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Brandon Micheal Hall, Star Of ABC’s ‘The Mayor’ Tapped As Lead In CBS Pilot, ‘God Befriended Me’

BrandonMichaelHall Brandon Micheal Hall, Star Of ABC’s ‘The Mayor’ Tapped As Lead In CBS Pilot, ‘God Befriended Me’

Just a few days ago we reported that The Mayor‘s Brandon Micheal Hall is hot commodity for networks during pilot season.

Now, the reports have come to fruition as he’s been tapped as the lead for CBS’s potential procedural, God Befriended Me. 

The series is from Warner Bros. Television and Greg Berlanti’s Berlanti Productions.

Its description: “God Befriended Me is described as a humorous, uplifting series, which explores questions of faith, existence, and science. It centers on Miles (Hall), an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he is “friended” by God on Facebook. Unwittingly, he becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him.”

A relative newcomer, Hall earned rave reviews headlining The Mayor at ABC, which despite getting critical acclaim, is virtually canceled at the Mouse House. He also co-starred on TBS’ Search Party. 

If ordered to series, this could make Hall one of only two black male leads on the network in many years, with the first being Jermaine Fowler on Superior Donuts. However, due to the recent flack CBS has gotten for diversity, and their recent commitment to change for the better, this may be a movement for more diverse leads at the network.

Kevin Hart’s Digital Network Laugh Out Loud Headed To Canada

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The Humor Mill

“The Peacock Throne (Hindustani: मयूर सिंहासन تخت طاؤس: Mayūr…

“The Peacock Throne (Hindustani: मयूर सिंहासन تخت طاؤس: Mayūr Singhāsana, Persian: تخت طاووس‎, Takht-i Tāvūs) was a famous jeweled throne that was the seat of the Mughal emperors of India. It was commissioned in the early 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan and was located in the Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audiences) in the Red Fort of Delhi. The original throne was subsequently captured and taken as a war trophy in 1739 by the Persian king Nadir Shah,
and has been lost ever since. A replacement throne based on the
original was commissioned afterwards and existed until the Indian War of
Independence in 1857.”

(Source: Wikipedia)

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A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

Earle Hyman, Grandpa Huxtable On ‘The Cosby Show,’ Passes Away

Earle Hyman Earle Hyman, Grandpa Huxtable On ‘The Cosby Show,’ Passes Away

A veteran of stages around the world, he received an Emmy nom for his work on the long-running NBC sitcom and was a voice on ‘Thundercats.’

Earle Hyman, the admired stage, television and film actor best known for playing Bill Cosby’s sage father, Russell Huxtable, on The Cosby Show, has died. He was 91.

Hyman died Friday at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, his nephew Rick Ferguson told The Hollywood Reporter.

Hyman played Othello hundreds of times, appeared often on Broadway and received a Tony nomination for featured actor in a play for his performance as Oscar in the original 1980 production of Edward Albee’s The Lady From Dubuque. He also appeared on stages throughout Europe during his career.

Meanwhile, animation fans know him as the baritone voice of the aggressive Panthro, a member of the ThunderCats. He worked on 125 episodes of that cartoon series in the 1980s.

From 1984-92, across 40 episodes of NBC’s ratings smash, Hyman was always memorable on The Cosby Show as obstetrician Cliff Huxtable’s dad and a wise grandfather to Theo (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), Denise (Lisa Bonet), Vanessa (Tempestt Bledsoe), Rudy (Keshia Knight Pulliam) and Sondra (Sabrina Le Beauf).

Russell was at one time a prominent jazz trombonist who went by the nickname “Slide” Huxtable. (In real life, he was just 11 years older than Cosby.) His wife, Anna, was played by the late actress Clarice Taylor.

In 1986, Hyman received an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest performer in a comedy series for his work on the episode “Happy Anniversary.”

That season-two installment centered on the Huxtable clan planning the 49th wedding anniversary for Russell and Anna. It included a memorable scene of the family lip-syncing to Ray Charles’ “(Night Time Is) the Right Time.”

“That’s the one episode that was the most loved, most seen. People just loved it. It just shot off the charts,” Hyman recalled in 2009 on the podcast Just My Show. “We just had a ball, and the atmosphere just went over into a kind of reality. We were no longer Clarice and Earle, we were really Anna and Russell Huxtable.”

In 1997, TV Guide voted it the 54th greatest TV episode of all time.

Hyman made his Broadway debut in 1944 in Anna Lucasta and appeared over the years on the Great White Way in The Merchant of Venice; in the original production of No Time for Sergeants; as the title character in the Nigeria-set Mister Johnson; twice in Saint Joan, more than a decade apart; in Waiting for Godot in an acclaimed all-black production in 1957; in Les Blancs; and in Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder, opposite Lynn Redgrave.

