Friday, February 24, 2006

Note to Ravi

Note to Ravi
Now boxing and bagging for a fresh start. My operating system oscillates between English and Korean command prompts through the dragging of my knowledge mule or bumblebee ethics through numerous PC rooms and suspect template adaptations. This template has taken on a mind of its own. I have regretfully deleted your comment in the process of trying to answer it. A great love for technology. Please repost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

An Invented Memoir?

An Invented Memoir?
I have never read any other Allende books as I am not a great fan of ficton. But there were many moments I actually smiled while reading this book, which is saying a lot about this writer's sense of humour. She really is a very funny lady, even in translation... she makes me think of some of my own weird relatives...however I am not sure sitting up all night with a baby monitor in the corn patch to catch potato thieves is all that funny (that's my crazy Uncle). To top it off he always falls asleep. Imagine the feedback hiss. All that crackling and popping of the wind...

Chile figures well in this book, as the author is native Chilean, and I hope they also have good senses of humour. The way she writes, they are all insane, or insanely funny people. I guess it would depend on whether you thought most of what this writer puts on paper is fact or fiction. It is anyone's guess.

As entertainment, as in, you want a good laugh and some brilliant insights into human nature than just read this book. It fits well in the hand, is bound artisically, and has thoughtful page keepers.

But much of this memoir appears imagined, and if not imagined than not exactly non-fiction either. It probably makes a lot more sense in reference to her full bodies of works.

Yet, it was very entertaining.

Job Hunting Season

My reading schedule has been severely curtailed the past few weeks due to a protracted job search. As a result I have progressed only another chapter into Aldcroft's European Economy: 1914-2000 and about half-way through Janet Gleeson's, "Millionaire: The Philanderer, Gambler, and Duelist Who Invented Modern Finance" in a short evening. So some books are painfully wearisome for the sheer girth of their relevance and worthiness of fine tooth-comb reading while others entirely as relevant are often simply more artistic a rendering of similar topics with similar results in the provoking and jabbering of the reading mind.

As for the job search it must be a credit to my improved research skills and certain blind faith that there are answers to prayers and that I would willingly wish the ability to be three places at once. If not only for three salaries but to enjoy three entirely satisfying possible jobs. It was the first time I ever really remember attending three interviews in fairly quick succession and having three serious job offers to contend with. The other factor is timing. It is a difficult time to rustle up applicants.

So what was the cornerstone of modern finance according to Gleeson? Namely, that the talents of true gamblers are sometimes required to facilitate banking processes such as credit extensions which finance growth and paper currency stability which permits increased rates of trade. Gleeson's topic is a Scotsman named John Law who made first efforts at understanding and applying theoretical applications of probabilities research on the gaming tables. His was a gambling vice with a twist. He won more than he lost eventually. Something few gamblers can claim.

However Law's talents were first made available to the English crown and they were rejected as he had involved himself in admission of his dueling manslaughter of a rich English family's rake. So the gambler ingratiated himself with the Duc d'Orleans and was swept into favour through common sense approaches to debt and credit loads which only paper currency banks and exchanges could provide. However I have arrived at one obvious canard which was the financing of the Louisiana Company in a world endlessly scratching the value out of its precious metals currencies. In such a case, Law is found to have scratched untested real property a little too heavily.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Vblogger with a lot of gonzo

On my way back from Fukoka I met up with this vblog character named Nathan Miller. To put it in a gonzo context, what he does with vblogs is obviously meeting the types of micro-market online communities that Locke addresses. Nathan mentioned his website has average daily hit rates numbering about 1500.
This guy defines gonzo as off the wall (like my hat?) and here is a link.
God only knows what he is going to come up with next and that is the point of gonzo marketing. That I met up with this fellow and sort of understand his hobby is also the point. Obviously my recent readings of Locke made me see what Nathan Miller is producing and presenting is a pretty unique and artistic view of topics of his own choice. However, in highly conformist societies how and what he presents is perhaps unsettling. So gonzos again are pushing an envelope on the purposes and pretences of mass marketing and media penetration.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

More on Gonzo: A Touch of Quality Is Not Enough

Today I took a rather long seven-hour bus ride from Yang Yang down to Pusan. Gonzo came along for the ride. Lot's of points strike a resonant chord here. Maybe not the marketing is dead mantra for sure. Banks for example continue to compile record returns and that housing market globally does not seem to be suffering for a new internet take-over. That the marketers have not totally dominated the internet medium is probably just a hiccup, as for Locke he was writing Gonzo five, six and probably seven years ago. The tracks of marketers spinning-advertising dollars over the web has only exponentially increased over that time. So I am still not convinced marketing is dead.

