Disney’s Dream Dead?

Walt Disney created Disneyland to provide an area where dreams came true. Born in rural Kansas, Disney used his imagination (or maybe his exposure to animals on the farm) to create caricatures that began to define him. Mickey Mouse first appeared in Steamboat Willie but not until Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs did Disney became synonymous with fantasy folklore. Walt was well into old age by the time he bought a plot of orange groves in present-day Anaheim and created Disneyland.

60 years and 400 million visitors later Disneyland needs an attitude adjustment. Walt, were he alive, would probably be disappointed to know that extra money can buy a family premium seats for the World of Color show. Nor would he be too thrilled about club 33, an ultra-exclusive group of Disney aficionados enjoyed only at a fee. There is a disconnect between the fantasy that families expect when they visit the park and the reality that it has become. In order to maintain its charm and appeal, Disneyland needs less capitalism and more imagineering.

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What American Culture and Foreign Policy can Learn From “Soccer”

Take American Football: violence, breaks, commercials, unnecessary rules.

A snapshot of American Culture? Perhaps…,

Canadian Hockey: ice rink, quirky halftime rituals.

A snapshot of Canadian Culture? Perhaps…,

Football (the checkered ball sort): fluidity, good pacing, minimal abrasive contact, diplomatic relations between players and referees.

A snapshot of culture outside North America sans Mexico? Likely.

The United States is a nation founded on a constitution. This seemingly simple fact is more than many lawless nations can say. I am by no means a defector. A U.S. native who has played and coached football (of the pads sort) and baseball, I have a vested interest in the fifty-state nation and its culture. In the past I’ve wondered why, however, Washington is keen to impose its policies on other nations in an American Football Fashion instead of a soccer fashion (think bulldozer vs garden shears).

Catering to your audience is a central tenet of business and sports, and I can’t see why foreign policy should be any different. Terrorism is a heinous act and generally an anomaly that is hard to predict and even harder to prevent. The only way to attack terrorism is to attack the ideology of radical organized dissent. Attacking terrorism has nothing to do with attacking nations, although nations that knowingly and actively harbor terrorist activity should be punished. This is more about avoidance than confrontation, however. The United States of America could avoid further confrontation and subsequent retaliation by taking a note out of soccer’s diplomacy as opposed to American Football’s dominance.

Cheers to better foreign relations.

How To Limit Mistakes by Being More Aware

Let’s say you lose your car keys. Or you put paper the wrong way in the fax machine. Or you forget to take the bikes off the roof-rack before pulling into the garage.

We all make mistakes; some more serious than others. Too often, however, we let the small errors compound into bigger ones by not being aware of how we made the mistake in the first place. Usually the cause comes down to being absent in the moment.

Fantasizing about food or wondering what the boss’s reaction to missing your deadline will be are examples of not being in the moment. The workplace system is conducive to not being in the moment. Workers, at least in the first world, are encouraged to always plan ahead, never leaving time to actually engage in the task at hand. Mistakes occur because we are not aware of our behavior in the moment. By practicing awareness everyday we can avoid the little mistakes before they compound into bigger ones and cost us our job, our house, or our life.

The Importance of Manual Labor in a Tech-Heavy Marketplace

There is a lot to learn in the garden.

Or on a construction site.

Or an assembly line.

Too often our work involves devices that are operated by the click of buttons. Working on a data sheet or typing up office reports involves coordination between fingers and buttons.

Even companies themselves are controlled by the digital code that dictates whether a trade goes through or not. Military operations are increasingly drone-operated, and robots are the future of medicine.

I question whether service or finance economies are more progressive than industrial or agrarian economies. Wearing a suit and jacket means attending lunches on “company” time.

There is something far more rewarding about seeing tangible results in the form of a painted wall or a planted tree or a completed house than fake smiles and handshakes.

Why Misguided Perspective Produces Hate

Let’s say you’re driving along the freeway and someone cuts you off. If an accident is imminent, the impending reaction would be fear. Or, in the case that you’re in rush hour traffic and you get cut off by a BMW you might get angry. Either way, an unexpected outcome produces some sort of emotional reaction. This is normal. You get laid off, sadness. You get promoted, happiness. You win the lottery, ecstasy.

Whenever something is out of the ordinary, it is human nature to become aware, which aids social creatures to distinguish between socially “acceptable” behavior and socially “deviant” behavior. Too often, however, our reactions to the unusual event involve immediate action to “right the wrong.” The impulse for immediate action is adaptive in the case of emergencies. Hitting the brakes to avoid an accident is an example. When there is a time lapse between the trigger (unusual event) and the ensuing action, it only makes sense that inflammatory life-saving reactions should NOT be taken. Human behavior, however, does not always make sense.

