Yes, I’m reviving a favorite series of mine. Can you guess why it’s favorite? Because it’s a vehicle for expressing my opinion. Is anyone asking for my opinion? No. Quite the opposite, in fact. These posts are some of my least viewed . . . it’s what makes them fun to write; there’s absolutely no pressure to excel, offering a bar I can easily hit every time.
Yes, I’m including random photos. That’s for the many viewers who care not for my words and come here for the photos. Click on the photos to open a larger version in a new window or tab. I’m also starting a gallery appropriately called Sunday With My Thoughts. Therein will be contained all the photos from this and future SWMTs.
That first photo is a continuation of the coconut scrimshaw-like efforts I started on my last post. This one tried to mimic actual carving of the coconut. You probably won’t see the full effect unless you look at the larger photo (if not the original).
Anyway, here we go . . .
Stuttering and Voice Recognition
So, I stutter. I usually hide it well. Some people don’t know I stutter. Some forget that I stutter.
There are a couple of ways that someone can trip me up. One way is to ask me to repeat something I just said. Often, it’s something that’s difficult for me to say and that I used a few tricks to smoothly get out the first time. Having to repeat it usually hangs me up and as I sit there unable to start over as people wonder if I heard their request, or if I hung up (if I’m on the phone), or if I’m having a stroke.
For a long while, I was one of the few people who did not mind automated answering systems. Happy times, those were.
“Press 1 for this, 2 for that, and 3 for the other thing.” Frelling awesome, it was.
But, no one leaves a good thing well enough alone. As voice recognition got better, we now have systems which actually speak to you and expect voice answers, and only voice answers.
“Our current expected hold time is 33 minutes. You can opt to hang up without losing your turn and receive a call-back when it’s your turn. Please say ‘Call Back’ or stay on the line for the next available representative.”
That “ca” combination in “call” will sometimes hang me up as it did yesterday. Before I could get the words out, the system said “Fine, you dumb-shit, stay on the line; see if I care!” after which it proceeded to feed me 35 minutes of FSM-awful hold music.
Some systems are smart enough to accept both keypad entries and voice entries. But the “newest and bestest” converse with you and they have less patience with stuttering than the majority of live humans, and live humans have notoriously little patience with stutterers other than for entertainment purposes.
For a while, I could interject with “representative” or press “0” (zero), and the system would say something like “OK, be that way. Let me get you a representative.”
Then, the systems evolved to ask:
“Alright, I get you want a representative, but to better help you — or better irritate the shit out of you — please tell me why you called. You can try saying words that are difficult for you to say and I will ask ‘Pardon? Did you say something, you dipshit?’ even as you try to speak.”
I had a way around that as well. I would just answer with food items (apple, banana, cheese, pasta) and the system would eventually say something like “well, obviously, you are an idiot who can’t follow simple instructions, so let me get someone who is adept at idiot-speak.”
Unfortunately, that stopped working . . . current systems now will ask you to repeat a few times and then cycle back to the main menu.
I hate automated systems. I hate people who program them. I hate companies who use them unless they give you an alternative, or the systems are easily bypassed.
Most of all, I hate companies who outsource to foreign countries in addition to using voice recognition systems. I am no xenophobe, but know full well when “Bob” comes on the line — after I am well and truly irritated from dealing with the automated system — and “Bob” has a heavy foreign accent, he’s going to have a heck of a time with my stuttering. That’s when I usually say “you know what? I’ll go have a snack, instead. Thanks.” *click*
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Phones and Phone Things
I like the convenience of my phone. I like the fact I have a decent — if limited — camera always with me. But, there are many negatives associated with phones.
No, I don’t mean that people have their noses always stuck in them; the less I have to interact with people, the better my life.
The negative — one of likely many negatives — is that the Web is being “optimized” for viewing on a screen that is not much larger than a playing card. I have a Samsung Note II; its viewable area is roughly 2.75″ x 4.75″ . . . and it’s too small. It’s OK for reading an e-mail or two and, in a pinch, look something up on a browser. But I hate surfing on it and I don’t do it. There is little I can’t wait to look up until I get home to my 30″ screen.
The problem is that the optimization of a website for small screens degrades the experience on the big screen. If not because of the ever-changing formats, then because certain things are moved under menus, and submenus, and sub-submenus. Sometimes, they are outright eliminated in a process called “streamlining.”
Google Maps used to look like an actual map, you know, the paper ones . . . now, there is a lot less information on the screen. Some have postulated it’s because it makes it easier to read on a phone where you “zoom in” to read names and/or show smaller streets as opposed to having all the names appear on the small screen.
Great on a phone but useless on my 30″ screen where I now need to zoom way in before I see what I need and then I have to zoom out to see where I’m at . . . at which point, the information again disappears.
Now, I get it . . . I’m in the minority with this. People prefer phones and tablets over PCs with proper screens. Still, it sucks, and I’m now worried that smart-watches will catch on, and websites will be optimized for a screen that is at most 1.5″ across.
