FLY ME

May 19, 2018


I really enjoy traveling, that is BEING THERE.  Getting there is another story.  In the Southeastern portion of the United States you generally have to go through Atlanta to reach your final destination.  It’s just a fact of life.   If we take a quick look at ATL for the month of January 2018, we see the following statistics:

Please remember, all passengers including crew must go through screening (TSA) before boarding their flight.  That means EVERYONE.   Kennedy, Chicago, LAX, Miami, etc. operates in a similar fashion.  I have waited in the TSA line at ATL for close to two (2) hours then, take off your shoes, belt, empty your pockets, remove your glasses, watch, put your laptop and cell phone face up on top of all luggage, etc. etc.   People who fly on a regular basis get use to it but it’s always a hassle.  There is another way, maybe expensive but more and more business travelers are discovering and using business aircraft.

BUSINESS AIRCRAFT:

The primary driver of business aircraft use today is scheduling flexibility and reduction in the complexities relative to travel. In fact, according to the most recent study of general aviation trends by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), passengers indicated, on average, that more than fifty percent (50%) of the business aircraft flights taken enable the business traveler to keep schedules they otherwise could not meet efficiently using scheduled commercial flights.

This past Friday, Aviation International News (AIN) published its annual Charter Market Report titled, “The industry is climbing.” It reported private charters in the U.S. increased ten percent (10%) in the number of flights (543,449 compared with 493,431) and twelve- point seven percent (12.7%) in flight hours (765,196 compared with 679,018) during the first half of 2017.

With that type of good news, perhaps it’s not surprising that companies such as Wheels Up, VistaJet, Victor, Stellar Aero Labs and JetSmarter, which all operate in that space, collectively announced nearly four hundred ($400) million in new investments just since the start of the summer. “People have business to do and you can’t-do it flying commercially,” says Kenny Dichter, the CEO and co-founder of Wheels Up, which uses the King Air 350i to help its customers get to those smaller airports that are hard to reach. At the other end of the charter and jet card and program membership spectrum, VistaJet has made its mark with luxury-laden long-range jets catering to Ultra High Net Worth families and global executives who hop between Continents like you and I cross the street.

DELTA IS READY WHEN YOUR ARE:

True but there are disadvantages to flying commercial.

  • The loss of time is a major issue on commercial flights. From the long lines, potential layovers and the often-longer trip to the airport as well as having to check in early. This can easily add up to losing hours upon hours of time that could have been spent more productively. In addition, security delays can not only be a huge hassle, they can cost more time as well.
  • Passengers have to find a flight that fits in with their schedule or can be forced to alter their calendar to fit in with the airlines.
  • With crowded seating, there is little space to conduct business and even less privacy. If you had hoped to conduct a meeting or negotiate a deal in private, other passengers and crew are likely to overhear those conversations.
  • Commercial airlines offer little in the way of amenities. Today, food and beverages options rarely include much more than a drink and a bag of pretzels. First class is better, but you still get what you get.
  • The risk of lost luggage with passengers separated from their bags is another issue when flying commercially.

ADVANTAGES OF PRIVATE BUSINESS TRAVEL:

  • You’ll avoid the inconvenience of the liquid bans that come with flying commercially.
  • You can travel with special belongings, business samples, sports gear, instruments or even bring your pet into the cabin if you so choose.
  • You’ll not only have more time to conduct business, you’ll have more time to spend with your family and friends by reducing the hours you spend traveling.
  • Flying on a private jet projects an image of success. You’ll be seen as an individual or organization that is well-run, efficient and can afford to fly privately.
  • A light commercial jet which can seat five to six (5- 6) people, will cost around $2,000 per hour, larger aircraft which can hold more people and fly further cost more.
  • With a private jet you can fly out of an airport that is much closer to your home or business location, allowing you to skip the traffic, bypass security lines and those frequent delays that commercial airlines often incur.
  • Once on your flight, you’ll find the ultimate in exceptional customer service with individualized attention and the treatment you deserve.
  • Private planes offer luxury furnishings and plenty of space to conduct private business. Order your preferred food and drinks ahead of time, and you can even enjoy your favorite meal on the flight if you desire.

