Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Altered Perception In YouTube Comments

(I'm feeding by blog onto Facebook now - enjoy! If you're reading from there, stop by the Blog and look around, when you get a chance!)

Some YouTube videos can be very entertaining, but some of the comments posted to those videos can be disturbing. For many people, they're an opportunity to express hate, intolerance, and outright paranoia. For the rest of us, it's a display of pure ignorance and gullibility. For example:

When legendary newsman Walter Cronkite died, a comment expresses disgust, because he was a member of a mysterious ruling elite.

Any Obama video, of course, is peppered with comments calling him a Nazi, a communist, a Leninist, even a reptilian member of the "Illuminati," the popular catchphrase for those who believe in a vast enslaving conspiracy (either earth-based or otherworldly) of elites. And I hardly need to mention the racist comments, which are invariably attached to anyone of color.

NASA videos are routinely attacked by those who believe that "IT'S ALL FAKE!"

Some kids and teens comment on their peer's videos with vicious, violent threats and name-calling.

YouTube and the Internet, because of perceived anonymity, can be a refuge for the darker corners of human nature. For some, especially kids, it's an opportunity to be extreme and in-your-face without any consequence - I think some percentage of these online "wackos" are quite the opposite.

Unfortunately, the sheer volume of altered perception on display in the comments area (we'll talk about the actual videos another time), begs the question, "Is this where we're going as a society?"

Coffee at Tarzana Starbucks After Dentist

About 11:30 am.

With my mouth numb, I had to wait an hour to drink this, so I took a picture.

Monday, September 28, 2009

My Current Reading List

You might call this my attention deficit reading list - I'm reading all of these in rotation, depending upon my mood.:

  • The Real Oliver Twist by John Waller - This has been in my list the longest - it's the story of Robert Blincoe, who very well might have been the inspiration behind the fictional "Oliver Twist." Blincoe is a man who survived the workhouses of late 18th century / early 19th century England and cooperated in a biography of his life.
  • We'll Always Have Paris by Ray Bradbury - The latest book of short stories by the legendary writer. I picked this up after I had the chance to meet him a few months ago.
  • Just After Sunset by Stephen King - A book of short stories by Stephen King. This has been out for a year or so, but I just heard about it. I've always enjoyed his short stories (though I'm not too much into his later work).
  • Free by Chris Anderson - The author suggests that in today's niche marketplace, companies can often profit more from giving things away than from charging for them. An interesting premise that's been in the news...
  • True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy - As the only Kennedy brother to service to write his own story, this is an interesting look into the dynamic, flawed "first family" of American politics.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Incredible Reach of Google Books

Using Google Books, I recently found a very interesting bit of my father's work history. Google Books allows for the searching of millions of words in perhaps millions of books. In this case, I searched my father's name, "Sidney G. Samuels," and came across a 1950 decision of the National Labor Relations Board involving 20th Century-Fox and their Foreign Versions Department, which my father would come to run six years later. He was already several years into what would become a 45 year career with the company. This item apparently related to the efforts to unionize that department, and the status of the employees, including my father.

If not for the efforts of the Google Books program, this episode would have remained virtually unknown to the family. It really doesn't make much of a difference or reveal anything extraordinary, but it's an interesting peek at my father's early career. If you're interested, go here, choose volume 89, and scroll down to Twentieth Century-Fox (Page 109) and read the PDF.

This Week's Sunday Coffee

Afternoon, about 4pm.
Contemplating a major story breakthrough with my "Bollywood Steps" documentary.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Back To Work On "Bollywood Steps"

Mystery People

Previously in this blog, I've mentioned two individuals that I've come across in my life with whom I've lost track. If my life's a play, they're really minor players, but in this ultra-connected world, I'm still curious what happened to him.

Simon Gamble was a British pen-pal I had in the early 80's. We wrote for close to five years. He stopped writing just as soon as I told him I would be touring Europe, and spending time in London.

Ben Levitan was a friend for all of about ten days when I was ten years old, and my family was on vacation in Miami, Florida. I actually have never mentioned his last name in the blog, but have decided to go ahead and use it - to see what happens. It was an eventful family vacation, the last we took before moving to California, and I suppose I remember Ben because of some old super-8 film in which he writes his name in the sand, and the fact that we wrote to each other for a couple of years afterwards.

I started thinking about these individuals again because Simon Gamble, someone who shared the same name as a pen-pal I had in the early 80's, came across my blog entry. He left a comment just recently on the Simon Gamble blog entry.

That's why I added Ben's full name. I suspect that eventually, one or both of these characters will search himself and discover this minor episode in their own lives. Mysteries will be solved. The world will go on. I've have another story.