Category Archives: Commentary

Aug. 12, 2012 Blumbers

Writing Fiction

Readers said they missed my writing. To fix that, I have begun posting fiction again. An old writer told me some time ago that in order to sell a story you keep submitting it some place until it is sold. You cash the check and keep working on the next one. Some writers agonize over what Hollywood will do to their stories. They should be happy to get paid and the studios come back for more.

If you look at the successful franchises over the past ten years, they all seem silly or outrageous at the outset. An English schoolboy becomes a wizard. A repressed girl falls in love with a moody Northwest vampire. A genetically altered assassin with memory loss. The pitch has to be good, but the execution has to be better.

Over the years it has been harder to write science fiction because the changes are happening faster than I can type. The bigger challenge is write something that is crazier than the world we live in. Let the typing begin.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Aug. 5, 2012 Blumbers

The Last Lunch Counter

Last Friday I was invited to lunch for a chicken sandwich. The restaurant is owned by a man who thinks other people should not exist. My friends are human rights activist and said it would be like the old days where you would go to a segregated lunch counter in the 1960s. You walk into the restaurant as the visibly discriminated party and are either refused service or expelled. You know you are on the right side of history when they throw you out of a place. Reporters cover the event and show the discrimination in action. It makes a compelling story.

There is a problem of course. The reason to smell a viral ad campaign is that the company apparently does not discriminate against employees or customers. The owner just expressed these views. I guess the thing to do would be to express yourself by voting for candidates who hold more progressive views.

Back in the day, restaurants began putting up signs that said, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” They forgot that customers and voters have the right to go someplace else.

I guess it is time to sit down at one last lunch counter, but after I go to the voting booth first.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 29, 2012 Blumbers

New Banners

By now regular readers will notice the new banners. When Doug Wray created the original website six years ago, he created several cool banners to reflect the character of my content. He then encouraged me to create banners with my own pictures, so for the past year I have been posting over two hundred images that also now randomly appear every time you reload the website. The result is the usual collection of planes, trains, automobiles, ships, wildlife, architectural details, high tech gear, antiques and just plain art. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did creating them. As usual, contact me for signed prints or legal permission.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 22, 2012 Blumbers

Aurora: City of Light And Darkness

My friends in Colorado started contacting me very early Thursday morning about the tragedy in Aurora. My heart goes out to the families and friends there.

I went to the movies this weekend anyway. I used to go a lot but things have changed. A few months ago I was invited to see a preview at a theater in California. There was a sign on the door that advised customers not to bring weapons into the theater. It was the first time I had seen anything like that.

I asked my host about this and he said it had become a problem but they had beefed up security for this event. I worried about other people going to regular events when security was not “beefed up.” Not everybody has a security detail following them around everywhere they go.

There are other ways to see movies. People used to send them to me and now they just send me a link. I can sit comfortably at home and watch on a large screen. I can stop it it for a break, adjust the volume, read closed captioned text to get the dialog. When traveling, I watch them on planes or on mobile devices.

And yet, you don’t get that communal feeling you get at a theater. Movie theaters were the cathedrals of the twentieth century. They told stories with light, color and shadow like stained glass windows. Their music thundered and thrilled. A crowd of people got to see the story another crowd of people was telling. It was social media before it had a name. Like cathedrals, I hoped they were places of sanctuary.

That is no longer the case. We need to find a way to stop this from happening again. Was there something that could have been said or done to prevent this? Do you want to be remembered for the people you harmed or the people you helped?

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 15, 2012 Blumbers

Background On Background

People have commented how clean and simple the site looks with this paper white background designed by Doug Wray. I did not want one of those sites with a dark background and light text. It would look like the text at the opening of Star Wars. By keeping the structure simple it can be viewed on a wide range of browsers and devices over a longer period of time. The result is something that is easy to read on an iPad or whatever is next.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 8, 2012 Blumbers

Science Fiction Patently Absurd

The US Patent Office has opened a new branch office in San Jose to deal with all the new applications in Silicon Valley. I’ve run into lots of brilliant people here and the one constant theme is that they are all inspired by science fiction. They see a story where everybody walks around tapping on tablets and then find a way to build them. I am wondering if patent applications should have a place just to paste in science fiction stories. Write your own future.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jul. 1, 2012 Blumbers

Pictures By Numbers

People wonder why I put my name on my pictures. It is part of a long tradition of artists signing their work. My pictures are all over the place and not always properly credited outside the photo. This way no matter where they wind up, people can contact me. Because of all the demand, I have had to put numbers on them so that people can tell me which picture they want. The prints are signed on the front and numbered on the back.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 24, 2012 Blumbers

Among Friends

This week the US Supreme Court upheld Healthcare Reform Act. While the pundits argue about what it means, I know what it means to me. It means my friends might live.

I know their are people out on Facebook with a million friends, but mine are flesh and blood. Being carbon-based, they are vulnerable to health crises beyond their control. They need medical attention and until now they have been denied it. Without help they die.

