Billions say "it" doesn't make a bit of difference: 2

On June 26th, 2006 I wrote an article about how little a difference would be made when Warren Buffet gave billions of Dollars to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As the “billionnaire’s club” got together last week and pledged more money, I decided it’s a good time to republish the same blog post from my old blog. So, enjoy!

6/26/2006: editorial blog post: Billions say “it” doesn’t make a bit of difference:
Okay, so I awake this morning to hear about Warren Buffet giving Bill Gates and co. some 37 Billion Dollars, atop the billions that Bill Gates himself is intending to use to fight world diseases and such.

Great, Bill Gates’ move and shift to use his own money to start the BMGF was a good and kind gesture. I’ve actually worked for a beneficiary of the Gates Foundation. But now another rich white guy following suit? Am I just the “cynical son of a bitch” my college professor made me out to be last year, or is nobody else seeing the idea that Buffet’s contribution is tax deductible? I don’t know for sure that it is, but I mean – my only assumption is that it comes down to that, or, he just doesn’t want to look like a bastard because Bill beat him to the punch. I just have a hard time believing that all of these guys with their few hundred cars and 20-odd homes are suddenly feeling “generous.”

I’m sure tomorrow Bono will announce he’s leaving his estate to the One Campaign. That will only be a good thing if he kills himself by the following day. Fine, maybe I’m just a cynic – maybe I don’t think everyone is as good natured as they come off, but if there’s a forthcoming wave of generosity it will only be inspired by the spirit of “one-ups-manship” – not that these people actually care about what’s going on. Besides – I still don’t see what money will DO for these world problems. Why don’t they do something with their money. Throwing money at AIDS won’t kill it. Thousands of hours of distributed computing for cancer and AIDS have proven fruitless, and the longest running SETI hasn’t heard so much as a chirp from ET. If we can’t solve problems with actual work being done and numbers being crunched, what is money in a vault going to do?

My suggestion? Gates should stockpile the money until there is a cure for these diseases, and then use the money to provide FREE inoculations to the populous. But nobody listens to me, because I’m not a rich old white guy. And if I were, I’d hate my own life. Why? Because I hate rich old white guys in general. Greed got them where they wanted, narcissism keeps them where they are.

Seriously – who was it that said they had an invention that would change the world? That “it” would revolutionize every single day living in America. The known universe would never be the same and the sun might implode as soon as “it” hit the market! Why, rich old white guy Dean Kamen, of course! And “it” was the Segway Human Transporter. Ever see one of these bad boys in action? Neither have I! Wanna know why? Because not every American is a rich white guy who has five thousand bucks to plop down on a scooter. If you did, you can only get them in a handful of states. And if you were a rich, douche-baggy white guy, you would probably live in the San Fran (ooh, they hate that one!) Bay Area, and play Segway Polo.

If this is you, please raise your hand now, so that I know who to mock individually and oh so personally in my next editorial. Until then, please, get a life, and do something with your money… like cure diseases by investing in them.

But that's what makes it so awesome…

Advance warning: this post has no purpose… just a walk down memory lane. That’s what a “personal blog” is for.

I remember the first time I really encountered the phrase “but that’s what makes it so awesome.” It was after I had already become a jaded sixth grader. Cartoons were over, it was all about computers and video games for me. Who watched TV after school? Evidently, everyone.

You see, a year or so before, Fox had unleashed something on the American public called “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.” As far as I was concerned, it was a show for kids. So when I was asked if I had ever watched the show, I scoffed, no, it’s a show for little kids! – “But that’s what makes it so awesome,” was the argument I was presented with.

I remember the feeling of shellshock… that was all one had to say, and anything which people could make fun of was instantly defused? So if video games are for kids, I can say “but that’s what makes them so awesome” and everything will be okay? Nobody can laugh about it? Surprise! It doesn’t work that way.

These were lessons that I’ve learned from that era: you can only say that if you’re already in the “in” crowd. Liking Power Rangers when you were ‘too old’ for it made you “ironically hip” – before we knew what that was – so long as you were one of the cool kids. If you were in the wrong group of friends, they laughed at you for liking Power Rangers “for the wrong reasons” – though they never explained what their cool kid reasons were that made it okay. So I continued on thinking it was for little kids, I didn’t like it all and didn’t bother finding a reason to like it, cool or uncool. I just stayed out of it.

Many people who know me sometimes think that I stop liking bands who “sell out” – once other people like a band that I liked, it’s not cool anymore… that’s not really the case. I enjoy things that people have always hated: Weezer’s Pinkerton (now see The Pinkerton Effect), Good Charlotte’s The Young and the Hopeless Album, and I’ve loved Greenday from the days of 409 in your Coffee Maker through Jesus of Suberbia. Just because someone changes, doesn’t mean they’ve gotten worse. When I say I like ‘earlier’ recordings of songs from an EP version, people roll their eyes and say “of course you would,” even if I genuinely just liked the sound better (see In Fear & Faith’s self titled EP vs. the Voyage EP, mostly the same songs, but better vocals on the self titled EP!).

