Saturday, February 22, 2020

Calling Out Google Privilege

-Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"We want Google to be the third half of your brain." -Sergey Brin


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Recently, I wrote about white privilege. In the course of researching that letter, I learned a lot and now it's time to call out Google privilege. I'm a current events junkie and if what I've been able to surmise is correct...

WARNING! - Your semi-humble correspondent is wrong with disturbing regularity!

Googlers are, for the most part, proudly and overwhelmingly members of the Blue tribe.

Which is fine, it's still a relatively free country. Now...

You know... At this point, a more garrulous and less woke and loving man than myself might digress and point out that in spite of the fact some of our friends on the left predicted that the Orange One was going to dissolve the Republic and declare himself King Donald the first it never happened.

His political opponents haven't been incarcerated in secret FEMA camps and...

No, wait, secret FEMA camps is a conspiracy meme embraced by some of our friends on the right, right? Wait a sec', I...

[Cough, cough. Google privilege?

Thanks, Dana.


Google privilege is double privilege. First of all, it's white and yellow male privilege.

Despite literally years of wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Blue tribe, and even though the Googlers excommunicated James Damore for the sin of speculating that perhaps many women are too smart and too civilized to want to join Eric Schmidt and the boys on the creepy line...

“The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.” -Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

"Google crosses the creepy line every day." -Dr. Robert Epstein

Google is plagued by white (and to a lesser extent, yellow) male privilege.  

Your semi-humble correspondent dug up and read not one, but two Wired magazine articles chock full of charts and statistics so that my gentlereaders wouldn't have to. 

Both report that Google (and the other techmosters) are overwhelmingly staffed by white and Asian men in spite of literally billions of bucks and billions of words spent on the quest for diversity. 

It makes me wonder if most of the members of the 1,001 officially recognized gender/racial/ethnic/sexual/etceteral identity groups are actually more concerned with the selfish pursuit of happiness than they are with diversity. 

However, given all the folks who make a living, directly or indirectly, from the diversity business:

Writers of magazine articles, the Infotainment industry, HR departments, college administrators, politicians, bureaucrats employed by the gummits and The Fedrl Gummit, consultants, etceterants...

Too much diversity too fast might bring on a recession.        


The Goog also benefits from disruption privilege. The Silicon Valley techies worship at the altar of disruption. Why? because as famous bank robber Willie didn't actually say, "That's where the money is."

For the record, Mr. Sutton, in his autobiography, modestly admits that he never actually said it, that some reporter or other made it up to spice up an article and it caught on.

I dunno though... Hard to imagine that a member of the fourth estate would put their integrity, dignity, and credibility on the line for profit and job security. 

The sort of billionaires that apparently will never have enough money (serial accumulators?) and the wannabe billionaires who are living in the Goog's parking lot dream of "disrupting" (destroying) an established industry via software and/or cutting edge hardware to make a name and a pile.

Another for the record: All I want is six million (with an m, not a b) and you'll never hear from me again (I've got it all planned out). 

If any one of my tens of readers happens to be an absurdly rich tech lord (I'm talkin' to you Ev Williams) and would like me to shut up and/or suspend my campaign to be the first king of the United States, please email me at: 
theflyoverlandcrank@gmail.com.


Anyways, for a group of people, the majority of whom I'll wager consider themselves to be members of the Social Justice Warrior National Guard or Reserve, they don't seem overly concerned with the fate of the disruptees.

They don't discriminate though. This applies equally to their fellow Democrats as well as the Deplorables and Bitter Clingers of the Red tribe.

[What about that Universal Basic Income thingy? A lot of 'em support that.]

Yeah — paid for with additional taxes on everybody. As you're well aware, Dana I'd prefer that the Pete's Pals and Bernie-bros that make a living from slicing, dicing, and selling our data cut us in before The Fedrl Gummit steps in and makes everything worse.

Speaking of which, Bernie? Seriously dude? The professional socialist of little accomplishment, net worth $2,500,000, owner of three homes, even older than me who recently had a heart attack? 

And while I'm at it... Pete? Is a 38-year old whose political claim to fame is running a small city with mixed results what we're looking for? I think...

[You're ranting and digressing again and you're nearly out of words... And regardless, Sleepy Joe and Fauxcahauntos are hangin' in. And don't forget Bloomberg, he's got a ton of executive experience and he's so dedicated to public service that he bought a third term as mayor, despite term limits, knowing NYC still needed him.]

