Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Reality is a fluid thing when your president attacks the press and sends his personal counsel on errands to create or approve a conspiracy. It leaves us walking along in a fog of Christmas cheer mixed with New Year dread – what’s next?

A soliloquy that screams of Lady Macbeth in the bathroom? “We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers. And other elements of bathrooms….” said the leader of the free world, which just made me scratch my head. Is this the rambling of a demented mind? Move along, nothing to see here!

As we were entering the Vanderbilt auditorium last week, I noticed a small group of young men handing out flyers. Walking down Madison Avenue in NYC I’d usually just keep moving, wave them off saying, “No thanks,” but our small group of friends stopped to engage with the students on this chilly Nashville night. They were clean cut and sincere, they just wanted us to “know something:’ their flyer read:

“Why is Vanderbilt giving Steven Pinker a platform to speak?”   

Pinker, a Harvard Cognitive Psychologist, had a relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Hmmm Epstein, Epstein now where had I heard that name? It took a few beats before the sleazy sex trafficker came to mind.

I mean I’ve been so impressed and astonished by the impeachment hearings I’d almost forgotten the poor guy, left alone in his cell by 2 sleeping guards. But like Prince Andrew, Pinker was being sullied by association with Epstein: by flying on his private jet the “Lolita Express;” by collaborating with Alan Dershowitz to manipulate the language of Epstein’s defense on child sex trafficking that resulted with a very generous plea deal; and by being photographed with him at a party after his conviction.

Why thank you students! I was on pins and needles during the Chancellor’s Lecture, waiting for a protest to erupt or Pinker to meltdown, but nothing happened. Absolutely nothing! Southern students have manners or tremendous restraint. So i went home and Googled the guy.

I didn’t know that Epstein courted scientists, that he had donated 6.5 Million to Harvard, helping to found the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics?! Did you know Epstein was a devout transhumanist who wanted to seed the world with his sperm and freeze his head and his penis when he died? Honestly, I was wondering if this news was legit. All I’d read about was his crazy relationship with the Victoria’s Secret’s CEO, Leslie Wexner.

But Epstein was throwing tons of parties with money, booze and girls for scientists on his island and in New Mexico. He was reviving eugenics.

“On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s, Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies, according to two award-winning scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals, all of whom Mr. Epstein told about it.

It was not a secret. The adviser, for example, said he was told about the plans not only by Mr. Epstein, at a gathering at his Manhattan townhouse, but also by at least one prominent member of the business community. One of the scientists said Mr. Epstein divulged his idea in 2001 at a dinner at the same townhouse; the other recalled Mr. Epstein discussing it with him at a 2006 conference that he hosted in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/31/business/jeffrey-epstein-eugenics.html

In the New York Times article, Pinker disavows a relationship with Epstein, saying he thought he was an “intellectual imposter,” using adolescent humor to switch subjects if a conversation wasn’t going his way. Now who does that remind you of?

Last weekend I was recounting this example of student activism to a friend at a holiday party. We were two drinks in and the party was heating up when I heard a woman’s voice from across the room yell,

HE WAS MURDERED!”

Read Full Post »

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law will be enforced in the EU beginning today. It gives people “The right to be forgotten,” which I assume means you could wipe out all online information about yourself. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It is also quite a nuisance for American companies, since some of the biggest tech giants have their European headquarters in Ireland. But let’s face it, in an age when our Facebook data can be sold to Russia for their treasonous purposes, we’d all like to see “Privacy” right up there with Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms.

As we were driving home yesterday, Bob said that some electronic billboards will be set up to read your car’s license plate as you meander by, and then custom design ads for you! If you’re driving a Beemer, you’ll get a Tiffany ad – a Jeep might get an Orvis ad. Remember that Tom Cruise 2002 sci-fi movie Minority Report, where he plays a cop who gets the data about an intended murder, and so he arrests the guy?

I remember a scene in the movie where Tom’s walking down a street and the ads are changing as everybody passes them, it’s like that. Now.

