January Rambling #1: Of Oz The Wizard

This is what happens when you reply to spam email.

lutefisk

Gordon Parks’ Jim Crow photos still resonate, alas.

David Brooks of the NY Times: The Brutalism of Ted Cruz.

The father of a boy killed at Sandy Hook gets death threats from people who say the shooting was a hoax.

Amy Biancolli: Not alone at being alone.

Affluenza and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What militants and the pungent salad radish have in common.

Mark Evanier’s scarlet fever.

The New Yorker: My Last Day as a Surgeon. “In May of 2013, the Stanford University neurosurgical resident Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer. He was thirty-six years old.”

Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. “Workplaces need more walls, not fewer,” something I’m painfully aware of.

‘Lost’ Jerry Lewis Holocaust film sees the light.

Your favorite movies, re-edited, including Of Oz The Wizard, the movie arranged in alphabetical order, from Aah to Zipper. Don’t watch “of”, if you value your sanity.

Periodic table’s seventh row finally filled as four new elements are added, and the song to go with it.

British actor Alan Rickman, star of stage and ‘Harry Potter,’ dies at 69. Here are his Top 20 movie quotes.

2015: SamuraiFrog’s 50 favorite pop culture artifacts and the year in 4 minutes.

2016 in the Capital District: Salaries, food and taxes, have yourself a nice hot cup of coffee while you still can.

Metroland, RIP, and Albany’s alternative weekly Metroland nostalgic, bittersweet final issue.

TEDx: James Veitch: This is what happens when you reply to spam email.

Music!

Natalie Cole, R.I.P.

The Drifters: A Legacy of Harmony

The Beatles’ 50 Biggest Billboard Hits.

SCIENCE WARS – A capella Parody

“Cortez the Killer” – Anders Osbourne Band with Warren Haynes and Danny Louis, Island Exodus 1/18/2013

Hula Medley – Robert Crumb.

Muppets: Kodachrome and Pure Imagination.

Comics!

abridged classics
How Mickey Mouse Evades the Public Domain.

Morrie Turner dies at 90; broke barriers in comics.

FOUNDER OF RUTHLESS COMICS MONOPOLY SPEAKS OUT IN FAVOR OF INCOME INEQUALITY. That would be Steve Geppi of Diamond Comics Distribution.

Coming Out as Gay Superheroes.

A Nigerian comics startup is creating African superheroes.

Google alert (me)

Is Arthur a blog cheat? (I don’t think so). And he credited/blamed me for him getting out 365 blog posts in 2015. You’re welcome.

Chuck Miller’s five most prolific blog commenters of 2015.

Get out the vote/off my lawn.

On the “importance” scale, net neutrality ranks rather high

The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rule making on May 15, addressing a new net neutrality plan.

NetNeutrality_615pxAfter David Kalish’s book reading at Stuyvesant Plaza near Albany a few nights ago, I was talking to Michael Huber, the Times Union blogs’ cat herder, complaining about the latest threat to net neutrality. This nice lady, standing in line to get PlotnickKalish to sign her copy of his book, had the most puzzled look, and asked, “But aren’t there more important things to worry about?” I sighed and handed her the current Metroland with intellectual property lawyer/drummer Paul Rapp’s article about the issue.

I had been arguing this issue on the grounds of basic fairness of freedom and speech. After reading the FCC’s own statement on the value of an open Internet -“This design has made it possible for anyone, anywhere to easily launch innovative applications and services, revolutionizing the way people communicate, participate, create, and do business – think of email, blogs, streaming video, and online shopping” – I realize that was too limiting an observation.

One might suggest that fighting cancer (the disease the main character in Nester’s book has) or climate change or war are more significant than net neutrality; after all, they are issues of life and death. But Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said recently:

We don’t know who is going to have the next big idea in this country, but we’re pretty sure they’re going to need to get online to do it. Reports that the FCC may gut net neutrality are disturbing, and would be just one more way the playing field is tilted for the rich and powerful who have already made it. Our regulators already have all the tools they need to protect a free and open Internet—where a handful of companies cannot block or filter or charge access fees for what we do online. They should stand up and use them.

Maybe those innovators will create cleaner technologies, or develop devices to absorb some of the pollutants or invent a better cancer detector. Just maybe those creative folks will make our lives better and safer and smarter.

Is net neutrality less important than other issues? Maybe. But I cannot do anything about cancer or climate change or war in the next ten days, and beyond. The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rule making on May 15, addressing the new net neutrality plan after an appeals court struck down FCC’s net neutrality rule. “The commission will release a set of proposals and asks for public comment on them. It’s the first step in a long process for the FCC to pass new regulations.

