First-World Dictator


Buy the new book, "Beaucoup Arlo & Janis!"Today's "Arlo & Janis!"This old A&J from January, 1993, depicts Gene with one of his many different haircuts. It also features the strange elongated head that marked his appearance in that period. And “Super Mario” was big. We take for granted how much life has changed in 20 years. I was watching a movie on TV the other day, and everything seemed normal. The clothing appeared contemporary. The automobiles weren’t an obvious tip-off. Then, a detective walks up to a person working at a computer console and asks, “Hey, can you look stuff up on that thing?” The operator replies, “I think so.” Immediately, I wondered, “When was this thing made?” About 15 years ago, it turned out.

65 thoughts on “First-World Dictator”

  1. As an IT person, the way Hollywood uses computers drives me bonkers. Everything from the blown-up GUI’s so the camera can see them to the 1 guy who can write a 500,000 line system application in 6 months to the hacker who can magically guess a 13 character password to the computer screens that are showing impossible information.

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  2. Hey! a Saturday hello — — yeah, today, it’s go to bed where you can have your tiny handheld gameplayer or pad to watch under the covers. — Yesterday I was buying some clothes, a customer in front of me wanted to know what something that costs 49.95 would be with 25% off, the clerk had to enter it in the register to find out !! I so wanted to yell out 37.50, but was too stupefied (ok, 37.4625)

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  3. JR, you forgot the TV show desktop PC of about 15 years ago that allowed a beautiful Eurasian female detective to push the power button, slide a floppy into the slot, and have the computer powered up and displaying the floppy data on the full-color screen in all of 3 seconds. I’m still looking for that PC…and that beautiful Eurasian female.

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  4. It’s been told before, but John’s comment reminded me of this…

    A business owner was sitting at his desk paying bills and came across one that offered a discount of 2.5% net for payment within 15 days. Having difficulty calculating the amount of the discount, he remembered his new secretary had taken accounting classes in college. He called her in and asked, “If I paid you $14,000 less two and a half percent, how much would you take off?”

    She thought for just a second and replied, “Everything but my earrings.”

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  5. Re: Hollywood’s portrayal of computer capability… There’s a big difference between willing suspension of disbelief and totally ignoring everything you know about real world computers, optics, and science in general.

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  6. I get a daily email from the county sheriff’s office showing ye ole gaol’s inmate roster, along with the booking photos of the scofflaws and the list of their charges. Sometimes, you just gotta shake your head. As in the case of the miscreant who was charged with “Open Container, Public Drunkenness, Possession of Cocaine, and Contempt of Court”.

    So let me get this straight…this genius gets drunk; wanders down the street chugging from an adult beverage bottle or can; gets caught carrying the coke stash he just couldn’t bear to leave home without; and then, when taken before the judge for arraignment, MOUTHS OFF TO THE MAGISTRATE. Smooth move, ex-lax®.

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  7. I love to look at old movies and turn to my wife and say “Why didn’t they just text them?”

    A lot of things have changed so quickly in the last 20 year. Computers, Internet and cellular phones have revolutionized the world. Things are better…yet they are also worse.

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  8. One thing I like about the NCIS franchise, Ed, is that they don’t do things like that, or rotate images to see something that wasn’t in the original image. I’ve seen them any number of times having to track down a partial plate because either the image didn’t show everything or because by the time they’d blown the picture up enough to be readable it was too blurry to be sure. Yes, some of their computer-babble is wrong, but the writers seem to have a fairly good idea what the limits of the surveillance equipment is and how to use those limits to make a better story. (I just wish that they’d understand that you can only track a dynamic IP to the ISP’s router, not the customer’s location. If you had my current IP and tracked it, the closest you’d get was at least two miles away from where I live, because that’s where the router is. And, of course, if you’re in a hotel, using its Internet service, all anybody can get is the location of the hotel, because their routers all use NAT and the customer’s boxes all have non-routable IP addresses.)

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  9. One of my personal favorites.

    http://youtu.be/4cP26ndrmtg

    As I get older, I find my thoughts turning to the past and how nothing slows the passage of time. Christmas brings out melancholy thoughts. I still have not organized my office yet, mainly because there is so much old ephemera and memories to sort through. Sorry to be a downer, but I attempted the office. It won for tonight.

