Clarkson and entitlement

Word came down from on high yesterday that Jeremy Clarkson, popular/infamous co-host of Top Gear, was being suspended pending an investigation into a "fracas" with a producer. The Internet immediately exploded. As of this writing, there is even a petition for his reinstatement signed by over 400,000 people who have done so without knowing any of the details of the incident in question.That's disturbing, yes, but to my mind it's not as disturbing as what this incident represents. We all know Jeremy Clarkson prides himself on being politically incorrect, and that he apparently has the insensitivity and casual racism of an upper-class British schoolboy (or, for that matter, of a lower-class American one), but the fact that he is also the chief host of the most fantastically successful motoring show in the history of mankind, generating hundreds of millions of pounds in profits annually for the BBC, tends to overshadow that fact. Simply put, he makes too damn much money for the BBC to do anything about him.

At least until now, that is. If in fact he assaulted a producer, he's guilty of a criminal act that will have to be answered for. Unfortunately, when it comes to the wealthy and famous, answering for criminal acts is not something they are generally expected to do.

If you're not completely blind, you've probably noticed that while the law ostensibly applies to everyone, it's the poor who usually have it come down on them the hardest. If you're a young African-American male, you're more likely to serve jail time for, oh, say, getting in a car crash and lying to a policeman than someone like Lindsay Lohan, who skipped her court appearance, jetted off to London, and got sentenced to community service. And we haven't even talked about what happened to the Wall Street crowd in the aftermath of the 2008 crash. Rich and famous? You get a pass.

Because of this inequality, Clarkson undoubtedly isn't too concerned about this latest dust-up. His lastfewtweets seem to reflect this, and his co-presentersdon't appear to be too worried, either. And why should they? First off, Clarkson's not exactly the working-class bloke he'd like you to think he is--he's a neighbor of Prime Minister Cameron, and goes to parties at his house. If the BBC fires Clarkson (although they apparently don't need to, as his contract is up at the end of the month), some other network will snap him up in a heartbeat because of All That Money (and perhaps All Those Connections). And they'd surely want to snag May and Hammond as well.

I've enjoyed Top Gear, and I find Clarkson entertaining and annoying in probably equal measure. But if our global society is to work in the long term, we need to make sure that the law applies to everyone equally. Because if history teaches us anything, it's that in a society where the wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top, the law is partial, and everyone but the rich feel the deck is stacked against them, there will eventually be an explosion. Just ask Louis XVI, Tsar Nikolai II, and Fulgencio Batista, to name but three.

But for now, that's all academic. Clarkson's probably somewhere in England having a pint right about now, watching the telly, and feeling pretty confident that the last three episodes of Top Gear will eventually run, if somewhat delayed.

He's probably right about that. And more's the pity.

My ADN State of the Union

This is a Very Special Post. If you go to the main page of my blog, you won't find it. It's only visible if you follow the link from my ADN post, so only ADN people will see it.1 See? I did something special for you. And you thought I didn't care. Anyway….

There's been a lot of discussion on ADN in the past few days about ADN, the network that loves to talk about ADN. People are downgrading, people are upgrading, people are leaving, people are disappearing. Sigh.

In many ways, ADN is like Linux. It's a good idea, implemented in a less-than-ideal way, that has failed to live up to its expectations despite (or perhaps because of) inspiring religious fervor in its advocates. But I digress, yet again.

I'm going to be very clear about several things here:

  1. Yes, I'm renewing my account this month. My @la account has been permanently downgraded, and isn't coming back.
  2. No, I'm not convinced ADN has a bright future. Rather the opposite.
  3. Yes, I'm narrowing down the list of people I follow, because I intend to be prepared when, not if, I eventually downgrade. I want to be in control of with which 40 people I ride into Valhalla when the apocalypse comes.
  4. Yes, I will eventually downgrade. It's inevitable. It's just not happening now. There comes a time when the crusade is over, and you have to decide whether to fall on your sword, or say the shahada and get on with your life. Apologies to anyone offended by that analogy.
  5. I've paid my fair share, and then some. Bad business decisions on the part of management are not my responsibility.

I also want to be very clear about the following: I love ADN. It's the best thing I've ever been a part of on the Internet. I've met people there I never would have met otherwise, and I plan to keep in touch with them in whatever way I can. But I am not a man of unlimited means, and I have other demands on my checkbook and a wife to keep happy.

This is also where I'd like to thank Berg for keeping the lights on this long. He's not getting paid for this any more, and Dalton has vanished into the mists of Y Combinator. It's gotta be a thankless, lonely task. And because of that, I recognize that someday, something big and expensive will break, and he'll look at the last couple of dozen people using the service, assuming they can be discerned through all the Nigerian Viagra spam in Global, and he'll say, "Fuck it. I'm done." And then it will fade to black.