CONCLUSIONS:

Most of us, myself included, cannot afford private travel, business or otherwise, but more and more businesses are investigating private business travel for very busy executives.  I do not mean leasing, I mean scheduling “a ride” from a company such as mentioned earlier in this post.  In Chattanooga, we have HESS Jet. The service area for HESS Jet may be seen as follows:

An example of the aircraft you can schedule is shown below.  It is a four-seat, twin engine small jet capable of servicing the eastern half of the United States.   If you need an aircraft with larger seating capacity, that can be arranged also.

Now take a look at the interior of the aircraft above.  Think you could get use to this?  Most business men and women would definitely say yes.

I know several people who charter business aircraft during SEC football season.  They, of course, split the costs and really travel in style.  This is becoming more and more common in our country today.  Maybe something to think about.

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THE RIGHT SNUFF

May 7, 2018


This past weekend my wife traveled to ‘Hot-Lanta (Atlanta) to attend a baby shower.  Other family members went also but I decided, for several reasons, not to attend.  After a long day of working around the house, (I really did.) I decided to get dinner at a local Italian restaurant called Provino’s.  Absolutely great Italian food.   While seated, I noticed a young couple entering and sitting in an adjoining booth at my two o’clock position.  No doubt about this one, they were on a date and apparently their first date.  He was really nervous and immediately knocked over a full glass of water.  The young lady called a waiter and she quickly removed all of the silverware, glasses, plates, etc. and moped up.  After the commotion, things settled down a bit but he then realized he had a chew of tobacco he had to “lose” before going much further.  Well he did the right thing, he excused himself and I assume took the short trip to the men’s room to dislodge the plug.  Not a great start but at least she did not walk out on him and call UBER.  I started thinking about smokeless tobacco and the health effects related to usage and decided to take a look at what we know.

I was actually startled to learn the following facts from the CDC relative to usage:

  • Adults aged eighteen (18) years and older: more than three (3) in every 100 (3.4%)
  • Men: nearly seven (7) in every 100 (6.7%)
  • Women: fewer than one (1) in every 100 (0.3%)
  • Non-Hispanic African Americans: more than one (1) in every 100 (1.2%)
  • Non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska Natives: more than seven (7) in every 100 (7.1%)
  • Non-Hispanic Asians: fewer than one (1) in every 100 (0.6%)
  • Hispanics: fewer than one (1) in every 100 (0.9%)
  • Non-Hispanic Whites: nearly five (5) in every 100 (4.6%)

The following chart will show the usage.

Smokeless tobacco is definitely a health hazard—a considerable health hazard: *Leukoplakia, oral lesions that appear as white patches on the cheeks, gums or tongue, are commonly found present in smokeless tobacco users. Leukoplakia can be a pre-cancerous lesion which may ultimately produce oral cancer. About seventy-five (75%) percent of daily users of smokeless tobacco will get leukoplakia. (American Cancer Society) Dec 14, 2016.   Researchers estimated that in 2010 alone, smokeless tobacco caused more than 62,000 deaths due to cancers of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus, and more than 200,000 deaths from heart disease. Sep 2, 2015.   You may think that dipping is less hazardous than chewing tobacco but it definitely is NOT.  Overall, people who dip or chew get about the same amount of nicotine as regular smokers. They also get at least thirty (30) chemicals that are known to cause cancer. The most harmful cancer-causing substances in smokeless tobacco are tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs). Nov 13, 2015.    With this being the case, just how long does it take some users to develop health issues when using smokeless tobacco?  Some athletes have developed mouth cancer after only six (6) or seven (7) years of using spit tobacco. It’s hard to cure because it spreads fast. If not caught right away, major surgery is often needed to take out parts of your mouth, jaw, and tongue.

WARNING:

I’m going to show you several pictures that indicate the results of using smokeless tobacco (dipping and chewing).  These are not for the squeamish so if you need to leave this blog, now is the time to do it.

READY TO QUIT NOW?

DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY

April 28, 2018


I am gong to deviate from my usual STEM post and do a little politics, the subject being “Domestic Tranquility”.  The need to achieve domestic tranquility goes back a long time.  Remember this?

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of the Unites States of America.”

