Thursday, September 23, 2010

Automation Nation

So here's the deal? You can invent a robotic coal miner. Yep, no more tragic news from West Virginia. You make a billion bucks and are revered. Would be despised in West Virginia though, I promise you that.

There are no happy songs about being a coal miner, or if there are, I've never heard them. Some of the most moving American music ever written is about coal mining.
But if there's a song that goes, "I'm so happy to be right here, in the dark in constant fear" I must've missed that tune.

I've met people with grandfathers who were coal miners. Paid in company script, only good at the company store, deduction for company provided housing and utilities, such as they were. That was the bad ol' days. But nobody in West Virginia wants you to build a robot coal miner, except the stock holders in the mining company, and they probably don't live in West Virginia anyways.

That's where you always get to with automation. You want to protect people, but the obvious outcome is less direct labor. They know that too. West Virginia miners don't want you to 'safe' them out of a paycheck. People in Batesville too, know the work drag jobs and their wrists are hurting when they get home. They don't want you to 'protect' them out of a paycheck either.

So what would you do? America's only chance to compete with lower labor costs in the third world is to use less labor. You're really really good at automating human functions.

I really no longer believe the Third Wave of the Industrial Revolution will come in peacefully. I can't imagine how I'm gonna ever get all those Batesville folks in lab coats. A good number of them would likely put their lab coats on backwards, I suspect. But they want to work, so where do I send them?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Everybody is Racist

Tonight I start my long planned series on words that have been used to the point of meaninglessness. I know, I know! You thought I just threw back a couple of shots of Jack Daniels and let 'er rip, right? Nope, not like that at all. I actually put a lot of thought in what I'm going to write about. (Depressing, ain't it?)

Well nevertheless, here we go...

The word 'Racism' gets a lot of media play these days. People who favor the new AZ law about checking immigration status; they're racist I've heard. And a prominent media personality recently questioned whether President Obama is a racist.

As an aside? Mr. Glen Beck is a Mormon, and they're not allowed to drink coffee. Yet, Mr. Beck appears highly caffineated to me, any time I see him. So let's all be thankful he's not allowed to drink coffee.

Everybody is racist, dependent on how the word is defined. What the heck does 'Racist' mean anyway? Does it mean we all harbor preconceptions about people who don't look the same as us?

If that's what 'Racist' means, than yeah, we're ALL racists. I don't blame you for feeling shocked. See, I have scads of free time, insatiable curiosity, and a three pound sponge between my ears where a BRAIN would come in handy, IF ya know what I mean?

So I know lots of things that don't appear on the surface, to be worth knowing. Science has already proved that we're ALL racists.

Children with Williams Syndrome have a mutated gene. It expresses in many ways, facial, organ problems... and hyper-social disorder. A Williams Syndrome child isn't afraid of strangers; you can't get it into their heads to fear strangers.

In a large sampling size study, four year olds were shown pics of kids, and told one of these kids had done a bad thing. So guess which kid? Four year olds, some of whom had never seen some of the ethnicities in those pictures. They chose, sampling errors aside, 100 percent a child of different ethnicity as the 'evil doer.'

The Williams Syndrome kids were all over the map. Their mutated gene disallows them from seeing 'others' in photographs. This means, unless you have Williams Syndrome, you probably instinctively are wary around other ethnicities. It's in our genes.

Was a time probably in human history, when that was a survival trait. It's like the appendix really. Vestigal organ (NO, I didn't have to look that word up!) and vestigal genetic trait.

So we're all Racist in some small way. All these people hurling the word around have made it absolutely useless. What do they think the word 'Racist' actually means?

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I see where the Pope visited with Queen of England for a little while today. They probably got along quite famously, I should think. After all, they both wear funny hats. Always a good icebreaker when meeting strangers; stress the things you share in common...

And so last Sunday at Church was grandparents day. Quite a turnout. Now given that some of these visiting grandparents might be of an age where they don't enjoy long walks to the Church door? I decided most Christian thing I could do was opt for the YMCA parking lot about 50 yards west of the Church parking lot. Already quickly approaching 11:00am, wheeled in, and there's a 1990 blue Mustang convertible in the YMCA parking lot! Ha ha, I'll park next to it, though that's a bit farther walk.

