Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Gruden and Shatner Meet Technology

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Jon Gruden

William Shatner

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Jon Gruden

couple of        interesting stories flashed by a couple of weeks ago and quickly faded from most news reports. That’s

common in today’s highly charged political atmosphere. “Other“ news has a tough time getting noticed.

     The stories involved former pro football coach/sports commentator Jon Gruden and former actor William Shatner. At first glance, they may seem worlds apart, but I see a connection. Two, in fact.

      Technology and priorities. Technology sacked Gruden and lifted Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, to another dimension. In the process, misplaced priorities of others came into focus.

       Gruden was forced to resign his position as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL after The New York Times reported that emails Gruden had sent several years ago to the owner of the Washington Football Team (that’s its official name) were full of racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. Gruden was a football TV analyst at the time.

    His contract with the Raiders was for 10 years and $100 million. There were six years and $40 million left on the contract. He recently reached a settlement with the Raiders on the remaining dollars. Being a pro football coach pays well, but only if you hide your bigotry well.

         In the years before email, Gruden would probably have survived just as many coaches have survived, by hiding their prejudices in public. But this is a new century and the kind of things that were OK between the guys in private are no longer acceptable when they become public.

      Indeed, Gruden‘s emails came to light as part of an NFL investigation into charges of sexual harassment filed against the team by their cheerleaders, all female.  Gruden made his remarks in messages sent to the owner of the team,  a team, by the way, which still has not figured out a new nickname to replace “Redskins.“ It was finally forced to give up the name because, well, it’s a new century.

       Gruden released a statement, saying: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt  anyone.”

       Well, yeah, that’s why you say nasty things about people behind their backs instead of to their faces. But when you are in a position of power, how do those opinions play out in your day-to-day dealings with those people? And when you say insulting things about people who might have some power over you, say the commissioner of the NFL, as Gruden apparently did, well that might have an impact on how that person deals with you and your team.

         Gruden is reportedly depressed about what has happened. But maybe he shouldn’t have sent those emails. And perhaps the NFL, before it gets too self-righteous, should apologize to Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed for economic reasons by the league for taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism in America. That would include the NFL, even though the majority of its players are black. The misogyny and homophobia in the NFL are a given. 

        Kaepernick, and other players who joined him, publicly protested treatment of blacks that Gruden, and for sure, others affiliated with the NFL, supported in private through their attitudes and comments.

   Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s a new century, gentlemen. New Technology tells you if someone really scored a touchdown. It can also tell you if that smiling face on the coach is the mask of a bigot.

     Shatner is a different story. In the first place, he’s a “former“ actor, because he’s 90 years old and retired. He wasn’t forced to resign.

      In an inspired theatrical gesture, he was invited to be a passenger on the New Shepard space vessel launched into sub-orbital space by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. Shatner set a record, going where no man or woman that age had ever gone before.

      He returned from his brief trip to space awestruck and emotional.. 

      “Looking into blackness,” he said, you “look down and there’s the blue down there and the black up there … there is mother Earth and comfort and there … is there death? This is life and that’s death.”

    While saying, “everyone needs to do this” when he returned to Earth, Shatner also had a message about the planet itself.

     Commenting on how thin the atmosphere appeared to him as he traveled upward he noted the “fragility” of the Earth. “We need to take care of the planet, but it’s so fragile,” he said. “There’s this little tiny blue skin that is 50 miles wide, and we pollute it, and it’s our means of living.”

    Indeed. Well put, captain. The question is whether his host, Bezos, heard the two-part message: As humans seek to further explore space, we must do more to protect the health of the place we call home. Bezos, the worlds wealthiest human, certainly is in a position to do plenty to protect the environment of the planet that provides him with those riches.

     Space travel began in the 20th century and there’s apparently no way of stopping wealthy entrepreneurs from trying to capitalize on it. There were other passengers on Shatner‘s trip, a couple of whom may have paid half a million dollars apiece for the privilege. Perhaps some of that money could be invested in saving the Amazon forest or trying to reduce the pollution from all those Amazon delivery vehicles providing next-day service right here on Earth.  