And while defenders of the FCC on this topic point out that the new rules haven’t even been announced yet, it hasn’t stopped them from allowing Netflix to bring its concerns about Internet neutrality directly to the FCC. For their own good reasons, they also support the open Internet.

There’s reason to fear a bad outcome: too often, inefficiency is monetarily rewarded.

Broadband providers insist they need to do things like prioritize some traffic in order to deal with network congestion, but that’s bogus. It’s only the non-technical management who makes those claims. Ask the technology guys, and they will quickly say that basic upgrades can easily accommodate all traffic. But the broadband providers are now like the airlines. They could very easily offer a better overall service, but they’re quickly recognizing that by offering a crappy service, they can charge more to get a select few to pay up for a “fast lane” approach. So the incentives are totally screwed up. There’s little incentive for airlines to improve the boarding process, so long as having such a crappy process leads people to pay extra fees to avoid the crappy process.

Those who can pay for the “deluxe” Internet, will. But everyone else, the common citizen, small businesses, nonprofits, libraries, will get a lesser service, likely at a higher price. “Because of the controversy over the proposal, the FCC has already begun taking email comments at openinternet@fcc.gov”. Or direct a tweet to the chair of the commission: @TomWheelerFCC. I shall do so, and I invite you to do likewise.

From Bill Moyers and Michael Winship:

After the meeting, there will be a “public comment” period of 30 to perhaps 45 days before they start finalizing any new rules. Speak up. You have a chance to tell both Obama and Wheeler what you think, so that the will of the people, not the power of money and predatory interests, is heard.

Here’s a sample letter to avoid having the Internet from looking like the other media oligarchies.

And if all this verbiage has confused you, watch this three-minute video.

Those damn standardized tests

Someone lied to my child that she’ll otherwise flunk third grade, and this caused her undue stress, which really ticked me off.

There’s a columnist for the Metroland weekly newspaper, Miriam Axel-Lute, who wrote on her Facebook page the middle of last month: “Good luck to all the parents and kids who are refusing this crazy high stakes testing tomorrow. Stand strong.” My daughter had been stressing over these same tests, but I was unaware of this “opt-out” thing. I replied, “Damn test is ticking me off.” She then asked me and a few others: “Would you guys talk to a Metroland reporter about this? I’m going to be opinionated about it in my column next week, but I think they are also interested in maybe doing a reported news story.” Another guy said likewise, adding “Albany schools get enough unwarranted BS, and removing my kids from the mix will cause more.” True enough; if fewer than 95% of the kids take the test, the school could be taken over by the state, as I understand it.

This is how busy I am lately: I received a Google Alert on April 25 based on ‘Roger Green’. Usually, it’s some OTHER Roger Green, but in this case, it was the story for which I was interviewed by phone the previous week. Also in that issue: Miriam’s column on opting out.

I hope it’s clear that I believe my daughter would/will probably do well on the test. It’s just that someone lied to my child that she’ll otherwise flunk third grade, and this caused her undue stress, which really ticked me off. We HAVEN’T opted to opt out – yet – because it’s unclear what it would mean to my child. Would she sit in the classroom silently for 70 minutes at a time while others take the test? Would there be some type of retribution against her? Indeed, after the fact, I worried about participating in the article.

Also, my wife’s teaching schedule – she’s an iterant teacher of English as a Second Language – has been mightily disrupted. If I thought the end was worth it, I wouldn’t complain. But this No Child Left Behind/Race To the Top stuff, to my mind, is bogus.

End of the world postponed; date TBD

What if it were the last day. What would I do?

I had made light of all the end of the world stuff. Then I started to take in some information that made me rethink it. The stories in Metroland, for instance, were quite informative.

Seriously, I think the Mayans are getting a bad rap. A lot of what OTHER people said they said doesn’t appear to be true. The NBC News story I saw suggested that December 21, 2012, wasn’t apocalyptic in their tradition; it was just another cycle.

It appears that others have superimposed their own dystopian values on the Mayans. It made for not-so-clever comic fodder, of the “How can they predict the end of the world when they couldn’t even foresee their own elimination?” variety. Though JibJab had some fun with it, and this picture WAS rather humorous.

There’s also the issue that these end-of-days pronouncements, and particularly the one for December 21, 2012, actually have an effect on people. I’ve seen educated, otherwise rational adults express uneasiness over the predictions; it just gives off a negative vibe. Children are particularly vulnerable to the noise. I think it’s probably like how kids of my vintage fretted about the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) of the Cold War, US v. the USSR. I DO wonder, though, if we’ve hit a global warming tipping point.

Cheri of Idle Chatter mused about what if it were the last day. What would I do? Wouldn’t bother bearing grudges, but would make sure that as many people I knew were aware of how much I cared for them, especially those I didn’t tell often enough.
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The End is Nigh, Look Busy

R.E.M.