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Ojai Orange | The Column of Lasting Insignificance | Books | Wait-A-Minute

August 7, 2010
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

The column of lasting insignificance
 
       


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 


August 7, 2010

John Wilcock
the column of lasting insignificance

“Google just makes things seem very easy. People don’t realize how difficult it is to make (the search rankings) happen”.
--Shivnath Babu, a computer science professor at Duke University.

GOOGLE’S FAMOUS MANTRA Do No Evil is proving to be a provocative stumbling block to critics of the company that, in the words of one of them, is trying to take over the world. Is Google good or bad? Is it a dangerous monopoly or an invaluable gift? Should it be curbed or encouraged? These are some of the questions currently raised by Newsmax, the magazine that combines a Fox sensibility with a garish tabloid style. In a 16-page cover story titled ‘Google vs Everyone’ by Eric Deggans it veers from one pov to another.

     By 2004, Google was handling 84% of all search requests on the Internet, a figure now at 71% (with 14% for Yahoo and 9% for Microsoft’s Bing). The London Times called Google ”the fastest growing company in the history of the world” and the reason it works so much better than its competitors, explains Mark Malseed “is that Google looked at the Web as a popularity contest. Your personal blog shouldn’t carry as much weight as the New York Times, Wikipedia or giant web sites that many people point to”.
     In March the social networking service Facebook overtook Google as the most-visited website in the U.S., by May drawing 8.3% of the visits against Google’s 7.1%   “The change suggests that online users are shifting from relying on Google to organize their online life to drawing on Facebook to develop networks of friends etc” comments Newsmax.
   “No matter what anyone thinks (Google) doesn’t want to control the world—they want to organize it” declares columnist Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? And, in a reference to the new competition from a new angle, adds: “Google organizes information and Facebook is trying to organize people”.

Sergey Brin and Larry Page who started their company in a Menlo Park garage in 1998 with a $100,000 check from a cofounder of Sun Microsystems, offered 19 million shares of stock at $85 each. These, says Wired, are  now $507 a share,  with the estimated total value of the company estimated at $150 billion.
      Page: “Having an attitude that the customer is always right and your goal is to build systems that work for them in a natural way is a good attitude to have”.
      Of course, staying at the head of the pack requires constant attention. Google spent $4million lobbying Congress last year,  Newsmax reveals. In Washington it has nine lobbyists ands four public relations firms on retainer.
      “But there are dark clouds on the bright horizon of Google’s beneficial public image and widespread consumer goodwill” the mag observes. “Even a company with the simple credo of ‘Don’t Be Evil’  may face a tougher road as governments, competitors and  customers cast a wary eye toward its expanding influence”.
       Consumer Watchdog’s John Simpson argues that Google has

Newsmax

amassed too much power for one corporation to wield, regardless of its values. “(It) has emerged essentially as the gateway to the Internet for almost everyone in the world….but they are not the warm and fuzzy thing they hold themselves out to be. They’re a tough bunch of advertising people who make most of their money from controlling online advertising”.
     Technology researcher Keith Woolcock says Google is a monopoly just as Intel and Microsoft are monopolies.  But Silicon Valley antitrust attorney Gary Reback points out that it isn’t enough for a company to be huge. To run afoul of the law it would also have to be guilty of a ‘bad act’, perpetrated to attain or protect its disproportionate advantage in the marketplace. “The concern would be if somebody dominates that medium (so much)” that they could charge different political  candidates different sums for using certain tag words.
     Summarizing the controversy, Newsmax comments: “Often the very characteristics that make Google popular raise the biggest concern among its critics (such as) the amount of information Google stores so its search results and suite of products work best for each individual user.
      “People don’t realize that their search history is quite a dossier into what you’re thinking” Malseed warns. “Google hasn’t had a huge data breach yet, but they could have one. Or, with a subpoena, you could potentially get at this data and that would be a divorce lawyer’s best friend. Madison Avenue is scared to death of Google”  he adds, “because Google is looking to put real numbers behind advertising  performance. They give accountability where there has never been accountability before”.


End the Impossible War

WAR CRIMINALS AWAITING TRIAL at the International Criminal Court in the Hague are living like guests in a luxury hotel according to the Belgrade newspaper Danas. Detained in individual suites with TV and computer, access to a library and well-equipped gym they get plenty of sex as wives are encouraged to visit. Prisoners, among whom are former Liberian president Charles Taylor and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, are also given $50,000 a month for their defense. “Responsible for some of the most ghastly atrocities in recent memory” says Danas, “they are being treated like royalty”.