    And it completely other news, the mop is currently best described as “shorn.” Annoyed me again – Eric Christian Olsen, Marty Dees from NCIS:LA, has longer hair than I at the moment.

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  10. Don’t have time to read all the posts but thought I would check in. We went to Tulsa for what was to be two nights and two days of appointments and tests and here we are just getting home tonight. We live far enough away from hospitals and doctors to be too far for Mike to stand the pain and bumpy rough roads, so to cut down on his misery we stay in a motel and do less driving.

    He doesn’t probably think about how lucky he is to be able to do this but I do. The older lady and daughter (?) in next cubicle at the oncology IV department seemed to have borrowed/taken a car from another family member and all hell had broken loose, a family member seemed to be in prison and they couldn’t bail out, the father/grandfather couldn’t get to doctors’ appointments and they were cancelling, just a real joyful holiday!

    So, I think that while things aren’t good, at least we have good insurance and money to drive to appointments, money for motels and meals, good doctors and hospitals. A lot of people aren’t that lucky.

    Isn’t that strange, Mike is so sick and I am thinking of others less fortunate.

    Love, Jackie

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  11. In my case, Mindy, it’s because I often can’t understand what they’re saying any more without it because of hearing loss. At one point, I had to stop watching a show I liked because for some reason the captioning for its channel wasn’t coming through and our cable company couldn’t/didn’t get it fixed. BTW, if you pay attention, you’ll often find that what gets said and what’s in the captions don’t always match. I’m not sure if whoever does the captioning isn’t quite paying attention, or they’re working from the script and somebody used a different but similar word. (e.g., an actor says, “Right, I’ve got it.” and the caption uses “OK” instead of “right.”)

    Jackie, I’ve had to be at the West LA Veteran’s Hospital on Wilshire a few times at “O-Dark Thirty,” with a driver, because I was going to be sedated. As I live well over 40 miles away, my sister and I stayed in a nearby motel at VA expense. You may want to check with the hospital and find out if they can at least get you a discount if you need to stay overnight. You never know, and the worst thing that can happen is that they tell you that they can’t do it.

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  12. I am intrigued, Ghost. So why do you get a copy of the arrest and booking list from the local police? And you have an all female staff? And highly trained in use of weapons? Uhhhmmmn? And articulate and handsome, too, apparently.

    Had to add that, makes you sound more clandestine.

    Love, Jackie

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  13. Checked with motel we frequently use and manager tried to get me a lower rate. However, we used to travel so much with them we are already in the top discount tier and are senior citizens to boot, so she said she was sorry but our discounts beat the medical/hospital discount. However, a different chain is working on special rates for the cancer patients and they also offer full kitchens and two room suites with breakfast and dinner most days (It’s a branch of Marriott) so we may try them again.

    We are about 150 miles each way and the roads are indeed rough.

    Ironically, when I administered disability benefits we also would pay for motels and even gas and toll road fees, parking, meals, any number of benefits. You are on Veterans benefits and I worked on civilian Federal disability cases. We’d pay for buses, trains, even flight for obtaining medical treatments. I thought about that when I was paying toll road fees today.

    Funny what comes out of the recesses of your mind at odd times!

    Love, Jackie

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  14. Thanks for checking in, Jackie. I was frankly beginning to be concerned.

    I sincerely try to never complain. I realized long ago that no matter how bad things might seem for me, there are always many others in much worse straits. And I find that when I am about to forget that, an example will inevitably pop up right in front of my face.

    Christmas does bring nostalgia, for better or worse. One of my best…when I was three and had a new baby sister. Absolutely my worse…last year, when I lost that sister three weeks before Christmas. Yet, I know I was fortunate to have had that dear lady in my life for all those years, and I realize others were either not that lucky, or lost a sister under even worse circumstances.

    Our family basically had no Christmas (in the traditional sense) last year, no tree, no gift exchange, etc. But still, it was Christmas in the truly important sense. I really am not sure what this one will bring, as my Mom’s health situation has been unstable the past couple of weeks. But I do know that it will be Christmas, in the truly important sense.

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  15. Dear Jackie, everybody was worried because we didn’t hear from you. So glad to hear that you are back home and cheerful, as well, even after the long drive! Did you have to do all that driving, or did you and your daughter take turns?

    I am okay too, thanks for asking, dear Ghost, and Debbe too. Have been rather distracted. More tomorrow.
    Love to all the Villagers — and to J.J. himself.