The Donald vs. One of the above. Hoo-boy.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet. 











Saturday, February 15, 2020

The 1963 Jeep Pickup Truck

The Crank's close encounter with a 1963 Jeep pickup truck



-Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay- 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"Technology is constantly improving our lives. Look at the cellular telephone. Just ten years ago, virtually nobody was able to get into a car crash caused by trying to steer and dial at the same time; today, people do this all the time." 
                                                                                              -Dave Berry 



Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

I, Marcus Mehlmauer, a.k.a. Flyoverland Crank, do hereby certify and affirm that the following account is 91.39% true. I invoked the rights and privileges granted by my poetic license lightly and tastefully.


Recently, I was in the process of returning home after picking up my oldest granddaughter at work. I was driving my daughter's car. The burger distribution point Sticky #2 works at is less than a 10-minute drive away.

I was using my daughter's car instead of mine because it's much newer, has a much better sound system, and primarily because it was parked much closer to the front door than my car, which was parked "out back."

I put my right turn signal on and had made it about a foot into the driveway when someone decided to pass us (my granddaughter's best friend, probationary Sticky #5, and my youngest grandson, Sticky #4, were along for the ride) — on the right.

To accomplish this... let's call him Dick to protect his privacy, Dick had to drive up on the sidewalk of our next-door neighbor's house, squeeze between us and an oak tree in my front yard and skid to stop about a foot short of a telephone pole.

He was now parked on our portion of the sidewalk.


Dick, as you can tell, is one hell of a driver.

Unfortunately, he clipped the door behind which Sticky 2 was sitting and the right front fender of my daughter's formerly pretty and pristine SUV, Ms. Iddybiddy, (her horn sounds like it came out of a toy car) as he went sailing by in a 1963 jeep pickup truck made of cast iron.

We exchanged obligatory you okays? and through gritted teeth, I inquired as to why he had just done what he had just done. He calmly replied that since I had signaled that I was turning left he had decided to pass me on the right.

I pointed out there were three passengers in my car who would beg to disagree as to which turn signal I had employed. This remark provoked a reaction I would describe as air slowly leaving a balloon.

I also pointed out that most folks — even if what he claimed was true — not having his superior driving skills, would have stopped and waited patiently rather than drive through my front yard and that I thought this might have been the more prudent choice on his part.


I initiated a document exchange and dispatched one of the kids to get mom and dad — and call the cops out of earshot of Dick — who was having a spot of trouble trying locating the relevant documentation for what he said was his friend's truck.

Realizing what might have happened to me or my passengers if Dick wasn't such a talented driver and had rear-ended us, or hit the aforementioned door harder, my legs began to tremble as shock and surprise were shoved aside by anger.

I was about to approach Dick (shuffling through the contents of the truck's glove box) and um... express my displeasure when my daughter, son-in-law, and more Stickies appeared and four SUVs of the local constabulary pulled up, one right after the other in front of our house, lights flashing.


I changed my mind and stood off to one side. As I took in deep breaths of the cold, clean night air it occurred to me that if I were driving by I would think there was a significant drug bust in progress or that at least a heinous murderer had been cornered in my house and hostages taken.

I also noticed, that in spite of this festival of emergency lights, many people were driving by way too fast, all things considered. You'd think they would slow down to get a good look at a 1963 Jeep pickup truck that was more primer than paint and parked on the sidewalk.

The gummit of our rusty little town suffers from chronic cash flow problems and has for years. In spite of this, our unionized gummit employees struggle to maintain services at the highest possible level.

For example, they're currently objecting to volunteers from a prison a few rusty towns over going around picking up trash occasionally. Clearly not the way to maintain high standards. 

Forgive the digression but I was thinking of suggesting that a couple of the unionized cops should be handing out tickets and turning this non-crisis into a profitable evening.

But now I was asked to produce relevant documents and to tell my story and I decided they likely field enough helpful suggestions, and take enough crap, so I didn't bring it up.

The fact that the two cops that were processing me repeatedly voiced some version of, "He passed you on the right by driving through your yard?!?" and were struggling to repress grins restored me to my happy place in short order.


Anyways, It took a while but eventually, all the eyes were dotted and all the teas were crossed. Unfortunately for Dick, he was officially cited. It seems that it's against the law to pass by driving through someone's front yard regardless of the extenuating circumstances: real, imagined, or hallucinated.

