Watch a few minutes of this and tell me you don’t want one of these. This is clearly where things are headed. I can’t wait.
This Frontline documentary was… damning. I’m sure “defenders of the faith” have ready responses to every charge although I’m not sure what one would say to 8-year-old Monica Barret who was raped by her priest (“If You Tell Anybody, Your Parents Will Burn in Hell”). A middle aged woman now, Ms. Barret’s dry-eyed account of that event was chilling and heart breaking.
I suppose you argue that the producers and Frontline and the media (and all non-Catholics?) are out to ‘get’ the Catholic Church. Fuck if I know. Has anyone said, “I don’t want to be part of this. I’ll find another place worship. Call me if you get your shit together.”
Sounds like the new Pope might be trying to make some changes but the corruption runs deep and high and any real house cleaning is gonna be ugly.
Company I used to work for is big in collegiate sports marketing so this story probably more interesting to me than many of you. But this tech will almost certainly show up in lots of places. A few excerpts from full post:
The system, developed by UK start-up Mobbra, will let organisers *send football replays, backstage interviews with pop stars, or area-specific food deals direct to fans’ phones*. It will also encourage the audience to become part of the show.
With Mobbra’s system, dubbed Massivity, organisers can *take control of fans’ phones to create spectacular effects*. For instance, the camera flashlight on each phone could be activated remotely, turning the crowd into a glittering star field. Or a team’s colours could sweep around the phone and tablet screens in the venue like a Mexican wave.
These kinds of applications are possible because Mobbra has found a way to deliver Wi-Fi to every user in a large crowd. A typical wireless access point can supply just 50 connections – so unless a venue can afford to run an access point for every 50 or so people, Wi-Fi is not guaranteed. Even then, simple radio interference can destroy any chance of stadium-wide access.
The phone side of the equation is choreographed by an app called Fangage, which tweaks the phone’s Wi-Fi settings. It will launch on the Apple and Android app stores later this month. *During a game, all phones could vibrate to tell the crowd of a betting opportunity, or a special food and drink offer*, says Walton. “You can have four streams of video, which could be replays or goals from other matches that are on at the same time. At gigs you’ll get behind-the-scenes news and backstage interviews with the stars.”
I’ve been using the Automatic widget/app for a couple of weeks and have found it very useful. The screenshot below is from the companion website and shows some of the data the device captures. On a recent trip from St. Louis to Jefferson City I saved seven bucks by keeping my speed (mostly) at 70 mph or below. The app beeps once when you exceed 70. I also avoided “rough breaking” and “hard acceleration.” For those with jobs that involve tracking mileage, this would be a hand/automatic way to do it.
I left Tucson bright and early Sunday morning and headed south for Bisbee, AZ, home of Bisbo Nian (not his real name) and his charming partner Taylor. I “met” Bisbo on Google+. Like me, he’s a J-Walk Ranger (see previous post) and lives in Bisbee, AZ, a couple of hours south of Tucson. Southern Arizona is spectacularly beautiful county. Wide, sweeping vistas punctuated with mountains that change color throughout the day.
Bisbee is a old mining town, retrofitted with aging hippies, artists and assorted free spirits. (The Wikipedia entry will give you a better feel for the place than I can.)
When I called Bisbo to let him know I’d arrived,he was at the local airport trying to get his vintage biplane — and himself– air-worthy. He’s a pilot for Southwest Airlines but hadn’t flown his biplane for a while and wanted to refresh his memory on the thing before taking me up for tour of Bisbee. Fortunately the winds were just gusty enough to keep that from happening.
Some local wag once described Bisbee as “Mayberry On Acid” which perfectly captures the charm of the place. I felt like I was with Sheriff Taylor on our walking tour. Bisbo seemed to know everyone and everyone knew him. It was all I could do not to whistle that song.
Bisbo’s Reason for Living, Taylor, joined us and we had lunch at a great vegan restaurant. After lunch Bisbo showed me one big-ass hole in the ground…
…and then we piled back into his VW microbus and headed for the border where I got to see The Fence. I won’t get all political here but I agree with Bisbo and Taylor that the wall is a stupid idea on lots of levels.
Then it was back to Bisbee for a tour of B & T’s charming home where I met their two cats, saw some of Taylor’s paintings and art, and Bisbo’s handiwork with power tools (They’re remodeling their home). Very impressive.
We finished the day back at the Copper Queen Hotel (where I was staying) for a musical jam session (Bisbo plays the banjo).
The trip back to Phoenix the next morning included a breathtaking sunrise over the mountains (a photo wouldn’t have done it justice).
I don’t usually take trips that include renting a car ’cause I’m not fond of long road trips. But the trip to Bisbee was worth it. And all the more so thanks to the hospitality of Bisbo and Taylor. Here’s a short video montage of my visit.