      That way, we can all live long and prosper.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Bingeing: Grace, Midge … Cauliflower

Thursday, March 25th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos 

 The marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Too funny for her own good?

The marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Too funny for her own good?

    I have a love/hate affair with bingeing.

     … Let me start over. Who ever came up with the concept of bingeing? I mean, putting your feet up and watching hours of your favorite show in one sitting? No commercials and no waiting a week for the next episode? What a concept! What a great idea. I love it.

     Until the episodes end and the seasons end and the pandemic doesn’t end and no one can film new episodes because the actors don’t want to die. And I’m left wondering what, if anything, will ever happen to the marvelous Midge Maisel.

     So I hate bingeing because, well, I always want there to be another episode. So I resist bingeing. Just two episodes a night is enough. Sometimes.

     Living in a locked-down world requires having something to look forward to tomorrow. At least it does for me. Netflix has provided thousands of options to take my mind, and millions of other minds, off the infection curve. Right place, right time. Sign in, Robert; take your pick. Who knew from streaming shows after growing up and getting old on weekly TV series? I don’t watch regular TV and you can only read so much and you can’t go out to the movies. 

    So, “What’s on Netflix?”

    “How about ‘Grace and Frankie?’”

    How about Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin!? And Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston! What a show! Who knew? Well, apparently lots of people who caught on to streaming before me because there were six seasons. Anyway, we loved it. Four veteran actors defying aging and other stereotypes. Funny. Binge!

    And then, uhh, is it over? Apparently, for now. They’re talking about filming the final season. Before the stars really fade, I suspect.

      So now what? Well, Michael Douglas has a show that looks kind of interesting. “The Kaminsky Method.“ He’s an acting coach. And Alan Arkin is in it. More talented veterans. God, I remember when Michael was too young to have his character dealing with prostate problems. “Greed is good!” No matter. Excellent. Funny. Binged. That’s all? Still waiting for a promised new season.

     Then we discovered “The Good Girls.“ Bingo! It’s dark and funny and it’s impossible to watch just one at a time. Usually, it was three, although I tried hard to argue for two. Always wanted to have something left for tomorrow. It ended with a cliffhanger, but came back. Then it went away again. But it’s coming back again. Soon I hope. 

      While exploring and waiting on the “Girls” to return, we looked in on “The Good Place.“ After being mildly interesting, it turned out to be pretty much the same place every episode. Sam Malone seemed a little out of place running Heaven. We didn’t stick around to see how it turned out since the whole concept is really about how it all turned out.

     Umm … Pass the chips, please. Speaking of bingeing, you can’t watch all this great stuff on an empty stomach, right? Apparently, a lot of people put on a lot of weight sitting around for a year bingeing on snacks. Not me. I may have even dropped a couple of pounds

      They call the shows comfort bingeing and I can see why. It certainly helped my mental health. But the new way of watching shows also led to a venture into new comfort foods. To be more specific, more healthful snack foods that satisfy the need to munch, but won’t make me regret all the bingeing later on.

      The basic concept is that the potato isn’t the only vegetable that can be made into a chip, to dip or just munch straight out. As long as we were trying a new way of watching shows, why not new munchies? Let me say straight out, they are all a bit light and airy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be tasty and also satisfying. Veggie Crisps are mainly rice, peas and black beans and I can polish off a whole bag without feeling guilty. Not bad. Organic lentils (with turmeric) and organic sweet beet crisps didn’t really do much for me, taste wise, but again, they filled the void. Sweet potato crackers held their own. Skinny Pop popcorn, though, is a major favorite. Also pita chips, especially when scooping hummus.

       But the surprise thus far is cauliflower. Cauliflower puffs or sticks, doesn’t matter how you shape them, they just taste good. It’s like eating air with flavor. No heavy aftertaste and no extra pounds after many hours on the couch. It probably should go without saying, but I’ll say it: It’s important to try to stay healthy when bingeing during a pandemic, people.

