Smartphones can be virtual love toys

We all know that the world is more interconnected than at any other point in human history right?  I mean we can send a message right from the palm of our hands all away across the globe in an instant.  Have a friend living in Hong Kong and you want to tell them something?  Well, just whip out your smartphone; tap out whatever your message is, press send, and POW; in the blink of an eye your friend in Hong Kong got it.  For anyone who was born before this kind of technology was in existence it must surely still be a marvel.  For those growing up with it, I am sure many don’t even give this ability a second thought.

The interesting thing about all forms and advances in communication is that shortly after each of these advancements it isn’t too long before someone out there uses it for more amorous intentions.  I am willing to bet one of the first things language was used for was some sort of flirtatious, sexual advancement; granted we will never know, but c’mon, we’re only human.  Then can writing, and again, I am willing to bet that shortly after its invention came the first love letter; so down the line of communicative mediums we go, and each brought with it sexuality at some level or another.  Sure, some of it was subtle, such as with mass media inventions like radio and television, while others not so much, such as with more personal forms of media communications, like the telephone, pay-per-view, and the internet.

Well, in the 21st century the intimate phenomena carries on, what with people “sexting,” for those who may not know that is sending text messages to another that have sexual overtones, and now that every wireless phone is also a camera and video recorder, well then I will let your imagination take you wherever it can, with regards to what some people do with those features.

It now appears that some ingenious people have, umm “uncovered” a hidden ability of the smartphone, using Bluetooth technology.  Knowing that sex sells, and that pretty much everyone has a smartphone, with built in Bluetooth abilities, comes LovePalz, the first love toy of its kind that can interact with your partner through a wireless connection.  Let’s say you are in London on business, and your sweetie is in Dallas and the two of you miss each other and are in want of some amorous time.  Well, according to the company that manufactures these devices you can both participate in some long distance friskiness through the utilization of their invention, which can “read” each participants body motions and simulate them to your partner, wherever they maybe.  Never let it be said that we don’t live in, well, let’s just call them “interesting” times.


It’s National Drink a Beer Day (insert beer slogan here)

Today is Friday, and like the old song by the 1980’s band Loverboy says, “everybody’s working for the weekend.”  I used to sing this song out loud every Friday, because (1) Despite the age and cheesiness of that song, I really kind of like it; and (2) Because I knew that I was just hours away from the official start of the coming weekend; which is Friday night.

Friday evenings tend to be when many a hard working soul leaves work and stops off at their favorite watering hole to meet with friends and colleagues and have a beer or two, maybe three, and hopefully not too many more after that, for safety and health sake.  Everybody’s working for the weekend indeed.

Well, in case many of you weren’t aware, today, Friday, September 28th, is national drink a beer day.  This means that there will be/are many people who will inadvertently participate in this national day of suds imbibing, and now, armed with this knowledge, maybe a few other people will decide to crack open a cold one to honor this day.

Despite the recent growth in American consumption of either spirits (cocktails) or wine, beer is still the chosen adult beverage of this nation.  Even our sitting President is a well-documented enjoyer of having an occasional brewski, what with the White House’s recent release of President Obama’s favorite beer recipes.

To further illustrate the popularity of beer in America there is a boom happening in the so called “craft” beer market, perhaps best illustrated in the above mentioned release of the President’s favorite beer recipes; and when the with a 15% growth rate, year over year, in this segment of the beer universe.

So, if you haven’t done so already, may I suggest having a cold beer this evening in honor of National Drink a Beer day?  You worked hard all week, I think you deserve it.


Hogwash on the Impending Bacon Shortage

Okay, who here likes bacon?  Sometimes referred to as the chocolate of the meats, well I know I have heard it at least once, from a friend, so feel free to use that reference as you wish.  Well, according to many media reports out there, we may be heading for a worldwide shortage of not just bacon, but pork in general.  This news is truly disheartening for the many bacon and pork eaters out there.

Why are their reports for an impending bacon shortage out there?  Well, look no further than that evil ruler of natural phenomena, Mother Nature.  Because of the long drought we had (still have?) here in America, and other grain producing countries too, meant that food prices for livestock (which is grain based) soared.  Because of the soaring food for livestock prices meant that livestock farmers sold their herds earlier than usual this year.  Because they sold their livestock earlier, there weren’t as many animals going to slaughter; and so on and so forth.  That is my very elementary cause and affect analysis of the situation.

So, holy ham and cheese sandwiches Batman!  How are we going to possibly make it through this dark time?

