Archive for Life - page 5

Who’s Smarter? You or Your TV?

Who’s Smarter?  You or Your TV?


Who’s smarter?  You or your TV?  You or your phone?  You or your (fill in the blank)?

We are on the verge of The Internet Of Things where more and more everyday devices we use become “smart” and collect data about us which they transmit to a central collection point somewhere all in the cause of creating for us a better “user experience” or a more convenient life.

So if you want to buy a  “Smart” TV because you need that extra convenience of being able to speak to it instead of wearing out your fingers on the remote, you’r in luck.    Such gadgets are available from major manufacturers including Samsung.  And if your able to speak to it, it’s going to have to be able to listen to you, right?  And in order to obey you, it’s going to have to understand you.  And in order to understand you, it’s going to have to learn about you.

So?  What could possibly go wrong?  I mean, as long as I gets to watch me some TeeVee, it’s all good.

Sure, it’s all good now.  As more and more data is collected the potential for it’s abuse grows.  One thing we know for sure is that if something can be abused, it will be abused.  That, my friends is a lead pipe cinch.  First comes prediction, then manipulation, then outright control.

So when your smart thermostat won’t let you turn the heat up, or your smart car won’t drive you to McDonald’s, or your smart bottle opener won’t open your beer (all for your own good), don’t come whining to me.  Of course, I suppose if a smart tv keeps just one person from watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians it will all be worth it.

Cross posted at Men Out Of Work Blog

Cat Videos…

Cat Videos…

…they are the reason why the internet was invented.



Music Friday – 1973 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1973 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Welcome to this week’s Music Friday installment in the project to determine my peak music year.  We are in the home stretch, since starting at 1965 we are now up to the year 1973 with only two more years to go after this.  An initial observation – as we plow forward from the 60’s into the 1970’s, I’m feeling less personal attachent to the music in the BillBoard Hot 100 chart.  One reason for this may be that at this time in my life I was in high school and though I was still exposed to the popular music through the magic of AM Radio (what we had in cars in those days), most of my serious music fare was consumed through my (and my friends’) growing personal music collections and the burgeoning free form FM radio format.  There was little common ground between the AM and FM playlists of the day, and the culture I was part of at that time was more in touch with the FM genre.  So, like I said – an observation.

Here we go: the 1973 BillBoard Hot 100.  This year is similar to 1972 in that it’s a bit of a smorgasbord, though lighter on the bubblegum and with only a little weirdness.  And still, three solo Beatles managed to crack #1 – Paul McCartney with My Love, George Harrison with Give Me Love and Ringo Starr with Photograph.  Another interesting tidbit is that with the exception of only five songs, none of the #1’s spent more than two consecutive weeks at the top spot.  And of those five songs, three spent 4 weeks apiece at the top, and two spent three weeks apiece there.  And finally, no artist or group had multiple #1 songs that year.  So there was no easy obvious runaway “winner” this year, and I could easily call it a three way tie much like I called 1972 a four way tie.  Perhaps we’ll take a poll of the comments?  Of course that would require you, dear reader, to leave a comment.

Here I will present the three songs that spent four weeks apiece at #1, and you can choose your favorite from among them.  First is by Roberta Flack, Killing Me Softly:

Next is the bubblegum entry, Tony Orlando & Dawn with Tie A Yellow Ribbon:

And finally, we have Paul McCartney & Wings with My Love:

Nice mullet, McCartney.  The last offering is the only song of the three that I could say I really like, being a Beatle and McCartney fan.  But it’s nowhere near my favorite McCartney tune.  Even the other songs aren’t horrible, they just aren’t for me.  Safe Bet:  1973 is NOT my peak music year.  That’s all for now – thanks for watching…err…reading.  Listening!  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  See  you soon!

May I Make A Suggestion?

May I Make A Suggestion?

You may wish to patronize another blog I contribute to:

The Men Out Of Work Blog

There are a couple new things up over there today.  Plus, it’s an Amazon portal, so you can shop.


Music Friday – 1972 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Music Friday – 1972 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Sorry I’m late with this – it’ll never happen again.  In fact, forget I said that…this never happened in the first  place.  Welcome to this perfectly on time Music Friday wherein I will examine the BillBoard Hot 100 chart for the year 1972 in furtherance of my attempt to determine my “peak music year”.  A quest, incidentally that was inspired by this post at the Althouse blog.  Althouse is a “who”, not a “where” .  Though she is aware.  Anyway, you should click over and take a look at her blog.  It is well worth your time.  OK, hat-tipping now having been dispensed with, let us move on to the chart.  My first impression is that this years offerings are a fairly diverse group of songs with (without?) one notable absence – there are no counterculture overtones in any of the rock songs.  This seems a little odd to me, given the year.  As I remember that time much of the unrest that began in the late 1960’s was coming to a boil.  Anyway, any social unrest of the time isn’t reflected in the music that charted that year – most of it is pretty typical pop music.  There’s also some serious nonsense, which I will adress in a followup post.

