Duck! and Gather

Archive for the ‘ows’ Category

In my previous post, I declared that Linsanity and OWS are related, but did a poor job of explaining the relationship.

Sports radio, and media generally, are asking the following question: “Why all the intense interest in Linsanity?”

My answer is that in one week, Linsanity has melted three firmly entrenched assumptions in the NBA:

  1. Asian-Americans can’t play
  2. Your 15th guy is useless (or at best, is a glue guy)
  3. You can’t win with less than two All Stars

#1 means that you should expect a flood of Asian-American players in the NBA within the year. Linsanity is the unplugging of that bottleneck.

#2 means that NBA GMs and coaches will be looking much closer at their 15th players (and D-Leaguers) and undrafted players to see what they have to offer. Is there a diamond in the bunch? (I seem to remember a short, white, talented American point guard who went undrafted. Bet he gets a fresh look.)

On #3, I would suspect that most basketball fans would disagree. But I watched this week as Linsanity emerged (starting with the Utah game), and saw all the elements needed for a team to make a deep run in the playoffs. And I mean without Melo or Stat.

Doesn’t mean they’d win it all. But they could. Just like Detroit in 2004, and Dallas in 2011.

But I don’t want to use this post to belabor sports analysis. Instead, let me just say that if Linsanity really did blow up the above 3 assumptions, then the NBA is about to be revolutionized — turned on its head.

The lockout didn’t do that. But Jeremy will.

What would be amazing about such a revolution is that all it entails is a change in our collective state of mind. Pre-Linsanity, that collective mind was over there. Post-, it’s over here. And now everything is changed.

I think OWS will have a similarly profound mind-altering and seismic affect on American culture.

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I’m loving the Jeremy Lin story. Been following it closely for the past week.

I’m a bit of sports junkie, and had actually heard of Lin before this week. So no surprise I was in on this story from the beginning.

Since Wednesday, I’ve been asking my wife: “Heard of Jeremy Lin, yet?” I’m interested to hear when the Linsanity story crosses the threshold of the sports ghetto, and goes mainstream. My wife hearing about it will represent when that theshold has been crossed.

And trust me, Linsanity goes well beyond basketball. Well beyond sports, generally. Well beyond the place of Asians in our American culture.

No, the Linsanity story is the universal story of human redemption. This morning, I finally told my wife about the Linsanity story that has unfolded over this past week (she had gotten tired of my daily question), and, in response, she said: “That’s the Cinderella story.”

Exactly. But it’s more than just about the triumph of the underdog. No, the Linsanity story is about the incredible and sudden melting of monolithic hierarchies, in real time, right before our very eyes. “And a child shall lead them,” somebody once wrote.

Which brings me to OWS. I’ve blogged about how OWS is a reaction of the People to the monolithic hierarchies that dominate our nation, and puts lie to the notion that our nation is an efficient meritocracy.

Among the 3 major American professional sports, basketball is the one that most resembles our current culture. A culture in which Mitt Romney can offer a $10,000 bet and have no clue what that means for the rest of us.

What does this have to do with basketball?

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I was hiking with a colleague the other day when it hit me: Mitt Romney isn’t just the pro-Corporate candidate for President. Mitt Romney is a Corporation.

The singularity has arrived. Just not in the way that folks like Kurzweil and de Grey have been blathering about.

Instead of humans merging with technology, humans have now merged with Corporations. And Mitt Romney is Exhibit A of this unholy merger.

To understand this, consider former president George W. Bush. IMHO, that guy was the crown prince of the royal family of the military industrial complex (“MIC”) about which Eisenhower warned us in 1961.

George’s grandfather, Prescott Bush was a founder of the MIC during WWII. His son, George H.W., became King of the MIC. His first son, George W., was the crown prince.

These people were and are pro-Corporate. Particularly, pro oil-, military hardware-, finance-, and intelligence-Corporate (the key industries that make up the MIC).

But the key point here is that these are people. They’re unmistakably human. George was a former drunkard, C-student, moron. How many Corporations behave like that? No successful ones, that’s for sure.

But look at Romney.

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In my last post, I introduced the notion of “rigid, monolithic hierarchy” as a way of defining OWS (i.e. what that movement opposes). I figured I ought to spend a few words drilling down on that concept.

Accordingly, I start by pruning the term “rigid”. The phrase “rigid monolith” is redundant. All monoliths are rigid. Check out the definition of “monolithic”:

1. a : of, relating to, or resembling a monolith : hugemassive(1) : formed from a single crystal <a monolithic silicon chip> (2) : produced in or on a monolithic chip <amonolithic circuit>
2. a : cast as a single piece <a monolithic concrete wall>b : formed or composed of material without joints or seams<a monolithic floor covering>c : consisting of or constituting a single unit
3. a: constituting a massive undifferentiated and often rigid whole <a monolithic society>b: exhibiting or characterized by often rigidly fixed uniformity <monolithic party unity>

Consider three key attributes from the above definition: (1) huge; (2) uniform; and (3) rigid.

