Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Seat Innovation

Innovation is running absolute overdrive presently.

I noticed in auto news today that there's new seat technology developed....called 'Active Wellness'.  What it generally does is monitor you the "sitter" in terms of your physical way and your mental status.

Now, you'd likely pause here and ask some questions.

The seat is checking your heart rate, your respiration rate and analyzing those to compare against your expected stress level.  Based on your standards (I'm assuming there is some input that you have to make into the system about your body, etc)....it'll come back with a massage function or heat/cool function and lessen your stress.

The big draw?  If you look sleepy on bio-standards....it'll do something to wake you up.  All of this.....without really touching your skin.....attaching electrodes.....or putting some kind of copper wearing on your head.

My brother would look at this and probably ask if there is an electrical volt charge somewhere involved.....if you did nod off......and wanting to personally measure the charge himself (but avoid being the sittee).  It'd be one of those lab-like experiments like you do at Auburn when the professor is not around to ensure safety compliance.

All of this comes from rocket scientists (actual NASA engineers) withing with Ohio State University and some PhD type folks at Stanford University.

The thing is.....once they perfect this gadget.....why limit it to just car seats?  Why not install it in some upscale office chairs as well.....or your riding lawn-mower seat.....or even your tractor seat.

You get all frustrated with the boss?  The seat registers this and suddenly turns on some Beach Boy tunes.....hits a fan in the corner.....then flashes some trailer trash gal's pictures across the screen.....to get your mind off the frustration.

You get frustrated with the wife at home while operating the tractor?  It'll flip on 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash and flash some video across the screen on the tractor TV of Green Acres and you start grinning.

There will be hardcore guys standing there....saying it's their right to be natural and not be affected by some fancy gadgets like this.  They probably refer to themselves as the Mennonite-2015 version who refuse to advance past this point.

I'll bet somewhere in the mix of innovation....there's some guy standing there and wiring up the measurements device to detect when you pass gas and recommend some type of action.....or if your NCAA team lost over the weekend and try to comfort you in some way as you drive to work on a Monday.

It is a bold new world that is coming.

Monday, 23 November 2015

NPR in 2015

The Washington Post wrote up an article over the weekend.....concerning National Public Radio (NPR).  The jest of this is that listeners are 'dying-out'.  Over the past decade NPR has come to realize that it's losing listeners.....mostly because older and enthusiastic listeners are not being replaced by younger and enthusiastic listeners.   There is some fear that they will cross some mythical line and find Congressional funding to be lessen at some point down the road (at least a decade away).

Around 1971, I was one of those who eagerly found the NPR station in my region of rural Alabama, tuning into a station that carried jazz, opera, and classical music.  They carried readings from Hemingway and Steinbeck, and had intellectual conversations once in a while.  For a kid from rural surroundings, it was a worthy vehicle.

At some point in the 1980s.....they trimmed back on jazz, opera, and classical music......flipping to more news and political commentary.  By the mid-1990s.....they went turbo on political stuff and news.....with almost no jazz, opera or classical music anymore.  A handful of entertainment shows sat around and made the format worthwhile.

Around twelve years ago, I reached a point where I was generally laughing over the political news and couldn't really take them as a serious journalist forum.

For a 18-year-old today?  It's hard to figure what a younger individual would get out of NPR.  They avoid entertainment news like it's the plague.  They rarely cover sports other than some 1,000 word essay over the Brooklyn Dodgers or the old Yankees of the 1950s.  Anything related to the modern culture of some kid?  Forget it.

At some point, you just come to sense that NPR will have to go and re-invent itself.....going back to the old format of the 1970s and 1980s.....which will confuse half the crowd of listeners that they have today.

Sadly, you can only generate roughly twelve minutes a day of real political news before you reach a point where there's nothing worth discussing.  The term.....'overkill' starts to make your journalistic talents marginal and amusing.  It's the same problem that CNN suffers from today.....there's just not enough news to fill an hour and keep viewers interested....so you start talking about two-headed cows or page six of some farm legislative bill that concerns Texas cotton farmers.

Maybe NPR will figure a way to survive, but I suspect they've got about five years at best before someone starts talking budget cuts and how they fit into some future operations situation.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Being Fake Southern

I noticed in the news this morning that someone was there in Memphis to attend the rally for Hillary, and noticed her fake-but-realistic southern accent.

Forty years ago....having a southern accent was a negative thing and people tended to lose it as they migrated out of the south.  These are people who learned a neutral accent.

Developing a fake accent?  It's hard to do this in some accurate fashion.  I've seen Bill Clinton at work and Bill simply shifts back and forth.  He never really lost his accent....he just coupled his southern accent with some neutral words, and continued on.  As much as you consider Bill a national guy.....he's a southerner when it comes to speech.

One of the worst southern accents I've heard over the past two decades is President Obama.  When he's shifted over and tries to deliver some speech....using the fake southern accent.....he comes off looking foolish.  I tend to think the same thing with Hillary because she'll get two or three sentences into some speech.....then revert back to neutral talk for a sentence or two, then revert back to southern chat.

