Category Archives: News

A Free U2 Album? Lessons on Ignorance, Compromise and Truncated Opinions

So Apple forcibly gave away a free U2 album, and the internet is pissed. It’s easy to forget that the internet is made up of real people, so it’s easy to dismiss the web’s outrage, something I was 100% ready to do in regards to this topic. But then I didn’t ignore it.

I listened to the “Do You Like Prince Movies?” podcast as I drove home last night. The show is hosted by Alex Pappedemas and Wesley Morris, two—in my opinion, very impressive—writers for Bill Simmons’ website, Grantland. Listening to these guys is infuriatingly great because I nearly always disagree with their worldviews. If the topic holds interest to you, I’d suggest listening, especially as guest Chuck Klosterman, one of my favorites, gives some great counter-intuitive questions that help put the topic in a new light.

But here are a few thoughts that this caused for me:

Our complaints are usually born of our own ignorance. That Apple can simply invade your phone and affect your personal agency should not be upsetting anymore than it is not surprising that no one reads licensing agreements. Did you know that Microsoft owns all information discussed over Skype, proprietary or otherwise? It’s in the licensing agreement (maybe don’t give your social on there).

I doubt it would have changed anyone’s purchasing decision had a sales representative told them, “Look, we don’t really know when, but there’s a good chance that if you buy this phone, the phone’s parent company might give you a free album of one of the most successful bands of all time. They’ll give this you by surprise, and buying this phone gives them permission.” And I’ll bet it wouldn’t have changed anyone’s mind if they’d been asked that before upgrading their iOS or upgrading their iTunes. But it’s there. What people are really upset about, in my opinion, is that they don’t have as much control as they thought they did, and it’s unsettling. But everyone made choices, and that has consequences.

Every decision is a compromise. You can’t have the best of everything in life because no one thing has all the things. This is common sense that’s commonly ignored. Men, think of a woman. Have you ever met one who is the funniest, hottest, smartest, best chef, most sexually fulfilling, and most maternally affectionate while inspirationally holding you and your genetically perfect children accountable for your actions? And even if you have met this woman, she’ll get old. It’s like Senator Cleary said in WeddingCrashers, “All we can do is use the information at hand to make the best decision possible.” In the Internet of Things—which is a real thing that’s coming like Ultron’s vengeance—you will not be able to take advantage of technological conveniences without sacrificing personal agency. Compromise will be made with every purchase. All you can do is try to limit the opportunity cost.

Your opinion only matters in democracy. And most of life is not a democracy. Most of life is a meritocracy with a fluid definition of merit. You don’t earn what you deserve, you earn what you can negotiate. Saying “I don’t like” or “I want” is the easiest way to make people stop caring about what you’re saying. It only works when casting a vote (although political pessimists are probably laughing at that too). If your contribution to a conversation like this U2 bit starts and stops at “I think it’s bullshit,” then don’t even speak. If you have a “why” to that opinion, just lead with that and then maybe wrap with “in summation, I think it’s bullshit” if you can’t help yourself.

Now Apple has taken steps to make it easy for people to delete the album because the storm of popular opinion on the Internet does matter to PR people and stock holders. But my opinion on that?

I think it’s bullshit.

DR

An Airplane in a Vagina. The Downsizing of Corporate Branding

By now you’ve heard. US Airways let out a pornographic pic on their Twitter feed. It was a woman retrofitting the function of a model airplane in (debatably) creative fashion. In other words, she stuck it in her vagina. Who the woman is and how the picture hit the Twitterverse are of little concern to me, and you can go find it on Google easily if you wish. What struck me later—I’d say immediately, but when you’re met by a picture of a dildo-fied airplane in use, thoughtful analysis isn’t a natural response—is that the democratization of information sharing has actually created a meritocracy to corporate branding that we should be thankful for.

Brands used to be big. And technically, by most forms of economic and cultural currency, they still are. For example, Coca-Cola has roughly the same number of Twitter followers (but a lot more money) as Chris Rock. But Brands used to be unknowably big. They were more abstract concepts like the weight of a galaxy or the size of the national debt. Whatever anonymous Don Draper fed you the idea that McDonald’s beats Mom’s cooking in any language was shielded by the time and process of the ancient ad mediums. Everything came out big and slow and crafted, so everything came out planned, double-checked and safe.

I don’t know what it’s like to be in the brainstorming sessions of Wieden + Kennedy’s creative brass, breaking down a marketing mix with the breadth of target countries and the granularity of specified font kerning. But I know how to use a Twitter account. And I know that every company has someone doing that for them. I also know that the chances are good that the person is a sub-30’s hipster who needs to infuse a little sass and personality to give their brand a noteworthy voice in the ongoing B2C conversations. Basically, the daily mouthpiece of a brand’s most volatile interactive platform is just a regular human being. Mistakes happen. Because we are all this person, we can all allow it.

