Category: Greater and Lesser Culture

No PowerPoint has ever crumbled an empire

When I edit, I am perfectly capable of keeping my thoughts to myself — dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and keep your mouth shut, as it were. I am reticent with the commentary when I first start editing for someone, simply because they have no way of knowing how I work or what I’ll say, so I want to be at least a little gentle.

However, at the same time I warn people who ask me to edit things that I am not a cheerleader. I will point out awkward constructions, faulty logic, and boring dialogue. I have used the term “crack-smoking monkeys”. I’m not there to tell people how great they are (though if the work is great I’ll certainly say so).

Greek chorus editing isn’t nearly as much fun, though, and I have been told that often it’s the commentary that proves the most valuable. Though I admit, sometimes, if what I’m reading engages my mind, the comments are as much a function of me musing textually out loud as anything.

One of my comments while editing a piece on presenting (i.e. public speaking), in the section about speeches vs. presentations, was this:

[Hmm� great speeches can spark revolutions. Can great presentations?]

It was about midnight on a Wednesday when I wrote that, and I’d been at work for four hours, so I was in a kind of wired-and-worn-out state, and didn’t have anything further to offer on the observation than that. But the article was good, and happened to dovetail with things I’d been reading recently, so there was a lot going on in my head behind that comment.

The following is more or less the text of a reply email I sent regarding my thoughts on that comment and where it came from. I post it because it certainly has been interesting to think about, and because this is one of the rare times I’ll ever comment on politics. 🙂

The weird thing is that my inkling is that the same kind of power that can reside in a speech is there in presentations, but I don’t think I have enough depth of knowledge about the subject to say how or when it would be invoked.

My cynicism is inclined to think that you wouldn’t find it in the corporate realm, simply because, in general, corporate presentations are so awful, and we’ve become inured to them. But the other side of my brain says not to dismiss that so handily. The corporate does drive much of our world, but it’s foolish to think we have even the slightest clue what goes on in there at the highest levels. (I.e. the levels at which world-changing decisions or approvals are made.)

The thought actually came to me because I’d been catching up on my blogs, and I’ve now read in a number of different places sentiments to the effect that Obama supporters find him not just believable or supportable, but inspiring — not something I’ve heard south of the border, or here at home, since… who knows.

Which led to thinking that, politically, an unfortunate amount of disillusionment and disenfranchisement comes from public figures making presentations and not speeches. (Doing one when the other is called for, or only ever doing one when flexibility and range is called for.) I mean, really, when was the last time we heard “I have a dream” or “Four score and seven years ago” or “Ask not what your country can do for you”?

I use all American examples simply because the person to whom the email was addressed is American, they’re among the most recognized in North American culture, and they’re recursive to the Obama pondering.


Because I’m too tired to do anything productive… (Via Violet and Sherry.)

Here are the rules:

1. The first title on this page is the name of your band.
2. The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.
3. The third picture on this page will be your album cover.

You then take the photo and add your band name and the album title to it, then post your picture. (And be sure to give credit!)

Right, so, may I present the MOST pretentious band EVAR:

Spaceguard album cover
Image: keesssss

Jesus: Space Odyssey

I am now officially on vacation — w00t!

In celebration of the holidays, I will share something I have been pondering this afternoon. I’ve always found it gives an interesting twist to Christmas and the various PC wranglings about Jesus vs. consumerism vs. cultural symbolism blahblahblah…

Many years ago, when I was in my teens, we were having our youth group meeting after the church service one Sunday, and the guy leading it was not our usual youth group leader (I don’t think), but subbed in sometimes. He was a teacher, and one of those aggressive, abrasive types that tends to always dominate and rub people the wrong way.

As it was nearing the holidays, the topic of discussion that day was Jesus, and various cultures’ and religions’ take on his significance and who he actually was.

And at one point, John, the youth leader, asked, “Who says earth is the only place he came to? Who says we even got him first?”

Bit of a can o’ worms opener, that one. And one that I have liked to ponder from time to time in the nearly two decades since.

