The Phone Company; The Robots Are Coming; Iraq; and other items

Chaos Manor View, Monday, March 28, 2016

“This is the most transparent administration in history.”

Barrack Obama

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western Civilization as it commits suicide.

Under Capitalism, the rich become powerful. Under Socialism, the powerful become rich.

Under Socialism, government employees become powerful.




It’s been a hectic Easter weekend. Roberta keeps coming down with painful episodes almost undoubtedly related to having an abscessed tooth removed. Meanwhile, Richard and Herrin are visiting with two of the grandchildren. Delightful, but we’ve long since forgotten just how energetic bright young children can be.

And things keep breaking down. We have since the rains three weeks ago had terrible static in the landline telephone we had for years. I messed about replacing some of the rather corroded cords and plugs, with at best marginal improvement, and meanwhile the static gets worse; and lately it has spells of going away, so it’s probably not internal connections at all. I procrastinated on reporting it to AT&T, anticipating what would happen; but today it was just too much

The plumbing jammed up. Mike Diamond’s crew – who were very competent by looked like a couple of the Bubba’s the old radio adds used to portray as Diamond’s competitors – were difficult to reach, but eventually came out to find wads of paper in the pipes. They cleared it out for $99 as advertised, but the lack of usable telephones complicated matters.

So today Roberta tried calling 611 on my cellphone. Eventually she reached a human. In the Philippines. Whose English was about what you might expect. And who had a problem understanding why we weren’t calling from the number that didn’t work. Sand had even more trouble writing down that number; Roberta must have repeated that landline number thirty times, and they kept telling her the number was registered to someone else, and she kept giving them the number again, after which we sat with a telephone that periodically went beep-beep but otherwise showed no signs of life for 26 minutes. At which point she gave up.

She tried again, this time calling the number on the bill, and the experience was much better. In theory a technician will visit tomorrow; free if the problem is outside the house, $55 if it’s our internal wiring. Sounds fair enough. As to calling 611, I don’t see why anyone but a masochist would ever do that more than once. The robot is stupid, getting a human takes endless repeating of the word operator, and when you get one – in the Philippines – she doesn’t speak any better English than the robot and has an only slightly higher IQ. I would imagine there are hundreds of thousands of unemployed Americans who would be much better at handling trouble calls and would like to have the work; but what with having to pay minimum wages, comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act, unions, regulations, and the rest, the Philippines sounds more attractive. But is it? It certainly cuts down on the number of 611 calls; but simply disconnecting that number would get the same results.

But then they’re The Phone Company.


This might also be relevant:

It’s game over for the robot intended to replace anesthesiologists (WP)

By Todd C. Frankel March 28 at 9:31 AM

Last May, we wrote about a new machine from healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson that could sedate patients for routine medical procedures.

The device handled one of the most routine and yet risky hospital procedures: Putting someone to sleep so they don’t feel discomfort or pain, yet not so asleep that they don’t wake up.

At the time, the Sedasys machine was being used in just four hospitals, including the one we visited in Toledo. We watched as the Sedasys device provided basic anesthesiology services to a series of patients undergoing routine endoscopies and colonoscopies.

No longer did you need a trained anesthesiologist. And sedation with the Sedasys machine cost $150 to $200 for each procedure, compared to $2,000 for an anesthesiologist, one of healthcare’s best-paid specialties.  The machine was seen as the leading lip of an automation wave transforming hospitals.

But Johnson & Johnson recently announced it was pulling the plug on Sedasys because of poor sales.

The decision was first reported by Outpatient Surgery Magazine and Anesthesiology News.

It comes as the healthcare company earlier this year unveiled plans to shake up its medical device businesses, including laying off 4 to 6 percent of its medical device employees worldwide over the next two years. Johnson & Johnson reported that revenue from its specialty medical devices – Sedasys and others – have been flat for more than a year, hovering at just over $200 million each quarter. It did not break out Sedasys figures.

Sedasys was never welcomed by human anesthesiologists. Before it even hit the market, the American Society of Anesthesiologists campaigned against it, backing down only once the machine’s potential uses were limited to routine procedures such as colonoscopies.

The Post’s story back in May provoked an outpouring of messages from anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetist who claimed a machine could never replicate a human’s care or diligence. Many sounded offended at the notion that a machine could do their job.

And, at least when it comes to the Sedasys machine, they were right.

So next time you get a colonoscopy, you’ll either endure it awake, or pay a human anesthesiologist.


