Category Archives: Society

Driverless Cars Within Five Years?

There is driving and then there is driving. I’m not a huge fan of driving myself to work or to the store or even the trips back and forth from Lawrenceville to Chattanooga to see family. If I had a driver to take care of those tasks for me I’d be happy as I can be.

However, I do driving when I’m just doing it for the trip. I love nothing better than driving through the mountains or taking a trip down the coast. I like driving when I’m taking country roads through small towns. There is something satisfying to driving when the destination is the least important part of the trip.

So I’m very enthused about the prospect of self driving cars but then this morning I read:

“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. “If someone had told you 10 years ago, or even five years ago, that the C.E.O. of a major automaker American car company is going to be announcing the mass production of fully autonomous vehicles, they would have been called crazy or nuts or both.”

Source: Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years – The New York Times

I read that and then I think of the ’87 Ford Bronco II that is currently my daily driver and it makes me wonder. Are we looking at the end of driving ourselves? For those daily trips I’m all excited about that but will the driverless cars force us to give up our road trips where driving is the main purpose of the trip? Can the two modes of driving co-exist?

Calling these groups disingenuous doesn’t even begin to describe them.

Every one of Bloomberg’s gun control groups state that they are for reasonable gun control but doesn’t reasonable connote a willingness to compromise? Everytown for Gun Safety, formerly known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, was a huge endorser of Governor Terry McAuliffe when he ran for office in Virginia on a pro gun control platform until he worked out a deal with pro gun rights Republicans to get the guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and encourage background checks on private sales at gun shows.

Last week, Everytown unleashed Facebook and Twitter ads against McAuliffe, posting his photo side-by-side with that of the National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre.

Source: Bloomberg gun-control group launches new ad against McAuliffe – The Washington Post

Forget about doing a little to reduce gun violence if it doesn’t give lip service to the demands of Bloomberg’s thugs.

Don’t just do something, do something that works!

Some people wonder why I can get so wound up in opposing gun control. It isn’t because I’m an avid shooter or a gun collector, it’s because I hate seeing people implement solutions that are going to put a burden on people who aren’t the problem and that just aren’t going to work. People don’t just shoot someone only because they have a gun, there has to be some motivation driving that decision to shoot. Paul Heroux, a state representative in Massachusetts, feels the same way and has written a great article on this.

A lot of the solutions that are proposed by people who fiercely for or against guns just don’t work. They argue about what they think should work or what makes sense, or what fits their political worldview, but not what has been empirically proven to reduce gun violence.

Source: Guns and Politics and What Actually Reduces Gun Violence | Paul Heroux

Reducing gun violence isn’t going to happen by controlling guns, you have to control people to reduce gun violence and, more importantly, identifying the people that must be controlled. Mr. Heroux gives some examples of how proven methods of doing this have been verified.

The Death of the ‘Blog

Dan is discussing the demise of the ‘blog over on Flutterby in response to an article that Rafe posted on rc3. He brings up something in his original post:

We’ve lost, in many ways, the rough edged amateur view that made the earlier web such a tool for growth and change. I’m looking hard for where that space is now, because that’s where the next evolution is going to come from.

Source: Flutterby™! : On airing dilettantism 2015-12-17 03:08:36.000659+00

I agree with him on this. It seems like all of the content I use to look for has disappeared. The platform of choice for all of my real life friends is Facebook or Twitter and that platform just isn’t conducive to generating the conversations that I’d like to have. I think that the article DaveP pointed me to gives a good explanation of why that is:

Nearly every social network now treats a link as just the same as it treats any other object – the same as a photo, or a piece of text. You’re encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting. But links are not objects, they are relations between objects. This objectivisation has stripped hyperlinks of their immense powers.

Source: Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web | Technology | The Guardian

See, on my ‘blog I can write and point to other articles that back up my points. Facebook gives me one chance and then doesn’t allow me to link it in context to exactly what I’m writing. I think we are losing a lot of the richness found in ‘blogs when the conversation is only on Facebook.

 

Violence is a complex problem.

I’m not a gun enthusiast or a member of the NRA so people often wonder why I’m such a supporter of gun rights. I’m not really, I’m a supporter of solutions that work rather than “feel-good” efforts that are bound to fail.

Take away guns from violent people and you still have violent people with other implements of destruction at their disposal. John Streby, a gun control advocate, understands this.

It is overly simplistic to attribute problems as complex as urban violence to any single cause, such as the proliferation of illegal weapons. Lacking handguns, people will resort to knives, motor vehicles, firebombs and other devices. Only when the root causes of poverty, substance abuse, and urban pathology are addressed can those problems be remedied.

Source: Gun violence only one piece of larger urban problems in need of solutions | MLive.com

So you can expend resources and butt your heads with gun advocates all you want but until we address the issue of violence we won’t see any ground gained on reducing the gun violence.

Seriously, why can’t people see this?

Why Are We So Violent?

