Monday, April 20, 2015

Rise of the Robots

Reason magazine has a short report on machines entering the fast food workplace. McDonald's has already begun using self- order kiosks. Those will eliminate the guy or gal taking your order. Robots that prepare and cook your food are here, too.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bing Earth?

Anyone else see that Bing car around town yesterday? I saw it driving south down E street past my house yesterday afternoon. A small red sedan with a Bing sign on the door and one of those Google Earth type cameras on top a five or six foot pole on the roof. 

Maybe Bing is trying to start their own version of Google Earth? I see they have maps on their web site, but nothing to indicate any attempt at another GE. Seems to me that would be a waste of time, akin to trying to reinvent the wheel, or those "new" black book phone books. I wonder exactly what they're doing?

Addendum: I guess what they're doing is called Streetside. Explanation here.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

American Council on Science and Health

I've stumbled on to this group at least a couple times in the last week. The American Council on Science and Health says they were formed by a "... by a group of scientists who had become concerned that many important public policies related to health and the environment did not have a sound scientific basis.". 

So what subjects do they deal with and where do they stand on them? They don't seem too happy with the Center for Disease Control. They don't seem too fond of television's Doctor Oz, either. They seem to be in favor of the California bill to strengthen vaccination requirements. Not sure, but maybe neutral about an increase in the costs of prescription drugs last year. Interesting info on that, regardless.

More issues to come, I'm sure. I've bookmarked their News & Views page and added it to my News links. One more news site for morning reading.

An E- Cigarette Mythbuster

Great links being posted over at the Wilit's News' letters to the editor I wrote about the other day. Found a new blog among them. The Rest of the Story is written by what seems to be an anti- smoking zealot.

Dr. Michael Siegel testified in the lawsuit years ago against the tobacco industry. Now he's not happy with the attacks on e- cigarettes and vaping. He doesn't mince words when he sees research as slanted or falsified. Regarding a study showing e- cigarettes making it harder to quit smoking, he writes: 

"The conclusions of this article are completely invalid, and the article's description of its own findings borders on being deceitful...". That's rather mild compared to some of his other stuff.

" The rest of the story is that this poorly conducted study is going to do great public health damage. It is going to add to the propaganda campaign that aims to demonize e-cigarettes, and which is using severely biased research to try to discredit the solid evidence that e-cigarettes can and do help many smokers quit smoking. This is further evidence that ideology has become more important than science in the modern anti-smoking movement.". 

Good stuff, and that last sentence pretty much says it all. I've added his blog to my list.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Get Off My Back!

That's my new favorite, funny expression. More of a phrase than an expression, I suppose, but I find it hysterical for some reason. I don't believe I ever used it in my life until a week or so ago.

The wife was bugging me about cancelling Dish Network. Ok, she just mentioned it a couple times. Then the other day when I came home there's a note by this computer saying "Call Dish". I'm like, would you STOP? Then I thought, no. Would you get off my back??? 

Too funny, and I thought of all the times I might have seen someone else say that on TV or wherever. Makes me laugh. You know, the guy's all pissed off, finally turns and yells "WOULD YOU GET OFF MY BACK!". Lol. When Connie came home I yelled it at her, but couldn't keep a straight face so it didn't have much impact.

I've been looking for other situations to use it. Dish Network comes to mind. We keep getting e-mails and phone messages warning us to send our receiver back or they're going to get us one way or the other. Just got another one a few minutes ago and Connie had already left to take the receiver to UPS. I feel like calling or e-mailing them and saying WOULD YOU GET OFF MY BACK!!!

Anthem Blue Cross deserves the same. They keep calling and leaving automated messages reminding me to make an appointment with my medical provider. What business that is of theirs, I don't know, since Redwood Family Practice doesn't accept their insurance. Something like three or four messages in the last three days for that.

Last  night I e-mailed them through their web site. I wrote that I don't know why they keep bugging me about seeing my doctor since Redwood Family Practice doesn't accept their insurance and, with that in mind, would they GET OFF MY BACK??? Yep, I did, but didn't use the caps.

Who can I use it on next?