These words are the preamble to our Constitution.  Basically, if I read this correctly, a more perfect union just might depend upon justice, insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense and promoting the general welfare.   Most people will agree, we really are not there with no real signs of getting there too quickly relative to tranquility, domestic or otherwise.   Domestic tranquility generally means peace at home. It is meant with reference to family as well as states. Domestic Tranquility with regard to constitution is referred to peace among the states. Constitution gives power to federal government squash rebellion and to smooth tensions between states

Recent polls have confirmed that Americans are feeling bitterly split. A Gallup poll conducted just after the 2016 presidential election found seventy-seven (77) percent of Americans see the country as “greatly divided when it comes to the most important values,” up from sixty-six (66) percent in 2012. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, conducted nine months into Trump’s presidency, found that seven in ten (10) Americans think the nation’s political divisions are as bad as during the Vietnam War.  Kwame Anthony Appiah, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, said this kind of division has been rare in the U.S. While the country has faced many periods of intense disagreement and strife, he said, what’s unusual is the current tendency of some Americans to argue that others don’t belong in the country at all. This approach to politics has appeared only occasionally in U.S. history. For example, in the Jacksonian period, Andrew Jackson’s supporters sharply defined Americans as English-speaking Christians of European origin, while in the McCarthy years, people with particular political views or lifestyles could be declared un-American and denied basic constitutional protections.

One element in today’s world that divides us even more is social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Social media may be society’s gateway to a global connection that we have never seen before, but if we look closely, social media has played a significant role in dividing us more than it connects us.  Take any issue or topic developing domestically or internationally. Whatever this issue is, social media platforms, such as Facebook Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. play a prominent role in adding fuel to the fire. With the ability to express ourselves without face to face interaction, this opens the door for a much different form of debating. We are all a part of the term “keyboard warrior.” At one point, we have all fallen into this category. It feels as if this is the direction our country is moving in. Nothing is being resolved because we don’t look for resolutions anymore. We just look for the next opportunity to slander the opposite belief. I feel as if this won’t change but it will just get more and more relevant as we extend further and further into our newly found self-extension that has become our social media profiles.  This is demonstrated each night with late-night comics working towards greater ratings.  They use as their platform the political issues of the day.

Our social skills are falling while our social media skills are rising. This idea that our Facebook rants will change the world is far from true. The truth is if you want change, get off your high horse and go out and do something about it. Your Facebook essay on why something is wrong isn’t going to do anything but make you look like a fool. Stop sitting around and waiting for the change you seek and go out and become the change you so desperately want to see invoked in our world. We must take a hold of this issue before it consumes our youngest generation. These kids will one day be our executives. If they grow up in a solely social media-dominated world, it will have devastating effects on generations to come.

Let’s take a look at what course of action might help achieve domestic tranquility.

  • ELIMINATE POLITICAL PARTIES: When George Washington became President of the United States in 1789, there were no political parties. Political parties first emerged during Washington’s first term in office with the Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party in 1791 and in the following year, the formation of the Anti-Federalist Party or Democratic-Republicans under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. The two political parties formulated their views of how government ought to operate in the new republic. At the end of Washington’s first term, as he was preparing to retire and go back to Mt. Vernon to just be a farmer again, the leaders of the opposing parties both wanted him to reconsider with Hamilton and Jefferson pleading with Washington to stay on for a second term. Washington was against political parties and felt they would detract from governing.
  • EXTEND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TERM TO FOUR (4) YEARS. John Larson (D-Conn.) is pushing to extend the terms of House members to four years to free them from the pressures of constant fundraising. In an interview with The Hill, Larson said extending the terms and staggering them so that half of the House is up for reelection every two years would let members prioritize learning the ropes in Congress over campaign cash. “I think the two-year cycle and all the demands that places on individuals tends to lend itself to one chasing their tail in terms of raising the money required to get reelected,” Larson said. Larson said new members arrive in Washington for freshman orientation only to be told to start dialing for dollars again.
    “The first orders that the Republican Conference and Democratic Caucus give is, ‘Get on the phone and start raising money again. You’ve got an election coming up.’ And I think that we ought to reverse that priority,” Larson said.
  • MAKE THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH OF OUR GOVERNMENT ABIDE BY THE RULES THEY PASS: Republican Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, introduced a Constitutional Amendment in the recent past that would prohibit members of Congress from passing laws “applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.”

Section 1. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to Congress.

Section 2. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to the executive branch of Government, including the President, Vice President, ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and all other officers of the United States, including those provided for under this Constitution and by law, and inferior officers to the President established by law.