Born on Oct. 11, 1926, in Rocky Mount, N.C., Hyman was the son of schoolteachers with Native-American and African-American roots. He was raised in Brooklyn and began his film career with an uncredited appearance in the best picture Oscar winner The Lost Weekend (1945).

Hyman also guest-starred on many TV shows in the 1950s and ’60s, including Camera ThreeEast Side/West Side and The Defenders, and he appeared on the big screen in the war film The Bamboo Prison (1954) and in the crime drama Fighting Back (1982).

An admirer of Ibsen, Hyman took a vacation to Oslo in 1957, eventually became fluent in Norwegian and owned property in that country.

“The only place I’m a star in the true sense of the word is Norway,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1988. “There they come to see me and hope the play is all right. I’m the only foreign actor and only black actor who performs in both Norwegian languages.”

In addition to Ferguson, his survivors include his nieces Cassandra, Yvette and Monica and nephew Derryl.

Hyman’s death was first reported by the website Broadway Black.

Source: Broadway Black, The Hollywood Reporter

Netflix Announces Title And Premiere Date of Dave Chappelle’s New Comedy Special

Russell Simmons Accused Of Sexual Allegations Along With Brett Ratner; Releases Statement

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The Humor Mill

A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

We recently received some very sad news:  the world lost Mike Miskell, one of the absolute-best humans I’ve ever met, a little over a week ago.  All of the standard phrases apply here for sure.  Too soon.  Tragic.  Shocking.  But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

Instead, I simply want to honor a truly amazing person and friend.  Right now there is a fantastic family in NY/CT who should be celebrating Thanksgiving with their fantastic husband and father, and instead they are mourning his sudden passing.

If we, or I, can do anything to help them today, it would be to tell his story through our lens.  Through MY lens, more specifically, but everyone here at P3 who knew him had EXACTLY the same sort of experience with him, so please consider my take to be representative.

When we formed this company in 2013, Mike (in his role at Kaman Industrial, a billion-dollar plus in annual revenue, publicly-traded firm) was the first person to hire us for an enterprise-level project.  To this day, “the Kaman Story” is one of the five client stories I tell basically everywhere I go.

image thumb A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

One of Mike’s Favorite Quotes
(And SUPER appropriate for the kinds of things he and his team have accomplished with Power BI since 2013)

In 2013, the C-level executives at Kaman had tasked Mike with the single most-critical project on their entire radar.  They needed to get better at pricing their products, to rein in a “margin erosion” problem.  This was easier said than done.  It didn’t just require them to “get smarter.”  It also required them to drive behavior change across hundreds of people, each of which needed to make many difficult and time-sensitive decisions every day.  All of those decisions – thousands per day – needed to be made slightly better in order for the overall needle to move.  And he had this WILD idea that this new Power Pivot thing might represent a path to a solution.  Crazy insightful for 2013!

And in the end, all we did was help Kaman’s stock price go up.  Yawn.  All in a day’s (well, two months’) work for Mike.

image thumb 21 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

Yeah…  I know…  correlation is not causation.  But don’t underestimate what someone like Mike can do.

As I got to know Mike, I learned that this was par for the course:  when there was a big problem, the execs called Mike.  I’d spent most of my career up until that point safely ensconced in the software engineering trenches, far from the executive levels, and it was downright fascinating to watch Mike operate.  He had a serious and formal job title at the time – Director of Process Improvement, which honestly sounded pretty boring to me.  But that was just a title.  Because hey, to run in Mike’s world of industrial distribution and manufacturing, you NEEDED a serious and sober job title.

But his REAL role was “The Fixer.”  Got a big problem?  Seems impossible to solve?  Put Mike on it.  He solves anything.  And then comes back for more.  Everyone knew that.

And this got me thinking about Winston Wolf, the “fixer” from Pulp Fiction.


Mike didn’t strike me as a Pulp Fiction fan (in fact he’d never seen it), but he LOVED the comparison when I shared it with him.  Embraced it.  Had fun with it.

He even got a chuckle about me bad-photoshopping his face over Harvey Keitel’s and then publishing it for thousands to see:

image thumb1 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”
From the Oct 2014 Post, “Winston Wolf Has Job For You

Thanks to the things we learned working with Mike, “The Wolf” became a Favorite Client Archetype for us over the years, as we met a number of other Executive-Level Fixers, each with their own distinct job title but a very similar “real” role.

But Mike was the first, and he was always so generous with his time and thoughts, it ALLOWED us to learn about “Wolves.”

ROB:  “So Mike, we all know Power BI is gonna replace Cognos as the official BI tool at Kaman…”

MIKE:  “No not at all!  There are things Cognos does better than Power BI, and things Power BI does better than Cognos, and we’re just gonna keep using each tool for its strengths.”