Turned out there was a human being inside that blue Mustang, and he wanted to talk to me!!! I breathed deep and whispered to myself 'Uhh-Oh' as he smiled broadly and asked, "So, you want to trade Mustangs?"

The pragmatic thing to do at this point? I should've told him, "I'd really like to have a polite, encouraging interaction with you, really I would. But Church is about to start. If I don't shake a leg, will be walking in during announcement segment, and I'll feel noticed. So you see Mr. Man, it's not you, really it's not. I gotta get to Church, where we gather to celebrate God's love for humanity, and His open door policy about listening to any human any time. So you see what kind of bind u got me in here, right buddy?"

That's the pragmatic thing to do. But I figured it was my own fault for parking next to Mr. Talkypants, so might as well take some of my medicine.

He asked how I was coming with my restoration, and without waiting for answer launched a torrent of words at me on his Mustang restoration. Told him I'm at least mechanically sound; motor has less than 30K miles on it. That impressed him.

Mr. Talkypants wanted to discuss fuel consumption. Told him mine is lousy, 20mph. He said how odd, since he's got a 4 cylinder and is about 20mph. Explained to him even though he's got an automatic transmission, should still be getting high 20's with that motor. Advised him to check fuel filters.

Then I went to Church, where I was a tad late, and likely missed announcement of the ladies sewing circle covered dish luncheon being rescheduled. I hope you're satisfied, Mr. lousy mileage 4 cylinder Mustang Talkypants!!!

Eh, most human lives, some kind of meetings are regular happenings. Just yesterday in fact, I was about to leave work when all of a sudden a meeting broke out! Though new to that factory, I'm rather experienced in conference rooms. In only 90 minutes, managed to assign projects to three other people, and only get one assigned to me. Not bad huh? Yep, I still got the ol' magic.

In all of our life meetings, there's somebody keeping score on our performance, and it isn't necessarily a human with a clipboard in a conference room. We should be mindful of that in all our encounters.

Why the windmill picture? Because it's a beautiful work of art, OK? Note how the artist juxtaposes the blue sky against the parched landscape. In composition, the eye is drawn up at a diagonal to the right towards the windmill, which is the focus of the work... I learned how to talk like that in Art Appreciation by the way. Best $850 I ever spent my entire life so far!

Little known fact about windmills? They get lousy gas mileage.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just Like Kerouac

Well, I'm not a revered Beat generation writer, and I don't have the very colorful private life he had (thank you Jesus) but other than that? Just like Jack Kerouac I'm 'On the Road.'

Except that he went different places, and I go the same place six days a week. Batesville, MS. 600 miles a week in the Mustang.

I'm an old hand at long commutes though. Did a decade once, 500 miles a week. Now, for you Discovery Channel watchers, let me spare you doing the calculations? I already done did it in me head once, because long commutes facilitate wide ranging ruminations. Translation: A bored and hungry brain will find something to chew on.

1992-2002 I drove 250,000 miles. I drove to the moon! I drove around the world TEN times! As an experienced road warrior, now revisiting old haunts, I can provide some inside info about long commutes...

Depending on the commuter, one's brain will at some point go on cruise control. For some it takes a week, others a while longer. You hardly know what towns you've passed; unless you're running late. Me of course, I never run late. Have to fill up the Mustang every other day, but I always factor in that time bucket. Hey, I'm an Engineer, and we like to say stupid things like 'time bucket' all right?

Now, about that Mustang? I can't say enuf good stuff about the ol' girl actually. First, a 1988 Mustang doesn't have a computer in it. It's not a NORAD missle defense system; it's a car. Keep oil, water and gas in it, IN the proper places (that's VERY important, that proper place thing, trust me!) and the car just wants to run.

Second, the car seems to have developed a fan club at the Batesville factory. Yeah, no kidding! At least four people have asked would I sell it. Most recent guy, explained to him I've got more money in it than he'd be willing to pay, so nope. When he heard the Mustang has in it a crate motor 5.0 litre with under 30K miles on it, his face got a look like some Saint in a Renaissance painting.

Many others have gone out of their way to tell me what a cool car my 1988 Mustang is. According to the jargon apparently, it's a 'Stanger.' Well I don't know about any of that stuff.

I didn't choose this car, all right? More of a 1962 MGA guy here, if you want to talk clean, classic lines. But I still maintain about my 1988 Mustang?

