Saturday, May 31, 2014

‘Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment’ Passes House, On to Senate


I blogged about the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment two days ago. Now, I’ve got some updated news for you.

In a truly historic vote – the first Pro Pot vote in Congress -  the chamber voted 219-189 to approve a measure that would prevent the Justice Department from using money provided by Congress to crack down on those using, prescribing, selling and distributing marijuana for medical purposes in states that allow it.

So what does this mean in the bigger picture?

Congress is ready to rethink how we treat medical marijuana patients in this country. This amendment gives states the right to determine their own laws for medical marijuana use; free of federal intervention. It also gives patients comfort knowing they will have safe access to the medical care legal in their state without the fear of federal prosecution.there is still work to be done to get this bill out of the Senate.

And if it becomes law as written, Farr’s amendment would apply to California, 32 other states and the District of Columbia.

On to the senate, where if sanity prevails again…it’ll pass!

Vitalii Sediuk: A Look at the Most Hated Man in Hollywood

Good Day World!

Vitalii Sediuk is a Ukrainian media personality who is notorious for physically accosting American celebrities at film premieres and awards ceremonies since 2010.

Sediuk's attacks have generally not been well-received in U.S. media.

The Los Angeles Times has described his escapades as having "a sinister quality," while the Hollywood Reporter has labeled him "a shameless attention fiend and mischief-maker."

In reporting on Sediuk's actions at the Cannes Film Festival the Huffington Post, while noting that Sediuk calls himself a prankster, asked "is anyone really laughing?"

Vulture has described Sediuk as "Borat without the wit or satire," while Uproxx has called Sediuk a "creep," and The Wire has referred to him as "a reprehensible piece of human garbage."

His latest prank: Brad Pitt 'attacked by Vitalii Sediuk' on the red carpet at Maleficent premiere in Los Angeles.

Maybe that’s why he’s been called the Most hated man in Hollywood! Here’s a slideshow of his many 'pranks.'

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, May 30, 2014

Workplace Reality: More Robots, Less Humans

Good Day World!                                        
Years ago I had a theory that cockroaches would inherit the earth. I still think there’s a chance, but now it looks like robots will, instead.

There have been many troubling signs in the last few decades that robots are well on the way to making humans obsolete in the workplace.

When I watched IBM’s Watson whip every human contender on Jeopardy, I knew our days were numbered.

It’s hard to contend with a robot who makes fewer mistakes than you do and doesn’t get bored performing tedious tasks.

Here’s something to consider; there will be 1.2 million industrial robots working worldwide according to Marshall Brain, founder of How Stuff Works and author of Robotic Nation.

You can’t go a day without seeing some form of robot. They analyze documents, fill prescriptions and work in checkout lines in stores nationwide. They handle many other tasks that were once performed by humans.

Google has been working on automated cars. Seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles with human supervisors in the passenger seat. It’s just a matter of time before we get in the car in the morning, program it, and sit back and relax during our daily commute.

ATM machines reduce the need for bank tellers, virtual assistants can answer the phone 24 hours a day. In 2008, Aeon Co., a major Japanese retailer, introduced a four-foot-tall yellow and white robot at a store whose job was to babysit children while adults shopped. Can full-time robot nannies be far away?

Robots can reach areas that are inaccessible to humans and provide crucial help in rescuing victims from natural disasters. The most useful robots could be aerial drones that  provide aerial inspections or ROVs, which can help locate underwater objects and determine the condition of bridges and pipelines, according to the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue at Texas A&M University.

Lawyers and paralegals must be concerned with the arrival of software that can do their job in a fraction of the time for a fraction of the cost. Blackstone Discovery of Palo Alto, CA provides software that helps analyze 1.5 million documents for less than $100,000, according to a New York Times report.

Guess who else will have new competition for their job? Astronauts. NASA and General Motors got together and built an android - Robonaut2 - who will initially handle menial jobs such as cleaning the space station and assisting humans in space operations.

It won’t take long for them to take the next step and replace a human crew.

In ancient Greek and Roman mythology there were stories of metal men that, through the use of godly magic, came to life.

In the real world of the 21st Century there’s the MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System), made by Foster-Miller, which has provided armed robots in Iraq. Drones and other machines are also increasingly used in reconnaissance and combat missions.

Especially troubling to an old journalist like me is the software developed by  Northwestern University Narrative Science that specializes in machine-generated stories. Robots writing stories! We must be headed for the end times.

Why robots? That’s simple. They are cheaper than beat reporters. Look at the Big Ten Network, partially owned by Fox Cable. Their director of new media didn’t make any bones about telling Bloomberg BusinessWeek that they use the service for baseball and softball coverage because it’s less expensive. Yeah, but what about quality coverage for their readers?

