The convergence of “smart” microphones, new digital signal processing technology, voice recognition and natural language processing has opened the door for voice interfaces.  Let’s first define a “smart device”.

A smart device is an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.

I am told by my youngest granddaughter that all the cool kids now have in-home, voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home. These devices can play your favorite music, answer questions, read books, control home automation, and all those other things people thought the future was about in the 1960s. For the most part, the speech recognition of the devices works well; although you may find yourself with an extra dollhouse or two occasionally. (I do wonder if they speak “southern” but that’s another question for another day.)

A smart speaker is, essentially, a speaker with added internet connectivity and “smart assistant” voice-control functionality. The smart assistant is typically Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, both of which are independently managed by their parent companies and have been opened up for other third-parties to implement into their hardware. The idea is that the more people who bring these into their homes, the more Amazon and Google have a “space” in every abode where they’re always accessible.

Let me first state that my family does not, as yet, have a smart device but we may be inching in that direction.  If we look at numbers, we see the following projections:

  • 175 million smart devices will be installed in a majority of U.S. households by 2022 with at least seventy (70) million households having at least one smart speaker in their home. (Digital Voice Assistants Platforms, Revenues & Opportunities, 2017-2022. Juniper Research, November 2017.)
  • Amazon sold over eleven (11) million Alexa voice-controlled Amazon Echo devices in 2016. That number was expected to double for 2017. (Smart Home Devices Forecast, 2017 to 2022(US) Forester Research, October 2017.
  • Amazon Echo accounted for 70.6% of all voice-enabled speaker users in the United States in 2017, followed by Google Home at 23.8%. (eMarketer, April 2017)
  • In 2018, 38.5 million millennials are expected to use voice-enabled digital assistants—such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Now and Microsoft Cortana—at least once per month. (eMarketer, April 2017.)
  • The growing smart speaker market is expected to hit 56.3 million shipments, globally in 2018. (Canalys Research, January 2018)
  • The United States will remain the most important market for smart speakers in 2018, with shipments expected to reach 38.4 million units. China is a distant second at 4.4 million units. (Canalys Research, April 2018.)

With that being the case, let’s now look at what smart speakers are now commercialized and available either as online purchases or retail markets:

  • Amazon Echo Spot–$114.99
  • Sonos One–$199.00
  • Google Home–$129.00
  • Amazon Echo Show–$179.99
  • Google Home Max–$399.00
  • Google Home Mini–$49.00
  • Fabriq Choros–$69.99
  • Amazon Echo (Second Generation) –$$84.99
  • Harman Kardon Evoke–$199.00
  • Amazon Echo Plus–$149.00

CONCLUSIONS:  If you are interested in purchasing one from the list above, I would definitely recommend you do your homework.  Investigate the services provided by a smart speaker to make sure you are getting what you desire.  Be aware that there will certainly be additional items enter the marketplace as time goes by.  GOOD LUCK.

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ORGANIC MENTORING

February 4, 2018


By virtue of a seminar my wife attended this past Saturday, I was made aware of a very interesting book entitled “Organic Mentoring” by Sue Edwards and Barbara Neumann.  My wife attended that seminar and came home with rave reviews relative to the presentation by Ms. Neumann.  The basis for the discussion was the relationship between “Baby Boomers” and the “X” Generation and Millennials. To get calibrated:

  • BABY BOOMERS–In 1964, the last year of the baby boom, there were nearly 72.5 million baby boomers. The population peaked in 1999, with 78.8 million baby boomers, including people who immigrated to the United States and were born between 1946and
  • “X-GENERATION”— Born 1965 to 1976. Sometimes referred to as the “lost” generation, this was the first generation of “latchkey” kids, exposed to lots of daycare and divorce. Known
    as the generation with the lowest voting participation rate of any generation, Gen Xers were quoted by Newsweek as “the generation that dropped out without ever turning on the news or tuning in to the social issues around them.”
  • MILLENNIALS OR GEN Y– Born 1977 to 1995. The largest cohort since the Baby Boomers, their high numbers reflect their births as that of their parent generation. The last of the Boomer Is and most of the Boomer II S. Gen Y kids are known as incredibly sophisticated, technology
    wise, immune to most traditional marketing and sales pitches…as they not only grew up with it all, they’ve seen it all and been exposed to it all since early childhood.

