Wise Guys on WHO Radio - November 14, 2015
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
Tech questions for tonight's debate
The moderators should ask the Presidential candidates:
- What role should the government play in ensuring nationwide broadband access?
- Does the military need a branch devoted exclusively to cyber-warfare?
- How would you promote the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) in office?
- Are all college majors equal, or do STEM fields deserve preferential treatment?
The terrorist attacks in Paris
- At its core, this attack represents an outburst against an open world by the forces who want a closed world. The United States benefits most from an open world.
- The price is always high for the United States when the world pulls back and closes off.
- These attacks appear to have been low-tech, using guns and bombs. But the technology environment is a part of the story.
- We should avoid casually dismissing the attackers with phrases like "Medieval" or "10th Century". They are living in the modern world, using modern tools. Their mindset isn't from a past time, it's from today and it is disgusting. We don't help ourselves to frame the threat effectively when we try to think of it as stuck in the past.
- Technology itself is neutral: Its virtue is solely in the hands of the user, just like a gun or a ballot. ("A vote is like a rifle: Its usefulness depends upon the character of the user." - Teddy Roosevelt)
- Social media can be used to recruit terrorists. But people used those same tools to offer safe harbor to those left stranded by the attacks (#porteouverte) and to tell others they were safe (Facebook's "safety check").
- Drones could be used to deliver bombs to crowded stadiums. But they can also be used to deliver emergency supplies to first responders.
- The political angle on this subject is of grave importance: We need civilian oversight, the rule of law, and enlightened lawmakers.
- Don't let the bad guys set the agenda! We most likely will have lost about 150 or 200 lives in the Paris terror attacks. But we will lose around 300 Iowans to motor vehicle accidents this year, and almost 2,000 American children will die of cancer this year. Every one of those lives has equal value, and we cannot be so driven by fear that we permit the terrorists to take our attention and our resources away from fighting the many other scourges that we should be trying relentlessly to erase from our modern world.
- We need to put humanity first. Any discussion of the awful circumstances that have reached Europe should also acknowledge the real suffering of the people who are trying to escape the forces of ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh. The refugees who have lost their homes (and many, their lives) are just as human as the people of Paris.
- We as a culture, as a nation, and as individuals need to get smarter, smarter, and smarter again if we are to prevail in the long run over these enemies of civilization.
- There is no excuse not to solve our big problems by putting our energy and brains to their highest use.
In the news this week
Mitsubishi claims starting from scratch helps it build a super-efficient regional jet
Google is getting into the manufacture of computer chips
Not content to make the software, they're venturing into the deepest heart of hardware
Apple's new iPad Pro is 12.9" in diameter
...blurring the lines altogether between "tablet" and "laptop" sizes
Samsung's $600 "Galaxy View" tablet has an 18.4" screen
Google and Tag Heuer roll out a $1,500 smartwatch
Get a smartwatch, but get a cheap one, then beat the crap out of it as most people do to their regular watches. Then replace it in a couple of years with one from the next generation. Unless there's something you simply cannot live without in the smartwatch you've been craving, everyone should start with the Pebble. For $100 (less when on sale, as they frequently are), you can test whether you get any real utility out of a smartwatch without committing hundreds and hundreds of dollars to a piece of vanity jewelry.
Google launches "YouTube Music" app for phones
People already use YouTube heavily for listening to music (whether or not they watch the videos), so this is hardly a groundbreaking step -- other than admitting that's what people use YouTube for