ROB:  “Yeah yeah yeah, excellent politician-speak.  But there’s no one here but the two of us!  You can level with me!  Cognos is going away and we both know it!”

MIKE:    “No no no, Rob…  these tools are very different.”

ROB:    “Yep they’re different, one is just better, we both know it, so why won’t you break character???”

  “Break character???  My dear sir I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

MIKE:  “Hey Rob guess what!  They just put me in charge of ALL the BI at Kaman, and you know what?  I think we might retire Cognos!!!

ROB:  “You’re a cagey veteran Mike and I’m gonna make sure we never become opponents.”

image thumb 22 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”One of my favorite Mike stories played out over the course of YEARS.  It was an ongoing inside joke of sorts.  Kaman had long been using a traditional BI tool called Cognos.  The Margin Scorecard project that we built with Kaman was originally “given” to the Cognos team to address, and said Cognos team had cried uncle (because hey, traditional BI doesn’t work, no matter which software vendor you chose).

So Cognos was still the answer for Kaman, for everything EXCEPT the Margin Scorecard, which we built in Power Pivot.  And the smashing success of said scorecard, well…  I’m sure that surprised the Cognos team just a bit.  I suspect they were betting “if we can’t do it, neither can so-called Modern Excel.”  In their shoes, I would have been surprised too!

This created a tension behind the scenes at Kaman – the age-old “but we have an official BI tool, please stop using that newfangled interloper tool” tension.  And the way Mike navigated that…  I will forever be in his debt, because I never saw things quite the same after watching him manage that situation.

Every time I saw Mike, I’d needle him about this situation, and every time, it went down as illustrated above.  I could always see the glimmer in his eye, even as he denied.  He knew.  He agreed.  But he ALSO knew that it would never help ANYONE to say such a thing out loud.  It drove me nuts that he wouldn’t “level” with me, but he was doing both of us a major service, longer-term.

“Never try to convince anyone that Power BI is a better tool than other tools, even if YOU believe it.  Instead, just go build something that was otherwise impossible, and KEEP delivering the impossible, without EVER picking a fight with the proponents of the other tools.  Tell them you’re happy to switch to their tool of choice as soon as they’re ready to duplicate what you’ve built in Power BI.  They’ll never get around to it of course, but in the meantime, no one is served by picking a fight.”

-One of our company’s core recommendations, learned by watching Mike.

I’ll leave you with a few quick additional Mike stories…

On one of my visits to Kaman HQ, I witnessed Mike debugging a Fax Server of all things.  Not just ANY fax server, of course, but one that sent and received hundreds per day as part of the customers’ ordering process.  So, huge crisis?  Has nothing to do with BI or Analytics?  Yep, Mike’s on it.  I’d known him for years at this point and I was still laughing in admiration as he rallied the troops to solve a deep and hairy tech problem that he himself knew ZERO about…  and yet, I watched him untangle the web of people and problems and get it mitigated.

image thumb 23 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

Mike and I Gave a Talk About the Margin Scorecard Project Together in 2014 wlEmoticon smile 2 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

image thumb 24 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

Yeah.  Mike Co-Organized a Private Summit Between Us, Some of Our Other “Wolf” Clients, and the Engineering Leaders from Microsoft

We’re all fond of the hand-drawn art style here, even when it means hybridizing several images into one.  So it was only fitting to “commission” one such piece for our good friend Mike:

image thumb 25 A Thanksgiving Tribute to “The Wolf”

Happy Trails to a Fabulous Colleague and Friend

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“The Space Migration Part Is What I’m Working On Right Now”

Timothy Leary had numerous odd experiences behind prison walls. There was the time he dropped acid with Massachusetts inmates, the one in which he shared a Folsom cell block with Charles Manson and let us never forget that he was lectured in the pen by friend Marshall McLuhan. Such was the life of an LSD salesman.

One of the few trips Leary never got to take, except posthumously, was a trek to outer space. In 1976, during his “comeback tour” after stays in 29 jails and a retirement of sorts, Leary dreamed of leaving it all behind—way behind. The opening of John Riley’s People article “Timothy Leary Is Free, Demonstrably in Love and Making Extraterrestrial Plans“:

High in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, in a wood-heated A-frame beside a rushing stream, the retired guru speaks:

“After six years of silence, we have three new ideas which we think are fairly good. One is space migration. Another is intelligence increase. The third is life extension. We use the acronym SMI2LE to bring them together.”

The sage is Timothy Leary, high priest of the 1960s LSD movement, who is just four weeks out of the 29th jail he has inhabited since his first arrest in Laredo, Texas, 11 years ago. That charge was possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana that his then-wife, Rosemarie, had handed to his daughter. In recent months, when Leary was appearing before federal grand juries investigating the Weather Underground, he was moved from prison to prison for his own safety. Now paroled at age 56, he will soon start a term of probation whose length will be set by a federal judge.

