Sunday October 17, 2021
 

Pointless

This scientist wrote that the universe has no meaning beyond itself.  It is pointless and there is no deity behind its creation.  You can imagine what believers think.  They have argued with him from the moment he penned the statement.  Yet, how do you communicate the existence of a God in a world where everything emanated from a Big Bang and continues according to natural laws that need no divinity?  It is not easy, especially since science has become a secular endeavor.  Belief is personal and stems from a need for justice in a world where there is little.  The rich get richer and the poor die young.  The innocent are accused and self-interest is the rule.  It’s too harsh of a world for believers to accept, so, according to scientists, they invent a deity who makes things right before and after death.  The scientist’s view is bleak and without hope.  Religion refuses to accept it.  The two sides talk past one another and leave people confused.  

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Making It Real

The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol started off with testimony from four police officers who were assaulted by the mob that day.  Testimony was harrowing and brought the ugly incident to life. This was intentional by the Congressional investigators.  They want to communicate to American citizens not to forget what happened and crimes committed.  The panel will soon descend into dry analyses of documents, readiness and fixing the blame for the uprising.  It will get political because it has to.  Instigators of the event were the President himself and Congressional leaders who supported him with fiery speeches at a rally that morning.  The question remains whether their goal was to incite the crowd to overturn the election certification in Congress that day or to inveigh against an “unfair” result.  Either way, the people responded.  Trump will not get off lightly. His supporters in Congress will continue to dub the panel as a political hack job, but the testimony of the four officers is a reminder that a mob went out of control.   

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By Force

Governments and medical associations are calling for a mandate to force unvaccinated health care workers to get the jab.  The move is occurring from New York to California and is an acknowledgement that persuasion has failed.  All the coaxing, prompting, jawboning, inviting has come to naught for tens of thousands of nurses, doctors, aids and others who resolutely stood their ground and refused.  Authorities are not taking the mandate lightly. There is a worry that some healthcare workers will quit rather than be vaccinated.  And that has been the case but the numbers who have left so far are vanishingly small.  One wonders why this hadn’t happened sooner and an answer is politics.  Republicans were waiting to pounce on any move to force compliance, calling such orders an abridgement of personal freedom.  With the variant of COVID growing madly, governors and mayors are no longer willing to wait.  They have issued do-it-or-else orders.  Communicators take note. There are times when persuasion must yield to the rod.  

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Bipartisanship?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is vowing to move ahead with a Jan.6 riot investigation even if Republicans boycott the process.  The two sides are increasingly nasty to each other.  The GOP is moving to boycott the probe after Pelosi denied two Republican congressmen seats on the committee.  Pelosi has vowed to move ahead with or without the elephants.  The perception is that of quarreling children.  “I’m taking my ball and going home.”  “Yah, we’ll play without you.”  President Biden is seeking bipartisanship in the two houses, but his quest seems fruitless for the time being.  The two sides have taken positions welded in iron and are talking past one another without listening.  They aren’t communicating.  They are posturing, and it is a bad example for the American public.  Communications requires a measure of civility when there is a balance of power.  That is sadly missing in Congress.  

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Bipartisanship?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is vowing to move ahead with a Jan.6 riot investigation even if Republicans boycott the process.  The two sides are increasingly nasty to each other.  The GOP is moving to boycott the probe after Pelosi denied two Republican congressmen seats on the committee.  Pelosi has vowed to move ahead with or without the elephants.  The perception is that of quarreling children.  “I’m taking my ball and going home.”  “Yah, we’ll play without you.”  President Biden is seeking bipartisanship in the two houses, but his quest seems fruitless for the time being.  The two sides have taken positions welded in iron and are talking past one another without listening.  They aren’t communicating.  They are posturing, and it is a bad example for the American public.  Communications requires a measure of civility when there is a balance of power.  That is sadly missing in Congress.  

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Standards

In the tech world, developing a standard that everyone subscribes too, and more importantly honors in development, is hard.  There is always an urge to fiddle, to adapt it to one’s own devices although that makes them incompatible with others’ equipment.  That’s why it is cautiously heartening to see Amazon signing on for an open-source standard for home speakers.   Amazon might not have invented the field but it made it popular and a highly useful device that takes the place of a number of household tools from alarm clocks to weather stations to information resources to music and more.  Amazon’s move is not just good business but smart PR.  It knows what customers need and is willing to give it to them rather than sitting on its technology and refusing to accommodate. 

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‘Fessing Up

President Biden, in whose long political career has misspoken time and again, has ‘fessed up to doing it once more.  This time it was about an offhand remark accusing Facebook of killing people because of vaccine misinformation on its site.  Yesterday, he clarified his statement by saying it was a dozen participants who are harming the unvaccinated public by posting lies on Facebook, and he hoped Facebook would do something about it.  It was the right thing to do, but the press beat up on him anyway, as did Facebook.  He deserves it for being inaccurate.  Leaders can’t afford to spread falsehoods.  We know what happens when they do with his predecessor being a prime example.  So, kudos for Biden admitting his mistake so quickly, but he had better not do it again. 

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Abandonment

Toyota, a major sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics, has pulled all of its advertising for the games and its CEO will not attend the opening ceremony.  This is a stark message to organizers that Japan is not ready for world athletes and the games should not go on.  Olympic officials are not listening, however.  They are plunging ahead into what is becoming an abyss of COVID testing and positive results.  No one is happy — not the public, not the competitors, not the sponsors nor advertisers, not the organizers who are watching their carefully planned games, already a year late, fall apart in the 11th hour.  It is a PR disaster for the Japanese and a costly one as well — tens of billions of dollars spent for no return.  The games are going on because of the sunk cost, but few will attend because of the virus.  Athletes will compete in empty stadia and officials can only watch with deep regret.  

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Pure Publicity

NASA has done it again with a video of a flyby of Jupiter and its largest moon, Ganymede.  The animation of stills is scored to music and includes lightning flashes in the clouds of Jupiter.  It is a beautiful rendition, which humans might never see for themselves given the distance to Jupiter and hazardous conditions of being there.  The scientific value of the video is less than its publicity worth.  It is a reminder to the public once again that NASA is doing extraordinary work in deep space and has the images to prove it.  NASA in its existence has become a master of publicity and public relations.  It has capitalized on its many missions, the space station, the Hubble telescope, rovers on Mars, astronauts and more.  It has built a massive body of scientific research and discovery.  And, because it must fight annually for its budget, it has been a relentless communicator to the public to gain support.  The agency is a credit to America and will go down in history as one of the most successful government organizations ever established.   

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Public Interest Publicity

The US Surgeon General is asking Americans to combat misinformation about COVID shots.  He says errors and lies about the vaccination and virus are a critical danger to citizens. His call is a recognition that health authorities have gone as far as they can to persuade reluctant individuals to get the jab.  Now it is time for personal influentials to step up and deliver the message.  It is disturbing that credibility in health authorities is so low among many Americans.  They won’t listen to their doctors nor to government nor to any expert opinion.  Talk about forcing or penalizing them to get vaccinated have spurred outrage.  “The authoritarian state is infringing on my personal freedom.”  The Surgeon General’s efforts at publicity in the public interest might reach some skeptics but it is unlikely to be many.  Those who resist will only accept the message if they become ill and are hospitalized. 

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