The new Nuno R1 autonomous delivery vehicle has arrived, and if all goes well, it will soon be making grocery deliveries from Kroger to a house near you. Not near me, unfortunately, as the distance to my closest Kroger store is measured in thousands of kilometers.
While the Nuro may have OK styling, its design is not great. Take the hinged (gull-wing?) door openings. They are much wider and thus heavier than necessary to provide full access to the storage areas. There is no reason for these doors to open as widely as the do. The vehicle rakes, unnecessarily, front and back. Why isn’t this area being used to house navigational equipment, instead of the centre of the vehicle, which could be designed to include more storage space?
In contrast, here is my own attempt at a delivery vehicle design that does address some of these issues, although the purpose of this vehicle is transport of building materials, rather than groceries. Even the colour is an improvement on dull beige-brown.
There are too many stylists at work, masquerading as designers. In the 1950s, stylists knew they were stylists.
Nineteen Fifty Seven represented a high point for American car styling, but not for car design. This is seen particularly in low-end brands, such as Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth. In contrast, facelifted 1958 models are regarded with less esteem, although not quite as low as the 1959 models.
The 1957 Fords were all about styling, one that dramatically changed passenger car appearance the most since 1949. There were 20 different models, on two separate wheelbases. Body styles included two- and four-door sedans, hardtops, wagons, a convertible, a retractable hardtop and a sedan/pickup. These were all available in more colors and two-tone combinations than ever before. There were six engine options, five of them V-8s.
The challenge with making so many different products is that there is no place for design. I will not be buying a 1957 Ford, or any other heritage car. They are just too impractical – too low, too long, too extreme in styling language.
There is a similar situation in the world of fashion. Fortunately, in my world many of my outer clothes, especially shirts and socks, are bespoke. Material is selected specifically for each garment, sleeve length is cut perfectly, each shirt has two pockets, buttons are placed where I want them. Not every man, has a wife who has such abilities and interests. Without being too disparaging, I would say that I have one shirt design, that is then styled to meet specific requirements in each garment.
There may be a few more variations on designs for chinos and jeans, but most of these differ only in terms of their styling. I have learned to live with a particular off the rack style of chinos. They come in more or less standard design, with components that can be traced back to the 19th century. The original watch pocket has been repurposed many times. A Levi-Straus blog comments about many of these same components in jeans: http://www.levistrauss.com/unzipped-blog/2014/04/17/those-oft-forgotten-pant-parts/
Smart-home technology has become a new arena for abusers to harass their victims. It is a new form of domestic guerrilla warfare. Abusers use smartphone apps connected to internet-enabled devices to remotely control everyday objects in the victim’s residence. Some modes of operation are passive, simply allowing the abuser to watch and/or listen. Other modes display power, and are intended to invoke fear. Both forms are a crime against the victim, and cannot be tolerated.
The abuser may or may not be resident, or in or out of an ongoing relationship with the victim. It is particularly in situations where the abuser and the victim are living together, that smart-home devices can be problematic, and difficult to handle. This post is a warning to potential victims, that smart-home devices may not be as innocent as they look.
Devices acquired by an abuser, and installed in a victim’s residence, often remain controlled by the abuser, even after a relationship has ended. Smart-home devices are weapons of choice for many abusers. There is often asymmetrical insight into these devices in a relationship. Victims typically lack the technological skills necessary to set up, and modify smart-home devices. This asymmetry, gives power to the abuser. Devices that can be used include cameras. loudspeakers, lights, remotely operated doors and thermostats.
Many smart-home devices are inexpensive and easy to install, as long as one knows what one is doing. Typically, only one person in a relationship – often a male – installs and programs, even operates, the technology. This person has an overview of the technology that the other person in the relationship lacks. The abuser may have exclusive knowledge of user names and passwords, which gives that person the power to compromise the other person in the relationship, typically a woman. For example, the abuser may have exclusive use of a controlling app on his telephone.