I’m not a fan of Marco Rubio. I think his stand on the economy, immigration, defense and relations with Cuba are simplistic and often just wrong. However, he has at least one thing right.

“What law in the world could have prevented him from killing them, whether it was with a gun or a knife or a bomb,” Rubio asked a crowd of about 250 people. “What has happened to us as a society that we now devalue life to such a level? What has happened in our society that people have become so violent? That’s the fundamental question we need to confront.”

Source: Marco Rubio tells N.H. voters gun laws are no solution | Boston Herald

Take the guns away from violent people and you still have violent people, people who will deliberately ram their cars into your car over a real or imagined slight and then run you down when you get out to check the damage, or people who will beat you with a ball bat over a text message. 

Rather than debate over tightening background checks or how many bullets a gun can hold doesn’t it make more sense to spend that effort in finding out why we are so violent and solutions for that?

Personally, I think we will find the reason for that being our spending so much time in a car, on a cell phone, watching TV or at a computer that we stop seeing others as individual human beings and start seeing them more as a source of irritation. We don’t spend enough time face to face with other humans so they tend to lose their humanity. Add to that the poverty and hopelessness we see in some sectors of society and how can we expect us to be anything but violent?

So what is the solution? I don’t know for sure but I would suggest looking at getting out of our cars, out of our houses and socialize, face to face, with our neighbors. Find out their likes and dislikes, see them as humans and in our conversations find ways to bring opportunities to neighborhoods stricken with poverty.

Take away a violent person’s gun and you still have a violent person. Talk to a violent person and you may find a way to lessen their rage.

The Most Secure Way to Communicate? An iPod Touch | WIRED

This isn’t a bad idea, actually. Most of the day I’m covered by WiFi which should allow me to use Facetime or Skype to talk to anyone I need to talk to. Email and text is also possible. For the paranoid and just careful this could be the answer.

You don’t actually need fancy, dedicated hardware to communicate securely.

Source: The Most Secure Way to Communicate? An iPod Touch | WIRED

Rick Perry vs. Bernie Sanders: Both are Wrong

Rick Perry makes the statement I expected and he’s wrong. I have no problem with legal gun owners with carry permits taking their guns into a movie theater. However, I don’t care how many people had guns to fire back in LaFayette this past week, those two women and the gunman would still be dead. Maybe fewer people would have been wounded, maybe more, but those dead would still be dead.

What disappoints me is Senator Sanders new stance on gun control.

Senator Sanders might once have agreed with Perry that taking guns away is not the solution. Coming from a rural state where hunting is common and gun rights have popular support, Sanders has opposed some of Democrats’ gun control measures. But on Sunday he told NBC’s Meet the Press that he supported a nationwide ban on guns other than those used for hunting.

Source: Rick Perry vs. Bernie Sanders: More guns in movie theaters? – CSMonitor.com

I could understand Bernie changing his position to supporting expanded background checks but his change to ban all guns except for those used for hunting is just bizarre. I thought he had more integrity than to move away from his long held core principles just to pick up support from a demographic of voters.

Ga. Supreme Court to hear tuition case for undocumented…

The Georgia Supreme Court agreed this week agreed to hear oral arguments in a case involving in-state tuition at Georgia’s public colleges for immigrant students with legal status.

Source: Ga. Supreme Court to hear tuition case for undocumented…

Kids go where their parents take them. A couple from Columbia who sneaks into this country illegally bringing their six year old kid with them has put their child into a legal situation beyond the child’s control. If that child remains in this country throughout his or her school years then that child needs to be considered a full member of the community and state of residence. It is wrong to deny them any benefit from the state that the child that is born in that state is entitled to.

You can talk all you want about stopping the flow of illegal immigration or denying services to illegal immigrants because we can’t afford it and as long as we are talking adults who consciously broke the law to enter this country you will get at least a sympathetic ear from me.

Once you start talking about punishing kids who know no other home but the U.S. and the state they live in you will get push back from me because you are wrong. No discussion, you are wrong and you should know it.

Who are you?

I really feel for this woman. I do. She has some issues with her identity, that’s for sure, but she actually seemed to be dealing with them in some positive fashion. She certainly didn’t need to be confronted with her issues in front of the whole country, being put on the spot as she was, to confront who she really is in contrast to who she has been presenting herself as being.

Dolezal did not directly challenge any accusation made regarding her race in the post but mentioned in passing that the national “dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.”

Source: Embattled NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal Steps Down – ABC News

Honestly, I don’t see where the problem is. She seems genuinely concerned with race relations and in equality. She has worked hard to educate herself to where she appears to be a competent lecturer on African studies. And no one has made any allegations about her abilities in administering her chapter of the NAACP as its president. If we really are looking for equal opportunities across the board then how does race constitute a requirement to be a chapter president of the NAACP. The NAACP doesn’t seem to have a problem with it.

Actually race and ethnicity have such fluid boundaries I really can’t see why we use them any more. At some point in the near future I predict that race and ethnicity will be irrelevent taxonomies. We will all be mutts, as if we weren’t already.