[Well, all's well that ends well, right?]

Right, Dana.

After being interrogated, at great length, by my daughter's insurance company like a suspected murderer "in the box" of your favorite police drama, "Why were you using your daughter's car and not your car"...

Just like on TV, the same questions were asked six different ways to make sure the perp wasn't lying. I was hoping I wasn't going to be beaten with a phone book.

After spending five days and dealing with four cops to get the screwed up official accident report amended...

After waiting for three weeks (and counting) waiting on my daughter's insurance company to tell us what's what...

A glimmer of light has been spotted at the end of the tunnel.

Also, my faith in my fellow man has been restored. There are all sorts of lawyers and chiropractors sending notes of concern and asking if they can help.

[What's a phone book?]
         
Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet.
     















Saturday, February 8, 2020

White Privilege

-Image by Barbara Bonanno from Pixabay- 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too." -Voltaire


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Please bear with me while I lay a foundation for some thoughts on White Privilege.

I'm an unattractive, old, white, heterosexual, cisgendered dude.

For a while there I self-identified as a gorgeous, young, black, lesbian dudette by the name of Cocoa (picture Halle Berry) who was trapped in the body of an unattractive, old, white, heterosexual, cisgendered dude — named Mark.

However, in the course of spending nearly two years in a secret monastery in the Wudang Mountains of China in search of enlightenment (so secret there's not even a gift shop or restaurant to serve the tourist trade), Cocoa was reabsorbed into the one soul.

I'm still not enlightened, but I came to realize that Cocoa was a false persona created by my formerly fragile ego to cope with what I used to regard as a veritable blitzkrieg of existential threats.

[Used to regard? How do ya repel a blitzkrieg of...]

Embrace the Way of Ishkabibble.

[Pray tell, Cranky Tzu, what is the Way of Ishkabibble?] 

Well, Dana, the word itself is a faux Yiddish, archaic slang word that's been around for over a hundred years that was originally translated as "I should worry!" with a sarcastic twist that rendered it "Don't worry!" or "Who Cares?".

The definitive, relatively modern translation, in my semi-humble opinion, that captures the full meaning of the concept behind the word is expressed in the motto of the immortal Alfred E. Newman, "What, me worry?".

A more recent translation is the repellent, "What-ever" with the second half of the word accented enough to match an actual or implied eye roll. Yet another indicator of a culture in decline.

[That's a, uh, deep foundation ya got there, not Cocoa, but the title of this missive, if I can remember that far back, is White Privilege, yes?]

Yes, indeed.


Recently, I was thinking about the whole white privilege meme in light of the aforementioned personal existential threats  — past, present, and potential — in the course of a rough day when I wasn't basking in the usual warm glow of my privilege.

Just one example, if you please.

If you're over fifty years old in this country, and certainly no shortage of other countries,

And,

If you don't embody some version of pretty, successful, fit, healthy, and at least locally famous — the order and importance of the adjectives vary  — you are effectively invisible, and scheduled for deletion.

Being blessed, like me, with having actual loved ones mitigates this condition somewhat.

I chose this particular example because regardless of who or what you identify as, or actually are, this applies to everyone, even those of you still young enough to assume you'll live forever. Even those of you playing some version of the __ is the new 40 game.

I'm not going to mention my health problems, my financial problems, my severe case of recurring Been There/Done That/Is That All There Is disease with complications from Glass Half Full syndrome.

I'm not even going to bring up... Well, nevermind.

Ishkabibble.


Intuiting that I might be onto something interesting, I consulted that indispensable and unassailable compendium of knowledge, Wikipedia. 

"White privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice." 

This paragraph ends with, "The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one's own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal."

Yes, definitely interesting. 

The next paragraph, from which I will not quote, delves into... Well, while I'm obviously not a highly trained, tenured professor in either the field of whiteness studies or critical race theory...

[There's no such thing as whiteness studies, you're makin' that up! And as far as...] 

Nuh-uh, as Donnie Baker would say, "I swear to God, you can look it up." 

Anyways, I would describe the next paragraph as a summary of the reasons the experts in these cutting edge new fields of study don't agree about exactly what white privilege is. 

The rest of this exhaustive article, that boasts 176 citations confirms this, but obviously, they're working hard on it. I suspect that they will continue, undaunted, till they get to the bottom of things. 