First, both partners should work together and decide which smart-home devices should be installed. If there is no agreement, then it can’t be installed. Once installed, both partners must then have any apps used to control the devices.
Second, all smart-home device installations must be fully documented, and accessible to both partners in the relationship. Part of that documentation includes full discloser as to device names and passwords. However, it should also include wiring and other diagrams.
Third, as part of a legal written agreement between (former) partners, the partner leaving the residence must agree to remove all user names, passwords and other data associated with smart-home devices from all of his devices, including but not limited to phones, computers and tablets.
Fourth, any unusual device behaviour must be assumed to be enemy action, and both parties must agree that it be treated that way. Potential abusive behaviour includes: changing thermostats to uncomfortably high or low temperatures; playing music when the victim is sleeping; flashing lights at inappropriate times or preventing lights to turn on when they are required; posting photos/ videos/ sound recordings on social media, taken by remote cameras/ microphones; inappropriate door locking behaviour, such as preventing the victim from entering the residence, or allowing anyone free access to the residence, including the abuser.
A word of caution
A major problem arises when a victim removes or deactivates smart-home devices. This can result in the victim feeling inadequate and isolated, but may also result in abuse escalation. In most situations, the abuser will have sufficient control over the situation and devices to know if and when a device has been disabled, which can trigger further violence, physical or emotional.
Any course about smart-home devices should be offered either to women alone, or to couples jointly. Users should be able to understand smart-home device documentation. and be able to disable any devices installed in their residence.
Future courses I offer about smart-home devices will require the participation of both couples in a relationship, or signed note from a female domestic partner for permission to attend. This note must also include an acknowledgement that smart-home devices can be used abusively!
V1 2018-06-24 18:09; V2 2018-06-24 23:37 Some minor changes, including names/descriptions of courses.
English version, Norwegian version follows
The Intergalactic Rocket Science Academy (IRSA) has hovered over everyone’s heads, in outer space, far too long. Now, it needs your help to launch a one week workshop, Down to Earth.
Target group: Earthlings, especially those with physical or mental health issues. OK, that includes all of them.
Principles: Fun First! “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t part of IRSA.”
Location: Space Station Straumen [that is Inderøy’s municipal centre. More specifically, at Hastighet, Inderøys teknogarasje = Velocity, Inderøy’s techno garage, being constructed – at least in theory – as this weblog is being written. It has received a grant of NOK 250 000, about CAD 40 000 to equip a 70m2 former classroom with production machinery, such as 3D printers and a laser cutter, not to mention electronic equipment.]
Arrival Sunday evening; Departure Saturday morning. Information about the specific movement of space shuttles from various planets will be provided later. [Actual dates and years? Petty details like those will be worked out later.]
Groups: There are three groups earthlings can choose between.
Clothing: Functional clothing for everyone [Replaces: Fashionable and functional adaptive clothing for the elderly and disabled.] At the end of the week, each participant will have one garment that they can take with them to their home planet.
Food: Tasty and nutritious food for everyone [Replaces: for the elderly and allergic.] At the end of the week, each participant will have (at least) five recipes they can take home with them. They will also prepare food for the evening meal.
Technology: Home automation for everyone [replaces, for the elderly and disabled.] At the end of the week, each participant will have one device that they can take with them to their home planet. Involves programming, electronics, 3D-printing.
Earthlings have lost the ability to photosynthesize, and must “eat”. They gather together for a “meal” several times during an earth day. Earth friendly food will be served, and a food group will be formed in advance to make sure that all participants are able to eat the food served.
Earthlings need to “reflect”, “rest” and “sleep”. These are time periods when they need to be alone. To put it in terms a robot would understand, they need to recharge their batteries.
Remember, Earthlings are primitive. They cannot theorize, practicize and exercise simultaneously, but need separate sessions devoted to each one. They have no capacity for brain to brain communication, but must rely on “speech” (sound making) and “hearing” (sound sensing) for communication. Because of variations in sound sensing capabilities, sound makers have to use artificial amplifiers, especially in the presence of old earthlings.