Leary fled a federal work camp in California in 1970, an escape planned by Rosemarie and the Weather Underground. The Learys went first to Africa, then to Switzerland, where their marriage collapsed. Leary met and was captivated by a then 26-year-old jet-setter, Joanna Harcourt-Smith, whom he married in 1972. Three weeks later they traveled to Afghanistan, where U.S. authorities captured them both and flew them back to Los Angeles.

“Joanna visited me regularly,” Leary says. “She published several of my books and lobbied and schemed to get me free.” He looks at her adoringly, and she turns from the breakfast dishes in the sink to kiss him. Joanna tells how she collared Betty Ford on a street in San Diego and pleaded with her for Tim’s freedom. “I’m doing for my husband what you’re doing for yours. You’re helping yours get elected President, and I’m helping mine get out of prison.”

“One of the plans that she was continually hatching to break me out,” says Leary, “was for her to descend onto the Vacaville prison grounds in a silver helicopter blaring Pink Floyd music, wearing nothing but a machine gun. We called it Plan No. 346.”

“You know,” he continues, after Joanna has left to drive to a village 10 miles away for groceries and cigarettes, “in 1970 the U.S. government directly and bluntly shut me up. It was the greatest thing that could have happened, because I had run out of ideas.” His face, its prison pallor turned to brown by the mountain sun, breaks into a grin. A woodpecker hammers at the chimney of their Franklin stove. “Does that every morning,” says Leary. “We’ve named him the tinpecker.

“Well, SMI2LE, as I said, is a good idea. The acronym is woven into Joanna’s belts and purses. The space migration part is what I’m working on right now. Los Alamos [the atomic laboratory] is not far away and I have lots of questions about laser fusion. And this valley is an ideal temporary planetary base of operations for getting away from earth.”

Leary not only wants to live on a space station between the earth and the moon, he wants to take some of the planet with him. “How far can we see from here?” he asks. “Half a mile? According to a professor at Princeton, such an area could be compressed to a degree that I figure could be fit within a NASA spacecraft.”•

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The city of Kamianets-Podilskyi, in modern Ukraine, has the…

The city of
Kamianets-Podilskyi, in modern Ukraine, has the unique feature of being almost entirely surrounded by
Smotrych River.  This natural defense was supplemented by successive fortresses, yet still the town changed hands numerous times in its thousand year history.

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A Historian Walks into a Bar . . .

Five Things I Learned From “The Last Jedi” Trailer

277357 l srgb s gl 300x200 Five Things I Learned From “The Last Jedi” Trailer“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

As a part of the last wave of Millennials joining the workforce, I have been inspired by Jobs’ definition of innovation. For years, Millennials like me have been told that we need to be faster, better, and smarter than our peers. With this thought in mind and the endless possibilities of the Internet, it’s easy to see that the digital economy is here, and it is defining my generation.

Lately we’ve all read articles proclaiming that “the digital economy and the economy are becoming one in the same. The lines are being blurred.” While this may be true, Millennials do not see this distinction. To us, it’s just the economy. Everything we do happens in the abstract digital economy – we shop digitally, get our news digitally, communicate digitally, and we take pictures digitally. In fact, the things that we don’t do digitally are few and far between.

Millennial disruption: How to get our attention in the digital economy

In this fast-moving, highly technical era, innovation and technology are ubiquitous, forcing companies to deliver immediate value to consumers. This principle is ingrained in us – it’s stark reality. One day, a brand is a world leader, promising incredible change. Then just a few weeks later, it disappears. Millennials view leaders of the emerging (digital) economy as scrappy, agile, and comfortable making decisions that disrupt the norm, and that may or may not pan out.

What does it take to earn the attention of Millennials? Here are three things you should consider:

1. Millennials appreciate innovations that reinvent product delivery and service to make life better and simpler.

Uber, Vimeo, ASOS, and Apple are some of the most successful disruptors in the current digital economy. Why? They took an already mature market and used technology to make valuable connections with their Millennial customers. These companies did not invent a new product – they reinvented the way business is done within the economy. They knew what their consumers wanted before they realized it.

Millennials thrive on these companies. In fact, we seek them out and expect them to create rapid, digital changes to our daily lives. We want to use the products they developed. We adapt quickly to the changes powered by their new ideas or technologies. With that being said, it’s not astonishing that Millennials feel the need to connect regularly and digitally.

2. It’s not technology that captures us – it’s the simplicity that technology enables.

Recently, McKinsey & Company revealed that “CEOs expect 15%–50% of their companies’ future earnings to come from disruptive technology.” Considering this statistic, it may come as a surprise to these executives that buzzwords – including cloud, diversity, innovation, the Internet of Things, and future of work – does not resonate with us. Sure, we were raised on these terms, but it’s such a part of our culture that we do not think about it. We expect companies to deeply embed this technology now.

