Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Otis Chandler's New York

(53) Otis Chandler’s New York

Wait a minute. Wasn’t he the owner of the Los Angeles Times? What’s THAT got to do with New York?

Well, yes, he was that, but a lot more.

Once, a long time ago, he was the President of the Associated Press, which is headquartered in New York. At the time, the president came from the ranks of the newspapers that collectively own the AP. That’s not true anymore. After Chandler, they wanted one of “their own” at the top, picked Wes Gallagher who served for awhile and who picked Lou Boccardi who served for millennia and who should have picked Bill Ahern, but didn’t.

Anyway, Chandler was one of those surfer dude types who whooshed around the place followed by an entourage. Those of us in the trenches (the fourth floor of a building in Rockefeller Center is a trench?) thought “what could this guy know about news?”

Plenty, apparently.

Chandler turned the piece of junk in Los Angeles into a first class newspaper, a position from which it tumbled only when scrapping members of the Chandler family couldn’t decide whether it was an advertising medium or a cereal company. (note, “news” wasn’t one of the choices.)

Chandler was able to woo Harry Guggenheim into selling to his company the newspaper he and his wife founded, Newsday… then, to the shock and awe of reader, advertiser and employees alike, improving it. Wasn’t bad to begin with.

He did things like open foreign bureaus, expand Newsday into New York City, start a Sunday edition, move publication time from afternoons to mornings. He and his hench-dudes created an investigative team second to none.

When the LA Times fell on hard times, so did Newsday. Both papers are now part of Chicago’s Tribune Company which cannot seem to make up its mind whether it’s an advertising medium or a cereal factory, or maybe a publisher and broadcaster (one notch greater than the scrapping Chandlers.)

But all of this was a long time ago. And what did this prince of commerce do after they pulled the rug out from under him?

Same as a pimp. Nothing. But nothing with great style.

He didn’t have to work when he worked. He CERTAINLY didn’t have to work after they sold the Times and all of its outlets.

But by doing nothing much, he still showed he was smarter than most of his co-princes. Smart enough to stay out of the way. Unlike, say, Lee Iacocca of Chrysler. Or George Catacosinos of LILCO.

Chandler died of some dread combination of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Probably not the best way to go, but not the worst, either.

He did more for New York than a lot of New Yorkers, and he didn’t make a huge show of it.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, February 27, 2006

More On Ports

(52) More On Ports

Quick! Who won World War II?

Wrong. If you answered The US, you’re just plain wrong. If you need proof, visit our old enemies, the “original” evil empire, Japan and Germany. In either country, you’ll find the kind of prosperity that has become the envy of the world.

Yes, Germany has some labor problems, and Japan’s workaholic mentality kills people early. But look at what they’ve done.

In Tokyo, where there are no posted street names or building numbers, people are better off than ever before. In Berlin, where everything is named and numbered, same story.

The lesson here? You don’t stay alive and sell off your organs at the same time.

The closest they come in Europe is that silly tunnel between England and France. Oh, and Air Bus. Wait and see which foreign countries get chunks of the oil pipeline that Russia and some of its former Soviet “partners” are building. The answer will be no one.

Japan won the car wars in the US fair and square. And they didn’t do it by buying GM and Ford. We would never have stood for that.

Japan lost the real estate wars in the US fair and square. They screwed us, we screwed back.

Of course, this is different. The selling of our shipping ports to the British didn’t raise much of a fuss. In fact, almost no one knew about it. Now, we’re selling it to the cousins of the people we consider our enemies. Everyone knows this, no one says it. All this handwringing has nothing to do with foreign ownership. It has only to do with Arab ownership.

It’s not much of a jump from “our allies in the United Arab Emirates” to “Osama Bin Ladin now signs your paycheck. If he feels like it. You can pick it up at the mosque any time after 10 AM Sunday.”

We ought to go them one better. Maybe buy up the hospitals in Dubai and run ‘em for profit. How American is THAT! Leave it to Blue Cross and HIP and Oxford to do what the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines can’t.

Maybe pick up a highway or two in Saudi Arabia. Let the Port Authority run those for profit, since they won’t have any ports to Authority after the US sale. Give all those people something to do, plus we’d own toll roads from nowhere to less-than-nowhere. Send in the ILGWU to organize the desert robe factories, or farm out the work to China. Buy all the camel breeding ranches. We still know ranching, right?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Friday, February 24, 2006

Listing To Port

(51) Listing to Port

The conventional wisdom in business these days is that the whole is worth less than the parts. Break up Time Warner! Break up ExxonMobile. Break up The Mets.