I’m not saying robots will start locking humans away like in the movies “The Matrix” or “I, Robot,” but I suggest we’re getting closer to a future when there will be no jobs for humans. Then what? The robots get tired of us stupid humans like in the movie “Terminator?”

Artificially Intelligent machines have, to all intents and purposes, been around for years.  Take a look at traffic lights, computers that run hospitals, airports. shops and homes.

Our world would come to a grinding halt without the robots that run our lives. But what will happen when there are no jobs for humans?

I guess that’s what scares me. I also think robots will figure out a way to eliminate the cockroaches some day!

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Okay…so what’s in a nickname anyway?

Good Day World!

Do you have a nickname?

  When I was in elementary school back in the stone age when we used stone tablets instead of texting, there was one kid who literally stood out from the rest of us. He was at least a head taller than any other kid in school. He was as tall as the teachers. Everyone but the teachers called him “Bean Pole.”

   We always asked him what the weather was like “up there,” chuckling all the while at our cleverness. I can’t recall his real name. He was a mild-mannered individual who took the daily razzing, and his nickname, in easy stride.

  Bean Pole’s story illustrates one way we get a nickname: someone gives us one based upon our physical characteristics. How many 300- pound “Tinys” have you known? Sometimes it’s desirable to have a nickname. It can symbolize acceptance, affection, and a form of endearment.

  Nicknames have a long history in Indian society where most people have a nickname (call name or affection name) that’s not related to their proper name. One of my favorite is “Bablu.” I just like saying it. “Bablu…Bablu,“ it flows like poetry.

And how about those Aussies? From poetic to ironic, they’re known for nicknames like “Bluey for a person with red hair.

Usually, someone else gives us our nickname. During the Vietnam war, American soldiers and Marines used nicknames a lot. The most common came from your home state. For example, if you were from Texas, you were called “Tex.” And a lot of other things, but I won’t go there.

  The guys in my squad had some interesting nicknames. There was “Swamp Rat from Louisiana; “Crow (a non-Native American skinny little white guy who was older than the rest of us) from Missouri; and King” who had a hard-to-pronounce last name and was a Native American (Comanche) with a regal bearing. You didn’t want to call him “Chief however.

  They just called me “Stan.” Part of my last name. That was a common practice. We called our company clerk, “Klod,” because his last name was a tongue-twister (German I believe) and too difficult for dumb grunts like us to pronounce.

   Sometimes nicknames come from ethnic backrounds. When I worked at Ford Motor company as an automation tender/welder in 1972, I noticed we had a lot of foreign-sounding (translation: Eastern European) names on the timecards when I punched in and out.

  I often called for one electrician, whose nickname was “Ski,” to come see what was wrong on our production line when something wasn’t working properly. Or, if the line went down for unknown reasons.

  If I’d had to say his full last name every time we needed help, we wouldn’t have made our production quotas! Ski was neatly stitched on his white uniform pocket just above his real name, signaling he was okay with the nickname. He pronounced his full last name for me once and I asked him if anyone ever got it right? “My wife,” he replied happily.

Many people aren’t okay with nicknames others give them. Cruel names like faggot” or wetback.” Mean-hearted nicknames are nothing new and I suspect they’ve been a form of ridicule since man started scratching things on cave walls.

  Right about now you’re probably asking, “Dave, what is the origin of the term “nickname”? Where does it come from?”

In a nutshell, after extensive hours of research and repeated caffeine binges, I discovered the compound word for nickname is ekename, literally meaning “additional name,” and first mentioned in European manuscripts in 1303.

It came from an old English phrase eaca (increase) and by the fifteenth century, the syllables of the phrase became “an ekename” which led to “nekename.” A spelling transformation over the ensuing years eventually gave us “nickname.”

Of course it’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea. I was going to share my wife’s and my endearing nicknames for each other, but when I mentioned that to her the room suddenly got cold!

Did you know that John Wayne’s nickname "The Duke" came from a dog his family owned that used to follow him about?

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rohrabacher-Farr Ammendment will Protect People Who Use Medical Marijuana

Good Day World!

The Rohrabacher-Farr amendment would protect people following their state medical marijuana from federal arrest and prosecution by prohibiting the DEA from spending taxpayer money to block the implementation of state medical marijuana laws.

The U.S. House could vote today on a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill that would prohibit the federal government from wasting taxpayer money interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

The amendment is being offered by five Republicans and five Democrats. A vote several weeks ago on allowing Veteran Administration doctors discuss medical marijuana with their patients received 195 yes votes. Support for letting states set their own marijuana policy without federal interference is rising quickly.

This vote is about letting states help their citizens without interference from out-of-control federal agencies,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Members of Congress have an opportunity to both protect the patient/doctor relationship and save taxpayer money. No person should have to fear being arrested for following the advice of their doctor.”