What we really crave is technology-enabled simplicity in every aspect of our lives. If something is too complicated to navigate, most of us stop using the product. And why not? It does not add value if we cannot use it immediately.

Many experts claim that this is unique to Millennials, but it truly isn’t. It might just be more obvious and prevalent with us. Some might translate our never-ending desire for simplicity into laziness. Yet striving to make daily activities simpler with the use of technology has been seen throughout history. Millennials just happen to be the first generation to be completely reliant on technology, simplicity, and digitally powered “personal” connections.

3. Millennials keep an eye on where and how the next technology revolution will begin.

Within the next few years Millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce. As a result, the onslaught of coverage on the evolution of technology will most likely be phased out. While the history of technology is significant for our predecessors, this not an overly important story for Millennials because we have not seen the technology evolution ourselves. For us, the digital revolution is a fact of life.

Companies like SAP, Amazon, and Apple did not invent the wheel. Rather, they were able to create a new digital future. For a company to be successful, senior leaders must demonstrate a talent for R&D genius as well as fortune-telling. They need to develop easy-to-use, brilliantly designed products, market them effectively to the masses, and maintain their product elite. It’s not easy, but the companies that upend an entire industry are successfully balancing these tasks.

Disruption can happen anywhere and at any time. Get ready!

Across every industry, big players are threatened — not only by well-known competitors, but by small teams sitting in a garage drafting new ideas that could turn the market upside down. In reality, anyone, anywhere, at any time can cause disruption and bring an idea to life.

Take my employer SAP, for example. With the creation of SAP S/4HANA, we are disrupting the tech market as we help our customers engage in digital transformation. By removing data warehousing and enabling real-time operations, companies are reimagining their future. Organizations such as La Trobe University, the NFL, and Adidas have made it easy to understand and conceptualize the effects using data in real time. But only time will tell whether Millennials will ever realize how much disruption was needed to get where we are today.

Find out how SAP Services & Support you can minimize the impact of disruption and maximize the success of your business. Read SAP S/4HANA customer success stories, visit the SAP Services HUB, or visit the customer testimonial page on SAP.com.


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Digitalist Magazine

“The Real Scandal Isn’t That Trump’s Secretary Of State Called Him A Moron”

Some perfectly bright people, like Matthew Yglesias, cling to the notion that Donald Trump must be very intelligent despite all evidence to the contrary, because he and his have avoided prison despite the dubiousness of their “business deals,” and Trump was even able to weasel his way into the White House. I, however, instead see a remarkably dumb and damaged person who wasn’t long ago checked into the Graybar Hotel along with some of his nearest and dearest because of an American failure to curb criminal activity of the white-collar variety. That’s due to how riddled by money our political system has become.

Just this week, a joint report by the New Yorker, ProPublica and NPR revealed how the two elder Trump offspring were on the verge of being indicted for fraud in regards to Trump SoHo when family lawyer Marc Kasowitz visited DA Cyrus Vance Jr., a politician the attorney has supported financially. That the case almost immediately went away is less a sign of innocence than a sign of the times. The putrid paterfamilias himself never being placed in a pen for his exorbitant money laundering and numerous other offenses isn’t a display of his effectiveness but of our societal failure. 

As far as Trump landing in the Oval Office by hook or especially by crook, it probably wasn’t any native genius that enabled him to run a Bull Connor-as-a-condo-salesman campaign aimed at the worst of us and, quite possibly, to conspire with the Kremlin in upsetting our democracy. Let’s not confuse pathological shamelessness with intelligence. There will always be terrible people who disgracefully attempt to bilk a system. A culture that allows them to thrive is corrupt and…moronic.

Two excerpts follow.


From “Is Trump a Moron? Duh.” by Max Boot in USA Today:

Trump journeyed to Puerto Rico on Tuesday to try to dispel that image. Again, it was a comedy of errors. The most widely seen picture from the trip showed Trump throwing paper towels at hurricane survivors as if they were seals receiving fish from a trainer. Trump refused to meet with Cruz, leading to more quotes from her lambasting him. “This terrible and abominable view of him throwing paper towels and throwing provisions at people, it does not embody the spirit of the American nation,” she said.

Wait. Trump wasn’t done.

At a news conference at an Air National Guard base in Puerto Rico, the president lauded the Coast Guard as “special, special, very brave people.” Then he turned to a man in uniform and asked, “Would you like to say something on behalf of your men and women?” His response: “Sir, I’m representing the Air Force.”

Mixing up Coast Guard and Air Force uniforms is understandable for a newly elected president with no military experience; it’s less excusable after more than eight months in office.

