Category Archives: Uncategorized

The problem with capitalism…in a ball

Unless you’re a golfer, you probably don’t think about golf balls. But a new US lawsuit about these little dimpled spheres has an economics lesson for all shoppers, showing why consumers have cause for concern when companies use court for sport. Costco, the wholesale membership club, rocked the golf world in 2016 when it started…

via A lawsuit over Costco golf balls shows why we can’t have nice things cheap — Quartz

The practice of Capitalism is more people-friendly than say, Totalitarianism, because it requires people to be consumers, and that is something people are happy to be. But to work properly, Capitalism requires the checks and balances of a healthy, competitive marketplace.

Using the law as a way to get rid of the competition may be ‘legal’ and ‘clever’, but it’s also a bully’s scam. The law is meant to be an equalizer, not a weapon. Frivolous legal action should have punitive consequences. While it does not, the law becomes complicit in the scam.

Perhaps I’m naive. Okay, I know I’m naive, but I did not expect the companies being bullied to accepted the inequity of their situation without protest. Excuse me? You’ve just lost your company for no good reason, and you grudgingly admire the tactic that made you lose?

Is this really the way we want our world to run?

In Australia, we have something called the ‘pub test’. If the common man in the pub thinks something stinks, then the authorities need to take action, even if it isn’t strictly illegal, because there’s the letter of the law, and then there’s the spirit of the law, and we all know the difference.

Meeks


Extreme Weather: Storm Chaser Photography

Feast your eyes on some of the most beautiful, and terrifying, photos of storms I have ever seen. For my money, the one with the windmill is the most disturbing.

ALK3R

Jonas Piontek is a talented self-taught photographer, travel enthusiast, student and storm chaser from Grünberg, Hessen who currently based in Lich, Hesse, Germany.

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Spotlight on #Indie, Chris James

Six months ago I published Repulse: Europe at War 2062-2064, and those of you who know me well, also know what I saw when I looked at that word “Repulse” on the cover, and therefore why its modest success is just a mite ironic. Altogether, this little book has managed to get itself over 3,000 […]

via Repulse: Six months of #Gratitude — Chris James’s blog

Chris James is an Indies Unlimited buddy from way back, and he’s also a very good sci-fi writer, but that isn’t the reason I reblogged his post today. I did it to give the rest of us a good news story with a dash of hope.

Self-publishing can lead to success, Chris is proof of that, but it rarely happens ‘overnight’. Behind every ‘Repulse’, you will find years of patient effort during which the only thing that keeps you going is pig-headed obstinacy.

The moral of ‘Repulse’ is that success is possible, if you have the intestinable fortitude to keep slogging away at it. Please read Chris’ post and take heart.

much love,

Meeks


A hate crime, and Trump doesn’t care

Their names are Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani. Mr. Kuchibhotla is dead now, and Mr. Madasani is wounded. 51-year-old Adam W. Purinton, apparently did not like immigrants and believed it was his right, as a white male, to take their lives into his own hands. It started in a restaurant in Olathe, Kansas where Mr. […]

via The Pointless Death of Srinivas Kuchibhotla — Filosofa’s Word

 


What’s on Kenyavision?

A bird with a broken wing will die. In the poorest areas of Kenya, a person who can’t see can’t work, and if they can’t work, they die. A ridiculously small amount can make a HUGE difference. The price of a latte…

Considerings

I stepped off the plane into the Nairobi night, expecting to be hit by a wall of heat, like I’d read in books. I was waiting for something akin to opening the door of a blast furnace and stepping inside, the cool, air-conditioned plane switched for a boiling inferno in spite of the late hour.

It was warm. Pleasantly so, but only warm.

I confess, I was the tiniest smidgen disappointed, but thought to myself that I would nonetheless make the best of things. I snuggled my jacket closer around me and descended the stairs, lugging my bag at the end of my tired arm. Walking across the tarmac, I breathed deeply – great lungfuls of warm air that smelled of heat and dust and fuel and…something almost spicy; an underlying, faint but very distinct difference to the air in England.

