Black Friday: Shopping Apocalypse?

Zombies at the mall; from George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead"

Zombies at the mall; from George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”

Black Friday is today’s buzzword. Millions of Americans will be out shopping, some of them ‘til they drop, or maybe, get shot. That’s ok, it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of society as we know it.

I take solace that about 15 percent of Americans actually shop on Black Friday. The rest of us prefer to steer clear of our local shopping mega marts. In fact, Nielsen, the market researcher that has been telling us a great deal about us and spotting trends for more than 60 years, says 85% of consumers won’t go anywhere near a mall or a physical store on Black Friday. Continue reading

Do You Have the Knack?

There is a narrative that says that the dawn of the 21st century has brought significant changes to our structures of work and economics. I won’t dispute that, but I’ll also say, the old way of doing things is still firmly entrenched and pushing against the status quo requires considerable effort and savvy. Even then, swimming upstream is hard.

Social media regularly serves as the 21st century’s equivalent of snake oil. Broad claims about the “new frontier” often reveal, when you look beneath the veneer that The Who were right; “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Not always, but often enough to know that things still are oriented to a certain way of conducting business. Continue reading

Window Dressing

Retailers used to rely on window dressing to lure customers into their stores.

Retailers used to rely on window dressing to lure customers into their stores.

When I was small, Lisbon Street in Lewiston was a retail shopper’s paradise. Driving through downtown Lewiston today reveals a shabbiness and lack of any retail options I’m interested in. There are a handful of eateries, but mostly storefronts with dirty windows. Continue reading

Priming the Pump

[Note: Various reports and articles indicate that by 2020, as much as 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of freelance workers. I’m already there.–jb]

I’ve been at this free agent game long enough that I should know the routine this time of year. It’s prospecting time. Almost all of my activities are devoted to getting new things into the JBE pipeline. Continue reading

A Better Life

A few years ago, I was involved in some community-based work in Portland, centered on economic justice, neighborhood issues, and housing. A fellow organizer had a term for the city’s development community that I found appealing, because it characterized what development too often is—he called the power brokers “the neighborhood development mafia.” By that, he meant that those wielding the power to develop properties and “grow” the economy; realtors, property developers, city officials; the members of that “mafia,” circumvented the will of the people, most often in pursuit of profit. Continue reading

Sick Day


Starve a cold; feed a fever?

I’m rarely sick. In fact, when I was growing up, being sick was seen as a sign of weakness, or a character deficiency.

The last time I had an extended bout with the flu was about 10 years ago. I’ve been getting the flu shot each year, but had put off getting mine this year.

Since Tuesday is a scheduled blogging day here at the JBE,  we’ll consider this a blogging “sick day,” as it will have to suffice until my headache, fever, and other symptoms of the flu have dissipated.

What would Dr. Oz recommend?

Darkness, Darkness

I hate fall’s time change. By setting back the clock, the “fall back” mechanism performed Saturday night, I’ll spend the next five months struggling with my sleep. Instead of waking up most days around 3:30 and lying in bed for another hour or so, I’ll now wake up at the ungodly time of 2:30, and often right after the change, as early as 1:30 or 2:00. THIS SUCKS!! Continue reading

Check Your Technology

Technology is ubiquitous in our lives as Americans, and pretty much the norm throughout the western world. Some believe that it has the capacity to cure all that ails us; others harbor sentiments about it akin to Martin Luther’s feeling for the devil, when he turned and threw his inkwell at him. Whether you love, hate, or are ambivalent about technology, it’s here to stay. Complaining about it won’t change anything. Continue reading