A Democrat Proposal I Can Agree With

Don't get me wrong. Partisan fellow that I am (ha, ha), I certainly think just about every dumb law passed in this state started with Democrats. This latest proposal is an exception and has been a long time coming.

"Senate Bill 411, introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, protects the practice (video recording of police) so long as active bystanders are “not interfering with official duties,” the Los Angeles Times noted."

Time after time we hear of police taking video cameras and cell phones, or even arresting people for recording police activity. That's simply unacceptable. The police have a considerable amount of power and authority, all of it subject to abuse. Recording police conduct is the least we should be able to do.

It will be interesting to see how this goes. Politicians from all sides of the aisle tend to fall over each other to gain favor with law enforcement. That this legislation was even introduced is almost a surprise in that regard. Only time will tell its fate.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reason For California's War On Vaping

I was commenting on a letter to the editor of the Willit's News earlier today- yet another anti- smoking zealot telling us how bad e- cigarettes are. I pointed out the vast majority of what I've heard was of smokers cutting back or quitting altogether through the use of e- cigarettes. The only reason I could come up with for their attack on e- cigarettes was money.

I was surprised to have someone else reply to my comment and point me to this 3 1/2 minute You Tube video that shows why California is going after e- cigarettes. In short, it's money, although a bit more of a convoluted explanation than I had assumed. 

Summary: California wanted the tobacco settlement money up front so they sold bonds to get it. Payments for the bonds would come from cigarette sales. If sales declined, as they have, the state doesn't get as much money from sales and thus has trouble paying off the bonds. 

Cigarette sales have gone down while e- cigarette sales have gone up, so it's in the state's interest to either get people back on regular cigarettes, or demonize e- cigs enough so a e- cigs could be taxed like cigarettes. Makes complete sense as far as motivation goes. 
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Whenever I hear of this sort of thing or people or the State attempting to tax tobacco or e- cigarettes, it reminds me of that scene at the end of that Ringo Starr movie Help! He's throwing money into some sort of a ship's cesspool full of poop, or whatever it was, and everybody is jumping after the money. Seems to me the same sort of thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One Link Gone, New One Added

I decided to dump an old site I had in the sidebar links but added another one in its place. I won't mention the one dropped and most probably won't notice it missing. Don't want to mention the name because I get the feeling she's a bit sensitive.

It's being replaced with the William Lloyd Garrison (who the hell is he?) Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. Don't think I've ever heard of the guy but my internet buddy, Tom Knapp, has been posting there recently. Today's commentary is pretty good, as has been some of his recent stuff, so we'll give him a try. Not that I go to the links I feature here very often, but this one has been featured in the Rational Review News Digest so I can't help but stop by.
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And he's spot on with regards kids being able to go roam around on their own. I recall living in Tustin while in elementary school. Friends and I would ride our bikes out in the hills for mile after mile. Later, in junior high school, I'd normally walk to school- a trip of two miles one way. Fun stuff to remember and part of growing up for me. More and more I'm hearing that's not the case anymore. A bad new world.

Partisans

Apologies to those who subscribe to this blog and receive posts via e-mail. I accidentally sent out an unfinished version of this post yesterday by pressing the "Publish" button instead of "Save".


A dictionary definition of Partisan:
noun
1. A fervent, sometimes militant supporter or proponent of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea.
2. A member of an organized body of fighters who attack or harass an enemy, especially within occupied territory; a guerrilla.
adj.
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a partisan or partisans.
2. Biased in support of a party, group, or cause

I suppose the noun version, #1, would apply to me since I'm a supporter of a cause, or causes, but I don't really like that one. I use the term more along the lines of an adjective- "Biased" as used in the beginning of #2, makes it usable. My own definition for use would be someone who sides with a group and takes positions only in defense of that group, or in attacking the other group. That's probably not too good of a definition, either.

Biased is the keyword. Which isn't to say we don't all have biases, but when those biases only apply to one group, that's when I'd call it partisan, as in the term "partisan attacks" which we hear fairly often.

Maybe that would include me, but what if you also support the opposing group sometimes? A few examples of what I consider partisan, partisanship, or partisan attacks:

For a short time an old National Guard buddy was a Facebook Friend. It seemed just about every day he'd post some comment critical of Obama, or Democrats in general. Funny, actually, as I never thought him all that political of a fellow while in the Guard. 

