The reigning Commander in Chief just ordered his first military action in which a highly trained Navy Seal was killed along with possibly 20 Yemeni children, one a US citizen. The Trump administration, denying what many military people are saying, is claiming the missions goals were entirely reached and the effort a total success.
For the moment I’ll let people who know better than me to sort it all out. One thing that did catch my attention, however, was the cost of the V-22 Osprey that was lost. Years ago I took my history students to the Air Force Museum in Dayton and noticed that each example of military plane carried a notation about what the government paid for each of those planes. The Wright Flyer was the first and it may have cost $1.98 each. The last plane I recall was the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter which the government paid over $400 million each for the first ones it purchased. Walking through this history of escalating cost provided a number of lessons for my students.
A couple of years ago I became aware of an organization called the Internet Archive. It is a repository of just about everything that’s been posted to the Internet since www was just a w. It is a favorite research tool for political reporters in their quest to keep the politicians honest.
Yesterday I received a message about the IA making available a growing collection of all the things Donald Trump has said since he rode that escalator to the ground floor of the Trump Tower to announce that most Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. That certainly wasn’t the first lie Trump told but it’s a good place to begin.
I’ll provide the link to the site but first I just want to say that each statement has been independently fact checked by one of the major fact checking sites that exist today.
NOTE: You may notice at the top of IA’s page they are halfway there to raise $5 million. The purpose is to create a mirror of their servers in Canada out of fear that Trump will attempt to shut their American site down.
FASTER & FASTER: Most of you own a smartphone and most of you probably are enrolled in a 4G LTE data plan. While 4G is fast 5G will soon be knocking on the door and it’s lightning. I just read that 5G could download the entire collection of Simpson episodes in the time it took to watch a single episode. You’re going to begin hearing about it but don’t expect to have it for a couple more years.
A meme is a, “humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users,” that in today’s Internet world is almost impossible to avoid.
Memes are what substitutes for independent thought and the ability to openly express one’s thoughts. Memes are those never-ending pictures that show up on social media and frequently inaccurately express some political statement or make a false historical claim.
If you have twenty-five Facebook friends at least one of them does little other than post memes on their account page. They almost never write or express anything that came from their own thoughts and creativity.
Al Gore and Mark Zuckerberg gave us all the means to communicate with each other but failed to give us the communicative ability to do so. Recognizing that, Richard Dawkins gave us the meme. Dawkins was an evolutionary biologists and probably realized many of humankind had evolved as far as they were going to go and needed a lift. Thus the meme.
WARTHOG: The one sensible piece of military news I seen lately is the Pentagon’s decision to keep the close support attack plane, the A-10, in its inventory for years to come. Ask any grunt who they’d want covering them from above.
Ted Koppel did a feature on McDowell County, WV yesterday morning. I’ve been there many times having supplied the school system with computers back in the 1990s. Even then it was a place holding on by its teeth and such appears to be truer today. The entire region is tied to coal and coal has died. Coal died but not, as a couple of minors claimed, from government regulations.
Coal died because of:
It’s a filthy source of energy.
Mining it reeks havoc on the land.
The greed of the mine owners.
The mine owners having to be forced into environmental stewardship.
An ever decreasing demand for it. Increasingly energy is being provided by newer, cleaner, and more sustainable sources
Historically coal was used to generate electricity, manufacturer iron and steel, and heat our homes. Today we make electricity with wind, solar, and natural gas. Today we don’t make iron and steel, we buy it from China. Today we heat our homes with natural gas, propane, geo thermic heat pumps, electricity and other cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient means.
COST OVERRUN: The Navy’s new Zumwalt destroyer cost $4.4 billion per ship. The ship’s gun, a long-range attack projectile was supposed to cost $50,000 per shell. For unexplained reasons the final coas rose to $800,000 per shell making them too expensive to fire. Oops!
Throughout the current political season politicians have talked about jobs and making promises to bring back to America and/or create millions of good paying jobs. We all know that plentiful good jobs began drying up in the 1980s and there is no single cause of it.
A major cause has been the exportation of millions of manufacturing and service jobs to nations with wage rates far lower than America. We’ve all been to Walmart and seen the Made in China label on much of what they sell. Who hasn’t dialed a customer service number only to end up talking with a technician in India with a dialect we Americans have difficulty understanding. Well, all those manufacturing labels once read, Made in America and those service people were somewhere in the lower 48 states.
