Category Archives: News and Comment

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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It’s a Boy

[Originally published July 22, 2013 – reposted April 23, 2018]

A boy was born today, a very special boy.  He was born to no fanfare save that of his father celebrating in a Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, hospital.  He was born hours ago, but we still do not know his name.  Why?  Where are the news media?

What a royal future this boy has.  He can expect to live to be 54 years old.  And according to this U.S. State Department report, he may encounter a few problems along the way.  “The Republic of the Congo is a source and destination country for children, men, and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The majority of children trafficked within the country migrate from rural to urban areas to serve as domestic workers for relatives or family friends. Some child trafficking victims are also subjected to forced labor in stone quarries, bakeries, and the fishing and agricultural sectors, including in cocoa fields in the Sangha Department.”

Should he survive his childhood, and if he is quite thrifty (the annual spending per person in Republic of Congo is $558), this Congolese man may be able to travel to Great Britain someday, to meet the King who shares his birthday.  If he happens to be there when it is the King’s birthday, he may be lucky enough to hear the bells of Westminster Abbey ring, and he can pretend that they are ringing for him.

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