Many years ago, I read the book Windmills of the Gods. The heroine of the book was an Ambassador. I remember sitting on the beach and exclaiming aloud, "This would be my perfect job. You deal with world issues by day and then host elegant dinner parties wearing glamorous gowns and host world leaders by night!" I've long aspired to that type of global role. Alas, that career goal has eluded me.
But I was fortunate enough, yesterday, to meet Ambassador-At-Large, Women's Global Issues, Ambassador Verveer. I do some work in conjunction with Executives Without Borders, specifically on a project called Nanhi Kali. The project was started by the Mahindra Foundation and directs its efforts to aiding female children in India and helping them to go to school. Nanhi Kali provides school uniforms, meals, books and sundry items that are out of reach for many of the poor in India. The principle that education will be most valuable to the economic development of India, and the merits of educating female school children are well-documented.
Ambassador Verveer visited India last year and was introduced to the details of Nanhi Kali’s efforts. She visited a Nanhi Kali school in Mumbai and saw firsthand the pride and sheer joy of young girls who've been enabled to attend school. Nanhi Kali stands for "little bud" and Ambassador Verveer saw firsthand how these "little buds" were flourishing.
Ambassador Verveer’s enthusiasm about the project was palpable in our meeting: she had infectious energy, exuberance, and excitement. She has put making Nanhi Kali prominent on the agenda at the famous Davos Conference of world political and economic leaders on her “to do” list. For me and my classes, I’m thinking through campaign ideas for the organization, such as “Get Girls Going.” I’m looking forward to brainstorming further with my “girls collective” to think through how we can make the communications “sing.”
I very much dig the title "Professor Diamond." But what I'm really jonesing for is to be "Ambassador Diamond." Who knows? A girl can dream can't she?
-- Heidi Diamond
U.S. State Department page for Ambassador Melanne Verveer
The Executives Without Borders http://executiveswithoutborders.org/
Sorry. Facebook corporation did not attract an avalanche of venture capitalists because it was cool. The subtribes of the Harvard College tribes are not actually very cool. Linux? Cool. Living a Second Life? Cool. Reviving stereotypes about young people? Even in a world gone mad with franchises, brands, and other tools of conformity, that is not cool.
This follows up my post about The Social Network during the hype phase, before I saw it at the New York Film Festival screening. The film will do well on ROI, and some take it for an insightful look at 20 year olds today. But let’s hope a little rage at the machine still survives.
There are a few slim inventive elements to the film. It may not be a feat worth achieving, but David Fincher made the tourist-ready picturesque yards of Harvard menacingly noir-ish at night. Yet the real menace of the film is deeper and far more terrifying. High school might last forever.
Here is my nightmare of the pitch The Social Network gave to the money people before production. “It’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets Fast Times at Ridgemont High meets Election meets Slackers meets Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle with a hint of Glee, High School Musical, the new version of 90210 and a hint of Gossip Girl thrown in!”
All the generic high school stereotypes, more those from 1950s B-movies than later versions, run through The Social Network. It is puzzling that a writer as talented as Aaron Sorkin has been praised highly for the script. Arrogant rich jocks. Check. Brilliant nerd who gets rich. Check—slight modern tweak. Gradual revelation that a woman with an assertive sex life is actually a psycho. Check.
The Harvard yards are not dark because sadistically difficult and probably meaningless tasks are required of students, as in the Harvard classic The Paper Chase. They are not dark in mourning for the end of the sugary romance of Love Story. This gloom is a zombie-sheltering darkness, appropriate for Jesse Eisenberg’s remarkable performance as someone both enervated and tensile, a perverse triumph.
If 20 year olds today are different from those of the past—and every generation is —they should be unhappy to be depicted in roles so well market-tested. Couldn’t there be one character who goes beyond a formula?
The least cool scene in the film is when a pair of crew-rowing twins, Harvard classmates who inspired, hired and were manipulated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, meet with the President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, to complain about being misled.
There is a fun irony. Summers—who was drummed out of Harvard (and onto the Obama economics team) because of remarks that enraged female Harvard scientists, African-American literature specialists—and many other faculty members, unknowingly helps Zuckerberg by insulting and waving away the twins. In reality-land, tactlessness can unite one’s enemies. In this fantasy of college and corporate life, arrogance is supposed to be a sign of supreme, if misplaced, self-confidence. Well, sometimes. OK, I lied. Perhaps it is cool that in one place, a demanding university, people can be blunt, extreme, and not sugarcoat hard truths.
