Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers: Timeless as Life itself

This week in 1938 (August 22), Hollywood’s most famous dancing duo, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, were featured on the cover of Life magazine.  With the US still in the grips of the Great Depression and with war heating up in Europe, Astaire and Rogers were grace and elegance personified.  Pictured below, Astaire and Rogers are dancing the Yam, a dance (and song) written by Irving Berlin and which was featured in a 1938 film called “Carefree.”

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire LIFE Magazine, Minter Dialogue Myndset Digital Marketing

Thanks to Blog Critics Redux for some background information on Carefree and the Yam.  It was in this film that Fred Astaire famously planted an unprecedented kiss on Ginger Rogers’ lips.

Here is a clip from YouTube of Astaire and Rogers doing the famed Yam.

Astaire was also featured on the cover of LIFE in August 1941 with his son.

Astaire and son LIFE, The Myndset Digital Marketing

And, finally, Ginger Rogers for her part, was also featured on several other covers (1940, 1942 and 1951), including this one below in 1942, where she was photographed fly fishing on her ranch in the Rogue River Valley, Oregon.  A rather beguiling photo.

life cover Ginger Rogers, The Myndset Digital Marketing

Influencers – Who and why are they?

This is an excellent brilliant 13-minute documentary called the INFLUENCERS, How trends and creativity become contagious, produced by R&I Creative and directed by Paul Rojanathara and Davis Johnson. This film is interesting because of the content and interviews that have a good rhythm. It is wonderfully produced with a polaroid look & feel, a great soundtrack, and spliced in quotes.

The people interviewed include a slew of diverse and articulate people, not least of which is the inanimate representation of Anthony Gormley, an English sculptor, whose statue is the leitmotif of the film.

INFLUENCERS TRAILER from R+I creative on Vimeo.

Who is an influencer? (quotes from the speakers)

  • “Someone who has a certain type of confidence…that they know they’re doing is the right thing, because they are comfortable in it.”
  • Someone who has a different way of thinking and expressing themselves…
  • There’s a group of people that are early adopters
  • Those are the people that everyone ends up paying attention to, … because they can recognize what the next thing is and are able to popularize it early.
  • “…is a person who can take an idea, brand, a concept that is not the mainstream consciousness and can bring it into the mainstream consciousness”

And my favorite description of an influencer:

  • “Somebody that other people listen to and react to….they have a certain amount of trust to what they say and they react to it…” In other words, they move people to act.

Another tidbit from the film: The great meetings are where people assemble by passion, such as SWSX, Glastonbury, Bonaroo, TED… Need more of those in our lives, don’t you think!

At the end of the video, the different speakers reveal who inspires them. This is one of my favorite questions for my podcast interviewees: who is your role model? Would that we all took real inspiration from some role models and acted accordingly every day!

Top Ten Recent Posts on Minter Dialogue Blog

Taking a cue from one of my favourite blogs Being Peter Kim, I thought I would take a step back and write down which are the top ten posts read on this blog over the last month. As Peter says, “blog content can be both highly perishable and easy to miss.”

  1. Coffee Latte Face Art – New Level of Personalized Service (curiosity)
  2. Alain Delon on stage (not really worthwhile, sorry!)
  3. Perpetuum Jazzile Africa Slovenia Nature meets Music Storm (worth the visit)
  4. How to import Hotmail .csv into Apple Mac Mail (techy)
  5. Getting even with world’s tennis ranking systems (if you want to know your level)
  6. Wimbledon Tennis 2009 Winners – A fine vintage
  7. Tennis Wimbledon 2008 Winners
  8. Hopital Pitie Salpetriere à Paris – Du Chemin pour la Loi Bachelot (healthcare in France)
  9. Roland Garros 2009 — Recycling of tennis balls
  10. In case you didn’t know about the Woman with the Longest Nails in the World (curiosity)

What does this list tell me? I have an eclectic audience, reflecting in large part that majority of my readers are coming via Google Search. The top three posts are broadly speaking “cultural.” With 4 posts on tennis, maybe I should become a tennis writer? Anyway, tennis is probably a seasonal affair. There is only one French post in the top ten — which is close to fair representation (15% of the posts to-date on this blog have been in French).

The Grand Divide Between Education & Teaching

The difference between Educating and Teaching… and the emptiness inside

I have decided to translate into English a post I did in French over the weekend due to the interesting discussion that it provoked. An article, entitled (for you francophones) « Il y a un divorce entre enseignement intellectuel et formation morale », by Jacqueline de Romilly, published in Le Figaro on October 29, 2008, inspired this post.