Years ago, I came back to Alabama for a visit and was going to buy some updated clothing (something that I rarely do) and went to a men's shop near the town where I grew up.  I was about half-way through this sizing and selection process when this fifty-year-old gal came up to offer help.  The accent was about 200-percent of the typical average southern accent that I was used to.  I actually had to stand there for about ten seconds....trying to analyze the words and translate these in my mind.

After that experience, I came to realize there are probably a dozen different southern levels.  I brought this up one day with someone in the office who grew up in the region around Savannah, Georgia.  They had gone 'neutral' years ago but could readily shift back to Savannah-twang.  With thirty seconds of Savannah dialog....I had to admit that I barely understood half of what he said.

In the case of Hillary's speech....she's trying to infer to the crowd that she's one of them.  The fakeness of the deal?  Well.....most people would sit there and just shake their head.  If they wanted one of the "them" as President.....they would have run one of their own people with the real accent for the office of President.

How desperate are we to hear the fake southern accent and get all hyped up over the accent?  That's the thing.  If you sat and asked a hundred southerners about this.....they generally have this image in their mind of some 'carpetbagger' (that's an 1800's term for a fraudulent political figure whose come to town to tell them their woes and how only they can fix the problems at hand).  

Any chance that Trump will use a fake southern accent?  No.  That's something you can bet on.

I'm not really against the Hillary southern accent presentation.....if she thinks it'll help her, then fine.  But I suspect that people will just walk out of the arena after hearing the speech and keep thinking.....man, it just wasn't that good of a fake accent.

I'm waiting for the help-desk guru's to dream up their newest gimmick for Indian-help desk technicians when you call them up.....using a southern accent and dialog.....trying to make Americans feel charmed and ultra-comfortable with the repair or technical support.

Bottom line?  We are a crazy society where fraudulent accents seem to matter.  And being fake-southern seems to matter in this little world.

Chancellor Talk

For some reason, the University of Missouri continues to be in the news.  You'd think by now that they'd burned up most national interest.....but apparently there is still more trouble.

Late Friday.....the university governing body met and had this discussion.  It was over the way that they will handle the decision process of who will become the next chancellor, and the president at the other campus in Columbia.  If you remember the details....both gentlemen handed in their resignations.

This Board met and allowed student input.  So students came forward and said they want input into the decision process.....something that no university in the US has ever allowed.  They weren't finished.....they also wanted improvements on non-white students, and better treatment of graduate students (higher stipends, more affordable housing, paternity and maternity leave, and adequate health care).

The Board?  It's made up of eight members.....two women, six men.  All appointed by the governor.  I looked over their 'resumes' via the university site.  These are all highly educated people.....people with professions, and a long list of accomplishments.

It's hard to imagine that you'd turn a Chancellor-recruitment episode into a very open process where it's more than eight people deciding upon the next guy.  The last thing on Earth you'd do.....is allow thirty-odd thousand college students to be part of the process.  In a matter of weeks, you could turn the university into some large forum of frustrated people who think they "own" the university.

The curious thing that might step up next.....is that the state assembly or legislature wants to be part of the recruitment episode......then the general public of Missouri.

Generally, when you recruit some Chancellor.....you want some individual who has had past experience and demonstrated himself or herself as competent.

Why limit this process to only the Chancellor?  Why not open the door for the football coach, the basketball coach, etc.....to be student-participation as well?  Why not open the door and allow the students to pick professors to be fired or hired?

There's a reason why you want some sixty-year-old people to be on a board and to be responsible for the actions required.  If you turn this process into a circus.....parents will recognize that, and voice concern that their kids are going to a marginal two-star university.  By summer of next year, the new freshman group on the list to attend in the fall might be only seventy-percent of what is expected.  A lot of students don't realize the negativity that can be attached to a university has consequences.

There's been talk since the day that the Chancellor resigned....that the students had this idea over their "insider" (Micheal Middleton), who is now acting as the temporary Chancellor until the board determines the full replacement.  There is a suggestion that the students just want the Board to rubber-stamp Middleton as the permanent guy and avoid any review of outside possibilities.  The issue will be pay structure, and Middleton might come up to ask for a twenty-five percent pay increase over what they paid the last guy, and that won't work......unless of course, the students jerk people around to demand it.

For some reason, I just don't have much faith that this University of Missouri episode will come to a successful conclusion.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Little Pill

It's one of those odd stories that came up today....from the Washington Post.

So, there is this drug which has been noticed in the Syrian civil war.  Capagon.

It's a major amphetamine drug.  Normally, you'd buy it (illegally) for a price of $5 to $20, each.  It was developed by the Germans in the early 1960s.  I won't say it's connected back to the Nazis but there's probably a discovery related before the war ended.

The drug got introduced into the Syrian conflict.  But there's this odd history behind the drug....back five or six years ago, the consumer side of the drug had several layers but roughly one-third of the world production of this amphetamine would go to Saudi Arabia.  Seven tons, say the Post.

It's gotten to such a bad situation that almost 50,000 Saudi guys end up in some drug rehab in an average year.