In looking at the three age groups, it becomes obvious there are distinct differences between individuals representing each group.  Let’s now take a look at what the two authors feel are the most-obvious differences.  Here we go:

OLDER GENERATION OR BABY BOOMERS:

  • Scientific method. Information is gained through careful study leading to reliable principles. Life is guided by these proven facts and principles.
  • Life works best when it is carefully organized.
  • Rules: Rules keep things running smoothly and efficiently.
  • Structure and Schedule: Structure and schedules keep tings strong.
  • Responsibility and Commitment: People should be able to count on you. If you make a commitment you should keep it.
  • Logic: Correct thinking and behavior is based on objective principles.  A class with a teacher and study aid is the best manner in which to learn.
  • Career Comes First: Willing to make sacrifices for the sake of a career.
  • Good Role Model: It is very important to set a good example and you try very hard. Perfection is the goal. You keep mistakes to yourself because they make you look weak or unspiritual.
  • Truth Can be Known: Some things are obviously true, some are not and it is not difficult to tell the difference.
  • Religions Traditions: Church membership and attendance is important.  Bible study is a priority. Your spiritual experiences are personal and private.

SUMMARY:  Boomers and seniors tend to think and learn systematically and are drawn to use logic and reason to understand things.  They love structure, rules, organization, control, privacy, and formulas that always work. Personal experiences are private.

YOUNGER GENERATION (GEN X AND MILLENNIALS)

  • Shaped by Technology: Information is gained through technology.  They connect, communicate, and “do” live through technology.
  • Life is Messy: They live in a mix of chaos and order.  They are OK with loose ends.
  • Organic is Better: Prefer what is natural: less formal, less structure, less organization. Attracted to simple and natural opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Requires Flexibility: Flexibility is a must to make their crowded schedules work.
  • Value-Added: They only make time for that which yields high value.
  • Experiential: Prefers to learn through experience.  They want “hands-on” truth instead of principles: they do not like formulas, pat answers, or five (5) steps.  They learn more through other’s life stories.
  • Development of Self Comes First: They want to develop themselves, and make positive contributions to the world.  Not attracted to jobs that put career above personal life.
  • Demands Authenticity: Open about themselves and their struggles: insists others be real with them; do not trust those they know nothing about or those who appear too perfect.
  • Relativistic: Truth is sometimes relative, there is not necessarily one right answer to every question.
  • Spiritually: Tends to be lukewarm about the church, membership is not a priority; they embrace the mysterious side of God; there is more than one way to be a Christian.

SUMMARY:  Next generation individuals think and learn in experiential ways, require flexibility, thrive in relationships and community, demand authenticity, love deep spirituality, value natural learning experiences, and are not typically drawn to traditional churches.

CONCLUSIONS:

I’m going to let you decide for yourself.  I personally know two young ladies in the “X” Generation that do NOT conform to conventional wisdom.  I suppose we all know people who do not.  I think individuals are much too complicated to be placed in groups and analyzed accordingly.

MOST HATED COMPANIES

February 3, 2018


The list of the “most hated American companies” was provided by KATE GIBSON in the MONEYWATCH web site, February 1, 2018, 2:20 PM.  The text and narrative is this author’s.

Corporate America is sometimes, but not always, blamed for a number of misdeeds, swindles, “let’s bash the little guy”, etc. behavior.  Many times, those charges are warranted.   You get the picture.   Given below, is a very quick list of the twenty (20) most hated U.S. companies.  This list is according to 24/7 Wall St., which took customer surveys, employee reviews and news events into account in devising its list: ( I might mention the list is in descending order so the most-egregious offender is at the bottom.