The amendment is being sponsored by Reps. Rohrabacher (R-CA), Farr (D-CA), Young (R-AK), Blumenauer (D-OR), McClintock (R-CA), Cohen (D-TN), Broun (R-GA), Polis (D-CO), Stockman (R-TX), and Lee (D-CA).

A recent Pew Research Center survey found that nearly three-in-four Americans (72%) believe that efforts to enforce marijuana laws cost more than they are worth, including 78% of independents, 71% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans. There is strong support for state medical marijuana programs, with 80% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans supporting the sale and use of medical marijuana in their state. (read the rest of the story here)

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Here’s Seeing You! Bionic Eye Tech Advances

 Good Day World!

 Got some eye-opening news for you today.

A visual prosthesis, often referred to as a bionic eye, was once the stuff of science fiction.

Now the blind can see with modern technology breakthroughs. Read the latest news on bionic eyes, and how they came about in the 21st century.

About visual prosthesis, aka bionic eye.

This Wikipedia article offers insight into experimental visual devices intended to restore functional vision in those suffering from partial or total blindness.

First ‘Bionic Eye’ Retinal Chip for the Blind

This article talks about a new bionic eye that came out last year. It works by converting video images captured by a miniature camera, housed in the patient’s glasses, into a series of small electrical pulses that are transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes on the surface of the retina.

Bionic Eye Breakthrough: Helping the Blind to See

Learn how a genetic disorder as retinitis pigmentosa no longer means living in the darkness thanks to the Argus II bionic eye.

More related stories”

Duke Offers Bionic Eye helping the Blind to See

FDA Approves first Bionic Eye for the Blind

Time for me to walk on down the road…


Monday, May 26, 2014

Stancliff’s Who Served America as Soldiers During the Revoltionary War

  Good Day World!

In honor of Memorial Day, I’d like to share some of my family history with you.

Since the Revolutionary War, Stancliff’s have served this great nation, often giving their lives in battle. I’m proud of my ancestors, and our tradition of defending this country.

I continued that military tradition when I fought in Vietnam (photo) in 1970. My father was a Marine who fought in the South Pacific during WWII.

Next Memorial Day, I’m going to feature Stancliff’s who fought in the Civil War – on both sides.

Special thanks for gathering this family history go out to Sherry, and her husband Robert C. Stancliff.

Stancliff’s in the Revolutionary War

Josiah Stanclift served during the Revolutionary War. He was in Captain Simons' Company of Col. Erastus Wolcott's Connecticut State Regiment and served in the Boston area. After the battle of Lexington, in April 1775, there was an alarm called the "Lexington Alarm" on which more than fifty Connecticut towns sent companies of soldiers with all haste to the point of attack. Josiah was on the Lexington Alarm List.

Joseph Stanclift enlisted Dec. 25, 1776 for a period of three months in Capt. Nathan Rowlee's Company of Lt. Col. Timothy Robinson's detachment of Hampshire County, Massachusetts Bay Militia and served until Apr. 3, 1777 at Fort Ticonderoga.

George Stanclift along with his younger half brothers, Thomas and James, was a member of a South Britain Militia unit as early as 1774 serving in Capt. Eleazer Mitchell's 12th Company of the 13th Regiment of Connecticut Militia. Responding to an urgent plea from General George Washington to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut for assistance at the desperate campaign in New York, "all able bodied men between the ages of sixteen and fifty years" were mobilized in Woodbury, Litchfield County, CT on August 10 and 11, 1776.

These men marched for New York on the 12th of August. George, James and Thomas Stancliff were in a Company commanded by Capt. Elijah Hinman of Southbury. They arrived in New York and there officially joined the 13th Regiment of Connecticut Militia on August 15, 1776.

George died just two weeks later on August 30. The date of George's death is consistent with the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, NY which took place Aug. 27, 1776 and the subsequent escape of the American Forces during the foggy night over the East River to Manhattan Island. This was the first defeat in General Washington's withdrawal from New York.

Thomas Stanclift enlisted during the Revolution, the term of enlistment covered the time between July 13, 1775 and Dec. 20, 1775. The Company, made up of men from the towns of Woodbury and Litchfield left the Parish of Bethlehem in the town of Woodbury on August 11, 1775. The 5th Company of Militia under command of Capt. Nathaniel Tuttle of South Britain marched to New London, CT to join the 7th Connecticut Regiment.

While in New London the Regiment answered an alarm in Stonington, some ten miles to the east on Aug. 30, 1775. Stonington was being attacked by three British frigates under the command of Commodore James Wallace, Master of the "Rose", a Man of War of twenty guns. The City of Boston had been surrounded by Rebel troops and was under siege. In an effort to provide food for the beleaguered British forces, Wallace was raiding the coastal areas to steal livestock and provisions. The Stonington patriots repulsed the British ships in their harbor.

