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New Tech Blog: Max On Media
Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

I Can't GET No ... Innovation

Oct 01 2015

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 

 ... let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
from Dover Beach, by Matthew Arnold

Let me see … we’ve acknowledged, if not celebrated, National Long Term Care Awareness Month, National Children’s Dental Health Month, and I forget what else.  We’ve come full circle: something for the elders, something for the children, at last something for everybody caught in the middle.  By the slimmest of chances, I recently learned that October is National Work and Family Month.  A national correspondent for The Atlantic, named Ta-Nehisi Coates said some prettty radical things—even by my standards—either on a talk show or commenting along with other journalists about an issue or event on a news program, so I looked him up, which led me to this very long, very worthwhile article for anyone who cares about their well-being, others’ well-being, and society’s: in other words, who is enough in touch with Reality to realize that we’re all connected, whether we like it or not.
It largely tells the story of the late, great Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s failed—nay, vilified—efforts to straighten out the world fifty years ago, spearheading what later came to be known, in a watered-down version, as the War on Poverty.  “He was, it might be said, a conservative radical who disdained service programs such as Head Start and traditional welfare programs such as Aid to Families With Dependent Children, and instead imagined a broad national program that subsidized families through jobs programs for men and a guaranteed minimum income for every family.”  Betcha it woulda cost less, too, all things considered: people actually being productive, perhaps even paying taxes, instead of the patch-up programs we now have and something like $90,000 it costs to keep each prisoner (they cease in numerous ways to be a person henceforth) incarcerated each and every year, not to mention the cost of the crimes they commit, in lieu of having a life.
Never one to shy away from an argument, any more than he was, I would say I stand on firm ground—harkening back to the long and tangled (some might even say, sordid) slew of presidents, cabinet members, and congressmen/women since then—that to dispute whether this New York Senator, Ambassador to the United Nations, Harvard Professor, and national policymaker, was at least among the handful of most brilliant, intriguing, and delightfully charismatic thinkers and speakers of recorded history (meaning electronically) is to confess that one has never heard him.  At the age of 29—close to the average age of students here on campus—legendary social activist, Ralph Nader, hitchhilked to Washington to plead his case for a job with him.  Churchill and FDR had the good fortune to help us through the worst political and social cataclysm in history, or their accomplishment and words might be forgotten, too, commemorated every half-century in an esteemed publication or two, like mourners visiting a grave. 
And yet …and yet, for all his high offices, accolades, and personal attributes, he really accomplished nothing lasting, to speak of.  His most lasting legacy could well be said to be that, even as a close advisor to four presidents, bucking the system—I mean, the whole system—is an exercise in futility.  As they say east of the Hudson, Fawget about it!
The statistics in the article are truly staggering: a fourth of all prisoners in the world are in our borders; more than China AND Russia, for all the beef about their so-called Human Rights violations, and hoopla about our freedoms.  Ready for a jolt?  More people are in prisons here now than were slaves at the time of the Civil War. 
And things only keep getting worse—geometrically.  “From the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s, America’s incarceration rate doubled.  From the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s, it doubled again. Then it went still higher.”  “To return to its 1972 incarceration rate, America would have to cut its prison and jail population by some 80 percent.” 
Henry Miller—to paraphrase the DirectTV commercial, if you’re a sex fan, ya gotta read Henry Miller—once wisely asked, “What makes money make money?”  Apparently, poverty.  As my Fourth Grade teacher, Mr. Kaye, who seemed like he was going to scrub our brains clean with his brilloy hair, liked to ask when he caught more than one of us off base, “Must we?”

The Question looms again, which I’ve raised before, not just from the dead, but for the dead, my friends: WHAT are we HERE for, if not to solve the world’s problems, particularly when they are part and parcel of our own.  Yes, I understand: getting a job and supporting a family are tantamount in everyone’s mind, BUT … what’s it all FOR when the fickle finger of fate brings you face to face with a criminal, who doesn’t even offer you the choice between Your money or your Life?  He or she could care less!—just as you did all the while heretofore, about theirs.  The architect of the last piece of the rebuilt World Trade Center was interviewed on Charlie Rose last week.  Mention was made of the memorial for the fallen—literally.  And what was it but a mass crime by the Have Not’s against the Haves?  Why put a gun in someone’s face when you can fly a jumbo jet into a skyscraper and fell that in the same swoop?   As I mentioned on September 2nd last year in “The World As Metaphor,” the world comes to an end every time someone dies needlessly, if only for those almost entirely direly poor souls, and the only reason the rest of us don’t see it, much less stop it, is that we’re all trapped in our own little worlds.  I also mentioned in the following post, last September 18th, a Pentagon study ten years ago, anticipating nuclear attacks here within five years, meaning we’re already living on borrowed time, tick tick tick.  In the business vernacular, is that what it’s gonna take?
This is all I could find, right off the bat, for National Work and Family Month.  At a glance, it boils down to something like Be Kind to Your Victims.  I don’t recall seeing anything about the desimation of labor unions over the many decades since United Airlines (the friendly skies, I believe they like to call themselves) actually conceived and implemented a way to steal the employees’ pension, and someone got the brilliant idea that they could pay people peanuts oversees to do the same jobs that people here were doing.  Better yet, those countries have no environmental or occupational regulatory agencies, let alone anything like Workers Compensation, Social Security, or heavens me, Unemployment Insurance.  Is that what your degrees are for: Do unto others what we can’t do unto ourselves?  Or look the other way, so long as it isn’t your life going down the drain … yet, even though you know someone most assuredly would like to, and someone else is already working on it.  Heck, if a car can drive a blind person around, who needs one, even if he can see?
s that simplistic?  Talk to me, brothers and sisters.  Talk to your professors.  Talk to the president and chancellor.  The August 15th post, “Your Orientation Orientation,” posited that “you are here to find out where you stand, wherever you are, and how to stand up for it.”  I still stand by it. 

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

Phone: 631.632.7171
Fax: 631.632.8181