Friday, October 31, 2014

Hello world!!! -- an old programmer's joke ... or a joke on an old programmer???

Last update: Friday 10/31/14 @ 10:39 am

I had an interesting day at "pre work" yesterday. Having been forcibly "retired" before my time back in January, I am retooling myself for re-entry into the job market. As part of my preparations, I wrote my first Java app for my cell phone yesterday, using the Eclipse IDE and the Android Plugin. It was a family variation on the traditional "Hello world." My app not only said "Hello world" it also said hello to my two daughters, to my two granddaughters, and to our three dogs.

I showed my younger daughter my cellphone as we were walking down a busy street in Bethesda, MD yesterday afternoon. I clicked the icon and the greeting was displayed. She looked at it for for a couple of moments without saying anything ... and, not being a programmer, she finally asked, "So what does your app do?" ... whereupon I pointed to the phone and proudly replied, "That's what it does!!!" ... and she damned near fell off the curb because she was laughing so hard ... :-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Pork in the Treetops

It's late (1:12 am) on Tuesday 9/2/14, but just as I was logging off I checked my email for the last time today. There, as usual, was "stuff" from the Obama political machine -- which I usually delete right after reading the "subject" because it is invariably a prelude to an hysterical plea for donations. I haven't cancelled my subscriptions to these spam machines because every now and then they identify a congressman or an issue that concerns me enough to make a contribution. Indeed, I long ago concluded that, as the saying goes, I was more likely to see pigs with wings than receive an email from the Obama crowd that asked for my feedback about anything they were determined to say to me. 

As readers of this occasional blog have probably figured out, I donated more than I could afford to give to both of President Obama's campaigns and served as a volunteer in both campaigns; but I am a very disgruntled supporter because of (a) his poor to mediocre performance, and (b) his failure to ask for input from his supporters -- a failure that I sincerely believe contributed to his poor to mediocre performance.

His political machine abused the Internet for the last six years by constantly whining for donations, yet never finding out which issues his contributors really cared about and why they cared. The all-to-apparent assumption of the wise guys who cranked out his e-spam was that their recipients were just walking piggy banks -- brainless low lifes who packed inexhaustible credit cards in their tummies. Therefore their emails "motivated" us dimwitted piggies by demonizing the GOP, reducing all issues to cries that we had to band together to fight unprecedented evil as personified by Boehner, Rove, and the Koch Brothers. They ignored the fact that Internet 2.0+ facilitates two-way communications. 

They never asked which issues we piggy banks really cared about and why we cared about these issues ... so they never learned the issues for which we would be most likely to cough up our credit cards ... until this evening when I received an email whose text was so shocking that I had to read it three times before I was sure that I wasn't seeing a digital mirage:

The final tally is in: we had our BEST AUGUST EVER for online donations. Thanks everyone! Now, we’re asking for 1 more thing: your opinion.

What’s your #1 issue?"

As goes the Chines proverb, a journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step ... even a baby step like this one. Of course, this particular baby step is laden with implicit insults to us piggy banks. One issue. One issue. That's all we get. Hey, we're piggy banks!!! How could we possibly cope with a complex political agenda that might involve four or five orthogonal concerns that could never be reduced to a single issue. But stop. Savor the moment. They actually asked for my opinion for the first time in six years and, presumably, for the opinions of thousands, perhaps millions of their other supporters ... Oh well ... better late then never ...

... but earlier might have made this administration far more effective ... and therefore might have made the U.S. of A. a far better place for blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, poor people, gays, the elderly, and all of the other "less than equal" groups within our society. The opportunity costs of President Obama's congenital incapacity to listen to what his supporters really cared about and why they cared about these issues has been incalculable.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Memories of a Racist Serial Killer -- Repressed and Obsessed

Last updated: Sunday 1/19/14 @ 5:34 pm
This is a very personal note, a memoir about scary events that happened back in 1975, memories that were, evidently, so disturbing that I have repressed them for 39 years.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Collateral Damage of Intra-racial Oppressive Stereotypes

Tonight as I watched Oprah Winfrey's show about "Dark Girls" I was distracted from the program's message of persistent racism by an inner voice that murmured that perhaps black people were collateral victims of oppressive stereotypes about beauty that whites had initially inflicted on themselves