At this same briefing, Trump also said, in that tone-deaf way of his, “You can be very proud. Everybody around this table, and everybody watching, can really be very proud of what’s taken place in Puerto Rico,” because fewer people died than during Hurricane Katrina. So Puerto Ricans should be proud of the catastrophe engulfing them because other disasters were even worse? It’s like telling New Yorkers that they can be proud that 9/11 didn’t kill as many people as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Little wonder that only 32% of respondents in a recent poll approved of Trump’s handling disaster relief in the U.S. territory. His overall approval ratings aren’t much higher.

The real scandal isn’t that Trump’s secretary of State called him a moron. It’s that his job performance lends so much credence to that description.•


While Tillerson is right in his gauging of Trump’s idiocy, he probably should look in the mirror when tossing around the m-word given how abysmally he’s performed as Secretary of State. From 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s job is at imminent risk.

In the wake of Wednesday’s NBC News report that Tillerson had called President Trump a “moron” in July, the Secretary of State was forced to give an unusual and bizarre press conference in which he denied any intent to leave. But when the Washington Post spoke to 19 current and former White House officials about the controversy, the clear consensus was that TIllerson is not likely to survive such public reports of insubordination.

This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. The consensus among foreign policy observers is that Tillerson’s tenure as secretary of state as been an unmitigated disaster.

“Tillerson would be at or near the bottom of the list of secretaries of state, not just in the post-Second World War world but in the record of US secretaries of state,” says Paul Musgrave, a scholar of US foreign policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The former Exxon Mobil CEO — whose nomination was initially greeted warmly by prominent foreign policy hands — has failed to wield any significant influence in internal administration debates over issues like Syria, North Korea, or Russia.

His push to slash “inefficiencies” in the State Department and seeming disinterest in working closely with longtime staff were even more damaging. By failing to get people into vital high-level posts and actively pushing out talented personnel, he ended up making America’s response to major crises incoherent and weakening the State Department for a “generation,” according to George Washington University’s Elizabeth Saunders.

This can’t all be blamed on Tillerson: Even a skilled and experienced diplomat would have had trouble maintaining influence in the chaotic Trump White House, where people like UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Jared Kushner wield major influence and foreign policy is often made by tweet.

Yet both nonpartisan experts and high-ranking State Department appointees in the past two administrations believe he personally deserves much of the blame.

“I think he really will go down as one of the worst secretaries of State we’ve had,” Eliot Cohen, counselor to the State Department under President George W. Bush, told Axios’sJonathan Swan. “He will go down as the worst secretary of state in history,” tweeted Ilan Goldenberg, an Obama-era official who worked on Israel-Palestine issues.•

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“The Mechanisms That Work For AI Practically Today Aren’t Mirrors Of What Goes On In The Brain”

General Artificial Intelligence is likely possible, but it’s unlikely we’ll create it from the methods we’re now utilizing. It’s not that we can’t use the current blueprint to build something strong enough to greatly improve life—or end it—but it won’t be human-like but rather something that’s at best parallel to humanness. We’ll learn about this pseudo-superintelligence by trial and error for the foreseeable future, which is always perilous when we’re talking about powerful tools that develop gradually—and then all at once.

Terry Winograd, an AI pioneer who had second thoughts, tells Aaron Timms in an OutlineQ&A that correcting the mistakes that develop along the way to more and more profound machine intelligence usually will require a large-scale failure that will elicit a course correction. “You have to wait for breakdowns,” he says, using Facebook’s great election-year failure as an example. An excerpt:


How close do you think we are to achieving “general AI”?

Terry Winograd:

I’m still in the agnostic phase — I’m not sure the techniques we have are going to get to general AI, person-like AI. I believe that nothing’s going on in my head that isn’t physical — so in principle if you could reproduce that physical structure, you could build an AI that’s just like a person. Today’s techniques are not close to that in a direct sense. Everybody knows that my brain does not operate by having trillions of examples. The mechanisms that work for AI practically today aren’t mirrors of what goes on in the brain.


How do you judge this moment in the public debate about AI? Is all this fear-mongering a useful contribution? Is it fair? Is it silly?

Terry Winograd:

Having those questions out for discussion is good, getting large amounts of hysteria and publicity isn’t. The question is: How do you raise these issues in a thoughtful way without saying, “Skynet is upon us”? Musk, I think, is more on the “clickbait” end of the public discussion about AI. But I do believe that AI is facilitating huge problems for our society — not because it’s going to be smart like a person but because robotics is going to change the whole employment picture, and because the use of AI in decision making is going to move decision-making toward directions that may not have the element of human consideration.•


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“The Rational Use That I Make Of Progress And Technology Brings Me The World At Home”

For a long time, Hugh Hefner was ahead of his time and behind the curve, progressive and regressive, a liberator and a jailer. He was right about America’s phony flirtation with Puritanism but was very pleased to uphold patriarchy to gain wealth and satisfy his lusts. His empire was always built on the backs—and other parts—of women, but his last decades, when he OD’d on silicone and Reality TV, were exceptionally sad. By then, the terminal playboy was just desperately trying to keep pace with a culture of titillation that left him behind for lower pastures.

