Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Ahead in Our Future

This past weekend here in Germany, we had an interesting test-demonstration at a race-track.  Audi came up and ran one of their high-performance cars....without a driver.

Sensors were turned on....a database of the track was planned out....and it effectively ran the track with no driver in the car.  Thousands sat at the track, and watched the demonstration and were amazed at the degree of technology being demonstrated.

So, I'm to this way of thought.....these kids of today....sixteen years year....are likely to be the last hands-on trained drivers still left in twenty years.  We will reach a point by 2035, where I suspect that most cars will have a GPS unit, a driver-handling unit, and the guy sitting in the left seat.....won't be doing anything other than plugging in the destination and instructions to avoid certain towns, roads, or intersections.  Beyond that.....we will not be driving.

It's hard to imagine an entire society coming up by 2035.....youthful and daring.....and that driving talents will not be taught.  By 2060, there won't be many people left who have acquired real driving talents, and I suspect that driver exams will be rarely given and require some kind of excessive fee by the county or state.

A delivery truck pulling up to the gas station, with no driver?  A sensor-led pallet jack will unload one pallet of sodas and put them on the backdoor step of the store.  A kid sitting back at some delivery headquarters will monitor everything and ensure that the receipt is accepted, and the jack loads itself back onto the truck....which then hauls off to the next store within 216-seconds of delivery.  No chit-chat.  No breaks.  No excuses.

One guy monitoring deliveries from the county distribution point of five self-driven trucks in the county.

Driving cross country?  You will simply step into the vehicle.....lounge out comfortably and sleep for twelve hours while your vehicle quietly reads the situation, adjusts for rain and snow, and then delivers you to the final point.

A great talent lost?  Driving made you calculate and appreciate danger.  Driving taught you the art of making decisions and thinking ahead.  Driving gave you an appreciation over taking care of a vehicle and careful selection of tires to meet your driving situation.  It will be a sad day, I think.....when we get the driver-less car.

When Living in a Mansion, Don't Throw Rocks

I noticed in today's news that Louisiana Senator (currently in the running) Mary Landrieu (a Democrat) got into some verbal discussion over her house.  Folks had said it was a mansion....something that most Louisiana folks hate.  Mary came right back said her $2.5 million-dollar house was not a mansion.

So the argument is....when does a house become a mansion, and is there any relationship to money?

In Bama, a guy could spend $32,000 on a house-trailer, and say to his wife that it qualified as a mansion.  We also could buy a cabin in the deepest part of the woods, with marginal running water, rattlesnakes in the backyard, and no electricity......then refer to it as a mansion.

In Arizona, folks were particular about mansion status, and it meant you had to have a fairly decent pool, both AC and swamp-cooler, a RV-garage next to the two-car garage, and three-thousand square feet of "something".  You could actually buy a mansion for $300,000 there in Tucson in the 1990s.

Down the road from me here in Germany.....there is a upscale neighborhood on the side of a gently rolling hill.....with four-thousand square foot houses, with underground garages, and the value likely runs around $1.5 million as a minimum.  Germans would hate to refer to them as mansions, but if you walked by, you'd grant them mansion status with no questions asked.

Owning a mansion, typically gets you status.  It means you made it and have something to show for it.  Mansions usually have a fancy gate, and nifty security fence.  You typically want to throw five or six parties a year and invite folks who've been on "Friends", or the Oprah Show to be on the guest list.  You also have a fancy light fixture in the entry hallway which you want to force guests to admire, since you spent $75,000 on it and had it shipped in from France.  Somewhere in the main room, there will be some provocative artist rendition of a red pony riding against a Siberian blizzard, with pink butterflies hoovering above the pony.....which you bought at a Miami showroom for $9,000 from a artist called "Bufitofo".

I can remember in the mid-1980s....the TV show of "Homes of the Rich and Famous".  I actually watched a dozen-odd episodes.  Generally, I always sat there and wondered how you cooled or heated some 5,000 square-foot house, or how you heated an Olympic-sized pool in Nashville in the midst of winter.  Desiring one?  I really can't say that.....I guess I watched the show mostly because the two alternate choices were Charlies Angels or some comedy of a one-star marginal nature.

What does Mary Landreiu do in this case?  It's hard to eyeball some house, and come to a conclusion that you spent $2.5 million on it......but it's not a mansion.  The size of her Georgetown "mansion"?  Just over 7,000 square feet.  Bathrooms?  It's got five of them, along with four hot-water heaters, and two dish-washers.

All this discussion comes up because she decided to slam her Republican associate running for the Senate seat.....over his big-scale house outside of some Louisiana university area.  Someone quickly asked Mary about her status, and this generated a fair-sized mess to clean up.  It's one of those glass-house episodes.....where you ought not throw any rocks because some other folks might throw them back.