Relax, because some of the very same media outlets who have launched this “catastrophe” to the fore of public attention have now decided to take a more practical look at this “porkocalypse” and use reason and rational thought to explain that there will not — repeat, there will NOT be a worldwide shortage of pork products.

How is this possible given my elementary cause and affect trail above?

Well it is because of how markets work:

First, as long as prices are allowed to rise and fall freely, there can be no shortage. Shortages only occur when the government fixes prices and consumers want more supply than exists. That results in rationing. There’s zero evidence to suggest the government would do that . . . (

Oh, and there is the fact that the initial report on the impending end of pork as we know it was released as a scare tactic by British pig farmers in the UK to prop up pork prices.  In short, it was “pork propaganda.”  So, pork products might be more expensive, but there still should be plenty of it go around.


American Students Reading and Writing Scores Hit a 40 Year Low

So, the American high school class of 2012 has set a new standard, and I don’t think it is one to be particularly proud of; they have lowered the bar of academic excellence to a forty year low.  That is not a typo; I said “lowered.”  The class of 2012 broke through the glass floor, sort to speak, set by last year’s graduating class, in the Verbal (Reading) section of the SAT; with an average score of 496.

It doesn’t just stop there though, because the trend in scores is decidedly down, and has been plunging ever lower since 1972 when the average score was 530.

There are some who defend this score, and I guess by default the trend too, by stating that each year there are more and more students taking the SAT’s, and with the increase in students taking the test it also means that there are a higher number of minorities, and non-native English speakers.  While statistically speaking this statement may be true, it really kind of misses the point.  So we should forget the apparent failure of the school system in preparing ALL (regardless of their ethnicity or national origin) students academically.  To me the defenders throwing out the minorities and immigrant card is a cop out.

The hits don’t just stop with a new low in the Verbal section; a new low was set in the writing section too, with the average score being 488.  So, while past performance is not indicative of future results, it is hard not to try and extrapolate where we as a country might be heading based on the downward trend in test scores, and I believe Mike Judge made a movie about it called “Idiocracy.”

One other thing that I think is interesting about this downward trend in average test scores on such fundamental things like reading and writing, and that is that the Federal Department of Education was established on October 17, 1979.  One should expect that with government monies being thrown at it (education) that test scores should be rising, and yet they are falling . . . hmm.


New York City Schools to Hand out Morning After Pills

New York City; the city that never sleeps; ask anyone who is from there and they will tell you that sun rises and sets on the Big Apple.  It isn’t too surprising that New Yorkers would think this way, because that fair hamlet has pretty much always been a pretty important town in America; even back when it was called New Amsterdam.

Let’s look at what New York City is home of:

-It is the home of America’s financial industry, and widely regarded as the financial capital of the world, with the New York Stock Exchange on Wall St.

-It is home to America’s theater with Broadway.

– It is home of the United Nations

– It is home to the New York Yankees and their 27 World Series Titles

– It is home to Mayor Michael Bloomberg

I think we should stop there for a minute, because we can explore some things about New York’s beloved mayor.  He is the man responsible for the ban of smoking in all buildings in that city.  He single handedly banned all restaurants from serving foods with Trans fats.  He decreed that his citizens shall not be able to buy soft drinks larger than 16 ounces.  He wishes to put a blockade on baby formula being sold with in his kingdom, and is said to soon target alcohol consumption too.

Yep, you gotta love a city that allows it citizens so much freedom.

Well, it now appears the city that won’t allow adults the use of legal products has decided that it will grant adolescents, particularly young women, access to some free health care.  What kind of free health care?  Well, high school nurses can now dole out the so called “morning after pill” to women as young as 14.  This is an effort to curb teenage pregnancy and these pills can be handed out with parental notification — however, parents can choose to have their daughters to opt out of the program.  So far about 2% of parents have opted out of this, which I admit seems to be surprisingly low, but there it is.

What I find interesting is that a city which seems to think that adults don’t know what’s good for them; thus all of the banning of soft drinks, cigarettes, baby formula, etc. etc., also seems to think that 14 years old girls know what they are getting into by offering these pills to them.  It just seems a strange juxtaposition of thought processes there.

The other thing is that since these are public schools you know who is paying for this?  Yep, you guessed it the NYC taxpayer.

It is noble to try and reduce teenage pregnancies, I really do.  However, I do have to ask one question, where are the parents?  Shouldn’t the parents be the frontline of educating their children about the consequences of unprotected sex?  Sure, that isn’t going to solve the problem, but neither is simply doling out morning after pills either.  I suppose a case could be made that this program might cause other issues, but we will have to wait awhile to see, as this is a new program.

