Google Steals Your Face

A few years ago, Google came out with an Arts and Culture app that gave users access to artwork from a multitude of worldwide museums. Want to see paintings or sculptures? Here’s your app.

In the past month, Google added a new feature to the app. Upload your face and it will try to find a ‘match’ with a piece of art. Want to tell your friends that you look like a famous painting? Google can help.

Of course, one has to remember the first rule of the internet: When the service is free, the product is you. Google gives you a ‘match’ (most of the ones I’ve seen are pretty iffy) to a museum piece and you give them a face to add to their database. They then analyze your facial characteristics with your search habits, browsing habits, shopping habits, email habits and any other habit they can get their greedy little tentacles on to figure out what you should be seeing, doing, buying, etc.

If the National Security Agency or the FBI tried to collect this kind of information there would be huge outrage. But in exchange for a little social media fun, it looks like millions of people will voluntarily give it up to Google. What ever happened to “Don’t be Evil”?


Who’s A Racist?

Donald Trump doesn’t consider himself a racist, and by his definition he is probably correct. Trump’s picture of a racist is someone that belongs to the KKK, looks for black people to harass or worse and tells bigoted jokes regularly. Since none of those apply to him, he is therefore not a racist. Heck, he even has a black person in his cabinet.

Trump’s views of minorities and have-nots were probably shaped during the months that he worked on crews in his father’s construction business. His roll models were blue collar, working class white men. They likely held a hard day’s work in high esteem, welfare and handouts in low esteem, ogled the ladies and had little use for affirmative action and similar programs, especially they negatively impacted their job eligibility.

Trump understands these guys and knows how to communicate with them, which is why he won the election. Few of these men, if any, considered themselves racist and neither does Trump. Sure, some of these guys are prejudiced, but in Trump’s experience their hearts are good, which is why he makes excuses for them.

As far as Trump is concerned, there shouldn’t be any question that Haiti is a shithole. It’s full of slums and the closest thing the Western Hemisphere has to a failed state, right? Too bad he is ignorantly oblivious to how prejudiced he sounds when he calls black countries shitholes.

And therein lies the truth. Trump is not a racist. He is a clueless bigot.

The Asshole Piehole’s Shithole Shitstorm

On Tuesday of this week, Donald Trump was magnanimous. He declared he would sign whatever DACA solution that Congress came up with, even if he disagrees.  “If they come to me with things I’m not in love with, I’m (still) going to do it, because I respect them.”

Trump was looking to get some props from minorities, which of course are most affected by his immigration policies. Look at me: I want the issue solved, I am flexible, it is up to Congress to do their job.

Unfortunately for the President, his piehole did not get the memo and made a typically assinine comment. In a meeting two days later where a bipartisan solution to the DACA problem was presented, Trump called a bunch of African and Central American countries shitholes. The countries happened to be the homelands of immigrants of color. Just to make himself clear, he contrasted these countries’ immigrants with those from snow-white Norway.

So much for winning any kind of appreciation from immigration advocates. Even worse, his strategy of taking the high road and blaming the Democrats for the failure to fix DACA just went down the drain. Of course, Trump never backs down so he will try to blame them regardless, but only his (white) core is going to buy that argument.

At the end of the day there will probably be a deal because Trump actually agrees that DACA needs fixing and he does not want to deport hundreds of thousands of people. But it is going to be hard for the master negotiator to get the deal he wants when he shoots himself in the foot with shithole comments.


Bannon Blinks

The publication of Michael Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury” has been a publicity windfall for Donald Trump and his (former?) friend Steve Bannon. Both men are seriously – and probably dangerously – addicted to whatever press they can get. They really don’t care much whether it is good or bad, as long as they can dominate the news cycle.

Unfortunately, in this case they were on opposite sides of the story. The book caught Bannon shooting his mouth off about Trump and his family. Naturally, Trump shot back – not at the book but at Bannon, in effect acknowledging that the book’s quotes sounded like Bannon and were probably accurate but the product of someone who ‘lost his mind’.

Both men love a good fight, but this was a lose-lose. The longer they kept insulting each other in the press, the more ammo the onetime and possibly future allies provided to the opposition.

Bannon blinked first. He apologized to Trump and tried to walk back his statements. He really had no choice. Trump sees every issue as a zero sum game and has to win every point. If Bannon did not show contrition Trump would never stop. Even so, Bannon kind of admitted saying many of the nasty things, and Trump will remember that.

Will it make a difference? Both men need each other. Trump needs Bannon and his media organ Breitbart to keep the hard core base fired up with stuff that is too unfair and unbalanced for FOX. Bannon has a president whose political outlook is as close as he is ever going to find to his own.

They are a natural pair. They will find a way to get back together. On Trump’s terms.

Et Tu, Star Wars?

Somewhere, somehow, America’s unions lost their cachet. Even into the 1970s, Hollywood made heroic union movies like Joe Hill and Norma Rae that succeeded at the box office.

How the tables have turned. Star Wars, The Last Jedi, is an example. In one of the biggest films of the year, the heros put in a call for help to their friend Maz Kanata. It is a quick scene and when Maz, the proprietor of a popular bar appears, we find her in the thick of battle, dodging bullets and so on.

“Are you OK, Maz?”  “Yes, it’s just a little union dispute.”

Most of the people that worked on the movie were union members yet they had no problems slipping in a joke dissing unions. It is a testimony to how poorly unions are regarded that the union-disparaging joke enters the canon of one of the most popular film series ever.

The union’s PR situation will continue to deteriorate until they get some leadership that understands how the public forms its perceptions in the age of social media (and Trump). Maybe they can interest Steve Bannon in the job – he may be unemployed soon.