       It also pays to be adventurous. When Netflix came up dry, Amazon Prime rewarded us with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I love it. My era. Greenwich Village in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Lenny Bruce. And all the music. The best. A wonderfu ensemble cast and a meshugganah script. Funny stuff.

      And yeah, we’re waiting for the new season. Midge’s personal brand of humor got her into trouble one more time in the last episode. We left her standing at the airport, alone. Maybe she’ll spend more time with her kids in the next season. Or maybe the pandemic will end before we run out of shows and cauliflower puffs. Or maybe Grace and Frankie will return. The Good Girls are already on regular TV, so it won’t be long before they’re on Netflix, right? Right?

       Pass the Skinny Pop, please. I have a feeling this will not be the end of bingeing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Streaming My Way Through a Pandemic

Friday, January 1st, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

 

George Clooney and Brad Pitt, streaming in one of the “Ocean’s” movies.

George Clooney and Brad Pitt, streaming in one of the “Ocean’s” movies.

    Apropos of nothing, the list below represents a significant portion of my at-home viewing entertainment in 2020, the year of the pandemic. If it’s representative of anything, it’s what I did when I wasn’t writing about you know who.

      I don’t see any pattern in the list, except maybe that George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Paul Newman, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington all appear more than once. What the offerings all have in common is that they were not on television. All were streamed, thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Disney Plus. If the stock market is reflective of anything, it appears a lot of other folks were passing the time streaming 2020 as well.

      Everything on the list is a movie, not a series. (I’m counting “Mangrove” as a stand-alone.) There were a few of those, too, as well as varied educational offerings, which I have been told will help to keep my mind razor sharp.

      But these are all one-shot features, some old, some new. I’m not critiquing any, but I do welcome any comments or questions you may have on the list as well as recommendations for 2021. I’m serious. I found this to be one of the few things that people could talk about last year without arguing and that I could write about without using the word, “Dotard.” …

     Darn. Habit. Happy New Year and happy streaming.

The List:

The Laundromat

The Pianist

The Commuter

Book Club

Julie/Julia

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Philadelphia 

The Danish Girl

The Peacemaker

The Coldest Game

Ladies in Lavender

A Serious Man

An Inspector Calls

The Rainmaker

Where the Money Is

Hail, Caesar!

The Double

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Battered Bastards of Baseball

Nobody’s Fool

Quartet

Minority Report

Rocket Man 

To Catch a Thief

The Gardener

Ocean’s Twelve

Ocean’s Thirteen

The Social Dilemma

Secret in Their Eyes

Cafe Society

The Departed

Halston 

My Octopus Teacher 

Hank

Man of the Year

Mangrove

The Dressmaker

Cookie’s Fortune

Greyhound

Margot Fonteyn

Uncle Frank

Bombshell

Deja Vu

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Bikram

Diana: The Royal Truth

Pippin

Amazon Empire

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

In Search of 21 Influential Thinkers

Monday, December 10th, 2018

By Bob Gaydos

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison ... who are their 21st Century counterparts?

Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison

A few weeks ago, in a burst of subtle synchronicity, Elon Musk was removed as board chairman of Tesla at the same time John Flannery was removed as chairman and CEO of General Electric. Since both companies were struggling in different ways, the firings, while surprising, were not shocking.

The surprise in Musk’s case was that he was forced out by actions taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which actually fined him and the company $20 million apiece for false statements Musk tweeted about financing to take the 21st century startup company private. Musk stayed on as CEO, but it’s nice to see the SEC is paying attention.

In Flannery’s case, he had only been on the job for a year, which seemed to many Wall Street analysts not nearly enough time to breathe life into the moribund, more-than-century-old company.

So, a reliable old company, with a household name, a onetime giant of household appliances and energy, but which has seen better days, and a new, hotshot company, with a sexy name, electric cars, solar panels, a colorful leader with an eye on dominating the next century of energy production, were both having trouble making their stockholders happy. That’s Wall Street, you say. How are the simultaneous takedowns of their bosses anything more than coincidence?

