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History of the decade, part 9: 2008 

Yesterday: 2007


Raúl Castro becomes Cuban president as the dislike for khaki tones, which hit the US earlier in the decade, finally arrives there.
   President Sarkozy fulfils his hot-women election promise by marrying Carla Bruni.
   César winner Mathieu Amalric plays President Sarkozy in a film loosely based on his life, Quantum of Solace. In the film, Amalric plays a speech-making Frenchman with a hot girlfriend and plans for world domination, and ticks off the British Government.
   With his Powerpoint market secure after the Bush administration’s botch-up, and with so much money from Warren Buffett, Bill Gates decides that there is no more need to work at Microsoft.
   Unable to locate the Queer Eye guys after the show’s cancellation, Radovan Karadžić is arrested in Beograd.

February: Carla Bruni and Nicolas Sarkozy marry, as part of the French president’s election promise to put someone in the Élysée hotter than Ségolène Royal.
   The solar eclipse is visible in Canada though in China, they are unsure whether it was an eclipse or pollution. This makes the Chinese realize that Beijing needs to be cleaned up ahead of the Olympics. Beijing stops making cars briefly, delaying its aim to have the largest car market in the world in a contest with Japan till the following year.
   Tired of the unchanging fashions of the Bush administration, Americans head to the polls. The Republicans, realizing that the Democrats lost because they concentrated too much on khaki tones with Al Gore and on hair with John Kerry, select a boringly dressed bald guy, John McCain, as their presidential nominee. The plan backfires when the Democrats, thinking third time lucky, believe Barack Obama is the snazziest dresser and choose him.
   Realizing that McCain is not fashionable enough, and seeing how women were sweeping into power the year before, the GOP introduces Sarah Palin as its vice-presidential nominee on the strength of her candidacy in a 1980s’ Miss Alaska pageant. It was too late. Americans had already decided they preferred Obama’s style, more so when George Clooney himself said he liked the cut of his suits.
   Tina Fey is hired by Sarah Palin to be her double and to do the talk show circuit in advance of her book, Going Rogue, being published. Palin becomes wildly popular, while Fey is criticized by the mainstream media for being less funny than 30 Rock.
   O. J. Simpson goes to jail for 15 years, after a Nevada jury evaluates his earlier performances in the Naked Gun movies. Disgusted, they set out to make an example of him.

Tomorrow: 2009

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Unlike Jimmy Carter, some of those peanut growers are mean 

Found in David Vinjamuri’s Accidental Branding (one of several books I have still to go through), talking about the founding of the Clif Bar:

Gary loved the package, but he was reluctant to name the bar after himself … As they were finalizing packaging a couple of months later, they ran a trademark search, only to learn that the name might infringe on a product called Gary’s All Natural Peanuts. Erickson wrote a letter to the company, who promptly threatened to sue them.

What the heck?
   The incident is in another book, Raising the Bar, which founder Gary Erickson himself wrote:

We did a trademark search and found a product called Gary’s All Natural Peanuts. We thought, “Well, it’s not exactly a bar. Let’s write them a letter and tell them what we are doing.” In no time flat we received a letter from the large multinational company that made the product telling us that they would come after us with all their attorneys and sue us for so much money that we would regret ever thinking of Gary Bar.

   I’d love to tell you who the multinational is, but a USPTO search does not reveal this trade mark. There is, however, one for plain old Gary’s for a company called Gary’s Peanuts, Inc., but I dare not presume it’s the same one. (It’s owned by Severn Peanut Co., Inc., a subsidiary of Meherrin Agricultural & Chemical Co., Inc., which owns Hampton Farms. Not sure if these guys are a ‘multinational’ as they look pretty local to me.)
   Whomever responded to Gary Erickson, this is abysmal business behaviour, Peanut people. Here’s a new company trying to do the right thing and probably wrote a very polite letter. Your first response, if the above is correct, is to resort to lawyers.
   Where I come from, formal proceedings are a last resort. Most people are able to work out their differences professionally and show some responsibility for their positions first. But if you want to enrich the legal profession and look like dicks when the story is retold, be my guest.
   It still amazes me how gutless some people are. And we wonder why the US is in the financial poo. Could it be because money is going to the wrong department for things that most normal people can sort out with a letter or two?

PS.: Below is a response from Tom Nolan of Hampton Farms, confirming it was not his company who threatened Gary Erickson, and that they are not a multinational—so it more than gets them off the hook. It makes me wonder, now, just who Erickson wrote to, as the Gary’s All Natural Peanuts trade mark does not come up in a search.

