Tag Archives: TECHNOLOGY

The Not So Happy History Of Our Early Home Videos

Brownie 8mm movie camera.

Some of you may recall that at one time the only option we mortals had for home movies was an 8mm silent camera. Other than being the only option, the product sucked. All the neighborhood kids running round in blurry, grainy, flickering black and white globs of motion and dust.

Then came Super 8mm cameras and the quality became… I haven’t a clue. Other than costing more money I can’t say much more without Googling.

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Happy Birthday to the WWW

It was in March of 1989 that some in the world became aware of what is now a part of most people’s world, the World Wide Web. The joining together of millions of computers all over the world to facilitate the exchange of information. Its effects have been enormous ranging from vast social changes to revolutions in how we learn, how we spend our free time, how medicine is practiced,  how business is conducted, and so very much more. Just think, thirty-years ago there wasn’t an app for anything! Today, in this era of omnipresent smartphones, there is hardly a person who doesn’t have the WWW at the swipe or tap of a finger or two.

Eisenhower Told Us But We Didn’t Listen

Back in the 1950s president Eisenhower warned the nation about the dangers of the Military-Industrial Complex; the ever more powerful relationship between those who make the weapons of war and those who buy and use them. Unfortunately, little attention has been given to Ike’s warning and the MIC is more powerful than ever.

I recently heard an economist state that the cost of Medicare for All could be covered if we ever got serious about reigning in our military budget. America currently spends more on its military that of the world’s nations combined.

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Ham Radio is Still on the Air

When I was a very young child a railroad conductor gave my dad a copy of his QSL card to give to me. This is a special postcard that contains all the personal information about a licensed amateur radio operator, better known as a ham. It has his name, address, and most importantly, his call sign.

From the moment dad gave me this man’s QSL I became interested in international communications. The idea of listening to and maybe talking with people around the world fascinated me. The easiest and cheapest way to get started was by making your own crystal radio set out of some telephone wire and an oatmeal tube. The next step was saving your paper route money and buying a shortwave receiver kit from Allied Electronics in Chicago.

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Two Samsung Smartphones for Sale

I’ve got two Samsung smartphones left over from upgrades. Both are in great shape and will provide many years of service.

SAMSUNG EXPRESS 3, Model SM-J120A:

Android 6.0.1. Made to work on AT&T 4G LTE network. It may be unlocked but I can’t remember. Not under contract and in near new condition. I don’t have any of the original paperwork but will provide a wall charger and charging cable. The battery was replaced with last 6 months. Buyer will have to take it to AT&T agent for sims card and activation. Will work on pay to go plans. Asking $60.00 cash only local pickup only. I live near Petersburg, OH. Click HERE for full specifications.

SAMSUNG GALAXY GRAND PRIME, Model SM-G530A

Android 5.1.1. This is leftover from an upgrade and is in great condition. It is a 4G LTE phone and works on AT&T plans, including pay as you go. Comes with owner’s manual, and an unused wall charger and charging cable. Asking $60 cash only and local pickup and my home near Petersburg. Click HERE for complete specifications.

Walls, Drugs, Drones and Folly

Yesterday I did a little Googling about using drones to get up and over border walls and I didn’t have to dig too far to learn that the technology exists to inexpensively smuggle large amounts of drugs into America via an air force of drones.

Drones vary widely in both price and payload. A few thousand dollars on Amazon will buy one a drone capable of carrying a payload of 12 kg. At an average street price of $200 a gram in the US a 12 kg cargo could be valued at as much as $2.4 million. For several thousand more one could buy a drone with a cargo capacity of 660 pounds. You do the math and don’t forget such a drone may be able to smuggle a couple of people over a wall.

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My First Cell Phone

These days just about everyone has a cell phone and almost everyone who has a cell phone has a smartphone. I don’t know when you purchased your first cell phone but I got mine sometime in the mid to late 1980s and it was a “bag phone.” I don’t recall the brand but I had to drive to Dayton to purchase it and it worked on the Cingular network. I did a lot of weekend traveling back then and thought it would make things safer for me. While I never had to use it to get me out of trouble I did have occasions to call 911 for others.

The battery, antenna, and the phone were stored in a bag and to charge it you plugged it into your car’s cigarette plug. Not very portable but you could throw its strap over your shoulder and you were free…until the battery wore down.

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It’s a New World That’s Coming

By the spring of 1969 I had two more classes to take to fulfill my requirements. I needed to take public speaking and a literature elective. Public speaking was required of all students seeking a career in teaching. I was so fearful of it I put it off till the very end. Turned out I feared for not, I loved it.

The literature class I decided on was Science Fiction Literature. Both classes were summer classes and I quickly learned that Catholic nuns went to school in the summer and they were serious about getting all the As. The other lesson was that literature teachers who are serious fans of Sci-Fi also take summer classes.