So why not countries, too.

Don’t you think that there’s more shareholder value in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as separate entities than there is when you put the three of them together with the rest of the lower 48?

This space has always been in favor of selling New Jersey, or at least breaking it in two and dividing it between the tw€o real states it serves to connect.

And why limit the break ups to states. Some states themselves are worth more in parts than they are as a whole.

New York comes to mind immediately. Separate everything from Westchester south and east into a separate thing. Spin off Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, etc to the shareholders. Mayor Bloomberg could probably put together a coalition of investors to scoop that up – if he was unable to do it all by himself.

Perhaps Wall Street could be separated from Lower New York. Those guys have always been their own planet, anyway.

Maybe Viacom could buy California starting at the northernmost part of Los Angeles and on down to the Mexican border. Get studio rent-a-cops to guard the border.

Athens and Sparta worked pretty well. Why not Los Angeles and Santa Monica?

Of course, ignorant naysayers will bring up things like nationalism and the difficulties these spinoffs have had in places like Germany, Ireland, Pakistan, the entire Middle East, North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam. What do THEY know?

All of which brings us to the real question, today:

What’s all the hoo-hah about letting some middle eastern sultanate run most of America’s major shipping ports?

We’ve given everything else away, so why not this? In fact, it really doesn’t matter whether the ports are run by a company from a country ostensibly with ties to the 9/11 bombers the British who run them now. It’s still not American owned.

And where were the rest of us when this happened the first time?

Watching our Malaysian television sets from our Chinese living room furniture on our Costa Rican wood floors and our Pakistani rugs? Were we busy eating our Chilean fruit and dreaming about the new Volkswagen we ordered. Maybe reading the magazine that came with the Sunday paper – and which is printed in Canada.

Or maybe we were on our Taiwanese telephone with a call center in India about our Japanese computer.

Where were the dock unions when all this started? Not a peep where an average American could have heard it.

Watch out, Lower Saxony, Upper Volta and Des Moines, here comes Wall Street.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Drive, You Nuts.

(50) Drive, You Nuts.

If road rage had a birthplace, it probably was in Tel Aviv or Rome or Boston. These cities used to be the homes of the world’s worst drivers and some of the world’s hottest tempers. But no more.

New York, you say? No way. New York gets a lot of bum raps and bad driving shouldn’t be one of them. In fact, anyone who can get across 125th street from river to river in under an hour should get a medal.

(Notwithstanding, the old joke has some validity: “Should we walk, or do we have time to take the bus?”)

You may see someone take a left turn from the right lane from time to time (usually a taxi,) but for the most part, people who drive in Manhattan know what they’re doing. Same is true for those who use the highways in and around the place. Things may move slowly, but they DO move on weekdays. But try the same roads on a weekend and you know where they got the term “Sunday driver.”

So where are the world’s worst drivers today? The suburbs. Ignored stop signs, failure to signal. Speeding. If they had enough cops and street cameras to catch these guys, they could pay the local debt. Maybe the national debt.

They’re not generally rude, at least not on purpose. They’re just unconscious. And not just behind the wheel, either (but that’s a topic for another day.)

Blame some of this on the auto industry. Today’s cars – even the worst of them, maneuver so well, one gets the feeling that they drive themselves and that impression is partly right.

There are so many safety features – crumple zones, seat belts, air bags, that a driver can get an ill-conceived feeling of invulnerability. So, the natural tendency might be to driver carelessly. After all, you have “On-Star,” or a cell phone and all that tricky safety stuff built in.

But you can’t blame Detroit, Tokyo or Wolfsburg for that. It’s still the Nut Behind The Wheel.

We talk on those cell phones. We have satellite radio, and sometimes an actual in-person conversation to distract us.

Is the current generation of drivers less well coordinated than in the past? Probably not. This same bunch goes to the gym three times a week, plays weekend softball, bowls, plays tennis and goes hunting without Cheney-like complications.

But there is one thing that has improved: the notion that women are worse than men.

Old story: a woman sticks her hand out the driver’s side window. Is she signaling or drying her nails?

No more. That’s because (a) today’s nail polish dries almost instantly, (b) both men and women have their nails polished and (c) No one uses hand signals.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Aloha Cult

(47) The Aloha Cult

What is it about Hawaii that drives so many otherwise normal Americans mad? It’s not a state. It’s a state of mind. Otherwise normal people who visit always seem to want to stay. And many of them do.

