Category Archives: New Technology

Is America Doomed to a Future of Institutionalized Mediocrity?

“In the republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous.” –Robert Green Ingersoll

Recently I watched the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Though no ONE entity was singled out as the murderer, it was evident that the car companies, in collusion with the gas and oil industry were mostly to blame. GM designed and produced viable electric cars that were found to be extremely satisfactory to those few people who were lucky enough to be allowed to lease and drive them. They were called EV 1. If you haven’t seen this documentary, I recommend it. In a period of about five years, GM went from making a viable electric car for which demand was building to collecting them all and sending them to the scrap yards.

The Chevrolet EV 1

After watching this movie, my husband and I recalled two other movies, both of which were fiction, but told similar stories. Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and Flash of Genius (2008) were two films about inventors that were crushed by the automobile industry, sometimes with the help of government. In Tucker, a man reinvented the automobile with visionary safety features and a stylish design. Before he could even get the car on the market, the SEC shut him down, for all intents and purposes. Tucker was brought to trial and eventually found Not Guilty of charges of fraud and misuse of funds. In Flash, a man invents a motor that will allow windshield wipers to run intermittently and the invention is stolen by Ford Motor Company. After years of fighting Ford in court, the inventor, Bob Kearns, was finally vindicated and received a settlement. Both of these films were based on actual events.
Thinking about both of these stories also brought to mind the arrest of John DeLorean in 1982. DeLorean, in case you don’t know or recall, was an automobile engineer responsible for developing the Pontiac GTO and the Pontiac Firebird. He left GM to start his own car company in 1973. The DeLorean Motor Company produced a single vehicle, the DMC 12, before the company went bankrupt. Though DeLorean was struggling, the bankruptcy became fait accompli when the Federal Government entrapped John DeLorean in a drug sting in 1982. Though it took years, DeLorean cleared his name in the end.
All of this made me wonder if any new company can be successful in this sort of climate. Growing up I was taught that if you worked hard and applied yourself, our society would reward your ingenuity. It appears as though our corporations have gotten so powerful that they use governmental agencies to squash ingenuity and steal it. The case I make here is based on the automotive industry, but I wonder if there are other stories like this from other industries.
And I wonder if America is doomed to a future of institutionalized mediocrity enforced by governmental agencies to maintain the status quo for powerful corporate interests.
I also see mediocrity rewarded daily in businesses in this country. I have spoken with co-workers at length and everyone has a story of their own and many of their relatives have also spoken of how mediocrity is rewarded and ingenuity is crushed. I wonder how many of you here have your own stories? Perhaps we as Americans should start to compile these stories in order to get a better grip on the magnitude of the problem.

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15 Comments

Filed under American Society, Climate Change, New Technology, Technology, Uncategorized

We’re running out of helium!

It is the second-lightest element in the Universe, has the lowest boiling-point of any gas and is commonly used through the world to inflate party balloons.  MRI scanners are cooled by the gas in liquid form, and anti-terrorist authorities rely on helium for their radiation monitors, liquid helium is critical for cooling infrared detectors, nuclear reactors and the machinery of wind tunnels. The space industry uses it in sensitive satellite equipment and spacecraft, and NASA uses helium in huge quantities to purge the potentially explosive fuel from its rockets.

Helium is also a non-renewable resource and the world’s reserves of the precious gas are about to run out, a shortage that is likely to have far-reaching repercussions.  There is no way of manufacturing it artificially.

Congress passed a law in 1996 stipulating that the US National Helium Reserve, which is kept in a disused underground gas field near Amarillo, Texas – by far the biggest store of helium in the world – must all be sold off by 2015.

Read more here.

fnord

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Filed under New Technology, Science, Technology

Did You Know?

1 Comment

Filed under Just Plain Fun, Life Lessons, New Technology, Technology

The Joan Baez Thread & Is the Community of the Internet UnAmerican?

 

5-joan-baez11[1]

 

As some of you may know, I obsess over our blog statistics.  I love statistics, which is a sign that I need a life, I understand that…  We have had tons of referrals to our blog because of a 07-31-09 thread about Joan returning to the Newport Jazz Festival.  That thread garnered fewer than 20 comments if I am remembering correctly.  But there have been days that the Joan Baez thread beat all other sources of referrals by a huge margin.  I think I have discovered the reason why.  But first, a hippy digression.

In 1970, when I was 16 years old, my two best friends and I went to the Twin Drive-In theater in Wichita, KS to see Woodstock the movie.  I think the drive-in was where the mall on Harry street is now, but I am not sure of that.  Any way, as my two friends and I lucked out on that summer night, there were a couple of girls parked next to us, who had offered to let us smoke some of their supplies which made the music sound much better than it already did.  Joan sang at least one song in the movie acapella and I distinctly recall thinking, ‘if there are real angels, they can’t sound better than that!’  A good time was had by all and we got home safely. 

Joan+Baez[1]I have wondered why we have so many searches and hits regarding Joan Baez keep showing up in our Blog Stats.  I think I know the reason why.  In the Google searches of Joan Baez images we are number twelve in the list.  The image I used is the one above of a mature, but still hot, IMHO, Baez.  I did not take the photo, I do not own it, nor do I have any proprietary rights for it.  [as an aside: Joan is 68 years old – she was born 01-09-41].  Because our image is so near the top, other blogs use our image – for example – http://roland.blogspot.com/2009/10/joan-baez-how-sweet-sound.html – the aforementioned blog is part of the Miami Herold if I understood correctly. 