A NEW TACTIC by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is to invest in such companies as McDonald’s with the aim of exerting influence over the prevailing business practices. Stores reveals that PETA has so far invested in more than 80 businesses.

NUDISTS IN MANITOBA, one of Canada’s three western prairie provinces, got the bad news last week that the only clothes-optional resort has asked visitors this summer to keep their clothes on. Owners of the land used by Crocus Grove Sun Club say the shift is a result of waning interest in the bare lifestyle, but a story in the Montreal Gazette reports that all over Canada naturists (as they prefer to be called) are getting ready for their ‘nakations’. The resorts are updating their recruiting via Facebook and Twitter, aiming to recruit a younger generation of nudists who weren’t around when the movement went mainstream in the 1960s and ’70s. “People are also looking to re-connect on a human level because of technology," says Stephane Deschenes, who owns Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in Sharon, Ont. "People find that they are missing something."

THERE’S ALWAYS A NEW DRUG, something that law enforcement hasn’t yet banned, often not even discovered. One of the latest is mephedrone, MCAT for short and nicknamed meow meow  by tabloids in Britain where it has swept the nightclub scene. So far it’s been largely unstudied. “There have been many media claims” says clinical psychologist Paul Dargan, “but very few clinical facts”. Invented in an Israel lab in 2007 and somewhat resembling cocaine or the Sudanese shrub known as khat, mephedrone has stayed under the radar partly because it’s been marketed— especially on the Internet—as a plant food. But after overdoses led to hospitalization in North Dakota—it has been banned there, the first state to do so.

“I’m addicted to perfection. Problem with my life is I was always also addicted to chaos. Perfect chaos”.
                              —Mike Tyson in Details

 

IF YOU DON’T READ fiction, you may never have heard of Janet Evanovich but nearly a million fans bought her last book, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, and she’s in the news because her agent (who’s her son Peter) is asking $50 million for the next four books about her bounty hunter heroine Stephanie Plum. Evanovich’s publisher St. Martin’s Press is balking and Publishers Weekly has sparked a lively discussion about whether any author is worth 50 million bucks.

THE WILCOCK WEB: Recent elections have shown that the longest war in U.S. history is a low priority with voters. Of course, if they reintroduced the draft, we’d be out of Afghanistan in about ten minutes….And the preliminary gift of $180million to Yemen to combat Al Qaeda is probably the preface to our third war….ABC’s Christiane Amanpour is the best reason to wake up early on Sundays….If  that offensive mosque is still going up near to Ground Zero, a bacon factory would be the most appropriate neighbor for next door …. Congressman Charles Rangel is so arrogant that he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong...Strapping a live snake to the ceiling of a brain scanner, Science News reported that researchers studied the brain waves to measure the “fear” of entrapped volunteers as they moved the reptile closer and closer to their heads The Nation alleges that unfair influence by Time-Warner caused the Feds to again increase postal rates, adding an additional $180,000 to the liberal mag's bill for a total increase of $800,000 since 2007... Deft Definition: decafalon --The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you… After too many birds died by crashing into glass doors, Toronto now requires new buildings to incorporate window treatments and similar elements to reduce reflection…. Norwegian author Åsne Seierstad is being sued by an Afghanistan family with whom she lived and whose intimate lives she depicted in her The Bookseller of Kabul….  The surfeit of lawyers involved in the Gulf oil spill will undoubtedly clean up as much money as BP lost…. The battle against Arizona’s attempt to curb illegal immigration is turning Sheriff Joe Arpaio into an unlikely hero…..With 1,740 stores throughout the U.S. , the first Target store in Manhattan opens (in East Harlem) next week…. EMILY, a 4ft-long talking robot buoy, that can speed towards a drowning swimmer at 28mph, is being tested off Malibu beaches…. It’s never too late to be what you might have been” advised George Eliot …… Steve Carell, that veteran of cruel humor,  gets less and less funny with each successive movie…. According to something called the Harris Poll, two-thirds of those asked have switched to generic brands to save money and two out of five are filling their water bottles from the tap….A German sewage plant has found that the vibrations from playing Mozart at high volume stimulates microbes to break down the waste ….“If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known how he employs it”—Socrates (469BC-399BC)

7/31/10

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