Earthlings use “breaks” for informal communication, and fluid exchange. Fluid intake of water, coffee or tea is public. Fluid outtake is private, and is undertaken in rooms especially designed for the purpose.
Morning meal 9:00 – 10:00.
Theory session: 10:00 – 10:45; break; 11:00 – 11:45; break.
Time for reflection, exercise (walk): 16:00 – 18:00.
Evening meal: 18:00 – 19:00.
Optional cooperative projects: 19:00 – 20:00.
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: Coping with life. Strategies for enhanced survival as an earthling.
Wednesday: Clowning. Expressing emotions without words. Extends over two hours.
Separate sessions for each of the groups, every day but Wednesday. Here, theoretical information related to the specific group will be presented.
Separate sessions for each of the groups. Here, earthlings will use their hands to make things related to the goals of their specific group.
Walks need to be selected, so that people, either alone or with others can walk sufficiently.
Stop the Press!
While it might be fun to start off with a five-day workshop, the entire event might also turn out to be a catastrophe. Perhaps the correct approach is doing what the IRSA does best: build a three stage workshop rocket!
Y0 (Year Zero)
Stage 1. An experimental session. Each teacher makes a lesson plan for a single 45 minute theory hour, plus a single 45 minute practical hour. These two hours are offered as a separate event.
A teaching session should be more than a single organism, creating sound bytes in front of other organisms. The teacher will have to assess whether materials should be read, before the session starts. If so, what is the teacher going to do if there are students with reading difficulties (hint: make audio files of the materials.) Photographs, illustrations, videos, simulations and demonstrations may all be used to enhance learning.
A quiz at the end of the session, can help determine if participants have learned what has been expected of them. At the end of this event, participants are asked for feedback, about the event they have just attended.
Stage 2. A course over several weeks. The feedback from the experimental session will allow the teacher to make adjustments to the lesson plan for the first session, or scrap it entirely. The teacher can now make continue to make lesson plans for the entire course, along with assorted aids, and to implement them on a weekly basis, making adjustments each week as needed. At the end of the course, participants – once again – are asked for feedback.
Stage 3. A workshop! Now we are back to where we started from, but with one major difference. The teacher has experience and, hopefully, confidence.
Y1 (Year One)
If one decides that the workshop has value for other people than the initial participants, additional workshops can be made. These can be located in different cities and held in different languages.
At the same time, new topics can be developed for different target groups. Three of these groups could be 1) parents, 2) immigrants and 3) youth.
If you would like further information about workshop participation, or if you would like to host a similar workshop on your planet, contact brock at mclellan dot no.
Ned til Jorden: Den norske versjonen/ Down to Earth: The Norwegian version.
Intergalaktisk Rakettvitenskaps Academy (IRVA) har svevet over alles hoder, i det ytre rom, altfor lenge.Nå trenger den din hjelp til å starte en ukes workshop, ned til jorden.
Målgruppe: Jordboerne, spesielt de med fysiske eller psykiske problemer. OK, det inkluderer alle av dem.
Prinsipper: Moro først! “Hvis det ikke er morsomt, er det ikke en del av IRVA.”
Sted: Romstasjon Straumen [det er Inderøys kommunale sentrum. Nærmere bestemt Hastighet, Inderøys teknogarasje konstruert – i det minste teoretisk – da denne bloggen blir skrevet. Det har mottatt en gave på NOK 250 000 for å utstyre et 70m2 tidligere klasserom med produksjonsmaskiner, for eksempel 3D-skrivere og laserkutter, og ikke minst elektronisk utstyr.]
Ankomst søndag kveld; avreise lørdag morgen. Informasjon om de nøyaktige bevegelser av romskip fra de ulike planeter vil bli gitt senere. [Faktiske datoer og år? Små detaljer som disse vil også bli utarbeidet senere.]