Like all other adults in the movie, Summers is supposedly clueless about the potential financial value of Facebook (even though Summers points out to the angry hoodwinked young athletes that he served as Secretary of the Treasury). Hmmm, it must have been 20 year olds that supplied all that venture capital to Facebook because Justin Timberlake poured on the charm and coolness.
Adults, you see, just don’t get the new world of blind ambition, loyalty only to oneself, delusions of grandeur, and dreams of wealth and glamour that have hypnotized the young who aspire to zombie-hood. Old folks have never heard of such things before, maybe because they are uncool. They don’t know stereotypes about young people either, and did not live through and past them. The Gilded Age, the Robber Barons, a business cycle of boom and bust, and ruthless monopolies have never been heard of in American before.
-- Robert Clark
Business writer Joe Nocera finds The Facebook Effect may be no more revealing than The Accidental Billionaires
If you don’t like Harvard Love Story, the Korean TV series (filmed at U. of Southern California) try these
If a more edgy fantasy about the web and social networks attracts you, see the movie Catfish, which, of course, has a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/catfishmovie
Mrs. Nicholas was my fourth grade teacher. She was unique in that she was perfectly put together. To a small boy with little fashion sense to make that assessment, she represented an ideal to me that I could not verbalize. She wore suits complete with her signature double strand of pearls and wore her salt and pepper hair in what I now know is a chignon. She walked tall and was economical with her smiles, but she inspired me in ways I was to appreciate as an adult.
One day Mrs. Nicholas asked us to name three famous Negroes. I date myself by that word and mean to do so. Sadly my world was very limited and I struggled with the answer coming up with these three names: Chubby Checker, Willy Mays and Sammy Davis Jr. I did not feel good about my response sensing I was way off and that there had to be different choices than just from the world of sports and entertainment. Now I realize what a sad cliche my answer was, and with help from Mrs. Nicholas, my answer certainly changed.
I learned about Crispus Attucks, a Black American patriot. I learned about Harriet Tubman, Dr. Ralph Bunche, and the powerful Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I learned about Marian Anderson and how she bravely sang in defiance of ignorance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I learned about the dignity of Rosa Parks and how her small action caused a cataclysm that shook our country from coast to coast.
What I learned most was that Mrs. Nicholas was a role model to me and allowed me to understand the world in different terms all those years ago, terms that I hold true today; a value for all people.
Celebrate the month of February by increasing your awareness and make Black History month and every month a celebration of all peoples.
The 2009 Academy Award nominations have been released, and for the first time since 1943 there will be 10 nominations for “Best Picture.” The Academy’s nomination of ten instead of five movies makes perfect sense for the marketing arms of studios and production companies, but it should not divert attention from the
qualities of two films that are widely considered the front-runners: Avatar
(James Cameron) and The Hurt Locker
(Kathryn Bigelow). Their distinctions couldn’t be greater.
The technical production of Avatar is radically different from all the movies that have come before it. It creates an artificial 3-D world, expansive and brilliant, and has already shattered box-office records with its mythological folk-tale of the outsider who risks all to save a dying world and win the love of its most cherished daughter.
In comparison, The Hurt Locker is a small, pointed movie that follows three American soldiers who try to safely detonate mines and bombs intended to kill them and disarm suicide bombers in Iraq. The film is intense, its narrative scope sometimes confined to the few centimeters of one soldier’s bewildered mind, with a brilliant performance by Jeremy Renner. War is central to both movies, but The Hurt Locker is the greater film for my vote: its ensemble acting, honest portrayal of men disturbed by war, and steady gaze at the mind-set that war creates and requires are particularly forceful at this time in history.
-- Richard LaManna, Chair, Arts & Communications
Metacritic.com provides comprehensive, full-text reviews and ratings of movies, dvds, music, games, and TV shows. Reviews of limited-release and independent films are of particular interest.
Feature article about Kathryn Bigelow, who is poised to be the first woman to win the best director award for The Hurt Locker.
Huffington Post highly favorable review of Avatar, with additional posts about the achievement of Avatar.