What is dead, like the dinosaur process techniques and employee retirement benefits it spawned is seemingly union labour, and the moth belt, rust belt industries it required to maintain worker minimum standards brought in not even a hundred years ago. Locke touched on Deming and one of his highly specific points of quality, namely, drive out fear. It certainly appears Deming took his points of quality from an experience as a statistical analyst, it is clear he adapted and moved on from crunching numbers to crunching the advantages that upstream and downstream dialogue have in companies which value and reward their workers with better and better management.

However, the current global flexibilization movement is the latest best way to compete according to most MNCs. To hell with quality. An exponential growth of un-monitored subsidiaries, which are all apparently financed and set up in green-field with farmer workforce imports steadily clogging every city in the developing world, to compete for five to ten dollars a day in many parts of Asia, and five to ten dollars an hour in much of Eastern Europe are the latest, best way to build profit margins and economies of scale. And companies like Toyota live and breath Deming concepts of TQM at the same time, while too often US ones tend to make it a motto, like Ford's. Quality in product and process, and management, is not a motto, maybe it is not even quite as clearly thrown in to the US working world philosophically even as Locke approaches it in Gonzo.

Furthermore, Locke makes a good point about social advertising and corporate image dryness, the textual equivalent of assembly instructions from China in English (well, at least a form of it) or the operating instructions booklets as thick as dictionaries for the latest chocolate bar cell phones. The fact that fewer media giants exist these days, although larger and more diversely controlling the media/medium/message angle helps explain why for example, corporate giants like GM are dying out. These managers were long listening to the wrong end of the telephone. But it is not the preferred shares investors who suffer. It is anyone who bought in to that company with uninsured dollars along the way. Or that pitch.

The first, possibly best reason that the official, sanctioned journalistic world operates the way it does, is that despite the fact that the way GM leads in putting the writing on the wall for major US based corporations the disassembled sums of their parts, in bricks and mortar, in parts and pieces, in clearance and liquidation is much more valuable over the short-term and a faster turn-over even without enforced bankruptcies. Just look at the way some big MNCs manipulate their dividend yields by selling or buying local regional subsidiaries rather than actually improving their sales figures. So I am not at all convinced that any blue chip investors there would want GM to live anyway. It is worth more dead, and sold off in pieces, the same way that Locke likes to say marketing is dead, such pronouncements have sometimes a ripple effect. Though I am not sure in the long run that the average developed world consumer is going to benefit from such asset realignments. Germany and Siemens provides the best case.

Sell off the losing divisions and employment benefits costs heavy portions to foreign investors, which may or may not be fully supported by government subsidies and loans with no payments even on interest.The point of all of this? GM just indicates the first real strike in a zero-sum game direction for large corporations in the developed world. Statistics will show the jobs people are taking to replace those lost are in the great growing trades of retail cashier clerk, teacher's aide, auditing. Quality is the perception that is changing. Media helps alter the perception. The more people are convinced that less and less is just as good, or good enough, or better than nothing, the more under threat the very tenets of democracy seem. At some point I hope enough people in the US at least find the courage to challenge again their corporate political leadership in a similar area as Vietnam.

What are US business graduates to do for example, when statistics indicate over 70% of most MNCs do not foresee future hiring needs for the indeterminate future? Again, Locke spoke about the differences between Church and State while at the same time suggesting that there is little if any difference between the two in the modern day. Blogs will somehow get worked out; at least they will not be free to users forever. And or the quality of what one considers freedom of speech will also be considered up for realignment under such terms. Technology has made long-term vision, corporate, marketing, or individual investor a little harder to measure. But corporations certainly seem to be taking the Internet in hand as per advertising dollars.