  • The Weinstein Company. I think we can all understand this one but I strongly believe most of the employees of The Weinstein Company are honest hard-working individuals who do their job on a daily basis.  One big problem—you CANNOT tell me the word did not get around relative to Weinstein’s activities.  Those who knew are definitely complicit and should be ashamed of themselves.  This includes those holier-than-thou- actresses and actors pretending not-to-know.
  • United Airlines. The Chicago-based carrier is still in the dog housewith customers after a video of a passenger being forcibly removed from his seat on an overbooked flight went viral last year. You simply do NOT treat individuals, much less customers, in the manner in which this guy was treated.  I wonder how much money United has lost due to the video?
  • Fake news, deceptive ads, invasion of privacy.  You get the picture and YET millions subscribe.  This post will be hyperlinked to Facebook to improve readership.  That’s about the only reason I use the website.
  • I don’t really know these birds but apparently the telecom, one of the nation’s biggest internet and telephone service providers, reportedly gets poor reviews from customers and employees alike. I think that just might be said for many of the telecoms.
  • This one baffles me to a great extent but the chemical company has drawn public ire at a lengthy list of harmful products, including DDT, PCBs and Agent Orange. Most recently, it’s accused of causing cancer in hundreds exposed to its weed killer, Roundup.
  • I’m a Comcast subscriber and let me tell you their customer service is the WORST. They are terrible.  Enough said.
  • I have taken Uber multiple times with great success but there are individuals who have been harassed.  Hit by complaints of sexual harassment at the company and a video of its then-CEO Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver, the company last year faced a slew of lawsuit and saw 13 executives resign, including Kalanick.
  • Sears Holdings. Sears plans to close more than one hundred (100) additional stores through the spring of 2018, with the count of Sears and Kmart stores already down to under 1,300 from 3,467 in 2007. Apparently, customer satisfaction is a huge problem also.  The retail giant needs a facelift and considerable management help to stay viable in this digital on-line-ordering world.
  • Trump Organization.  At this point in time, Donald Trumpis the least popular president in U.S. history, with a thirty-five (35) percent approval rating at the end of December. That disapproval extends to the Trump brand, which includes golf courses, a hotel chain and real estate holdings around the globe. One again, I suspect that most of the employees working for “the Donald” are honest hard-working individuals.
  • Wells Fargo. At one time, I had a Wells Fargo business account. NEVER AGAIN. I won’t go into detail.
  • The insurance industry is not exactly beloved, and allegations of fraud have not helped Cigna’s case. Multiple lawsuits allege the company inflated medical costs and overcharged customers.
  • Spirit Airlines. I’ve flown Spirit Airlines and you get what you pay for. I do not know why customers do not know that but it is always the case.  You want to be treated fairly, fly with other carriers.
  • Vice Media The media organization has lately been roiled by allegations of systemic sexual harassment, dating back to 2003. One of these day some bright individual in the corporate offices will understand you must value your employees.
  • The telecom gets knocked for poor customer experiences that could in part be due to service, with Sprint getting low grades for speed and data, as well as calling, texting and overall reliability.
  • Foxconn Technology Group. Once again, I’m not that familiar with Foxconn Technology Group. The company makes and assembles consumer electronics for entities including Apple and Nintendo. It’s also caught attention for poor working and living conditions after a series of employee suicides at a compound in China. It recently drew negative press for a planned complex in Wisconsin.
  • Electronic Arts. The video-game maker known for its successful franchises is also viewed poorly by gamers for buying smaller studios or operations for a specific game and then taking away its originality.
  • University of Phoenix. I would expect every potential student wishing to go on-line for training courses do their homework relative to the most-desirable provider. The University of Phoenix does a commendable job in advertising but apparently there are multiple complaints concerning the quality of services.
  • I’m a little burned out with the NFL right now. My Falcons and Titans have had a rough year and I’m ready to move on to baseball. Each club sets their own spring training reporting dates each year, though all camps open the same week. Pitchers and catchers always arrive first. The position players don’t have to show up until a few days later. Here are this year’s reporting dates for the 15 Cactus League teams, the teams that hold spring training in Arizona.
  • Fox Entertainment Group. If you do not like the channel—do something else.  I bounce back and forth across the various schedules to find something I really obtain value-added from.  The Food Network, the History Channel, SEC Network.  You choose.  There are hundreds of channels to take a look at.
  • The consumer credit reporting was hit by a massive hack last year, exposing the personal data of more than 145 million Americans and putting them at risk of identity theft. Arguably worse, the company sat on the information for a month before letting the public know.