It’s a little difficult to pick a “winner” since no group or artist had multiple songs reach #1, though one artist did reach #1 twice with the same song.  But if I declare him the winner, I will just have to end this right now by hanging myself.  Or treating myself to jumping off a nearby tower.  Because that artist is Gilbert O’Sullivan and the song is Alone Again, Naturally.  Another song worth noting, and possibly worth a “win” based soley on it’s iconic status in popular culture is American Pie (parts I & II) by Don McLean.  It feels a little like the folk-rock protest songs of the day (Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag, anyone?), but McLean’s ballad is a lament – not a protest.  So here you go:

The song with the longest stretch at #1 was The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack with six weeks at the top.  On that basis I would have to say that it is also a contender for “winner” of 1972.  Give a listen:

There were two other songs that spent four weeks apiece at #1.  One was Without You by Harry Nilsson.  I am a Nilsson fan, though this is not one of my favorites:

The next one was I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash:

Meh.  In my opinion.  Though it did have some longevity – I still hear it today.  But this is about my taste in music.  Me me me.  So, I guess I need to pick a winner.  I know who the loser is – me.  I don’t really care enough about any of these songs to pick a winner.  I’ll call it a four way tie and leave it at that.  Or you can vote for your favorite in the comments and I’ll declare the winner based on that vote count.  No matter what, I know one thing I can declare:  1972 is NOT my “peak music year”.  That is all.  See ya!



Governor Brown Delivers Hope For San Franciscans, Angelinos

Governor Brown Delivers Hope For San Franciscans, Angelinos

San Francisco and Los Angeles, two cities long isolated from the rest of the physical world and indeed from reality itself, were delivered a beam of hope on Tuesday when ground was broken on the Bullet Train Project by California Governor Jerry Brown.  Travel between the only two cities that really matter in California will now finally be possible.

As anyone with a decent IPO fortune or a journalism degree knows, there are only two cities in California – San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Everything that happens in California revolves around their needs.  A longtime problem has been the fact that to travel between these two points, An Important Person must leave their bubble and pass through long stretches of California’s icky outerlands, populated by working class people, heterosexuals and often *shudder* Republicans, making it difficult for our Politicians and Money Traffickers to maintain their delusion that these places and people don’t exist.  Long sought was a way for the Elite to get back and forth without having to soil their shoes among the commoners.  Many ideas for achieving this outcome have been floated over the years.  One suggestion was to build a giant 400 mile long replica of the Golden Gate Bridge between the two cities, an idea that was quickly scrapped as being “too cheap” and with “not enough downsides”.  The ideas to actually use the existing system of highways for automobile travel, or using readily available and cheap air travel between the dozens of airports in each vicinity were quickly dismissed as being too “reality based” or having been “done to death”.

A problem like this, that is to say a non-existent one, called for a solution that is really big – with a really big price tag.  A price tag with lots and lots of zeroes.  It needed to have a big residual price as well.  It wouldn’t suffice to just have a big one shot spend.  No – what was needed was something that we could spend big on…year after year for eternity.  It would also need a big governing board with highly paid board members so that termed out politicians could have jobs for life.  Next, it would have to be a colossally stupid idea…so sublimely idiotic that in California’s bizarro world it would seem cutting edge and futuristic.  And finally it would need a big reason to exist…We would need it to…to…dare I say it?  To Save The Planet!

Such a big pitch would require a Pitchman extraordinaire.  Legendary California mover and shaker Willie Brown (no relation) was approached to be front man for the project, but declined stating “Are you F***ing crazy?”  If someting of this scale was to be pulled off, it woud require a visionary with a healthy disregard for reality and public opinion.   Since no one has ever accused Governor Brown of not having a good imagination, sometimes bordering on the delusional, he seemed like a natural for the job.

So, the idea of a Bullet Train to save the Planet was born.  And what better way to fund a project like this than with Tax Money We Haven’t Collected Yet (and may never).  A big fantasy project calls for an even bigger fantasy revenue stream, and so since California’s carbon tax money must be used to save the planet after all, we’ve budgeted anticipated Carbon Tax revenues for the project.  And since everyone knows that government tax revenue projections are always spot on, we’re sure to have at least a fraction of the costs covered.  Can we afford it?  How can we not afford it?  The very future of the human race hangs in the balance.  Besides, if that doesn’t work it’ll be a great excuse to raise other taxes later on.  Did I say that out loud?  Never mind.

Thus, a new moon rises over California spreading beams of hope for our beleaguered betters in San Francisco and Los Angeles!  You don’t like the idea?  Why do you hate the planet?  Also – shut up!

So finally, in only a few short decades we’ll be able to shout:  All aboard California’s Bullet Train to Progressive Utopia!  No single use plastic shopping bags, bottled water or e-cigs allowed!  Thank you for your co-operation!