Does this forgive the digital parceling of a particularly intrepid model airplane? Nope. Not by a longshot. The absolute best-case scenario is a hacked account, otherwise someone deserves to be fired. I can’t help but believe that 20 years ago this would have stunted US Airways in a very severe way. Knowing less makes each bit of information more vital to the brand’s consumers. Now we know so much, that we can’t possibly blame the whole company. When I fly to San Diego next month, if US Airways has the best deal, I’ll still fly with them, using this marketing snafu only as an odd conversation piece. The internet has given companies enough rope to hang themselves with, sure. But the declining impact of errors makes me believe that the new rope is too thin to hold a brand’s weight. And unlike that model airplane, US Airways is going to land safely.

It’s a little tight here,
Dusty “Flies Coach” Riedesel

‘SNL’ Hires 3 Black Women, But You Can’t Beat the Man

So this was published by PolicyMic yesterday. It was quickly unpublished for “reading too much like blog post.” Do I know what that means? Of course I don’t, but you have to just keep on keeping on. And yes, I’m well aware of the irony in a site deciding that my post that talks about “newsworthiness” is not newsworthy. Don’t be a dick.

'snl', hires, 3, black, women,, but, you, can't, beat, the, man,                                               Image Credit: AP

Saturday Night Live just hired two black, female writers. After some deep meditation and careful consideration about how I should feel about this, all I can say is, “My hat is off to you, Lorne Michaels.”

On the surface, this is a huge win.

Image credit: Giphy

People were pissed that SNL didn’t have any black females in their cast. They cast Sasheer Zamata and immediately people called it pacification, a proverbial lipstick on racist pigs. Now SNL has hired LaKendra Tookes and Leslie Jones as writers.

Image credit: Sasheer Zamata

SNL has provided important satirical insight into hundreds of cultural and political issues that we’ve faced over the past four decades. And in the U.S., few issues have been more important than the evolution of race and gender equality. That SNL didn’t have one black female contributing to its creativity or representing its product was bad. It just was. If you don’t get why, I can’t help you. You were probably really cool in high school.

One of my biggest problems is that I can’t tell what constitutes “newsworthiness” anymore. Blame a 24-hour news cycle. Blame TMZ. Blame the damn internet for this “clicks equals care” mentality (your headline may have garnered a smattering of my attention BuzzFeed, but that doesn’t mean I care about the 18 ways juicing is taking over my life). The truth is that the fight for attention has become just as important as bringing attention to important fights.

This was an important fight. One that, coincidentally, won the fight for attention. And that’s where irony kicks in, because even though this feels like a win, I have no idea who we beat.

Lorne Michaels has been running SNL for 38 years. If you believe that he or his staff were being intentionally biased in not hiring deserving black women, then the rabid attention that led to these hires is actually going to aid ratings and preserve the show’s executive hierarchy, racist or not.

So whether you’ve duped us championed us, my hat is off to you, Lorne Michaels.

Bad News, America. Mexico Holds the Title Belt for Fattest Nation…it’s a big belt, lol

It’s official, gang. America’s lost the title of world’s fattest nation. Sad news, really. We’re slipping all over. There was a time when we won the most gold medals, made the most money and had the fattest people. Well, it’s not your grandpa’s USA anymore. Mexico is now the world’s fattest nation. Let’s not get mired in damn negativity though. Here’s some silver linings:

This is a big win for those opposed to illegal immigration. I mean, I’ve never jumped any borders, but the physics of it all make this simple. How many 300-pounders can fit in the back of a van? Climb a fence? Swimmers are traditionally lean.

This is a big win for all those in favor of illegal immigration. Nothing makes an illegal immigrant work harder than knowing he needs to stuff twice the money down his family’s throats back home. This could have a positive grassroots ripple in the American economy for the management teams that can harness it.

We have one more reason to hate vegans. Just about everything is a reason to hate vegans. The only thing American vegans hate more than meat is their fellow Americans. The sole purpose of the vegan diet is for the practitioner to be able to bring it up whenever possible to show that they’re better than you. They’ll brag about this, mark my words. They’re relishing in the fact that the country has become statistically closer to their own weak, frail forms.

This won’t last long. I have it on good authority that the return of the Twinkie can make up the 0.8% differential in obese population. Has any food outside of Manna from heaven that has been so crucial for a nation?

Eating Taco Bell for lunch,
Dusty “The American Dream” Riedesel

Football and Abortion: How Compromise Makes The World Go Around

You’ll want to watch this video of Greg Williams talking to his New Orleans Saints defense before reading the article.