A. It doesn't have a computer in it. I really don't need something that senses the road is wet and automatically changes gear ratio for me in response. I can do that for myself. It's called 'slowing down.'

2. I put another $10K in that car, I'm gonna have one heck of car, would sell for about $10K I betcha!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stupid David News!!!

Loyal readers? It's seldom I can rise to the levels of incompetence regularly displayed by our elected officials, but?

Yesterday afternoon I became newsworthy (against my will) and it's my journalistic duty to report. Fourth estate and all that jazz, y'know?

So there I was Friday afternoon. I'm a temp Engineer you see; I get my paycheck from the temp agency, which happens each Thursday afternoon. Well I waited around on Thursday about thirty minutes after I clocked out... no people with checks arrived.

I went home. Friday, I awoke with a renewed vigor, and a burning desire to actually get a paycheck. I'm Quixotic like that at times.

So, and here's the good part? I waited around thirty-five minutes on Friday, and got a check. Thought to meself, 'This is all right, can do this mission. Have a deposit slip, can make it to the bank before closing. It's only an hour drive.'

It is "usually" an hour drive, but the word 'usual' is vastly misused, my opinon!

I'm driving home, and halfway there I enter into a long skinny parking lot, even though speed limit signs clearly read 70mph. Turns out it was all for a roadside grass fire, and you have to address that kind of thing, because after the grass starts burning, it might catch the Kudzu on fire.

I'm not going to make it to the bank before closing. Oh well, stop at a covenience store for a six pack on the way home, resigned to engaging my backup plan with cheerful spirit...

Hey, that's interesting! I don't have my debit card! Sorry Mr. Clerk person of ambiguous sexual orientation, must've left it back at where I put gas in the car. Backing out of convenience store, came within an inch (actually more like .25 inches honestly) getting plowed into by large SUV. Jumped out of car, told very shaken lady, no harm no foul, God bless you.

Made it home in time to cancel my debit card, hopefully before anybody used it to buy widescreen plasma TV off E-bay. Guess we'll find out soon, huh?

I'm not supposed to be newsworthy. A large part of my entire adult life has been devoted to NEVER being involved in anything worth telling. Sigh... I blew that on Friday afternoon! But I will not let these events break my commitment to be really really boring.

In fact? Right now, I'm even starting to bore myself! How's that for success?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Memphis News

It appears the spate of heat related deaths is at an end for 2010. Now we can go back to discussing murder related deaths; it's a comfort zone thing.

And I heard on news this week, some sort of Jethro Bodine style meth lab got busted at Rose of Sharon campground. I used to drive past that sign a lot, so I know it's out from Covington, TN. Always thought that's such an intriguing name for an RV park.
Now the three arrested were charged with: possession of drug paraphenalia, methamphetamine manufacture, and... trespassing.

Really I don't know why our prosecutorial system works like that, but I've noted it for many years...

'The suspects are charged with murder, bank robbery, arson, and illegal discharge of firearms within the city limits.'

Of course by now it's entrenched custom, but I'd kind of like to know how that whole thing got started. Was it a bargaining chip for use with dim witted criminals?

Something like "I shouldn't be doing this, but darn it I like you mixed up kids. So just tell me where I can find five or six more meth labs, and I'll make that trespassing charge go away."

Or was it originally District Attorney insurance? Like if the guys get off on murder, bank robbery and arson, you can at least assure the voters you nailed their butts on that illegal discharge of firearms charge!!!

But it's not all murder and meth in Memphis. The buzz lately is about identity theft, and this time nobody in Memphis was the criminal. Turns out some PC virus out of Russia infected system at Jason's Deli, and dozens of credit card accounts were accessed.

How the Secret Service knows the virus came from Russia, they don't say. Well these kinds of things always make me nostalgic for the USSR. Yeah, back in the 1970's you accuse the Ruskies of something like that, it'd be a big deal at the UN.

Soviet Ambassador would make big speech like, "Nyet, nyet! Ve never heardsky of this Jason Deli. Is all plot by warmongering Capitalist oppressors!"

Time marches on though. Russia is now run by organized crime; not really a lot of interest in face saving protestations over there anymore.

So what happens is Jason's Deli will lose a lot of business, the credit card companies have to restore customers for the thefted funds, and the Russian hackers get away clean with the loot. We can't arrest them, not even for trespassing.