Consulting blogs are usually thinly veiled attempts at asserting “thought leadership” in fields where the consultant is an eavesdropping carpetbagger. But, if only our readers knew just how cathartic writing is. We are filled with incredulity on a weekly basis about the state of the world, and our city!
Writing this blog is often the only means for us to release. Economics, politics, culture, and education, all get the same preposterous treatment from us. Yet our intuitions are validated sometimes, and even the silliest blog post can become relevant in the context of current events.
In the past week, you can’t imagine our surprise when TWO of our past over-reaching, hare-brained observations actually came true.
1. The other night, Stephen Colbert mocked Rob Ford for his sensational revelations and apologies. Unlike other comedians, he didn’t focus on the obvious failures of logic – excusing drug use on the grounds of alcohol abuse, for example. Instead, like me, he hammered at Ford’s convenient misconceptions about time.
Ford argued that the “past is the past,” and, “it is what it is,” and that there’s nothing more to say. His accountability ends, he argues, when he says it ends. An admission and an apology is all that’s required to put the past behind him. He no longer has to answer for it.
Furthermore, if reporters use the wrong verb tense when asking him about drug use, they don’t deserve an honest answer. Despite having been asked in the present tense, “Do you smoke crack?” he believes he was correct in saying “no,” on the grounds that he was not smoking crack at the precise moment the question was being asked and does not continually smoking crack. He frequently evaded the question by vowing that he “is” not a crack smoker, “does” not smoke crack, [I] “am” not an addict, and so on.
The temporality of the questions and answers, combined with his alcoholic blackouts, provides grounds for exoneration he thinks. In fact he actually believes he wasn’t lying when for the past six months he’s been denying every claim made against him.
I predicted he would use alcoholic blackouts as a shield against accusations in “Bottoms Up Toronto,” and riffed on his solipsistic ideas about time in “Ask not what I did to the city.”
I don’t pretend that my views have directly influenced the Mayor in his prevarications, nor that Steven Colbert’s writing team are among the small band of peculiar people from peculiar places who frequent the NetGain website. I only offer it as evidence that we’re not completely crazy. The items we think are relevant today will often become relevant to others in the goodness of time.
2. Another example is a report this week that Google has been secretly constructing buildings on barges to house new initiatives in Maine and California. By building on barges, they’ve escaped acquiring and registering land. This has helped them keep their intentions under wrap.
Does anyone remember how we floated this idea in “Barging into Business,” last year? We were commenting on the plans for a ship full of entrepreneurs that would sail in international waters near San Fransisco, so foreign nationals could bring their best ideas and strike deals with venture capitalists without being stopped at the border by immigration authorities. In what seemed like an absurd idea at the time, I suggested that Toronto build business incubators on barges to escape real estate costs and moor them at the now useless Port Authority Ferry Terminal, which has been vacant since the now useless Rochester Ferry made its last useless voyage mere months after the Ferry Terminal was constructed by the useless federal Toronto Port Authority.
Is it a good idea? People laughed when I described it in conversation back then. I still think it’s a good idea. Google obviously thinks it’s a workable scheme. But now it’s too late to innovate, we can only imitate. It’s the Toronto way.
When reality overtakes your position, it can be validating, as in the case of our loopy Ford posts, or it can be exasperating, as in the case of the floating incubator idea. This week, watching Ford’s droopy-assed death threat video, I feel a little of both.