Undervisningsgrupper: Det er tre grupper jordboerne kan velge mellom.
Klær: Funksjenelle klær for alle. [Erstatter, Fasjonable og funksjonelle, adaptive klær til eldre og funksjonshemmede.] På slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha ett plagg som de kan ta med seg til deres hjemme planet.
Mat: Velsmakende og næringsrik mat for alle. [Erstatter, til eldre og allergiskere.] Ved slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha (minst) fem oppskrifter de kan ta med seg. De vil også tilberede mat til kveldsmåltid.
Teknologi: Hjemmautomatisering for alle [Erstatter, for eldre og funksjonshemmede.] Ved slutten av uken vil hver deltaker ha en enhet som de kan ta med seg til deres hjemmeplan. Involver programmering, elektronikk, 3D-utskrift.
Jordboerne har mistet muligheten til å fotosyntetisere, og må “spise”. De samles sammen for et “måltid” flere ganger i løpet av en jorddag. Jordvennlig mat serveres, og en matvaregruppe vil bli dannet på forhånd for å sikre at alle deltakere kan spise maten.
Jordboerne trenger å “reflektere”, “hvile” og “sove”. Disse er tidsperioder når de trenger å være alene. For å si det som en robot ville forstå, må de lade opp batteriene.
Husk at jordenboerne er primitive. De kan ikke teoretisere, praktisere og trene samtidig, men trenger separate økter viet til hver enkelt aktivitet. De har ingen kapasitet til hjernekommunikasjon, men må stole på “tale” (lydfremstilling) og “hørsel” (lydfølelse) for kommunikasjon. På grunn av variasjoner i lydavkjenningsegenskapene, må lydprodusenter bruke kunstige forsterkere, spesielt i nærvær av gamle jordboerne.
Jordboerne bruker “pauser” for uformell kommunikasjon, og fluidutveksling. Væskeinntak av vann, kaffe eller te er offentlig. Væskeutslipp er privat og foregår i rom spesielt egnet til formålet.
Tid for refleksjon, mosjon (gange): 16:00 – 18:00.
Kveldsmat: 18:00 – 19:00.
Valgfrie samarbeidsprosjekter: 19:00 – 20:00.
Mandag, tirsdag, torsdag, fredag: Løft med livet. Strategier for forbedret overlevelse som jordboende.
Onsdag: Klovne. Å uttrykke følelser uten ord. Strekker seg over to timer.
Separate økter for hver av gruppene, hver dag bortsatt fra onsdag. Her vil teoretisk informasjon relatert til den spesifikke gruppen bli presentert.
Separate økter for hver av gruppene. Her vil jordboere bruke hendene til å gjøre ting relatert til målene til deres spesifikke gruppe.
Vandringer må velges, slik at folk, enten alene eller med andre, kan gå tilstrekkelig.
Selv om det kan være morsomt å starte med en fem-dagers verksted, kan hele arrangementet også vise seg å være en katastrofe. Kanskje er riktig tilnærming det som IRVA gjør best: bygge et tre-trinns verkstedrakkett!
Y0 (År Null)
Fase 1. En eksperimentell økt. Hver lærer gjør en leksjon plan for en 45 minutters teori time, pluss en 45 minutters praktisk time. Disse to timene tilbys som et separat arrangement.
En undervisningssesjon bør være mer enn en enkelt organisme som produserer lydbyter foran andre organismer. Læreren må vurdere om materialet skal leses før sesjonen starter. Hvis så, hva skal læreren gjøre hvis det er studenter med lesevansker (hint: lag lydfiler av materialet.) Fotografier, illustrasjoner, videoer, simuleringer og demonstrasjoner kan alle brukes til å forbedre læringen.