Pinapples. Hulas. Superb weather. What more can you ask? Sand, surf, starry nights.

The undersigned has played the ukulele for 59 years. It does not lure the player to the islands. Especially since it really ISN’T a Hawaiian musical instrument. It was invented by a Portuguese guy.

Women in scanty clothing gyrating to pleasant music? You can see that on MTV any day. (See “Going To The Dogs” posted earlier this month.)

It’s not any of that, is it?

Medium Bear, a closet gay from New York’s Long Island found comfort there. So did CC, an African American from New Jersey who has never been known to play the ‘uke, but who speaks and probably can sing in a wonderful basso. Aside from his membership in The Cult, he’s normal.

The spouse – an Empress wannabe originally from Northern China loved it and wants to live there fell in love immediately on landing.

It’s a cult. Like the Baath Party, or as it is known in the United States, the Republicans. Or the Trekkies.

It used to be pretty diverse. Japanese, Chinese, Black, White. Pacific Islanders, Mormons, you name it.

Then, one day, they all realized that diversity was not the same as unity and everyone started fighting. But gently, most of the time.

The “Native Hawiians” and the rest of the population kind of squared off, and when the bell sounded, came out fighting.

Howlee mainland entertainer Arthur Godfrey once said “A kid can’t get into much trouble if he has a ‘uke in his hand.” That may have been true in 1945, but it ain’t true now. A ‘uke in the right hands can be a deadly weapon. Listen to some of the music and you’ll surely agree.

Hard to understand people falling in love with a place that you can circle in 90 minutes and that has no winter.

Aloha.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Dicked Again, or A Tale of Two Dicks

(48) Dicked Again Or a Tale of Two Dicks

Oh, where, oh where is Ron Ziegler now that we need him. Cheneygate. Ron’d get up there and tell us the truth, right away. Just as he did with Watergate.

You can see it now: there he is at the podium in the White House Press Room, a hostile crowd of misled, ultra-liberal sharks swimming, the scent of blood in the water. And Ron puts a quick end to this potential feeding frenzy with a few simple words:

“It was a third-rate shooting, and the President had no advance knowledge of it.”

Watergate (Dick #1) had its 18 minute gap in the spy-tapes. Cheneygate (Dick Junior) has its 18 hour gap in letting the public know what went down in the duck blind, or the quail blind, or whatever they call those places where hunters await prey.

Cheney is bullet-proof, but apparently his pal Harry Whittington (or his “acquaintance” Whittington, as he described the fellow whom he shot when finally interviewed) isn’t.

And Fox News’ Brit Hume? Send him back to the softball league where he belongs.

Here’s the gist of his key question: “Did you down the bird?”

And bring on the cast of “Law & Order” to ask the questions.

Assistant DA Jack McCoy or Detective Robert Goren would have done better.

Here’s the gist of the latter’s key question: “…we know you were worried about your friend. We understand that. But you didn’t let anyone know what happened, DID YOU? You sat there and thought about how to cover your tracks. You sat there and planned out an explanation that would fly. Well, it DOESN’T fly, does it?”

At which point, the Vice President would break down in tears and confess he had a load on or the sun got in his eyes or somesuch.

Incidentally, by all accounts, Whittington is one of the good guys – moderate for a Texas Republican and respected by both sides of the local aisle.)

Think about what would happen to you if you committed either a third rate burglary or a third rate shooting. You’d be in the slammer in no time. “Accident? We’ll let a jury decide THAT.”

Watergate was a potential (some say actual) constitutional crisis, and Cheneygate ain’t. But both show the character of the perps and the people around them.

Even the White House advised Cheney to get the story out fast – which was a moot point (not to be confused with our headquarters in Moote Pointe,) by the time it learned of the incident – also later than it should have.

So, here we have an administration that says “take responsibility for your actions,” which Cheney finally did – on one news broadcast and plenty late.

And here we have an administration that thinks nothing of tapping your telephone tell us it was late with the news because it was trying to protect Whittington’s privacy.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Going to the Dogs

(47) Going to the Dogs

Even if you don’t like Dogs, the Westminster Kennel Club show was worth watching. Both nights, in fact.

But, like MTV, it’s best seen with the sound turned off. For essentially the same reason.

