with the London-based Diamond Syndicate in 1889, which fixed diamond prices.  Whenever a new mine is discovered, it is absorbed into the De Beers cartel.  At its height in the middle of the 20th century, De Beers controlled 80% of the diamond market.  Discovery of new mines in Russia, Canada, and Australia ended De Beers monopoly but De Beers is now more profitable today with a 40% market share than when it maintained an 80% market share.
  • Dutch East India Company

  • Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC), established in 1602, was the world’s first multinational and mega- corporation, which possessed quasi-governmental powers, including the ability to wage war, negotiate treaties, coin money, and establish colonies. It is only natural that it also coined the standards for monopolies. To counter English and Portuguese colonial expansions, the Dutch government in 1602 sponsored “United East Indies Company” that was granted a monopoly over the Asian trade. The charter of the new company empowered it to build forts, maintain armies, and conclude treaties with Asian rulers.  To establish its monopoly for the spice trade, the entire native populations in Indonesia were deported, decimated or enslaved in the Dutch plantations that replaced them. Although by 1669, the VOC was the richest private company the world had ever seen, a series of mismanagements and colonial encroachments by other great powers bankrupted the VOC in 1800.
  • Thurn and Taxis Mail

  • In 1489, Jeannetto de Tassis was appointed Chief Master of Postal Services in Italy.  From that moment on to the early years of the 19th century, his descendants, Thurn and Taxis family held its virtual monopoly on mail and postal services through a letters of grant and nobility given by Holy Roman Emperors Frederick III, Maximilian I and Charles V. In 1615, the position, Imperial Postmaster General was made hereditary.  In its heydays at the end of the 18th century, it took only forty hours to a letter from Paris to reach Brussels.  The family’s horse relay system that connected nearly all of European capitals was the gold standard in communication. However, the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars greatly disrupted the family business.  In 1867, postal monopoly was nationalized. By then, the family had diversified into a various other enterprises from foodstuffs to banking to to railroads and to this day, the family is one of the richest families in Europe.
  • Pan Am Airways

  • Thurn and Taxis monopoly may be broken, but the importance of communication and transportation (and monopoly producing power of it) was not.  For the better part of the 20th century, Pan American Airways dominated the airmail and transportation not only of the United States but also of both Americas.  Founded in 1927, Pan Am greatly expended under Juan Trippe who bought out many independent carriers in the Caribbean, the Atlantic, and in South America. To counter the competition from foreign companies, the U.S. government itself endorsed the airline as the “chosen instrument” for U.S. air routes. After the World War II, however, despite its enormous lobbying campaign in the Congress, Pan Am gradually lost its status as America’s international airline to various American and foreign carriers. By 1991, “World’s Most Experienced Airline,” was broke.
  • US Steel: J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Charles M. Schwab

  • U.S. Steel’s alumni were who’s who of America industrialists.  J. P. Morgan and Elbert H. Gary founded it in 1901.  The steel operations were owned by Andrew Carnegie.  Its first president was Charles M. Schwab.  Within five years of its founding, the corporation had become the largest steel producer and largest corporation in the world (as well as the world’s first billion-dollar corporation).  During WWII, the U.S. Steel spearheaded American war efforts, employing over 300,000 employees and producing 20-30 million tons of steel every year.  However, after the war, the Corporation (as it was famously known) has become a leviathan that had outlived its usefulness. As early as 1911, the federal government tried to break up the corporate goliath (which initially controlled 67% of all the steel produced in America), but it was the American steel industry’s own lack of innovation and efficiency that doomed U.S. Steel.  It now produces less than 10 percent of the steel used in America and employs less than 50,000 people. 
  • Caviar

  • Caviar lined the Soviet coffers with gold during the Cold War.  However, the Bolsheviks and the Communists are not the first in imposing the state monopoly on caviar.  Although sturgeon and their eggs have been eaten by the Russians as early as the 8th century BC, it was not until Ivan the Terrible’s time that sturgeon producing Northern Caspian region was annexed from Muslim Tatars. Caviar monopoly was enforced by Tsar Peter the Great, who also tried to introduce the delicacy to the fashionable French court (without much success).  However, by the time it was reintroduced to the Western Europe in 1860, caviar had already became the symbol of Russian luxury, and the Tsarist state had slowly relaxed its monopoly laws. However, after the Bolshevik Revolution, the powerful Soviet Ministry of Fisheries reintroduced tight measures to conserve sturgeons and to maintain the high caviar prices.  The collapse of the Soviet Union killed the state monopoly, but also opened the Pandora’s box of overfishing, pollution and caviar smuggling.
  • American Telephone and Telegraph AT&T: Alexander Graham Bell

