Lord Byron, Clarence Thomas, Trump and Other Fripperies

The ties that connect. Have you noticed that Russia's President Vladimir Putin and America's reality candidate, Donald Trump both very wear long that dangle well below their belts, ties that point to their, uh, manliness. Is this a fashion statement or are they pointing to make a point?

You know you're a geezer when you do not know most of the people in People magazine.

What does the 18th century poet Lord Byron have to do with your personal computer? The answer is: that's when the idea of computers was born. Walter Isaacson's fascinating, collaborative history of computers and the Internet,The Innovators, How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution is required listening/reading for all digital immigrants and natives. (audio: 17 hrs. and 28 min. Print: Simon & Shuster)

Lady Ada Lovelace was Lord Byron's daughter. A math genius in 1843, she envisioned the modern computer along with math-man, philosopher and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage. He called it 'the analytical engine.' She saw a machine that could "...store, manipulate, process and act upon anything that could be expressed in symbols, words, logic, music and anything else we might use symbols to convey."

Early on in its 20th century development, a computer was in a building without window screens.

One day, the machine blitzed out and the crew began searching for the problem. They found a moth with a four inch wingspan had smashed into one of the electro-mechanical relays. They pulled the bug out, pasted into the log book with scotch tape, labeled it, Moth in Relay and from that day on, ferreting out computer glitches is known as debugging.

One caveat: There's abundant techno-speak in the book that digital immigrants may find hard to access. Fortunately, the resonant, accessible narrator, Dennis Boutsikaris, makes the audio edition of this book so much easier to ingest.

"Clarence Thomas speaks!" shouts recent front pages across the land. If you don't know any better, you might think some sort of medical miracle or a venerable oracle named Thomas comes forth and delivers unto us the word. Naw. This is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, the George H. W. Bush appointee who hasn't asked one single question in court since 2006. That's TEN years the man has just sat there -- mute, mum, silencio, clammed up, hushed, voiceless, unheard and zipped up. Then, as if a great burden had lifted, the silent one asks several questions around 2nd amendment issues. Really? Why now? What verbal laxative did this man ingest to activate him? One possibility: he's picking up the slack left by the death of Justice Scalia. Or, he simply was intimidated by the late judge's intelligence, verbal acuity and withering put-downs. If he keeps this up, it's only a matter of time before Justice Thomas is able to prove his value -- or lack of it.

Content delivered without the right affect is like a hook without the bait.