MTV is to today’s older generation what burlesque shows were to our grandparents. Plus, if you know the repertoire, young people around you think you’re cute or hip or both.

They don’t need to know the real reason we watch: scantily clad young women with come hither looks, performing athletic mating dances.

The dog show is not soft core porn of the PG-rated kind. But it’s still fun to watch.

These aren’t the trick dogs that jump through hoops or play songs on the bicycle horns with their noses. But they are among the most beautiful and well groomed of their breeds.

Some are stately, some are cute, some are goofy, some are not quite perfectly behaved. Some look like dogs-in-mop costumes, or dogs with high fashion haircuts that they don’t acknowledge – can’t acknowledge.

Most of them seem to be having a good time while their nervous handlers parade them around in front of judges who are said to be snooty and impervious to public opinion. (If they weren’t, Labs and Golden Retrievers would win best of show every year, but these breeds have NEVER won.)

The 2006 winner was a dog named Rufus, a Bull Terrier of Color (as opposed to a White Bull Terrier. They are separate but equal breeds, we’re told.) Rufus has one of those long pedigree names, but his owners call him “Puppyhead.” This may be because, according to the judges, he has a head that’s “perfectly egg shaped.”

Does anyone call him Rufus? Does Rufus give a kibble or bit about that? Probably not. He seems to be quite well contained, does not suffer from low self esteem, and has no clue about the honor he just won.

To those of us who are not immersed in the nuances of canine appearance, this dog is, well, a dog. Not pretty. But he has personality, discipline and a sleek coat. He also gets a steak dinner, courtesy of his owner, a woman from New Jersey.

Terriers always seem to win the top prizes. About half of the 130 Westminster shows that have been held. But not “Colored Bull Terriers.” Puppyhead was a first. Or was it Rufus was a first.

This corner tends to favor mutts of any foot configuration between two and four. But you have to admit these were cool dogs, all of them.

Not as cool as Paula Abdul or Madonna. But you can watch THEM with the sound down any time.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, February 13, 2006

Storm of the Century

(46) Storm of the Century

Well, they were right this time. More than right, in fact.

The record or near-record snow that hit New York really happened, probably to the amazement of weather forecasters around the world.

We’ve often mentioned in this space that weather forecasting is as much an art as it is a science. And we’ve often defended meteorologists who have mis-called so many of these “weather events,” as they call them.

Our expectations of accuracy are too high. And they’re made even higher than they might be by the cloak of technology that now shrouds this once puzzled industry. All that radar. All those satellites. All those computer models. And they still get it wrong as often as not.

Reminder: they know more now than they ever have in the past.

Reminder: nature’s still the boss.

By now, the newspeople can take the day off when these things hit. All they have to do first is pre record the usual sound bites. “Sanitation Commissioner Joe Glotz says there are 53 sanders and 124 salt spreaders, and 118 plows attached to garbage trucks and they’re ready for anything, but to please be patient.”

Fox News actually came up with something fairly interesting when it put a camera and a reporter inside a snow plow (which only can make right turns,) much as do the producers of the TV show “Cops.”

The driver was a white-bearded guy with a crinkly all-American face. He told us that he and others would be working 12 hour shifts and that every street would be plowed, and please be patient.

One thing that USED to require patience no longer does. That’s public school closings. You used to have to remained glued to the radio to hear whether your school was open or closed. No more. Just go to the websites of the all-news stations, the TV news channels, the local newspaper or your district, and find out in a couple of clicks.

For the record, there are two all-news stations whose signals reach Moote Pointe. One has a “search for your district” box that comes up with a report in seconds. The other has nothing. You know who you are. And you are owned by the same company. So what’s the story?

Ever hear about doing the school closings from the other side of the microphone? It was a rag tag process. We gathered round the telephones and took calls from district supervisors and from kids pretending to be district supervisors. There was a code system in place that was supposed to guard against kids’ trying to close their schools without the authority. The system worked better than it did at, say, the OJ trial. But it wasn’t perfect.

We got on the air with fists full of 3x5 cards and read ‘em in no particular order. This prompted calls from parents who demanded to know whether their kids’ schools were closed, and “why didn’t you read them in alphabetical or geographical order?”

Answer: for the same reason the left wing and right wing conspiracies couldn’t get us to slant the news in their direction. It was hard enough getting the stuff on at all, let alone in any order or with any political bent.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

Paul Harvey

(45) Paul Harvey

There’s a lot of talk these days that radio commentator Paul Harvey may soon retire. This is bad news, even for us left wing whackos who think he’s a right-wing whacko even if of a gentler era than the current White House and Congressional crowds.