Section 3. Congress shall make no law applicable to a citizen of the United States that is not equally applicable to judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, including the Chief Justice, and judges of such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

Section 4. Nothing in this article shall preempt any specific provision of this Constitution.’

I hate to say it, but the law doesn’t have a chance at passing. If it did, Congress would understand the destress many Americans feel toward laws that restrict activity and commerce.

  • REGULATE SOCIAL MEDIA: Basically, no hate speech.  (This would never pass due to too much backlash from the “talking heads” on television and the politicians themselves.)

I certainly welcome your comments and I’m sure there are many many more action items that could contribute to tranquility.


I feel that most individuals, certainly most adults, wonder if anyone is out there.  Are there other planets with intelligent life and is that life humanoid or at least somewhat intelligent?  The first effort would be to define intelligent.  Don’t laugh but this does have some merit and has been considered by behavioral scientists for a significant length of time.  On Earth, human intelligence took nearly four (4) Billion years to develop. If living beings develop advanced technology, they can make their existence known to the Universe. A working definition of “intelligent” includes self-awareness, use of tools, and use of language. There are other defining traits, as follows:

  • Crude perceptive abilities: Like concept of a handshake (sending a message and acknowledging receipt of one sent by you)
  • Crude communication abilities: Some primitive language and vocabulary
  • Sentience: Should be able of original thought and motivation, some form of self -awareness
  • Retention: Ability to remember and recall information on will
  • Some form of mathematical ability like counting

Please feel free to apply your own definition to intelligence. You will probably come as close as anyone to a workable one.

TESS:

NASA is looking and one manner in which the search occurs is with the new satellite TESS.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an Explorer-class planet finder.   TESS will pick up the search for exoplanets as the Kepler Space Telescope runs out of fuel.

Kepler, which has discovered more than 4,500 potential planets and confirmed exoplanets, launched in 2009. After mechanical failure in 2013, it entered a new phase of campaigns to survey other areas of the sky for exoplanets, called the K2 mission. This enabled researchers to discover even more exoplanets, understand the evolution of stars and gain insight about supernovae and black holes.

Soon, Kepler’s mission will end, and it will be abandoned in space, orbiting the sun, therefore:  never getting closer to Earth than the moon.

The spaceborne all-sky transit survey, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants, orbiting a wide range of stellar types and orbital distances. The principal goal of the TESS mission is to detect small planets with bright host stars in the solar neighborhood, so that detailed characterizations of the planets and their atmospheres can be performed. TESS is only one satellite used to determine if there are any “goldy-locks” planets in our solar system. TESS will survey an area four hundred (400) times larger than Kepler observed. This includes two hundred thousand (200,000) of the brightest nearby stars. Over the course of two years, the four wide-field cameras on board will stare at different sectors of the sky for days at a time.

TESS will begin by looking at the Southern Hemisphere sky for the first year and move to the Northern Hemisphere in the second year. It can accomplish this lofty goal by dividing the sky into thirteen (13) sections and looking at each one for twenty-seven (27) days before moving on to the next.

The various missions launched to discover exoplanets may be seen below.

As mentioned earlier, TESS will monitor the brightness of more than two hundred thousand (200,000) stars during a two-year mission, searching for temporary drops in brightness caused by planetary transits. Transits occur when a planet’s orbit carries it directly in front of its parent star as viewed from Earth. TESS is expected to catalog more than fifteen hundred (1,500) transiting exoplanet candidates, including a sample of approximately five hundred (500) Earth-sized and ‘Super Earth’ planets, with radii less than twice that of the Earth. TESS will detect small rock-and-ice planets orbiting a diverse range of stellar types and covering a wide span of orbital periods, including rocky worlds in the habitable zones of their host stars.  This is a major undertaking and you might suspect so joint-ventures are an absolute must.  With that being the case, the major parterners in this endeavor may be seen as follows:

The project overview is given by the next pictorial.

In summary:

TESS will tile the sky with 26 observation sectors:

  • At least 27 days staring at each 24° × 96° sector
  • Brightest 200,000 stars at 1-minute cadence
  • Full frame images with 30-minute cadence
  • Map Southern hemisphere in first year
  • Map Northern hemisphere in second year
  • Sectors overlap at ecliptic poles for sensitivity to smaller and longer period planets in JWST Continuous Viewing Zone (CVZ)

TESS observes from unique High Earth Orbit (HEO):

  • Unobstructed view for continuous light curves
  • Two 13.7-day orbits per observation sector
  • Stable 2:1 resonance with Moon’s orbit
  • Thermally stable and low-radiation

The physical hardware looks as follows:

You can’t tell much about the individual components from the digital picture above but suffice it to say that TESS is a significant improvement relative to Kepler as far as technology.  The search continues and I do not know what will happen if we ever discover ET.  Imagine the areas of life that would affect?