A weird thing about blogging that all bloggers know and most non-bloggers probably never think about, is that it’s next to impossible to take an original stance on any story that would be considered newsworthy in the traditional sense. If you’re not first, then you’re a copy, or you’re looking at it from such an intensely personal perspective that you might as well be journaling. As recently as a few years ago, I thought that those thousand points of examination were a good thing, that the mass espousing of personal opinion would democratize the process between events and education. Basically, I thought we’d understand what is and isn’t important with a higher degree of purity. Real truth could be found in that many minds. It felt possible.

It’s not.

I bring this up in light of a major news story that has been covered for weeks concerning the New Orleans Saints and the “concussions for cash” (my words, not theirs) office pool they had running. Originally I thought the most interesting (not most important) aspect to the story rested in  the psychology behind human ambition and the way we acclimate to incentives regardless of size. Millionaires finding special motivation in one thousand dollars felt silly (I don’t care if it was tax free). But as the story has unfolded, it’s now obvious—from my intensely personal perspective—that the most interesting aspect of the story is the public division on the topic. Everyone covering the topic always starts with, “We all agree that intentionally trying to injure another player is wrong, but…” and then the writer/speaker goes on to spin out whatever crap-laden opinion they have.

This story is more politics than morality. Personally, I couldn’t care less whether these guys were intentionally trying to injure other players. But I’m endlessly intrigued by the way it’s handled. Here’s why:

I think most people would agree that it’s wrong to murder babies (I don’t know if God subcategorizes and power-ranks the Ten Commandments, but I’ve got to think baby-murdering is pretty high up). There are nearly 800,000 abortions a year in the United States. It makes it a very tricky topic for society. The reality of that number standing beside a rigidly upheld “no baby-murdering” paradigm is a jagged pill. But in the intensely personal moment where a woman’s life has been turned on its head, what is she to do? It’s her body and her future and her freedom, and that baby can’t be sad that he or she was never born. To me, it feels victimless and wrong at the same time (which I know is impossible, but that’s how it feels). Maybe that abortion is the best decision the woman ever makes. Maybe it’s the worst. But society can’t decide the morals of this personal decision. So it didn’t make a moral choice. It made a political one. Society asked, “When does ‘it’ become a person?” The powers that be drew a line at 21-28 weeks and subsidized discreet facilities. And that’s the way it has been my entire life. One of the top ten debates of of the last 50 years has found its socially-acceptable compromise, and I don’t think it will ever change.

Back to the Saints situation. I read this Bill Simmons article about the hypocrisy at every level of the NFL–from fan to ownership–that is highlighted by this debacle. He’s right on one level, but what’s really going on is the organic process through which society finds an acceptable compromise between morality and desire. It’s why I hate politics, which do nothing but compromise. The NFL will find that compromise, and I’m sure whatever they decide won’t stop any 21-yr-old kid with 4.4 speed and the strength break bone from trading his health for fame and fortune. But how much posturing will society need before we settle on some variation of “it’s the man’s body” we can live with. I hope it’s soon Because I’m excited to have a plate of chicken wings in front of me as I’m listening to The Rolling Stones playing “Start It Up” as Peyton Manning prepares to plays his first game as a Bronco in Arrowhead Stadium after that well-chronicled neck injury against a bloodthirsty Tamba Hali. Yeah, Mr Commissioner, can you hold the side of guilt with that game? Doesn’t sit well with the buffalo sauce.

Democratizing the process between event and understanding doesn’t bring society to the truth. It brings them to compromise. Real truth can’t be found through the minds of many. Because truth is an extreme that doesn’t lie in the middle, and the middle is usually nothing but a lie we can swallow. Get ready to swallow hard, because that’s where the NFL and “player safety” are going. It’s the most interesting part of the story: how we’ll cope with this through public division then compromise. An unspoken covenant that will keep violent men colliding to their debilitating ends. And my personal perspective that can’t tell you whether that’s important or not.

I love the violence of football. I played for 9 years.
I’ve been pro-life my entire life. I’ve never impregnated a woman.

Dusty on Top News Stories of 2011 #1-5

I decided I’d give myself a checkup on what 2011′s biggest news stories meant to me. About midway through writing this, I realized that I live with my head up my butt, and you don’t get the news in there. These are the Top Ten News Stories of 2011 as chosen by the readers of CNN.com.

You can see what #10-6 mean to me by going here. Enjoy.

5 Apple founder Steve Jobs dies of cancer at 56

  • I actually heard about this a day later than everyone else (my Twitterverse really only consists of Bill Simmons, Mark Titus and a few old college buddies…thinking I should let Fox News in to get some fair and balanced reporting on non-sports issues). Even though I spend most of my time trying to deny the superior usability of Apple products (because I’m cheap), there’s no denying that humanity took a big hit on this one.  He has to be a top ten influence over the last 30 years, right? Sure feels like it. I also thought the iPhone4s = “4 Steve” was the best combination of cute/tragic sublicity (the word I just made up for publicity that is below regular standards) that I’ve seen in a long time.