Tap the brakes: Self-driving vehicle technology is ‘absolutely not ready,’ says robotics researcher


When the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on Capitol Hill this month to assess America’s readiness for the arrival of self-driving cars, it summoned a who’s who of industry executives: Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project, plus executives from Delphi, General Motors and Lyft, all of which are racing to bring self-driving cars to market. 

Then, as if to splash cold water on their ambitions, the committee called Missy Cummings, an engineering professor and human-factors expert at Duke University who argued self-driving cars are “absolutely not ready for widespread deployment.” 

Cummings, 49, who was one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots from 1988 to 1999 and managed a $100 million Navy program to build a sensor-laden robotic helicopter, is director of Duke’s Humans and Autonomy Lab. 

As a professor, she is leading a National Science Foundation-funded study of how pedestrians interact with self-driving cars. Cummings spoke with Staff Reporter Gabe Nelson on March 18, three days after visiting Capitol Hill. 

Q: How good are humans at working with robots?

A: That’s a big question. It depends what the machine is trying to do, whether the people have lots of training — as in the case of aviation — and the complexity of the environment. Humans certainly can adapt to a high-complexity environment. The question is how much training a person needs to do it. 

How complex is driving?

Driving is one of the most complex domains. It’s even more complex than aviation. 

Even though you’re moving in three dimensions in aviation, road environments are a lot denser. When you’re in the sky there aren’t many planes near you, but there can be a lot going on near a road in an urban setting: cars, people, bicycles. 

And the people are significantly less trained. It doesn’t take much training to get a driver’s license in this country, and we’re not going to move to a society where you have to go to school for six months just to operate a driverless car. We’re going to need to be sure everyone from ages 16 to 96 can operate these things. 

What can we learn from aviation in bringing self-driving cars to market? 

I think the auto industry could learn a lot from how airlines and airplane manufacturers worked to automate their planes, and tested them to be sure that they would work in all conditions. 

We would have never allowed people to fly in airplanes when the industry was still trying to figure out automated landing. The planes had to be tested, and manufacturers had to prove they could land under all sorts of different conditions. 

I believe that before we take drastic steps such as taking steering wheels out of cars, the car manufacturers need to prove that a human will never need to intervene. We’re simply not going to go to a car with no steering wheel overnight. We will get there eventually — I just think it’s not going to happen as quickly as Google might want. 


Robert Heinlein foresaw “automated driving only” lanes on freeways and major streets; you couldn’t get into them if you were driving yourself. But they were in addition to “Human drivers only” lanes, where you had to take control yourself. I would suspect that would be the first step in the process.


Subj: Could the US survive a stupid psychopath president?

Kevin D. Williamson proposes that Trump is a stupid psychopath — in particular, that Trump believes, and will act on that belief, that All We Have To Do Is Just adopt some simple, obvious solution, to each of the seemingly intractable problems of public policy we face, which solutions Only Trump has the toughness to adopt:

I find Williamson’s argument persuasive, though not entirely convincing, but let’s consider a slightly different matter:

Could the United States survive a stupid psychopath president?

My inclination is to answer “Yes.”

Indeed, my impression is that we could better survive a stupid psychopath president, whose most bizarre flights of policy fancy would be opposed by pretty much everyone else in government, than survive yet another round of self-righteous, abstraction-infatuated mis-leadership, supported by large minorities, and sometimes majorities, in both the Congress and the bureaucracy.

For example, while Obama’s orders to assassinate terrorist leaders, including a few American citizens, have been obeyed, and some innocents have been killed in the process, I do not think any serving officer would obey an order to slaughter the families of terrorists, merely because they are family members.

But I could be wrong. Am I?


I do not believe Trump is either stupid or a psycho[path; like some other intelligent people with fermenting ideas, he say what he thinks, sometimes at inappropriate times, and sometimes in very inappropriate places; he seems intelligent enough to think things over before acting on them. Henry II spoke of a the cowardice of his followers who would not rid him of this meddlesome priest, and the De Tracy’s immediately left for Canterbury to murder the Archbishop. He sent messengers to recall them, but was too late. Today’s President has few of that kind of follower. His senior officers are well versed in Duty, Honor, Country, as they should be, and the Commander in Chief is not above the Constitution – indeed takes an oath to uphold and defend it.

If we must have a stupid psychopath, I fear I would be less afraid of him than I am of more regulations and regulators who are sure they are right and are acting for my good as they see it…



heads up~!

Security guard of a Brussels nuclear plant found dead, ID stolen. ISIS/Daesh suspected.
Stephanie Osborn

“The Interstellar Woman of Mystery”


Low-energy nuclear reactions (LENR)

Is the cold fusion egg about to hatch?