If you have the power to help, you help. To turn your back on someone in dire need is unforgivable. To spend millions to keep from helping people is sociopathic. Those who worry about the cost of health care must know about the cost without it. We do. While they worried about the details of avoiding responsibility for their actions, we worried about the details of taking our friends to the doctor, making sure they had enough food, keeping them indoors, cleaning out their homes after they died and scattering their ashes.

Hopefully we will now join the ranks of other civilized nations and be among friends.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Jun. 17, 2012 Blumbers

Goals Set Goals Met

When I started this website six years ago, I had several goals. The first was to create a more visible online presence. Social networking websites were still in their infancy but they all seemed to want to control or own my content. While it was more work, I was advised to create an independent website. No matter what social media came and went, this website would remain on the air.

The second goal was to reach a wider audience. The good news is that I am reaching the people I want to reach all over the world. The site acts as portfolio and calling card.

The third goal was to post everyday. There is always something to write about or show people. If you are keeping count, there are over nearly three thousand posts. There are hundreds of book, film and TV reviews. All of it is a fraction of what I deal with but I think you might find interesting.

What people really love is the event coverage. People who attended want a summary or pictures. Even more people who couldn’t attend want a good impression of what it was like to be there.

The fourth goal was to create an account of what I saw for future reference. Last week scientists in Europe said that cave paintings they found were ten thousand years older than previously thought. The people who created them are long gone but their art survives. The best histories are always personal accounts like Herodotus and Boswell. I learned from the Long Now Foundation how to make it widely available many years from now. The ultimate backup for the ultimate audience continues. They will be as curious about us as we are about them.

Learn from us, do better.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Jun. 10, 2012 Blumbers

Positively Negative People

This month marks the sixth anniversary of this site. As with any successful enterprise, it is the result of a team. Projects succeed when everyone is on board with a positive attitude. I found a funny way to handle negative people.

When I started this latest incarnation of a website, I sought advice from people in the public eye. They recommended I constantly look for ways to do a better job but said to ignore criticism unless it was communicated directly to my site. “Actors should not go looking for bad reviews.” They recommended experts to look for people they called trolls. These experts use software that mimics my machine to look for any material and if necessary bring it to the attention of lawyers or authorities, but not to me.

The good news is that for six years if a troll said or did something, I never heard about it. The experts took care of everything. I wanted to thank them as I just kept right on doing my thing.

As one famous writer told me, “Dude, look on the bright side, even people who don’t like you are reading your stuff, and you don’t have to read theirs.”

I suppose he was right, but then I’ll never know, will I? :-D

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 20, 2012 Blumbers

STC Fellow Thanks

I am grateful to STC and its members for the honor of Fellow. Over the years I have learned much from other members. A successful volunteer organization has no passengers, only crew. All the money in the world cannot replace dedicated volunteers. We owe our existence to others willing to help each other. I thank the people who helped me and hope to return the favor.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Facebook Facebubble

Facebook had its IPO today. The stock price closed at few cents up from where it opened. Considering all the hype, many people were expecting more. An IPO is not like winning the lottery. It is a sign that company is growing up. I am not surprised. I am relieved.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 13, 2012 Blumbers

Communication 101

We now have every sort of technology available and yet we still have trouble communicating. If you want to say something, say it. If you cannot say it directly or in writing, then maybe it should go unsaid. Without clear communication, how can we know what you are thinking?

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

May 6, 2012 Blumbers

Dost Thou Protest Too Much?

It is always a healthy sign when the First Amendment gets more exercise than I do. Times are hard and people are now protesting regularly. I am seeing an increasing number of protests at the events I cover. Outside the events are usually crowds shouting and waving signs. Inside, a protester usually stands up and shouts something or holds a sign before being removed by security. It is supposed to be disruptive but now it occurs like clockwork.

Perhaps we should formalize this process. Before an event begins, a protester arranges with the event organizer, they stand up, deliver their message, and then leave.

Another option is for protesters to hold their own event, invite the press, and of course arrange for other people protesting whatever they are doing.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 22, 2012 Blumbers


Let us make this National No Slides Week.

I recently gave a presentation on photography but I did not show a single picture. I decided not to do one of those horrible presentations I hear about. I did not want to make people sit in uncomfortable hotel chairs eating bad food and endure another Powerpoint presentation. There is nothing more boring than a presentation about change where nothing happens.

Instead there was a conversation with the audience. The result was one of the more interesting evenings I have ever had. We talked about change and how to survive and thrive. We learned from each other. It was communication in its simplest and best form. The food was great but the conversation was better.

If you are going to give a presentation soon, find the courage to try it without slides.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 15, 2012 Blumbers

Tax Text

Time to pay your fair share of taxes. Don’t you wish everybody did? Support the Buffett Rule of at least thirty percent income tax for the one percent. Another idea was put forth in the September 28, 2011 New York Times by French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazey and promoted by David Brin. They support a small tax or fee on the billions of financial transactions or machine trades made by big corporations every year.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Banner 2074 Titanic Tribute

A hundred years ago the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage. It became an icon of hubris and disaster. People take many lessons from it. No matter how much you prepare for disaster it can still happen. When it does happen you have to act fast and be resourceful.