Recapping:  Our blog has profitted in terms of hits from an image we do not own, is disseminated by people we don’t know, but whom help us keep our numbers up.  This is not the “work hard, produce a better product, and the world will beat a path to your door” mantra the conservatives like to believe still exists.

Is the blogosphere UnAmerican and UnRepublican?  You be the judge.

iggydonnelly

21 Comments

Filed under Music, New Technology

Dialectics and Our Path out of our Current Craziness

MML[2]Marsha Linehan, PhD from the University of Washington, has provided the nearly impossible.  She has led the way in treating patients with a very disabling disorder known as Borderline Personality Disorder.  Dr. Linehan, though she might deny it, is a committed Zen Budhist.  Dealing with the difficult balances that impinge upon us all daily,  is the very  foundation of her expertise.  Those imbalances are especially difficult for her patients, but I, and others contend, the same is true for most of the rest of us.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy, aka DBT, was developed in the late 1970’s by Dr. Linehan and colleagues when they discovered that cognitive behavioral therapy alone did not work as well as expected in patients with borderline personality disorder.  Dr. Linehan and her team added additional techniques and developed a treatment which would meet the unique needs of these patients.

DBT was developed to help people who have trouble in the realms of “thinking, relationships, emotions, and coping” – sounds like most of us, no?

A core component of DBT is “mindfulness” – gaining control of your mind, rather than letting it control you.”

Another component is “interpersonal effectiveness” – which involves, a) getting your objectives met in a situation, b)get/keep good relationships, c) keep/improve self respect and liking of one’s self.

A third component is “emotion regulation” which involves 1) understanding emotions one experiences, 2) reducing emotional vulnerability, and 3) decreasing emotional suffering.

In case I was not clear, I have always thought that these skills could be used by most of us, me included.

What do you bloggers think?

iggy donnelly

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Filed under Celebration, Diversity, Life Lessons, New Technology, Psychological Disorders, Psychology Ramblings..., Uncategorized, Universal Healthcre, Woman Power

America’s broken infrastructure

collapsed-bridgeI watched a special last night on the collapse of this countries infrastructure. They talked about the fact there was no collective database on the levees in this country until after Katrina. They talked about the fact states like Texas having only seven people to inspect over 1500 levees; about Mississippi having one inspector for over 1000 levees; about how it would take upwards of $1.6 trillion to bring all the levees up to 100 year flood standards. How California’s waterways are susceptible to flooding by the Pacific ocean if a 6.7 earthquake hits in the wrong area.  And if that happens, Northern California all the way to Los Angeles will have six months fresh water max, with repairs to the fresh water system two years away minimum. It will happen.

We’ve seen what’s happening to our bridges, both in this state and the nation. Look at the energy grid: it’s a mess. One shorted line took out over fifty million homes and businesses. A smart grid is decades off, and it’s needed now. There is no excuse for this not to be happening. There is an atmosphere of neglect in this country, and it boils down to money . . . again. While we’re bailing out banks and financial institutions, our infrastructure is crumbling. Obama has promised to do something about it, but hypocrites like Sanford turn down the money for purely political reasons. There should be NO politics involved in repairing this countries infrastructure: this is our national security at risk. When you’ve got a system in place that requires little thought by an outside enemy of this country to shut down, then the problem becomes major. That system is the one we now have in place. It needs fixing, and it needs it now. Why not build on the nationalistic premise of making this country strong again, and using a volunteer work force to start it going?

jammer5

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Filed under Community Organizing, Economics, New Technology

Neda And The Twitter Revolution

neda“RIP NEDA, The World cries seeing your last breath, you didn’t die in vain. We remember you.”

That Twitter post was from a man who said he is a guitarist from Nashville, Tennessee.

“Don’t be afraid Neda”, her friends and father are telling her as she dies. One blogger posted that Neda was protesting with her father in Tehran when pro-government Basiji militia opened fire and shot her.

“The final moments of her tender young life leaked into the pavement of Karegeh Street today, captured by cell phone cameras,” the unnamed blogger posted on Newsvine.com. “And not long after, took on new life, flickering across computer screens around the world on YouTube, and even CNN.”

With journalists in Iran being arrested, deported and generally shut down, kids on twitter have become the eyes and ears of the world. I see the world changing from the common man’s point of view. Government leaders here, and all over the world are clueless when it comes to the new networking. Not only do they not know how to use it to their advantage, they have no idea how to deal with those who do!

If twitter had been online during the Teinamen Square uprising, we would all know the name of the one brave Chinese sould that we only refer to as “The tank guy”.  Thanks to twitter, which suspended scheduled downtime to facilitate the protestors in Iran, the whole world knows about Neda. Shot dead in front of her father on the day we celebrate as father’s day. The most shameful actions brought into the world’s view by the younger Iranians who use modern networks.

On a slightly lighter side, I am thoroughly amused and can relate to the scramble in Washington DC to sign up for twitter. God help us if the congresscritters and lobbyists figure out what 16 year old kids already know.

I feel Obama’s response has been appropriate. I also feel deeply moved by the bravery of these common people. Being on twitter and watching the tweets from Iran while seeing video of Neda has deeply moved  me. Many twitter users have either changed or modified thier avatars to anything green as a show of support. I do the only thing that Obama can do. Watch, listen and comment in support. ~sekanblogger

related post here https://iggydonnelly.wordpress.com/2009/06/20/big-brother-in-reverse-sekanblogger/

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Filed under Crimes, Diplomacy, Elections, Media, New Technology, Political Reform, Religion, Tributes, World Politics