Maybe the citizens of New York City are now at the point where they expect their government and their officials to provide all the answers to all of their problems?  Maybe they simply cannot exist without the help and support of Uncle Bloomberg and his do-gooding team of bureaucrats and their minions?  Maybe New York City is the tip of the iceberg that is the end of the individual?


Man Flies 5000 Miles to Find Woman

Love has a way of making people, I think mostly men; do some things that aren’t exactly what one might call everyday activities.  That is of course if you allow yourself to fall prey to romance.  I have in the past done some pretty silly things, like sending a girl I liked a poem I had written – it didn’t work.  I have also sent flowers to an object of my affections — that too didn’t work.  Come to think of it none of my romantic gestures have ever worked in the wooing of a woman.  Me thinks those romantic comedies are full of it.

Anyway, enough about my romantic failures, because they are small when compared to what one Canadian Dentist did with romance on his mind.  Sandy Crocker was on vacation with his brother in Ireland in the summer of 2011 when he had a chance encounter with a woman in a café in Ennistymon.

He and his brother were there eating breakfast before going on a hike when he noticed this woman also eating, but as any good gentleman would, he waited until she was done eating before he approached her.

When she was done, he stopped her to ask her a question, and it wasn’t some cheesy pick-up line either — however given my romantic history, maybe it was a cheesy pick-up line, so what do I know.  Anyway, the question he asked was for directions to where he and his brother were going hiking.  Mr. Crocker says his entire encounter lasted two minutes, a short encounter by almost any standard.  Sandy and his brother went on their hike, and then left Ireland back to Canada the next day.

For the ensuing year Sandy kept having a nagging feeling that there was a connection between he and this Irish lass; oh and his brother would give him a good ribbing about her too.  Sandy says there was not a day that went by where he didn’t think about her, a woman whom he didn’t even know her name. So, Sandy Crocker did what anyone would have done — maybe not anyone.  He took four weeks off from work (only in Europe and Canada can a four week vacation be possible) and went back to Ireland in the hope of finding this woman whom he describes as being in her mid to late twenties, red hair, and freckles.

All I have to say, on behalf of romantics everywhere, good luck in your quest Sandy.


Sixty Percent of Respondents Don’t Trust the Media

Did you know there once was a time when the news, now commonly referred to as the media, reported things?  There were investigative reporters who did actually what their titles suggest; they investigated reports on all kinds of things, sports, politics, corporations, etc. etc.; and then they provided the information that they found to the public.  Today we are more provided with editorials by the media, which are merely the opinions of those providing them, but these opinions are all gussied up as factual reportage.  It is then no small wonder that according to a recent Gallup poll that shows 60% of respondents do not trust the media to fully, accurately, or fairly report the news.

I find this poll kind of interesting, because we now have media outlets that are unabashedly biased towards one side or the other.  MSNBC is decidedly on the side of the Democratic Party, Fox News is in lock step with the Republican Party, and CNN; well CNN is something.  So, here we have 60% of respondents to a poll no longer trusting the media, and the media trying to cater their news to specific audiences.  Think about that for a minute.

How can you trust the news to be reported fully, accurately, or fairly if it “reported” with a particular slant — even if it is a slant you favor?  It ceases being news and starts resembling propaganda.  I can tell you that I hardly watch any of the 24 hour “news”/media outlets, simply because I don’t like the dogged adherence to political leanings when I just want to know the facts.  Not the facts according to left or right, but the facts presented in a calm rational fashion with as little bias as possible.  I say “as little bias” as possible because we are all human and carry our biases around with us wherever we go, so some of it is going to seep into whatever we do.  The key to reportage is to try and suppress that bias as much as possible.  In today’s media the bias is no longer suppressed, but unleashed, and that truly makes honest reportage next to impossible.


No More Smiling at New Jersey’s DMV

If residents in New Jersey having to explain away MTV’s mysteriously popular TV show “Jersey Shore” or even the ever so slightly more umm, upscale, “Real House Wives of New Jersey,” hasn’t swiped more than a few smiles off of some resident’s faces.  Let alone the fact that state is almost repeatedly bashed by comedians on late night talk shows, which must manage to take a few more smiles off of those living in New Jersey.  Knowing all of this it wouldn’t surprise me if the only people in New Jersey smiling are those people “starring” on those two “reality” television shows — their probably not just smiling, but laughing:  laughing all the way to the bank that is.  Hopefully though the people of New Jersey have a good sense of humor, and take all of the jokes and bad portrayals in stride, and maybe quite a few get a chuckle out of them too, but, there is something (more like somewhere) that New Jersey residents are told not to smile about; and it is the DMV.

