Today is Sunday. A day to note some transitions:
- “Grandpa” Al Lewis. A number of other folks have noted this (for example, here). Lewis was an interesting fellow, having not only been a vampire, but a cop, a basketball scout, a restaurateur and a political candidate. You can learn more details in this longer obituary, but suffice it to say that colorful characters such as Lewis are sorely needed into today’s world.
- Betty Friedan. Perhaps telling in our society in that we highlight the folks who fought against discrimination based on race, but not those who fought against discrimination based on sex. We just lost one of the latter, Ms. Betty Friedan, author of “The Feminine Mystique“, the first president of NOW, and founder of the group that became NARAL. Ms. Friedan pushed the idea that having a husband and babies was not everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals. I think we are all the beneficiaries of her efforts. I will note that Friedan’s passing comes on the heels of the passing of another great Civil Rights Woman, Coretta Scott King.
- Aibo, the robotic dog manufactured by Sony. Sony has announced that they are scrapping the four-legged robot pet as part of the company’s bid to reverse flagging fortunes and cut costs. Aibo, for those unfamiliar, was a robot dog that recognized its owners’ faces, was programmed for sympathy, could light up its eyes red to show anger and green to convey happiness, and could learn its own name. It came in black, white, brown and gray and was programmed to move about on its own. It has image-recognition capabilities and a digital camera in its head that allows it to chase a special pink ball and avoid bumping into walls. It could understand 100 words and phrases and recognize three people’s faces based on stored digital photos. It knows when its behavior is being praised because it has a sensor on its head that recognizes when it’s being petted. Later versions have a built-in camera so Aibos can serve as home sentinels, and e-mail their owners. The Aibo could even reflect how they’ve been treated by their masters; for example, an Aibo will refuse to be toilet-trained and impudently raise a hind leg. Why is Sony killing the pooch? Simple: They are moving away from innovative products to reorganize and focus on their core electronics business in order to better compete with the likes of Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea.
- The relationship of Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow. I guess that Lance just didn’t have the cojones for it. (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun)
- Louise Scruggs, the wife of Earl Scruggs. Ms. Scruggs was the driving force behind her husband (not a surprise). She worked to elevate bluegrass music’s popularity in both the folk and country genres, and was an artistic manager in the era when the field was dominated by men. She introduced bluegrass to rock fans when she booked Flatt & Scruggs to appear with such acts as the Byrds, Loggins & Messina and the Grateful Dead. For those unfamiliar with Flatt and Scruggs: think “The Ballad of Jed Clampett“.
On an up note, Abe Vigoda is still alive.