To many observers it won’t be. But to those who recall that Thomas Edison was one of the founders of General Electric and that Tesla Inc, is named after Nikola Tesla, Edison’s arch-rival for credit in discovering electricity as well as profiting from the discovery, well, perhaps it’s just another example of their names and future being linked by some invisible yet undeniable force. Like electricity.

Or synchronicity.

Were he still with us in more than name and spirit, I think Tesla would agree. Consider this statement from the visionary inventor: “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

Of all the non-physical phenomena, perhaps the most common and least explored is “coincidence.” Carl Jung made some significant efforts, but more “traditional” science has for the most part ignored what it cannot easily explain.

Don’t worry, this is not going to be an effort to do so.

Tesla first entered my consciousness in more than a vague, yeah-I’ve-heard-of-him kind of way, eight years ago. I had recently retired and begun wading into the world of blogging. When you write daily editorials for 23 years, it’s difficult to go cold turkey. One day, a couple of friends who actually read my blog gave me a challenge: Come up with a list of the 20 most influential thinkers of the 20th Century.

Not a bad idea. Challenging and a good way to engage readers by asking for suggestions.

“Nikola Tesla,” my friend Ernie suggested when I put out the call for nominations. “He should be on the list. He invented electricity and radio; he just didn’t get credit because he was a terrible businessman and didn‘t know how to promote himself.”

As it turned out, the one who “got credit” and a good deal more, was Thomas Edison, who I had wisely put on my first, tentative list. Connection made. Eventually, Edison, who gave us the incandescent light bulb, and Tesla, who contributed alternating current, both made the list. Yes, Edison was the better businessman and Tesla the more visionary thinker.

But Edison’s heirs, if you will, eventually lost their way, venturing into health insurance and buying NBC-TV, among other non-power-related ventures. Meanwhile, the company that took Tesla’s name for inspiration, has been true to his visionary approach and, in hiring Musk, apparently, also true to the Tesla disregard for conventional wisdom and clumsiness with business affairs. Must be a coincidence.

What’s the point?

I’m looking for a new list of thinkers, this one for the 21st century. The question: Who are the Teslas and Edisons and Jungs who will shape the way we live in the rest of this still young century?

As with the 20th Century list, I need your help. This is a cooperative venture. It’s kind of what social media is best suited for. In fact, I will start the working list with names of thinkers who make this venture possible: Bill Gates (who made the 20th Century list), Mark Zuckerberg. Steve Jobs.

Others who are having profound influence on our lives: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the aforementioned Elon Musk, who at least seems to aspire to Tesla’s legacy. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, is working on a new, privacy-focused web to rival the world of Google, Facebook and Amazon.

But there’s more to life than technology and shopping. As Jung explored coincidence and synchronicity, so now do Mooji, Eckhart Tolle, Rupert Spira and Deepak Chopra make us think about the nature of reality — the “non-physical phenomena” of which Nikola Tesla spoke. Author/essayist Rebecca Solnit has become the voice many people seek out for an explanation on a variety of complex subjects. Are there other authors, political leaders (77-year-old Bernie Sanders, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?), scientists, philosophers, poets, artists, inventors, business leaders or anyone else you think will have profound influence on the course of this century? Please share and I will share and eventually come up with a list of 21 influential thinkers for the 21st Century.

As a possibly useful prod, I include the list we came up with eight years ago. Of course, looking back is much easier than looking ahead, but compiling a list of those we think will be influential in the 21st century actually makes us part of the process of shaping things to come.

The 20th Century thinkers list:
Albert Einstein
Gandhi
Henry Ford
The Wright Brothers (count as one)
Thomas Edison
Picasso
Nikola Tesla
Mark Twain
James D. Watson, Francis Crick, Rosalind Franklin (DNA trio count as one)
Winston Churchill
Philo Farnsworth
Rachel Carson
George Orwell
Sigmund Freud
Carl Jung
Bill Gates
Margaret Sanger
Bertrand Russell
Bob Dylan
T.S. Eliot

I know these are stressful times, but if we all contribute in a positive way to the Greater Consciousness, it just might relieve some stress. Email or comment. Don’t be bashful.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bagels and Farts, Hold the Dressing

Monday, May 14th, 2012

By Bob Gaydos

Mr. Methane

“So you know how some people use religion to say that gay marriage should not be allowed and others say that as long as it doesn’t affect them they don’t care, that it should be an individual choice?”