Huw Price

is Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy and a fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He is also Academic Director of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk. His most recent book is Expressivism, Pragmatism and Representationalism (2013).



What does one year mean?  See these two articles one year apart from the Wall Street Journal.

The more recent article supports my long held opinion (as I’ve espoused previously) that the average Iraqi sees hope in a future outside of religious fundamentalism.  Democracy, from the bottom up, seems to be having an (albeit, long time coming) effect.  Even to the point of cooperation.  

I’ve found that the Iraqi’s were intensely patriotic (Sunni, Shia, Kurd; even the Christians) and certainly held a disdain for the Persians.  Remember, I spent all of my time in the Shia area of Iraq.  While there was pragmatism in much of the Iraq/Iran relationship – much of the Shia enthusiasm was ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ – the religious consolidation of power by the Iraqi Shia Umma, fueled by Iranian dinars, was tolerated by the middle class – and sometimes just seen as inevitable. Seeking survival, the average Iraqi had to pick a winning side – for the Shia that meant treating with Iran, particularly after the US left.  Given another opportunity (i.e. secular democracy) that can better their lot in life, it is my opinion that the majority of Iraqis will support a SUCCESSFUL movement in that direction.

David Couvillon
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Retired.; 
Former Governor of Wasit Province, Iraq; 
Righter of Wrongs; Wrong most of the time; 
Distinguished Expert, TV remote control; 
Chef de Hot Dog Excellence;  Avoider of Yard Work

As I understand it, both sides of the Shia-Sunni split see the Kurds as not either  “Kurds are Moslems compared to infidels”; and they have always been more pragmatic than any Arab faction;  is this a correct impression?  I know Richard III was able to do a truce with the Kurd Saladin and it lasted a while, but that was a long time ago.  Turks and Iran seem united in wanting to keep the Kurds down, which has made the Kurds our allies…

Jerry Pournelle

Correct on all accounts – as far as my education and experience will tell!

David Couvillon

The Arab Iraqis have no choice but to pick a winning side; I would think it best to make it obvious as soon as possible that the Caliphate, ISIS, whatever you to care to call it; which is implacably at war with the West, is not that side.



How GE is using 3D printing to unleash the biggest revolution in large-scale manufacturing in over a century     (zdnet)

In 2015, GE inaugurated a new, Multi-Modal manufacturing facility in Chakan, India. If the company’s ambitions for the space are realized, it could drive a massive change in global manufacturing.

By Rajiv Rao | March 25, 2016 — 14:35 GMT (07:35 PDT) | Topic: 3D Printing

This article was originally published by ZDNet’s sister site, TechRepublic, and is reprinted with permission. Click here to see the original in cover story format.

It is hard to imagine, with its iconography of billowing smoke and raging furnaces, that a factory would ever be called “brilliant” or “flexible.” But, global behemoth General Electric wants to change the way you think about those far away, smoke-belching buildings and introduce you to a new era–maybe even a revolution–in manufacturing.

In 2015, GE unveiled its first ever US $200 million “Multi-Modal” facility in Chakan, located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, which it thinks will be the agent of this change. It was inaugurated by Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister who is confronted by the huge challenge of delivering jobs to hundreds of millions of youth who lack measurable skills. The factory won’t be solving that gargantuan problem since it staffs a mere 1,500 technicians and engineers, but it’s not meant to, at least not in a direct way. Instead, the factory promises to create an enormous, positive ripple effect both inside and outside India that will impact employment and supply chains, as well as promote radical new designs and industrial innovation like never before.

The factory in Chakan reveals the plan at work. Steam turbines compete for space with water treatment units and jet engine parts in neat rows on a spotless, ultra-modern factory floor.

“The idea is to service a multitude of businesses–from oil and gas, to aviation, transportation, and distributed power–all under the same roof,” said GE’s Amit Kumar, who oversees the Multi-Modal facility.


The importance of 3D printing grows and grows; and no doubt the new rises in minimum wages will encourage it.


Eric Schmidt sees a huge future for machine learning

The man who helped build Google from a search engine into one of the biggest and most influential companies in the world has predicted the emergence of a new computing architecture based on crowd-sourced data and machine learning.

Speaking at Google’s GCP Next cloud computing conference in San Francisco, Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt said the combination of crowd-sourced data and machine learning will be the basis of “every successful huge IPO” in five years.”

He said the adoption of machine learning will allow companies to mine crowd sourced data, which already provides a mass of information not previously available to companies, and improve on it.