 

 

THE MOSES ILLUSION

April 8, 2018


Portions of this post were taken from an article in The Chattanooga Times-FreePress.

Let’s do a quick quiz:

QUESTION:  In the Biblical story, what was Jonah swallowed by?  How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the ark?

Did you answer whale to the first question and two of each kind to the second question?  Most people actually do, even though they are aware that Noah, and not Moses, built the ark in that story.  Noah—not Moses.  You knew that.

Psychologists call this phenomenon the “Moses Illusion”.  This is just one example of how people are very bad at discerning factual errors in the world around them.  Even when people know the correct information, they often fail to notice errors and will even go on to use that incorrect information in other situations.  An “official” definition of this illusion goes something like this:

“In pragmatics and psycholinguistics, the Moses illusion is a phenomenon whereby listeners or readers fail to recognize an inaccuracy or inconsistency in a text. It is also called the semantic illusion.”

Research from cognitative psychology shows that people are naturally very poor fact-checkers and it is very difficult for individuals to compare things we read or hear with what we already know about a specific topic.   The Moses illusion (also known as semantic illusion) was first identified by T.D. Erickson and M.E. Mattson in their article “From Words to Meaning: A Semantic Illusion” (Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1981).

In this era of “fake news”, this reality has very important implications for how people consume journalism, social media and other bits of public information.  In the study mentioned above, eighty (80) percent of the participants failed to notice the error in the question despite later correctly answering the question, “Who took the animals into the Ark? The failure occurred even though participants were warned that some of the questions would have something wrong with them and were given an example of an incorrect question.  Psychologists call this “knowing neglect”.  People have relevant knowledge but fail to use it.

OKAY, why are human beings so bad at noticing errors and misinformation? Psychologists believe that there are at least two forces at work.

  • First, people have a general bias to believe that things are true. (After all, most things that we read or hear are true.) In fact, there’s some evidence that we initially process all statements as true and that it then takes cognitive effort to mentally mark them as false.  At one time, I personally believed just about everything written.  I suppose it was because I considered this to be somewhat of a legacy relative to the writer.  In days gone by, a non-fiction writer would write to inform and not to confuse.  Back then I felt that most writers did NOT have a political agenda. Today, I would be absolutely incorrect with that supposition.
  • Second, people tend to accept information as long as it’s close enough to the correct information. Natural speech often includes errors, pauses and repeats. (“She was wearing a blue – um, I mean, a black, a black dress.”). One idea– to maintain conversations we need to go with the flow and accept information that is “good enough”. Just move on and if people

don’t fall for these illusions when the incorrect information is obviously wrong. For example, people don’t try to answer the question “How many animals of each kind did Nixon take on the Ark?”.

Detecting and correcting false information is difficult work and requires fighting against the ways our brains like to process information. Critical thinking alone won’t save us. Our psychological quirks put us at risk of falling for misinformation, disinformation and propaganda. Professional fact-checkers provide an essential service in detecting incorrect information in the public view.  They are one of our best hopes for zeroing in on errors and correcting them, before the rest of us read or hear the false information and incorporate it into what we know of the world.

FAKE NEWS:

Why on earth is there so much fake news?

There are two main creators of fake news. The most egregious creator comes from non-journalists who put out spammy garbage you see on the web that’s simply untrue. As mentioned earlier, we generally believe just about everything written with the goal of checking it later, then there is no later.  The second creator of fake news is not so much fake news, but biased news coming from journalists with an agenda. Biased news isn’t as egregious since we all have our biases that are hard to extricate from our actions. However, biased journalists can do greater damage due to their large platforms. I would like to see a disclaimer at the beginning of each blog or tweet, when needed— “WARNING:  this is garbage.”  Don’t hold your breath for this to happen.

With the use of clickbait titles, misinformation, and satire, fake news has the ability to affect public opinion about a person, country or issue. I am amazed at the number of people who gain information, political and otherwise from the late-night television shows.