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  16. Daughter is now expecting her second child, to add to the terrible two’s son, and just survived the flu and 19 visiting relatives. So, she and husband left on a pre-Christmas vacation they take each year to go meet with the Waterford crystal carver that they need a signature from. Crazy as that sounds, they became collectors of crystal at a young age and have a “crystal room” to display their pieces and they seek out special crystal masters.

    I will bet money they are the only serious collectors in their age group!!

    So, Jackie is doing it all right now, plus I have to take my 93 year old mother along, as it is not safe to leave her. She just can’t function alone at all and while I can find day sitters, nights are impossible.

    Last trip I forgot important stuff, ditto this trip. My computer for one, so I am going to make a “must take” list and put together stuff in a “take off” supply for van so we can survive in some civilized fashion. I have decided that eating decent, civilized meals with seriously ill family isn’t happening! Mom and I were eating a late, late lunch at P.F. Changs having dropped Mike at motel and I had gotten about three tablespoons of my kale Waldorf Salad down when I got an emergency call that I had to have him in the infusion lab in less than 30 minutes. I was across the street from hospital and he was in motel no where close.

    That may have been our best meal? No wait, the seafood restaurant was good but Mike got sick and we gave up and I ate the rest of his oysters (fried).

    Giving up and going to bed early, Love, Jackie

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  17. Mindy who cut off all her hair, when I moved to Oklahoma from Houston 20 years ago, my hair dresser alleged no one up here was able to cut hair. So she gave me a hair cut that looked kind of like a buzz cut with some tufts sticking out.

    I met Mike up at the Dallas market at our showroom. Think I was wearing some kind of masculine looking outfit and everyone thought I was coming out! Mike said I should have just put a rainbow ribbon on my lapel to go with hair.

    And my mama went around telling everyone she could find that I was dying of liver disease or something like AIDS. Mama has early stage dementia and has for a LONG time and loves to talk about people dying. I had/have a lot of friends who have died of course and it is tragic. But I have autoimmune diseases that are rarely fatal. My mama is a great drama queen and loves to whisper “secrets” so before the market ended I had dozens of people coming up to find out if I were truly dying and was I coming out before I did?

    So, cutting all your hair off can have traumatic/dramatic endings.

    Love, Jackie

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  18. Welcome back Jackie. And no, I don’t think it strange that you were thinking of others while dealing with Mike’s problems. You come across here as the type of person who would do that, and that it would be a sign of something very wrong if you stopped.

    And relative to the movie buff being able to tell when a movie was made by how often people lighted up, I noticed another tell-tale sign while watching some Donald Duck cartoons today. In the 1930’s versions, the houses in the background had chimneys and maybe weathervanes. In the 1950’s era they started sprouting tv antennas.

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  19. I was watching something from the past that Mike had on and that was first thing I said, “There is NO ONE” on screen who is not smoking.” It was downright smoky from all the exhaling!

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  20. And it’s not only in movies. I have been reading a lot of turn of the 20th century detective fiction lately and you can tell whether the character is going to be bad guy or not by what he smokes. The heroes are mostly smoking pipes and cigars, while the sneaky types are into cigarettes. And the ideas as to what’s most modern in science and technology. Automobiles, airplanes and x-rays. One story even featured dialysis in the pre-WWI days. I didn’t know they were trying it out then.

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  21. We old-timers find lots of things were better in the”good old days” but smoking cigarettes is a shining example of a wonderful improvement. Or I should say NOT smoking them now. I smoked for years and am so happy that I was able to give them up. I can hardly believe this even now, but when I spent some time in the hospital in 1983 it was perfectly acceptable for patients to smoke cigarettes in their hospital beds — and I did! Now all that smoking has gone away, thanks to many activists who lobbied to get rid of them, and made it “un-cool” to smoke.

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  22. Charlotte, when Mike became engaged to me I was a heavy smoker. He said I never exhaled, just somehow kept smoke in!
    He didn’t smoke and hated it, so he gave me the ultimatum to stop smoking and become a Christian.

    I quit cold turkey and have never lit another one. I became a rabble rouser against smokers every chance I got. When he got lung cancer it was simply so unexpected, had it been me I would say it was the cigarettes and all the spray paint I inhaled as a designer for the floral spray paint manufacturers.

    Hope everyone will someday quit, for their own sakes and for those who inhale it accidently/second hand.