Most of the hoopla is not about the tragedy but about the revival of the latest movie about the Titanic. I’ve seen all the versions and a friend thinks it is the worst. They think the girl takes advantage of the guy’s generous nature and he pays the price. They actually wrote a sequel where the guy survives and shows up in New York, for the gem. Not quite the sequel anyone expected…

Frankly I thought the acting was pedestrian and the effects were overblown. My heart may go on, but it won’t be going back to the movie theater.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Apr. 1, 2012 Blumbers

April Fools Now Hiring

The economy is recovering but lots of companies are out of practice in hiring good people. Here is one story.

A friend was looking for work. They sent a new company a resume. Their HR person sees my friend’s resume and forwards the resume to a hiring manager. The manager asks the HR to set up a phone interview.

The friend has an old land line number with an answering machine. This is the number on the resume. It is used for messages, that way recruiters do not bother my friend at work. Clients get priority over recruiters.

When the HR person sets up the interview, my friend emails back that the hiring manager should contact them at their cell phone number and not the landline number on the resume. This is mentioned not only in the text but in the subject line of the email.

When the appointed time rolls around, the hiring manager calls the land line number and leaves three messages over ten minutes. He does not leave his phone number on any of them.

Meanwhile my friend is frantically checking these useless voicemail messages and sends a message to the HR person saying “Did you give the hiring manager my cell phone number?” The HR person then actually reads the email from yesterday and passes on the correct phone number. The phone interview got off on an awkward point and went downhill from there.

If your company is hiring, the first person you should hire is an experienced recruiter. Someone who actually reads email. They should be able to not only get a candidate’s contact information but make sure they have the hiring manager’s contact information in case there is a breakdown in communication.

My friend decided to go to a competitor. Their hiring manager called directly. They talked shop for an hour and then closed the deal right there and then. Talent attracts talent.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 25, 2012 Blumbers

Affiliation Alienation

Here is an odd story. A year ago, John Doe of Some Company spoke at an event. The sign in front of him said “John Doe of Some Company.” His name tag said the same. He gave me his business card that said “John Doe of Some Company.” I took his picture, wrote about the event and moved on.

A year later, he says he was not affiliated with that company, despite being identified on the web, placards and business cards. I should say the company has been in the news. They do creepy things with social networking data.

I’d love to know what happened, wouldn’t you? Guess I’ll have to find out.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Mar. 11, 2012 Blumbers

Half Time

I ran into someone last week who said they were fifty-nine and a half years old. He told me he was old enough to qualify for some tax benefit, but it made him sound like a seven year old, I mean, a seven and a half year old. I guess having a little extra seniority might give you an edge at both ends of your life. I wonder if the tax benefit is an extra cookie?

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 26, 2012 Blumbers

Flying Leap Year

Another Feb 29th is upon us. Adding a leap day at the end of February every fourth year seems particularly silly.

It makes you wonder if there is a better way to measure time than sixty seconds to a minute, sixty seconds to an hour, twenty four hours to a day, seven days to week, four weeks to month, twelve months to a year? It isn’t until we get to a century that we have anything that even remotely resembles the metric system.

If only there was time to come up with a better way to measure it.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.


Feb. 19, 2012 Blumbers

President’s Day

Tomorrow is President’s Day, created to combine George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. I suspect it was also created to avoid separate but inevitable Millard Fillmore and Zachary Taylor Days. Of course, such people are excellent examples of why who is president is important. Elections matter.

Beyond who is president, it is important to have an organization around leaders to help carry out their responsibilities. This means leadership at every level of society, from real grassroots and precincts up to the federal level.

You can be part of that leadership. Get registered to vote and find your candidates at the local, state and federal level. Be the person who moves things forward.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

Feb. 12, 2012 Blumbers

Most Happy Fellow

I want everyone who sent congratulations since STC announced my becoming Fellow last week to know that I am grateful. I’ve been named fellow at other organizations, but STC was more central to what I actually did. I cover technology and the people who create it. People want me to write a book about it. How I got here is quite a story.

I did want to honor the memories of two late great members who helped me, STC Fellow Dart Petersen and Associate Fellow Viki Maki. They helped build a future that they would never see. We all do.

Note: Despite their delightful conversations, tell Patti and Selma Bouvier it is time to go back inside and get away from the bugs.  Take nine steps right now. Watch your step. My friends will be eager to meet with you.

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.

And Then You Win

“We cannot escape history.” -Abraham Lincoln

“History is written by the victors.”-Winston Churchill

“Every joke is a tiny revolution.”-George Orwell and then Vaclev Havel

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.”-Steve Martin

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”-Gandhi

Copyright 2012 DJ Cline All rights reserved.