I went to a Donald Trump rally so you don’t have to

I went to a Donald Trump rally so you don’t have to

IMG_20190314I’ve never been so scared for a case of mistaken identity in my life. As the Donald Trump campaign has shifted from humorous slideshow to legitimate contender to horrifying prospects, I haven’t been able to shake the simple thought of, “who exactly are these people who are supporting the things he says?” and I had to see for myself.

So with the Donald making a stop in my home town of Kansas City this evening, I decided to take the chance to see. Not to protest, as so many did, but instead to experience the rally, observe what happens, and relay it to others who might share my bewilderment. So I headed downtown, and found myself in a line wrapping around the block from the entrance to the theater. I clearly wasn’t the only non-supporter in the line, but I was determined to stay quiet, and, unlike most of the others, leave the rally without the help of the police.

We do that to one of their rallies and it’s front page news.

IMG_20160312_181223There couldn’t have been a more apt comparison for the divide in American politics today than the barricades separating the protesters on the East side of Main Street from the line of (mostly) supporters on the West. A few protesters had made it over to the side of the rally, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t expected more violence than I saw. At times I saw protesters outside the theater meeting with those who were waiting in line to get in that were face to face in screaming matches. Every one of these near altercations revolved around race, though the ones that looked most likely to come to blows were consistently white men arguing on each side.  For the most part, people in line looked across at their rivals as though they were smarter and better than the others, while those on the left side of the street assumed that every person in line was a hate filled individual.

We’re going to take our country back from these people. These are bad, bad people.  

Once inside, the rally began, about 30 minutes late, and the first 25 minutes were almost exclusively dedicated to groups of protesters taking their turn to yell something, start a chant, or otherwise be heard. While I wouldn’t be the first to make a comparison between Donald Trump’s campaign to the rise of Hitler, and I would certainly say that comparison is extreme, I can’t think of another way to describe watching secret service agents and police officers systematically hunt down and remove anyone who showed even the slightest measure of dissent.1

One by one members of the crowd would point at anyone who they thought wasn’t supporting Trump, primarily younger audience members, particularly black or less conservative looking people, and cheer as a member of the Secret Service or Kansas City’s finest would unquestioningly pull them from their seats and escort them to the exits.

…And I say it in front of these lying, thieving reporters…

I saw no violence, and Trump, seemingly having learned his lesson from the beating he’s taken in the media the past 48 hours never encouraged violence. Instead, in a sing-song voice, clearly meant to mock anyone who believes that the protesters shouldn’t be harmed, repeated the refrain of “Get ’em outta here! Be gentle… don’t hurt anyone. Be very, very gentle.” Then, as though a light-bulb went off in his head, he announced, as though a direct order to the police, that he would be pressing charges against anyone protesting his campaign… even going so far as to say that they deserve to have their lives ruined by having an arrest on their record. And, as lambs being led to the slaughter, the roar of the crowd only grew at the idea that anyone who disagrees with their leader should be punished, even though any person with common sense could see that no laws had been broken.

We have a first amendment right to free speech and we’re not allowed to do it because of this garbage right here.

As Trump continued the rant against anyone who dared speak against him, he alternated mocking them for being single, being small, being female, or anything else he could characterize as a weakness, with taking the role as the victim – even as he clearly relished in every moment he got to spar with the dissenter. He consistently called out their “weak, small voices” that couldn’t possibly keep up with the boom of his microphone.

The second half of the appearance continued to draw the occasional stoppage for a protester, but most had been weeded out, and Trump was able to get through more of his rambling stream of consciousness. He bragged about not reading speeches. He just stood up and said whatever came to his mind, interrupting himself as often as the protesters did.

He’s ISIS related. You can tell by his name he’s ISIS or ISIS related.

I didn’t hear the outright racism that I come to expect from a Trump speech. There was no talk of banning Muslims or Mexicans being rapists. But the only slightly more subtle racism seemed almost tame in comparison. The crowd, made up largely of white males, roared with approval when Trump said that his attempted attacker from this morning was “ISIS or ISIS related” with only what he considered an ethnic sounding name2. He also compared black protesters, whom he referred to as “Bernie supporters” to people who are just looking to sit at home and be taken care of.