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Guns and What I Won’t Do

When I was a kid my uncle Homer owned a single shot, bolt-action, J.C. Penny .22 rifle. I would often borrow it and go “plinking” at a trash dump on Wolf Rd. Firing the weapon required opening the chamber with the bolt lever, inserting a cartridge, closing the chamber, and cocking the rifle by pulling back a firing pin mechanism. Very simple, very reliable, very accurate, and very very slow.

Some years ago I traded for a Remington semi-automatic .22 rifle with a tubular magazine that held maybe 10 rounds of long-rifle ammo. The rifle required one trigger pull per round but you could very rapidly empty the magazine. Reloading was pretty slow, nothing like ripping out an empty clip and slamming a full one in.
I’m not sure I ever fired this weapon and later gave it to my grandson along with a .22 nine round revolving target pistol.

When I was in the Navy, and later the Air Force Reserves, I got to fire a variety of weapons and became “qualified” with a couple of pistols. I fired a Garand M1 rifle, a Browning BAR, a Thompson sub-machine gun, a 38 pistol along with a .45 semi-automatic pistol. In boot camp I carried a Springfield 1903 five shot bolt-action rifle. The only one I ever actually fired was a rental I used for my one and only deer hunting experience. My boot camp 1903 didn’t even have a firing pin and the barrel may have been plugged.

I currently own a single shot .16 gauge shotgun and two revolver pistols and though I know how to use them I am not practiced.

I say all this to demonstrate that I’m not firearms ignorant and I’m not opposed to owning guns, hunting, and shooting sports. I basically support the 2nd Amendment but strongly believe, as does the Supreme Court, that it comes with limits. Government has the right to restrict many aspects of gun use and ownership. This said, however, the NRA and other groups deny the Founding Fathers meant there should be limits. They radically oppose any limits on all things gun related.

In the past few years I have wrestled with my feelings about the most controversial of all guns, the AR-15 and I’ve finally arrived at a conclusion. These “assault style” weapons are no different from the simple .22 semi-automatic I gave my grandson. You could go to a gun shop and buy the gun I gave my grandson and fewer critics would complain. But you buy that same weapon made to look like a military rifle it immediately gets labeled an assault rifle and the critics go nuts. The real difference between the civilian and the military weapons is the rate of fire. The military version has a firing option the civilian doesn’t; it can fire (depending on the model) in full-automatic or burst-automatic. Burst function lets the rifle fire three rounds with each pull of the trigger. Full-automatic will fire as long as you hold the trigger in or until you shot all the bullets. The civilian versions are legal to buy, own, and use. The military versions are mostly illegal.

These are some of the basic facts we all need to be aware of. But, in the words of Paul Harvey there is a “rest of the story.” The truth is that any semi-automatic weapon, pistol or rifle, is deadlier than single-shots because they have a much higher rate of fire. In the time it took me to shoot my uncles J.C. Higgins and reload, a ten-round semi-automatic could easily have ten bullets in the air. They could also be reloaded in less time than with my uncle’s gun.

I’m going to make a major compromise with the gun crowd and publicly state that I won’t support a ban on any gun that is currently legal. I won’t support the government coming to your door and defrocking you of your manhood unless there is reason to think you’ve broken a law. But, here’s what I won’t do:

  • I won’t support the NRA in any way as long as they remain the radical organization they have become. When the ammosexuals decide they are ready to give up protecting the sale of cop-killer ammo and arming the insane, maybe we can begin talking.
  • I won’t support the current loopholes in gun registration and sales. I demand that thorough background checks take place on each and every gun sale in the nation, even private sales. Private sales would have to go through a licensed broker who would perform the background check.
  • I won’t support the current manufacturer and sale of any device that increases a weapon’s rate of fire. Example the bump stock that was used by the Las Vegas shooter to turn his AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.
  • I know it is controversial but I won’t support any legislation that bars the registration of all firearms.
    I won’t support any legislation that bans waiting periods before buying a gun.
  • I will not support the continued ownership of any clip or magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition. All such devices should be totally outlawed and all violations should carry a heavy penalty. General George Patton called the Garand M1 the best weapon of war ever invented. It was the rifle that won WWII, it was a semi-automatic, and it only held eight rounds. With a ten round clip a person can target shoot, hunt, protect their families, and partly get their testosterone fueled rocks off. And unfortunately, they can still wipe out a school hallway.
  • I won’t support the sale of any firearm or ammunition via the mail or the Internet.
  • I won’t oppose reasonable legislation that limits the amount of ammunition one can purchase.
  • I won’t support the increase of age to buy a gun. I will always believe that if being eighteen is enough for voting and military service it should be enough to buy a beer or a gun. Turning eighteen should come with all the rights of an adult.
  • I won’t support any decision to permit people with mental issues, a history of violence, a history of serious crime, and other issues that may threaten the public safety to purchase or possess a firearm.
  • I won’t support the arming of teachers. These people want to be educators and mentors to the young, not armed guards. As a retired teacher I’ve tried to imagine myself as a fit thirty year old with a weapon. Regardless of training I can’t help but think of all the things that would make that a bad idea. I doubt I could pull the trigger on a student without some delay or hesitation that would only worsen the situation. After all, if four trained sheriff deputies in Parkland, FL couldn’t do it, what makes me think the caring and loving English teacher, Ms. Jones, could do it?

