Patrick Stewart has been a longtime advocate on the subject of violence against women, and often spoken out strongly on the subject, perhaps most notably at Amnesty International.
At of all places, Comicpalooza 2013, he was asked the kind of question you don't tend to get at a convention like Comicpalooza. This is his eloquent, touching, moving answer.
If you liked Patrick Stewart before, you will likely now admire him. If you were never a particular fan, you might be giving him a second thought.
This video was posted by the woman who asked the question. Stay to the end to see what she's wearing, which adds a heartfelt turn to it all.
There's little I find defensible about Sarah Palin, the former half-term Republican governor, other than the fodder she provides for columns. It was therefore with interest that I saw the headline on the Huffington Post front Politics page which read, "Palin Rejects What?" I've gotten to the point with Palinisms that my eyes gloss over most Palin Stories, but this one seemed to have possibilities. After all, what did she reject this time? Public Education? The Law of Gravity? The Principle that all Jews aren't going to Hell?
No. She rejected -- Google Glass.
Actually, it wasn't just that she returned down putting on Google Glass, but she didn't want to put it on when offered by a complete stranger. Here's the story --
"At one point during the evening Sarah Palin arrived at the hotel and made a smooth, practiced pass through the bar shaking hands and taking photos with a long line of admirers. I stood next to her for several minutes but she wouldn't take a photo with me or wear Glass. 'What's in it for us?' asked her husband Todd, staring squarely at the camera and screen floating just above my hazy, bourbon-enhanced eyes. 'We don't know what company you're with.' When I told him I wasn't after an endorsement but was rather a journalist interested in her opinion of Glass, he icily asked me to leave."
Other than Todd Palin's crassness of asking "What's in it for us?," which does seem to be the Palin Family Motto of Public Service, I actually have to side with Team Palin on this one.
First of all, Google Glass looks sort of stupid. They make the wearer look somewhat akin to an alien machine-like Borg from Star Trek. Secondly, they didn't know that this wasn't intended as an endorsement, regardless of what he said. And besides, they also didn't know who this journalist was. So, they had every right to "reject" putting on the Google Glass.
A few years ago, I was working on a radio project with Al Gore. I'd written several short scripts for radio commentaries on environmental issues. He'd approved them all, except there was one that dealt with a new technology he was unaware of. So, at the last minute, he put that one aside, saying he didn't know enough about it personally and wanted to check it out himself. And this was for something that someone he knew had vetted. So, I have zero problem with Sarah Palin not wanting to do anything with some product she knew nothing about from someone she'd never seen before.
And for the Huffington Post to put this non-story on their front Political page is idiotic. Most especially when there are SO many actual Palin Stories. of real substance. To me, that's the point of this story -- not Sarah Palin, but that the Huffington Post put this on the home Politics page.
No, there was nothing in it for the noble Palins. But then, there was nothing in it, period.
The oft-mentioned, wonderful Nell Minow -- a world expert on All Things Corporate (and so much else, including even movie reviewing) has a terrific, short article here on the Huffington Post. It's about a four-letter word you should eliminate from your vocabulary. The word is -- "busy."
As she notes, the word "short-circuits genuine interaction" by making it so much an unthinking coverall excuse. Saying that we're so busy tends to be used on autopilot, she says, "to deflect others, not realizing that it interferes with the essential task of taking responsibility for our choices. 'Busy' is how the urgent distracts us from the important. 'Busy' is a too-easy answer and a too-lazy excuse."
I loved reading the article, since "busy" has long been a bugaboo of mine. A few years back, I was in a business relationship with some people who I'd often have to email four or fine times just to get an answer. Not just get a “good answer” – but a simple reply. Whenever I'd bring up how annoying this was, I'd get the response that “You have to be patient because I'm really busy.” I was always bothered by that for all the reasons Nell mentions so pointedly in her piece, and more. Occasionally, I'd politely ask my partners to turn the situation around. What if they asked a question and didn’t get a reply? How would they react? And how would they feel if they then had to ask the same question four times without getting a response? I asked that I be given the same courtesy that they expected for themselves. It was an uphill battle.
And it all stemmed from their being So Busy. In truth, they were very busy. But if they called or wrote the other person, they’d get an immediate response. And just writing back, “No info yet,” and then hitting “Send” takes about eight seconds.