En quiz i slutten av sesjonen, kan bidra til å avgjøre om deltakerne har lært hva som er forventet av dem. På slutten av denne hendelsen blir deltakerne bedt om tilbakemelding, om hendelsen de nettopp har deltatt på.
Fase 2. Et kurs over flere uker. Tilbakemeldingen fra eksperimentell økt vil gi læreren mulighet til å gjøre justeringer til leksjonsplanen for den første økten, eller skrap den helt. Læreren kan nå fortsette å lage lektionsplaner for hele kurset, sammen med assisterte hjelpemidler, og å implementere dem på ukentlig basis, foreta justeringer hver uke etter behov. På slutten av kurset blir deltakerne – igjen – bedt om tilbakemelding.
Fase 3. Et verksted! Nå er vi tilbake til hvor vi startet fra, men med en stor forskjell. Læreren har erfaring og, forhåpentligvis, tillit.
Y1 (År Ett)
Hvis man bestemmer seg for at verkstedet har verdi for andre enn de opprinnelige deltakerne, kan det opprettes flere workshops.Disse kan lokaliseres i forskjellige byer og holdes på forskjellige språk.
Samtidig kan nye emner utvikles for ulike målgrupper.Tre av disse gruppene er 1) foreldre, 2) innvandrere og 3) ungdom.
Hvis du vil ha mer informasjon om workshopdeltakelse, eller hvis du ønsker å være vert for et lignende verksted på din planet, ta kontakt med brock på mclellan dot no.
Thirty-five years of digital data on multiple vintages of media including 8″, 5″ and 3 1/2″ floppy disks, thirty years of music on CDs, and twenty years of films on DVDs, have already met, or will soon meet, their final destiny. All of this data takes a lot of space, and is never used. Why? We own no computer with floppy disk drive, no stereo with CD player, or television with DVD player. In fact, we don’t even own a television or a stereo. While my desktop machine still has a DVD-drive that will play these, all of the other machines in the house lack this capability.
I will not repurchase content in yet another format. I will not subscribe to Spotify or Netflicks to gain access to content already purchased. Most CD and DVD content has been copied to a server, that can be accessed by any machine in our house. This NAS, variously described as network attached storage or a network attached server, also backs up files stored on more personal devices. If a machine suffers disk failure, or theft, documents will still exist on the NAS.
Encryption encodes information so only authorized people can access it. It makes content unintelligible to a potential interceptor. Privacy is important, and encryption is one way to ensure private data remains private.
Some terms: plaintext = the intended information; cipher = an encryption algorithm; ciphertext = text generated by a cipher; encryption key = encryption scheme generated by an algorithm.
An authorized recipient can easily decrypt the message with the key provided.
RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks, originally Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) is data storage technology formats, allowing several physical disk drives to combine into one or more logical units. It offers data redundancy as well as improved performance. Many users prefer RAID 6. This requires the use of four drives. However, any two of these can fail. A single drive failure results in reduced performance, until the failed drive has been replaced.
That is fine, if the failure is restricted to a single computer. What happens if there is a catastrophic event, destroying the house? The correct answer is, nothing happens, or at least nothing positive, because there is nothing left to rebuild a file system from. If one wants to rebuild these collections, one will have to have a NAS with a distributed file system running simultaneously on multiple servers. This is referred to as a clustered NAS. With a clustered NAS, all files can be accessed from any (and every) cluster node.
The Cloud, of course, can provide backup services, on multiple servers. However, the shutdown of Megaupload.com in 2012, should be reason enough for everyone to avoid relying on cloud services.
Another proposed solution is to rely on family and friends, people you know and trust, to provide these services. I have close family living in four cities in three countries on two continents. This could mean I could then enter into agreement with one or more of these to backup my data in an encrypted format, while I backup theirs. They won’t have meaningful (that is, unencrypted) access to my data, and I won’t have meaningful access to theirs.