Do these describe large corporations?

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Perhaps the most stark distinction between the OWS movement and the forces that they oppose (Corporations and Government) is found in the notion of hierarchy. Whereas OWS has no hierarchy, their opponents are all about hierarchy.

What does it mean to say that OWS has no hierarchy? To find out, watch the following video (highlighted at http://www.nycga.net/about/):

Since 2003, I have predicted that the coming “war” in America, will be in the form of People vs. Corporations.

But I was never comfortable with that pithy description. I mean, for example, in my consulting practice, I run my own little corporation, Jack Polymath LLC.

Now if I identify myself as a member of the “People” in the coming People vs. Corporation war, and yet I run my own little corporation, it would seem that I have some ‘splainin’ to do. That’s what this post is about.

This post is about the kind of hierarchies that OWS opposes. They don’t oppose any and all hierarchy. What they oppose are large, monolithic, and rigid hierarchies. These are hierarchies of people in which the lives of the “leaves” of the hierarchy tree are many orders removed from the life of the person at the “root” of the tree.

What kind of hierarchies are these? Org charts of multinational Corporations. Org charts of the U.S Government.

The older a Corporation is, the larger it grows, and the more rigid and extensive its hierarchy becomes. At some point, people in the company don’t even know each other. Everyone is just blindly serving the Corporate interest, with no feeling of human responsibility in anyone for the actions of the Corporation.

The U.S. Government is similar. The incumbency advantage of sitting Senators, and even of most of the Congressmen, is such that these people treat these positions as if they were lifetime appointments.

Due to this monolithic, rigid quality, Corporations and Government lose their touch with basic human decency.

If this discussion seems too esoteric for you, consider the hierarchy at Penn State University as of a week ago. Joe Paterno was the shadow head of that monolithic hierarchy, for over 40 years. From the outside, until this week, the monolithic Penn State hierarchy looked like a paragon of human virtue. At least that was the persuasive PR of the monolith.

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I just finished up a weekly play-date between my daughter and my neighbor’s daughter. My neighbor, Mike, and I do an hour of Yoga during the play-date, and follow that with an hour of conversation. Over the years, our conversations have covered just about every topic.

Tonight’s topic was Occupy Wall Street. I asked him whether he knew from what country the idea for occupying Wall Street came. He didn’t. I told him it came from a source outside of America. That piqued his interest. So I invited him to guess.

Now Mike is a world traveller. Been to six of the seven continents of the world. After we eliminated Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, South America (and Central America), and Antartica from the answer pool, he was still stumped. The conversation must have dragged on for over 5 minutes.

Finally, when I said “North America”, Mike paused, and said: “Canada?” He acted like it was a trick question. When I affirmed that Canada was the source, he said what almost all Americans would say: “But I kind of see Canada as just part of America”.

Now, I was born and raised in Canada. Left that country at the age of 25 to attend law school in California. Never went back. Growing up in Canada, you know you’re different than the Americans. You’re just not sure how.

I’ve lived in America now for almost half my life. I think I have a pretty clear picture of the differences between the countries. But rather than me give you my theories, why not just describe the circumstances behind the Canadian entity that proposed occupying Wall Street.

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A couple of months ago I was worrying that Obama getting assissinated by Corporate stooges might be the only way that America would be saved. Made me very sad to think so, given how moved my wife and I were when he took office. But one reads history, and sometimes national tragedies like that are the spark that sets a nation on the healing course.

Then that thought was replaced with a happier one: America could be saved if Obama loses in 2012, followed by the Republican who wins driving the country completely over the cliff, handing us over to the Corporations. Then Obama would come back to lead the People in its charge against the Corporations.

Of course, nobody makes a comeback like that.

And then along came Occupy Wall Street. Bingo! I now see how America will be saved.

The kids will drive this Occupy Us thing, bringing along the rest of the 99% — left and right, old and young, white and not so white, straight and gay … all of us. Then, when it becomes obvious that this movement will not subside, and can not be subdued, Obama will swoop in from the wings, and take over leadership of the movement, accepting credit for it too.

It will be just like Lincoln getting credited for the abolition of slavery when he was a laggard on the issue all the way through the 1850s and even into the first part of the Civil War. He came late to the party, but history gives him the lion’s share of the credit.

Obama will be serve an analogous role on People vs. Corporations.

If you know anything about the Enneagram, you’ll recognize this as a classic “7” play. And as I blogged years ago, Obama’s 7-ness is core to the reason why I predicted in 2006 that he’d win the presidency and lead us on this epic struggle.