For all of you who are determined to pay for developer accounts, give extra money to Berg, or maintain multiple accounts in the face of disaster, I salute you. You are fine people. I wish I could do the same. But I can't.

  1. This was true when hosted on Posthaven, but the version is here visible globally.

Doing That Thing

Have you ever noticed that it's easier to volunteer to Do Something than it is to quit Doing That Thing down the road?

I'm sort of in that position now. I volunteered a few years ago to Do Something at church. Then it somehow morphed into me being in charge of That Thing, and training others to Do That Thing. Then I became responsible for scheduling all the people who Do That Thing. All because I was willing to simply Do That Thing in the first place.

The problem is that people have left, and the number of people we have who Do That Thing is shrinking. We're going to lose another person who Does That Thing in a few months. At that point, there will only be a few of us who Do That Thing. And if I don't get some help Doing That Thing in the next few months, I think I'm outta there too.

It's unfortunate because I really liked Doing That Thing in the beginning, but over time, it turned into a job. People started having expectations. And once it became The Larry Show in people's minds (as I have no doubt that it has), fewer people even thought about helping to Do That Thing.

Maybe I'm just rationalizing, but I think if I don't Do That Thing anymore, it will ultimately benefit everyone. People will stop assuming that I will Do That Thing, and others may pitch in and learn how to Do That Thing too. If more people learn how to Do That Thing, it will no longer be something that Larry Does, and will be something that Everybody Helps With. And that is a Good Thing Indeed.


I didn't exactly see the ghost of Jimmy Adams tonight. But I did feel his presence.

Most of you reading this have no idea who Jimmy Adams was. Well, I'll tell you.

Back in my late twenties and early thirties, I was an habitué of the local music scene. I knew some wonderful people, and had experiences that shaped my life and helped turn me into the man that I am now. One of those people was Jimmy Adams.

Jimmy Adams was a singer/songwriter. He came to Ventura from Texas, running from the law, or so the legend went. The details of that are probably best left to posterity, and to your own imagination. What I can tell you about Jimmy above all else is that he was everybody's friend, so much so that we used to refer to him as the "unofficial mayor of downtown Ventura." Everywhere he went, he knew somebody. If you went to a gig anywhere downtown, you'd see him turn up eventually.

Perhaps uniquely among local musicians, everybody wanted to play with Jimmy. When he booked a gig, mostly at a local coffeehouse called the Café Voltaire, it would be billed as "Jimmy Adams and Friends" because of two things. First, he really would be playing with friends, and second, you never knew who was going to show up. Local musicians, session players from Hollywood, and even folk-rock A-listers like Chris Hillman (The Byrds) or John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirty Band). But whoever showed up , you were guaranteed of a good time.

I thought of Jimmy tonight because for the first time in probably fifteen years, I went to hear music at a local club. My nephew, who is turning into one hell of a guitar player, is in a band that booked a gig at a place I used to go to occasionally before I was married (yes, I feel old now).

It was impossible for me to sit there and not think about Jimmy. I half-expected him to show up, greet half a dozen people in the audience, and come up to me saying, "God dang, they're fantastic" in that Texas twang of his. I wish, in a way I have never quite wished before, that Jimmy was still with us to walk up to my nephew and say, "You sounded great." Perhaps there's a little feeling of the torch being passed on my part, but that would have been, as Jimmy would have said, amazing.

This is probably a good place to note that one of Jimmy's signature songs was a tune called "Big Ol' Red Guitar," about a boy who sees a red guitar in the window of a music store and dreams about taking it home and where it will take him, not knowing the hard truth of life in the music business:

He wants that big ol' red guitar
That's in the window behind the bars
And he dreams about the day he'll take her home,
He'll probably pawn it a hundred times
Be involved in a couple of crimes,
He don't know what that guitar's got in store

Yeah, he thinks it'll carry him far
Together they'll become a star
He don't know the heartache and the pain,
He'll probably go through two or three wives,
Ruin a whole bunch of children's lives
He don't know what that guitar's got in store…

This, by the way, is my nephew:

Yeah, a big ol' red guitar… :-)

If there's a point to my rambling reminiscence, it's this: When I think of Jimmy, I smile, because he blessed my life and that of so many others, and his presence is still felt in joy. I don't think there's anything better that can be said of anyone after their passing. And dammit, Jimmy, we miss you.

Some people believe

Some people believe that you should trust in the goodwill of corporations, instead of having labor unions and legislating government protections for the weak and the poor.Some people believe that not allowing Internet providers to give preferential treatment to some, and slow down others, is needless government interference.

Some people believe that if you allow rich people to get out of paying taxes, their wealth will somehow trickle down to the rest of us.

Some people believe that if you're unsuccessful, poor, or unemployed, it's your fault.