So I looked at the side effect or usage deal.  Basically, you end up thinking you've got super-strength, lots of stamina and go for hours and hours charged up.  Then, you start a downward trend.

The doctors who handle this stuff admit it's pretty dangerous on the side effects.....brain damage and psychosis.  Guys tend to use the pill....burn up energy...miss eating....start losing weight.....go back to the pill.....and in some weird cycle....you end up with some thin-slim guy all juiced up and on a fake-energy high.

No one says much over how long you can continue at this rate, but I'd take a humble guess that you might last six to twelve months before you've got issues that are detrimental to your health.

So, this brings me to this odd observation.  You take a 100,000 charged up guys.....deliver them into the Syrian War for ISIS, and as the months roll by....your force is dissolving month by month.  Somewhere between the 12th and 24th month......you'd have to go back and do a recruiting cycle to bring fresh guys in, and then send the remaining guys into one last battle where they don't return....mostly because you know they've got major brain damage and psychosis.

In a way, they are burning through the enthusiasm and recruits, and not showing anything in return.

These guys in Paris?  Well, no one has said much about tests or autopsy results (it's too early).  But it might well provide some answers to how guys get so charged up and enthusiastic......using a drug to make it possible.  

An agenda surrounded by dopers?  Well, it's best not to bring this up....it'd just worry people even more.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The Thing About Privilege

For a number of months, I've been coming across this new term that widely used on the internet...."white privilege".

I sat down today and spent a couple of hours reading over the term, the definition, and the 'fad' that exists over it.

In simple terms.....it's when a western culture (never an eastern culture)....has privileges which have been generated and it is believed that these privileges are not as widely enjoyed or gained by the non-white members of the same western culture.

These all revolve around cultural values that do exist or in some cases....simply exist in the mind (the ability to buy, the ability to move, the ability to speak freely, the ability to play, the ability to work, etc).

The problem is...."X privilege" has been around for a hundred thousand years.  When Urg walked over the hill and found some nicer territory there, but there was this lesser tribe who seemed volatile.....Urg just used his 'privilege' and some of his guys to establish ownership.  They did this in Africa....Asia.....Europe....the Americas....etc.

"X privilege" existed in Europe when Rome set up its empire and boasted of it's strength. Rome used X privilege to drag the bulk of Rome toward commerce, trade, communication and innovation.

"X privilege" was used in the North Sea region for several hundred years and established successful cultures, vast trade routes, apprenticeship, study, and refinement of society.

"X privilege" has been used over and over.  The real question here to ask....what speed brake do you intend to use and who is in charge of limiting the behavior or speed of "X privilege"?

Will we be shuffling brilliant and stupid professors around.....hoping that the new formula will reverse X and Y privilege?

Will we be taxing successful companies run by X privilege members and rewarding Y privilege members, and who is the guy in charge to determine this?

Finally.....I'll offer this simplistic advice.  If you are in the heart of some concrete 'jungle' where nothing is working.....pack up a bag and leave.  If you are in the midst of a school with loser teachers who've lost their respect and their will to teach.....pack up a bag and leave.  If you've signed up with some stupid college and contemplating debt of $80,000 on your butt with a worthless degree....pack up a bag and leave.  Don't let someone run your decision-making ability.....you ought to be able to ask stupid questions and get simple answers.

Life isn't about a path that came with a 12-color map, a $99-compass, and a travel-guide who seems to be lacking in common sense and luster but seems to know how to avoid bad stumbles.  Do something.....but don't just stand there waiting.

If you are waiting for 'White  Privilege to be replaced....don't worry, it always gets replaced by another brand or style or variety of privilege.  The thing is....you may not like that one either.

Teen Vogue

I sat this morning....reading through terrorist updates and some guy posted something...attributing it to 'Teen Vogue'.

I sat there in a daze.....thinking what the heck is this.  It is a two-page piece written about the backlash against Syrian refugees since the Paris attack and how it's so (SO) unfair.  It does mention the evil Republican senator Rand Paul (everyone knows that Rand is evil anyway)....because he's trying to front a bill to halt the flow of the poor Syrian guys coming into the US.

"Irrational" gets mentioned and a couple of various words/comments that would be used for this brief article.

The thing that gets me.....Vogue (the big magazine) usually fronts itself on glamour, fashion, trends, health, and women's issues.  Teen Vogue is mostly read by 13-to-16 year old girls and is mostly written with younger women in mind.

Political topics?  Up until this point, I would have laughed when someone suggested that Teen Vogue might be used politically.  Sadly, I've been proven wrong.

Oddly, Teen Vogue didn't open the article up to comments.....probably because a number of outsiders would have gone negative and said something bad about the slant of the article.

This gets me to this odd trend now existing....where teens are getting topics and prospectives that were non-existent twenty years ago.  You almost have to stand there over a thirteen-year-old kid and discuss incompetence, political BS, international affairs, and corrupt news media practices.  You have to explain to the kid that there people sitting there and manipulating with your mind, and you have to get wise, see the deceptions, and be strong against stupidity.