The Connecticut Regiment left New London on September 19, 1775 heading for Boston. They marched through Providence, RI and arrived in Cambridge, MA site of Washington's camp on Oct. 1, 1775. From there they marched to the Fort located at Winter Hill in Charlestown, MA. At this Fort they remained as part of, or near to, General Israel Putnam's Connecticut detachment.

 The British "Regulars" had taken Bunker Hill in June, 1775. Jonathan Twiss, the drummer with this Regiment, told of sending a printed account of the battle home to his family, complete with pictures and verse. The British still occupied the town of Boston and the Rebel forces still surrounded the town of Boston through the extremely cold fall and winter of 1775.

Jonathan told of guard duty, of minor skirmishes with the enemy, of watching sheep put ashore to feed the hungry British troops at Bunker Hill, of disputes among the sometimes bored soldiers, of two enemy soldiers deserting to the American side and being fired upon by their own men, and of building additional sod breastworks or fortifications. For the most part they waited and watched the British Regulars.

Thomas once again enlisted in the service. This time he signed up in Elijah Hinman's Company made up of Woodbury men. Brothers George, and James were in the same Company. They arrived in New York and there officially joined the 13thRegiment of Connecticut Militia on August 15, 1776.

James Stancliff was one of the three sons in this family who belonged to Eleazar Mitchell's 12th Company of the 13th Regiment of Connecticut Militia from Southbury, CT subsequent to October 1774.

The names of James Jr, George and Thomas appear upon an unrecorded list handed down in the Mitchell Family. It is probable that these men saw service in some of the early alarms of the Revolutionary War.

Of the three brothers who marched off together in 1776, only James survived. George, Thomas and James all entered service in New York on Aug. 15, 1776 in Captain Elijah Hinman's 6th Company, of the 13th Regiment of Connecticut Militia.

There were twenty-four men in the Company including the Company officers. Brother, George Stanclift was the only man who was listed as having died in service during that tour of duty. He died "in New York" Aug. 30, 1776. Brother, Thomas Stanclift received wounds that resulted in his death soon after returning home.

During the time of their enlistment the Battle of Brooklyn Heights took place on Aug. 27th and Washington's troops were ferried from Long Island to Manhattan all during the foggy night of Aug. 29th. It is likely that the brothers took part in those maneuvers.

William Stanclift enlisted or was drafted into the Army for a period of three years on May 19, 1777. This was shortly after William's 16th birthday. He was inducted into the Service on May 23, 1777 by Lt Elihu Trowbridge acting for Captain Samuel Granger.

Capt. Granger's Company was part of the 2nd Connecticut Regiment of Foot, commanded by Col. Charles Webb. The Regiment joined the forces of General Israel Putnam at Peekskill, Westchester County, NY. General George Washington regarded Peekskill as a strategically important area.

It was possible that the British forces to the south would attempt to join the forces of General Burgoyne advancing down the Hudson River from Canada.

The encampment at Peekskill provided a natural position of advantage to forestall that eventuality and to provide access to the southern states. After General Benedict Arnold refused the post, the task of defending the Peekskill area fell to General Putnam and his Connecticut troops.

On June 30, 1777 William was taken prisoner by the British. The nature of the encounter is not specified, but at least 24 men from the 2nd Regiment were taken prisoner between June 30 and July 2, 1777. William was listed on the Company Muster Roll and the Company Pay Roll as "a prisoner in New York". The final Muster Roll was dated Dec. 24, 1777. William died in the custody of the British.

In 1775 John Stanclift was a Private in Capt John Strong's Second Company of the Torrington Train Band, a town Militia. On June 24, 1775 John and Comfort each appeared on the payroll for 12 days pay for service in the Train Band, records submitted by Zachariah Mather, Company Clerk.

David Stanclift, son of Lemuel told that John and Samuel were together at Germantown and that when the Americans were forced to retreat, the two of them escaped through a cornfield and "the man that was between them was cut in two with a field piece ball".

John spent time in the winter quarters at Valley Forge, PA, being discharged from that place Jan. 9, 1778.

David Miller Stanclift a great grandson of John said that John was with General George Washington when he crossed the Delaware River to surprise the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton, NJ and was at the Battle of Yorktown, VA.

John again enlisted in the Connecticut Line in 1780 but his brother, Comfort, served four months of that enlistment and another substitute satisfied the remaining obligation.

From book "Descendants of James Stanclift of Middletown, Connecticut and Allied Families", By Robert C. and Sherry [Smith] Stancliff

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...