Some people believe that individuals should be responsible for managing the complex web of investments in their retirement accounts, and that if they screw it up, that somehow churches and private organizations will pick up the slack.

Some people believe unemployment benefits are a waste, and those same churches and private organizations should be the main source of help.

Some people believe that if you put any regulations at all in place on an industry, it's unreasonable.

Some people believe that insurance companies always have your best interests at heart, and we should trust them to run our health care system.

Some people believe that if a policeman beats somebody up, that person had it coming to them.

Some people believe that it's OK for the government to disregard the Constitution in time of war, or anytime that there is an unspecified "threat" to the country.

Some people believe that religious freedom is only for Christians and Jews, and everyone else should stay quiet.

Some people believe that our laws should reflect church law, and only heterosexual couples should have the right to get married.

I don't believe any of that. I believe we have a responsibility to help others. I believe in separation of church and state. I believe we need to protect the weak, the minority, the underserved.

And that's why I'm a socialist.

Photo: The best background for the Windows 8.1 Start screen

Purely by accident, I discovered tonight that a black-and-white photo makes the ideal background for the Windows 8.1 Start screen.


The ease of blogging via email

Just participated in a discussion thread about blogging over on, in which someone wanted an easy blogging option.

Posthaven is pretty ideal in that regard. Write an email, hit "send," and boom, you're done. Couldn't be easier.

Hell, I just wrote this post on my phone while drinking coffee. :-)

Something old, something new

Once upon a time, I had an account with Posterous. If you're not familiar with Posterous, which got swallowed up by Twitter and shut down in 2013, it was a blogging platform that made posting remarkably simple. All you had to do was send an email to [email protected]. Couldn't have been simpler.

I always liked it, but as with so many other services that I've used and liked, it went away. I tried other platforms, but nothing ever made it as easy to post as Posterous did. Then I was reminded a few days ago that there was something called Posthaven, built by the founders of Posterous and resurrecting much of what was great about it.

So here I am, trying it out. I've made a grand total of four blog posts in the last year, so maybe this will encourage me to blog more. Maybe it won't. All I know is that I won't know until I try.

My reaction to the Senate report on torture

I'm only going to say this once:

The animals who have defiled our nation and made a mockery of our ideals by torturing and killing prisoners, and those who ordered and supervised their crimes, should be immediately charged with war crimes and handed over to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.

My fantasy garage

Note: There's an updated version of this list here.

Every once in a while I'll mention my fantasy garage, the collection of vehicles I'd own if I ever found myself suddenly a billionaire, and every once in a while someone asks me what they all are. Here's the list as of today. My criteria are simple. They are vehicles that I find interesting or beautiful, that are often a bit unusual, and that I would enjoy showing up with at a car show. It's heavy on European cars, and betrays my fascination with the automobiles of the Soviet bloc. If I have a choice between a common version and one you don't often see or hear about, I've chosen the rarer one (hence the Steyr-Puch 500 instead of the Fiat 500). Anyway, here you go:

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale
Alpine A110
Auto Union 1000S
AZLK Moskvich 408
BMW Isetta 600
BMW 700 Coupe
Citroën CX
Citroën DS21 sedan
Citroën DS21 Decapotable (Henri Chapron)
Citroën Dyane
Citroën GS Berline
Citroën 2CV
Citroën Ami 6 Break
Citroën SM
DAF Daffodil
Datsun SPL311
DKW 3=6
Fiat 600 Jolly
Fiat 850 Spider
GAZ M21 Volga
GAZ-24 Volga
GAZ-13 Chaika
Glas GT
Hillman Imp
Hindustan Ambassador
Holden 48-215
Honda S600 Convertible
Hongqi CA770
IKA Torino
Jaguar Mark II
Lamborghini 350GT
Lancia Fulvia Zagato
Lincoln Continental Mark II
Maserati Mistral coupé
Mazda Cosmo (1st generation)
Mazda RX-7 (Series 1)
Messerschmitt KR200
Morgan 3-wheeler
Morgan 4/4
Nissan PAO
NSU Ro80
NSU Spider
Oldsmobile Toronado (1966)
Panhard 24
Peugeot 504 wagon
Renault 4CV
Renault 4
Renault 5
Renault 12
Renault 16
Renault Fuego
Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III
Rover P5 "Coupe"
Saab 96 V-4
Saab 99EMS
Saab 900 Turbo
Skoda 1000MBX coupe
Skoda 110R
Steyr-Puch 500
Studebaker Avanti
Studebaker Starliner coupe
Tatra 603
Toyota 2000GT
Toyota Century (1st generation)
Toyota FJ40
Trabant 601
Volkswagen 1200 "Beetle"
Volkswagen Type 3 Karmann-Ghia
Volvo PV544
Wartburg 311
Wartburg 353
Willys Interlagos
ZAZ 965A