October 17, 2015

Opening Quote

“Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.”

David McCullough is a historian and biographer who has written a number of bestselling, critically noteworthy books. His latest work, The Wright Brothers (2015), investigates how two bicycle mechanics from Ohio were able, in 1903, to achieve the world’s first powered flight. Additional McCullough titles include: The Path Between the Seas (a history of the Panama Canal–and winner of the National Book Award in History, 1977); Mornings on Horseback (the young Theodore Roosevelt, and also a National Book Award-winner–in biography; Truman (President Harry S. Truman, Pulitzer Prize in Biography, 1993); and John Adams (a second Pulitzer Prize, in biography, 2002).


As reported by Business Insider, Wall Street average salaries and bonuses were $404,800. Fortune reveals that the average 2014 Main Street salaries of American workers were $45,786. Welcome to income inequality. Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley, and an author and economic analyst–explains this phenomenon in a fascinating video, Inequality for All (available on DVD from Netflix). Reich has also published a new book on the topic, Saving Capitalism.


In Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution the Federal Government is required to conduct a count of the nation’s residents every ten years; the latest population estimate is 318,857,056 (2014). The first cenus took place in 1790–just two years after the Constitution was ratified. Given the nature of our government, one vital function of the census is to determine the number of Congressmen to which each state is entitled. The count also determines the distribution of Federal funds. The Census Bureau constantly seeks to upgrade its accuracy and efficiency. One example of this institutional self-improvement took place in 1890 when the census employed the world’s first electronic tabulating system. Today, the Census Bureau must stay ahead of the curve in regard to new scientific and technological breakthroughs. Yet, every time the census publishes its ten-year report, it is criticized. In 2010, the major complaint was the undercounting of 1.5 million people: African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans as well as young men and renters. In their zeal to shrink the size and impact of the government, Republicans want to cut the Census Bureau’s budget. President Ronald Reagan set the tone for decades of self-inflicted wounds in government oversight when he quipped, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” Of course, this is purely right-wing drivel. But conservatives and powerful interests–with their huge campaign contributions, army of lobbyists, and wealthy political action committees–control the country’s narrative. As if to prove just how obstructionist they can be, House Republicans narrowly averted a government shutdown by agreeing to a short-term spending bill that will expire two weeks before Christmas.


Let’s go to the video tape! In their first debate–on October 13th in Vegas–the Democratic presidential candidates experienced the joy of victory and agony of defeat. There was Hillary, acting like she was already the winner and had already avenged her loss to Obama in 2008. Bernie burned. He was a scalding avenging angel, while the television medium is cool. Former Senators Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee were like special ed students. Webb was whiny and sulky; why didn’t anyone want to listen to him? And Chaffee was this far away from resurrecting Al Gore’s lock box. Martin O’Malley,  former Maryland Governor, scored a knockdown: keeping focused on compassionately coping with income inequality and climate change and all the other things that are invisible to Republicans. He was Bernie without the fire, and Hillary without a clitoris. In this Greek drama, will O’Malley be the God who denies the Golden Fleece to Hillary once more? Or is he a little short and a little late? The only way Bernie gets to play in the White House is if he succeeds in recreating what used to be known as the movement. Because voter alienation, anger, and apathy are so entrenched that turnout in the 2012 presidential election was an anemic 57.5% while in the 2014 midterms it was a shamefully low 36.3%. Those kind of numbers spell doom for the Democratic Socialist.


Oscars, Emmys, Tonys–and Webbys? How about some digital glam? Each year, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) hands out awards recognizing Internet excellence in five major categories: Websites, Advertising & Media, Online Film & Video, Mobile Sites & Apps, and Social. Two winners are announced in each area. The 1,000 members of IADAS vote to select Webby-winners; a People’s Voice Award is determined by online popular voting, which, in 2015, attracted more than 500,000 ballots from more than 200 nations and territories. The annual IADAS gala was held at New York City’s Cipriani Wall Street on May 19, but highlights of the event are available for current viewing at webbyawards.com. There are also special Webby categories recognizing Lifetime Achievement, Breakout of the Year, Best Actor, Best Actress and more. Fame and talent mingle on the panel responsible for selecting these winners. Within the five major award groupings are dozens of topic-and-service-specific website categories. I happen to know that Unroll.Me won the Webby for “Mobile Sites and Apps Services & Utilities” because Julia Handel, the company’s marketing and communcations manager, is my eldest daughter. Unroll.Me enables you to organize the inbox on your email. It creates a “Rollup”: a daily digest that provides an overview of all the subscriptions you receive. Your overstuffed and disorganized inbox becomes far easier to manage because your subscriptions now reside in an Unroll.Me folder. The service makes it easy to unsubscribe from unwanted vendors and to discover new publications and newsletters that you do want. Unroll.Me also allows you to screen personal contacts. In other words, the service empowers you to take control of your email rather than vice versa. That surely merits a Webby!
Handel, Ken. Julia at 22. Julia Handel is marketing and communications manager at Unroll.Me.
Handel, Ken. Caroline at 19. This work, and more than 20 other of my artworks are available as prints at Etsy.com.

The Points of  Color blog by Ken Handel appears weekly. Please send comments/suggestions to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com. To subscribe, please send the message, “Please send Points of Color to my e-mail [__Please Insert Your E-mail Here_________________________] whenever it is distributed.” Send to WordsandAbstracts@gmail.com.

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