One other thing that does not yet affect me but that I wonder about is the proliferation of “camera attachments” for phones.
The whole idea of integrating a camera into a phone is for the convenience of having one device with multiple uses. But, no . . . they now sell lenses you can clip onto phones. Not just lenses, either. There are all sorts of add-ons for phones. Some are useful, but if you are buying camera lenses to clip onto a phone, I suggest you instead buy a PnS to carry around along with your phone. They are just as cheap (if not cheaper) and you get better photos from them.
. . . not that anyone will listen to me . . .
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So, we didn’t watch much of the Olympics. We saw a few things, and one of the things I saw was . . . bruises from cupping. I rightly guessed cupping replaced Kinesio tape — from the last Olympic — as the latest “edge to help you win.”
I would like to think these athletes sold out to practitioners. Meaning, they got paid to undergo cupping; a form of advertising, if you will. I mean, that would make them smart — if slightly unethical — businessmen and businesswomen, but no worse than literally hundreds of celebrities selling themselves to companies wanting to promote crap.
Unfortunately, I suspect the truth is closer to them being gullible, if not complete idiots. Perhaps that’s too strong . . . how about, completely ignorant of science, or willfully ignorant of science?
By the way, I came across THIS nice article. We’re not such hot shit, after all.
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Places I’m comfortable endorsing
I linked articles by Smithsonianmag.com and from Atlas Obscura. I think people who are curious about the world, our history on it, and things in general, should subscribe to both.
It’s how I learned about Americans using a Nazi salute to address the US flag, and the History of the West, and Spinoza’s influence and relevance in modern times, and Lord Fauntleroy (Leroy, to his friends), and British swimming racism, and the history of one of my favorite cartoons from MAD Magazine, and something relevant to one of my interests; they.
Seriously, lots of interesting stuff there. People should subscribe and if they can, support.
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The Great Martian War
I don’t remember how I came across this next thing, but it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long while. Using actual footage from WW I, someone came up with this:
Not much I can add to it . . . just watch it. I’m not big on the music, but you can watch it with the sound turned down and it’s just as good.
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Oligarchs and Money and Jobs
Something I’ve been saying for a while is touched upon in THIS article. Namely, those who think the next technological revolution will bring with it good-paying jobs are full of it.
OK, I don’t claim to really know, but I do claim understanding what I see right now. I see huge amounts of money made by people who 1) don’t seem interested in helping others, and 2) add nothing to society besides their own narcissism and false sense of self-worth.
My observations of human behavior have led me to conclude that when one is a selfish asshole and one make a lot of money, one is still a selfish asshole, just one with a lot of money. And money is a well-known asshole magnifier.
There is a peripheral consequence to the current state of affairs . . . many are quick to dismiss what happened in Brittain and what has a chance to happen here as the result of xenophobia, racism, bigotry, and ignorance, Certainly, there is some of that in the mix, but it’s my opinion that’s not the whole story.
I’ve read so many articles from people who should know better than to minimize and marginalize individuals who are under pressure from all fronts. It’s unfortunate so many supported marginal candidates, but those candidates were the only ones speaking to their experiences, however opportunistic and self-serving that might have been and continues to be.
Sure, one can glibly dismiss the likes of Trump and Bernie, but be aware that some of what they touched on will continue to grow, not just here but around the world, especially if the so called and self-identified enlightened elites dismiss the concerns of many people out of hand.
At the root of it is that we have already seen yet another upheaval of the world’s economic systems, and it’s called globalization. Probably, we’re not sure yet, it’s a good thing in the long run, but in the short run, today, many people — mostly in the middle class — are not seeing the benefit and are in fact hurt by it. Let me rephrase that . . . not just hurt; devastated by it. I’ll get arguments on this point . . . from people who benefitted from it.
Read, learn, understand . . . the promised benefit of globalization has not been equally applied and no one is doing anything to bring the “others” along on the money-making bandwagon. I hear that every economic revolution has its “rough patches” . . . boy, will it ever. You already saw it in Brittain and I would take a bet that other countries in Europe may soon see their own referendums.
Here, we’re already on track for a referendum of sorts in November. There is a chance people next year will look back and say something like “What just happened? Why didn’t we see this coming?”
Because, dear readers, you dismiss Trump supporters as bigoted, ignorant, and uneducated. Because you dismiss Bernie’s supporters as either lazy slackers who want “free stuff,” or as hopelessly naive. Yes, there are some of both, but that’s an awfully broad stroke to apply to people with varied and often legitimate economic concerns. And, if you think you understand the world economy and what it’s doing, you are not reading the many experts who can’t even agree among themselves but who do see the growing dissatisfaction as a real and thorny problem.
As a side note but something that bothers me greatly, I also came across THIS article, and I was angry for at least a few hours. Actually, I’m still angry about it. Money and influence should not get you a pass on this or any other matter that would land “ordinary” people in jail.
