News Chum: Myths and Legends

Before I get started on the year-end highway page updates, I wanted to clear out some accumulated news chum. This collection all are connected by the theme: Myths and Legends.

  • The First Jet. What was the first commercial jetliner? You probably are thinking the Boeing 707. But that would be incorrect. The first commercial jet was the DeHavilland Comet.  This was unveiled to grand acclaim in 1952, and all were grounded by 1954 by a simple design flaw. What lessons can be learned here, beyond the classic one: that the first to the market isn’t always the one who wins with a given product. Just ask Xerox PARC.
  • Crowdsourcing. If you were one of the few who watched “Wisdom of the Crowd”beyond the myth of Jeremy Piven, you were exposed to the myth that crowdsourcing is often the answer to make anything better. But guess what? Crowdsourcing doesn’t always give the right answer. The problem? The crowd is easy to sabotage. Don’t believe me? Look no further than the current occupant of the White House, elected through targeted sabotaging of the crowd.
  • New Media is Always Better. We have grown up on the myth that newer is better. But is it? We were told CDs are better than Cassettes and Vinyl. DIgital music is better than anything. But digital music is much harder to keep forever, especially as one moves from machine to machine, and format to format, recorded CDs degrade … while vinyl from around 100 years ago is still playable. Will your digital book be around in 100 years? Probably not readable, but that printed one is just fine. Now we are moving to streaming video — and guess what — that’s really bad news for our classic film and video history.
  • Art vs. the Artist. The continually unfurling world of sexual abuse claims is rapidly destroying the mythos of many artists. The great stand-up Bill Cosby has been felled, the director Woody Allen is tainted, the song and dance man Kevin Spacey is destroyed, the producer Harvey Weinstein… well, you get the idea. Just recently I learned about another one. Marion Zimmer Bradley. This article talks about the reconciling of the art of “The MIsts of Avalon” with the sins of the author. I wasn’t into that book, but I was a big Darkover fan, and now am curious whether it seeped into that mythos.
  • There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute. One of the holiday movies I wanted to see was The Greatest Showman, primarily for the Pasek and Paul music. But it has been savaged in the reviews (LA Times, Vox). The sin? Not bad performances, but not telling the reality of the story — about how Barnum himself was a sham and not the story he purported to be. Now, the musical Barnum whitewashed his story in the same way, and in many ways the story told of Barnum is clearly as much Humbug as the Humbug Barnum sold. But oh, we must destroy the myths these days.