Just returned from a short fishing trip to Pensacola, FL and several times I thought about what my father would say if he were here today and exposed to the travel technology that exist.
I suppose the majority of smartphones are GPS ready and can make use of Google Maps. I began the trip by telling my phone to navigate to Pensacola Beach and within seconds it told me to take a right turn at the top of my driveway. Every turn thereafter was given me in advance along with the mile remaining and the estimated arrival time for my destination.
Someplace below Nashville I needed gas so I started an app called GasBuddy and it revealed where gasoline was the cheapest and provided a map. Next was time to find a good motel price so I activated the Travel Coupon app and it told me there an a reasonably priced motel at exit 46.
I took a short drive recently to a small neighboring village. It was celebrating its bicentennial and one of my former students was part of the entertainment. For two-hundred years this town had been home to many families but in today’s world, it really has no reason to exist.
It began as a supply spot for area farmers. A place to bring crops to market, get basic agricultural services, and buy food and other staples for the home. Those reasons evaporated decades ago and such places dot the landscape in my home county. And on each visit the scene worsens.
What I also noticed in each was a large number of Trump yard signs. These people are a part of Trump’s core, the people passed over by history and purpose. Those left to die on the vine. Those still living in such places are probably not skilled workers, probably not college graduates, they’re probably living at or below the poverty line, and there’s little chance for change. Out of their despair and desperation they turn to charlatans such as Trump. This is a story as old as humanity. Hard times toss out the welcome mat for demagogues and depots.
This story begins when the Apple iPhone 4 was the current model. I was doing taking several fishing trips each year living out of my van. For business purposes it was important that I have access to the
Internet and the most readily available service was via my cell phone. It required that I have a cell phone that was capable of tethering to a laptop. Tethering (or hot spot as it’s now known) is a service the cell phone provider sells and it requires a cell phone that’s capable of this function.
So, before I left on a trip to Florida I went to the AT&T store in Chillicothe and asked them to show me all the phones that would tether. I emphatically said that tethering must be a feature of whatever phone I purchased.
I ended up buying a nice little smartphone made by HTC. Next day I headed for Florida and someplace along the way discovered that my new phone wouldn’t tether. I stopped someplace and did some research about the phone model and found it in black and white that tethering wasn’t one of its features.
My earliest memories of the Olympics is watching news film of Jessie Owens in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. I wasn’t born yet but sometime in my youth I learned about Owens and saw those films.
From there my memories pretty much jump to 1960 and more news footage of Cassius Clay winning the gold metal at the Rome Olympics.
Over my life the Olympics have become bigger, controversial, more inclusive, and more grandiose. Staging a modern Olympics has put more than one nation at the edge of bankruptcy.
There have always been things about TV’s coverage of the Olympics that have bothered me. If you enjoy a more obscure sport you’ll probably not find much attention given to it. That is such in my case since I’m especially fond of bicycle track racing.
FACTOID: Only 3% of Americans still use dial-up for Internet access. Over 70% have access to broadband, much of that due to government spending during the Great Recession, while 15% don’t use the Internet at all. Overall, however, Internet speeds in America are among some of the developed world’s slowest.
I’ve written about this several times but once again I have to report that technology wise, life out here in Bad Fart, Ohio isn’t getting better. Internet speed remains dismal and given the ever-growing Amish-Mennonite community surrounding me, the future is grim.
We get Internet via Exede satellite and when all the stars are aligned we might see something north of 12 mbps, which is better than what we got with Hughesnet a couple of years ago. Typically we experience speeds closer to 5 mbps. However, according to Fortune Magazine the average American has seen an increase of 42% in download speed in the past year and now experiences typical speeds of 55 mbps.
While 55 mbps is blazing compared to what I get it pales in comparison to the 120 mbps speeds some Americans experience. I’ve never been connected to the Internet at anything faster than 20 mbps which makes our normal 5 mbps appear akin to downloading with semaphore flags or tin cans and tight strings.
KICKSTARTER: Check out these accomplishments of crowdsourcing giant, Kickstarter. Since 2009 they’ve created 8,800 new companies, created 29,600 full-time and 283,000 part-time jobs, and pumped $5.3 billion into the economy. Plus, they’re but one of several major crowdsourcing companies.