Long ago, corporate titans like H. J. Heinz and Henry Ford felt they had a right to attach their names to the products they invented. More recently, a real estate investor named Donald Trump decided to put his name on pretty much any building, airline, casino or development he could get his hands on. So it’s understandable that Trump (who surprisingly has yet to rename the White House after himself) might think that other modern corporate titans still attach their names to their products.
Trump gathered corporate leaders for a business forum this month, and the conversation turned to Apple’s efforts to base some of its phone production in the United States. “We appreciate it very much, Tim Apple,” Trump said at the White House gathering. The Apple chief executive’s name is actually Tim Cook. Trump later said he combined Cook’s name with his company to save time. So, henceforth, to save time: Amazon’s founder will now be called Jeff Amazon. The chief executive of Alphabet will be Larry Google.
Thirty years ago this week, a young English computer scientist wrote a plan for a new approach to information storage and display based on linking different computers together. Happy birthday, World Wide Web.
On March 12, 1989, Timothy Berners-Lee submitted a diagram of his idea to his boss at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, under the understated title: “Information Management: A Proposal.” The handwritten response came back: “Vague but exciting.”
More than they knew. Today, about half the people on the planet use the system Berners-Lee ushered in, with almost 2 billion websites.
Berners-Lee, now 63 and a professor of computer science at the University of Oxford, warned in an open letter last week that the good the web has done for society is threatened by hackers, clickbait and rabid commentary.
He is promoting the “Contract for the Web” project, seeking to establish clear norms and standards for “our journey from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future.” Who better to help build that future than the man who started it all?
The Courage of Wonder Woman
“Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, an Israeli, correctly called out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his assertion that their country “is the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.” The comment seemed to disown Israel’s 1.8 million Arab citizens, who comprise 20 percent of the population.
“Loving your neighbor as yourself is not a matter of right-left, Jewish-Arab, secular or religious; it is a matter of dialogue, of dialogue for peace, equality and tolerance for each other,” Gadot posted in Hebrew on Instagram.
Netanyahu currently faces indictment on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust at the same time he’s fighting for his political life. Like his American ally, President Donald Trump, Netanyahu’s fallback position is to whip up public fears with artificial bogeymen. It’s a sad day in politics when reducing the status of fellow citizens is what it takes to win a few extra votes.
Selfless Sacrifice for a Selfie
It’s almost as if the age of instant internet gratification has yielded a new generation of people who no longer think before acting. They have walked off cliffs or danced on the top of speeding cars just to get a good selfie shot.
In the latest episode, a woman in Arizona climbed over a barrier at a zoo to pose for a selfie with a jaguar. She is being treated for wounds suffered when (drumroll) the jaguar attacked her from inside its enclosure.
To her credit, the woman returned to the zoo after being treated at a hospital for her injuries and apologized. She acknowledged she took a dumb risk. The goal, it seems, should be for people to recognize dumb risks before they take them.
To Protect and Serve?
Talk about betrayal of public trust. A Florida officer used police database information to stalk and seek dates with as many as 150 women. Bradenton, Florida, police Sgt. Leonel Marines has apparently been doing it for years. He was found out last summer when he knocked on a door and told a couple he had to speak with their adult daughter on “official” police business. When the couple pressed Marines for an explanation, he left.
They called the police. It turns out Marines had briefly encountered their daughter earlier in a parking lot and then traced her home in an apparent attempt to ask her on a date.
Further investigation found scores of other women Marines had approached on “police business” that turned out to be date requests. Marines was removed from patrol and later resigned. Officials are considering criminal charges. As they absolutely should.
It wasn’t surprising that Fox News host Jeanine Pirro spouted anti-Muslim bigotry on her show, questioning Rep. Ilhan Omar’s patriotism because she wears a hijab. Even Fox News called her out.
Pirro, a former judge, is a conservative Fox contributor who regularly spews conspiratorial nonsense. But her comments about Omar, who is Muslim, broke nasty new ground.
“Omar wears a hijab,” Pirro noted. “Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which in itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?”
Fox has long featured all manner of right-wing lunacy, but this crossed even the network’s line. “We strongly condemn Jeanine Pirro’s comments about Rep. Ilhan Omar,” the network said in a statement. “They do not reflect those of the network and we have addressed the matter with her directly.” How refreshing.