Will somebody, please, slap Paul Allen in the head?!

Historic Microsoft photo of Paul Allen and Bil...

Image via Wikipedia

Paul Allen is a co-founder of Microsoft. The other co-founder, of course, is Bill Gates. Allen has a new book coming out, and according to the New York Times:

Paul G. Allen, the Microsoft co-founder, may be one of the world’s richest men, with a fortune pegged at $13 billion. But he still resents his former partner, Bill Gates, for not sharing enough credit or giving him his due financially.

In a memoir due out next month that is tinged with bitterness and regret, Mr. Allen accuses Mr. Gates of whittling down his ownership in the company and taking credit for some of his contributions.

The accusations surprised some in the small circle of early Microsoft alumni, as Mr. Gates and Mr. Allen have known each other since high school and have remained on friendly terms until recently. What’s more, Mr. Allen’s wealth soared largely because of Microsoft successes that came well after he left the company in 1983.

He’s the co-founder of Microsoft. He has $13 billion mostly because of things the company did after he left.

When God says, “Everybody who wants to be screwed like Paul Allen was, please stand in a row,” you’re going to find me on that really long line.

This can only end badly

Tilikum as "Shamu" at SeaWorld Orlando.

Tilikum (He sleeps with the fishes)

Remember last year’s SeaWorld tragedy in Orlando, where the killer whale lived up to its name and drowned its trainer?

Consider this from the Montreal Gazette:

A killer whale that’s been involved in the deaths of three people — including a Canadian — is back in the spotlight after a hiatus of more than a year.

Tilikum appeared in SeaWorld’s current killer whale show “Believe” Wednesday morning after SeaWorld Parks Entertainment president Jim Atchison signed off on the decision this week. …

Tilikum has not appeared in any shows since his Feb 24, 2010 performance at SeaWorld Orlando, when the 12,000-pound animal pulled his trainer Dawn Brancheau into the water by her ponytail and violently shook her, causing fatal injuries.

The deaths of two other people have been linked to Tilikum. Keltie Byrne, 20, an assistant trainer at Sealand of the Pacific near Victoria, drowned in 1991 after she fell into the water and was dragged below the surface by Tilikum and two female whales, Haida and her calf Nootka. The naked body of Daniel Dukes was found draped over Tilikum’s back in July 1999 after he sneaked into SeaWorld after hours to swim with the animals.

The animal is a killer whale. Not a cuddly whale. Not a rescue whale. “Killer” is its first name. OK, maybe its middle name, but you get the point.

Might as well just write up the manslaughter indictment against SeaWorld now, since someone else is going to pull a Luca Brasi.

Stranger on a train

Cover of "Rope"

Cover of Rope

Farley Granger died Sunday.

I’m guessing that name doesn’t mean too much to people today, but he was a big star in the 1950s, appearing in two Alfred Hitchcock classics.

One was “Rope.” It came out in 1948, with James Stewart as the star,  and was essentially a fictionalized interpretation of the 1924 Leopold and Loeb murder.

OK, history lesson: Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two rich University of Chicago students who killed a 14-year-old boy for no reason other than they wanted to commit the perfect murder. They considered themselves superior beings. Not in a crazy mystical deity way, but kind of a precursor to the Nazi philosophy of the master race. Which is kind of weird because they were both Jewish.

According to Wikipedia:

The two were exceptionally intelligent. Nathan Leopold was a child prodigy who spoke his first words at the age of four months; he reportedly had an intelligence quotient of 210, though this is not directly comparable to scores on modern IQ tests. Leopold had already completed college, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and was attending law school at the University of Chicago. He claimed to have studied 15 languages, was able to speak four, and was an expert ornithologist. Loeb was the youngest graduate in the history of the University of Michigan and planned to enter the University of Chicago Law School after taking some postgraduate courses. Leopold planned to transfer to Harvard Law School in September after taking a trip to Europe.

They committed a series of crimes leading up to the murder, just because they could. They were caught because Leopold left his glasses at the scene. Idiot.

Clarence Darrow was their defense attorney. They should have gotten the death penalty, but received life sentences. Loeb was slashed to death in jail by another inmate. Leopold was paroled in 1958 after 33 years in prison, moved to Puerto Rico and died in 1971.

Which brings us back to “Rope.” The play was written in 1929, and Hitchcock decided to do the movie in 1948. It’s likely Farley Granger was the Loeb character (he struck the audience as the more neurotic of the two). John Dall was the other murderer. “Rope” was not a great Hitchcock movie, but the thing that made it memorable was the cinematic experiment Hitchcock tried to pull off. Making the movie seem like it was all done in one shot. An interesting attempt, but the movie falls short.

