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A professor guest of Rachel Maddow’s tonight was reviewing the latest polls on preference for potential Republican candidates. She posited that part of the reason that little known Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, tied for second place was that his name might be confused or transmoglorified into McCAIN by some respondents. How does a black businessman get confused with a career white politician? The interviewee supposed that such a name confusion, if that is possible, might account for a 2% swing in Cain’s favor in the poll, putting him into double digits.

If there is a grain of potential truth to that theorem, I propose that all polling be herewith banned. How ridiculous is that kind of use or interpretation of polling results?

Of course, as long as no one has ever voted for a judge because they liked the sound or ethnicity of his or her name, one can be deservedly outraged. But the truth is, who the hell gets polled? I’ve been retired and near the phone for more than 11 years, and I don’t think I’ve yet been the receiver of a political poll. Whomever they are asking, they must be the same people they poll over and over, and do these people take it seriously? If they think Mr. Cain is the second best the Republicans can do for President of the U.S. those people being polled must be in receipt of information I don’t have access to.

I’m not saying that Mr. Cain may not have some very enlightened views on contemporary issues. What I’m saying is that he is unknown and untested, and polling results like this suggest that polling is full of crap. Thus my invocation to “Abandon All Polls — the Ship of State is Sinking!.”

If the professor’s view that name confusion is giving Cain an uptick among potential voters, I may take back my long-held belief that the Electoral College system of picking our Presidents by savvy electors rather than by popular vote (as is the case still in the U.S.) is an obsolete and dangerous system after all. NOT!

One capability I find missing on the internet, at least in a form as easy to access as Facebook, is a similar time-shift communication device that would be based upon spoken language and not written messages. I miss hearing the actual voices of my friends and correspondents. Yes, we could call one another on the phone or Skype, but that’s real-time, and does not provide the advantage of time-shifted correspondence, that I can listen to whenever it is convenient.

Rosabeth Moss Kantor, the former Harvard Business Review editor, has a thoughtful article regarding what the internet has NOT changed in society, based upon her attendance at an internet conference sponsored by France before the recent G8 meeting there. My idea for a voice-based Facebook employs at least one of the principles she espouses — that the internet must retain the human touch.

In the comments section of her article, which reflects on how the internet has empowered the individual (the Arab Spring), one writer also cautions that increased controls of the internet (for example, stricter copyrights for music), could gradually eat away at the freedom of communication the internet enables. He posits that this erosion of freedom could reflect the desires of government for information control, and prevention of future Wikileaks-style embarrassments. Good point.

Ms. Kantor’s article does indeed get one thinking about role of the internet — this sort of second planet — on human communication, in commerce, education, and social interaction in general. Here’s a link to the article:

Following is an except of an essay I’m writing on my experiences during the Vietnam War era:

“The confluence of my coming to adulthood, influenced by world affairs in the late 60s, and so much of my subsequent life, seem to all stem from events around that cataclysm which history now knows as the Vietnam War. Similar personal stories surely grow out of the current debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they did from the Korean War, and other breakdowns of civilization through all of human history.

“As an adult touching old age, I now look at war as the most abominable form of wholesale natural selection, and I’m bitter that the politicians and counselors who commit us to our wars almost universally remain exempt from real personal consequences of their decisions, besides obligatory consolation of the bereaved and being the recipients of abusive rantings in the blogosphere. Instead, those “brave” leaders invariably commit a generation of excitable youth to be the proxies for their own complex, bruised egos, and plots to secure needed oil inventories and pressures to sustain the military/industrial complex. The young warriors lead the way with their own deaths and personal and family sacrifices, while the nation’s leadership continues to politic, govern, prosper and then move on to honored, gracefully reflective retirements, often discussing their “difficult” decisions in their memoirs and in endless book tours.”

A peaceful Memorial Day to all.

Just as I recently blogged, and despite the overwhelming worldwide climatic disasters of recent days, weeks and months, and despite a new UN report of new, fresh evidence of long-term climate change, Congress, most especially the GOP, and news media, in my view, are largely ignoring the massive evidence of consequential climate change, and not prioritizing spending and science and public education that could make a positive difference, for this and future generations.