This is my list at time of writing. It is subject to be added to and/or amended. I believe, however, that this is a list of sensible and reasonable gun laws. It doesn’t take away a “good person’s” gun but together it does relieve what I believe the worst truths about guns in America…there are simply too many guns and they are far too easy to acquire.

Oh, one more item for the list…I won’t vote for any politician, regardless of party, who disagrees with me and/or accepts money from the firearms industry or the NRA!

War is Hell and Weapons Ain’t Cheap

The reigning Commander in Chief just ordered his first military action in which a highly trained Navy Seal was killed along with possibly 20 Yemeni children, one a US citizen. The Trump administration, denying what many military people are saying, is claiming the missions goals were entirely reached and the effort a total success.

For the moment I’ll let people who know better than me to sort it all out. One thing that did catch my attention, however, was the cost of the V-22 Osprey that was lost. Years ago I took my history students to the Air Force Museum in Dayton and noticed that each example of military plane carried a notation about what the government paid for each of those planes. The Wright Flyer was the first and it may have cost $1.98 each. The last plane I recall was the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter which the government paid over $400 million each for the first ones it purchased. Walking through this history of escalating cost provided a number of lessons for my students.

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Wanna Visit Your Favorite DJ Trump Lie?

A couple of years ago I became aware of an organization called the Internet Archive. It is a repository of just about everything that’s been posted to the Internet since www was just a w. It is a favorite research tool for political reporters in their quest to keep the politicians honest.

Yesterday I received a message about the IA making available a growing collection of all the things Donald Trump has said since he rode that escalator to the ground floor of the Trump Tower to announce that most Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers. That certainly wasn’t the first lie Trump told but it’s a good place to begin.

I’ll provide the link to the site but first I just want to say that each statement has been independently fact checked by one of the major fact checking sites that exist today.

Click the button to see Trump’s lies.

NOTE: You may notice at the top of IA’s page they are halfway there to raise $5 million. The purpose is to create a mirror of their servers in Canada out of fear that Trump will attempt to shut their American site down. 

5G

FASTER & FASTER: Most of you own a smartphone and most of you probably are enrolled in a 4G LTE data plan. While 4G is fast 5G will soon be knocking on the door and it’s lightning. I just read that 5G could download the entire collection of Simpson episodes in the time it took to watch a single episode. You’re going to begin hearing about it but don’t expect to have it for a couple more years.

No More Memes, Please

political-memeA meme is a, “humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users,” that in today’s Internet world is almost impossible to avoid.

Memes are what substitutes for independent thought and the ability to openly express one’s thoughts. Memes are those never-ending pictures that show up on social media and frequently inaccurately express some political statement or make a false historical claim.

If you have twenty-five Facebook friends at least one of them does little other than post memes on their account page. They almost never write or express anything that came from their own thoughts and creativity.

Al Gore and Mark Zuckerberg gave us all the means to communicate with each other but failed to give us the communicative ability to do so. Recognizing that, Richard Dawkins gave us the meme. Dawkins was an evolutionary biologists and probably realized many of humankind had evolved as far as they were going to go and needed a lift. Thus the meme.

Sprinkle Coal Dust on my Grave

Ted Koppel did a feature on McDowell County, WV yesterday morning. I’ve been there many times having supplied the school system with computers back in the 1990s. Even then it was a place holding on by its teeth and such appears to be truer today. The entire region is tied to coal and coal has died. Coal died but not, as a couple of minors claimed, from government regulations.

Coal died because of:

  • It’s a filthy source of energy.
  • Mining it reeks havoc on the land.
  • The greed of the mine owners.
  • The mine owners having to be forced into environmental stewardship.
  • Tremendous mechanization.
  • An ever decreasing demand for it. Increasingly energy is being provided by newer, cleaner, and more sustainable sources
  • Historically coal was used to generate electricity, manufacturer iron and steel, and heat our homes. Today we make electricity with wind, solar, and natural gas. Today we don’t make iron and steel, we buy it from China. Today we heat our homes with natural gas, propane, geo thermic heat pumps, electricity and other cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient means.

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