CONCLUSIONS:  In looking at this survey, there are companies that deserve their most-hated-status and, in my opinion, some that do not.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  As always, I welcome your comments.

OOPS

January 14, 2018


‘He feels really bad’: Civil Defense employee who sparked terror in Hawaii by accidentally triggering ballistic MISSILE warning will be ‘retrained’ say officials after thousands fled to bomb shelters.”

  • The alert was issued to residents’ phones at 8.07am on Saturday morning
  •  It told them to seek shelter and warned of an ‘inbound ballistic missile threat’   
  • It took 38 minutes for a second phone alert to be issued across the state 
  • By then, terrified residents had flocked to shelters and into their garages 
  • Civil Defense employee accidentally hit alert, was unaware until his phone got it
  •  An FCC investigation into the incident is underway, officials said.

A Civil Defense employee is set to be retrained after a shocking blunder on Saturday morning, when a mistaken alert warning of an inbound ballistic missile sent thousands fleeing for shelter. The false alarm was caused by a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee who ‘pushed the wrong buttons’ during an internal drill timed to coincide with a shift handover at 8.07am. The all-clear phone alert was not sent until 38 minutes later.  Incredibly, officials said the employee who made the mistake wasn’t aware of it until mobile phones in the command center began displaying the alert. ‘This guy feels bad, right. He’s not doing this on purpose – it was a mistake on his part and he feels terrible about it,’ said EMA Administrator Vern Miyagi in a press conference Saturday afternoon. Miyagi, a retired Army major general, said the employee had been with the agency for ‘a while’ and that he would be ‘counseled and drilled so this never happens again’ – but stopped short of saying whether there would be disciplinary measures.

He feels terrible about it.  Give me a break.  I do not want to be unkind here and we all make mistakes but this is a big one.   At one time in our history, we had the DEW Line or Distant Early Warning Line.  The DEW Line was a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada, with additional stations along the North Coast and Aleutian Islands of Alaska, in addition to the Faroe Islands,

Greenland, and Iceland.   The DEW line was replaced by The North Warning System and is presently composed of forty-seven (47) unmanned long and short-range radar stations extending across the Northern portion of the North American continent from Labrador to Alaska.  In 1985, it replaced the DEW Line.

In 2014, Raytheon won a five (5) year contract for the North Warning System.  The “system” is basically shown by the following digital:

The system now supports air surveillance under the North American Aerospace Defense Command.  The Federal government says Raytheon had the lowest bid, and provides the best economic benefits for Inuit.

If we take a look at distances and trajectory, we see from the following global map:

The Taepo Dong 3 ICBM missile has a range of approximately 13,000 miles which means the travel times from North Korea to the following sites is within a virtual “blink of an eye”. Based on this link, taking the more conservative speed estimate :

10,500 meters/sec = 23,400 mph (This may be optimistic – 23,000 mph is Mach 30, which is way above the usual ICBM top speed of around Mach 20 at reentry.)