One day shortly after reading a post of his I commented. I don't recall the exact subject but he was blaming Obama for something. I pointed out that what he was complaining about wasn't exclusive to Obama. A couple days later, same thing, and I replied pretty much the same way. He defriended me.

He was unwilling to admit his side was guilty of the same thing because of partisanship, and would never have pointed the finger at his own group for doing the same thing.
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Had to drive an inlaw's van to Southern CA a few years ago and couldn't figure out how to switch the radio from AM to FM. As a result, I was stuck listening mostly to right wing talk radio for the better part of 8 1/2 hours. 

Sean Hannity was on at least three times. His big issue at the time was Obama's recent physical where doctors suggested he might be drinking too much. Hannity wouldn't let that go. I was really annoyed knowing full well if the same was being said about Bush, he'd take the opposite side and defend him. I recall a TV incident where Bush was accused by his detractors of being drunk. I'd be willing to bet he defended Bush with fervor then.

Our guy is good. Yours not so good, no matter what.
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A year or so ago the Santa Rosa Press- Democrat ran a story on Congressman Jared Huffman's efforts to change the Army Corp of Engineers policy of releasing water from its reservoirs in the fall.  That's been protocol for decades to prepare for flooding.

An earlier story on the subject showed concern from many in Sonoma County over those releases. After all, automatic releases of water don't make much sense in a drought. As a result, Huffman tried to take action.

The first comments to that story were ones berating Huffman. Not necessarily for what he did, but that he did it for nefarious reasons. I was quick to point out he deserved credit where credit was due (and I loathe Jared Huffman). His detractors, obviously of conservative bent, would have no part of that and continued running him down. 

I continued defending him, pointing out the story was not the first time we'd heard of the water releases and that Huffman was acting on the behalf of constituents who had valid concerns over the issue. I told them I was no fan of Huffman, but he deserved credit at least for that. Again, they wouldn't stop. 

Finally, I pointed out that all that was going on was simply partisan sniping and that we wouldn't be hearing any complaints from them if it was a Republican congressman. That seemed to end the discussion.

And it was  just pure and simple partisan sniping. They really weren't even making valid criticism of what he'd done but of his supposed reasons for doing it. If former congressman Frank Riggs had taken the same action, they likely wouldn't have commented at all.  Or, if they had, would have praised the action. Now that's partisanship.

So, am I a partisan for defending Huffman in one instance? I suppose so, at least by some definitions, but not by mine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Marco Rubio Announces

Cuban- American Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, threw his hat in the ring for the Republican presidential nomination yesterday. No surprise it wasn't covered by Channel 3 News. Reason magazine takes a short look at, among other things, his War Party and anti- Cuba credentials. 

He doesn't impress me at all now, but the first time I heard from him some years ago I was pretty stoked. I heard him on the radio addressing a crowd in Florida. The theme of his chat seemed to be things his mother taught him. He went on to say (as best I can remember): 

"There's one thing my momma never told me. She never told me, if we could just take what those people over there have, we'd be fine. My momma never told me that. She told me if I worked hard and made my own way, I could make my own fortune...".

I thought that was so cool and relevant as you'd hear that sort of thing from The Left over and over again, even here in the local blogosphere. Comments on the now defunct Humboldt Herald used to echo that theme of taking from others, usually the rich (or whoever was in the next highest tax bracket), so that was pretty neat. Almost as if hearing myself talking, at least on that issue.

But I would never vote for him.

Tobacco is the New Marijuana

I've mentioned before the irony of so many who support decriminalization of marijuana often being the same ones supporting higher tobacco taxes and anti- smoking rules to the point of defacto prohibition. Reason's J.D. Tuccille doesn't exactly go there but takes a look at how anti- smoking efforts are moving tobacco towards the same status of marijuana of the past- the black market and growing your own.

Never mind the newly begun war on vaping and e- cigarettes. Vaping, which by nearly all accounts has helped people reduce their smoking or quit altogether. The wars on....whatever... seem to take on a life of their own no matter what they're about.