The first mission of the 2014 Soldier of Fortune Tour took us to sunny Arizona. It was 32 degrees and snowing when I left St. Louis… 90 when we landed in Phoenix where I rented a car and headed for Tucson to meet John Walkenbach (known to one and all as J-Walk).
I first heard of John Walkenbach some years ago when I clicked a link somewhere and found myself on the J-Walk Blog. I was immediately hooked. John was a prolific blogger with a taste for the bizarre. And always funny. And he had a huge following.
I didn’t know much about John until I spotted him on Google+ shortly after that service launched. There, too, he posted frequently and got lots of comments. Apparently many of the readers of his blog had followed him to Google+ and I found myself adding people from his circles to mine.
After I retired (12/31/12) and started talking about taking some trips, John invited me to visit him. Last Friday I hopped on a plane and flew to Phoenix, rented a car, and headed for Tucson. (It was 30 degrees and snowing when I left St. Louis and 90 when I got to Arizona) The scenery on the drive to John’s home was pretty exotic for a boy from the midwest.
I knew he and his partner Pamn had nice digs from photos John had shared but I fear I went a little Gomer Pyle as they showed me around. I leave it to John to share more, except to say there were guitars and banjos everywhere you looked. Gonna be a hell of a yard sale when John goes to that big hoedown in the sky. The view from their patio (?) was… well, it was a goddamn vista is what it was.
John took me to a great vegetarian restaurant for lunch, followed by a jam session with some of his old time music pals.
Back at Rancho Walkenbach, Pamn had prepared the best vegetarian meal I have ever eaten.
John let me ask endless questions about his past; how he started writing books; his music… I think he has a PhD in Experimental Psychology! That can’t be right.
It was a great day spent with two interesting people who get a gold star for hospitality.
Self-driving vehicles seem inevitable. As Kevin Kelly might say, it’s what technology wants. I’m hoping they become a reality by the time I need one. But let’s say that doesn’t happen in our lifetime. Can there be any doubt our vehicles will more and more intelligent?
I’ve been kicking myself a little for going too fast on a snowy/icy highway (http://www.smays.com/2014/02/black-ice) and wonder how it might have gone if I had been driving a car that’s smarter than I am. (Insert jokes here). I would instruct my smart car to use Morgan Freeman’s voice from Driving Miss Daisy.
Me: Mornin’ Doke. Take me to that Japanese restaurant at the mall. I’m meeting a friend for lunch.
Doke: Um–hum. I saw that on your calendar but the roads between here and the mall are something awful and according to your email setting this up, it ain’t all that important. I shore wish you’d call him and reschedule. Here’s his mobile number.
Me: Come on, the roads aren’t that bad. I’ll be careful. Let’s go.
Doke: The safest speed I’d feel comfortable with is 30 mph and you’d be pretty late going that slow. Mr. Brandon’s calendar shows him with no lunch plans the rest of the week. Let’s call him and reschedule.
Me: Are you going to make me use the POC (Programming Override Command)?
Doke: Gimme a second to pull up my original system settings… Here we go. Uh huh, you checked the DON’T LET ME DO ANYTHING STUPID box and agreed to Terms and Conditions. So, you see, I can’t let you drive under these conditions.
Me: So you decide when and if I can go somewhere. Is that it?
Doke: Aw, now, Mr. Steve it ain’t like that. Let me have the House Bot make you some hot chocolate and we’ll see how the roads look in a few hours.
Shortly before noon I was traveling west on Highway 50 (divided four lane), going about 50 miles per hour. My lane appeared to be free of snow but had patches of black ice (which I guess I always thought of as some mythical substance). There were no cars close to me and I wasn’t changing lanes.
With no warning or sense I was losing control, my Toyota 4Runner seemed to move sideways, off the highway to the right, almost immediately I struck a metal signpost head on. Fortunately some brilliant engineer had designed these posts with hinges so it broke away with just enough impact to deploy the airbags. A good trick for a 17 year old vehicle (thank you, Toyota). A ravine full of scraggly small trees brought the vehicle to a stop.
Called 911 and within minutes local and county folks were on the scene and a bit later the wrecker pulled the 4Runner out. I walked away with a bloody nose from the airbags (yes, I was wearing seatbelt and shoulder harness) and some bumps and scrapes.
I can’t think of much I could have done to avoid this, other than drive a lot slower than 50 mph. My first accident in 50 years of driving and I was lucky. Could have hit another car or something less movable.
The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966). I like the way Alan Watts writes. Some of the sixties jargon sounds a little quaint but, hey, that’s the way we talked back then. If you haven’t read this book (and don’t intend to), you can skip this post. Won’t make any sense at all out of context. Admittedly, some of the ideas are hard to grasp within context. Posts like this one (excerpts from a book) are archival. A place for me to come back and locate an idea I could never find by flipping through the book.
