aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Sunday, November 05, 2006
David Kuo comments on Haggard’s last sermon:
He began the sermon with a prayer that included these words:
“Heavenly Father give us grace and mercy, help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections and Lord we pray for our country. Father we pray lies would be exposed and deception exposed. Father we pray that wisdom would come upon our electorateÃ¢â‚¬Â¦”
I wonder sometimes how many prayers we pray without ever thinking that God may answer them.
He did have sex with that man
From Haggard’s letter to his flock:
The fact is, I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem.
I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life.
One day, he may realize, and I pray he does, that the only dark and repulsive thing is the closet, the betrayal of his wife and children, the destruction of a church, and the demonization of others in the same boat - all as a function of his own inability to face the truth. What is dark and repulsive is dishonesty.
An embeddable Comedy Central player
When media execs wonder why people watch their copyrighted material on YouTube instead of the exact same clips on their own branded sites, well, it’s because their players don’t hold a candle to YouTube. Buffering issues, mandatory downloads, no comments, no direct URL for linking and no ability to embed the players on blogs, to name a few. So it’s good to hear that Comedy Central is relaunching its player later this month with embedding functionality. And Fox is working on a streaming version of its player, which currently requires a download.
They don’t build TV sets so I don’t get why they feel they have to build the player. Let GooTube do it and just sell ads and collect the revenue.
And I’m happy as can be to have a player all tarted up with ad text and logos; just please keep the video ads “click-to-play.”
Have no fear, the Robo-Car is here. Almost.
The Times today on the new automated parking systems:
THE steering wheel of the big Lexus seemed possessed, spinning around briskly and decisively as the luxury flagship parallel-parked itself in one smooth, automated move.
The demonstration of the latest magic trick in auto electronics, automated parallel parking, was a slightly unsettling look at technology now arriving in showrooms.
What’s unsettling to me is that the Lexus system costs over $4,000 and needs a spot with six extra feet of clearance beyond the length of the car (good luck finding a parking space that big in New York; or even Atlanta for that matter).
Four grand and still you have to find the spot, position the car appropriately and place a yellow flag on the screen to tell the system which is the leading corner of the parking space. It won’t work on a slope and leaves it to you to stop, shift into forward gear and straighten the wheels.
A better system is coming soon to the Volkswagen Touran, but what I found most interesting in the Times article was this quote:
According to Bob Allan, the manager of Lexus’s dealer-training programs, the hardest adjustment for drivers is leaving the steering wheel alone to do its work. The tendency is to grab the wheel, he said, because parking is a high-stress maneuver.
“It takes a little bit of trust to actually let the vehicle steer itself in,” said Mr. Allan, who has been introducing the Lexus LS 460’s self-parking feature to dealers and journalists.
A long-time believer that the future of automated driving is closer than we think, the problem I expect will not be the technology. Rather, it is us:
A highly regarded roboticist, [Jay Gowdy] has worked for nearly two decades to build self-driving cars, first with CMU and, more recently, with SAIC, a Fortune 500 defense contractor. He notes that in the US, about 43,000 people die in traffic accidents every year. Robot-driven cars would radically reduce the number of fatalities, he says, but there would still be accidents, and those deaths would be attributable to computer error. “The perception is that in the majority of accidents today, those who die are drunk, lazy, or stupid and bring it on themselves,” Gowdy says. “If computers take over the driving, any deaths are likely to be perceived as the loss of people who did nothing wrong.”
The resulting liability issues are a major hurdle. If a robotically driven car gets in an accident, who is to blame? If a software bug causes a car to swerve off the road, should the programmer be sued, or the manufacturer? Or is the accident victim at fault for accepting the driving decisions of the onboard computer? Would Ford or GM be to blame for selling a “faulty” product, even if, in the larger view, that product reduced traffic deaths by tens of thousands?
That’s from a January Wired article on developing a self-aware car. In such a vehicle, we will no longer be “drivers.” Rather, we’ll be “planners:”
“We want to move up the food chain,” says Bob Denaro, Navteq’s VP of business development. The company sees itself moving beyond the help-me-I’m-lost gizmo business and into the center of the new driving experience. That’s not to say that the steering wheel will disappear; it will just be gradually de-emphasized. We will continue to sit in the driver’s seat and have the option of intervening if we choose. As Denaro notes: “A person’s role in the car is changing. People will become more planners than drivers.”
And why not - since the car is going to be a better driver than a human anyway. With the addition of map information, a car will know the angle of a turn that’s still 300 feet away. Navteq is in the process of collecting slope information, road width, and speed limits - all things that bathe the vehicle in more data than a human could ever handle.
Denaro believes that the key to making people comfortable with the shift from driver to planner will be the same thing that made pilots comfortable accepting autopilot in the cockpit: situational awareness. If a robot simply says it wants to go left instead of right, we feel uncomfortable. But if a map showed a traffic jam to the right and the machine listed reasons for rerouting, then we would have no problem pressing the Accept Route Change icon. We feel like we are still in control.
“Autopilot in the cockpit greatly extended the pilots’ skills,” Denaro says. Automation in driving will do the same thing.
Maybe so. But me, I’d be just as happy with a dumb car that follows beacons!
President Supreme Court (reprise)
Contrarian that I am, I like Amy Sullivan. Here’s what she said just now on The Chris Matthews Show:
If the Democrats do take back the Senate...I believe that Hillary Clinton will not run for president. She will make a deal with Harry Reid to stay in the senate and be majority leader. She is just by temperament a senator, she is not an executive like her husband is; and she loves being in the senate and she could do a whole lot more good with two, three, four more terms there than she could in four years [as president].
Amy expects we’d know “sometime in November.”
So I’ve been walking around imagining that four years from today we could have Hillary as majority leader, Pelosi as speaker of the house and Obama as president. Two women and a black man; what a different world that would be!
My imagination doesn’t stop there. In the summer of ‘05 The Washington Monthly had a debate between Carl Cannon (pro) and Amy Sullivan (con) on Hillary’s presidential chances in 2008. I read it just after reading Norman Ornstein’s persuasive argument for more politicians on the court.
Add it all up and you might conclude, as I did, that the best place for Hillary Clinton is the Supreme Court of the United States of America. (For those of you who object, please see also Hillary: a uniter not a divider.)
That’s my dream scenario and I’m sticking to it!