An Inexpensive NAS
For about USD 55 or NOK 500, the ODROID-HC1 and ODROID-HC2 can be bought. These are single board computers designed as network attached storage (NAS) servers, so that users can make their own home cloud. This system is useful for a single user, a family or other groups of people. Both hard disk drives and solid state drives can be used. A Western Digital Red 1TB drive costs about USD 65 or NOK 550.
All of the Charm posts on this weblog are meant to be fun. Today’s post is no exception, and details the 27th (Skarnsund) Bridge Run from Vangshylla (where we live) to Mosvik, about 6 km away, on Sunday 2018-06-17, starting at 10:00.
When we first moved here in 1988, Vangshylla was a ferry terminal that connected Inderøy to the neighbouring municipality of Mosvik. The ferry was replaced by Skarnsund Bridge on 1991-12-17, when it was opened by King Harald. Skarnsund Bridge is the only bridge crossing of Trondheim Fjord. For further information see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skarnsund_Bridge
Run officials have a spreadsheet detailing all participants, past and present, and can with certainty tell anyone which walks/ runs they have participated in. Readers may notice a dual personality tendency in the writing of this post. While most participants walk starting at 10:00 in the morning, there is also a more elite group that runs across the bridge, starting at 13:00 in the afternoon.
Our neighbour, Astrid Stømberg, is one of few who has completed all 27 walks/ runs. Trish usually walks with her, while my responsibility is to drive to Mosvik, and to pick the two of them up. A free bus ride is also available, but only at the end of the day.
Because of privacy concerns, we have not included pictures of people. All photos by Trish McLellan.
Today, we crossed the border between Inderøy and Steinkjer six times, twice driving and four times walking. We live in Inderøy municipality (population 6 800, area 366 square kilometers), part of Trøndelag county, in central Norway. Steinkjer municipality (population 22 000, area 1 565 square kilometers) is the capital of Trøndelag county, contains the geographical centre of Norway, and is located immediately to the north of Inderøy, except when it isn’t because the border is complex and follows boundaries between many different farms.
Today, we were walking to Bergsmarka. While a circular ski trail has existed here for countless years, it has been widened and improved this summer. It is jointly managed by the Sparbu and Røra sports clubs. In 1962, during the great municipal amalgamation, Sparbu became part of Steinkjer, while Røra became part of Inderøy. However, local identity remains intense, and it is common to have sports clubs that predate the amalgamations.
The walk is one of 28 this year, organized by Inderøy municipality, designed to encourage physical activity. These walks end at posts, that can be visited any time during the summer months from 21 May to 13 October. In addition, there are 8 events on specific dates during the season, with their own posts. A description of each walk is available in a printed brochure, as well as online (in Norwegian, but fun to look at): http://www.inderoy.kommune.no/getfile.php/4161916.1220.wb7n7kkppzntap/Inder%C3%B8ytur+hefte+2018.pdf There is also an app for the walks. Today’s walk is short (2.8 km forward and back), but has medium demands.
The Outdoor Recreation Act of 1957 governs the use of the countryside. An English translation of this act can be found here: https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dokumenter/outdoor-recreation-act/id172932/ The purpose of the act is:
to protect the natural basis for outdoor recreation and to safeguard the public right of access to and passage through the countryside and the right to spend time there, etc, so that opportunities for outdoor recreation as a leisure activity that is healthy, environmentally sound and gives a sense of well-being are maintained and promoted. (Article 1)
Until Sunday, 2018-06-10, I had never heard of an American crime drama/ soap opera television series, currently stretching over six seasons, titled, The Haves and the Have Nots. Perhaps that says something about my priorities in life. I don’t own a television. The reason for this discovery was that I googled the phrase, to find out how people use the term. How do we distinguish between these two sets of people? Is there a middle ground that is neither have, nor have-not?
