Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.
Play with Fire - The Rolling Stones
It seems like every day we hear about another corrupt civil servant, corrupt banker, businessman, athlete. Seems that behind every success story of the last ten years, a scandal is exploding. We’re facing a rising sea of corruption, and we wonder - who will be the next to be drowned? Who will be saved? And what will become of our good works?
Apple’s hyped unveiling yesterday of two new iPhones and a smartwatch was underwhelming. The watch has a full-color screen featuring multiple sensors that permit notifications, track credit cards and fitness, and can be used to dictate messages or chat with another Apple Watch wearer. But smart phones do many of these same things, so why should people want to do them on a wristwatch? I have some of the same doubts about Google glass. (And Amazon’s Fire is a complete disaster.) A more basic question: With so many large and growing problems in the world – hunger, disease, climate change, homelessness, chronic unemployment – why are America’s leading tech companies, each overflowing with talent and creativity and with hundreds of billions of dollars to spare, coming up with such trivial solutions to non-problems?
This has come up a lot in conversation lately, mostly in regards to a few highly contentious and debatable questions: Does flooding the market with more and more superfluous devices/platforms bring us closer to the edges of a(nother) tech bubble? Is this the inevitable consequence of having Silicon Valley Bros dictate the trends and concentrations where developers and “computer geeks” once reigned? Are we being distracted from facing the realities of the limitations of our technology with shiny baubles? After all, if my fridge can send me an email to let me know I need more milk, why can’t we have a healthcare website with a smooth roll out?
I know those are big questions with nuanced and complex answers with people on both sides having valid arguments. It can rightly be argued that Reich’s statement is simply nothing more than reactionary neo-luddism. TechCrunch alludes to that in this article about the much maligned (yet still much downloaded) Yo app. After all “the next big thing has always started out looking stupid. The experts derided Wikipedia for its errors, no one saw beyond the filters of Instagram, Eric Schmidt called Twitter ‘poor man’s email’ and Airbnb was a hipster mattress-sharing website until it completely blindsided the hotel industry.”
I see where Reich is coming from, and his concerns are worth considering - a forest for the trees kind of situation. I would be remiss to not admit that I do have reservations about an over-reliance on the “Internet of Things.” But what do I know? I don’t care much for Twitter, and, even though I love it now, I used to consider Instagram a narcissist’s playground, with its users doomed to languish in a sea of pictures of that really cool sandwich I once ate. Hell, I actually once thought that cell phones wouldn’t catch on because I assumed people would get annoyed with and eventually fed up with constantly having to charge them. That shows that I know diddly about predicting tech fads.
Lofty and ominous what-ifs aside, I think tech advances are good and that we live in an amazing time of innovation. My app-developer friends are some of the brightest and most creative people I know. End of the day, I love my iphone, and probably won’t ever go back to Android. But I’m still not buying that watch.
And as long as we can avoid the world he lives in, I can’t wait until someone makes a real “live” WALL·E.
They say money can’t buy happiness and it’s totally true. Money can buy you a bunch of shit to glue to a bunch of other shit that will make you happy, but besides that, there’s no more happiness. There’s no point in me focusing on getting any fucking richer. Obviously the shit you buy doesn’t make you happier, because I’m sitting here gluing a bunch of junk to stuff.
Miley Cyrus went through an unhappy period and made some art. It involves a lot of neon things glued to other neon things, and there’s going to be a show. People are going to hate on it, of that we can be sure. I’m not a Miley fan by any stretch of the imagination - not my kind of music, not my kind of performing, just not my anything really. But you know, that’s just one person’s opinion, and your’s could be totally different, and that’s okay.
However, I can’t help but find myself strangely impressed with (and even more strangely - in agreement with) the message and amount of self-awareness in the above garbled mess of swearing and covertly poignant word stew.
Today, September 8th, is the 60th birthday of Ruby Nell Bridges - a woman who, being the first black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans in 1960, underwent a traumatizing ordeal that came to signify the deeply troubled state of race relations in America.
On her first day of school at William Frantz Elementary School, during a 1997 NewsHour interview Bridges recalled that she was perplexed by the site that befell, thinking that it was some sort of Mardi Gras celebration:
"Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras.”
Only six-years-old at the time, little Ruby had to deal with a slew of disgusting and violent harassment, beginning with threats of violence that prompted then President Eisenhower to dispatch U.S Marshals as her official escorts, to teachers refusing to teach her and a woman who put a black baby doll in a coffin and demonstrated outside the school in protest of Ruby’s presence there. This particular ordeal had a profound effect on young Ruby who said that it “scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us.”
Only one teacher, Barbara Henry, would teach Ruby and did so for over a year with Ruby being the only pupil in her class.
The Bridges family suffered greatly for their brave decision. Her father lost his job, they were barred from shopping at their local grocery store, her grandparents, who were sharecroppers, were forcibly removed from their land, not to mention the psychological effect this entire ordeal had on her family. There were, however, members of their community - both black and white - who gathered behind the Bridges family in a show of support, including providing her father with a new job and taking turns to babysit Ruby.
Part of her experience was immortalized in a 1964 Norman Rockwell painting, pictured above, titled The Problem We All Live With. Her entire story was made into a TV movie released in 1998.
Today, still living in New Orleans, Briges works as an activist, who has spoken at TEDx, and is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation.
This post exemplifies the best of people. I’ve always found the above Rockwell painting to be an extremely powerful and iconic example of the oft times necessary intersection of art and history (both the good and the bad). This is especially important when the message goes against the grain of an archaic backward majority. The world will never be free of a need for fighters for the moral good, whatever path those people may find themselves on. Much respect to Norman Rockwell and heaps more for little Ruby Bridges and her family.
Life Lessons I’ve Learned From The Movies
1) Sometimes life is getting hit with one Heather’s stupid red ball.
2) Other times, it’s taking another Heather’s stupid red scrunchie.