Tag Archive: Henry Kissinger


“Poor old Germany. Too big for Europe, too small for the world.” – Henry Kissinger

“It is for the rising German generation … unanimously announcing their desire: not for a German Europe, but for a European Germany.” — Thomas Mann

Germany is not a chill place.

Don’t get Almost DailyBrett wrong, you certainly can have a great time in Germany (e.g., beer gardens in München, wine in castles along the Rhine).

Having said that: There is no que será, será; in Deutschland.

Since 1945, the Germans have transformed their once-devastated, occupied and divided land and through their legendary industriousness into the #4 GDP ($3.68 trillion) in the world, and the nation with the second largest trade surplus at $274 billion.

The question for today’s discussion: Why is today’s Germany cool, calm and collected compared to its once three Western occupying allies: United States, United Kingdom and, France?

Watching ARD’s Tagesschau night-after-night, your author is struck by the absence of angry talking Teutonic heads. Certainly, Germany has its share of weighty issues and political power pontificators, but there are no discussions of glorious defeat impeachment, broken down Brexit negotiations or roaming gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in the streets.

Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche promised to reform France. He quickly found out the reality of how difficult it is to change the nation that has turned defending the status quo into an art form.

Some have questioned whether the United States will ever have a woman president, three years after the stunning defeat of Hillary Clinton. Almost DailyBrett is confident the answer will eventually be “yes,’ just not Madam Secretary or any reasonable facsimile.

Theresa May serves as the U.K.’s second woman prime minister for another week, but she was eventually beaten down by as The Economist’s cover proclaimed, “The Mother of All Messes.”

Moving one time-zone to the east, one finds Kanzlerin Angela Merkel finishing her fourth term … no later than 2021 … as the first woman leader … and most likely not the last for das Vaterland.

Even though her decision to allow 1 million or more asylum seekers into Germany in 2015 was obviously too much, too fast and … let’s face it … a mistake, she will nonetheless go down in history as one of the country’s best chancellors.

Feminizing The Fatherland

Merkel has turned down the temperature in Germany. The nation even in the face of its horrific recent history (e.g., 1933-1945) has seemingly completed its Vergangenheitsbewältigung or dealing with the past.

Germany has finally become a normal country, and serves as the rock in the middle of the wobbly European Union. Britain may eventually leave the EU, but Almost DailyBrett expects the German-French leadership duopoly to endure.

Your author was amazed about the Tagesschau (Daily Show) news coverage of the resignation of the leader of the Social Democrats (SPD) Andrea Nahles in the wake of the party’s poor results in the European Commission and Bremen election.

BERLIN, GERMANY – DECEMBER 07: Malu Dreyer (L) and Manuela Schwesing (R), vice-chairwomen of the of the German Social Democrats (SPD), attend the federal party congress on December 7, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

She was replaced for now by two women: Manuela Schwesig, Malu Dreyer and one hombre Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel.

Germany’s other parties were quick to offer commentary and respect to Nahles, and their leaders were for the most part women: Merkel and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Christian Democrats: Annalena Baerbock, The Greens; Linda Teuteberg, Free Democrats; Katja Kipping, The Left and Beatrix von Storch, Alternative for Germany.

Other than Baby Boomer Merkel, 64, these women for the most part are Gen Xers or Millennials. The baton is being passed to the next generations of German leadership.

Almost DailyBrett is treading cautiously in suggesting the obvious (and desperately needed) softening of Germany’s scorched earth image has been greatly assisted by the presence of calm, confident women (e.g., Merkel).

After the world’s worst disastrous explosion of testosterone fueled über-nationalism, Germany needed to turn down the temperature and start the seemingly impossible task of rebuilding its brand.

However history judges Angela Merkel, there is zero doubt that she has bolstered the country’s image by softening it.

Today’s headlines reported The Greens within one percentage point of Merkel’s Christian Democrats. At some point there will be a new chancellor.

Almost DailyBrett is betting that Deutschland’s next leader will be another strong Frau with Merkel’s competence and calmness.

https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/

http://www.worldsrichestcountries.com/trade-surplus-by-country.html

https://www.politico.eu/article/german-social-democrats-nominate-trio-for-interim-party-leadership-manuela-schwesig-malu-dreyer-thorsten-schaefer-guembel/

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1137200/angela-Merkel-news-latest-poll-popularity-results-cdu-spd-coalition-germany-politics

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/the-right-leader-for-the-fatherlandeurope-just-happens-to-be-a-woman/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/feminizing-the-fatherland/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2019/06/06/why-angela-merkel-wouldnt-feel-awkward-d-day-celebrations/?utm_term=.ad3708e74e7d

“No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.” – Henry Kissinger

To Almost DailyBrett, it seems that “too much fraternizing” has resulted in way-too-much trouble for way-too-many men and has spawned (no pun intended) a global movement: #MeToo.

Should your author apologize when he dares to admit that he is indeed stricken with the Y-Chromosome?

More to the point: Are men born guilty?

Do the adjectives “creepy” and “pervy” always modify the nouns, “man,” “men” and “male(s)”?