“You’re going to use machine learning to take that data and do something that’s better than what the humans are doing,” he said.

Schmidt said the wide adoption of machine learning in computing will be as significant as the switch from the web to smartphone apps, which spawned the success of companies like Uber and Snapchat.

He predicted it will “create huge new platforms, companies, IPOs, wealth, and enormous things going on in the future.”

“It’s a great time to be in the cloud,” he said.

Eric Schmidt sees a huge future for machine learning   (2:21)

Schmidt’s comments were underlined by Urs Hölzle, the man who runs Google’s technical infrastructure.

“Over the next five years, I expect to see more change in computing than in the last five decades.”

The comments build on a recent achievement by Google in the field of artificial intelligence. Last week its DeepMind AI system triumphed in a five-game series of Go matches against one of the world’s best players.


Deaf and Hard of Hearing Fight to Be Heard    (nyt)


Lydia Callis wanted to get her mother a gym membership for Christmas last year. When she called to arrange a consultation, she mentioned that her mom (who lives in Arizona) is deaf and would need a sign-language interpreter for the session. The health club said it would not provide a signer. Ms. Callis — who became an Internet sensation during Hurricane Sandy as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s exuberant sign-language interpreter — told the club that it was actually required by law to do so. Still it refused, and Ms. Callis, who was calling from Manhattan, gave up.

Last year was the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and yet this kind of scenario plays out regularly for people who are deaf and hard of hearing. While the broader culture has become accustomed to certain changes the law has engendered, particularly wheelchair access, the rights of the deaf have frequently been misunderstood or simply disregarded.

Recently, however, a deaf rights movement has begun to gain ground, particularly in New York.


I am hard of hearing but that’s my problem; I certainly don’t want to be yours. If you are kind enough to put up with me even though it is annoying to have to say things over and over to get me to understand, I appreciate it; but I don’t think I have any right to send an armed man, or a lawyer, to make you do so.

Many public events, such as the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have had signers and other aids to handicapped for as long as I have been going to them, and as a Fellow of AAAS I supported that well before I lost most of my hearing; but I would not then, and do not now support sending Federal Agents to compel you to do so.


Time Warner Opposes Georgia Religious Act (B&C)

It seems that what precipitated the law in the first place was the push for “non disciminatory” restrooms. Seems that a lot of people in Georgia think men should use the men’s public restrooms, not the women’s and vice versa.
In a statement, [Governor] McCrory said legislative action was necessary to prevent local governments from enacting ordinances that overstep their authority in a way that might allow a man to use a woman’s bathroom, shower or locker room. He tweeted that he had signed the bill “to stop the breach of basic privacy and etiquette”
Restrooms segregated on the basis of sex is something I can live with, as I have been my whole life. In fact, I prefer it that way.
Leo Walker


SECDEF (not SECSTATE) Email Scandal!

Let’s all compromise classified material and endanger the national security of the United States of America. Why not? Former Director of Central Intelligence Deutsch did it! General Petraeus did it!

SECSTATE Hillary Clinton allegedly did it and now SECDEF Carter is suspected of doing it!

The only person left to do this would be a President or Vice President of the United States. Our intelligence and military folks — with Petraeus being both — no longer give a damn about national security.

Why even bother with civil service if the bosses are going to screw up and then, on top of that, get away with it every time? That’s not law; that’s tyranny.


Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter continued to use a personal email account for government work for at least four months last year after the White House questioned the Pentagon about why he was using it, according to copies of Mr. Carter’s emails released by the Defense Department on Friday.

The New York Times reported in December that Mr. Carter had relied on the account at least through May, two months after the newspaper reported that Hillary Clinton had exclusively used a personal email account when she was secretary of state.

According to the emails released on Friday, Mr. Carter continued to use the account for government work at least until September. Mr.

Carter said in December he had made a mistake in using the account.

Since 2012, the Defense Department has prohibited its employees from using personal email accounts for official work.


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo


Finally, common sense

“Hillary is the answer” is proof there ARE stupid questions.


The Ancient Agreement

Caveman’s best friends?

“Fyodorov said a preliminary look at the mammoth remains also found at the dig suggested some had been butchered and burned, hinting at the presence of humans. It remains to be seen, however, whether the puppies were domesticated or wild. ”

It would be neat to find evidence of twelve and a half thousand year old domesticated dogs.  Fingers crossed.


Yes: we made a deal with dogs.  We protect their children and they protect ours.  They develop the sense of smell, and we use the same part of the brain to get smart.  Worked out well for us; now we owe them.




Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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