I grinned widely in spite of my tiredness. I…

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24 ways Trump is making America great again

I really did have good intentions about not posting for a while, but this…this was just too good to ignore:

A new forward going around:

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:
1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.
2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.
3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.
4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.
5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.
6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.
7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.
8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining.
9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance.
10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year.
11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work.
12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies.
13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6)
14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act.
15. Stephen Colbert’s “Late Night” finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today’s Jon Stewart.
16. “Mike Pence” has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th.
17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy.
18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes.
19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy.
20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians.
21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists.
22. People are reading classic literature again. Sales of George Orwell’s “1984” increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.)
23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important.
24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.

– Susan Keller (Copy and paste to share.)

I will be going to work with a smile on my face today because many of the points above can just as easily apply to Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Turnbull here in Australia. My thanks to Lucky Otter for sharing this great list. I love irony. 😀

cheers

Meeks


Cat to the rescue!

I wasn’t going to post this weekend, but then my friend Scottie posted this, and I just had to share it:

I’ve watched the rescue three times already and I still get a lump in my throat watching that cat save one of the ‘enemy’. 😀

We humans could learn a thing or two from this amazing cat.

Still smiling,

Meeks


-blush- ‘teledildonics’…

You should consider this a tech post with an R rating. You’ve been warned.

haptic-glove-2

http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/863.11/people/daniel.rosenberg/pf.html

Right. This really is a case of sci-fi made obsolete by reality. The image you’re looking at shows a pair of ‘haptic’ gloves at work. They allow the wearer to manipulate elements of a digital environment directly – i.e. no need for a mouse or keyboard or game controller. Essentially, sensors in the glove translate real world movement and pressure into digital movement and pressure.

I knew about these haptic gloves because I’m a gamer, and I like to think about new technologies that make gaming more fun. Not surprisingly then, my sci-fi story, Innerscape, contains many existing technologies, extrapolated into their possible future equivalents. One example is the evolution of the haptic glove into the full body gaming suit. But even modern day technology can be used in all sorts of ways. Most people see web cams and Skype as a useful tool for teleconferencing, or to allow friends to see each other and talk in real time. To the porn industry, however, the same technology is a great way to deliver a lucrative product.

Online porn is not something I know a great deal about, but it’s not something I can ignore, either. I do a lot of research online, and anything of a sexual nature can be bring up unexpected results – e.g., when I researched hermaphrodites for Vokhtah. I quickly learned to phrase my queries with great care, and that awareness informed my prediction that the porn industry would spear-head the development of immersive reality in Innerscape. Yes, I know, pun intended…

Despite this rather pragmatic view of the world, however, I had no idea that a real world company was already selling a primitive version of the immersive porn of my imagined future. What’s even worse, I had no idea that this real world company bears the same name [more or less] as a company I dreamed up for Innerscape.

[SPOILER: Leon lets the Woman in Red into his apartment when he sees that she’s delivering his brand new, top of the range, Real Touch gaming suit.]

The real world company already making haptic devices for the porn industry is called Realtouch Interactive.

I swear I am not making this up. I didn’t know about Realtouch Interactive until just now when I read about the latest developments in ‘haptic gloves’ on New Atlas. Imagine my surprise when the same article included a link to…’teledildonics’.

The link to that article is here:

http://newatlas.com/flex-n-feel-glove-long-distance-relationships/47900/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=f1f477b260-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-f1f477b260-92416841

You can find the link to ‘teledildonics’ yourselves. If you so wish. -cough-

Be warned though, in the article, a male writer test drives the ‘device’, and although the descriptions are not super graphic, they don’t leave too much to the imagination. Included in the article is information about how the company created its own tech in order to sync sight, sound and data. Just as I predicted!

I suppose this is the point at which I should explain why data has to be synced along with sight and sound. The haptic ‘device’ is hooked up to the computer via USB at the user’s end. At the ‘cam girl’ end, a slightly different device allows the professional lady to control the sensations sent to the user’s device. Thus, audio, video and the transfer of this haptic data has to occur at the same time or the effect is ruined.

