Monthly Archives: May 2018

The privacy of your data means a lot to me.  I feel very badly about how you shared all your favorite television shows and music and restaurants on Facebook, and how Facebook had the nerve to turn around and show you advertisements that echoed your interests and then sold your information to others.  How dare they — and every other online presence — take such advantage of you.  But to save you further turmoil, I promise this will be the last time I mention your quaint notions about privacy.

To protect my own readers’ privacy and avoid drawing the wrath of EU bureaucrats who would love to haul my data-careless ass to Brussels for a Zuckerberg-style tongue-lashing,  I have made important plain-English updates to my Terms of Service.  If you care anything about safeguarding yourself, your data, and me, then you should read and memorize these:

§ 1.  If you comment on one of my posts and I disagree with you, I promise that I will only disparage you in the privacy of my own home.  But who knows what my wife will say and what she will share.  She is not bound by these terms.  So, your call.

§ 2.  If you share your e-mail address when making a comment, I promise to re-use it only when I order weapons from Soldier of Fortune magazine or when I write to the FBI about my shady-looking neighbors and their really annoying little dogs.

§ 3.  Under my new policy, I will no longer compile the IP addresses of the visitors of this site, and then brew craft beers, and then name my beers after your IP addresses.   Too bad, because the one I was planning to name for Reader was a satisfying brew.  On the other hand, Reader, your beer tasted like rotted geraniums.  You are lucky I tossed that batch before your reputation was sullied.

"Private Duty" by Faith Baldwin, featuring Private Duty Nurse Carolyn Cutler§ 4.  Here at The 100 Billionth Person, we respect privacy.  We pay particular respect to Private Gomer Pyle, Private Maxwell Klinger, Private Investigator Sam Spade, Private Detective Nancy Drew and Private Duty Nurse Carolyn Cutler, whose visage graces this post.

§ 5.  People in Britain pronounce privacy with a short i, to make it sound like principle.  But I live in America, and I pronouce privacy with a long i, to make it sound like I don’t care.

§ 6.  Visitors who read half of one post and then get tired of The 100 Billionth Person and leave the site (and I know who you are) will be treated the same as people who walk out of a church service during the first hymn.  Your IP address will be sent to Franklin Graham, son of the late Billy Graham, for followup and shaming.  And roundly deserved, I say.

§ 7.  When you use a mobile device to access The 100 Billionth Person, we may install a tiny data file on your device.  This file is a harmless little app that runs in the background and uniquely identifies your device.  Also, this app randomly disables one icon every day, until you reset all your icons by visiting The 100 Billionth Person again.  It is a fun game, when you think about it, guessing which one of your icons will be the next one to go.

§ 8.  We do not sell your information to advertisers or commercial interests.  We tried, but  no one was interested.

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Royale with Cheese

So, we have just enjoyed (or endured) a three-day-weekend-ful of Royale with Cheese.  One overly-enthusiastic BBC World Service reporter exclaimed last night that the world (yes, the world) has been “captivated” by the Royal Wedding.  If by captivated she meant held hostage then I would agree.  Nothing like a Royal Wedding to turn news reporting organizations into fawning spinoffs of Entertainment Tonight.

That said, over our morning coffee we partook in an hour or so of the televised festivities.  My favorite moments were the performance of “Stand By Me” by a London gospel choir and the beautiful cello pieces by Sheku Kanneh-Mason, although I felt the song selections were a bit somber for the occasion.

So much had to come together to put on this spectacle.  So many talented people, from florists to choir directors to horse handlers to the printers of the large-print programs, gave their best to make this event a superlative one, worthy of a possibly-future king.

And then, like all wedding celebrations, it ended the day it started.

You know what other famous Brit inspired a lot of talented people to get together for an event featuring outstanding musical performances?  Hint: the year was 1971 and the Brit was a former Beatle, who would be snubbed for knighthood by this same Royal Family.  The Concert for Bangladesh organized and headlined by George Harrison is credited for raising $12 million for Bangladesh relief.  (That would be $45 million in 2018 dollars.)

By contrast, the Royal Wedding was estimated to cost $43 million, most of which was paid for security.  So George Harrison and his generous musical friends outspent the Royals on something that really mattered, and there was no carriage ride for them afterwards, only the satisfaction of having done something important.


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Thoughts @ Large: 55

° A friend recently shared an article about the number of times that six U.S. Presidents (current and former) have been alive.   This was the case in 1861-1862, 1993-1994 and 2001-2004.   I have heard some people say it has also been the case since January 2017, but I have yet to see the evidence.

° Another friend recently wrote an excellent blog post about our (human) future in space.  It led me to conclude that, yes, all those crazy granite planets out there in the solar system should be exploited for human use, to the extent possible.  Why not?  For whom, exactly, are we preserving Titan and Europa?  For never-to-be-encountered galactic overlords who will be faux-grateful to us for our conservancy?  I say, let’s fly our capitalist asses out there and start mining the dickensite out of those rocks.

However!  As long as we’re here, why not exploit Earth?  Much easier pickings!  Fact is, we do exploit Earth.  And we have to, unless we want to go back to the Wood Age.  The key to successful exploitation is to do what the rest of the animal kingdom learned long ago, via natural selection, which is to not shit in our own nests.  Let us not “unselect” ourselves.

° Along those lines, let’s fast-forward to the day when humans actually set up a colony on Mars or some other habitable place.  I ask, under what circumstances would we Earthlings ever decide to abandon ship?  Will it be because forward-thinking fellow humans paved the way for the rest of us to follow?  Nah, says the cynic in me.  My first prediction is that nations will get serious about inhabiting other worlds only when life on Earth becomes intolerable and untenable, and by then it will be too late for almost everyone.  Which leads to my second prediction: only the very well-to-do will have the means to ship out to Mars when the time comes.  They will be Elon Musk’s and Richard Branson’s and Jeff Bezos’s and Charles Koch’s great-whatever-grandchildren.  They will name their planetary outpost Teslavirgazon-Fil-A — and Mars-Prime members will have guaranteed two-year delivery.

° Back to Earth.  I offer The Collins Delivery Law: No matter how wide your driveway is, delivery trucks will find a way to run over your plants.

° Before we get all excited how our madman out-madmanned the North Korean madman, keep this in mind: any nut riding a merry-go-round pointing an automatic weapon into the crowd is likely to shoot some stray bad guy before the ride ends.

° One day when I was a pre-teen doing dishes with my mom, listening to the aqua AM/FM radio on the kitchen counter, I heard some man ranting about things I didn’t understand, but I did remember the ranting.  Mom told me his name was Joe Pyne and he was just a crackpot.  I immediately understood what a crackpot was: an expert self-important fool.  It’s a shame that this clear, self-evident term has fallen into disuse.  It certainly deserves a revival, as so many crackpots still inhabit our streets and airwaves and government offices.

° I recently retired from participation in the Facebook ecosystem.  I still have an account, so our family can share photos and videos and so I can play Scrabble with friends.  But I must say, the feeling is (as of now) liberating.  No more “news” feeds manipulated by algorithms designed by the minions of Mark Zuckerberg for the ultimate benefit of Mr. Z.  No more reluctant acceptance of Facebook as my unresponsive publicity agent.  I trust that there are other means to keep in touch with folks — and this is one of them.  More to come on this topic in a future post.

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