Yeah, Paul’s sounding kind of fragile these days. Doesn’t have the speaking punch he used to. But he’s still one of the two best broadcast writers who ever lived. (The other was Jess Zousmer at CBS, whom almost no one probably remembers.)

The guy can say more in fewer words than anyone else you ever heard. Even if you don’t like his “take” on life. Even if you think he’s a “farm boy” talking to hicks in the sticks, even if he comes off as some rube from Chicago or Kansas City. Even if you think his political view is Cro-Magnon.

There isn’t a broadcaster alive today who didn’t learn a little by listening to the way Harvey puts a sentence and a paragraph together.

But it’s not just that he writes well and delivers interestingly. He’s done something that no other human being was able to do.

He turned middle America against the war in Viet Nam.

Even Lyndon Johnson admitted that when he lost Paul Harvey’s support, he would soon loose the support of the American people. And he did.

The demonstrators may have set the stage. The protesters might have driven the point home. But it wasn’t until someone with what were (at the time) serious conservative credentials got on the bandwagon, that the tide really turned.

Kind of like Nixon opening China.

Or the Wall Street Journal taking on big tobacco.

Not much of that happens in a world that’s crazed by the fear of “unbalanced” reporting. Only Fox and Air America seem to have a firm grip on their own political leanings, though the latter admits it and the former pretends to have a serious case of denial.

How ineffectual we have become. How we have left commentary and analysis to the talk show hosts who are interested in nothing but selling commercial time, “entertaining” us and marketing themselves.

Sure Harvey sells a lot of radios and health potions and whatever else he’s advertising these days. And, yes, sometimes it’s hard to tell when the news ends, the commercial starts, the commercial ends and the news resumes. But so what.

If this dinosaur retires any time soon, we’ll all be the worse for it, regardless of our political persuasion or lack of it.

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2006 WJR

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Razor's Edge(s)

(44) The Razor’s Edge(s)

They now have a “safety razor” that has six blades.

Five are on one side, and a sixth on the reverse.

This is so you can shave with the “comfort” of five blades and then attack the “tricky places” with the sixth.

It’s about time, Big Shaving came out with something for the “tricky places.”

Does your face play tricks on you?

Like, for example, getting old and ugly?

Your stomach plays tricks on you. It gets large for no apparent reason. It gets upset after a meal that starts with a cocktail, continues into wine with the food, ends with a Kahlua and coffee and continues on to a post-dinner six pack of Sam Adams.

That’s what they must mean by six pack abs.

Your back and knees have “tricky places” So do your teeth. And your arteries. And maybe your organ of reproduction.

So, as your body parts start playing tricks on you it’s well to pay heed and do something about them.

Thanks to Gillette for setting the pace.

No more puny THREE blade razors! We’ve got Six-count ‘em-six blades to scramble our tricky faces.

And to go with it, a new shaving gel that comes out of the can a deep blue you never find in nature, and goes on white.

Except that when it spatters all over the sink and the bathroom floor it stays blue. Bluer than their original “blue blades,” which they no doubt don’t make anymore.

And this stuff ain’t cheap. You walk out of Duane Reade with a razor, an extra pack of blades and a couple of cans of the different types of gels and you’re twenty bucks lighter. Even if you buy the razor that DOESN’T have the battery and vibrator built in.

You have to hand it to the marketing geniuses at Gillette, though. They’ve figured out a way to keep you coming back for expensive stuff by updating their shavers more often than Intel speeds up computer chips.

And since the company bought Duracell, they figured out a way to make you use more batteries, too, by putting them in shavers for no apparent reason.

There’s something offputting about an electrical device you use at the same time as you use running water. But, as yet, no one has died from electric shock while shaving with one of these. They’ll have to raise the voltage.

So, after all this, is the shave any good?

Well, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Yes and no.

Yes, it’s smooth, alright.

But if you need your glasses to see your face, you can’t get a decent shave with ANYTHING.

Or you have to put them on while shaving, which messes them up even more than they usually are.

Save a bundle. Grow a beard.

Spend zero on a razor and shaving gel, and hide the “tricky parts” of your face all at the same time.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

Coretta Scott King

(44) Coretta Scott King

The Marquee on the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York is lighted up morning and night these days. It says something about remembering Coretta Scott King, withthout ever mentioning her name.

