The Day I Pissed Off Cher’s Fans

As much as any straight man in America, I love Cher. Her career speaks for itself. Her eulogy for Sonny Bono was among the most poignant speeches I’ve ever heard and said as much about her as him.

I follow Cher on Twitter along with 3.53 million others. Sunday afternoon (not an NFL fan) she posted:

Would anyone like to play around with a Logo for…
“The Cher Show”
Focus is on letters,
Intricate Designs take attention away from from point

This is a sensitive subject to anyone who makes a living as an artist. It is the stuff memes are made of! For a variety of reasons you shouldn’t ask people to work without offering to compensate them.

I saw Cher’s tweet as it entered the system. I responded quickly enough that it was noted by her fans.

Cher — Please don’t do this. Of course your fans will provide you with designs, but isn’t this something you should be paying for to help support the increasingly difficult job of being a designer? I know you mean no harm.

Let the flames begin!

My reply to Cher was liked 103 times, an astronomical amount for one of my Twitter posts. It was also disliked in a bunch of comments.

Lmao wouldn’t the publicity an upcoming designer receive from something like this be way more valuable in the long run? Think outside the box of monetary compensation

That’s a pretty typical gut level reaction. The designers who responded said, “No.” A lot of people overvalue working for publicity alone.

In the end I hope Cher heeds my message. The best way to encourage artists is to pay them fairly.

Too Many People?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, we’ve got too many people. Have you seen the robot video?

This robot wasn’t designed to do the work of other robots. He’s our competition.

Ditto Elon Musk’s announcement of a new electric semi-truck. It will be able to drive semi-autonomously in convoys. They’re our competition.

Recently a convolutional neural network (just think computer) was trained on 100,000+ diagnosed and annotated chest x-rays. Now it does a better job spotting diseases than a radiologist. It’s our competition.

I run my own TV studio. I do a half dozen jobs, maybe more. I’m your competition.

We’ve lost elevator and switchboard operators, receptionists, three person flight crews and more. Fewer people are needed for nearly everything we do.

Have we become too efficient? Efficiency is a nice way to say “fewer people.”

Do we benefit as shopping continues to move online and retail jobs disappear?

We are about to have too many people. Maybe we’re already there.

How do we handle that? Will we be a nation of poverty and wealth with no in between. We seem to be on that road.

The Sophistication Of The Russians

It’s not like TV where we’re all seeing the same Chevy spot. There were thousands of different ads nearly all aimed at getting people angrier. They wanted us to fight. They wanted us to scream. They wanted us to distrust each other and our electoral process. Their efforts were successful.

Washington Post graphic

I’m waiting for a call back from Mike Sechrist. Bad cell service where he’s walking. We only spoke for a few seconds, but he answered the question I called with.

“Do TV stations and others advertising on the Internet do it with the sophistication of the Russians?”

Mike’s the one to ask. He was the news director who hired me at WTNH in 1984. He went on to be a TV station general manager and now runs an Internet oriented agency.

“No,” he said. That was my guess.

The Russian’s were very sophisticated in their 2016 buys–much more than normal for a businesses. Their goal was to cheapen democracy. Getting Donald Trump elected was an unexpected bonus.

The cost was far more than the Facebook and Twitter ad buys imply. The ads Russian content farms placed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were intricately targeted. It’s not like TV where we’re all seeing the same Chevy spot. There were thousands of different ads nearly all aimed at getting people angrier.

They wanted us to fight. They wanted us to scream. They wanted us to distrust each other and our electoral process. Their efforts were successful. We were gamed.

Here’s an example from Texas.

Last year, two Russian Facebook pages organized dueling rallies in front of the Islamic Da’wah Center of Houston, according to information released by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican.

Heart of Texas, a Russian-controlled Facebook group that promoted Texas secession, leaned into an image of the state as a land of guns and barbecue and amassed hundreds of thousands of followers. One of their ads on Facebook announced a noon rally on May 21, 2016 to “Stop Islamification of Texas.”

A separate Russian-sponsored group, United Muslims of America, advertised a “Save Islamic Knowledge” rally for the same place and time. – TexasTribune.com

What’s obvious today is the artificial intelligence systems running the ad programs for these Internet behemoths aren’t sophisticated enough to see these attacks. Did they even care?

Of course the problem goes beyond the Russian’s. Last week I noticed a Facebook friend had posted a meme about pensions and the military — very political and totally based on made up numbers.