The entire event led to a crescendo in much the same way that Springsteen builds until he can tear the roof off, but instead of a chorus of “Born to Run” the crowd was treated to a chorus of “Build the wall!” and all the reasons that Mexicans need to stay out of America.

At one point in the evening, Trump read a poem about a woman who saw a snake who needed help. The woman in the poem brought the snake in, and was immediately bitten. When she questioned the snake as to why this was the case, the snake replied, “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.” Trump provided no context for the story, but the crowd gave it a standing ovation – clearly missing the irony that we know damn well that there’s a snake in our midst.

 

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Notes:
  1. I’m not saying that a political speech should be a free-for-all. Clearly that’s not the case. But the tension here was thicker than anything I’ve ever experienced on this big of a level. Under different circumstances, seeing this devolve into a riot wouldn’t have been shocking.
  2. the actual name, doesn’t sound that way at all. I’m intrigued to know if Trump was knowing lying about it, or was given incorrect information.
Friday Happy Hour: 3 Seashells

Friday Happy Hour: 3 Seashells

Sitting around on Friday afternoon I actually noticed Mental_Floss’s Friday Happy Hour post, and so here I am actually updating my blog with their questions.

zune (1)

1. Were you a staunch supporter of the HD-DVD format? A Zune evangelist? Big into Second Life? Google Wave? What now-defunct products and technologies of the last 20-30 years were you a big fan of?

They nailed it on their post. For me it was the Zune. It was a close comparison to the iPod at the time, but the 1st generation Zune was a better device than the available iPod. I still stand by that. Plus the translucent brown was so sexy.

 

2. There’s been a lot of talk this year already about 2015 being the year they visit in Back to the Future II. If you could live in any movie’s vision of the future, what would you choose?

Demolition Man, of course. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world in which Taco Bell controls everything? Plus I’d finally get to learn how the 3 seashells work.

 

3. Important question: Favorite cereal?

Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs.

 

 

Friday Happy Hour: Flying Cars?

Friday Happy Hour: Flying Cars?

These questions, as always, come from Mental_Floss. They don’t always stay consistent about posting them, and I don’t always catch when they do. So here’s my first “weekly” Happy Hour post since July

capture1. If you could trade one of your current strengths or skills for a different one, what would it be and what would you trade?

Being really good at not hitting my head on things is kind of an overrated trait. I’d trade it for being a foot taller any day. Does that count?

2. If you opened your own restaurant and had a penchant for giving cutesy names to things, what would you call your signature dish?

“The neighbor’s dog.”  It can be a signature hot dog or something. I just want to see how many people question if we’re really serving dog meat. Obviously my restaurant is going to have to be a dive.

3. If apparition were real and you could live anywhere in the world and still get to work on time, where would you live? 

First off, I don’t know about this whole Harry Potter thing… but if I could do that, I don’t think it matters at all where I live, right? Because I can just go wherever I want whenever I want. So I’ll stay here.

4. When you were younger, what invention were you certain we’d have by now that we currently don’t? 

It has to be the flying car. Or really anything from the Jetsons. The self cleaning home would be far better than the flying car.

5. What’s the silliest thing that has ever startled you? 

Tiny dogs (see #2).

6. If you could Freaky Friday with one person, who would it be? 

My first inclination would be to say Bill Snyder. But I’d hate to think that I might make a stupid decision and cost K-State a game. So instead I’ll go with Wyatt Thompson, and call the game. Clearly this is going to have to be Freaky Friday on a Saturday.

So long, Paulie

So long, Paulie

Celebratory endings of careers are a somewhat new thing. It’s rare that a beloved player goes out in a way in which you know precisely what his last day will be ahead of time. And I’ve been an outspoken “hater” when it comes to the coverage of certain other player’s farewell tours. But like this video, and Paul Konerko’s career, his farewell has been quiet.

I was lucky enough to witness his goodbye ceremony in my home town of Kansas City. Forget the kayaks and ridiculous over the top gifts.  The Royals gave him a donation to his charity, a framed picture of him at his final All-Star game1, a chair from the club house during that game, and a selection of KC barbecue sauces. And of course, a nice round of applause from a fan base that barely knows him, because of his quiet workman like attitude.