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Twitter hacked by ‘Iranian Cyber Army’ 

Twitter hacked

As of 6 a.m. GMT today, a group calling itself the ‘Iranian Cyber Army’ announced it had hacked Twitter. Users arriving at the site were treated to a page proclaiming that the site had been hacked in an apparent protest against the US.
   The hackers, giving the email address of iranian.cyber.army@gmail.com, are not too clear in the English, which was poorly translated:

U.S.A Think They Controlling And Managing Internet By Their Access , But They Don't , We Control And Manage Internet By Our Power , So Do Not Try To Stimulation Iranian Peoples To ..............



Take Care.

   We are not too sure who the villains are supposed to be here, reading the above—the US or Iran. Obviously they are against Iranians being stimulated. And that the last line must have been translated from ‘Have a nice day.’

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Sign of the time 

Barack Obama

I have an amateur interest in graphology, and I wanted to have a look at the signatures of the past five, and the current, American presidents.
   The inspiration came when I saw that George W. Bush and his father had similar approaches to the capital B, and I began thinking back to the books I had read on the topic in the 1980s.
   None of this post is to be taken as gospel or anything near a professional graphological analysis. We are talking about me struggling to remember what I read over 20 years ago.
   James Earl Carter Jr’s signature has quite a large initial cap, and what we type designers would call a low x-height. It suggests some idea of self-importance. The cross-bar of the t is high, suggesting the 39th president had great self-confidence—quite the opposite to how his successor portrayed him. However, the words are closely spaced, which indicates an element of wishing to be close to people. There are small loops, so we are not talking about an extravagant man.
   Ronald Reagan, interestingly, also does not have much in the way of extravagance. This is a very simple signature, which goes against stories of the 40th president preparing his own autographed photographs to give to visitors. There is a greater space between the two words, which gives the impression that President Reagan was more aloof than his predecessor. But it is a humble signature: for someone who was an actor, it actually shows a degree of introversion and not wanting to make much noise.
   His successor, George Bush, almost abbreviates his first name, but his surname is written out in full. The B in Bush is almost a swash in comparison to the remaining letters, almost as though there is a greater sense of family pride and duty over any personal gain.
   Bill Clinton has short ascenders, which is unusual. It’s a quiet signature, closer to Ronald Reagan’s than either side of US politics would like to admit. There’s a greater separation still between the two words, indicating even less of a desire to appreciate others, though the elongated tail of the n suggests some force or a wish to have a longer impact than might be permitted.
   George W. Bush abbreviates both names, as though he were in a hurry. For a man who gave a down-home image for most of his political campaigning, the 43rd president skilfully executes a very old-fashioned G, placing a greater emphasis on the self than his father. The closeness of the two words suggests he might be the most people-friendly president, more so than Jimmy Carter. While Republicans would agree there, the former president’s stance on many issues wound up alienating Democrats, not to mention a good part of the world.
   Finally, the current president. Barack Obama shows creativity and non-conformity, evidenced most by the joint OB, with the B cleverly incorporated as a capital letter inside the O. His signature suggests a great deal of self-confidence, but he is not one to dwell on detail. I disagree with one analysis on the internet saying that the President is disappointed in his father; in fact, I think he finds his father’s side of the family and his Kenyan heritage a huge source of pride and identity.
   For those who disagree with the analyses, then you can either take graphology to be a load of BS, or my recollection of graphological skills to be very poor. Any errors in interpretation above are mine alone. I suppose none of us know for sure, even if we like to, how these men view themselves. They are the best judges of the above, with their wives and children the next best.

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A great finalé for the Palin book tour 

Looks like the Palinomenon has continued, this time on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, where the former governor got her own back against William Shatner, who had lampooned two of her speeches and excerpts from her autobiography.
   Judging by the audience applause, the response to Sarah Palin—you know, the Sarah Palin with more Facebook followers than Oprah Winfrey—seemed to be positive. Americans, like anyone, enjoy a dose of humour and the ability to poke fun at oneself, and I dare say this book tour of Sarah Palin, which gave her a larger platform than her opponents, has done her image considerable good for those with shorter memories.
   I still don’t agree with a lot of what she says—and now I understand that she’s a climate change doubter to boot—but I take my hat off to her performance on American network television.
   Don’t be surprised now if I say that a future George W. Bush book tour will go down very well, once a suitable time has passed for people to don rose-coloured glasses about 2001–9. Regardless of how well or badly he does (depending on one’s point of view), some Obama fatigue will set in, as it does for every president. Apart from those who have stuck firm to the idea that Bush is a crook, a lot of people might begin to think that a Dubya autobiography might make good reading.

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  • History of the decade, part 11: man and woman of t...
  • Why Peter Jackson deserves a knighthood
  • History of the decade, part 10: 2009
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