Free speech, grand juries and asshats

There are right ways and wrong ways to spout off about government officials. You can say:

I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.

Or you can say:

Metaphorically speaking, I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible public official on whom I am entitled to comment, purely as hyperbole, on a matter of public concern under my First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the Government for redress of grievances. Cf: The Screwtape Letters, an allegorical series of essays in which C. S. Lewis used Hell as a literary device for comment upon matters of spiritual and political concern.

Source: Department Of Justice Uses Grand Jury Subpoena To Identify Anonymous Commenters on a Silk Road Post at Reason.com | Popehat

The first might get you summoned to appear before a grand jury costing you thousands upon thousands of dollars in legal fees along with untold hours of lost wages. The last will make you look like a moron with no backbone but at least you’ve had your say and you’ve kept your bank account intact.

Can a Robot Writer Have Journalistic Integrity or Be Ethical?

Robots don’t threaten human journalist jobs because automated content is typically used to expand coverage, not replace existing coverage.

Source: Robots write thousands of news stories a year, but not this one – Jun. 11, 2015

HA! That’s the same line we used when we automated all the factory jobs.  We didn’t replace any existing jobs but we sure made it easy to justify not hiring replacement workers for those that left through natural attrition.

So there’s one less unpaid intern getting experience that will allow them to ease into the shoes of the reporter with two years experience that is replacing the old guy that moved on up or retired. A few years later the editors are bemoaning the lack of experience in those candidates for the entry level journalism jobs. The publishers see this as justification for trying to expand the role of these robot reporters into creating more complex pieces.

I saw the same thing happening in manufacturing as I was automating more and more tasks. We said way back then that this automation stuff would zoom through every industry out there including health care, journalism insurance and the legal industry.

All rise for the court, the Honorable Judge Tin Man presiding.

Intellectual Arguments? No, those were all emotional.

“Everytown has done a great job of presenting intellectual arguments to people about gun violence prevention, common sense laws and public safety measures, but we really weren’t engaging people emotionally,” Jason Rzepka, the Director of Cultural Engagement for Everytown told The Daily Beast. “But for some reason it felt like the movement wasn’t moving as quickly as it could. We hadn’t made it easy enough for people to show their support for the issue.”

Source: Can Slacktivists Stop Gun Violence? When Fashion Meets Activism – The Daily Beast

No, Jason, your organization hasn’t done a great job of presenting intellectual arguments, every argument presented is based on false assumptions, disconnected datasets or pure emotions. Your social media campaign is made up entirely of sound bites and memes and those aren’t intellectual arguments, they are marketing tools.

Don’t feel alone in this, though. Gun rights activists have done no better. I’m especially troubled by open carry activists even though I’m sympathetic to their cause. They have given you a very easy target to take pot shots at.

But, I shouldn’t be surprised, your organization was derived from Mother’s Demand and I have to believe that Shannon Watts had something to do with your public relations campaign strategies. Her organization has been intellectually dishonest from the beginning. Her platform started out with Mother’s Demand being an informational outlet that did not condone boycotts. Boycotts are the only claim to success her organization has and most of those successes were actually failures spun to look like wins.

You may one day be successful and get guns banned in the U.S. but you won’t do it on intellectual arguments, you will do it with distorted data and out and out lies. I’d rather not be successful that way.

Patriot Act That Dennis Hastert Passed Led To His Indictment

Then House Speaker Dennis Hastert with President Bush celebrating the passing of The Patriot Act

Dennis Hastert laid claim to The Patriot Act as a personal achievement of his. Little did he know how this would lay the groundwork for his ultimate demise. Evidently Speaker Hastert had his own little secrets that he was willing to pay millions to keep from coming to light. Paying those millions is what brought him down.

The indictment suggests that law enforcement officials relied on the Patriot Act’s expansion of bank reporting requirements to snare Hastert. As the IRS notes, “the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 increased the scope” of cash reporting laws “to help trace funds used for terrorism.” The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, which was amended by the Patriot Act, had already required banks to report suspicious transactions.

Source: Patriot Act That Dennis Hastert Passed Led To His Indictment

For now Hastert’s secret is remaining secret, at least to the general public. I’m just finding a lot of irony in his arrest.

Society determined my level of privilege, not me.

Sometimes I love The Onion:

“If our culture has decided I get to live a life of ease and limitless opportunity—and clearly it has—there’s got to be a good reason for that, right?” said the 29-year-old, who reportedly possesses such advantages as financial security, the routine deference of almost everyone he meets, and a general freedom from discomfort or want. “As far back as I can remember, I’ve been helped along by a social order that has smoothed the path in front of me, and I can’t imagine that would continue to happen if it weren’t somehow justified.”

Source: Man Going To Trust Society’s Determination That He Deserves His Privilege – The Onion – America’s Finest News Source

If you don’t like the level of privilege automatically given to a class of individuals don’t beat the individual with it, change society.