While we wait, I, a humble layperson, can't help but wonder if any of the scholars in these two fields  — both privileged, tenured profs and their personal slaves, grad students and postdocs, have given any thought to the following.

In their fearless pursuit of the truth  even the currently fashionable, untestable, and unverifiable version of truth, the oft-mentioned lived experience — have they considered that this may all be a bunch of crap.  

[Excuse me! You can't just...]

Sure I can. There's a warning label at the beginning of every column and anyone that knows me and/or has read more than a column or two knows, I'm Mark-Mark the cute and cuddly Panda bear

Behold the wisdom (and rewrite) of Cranky Tzu: 

"Smart/athletic/funny/perceptual/beautiful/etceteral privilege denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white people H. sapiens may or may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice."


Most of us have some sort of innate, unearned ability that many of the rest of us don't and that we often as not take for granted. All of us employ bias and prejudice deduced from our lived experience, overtly and otherwise, just to get through the damn day.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet. 






    









Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Three Wise Men

A Mr. Cranky's neighborhood column
-Image by Prawny from Pixabay-
This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin." -Jay Leno



Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

There are three gentle men who live in my neighborhood that my daughter has nicknamed, respectfully not sarcastically, the three wise men. Fortunately for her, unlike her old man, sarcasm is not an automatic, go-to reaction.

I don't see them very often and I'm always surprised when I do because they're obviously living in a different movie than I am so they sort of jolt me out of my comfortable rut for a few seconds when I encounter them.

Recently, while puttering about in the kitchen, I happened to look up and out of the picture window that looks out across a narrow side yard and provides a scenic view of a small porch/main entrance of the house next door where My Favorite Mormons live.

[Readers of a certain age may remember the sitcom, My Favorite Morman, from the early sixties.]

As to the why of said picture windows scenic view, both of the houses in question are very old and were modified multiple times before me and mine came along. There are myriad examples of odd architectural juxtapositions throughout the neighborhood.

Two of the three wise men were making their rounds, collecting aluminum cans
from various porches throughout our hood that people set aside for them so they can make a few extra bucks by recycling them.

One is actually more likely to encounter only two of the three gentle men in question as one of them has health problems that often keep him at home.

All three of them are developmentally disabled, a term I much prefer to the one commonly used till recently. This is one occasion in which I'm comfortable siding with the armies of political correctness.

Just a sec', I better check. I'll be right back...

Hoo-boy, I may not be woke after all. The proper term depends on who you believe. Ain't livin' in the information age great?


Anyways, one was as tall as the other one was short. They were wearing matching bright red Ohio State jackets and knit caps. The tall one was tossing cans off the porch. The short one was picking them up, one by one, and putting them in a trash bag.

When they were done the shorter one linked arms with the taller one as they toddled away, seeming to need the support.

My daughter knows them better than I do. When I occasionally encounter them when I'm in the midst of one of my two (in theory) daily one mile walks, I can see, and feel, their apprehension.

I always make a point of smiling broadly and saying, "Gentle men, how are you today?" to put them at ease. They always seem relieved and respond with a generic, "Good, how are you?"

If they notice the pause between gentle and men they're unimpressed, but it makes me feel kind, literary, and lyrical.

That rude noise you just heard was a snort of derision by Dana.

I don't know if their apprehension is the result of my physical appearance — large head, no neck, tank shaped torso and a mug that I'm told makes me look like I work for Tony Soprano if I'm not smiling — or the fact they've probably taken a lot of crap from not so gentle men.

I hope it's the former but it's probably both.


It's a very long walk from their house, at the other end of the neighborhood and far beyond my one-mile circuit, to the bridge that crosses over a large creek (that locals claim is, and label accordingly, a river) to downtown Hooterville (my label) where they do their grocery shopping at the Sparkle market.

[Other readers of a certain age may remember another sitcom from the sixties called Petticoat Junction that featured a town named Hooterville.]



(Rusty) Hooterville is a bit different than the one in the sitcom. Drucker's store is now a saloon called the Dream Bar. Homer Bedloe is long gone and the train still runs. Now it's subsidized by The Fedrl Gummit and loses $1,200,000 a year.

The Shady Rest Hotel, now called Uncle Joe's Motel, owned and operated by Betty Jo Bradly, has been closed by a temporary restraining order since the city went to court seeking to have it declared a public nuisance after a recent spike in heroin overdoses as well as long unaddressed building code violations.

[Ahem...]

I'm on it, Dana.

