History of Resisting Technology

July 6, 2006

techdirt has this wonderful short compilation of bad predictions about new technologies ruining entertainment industries — print the page and put it in your copy of Christopher Cerf’s and Victor Navasky’s The Experts Speak.

I attended a presentation of education guru Harry Wong two weeks ago. He had probably a dozen slides featuring quotations from the experts from this book and other sources, and each comment was met with “oohs” and “ahhs.” My first use of these wrongway predictions was in 1988 and 1989 in the “Committing to Leadership” program at AMR (American Airlines). It’s amazing to me that they still seem new to so many — but they are funny, and thought provoking, even if they are not new.

Millard Fillmore

July 6, 2006

I finally managed to edit a painting of Millard Fillmore, from the White House site, to fit the header. Fillmore is generally considered to be one of the worst presidents ever, but the capital of Utah was once named for him when the Mormons were trying to win his favor to gain statehood (Fillmore, in Millard County — the capital was moved later). It didn’t work, and Utah didn’t achieve statehood for another four decades.

I am still looking for a picture of his actual bathtub.

Day to remember: Ken Lay died, avoided jail

July 6, 2006

P. Z. Myers over at Pharyngula has some comments on the “death of corporate vision statements” and the death of Ken Lay, with links to some harsher views. Some of the commenters accuse Myers and others of gloating over Lay’s death. These are my comments at Myers’ blog:

Tom Peters used to say (may still say, for all I know) that no corporate vision neatly framed on a wall is worth a damn — the only one that counts is one that is engraved on the hearts of the people who make the company go. It was such a vision that saved Johnson & Johnson during the Tylenol tampering crisis — and perhaps a few dozen lives.

But it’s clear that, at best, Enron and Lay failed to live up to that vision. At worst, the officers cynically avoided doing anything close to the corporate vision.

High ideals are not folly by themselves. Nor are they folly when people don’t live up to them. The folly is in the hypocrisy, in the intentional frustrating of the dreams those ideals may hold.

Gloating over Ken Lay’s death? As usual, the knee-jerk conservatives (emphasis on “jerk”) miss the point. Lay will spend no time in prison; under the law, he is now clean as a whistle, and under the criminal law it is extremely unlikely his estate will pay a dime in restitution to the thousands of good people made paupers by Lay’s misdeeds. It is those knee-jerkers who are cynical, and wrong, for defending a rip-off of so many. Ken Lay was no Pretty Boy Floyd — Lay stole from little guys to give to the rich, and Lay put into foreclosure more properties than Pretty Boy Floyd saved. The contrast should give one pause to defend Lay.

Gloat? Over a bad guy avoiding justice? That’s for the Bushies, for the Cheneys, for the DeLays, who have made such gloating a way of life, a legacy to warn our grandchildren with.

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