The Genesis for this blog goes far beyond the litany of once successful men, who are now-and-forever relegated to the sidelines of life. Did their actual/alleged “fraternizing” maybe or actually go too far to be dubbed sexual assault/harassment?

Reportedly, the foibles of men originate from the Garden of Eden to 20th Century high school/college activities right up to the present day.

John Wayne’s “A man is going to do what a man is going to do” or “Boys will be boys” has been ushered into oblivion. Responsibility and accountability should reign for everyone.

Far too many women have experienced/suffered boorish (and at times criminal) behavior by way too many men. The #MeToo movement is predicated on a basis of hurt and pain for literally millions of women.

Even though Almost DailyBrett can state with impunity the vast majority of men are not saintly and pure – even Jimmy Carter “lusted in his heart” on the hallowed pages of Playboy – they are not automatically guilty because they came into the world as baby boys.

Not every male is the “Midnight Rambler.” It just may seem that way listening to the 24-7-365 talking heads on the partisan networks.

And yet if it always seems to come down to “he said/she said.” Your author will always take the “over” for the female of the species. Men can have their careers ruined based upon a charge whether the allegations are true or not.

Remember Rolling Stone Magazine’s December 2014 report on the rape culture, targeting University of Virginia’s Phil Kappa Psi fraternity. The only problem with the story, it was determined to be 100 percent untrue. “A Rape On Campus” was fake news before “Fake News” became in vogue.

For the university and the fraternity, the damage has been done. Forget about due process.

Does it suck to be a male?

“I Don’t Hate White Men … “

“I don’t hate white men. Actually, I’m so personally and emotionally invested in changing the culture of toxic masculinity that we made a little white man of our own.” – Former Grad School Classmate

Almost DailyBrett’s graduate school classmate actually does not hate white men … Ahhh, that’s refreshing.

Congrats on attempting to raise a “little white man of your own.” Hopefully, you can relate to scores of other mothers, who tried to tame these testosterone infested/infected creatures.

Maybe, you will understand the agrarian-turned-industrial-turned-service economy is working against men. Can you assist in educating these tadpoles to be successful gentlemen of the 21st Century?

Even though men have a plethora of issues, contributing to a culture of toxic masculinity, one must admit that men play an un poquito role in promulgating the human race through the provision of essential nutrients.

Pointing to the obvious: Many men are faithful, bring home the bacon, help raise children and assist in building our society. Yes, these hombres do indeed exist.

And yet, if they are charged … If an accusation is leveled … If they become collateral damage in a political fight, their worlds will change for the worse in mere digital nanoseconds.

When popular media discuss a “gender gap,” the term is automatically assessed as to only include the gulf between women and men. What about the other way around? Irrelevant?

Not so fast. According to national 2016 general election exit surveys, Hillary Clinton won the women’s vote, 54-41 percent, a 13 percent margin. Game, set match?

Oops, men favored Donald Trump over Hillary, 52-41 percent, an 11 percent margin. Misogyny?

Wait: White women voted for Trump over Hillary, 52-41 percent.

Maybe, the issue as noted by University of Virginia Political Science Professor Larry Sabato was the presence on the ballot of a “particular woman” with a ton of baggage.

The 2016 result does not preclude a women someday serving as America’s chief of state (see Teresa May in Britain and Angela Merkel im Deutschland).

Almost DailyBrett must reinforce here and now that an undefined number of bad Herren have inflicted pain and suffering on more women than those who actually courageously reported these transgressions.

Each and every case is inexcusable.

And yet to mothers raising male babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, young men, these males are not guilty by birth. Agree?

The automatic presumption of guilt is never fair. America is governed by the Rule of Law. That basic precept applies to everyone, including those with testosterone coarsening through their bodies.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/henry_kissinger_105144

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/201802/the-real-problem-toxic-masculinity

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/19/not-all-men-are-creeps/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/millions-of-active-women-supporting-millions-of-idle-men/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/deadbeat-boyfriends/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/20/impact-journalism/

Where I think we’ve got a little sideways as a culture is that people take it personally, if you have a different perspective, a different point of view. I would say, we just need to lighten up.” – Portland Mayor Ken Wheeler on “60 Minutes.”

Can we all learn to eventually let go? Yes, let it go.

And what about the “lighten up” suggestion made by Portland Mayor Ken Wheeler?

In this tumultuous Age of Trump, have we crossed the threshold that anyone who does not agree with our pre-ordained philosophy and Weltanschauung is our mortal enemy, never to emerge from the Pit of Misery?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the professional world stage in four blessed months, one reflects back to the battles of life, and asks:

How many of these conflicts were truly worth fighting? Were their Pyrrhic victories in which battles were won, and wars were lost? If so, what was the point?

More to today’s discussion: How many issues in life are really worth going to the mat?

Very few in reality, when you for example look back over the course of a four-decade career.

Allegedly Margaret Thatcher as played by Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” upon receiving a marriage proposal from Denis, romantically replied that “Life must have purpose.”