So, yes, I loved the article. You may, too.
A Hen in the Fox House
Pew Research recently released a study that said four out of ten households with children had a woman who was the sole or primary breadwinner.
This news didn't sit well with the guests Wednesday on Lou Dobbs's show on "Fox News." In addition to the host (who has previously spoken out angrily against such damaging abuses as St. Patrick's Day -- honestly! -- suggesting that we might as well celebrate St. Jin Tao Wow Day), the panelists Juan Williams, Erick Erickson and Doug Schoen were outraged by what apparently they see as a precursor to the end of civilization. Mr. Erickson was perhaps the most devastated by the news. "When you look at biology, look at the natural world, the roles of a male and a female in society, and other animals, the male typically is the dominant role."
Forgetting for a moment that Erick Erickson is not a biologist -- or perhaps a thinking, sentient human -- and clearly doesn't believe in "looking" at anything with open eyes, which would seem to be the first criteria in doing such a thing, and even allowing for people to have neanderthal opinions that don't allow for women to be accomplished and do more than cook and have babies, it doesn't appear that the panelists took into consideration changing conditions of society, like the increase of divorce that would require a woman to be the sole breadwinner. Or a weak economy (not just currently, but for many years) which has forced women back into the marketplace for two-income families.
It's just an idiotic, harmful attitude all around, and one more easy mark to spot for anyone wondering why the conservative GOP has difficulty attracting women to vote for them.
(Mind you, why they should have this deeply-backwards attitude is made all the more odd when they should remember that even the most recent standard-bearer for the Republican Party, Mitt Romney, himself acknowledged that he had binders full of women available to work.)
But the funniest and most pointed part of this whole story was when an equally-outraged (albeit from the other side of the coin) Greta Van Susteren of the same network wrote a blistering critique on her blog --
"Have these men lost their minds? (and these are my colleagues??!! oh brother... maybe I need to have a little chat with them (next thing they will have a segment to discuss eliminating women's right to vote?)"
My immediate reaction to Ms. Van Susteren was --
1. Maybe you need to have a little chat with them??!! Maybe, if you really don't want to be surrounded by these attitudes, you need to work at a different organization.
2. Seriously, this is the first time you've noted attitudes like this at "Fox News" in the corridors??!!
3. Forget the corridors, after all maybe you sit in your office all day working, but do you even watch your own network??!!
4. You think it's a quip that they'd want to have a segment on eliminating women's right to vote??!! Have you not been paying attention to "Fox News" supporting GOP efforts to block minorities from voting -- with voter ID cards, eliminating early voting, vote challenges, creating long lines to discourage voting??!!
5. Your problem begins with asking "Have these men lost their minds?", rather than acknowledging that they have.
6, Yes, these are your colleagues. And you are their colleague. You are all one. The world's perception of you is colored by its perception of them. Welcome to the club.
7, When you take a step back and see what the rest of the world not living in the far-right bubble has seen for years on "Fox News," it's probably not a great sight and pretty sickening when you're on the receiving end, is it? Welcome to the world.
8. If you were really, thoughtfully outraged by all this, you might want to consider writing more than three sentences about it.
For all the outrage, though, the good news here that transcends everything is to see Lou Dobbs in fine, ranting form. That's the Lou Dobbs we know and love. Happy St. Jin Tao Wow Day to him!
Annie Get Your Video
Back in January, 2001, Reba McIntire was signed to take over the role of 'Annie Oakley' in the then-running revival of Annie Get Your Gun. She only was signed for six months. By all reports, it was a remarkable performance, considered one of the best-ever, made all the more remarkable from someone who had never even appeared in a play before. (Or, as far as I recall, perhaps never had even acted before.) But as a country music star, as opposed to the traditional Broadway performer she was not only uncommonly perfect in the role, but sang the roof off the theater.
There were plans to do a TV production and memorialize the performance. But then two Broadway musicals adapted for TV were fairly unsuccessful (Bye Bye Birdie and The Music Man), and so network interest shriveled and disappeared, and the production foolishly never went forward. And the acclaimed performance was lost for the ages.
Except -- thanks to YouTube, all that is lost shall be found. There is a full video recording of Reba McIntire's renowned performance in Annie Get Your Gun.