Man, I feel so much better. Hated my first idea about Obama’s role in saving America. Was dubious about my second idea. Am bullish about this third one. Bullish enough to blog it.

That’s OK, Obama. Sit quietly while the Occupy Us movement grows. Stay quiet, just as you did during the Arab Spring. When it become obvious to everyone that this movement is prevailing, swoop in like it was your idea the whole time, and I for one will cheer you.

It will be a cynical cheer, to be sure. But a heartfelt one.

There’s something happening here; What it is ain’t exatly clear; There’s a man with a gun over there; Telling me I got to beware

Although those lyrics were written in 1966, they almost perfectly describe the first two weeks of Occupy Wall Street.

I’m 48 years old. I was 4 years old, growing up in a small Canadian town, during the Summer of Love. Technically speaking, I’m a Gen X, not a Boomer.

But man, I love the Sixties. I love the psychedelic music. I love the passion of the children of that day. I love Angela Davis’ fro. I love The Graduate.

And most of all, I love the anti-corporate meme running through those children.

Of course, those “anti-corporate” children grew up to become the very same asshole middle-aged Boomers who put Mr. Bush into office not once but twice. A paradigm example of a classic “turncoat” Sixties progressive who, years later, became a political reactionary is Michael Weiner, a.k.a Michael Savage.

On the surface, there is so much in common with the children of Zuccotti Park, and the flower-children of the Sixties. Check out this meditation flash mob from a couple of days ago:

Straight out of 1969.

But while style and message are similar between these children and those of the Sixties, there is a crucial difference. History says that the anti-corporatism of the Sixties was just a passing phase among the children of the day. It was a style to wear, not so much a cross to bear.

The children of Zuccotti Park are altogether different. Their anti-corporatism is no luxury. They are in that place not just on an adventure, but for first level Maslow hierarchy reasons of survival. They are in Zuccotti Park because there is nowhere else left for them to turn:

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I started this blog in 2003. Short story is that I read two books (one of which was the Fourth Turning), and an idea popped into my head that America was going to collapse, and that the collapse would take the form of a civil war characterized as People vs. Corporations.

From that realization, I made a few “out there” predictions. Some actually came true. I even won a bet over one of them.

But over the past 8 years, I’ve been waiting and wondering. When would this war start? How would it start? Who would start it?

I knew it would be the children. In the essay to which I linked above I wrote:

The last kicker in the theory is youth. After twenty years or so, there’s a whole new crop of kids out there. And in America, it seems to be the youth who serve the function of kicking the lazy, sleeping cow awake. So as we look out to the youth of America today, we ask: Which of that sorry bunch is going to kick us all awake? And awake to what?

(Hey, before you go laughing at the Americans, just look at the rest of the world. At least we Americans go through profound changes every twenty years or so. The rest of the world stays stuck in ruts measured in centuries, not decades. Change and growth is the beauty and genius of America. America is the Grand Human Experiment.) [Note: I wrote the last paragraph in 2003. Long before the Arab Spring. “Ruts measured in centuries” are ending all over the world. Topic for another post.]

Not only did I know it would be the youth, but I guessed that they would “wage war” in a way never before seen in America:

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I’m going to be blogging a bunch about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and its many growing offshoots in other cities. I’ll call it “Occupy Us” until a better name comes along.

I have many, many thoughts about this movement. But before I get to my thoughts, I thought I would start with explaining my feelings. To do that, watch the following video taken at 4a.m. the other night in Lower Manhattan:

First time I watched this, tears came to my eyes. Now, I’m not the most empathetic person, in touch with my emotions and all. But love and beauty, expressed clearly, can bring me to tears. That’s what I saw in this video.

I found the youth in the above video beautiful. All of them.

The poignancy of the words “hope” and “change” coming from these children moved me when those were touchstone words of the Obama campaign of 2008. These were the children that had put that man into office.

These are now the destitute and desperate, and pure of heart children who can no longer afford to wait for the tardy Mr. Obama. They have taken matters into their own hands.

And they’ve done so with love and beauty.

I was hiking with my business colleague this morning and we were saying that if a business meeting took us to New York, we’d pack our sleeping bags, fly “TransLove Airways”, and camp out with those kids, if just for a night.

I’ve been waiting since 2003 for signs of the spark that would end this interminable Fall, and bring us to our long awaited Winter. Yet the longer the Fall dragged on, the worse the Winter would be, I thought.

But these children in New York, these beautiful loving children are the harbingers of the Winter that has just now begun. And no matter how dark and cold this Winter gets, the faces of these kids remind me that Spring will once again come to our great land.

Maybe 20 years from now. Maybe when my little girl is the age of these kids. But come, it will. And it will be sweet.


for the money has gone too far

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