Agreed. That does not mean that each-and-every topic of life must have purpose. Reading Howard Kurtz’ Media Madness, Donald Trump , The Press And The War Over The Truth leaves the reader absolutely exhausted after only 200 pages.

Is there a remote control for life? Can we change the channel (bad metaphor, the networks are part of the problem)? Can we simply turn down the sound, if not mute the noise?

Now before you insinuate that Almost DailyBrett is changing the tune about being up to date on what is happening in the world, please understand that the Polish proverb, Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, simply applies to the notion of carefully picking our battles.

Going To The Mat

Gary Oldman playing the role of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour spars valiantly against those in England’s War Cabinet, who advocate negotiating mit dem Führer upon the Fall of France and the Low Countries in 1940. He resists the pressure, goes to the mat, fights and wins the battle of his life.

On the worst modern era day of our lives – September 11 – my company was contemplating proceeding with the layoff of 600 workers, shuttering two factories, about 8 percent of our total workforce … the following day.

Yours truly was shocked that a serious discussion to proceed was occurring in the board room as the smoke was rising from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There is no way that Almost DailyBrett wanted to be associated with this exercise.

Even though my salary (not including benefits, options and the Employee Stock Purchase Program – ESPP) reached northward toward $200,000 per annum, there was no question about severing and refusing to allow my personal brand and reputation to be tied to this wrong action.

The Nürnberg defense about “just following orders,” did not and would not apply.

Fortunately even though the rocket scientists in HR were upset for weeks, we collectively made the decision to postpone the restructuring until America returned to some semblance of normalcy: The planes were flying, the markets were open, the ball games were being played.

Yes, this postponement was a cause worth fighting and winning.

The Rear View Mirror

“The reason that university politics is so vicious is because stakes are so small” – Former Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger

The graying temples and follicly challenged appearance may be signals about growing wisdom, if not moving toward the sunset of one’s life.

Looking around, one can see battles to fight and dragons to slay. Maybe someone else can engage in these wars and get en fuego with fiery reptiles?

When one contemplates Kissinger’s quote one sees the linkage between the words, “vicious” and “small.”  If one concludes a matter is small and does not even come close to warranting going to the mat, then why risk rising one’s blood pressure if only viciousness is the result?

There is a sense of liberation that comes from letting go and lightening up. One can assert that the need to NOT be so “tightly wound,” is a legitimate criticism.

Being Type A has resulted in many victories and achievements, but at what price in terms of health and happiness?

Sometimes we need to learn to allow others to have the “opportunity” to pay the price.

Let the latest fight/cause be their circus and their monkeys.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-ann-kennedy/not-my-circus-not-my-monk_b_5390455.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/depression-management-techniques/201412/not-my-circus-not-my-monkeys

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/portland/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/going-to-the-mat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/your-company-and-religious-intolerance/

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/609695-the-reason-that-university-politics-is-so-vicious-is-because

 

 

 

 

The male of the species has never been the best when it comes to personal public relations.

The seemingly never-ending list of creepy, predatory men (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump …) represents the classic definition of a story with legs.

No pun intended.

When will this litany of abuses end?

One thing is for certain, not anytime soon.

The series of lurid and accurate stories of lustful men with next-to-zero self-discipline have resulted in pain, anguish and ruined careers for literally thousands-and-thousands of women.

These awful accounts go beyond the world of politics to include entertainment (e.g., casting couches), jurisprudence, business, military and many other human endeavors, bringing the two genders together.

The resulting anger from the fairer gender, justifiably directed toward males en banc, is warranted.

Having fully appreciated, comprehended and acknowledged the anguish and suffering inflicted on way too many women by way too many men, Almost DailyBrett wants to bravely make one statement, and then duck for cover:

Not All Men Are Creeps, it just may seem that way.

Seemingly absent in this public discussion are the guys who are – believe it or not — semper fi.

There are the men who are 100 percent faithful to the vows they made in marriage. Almost DailyBrett actually knows one of these kind souls.

There are men who are respectful of women, and do not even entertain the thought of using any influence to extract (e.g., sexual) favors from women.

There are men, who would never lay a paw on any woman for any reason (referring to professional settings). There is a time and place for everything.

As Henry Kissinger once said: No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

There are the men who can instinctively sense the dread of a single woman riding an elevator with a lone male. The man may move toward the door, allowing the woman to shift to a position behind him. When the designated floor arrives, he should be a gentleman, holding the door open, and maybe even wishing his travelling companion an absolutely fantabulous day.

Most of all there are actual men who do not think below their waist, but actually use their real brains (gasp) to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.

An Office Door With No Window?

Touring our new office space this past winter, your author noticed to his horror that our new academic caves featured doors with no windows. No bueno. Nicht gut. Hell, no.

When asked, a rocket scientist from Facilities said there were zero dollars for door windows. Time to go to the mat.

There was absolutely no way I was going to teach public relations and meet with students, if I could not shut my door but at the same time the outside world could not see inside. To yours truly, this was matter of safety and common sense.

Your author today has a door with a window, but not one that can be locked from the inside (e.g., Lauer).