Findings indicate viewers of late night talk shows tend to be politically unsophisticated and low news media consumers, relying on incidental exposure to news about current events that are introduced throughout the day in the course of other activities (i.e., news headlines on email servers, jokes in late night monologues) with one notable exception.  Viewers of “The Daily Show,” are on the other end of the political spectrum, reflecting high levels of political sophistication and high news media consumption. They tune into “The Daily Show” for a “twist” on news stories with which they are already familiar, expecting Stewart and his team to provide a humorous slant on current events. Apparently, the other late-night shows—-not so much.  It’s mostly relative to political discourse garbage.

CONCLUSION:

I know I need to slow down and take the time to ask the question—is this information true, partially true, completely false?  What do I know relative to this new information?  I am to the point of turning off the television set and reading a good book.  Who do you believe these days?  What news or media outlet gives a non-bias, only-the-facts, information-filled narrative?  I honestly can NOT answer that question at this time.


Several of the following comments were taken from the Washington Free Beacon.

If you have been reading my posts you know that just about all involve the STEM professions, travel, salary levels for engineers, book reviews, restaurant reviews, etc etc.  In other words—I usually do NOT do political.  Politicians are fascinating people because ALL people are fascinating.  We all have a story to tell.  OK, with that being the case, I could not resist this time. Take a look.

Senate increases budget by forty-eight ($48) million, salaries by twelve ($12) million. That was the sub-title to the Washington Free Beacon article relative to the Omnibus Spending Bill just signed by President Trump. How much is $1.3 trillion dollars?  ANSWER:  It’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s a one followed by 12 zeros. 1,000,000,000,000.  The following digital photograph represents one billion dollars.

The next digital represents a trillion dollars.

Please notice the little guy, at the left of the stack.

You ready for this?

The Senate increased its total salaries of officers and employees by $12.6 million in the 2,232-page bill that lawmakers had fewer than forty-eight (48) hours to read and vote on. The bill avoids a government shutdown that would take place at midnight on Friday.

Aside from giving their own institutions a bonus, the omnibus bill also gives away millions to prevent “elderly falls,” promote breastfeeding, and fight “excessive alcohol use.”

The legislation increases the Senate budget to $919.9 million, up $48.8 million from fiscal year 2017, according to the congressional summary of the bill.

  • “The increase provides funding necessary for critical modernization and upgrades of the Senate financial management system and investments in IT security,” the summary states.
  • Salaries of staffers in the Senate are also set for an increase. Division Iof the legislation breaks down the total salaries of officers and employees, which are being raised from $182 million in 2017 to $194.8 million in the final bill, an increase of $12.58 million.
  • The Senate also increased its expense account, as expense allowances are going from $177,000 to $192,000, an increase of $15,000.
  • Committee offices got an increase of $22.9 million in salaries, from $181.5 million in 2017 to $204.4 million in the final bill.
  • Another $15 million goes to study “high obesity counties” and an increase of $5 million for the CDC program that seeks to “address obesity in counties” by leveraging “the community extension services provided by land grant universities who are mandated to translate science into practical action and promote healthy lifestyles.”
  • The bill also spends $2.05 million to prevent “elderly falls” and $8 million in the form of “breastfeeding grants.”
  • The legislation also mandatesthe Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to improve “wine label accuracy.”

I’m sure the bill does some very good things one being added money for our armed forces.  We have experienced in 2017 a terrible statistic—the number of casualties resulting from training our men and women in uniform exceeded the number of casualties in combat.  This is largely due to lack of funding for equipment maintenance and training.

I know or at least suspect, there is a great deal of behind-the-scenes activity on the part of each congressman and senator required for preparation prior to each legislative session.  Let’s take a look at the number of scheduled sessions over the past few years. Here are the number of legislative days for the House and Senate each year in recent history:

  • 2016: 131 in the House, 165 in the Senate.
  • 2015: 157 in the House, 168 in the Senate.
  • 2014: 135 in the House, 136 in the Senate.
  • 2013: 159 in the House, 156 in the Senate.
  • 2012: 153 in the House, 153 in the Senate.
  • 2011: 175 in the House, 170 in the Senate.
  • 2010: 127 in the House, 158 in the Senate.
  • 2009: 159 in the House, 191 in the Senate.
  • 2008: 119 in the House, 184 in the Senate.
  • 2007: 164 in the House, 190 in the Senate.
  • 2006: 101 in the House, 138 in the Senate.
  • 2005: 120 in the House, 159 in the Senate.
  • 2004: 110 in the House, 133 in the Senate.
  • 2003: 133 in the House, 167 in the Senate.
  • 2002: 123 in the House, 149 in the Senate.
  • 2001: 143 in the House, 173 in the Senate.