Pink isn’t a Christmas colour

Dreaming of a Pink Christmas

This is something that already bothers me about my niece. Her wardrobe is overwhelmingly pink (her mother’s favourite colour). There are Disney Princess candy canes on the Christmas tree. Her toys at this point are “baby” toys, so bright colours and whatnot, and not terribly gender-specific. For now.

My brother will help with trying to expand her gender horizons, I think, especially if their next child (which they’ve been talking about since about ten minutes after Cadence was born) isn’t the boy they want. My brother would like some balance, and I think he’d be fine with having/doing more stereotypical “boy” things with a girl. After all, my brother has 30-odd years of experience with me to know that not all girls are pink princesses all the time.

As for me, at least I have a bit of leeway in my actions. I can be a voice of diversity and feminism and show up with a range of toys. I can buy her non-pink books and puzzles and, if she turns into a daddy’s girl (which is pretty likely), I can get her a tool belt so she can “help” Daddy work. And hey, the clothes I bought Cadence for Christmas are an assortment of colours, and only one outfit has any pink on it.

Of course, once she reaches school age, pretty much everyone else’s influence will fall by the wayside in favour of what her peers think. That’s a bit scary. Peer influence is powerful stuff, and not always positive. I’m kinda hoping she at least ends up at a school with some diversity. Getting exposed to different folks would be the best thing for her. And would help counteract some of her father’s attitudes, which is yet another issue I’m going to be fighting for a long time, methinks…

(Article courtesy of Robyn, who gets frothy about these sorts of things, too.)

The areas of my expertise (no hobos enclosed)

This was an entertaining read (while I was editing): The Nerd Handbook. Michael asked for input on the subject a little while ago in the forums, and, knowing way too much about that particular topic, I put together some thoughts. Except the thoughts ended up being scrollingly long. What can I say, when every guy you’ve ever dated fits the mold, you learn a few things…

So as I sometimes do I emailed them instead of posting them (it’s bad form to hijack forum topics with a tome). And I included a link to this. Yes, I am petty enough to let someone know when he’s reinventing the wheel. 🙂

His reply was that he wasn’t going to read the stuff I sent until he’d written his article… and that that was a compliment. Okie doke. (He’s a quirky sort, that one…)

Anyway, aside from the usual spelling clean-up, format recommendations and such, I also commented where I thought there were sections requiring more detail or clarification, and where I thought he was dead wrong on some assertions.

What was particularly awesome about one of his assertions was that HE was a perfect example of my point and embodied the exact opposite of what he’d claimed. Heh. (Thank goodness I’ve met the man, otherwise the smugness wouldn’t have been nearly so satisfying.) 🙂

I like the final article. It’s not exhaustive, by any means, but certainly a good overview. And I am particularly enjoying the comments. The reaction is exactly what I expected: a) it’s proving popular already, b) geeks/nerds are recognizing themselves, including some aspects they hadn’t been aware of before, c) companions of geeks/nerds are recognizing their significant others, and d) it’s getting forwarded to the aforementioned companions.

Ye Olde Generation Gap

Last evening Andrew and I were at the mall to pick up his new sunglasses, and he also picked up a Detroit Tigers baseball cap for his upcoming Hallowe’en costume. The girl at the till, with her dreads, Jamaican flag-striped Rasta hat, and Chinese calligraphy ankle tattoos, tried the usual upsell tactics, so I noted to her that the hat was just for a Hallowe’en costume.

She asked what Andrew was planning to be, and he said, “Thomas Magnum“. To which she replied that she didn’t know who that is. *sigh* So I said, “Magnum P.I.”. And she gave a sort of “Oh” verbal shrug, which left me doubting that she even recognized that name.

Honestly. What is the world coming to?


Yes, that time of year approaches again, and once again I have signed up. It’s NaBloPoMo time!

I’ve failed miserably twice at NaNoWriMo, and so I no longer bother with those keeners, and instead choose to hang wit’ mah homies, my fellow slackers of the blogosphere.

And hey, I was successful last year, so I know I can do it. I know I kinda lost the magic after this summer. I went from being rather displeased with the state of things but with lots of time on my hands, to adjusting to much newness, less time on my hands, and apparently less to say. Gotta get my groove back, so hopefully this will help.

Anyway, starts November 1st. You have been warned. And hey, feel free to sign up — there are prizes!