When it comes to the all-too-common “he said, she said” disputes, the one making the accusation can win, and the one on the receiving end may be on the downward slide to the end of a once promising career.

What are some common sense behaviors that good men should employ in this ultra-charged political climate?

  1. Never, ever touch a member of the fairer gender anywhere for whatever reason at any time in a professional setting. On your author’s last day after eight years working for the California Office of the Governor, my female colleagues gave me a hug … not the other way around.
  2. Never comment on the appearance of women (e.g., hair, dress, jewelry …). Former National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla once took verbal notice that a Bloomberg TV reporter was wearing her wedding ring on her right ring finger …  Halla was then informed that her late spouse perished in the World Trade Center on September 11.
  3. John Madden has a rule: He will never say in private, what he wouldn’t say in public. Guys, it’s past time to deep six the sexual jokes and comments even among fellow knuckle draggers. Let the locker room be a simple place for showering, changing and talking sports. Period.
  4. The rules of sexual harassment are clear. Quid pro quo is obvious. When you are asked to stop … STOP!
  5. Former ABC correspondent Lynn Sheer suggested the universal adoption of a standard phrase, “That’s NOT okay.” Even bystanders can even use this same phrase when sexual harassment is in progress.

This common sense phrase should even be comprehended and immediately understood by all men, not just semper fi guys.

The latter, exist. Seriously.

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/henry_kissinger_105144

 

 

Why can’t we just get along?” – Rodney King

Is it heresy to actually celebrate teaching on today’s college campuses?larrycrowne

Seems like a silly question on the surface, but on closer inspection there is absolutely no doubt that research is held in higher esteem than teaching among faculty-and-university-administrator thought leaders on today’s American college campuses.

Guess that means that “Research 1” is more than just a Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education designation; it is a dominant mindset.

Keep in mind: basic, applied and predictive research are critical ingredients for discoveries to conquer horrific diseases, to devise better ways to manage our planet, and to produce new-and-always-improved bits, bytes, bells and whistles. All of these Carnegie Research 1 universities afford higher priorities to research, graduate 50 or more Ph.Ds, and secure $40 million or more (usually much more) of federal research funding every year.

And certainly, private industry and governmental agencies (e.g., National Science Foundation or NSF) pour millions into universities for research. In turn, universities form “advancement” departments to entice these research grants as well as alumni and friend donations. Yes, there is a huge link between university research and the legal tender, which in turn leads to the prevailing research über alles mindset.

It was notorious robber Willie Sutton, who once said about banks: That’s where the money is.”

Does research reign supreme? Does that mean that good old-fashioned teaching and student mentoring are relegated to second-class status? Both answers trend toward the affirmative … but should they?

Winners and Non-Winners

“University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” – Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and 15-year Harvard University Professor

This is not the first time that Almost DailyBrett has cited this particular Kissingeresque quote. There are certain sayings that just keep-on giving.

There are some poor souls, who sincerely do not believe there are warring camps on college campuses between those who generally align with research and academics and those who favor teaching and professional experience. For most, the two are generally regarded to be mutually exclusive with one clearly dominant and the other sadly, subordinate.algorithms

If you believe that the research/academic crowd holds sway on the vast majority of campuses, particularly Research 1 facilities, you would be correct. Let’s ask here and now: Is that the way it should be?

What Do Parents and Students Really Care About?

Has anybody thought about the opinions of the parents, who pay the tuition, or the students, who are mortgaging their future to years of staggering debt? Are these our customers? And the customer is always right. Right? Or wrong?

Students may actually appreciate learning something they can use in their coming careers and throughout their respective lives. But do the  majority of academics really give a rodent’s hindquarters about teaching and mentoring?

Isn’t that why the university evolutionary process relegates low-paid and underappreciated adjunct instructors to perform the rudimentary and mundane task of teaching undergraduates?

Before you ask, Central Washington University is NOT a Research 1 university. Way back in 1891, the university began as the Washington State Normal School with a dedication to teaching the instructors of tomorrow.cwuwildcast

In the spirit of radical transparency let me proclaim the author of Almost DailyBrett served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon (a Research 1), published ghost blogging research in PRSA’s Public Relations Journal, and now researches and teaches/mentors public relations and advertising students at Central Washington University.

Now that the consumer warning has been issued, let’s ask a pivotal question: Can there be a balance on university campuses when it comes to research and teaching/mentoring?

Sure it makes sense for adjuncts rather than full professors to teach English 101, but if parents and students are paying top dollar to attend university shouldn’t the majority of the classes be taught by assistant, associate and full professors?

If not, are universities dropping the ball in teaching and mentoring students in their preparation for the life-long learning jobs of tomorrow?

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2010/04/28/10-reasons-to-go-to-a-research-university

http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_research_universities_in_the_United_States

http://www.biography.com/people/rodney-king-9542141

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/08/18/acad-politics/

http://www.henryakissinger.com/biography.html http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/henry_a_kissinger_2.html

http://www.snopes.com/quotes/sutton.asp

 

Couldn’t believe my ears.