Working in the fields of pornography and media from the 1950s forward, Hefner was bound to be branded again and again by the seismic technological shifts we’ve experienced with ever greater frequency. An orgiastic agoraphobic, he believed the future would look a lot like himself—homebound, wired to copious machines and pleasured by endless thrills. Below is a re-post that perfectly captures his mindset while he was in his prime.


hugh hefner chicago playboy townhouse bed “The Rational Use That I Make Of Progress And Technology Brings Me The World At Home”

During the heyday of the Magazine Age, when Playboy was still based in Chicago, Hugh Hefner thought most people would soon be enjoying his lifestyle. Well, not exactly his lifestyle.

The mansion, grotto and Bunnies were to remain largely unattainable, but he believed technology would help us remove ourselves from the larger world so that we each could create our own “little planet.” The gadgets he used five decades ago to extend his adolescence and recuse himself are now much more powerful and affordable. Hefner believed our new, personalized islands would be our homes, not our phones, but he was right in thinking that tools would make life more remote in some fundamental way.

In 1966, Oriana Fallaci interviewed Hefner for her book, The Egotists. Her sharp introduction and the first exchange follow.


First of all, the House. He stays in it as a Pharaoh in a grave, and so he doesn’t notice that the night has ended, the day has begun, a winter passed, and a spring, and a summer–it’s autumn now. Last time he emerged from the grave was last winter, they say, but he did not like what he saw and returned with great relief three days later. The sky was then extinguished behind the electronic gate, and he sat down again in his grave: 1349 North State Parkway, Chicago. But what a grave, boys! Ask those who live in the building next to it, with their windows opening onto the terrace on which the bunnies sunbathe, in monokinis or notkinis. (The monokini exists of panties only, the notkini consists of nothing.) Tom Wolfe has called the house the final rebellion against old Europe and its custom of wearing shoes and hats, its need of going to restaurants or swimming pools. Others have called it Disneyland for adults. Forty-eight rooms, thirty-six servants always at your call. Are you hungry? The kitchen offers any exotic food at any hour. Do you want to rest? Try the Gold Room, with a secret door you open by touching the petal of a flower, in which the naked girls are being photographed. Do you want to swim? The heated swimming pool is downstairs. Bathing suits of any size or color are here, but you can swim without, if you prefer. And if you go into the Underwater Bar, you will see the Bunnies swim as naked as little fishes. The House hosts thirty Bunnies, who may go everywhere, like members of the family. The pool also has a cascade. Going under the cascade, you arrive at the grotto, rather comfortable if you like to flirt; tropical plants, stereophonic music, drinks, erotic opportunities, and discreet people. Recently, a guest was imprisoned in the steam room. He screamed, but nobody came to help him. Finally, he was able to free himself by breaking down the door, and when he asked in anger, why nobody came to his help–hadn’t they heard his screams?–they answered, “Obviously. But we thought you were not alone.”

At the center of the grave, as at the center of a pyramid, is the monarch’s sarcophagus: his bed. It’s a large, round and here he sleeps, he thinks, he makes love, he controls the little cosmos that he has created, using all the wonders that are controlled by electronic technology. You press a button and the bed turns through half a circle, the room becomes many rooms, the statue near the fireplace becomes many statues. The statue portrays a woman, obviously. Naked, obviously. And on the wall there TV sets on which he can see the programs he missed while he slept or thought or made love. In the room next to the bedroom there is a laboratory with the Ampex video-tape machine that catches the sounds and images of all the channels; the technician who takes care of it was sent to the Ampex center in San Francisco. And then? Then there is another bedroom that is his office, because he does not feel at ease far from a bed. Here the bed is rectangular and covered with papers and photos and documentation on Prostitution, Heterosexuality, Sodomy. Other papers are on the floor, the chairs, the tables, along with tape recorders, typewriters, dictaphones. When he works, he always uses the electric light, never opening a window, never noticing the night has ended, the day begun. He wears pajamas only. In his pajamas, he works thirty-six hours, forty-eight hours nonstop, until he falls exhausted on the round bed, and the House whispers the news: He sleeps. Keep silent in the kitchen, in the swimming pool, in the lounge, everywhere: He sleeps.