Returning to the traffic example, one thought process might be “the guy in the BMW that cut me off must be an asshole, and if I pass him I’m going to give him the finger.” In this case the original trigger is non life-threatening, but the reaction is far from it. Let’s say the asshole has a gun and your finger, which has become the new trigger, triggers him to take another unwarranted response, and before you know it someone you don’t know is pointing a gun at you.

Albeit the aforementioned scenario is rare, but the underlying premise is widely applicable. Foreign relations function on a similar basis. Any unwelcome trigger could have likely brought nuclear genocide during the cold war…

Unwarranted, you think?

On a less nihilistic note, what about neighborhood wars? Your neighbor gets a cadillac, you get a lincoln and two weeks later you’ve taken a second mortgage out on your house, and foreclosure is a couple blocks away.

We should all take time to ask why we feel a certain way and take the best action to justify our feelings without compromising sanity. We are human after all.

The Dilemma of the Unknown

Being a jobless young professional writer is a lot of work. First, there’s the relationship between society and the job market. Friends and family will have you believe it is imperative to be employed. Employment has its benefits, don’t get me wrong, but it also has its drawbacks. Being in a bad job can be worse than being unemployed, and most of the time whether a job appears is not within the individual’s control, but rather in the hands of the economic markets.

There are many impediments to obtaining a job that is the right fit, including a blurred distinction between a job and a livelihood. A livelihood includes a job, but also includes life goals, which are not always clear as a young adult. Everyone has goals that sometimes present themselves as hunches as to what someone wants out of life. Jobs can help refine one’s goals or eliminate ones that don’t work. A job can include helping some friends move from one apartment to another or dropping off some packages at the post office and are first and foremost services that are reimbursed. Unfortunately many employers want you to forfeit your goals for minimal or no reimbursement, at least as an entry level employee. The job market is a supplier’s market as many young adults are naive and will work for nothing, so long as they are assured an eventual paid position the more common phrase “it will build your resume”.

Universities take young adults at their prime and convince them that they should spend loads of money by selling the idea of a secure future, but in many cases they accomplish the opposite by delaying the worker’s entry into the job market. Most jobs, even white collar jobs, can be accomplished with focused training, and do not necessarily require one knowing what one wants to do after the job, a trait with which colleges claim to help.

My advice…never stop asking questions.

The ISIS Threat

Airstrikes against the Islamic State may not be enough to prevent their capture of more land despite being cornered.

Recent airstrikes against the radical Islamic jihadists of the Islamic State have not prevented their capture of Kobani, a town near the Turkish-Syrian border. The move represents the culmination of a sweeping land grab by the Islamic fighters as they move westward in Syria from their self-declared capital in Raqqa.
For two weeks the U.S. military has led airstrikes against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Reports from the ground have indicated the air strikes have effectively destroyed enemy targets including weapons facilities. ISIS remains a threat, however, because of its use of IED’s and roadside bombs to push onward.

As a preventive measure, Turkey has closed its land border with Syria. Refugees, which had been pouring into Turkey by the hundreds of thousands, are now stuck in Syria against their will. With the border to Turkey closed ISIS has no choice but to move south and continue their capture of Syrian land or retreat underground.

Pushing closer to Damascus will bring another challenge as Bashar al-Assad and his loyal armies of Alawites contest the territory. Though ISIS has been bold in its acquisition of land they may hesitate before taking on the Alawites as the latter have been successful at withholding the onslaught of rebel groups during Syria’s bloody two-year civil war.

In an ironic turn of events Bashar al-Assad’s army has become an asset in the fight against ISIS. ISIS is cornered with Turkey to the West and the Alawites to the south. The airstrikes have proved effective at slowing their progress, however, more is needed from Kurdish ground forces to annihilate the ISIS threat once and for all before ISIS initiates diplomatic leverage with Damascus, which has been made more difficult with the destruction of ISIS facilities.

According to Idriss Nassan, a Kurdish official in Kobani, “When I talk to people here in Kobani, they thank the international community, and the United States, they thank the countries who are striking the ISIS. But everyone believes it is not enough…(the) international community cannot defeat ISIS by just hitting them from the sky. They have to help the people who are fighting — the YPG, the (rebel) Free Syrian Army who are here on the ground.”

President Obama has been reticent to send U.S. ground forces and risk more U.S. lives, but in many respects it is the absence of U.S. forces there that has created the milieu for radical Islam. It would be foolish now to send U.S. troops after taking a diplomatic stand, as that would be justifying the threat of ISIS to the international community. Obama should continue convincing neighboring nations that ISIS is the enemy with the hope that in the long run the Middle East can become its own biggest supporter. Kurdish officials like Idriss Nassan may have a daunting task ahead of them trying to put ISIS away, but it is their best interest, and the international community will be watching.