Did my post-graduate classmate in “Teaching and Professional Life” just state ex-cathedra that (being) “mean is awesome” when it comes to teaching impressionable undergraduate college students?larrysumners

For some reason, the author of Almost DailyBrett can’t just simply vanquish these words, uttered by a Ph.D candidate in communications, from his personal DRAM.

Sure wouldn’t want to be in her classroom.

The question for today is whether this brand of arrogance, callousness and potential cruelty is reaching epidemic proportions on college and university campuses?

What blew me away is that some were actually nodding their heads in affirmation.

I couldn’t agree less.

Who Are Our Customers?

Almost DailyBrett is not universally loved by privileged graduate teaching fellow (GTF) types, so these next thoughts may not be especially well-received either.

When it comes to colleges and universities, who is paying the bills (e.g., salaries, benefits, stipends)? Besides donors and grants, the main answer lies with parents/guardians of students, the students themselves waiting tables, taking out loans or the combination of all the above.

The Economist reported this week that average annual fees at private universities are $31,000 and approximately $10,000 at public universities. The typical college student, who may spend up to six years on campus, will be saddled with $40,000 in debt whether or not she or he graduates.studentloans

And you want to be mean to these students and by natural extension, their families?

And wouldn’t one think that since these students are indeed a prime source of college/university largesse, the service providers (e.g., professors, instructors, GTFs) would actually be nice to their “customers?”

What’s that?

Some believe strongly that colleges and universities should not be run like businesses? They are mostly non-profit. Right? So they should be oriented toward searching for the truth rather than preparing students to find a job? Maybe that attitude und Weltanschauung is at least partially the source of the meanness.

Mentoring/Not Meanness

Academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” – Former Secretary of State and Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger

Let’s face the truth.

College and university faculty meetings are generally not happy gatherings. Hours are spent in academic debate, but little if anything changes with the exception of tuition, fees and administrative hirings going up.

Some faculty members have a difficult time impacting their own worlds, so they are not usually in a good mood entering the classroom. This is where meanness and ruthlessness is carried out, just make sure every rule and regulation is included in the syllabus. Maybe, these particular faculty types are more suited to being bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

Don’t get me wrong, faculty members (e.g., professors, instructors, GTFs) cannot be friends with students, but that doesn’t mean we should be enemies. We should care about our students, and the best teachers do just that.

This is where another “M-word” comes into play: Mentoring. We should not be teaching exclusively out of a book, but instead we should be providing real-time knowledge about how the professional world really works.

Our students should venture out into the work-place with their eyes wide open. They should be trained to speak not the words of students, but the language of the workplace. They should know the difference between the top-line and the bottom-line, between revenues and net income or loss.

They should embrace buy low, sell high. They should prove their own return on investment (ROI), not just their degree, but a record of solid experience articulated in cover letters, resumes and LinkedIn profiles.people1

If a student demonstrates and proves her/his preparedness for competition for publicly traded/privately held/for profit/non-profit positions, then we as educators should be willing to provide a graduating student with a reference and all the help that we can.

Will the mean professor do that?

Almost DailyBrett has found that very few things in life are more uplifting than reading/hearing about one of your former students being hired and embarking on what very well could be, a rewarding career.

Instead of being mean, let’s mentor with a little tough love, if necessary. Let’s encourage our students to seek out and attain the best anti-poverty, wealth-creation program ever invented: a well-paying private sector position with full benefits and maybe a stock option or two.

All it requires is a little TLC and some mentoring too.

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21646219-college-america-ruinously-expensive-some-digital-cures-are-emerging-log

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/27/dealing-with-online-hecklers/

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/08/18/acad-politics/

 

 

 

 

 

Or is it Outsourcing to Insourcing?

Did I just buy a computer that was made in (gasp) Communist China?

Is this unpatriotic? Or is it patriotic?

Did Chairman Mao just turn over in his grave?

mao

These questions seem to suggest not only how much yours truly has changed, but how the world has shifted its attitudes and business practices in the past four decades.

One suspects that Henry Kissinger knew that his secret trip to China in 1971 had the potential to change the geopolitical balance of affairs, but the question is how much? And it is clear that Deng Xiaoping altered China for the better by coming to the obvious conclusion that Capitalism even with its well-documented flaws is still light years better than Cultural Revolutions and collective farms.

Having said that, it is Big Leap Forward from Kissinger’s sub-rosa journey and Deng’s landmark reforms to the significance of my purchase of a Lenovo Ideapad laptop for $600 (Best Buy) powered by an Intel Core i5 microprocessor (Santa Clara, CA) and controlled by Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system (Redmond, WA).

And now good ole boys and girls in Whitsett, North Carolina are hard at work producing more PCs, hybrid PCs/tablets (e.g, Lenovo Yoga) and servers for a company that was started in 1984 by a $25,000 state (Chinese Academy of Sciences) investment…the state that brought a chilling new meaning to the words, Tiananmen Square.

Yep, I bought a laptop from a company that was created by an investment made by Communist China and held its first meetings in a guard shack.

Back in days of the Evil Empire, I made my first trip overseas…and not to a place in which most post-college bachelors go for vacation: Russia. It was the 1981 Soviet Union of that fun-loving guy, Leonid Brezhnev.