Pre-Music Friday New Year’s Day Edition

Pre-Music Friday New Year’s Day Edition

This is marginally related to tomorrow’s Music Friday post.  How you ask?  Go ahead.  Ask nice.  What’s the magic word?  Anyway…I’m not telling.  You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out.  Meanwhile – enjoy some of Paul McCartney’s home movies:

You’re Welcome!

A Puppy’s Tale – the winding road

A Puppy’s Tale – the winding road

Prologue:  A Puppy’s Tale – a Fortunate Encounter

Life was good for the three dog family – for  the people and the dogs.  As the black puppy matured, she assumed a dominant role over the other two dogs, despite their being male, older and at least as large as she.  But their realationship was harmonious for the most part aside from occasional agressive play.

Some years passed as the  wheel of life turned.  The boys grew into young men, which is a circumstance that is both natural and completely expected .  Yet other circumstances came to pass that while natural, were completely unexpected and most unwelcome:  the Teacher developed a serious disease.  For several fearful months a fight for her very life ensued, but thankfully it was a fight from which she emerged alive and regaining her health.  It was at this time that the first dog, the oldest male who was ever at the Teacher’s side during her illness then took ill himself.  The dominant black female lessened her assertive behavior toward the aging white muzzled male while his afflictions advanced.  Too soon though, it was time and with their hearts breaking they performed their final duty of euthanizing their friend.  The pack was reduced to two dogs now.

The assertive black female – long since a puppy – and her remaining “sibling” a male German Shepherd mix a few years her senior bickered like siblings do.  She wanted to dominate despite the male’s advantage in size, and since the male had always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder, the relationship sometimes got interesting.  But soon enough larger events overshadowed all others.  The teacher’s disease returned suddenly.  Before much defense could be mounted, and to the family’s deep shock and despair she could not recover and passed away.  She who had acted the part of savior could not herself be saved by any act of man or science.  And so there were a husband and two sons along with many other family and friends who were left with only their questions for God or their anger.  And…their sorrow.

And their two dogs.  Did the dogs grieve?  Did the black dog pose to God a question of “Why?”  This seems unlikely but then there are facets to this existence of which we have no knowledge or understanding.  As unlikely as it seems that the dogs may have grieved or questioned their creator, it seems as just unlikely that the disappearance of a person with whom they shared a bond would pass unnoticed even at whatever rudimentary level they live their emotional lives.  And so, with their world now irrevocably changed, the men, the families, the friends…and the dogs…carried on nonetheless.

To Be Continued….



Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

We can close the books on another year – I hope 2014 treated you all well enough.  For me it was not the best of times, nor was it the worst of times and so I can’t complain too loudly.  It’s not that I don’t like to whine, you’ve all heard it often enough.  I’ll try to save it for when it really counts.  So here’s to a hopeful look forward to 2015 – may it be a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous year for us all!


Post-Christmas Music Friday – 1970 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Post-Christmas Music Friday – 1970 BillBoard Hot 100 Edition

Thanks for waiting two weeks for the latest post in my quest to determine my “Peak Music Year”.  Get more background here  and here if you wish.  My task is to examine the BillBoard Hot 100 music charts for the years 1965 through 1975 to see if I can pinpoint the year that most influenced my taste in music.  This installment brings us to the year 1970.  And awaaaay we go!

You can see the 1970 BillBoard Hot 100 Chart for yourself here.  My first impression is that Pop Music, or what we used to call “bubblegum pop” seems to be emerging as a dominant genre, with more than half the #1’s fitting that description.  Indeed the group with the most #1’s in 1970 are the poster children for pop music, with one of those children eventually earning the title “The King of Pop”.  They are the “winners” of 1970 with four #1’s, The Jackson 5  which of course featured Michael Jackson.  The runners up with only two #1’s in 1970 are – no surprise here – The Beatles.  I’ll show you the four #1 Jackson 5 songs, but before I do I have to say that right off the bat I think I can eliminate 1970 as my peak music year.  Chronologically it might have been a good candidate as it was the year I entered High School and was well into my adolescence which seems like a good time for a person to bond emotionally with music.  However, after perusing the chart I find no songs that really made an impression on me.  Even the Beatles’ #1’s that year, including the iconic Let It Be, aren’t among my favorite tunes though there are some tunes whose titles one would recognize, including Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.

OK, back to The Jackson 5.  They had four #1’s in 1970:

First up – it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it – I Want You Back

Next up  – bubblegum, anyone?  ABC

Third up – The Love You Save / Found That Girl.  Huh.  Forgot about that one.

And fourth, probably my favorite of the bunch, the ballad I’ll Be There

So in conclusion, 1970 is most likely not my peak music year, and possibly a year the marks a turning point in the culture away from the counterculture and rock music that dominated most of the 1960s to more commercial pop music. What do you think?




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