The article features a speech by Jacqueline de Romilly on the state of education and teaching in France. Education is a subject dear to my heart both personally and professionally. In a post I wrote earlier this year, I touched on the topic addressed in the speech by Ms. de Romilly, writing about the differences between education and training.

EducationWhile teaching relates to the transmission of knowledge and intellectual learning, Ms. de Romilly stresses the importance of education in the larger scope, including the transmission of values. “Education … means enabling someone to develop and flourish with his own qualities; for human beings, such human qualities relate to the spirit, character and suitability for life in society.” She cites three major problems in French ‘education’: (1) the poor knowledge of the language which affects the ability to communicate [with a risk of giving way to violence]; (2) a poor understanding of history and, therefore, of one’s past and one’s culture; and (3) a lack of reading of literature that is formative in the development of ideas and one’s imagination, not to mention what one can learn via certain iconic characters.

A fundamental concept is that the education of children begins at home. For example, at the dinner table, a family can forge links, telling stories and, at the same time, transferring the family history. But, today, with the quest for time, broken families and stress of work, the transmission of values, personal history and sharing of free time have become rare commodities for a child. I also know that the French philosopher, Luc Ferry, would approve when I say that we, as parents, must cultivate the passion for — and reading of — great classics, in which there are real lessons of life. In fact, it is vitally important for a child to develop his or her passion(s). Through this passion, a child will cultivate his/her curiosity, learn, connect and ultimately give meaning to his/her life.

Acting MasksSports CreativityExtending the concept of education beyond academia, I am a strong believer in the educational value of sports: how to work as a team, be a leader, to deal with physical challenges, to learn to win or lose with grace. Of course, sports are not all equal in the transmission of these values and are not necessarily for everyone. But for many, sport is also a avenue to channel one’s [excess] energy. In another domain, I believe deeply in the importance of performance arts, such as theatre and dance. Participating in theatre at school (I had roles in a dozen plays) was very formative for me – theatre called for the development of the self, opened me up to the diversity of personalities, and exercised my communication skills and stage presence. In England and university in the United States, I also greatly appreciated the art of debate – an environment that hones one’s talents in defending one’s ideas. It also serves to sharpen communication skills and how to compete in a public forum.

What struck me in the article by Ms. de Romilly was the way in which what she described echoed with the state of education – and society more broadly – in the United States. Ms. de Romilly does not cite the influence of the Internet which is normal to the extent the Internet is merely a tool and not at the root of the problem. But she could have expanded about the lack of attention span of children, distracted by the hyper-visual world, the addictive online games, chat rooms without profound meaning, and so on. Across the Atlantic in the US, a book was released this summer called “Why We Hate Us,” by Dick Meyer. In a similar sense, but coming from a completely different angle, Mr. Meyer writes of the lack of interest that have vis-à-vis each other. For Mr. Meyer, hate is not the hatred of fear & loathing, but the hate as in “oh, [women] don’t you just hate it when the men start talking about sports.” The level of conversation in suburban dinners in the United States, says Meyer, pushes some Americans to seek solitude, isolation (at the very least, it does nothing to encourage meaningful bonding). The conversation is too dehumanized. Many are disappointed by the lack of culture, the lack of depth – and indeed, the dulling effect of being permanently “politically correct.” Americans, he writes, naturally turn to the Internet to find interaction with others who share a specific passion, people who are present at any time within social media networks. Is the same phenomenon currently spreading to France?

Taking a helicopter view on Ms. de Romilly’s speech, I would say that teaching in France focuses too much on academics in general and should incorporate a broader scope on “education,” such as sports, theatre and even debate. With the emphasis on subject matters that promote the left side of the brain (maths, sciences…), schooling in France is flawed and gives less chance for children to blossom fully. Both Ms. de Romilly and Mr. Meyer talk about their values as “old” values; yet, even if some consider them retroactive, these are, in my opinion, timeless values and seem – in some circles, at least – to find a resonance on both sides of the Atlantic (and, of course, the Channel, too).

Blogs that have written on the book “Why We Hate Us”:
Page 99 Test
Campaign for the American Reader

Association Football’s continuing popularity despite all the diving…

What makes association football—a.k.a. soccer–the world’s most popular sport?

Clearly, as a professional player, there is the attraction of fame, fortune and free tattoos. But what’s in it for the spectators who are paying top dollar to go to the stadium*, pay pay-per-view cable and/or buying in on one of the countless merchandising opportunities?

At some point, I must invoke the argument that, because the spectator sex is mostly masculine, football is the ideal replacement activity for those bellicose natured human beings. Whether or not that holds true, because of football’s wide appeal, one could also say that as go football ethics, go audience ethics.

