Tuesday, July 22, 2014

...and a Mere Month Later

Sorry for the long pause, but in my defense I was out of internet range for at least half of the time. The other half? Not sure what the story there was. I do know it involved a lot of mowing and weed whacking. That seems to be most of my life anymore.

Anyway. We spent the last couple weeks up in the Great Frozen North, otherwise known as Michigan. We flew into Bishop Airport in Flint, which has several advantages. One, it isn't in Detroit; two, it isn't really in Flint; three, it's small enough to get off the plane, grab the luggage and rental car and be on the road in a half-hour or less; and last-but-certainly-not-least, there's a coney place with Koegel's right down the street. Serve the Curve, baby!! They also shoved that stupid modern art piece-o'-crap paper airplane thing out of the middle of the lobby and brought in a sweet Buick Roadmaster:

The first week we spent with my parents, getting their place ready for our family reunion. We managed to get into Traverse City for the Blue Angels on Sunday:

But after that it was just work, work, work, work, work. We built a swing set:

We trimmed trees:

We sat around hoping that gnomes would pitch in:

We watched other people putting up the tents:

And then we spent Saturday afternoon yakking and eating ourselves silly:

Unfortunately, we got a call Friday that Debbie's mom had been taken into the ER and admitted with possible heart problems. So Saturday, we had to eat-and-run instead of hanging around the reunion, and zip down to Saginaw to relieve Debbie's brother and his family, who had been living at the hospital since Friday.

Now, maybe it's been a long time since I've had someone in the hospital, but I don't seem to recall the necessity of at least one family member being present 24 hours a day just to make sure that the hospital staff doesn't kill the patient, that the patient has the assistance necessary to get from bed to toilet and back, that the patient gets meals and meds when necessary (and not the ones for the patient two doors down the hall), that the floor gets mopped, etc. I seem to recall that there was hospital staff who were paid to do those things and do them correctly. I must be miss-remembering, or maybe it was something I saw on TV about how hospitals are run in one of those First World countries in Europe. Cause it sure ain't how they do it here in 'Merica. Anyway, Debbie's mom is home and everything was more-or-less back to normal by the time we had to fly back to Florida.

And just so I can clear out some of the open tabs that have been accumulating over the last month:

We all know that Facebook manipulates its users for its own personal benefit. Whether you see a post or not, or where in the list it shows up has nothing to do with what you want and everything to do with what will make Mark Zuckerberg more money. But some of what has come to light recently seems to cross a line:
A new Wall Street Journal story probes the frequency and casualness with which Facebook ran experiments with the explicit aim of manipulating users’ emotions. Some commentators pooh poohed the concern about the study, saying that companies try influencing customers all the time. But the difference here is that manipulation usually takes place in a selling context, where the aims of the vendor, to persuade you to buy their product, are clear. Here, the study exposed initially, that of skewing the mix of articles in nearly 700,000 Facebook subscribers’ news feeds, was done in a context where participants would have no reason to question the information they were being given.

Facebook’s conduct fell so far below acceptable standards for conducting research that it would have been criminal if funded by Federal grants.

Emphasis is mine. I'm pretty sure that most people of average intelligence would assume that something that is illegal to do using federal grants, would at least fall on the wrong side of ethical, even when the funding is private. Yes, every ad on TV tries to manipulate your emotions, as does in-store displays, the color, shape and size of the packaging the whatsit comes in, and so on. (That is the greatest disease ever! How d'ya get that?!? That disease comes with a hot chick and a puppy!) But we expect this. Or we should. We know ads are supposed to make us want to buy stuff. We know stores exist to sell us stuff. We probably don't know, nor should we expect, that Facebook is trying to manipulate voter behavior during a congressional election.

One of the commentators pooh poohing concerns about all this is Scott Adams of Dilbert fame:

So I guess if anyone has any concerns about the conduct of Facebook, that make him "knowledge impaired"? You sure are quick to defend a corporation, Mr. Adams, given you've made a rather comfortable living by mocking corporate management for its abuse of both employees and customers. Ah well, I guess it doesn't matter; Mark Zuckerberg could be videotaped feeding puppies into a wood chipper and one-seventh of the world would still log on to Facebook everyday.

Just like I do.

On a lighter note, a couple videos from the Japanese dance troupe, enra:

And that's probably enough for one day.