But back to Ireland and the soul-searching companies like Google are faced with, here’s an answer: if the Irish vote to repeal the 8th Amendment that bans abortions in the country, then stay and change your privacy laws. Today is the vote. It’s that simple because women’s rights are human rights. Disney told the state of Georgia they would move production to another state if they didn’t comply with LGBTQ rights. Why can’t ethics become a major component of big business? When our governments fail us, capitalism may be able to right our ship.

And in other news about Tom Cruise, the Rocker just finished scoring original music with the theme song for Mission Impossible 6 Fallout. As a kid, I loved Mission Impossible, it was exciting and you never knew if someone was who they say they are. They might rip off a face mask and ta da! Like our Pumpkin tearing off his Hulk mask and showing off his muscles, transformation is a big part of the American Dream. But let’s face it, we are all changing – retiring, traveling, downsizing, aging – transforming our empty nests to at-home gyms.

“This message will self-destruct…” now that was one good privacy feature.

Read Full Post »

Sorry to be quoting a Russian, but we spent a recent evening at an art show to benefit the Love Bug’s school. And because we had a mini-tour the day before with Nancy and Great Grandma Ada, who has converted her family room into an art studio, we had a long conversation with one of the Lost Boys from South Sudan. James Makuac paints memories from his dreams of Africa. They are bright, vivid colors, and some are not for the faint of heart. http://jameskuolmakuac.tumblr.com

His work is about resilience, about people fleeing their homes in the midst of war, walking through rain with the ubiquitous yellow water barrel on a woman’s head.

And I thought of all the artwork my Sister-in-Law Anita collected over the years. She left my brother Dr Jim surrounded with bright California images and fragile pieces of art glass. He loved her with all his heart, their last years together spent tenderly caring for each other, collecting Amish quilts on sunny rides through the country. And as we tried to organize, to make sense of her collections, it dawned on me that she too was trying to recapture her home. To bring the Northern California aesthetic into her Twin City life.

And I wondered yet again, what will my children do with the things I leave behind? Will they find them beautiful, or will they be a burden?

One night, in the midst of my visit to Dr Jim’s MN home, we watched the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. It opens with the abundance of cheap stuff people fight over the day after Thanksgiving. And the take-away is that we should:

“Use things, and Love people!”

The Bride had wanted me to see the film, because she thought Bob and I are heading in that minimalist direction, divesting of “stuff” and living a simpler life in our two bedroom town home. And it is somehow freeing, to put out on a table or up on a wall only those things I love, that bring me joy.

For instance, I have an Irish ceramic vase that had lived its life on display in my VA guest bedroom, one of four bedrooms. It is now happily holding utensils on my small kitchen counter. I couldn’t part with it because it had been a gift from my Irish cousins, but I also loved its line. To me, it is beautiful.

Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “The world will be saved by beauty.” He also said

By interpreting freedom as the propagation and immediate gratification of needs, people distort their own nature, for they engender in themselves a multitude of pointless and foolish desires, habits, and incongruous stratagems. Their lives are motivated only by mutual envy, sensuality, and ostentation.

Maybe our country needs to adopt a new interpretation of freedom, because the American dream, like all dreams, is changing. We need to stop loving cheap shiny objects that appear at Walmart and on our Twitter feed, and make a point of listening to the people we love. Finding the truth in another’s story. Understanding why we are in Niger. Stop fighting proxy wars, and search for beauty in the world, and not on Google.

Painting by James Makuac

tumblr_o67ph1wfqb1uoz0zho1_1280

 

 

Read Full Post »

Another pundit bites the dust. Jeffrey Lord, a Mr T defender on many CNN shows, has had his contract with the network terminated. I would usually turn the channel whenever his smugly leering mug appeared because he always seemed to me insincere. Nothing worse than a reluctant ideologue. And guess what he said – in a Twitter tirade no less – to Angelo Carusone, the President of Media Matters for America?

“Sieg Heil!” 