Upon returning my maternal grandfather told me there were two places he never wanted to go to: One was hell; the other…you guessed it.

Just as if it was yesterday, I remember after a performance of the Bolshoi Ballet standing on the edge of Red Square with the onion-dome masterpiece, flood-lit St. Basil’s, on the opposite end…Ground Zero of the Cold War. Deep down inside I was hoping that this would be neither the time nor the place for a thermonuclear confrontation, particularly at that exact time.

Reflecting back on my visit to the country of 11 time zones, which is a must for any student of modern history and politics, I can see the average people packed like sardines into trolley cars, while the most equal-of-the-equals zipped on by in special lanes for their Zil limos. The USSR even took Diner’s Club, Carte Blanche along with Visa and American Express. When were the Reds coming back?

I didn’t like Communism before I made this trip. I liked it even less after my visit.

If you asked me at the time, if I would ever buy any product made by a communist country that treats its people as if they were sheep, the answer would be an emphatic, “nyet” or “het” in Cyrillic.

lenovoideapad

Serving as a director of corporate public relations for a Silicon Valley hardware innovator and later as a vice president for an international public relations agency, I wore out at least three IBM Think Pad laptops.

“What’s this blue screen?” I would ask one of our all-knowing IT managers. “Ah, did you back up your files?” I was asked. “What if I didn’t? I replied. Welcome to the “Blue Screen of Death.”

Little did I appreciate was that IBM (e.g., Itty Bitty Machines) was outsourcing a portion of its ThinkPad business to China’s Lenovo, and then Big Blue outright sold the its corporate PC business to Lenovo in 2005. I have been using a Chinese laptop for the better part of a decade, and last year I doubled downed on this bet.

Reading about Lenovo, I discovered that English is the $30 billion company’s official business language. It maintains two headquarters, one predictably in Beijing, and the other at IBM’s former PC hub in Morristown, NC. And just this year, Lenovo started manufacturing in the aforementioned Whitsett in the Tar heel State.

Let’s see…IBM outsourced a portion of its PC business to China, taking advantage of lower Chinese manufacturing costs and giving the company greater access to the world’s largest market. Eventually IBM (which invented the PC in 1981) sold the business to Lenovo. And now global market share leader Lenovo is outsourcing a portion of its PC business to the United States or insourcing the business in North Carolina, if you prefer that point of view.

Topping it off, China is becoming a more expensive place to manufacture with each passing day and the US is getting cheaper as demand for skilled Chinese labor is going up. The Pacific Ocean is just as big as ever and shipping costs are a major factor. Cost parity is expected in two years.  Lenovo is outsourcing PC production to the United States, bringing it closer to US customers and key suppliers including Intel and Microsoft.

Does this mean that buying a Chinese computer is patriotic? That seems like a stretch, particularly for a guy who saw the Evil Empire up close and personal.

If you agree that buying a Chinese computer is actually patriotic, then financing the nation’s $17.4 billion debt through China occasions playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

So why are we upset about outsourcing?

And what is the true meaning of outsourcing anyway?

Or is it actually insourcing?

Who the heck knows?

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21569572-after-decades-sending-work-across-world-companies-are-rethinking-their-offshoring

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21569398-how-did-lenovo-become-worlds-biggest-computer-company-guard-shack-global-giant

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/05/focus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenovo

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100651692

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deng_Xiaoping

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonid_Brezhnev

http://news.lenovo.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=1635

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, in The International.

luca

We don’t have an immediate crisis in terms of debt. In fact, for the next 10 years, it’s gonna be in a sustainable place.” – President Barack Obama on Good Morning America.

Guess the first quote in particular explains why Southwest Airlines sends me a sustainable Visa credit card application every week. And I thought Southwest just wanted to fly me to different places on the map.

It’s an airline, not a bank…Right? And yet, the “other” income line on Southwest’s annual income statement rose from $490 million in 2010 to $765 million in 2011 and to $835 million in 2012. Is there any doubt that credit card debt payments are included in LUV’s “other” income?

Can you say, “ka-ching?”–

For a while it was Victoria Secret catalogues that were relentless. All they wanted was for me to admire the eye candy photography, and then to spend money for skimpy delightful things here and spend more money for skimpier delightful things there.

Southwest Airlines is using the prospect of two “free” tickets to entice a longer (month-to-month) commitment. They want servitude at 18 percent or higher interest. My Banana Republic card charges 24 percent interest, if I make the unfortunate decision to run a balance.

It would be easy to dismiss The International as just a 2009 film, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, which was either loved or panned by the critics. Looking deeper, the movie is based upon the Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandal (e.g., money laundering/financial crimes) of the 1980s. The now-defunct $20 billion bank with 30,000 employees was chartered in Luxembourg before it was shut down by regulators.

BCCI

The sinister bank in the movie is called The International Bank of Business and Credit…surprise, surprise…also based in Luxembourg. This is no coincidence.