DISTANCES FROM PYONGYANG TO:

To New York = 6,800 miles

To Los Angeles = 5,900 miles

To Houston = 7,000 miles

SO, TIME TAKEN TO REACH:

New York = 17 minutes

Los Angeles = 16 minutes

Houston = 18 minutes

Add maybe ten to fifteen (10 –15) additional minutes to the above times for the rocket to accelerate to max speed, then decelerate on reentry.  With that being the case, we are looking at thirty (30) minutes or less for impact.

What I’m saying; North American Aerospace Defense Command would detect a missile launched from North Korea, provide (hopefully) an almost immediate alert to Hawaii, Guam and the North American continent, THEN the respective individuals in each state or area would sound the alert to their citizens.  WE ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT ALLOW ONE “ALMOST TRAINED” INDIVIDUAL THIS RESPONSIBILITY.  What were we thinking?  What were we thinking.  Our level of complacency in this area is shameful.  Luckily, no one was injured or died of a heart attack as a result of this HUGE error.  The governor of Hawaii seemed to sluff this off as just an OOPS. OOPS is when I lock my keys in my car.  OOPS is when I forget to bring in the mail.  OOPS is when I miss a dental appointment.  This is not really an OOPS.  This is DUMB. We need to fix DUMB.


According to the “Electronic Design Magazine”, ‘Electronic waste is the fastest-growing form of waste. Electromechanical waste results from the Digital Revolution.  The Digital Revolution refers to the advancement of technology from analog electronic and mechanical devices to the digital technology available today. The era started to during the 1980s and is ongoing. The Digital Revolution also marks the beginning of the Information Era.

The Digital Revolution is sometimes also called the Third Industrial Revolution. The development and advancement of digital technologies started with one fundamental idea: The Internet. Here is a brief timeline of how the Digital Revolution progressed:

  • 1947-1979 – The transistor, which was introduced in 1947, paved the way for the development of advanced digital computers. The government, military and other organizations made use of computer systems during the 1950s and 1960s. This research eventually led to the creation of the World Wide Web.
  • 1980s – The computer became a familiar machine and by the end of the decade, being able to use one became a necessity for many jobs. The first cellphone was also introduced during this decade.
  • 1990s – By 1992, the World Wide Web had been introduced, and by 1996 the Internet became a normal part of most business operations. By the late 1990s, the Internet became a part of everyday life for almost half of the American population.
  • 2000s – By this decade, the Digital Revolution had begun to spread all over the developing world; mobile phones were commonly seen, the number of Internet users continued to grow, and the television started to transition from using analog to digital signals.
  • 2010 and beyond – By this decade, Internet makes up more than 25 percent of the world’s population. Mobile communication has also become very important, as nearly 70 percent of the world’s population owns a mobile phone. The connection between Internet websites and mobile gadgets has become a standard in communication. It is predicted that by 2015, the innovation of tablet computers will far surpass personal computers with the use of the Internet and the promise of cloud computing services. This will allow users to consume media and use business applications on their mobile devices, applications that would otherwise be too much for such devices to handle.

In the United States, E-waste represents approximately two percent (2%) of America’s trash in landfills, but seventy percent (70%) of the overall toxic waste.  American recycles about 679,000 tons of E-waste annually, and that figure does not include a large portion of electronics such as TV, DVD and VCR players, and related TV electronics. According to the EPA, E-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream.  Not only is electromechanical waste a major environmental problem it contains valuable resources that could generate revenue and be used again.  Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals, such as gold, and silver.  Americans dump phones containing more than sixty million ($60,000,000) dollars in gold and silver each year.

The United States and China generated the most e-waste last year – thirty-two (32%) percent of the world’s total. However, on a per capita basis, several countries famed for their environmental awareness and recycling records lead the way. Norway is on top of the world’s electronic waste mountain, generating 62.4 pounds per inhabitant.

Technology has made a significant difference in the ability to deal and handle E-waste products.  One country, Japan, is making a major effort to deal with the problem. Japan has approximately one hundred (100) major electronic waste facilities, as well as numerous smaller, local collection and operating facilities.  From those one hundred major plants, more than thirty (30) utilize the Kubota Vertical Shredder to reduce the overall size of the assemblies. Recycling technology company swissRTec has announced that one of its key products, the Kubota Vertical Shredder, is now available in the United States to take care of E-waste.