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I positively hate that term, “ordinary people”. Not dislike, but hate. I hate it when I hear a reporter use it, but especially hate it when I hear a politician use it. And I loathe it when I hear celebrities or some wealthy asshole use it. The presupposition that fame or money somehow elevates an individual above “ordinary people” grates at the very core of my being.
I’ve never been a fan of authority, privilege, or anything that would value an individual above another. To that end, I don’t want a company president, politician, celebrity, religious leader, television pundit, or anyone to ever presume they have the right to more consideration because of their supposed status in society.
I really don’t care how much money or power someone has; it does not make them special, it does not make them extraordinary, and they should not be treated as such.
Yet, from politicians to sports figures, from entertainment figures to CEOs, and, really, anyone who makes a lot of money or acquires power gets preferential treatment in all facets of life.
I could almost see it if they provide a benefit to society but even then, any preferential treatment should be couched as gratitude, and not as unearned respect and deference to wealth and influence.
Instead, the most consistent thing about the self-identified elites is that they come to believe that 1) they are better people than”ordinary people”, and 2) that they know best how “ordinary people” should live their lives.
Add the fact that most self-identified elites are jerks to begin with, and we have the current state of affairs. Namely, celebrities and politicians who have zero clues how most people live their lives purport to “know better” when it comes to improving the daily lives of “ordinary” people.
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A Great New Source of Relevant and Insightful Cartoons
I’m in my 63rd year of life . . . so this applies to me. No, it’s not funny; it’s true. It was true when I was in college, and it’s true now.
I was busy in between . . .
This came from the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal site, and there is a lot of good stuff there. Just be aware that it’s aimed at adults. Smart adults, at that. If you are not a smart adult, much of it will sail well above your head. If that’s the case, don’t feel bad; take the opportunity to look stuff up and learn said stuff so that you will get the joke.
Here’s one somewhat applicable to the effect of globalization, but with a twist.
Often, as in above, I blame ambitious and unscrupulous individuals as abusing their position for their own benefit and aggrandizement, but that also is not the whole story. This next cartoon points both to a fundamental truth about our society and the way we might fix it.
Human progress is often measured in the span of multiple lifetimes. It sucks if you happen to be in any of the transition periods and it’s made worse by the stark disparity in people when it comes to education and understanding of the world we live in.
One can’t make rational decisions when one is steeped in irrationality. Education is the key, but . . .
What also makes it worse is that leaders seldom cater to the needs of the masses. That’s because the masses don’t have lobbyists . . .
Two additional cartoons addressing human nature made me both smile and become a bit sad . . .
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Writing and Reading (no arithmetic)
As a wannabe writer, I am told — in articles, in workshops, in podcasts — that I should spend as much time, if not more time, reading as the time I spend writing. Seeing as Berto is still missing, that is not currently a difficult thing to do — I’m not currently writing (fiction).
But, I’m about to give up on Berto. Screw him; I’m tired of waiting for him to show up! I’m ready to start writing. But, I then run into a problem with that advice . . . namely, if I start writing, I have to start reading and there is little out there that I can stomach reading.
I was, therefore, quite pleased when I came across THIS article. Except for the made up humorous stuff — and occasionally even then — I found myself agreeing with almost everything he wrote. Also, examining my own writing, whether subconsciously or consciously, I was pleased to realize I am mindful of those pitfalls.
Understand, I’m not saying I’m a great writer . . . wait . . . maybe I am saying that. No, no, I’m not saying that. What I am saying is that when I try reading something, I apply very harsh standards as far as it holding my interest. It used to be that when I picked up something to read, I would power through to the end regardless if I liked the book or not.
Not now. I’m old. Nearly sixty-three, for FSM sake! I might keel over any minute now, and I certainly don’t want that to happen while reading a book I don’t like. Or, for that matter, while eating something I don’t like or something healthy (usually, those two qualities intersect).
The interesting thing about that article is that while I agree with what the article says, what I agree with and what the article says is not what I see out there in the marketplace. What I see out in the marketplace violate many of the 25 points he covers, and yet that material is being written, sold, and published.
Perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps the key to good sellable writing includes all those things and something else. That ‘something else’ currently eludes me. Because it eludes me, I can’t pass it along to you.
I can, however, tell you with a fair degree of certainty that cupping does not work, and neither does Kinesio tape.
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Well, crap . . . I have two more photos after this and I don’t know what to write about next.
Hey! I could talk about religion!
Nah. . . too easy. I know! How about sex?
Again, too easy . . . plus, people wouldn’t get it; they are too invested in the process to understand the consequences.
Same with economics . . .
How about government intrusion?
I suppose I could comment on the human condition . . .
One can express opinions even when not saying anything. Just by my choice of cartoons I can express ideas and let others know pretty much what I am about.
Rather, a simple version of what I am about. I suppose I could use words, but people will gloss over words, whereas they will linger to look at a picture or drawing of something or other.
A good thing, too, because . . .
Well, let me throw in my last two photos for this post and call it a night . . .
Wait! . . . one more cartoon . . .
Actually, we are still amused by airborne feces. HashtagAirbornFeces, HashtagTwitter.
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.