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John Eby: Assange a ‘timelier’ pick than Zuckerberg

Published 5:15pm Sunday, December 26, 2010

We survived WikiLeaks, BP’s Gulf of Mexico crude spillcam from April to mid-July, leaked phone rants which showed us a dark side of Mel Gibson and ash escaping from that Icelandic volcano with the catchy name, Eyjafjallajokull. Leak that!

The BP spill leaves us an 80-mile “kill zone” where scientists say oil settled and destroyed virtually all life except CEO Tony Hayward. He got his life back, although not by May 30. One calami-tea party after another, except here in the Jack, where we offset spills with thrills from Herman’s Hermits and Judy Ivey.

What the Beatles have in common with the Tea Party: David Von Drehle wrote in Time, “Identifying with the movement was like catching Beatlemania in the 1960s. People were drawn in for different reasons — the beat, the haircuts, the lyrics — and great gulfs of taste divided the John fans from the Paul fans, the George fans from the Ringo fans. Smashing success broke the Beatles apart. As 2010 closes, there is no bigger question in U.S. politics than whether the Tea Party will go the same way.”

That’s easy: yeah, yeah, yeah!

Los 33, the Chilean miners who survived 70 days, gave us a rare happy ending in August.
Snooki had everyone talking about Guidos and Guidettes for stereotypical Italian Americans on “Jersey Shore.” I mention the 4-foot-9 troll doll whose 15 minutes are way up here because she’s Chilean, too.

Time lavishes 24 pages with six color photos of the Santa Clara server center on Person of the Year Mark Zuckerberg, 26, as though the editors need to convince themselves. Sure, he connected people into a virtual confederation larger than any country but China and India, but I find it most interesting Facebook’s logo is blue because he’s color blind and that he was born in 1984 — same year Apple launched Macintosh computers.

I must say, he seems more affable and normal than his portrayal in “The Social Network.”
He started Facebook in February 2004 from his Harvard dorm room. Now one of every dozen people on Earth has an account.

They speak 75 languages. Its growing by 700,000 folks a day and should reach 1 billion in August 2012. God save the queen, she’s even on Facebook, closing in on 600 million users. Call me anti-social, but I could never come up with the requisite average of 150 friends, then there’s  narcissism, voyeurism and the fact Facebook has more information on its citizens than any government. FBI Director Robert Mueller pops up in their offices in Palo Alto!

In the supreme irony of 2010, Timelier choice Julian Assange complains about his police report of sexual assault allegations being leaked.

It’s also ironic that one is the flip side of the other. Zuckerberg lets individuals voluntarily forfeit their privacy in the name of empowerment. The Australian terrorizes big institutions by imposing transparency. I loved that WikiLeaks in December 2006 reached out to Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, but received no reply. In those slow-moving days, it took almost a year to photocopy 7,000 pages of Pentagon papers and another year to get excerpts published.

“Leak” doesn’t do justice to document dumps with universal broadcast of voluminous archives — almost half a million documents, including cables with chagrined diplomats blabbing out of school that will eventually total 251,287 and replace sharing begun after 9/11 with secrecy.

While the media condemn Assange and argue public service journalism versus espionage, they gobble up every morsel.

Best idea: “Lobbyists have to digest pending legislation and feed it to our Congresspersons so they’ll know how to vote? Why do we need Congress then? Why not turn the government over to business and industry and cut out the middlemen?”
— Richard Massey,
Columbia, S.C., in Time July 12

This year’s girl: Sarah Palin might have threepeated, but I refudiate her bid for taking Kate Gosselin camping. Instead, Fame Monster Lady Gaga, 24. Stefani Germanotta’s “Bad Romance” lodged in my head — especially coupled with its disturbing video.

“Paparazzi” comments on our obsession with celebrities.

“Telephone” is a 9 1/2-minute clip with Beyonce. At 7 million, she’s got a million more Twitter followers than, oh, the President of the United States. Gaga’s famed meat frock lives on as jerky. Bruce Willis wears a ground beef toupee on Letterman.

Honorable mention: Mother Nature. Haiti’s earthquake killed 230,000 in January. Monsoons left 20 percent of Pakistan underwater. It was too warm in Canada to make ice for the Winter Olympics. Even cable pooh-poohers of climate change set up Extreme Weather Centers.

Maybe Obama’s popularity pales compared to Gaga, but he’s still got his bully pulpit. When he jokes of hosting a post-beer “Slurpee Summit” with Republican leaders in Congress, 7 Eleven rushes out Purple for the People (grape), not ice tea.

This year’s boy toy: It seemed like 10 minutes after People anointed Ryan Reynolds Sexiest Man Alive, he and Scarlett Johansson were kaput.

Cathy Guisewite, 60, ended her Cathy comic strip and divorced two months later.