No need for a memorial patch for a player that not only hasn’t died, but is still on the team. No demands to play every day when everyone knows the career is winding down and it’s time to pass on the wisdom, and lineup spot, to younger players. No commercial campaign. No ridiculous hashtags. Just a guy that’s gone out and done his job every day he could for 18 years2.

He may never be inducted in the Hall of Fame, but he’ll always be one of the all time great Chicago White Sox.

 

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Notes:
  1. a 2012 appearance that I was lucky enough to witness in KC
  2. 16 of which were with the Chicago White Sox
The Twitterfication of Facebook

The Twitterfication of Facebook

fb_icon_325x325“Facebook is for people you know, and Twitter is for people you’d like to know.”

At least that’s how it started. Of course, in the history of social networking, and the new world that it has created, that’s the mantra that the early adopters of Twitter used. And it was true at the time. Celebrities were just starting to get on board, but it was more than that. In the early days of Twitter you didn’t just find your friends and follow them. In fact, you assumed they weren’t there. It was an organic discovery of people who just put out info, and jokes, that you liked.

Facebook has never been that. And try as they might, they can’t seem to become that. They, much more quickly than Twitter, were able to recognize the need for a separate way of using the platform for business, and Facebook pages were born. But what about connecting with actual people? Most people are wary of friending someone they don’t know, and rightfully so. That’s not really what it was created for. So celebrities and other well known content providers began using Facebook pages the same way that businesses did. And yet, it’s rare that you think, “I really need to connect with that actor on Facebook.”  Simply put, pages are for organizations and profiles are for people.

That’s why Facebook rolled out the “following” function for profiles. But who has really adopted it? It was meant to be the one sided interaction, Facebook’s answer to following without a mutual interaction.

Facebook also has recently recognized that even though it’s a real time medium, it doesn’t have that same real time feel as Twitter. So to solve a problem that no one knew needed a solution they brought in trending topics functionality to mimic what is happening on Twitter. Again, it’s been little to now interest from users.

And thus is the problem with Facebook, much the opposite of the problem of Twitter. Each one wants to be the other. And as they move closer and closer to being the same thing, they constantly risk alienating the users that bought into the networks in the first place.

But the good news, for Facebook and Twitter, they’re each nearing “too big to fail” levels of usage. So from a marketing perspective, they remain places that can’t be ignored… and as they continue their evolution, businesses need the help of professionals to navigate the ever changing landscape.

Need help managing social for your business? Contact me

The Facebookification of Twitter

The Facebookification of Twitter

twitter-bird-light-bgsRecently on Timehop I came across an old tweet. I see plenty of my old tweets from 4 or 5 years ago, but occasionally one will show up from the year I first started using Twitter – 2007.  I was on board before many people, and if you weren’t, you might not know just how different things were at the time. For one, that dates back to when it was Twttr instead of Twitter. As more people adopted the service they were able to finally get some vowels in the domain name.  At that time you could go to the front page of Twttr.com and watch a real time feed of every tweet, not simply people you followed. Many times you can’t even keep up with your own feed anymore, let alone a global one.

captureBut name changes and growth aside, the service itself has changed greatly. It still has the same 140 character limit, and hopefully that signature will never change. But a service that used to watch users and adopt the way they utilized the platform to make changes has grown to something that needs to satisfy advertisers and seek to continue growth. Gone are the days that brought @ mentions and #hashtags as a result of users creating the idea first.  More importantly, gone are the days of a developer friendly platform. For the first several years of its existence, Twitter had a famously open API that allowed developers to create apps and ways of interacting with Twitter than continually expanded the use and functionality. Fast forward a few years and they’ve bought Tweetdeck, removed most of its features, and all but shut down the ability for any new apps to be created.

They also continue to add in functionality that will work only within the native Twitter apps. They may owe their popularity to the developers, but they aren’t willing to allow that path to continue. While Twitter continues to grow, and more people and brands adopt the network, reach continues to grow. But engagement is falling. Why? Pure competition. When you checked your timeline and saw 10 new tweets, you read them. Now that you see 100 new tweets you skim… at best. The more that vies for your attention, the less likely you are to notice anything. And as marketers, we have to change our strategies to fit the times.