I told her it was wrong, which she acknowledged, but she didn’t seem to care. And the meme is probably still there on her wall inciting anger in like minded others.

We need to return to a truth based society.

The One Year Checkup

Let’s pause here for a second. My threshold for concern has been raised through experience. This kind of repair job instills no fear in me. I’ve been scoped before. No big deal. And, in a hospital setting my port will be used for IVs.

Up early (for me) today for a 9:30 AM appointment with one of the surgeons who performed my Whipple surgery. This is like bringing your car in for scheduled service. My one year check-up.

Dr. Selby walked into the room wearing a suit. I’d never seen him in one before. He’s from Missouri farm country. It’s probable doctor came first, suits second.

With the doctor was his assistant, Shelley. She is the master sergeant of this operation. Call Shelley, stuff gets done.

Dr. Selby brightened as he walked in. He seemed extremely pleased with my outward physical appearance. “You’ve put the weight back on,” he said.

Not all of it, thankfully.

He looked at my scar and seemed pleased by his work. Then I told him about a puffy patch of skin not far from the base of the incision. No pain, but it’s probably a hernia. They get worse with time. It needs to be fixed.

Let’s pause here for a second. My threshold for concern has been raised through experience. This kind of repair job instills no fear in me. I’ve been scoped before. No big deal. And, in a hospital setting my port will be used for IVs.

Even when it’s gone cancer is the gift that keeps on giving.

The Purple Stride for Pancreatic Cancer is coming up in November. Helaine and I will walk with the folks from the office.

Outside It’s A Different Story

It’s so dry the first thing your body asks is, “What’s going on?” Don’t think of sweating on a day like this. It evaporates as it forms! My potted plants were watered yesterday midday then late night and again this morning

Looking down my street toward the Loma Ridge, part of the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains.

If all you did was look out the window this would qualify as another spectacular SoCal day. The sky is a brilliant blue and cloud free.

Take one step out the door and it’s a different story. You’re struck by the heat first, then the lack of humidity. It is windy, making the lack of humidity even more noticeable.

It’s noon as I type and we’re around 100°. It doesn’t feel like any hot day I’ve experienced east of the Rockies. This is a totally different animal.

Courtesy Mesowest/Utah State

It’s dry. Dew points are ~60° lower than the thermometer temperature. Relative humidity is in the low teens.

It’s so dry the first thing your body asks is, “What’s going on?” Don’t think of sweating on a day like this. It evaporates as it forms!

My potted plants were watered yesterday midday then late night and again this morning. Potted flowers can be desiccated in under a day. That freaked me out when it happened a few years ago. So fast.

Sandy headphones after a night on the patio.

Sandy headphones after a night on the patio.[/caption]Because it’s so dry and winds are out of the east (actually north northeast at the moment) they bring in desert sand. I leave these headphones on the patio. That’s grit just from overnight! It’s on everything.

What we’ve got going on are Santa Ana winds. These are downslope winds from our nearby mo.ntains. As they compress they heat up. The effect is so thorough we’re warmer today than the desert areas just to our east!

This is fire weather. It won’t take much for one to start and with these atmospheric conditions, spread fast.

The are special protocols in place for area fire departments. No blaze is considered small, no call routine, until the winds shift and paradise returns to the Southland.

One more day. Things get back to normal Thursday.

I Can’t Relate To That

When I found out I had cancer and thought I was going to die I was surprised little changed. All I wanted to do was live the life I was already living. I was happy with my life and (most of) the decisions I’d made.

There’s an article in the NY Times about Senator John McCain. The article makes the argument McCain’s changed since his diagnosis of what’s incurable brain cancer.

  • the 81-year-old senator has found a new voice.
  • “Do I hear in his voice a little bit more expression of grander ideals? I do,” said Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.
  • in a dramatic return to Congress after surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye, he delivered a harsh critique of the Senate as he called for Democrats and Republicans to work together.

You get the idea.

It’s possible McCain’s cancer was a sobering moment that changed his attitude. It’s just not something I can vaguely relate to.

When I found out I had cancer and thought I was going to die I was surprised little changed. All I wanted to do was live the life I was already living. I was happy with my life and (most of) the decisions I’d made.

I am saddened by his terrible illness, but if McCain really does have to make radical shifts, I’m also disappointed.

None of us are going to be here forever. Be a good person today.