Long term, however, this very same technology will drive something else I wrote about in Innerscape – teleoperations. This is where the surgeon and the patient are separated by long distances, but the surgeon can still operate via a robotic surgical tool.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kind of shell-shocked. None of this technology was meant to happen for decades, yet here it is in 2017. Clearly, the tech will be enhanced and improved enormously in the coming years, but I still feel rather ambivalent about the whole thing. Yes, it’s nice to predict the tech of the future, but it’s not so nice to get the timing so very wrong. Oh well…back to work.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


Foxes and Magpies in Warrandyte

I scribbled this down yesterday, just before racing off to work:

Monday 9:40am. Saw a smallish brindle fox sprint across the back yard, pursued by 4 magpies. They were our resident magpies, and they chased that fox right off the premises…theirs & mine.

Just before jumping over the side fence the fox stopped & seemed to look straight at me, despite being inside the house & 40 metres away.

I think it heard the whistle of my kettle as it came up to boil. Whatever the truth of it, by the time I turned back to the window from the stove, the fox was gone.

I wish I could have taken a photo for you, but it all happened too quickly. Instead, I went looking for photos online and found these:

fox-brindle

The image of the brindle fox is courtesy of http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/red_fox.html and is exactly the odd mottled, brownish colour of the fox I saw. I love foxes but know nothing about them. Is this colour a seasonal thing? Or is it perhaps a sign of immaturity?

magpie-swooping

The image of a magpie swooping is courtesy of http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/09/how-to-survive-magpie-swooping-season/.

When the Offspring was little, we were both swooped by magpies while out for a walk. I was terrified [for the Offspring], but since moving out to Warrandyte I’ve learned a lot about magpies. I’ve seen them swoop the dog and the cats, but only during breeding season. The rest of the time the maggies ignore them as creatures beneath contempt. And I’ve seen maggies hound a young possum out of a tree [where there was a nest?] so I know these birds are fierce when they want to be.

But I’ve also seen my maggies conscientiously feeding and teaching their young:

baby-magpie

This image is courtesy of https://www.trevorsbirding.com/baby-magpie/

And believe me, maggies are smart. When I throw out stale bread for them, or some scraps of meat, the first one on the scene will warble an alert and in moments, their young will come to feed. Maybe that’s why they treat me like a member of the family. In loco parentis?

I’ve never been swooped out in the garden. Not even once. Somehow, the maggies whose territory I share know I’m a friend, and as the story of the fox shows, they know when to protect ‘our’ domain. Much as I love foxes I don’t want Mogi, my tiny chihuahua-cross dog to be snatched up one day when the hunting has been poor.

So yesterday I went to work with a smile on my face. There are times when I love Warrandyte so much it hurts. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Prof. Hans Rosling, teacher extraordinaire

The world has lost a giant intellect with the death of Professor Hans Rosling, the statistician who breathed life into data and gave humanity an enormous gift. His entertaining and optimistic approach to data analysis is inspirational. His teaching methods will live on in every person who had the good fortune to hear him speak, […]

via Life and Death: The Next Big Thing — Honie Briggs

Statistics and math are not the same beast. Math is about precise relationships, stats is about patterns, and Professor Rosling was about helping people recognize the patterns created by statistics.

Human beings are very good at pattern recognition, but usually that skill is restricted to the small scale – my house, my world, my life. Statistics gives us a tool with which to recognize patterns on a large scale – our country, our planet, humankind. And you don’t have to be a maths wiz to do it. All you need is basic math and logic.

If I could change one thing about education right now, it would be to teach each child about statistics. Maybe then, we would not have a world in which every fact is open to ‘interpretation’.

But don’t watch Professor Rosling’s videos just for his brilliant, visual ways of displaying stats, watch them for the content. However dissatisfied we may be with our world in 2017, I was gobsmacked to learn that the Industrial Revolution – a period in Western history that saw terrible disruptions to the life of the common man – was also the start of an incredible climb up out of poverty. It gives me hope that the Era of Automation will actually lead to an even better standard of living for all of us, not just a few.

 


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