He is Hugh Hefner, emperor of an empire of sex, absolute king of seven hundred Bunnies, founder and editor of Playboy: forty million dollars in 1966, bosoms, navels, behinds as mammy made them, seen from afar, close up, white, suntanned, large, small, mixed with exquisite cartoons, excellent articles, much humor, some culture, and, finally, his philosophy. This philosophy’s name is “Playboyism,” and, synthesized, it says that “we must not be afraid or ashamed of sex, sex is not necessarily limited to marriage, sex is oxygen, mental health. Enough of virginity, hypocrisy, censorship, restrictions. Pleasure is to be preferred to sorrow.” It is now discussed even by theologians. Without being ironic, a magazine published a story entitled “…The Gospel According to Hugh Hefner.” Without causing a scandal, a teacher at the School of Theology at Claremont, California, writes that Playboyism is, in some ways, a religious movement: “That which the church has been too timid to try, Hugh Hefner…is attempting.”

We Europeans laugh. We learned to discuss sex some thousands of years ago, before even the Indians landed in America. The mammoths and the dinosaurs still pastured around New York, San Francisco, Chicago, when we built on sex the idea of beauty, the understanding of tragedy, that is our culture. We were born among the naked statues. And we never covered the source of life with panties. At the most, we put on it a few mischievous fig leaves. We learned in high school about a certain Epicurus, a certain Petronius, a certain Ovid. We studied at the university about a certain Aretino. What Hugh Hefner says does not make us hot or cold. And now we have Sweden. We are all going to become Swedish, and we do not understand these Americans, who, like adolescents, all of a sudden, have discovered that sex is good not only for procreating. But then why are half a million of the four million copies of the monthly Playboy sold in Europe? In Italy, Playboy can be received through the mail if the mail is not censored. And we must also consider all the good Italian husbands who drive to the Swiss border just to buy Playboy. And why are the Playboy Clubs so famous in Europe, why are the Bunnies so internationally desired? The first question you hear when you get back is: “Tell me, did you see the Bunnies? How are they? Do they…I mean…do they?!?” And the most severe satirical magazine in the U.S.S.R., Krokodil, shows much indulgence toward Hugh Hefner: “[His] imagination in indeed inexhaustible…The old problem of sex is treated freshly and originally…”

Then let us listen with amusement to this sex lawmaker of the Space Age. He’s now in his early forties. Just short of six feet, he weighs one hundred and fifty pounds. He eats once a day. He gets his nourishment essentially from soft drinks. He does not drink coffee. He is not married. He was briefly, and he has a daughter and a son, both teen-agers. He also has a father, a mother, a brother. He is a tender relative, a nepotist: his father works for him, his brother, too. Both are serious people, I am informed.

And then I am informed that the Pharaoh has awakened, the Pharaoh is getting dressed, is going to arrive, has arrived: Hallelujah! Where is he? He is there: that young man, so slim, so pale, so consumed by the lack of light and the excess of love, with eyes so bright, so smart, so vaguely demoniac. In his right hand he holds a pipe: in his left hand he holds a girl, Mary, the special one. After him comes his brother, who resembles Hefner. He also holds a girl, who resembles Mary. I do not know if the pipe he owns resembles Hugh’s pipe because he is not holding one right now. It’s a Sunday afternoon, and, as on every Sunday afternoon, there is a movie in the grave. The Pharaoh lies down on the sofa with Mary, the light goes down, the movie starts. The Bunnies go to sleep and the four lovers kiss absentminded kisses. God knows what Hugh Hefner thinks about men, women, love, morals–will he be sincere in his nonconformity? What fun, boys, if I discover that he is a good, proper moral father of Family whose destiny is paradise. Keep silent, Bunnies. He speaks. The movie is over, and he speaks, with a soft voice that breaks. And, I am sure, without lying.

Oriana Fallaci:

A year without leaving the House, without seeing the sun, the snow, the rain, the trees, the sea, without breathing the air, do you not go crazy? Don’t you die with unhappiness?

Hugh Hefner:

Here I have all the air I need. I never liked to travel: the landscape never stimulated me. I am more interested in people and ideas. I find more ideas here than outside. I’m happy, totally happy. I go to bed when I like. I get up when I like: in the afternoon, at dawn, in the middle of the night. I am in the center of the world, and I don’t need to go out looking for the world. The rational use that I make of progress and technology brings me the world at home. What distinguishes men from other animals? Is it not perhaps their capacity to control the environment and to change it according to their necessities and tastes? Many people will soon live as I do. Soon, the house will be a little planet that does not prohibit but helps our relationships with the others. Is it not more logical to live as I do instead of going out of a little house to enter another little house, the car, then into another little house, the office, then another little house, the restaurant or the theater? Living as I do, I enjoy at the same time company and solitude, isolation from society and immediate access to society. Naturally, in order to afford such luxury, one must have money. But I have it. And it’s delightful.•

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