Can wealth (or its lack) be used as a criteria? It is an easy matter to calculate the income or net value of assets, and to argue that a specific percentage of people should be in one or the other group. Are haves only those included in the top 1% or 10% or 80%? Conversely, are have nots found only in the bottom 25% or 50% or 99%? Using wealth is tempting, because in this toxic world, wealth is an important power vector. The haves are those with economic power. It is more difficult to specify a limit, because even lowly consumers can brag about their purchasing power. Those without liquidity can use credit cards, or payday loans.
There are other criteria to distinguish haves and have nots. Many are related to possession of consumer durables: cars (early 20th century), televisions (1950s), second or third cars (1960s), colour televisions (1970s) and computers (1980s). The haves are engaged in conspicuous consumption.
Much of our understanding of this comes from the thoughts of Thorstein Veblen’s (1857 – 1929) sociology. He developed the terms invidious consumption, to refer to an ostentatious consumption of goods, designed to provoke envy, and conspicuous compassion, the use of charitable donations to enhance social prestige. His book, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions (1899), puts consumption into a nineteenth-century social and historical context, that makes an interesting reflection on twenty-first-century values. Today, we simply mash the two terms together.
One of our friends tells the story of life in Northern Norway anno 1972. His father (we will call him Dad) was a fisher, who had used the same fishing boat throughout a fifty year career. When he retired, the boat was sold. With some of the money from this sale, Dad purchased a car (a new Talbot), and a driving license. Yes, purchased is probably the correct word, because the driving license definitely wasn’t earned. Dad never really got the hang of driving a car, because he wanted to steer the rear end of the vehicle, rather than the front end, just like a boat. Fortunately, he seldom ventured further than the local coop.
Yet, this new vehicle, upset the balance of power in the community. No sooned had Dad purchased his car, than his neighbour wanted one too. Neighb also lacked a driving license, but that didn’t matter because the car he purchased also lacked an engine. It was placed at the entrance to Neighb’s property as a symbol of arrival. Neighb was also among the haves.
Undoubtedly, humorous stories could be told about numerous possessions, but many stories are far darker. Seventeen year-old Xiao Zheng, in Hunan Province, sold one of his kidneys in April 2011, to buy an iPhone 4 and an original version of the iPad. This undoubtedly earned him status as one of the haves, at least until the iPhone 4s arrived in October 2011.
Possessions are gradually losing their significance as markers of havness. Why buy a limosine, when it is cheaper to use Echelon Lyft? (See: echelonlyft.com ) As the age of autonomous cars approaches, there seems little utility to a garage stuffed full of unused vehicles.
Another approach to being one of the haves, is possession of assorted certificates, printed on paper complete with logos, seals and signatures, suitable for framing and to hang on walls, or their digital equivalents, to hang on personal websites. Certificates may serve a dual, some would say triple, function. First, they state class membership. Second, they serve as a rite of passage. Third (and optionally), they may indicate that a person has obtained a certain level of competence: theoretical knowledge, or practical skills.
In education, the mark of a have has been subject to inflation, so that a master’s degree is needed for what a bachelor’s degree could buy earlier, replacing the infamous high school diploma. Naturally, it is not so much the certificate in itself that is important, but the prestige of the school issuing it. The haves can afford to send their little darlings to private schools, followed by Ivy League universities like Princeton or Yale or Harvard or even Leland Stanford Junior University. The have nots learn on the street. In-betweens make do with institutions that are close by, public schools and public universities.
Other certificates can also indicate haveness. South Dakota was the last American state to require drivers to have a driving license, in 1954. Originally, driving licenses were simply a source of revenue, since there was no test or competence required to obtain one. Today, there is no prestige in having a driving license, and many millennials can’t even be bothered earning one.
A better indication of belonging to the haves can be found with a pilot’s license. The beauty of this approach, is that there are so many opportunities for one-up-man-ship. If a private pilot’s licence isn’t impressive enough, then one can always add twin engines, floats, jet engines. Somewhere near the top is a multi-rotor helicopter license.