It’s a problem that Facebook has already gone through, and continues to adapt to. Their solution? Ads, ads, ads. The more you pay, the more likely you are to get your content seen. While Twitter doesn’t yet alter the streams to affect what people see, it’s hard to imagine that isn’t coming. Facebook, and Twitter, two networks that were once incredibly different, are more and more becoming the same. When Twitter changed the profile pages to look similar to Facebook, it wasn’t the only way they’re moving in that direction. And paid advertising to have a real shot at reach and engagement are coming… if not already here.

 

Need social media help for your business? Contact me.

FHH: Dark Side Early

FHH: Dark Side Early

At various times I’ve done a more or less consistent job of participating in Mental Floss’ Friday Happy Hour, and then cross posting it to my blog. I haven’t done it in a really long time, but perhaps I should restart it. Afterall, I did redesign the site, I may as well actually use it.

So as per usual… the questions are theirs, the responses are mine. Feel free to jump in here or on their site:

capture1. I’m going to test your memory here: What was your favorite toy or show or movie or song when you were six?

I was all about the Star Wars toys. Not sure of the exact chronological timeline, but I think the Imperial Shuttle was probably my favorite of the Star Wars toys. I gave into the dark side early.  I think Dukes of Hazzard was probably my favorite show.

 

2. What event of the last decade would you be most excited to watch a movie about in 2030?

It’s funny… you don’t really wait decades to see a film about an event anymore. But something about the decisions leading to the wars in the Middle East would be fascinating after a longer view back on the history.

 

3. If you were teaching someone who’d never been online how to use the internet, what sites would you show them first?

You have to start with Google. Once you get search, you can get whatever you want. Also demonstrating communication… so the obvious ones: GMail, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Hey Soccer, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

Hey Soccer, It’s Not Me, It’s You.

USA v Germany: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup BrazilThe World Cup is on.

Meh, you knew that. You knew it even if you’re not paying any attention to it, because it’s impossible to ignore. Not only is Twitter blowing up with people talking about, but Twitter itself is even sending email updates despite the fact that I specifically checked the box telling them that I don’t care.  Google is constantly alerting me of scores that I only care about to see if my random guessing in the pick’em league might be right1. You can’t miss it. If nothing else you can’t miss the constant shaming of people who aren’t interested.

But I’m not afraid, and I don’t feel guilty. I’ll shout it from the rooftops…

I DON’T LIKE SOCCER!

Now that we have that clear…

I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve gone to games, even ones that were a pretty big deal, in hopes of discovering what the cult of soccer enjoyment is all about2. In a couple tries I had the exact same experience: during the first half I looked at the clock knowing that it had to be close to halftime only to find that the game had only been going for 5 minutes. It’s like the place where time stands still.

Sure, the sport itself has plenty to not like. The constant flopping. The tie games. The fact that you can advance by winning just 1/3 of your games in the preliminary round. That once you’re done with ties, the overtime games are decided by what is essentially a flip of a coin. And yes, you can compare that to things in other sports. Some of your comparisons are valid, and some are just silly… but doing so only assumes that I’ve decided that the way everything is done in all other sports is perfect. And that’s simply not true3.

So I don’t like it. To me, it’s just boring. I get what comes next in this argument. If you’re reading this because you love soccer, you’re about to skip ahead to the comments to tell me that baseball is boring. That football constantly stops. That I just don’t understand it. That the final scores are similar to hockey4. I’m too stupid to get it. That the rest of the world loves it, so I should too. And frankly, if it wasn’t for you, I might be willing to give it a few more shots and see if I can figure out why anyone can stand to watch a game… but your constant defensiveness and belittling of people who don’t like it are more off-putting than the sport itself5.

So even for all that bores me in a game, the biggest turnoff to soccer, is soccer fans. Watch social media anytime there’s something everyone is talking about, be it football, baseball, basketball, or hockey, or whatever it may be and people will be there pointing out that they don’t like it. People will make jokes about it. People will complain about the coverage. And it just doesn’t matter. I don’t feel the need to convince them otherwise. But suddenly all of that is off limits with soccer. Each day I make a few jokes about soccer, and I watch soccer fans unfollow me on Twitter, or berate me, or attempt to convert me. If you say you don’t like baseball or hockey, those of us who do say, “OK.”  If we say we don’t like soccer, the fans go into evangelism mode. Every stereotypical argument comes out. Columns are written explaining why we need to love it.

