Oscar’s Ageism and Society’s Disposable Workers

Views: 350

I’ve long had a policy of avoiding involving myself in Hollywood politics — not always easy having resided here in L.A. for my entire life to date.

But something’s going on with Oscar — or more precisely the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) — that is disturbing both in and of itself, and for what it says about our society at large (including here in the tech world).

The Academy Award (Oscar) presentations have always tended to be quite “white” — more so than ever in recent years, leading to calls of racism and protests.

The Academy does have real problems in this respect. It’s not purposeful racism per se, but it is a form of effective racism that has been an outgrowth of AMPAS membership policies and the structural history of popular films and Hollywood production patterns pretty much since the dawn of the movie industry.

With recent protests being particularly embarrassing to the Academy, AMPAS has now moved to try deal with what they perceive to be their “too many voting old white men” problem.

But they’re doing it in exactly the wrong way, exchanging their existing diversity problems for outright ageism.

Rather than changing their membership and voting rules going forward for new members in a manner that would encourage racial and other diversity, they’ve decided to try cull their oldest members — some in their 90s who have been Academy members for many decades and have always played by the rules — by stripping them of their Oscar voting rights.

While this obviously does not rise to the level of the kind of rampant workplace ageism and discrimination as reported recently by The New York Times, it still is a slap in the face to loyal, older AMPAS members who have done absolutely nothing wrong, and is yet another example of society kicking older persons in the gut as an ostensible “quick fix” solution for complex structural problems. Quick “fixes” — I might add — that typically make those problems far worse rather than fixing anything at all.

Outside of the Hollywood ecosystem, the intricacies of who votes for or receives Oscars is not a matter of much import to most people.

But what AMPAS’ actions tell us about the treatment of older persons in general is very much in scope, and perhaps the sheer ham-handed, doltish approach of the Academy to their very real diversity problems shines a key light on society’s failings in this regard — illuminating the broader issues in a way especially difficult to dismiss or ignore.

And that’s the truth.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

Network Solutions Still Operates Like a Bunch of Crooks

Views: 359

I still have a couple of my oldest Internet domains — including one that turned thirty years old this year and was among the first 40 dot-com domains ever issued — with Network Solutions (NSI) for historical reasons, and I continue to be impressed with the firm’s ability to closely emulate the practices of the worst kind of Internet crooks.

NSI sends out important notifications missing key information, worded like spam or phishing attacks, transmitted from unfamiliar domains, and as HTML-only email messages. All the hallmarks of illicit contacts, or at least of rank amateurs in action.

Their “off the shelf” domain renewal prices are abysmal of course, but even worse are their outrageous attempts at upselling during the domain renewal process.

They by default select (pre-check) expensive options like “private” domain registration (as far as I’m concerned, anyone doing business over the Internet should not be permitted to have a private registration, absent some relatively rare special situations — but that’s a discussion for another time). 

Their form sequences attempt to trick you into switching your domains to their DNS servers, to sign up for hosting services you don’t want or need, and they employ all of the lowlife tricks — confusing interfaces, low contrast decline buttons — you know the drill.

Network Solutions has been pulling these kinds of stunts for years, but it seems like they’re continually striving to reach even new lows.

These clowns don’t deserve our business. Hell, they don’t deserve to be in business. They’re a stain on the Internet. 

If you haven’t already done so, shun them as soon as you can.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

A Horrific New Animal Cruelty Commercial from Toyota

Views: 673

Toyota is running a new TV spot (internally titled “Camping”). It’s already triggering letters and petitions to Toyota to remove it from the air immediately. It’s breathtakingly stupid and could easily trigger dangerous copycats.

It features a moronic couple who throw a stick into a rapidly flowing river so that their dog will chase after it into the water. You then see the dog being rapidly washed away down the middle of the river. The couple races ahead downstream in their new Toyota to meet up with the dog who has somehow managed to survive the ordeal.

Then the woman says “My turn!” and throws the stick back into the river to bait the dog into the rapidly flowing water yet again.

It’s obviously supposed to be funny. Instead it’s hideous.

Whomever green-lighted this monstrosity at Toyota and their ad agency should be fired and never permitted to own animals of their own. What kind of total idiots produce a commercial like this that is bound to inspire other idiots to try the same thing?

Breathtakingly evil. Here’s the video of the spot. I’m told that there apparently is at least one additional version of this commercial that is even more disturbing.

Please let Toyota know how you feel about this. Thanks.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

When Associated Press + Twitter = The Big Lie About Hillary Clinton

Views: 470

 

UPDATE (8 September 2016): The Associated Press today is deleting a 2-week-old tweet about Hillary Clinton’s meetings as Cabinet secretary after concluding the tweet fell short of AP standards by omitting essential context.”

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The venerable Associated Press news agency was formed in 1846 by New York City newspapers to fund a Pony Express route for obtaining news regarding the Mexican War. In the approaching two centuries since then, AP has maintained a solid reputation for diligence and accuracy in its reporting, that’s depended upon by the vast number of news outlets and other media that publish AP’s reports.

In my own dealings with AP over the years, I’ve found their reporters to be knowledgeable, intelligent, and fair-minded, working hard to get to the facts of events. In AP items where I’ve been quoted, my referenced quotes have always been correct and in the appropriate context.

So it’s difficult for me to fathom AP’s behavior in the current controversy over their direct misstatement of facts regarding Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation, and their refusal to admit that they royally botched this up, even in the face of virtually universal condemnation regarding this case.