In my own more nautical world, I have fonder memories of obtaining a Pleasurecraft Operator’s Certificate (1965), from the New Westminster Power Squadron, than I do of obtaining my car driving license the same year. Yes, I found it absolutely thrilling to power a fairly large (motor) cruiser up and down the Fraser River, avoiding tugs, barges, fishing vessels and snags. With this experience, I definitely felt that I was among the haves.
This positive experience, contrasts with my experiences obtaining a Scuba diving certificate some years later (1973), where I met a large number of people obsessed with diving depths, and who had motorcycle driving as their primary hobby. Here, I felt out of my class, especially when it came to discussions about financing expensive motorcycles, with crime an acceptable means of obtaining money or parts. Interestingly, participating in this diving course and becoming certified was part of a college physical education requirement, that had been outsourced to a local dive school.
In the twenty-first century, haves can ostentate (yes, I just made up the word) by taking a series of Royal Yachting Association courses, provided by wannabe haves, on their highly mortgaged sailing cruiser.
As we progress further into the twenty-first century, with a service economy increasingly overtaking a possessing economy, the distinction between the haves and the have-nots, will be less detectable, but increasingly more important. The minority haves will have indirect control over artificial intelligence agents. The majority have nots will lack any form of control, simply be required to obey the whims of these agents, and their overlord handlers. Of course people will not feel their oppression, the haves will use post-modern equivalents of bread and circus to pacify. With neural networks living a life of their own, it may not be possible for even the “haves” to exercise direct control over their agents.
At some points in my life as a weblogger, I can push out a post once a day (or more frequently). Then there are periods where equally much is written, but they are only kept as drafts. Gradually so many drafts become stored, that the whole writing process breaks down. Sometimes notes are kept in assorted files, or made on paper, then only in the brain, as real writing stops and imagined writing begins.
For a couple of weeks now, I have been trying to write something meaningful about the time value of money. It has not been easy. At one time, about 1980, I wrote several articles on ROI (return on investment) calculations that were published in several business and trade magazines. I am even the co-author of a book that looks at the subject: Essentials of Management Science, by Morton Helbaek and Brock McLellan, Prentice-Hall, 2010. Don’t even think about buying it, not only is it overpriced for what it offers, it is in many ways outdated. Unfortunately, I don’t have any copies that I can give away.
At some fundamental level, the concept of interest rests on an assumption that money has a time component. If one needs money to buy a house now, a bank will eagerly lend it, provided there is security, but one will have to pay interest on that borrowed money. Conversely, if one saves money, interest will be paid on that saved money.
Declining interest rates, along with governments actively using inflation goals to enforce consumer spending and prevent economic stagnation, have made a mockery of this concept for the past decade. Being a surviver of paying 14% interest on a mortgage gives perspective.
At this stage in my life, with an adequate pension, I do not need to postpone pleasure now, for pleasure later. Interest rates don’t offer any encouragement. In fact, if I don’t indulge in pleasure now, there won’t be a future time to enjoy it.
When I started to write this post I titled it, The Money Value of Time. Then, I reduced it to The Value of Time. Money, when one has enough of it, becomes worthless. Most of this post was written using this title, until I had a change of heart, and re-introduced the original title.
Why? It has to do with an organization of which I am a member, that does not seem to be able to focus on the value of time. It relies on voluntary labour, which it values at the hourly rate of CAD/ EUR/ NOK/ USD 0. This reliance on volunteer labour means that this organization is unable to calculate, let alone appreciate, the value of labour inputs. It can then ask its members to engage in even the most meaningless of activities, because there is no cost associated with them.
At the moment, I am going through a process of determining my internal hourly rate. When this organization next asks me to do a task, I intend to challenge them by asking what this particular task is worth, and how much they have budgeted for it. I hope that this approach will impact them to see that there are limited resources available, that these resources have a cost, and they will have to prioritize.
Time is a valuable resource. Please, treat it as such.