An article I read in The Evening Standard of June 3, 2008, tackled–if you excuse the pun–an issue that I have commented on before: the moaning, diving, cheating tactics that we see too often on football pitches. And, it would seem that the paying public has voiced its opinion via a survey of 2,814 fans through Football Fans Census ( — sorry but you have to register).

Sixty-seven percent of those polled recalled that a player had protested at least once in a manner that was unacceptable during the course of the season – maybe the 33% that didn’t recall a single instance were too intoxicated to remember? Interestingly, for Chelsea, England’s number two club, its fans gave the Blues a 91% [bad] mark.

Seventy-six percent remember at least one instance of a player deliberately taking a dive to win a free kick or penalty.

Sport is entertainment. It is in the business of entertainment. However, like all other businesses, sport should be held to certain ethical standards, especially considering its impact on impressionable youth and fans. Poor behaviour on the field inevitably spills over into the psyche of the local public. Perhaps this may explain why England’s national team has had such a poor record in recent years?

The success [and wealth] of the English clubs has everything to do with economics (size of stadiums, capacity attendance, high value tickets as well as the high wages…). The higher plane of economics has enabled them to attract higher quality talent and, therefore, more success in Europe. However, such success and wealth gives no just cause for petulance, poor sportsmanship or trickery. Indeed, football athletes should be given a code of ethics – just as corporate employees do. And, no spitting, head-butting, diving or rudeness should be tolerated. In the words of the legend, Pele, what counts is “honesty and hard work.”

So, for the high-paying spectators, are they getting their money’s worth? Are the players held to a high enough standard? Are the battles (of England) being won on these playing fields?

*The Evening Standard of June 3 reported the following prices paid (including ticket, transportation, merchandise and refreshments) for going to see a game live at one of the London clubs: £102 for Chelsea, £92 for Arsenal, £84 for Tottenham…£52 for QPR …£42 for Watford…and, down to £26 for Barnet (Coca Cola League Two).

Among the staggering thoughts: there are 14 professional teams in the London area. Secondly, just limiting the exercise to the regular season games (38), that means that Chelsea fans spend £162 million in a season just on the regular season games. [In comparison, Barnet supporters pay somewhere around £5 million, with a stadium capacity of 5568].

Cell Phone Etiquette on Eurostar: It’s Not Good to Talk

It’s Good to Talk? An old British Telecom (BT) saying that’s not applicable for Eurostar … or any public transportation for that matter.

Having recently done a couple of Cell phone etiquetteround trips on the Eurostar I have made a few survey-of-one conclusions about the need for a standard of etiquette for cell phone usage on trains.

There is a severe need to reel in the mobile manners of travelers — and this before the airlines democratize cell phone usage on board. On these recent Eurostar trips between London and France, I started to make a mental note of the profiles of those who were prone to get up and be discrete with their telephone call and those who chose to make telephone calls while seated in the midst of their fellow passengers. Whilst my assessment obviously reflects the population on board, in terms of professional profiles, I detected a large number of lawyers [ironically] and other suits who tended not to mind talking openly. In terms of nationalities, I tended to hear more French. But, I am open for debate! [My recent experience at LAX has shown that the US traveller has equally little tact when it comes to his fellow partner.]

Cell Phone Etiquette - Discretion ObligeTyping on a computer, fiddling on the blackberry or listening to an Ipod hardly bother me. And if ever they do, hooking up a low volume Ipod is the perfect remedy. However, others speaking on the cell phone in such confined spaces do truly irritate me. Talking on your cell in the comfort of your [business class] seat demonstrates a total lack of courtesy to your fellow passengers. We have everything to learn from the etiquette of the Japanese who — admittedly reinforced with frequent public announcements — leave to find an isolated place to make an irritation-free telephone call. A culture of respect and cheap SMS are a good combination. Discretion oblige!

I know that many passengers in trains and buses around the world are also defying the most normal norms of politeness. Perhaps the transport companies will, themselves, have to intervene as they do in Japan? Otherwise, I fear the onset of liberalized mobile phone use on airplanes…

In the meantime, on line, you can find a myriad of sites giving their version of proper cell phone etiquette. Many of the ideas converge. Here are a few of them:

InfoworldThe Ten Commandments of Cell Phone Etiquette. Right on the money in terms of the major faux-pas (or ne faut pas) with a good sense of humour.
About.comHow To Respect The Rules Of Cell Phone Etiquette. A substantially dry but appropriate 7 rules…with nuances according to the person/people around you.
WisegeekWhat is Cell Phone Etiquette, with eight good points here, including the 10 foot personal space.
Digital Media Wire12 Unwritten Rules of Cell Phone Etiquette with some rules that should be or could be written and others that, as Scott Goldberg suggests, should remain unwritten.