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Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Low and high points of Chelsea Clinton’s years during the (Bill) Clinton administration

I am fascinated with U.S. Presidents and the Presidency, including those family members who come along for the ride when someone is elected President. Often, those people are children or teenagers, and can sometimes become a target of those who don’t like the President.

In the 2006 post I Heart Amy Carter, Danny Miller mentioned one such incident.

In 1993, Rush Limbaugh reached an all-time low when he said the following on his show: “Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat, Socks, in the White House. But did you know there is also a White House dog?” He then held up a picture of Chelsea. Can you imagine how vile a person would have to be to say that about anyone, much less a defenseless 13-year-old girl who was already struggling with typical adolescent concerns about her appearance?

Chelsea Clinton herself referred to the incident years later, when appearing on a panel with fellow Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke:

‘She and I actually have something in common. We’ve both have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh,’ Clinton said, adding, ‘She was 30. I was 13.’…

‘I’m grateful I don’t remember the exact phrasing,’ Clinton said during the debate. ‘Thankfully I had grown up in public life and knew that having thick skin was a survival skill.’
‘I do also believe if you have the right type of enemies you’re doing something correct,’ she added.

It appears that Clinton, unlike Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s kids, inherited the political views of her parents.

However, my pick for the best part of Chelsea Clinton’s experiences during her father’s presidency was her cameo role in a major motion picture. Because it was a non-speaking role, she didn’t have to memorize any lines. Because it was an animated role, she didn’t even have to show up.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the Beavis and Butt-Head movie Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.

Beavis and Butt-Head were truly creatures of the 1990s, inheriting the “trashiest trash on TV” mantle from the Simpsons before passing it on to the kids of South Park. And considering the content of many Beavis and Butt-Head episodes, the insertion of Chelsea Clinton into the boys’ movie could have been disastrous. But when dealing with Clinton, Mike Judge – unlike Rush Limbaugh – showed restraint.

For those who haven’t seen the movie, I’ll set the scene. Butt-Head finds himself wandering around the White House, and while going around in the upstairs family area, he runs across Chelsea. Butt-Head, well-known for his amazing mastery of pick-up lines, proceeds to utter words to melt Chelsea’s heart.

“I see you have braces. I have braces too.”

MTV writer Nick Nadel then describes what happens next.

Naturally, she tosses him out a window.

Count on African entrepreneurs to improve cloud access (BRCK)

Many of the latest trends, including Google’s new Chromium computers and Adobe’s new cloud software, assume an Internet connection. If that Internet connection is lost, then you can’t access the cloud and you can’t work. (Unless you bring out antique devices such as paper and pens.)

If you think that’s a “first world problem,” consider what it’s like in the Third World. For example, what if the connection is lost in Nairobi?

Erik Herzman, an Ushahidi co-founder, dreamed up BRCK more than a year ago as a solution to connectivity problems at the iHub, Nairobi’s best-known space for hackers to congregate.

Currently the iHub addresses the issue by supporting connections to four Internet providers. BRCK, currently in prototype form, provides an alternative:

BRCK is a wi-fi router and mobile modem in one, with eight hours of battery life to keep it going when the power runs out. It can sit in an office connected by ethernet and switch seamlessly to a 3G or 4G connection if the line goes down. It can also support up to 20 wireless connections and has 16 gigabytes of storage so it can work as a back-up network drive.

The device is also ruggedized, because conditions in Kenya are not your average “typical office conditions” for which most hardware is designed.

See the Kickstarter page for more information.

But where is the beef?

Back in the early 1980s, Clara Peller was asking, “Where’s the beef?”

But that same question is being asked today – and not just because of portion size.

In some previous posts, I have referenced the thoughts of Vinod Khosla on the future of medicine. The most recent reference is here (But where is the doctor?).

But Khosla has interests that range beyond medicine. In this brief Atlantic piece, he talks about food. First, I’ll print Khosla’s comments about food as they originally appeared in the Atlantic piece:

We also have a company trying to create [synthetic] meat that tastes as good as the real thing and may be many times more energy- and plant-protein-efficient. We call it “meat 2.0.”

Now as you know, when you see material within brackets within a quote, it is something that was not said by the original speaker, but something that was subsequently added (or edited) by the person reporting the quote. The intent of the bracketed text is to provide context that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

So this may be what Khosla actually said:

We also have a company trying to create meat that tastes as good as the real thing and may be many times more energy- and plant-protein-efficient. We call it “meat 2.0.”

Someone at the Atlantic thought that it was misleading to refer to the company’s products as “meat,” and therefore added the word “synthetic” to add context. But according to TechCrunch, Khosla himself sees no such distinction.

Khosla is backing Hampton Creek Foods, which has a product called “Beyond Eggs.” It’s also backing a few other food and agricultural companies, including artificial salt company Nu-Tek Salt and fake meat company Sand Hill Foods. Last year at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco Khosla went so far as to say that the artificial beef, which is made from soy protein, is still “beef.”

So while some people are worrying about the evil East Coast companies like Monsanto that are altering food, there are West Coast companies in Silicon Valley that are willing to convince consumers that meat doesn’t have to come from an animal.

Will these companies label their products to disclose their non-animal origin? Perhaps – there may, after all, be a market among vegetarians and semi-vegetarians for “meat” that does not require the death of animals. Or perhaps not – we’ll see.

But why would people spend so much venture capital and research money to create non-animal “meat”? They may be looking to the future:

The venture capitalists behind these startups believe that climate change and the planet’s dwindling natural resources will put more pressure on the food chain and that the food industry will require sustainable alternatives.

In essence, the argument is that Thomas Malthus was partly right. We have certainly increased food production over the last few centuries by using so-called “natural” means. But perhaps our food production techniques – irrigation of deserts, breeding of special varieties of plants and animals, artificial fertilizers to increase crop yield, and the like – may not be enough. In that case, as long as the population continues to increase at a rapid rate, we may need Monsanto plants and petri-dish meats to continue to meet the population demand for food.

But is something from a soy plant still “meat”?

Is a diagnosis from a computer still “health care”?

Is a horseless carriage still a carriage?

P.S. If you think this post is too long, Larry Rosenthal has encapsulated the same thought in two words:

Soylent Green.

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