Politico details the new evidence, both of climate change itself and of albatross-like Congressional indifference, in the attached compelling story:

Let your representatives in Congress and your favorite news media know how you feel on this critical subject.

The 15th Ebeling PR-ize (copyright Charles Ebeling, 2011) awards at Bradley University for excellence in cause-related public relations were recently presented to a team of four talented graduating senior students. Their winning campaign, for real clients, called “Connect & Protect: Cyber Security for Seniors,” and won in stiff competition among six teams. Each student team selected their own cooperating regional for-profit and not-for-profit organization to bring together in a creative campaign they created, to bring awareness, contributions, volunteers and publicity for a different worthy cause. One.der Communications, as the winning team called themselves, brought together for-profit Web Tech Services, Inc. and not-for-profit RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in a professional-level, well-planned, strategic communications program they created to enhance cyber security training and awareness among Peoria-area senior citizens. The winning team members received letters of commendation and split a cash PR-ize provided by program creator Chuck Ebeling. The winners were feted at an awards luncheon in Peoria, attended by Ebeling and faculty members at Bradley’s Slane College of Communications and Fine Arts, as well as area judges and client representatives.

More information on the winning campaign can be found at the website the student team created:

Chuck Ebeling also sponsors a similar Ebeling PR-ize program at Loyola University, Chicago.

With the unending reports of tornadoes, eruptions, earth quakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, et al, of which the news media covers the aftermath ad nauseam, why aren’t we hearing more analysis on the media about the role, or non-role, of climate change in al this aberrant weather around the globe? Are the news media tone-deaf to climate change, or just afraid to let science get in the way of political correctness and electoral sensitivity? I’d like to see some headlines and in-depth reporting telling the scientific truths, and some politicians not afraid of the third-rail of “global warming” and “climate change.” Let’s hear at least as much science and discussion about how we can save and protect ourselves, as we see reports wallowing in the damage done.

Come on news media, show a little spine (better known as journalism)!

We just had 65-mile-an-hour winds pass over southeaster Wisconsin, with hail and warnings of possible tornadoes. Yikes!

If eating 3 times a day is a sinister idea, then the critics of Ronald McDonald have a point. But what does Ronald do? He helps parents make breakfast, lunch or dinner, or a snack, a happy experience for their kids. Most parents would say that is helpful to them. McDonald’s offers many appealing menu choices for kids and parents, along with known nutrition, portion control and quality control. Add a little parental guidance and what do you have — a Happy Meal! McDonald’s is on the upward curve in nutritional responsibility.

P.S. And don’t forget Ronald McDonald House — no one made McDonald’s build all those wonderful places, but they did just because they could. Guess that’s social responsibility in action, too.

The great old apple tree standing in front of our house is in full bloom! The apple tree is a member of the rose family, and there are more than 7,500 cultivars of the genus, a seemingly endless variety. Some of our trees have white blossoms, like the great tree, and some are pink. the apples we grow are green, yellow and red, and together make a tasty, piquant cider.

As the debate begins over what to do about our massive military presence in Afghanistan, in the wake of the death of Osama Bin Laden, and even Senate Foreign Relations committee chair Kerry questions what our goals now are in that country, I recalled the following excerpt from an essay I’ve recently written on my own Vietnam experience, as follows:

“Even back in those days of a military draft, most American men had managed, either through dumb luck, political connections or serial deferments, to dodge active military service. I had embraced my bad luck, as it were, and sought to make the most of it. In some ways I’d succeeded. In other ways, my own experience was a microcosm of the futility, the waste and the lies of war. America didn’t end the bloodshed in Vietnam until 1975, thanks in large part to the cynical political maneuverings of Nixon, Kissinger and Chennault before that seminal election in the fall of 1968. America had lost its first war. I was reminded of a quotation from Isaac Asimov I’d seen at the foundation museum in Gernika, Spain, site of Franco and Hitler’s carpet-bombing atrocity during the Spanish Civil War, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” My experience suggests that the gold bars I once worked so diligently to earn, and proudly wore, were largely worn in vain.”

Indeed, a great and mostly cost-free solution for many, including myself. From today’s Wall Street Journal;

*This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.

May 2011

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