One must wonder whether then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actually knew what he was doing when he made his historic secret trip to the People’s Republic of China in 1971. Soon thereafter. his boss President Richard Milhous Nixon, was toasting Chairman Mao, relaxing tensions between American democracy and Chinese communism just a smidge.

Little did anyone know that this trip led to the unthinkable: Marxist China would become the credit card bank for the majority of America’s record $17.4 trillion debt (and counting). And yet this debt, which equates to more than 100 percent of the nation’s GDP,  is deemed “sustainable” by the leader of the free world.

As the ad by Citizens Against Government Waste suggests will our sons and daughters be working for China to repay the debt. Will China control everything? Will we as a nation become slaves to the debt? Have we already crossed this threshold?

Recently, CNBC reported based upon figures from the U.S. Census that debt-carrying U.S. households had “dropped” from 74 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2011 with a median debt load of $70,000. Does that mean that we should be popping champagne corks because Americans holding credit card debt “decreased” from 51-38 percent in those same years. For seniors, the average debt is $26,000.

Shouldn’t our seasoned citizens be safe and secure in their Golden Years?

If a debt plane slammed into a New York skyscraper or torpedoed a battleship in Hawaiian waters, we would certainly rally as a nation. The issue is that debt accumulation is stealth and silent. The sun comes up the next day. The birds chirp away. The bees buzz. Life goes on to the tune of nearly $1 trillion of new debt each year, let alone the mounting debt loads for states, municipalities, homeowners and credit card holders.

debtclock

Why should we worry?

The banks are happy. States (e.g., China) that serve as banks are happy. And we are mostly happy too. After all our slavery to debt is “manageable.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100582392

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_International_%282009_film%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_Credit_and_Commerce_International

http://www.quotefully.com/movie/The+International/Umberto+Calvini

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2013/03/president-obama-there-is-no-debt-crisis/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LUumD0MwL8

University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. — Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Three Crucial Questions for the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf

Henry the K may be a tad too strong in his assessment about college and university politics, but behind every exaggeration is a usually a strong element of truth.

As I prepare to “defend” my MA project paper this week, I am appreciative of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication for offering me a Graduate Teaching Fellowship…it was an offer that I simply could not refuse. The fellowship is basically a free master’s degree, the provision of full-medical, dental and vision for my family and a small stipend. In exchange, I served as a teaching assistant for five quarters including lecturing at least three classes per quarter, which is invaluable experience.

Several of my colleagues have asked if I am contemplating going on and pursuing a doctorate in Journalism, my response: Let me defend my MA first; and I didn’t know that psychedelic mushrooms were still in vogue.

Looking back at the past 18 months, there are facets of the academic experience that standout in my mind, particularly for a middle-aged, Anglo guy pursuing my second degree 34 years after the first one (the average grad student is 29-years old).

● Are we instilling students to be social justice activists or are we preparing them to get a job? What is more important in the long-term? Blow-by-blow accounts of the epic “victories” of the Occupy Wall Street or lecturing students about return on investment (ROI), cover letters and resumes? You have probably already figured out by now where I come down on this point.

occupywallstreet

● Why do some students, teaching assistants and even tenured faculty absolutely detest Wall Street? On several occasions, I have been asked why I am creating a course called, “Strategic Business/Financial Communications.” The questions seem to imply that I am guilty of aiding and abetting corporate monsters. Certainly some antipathy to corporate greed and excessive CEO compensation is justified. At the same time, a large percentage of these very same social justice advocates are also part of the Apple cult (i.e., iPads, iPhones, iPods and Macs). Gee, isn’t Apple a multi-national enterprise (MNE)? Whatever.

● Even though completion of a second full-year of foreign language is required for a master of arts degree, I have to question why is foreign language study not recommended or downright discouraged by a professional school? Was ist los? Ich verstehe nicht.  I have no clue why this is the case. Learning to read, write, hear and speak another language makes you better at your language. Aren’t we learning how to tell the story and aren’t language skills essential to telling these stories?

● And while we are the subject of telling stories, why is there not greater emphasis on the analog skills of writing, grammar, style and editing? There is no doubt that the digital software skills of audio and video production (e.g. Final Cut Pro) and importing and cropping of photos (e.g. Photoshop) are increasingly vital, but written and verbal language skills are the essence of telling the story and telling it well. These skills are not easily offshored and outsourced.

● Even though I was pleased as punch to serve as a teaching assistant, I was stunned by the massive egos of a few, certainly not all, of my colleagues. There are some cases in which teaching assistants are injecting their personal political agenda and subordinating the course. There are other cases where they dominate a classroom with an outpouring of verbal diarrhea that would make a filibustering US senator blush. Didn’t your mother teach you to share?

foxhole

● What is the worst grade that you can give to a student? F? D-? How about an A- or even worse a B+? Get ready to climb into your fox hole and fix bayonets when you give out one of these grades. Expect to be told about how hard the student worked, how another instructor said the assignment deserved an A. And be sure to be prepared for an onslaught of negatives in your teaching assessment evaluation. Every quarter somebody gets me real good. It simply goes with the territory. As mumsy said, you can’t please everyone…yep they even put Jesus Christ up on a cross.