  • Originally founded by Alexander Graham Bell and his financiers, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company managed to corner the telecommunications market of the United States even though Bell’s patent on the telephone expired in 1894.  Since it was expensive to place copper wires all over the country (for different companies) the U.S. government itself agreed to this natural monopoly of having one telephone company for the nation.  In 1907, AT&T president Theodore Vail announced “One Policy, One System, Universal Service.”–a guideline which AT&T used to purchase competitors.  In 1918, the federal government’s nationalization of telecommunication industry profited AT&T which won the contract for the laying out of a coast-to-coast telephone system (potential competitors were forbidden from installing new lines to compete, with state governments wishing to avoid “duplication.”) The ‘natural monopoly’ was broken in 1970s with new technologies slowly replacing copper wires approach. Upon the settlement of United States v. AT&T, AT&T was split into seven companies and the monopoly was ended.
  • Hudson Bay Company

  • The Hudson’s Bay Company (Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson) is the oldest commercial corporation in North America and is one of the oldest in the world.  Once the de facto government of North America and later its largest landowner, the company controlled nearly all of fur trade in the New World from its headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay.  Although the company’s monopoly on fur trade (chartered by England’s King Charles II) was never complete due to the small competitions from independent fur traders, its trade covered 3 million square miles (where settlements are forbidden by its monopoly rules ) and employed 1,500 traders. Its network of trading posts formed the nucleus for later official authority in many areas of Western Canada and the United States.  The decline of the fur trade and a high-profile illegal fur trade trial in 1849 broke the monopoly, but the company evolved into a mercantile business selling vital goods to settlers in the Canadian West. Today the company is best known for its department stores throughout Canada.

german_monopoly_board_in_the_middle_of_a_game

 

So we live in a dog eat dog world.  The domination for control is with those that have taken it to obscene levels of misbehavior as I’m sure the stockholders would disagree.  When we live in a world where the government can openly (and Secretly) experiment on us, can experiment on military personnel as well as civilians, what does that tell you about their values?  But if not them, then who would have taken their place?  Looking at the root causes of these motives can lead us to some very interesting conclusions.  Is it safe to say that we all want to be contributors?  We want our work to matter, be validated, and we want to be valued for ourselves and what we bring to the table.  But when is it appropriate that we employ ourselves to become our own Public Relations professional; touting to the world what we represent or we engage in the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization (or i-SELF), and the public interest?

So what is left for us.  I suggest INNOVATION, but does this not give us the paradox that brought me to post this in the first place.  That of self promotion.  How do our market economies correlate with our individual skills and how we fit into the workforce or social settings?  I suggest that the ethic you live by is your defining factor!  To be selected for a job from a company who’s values are against what you believe would be a nightmare to someone with a conscience.  The market is determined with what people want.  If the people do not want something they will not buy it, unless it is forced upon them, or if there are fewer and fewer competitive choices.  Standing up and thinking of alternatives, innovations, is only the start to change the world dynamic of consumerism whether the item be a Popsicle or a person!

How think you?

♀♀♀

 

In the Absence of Worry

 

I have some very fond memories of a quiet weekend afternoon, sitting in the patio and listening to wind chimes sounding pleasantly as the wind gently evokes a chorus.  Meandering thoughts strike me as I relax in a semi nap attending to the peacefulness of the moment.  More often than not as a child, there were many times that we could enjoy the days without the worry of some troublesome problem.  Some of the most pleasurable memories seem to come from a time when our worry factor was minimized and our experience of the world was heightened.  The “Ignorance is Bliss” argument can be yielded, and for obvious reasons this assertion is often exerted, but this author is not in complete agreement with this notion, and to the contrary subscribes to mastering ones rational and emotional states as the better choice.  I hold much more value in the education and development of a person achieving mastery over one’s circumstance than to rely on ignorance itself as a prescription for a happier less worrisome life.