I know, I know, who in their right mind would be smiling while at the DMV?  Just the thought of going there is enough to wipe the smile off of pretty much everyone’s face.  Well, it isn’t the going to, or the being there where the New Jersey DMV is telling people not to smile, it is when you get to the having your photo taken.  Yes, you are not allowed to have, “Exaggerated facial expressions, like smiling widely” when you finally make it to the camera, after the ordeal of spending hours at the DMV — you know the part where you might smile out of relief that this chore is almost over?

The reason for the ban on smiling widely is because it can confuse the facial recognition software that is searching through a photographic database for known bad guys.  For the record though you will notice that it says “Exaggerated facial expressions, like smiling widely” so I am sure a coy little smirk is okay.  Besides, I don’t know too many people out there who smile like they just won a prize when they get their Driver’s License photo taken; but I also don’t ask to see a photo ID of everyone I meet.


A Leap in the Advancement of Solar Energy

Technology can be awesome, and it is the human curiosity that has propelled humankind forward from out of the caves and into the heated and air conditioned residences many of us live in today.  Without our innate thirst for knowledge it is pretty easy to say that our lives would bear a decidedly different look than what we call normal.  The thing about most modern technologies today is that they are directly linked to, and consume electricity.

Think about it, almost everything we have now is, or can be plugged in so that it does whatever it is that it is supposed to do; and more and more people in the world are getting more and more things that require electricity.

The present electrical supplies come by and large from the use of fossil fuels, which are finite in their abundance (or lack thereof).  This knowledge is what has driven many a smart person in the world to use their innate curiosities to seek out alternate sources of energy to help take the some of the demand off of the finite resources that have been the status quo for over 100 years.

Some of the attempts are boondoggles, some show promise, but no stone should be left unturned (sort to speak) in trying to find the “next big thing.”  One of the brightest sources of energy is the sun (pun intended), unfortunately though solar cells are still pretty darn expensive, and aren’t as efficient in converting sunlight into energy as even many proponents for this energy would like.  Nonetheless, research continues, and improvements are constantly being made.

Take for example Beta torics created by Barcelona based architectural firm Rawlemon.  It looks like a giant glass marble, but it is 35% more efficient in solar energy conversion than current photovoltaic solar panels.  These solar orbs can concentrate so much light energy (up to 10,000 times) that they will even work in moonlight; the night time has always been the bane of solar energy.  I don’t know about you, but I believe this is what is called progress.

Look Out Star Trek, NASA is Working on a Real Warp Drive

I am a fan of science fiction, particularly when it comes to outer space.  I suppose that is a result of being born at the end of NASA’s Apollo manned moon missions, as well as watching the original Star Trek television series (in syndication, I’m not THAT old) and still being in elementary school when the first Star Wars movies came out.

With regards to the Apollo missions it seemed to put us squarely on a path towards more manned missions into and around our solar system.  Sadly, for those of us who were eager to launch mankind to other planets like Mars, space exploration programs seem to have not really progressed beyond the technologies developed during those heady halcyon days in the late 1960’s through early 1970’s.  Some might even say that space exploration has actually regressed.

Then there are the science fiction television shows and movies I mentioned; as well as others; and the technologies used in these franchises really seemed otherworldly; specifically referring to the ability to travel great distances (light years) without taking a millennia to do so.  Back here in the real world we were still stuck with cramming a couple of people inside a tiny capsule (Space Shuttle not withstanding), put that capsule on top of a rocket loaded with highly explosive fuel and violently launching them out of Earth’s atmosphere.  The basic technology hasn’t changed in over sixty years.  It seemed that mankind was forever locked to short jumps into orbit, and maybe to and from the moon — until now.

NASA has reported that it is in the beginning research phases of developing a real life honest to God warp drive engine, as the one referred to in the Star Trek Sci-Fi franchise(s).  The laws of physics state that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light; however a warp drive is a clever work around to this interstellar speed limit.  The way it works is that it literally warps the space/time fabric around the vessel (thus the name) compressing it to where the distance is essentially shrunk to a manageable distance — that is an over simplification, I know, but I am no physicist.  According to Dr. White at the Johnson Space Center, if the experiments prove true then a working warp drive could be in use in our lifetimes’.  What would this mean?  Well a trip to one of the closest stars, Alpha Centauri, which is 4.4 light years away, the trip would go from about 50,000 years, using current technologies, to just two weeks using a warp drive.  That is certainly a manageable time frame, and would certainly spark a renewed interest in space exploration that has been absent ever since December 7, 1972, when the last Apollo moon mission was launched.  To read more about the warp drive, please click here.