Co-founded a consulting company in September 2010 to help Kickstarter applicants apply to Kickstarter, set funding levels, and create videos.

This venture never went beyond the feasibility stage.

Details of Work

  • Co-developed business plan and tiers of service
  • Measured interest in the consulting service at tech startup events in the Boston area
  • Co-developed lead-generation strategy
  • Worked on a Kickstarter application for a test client
  • Retired venture in February 2011 due to lack of traction

Anyone find it odd that Fox News personalities compare themselves to Network’s Howard Beale?

Originally published at Unrhetorical.

I know I’m jumping on this rant pretty late in the game but I just watched the 1976 film Network for the first time last night.

If you haven’t seen the film, Howard Beale, the anchor of the nightly news program of a fictional fourth news network UBS, goes literally mad and takes the rest of his impoverished network with him. Hoping for greater and greater ratings / market share, the news program turns into bona fide edutainment with Howard Beale–a raving truth-spouting lunatic–at the center of the circus. Through most of the film, despite his psychosis, Beale is a character whom you can empathize with and even root for as he preaches against bullshit and encourages everyone to chant with him: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

I expected to do a search online today and find a least a few clever writers comparing Network‘s antics to the last five to ten years of Fox News’ programming. I even speculated that if I failed to find such comparisons made by any of the other major cable or network news outlets, that they would be afraid to draw the edutainment criticism to themselves. What I didn’t expect to see was Wikipedia’s “Culture References” for Network to list examples of both Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck voluntarily comparing themselves to Howard Beale.

Certainly, the stage antics and truth-spouting style of Fox News’ personalities are reminiscent of Howard Beale’s exhortations. But Beale was truly mad. He heard voices telling him what to say. Beale’s popularity wanes after a transformative encounter with the chairman of the large corporation that owns UBS. The chairman, furious that Beale decided to turn his attention and audience against a planned corporate buyout by an Arab firm, offers Beale his own apocalyptic sales pitch preaching money and corporate power as the only thing that matters in the world anymore, and then instructs Beale to spread the gloomy message.

In the end, Beale is a puppet. He has become so disillusioned and volatile that he is now a slave to ideological argument. I’m not sure exactly what to make of the reflexive satire of O’Reilly and Beck actually choosing Beale to be their standard-bearer.

How many members of Congress have read Profiles in Courage?

Originally published at Unrhetorical.

This is an unfortunately timeless paragraph from John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize winning Profiles in Courage:

“Today the challenge of political courage looms larger than ever before. For our everyday life is becoming so saturated with the tremendous power of mass communications that any unpopular or unorthodox course arouses a storm of protests such as John Quincy Adams—under attack in 1807—could never have envisioned. Our political life is becoming so expensive, so mechanized and so dominated by professional politicians and public relations men that the idealist who dreams of independent statesmanship is rudely awakened by the necessities of election and accomplishment.” (Introduction)

The very next sentence could be similarly descriptive of the situation immediately following 9/11, i.e. our war with the epithet “on Terror”:

“And our public life is becoming so increasingly centered upon that seemingly unending war to which we have given the curious epithet “cold” that we tend to encourage rigid ideological unity and orthodox patterns of thought.” (Introduction)

Do Different Generational Perspectives on Patriotism and War Line Up?

Originally published at Unrhetorical.

I’m curious about how well Remarque’s perspective in All Quiet on the Western Front resonates with today’s soldiers as they think about the teachers, mentors, and media that encourage us to fight. Seems like a timeless observation:

“While they continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and dying. While they taught that duty to one’s country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. But for all that we were no mutineers, no deserters, no cowards–they were very free with all these expressions. We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing of their world left. We were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through.” (Chapter 1)