 

Tomorrow, when the US plays, I’ll watch. And I’ll cheer for America. And I hope we win. In the mean time, write all you want, but I’m unconvinced… and frankly, it’s your fault.

capture

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Notes:
  1. It’s not. Thinking of instituting a new strategy of picking based on which country has better food.
  2. To be fair, I haven’t tried wearing a scarf on a 90 degree day. Maybe that’s more essential than it seems.
  3. “But Oklahoma lost in 2003 and then played for a national title!” Shut up. No one ever said the BCS was good!
  4. This one pisses me off every time. Sure, both games might have a 3-1 final score, but hockey will have 40 shots on goal in the process. Soccer? Nope.
  5. Oh, and by the way, it’s a game played on a field by players wearing uniforms and shoes, and it sure isn’t football. If you want to use other terminology, that’s fine, but you can’t make me do it.
The Path

The Path

college-photo_14242._445x280-zmm

Things aren’t always as you plan.

The NCAA Baseball Tournament’s Manhattan regional has given me the welcome excuse to spend a weekend in the promised land. Complete with crashing in the dorm’s guest housing, as though it was the late 90s all over again.

Today I took a walk through campus. Not a quick walk with a specific destination, but instead a meandering journey, visiting places on campus that I hadn’t seen for well over a decade. I walked from my old dorm along the paths I normally took to many of my classes. I turned and walked back towards the Union, through the oldest parts of campus, around Anderson Hall, and back by the spork, and to the dorm I’m staying in. It doesn’t sound like much. If you went to K-State you likely have a great idea of the path that I walked.

And it really wasn’t much. Some things have changed immensely, and other things will never change. There were no big revelations. There wasn’t a flood of memories that came back. At this point in my life I barely remember who I was during my time here. But I still have no doubts just how formative it was. See, when you choose where to go to school, you think you’re choosing a destination, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

You’re choosing the journey.

I didn’t become who I am now at K-State. I became who I was then. I’m no more the same person at 36 as I was at 24 than I was from 23 to 18. I not even sure I’m the same person I was two weeks ago, let alone 13 years ago. Our story isn’t one of a destination. It’s not about who we have become, but instead it’s the ongoing process of who we are becoming, and every choice we make… every path we venture down… changes what that becoming is. Choosing K-State wasn’t my destination, it was the first major choice in my journey.

And so here I am. Returning to that spot that I love full well, 13 years after finishing my work here. Life couldn’t be further from what I expected it to be. I’ve either forgotten or taken for granted everything that I learned here. I don’t use the degree that I earned, instead working in a career field that didn’t even exist when I was in school. I love that I’ve channeled my love of K-State sports into a hobby, and yet I’m sad that I’ll never get to take my child on a campus visit and pass on that passion. If I trace my steps back I see hundreds of places where I had a path to choose, each having led me to this moment.

Of course it’s not all just my choices. I can’t even begin to understand the consequences that opened and closed the paths from which I chose. I don’t know why, with serendipitous luck, some paths presented themselves, and why others were ripped out from under me in the most cruel of ways. I suppose it’s just the way life works. And we can respond to each path we take by choosing each individual tiny fork that presents itself just a few steps later. And while some, when presented with difficulty may choose to shrink back to adolescence, others forge ahead, never looking back from what is right. For better or worse, those are the choices that truly make us who we are.

And here’s where that journey began. The place where I took control of my own path. And ever it holds me with magic spell. I think of thee, alma mater.

Friday Happy Hour:  Definitely Donuts

Friday Happy Hour: Definitely Donuts

Every time I start a Friday Happy Hour post I start with ” It’s been awhile since I’ve done this…”  which is true again.  But as always, the questions are from Mental Floss, the answers are mine. 

Donut.1. Everyone has a good story about a terrible job. But today let’s focus on the single thing you hated most. What was the worst part of your worst job?

