Watching: Genius of the Modern World

Season 1, Episode 1 is about Karl Marx. I suppose I’m going to have to read Das Kapital at some stage if only because I know Marx was an economist of sorts. He saw capitalism in its dark phase – where children were working 15 hour days, and other abuses of the people were happening as machines took over for people.

The issue we face today is that machines have taken over more of our methods of production than in the past. And it got me thinking, we have something of the opposite problem of Marx in the 21st century – we will have more people without jobs due to robotics and artificial intelligence than at any time in the past. We’re already seeing precursors of this – walk into a department store like WalMart, Target etc. Self checkout lanes are starting to displace the number of cashiers required.

And AI in the form of Autonomous Vehicles  – big huge swaths of people will be put out of work by that. Think for a moment, we’ll need fewer cars as your car or a car can do double, triple or quadruple duty while you work. So the auto industry will contract, so too the transport of goods.

The thing is, not everyone can be a rocket scientist – or Info/Computer Scientist. That latter will be employed for some time as machines in the guise of computers do break down on occasion. And the care and feeding of databases is still a pretty big deal. And having the skill to diagnose electronic problems like me will be valuable too.

And we’re starting to see the bubbling up of a concept called UBI or Universal Basic Income. But what to do – all that leisure time what could potentially happen? You’ll have thinkers who might push forward our understanding of the physical world, artists in all guises from paint, to light to audio.  Not to mention care of children and family. It’s all about to change again.

Next up in the series is Nietzsche. This should be fun.

Cox changes email ports

I guess they got on the security bandwagon. But I logged into my Cisco firewall and realized I’d not been getting log emails from it. Saw six errors – all to do with could not connect to Cox’s SMTP.

Then I remembered – I don’t use Cox email anymore. But someone does and I had to change it in Thunderbird but didn’t think to change the firewall.

SMTP went from the standard port 25 to 587. No idea what POP went to though as I don’t use it.

Plus they’re enforcing login for SMTP now. So I changed the setting on my firewall and am now getting emails from it again.

TV Series: Dirty Money

So Netflix is still producing new content. The latest is a series called Dirty Money and the very first episode titled “Hard NOx” NO is Nitrogen-Oxide – or NO2.

You might be familiar with NO2 particularly if you have an engineering or gearhead inclinsations.  NO2 is used in gasoline engines to hop them up and act as an oxidizer to burn more of the fuel charge. Put it this way, add NO2 to a turbocharged or supercharged car and you’ll get horsepower out the wazoo just by taking advantage of either waste emission or mechanical power from the engine.

Now Diesel engines – they put out lots of NO2, a shame we can’t reclaim it and just burn it up in Gasoline engines.

Anyhow – on to the first episode – The story starts out talking about Volkswagen’s cheating on Diesel emissions tests. The software in the ECU was programmed so that if it sensed the wheels moving, but the steering wheel didn’t move it KNEW they were testing the car on a dyno. Really quite interesting – and it was the U.S. EPA and California Air Resources Board or CARB that picked up the ball and ran with it finally getting and admission from Volkswagen that in fact a defeat device was being used to cheat on Diesel emissions.

But it emerges that not just Volkswagen but Mercedes and BMW also have the very same devices in their Diesel vehicles. It’s just Volkswagen got caught. And the reason for all of this is a loose interpretation of E.U. regulations  – in essence the E.U. sets the policy, but each individual country sets enforcement. And in Germany the government has a rather lackadaisical interpretation of the regulations. So the corruption is endemic in Germany.

And despite the advertisements you really cannot clean up Diesel emissions.

Flooding: It happens all the time

So on twitter I follow the National Weather Service or NWS. I also have the NWS frequencies programmed into all my amateur radio gear. You never know.

But they posted this floods_booklet.

I’ve seen flooding for years – back into the late 1970’s and early 80’s RI has seen rivers flood on a frequent basis.

When I was younger I worked at a hardware store on Branch Avenue – right behind the store was the West River – few by Geneva Pond and Whipple Pond in North Providence. it used to flood regularly.

In another place I worked in the 2000’s it was right next to the West River. Never flooded – they put good drainage and berms in.

But one day a few years ago we were visiting a friend in Pawtucket right off Hope Street. The Seekonk River is about 1200 feet from there. Well that flooded like all hell that day. Had to take shelter on the bench in a bus stop.

And of course there’s the flooding of 2010 – that was pretty bad. Took out a bridge on Atwells Avenue and in western Cranston the water was up to the roof lines. Seems that one was our main water supply the Scituate Reservoir  – it’s spillways empty out into the Woonasquatucket River. All that water had to go somewhere. 4476563415_971a8bd4f6_b

Flooding has always been a fact of life here. Always. But it’s gotten worse over the years.

RI Does it Again

So the state once tried out it’s Cooler and Warmer campaign which bombed because some of the footage of the state was actually shot in Iceland. Apparently someone in the production company didn’t know Island is different from Iceland.

And now – they’ve come up with another ‘genius’ idea. Let’s call Rhode Island “Fun-Size”. Now I know of two definitions for this term, neither of which should be used to refer to a state. The first is a small girl/boy, the other is well used sardonically by bigger folks.

It’s sort of how the Tea Baggers didn’t know the negative connotations of that term and when they did changed it to Tea Party.

And Lara Salamano the Chief Marketing Officer of the RI Commerce Corporation – the seven second attention span – yeah for the field of sheep out there it might work. For people like me the more data the better.

In the ProJo article she says:

‘Fun-Sized “means that you can do everything you want that’s really fun on a vacation in a short period of time,” she said. “In the morning, you can be on Narragansett Bay sailing, and in the afternoon you can be at a James Beard-nominated restaurant.”’

Now I remember when RI had the marketing slogan The Biggest Little State in the Union.  That was years ago but the height of the state.

And let me tell you something, I’ve had lots of experience dealing with marketing people. I can tell you there’s usually not the sharpest crayon in the box, some are nice people too, but nice only gets you so far. I’ve also noted a tendency among marketing types to like shiny, flashy things.

The quote from the Providence Journal sums it up:

Baking: Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

It’s in the oven right now with a few minutes to go. Uses blood oranges that have had peel and pith remove, brown sugar, butter, water for the caramel that holds the oranges to the cake.

Then the usual, flour, butter, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla bean, eggs and buttermilk. Not necessarily in that order. We’ll see how it comes out. Not quite as I expected but it looks interesting. Maybe because I didn’t have brown sugar per se. Dunno.


That’s just the top of the cake. It’s still too warm to eat. But it should cool down at which point we can cut into it. Should be delicious.