● Diversity is celebrated with one big exception. Let’s hear it for differences in ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual orientation and non-Western creeds. The notable exception to “diversity” is those poor souls that harbor an annoying political disposition. It’s the one that believes that rapidly expanding government is not the automatic answer to all questions, wants to keep taxes reasonable, supports private enterprise and a strong national defense. You may have heard of these folks. No, I am not surprised. I went to school in Eugene. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have at least one registered Republican on a professional school’s faculty? What a novel idea?

Even though I humbly raise some issues that someone may consider to actually be important, I am thankful for the advanced degree, the opportunity to receive the Zertifikät Deutsch, to team on a ghostblogging research project and to receive an academic award for that same project.

As a friend who knew me from my Bay Area days and knows me now said, “You seem calmer and happier.”

I will buy into that.

What is “Communications Choreography?”

And why did I include this term on my new business cards?

cho·re·og·ra·phy

n. pl. cho·re·og·ra·phies

1. a. The art of creating and arranging dances or ballets.b. A work created by this art. 2. Something, such as a series of planned situations, likened to dance arrangements.

Are we all on the same page?

Are we all singing out of the same hymnal?

Do we have all of our (Oregon) ducks in a row?

Insert your favorite organizational metaphor here:___________.

My new business cards just arrived. They introduce Kevin M. Brett, Communications Choreography.

More than one person has asked me what is, “Communications Choreography?” Is it similar to the producer or director of A Chorus Line? Yes, there are many more similarities than differences.

chorusline

On Broadway, there are dancers and dances. There are musicians and music. There are singers and songs. They have to be on pitch, in time and the performers need to be where they are supposed to be at exactly the right time…easier said than done.

In football, there is the down, distance, score and time in the game. The ball is spotted. The play clock is running. The play comes down from the offensive coordinator. The play is signaled in from the sideline to the offense. The quarterback comes up to the line and notices the annoying “Mike” linebacker is lined up in the “A” gap.

Time to call an audible at the line of scrimmage as the play clock runs down. The play has changed. The ball is snapped. The guards pull. The tight end and wide receivers throw blocks on their way down the field. The quarterback reads the defensive end, fakes the handoff to the dive back, who plunges into the line drawing faked out defenders. The quarterback pitches the ball to the H-back…

lmj

These two descriptions, A Chorus Line and read-option college football, are the essence of choreography. Now let’s extend this definition to communications.

In communications, it is more than speaking with one voice, although that element is crucial. The first step in communications choreography is always the message. What exactly does your organization want to communicate? Who is the target audience or in many cases, who are the target audiences? Do they all see the world in exactly the same way? In most cases, the answer is a big, fat “no.”

The message must always be truthful, or as Henry Kissinger once said about a given statement, “It has the added advantage of being the truth.”

Who is going to tell this message and to whom? Who are your best messengers and are they ready to deliver the message? Do they need to be trained for the television interview, for the news conference, for the briefing, or how to present at a financial conference?  Do they understand the technique of acknowledging the question and bridging to the answer, which reflects the pre-ordained message?

And what will be the methods of relaying this message? Will the communications choreography program dictate the use conventional means, such as town hall meetings, small group briefings, one-on-one sessions, communicating through newspapers, radio or television? Or will the communication be digital? What role should there be for blogging, social media sites and webcasting just to name a few? Those who thought that social media was a fad better get out-of-the-way of next month’s expected Facebook IPO.

Communications choreography requires skillful planning. When will the message go out? Once we know the given date or even hour (e.g., close of market), then it is time to start marching…backward.  That’s right, you need to build your timeline back to the present and work your way to the future…if you follow me.

Is it good news? A Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Is it bad news, then let’s plan for Friday right before the weekend…even better if it is a holiday weekend.

Is it “material” under the dictates of Regulation FD (Fair Disclosure) of the Securities Exchange Commission? If you are planning communications choreography for a publicly traded company, then you have absolutely no choice but to disclose this information once it becomes available…usually right after the close of market or before it opens in the morning…giving investors time to digest the news. To do otherwise runs the risk of selective disclosure of material information or withholding this information from investors, thus inviting a nasty SEC proceeding.

If you are planning a major financial conference that includes a game-changing product launch, then corporate public relations (e.g. “The Forest”), marketing communications (e.g. “The Trees”) and investor relations (e.g. “The Investors”) all have to be on the same page. The “Forest” refers to the company as a whole including the most valuable asset, the employees. The “Trees” refer to the individual products that serve as the revenue stream of the company. All three disciplines need to be in alignment and must follow the predetermined time table…beginning with the news release crossing the wires.

When choreographing a communications campaign, there are many questions that need to be asked and answered. Experience and instinct play a huge role in successful communications choreography. A campaign must reflect not only the culture of an organization, but its look and feel as well. Communications choreography must be consistent with the brand.

If you always think of communications in the same way as a choreographer sees a Broadway dance troop, then there is no excuse for not having your message, messenger and campaign in perfect three-step harmony.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/choreography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Chorus_Line

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