I don’t like things because they’re liked by other people, nor do I like them because they’re not liked by other people – I like what I like, there’s not some ironic reasoning for it, it’s just me. I’m tired of having to have a reason for a hobby, ever since sixth grade. It’s too much work. But maybe, just maybe, all that work defending your hobbies is what makes them so awesome and so personal to you.

This ain't your grandaddy's TV

On my drive home from work, I heard an article on (yes, again) NPR, discussing how boring cable TV had gotten. First of all, why this counts as news is beyond me. I’ve hated most things on TV as long as I’ve been alive, save for a grand total of maybe 10-15 shows in my life time.

This NPR article kept coming back to the same point; the big crux of the article was “remember the good ol’ days of cable?” No, Pappy, I don’t.

In my life time, and in all likelihood the lifetime of anyone reading this, “cable” has been synonymous with “television.” There are lots of “cables” running all around my house these days. I grew up with “basic cable” – which still meant, even when I was about 10, I had over forty channels to pick from. Now I have a “cable box” that goes up in to the thousands. And it seems that, no matter how many ways people are cutting corners to get through this ongoing depression (I’m sorry, recession that neglects to take in to account underemployed), cable TV is one of those things that people are keeping. It’s not only a comfort, but it’s commonplace. Your life would feel empty without it, because you’ve had it as far back as you can remember. Your cell phone, for many who aren’t quite as bound to it as I am, is a new fangled gadget of convenience, or your home phone an unnecessary burden. These can be dropped. But cable TV? No way would someone give up something that’s been part of their daily life for over twenty years!

The article’s author, Andrew Wallenstein, used antiquated reasoning to justify why cable has cleaned up it’s act a bit, even saying things like “They’re courting advertisers just as big as the broadcasters at this point.” To me, that’s asinine. They’re not just courting them, and it’s not a new development. For nearly a decade I’ve seen the same advertisements be it during a live sporting event, a 10-plus-year-old re-run of The Simpsons, or The Daily Show on Comedy Central. It didn’t matter if it was “network” or “cable” – the advertisers have been the same, and in general, the content has been the same. I would wager that the majority generation doesn’t understand the difference between broadcast and cable, they just know that when your cable bill is late, only a couple of channels work – but that has nothing to do with the FCC standards imposed on the content of the cannels, as far as my peers know.

I think, with that government mandated “switch to digital” – the terms “broadcast” and “cable” should’ve gone by the way-side, as a way of defining the content on a channel. It’s absurd and antediluvian, stop saying it: your readers, viewers, and listeners have no idea what you’re talking about.

How Chrome OS Could Survive

A recent random blog was picked up by some major outlets, saying it knew Why Google needs to pull the plug on Chrome OS. The author feels that, if Chrome doesn’t do well when it debuts on Netbooks, it could spell doom for future Distributions of Linux ever standing a chance at replacing Windows.

While I am a huge Windows fan, I can see obvious benefits to letting Google ship an operating system on a laptop. As it’s been described, Chrome OS would literally be little more than a shell with a web browser out of the box. But therein lies the beauty – it’s nothing at all, it’s the blank slate the Windows users always want. My dislikes of Linux are often how hard it is to get something working, it always relies on me opening a command line to install a package of some kind. Even the easier download services that Ubuntu and others offer don’t seem easy enough. This is where Chrome OS has it’s chance to jump ahead of the curve. An “app store” for the operating system.

After Apple’s hugely successful App Store on the iPhone and iPod Touch, Google knew what they had to do to make Android successful, and quickly became the number 2 smartphone. Why Apple hadn’t put something like this on the Mac itself is beyond me (my largest complaint about the Mac is how little software there is for it, it’s one of the reasons I’ve never bought myself a MacBook). But imagine the Google Chrome OS having 2 icons on the desktop: one that takes you straight to the web, and one that takes you to a simple app-store for Chrome OS. It’s a very straightforward way for you to one-click download and automatically install software for anything from office productivity, to media players, photo editing software, to games. With the ease of a one click install, and with the resources of Google, a large catalog of software at launch, I can see Chrome OS, if done in a form like this, as hugely successful.

However, If Google is really going to rely on their web apps to be their saving grace, it is likely that Chrome OS will be a short lived soiree into the PC Operating System Market for Google. Using Google Docs is nice, but it’s no replacement for having the tools at my disposal. If an installable and local version of Google Docs is available for a one click install, Google will change minds about the complexities of Linux.