Saturday, June 15, 2013

The War On Reality: Life In The Matrix

Eugene Snowdon worked for a private intelligence firm called Booz Allen which is primarily owned by the Carlyle Group which is a holding company for a number of private firms that supply defense related services to the government.  This article provides an overview of the private intelligence industry that sells its services to business firms as well as to the government.  The private intelligence firms boasts that they are better at their work than the CIA and the FBI for whom they also provide services.  Although they are private firms, they have close relationships with law enforcement agencies.  Hackers who attempt to expose their operations face the full force of the criminal justice system.  Attacking them is regarded as an attack against the government.

Private and public intelligence agencies are one extreme of the reality bending world in which we live.  Advertising and public relations are at the other end of the spectrum.  They are less secretive about what they do but their intent is similar.  The basic idea is to shape and distort our reality.  Even though we are skeptical about advertising and public relations, they do shape our reality.  Businesses do not spend billions on things that don't produce results.  I happen to like golf, and I watch a lot of golf on TV.  The networks work with the PGA, and the corporate sponsors of golf tournaments, to convince the public that the PGA and the sponsors are really in the charity business.  They keep a running tab of the charitable funds raised through golf tournaments which is close to $2 billion.  They will probably have a special feature when they reach the magic $2 billion number.  The networks also interview executives from the corporations that sponsor each tournament.  The sponsors also get naming rights.  For example, what used be called the Phoenix open is now called the Waste Management open.  The executives do not attempt to directly sell their products during the interviews.  Instead they tell us how happy they are to support local charities which serve under privileged children.  We are also told that under privileged children who take golf lessons are learning more than how to play golf.  They are learning how to obey the rules of game which develops their personal integrity.  Its no wonder that sponsors are eager to associate their brand with professional golf.  They expect that some of that integrity will be rubbed off on their brand.

The reality of golf, however, us quite different from the image that the PGA and tournament sponsors attempt to create.  Golf is primarily a sport for a rather narrow segment of society.  It is also a drain on environmental resources.  I often feel guilty about my attachment to the sport.  Thanks to the PGA, and the corporate sponsors of golf tournaments, some of my guilt may be assuaged.  It is really about supporting under privileged children and teaching them integrity.  Moreover, one of the features being run on TV during the US Open is about all of the great work that is being done to reduce negative impact of golf course maintenance on fresh water resources.  I guess reality distortion can be good for our conscience.


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