The reason my daughter knows them better than I is that she gives them rides if she sees them walking to or from Sparkle Market. She not only doesn't look like one of Tony's employees she's one of those people, like her late mom, that people immediately like and trust.

I don't have that gift. If I pulled up and offered them a ride they would probably run. But I am pretty good at preventing people from sitting next to me on a bus just by looking at them. In my defense, I only do this if there are other seats available, and people are always pleasantly surprised if I smile and turn on the charm. Well, usually.

My daughter is the reason that I know why one of them often stays home, and where their home is. She also informs me that the short one (oops, height-challenged?) is the de facto leader and that they all have jobs working for a local non-profit that employs developmentally disabled(?) folks.

Sometimes, when I'm thinking about/bitching about my anemic fixed income and/or my health problems I think about the three wise men and I'm grateful. Well, sometimes. And no, I don't know what happened to Tony, he never calls.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 


Cranky don't tweet. 





   



Saturday, January 25, 2020

Anxiety

-Image by Merio from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"We have the ultimate reason to be anxious. We know that we're vulnerable and we know that we're going to die." -Jordan Peterson

[Due to the fact I'm in Australia fighting the bushfires this column is aNew & Improved!version of a column originally published on 5.5.18.]


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

An anxious and slightly depressed human and his Vulcan friend are sharing a joint in a cargo hold of the Starship Calvin Coolidge.

"Life is just one damn thing after another."

"Yes, there is no doubt about that," his Vulcan friend replied, "Assuming we share the same space-time continuum, it's logically irrefutable."

"Huh?"

"Life is obviously one thing and then another, and then another, and..."

"I'm speaking metaphorically my bat-eared buddy. Note that the phrase is just one damn thing after another. That is to say, one unpleasant thing after another."

"I get that, we Vulcans are logical, not stupid. Here, hit this, perhaps you'll feel better. I scored this Tralfamidorian Tan because I thought it might cheer your whiny human butt up. For the record, your statement still makes no sense.

Life is no more likely to be one damn thing after another than it is to be one awesome thing after another. Life just is. Sometimes good, sometimes bad, but, mostly, just another day on the starship CalCool."

"So what you're saying is..."

"I'm saying it's always something. If it's not one thing, it's another." (HT: G.A.)

"Geez, I hate Vulcan humor."


I, being me, went looking for the source of life is just one damn thing after another and discovered it's attributed to multiple people (including, of course, Mark Twain) by multiple people.

[Aside: The National Bureau of Literary References recently received a significant budget increase from Congress to fund an expansion of their Mark Twain department. The volume of quotes attributed to Mr. Twain continues to rise at a pace that parallels the growth of the National Debt.]

did find an attributable variation on the theme. "It's not true that life is one damn thing after another—it's one damn thing over and over." -Edna St. Vincent Millay


Setting logic and logic jokes aside both quotations still ring true. In spite of Johnny Mercer's advice, we do seem to accentuate the negative. Science calls it the negativity bias. Hang on a sec' and I'll go find a respectable looking source I can link to...

That was easy. From Psychology Today (and Rick Hanson, Ph.D.), "The alarm bell of your brain—the amygdala...—uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news: it's primed to go negative." Why? Well, as you've probably already guessed my highly perceptive Stickies and Gentlereaders, survival. 

"...humans evolved to be fearful—since that helped keep our ancestors alive— so we are very vulnerable to being frightened and even intimidated by threats, both real ones and 'paper tigers.'"

Considering we've risen to the top of the food chain it's hard to argue with success.


BIG BUT
Beware the downside. Paper tigers are not on the endangered species list. In fact, the web/cable news/social media/etceteria has created a population explosion. 

When I was a callowyute, locally-based news (and threats), via newspapers and local TV, were all the rage. 

I'm so old that I remember that when national TV news broadcasts first began they were 15 minutes in length, once a day. You had all of three choices—ABC, CBS, or NBC—and you had to pick one because they all broadcast at the same time and the technology to watch 'em later didn't exist yet.   

While American culture was less coarse and life hadn't yet deteriorated into all showbiz/exhibitionism all the time, the Earth was no less dangerous than it is now. But we weren't followed around by virtual town criers with bullhorns 24x7x365.25.


Anxiety
Merriam-Webster: apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill.

The ability to perceive the future and prepare accordingly is a powerful gift we H. sapiens are blessed with. Jordan Peterson likes to interpret the Old Testament, and the equally ancient stories of other cultures, from a psychological perspective.