He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear. […] It takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. […] We are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself.
God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes.
He isn’t really doing this to anyone but himself. [...] In the Vedanta philosophy, nothing exists except God. […] But Vedanta is much more than the idea or the belief that this is so. It is centrally and above all the experience, the immediate knowledge of its being so.
You don’t die because you were never born. You had just forgotten who you are.
All information will come in by super-realistic television and other electronic devices as yet in the planning stage or barely imagined. In one way this will enable the individual to extend himself anywhere without moving his body— even to distant regions of space. But this will be a new kind of individual— an individual with a colossal external nervous system reaching out and out into infinity. And this electronic nervous system will be so interconnected that all individuals plugged in will tend to share the same thoughts, the same feelings, and the same experiences. […] If all this ends with the human race leaving no more trace of itself in the universe than a system of electronic patterns, why should that trouble us? For that is exactly what we are now!
No one thing or feature of this universe is separable from the whole, the only real You, or Self, is the whole.
Most people think of themselves as separate from their thoughts and experiences.
Memory is an enduring pattern of motion, like the whirlpool, rather than an enduring substance, like a mirror, a wax tablet, or a sheet of paper.
Society is our extended mind and body.
(You are) one particular focal point at which the whole universe expresses itself. […] Every individual is a unique manifestation of the Whole,
The death of the individual is not disconnection but simply withdrawal. The corpse is like a footprint or an echo— the dissolving trace of something which the Self has ceased to do.
The only real “I” is the whole endless process.
Every organism is a process: thus the organism is not other than its actions. To put it clumsily: it is what it does. More precisely, the organism, including its behavior, is a process which is to be understood only in relation to the larger and longer process of its environment. […] The whole is a pattern, a complex wiggliness, which has no separate parts. Parts are fictions of language.
Apart from your brain, or some brain, the world is devoid of light, heat, weight, solidity, motion, space, time, or any other imaginable feature.
This little germ with its fabulous brain is evoking the whole thing, including the nebulae millions of light-years away. […] A structure of such fabulous ingenuity that it calls the whole universe into being.
No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.
Making an effort to be ego-less is like “beating a drum in search of a fugitive.”
You are nothing at all apart from everything else. […] Each organism is the universe experiencing itself in endless variety.
Don’t try to get rid of the ego-sensation. Take it, so long as it lasts, as a feature or play of the total process — like a cloud or wave, or like feeling warm or cold, or anything else that happens of itself. Getting rid of one’s ego is the last resort of invincible egoism! It simply confirms and strengthens the reality of the feeling. But when this feeling of separateness is approached and accepted like any other sensation, it evaporates like the mirage that it is.
Meditate just to meditate.
When this new sensation of self arises, it is at once exhilarating and a little disconcerting. It is like the moment when you first got the knack of swimming or riding a bicycle. There is the feeling that you are not doing it yourself, but that it is somehow happening on its own, and you wonder whether you will lose it— as indeed you may if you try forcibly to hold on to it. In immediate contrast to the old feeling, there is indeed a certain passivity to the sensation, as if you were a leaf blown along by the wind, until you realize that you are both the leaf and the wind. The world outside your skin is just as much you as the world inside: they move together inseparably, and at first you feel a little out of control because the world outside is so much vaster than the world inside. Yet you soon discover that you are able to go ahead with ordinary activities— to work and make decisions as ever, though somehow this is less of a drag. Your body is no longer a corpse which the ego has to animate and lug around. There is a feeling of the ground holding you up, and of hills lifting you when you climb them. Air breathes itself in and out of your lungs, and instead of looking and listening, light and sound come to you on their own. Eyes see and ears hear as wind blows and water flows. All space becomes your mind. Time carries you along like a river, but never flows out of the present: the more it goes, the more it stays, and you no longer have to fight or kill it.
The universe is at root a magical illusion and a fabulous game, and that there is no separate “you” to get something out of it, as if life were a bank to be robbed. The only real “you” is the one that comes and goes, manifests and withdraws itself eternally in and as every conscious being. For “you” is the universe looking at itself from billions of points of view, points that come and go so that the vision is forever new. What we see as death, empty space, or nothingness is only the trough between the crests of this endlessly waving ocean.
The Self is playing its most far-out and daring game— the game of having lost Itself completely and of being in danger of some total and irremediable disaster.
We are merely bolting our lives— gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in— because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being.
How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god?
It seems to be the special peculiarity of human beings that they reflect: they think about thinking and know that they know.
For so long as I am trying to grasp IT, I am implying that IT is not really myself.
I return in every baby born. […] It matters not whether the interval be ten seconds or billions of years. In unconsciousness all times are the same brief instant.
In looking out upon the world, we forget that the world is looking at itself— through our eyes and IT’s.