At some point Elisabeth Moss, 28, of Mad Men married Saturday Night Live’s President

Obama, Fred Armisen, 44.

When doesn’t matter because it lasted all of 10 months.

Al and Tipper Gore, 62, split after 40 years.

Next year’s nostalgia: Miley Cyrus. Parents Billy Ray and Tish split in October. Hannah Montana caught smoking the herb salvia with a bong.

Bills wide receiver Steve Johnson blames God for dropping a touchdown against the Steelers.
Wonder who the Big Guy will hold responsible down here for fads such as Vuvuzelas (those annoying three-foot plastic horns from the soccer World Cup in South Africa) and Silly Bandz rubber bracelets.

Comeback of the year: bedbugs.

Gone but not forgotten: Elizabeth Edwards, Ron Santo, Leslie Nielsen, Gary Coleman, Richard Holbrooke, Alex Chilton of The Boxtops and Big Star, Don Meredith, Bob Feller, Elaine Kaufman (Dowagiac visitors Kurt Vonnegut, George Plimpton and Norman Mailer hung out in her Manhattan Italian restaurant), Doug Fieger of the Knack, George Steinbrenner, Dixie Carter, John Forsythe, Dennis Hopper, Jill Clayburgh, Corey Haim, Alexander Haig, Tony Curtis, Rue McClanahan, Herb Phillipson, Lynn Redgrave, Tom Bosley, Mitch Miller, Manute Bol, Barbara Billingsley, Zelda Rubenstein, Jimmy Dean, John Wooden, Lena Horne, Pernell Roberts, Malcolm McLaren, Arthur Penn, Congressmen John Murtha and Charlie Wilson, Sen. Robert Byrd, Bobby Thomson, Peter Graves, Eddie Fisher, J.D. Salinger, Art Linkletter, Robert Culp, Greg Giraldo, murdered Hollywood publicist Ronni Chasen (who left an estate valued at more than $6 million!), Stieg Larsson (who despite dying in 2004 flourishes with a trilogy of crime bestsellers), Bob Probert,  Merlin Olsen, Ernie Harwell, Sparky Anderson, Ralph Houk, Ron Kramer, Robin Roberts, Juan Antonio Samaranch, Willie Davis, Rob Lytle, Dorothy Kamenshek (inspired Dottie in “A League of Their Own”), George Blanda, Jim Bibby, Jack Tatum, Mike Cuellar, Tom Brookshier and Sports Illustrated 1970s baseball writer Ron Fimrite.

Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we don’t hear much about kill 547 more American men and women for a death toll exceeding 5,800 since 2001.

Obama extends the mission to 2014.

So long: Larry King, after 25 years on CNN, enters suspendered animation.

Sooo long: Alice Cooper finally heads for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sorry, Bon Jovi.

The Beatles: Outsold only by Michigan rapper Eminem during the Uh-Ohs, the music is finally available on iTunes. The group sold 119,000 albums and 1.4 million songs the first week. Bestselling album? Abbey Road. Bestselling song? “Here Comes the Sun.” Go figure.
John Lennon’s lyrics to “A Day in the Life” fetch $1.2 million in June, so Paul McCartney made it and “Give Peace a Chance” two of FIVE songs performed on SNL, along with “Jet,” “Band on the Run” and “Get Back.” McCartney plays the White House, as does Bob Dylan, who skips chatting with Obama. (“That’s how you want Bob Dylan, right? You don’t want him to be all cheesin’ and grinnin’ with you”).

Movies: I actually saw Time’s pick for No. 1 — “Toy Story 3.” And Rolling Stone’s nod for No. 2, “Inception.” And “tied for 11th,” “Shutter Island,” with Martin Scorcese directing Dowagiac visitor Dennis Lehane’s book. Wow, when those playthings hold hands to slide into the fire pit, that’s a lump-in-the-throat moment. Also saw “Black Swan.”

Best television: The Daily Show, Mad Men, The Good Wife, Parks and Recreation, Survivor (21st season in Nicaragua pits old vs. young, but the new millionaire isn’t Super Bowl coach Jimmy Johnson, 67, but Jud “Fabio” Birza, 21, of St. Louis, with season 22 introducing Redemption Island) and Community (about a college study group; Soupy Joel McHale and friends go rogue the second season).

Timeliest show: “Undercover Boss,”  My favorite episode was Subway chief development officer Don Fertman, 56, a former rock-’n’-roller with the Crayons (orange) who almost drank himself out of his career.

He’s been sober since rehab 27 years ago. This celebration of ordinary workers teaching clueless bosses will make your eyes leak, and I’m not a crier like John “Tan Man” Boehner.