An “unhappy” President Donald Trump signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill into law Friday, his second about-face in twenty-four (24) hours on the measure to keep the government open.

The president said he approved the legislation to fund the government through September for national security reasons, as it authorizes a major increase in military spending that he supports. But he stressed that he did so reluctantly.

Trump slammed the rushed process to pass the more than 2,200-page bill released only Wednesday. Standing near the pile of documents, the president said he was “disappointed” in the legislation and would “never sign another bill like this again.”

So much for draining the swamp. We are good through September of this year and then we start all over again.  ALL OVER AGAIN!


Portions of this post are taken from the January 2018 article written by John Lewis of “Vision Systems”.

I feel there is considerable confusion between Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Deep Learning.  Seemingly, we use these terms and phrases interchangeably and they certainly have different meanings.  Natural Learning is the intelligence displayed by humans and certain animals. Why don’t we do the numbers:

AI:

Artificial Intelligence refers to machines mimicking human cognitive functions such as problem solving or learning.  When a machine understands human speech or can compete with humans in a game of chess, AI applies.  There are several surprising opinions about AI as follows:

  • Sixty-one percent (61%) of people see artificial intelligence making the world a better place
  • Fifty-seven percent (57%) would prefer an AI doctor perform an eye exam
  • Fifty-five percent (55%) would trust an autonomous car. (I’m really not there as yet.)

The term artificial intelligence was coined in 1956, but AI has become more popular today thanks to increased data volumes, advanced algorithms, and improvements in computing power and storage.

Early AI research in the 1950s explored topics like problem solving and symbolic methods. In the 1960s, the US Department of Defense took interest in this type of work and began training computers to mimic basic human reasoning. For example, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) completed street mapping projects in the 1970s. And DARPA produced intelligent personal assistants in 2003, long before Siri, Alexa or Cortana were household names. This early work paved the way for the automation and formal reasoning that we see in computers today, including decision support systems and smart search systems that can be designed to complement and augment human abilities.

While Hollywood movies and science fiction novels depict AI as human-like robots that take over the world, the current evolution of AI technologies isn’t that scary – or quite that smart. Instead, AI has evolved to provide many specific benefits in every industry.

MACHINE LEARNING:

Machine Learning is the current state-of-the-art application of AI and largely responsible for its recent rapid growth. Based upon the idea of giving machines access to data so that they can learn for themselves, machine learning has been enabled by the internet, and the associated rise in digital information being generated, stored and made available for analysis.

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. In the past decade, machine learning has given us self-driving cars, practical speech recognition, effective web search, and a vastly improved understanding of the human genome. Machine learning is so pervasive today that you probably use it dozens of times a day without knowing it. Many researchers also think it is the best way to make progress towards human-level understanding. Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it learn for themselves.

DEEP LEARNING:

Deep Learning concentrates on a subset of machine-learning techniques, with the term “deep” generally referring to the number of hidden layers in the deep neural network.  While conventional neural network may contain a few hidden layers, a deep network may have tens or hundreds of layers.  In deep learning, a computer model learns to perform classification tasks directly from text, sound or image data. In the case of images, deep learning requires substantial computing power and involves feeding large amounts of labeled data through a multi-layer neural network architecture to create a model that can classify the objects contained within the image.

CONCLUSIONS:

Brave new world we are living in.  Someone said that AI is definitely the future of computing power and eventually robotic systems that could possibly replace humans.  I just hope the programmers adhere to Dr. Isaac Asimov’s three laws:

 

  • The First Law of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

 

  • The Second Law of Robotics: A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

 

  • The Third Law of Robotics: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

With those words, science-fiction author Isaac Asimov changed how the world saw robots. Where they had largely been Frankenstein-esque, metal monsters in the pulp magazines, Asimov saw the potential for robotics as more domestic: as a labor-saving device; the ultimate worker. In doing so, he continued a literary tradition of speculative tales: What happens when humanity remakes itself in its image?

As always, I welcome your comments.

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