WHY IS E-WASTE RECYCLING IMPORTANT:

If we look at why recycling E-waste is important, we see the following:

  • Rich Source of Raw Materials Internationally, only ten to fifteen (10-15) percent of the gold in e-waste is successfully recovered while the rest is lost. Ironically, electronic waste contains deposits of precious metal estimated to be between forty and fifty (40 and 50) times richer than ores mined from the earth, according to the United Nations.
  • Solid Waste Management Because the explosion of growth in the electronics industry, combined with short product life cycle has led to a rapid escalation in the generation of solid waste.
  • Toxic Materials Because old electronic devices contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium, proper processing is essential to ensure that these materials are not released into the environment. They may also contain other heavy metals and potentially toxic chemical flame retardants.
  • International Movement of Hazardous Waste The uncontrolled movement of e-waste to countries where cheap labor and primitive approaches to recycling have resulted in health risks to local residents exposed to the release of toxins continues to an issue of concern.

We are fortunate in Chattanooga to have an E-cycling “stations”.  ForeRunner does just that.  Here is a cut from their web site:

“… with more than 15 years in the computer \ e waste recycling field, Forerunner Computer Recycling has given Chattanooga companies a responsible option to dispose end of life cycle and surplus computer equipment. All Chattanooga based companies face the task of safely disposing of older equipment and their e waste. The EPA estimates that as many as 500 million computers \e- waste will soon become obsolete.

As Chattanooga businesses upgrade existing PCs, more computers and other e waste are finding their way into the waste stream. According to the EPA, over two million tons of electronics waste is discarded each year and goes to U.S. landfills.

Now you have a partner in the computer \ e waste recycling business who understands your need to safely dispose of your computer and electronic equipment in an environmentally responsible manner.

By promoting reuse – computer recycling and electronic recycling – Forerunner Computer Recycling extends the life of computer equipment and reduce e waste. Recycle your computers, recycle your electronics.”

CONCLUSIONS:

I definitely encourage you to look up the recycling E-waste facility in your city or county.  You will be doing our environment a great service in doing so.

ABIBLIOPHOBIA

January 10, 2018


Abibliophobia is the fear of running out of reading material.  Basically, just look up the Greek root-phobia and add whatever word you are afraid of, replace the ending with -o- and couple the results with phobia.  If you have any experience with libraries, the Internet, the back of soup cans, etc. you know there is more than enough material out there to be read and digested. It amazes me that this word has just “popped” up of the last few years.

Now, the World Wide Web is a cavernous source of reading material.  Indeed, it’s a bigger readers’ repository than the world has ever known, so it seems rather ironic that the term abibliophobia appears to have been coined on the Web during the last three or four years. It would seem impossible for anyone with regular access to the Internet to be an abibliophobe (someone suffering from a fear of running out of reading material) or to become abibliophobic when more and more reading matter is available by the hour.  Let’s look at just what is available to convince the abibliophobic individual that there is no fear of running out of reading material.