“Yeah.”

“OK. So you know how people add dressings — Russian, Italian, ranch — when they eat salads?”

“Yeah.”

“So how come when I eat my salad with no dressing people look at me funny and tell me I’m weird? Isn’t that my individual choice?”

“Nothing at all?”

“Nothing.”

(Long pause for effect.) “No … you’re weird. That’s just messed up. A salad with no dressing? Dry? How about oil and vinegar?”

“I hate vinegar. I do put ketchup on my lettuce, though. And it’s tomato ketchup.”

“Eww. That’s disgusting. What’s wrong with you? This sounds like it might stem from some repressed childhood crisis.”

“But it’s tomato ketchup.”

* * *

The two Bobs have been meeting over coffee and buttered, toasted sesame bagels for some time, figuring out what’s wrong with the world, how it easily could be fixed if someone would only let them and agreeing that their sons were going to do whatever the hell they pleased, so it made no sense to worry about them. Although they did.

This particular morning, there was a shortage of weighty topics, though and having exhausted salads without dressing they moved on to dinosaur farts.

“So,” says the Bob who likes dressing on his salad, “I saw this report from the BBC. It says the dinosaurs, in effect, farted themselves into extinction.”

“What?”

“Yeah. You know how cows produce an incredible amount of methane, which is the scientific name for cow farts, and methane is one of those greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming?”

“Yeah. OK …?”

“Well, some scientists in England figured if cows today produce 50 million to 100 million cubic tons of methane a year, which sounds like a s**tload of methane, the biggest dinosaur species, like the Brachiosaurus, must have created even more.”

“Seriously, they got money to study this instead of why boring soccer games cause riots?”

“Yeah. A bunch of scientists from universities in England and Scotland figured out mathematically that the big dinosaurs that lived about 150 million years ago created about 520 million cubic tons of gas every year, which must have really stunk up the joint. But they say it also made the earth much warmer — 18 degrees hotter — than it is today and that helped melt the ice caps and glug, glug, no more dinosaurs.”

“No s**t?”

“No. And if you remember your biology, those dinosaurs were vegetarians.”

“So?”

“So it mean they were basically eating salads without dressing and farting themselves to death. A cautionary tale if there ever was one.”

“Eat your bagel.”

“Fine. Wanna hear some good news on the save-the-earth front?”

“Sure.”

“OK, so some students and professors from Yale were apparently wandering through the Amazon rain forest on an educational expedition and found fungi that — get this — eat plastic.”

“Get outta here.”

“Really. There’s a paper on it. They gathered up a bunch of plants and snooped around inside them and found a couple of fungi that eat and digest polyurethane. In fact, they don’t need anything else to survive. And you know the greenies keep telling us we’re going to be buried alive in polyurethane. Maybe the fungi can save us.”

“Well, I guess that would be a good thing. But is polyurethane even a plastic?”

“I don’t know. I think so, but that’s not the point. When did you become such a science whiz anyway? The point is, it’s in everything we use and throw away. Maybe the fungi can be used to get rid of some of it. Cool, huh?”

“Yeah, great. But tell me this — what happens after the fungi eat the polyurethane?”

“Whaddyou mean?”

“It’s digestion, right? What do the fungi give off as part of the process? Are they putting more methane into the atmosphere?”

“Jeez, I don’t know. But how much could fungi fart in comparison to cows or dinosaurs? And it probably wouldn’t smell as bad.”

“Yeah, probably not. All right, gotta go. See you next week.”

“Right. Hey, maybe try a little honey mustard dressing on your salad next time, instead of tomato ketchup.”

(Part of the preceding actually happened. The rest was made up, but entirely plausible.)

bob@zestoforange.com