4 Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is shot in the head at public event, survives

  • Here’s the scenario in February 2011 (alright, it was January 2012). I’m sitting at my cube in my office, and I say, “You guys hear about this Giffords person getting shot in the head and living through it? What’s that all about?”  My cubemate Jimmy replies, “I haven’t, but have you heard about this cat named Obama? Apparently he’s a big deal.”

3 Arab Spring spreads from Tunisia; regimes fall in Egypt, Libya

  • Literally knew nothing about this, so I emailed my friend Ben to ask what was most interesting about the Tunisian revolution. He wrote, “If considered in a vacuum, I would say the fact that the dude that started it thought that his best option for protesting the way the police treated him was to burn himself to death.  BUT, considering the rest of 2011, I would say that the most interesting thing about the revolution was that it was the catalyst for the Arab Spring in general.”….That first part sounds interesting.

2 Japan suffers major earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis

  • Sadly, this 8.9 barely registered on the Riedesel scale.  I may be huge in Japan (TBD), but evidently Japan isn’t huge to me. To the people involved, it’s tragic. I’m just thankful I wasn’t involved.

1 U.S. commandos kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan raid

  • What did this mean to me?  Well, I was with a different company at the time, working a job that, to be quite honest, sucked….I was also on the tail-end of my Match.com dating experiment (highly recommended if you’re single and bored). This current event mostly allowed me to be proud of my Facebook profile pic and the fact that I have family in the military.  I enjoyed leveraging it as conversational filler on my dates.  God bless America, you know?

In other news, 2011 was an ignorantly blissful year for Dustin Riedesel.  I promise to read more than the entertainment section when I visit The Daily Beast from here on out.

Running for President in 2024,
Dustin Hussein Riedesel

Dusty on the Top News Stories of 2011 #10-6

I decided I’d give myself a checkup on what 2011’s biggest news stories meant to me. About midway through writing this, I realized that I live with my head up my butt, and you don’t get the news in there. These are the Top Ten News Stories of 2011 as chosen by the readers of CNN.com.

10 Prince William marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey

  • This news event ended up being a positive for me.  Remember the Wedding Crashers quote, “We are gonna have tons and tons of opportunities to meet gorgeous ladies that get so aroused by the thought of marriage that they’ll throw their inhibitions to the wind.” The royal wedding and its ensuing media coverage brought a watered down version of that emotional catalyst to the forefront of the dating scene. Did it really help guys out? I don’t know. Did it hurt us? Not a chance.

9 S&P lowers U.S. rating after 11th-hour deal to raise debt ceiling

  • Humbling news for the land I love, but it really only reminded me that I’m not rich.  News about the stock market inevitably gives me a mind-trip back to college economics where I try to figure out what kind of ripple effect the news has on a poor, single guy.  As in economics class, my answer usually ends up about as defined as, “Well, it can’t be good.” That said, if people brought this story up around me, I did attempt to use a thin layer of exasperation to cover my ignorance by saying things like, “That’s politicians for you. More concerned about winning than helping their country. I’m finished thinking about it.”  Well done, concerned citizen.

8 U.S. unemployment remains at staggering 9.0 percent

  • I admit that I read these stories in the opposite order that I’m writing about them (I started with #1), so this story would have actually been beneficial to my thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street story (see #6).  In the job that pays me, I talk to accountants all day. A good number of them tell me that the economy is terrible. I’ve had a Google alert set for over a year because a certain firm in Washington said not to call him “until the unemployment rate dropped under 8 percent like the president promised”….Whatever. Unemployment is like AIDS. Until it affects you or someone you love, you only care with your head, not your heart.

7 Deadly tornados usher in year of severe weather

  • I grew up in Kansas! Tornado Alley, y’all! As the news issued more severe warnings, I issued more severe nonchalance. Then power went out, and when it came back on, the local news told me that apartments one mile away from my own had been flattened. I felt blessed and foolish all at once…mostly foolish.

6 Occupy Wall Street movement spreads from New York City

  • Hated the idea. Loved the unintentional comedy…this impacted me most by forcing me to say “That looks really underwhelming” as I drove by the 10+ tents set up off of Hillsborough street in downtown Raleigh.  This next statement comes from a place of total ignorance and honesty; my second thought upon seeing those tents was, “Don’t those people have jobs to be at?”…..see comments on story 8.

Late New Year’s resolution: pay better attention to the world I live in.  #5-1 coming out tomorrow…