“Nazi salutes are indefensible,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.” https://www.washingtonpost.com

This particular German phrase is banned in Germany. You can’t put air quotes around these two words and pretend you don’t know what they mean. In English the phrase means “Hail Victory;” in reality, it goes along with the Holocaust and an arm in the air and black shirts.

Kayleigh McEnany, another Mr T media consultant left CNN recently. She is now the RNC’s spokesperson, working for Mr T’s very own network. You can’t make this stuff up, in fact I wish I was making it all up.

Let’s skip over to Google shall we. James Damore, an engineer wrote some of his thoughts in a company memo on the reason we see nearly 75% more men in the tech industry and in leadership positions, and then he got sacked. His words of choice were “Biological Differences,”  which seems pretty tame on the surface. After all, we women are the ones giving birth and nursing if we so choose. That can sometimes put a dent in a woman’s career.

But we are not back in the 60s when women could be asked if they planned on having children in a job interview. On a deeper level, Damore was implying we’re not FIT for such complicated, intellectually stimulating and challenging work. Remember, initially we didn’t have women astronauts because of that little “time of the month” problem. No, it’s actually 2017 and young girls are encouraged to pursue Stem careers (science, technology, engineering and maths) – just ask my niece Lynn!

But I have to admit that censorship of any kind scares me. In fact, the ACLU is taking up the case of Milo Yiannopoulos’s free speech rights. He is that ex-Brietbart editor who was drummed out of speaking at a California campus, a British citizen who is ‘dedicated to the destruction of political correctness,’ an alt-right agitator extraordinaire. The Washington, DC Metro removed Yiannopoulos’s ads on their trains for his new book…now a train system is a utility and I guess they don’t have the right to discriminate. Right?

And believe it or not, I’m glad the ACLU is doing what it’s supposed to be doing – protecting our rights! When “Hate Speech” collides with “Free Speech” we have a fundamental question that speaks directly to our democracy and may end up at the feet of the Supreme Court. This is an essential thing that differentiates us among many nations, we don’t ban words or burn books, our only admonition is not to yell “Fire” in a big, crowded public room.

Yesterday I spent much of my time pointing out to a certain two year old, who loves his new Superman cape, we need to use our “inside voices.” We teach our children about tone and decibel levels effortlessly, we want them to grow up in a civilized world. Unfortunately, we have a President who needs someone to manage his Twitter speech, to explain to him it’s like yelling “FIRE” at North Korea, in an “OUTSIDE” voice.

This was my view yesterday morning on my way to the Zoo. Nashville has sent out the Bat Signal because we need a hero!

IMG_1063

 

 

Read Full Post »

My heart goes out to Sen John McCain, 80, who was recently diagnosed with an extremely aggressive brain cancer. His glioblastoma was found “incidentally” in medical parlance, in that doctors were removing a blood clot that was associated with this condition when they found the culprit. It’s the same kind of tumor that killed Sen Ted Kennedy and Joe Biden’s son, Beau.

It’s the same cancer that killed my Father.

My Father was a pharmacist in Scranton, PA. He had survived the Great Depression and was raising five children with the Flapper. At first, it was only headaches, but later he lost the use of his left arm. My sister Kay had to help him actually grind medication in a mortar at the back of the drug store while her younger brothers read comic books up front. Psychology was a relatively new field at the time; a psychiatrist told my parents that they should have another child because my Father had “lost the will to live.”

I am that sixth child and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for his glioblastoma. The Flapper always joked that I was the only child she had planned! My Father’s friend, an ophthalmologist, noticed his bulging retina and sent him back to the university hospital where they operated on his brain right before Christmas 1948. I was three months old. He died in April the next year, he was only 47. Our Year of Living Dangerously was just beginning.

Although I may not have agreed with Sen McCain’s policies over the years, I have always considered him a true patriot. And unlike many politicians, he didn’t couch his words in innuendo. He played it straight and tried to be fair and work across the aisle. His daughter, Meghan, Tweeted:

“It won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father. He is the toughest person I know. The cruelest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he is meeting this challenge as he has every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways: But it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.”

But this type of cancer is a very cruel enemy indeed. Survival rates are devastating – only 14 months average with 5-10% alive five years after the diagnosis. Will he choose to fight with chemotherapy and radiation, or will he choose to battle Mr T on the Senate floor? Looking at his recent statements to Sen Lindsay Graham, I think he may do both!

Something happens to us when we are reminded of our mortality, when time begins to shrink. Bob said after his cervical surgery, he had less patience with hospital shenanigans and employee’s misbehavior. Before surgery he may have forgiven a surgeon’s harassment in the OR, for example. After surgery, not so much.

McCain is a war hero, and he is already criticizing Mr T’s strategy, or lack thereof, in Syria and Afghanistan. But if you recall, that other Lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, was instrumental in getting President Obama’s ACA passed while he was battling this same cancer. If John McCain were to bring both parties together to salvage healthcare in this country, his legacy would be outstanding. I wish him well on this battlefield.

And check out the Google Doodle today. It’s celebrating the 106th birthday of Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.” He predicted the internet but I wonder what he would think of Twitter. It was a key factor in Mr T’s election, and has taken the place of greeting cards as our politicians send heartwarming thoughts to McCain in 140 “characters.”

I don’t know which brother’s arm is sticking out behind the Flapper, but this is one of the few pictures I have of my Father.    IMG_0991

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

How else can one explain what is happening in China over the last few years? Mr T Tweets at 3am, and now he’s calling the Taiwanese Prez, which is like snubbing your nose at your big (or little depending on your POV) brother or sister. Only this sibling doesn’t sleep, and could suffocate you with his or her pillow all while continuing to pollute our environment.

Remember back in February when I recommended a compelling non-fiction book about China? “Age of Ambition – Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the new China” by Evan Osnos. https://mountainmornings.net/2016/02/27/mj-fever/

If you’re not one for the long read, how about a couple of articles in this month’s Atlantic, “China’s Great Leap Backward?” Kisssinger explains China 101 and tells us how to avoid a trade war, among other things. And James Fallows tells us that freedom is even harder to find in the new China; “It has become repressive in a way that it has not been since the Cultural Revolution.”

We Americans have been asleep. We don’t want to wake to the nightmare of last month’s election, and why should we? We would rather come home from work, open a craft beer, and watch Netflix. Only the latest sci-fi series I told you about, Black Mirror, is actually coming true in China! https://mountainmornings.net/2016/10/25/feeling-twitchy/

If you need a respite from politics, and all the mud-slinging of this election, I have a Netflix show to recommend from England. “Black Mirror” (a trope to our attachment to the smart screen) is about how technology is changing the course of human history in a very scary, sinister and smart way. I’ve only seen the first few episodes of Season 1, created by Charlie Brooker, but if you are wondering where our dystopian obsession with devices is going, tune into the future.

So that’s what I said in October…and now China is creating a nightmare for its citizens with their tacit consent.

It is collecting “Social Credit Scores,” in other words, the dragon has a highly developed Big Brother with a big pillow under his head. All electronic purchasing data, social media networks, and algorithmic sorting devices are being collected to give each citizen a score between 350 and 950. This system not only monitors whether or not you could pay for your apartment. but how compliant you are politically, and what kind of spouse you might make! If you hit a score of 700+ you are allowed to travel to Singapore…

Black Mirror is no longer science fiction, it is becoming fact. The Regime can now keep a tally of any message with a mention of Tienanmen Square for example, which would not only lower your score, but those of your friends and family! All of the scores are available to everybody in China online, and strangely enough like salmon swimming furiously upstream, citizens have embraced this system.

And just like the American 12 year old I overheard bragging about how many Instagram followers she had, I am finding this brave new world frightening. After all, we have Google and Amazon and Facebook et al collecting our data, but our government isn’t quite yet in cahoots with them, is it? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186

It’s enough to make me want to crawl right back under the covers and hibernate the winter away. But first a prayer for what it’s worth, please God, let Mr T pick Romney over Giuliani for Secretary of State. We don’t need any more bulls roaming free in a China shop. Let me know when it’s time to wake up and get off the grid. From an exhibition in LA at the Broad Museum – this is Jenny Holzer 1979 – it’s strangely prescient

img_5663

 

 

Read Full Post »

Last night the Trump train went off the rails.

I’d rather use a transportation metaphor than a sporting event for “the greatest show of all time debate,” because any sport involves two usually, equally prepared teams – two opponents with a job to do, and that just didn’t happen. Because one candidate has an A game and the other doesn’t know the rules of any game except maybe the Con Game.

Halfway through their 90 minute exchange, Hillary Clinton told the Donald that indeed she had been preparing for the debate and not campaigning over the weekend; she said she had been “Preparing to be President.” <wink>

And at that moment the cloudy sky parted and a ray of sunshine hit Clinton on her perfectly highlighted head!

But most of the time, I felt as if I needed a body language translator, like the one who pointed out that if Clinton shrugs her shoulders while talking she is discounting what she just said. Or if Trump looks down and left he is lying. Because I just couldn’t stop watching last night’s train wreck: Trump’s inane sniffling which I chalked up to allergies, but some on Twitter thought might be a problem with “blow;” his exaggerated swaggering and swaying along with smug lip posturing; plus his inability to complete a simple sentence left me dumbfounded.

It was as if she was on the train to Pennsylvania Avenue and the conductor had already punched her ticket.

And he got on the wrong train, to some Monopoly board street, and forgot to buy the damn ticket…and anyway why would he need a ticket? He’s so big and important and we (the American people) should just forgive all those nasty things he may have said in the past, because for all we know maybe climate change is a Chinese hoax and President Obama is an imposter, and not paying taxes IS the American way…and just because a silly Tweet might enrage him, we should still trust him with our nukes. Right?

Trump points his tiny chin in the air and says, “That’s called business, by the way.” Declaring bankruptcy not four but six times! http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/21/hillary-clinton/yep-donald-trumps-companies-have-declared-bankrupt/  Stepping all over his vendors and not paying others, making more money while millions of Americans see their life savings dwindle down to nothing after the great/recession/depression of ’08, these are Trump tactics after all. The rest of the world must think we are collectively losing our minds.

When we left our tour group in Prague, and hopped on a tram to see the city we didn’t see a conductor or an engineer. The tram moved along of its own accord, like a drone, stopping every few blocks. We wondered how we should pay for our ticket, but noticed everyone else was just getting onboard and sitting down. Later, we found out you need to buy your tram ticket elsewhere, at a convenience store, and just keep it in your pocket. It’s all on the honor system. Once in a blue moon, an official may come aboard a tram and check tickets. If you are a freeloader, you will get a hefty fine.

I hope that the undecided among us, the Millennials thinking about voting for a third party, the Republicans who know a con game when they see one, will consider casting their vote for Hillary Clinton in November. Because Mr Trump doesn’t believe in an honor system, in our Allies, or in fair trade. He postulates about 400 pound shut-ins hacking the DNC and tells Fox he was self-righteous for not mentioning how Bill treated women.

Trump lives in an alternate reality, where private jets await and gold escalators move him around his tower. He invites people to touch his hair, like Rapunzel, so he can prove to himself and others that he is real. And maybe by telling us he’s renovating the post office on Pennsylvania Avenue, he’s purchased his Hotel in DC, because he fully expects to have his name emblazoned across the Front Lawn, win or lose.

It’s not like Trump is on a different track to the Presidency…he doesn’t need a train ticket because he thinks he owns all the Monopoly railroads. His Wild Card is Putin and whatever else jumps into his head and spills off his tongue. And after all, he had six Get Out of Jail Free cards.

Here is my man on a tram, with Google Maps. Priceless.img_4677

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: