Every time people have congregated on interactive computer terminals, someone has put together chat and email systems. The systems we use today are based on “RFCs” – informal specifications developed by a community we now think of as “the Internet technical community.” In other words, no one person invented email. It arose from teamwork and cooperation.
But according to the friends and publicists for VA Shiva Ayyadurai, the community story is wrong. Shiva actually created the whole thing himself in 1978, as documented by many web sites with names like www.inventorofemail.com. Huffington Post recently published a string of blog posts reporting his claim. Huffpost retracted the articles a couple days ago.
I hadn’t realized it, but cats really used to run everything. As with most cases of imperial power, they blew it.
According to an ancient Chinese legend, the gods originally gave cats dominion over creation. I don’t know if that was before or after Adam and Eve were tossed out of paradise. Cats were even given the power of speech so their commands would be understood by lesser beings (humans, I guess).
However, the cats were about as careless with their blessings as Adam and Eve were. They were too busy sleeping under the cherry trees and playing in the meadows to attend to their serious work.
The gods gave cats three chances to clean up their act. Each time they found cats sleeping and playing instead of keeping the world in order. Finally, the cats admitted that they didn’t really care about running the world, and suggested leaving it to humans to do. The power of speech was taken from cats and given to humans.
We all know how that turned out.
Apparently our ancient Greek friend Aristophanes used the excuse, “The cat did it,” in one of his comedies.
My Turkey ’tis of Thee
I first learned this song from my old friend, Tim Leonard. The song is a tradition in his family and is attributed to their distinguished ancestor, the Reverend Doctor Thornton Bancroft Penfield (1867-1958). The Reverend Doctor was born to missionaries in India but grew up in the US, graduating from Columbia in 1890.
He wrote a fair amount of poetry and had a sense of humor. He did time as class poet at Columbia and he edited various college publications. He also published a book of poems called The Four-Leaved Clover.
I enjoy reading the advice column by Cary Tennis on Salon. He seems sensible. People haven’t changed much since the days of Ann Landers and Dear Abby, but Cary does manage to put a modern spin on things. For example, a lot of his stories have to do with business relationships.
Recently, he posted one on slander by a former co-worker. While I doubt I’ve ever been slandered myself, I’ve seen it happen to others. Cary’s advice was pretty succinct: stick to the facts, and only bring it up with specific people whose opinion you value. He also linked to a couple of other blog posts on the subject I found especially valuable.
I’ve mostly avoided news coverage of Steubenville because such tragedies sicken me on many levels, especially the way everyone involved is smeared with dirt by some news reporter or blogger.
Events like this should make us ask, “Why does almost every kid’s parent hope to raise a star player?”
How can this be healthy for growing boys or girls? We always hear about how sports teach ethical lessons beyond the mere rules of the game. But here’s the object lesson of sports teaching “win at all costs,” and “to the victors belong the spoils.”
Scouting has its shortcomings (and there is hope they’re being addressed) but it’s more than badges. The good troops (and there are lots of them out there) lead by example, give the kids a lot of non-sexually-themed things to do, and explicitly promote honesty, courtesy, and courage.
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