He equates sacrificing to God/the gods with sacrificing short-term pleasure for the sake of a long-term goal. If you go to work/school/the DMV today instead of executing a Wake and Bake via some Tralfamidorian Tan, your future you will thank you.

H. sapiens, it would seem, have known for thousands of years that material and psychological preventive maintenance will getcha a cool phone and stave off Xanax addiction.   

However, the town criers with bullhorns render the naturally anxious worse and the rest of us unnaturally anxious. 

Have a face to face conversation with a snifficant other with all the screens turned off. Put your phone in a drawer once in a while and go for a long walk in the real world and justbe.





Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Cranky don't tweet.


   

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hey, Google... Where's my money?

-Image by xresch from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"You can't go into Youngstown, Ohio, and tell everybody they're going to be retrained and go work for Google or Apple."  -Michael Avenatti


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

"Hey, Google...

B'donk (the technical name of the default googlebeep). 

 Where's my money?"

B'donk: "I couldn't find anything related to money."

Indeed.

The Goog, the Zuck (AKA Facebook), and no shortage of smaller firms have built companies that generate more cash flow than the so-called robber barons could've even have dreamed of.

[What about the other two FANGs, Amazon and Netflix? They're right up there with Google and Facebook.]

True, Dana, but Amazon and Netflix—no slouches when it comes to collecting, slicing, dicing, and monetizing our data—provide products that we can secure elsewhere relatively easily or choose to not access at all.

[There are other search engines besides the Goog's, and there are other social media sites besides the Zuck's.]   

Absobalutely (I confess I had the very first Sticky briefly convinced this was a better word choice than absolutely just to amuse me and Nana. I have since convinced myself), but they're both de facto monopolies so they should be the first ones ordered to appear in front of Senator Blowhard’s Committee for the Regulation of This, That, and All Sorts of Things.

I don't have a problem with a given monopoly that's really good at serving the public as long as the public is getting a fair shake.

If the FANGs and the numerous other hi-tech firms that thrive from, and actively promote, disrupting huge swaths of the economy don't want The Gummit in their faces as they claim (I know I certainly wouldn't) they need to become more transparent and give us more control over our data.

Most importantly, they should start paying for it.

Instead, they propose to provide the poor—and the disrupted Deplorables and Bitter Clingers—with a grain dole (see Rome, ancient) in the form of a universal basic income paid for with new taxes and run by The Gummit.

What could possibly go wrong?


While I had envisioned writing a column, based as much as possible, on a dialog with... Just a sec'.

"Hey, Google, what's your name?."

B'donk: "Did I forget to introduce myself? I'm your Google assistant." Hi!

[For the record, the exclamation point was perfectly and appropriately muted. B'donk (which I much prefer to Google assistant) managed to sound perky without sounding like she was smoking meth.]

But attempting to have a conversation with some software was even creepier and less productive than I expected it to be. Of course, I've spent more years of my life living in meatspace than cyberspace.

I didn't expect that it would be like talking to HAL 9000, or even Max Headroom (you know you're old when even your tech cultural references are becoming outdated).

And, I've been known to scream at, or hang up on (in a snit) the Walgreens robolady (talk about perky!) while trying to get my prostate pill script refilled.

But, bottom line? repeated inquiries failed to elicit a direct answer to my question although I tried various permutations. For example:

"Hey, Google, why don't you pay me for my data?" B'donk: "Check out these results."

Plenty of links from around the web, no actual answer. 

I kept picturing a hooge, gloomy, frigid room filled with thousands of racked computer servers and not a human in sight. The thousands of blinking lights were cool though.

I could hear muted, classical music playing, Wagner I think, but I didn't see any speakers. Anyway, I don't imagine computers enjoy listening to music since...

[Cough, cough. Perhaps you'd like to expand on your notion that people should get paid for their data?]

Good point, Dana. Lemme see, where was I... yadda, yadda, yadda, OH! Okay, here we go.


I recently read an article somewhere that claimed that the data generated by any given meat puppet is only worth pennies and given the free services the Goog and the Zuck give us we should shut up and be grateful.

As a wise woman of the world I knew in the early 70s, who made her living by slicing lunch meat and wrapping meat meat before it went in the meat case for public perusal and purchase used to say...

[What's the matter with you? Stop it!]

Bull Dickey!

