Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Thank You, Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown delivers his final State of the State address this Thursday, January 25, 2018.
There was a time when I vowed never to vote for Jerry Brown again and I didn’t for several years. I was tired of his chameleon behavior, constantly running for this political position and that and frequently morphing into an entirely different leader with sometimes completely opposite policies in each new position.
But I did vote for him the last two times he ran for Governor and he has served the State of California well as Governor, bringing a common sense, prudent approach to government spending and often reining in a liberal legislature too eager to spend vast sums of money without revising an unstable tax structure.
But Jerry Brown’s bullet train, arguably his effort to match his father’s legacy in building California’s infrastructure, has been a far too ambitious undertaking which may end up being a failure that taints Brown’s record. As well, I wish he had pushed for property tax reform, a sensitive subject as he was on the losing side decades ago when voters adopted Proposition 13. Then, too, he should have been more aggressive in addressing pension reform, another delicate matter that won’t solve itself.
Nonetheless, Jerry Brown made me a supporter and I wish him well going forward.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The Demise of AOL's Instant Messenger




AOL has announced that AIM, its Instant Messenger platform, will cease to exist in December 2017. Despite the disappearance of AOL chatrooms and the imminent demise of AOL’s Instant Messenger or IM platform, I still find that those 1990s means of communication held their own to today’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or the like (and I have them all).
People rushed home from work beginning in the mid-1990s to dial up AOL and then try to squeeze into a chatroom limited to 23 people. Gaining entry was a challenge and sometimes took up to an hour with so many others competing to get in! And, for several years, AOL was very expensive and many people jeopardized their savings as a result of an almost obsessive need to be online.
Many of us developed friendships during those years in AOL chatrooms that endure to this day. Instant Messaging or IMing came later (and AIM as a separate application came even later still) and, once it emerged, people often found themselves trying to keep up with the scrolling chatroom dialogue while simultaneously engrossed in one, two or more IMs! For women the challenge of balancing chatrooms and IMs was even greater than that encountered by men.
RIP, AOL Instant Messenger.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

My heart is with ...

Senator Cory Booker posted today (Sept 6, 2017) a statement on Facebook < https://www.facebook.com/corybooker/> that began “My heart is with the people of the Caribbean who are enduring the destructive force of Hurricane Irma right now, and with the people of Florida … .”
When I started reading his opening words I wasn’t sure to which group(s) he might be referring. It got me thinking how many others might be included in a statement beginning “My heart is with.”
  • The victims of Hurricane Harvey
  • The Dreamers under DACA
  • The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar
  • The victims of flooding in Bangladesh
  • The victims of civil war and terrorism in Syria and Yemen
and surely many others.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Fascism

I was in Tunisia in May 1968 when Paris exploded with demonstrations and the like led by radical student leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit. I followed developments by reading the daily Le Monde newspaper available in Tunis. The students claimed that their spiritual leader was none other than Marxist-Freudian philosopher Herbert Marcuse, who was a Brandeis University faculty member when I was there. But, I was shocked to read in a subsequent interview of Cohn-Bendit that he had NEVER read any of Marcuse's writings!
Well, these days everyone is throwing around the term "fascism". Fascist this, anti-fascist that. "Here's a fascist, there's an anti-fascist, everywhere a fascist or anti-fascist." But I am convinced that the overwhelming number of folks using the terms have never read anything by or about fascist political thought. Don't misunderstand me - denouncing Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists makes perfect sense. Denouncing fascism also, in my book, makes perfect sense. But it might be helpful if people knew more about the origins of that term and the political principles it comprises.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Do We Really Need Comey to Testify?

I don't know why we need former FBI Director James Comey to testify. I mean (to borrow Anderson Cooper's favorite phrase), I have been watching CNN and MsNBC much of today (June 6, 2017) and I think I already know e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g there is to know about what Comey feels, thinks, and recalls about his interactions with President Trump, and I’m not even including what I have learned from the Washington Post and The New York Times! 


Maybe we could just write down on a sheet of paper or on an iPad all of these assertions and simply ask Comey to scroll down the list and check a box next to each one that is correct . That should do it, no? 🙄 😉 

Ads on Webpages: Going Too Far

I appreciate that, in a real sense, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone somewhere must cover the costs. So, too, I appreciate when I am surfing the net reading this and that without paying, that the costs must be covered in some manner. That's one reason I began subscribing to The New York Times and the Washington Post.

So I accept the need for advertising on the Internet. But some of it has gone too far, IMHO. When a pop-up ad suddenly appears to completely cover the screen and the article I'm reading, not when I first open the webpage but a minute into my reading the article, that is outrageous, even more so when the ad's close button is difficult to locate. And even more outrageous is when, while I'm reading an article on a webpage, a video somewhere obscurely located on that page starts to play, without my having initiated it. Not only must I stop reading to find the video to shut it off, but often it will restart, necessitating that I shut it off again. And, if I have multiple webpages open, sometimes I have no idea on which webpage the video is playing.


It appears that Apple, on its Safari browser, may take some steps to limit these practices. I sure hope so!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Media, Careful about "Breaking News"

I appreciate the quality reporting of the New York Times and the Washington Post and others, including CNN and NBC/MsNBC, regarding Russian involvement in our 2016 elections and possible collusion by the Trump team. But their competition has bred, at times, overkill. Many have already mocked the abuse of the term "breaking news".
Days ago it was reported that the FBI was considering someone high up in the Trump Administration a "person of interest". That it was likely Jared Kushner seemed obvious. Who else? Bannon? Priebus? Spicer? No, no and no. And not Melania. Even Ivanka would have been a stretch. So tonight's (May 25, 2017) "blockbuster" news that it is Kushner is a non-blockbuster.
As well, Rachel Maddow, on MsNBC, did her usual repetitive storytelling by reiterating that financial entanglements may be as much a key aspect to a Trump-Russian relationship as collusion with respect to email hacking. That too is not breaking news. Trump's financial ties with Russians, and possibly Kushner's, are not a new topic. And again tonight Maddow reiterated that obstruction of justice is an important part of the story. Really? Obviously.
So, media, please be careful about bombarding us with repetitive news stories. You'll overwhelm us and cause us to withdraw, to your and our own detriment.