AP started down this self-humiliating path last Tuesday, when it tweeted:

BREAKING: AP analysis: More than half those who met Clinton as Cabinet secretary gave money to Clinton Foundation.

That tweet is still up on AP’s Twitter feed. AP continues to refuse to remove it or admit that as written it was a totally false statement — that is, a lie.

In reality, that statistic applied to an extremely limited subset of meetings — only 154 out of many thousands — that Hillary Clinton had held in her official capacity with both government employees and private citizens during her tenure at the State Dept.

The AP’s cowardly explanation of this tweet and their failure to report accurately regarding this matter basically boils down to their frustration that the State Dept. has been slowly releasing Clinton’s calendar records from the period — so apparently they felt it appropriate just to go ahead and misrepresent the available small subset of data as if it were the entirety of the data that will ultimately become available for analysis.

It’s pretty easy to guess what happened next. Someone in AP’s social media department presumably wanted the most “bang for the buck” when they tweeted this story, and composed a clickbait tweet that would fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit.

That the tweet utterly misrepresented the actual facts, and instantly provided Donald Trump and other Hillary haters a handy piece of false propaganda to yell at rallies, apparently was not within the sphere of AP’s concern.

We all understand what’s been happening in the news biz. Clicks and eyeballs increasingly come before facts and truth. But to see AP sink to this low level is painful and distressing.

To make matters worse, AP appears to now be channeling Trump himself, refusing to admit that their story was misleading and that their tweet was an outright travesty. They’re refusing to apologize or correct the record, and are displaying much the same sort of intransigence that Trump himself famously displays when caught in misrepresentations, half-truths, or outright lies.

Perhaps worst of all, we’re now faced with the inevitable question of how much we should trust AP’s future stories, tweets, and other pronouncements, especially while AP continues to permit that original false tweet to stand.

In a sea of rapidly declining journalistic standards around the world, Associated Press has stood out like a bright beacon of truth amid the gloom. Now it appears that even that light is dimming.

I hope that AP changes course and admits their errors and misjudgments in this matter. They can still avoid the fate of so many other news organizations who have permitted themselves to devolve into lowest common denominator clickbait pablum.

But this is indeed a dark time for journalism. And it’s an even darker time for all of us who depend upon professional journalists to fairly and accurately help us understand what’s going on in the world around us.

And that’s the truth.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!

Foolish and Dangerous: Europe’s Clothing Attacks Against Muslim Women

Views: 516

UPDATE (26 August 2016): France’s “burkini” ban has wisely been overturned by the country’s top administrative court.

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I am probably among the last guys on this planet who would normally ever become concerned about issues related to clothing fashions of either women or men. But I do care a lot about civil liberties and fighting terrorism, so it’s impossible for me to ignore the stupid, inane, and frankly dangerous actions by officials in France who have been banning the women’s fashion popularly known as the “burkini” from beaches along the Riviera.

The burkini — primarily a choice of some Muslim women but reportedly with around 40% of sales going to non-Muslims — is a beach garment that only exposes the face, hands, and feet. Frankly, given the increase in ultraviolet radiation and risks of sunburn or much worse these days, this indeed sounds like an eminently practical garment for a lot of folks, irrespective of their religion.

Oh, but not in France. Not in the land of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity), from where photos and videos are appearing showing armed police forcing women to remove clothing at the beach, then ticketing them for failure to wear “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism.”

But beaches where women can go topless or nude in France? Hey, no problem there, eh?

Now, I have nothing against “clothing optional” beaches.

But the sheer hypocrisy on display by French officials in the context of the burkini ban is nothing short of breathtaking.

While French officials have attempted to claim otherwise, their actions are a direct attack specifically on women who choose to dress modestly at the beach — and yes, while that doesn’t mean only Muslim women, the French focus against Islam in this instance is obvious to everyone.

This is only one example of Europe’s growing obsession with restricting the clothing choices of Muslim women.

It’s not just burkinis under attack, but also other forms of traditional Muslim dress ranging from burkas to simple head scarves.

Ironically, these European governments are imposing their own “clothing oppression” while claiming that they’re protecting Muslim women from religious oppression! This displays either vast ignorance or massive hypocrisy or both — since many Muslim women prefer these modest forms of dress, and are not forced nor coerced into wearing them.

In any case, for governments to dictate women’s clothing choices in this manner is abominable.

I’m not a religious person, but I consider religious freedoms being trampled this way by ostensibly enlightened countries in Europe to be utterly disgraceful.

Worse, it’s potentially extremely dangerous, since it plays directly into the hands of radicals who can easily leverage these government actions into “War on Islam” propaganda to inspire terrorists and other criminals. It’s almost as if these governments are purposely choosing dictates most likely to provide terrorists with as much ammunition as possible for evil efforts.

France and the rest of Europe need to get their figurative heads out of their figurative behinds. They need to be working on the foundational issues of conflict within and related to the Middle East, not women’s choices in clothing.

And they need to stop behaving as if the West is on the verge of a new Crusade against Islam.

Europe’s current approach is wrong and foolhardy, and can only lead down the path toward further intolerance and hatred — and risks sucking the entire world down into an endless nightmare significantly of these governments’ own making.

–Lauren–
I have consulted to Google, but I am not currently doing so — my opinions expressed here are mine alone.
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The correct term is “Internet” NOT “internet” — please don’t fall into the trap of using the latter. It’s just plain wrong!