Give us a cut of the ad revenue that you're awash in and charge us for the software and/or the service—whatever the market will bear. It's our data that you've gotten rich from and it's our data that you've used/are using to gleefully disrupt our lives.

I, and I suspect no shortage of other little people, would rather be a micro-capitalist keeping a careful eye on the stock market to see how we are all doing than waiting for The Gummit to send me my UBI check.

 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet.












Saturday, January 11, 2020

Winter is Coming (Now THAT'S clickbait!)

-Image by uknowgayle from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"The problem with winter sports is that - follow me closely here - they generally take place in winter." -Dave Barry


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Winter is coming but the good news is it's been three weeks since each and every day included a minute or two of more daylight than the previous day.

The bad news is that with the Christmas and New Year's holidays behind us the only pending holiday that we have to distract us from another frigid winter here in Canada's deep South (Northern Ohio) is the Superbowl.

Easter won't be here till April the 12th and...

[Wait-wait-wait. The Super Bowl's not a holiday and winter started three weeks ago.]

Close enough for all intents and purposes, the Super Bowl I mean. If I'm elected king I'm going to issue an official proclamation that makes Super Bowl Monday an official holiday. America loves three day weekends. 

And yes, winter did officially begin three weeks ago and with the exception of a couple of full-dress rehearsals, it's been unusually mild.

However...

Anyone who's lived here long enough to understand why (and appreciate the sly joke) any discussion of the (mis)fortunes of the Cleveland Browns will invariably include one of the parties involved saying:

"Oh yeah? Wait till next year!

Or...

Has lived here long enough to regard the latest claim that economic revival,
locally speaking, is just around the corner with a jaundiced eye isn't putting the snow shovel back in the basement or reevaluating their choice of nat gas suppliers/contracts just yet.

Speaking of local humor, what are the four seasons of Northern Ohio?

- Almost winter
- Winter
- Still winter
- Construction

[Your kind of a glass half empty person, ain't ya Sparky?]

I suffer from seasonally affected disorder.

[You mean seasonal affective disorder?]

Nope. I mean I hate winter. Well, let me clarify that statement.

I hate winter when I'm living, even temporarily, anywhere that might result in my getting killed just trying to get around. Not just now and then, like in other areas of the US, but a solid three months or more of existential threat.

[Temporarily? May I remind you that you've been living in southern Canada, temporarily, for what, 34 years now?]

Hope springs eternal. Glass half full.

I'm not being pessimistic, nor am I depressed. I'm being realistic. I pride myself on my clear-eyed realism. Having been nearly killed as often as I have while wintering well north of the Mason-Dixon, hating/fearing winter is a rational response.

[Aw c'mon, killed? You sound like a wild-eyed exaggerator, not a clear-eyed logician. Can you cite any examples?]

How much time do you have?

[Just one, give me just one example of a time when winter almost killed you. I'll bet that...]

My personal favorite is the time I was driving to work one morning, slid off the road, and went through a gas station sideways between parallel rows of gas pumps.

[Well, I gotta admit that...]

No, wait, it's the time I found myself spinning in circles, rather like a carnival ride, across a frozen field and stopped just short of landing in an abandoned canal.

[Well, at least it was abandoned and you...]

Abandoned as in no longer used. It still contained a good four or five feet of water.

[Well, at least you didn't land in the water...]

This is true, and I only had to walk about two miles to get help and then pay someone to hook up a chain to my 1971 VW Super Beetle with the custom paint job and winch me across the frozen field so I could go home.

[What's the custom paint job got to do...]

Nothing, I just really liked that car.

[I don't suppose that...]

No, she was brutally murdered by a hooge Pontiac station wagon in 1977.

[She?]

Yes, Brunhilda.

[I'm sorry for your loss.

Thanks. It was in the wintertime.


Winter is coming to my rusty little corner of Flyoverland and just because we've been lucky so far means nothing:

Picture an enormous Monarch butterfly (street name Mothra) wintering in Malibu with his life partner, Maynard. He's standing on the deck of his beachfront condo and flapping his wings, trying to shake off a mild hangover.

He and Maynard hosted a party the night before and the "electric" nectar was flowing freely.

While most people are aware of the fact that a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan can affect the weather on the other side of the globe, most people are unaware of what causes a polar vortex to attack the Northern US.

You guessed it, butterflies wintering on the California coast.

Brrr! Is it cold in here or is it just me?

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet.