On Breaking up Google - this is not your Grandma's Monopoly

    Another election and another round of liberal posturing - "how do we beat down the corporates, how do we dismantle their power?" "Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple...," exclaims Elizabeth Warren, "along with their little subsidiary acquisitions". Let's call these The Big Four.

    So let's tear this down - first, are these the monopolists you're looking for? Back in the day of the Robber Barons, we had goons showing up to beat up the competition - quite a bit of heat brought down on anyone who was in competition. This kind of activity is pretty rare these days - mostly it's just that customers are flocking to the big boys, and that's just tough on the rest.

    The IT age truly hit when Microsoft ended up with a practical monopoly on the desktop. Sure, Apple could scrape out 4 million laptop & desktop sales a quarter with a huge comparative margin, and techies could go for Linux or lately Chromebooks, but in terms of units at home and in the workplace, DOS-Windows machines predominated since 1982, and still do. Microsoft went on to do quite well in the Office software and database business - and people howled to break them up. But in the end, they went from a dominant consumer company to a dominant enterprise software company, with the whole industry resigning itself to the fact that the OS is boring, and is best off boring, and all the OS wars in the 70's and 80's mostly led to things not working with each other, whereas the Windows behemoth solved that problem. Until the Web came along and made everything interoperable in a different way, so the Windows monopoly became a "who cares?" We got a little flurry of excitement when Steve Jobs decided to put a knife in the heart of Flash and Adobe itself, pretending to go to a new standard that was far from market ready - and suddenly we saw what we'd avoided for 2 decades - having to choose when we really didn't care. Sure, Excel rolled over Lotus-1-2-3 and M$ killed some other fine mail & database software companies, but it was the 90's, baby - the Internet Age, and if things hadn't just worked, that would have harshed our mellow. 

    2020 Rejects & Remainders

    Ok, was trying to stay out of this, but so far the "no way Jose" list:

    - Tulsi Gabbard (Fox hawk if not Russian asset in Hawaiian hulu skirt with jackboots)

    - Howard Schultz (latte corporate vulture with an odd sense of "centrist" looking more like "blame the Dems for asking for nice things" misguided conception of "independent", while pitching a well-tarnished "businessman saves America" deficit-scold message. 15 years ago maybe - plus a business run only on young hipster easily-exploited youth hardly seems like it offers a breakthrough message for the rest of us)

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    Now We Know: Hillary Was A Great Candidate

    There are many more details to come out of our continuing political saga, soap opera, meltdown, but at this point we have enough details to know what should have been suspected all along: Hillary was a great candidate.

    This doesn't mean she didn't make a bunch of mistakes - whom among us has not?

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    What WSJ knew & when: Avenatti dumps

    To:               Michael Cohen[mcohen©trumporg corn]
    From:          Keith Davidson
    Sent:           Thur 11/3/2016 7:31:38 Al

    Subject: Fwd. WSJ

    FYI

    Sent from my mobile device Begin forwarded message

    From: Keith Davidson <[email protected]>
    Date: November 2, 2016 at 3:43 :32 PM PDT
    To: "Palazzolo, Joseph" <[email protected]>, "[email protected]" <[email protected]_com>
    Subject: RE,: WSJ

    Joe,

    We spoke last week. At that time, I told you that I had never represented Donald Trump nor anyone adverse to him.

    Yet you persist to call anyone and everyone under the sun, (including my current clients with whom I have contractual relationships), and whom I am currently representing in litigation matters.

    I understand that you are attempting to report that I am representing "women from Donald Trump's past" and that I am "presumably seeking settlements_"

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    Silver Lining: the Skin I'm Not In

    Realizing AR/VR will make this appropriation "problem" mainstream everpresent  explosive inevitable or go away completely. With Second Life 15 years ago you could make your own avatars and virtual worlds, appropriating whatever you wanted to from whomever and whatever. With Augmented and Virtual Reality, you no longer have to build your own worlds an characters - these are just new skins and templates in various libraries and pulled real-time out of real life. I don't even need to see *you* as you want - I can make you into a Tongan warrior princess (Maiello) or an effete Broadway theater goer (Peter) or a pack of feral kidney-craving zombies (all of you). I can change these instantly, or choreograph you lip-syncing to Justin Bieber or baying at the moon or giving a spanking to Donald Trump while watching Shark Tank. You will no longer be in control of your own image - your $100 hairdo can be remodeled in a moment to a depression-era bowl cut. Not into tattoos? You are now, right on the _ _ _ _. Weight problem? I just gave you anorexia (and a skin disease - sorry, got a bit carried away).

    Bronze Medal: why can't I change my skin?

    Set off by Vogue & Gigi Hadid's "scandal" over a bronzed up photo shoot, I'm amazed by what we can or cannot do. I can go to a tanning salon or the Bahamas to get as dark as can be, put on Smokey Eye and that's presumably fine. I can go into plastic surgery and give myself tits, tighter abs, a smooth face, almond eyes with a pert nose, and of course do my hair style in whatever manner or color (presumably - maybe some are off limits). If I transition to a woman, people will be supporting my right to use other bathrooms and not be discriminated against, and gender and sexual preference is a matter of what I "identify" with. If I dress up as an outrageous transvestite woman as Rudy Giuliani did, I'd just be a good sport, showing solidarity with LGBTQ. The Village People could costume up as whatever as part of the fun. De Niro could tubby up superfat to play Jake La Motta, and Daniel Day-Lewis could get in line with the intricacies and nuances of Cerebral Palsy to play Christy Brown, while dressing drag was the key plot device in Academy winners Some Like It Hot and Mrs. Doubtfire.

    But as a high school girl discovered, it's not okay to put on a Chinese dress (unless willing to take 1000's of Twitter condemnations). As kids are discovering, it's not okay to be Pocahantas on Halloween. As Gigi Hadid found out, fake tans are only allowed so far before "appropriation" kicks in. Presumably Adam & the Ants could never regroup and keep the  Indian  Native American regalia. Rachel Dolezal discovered that "identifying as black" wasn't enough, even though she followed that up with action & involvement.

    "Irony my Shirt": 18 months on

    It's 18 months past the stolen election, and we can itemize different ways it was stolen/cheated/rigged, even if all the testimony and indictments haven't come through yet. There's enough to piece together. Not just the politics, but the whole background of criminality and illegal hidden influence. And of course the successful effort to start tearing apart our government (put in place those determined to destroy what they're in charge of - hardly subtle).

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    Personal Best: Roger Bannister laps in at 88

    Back in a still rough post-war era reviving personal dreams - measurable, daunting, somehow achievable.

    It's not that other sports measures aren't great, or that the 4-minute mile wasn't in a way much more arbitrary than the ascent of Everest, but still, a definite challenge in an age of breaking the sound barrier and other advances.

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    The Accidental Revolution

    A funny thing has happened to the Revolution on steroids that was supposed to take us by storm. The complaints that would define us turned out to be lukewarm after all (seems whites in flyover country were less than worried about jobs, and the need for free education hasn't been dominating the front pages (yet?), while others like $12/$15 minimum wage are less than likely to get a national listening under current government).

    But several issues have gained traction - some old, some new, some red, some blue... #MeToo may be receiving some deflection, but it appears it's real beyond pink pussyhats and the casting couches of Hollywood. Even Fox had a heretic on its CPAC review, and tried quickly to veer off into "poor accused men", before going viral.

    #RussiaGate is now in full scandal mode with domestic and foreign indictments, full charges against Manafort, Gates in full confessional flip mode, and the Nunes Memo now rebutted and exploded all over GOP faces.

    #BlackLivesMatter is a thing - the smear job against black athletes has finally failed, and worries about blacks' security and well-being have gained prominence over traditional canards about the troops and the needs of sport fans, while Michael Steele just blew the racist club out of the CPAC water.

    Feeding the Dinosaurs: The Death of Movement 2.0

    I'm going to do what I largely dislike doing - linking to a New Republic article instead of writing me own blog piece - because it needs to be discussed.

    10 years ago we'd won the Presidential election, and had introduced a new modern style of grassroots participation that had started with Howard Dean's shortlived efforts in 2004.

    Battle of the Sexes: On Bonsai Trees & Suburban Myths

    A quote recently about men's role in the changing state of affairs (pardon the pun) struck me as rather bitchy and dismissive: "Oh, how fragile is the ego of a man. We must never let him feel like a bonsai in a grove of California redwoods..." The same article goes on to note men's time spent with children nearing women's (ignoring any Roy Moore jokes there). So why the insult and calumny? It's not like men aren't evolving to meet the changing societal situation, whatever the headlines. It's also not like men aren't on the brutal receiving end of many of these changes.

    Battle of the Sexes: War's not the absence of Peace

    Once upon a time in a land far away, we had big people and smaller people, and the bigger people largely took care of the smaller people and the smaller people largely did what the bigger people wanted, and this comic-book characterization carried on for a few millennia. Beneath the cartoonist's rendition, there was a lot of smudgy tawdry goings-on, but in a regular newspaper, you can only get so much detail.

    Eventually people discovered tools, which went from simple stuff like big sticks used as clubs on to more subtle stuff like x-ray spectrometry and online marketing, which confused the hell out of early caveman/woman, but is slowly becoming comprehensible to their descendants.

    Victory for 3rd Way Democrats?

    Well, it's Monday morning, figuratively speaking, and victory has many fathers & mothers while losing's an orphan, as JFK noted. So putting a stake in the ground...

    Has the centrist Democrat revived over the last year? Let's see how this went - Wilmont Collins won as a black Liberian immigrant in Helena - and a member of Child Protection Services and the Naval Reserves - focused on support for the homeless and increased funding for police and fire departments. Can we split that baby any nicer?

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    Week in Rear View: All the Kingsmen

    Lost almost an hour's worth of link collecting last night trying to summarize the shape we're in, so here's a quick stab as the news keeps piling up.

    Big news last week was Manafort & Gates being indicted last week & finding out Papodopolous had pled and talked some months ago - Rick Gates being key as he stayed on with Trump's campaign to the end, while Manafort slid out earlier to avoid controversy (but never cut connections), while more of Manafort's ties to Russian mafia/power brokers became public. Judge found this week Manafort's release from home confinement denied as risky. But that quickly led to a slew of other revelations.

    Remember, Trump himself notes he hires all the smart people, the rich people. What you're smelling is the stench of burning braincells and crime cells - ain't it grand?

    On Counts and Balances

    As confirmed this week yet again, a piece of salacious gossip spun silly can travel the world before we put our adult hats - analytic minds for Kahneman fans - back on and rein it in. On the "plus" side, as one commenter noted, we now know the DNC was pants, an accident that already 'appened. On the minus side, we now know:

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    Prayer for Atheists & the Culture Wars

    I was thinking of Doc's comment about how prayer is different from meditation, and as the left becomes largely secularized and often atheistic, this difference can have knock-on effects.

    Meditation is more like the hollow bamboo tube - the taking what the universe offers. American ethos isn't like that - we're a demanding bunch, with a "don't tell me what to do mentality". Submissiveness doesn't play well in the heartland.

    Homage to Catalonia: the Conspiracy Factory

    This week we were met with scenes of police removing protesters in Barcelona, with outcries of heavy-handidness by Madrid. Absent the cries of police brutality was any suggestion of how police should handle the unwanted job of removing thousands of protesters, and what is an acceptable level of force - critical to me, as I'd meditated for 2 weeks on horrid images of US police wailing on and pounding a black man's head into the pavement for two minutes, along with unneeded body slams say of a skinny girl in a tight skirt.

    More important, I didn't hear any discussion of what I'd been hearing for weeks - that Putin's bots had turned to fomenting dissension and turmoil in Catalonia, hoping for a final split that would give the EU another crisis to leave it on the ropes. This is impressive,as the story of how Russia manipulated the US election keeps snowballing as one unlikely scenario after another gets divulged.

    The outcome of Catalonia's unapproved referendum will be predictable - the people who will show up will be overly in favor of secession even as the majority may be iffy, and the supposed police overreaction will be presented as proof that Catalonians need independence *now*, fait accompli. Meanwhile Putin must be sniggering in his kofje - not a complaint in sight.

    Hef & the Culture Wars

    There are a million words to be written about the misogyny of Hugh Hefner's mission, many already being jotted down. There's a lot of humor and contempt to be had still for a grown man that liked hanging around in PJs far into adulthood. There's something to be said for his early civil rights support, as testified by Dick Gregory and others. And that lead me to the territory I'd like to address, as it goes to the crux of our recent NFL morass, the need for BLM, last year's election, and a host of other issues.

    Hefner founded the Playboy Club in 1953, not in tinseltown as we recall today but in Chicago, the thriving center of the Midwest.in our still glorious post-war phase. It was a conservative place in a conservative era. It's easy to think of the 50's as some Happy Days thing, Richie Cunningham all fresh and speckled, I like Ike kind of lovely romance with paradise and God-given but deserved success. But most here know that dream of the suburbs and the lucky trip to Vegas was a hyped-up myth, that the house didn't pay out nearly as often as stated, that half the "lucky ones" strolling in and out were shills. And instead of carefully crafted Walt Disney features and Elvis rockumentaries, it was as much about Lenny Bruce and Last Exit to Brooklyn and Naked Lunch and the  National Guard called out to LIttle Rock to enforce integration and McCarthyism and tons of other foul stuff covered with a sanctimonious wholesome totally marketed image in a Golden age of marketing. This was "Family Values", aka "we're Christian and you're not".

    Wanking Weiner

    Well, someone's got their schadenfreude going big time. Anthony Weiner's going to serve hard time, despite having destroyed his marriage and his party's campaign, undergone treatment, expressed remorse in no uncertain terms, for showing his wanker over the internet to purportedly an underage girl*.

    [*there's a whole load of suspicion over whether Russians and/or Republicans set  the known sickie Weiner up with an "underage girl" who seemed to have a Master's degree in English lit from her non-too adolescent literary references. But I guess for now we have to assume it's partly true, police penchant for lying or not.]

    Now let's compare this sentence with say Brock Turner, who raped a comatosely drunk college classmate (didn't even know her name) behind a dumpster, left her with her clothes wrapped around her ankles and her bare ass in the pine needles while Brock the perp tried to run away from 2 Swedes who fortunately happened to notice the ruckus.

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