It’s the right venue, and the right sentiment. And everyone who passes the hall knows what it means.

It’s short; devoid of Hallmark sentimentality.

The outpouring of sympathy, tribute and remembrance has gone to avalanche proportions and so it will be at her funeral.

And so it was in the State of the Union address.

That was the President’s first topic, and the only one with which he spoke meaningfully, even if he may not have meant it.

The President’s relatives might have owned service stations that wouldn’t have pumped gas for Mrs. King. The President’s relatives were people in power when she was just a homemaker for her preacher husband and kids and who opposed allowing her to sit at a Woolworth lunch counter.

But all that has changed. The Prez and his ilk have co-opted or tried to co-opt that era and the people who made it what it was.

What would have been the status of the FBI investigation of Martin Luther King had Ashcroft or Gonzales had been Attorney General at the time?

Nothing different, be assured.

The young Mrs. King was a pretty woman. The older Mrs. King was stately.

Does anyone know what she was really like? Maybe some family members. Not the rest of us.

Does it matter?

No.

But what DOES matter is this:

She was more than the grieving widow of a martyr.

She was more than a symbol of the violent era in which her husband operated.

She was a person. She was a mother. She was a woman who probably bought Advil and pantyhose at her local CVS or Pepsi and frozen broccoli and cheese at her local supermarket.

Probably watched the Braves on TV. May have gone to see the Atlanta Symphony or “The Curse of the Ware Rabbit.” Liked Brokaw better than Rather or Jennings better than Brokaw.

Drove a car.

Got pissed off at her kids. Itched. Fed the birds.

We probably will never know. We don’t need to.

But the Coretta Scott King who died was more – and less – than the public persona we assigned her.

And while singing her praises from the halls of Congress or the marquee of the Apollo, or this blog, we ought to remember that.


I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

Thursday, February 02, 2006

State of the Internet Union

(42) State of the Internet Union

The internet has reached out and complicated matters yet again.

For the sake of relative simplicity, we omit Apple and its variations because most of us don’t have Macs.

When MSFT first issued windows, we all had to use its browser, “Internet Explorer.”

Fairly straightforward and relatively easy to learn.

But along came Netscape to complicate things.

Now there were two browsers.

Recently, we have downloaded Firefox, which is way easier than either of the other two.

So, three choices.

Any major differences?

Not really. You click on something and get something back. They’re all pretty much the same, they’re all relatively easy to use and they all get the same results, basically sales pitches which are the backbone of the “internet backbone.”

So which to use?

Well, the two newer ones make it easier to put up bunches of screens at the same time so you can “toggle” among them. Kind of like channel surfing on TV.

But then you have to “manage” what they call “tabs,” or you’ll find yourself with so many screens you won’t know what’s what, even though they’re labeled.

You can find yourself with 15 or 20 open “tabs” on Firefox or Netscape and if you want to get out of all of them, your computer asks you “are you sure you want to close 20 tabs?” Who can be sure of that? It’s nerve wracking.

Okay, so you tame the tab infestation, let us say, and figure you’ve beat the house.

Not so fast, junior.

Everyone comes up with “new” versions.

And each of them “borrows” “innovations” from the other.

At some point, explorer will have tabs, or something like them.

But Netscape and Firefox aren’t sitting still either.

The new version of the latter (1.5) contains added bells to ring and whistles to blow.

And so does the new version of the former (8.1.)

This is confusing.

They’ve added a “Security Center” to Netscape. It nags you with an annoying little notice that something or other is not up to date or not working… things you never heard of.

You’ve lived without this “feature” for a long time and figure you can keep living without it. But there’s no apparent “tool” (don’t you love how Virtual Reality has borrowed terms from the real world?) to make it go away. There it sits, blinking red at you day and night.

Maybe it’ll just fade into the background, eventually. Probably not.

So the internet has three major (and several minor) ways of being browsed. Kind of like a country with multiple states or provinces.

And do these guys get along?

Sort of. It could be worse. They could tell us, for example, that we are suspended from use for “X” days because we were caught using a competitor’s browser.

Oh, please, your honor, I only used Firefox because it was the first icon on my desktop. Or: Oh, please, your honor, I only used Netscape because I wanted to see if I could open 55 tabs at the same time, and still look at the spy-cams on the new “Weather Bug” feature.

It could get messy.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006