Now, I must say here upfront that I do not like bootleg videos. At worst, I find many borderline reprehensible and all a slap in the face of copyright holders. In some cases, they take money away from the rights-holder. And this is a bootleg recording. Someone taped the performance from the balcony.
But I am not inflexible. (Nor a lawyer...) It's just that sometimes there are things that would otherwise be lost forever, and so -- wrong as it is -- I'm glad that something valuable has been preserved. Also, speaking just personally, I look at a lot of this from a scholastic level -- I write extensively about Broadway, so I find it personally important to be able to know what I'm writing about. Yes, I understand that this is stretching credibility and borderline hypocritical. But I still believe it. When I do watch bootleg videos, I tend to do so under certain self-imposed restrictions. (They're far too long to go into here and basically only of interest to me.)
And so, with that lengthy explanation, I'm going to embed part of the video here. The full performance is broken into about 15 10-minute videos. I haven't watched the whole thing (that relates to one of those self-imposed restrictions...) but I've seen enough to know that the reputation of Reba McIntire's is well-justified.
And so, I'll show you what I mean.
In segment #2, Reba McIntire sings, "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun." It's absolutely, joyously, hilariously wonderful, and that's what I've embedded it below. (But know that that's all I've embedded, not even the full segment. I've edited everything else out and got it down to run the one song only. Again, maybe this is stretching what is proper, and a salve to my conscience, but I think I've done my best to be as protective as reasonable.)
And the "as reasonable" is the operative word here, because I think this performance and particular song is simply too good to be lost to history forever. Some things deserve their place in the sun, even when that place is stretched.
How good is her performance of this song? I played it for my parents a couple years ago and -- well, you must understand that not only were they big traditionalists about such things, but they actually saw Ethel Merman on stage in the original Broadway production. One of the legendary Broadway performances ever. So, when I said to them that, at the very least, this one song was on a par with that, I was met with great skepticism (to the extent of "Are you crazy??") When it was over, though, my dad acknowledged that, well, yes, okay she was quite good (which was a huge acknowledgement for him after having made a pronouncement), and attractive, too. And my mother actually asked to see it again.
In short (well, okay, I'm well-past that at this point...), Reba McIntire just sings the bejeepers out of the song. She nails every single joke. She throws herself into it and chews up the stage with her soaring voice. And -- with all due respect to the legendary Merman -- as my dad noted, you can easily see Frank Butler falling in love with her.
I'm sorry this is bootleg. I'm thrilled it exists. It's just one song I've edited down and am posting, but seeing this one song is enough. The video quality is absolutely terrible -- but after a bit you won't care. You'll just be so glad to be able to be watching it. And know, in the end, that it's not lost to the ages. Not lost, but ...right here, below.
And they still should have made the TV production. This was Reba McIntire. People would have watched. Her fans alone almost would have made it a hit.
A Fan Fan
With summer coming, BobVila.com has a short slideshow piece on 11 cooling fans. Most seem to be there because of their design, though in many ways design is the only thing that differentiates a lot of fans. Several of those listed, though, do focus on the cooling technology.
All of this brought to mind my own favorite (and most disappointing) fan that I've come across. It's something I discovered when attending last year's IFA Berlin tech trade show. The GreenFan 2, is from a Japanese company, Balumuda. What was so wonderful about the fan is how remarkable it was at cooling. What was freaking disappointing is that it's not available in the U.S., at least at the moment.
I was so enamored with the GreenFan 2 that I stood in front of it, luxuriating in its breeze and reading the documentation on its display for (without exaggerating) about 15-20. I stood in front of it so long that I think other show visitors thought I was part of the exhibit. The vendors found me quite amusing, though appreciative, and when I wrote the company a couple months later, they remembered "the guy who was standing in front of your fan for so long."
Despite spending so much time reading about their "natural breeze" technology and asking questions, I still can't tell you precisely how it works, but it has something to do with dual layer blades and air diffusion over a flat surface... However, it delivered the coolest and quietest air I've ever come across.
I know that it's borderline pointless to write about a product you can't readily buy. But excellence should always be lauded. Besides, if anyone reading this is going to Japan -- or Korea, where's it's also sold -- it's good to know about and look into. For all I know, they'll ship one if you contact them online. Their website has a lot of information on it (in English, despite the graphic above), so that will tell you more -- for those interested in knowing more about a fan that they may not be able to get. Yet. Ah, but one day hopefully...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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