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Breaking One Of My Three Writing Taboos

May 20, 2020

There are three topics very dear to my heart that I’ve (mostly) kept off these pages: Faith, family and politics.

Faith

I’m a person of faith. Which particular faith is not really relevant. But, my relationship with my Maker is very important to me. But, you know what is typically very boring to read about? Someone else’s description of their faith. It’s like when your best friend fell in love. All he wanted to do was tell you all about her. And while you liked your friend and wanted to be supportive, you very quickly got very tired of hearing about his new crush.

I kind of feel like discussions of religion are somewhat like that. I’m happy to talk about religion in the non-personal sense. Although even that quickly becomes somewhat tedious to those who don’t share the same enthusiasm for discussing thousand year old philosophies.

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several of you readers. Some I know are people of faith. Some I know are not people of faith. And mostly I have no idea if they, you, are people of faith. But, universally, the readers I’ve talked to are good people. And I’m of the belief that good people are no respector of religions. They are found in all religions and even among those who practice no religion, except being good to their fellow humans.

There are many wonderful places online to hear about religions. I’m certain you didn’t come here to discuss the finer points of theology.

Family

From the very first day I started writing, I’ve included a reference in my signature block to my 13 children and grandchildren. A friend pointed out that my reference is somewhat ambiguous. Is the total of children and grandchildren equal to 13? Or, are there 13 children in addition to grandchildren? And if there are 13 children, how many grandchildren?

For someone who calls myself a writer, I certainly wasn’t particularly skilled in writing that blurb. Actually, I spent a fair amount of time crafting that bit of text. I don’t talk easily about my children. Especially online.

In fact, just today I was talking with a coworker. We’ve known each other for more than a year.

Did you know I have 13 children?

No. How did I not know that?

It’s not something I talk about much at work.

Not surprisingly, she doesn’t read my blog and has never seen my signature block.

My children have their own interesting stories. Stories much more interesting than anything I can relate about myself. But, their stories belong to them. The internet is forever. While many of my children are adults, they still have their own stories. Maybe someday they’ll ask me to tell some of them. Until then, my comments on them will remain ambiguous. “13 children and grandchildren.”

Politics

That leaves the third leg of my non-comment triad. I enjoy politics. I look forward to the quadrennial presidential elections with as much excite as the Baseball World Cup. (Which also occurs every four years.) I’m old enough to have watched 12 presidential elections. Sometimes my guy won. Sometimes he lost. Recently, sometimes she lost. I’m one of the idiots who can go on at length about the impact of monetary policy on the relations with Taiwan and China. Or, how the U6 number is better than the U3 number for calculating the true unemployment figures.

I admit, it’s a topic that many find distasteful. In fact, my lovely wife hates discussing politics. It’s not a topic we discuss much.

But, online you can find wonderful discussions. I most enjoy discussions with people I disagree with who are interested in discussion, not argument.

If you’ve read to this point you may be wondering what my politics are. I’ve intentionally left out any indication of my preference. Odds are slightly more than 1/3 of you reading this identify as Democrats. Slightly less than 1/3 of you identify as Republican. The rest are independent.

I have no intention of alienating 1/3 of you by identifying with a particular party. I also have no intention of insulting any of you. Now you see why I don’t talk politics on this page. But, as promised, today I’m going to break that rule. . .because it relates to the topic of IT and computers.

Presidential campaigns are the most expensive operations in history. Both sides will likely spend over a billion dollars by the time we vote in November. The campaign organizations use all manner of media to get their message across. They use print, video, in person rallies, surrogates, TV, Facebook, Twitter, and now that the country is locked down they use Zoom.

My issue, is the recent “virtual” rally that Vice President Biden held. It didn’t go well. There were computer glitches. There were people who didn’t know they were on air. There was dead air.

And then a few days later the former Vice President was speaking to a group of people, again via a computer, and this time nearby Canada Geese disturbed it. And a Secrete Service agent seemed to wander into the shot. Again, it didn’t go well.

Here’s my problem: Why? Why is a national campaign having such trouble mastering this new medium.

My brother, Richard Bliss, is an executive consultant. He helps CEOs to craft their online messages and manage their brand. He, like many people, is working from home. Specifically he’s works out of a very fancy tent in his backyard in Northern California. But, you would think that a tent is not the greatest backdrop for someone getting paid to help C-level executives look good online. You’d be right. His backdrop isn’t a tent.

Typically it’s a fashionable apartment on the upper floor of a building in San Francisco. He doesn’t own an apartment in San Francisco. He rarely goes to San Francisco. That fashionable apartment is completely virtual. He has a large green screen that he uses and he can project anything he wants. And, if you don’t know it’s virtual, you wouldn’t notice. He’s really good at blending the line between virtual and reality.

My kids the other day watched an episode of America’s Got Talent. The performer was a magician. His prop was a series of TV screens arranged in a wall. He projected himself into the various TV sets and “talked” to himself. The magic was that his on-screen person had a drink and handed it to the real version of himself. It was seamless.

My point is that if a stage performer and a consultant in a tent in San Jose can create competent, believable online experiences, why can a candidate for national office do it?

It appears that Mr Biden is using the video camera and microphone on his laptop. The lighting is atrocious. It’s whatever natural light or lamps he happens to have in his basement.

I have a good friend who works in the television industry. Every week his studio releases numerous episodes of shows. Some are scripted. Some are “reality” TV. But, all of them have professional lighting, camera, audio and graphics.

I love baseball. I don’t get to enjoy many games in person. But, in many ways, I enjoy watching games online. During an online broadcast of a game you get instant stats and graphics and replays.

If we have this kind of technology, why didn’t someone on Biden’s campaign team hire anyone with these skills? Could they not ship Biden some professional cameras? Could they not place a public relations specialist into Biden’s household and have him setup a mini-studio. Get some great backgrounds. Use high quality mics. Get some stuido lights.

We’ve all been locked up for two months. During that time, you would have thought the campaigns would be building new strategies to connect to voters. At the very least maybe they could at least get someone to remove the “cheering” geese.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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