A Friday Haiku
It’s random Friday
If you’ve ever seen the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Total Recall, you’ll recall (um…) that the Johnny Cab was the automated taxi Arnold uses to get away from his pursuers.
That idea is no longer science fiction but becoming science fact. Call them what you want, driverless car, autonomous cars, or robocars, they are coming to a street near you.
A robocar, once the technology is perfected, will have reaction times in the nanoseconds. A danger will be seen, processed, and evasive action taken all in the same moment a human mind would simply register that there was a danger.
Consider in the United States, 37,000 people die on our roads every year. Another 2.35 million are injured or disabled. Worldwide the number of deaths in road crashes is 1.3 million, with an additional 20-50 million injured or disabled.
Human error accounts for 93% of all traffic accidents. Even if you just consider impairment due to alcohol or fatigue, that’s 45.5%.
Traffic accidents are the ninth keading cause of death. Your chances of getting into an accident is 1 in 114 over your lifetime. Robocars could virtually eliminate traffic accidents.
Except, the technology isn’t there yet as a horrible traffic fatality recently showed. What went wrong?
The way it looks now, the Uber robocar was in the right lane of a two lane road divided by a median, traveling at 38 mph when it struck a woman walking her bike.
To a human driver, she appeared out of nowhere because she was wearing dark clothing and not crossing at a cross walk. Any human driver would have struck her even if they had managed to brake or swerve.
Yet the robocar didn’t brake or swerve even though it isn’t hindered by darkness or dark clothing, or even poor weather conditions. Their array of laser sensors (Lidar), cameras, ultrasonic sensors should have easily seen the woman as she stepped into the road and crossed the street. It certainly should have recognized her as an oncoming danger and reacted long before she was in the robocar’s path.
But it didn’t. And now they have to figure out why. In the meantime, there are cries from technophobes that this illustrates how dangerous robocars are and they shouldn’t be on the road at all. As if it’s the technology’s fault alone.
There is enough blame to go around. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration has no guidelines regarding robocars. The state of Arizona has extremely lax regulations regarding robocars, and in fact, encourages these companies to develop and test their robocars on their roads. And lastly we have the company developing these particular robocars, as well as Uber (who see a chance to get rid of those pesky drivers so they can make 100% profit on each trip), testing on busy streets in real time.
I won’t even mention the human safeguard inside the vehicle, who appeared in the videos to be texting or something and was completely taken by surprise by the pedestrian.
This incident begs the question: Why aren’t these robocars on test tracks? Or using ghost towns? Or any road simulation that doesn’t endanger people?
Once perfected, robocars could save tens of thousands of lives, millions worldwide, but it’s still too soon for real world testing.
One tragic accident shouldn’t halt research into perfecting robocars. But for the time being, robocars should be removed from being tested around humans.
Teen suspended for voicing opinion
A Nevada teenager, Noah Christensen, called his Representative’s office to exercise his right as a citizen to express his opinion on an issue he felt strongly about.
He called Rep. Mark Amodei’s office and spoke to an aide about the gun reform issue, how bump stocks should be banned and the minimum age for purchasing a gun should be raised. He ended his emotional appeal by saying Congress needed to “get off their fucking asses” and do something.
Christensen, for exercising his First Amendment rights, was given a two-day suspension from Robert McQueen High School, where he is a junior.
What the absolute fuck? Talk about an overreaction.
First, as a Republican, Amodei should be used to having people cursing him and telling him to get off his fucking ass.
Second, the teen is nothing more than a scapegoat. The Congressman is angry and scared that teenagers are becoming a political force, daring to challenge the NRA and gun policy, and he saw this as an opportunity to slap one of those uppity teenagers down.
Third, the Principal of the high school is a gutless wonder caving in to the demands of an overbearing politician, who had overstepped his bounds. The Principal should have stood his ground, shown some backbone, and told Amodei to go pound sand.
Another Continuing Resolution
Well, Congress passed an appropriations bill to avoid another government shutdown but now Trumpy the Clown is threatening to veto it — because it doesn’t address DACA.
Oh, like he suddenly gives a shit. Does he think we forgot he is the one who rescinded DACA in the first place?
He told GOP leaders earlier in the week he’d sign the bill, but now because he got hurt feels over things people said about him (like he’s a moron?), he’s threatening this veto. What a child. But there seems to be a lot of them in Congress these days.
We have until midnight before the government shuts down, again
National Security Advisor pick is unhinged warmonger
If you aren’t scared of Trumpy the Clown’s pick as National Security Advisor, then you aren’t paying attention.
Terms like “unhinged,” “reckless,” “wrongheaded,” “extremist,” are being bandied about when those who know him speak of John Bolton.
Statements like, “Bolton now represents the greatest threat to the United States,” “Bolton is an unhinged advocate for waging World War III,” and “This is dangerous news for the country and the world. I hear the drumbeats of war,” should greatly concern us all.
Trumpy the Clown used to be surrounded by adults who could rein in his aggression and chest-pounding, but in Bolton we have a warmonger who doesn’t believe in negotiating with North Korea and will encourage the Moron in Chief to push the button.
We’re living on the edge and the edge is getting narrower by the day.
We now have four trombones in the house and I am the only one trying to play them. Two of them my sons played in band, but to concentrate on their studies, they both have set that aside.
The third, we picked up at a Goodwill. It was a beat up 1964 Olds Ambassador, which I’ve cleaned and polished and practice on.
The fourth was a steal off of eBay. It’s a 1947 Holton Collegiate and in really good shape considering it’s 71 years old.
Here’s a picture of the Olds (top) and the Holton (bottom).
You can’t tell from the picture but whereas the Olds is your traditional yellow brass, the Holton is more of a rose brass. A little darker and richer looking than the standard yellow.
I could start my own trombone quartet now.
Despite the mirror making it look like I was a tad thinner, depite my pants hanging on my hips a little looser, despite my step feeling a little more spring in my step, the scale mocks me with a 0.7 pound gain.
Damn you. I really think I need a newer, more reliable scale. This Yunmai isn’t cutting it. It often gives different readings depending on where you place it in the bathroom.
Anyone have scale suggestions? It doesn’t necessarily have to have Bluetooth and an associated phone app to track things, but those are nice features. As long as it’s reliable and accurate.
Have a great weekend. With luck, the government won’t shutdown and I’ll still have a job on Monday.
Keep resisting. Let the children lead the way. It’ll be their world soon enough.
As always, I leave you with a song.