Working as a plumber my for a summer on K-State’s campus I had to rod out the sewage lines in the Jardine Apartments. All you can really do is pretend you have no idea what’s coming out of that line, and that it’s not nearly as bad as the reality.

 

2. My daughter Charlotte (4) informed me that she “hates Nemo” for limiting our mobility. The Weather Channel wins. What other things should we start naming?

Donuts. Definitely donuts.

 

3. We want to add a bunch of kitchen gadgets to the mental_floss store. We need some suggestions! What perhaps-lesser-known kitchen items have made a big impact on your cooking and eating life? They could be made by big corporations or tiny companies still looking for a break.

My hot chocolate maker. Seriously.  I can make all sorts of drinks that essentially fake coffee shop fancy drinks. At least better than a gas station machine does.

 

4. The floor is yours. If you’ve got a question for your fellow _flossers, ask away!

Ok, this one makes no sense when I move it over to my blog… so how about this… you ask me a question in the comments if you want, and I’ll answer.

 

A Theologically Accurate Post-Game Speech

A Theologically Accurate Post-Game Speech

“Because if God is for us, no one can be against us.” -Ray Lewis

Ray Lewis is the subject of plenty of jokes.  And I made a few of my own throughout the game as well.  But after the game we got yet another form of the traditional post-game “we did this because God wanted us to win” speech.  And of course the natural next step to that is that if God wanted Ray Lewis and the Ravens to win the Superbowl that would also mean that He has something against Collin Kaepernick and the 49ers.  God sure is cruel, isn’t He?

So it got me thinking about what would happen if someone were to give a more theologically accurate post-game speech:

“I’d like to thank my teammates for working hard and accomplishing this goal.  We won because we didn’t get called for a holding call in the end zone that may have given San Francisco a chance at the end, and overall we just outplayed the 49ers.

“I’d like to thank God for being my guide.  He sent his Son, Jesus, to shows us the way.  He taught us to love our enemies (which based on the fights we saw on the field today, we could still learn from).  He taught us to stay humble and learn to put others ahead of ourselves.  He taught us that blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn, and those who thirst for hunger and righteousness.  He said blessed are the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted.  He may not care much about who wins a football game, but He cares what we do with our lives off the field. Let’s make the world a better place.”

It’s just so much harder to say that before Jim Nantz pulls the microphone away.

Twinkie the Kid

Twinkie the Kid

Twinkie the Kid
1930 – 2012

With 39 ingredients, 150 shamelessly empty calories and, officially, a shelf life of about three weeks, the Twinkie is a cream-filled symbol of American culture…it can be imitated, but not duplicated. Never can someone get the same exact Twinkie taste. It’s impossible.

-Twinkie the Kid

Friday Happy Hour: Big Bird

Friday Happy Hour: Big Bird

It’s been a long time since I’ve taken part in a Friday Happy Hour, but why not? As always the questions come from the Mental_Floss blog, the answers come from my demented psyche.

1. For years, we described the less tech-savvy among us as being unable to set the clock on a VCR. It’s time we unplug that expression and come up with something more relevant. In 2012, what’s a better way to say you’re not so hot with all this newfangled computer stuff?

“I’ve never twittered.”

 

2. If my baby book is to be believed, my first Halloween costume was a pumpkin, which I followed up in subsequent years with Big Bird and a purple Honker. What was your first Halloween costume?

Had to enlist the help of my mom on this question:

Big Bird – it was a big bird hat and your winter coat – you just went across the street, but it was your first official trick or treat.

So take that Mitt.  If only there were pictures.

 

3. Growing up in North Jersey, we had our share of memorable field trips—The Land of Make Believe, Turtle Back Zoo, Waterloo Village, Hershey Park, various museums in New York—but my clearest memory is about a trip that wasn’t taken. After the bombing of Pan-Am Flight 103, our scheduled field trip to Newark Airport was canceled. When a classmate asked our teacher what one thing had to do with the other, she said, “You might get kidnapped by terrorists.” It’s a wonder any of us ever flew again. What was your best, worst or most memorable field trip?

Chicago. 3 hour drive from where I grew up, but in 5th grade we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. I always loved that place as a kid.