  • There Are More Than 440 Million Blogs In The World. By October 2011, there were an estimated 173 million blogs Nielsen estimates that by the end of 2011, that number had climbed to 181 million. That was four years after Tumblr launched, and in May 2011, there were just 17.5 million Tumblr blogs.  Today, there are over 360 million blogs on Tumblr alone, and there are millions more on other platforms. While there are some reliable statistics on the number of blogs in 2011, things have changed dramatically with the rise of services like Tumblr, WordPress, Squarespace, Medium and more. Exactly how many blogs there are in the world is difficult to know, but what’s clear is that blogs online number in the hundreds of millions. The total number of blogs on TumblrSquarespace, and WordPress alone equals over 440 million. In actuality, the total number of blogs in the world likely greatly exceeds this number. We do know that content is being consumed online more widely, more quickly, and more voraciously than ever before.
  • According to WordPress, 76.3 million posts are published on WordPress each month, and more than 409 million people view 22.3 billion blog pages each month. It’s interesting to see that there are about 1 billion websites and blogs in the world today. But that figure is not as helpful as looking at the other statistics involving blogging. For example, did you know that more than 409 million people on WordPress view more than 23.6 billion pages each month? Did you know that each month members produce 69.5 million new posts?
  • Websites with a blog have over 434% more indexed pages.
  • 76% of online marketers say they plan to add more content over the 2018 year.
  • There are an estimated 119,487 libraries of all kinds in the United States today.
  • It is estimated that there are 000 libraries in the world. Russia, India and China have about 50.000 each.

Thanks to Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, the written word flourished after he invented the printing press.  Gutenberg in 1439 was the first European to use movable type. Among his many contributions to printing are: the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type; the use of oil-based ink for printing books; adjustable molds; mechanical movable type; and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system that allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg’s method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mold for casting type. The alloy was a mixture of lead, tin, and antimony melted at a relatively low temperature for faster and more economical casting.  His invention was a game-changing event for all prospective readers the world over.  No longer will there be a fear of or absence of material to read.

CONCLUSIONS:

I think the basic conclusion here is not the fear of having no reading material but the fear of reading.

  • If I read, I might miss my favorite TV programs.
  • If I read, I might miss that important phone call.
  • Why read when I can TWEET?
  • Why read when I can stream Netflix or HULU?
  • I’m such a slow reader. It just takes too much time.
  • I cannot find any subject I’m really that interested in.
  • I really have no quite place to read.
  • ___________________ Fill in the blanks.

Reading does take a commitment, so why not set goals and commit?


Mom and Dad taught us how to read so why have I not heard about, until now, the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Index?  I suppose better late than never.  Let’s take a look.

Rudolph Flesch, an author, writing consultant, and the supporter of Plain English Movement, is the co-author of this formula along with John P. Kincaid, thus the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Test. Raised in Austria, Flesch studied law and earned a Ph.D. in English from the Columbia University. Flesch, through his writings and speeches, advocated a return to phonics. In his article, A New Readability Yardstick, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 1948, Flesch proposed the Reading Ease Readability Formula.

In the mid-seventies, the US Navy was looking for a method to measure the difficulty of technical manuals and documents used by Navy personnel.  These manuals were used for training on hardware and software installed on ships and land-based equipment.  Test results are not immediately meaningful and to make sense of the score requires the aid of a conversion table. So, the Flesch Reading Ease test was revisited and, along with other readability tests, the formula was amended to be more suitable for use in the Navy. The new calculation was the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (1975).  The methodology is given as follows:

Grade level classifications are based on the attainment of participants in the norming group on which the test was given.  The grade represents norming group participants’ typical score. So, if a piece of text has a grade level readability score of six (6), this is equivalent in difficulty to the average reading level of the norming group who were at grade six (6 ) when they took the test. This test rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example, a score of 8.0 means an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

The actual formula and classification of the individual grades may be seen below:

Now, with that out of the way, President Donald Trump—who boasted over the weekend that his success in life was a result of “being, like, really smart”—communicates at the lowest grade level of the last 15 presidents, according to a new analysis of the speech patterns of presidents going back to Herbert Hoover. 

 

I want to come to President Trump’s defense, somewhat, as an employee at General Electric, we were told to write our Use and Care Manuals at a fifth (5th) grade level AND use plenty of pictures—plenty of pictures.  This President will probably never win an award for public speaking, and he communicates in a rather unique manner:  He does get his point across.

The very painful fact is that we have basically slaughtered the “King’s English” and our presidents are playing to a much less sophisticated audience than ever before.  The following chart will explain.

Sad—very sad.

As always, I welcome your comments.

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