We are now in the “Age of Anxiety”, in that we as people are defined by the information age, we as people are defined by the technology of the day, and that we as people are defined by the diagnosis of our medical ailments.  Children for the most part do not worry about the social implications of what governs the society.  They are more concerned with their own lives within their family structures.  They deal with navigating their own family’s mores and how it affects them.  Children navigating their own way through every day problems has been minimized by increased parental involvement in the last few decades.  In general a child of earlier decades was much more “free” from a parental influence on many common experiences growing up even though ironically the parents were more commonly at home during that time.  Despite this background my experience was largely based on discovering my way through by trial and error without parental or sibling interaction.  I had to rely on resources I  alone discovered which was an impediment at times due to the struggle with my own particular ego-frailties and self-esteem.  But before some of these issues would bring themselves to light, as a child my immersion into the world was purer in form as an experience without all the previously mentioned attitude distractions.  The phenomenon of meeting the world in a purer experience is a remarkable experience.  If you have ever watched children play, the observance of their relation to the world is astonishing, and is a very natural way of being.  Devoid of worry, one’s relation to the world without barriers heightens one’s experience.  The case for children being more in touch with their experience in the world without worry can be advanced.

mornfull angel

Of course this is not always true, but the ability to focus on the present as a child was much easier for me than it is for me as an adult.  I noticed as I aged, by the time of my adolescence I began to become more aware of the world and how I fit in.  Many of the psychological barriers I had to overcome were the thoughts that one may not be good enough, the kind of self thoughts that prevent us from taking action spontaneously and thus these “Growing Pains” tended to fend off my natural tendencies and delayed my actions until my comfort level was stabilized.  This natural ability without self-censorship seems to fade with the matriculation into adulthood for many of us and it will take practice to once again regain that listening skill without the self-doubt and ego related issues that prevent us from acting correspondingly.  Attention to what is in front of us is often disregarded because of all of our agendas, calendars, and chores in many of our lives today.  Parent, care-giver, balance of family and work and self are all part of the equation that we deal with from a day-to-day schedule.  This has always been true for generations, but today we find ourselves amidst a host of distractions with added technologies that make it even easier to pull ones attention away for the surrounding milieu.

The loss of innocence can take a toll on those who do not heed.  The loss in question is the cultural dictates that often persuade us to think about other factors of our lives whilst not giving your full attention to the business at hand.  I think that the stillness of our minds attuned to our present moments can bring about a resonating harmony with the nature of things.  If even only for the recognition of a previous fond memory of a distant past, then we can benefit from such an accordance forming this bond that we may not have the pleasure to enjoy otherwise.

The skill to pay attention to those you listen with, the skill you prove when you listen and not just hear the other person without any personal commentary is a testament to how powerful that skill is in your social life, and to how you see the world in the moment.  Employing this skill will serve one well because people will take notice.  Some may respond correspondingly, and some may not, but they will take notice.  The same principle applies to our own minds watchful judgements.  We are ultimately in control over how we feel or think about the events we meet and how we receive them as experience.

The existence of joyful experiences to remember are those events that we break from the fear of judgmental social stigmas.  Think of the first time you danced with others without fear of judgement, or when you first performed on stage in front of others somehow subduing your jitters but still “the show must go on!”  The heightening of our experience lies in the pureness of that experience.  The taming of our minds can be very powerful and a function that we have control over.  In every phase of aging, there are plateau’s of experience that place you in new territory.  And with every age we come to meet new experiences that shape and develop our remembrance of it when they happen.  I think that we are most fond of those times that we meet the world on terms that do not relinquish to worry, renounce to fear or some other undermining emotion that strips us from the experience outside of our defining it with more emotional baggage.

This is why Buddhism created and developed the Eightfold Path.

» Right Understanding
» Right Thoughts
» Right Speech
» Right Action
» Right Livelihood
» Right Effort
» Right Mindfulness
» Right Concentration

 The understanding of how we affect our experience with the world and our relation to it is a primary fundamental starting point.  Returning to how the child naturally meets the world is very Buddhist.  The nature of the child’s mind does not impose many of the doctrines that we as adults subject to it before our experience takes place.  So I ask the reader, what makes your experiences special?  Do you remember times that seemed to be were more pure from your childhood than times in your adulthood?  If this is so, than shall we seek to sustain that kind of experience in our lives today?  Seems to be a daunting task for some of us, yet one that cannot easily be dismissed.  Look to your memories, look to your children, look to see that we all are able to meet a world in the absence with worry, no matter at what phase of life!