“Public distrust of wealthy CEOs remains high,” each episode begins. “Bosses are looking for radical ways to reconnect with their workforce in order to find out what’s really going on” in their corporations. Subway, America’s largest food franchise, is headquartered in Connecticut and has 33,000 stores in 93 countries — a $14 billion “sandwich empire” started in 1965 with $1,000 by a teen, 17.

“There’s no such thing as a five-minute sandwich,” Jessi, 19, in Orlando scares Don (“everything I do is for the good of my customers, so the last thing you want me to hear is that you made one of my customers unhappy … my objective is to break you because if I can break you, I don’t need you. You have to be as good or better than me”). Don “really stinks” at piling coldcuts on bread he can’t make without burning cookies and locks himself in the cooler.

“I’m just so ecstatic somebody actually recognized I do a good job,” said Sherri, an Auburn, Ala., manager given $5,000 to produce a customer service video. Don springs for Jessi’s college: “The girl who never shuts up has nothing to say.” In Buffalo, Fertman delivers from a Subway in a church that provides job training to a bad neighborhood.

Impeccable Time-ing: No. 1 for fiction, “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen, who will be in Dowagiac May 14 at the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival.  I also want to read the magazine’s No. 1 non-fiction choice, “Unbroken,” by 2001 “Seabiscuit” racehorse author Laura Hillenbrand, whose personal story rivals that of track prospect Louis Zamperini, who missed his chance at the first four-minute mile when the 1940 Olympics canceled. Drafted into the Army Air Corps, his plane went down in the Pacific, spent a record 47 days on a raft on the open ocean, which he survived to be captured by the Japanese, who starved and beat him in prison camps for the balance of the war. Hillenbrand, 43, of Washington, D.C., has suffered 23 years from chronic fatigue syndrome and vertigo. Exhausted, the former athlete (swimmer, equestrienne and tennis) almost never leaves home and sits alone in silence. Writing about lives in motion is her solace. Writing about victors who battle adversity, their wins become hers. “I want so badly to define myself by something other than this all-consuming disease,” she tells Sports Illustrated. Got as a gift No. 7, the “Life” of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. (“Be honest: Nobody expected his book to be anywhere near this great.”) While Richards seems to recall everything, Nora Ephron, 69 — just two years older — publishes “I Remember  Nothing.”

I read 29 books in 2010.

Blame it on former J-school classmate and Herald-Palladium reporter John Grogan: The phenomenal success of “Marley and Me” unleashes a slew of lesser dog memoirs.
Speaking of books: For the first time, digital books outsell hardbacks on Amazon.

“Decision Points” by 1987 Dowagiac visitor George W. Bush is not only a bestseller, but outperforms both Handlers, “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang” and “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea.”

In shocking Seventies news, Oprah Winfrey briefly dated ex-ET host John Tesh in Nashville.  Joaquin Phoenix goes all Andy Kaufman with a fake documentary lampooning fame. The Stones and Bruce Springsteen stick with the Seventies, reissuing “Exile on Main Street” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Steven Tyler leaves Aerosmith after 40 years — for Ellen DeGeneres’ job on “American Idol”!? Kid Rock calls it “the stupidest thing he’s ever done,” like Billy Corgan dating Jessica Simpson or making Spider-Man a musical.

Jennifer Gray, 50, winner of TV’s most-watched show, “Dirty Dancing with the Stars,” undergoes surgery to repair an injured disc in her back.

“Lost” ends May 23 after six confounding seasons which started with a plane crash and ended in time travel.

Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “We now have a government of the feckless, by the crooked, for the connected.”
— Time

10 million: Viewers who watch “The Decision,” on which LeBron James announces he would leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat. ESPN’s highest-rated show.

106.5 million: TV viewers tuned in to witness the Saints beat the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV — 530,000 more than the previous most-watched event, 1983’s “M*A*S*H” finale.

Plus, the Who at halftime. They sure won’t get those numbers with the Black-Eyed Peas.

My guilty pleasure: MLB Network. It’s way cheaper to watch the national pastime all the time than to read the 75-pound, $3,000 “Official MLB Opus: Marquee Edition.” Coffee table book?

For that I could get a coffee table. Its gatefold is six feet wide. Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game named Performance of the Year with 64 percent.

Vikings move to Detroit: Well, temporarily, after 17 inches of snow collapse the 16-story Metrodome roof in Minneapolis. The NFL shifts the game with the New York Giants to Ford Field, home of the Lions, which meant the Motor City hosted a Monday night game for the first time since 2001.

Brett Favre: The 41-year-old QB also lost his NFL-record streak of 297 consecutive regular season starts — the first time since Week 2 in 1992 he didn’t take his team’s first snap. Colts QB Peyton Manning moves to No. 1 with 205. He’ll have to start every game for another six years to pass Favre.

Tiger Woods: The golfer’s first winless year since turning pro in 1996. Not to worry. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver eight years in a row despite his second straight winless season and ranking 21.

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