Saturday, December 27, 2008

Everybody Knows Your Name

Being in Facebook is not without risk.

A girl I went to first grade with invited me to be her friend. In Facebook, you don't accept friendship, you confirm it. So I confirmed friendship with this girl.

When I did that, all her friends and all my friends were notified. And I was reminded again that, when you do anything in Facebook, everybody gets notified. Now, I don't care who gets notified about me. They can talk about me plenty when I'm gone.

But I was raised on the need to know basis. My father told me never to tell anybody anything about myself. Back then, I didn't care. I told everybody everything. Now that I'm in Facebook, I can see what my father was talking about.

I want a system that knows who I am, keeps track of all my worldly commerce, and let's me decide who gets notified about what. Like E-Mail.

I noticed that my schoolmate has recently become friends with Nancy Pelosi. I like Nancy Pelosi. I think she's really cute. But I don't want to become her friend. Not on Facebook.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Q: Mr. Blumen, why don't you write something every day? It seems as if you run hot and cold for days at a time. Why is that?

A: I don't think of something worth writing every day. I have to be in the mood, and sometimes I go for days on end without being in the mood. You might say, I run hot and cold.

Q: I did say that.

A: Well that cinches it. It's been my unstated policy to refrain from posting anything that's not worth writing or reading. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Sometimes there's a fine line between sparkling words and self-humiliation.

Q: So how do you tell the difference?

A: I don't know.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let Us Now Praise Peter Schiff

You know this guy - he's appeared on the Stock Channel regularly in the past few years. All during the boomtime, he was slouching toward Armageddon.

There were a few others - Kass, Roubini, Gary Shilling - who saw the trouble coming, but Schiff was different. His smooth demeanor never flickered. The shape of his little smile never moved a fraction of a degree from its designated arc. He did not respond to logic that was outside his syllogism.

Now, he's right as rain. And now, when Kass and the rest are beginning to look at the next turn in the road, Schiff continues to peer into the abyss.

I looked him up and found that his father was Irwin Schiff, the famous tax protester. That explains everything.

Woody Allen had a problem with authority. I have a problem with impenetrable minds. I shouldn't let Peter Schiff get to me.

We shouldn't be encouraging him. In the fulness of time, we'll see that, even when he was right, he was wrong.

I know it's Sunday. I'm sorry.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Real Good for Free

A few years ago, I found myself in an Embassy Suites Hotel in Orlando. The good thing about an Embassy Suites is that they provide breakfast, every morning, for free. Not the mini-me-muffins and Raisin Bran that you get everywhere else. This is a real breakfast with eggs and bacon and sausage, cooked to order by real chefs. They always drew a crowd.

The time I'm thinking about, there were three chefs, all with vague European accents, maybe brothers, moving around like tummlers and working the crowd while producing breakfast out of smoke and fire.

They shouted: "Whatever you want! You got it! It's America! Everything free in America!"

It brought a tear to my eye.

That's what I like about Google. Everything's free. They let me write this blog and publish it myself. For nothing. They handle everything. I just have to come up with the words.

I'm nobody special. They don't even get any revenue from me. But I have the same rights as important people like Paula Abdul.

And when I write my blog, I get a good feeling, like I'm out on the street with a clarinet and I know how to play it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dreams where the umbrella is folded

A while back, I thought I wanted to start a blog about Bob Dylan, and I did start one. I posted one item - a review of "Modern Times" - and then never came back to it.

And yet, this blog, ostensibly about Google, is shot through with Dylan. Maybe I will just sneak a Dylan post in, now and then, and nobody will care.

Right now, "Bob Dylan the bootleg series, volume 3" is on the Bose and it's set to repeat the last track until I turn it off. The last track is "Series of Dreams". I have on my Quiet Comfort headphones and I have listened to "Series of Dreams" all the way through about four or five times, now.

When I haven't listened to "Series of Dreams" for a while, it always makes me cry. Always at the same line. But after listening to it five times through, I don't hear it anymore. Because I anticipate everything. I will stay refractory, like this, for maybe a year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Like Muley

I used to tell myself that I was lookin' out for things, so that when the money come back everything'd be all right. But I know'd it wasn't true. That money ain't coming back. It ain't never coming back! And me, I'm just an old graveyard ghost.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thus Spake Larry and Sergey

In my youth, I read a lot of Nietzsche and I thought we would be beyond good and evil by now.

Tonight, I tuned in to the middle of a radio program which featured a debate among several professors and other well-known people on the proposition that, despite its motto, Google has done evil on several occasions.

A survey, taken before the show, showed that most people in the audience didn't care about this, one way or the other.

One guy, against the proposition and for Google, said Google did good when it came out with its motto and got everybody thinking about being good. Good point.

But Esther Dyson, also against the proposition, and arguably the smartest person in the room, gave the best brief in Google's defense. She said Google does good by providing people with services they want, and it does good by increasing the flow of information everywhere, making it tough on tyrants.

Those for the proposition were pitiful and shrill. Militant idealists. They said that good is good and evil is evil and black is black and there's no room for Mr. In-Between. Google, in their estimation, was evil when it acquiesced in keeping Chinese people from seeing YouTube, and there's no chance for redemption. Censorship is evil, Google did it, and that was good enough for them.

Well, censorship is not evil. It's unconstitutional, and then only if the Government does it.

Google's a corporation and it's run by a couple of guys who knew exactly what they were saying, but probably didn't realize how it would be taken. You can throw it in the same bucket with John Lennon's comparison of the Beatles to "Jesus Christ as a person or God as a thing..."

Of course, Lennon was evil.