Now “Strangers on a Train” is a great movie. It has one of the most charming psychopathic killers of all time.

Bruno, played by Robert Walker, hates his father. Farley Granger is Guy, a professional tennis player who’s trying to get out of a bad marriage. Bruno and Guy meet on a train by accident, and Bruno comes up with this crazy idea: to solve both of their problems, they swap murders. Bruno will kill Guy’s wife while Guy kills Bruno’s father. Guy thinks Bruno is joking. He’s not.

Here’s Granger on his experience with Robert Walker.

In both cases, Granger is a star of the movie, but not the big star: Those would be Stewart in “Rope” and Walker in “Strangers on a Train.”

But Granger was one of the few ties remaining to Hitchcock’s glory years. And now he’s gone.

Simple answers to unnecessary brain teasers

Ted Koppel asked this unnecessary brain teaser on “Meet the Press” this past weekend:

MR. TED KOPPEL: I don’t think he’s going to be able to answer the central question. You asked the right question in talking about the, the national interest. The question hasn’t yet been answered as to why it is that Libya, of all countries in that region, has won the humanitarian defense sweepstakes of 2011. We have seen many countries, both in that region and throughout the world, where civilian loss and civilian suffering has been much, much greater. Congo for the past 12 years, we’ve lost about five million people. Sudan, three million people, never any talk of military intervention. Take a look at what’s going on in the Ivory Coast today. Secretary Clinton was talking about the number of refugees that might have come out of a Gadhafi attack on Benghazi. You’ve got 700,000 refugees in the Ivory Coast right now–close to a million, in fact. Why, why Libya? Hasn’t been answered.

Simple answer: Oil.

Glad I could clear that up.

Because he thinks we’re incapable of doing a Google search

John McCain, former presidential candidate and perpetual Fox News guest, was on his favorite network the other day comparing Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi to Hitler.

One year ago (from Politics Daily via Washington Monthly) here’s what he said about Libya’s Hitler:

Sen. John McCain, visiting Libya this past week, praised Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking efforts in Africa. In addition, McCain called for the U.S. Congress to expand ties with Gaddafi’s government, according to Libya’s state news agency.

McCain had a face-to-face meeting with Gaddafi, which he detailed on his Twitter page with the following message:
Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya — interesting meeting with an interesting man.

The Fukushima 50

No matter where you stand on the subject of nuclear energy, you have to keep in mind that when something goes seriously wrong, there are extremely brave people who are aware that as they take action to stop a disaster, they are exposing themselves to lethal doses of radiation.

It happened at Chernobyl (it’s hard to believe that happened 25 years ago next month). And it’s happening today at Fukushima in the wake of the earthquake/tsunami caused nuclear disaster.

The U.K.’s Daily Mail had a story last week on the Fukushima 50: a group of workers who stayed behind to get control of the situation. There are more people involved now, but many of these people will die because they put the lives of others before their own.

The Fukushima Fifty – an anonymous band of lower and mid-level managers – have battled around the clock to cool overheating reactors and spent fuel rods since the disaster on March 11.

Five are believed to have already died and 15 are injured while others have said they know the radiation will kill them.

The original 50 brave souls were later joined by 150 colleagues and rotated in teams to limit their exposure to the radiation spewing from over-heating spent fuel rods after a series of explosions at the site. They were today joined by scores more workers.

Japan has rallied behind the workers with relatives telling of heart-breaking messages sent at the height of the crisis.

A woman said her husband continued to work while fully aware he was being bombarded with radiation. In a heartbreaking email, he told his wife: ‘Please continue to live well, I cannot be home for a while.’

One girl tweeted in a message translated by ABC: ‘My dad went to the nuclear plant, I’ve never seen my mother cry so hard. People at the plant are struggling, sacrificing themselves to protect you. Please dad come back alive.’

Energy and death

This chart has been making the rounds on numerous blogs. Something to consider when discussing safe energy (from the Web site Next Big Future):

For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced… You might very well have excellent reasons to argue for one form over another. Not the point of this post. The question is: did you know about this chart? How does it resonate with you?

O, Canada

Did you know the Canadian government fell yesterday?

Neither did I.

(From AP)

Canadian opposition parties brought down the Conservative government in a no confidence vote Friday, triggering an election that polls show the Conservatives will win.

The opposition parties held Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government in contempt of Parliament in a 156-145 vote for failing to disclose the full financial details of his tougher crime legislation, corporate tax cuts and plans to purchase stealth fighter jets.

Opinion polls expect Harper’s Conservative Party to win re-election but not a majority, meaning he likely will continue to govern with a minority in Parliament, dependent on opposition votes to stay afloat.