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Mayhem for Federal Unemployment Benefits

I have to admit that I love the Mayhem guy for the Allstate Insurance commercials.

The actor Dean Winters does an amazing job in my opinion harking back to the slapstick comedy of olden times, combining it with a modern sensibility.  Plus, he just seems to be having a hoot doing the spots. [Read more]

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Preface Draft Part 2 has been two and half months since my previous blog and I suppose one might say that a lot has happened, as  in it has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  I am still technically unemployed, and by “technically” I mean I am working on starting a small business (a downtown diner of all things) with another person (who is putting up all the money).  At the same time, there is the ebb and flow of personal relations with the all the dysfunction and chaos that comes from that.

There is much more than that, but the details aren’t important.  The details keep changing, as does my perception of them.  I have been dinking with this particular blog over the course of the past two and half months, and each time it becomes something a little different than the previous draft.  Most of the time, it was struggle, because I kept wondering just what the point was I was trying to make. [Read more]

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Preface Draft

Broad generalization:  one of the first thoughts triggered by  finding oneself amongst the unemployed is some form of “I suppose I need to update my resume.”  

Another broad generalization:   the older one gets, the more just the thought of putting one’s resume together becomes a trigger for a reflection upon the unfolding of one’s life.

Of course, everyone will have their own idiosyncratic kind of reflection, tempered by one’s particular circumstances, such as having a family to support as opposed to being single without any dependents.  
 [Read more]

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Serenity Someday...Maybe

Frank Costanza: Serenity now! Serenity now!

George Costanza: What is that?

Frank: The doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high, the man on the tape tells me to say 'serenity now!'

George: Are you supposed to yell it?

Frank: The man on the tape wasn't specific.

The "Serenity Now!" episode remains one of my all time favorite Seinfeld episodes. When I was fiddling with my previous blog, I had at one moment tried to expand my thoughts on the joy and happiness using Frank's approach to achieve peace of mind.  But in reading the wikipedia entry on the episode,  I discovered another thread in the episode was inspired by the same David Mamet play with which I was also trying to assimilate into the previous blog: Glengarry Glen Ross.

Frank Costanza: Starting tonight we're having a little sales contest. The loser gets fired. The winner gets a Water Pik. [Read more]

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Paging Dr. Maslow...paging Dr. Maslow

“Let yourself be drawn by the stronger pull of that which you truly love.”
-- Rumi

Going back over some bookmarked articles, given my latest focus, a couple of articles caught my attention.  First there was the following passage from The Guardian article on Czech photographer Josef Koudelka::

After the Prague pictures established his reputation - or at least that of an "anonymous Czech photographer" - Koudelka left the country on a three-month exit visa to photograph Gypsies, a project he'd begun in 1966. Failing to return home at the end of that period, he became stateless, a status he craved the way others yearn for money or fame. He felt at home in exile. All he needed, he insisted, was a good night's sleep, plenty of film, and time. Everything else was a seductive distraction: the less he had, the less there was to miss. "I needed to know that nothing was waiting for me anywhere," he has said. "That the place I was supposed to be was the place where I was at that moment, and that when there was nothing more to photograph there, then it was time to leave for another place." [Read more]

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Humiliation Junction...What's Your Function?

Sometimes one tries to move further along the tracks on a particular train of thought and then just like that one is right back at the old station. While I think humiliation and its role in the facilitation of what some authorities refer to as radicalization is an intriguing topic, I wanted to delve more into the collective perception of the radicalization process.

Critical to understanding the (shifting) core of this perception, I believe, is people's relationship with and understanding of tension and conflict.  In particular, tension and conflict as it relates to not only as an expression of human nature, but also in the formation of that same human nature.  These perceptions inform our politics, our understanding of our place in the world, and the place of others.  As with one of the facets of this tension, humiliation, this topic quickly pushes one to the notion that the personal is political (and the political personal).  [Read more]

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Falling Sideways Some More

Do not drink too much. Do you hear me? I don't want you passing out or going to the dark side. No going to the dark side!

                             -- Jack Cole, Sideways (2004)

In the film Sideways, Paul Giamatti plays Miles Raymond, a forty-something unsuccessful writer, wine-aficionado, and  depressed middle school English teacher living in San Diego, who takes his soon-to-be-married actor friend and college roommate, Jack Cole (Thomas Haden Church), on a road trip through Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Miles wants to relax and live well. However, Jack wants one last sexual fling; at least that is their expressed agendas for the trip. [Read more]

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Falling Sideways

In the 1993 film Falling Down, Michael Douglas plays a divorcé and unemployed former defense engineer, William Foster, who goes on a violent rampage across L.A. while trying to reach his daughter’s birthday party at the house of his estranged wife.  Roger Ebert writes of this character:

What is fascinating about the Douglas character, as written and played, is the core of sadness in his soul. Yes, by the time we meet him, he has gone over the edge. But there is no exhilaration in his rampage, no release. He seems weary and confused, and in his actions he unconsciously follows scripts that he may have learned from the movies, or on the news, where other frustrated misfits vent their rage on innocent bystanders. [Read more]

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Getting Radical

As I was leaving my place today, Andrea Mitchell on her MSNBC show asks her guest " what is the process of radicalization."   I don't know what kind of answer her guest gave since I then closed my front door, but the reporting on this event has had me more than once pondering the term "radicalization" in the current discourse.

Of course, this question is posed in the context of the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath.  The term radicalization in this context it is understood has a more narrowed definition than the general term 'radicalization.'

Looking back over my days of youth and the circles in which I ran in, there was some touching upon this process. [Read more]

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In the aftermath of the capture of the second suspect Boston Marathon bombings, one of the questions being asked in a number of circles is how did these two brothers become radicalized.  Part of the motivation behind the question is just the quest to understand why they did what they did.  Clarity around the motivation may facilitate for some of the victims and others traumatized by the event to a greater sense of closure.   For some this questioning into the 'reasons why' may be driven by what may be simply called academic curiosity.

Another purpose of this question, however, is posed with the intent to gain some insight into how we in a developed country can help prevent other young adults like these two from becoming radicalized in the future. [Read more]

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