Friday, September 24, 2010

Mark My Words, You Have to Face It

If it isn’t bad enough that the computer world dominates the news coverage most every day here in the Silicon Valley and its environs, during the last two days the Valley’s designated messenger, the San Jose Mercury News, has made Mark Zuckerberg’s life a never-ending story.


The founder of Facebook was featured on a front-page story on September 23 titled “Unfriended” which was all about the movie “The Social Network” which depicts his meteoric rise to fame and fortune. Or is it fortune and infamy? The story covered two-thirds of the front page and two-thirds of page 15. According to the Merc’s story, the very private Zuckerberg will not be pleased with the depiction of his life and how he had to buy out two former Harvard roommates who claimed that they were the true creators of the social network giant. Allegedly Zuckerberg settled with them for a mere $65 million.


The Merc’s first Facebook story today was on page A6 and its headline touted “Facebook outage inspires tweets — and a few hoots.” This was the second day in a row that the world’s largest social network faltered and may have disturbed more than a few of its 500,000,000 users.


Then in the business section under “Facebook CEO latest tech tycoon to try philanthropy,” the story says that the unassuming Zuckerberg lad is quietly donating $100 million to the downtrodden Newark, New Jersey school system. Oh yes, he’s doing it on “Oprah.” Could this be a means to counteract the possible negative publicity that he might receive after people see ”The Social Network?” A few inches under that story is another on “Facebook working on a phone deal.”

Not Missing the Mark

If you think that Mark is not getting his just due, then go to Google and type in “Mark Zuckerberg” and you will get 7,880,000 results and when you do the same for “Facebook,” you will find 11,190,000 results. Not bad for a young man who celebrated his twenty-sixth birthday on May 14.  

I have had numerous requests to join social networks from, among others, former students, an ex-wife, cousins, table tennis buddies, and Holocaust survivors. They have asked me to share with them, and the majority of the dozens of requests come from users of Facebook and LinkedIn, with others from Yahoo and Shtyle.

Our Privacy Policy

But Facebook to Shtyle is not my style and I send out a polite e-mail to those who send me such requests. It reads in part, “In the age of the Internet, I enjoy my privacy and refuse to join any of the "social networks" so my thoughts and ideas I share with those people I know, are shared only with those people I care to, one person at a time.”

Of course, there’s a slight contradiction to the above paragraph since I write for two blogs in which I share my thoughts with many. There’s the Huffington Post at and the Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator at

Simple Subtraction

I can honestly say that I have not amassed a fortune doing these blogs. The wealth derived from them is $6.9 billion less than Mark Zuckerberg’s combined wealth of $6.9 billion to the penny, and I have yet to hear from Oprah.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where's Rodney King When We Need Him?

Back on May 1, 1992 after the acquittal of Los Angeles police who beat him and helped foster the riots in that city, Rodney King emotionally pleaded, “Can we all get along?" Listen to King in quote number 22:

“Getting along” is probably what most Americans want today with the exception of the extremists and fringe elements who are just after what they want for their country and themselves, without any consideration of others.

Major Disasters

Both major political parties have done a magnificent job in inspiring the extremes as they ruthlessly chide their opponents whenever possible.

In today’s San Jose Mercury News there are two stories on page A4, one on top of the other that personify the divided state of politics today. The first headlines “Obama urges voters to back Democrats,” and includes “The GOP…lambasted the president. ‘Once again, President Obama trotted out the same old worn out reassurances on the economy, but Americans are still waiting for the promised recovery that never arrived.” This is a quote from the foot-in-the-mouth GOP Chairman Michael Steele.

The story below centers on the Republicans soon-to-be-revealed 20-point agenda, and the media help to stir the acerbic pot when they write, “Democrats quickly branded the yet-to-be-finalized agenda a retread that led to the current economic turmoil.” A Democratic Party spokesperson is then quoted, “It took more than 20 months to repackage a plan that’s no different from the one the caused the Great Bush Recession.” At least he called Bush ‘great.’

The Worst Is Yet to Come

It will become more extreme and infuriating for right-minded individuals to listen and not learn anything meaningful as we approach the November 2 midterm election. Further and harsher diatribes await us in political advertising and political coverage by all media, with the latter gleefully and greedily looking forward to the advertising dollars that will come their way during the campaigns.

To keep sane, you need to maintain a positive outlook. Remember that there’s only forty-two days until this cycle of narishkeit — nonsense —will be over, and only 731 days after that, you will again have the opportunity to “throw the bums out.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Getting High on the High Holidays

September 9, 2010 was Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year, and no synagogue, shul nor temple could provide a comparable setting for our morning services. There by a small, still pond closely surrounded by sturdy red cedar trees and in the distance by protective and magnificently sculptured rock formations, we unfolded our blue camping chairs and placed them into the warming sand as we basked in glorious sunshine. As we opened our prayer book, less than thirty feet in front of us stood the rest of the congregation; a young buck with immature antlers, two does, and a delicate fawn who stood half the size of the others.

They were ever alert as they approached the pond for a sip of water. Then they saw us, observed us, and accepted us as fellow congregants who would do them no harm. Perhaps they somehow knew that only compassion and understanding would be our righteous way to start the new year. On page 103 of our prayer book we arrived at a passage that read; “Could we soar with arms like eagle’s wings, and run with the swiftest grace of gentle deer.”

As if being cued by their director, at that moment the two does ran off through the woods and into the meadow with one chasing the other, and although no eagles soared, three mallards gracefully landed on the pond and drifted to the spot where the deer once sipped. All too soon they departed and our morning service ended. I was at peace with the world and with myself in this majestic edifice of worship within Yosemite.

Win Three Print Issues of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator

The first three people who send us the correct answer to the following question will receive the next three printed issues of The Ho-Ho-Kus Cogitator. Why was J. D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye entitled The Catcher in the Rye? You’ll find the answer on page 173 of the 1964 edition published by Bantam Books that cost me 75¢ at the time.