    Love, Jackie

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  23. Mark, I doubt that the book you read was actually written before The Great War. The first working dialysis machine was built by a Dutch physician in 1943, while the Germans were occupying the Netherlands, and the first practical on was built in late 1946. Clearly, somebody didn’t do their homework.

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  24. Things you wouldn’t know if you didn’t come here: At 1:00 AM CDT, there are currently 10 FedEx cargo planes inbound to Memphis.

    I hope your Christmas present is on one of them.

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  25. Had a busy week after all the family left last Sunday – worked six days this week and they were long days. I am a little overwhelmed that I have not started Christmas shopping yet, so I am still reading, just not finding time to post! Glad to see everyone is still here and doing okay. Your comment about Man from U.N.C.L.E. brought back memories, GR. I believe I was in fourth grade when I started a club of the same name, and we played out various scenarios at recess. I loved the show, though I can’t remember a single episode – I think I was just enamored by David McCallum. I still enjoy him on NCIS!

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  26. Charlotte in NH:

    As I used to tell my students, I’m glad that the “good ol’ days” are gone, even though we live in increasingly tumultuous times.

    Two things, however, were indeed better in the “good ol’ days” of the Sixties and Early Seventies: school lunches and album covers.

    My high school cafeteria actually offered lasagna, meatloaf, pork chops, grilled fish, and on and on. Even better, a full-time baker made the world’s best pies, cakes, and other desserts.

    The art on album covers: I need say nothing more.

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  27. To the community:

    “Immediately, I wondered, ‘When was this thing made?’ About 15 years ago, it turned out.”

    Anyone else think of Alvin Toffler’s “Future Shock” when reading Jimmy’s observation?

    It seems that his work was remarkably prescient.

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  28. Good morning Villagers…

    First of all, I identify with the retro strip. When Ian was 4, he had a spiral break in his thigh, was in traction for 19 days. The pediatric ward had video games….and that started it all. When I got him home, he had a body cast on, and was given his own game player complete with the first Mario game….I use to play with him on those games….he was good, I too could never get past the first level 🙂

    Granny Carol…I too watched faithfully “Man from Uncle”…there was something about David McCallum that got all the young girls then excited….think it was his accent 🙂

    Indy Mindy…saw and absolutely loved TSO in Indy about 5 years ago….it was the most visual and energetic concert I felt. I never seen the children sing the Carol, something wrong with my cut and paste….but I’m sure you’ve seen the two women sing it.

    JJ…..was that a Harrison Ford movie that line “Hey, can you look stuff up on that thing?” came from….I recall him saying that in a movie in which he was looking for his kidnapped wife.

    later……………………..

    GR 😉

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  29. AND Jackie, it is good to see you posting again. And you are right, you never know how much worse the individual has it in the cubicle next to you. We have big drama going on with one of my husband’s nephews, who is staying with us….again. I am glad we can give him a roof and support…..he lost everything when his work truck caught on fire….and only had liability.

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  30. Symply going off track, isn’t that where I live?!? Was at Best Buy to purchase a camera, knew which one we wanted after fiddling around with a few of them on display to try them out…..waiting 30 minutes for a clerk to get one unlocked, no one around…..finally left, went home and ordered it online, took 2 minutes, with Amazon Prime will be here tomorrow. Fargone hate dealing with the wait sometimes….needed a vending machine at BB, I would have bought it there….soon that will be the future.

    Thanks all for the vent!

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  31. Checking the NFL schedule on TV just now, I saw an ad for (I guess) a gastric distress relief remedy in which a woman walking down the street was attacked by what appeared to be a gigantic Reuben sandwich.

    Some people have all the luck.

    “In general, life is better than it ever has been, and if you think that, in the past, there was some golden age of pleasure and plenty to which you would, if you were able, transport yourself, let me say one single word: ‘dentistry.’” – PJ O’Rourke, All the Trouble in the World

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  32. One of the interesting things about NCIS is that Pauley Perrette, the actress who plays lab person extraordinaire Abby Sciuto, has a college degree in criminal science. She really does know about the stuff Abby does!

    The computers I love on tv are the ones where the person brings something up on a screen, then seemingly “tosses” it up into the air and moves various screens around as they hang there. Those are fun.

    Indy Mindy, my older daughter loves TSR, and tries to make it to their Christmas show if they are playing anywhere near Atlanta. That ticket has become one of my gifts to her every year. She also loves Marty Deeks. Maybe the two of you should meet? 🙂

    Rich from Shermantown, I don’t know where you went to high school, but it was nowhere I ever was, and sounds better than my college cafeteria, too!

    I watched Man From UNCLE when it was originally on tv, and loved Illya! Napoleon was a great guy, but there was just something about Illya… Last year I bought the dvd set in the neat spy attache case, and we have had a lot of fun rewatching the show. It’s a lot campier than I remember, but still worth watching.

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  33. For some reason, what I remember best about the Man From U.N.C.L.E. was the worker bees walking around at HQ in their white blouses and dark tight skirts, with their pistols carried in small-of-back holsters.

    What can I say? I was an early bloomer.

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  34. While we are talking about old spy/detective television shows, my husband totally loved “The Avengers” with the umbrella? But I think it was the female partner he REALLY loved. I wonder if I can find those for him to watch? And I just know my friend Mark in Alabama or Ghost or any of the other smarter than I am friends will immediately find it!

    And I need the character “Vee” or “V” from Chuggington trains in the die cast version too. I have bought every other train now except her and she is the one (a voice enabled train signal actually) who dispatches all the little trains. And Jack knows this.

    Impressed by how early you all get up on Sundays. I am being quiet so Mike can sleep. When I finally got to a computer last night I read about what he now has, excessive calcium in his blood, deposited there by the cancer in his bones. It is considered a medical emergency, hence my leaving my lunch to rush him to oncology. Of the 16 symptoms listed for it under cancer toxicology he is only missing three and one is a coma.

    Love, Jackie

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  35. GR 😉 that was the song I was speaking of the other morning…thanks for posting it. I loved those old photos, and the ‘Charlie Brown’ Christmas trees they all posed around.

    One year, remember I have three younger sisters, we woke up to….ready……bras hanging from the tree…in addition to the wrapped gifts under the tree. We still have that picture of the Christmas tree with about 8 bras hanging from the branches…..

    Jean, will you adopt me? I wanna see TSO…again, and again….

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  36. Debbe, there isn’t much to say to help but I appreciate all the prayer. And having a group like this is help, it gives me a little sanity/insanity/laughter too. Like the bra tree.

    Mike has taken himself off all the pain medications, he hates how sick they seem to make him. I live with pain every day, only the intensity varies, so I take some of the milder/not so mild ones they prescribed for him as well. I have RA, along with lupus and six or so other autoimmune diseases which I have just kind of adjusted to, so I routinely take maintenance drugs and save the more powerful ones for when the pain gets unbearable. I told him that was what he needed to do as well.

    He says he sees Zombies and hallucinates and can’t function. But I know he must be in awful pain. When the Zombies or ghosts start swooping down when I turn out the lights, I just say “Leave me alone, I don’t have time to bother with you and I am too tired for all this! Go away!” Not sure if they go or not?

    Woke up with all four cats laying against various body parts, along with the little dog. They are afraid I will sneak away during night. But they love the animal sitter.

    Love, Jackie

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  37. Jackie, I’ll tell the ghosts to “cool it”, and to remind the zombies that there is at least one Ghost who is always prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse.

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  38. Actually that sounds like a fun idea if you had a significant other that would appreciate it and no kids around to giggle hysterically.
    Decorate with all the fluffy bits and pieces and then have a modeling period?

    I used to be a commercial/professional/instructor of Christmas decorations, remember?

    Love, Jackie

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  39. Back half a century ago when I taught in Peterson,MN
    there were 2 Norwegian (descent) cooks that made the most fabulous
    meals out of almost nothing.

    I too used to complain about having “no shoes” but there were so many “without feet” &
    worse, I learned to count my blessings. Roger Ericson used to say ” I am fantastic and getting better.” If you say it, you will believe it, and it will be so.

    Let your light shine into the world and it will be a boon to countless.

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  40. Woody Allen in one of his old movies is applying for a job –

    Interviewer – “Do you know how to run a high speed digital computer?”

    WA Character – “Yes, my aunt has one.”

    This was hysterical. Now his aunt would have one.

    When I was in college (1971-74) we were told to enjoy the computer time we had (on main frames) as we would never have such freedom to play (Star Trek – hit the ship the word boom appears – no graphics) again as computer time “is” so expensive.

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