05 September 2022
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An Odd Month of Random Thoughts

It's Labor Day

At least it was when I started writing this blogitem. Who knows when it will be finished? (No suspense: You will know since I'll mention the date at the end as an exercise in self-discipline.)

I've always wondered about Labor Day. One would think that those who toil for pay (i.e., "laborers" in common parlance) would be keen to do that on their day. Instead, it's a holiday. I actually found enough spare time between the U.S. Open tennis matches to finish "yesterday's" blog. I imagine others did a bit of catching up as well.

Have You Heard of the Dawn Project?

I hadn't until I saw a commercial message on the television set whining about Tesla's self-driving software. Since I myself have done a bit of whining about that subject, I was curious to see who cared so much as to pay for anti-Tesla advertising. It is someone named Don O'Dowd, the founder of The Dawn Project. According to O'Dowd, Tesla software is so horrible that it would subject its users who lack appropriate caution and vigilance to an accident every eight minutes, per car! Having suffered zero accidents in approximately three decimal orders of magnitude more traveling in my Tesla car, I'm skeptical. O'Dowd claims to have contributed to the software that keeps nuclear weapons "safe," whatever that means in the context of nuclear weapons. He would seem to have credentials.

His project and paid advertisements purportedly have the purpose of outlawing Tesla's "self-driving." I'm skeptical that will happen because of his campaign, or that it will happen at all. Perhaps he has additional motives.

A New "First World Problem"

You may recall my review of my recently purchased Samsung S22 Ultra cell phone. Wonderful camera, but the phone was challenging to order on the evil Samsung web site. One might think Samsung would read my review and take the lesson about their web site to spleen. One would be wrong! Samsung, the 18th largest company in the world according to something I found at random on the web, still hasn't gotten it right. I've been wearing a "Watch 3" for the past few years, largely content with the watch and its features, but despairing of its horrible wrist band. When Samsung announced the Watch 5, I decided to upgrade. Easier said than done!

One of the four emails per day that they send touted a promo for Watch 5 on their web site. An abundance of choice! Model, color, size, band, band color, accessories, trade in. It was only when I finished the tedious selection process that I was notified that something was out of stock and I should start over. I tried a "chat" with a human but got nowhere. I asked to be emailed what and when I could order, but they don't seem to do email. I'm still new-watch free, but in no hurry.

One of the choices—and here's the new First World Problem—was the trade in. I was reminded of the old auto dealer ad "anything you can push pull or shove into the lot" could be used for a trade. The only requirement was that it be a "smart watch" even if it wasn't functional. I just happen to have an old smart watch, possibly functional, that I got for almost nothing on Woot and decided not to use*. I had intended to trade it in. Reading the details of the trade-in offer, I found this sentence:

If you do not send your trade-in device, or it does not meet the eligibility requirements, Samsung reserves the right to disable your New Samsung Product remotely

Wow! In fact, Yikes! Minor first-world problem for watches, but maybe a bit worse for electric cars.

A Man Born for His Job

In Seattle, Washington, there's a talk radio host named Jason Rantz.

Speaking of Labor Day

Tennis fans will by now have noted that the "linesmen" have been replaced by an electronic system that calls the faults and outness of served and hit sporting orbs. That's six "jobs" per match, of which there are probably over a thousand in major tournaments like the US Open. Can "balls and strikes" be far behind?

And Speaking of Tennis

Tennis counts as a "sport" as do baseball, football, hockey, and many others, some of which I've even heard of. I was having a conversation with an associate who believes, as I used to, that sport is of almost no interest. I have, now in my early dotage, developed an interest in tennis and rekindled my enjoyment of baseball. Being natively a New Yorker whose life's beginning pre-dated the spawning of the Mets, I'm a Yankees fan. Because my initials are RF and I have acquired a selection of Roger Federer** T-shirts which bear his stylized RF logo, I'm a fan of his as well. When watching tennis, I always root for Roger when he is playing, and have developed, gratuitously but necessarily, a like or dislike of a number of other well-known players, since Roger is close to retirement.

Warning: Half-baked philosophy ahead:

I believe that, in order to enjoy a spectator sport, one must root. Despite no rational basis for hoping "your" team or player will prevail over an opponent, one needs the visceral connection which rootation provides. (Of course, a rational basis would be wagering, which presumably explains the popularity of horse racing.)

Pretty profound, eh? I warned you it was philosophy.

Where Will We Get Our Lithium?

This is a problem that may be driving some to take a similarly named drug, I tried to solve this problem in a previous blog. Although I haven't yet read about solar archipelagos sprouting in any of the seven seas, I did have an odd notion in which I have no faith at all. (It barely rises to the level of notion, much less idea.) There's a lot of lithium in the ocean, but it's very dilute. Although it can be separated and concentrated, the process for doing so may be too expensive even with "free" solar energy. While the chemists are working on that, I wonder if we can't recruit some biology people to look for lithium-concentrating organisms. Fish, algae, kelp, etc. The organisms don't have to be very successful at it, but if they exist at all it should be possible to selectively breed or modify them to do a better job.

This kind of modification is frequently done for land organisms. There's a lot of research on ocean flora and fauna for medicinal purposes. How about checking for lithium salts while we're at it? Go, organisms, go!

The Microsoft Busies

Here's an item that either is worthy of a long screed, or perhaps is beneath notice. Since a lot of things beneath notice appear in this blog, I'll go with that option. Willy-nilly, I have a subscription to a Microsoft notice about my monthly activities while using their email program Outlook, and perhaps other Microsoft excrescences. I'm sure this redounds with "privacy" implications, except that if I get it, probably tens or hundreds of millions of other Microsoft users get it as well. This means that no human ever scrutinizes it with a view to exposing my peccadilloes such as receiving reminders to pick up milk or sending email to the bakery that stopped making linzer cookies. So much for blackmail. But it is a bit creepy, as evidenced by this excerpt:

Something to consider
August 7 – September 3
It looks like you read and respond to email quickly outside your working hours.
Consider turning off email notifications outside working hours.

This is so wrong! It's true, but wrong! Every last bit of it rankles. How does Microsoft know my working hours? Or even that I "work," which I often doubt. And assuming it's right, why is it adjuring me to change my email habits? Does Microsoft know better than I appropriate behavior for my email? Maybe because so many Microsoft automated messages begin with "We" they feel they can arrogate to themselves a majoritarian imperative.

Yes, I can unsubscribe, but I have few opportunities to express righteous indignation and I take them when I can.

Am I Done With My Random Thoughts?

Not quite. I have some observations about His Majesty Winston the Puppy which are jelling in my alleged mind, and I sometimes get so irritated at all the email spam I receive that I fear that my spleen cannot be vented in a few short sentences. More on WtP soon. Maybe you'll be spared the spam spam.

Tomorrow: Maybe Italy. Or maybe...The Missing Clocks of Eventide

As promised: Finished on 10 September (yes, 2022). Could be worse.


* I never used it because it required an Android app that I didn't trust.
**He's also a pretty good tennis player.

Richard Factor



Elton John



We seem to have entered the Land of the Collectibles. It was my habit to petition roadies and others associated with rock-band tours to exchange "laundry" as they called it. Although "yesterday's" Ampex shirt doesn't fall in that category, this one most certainly does.

Clair Brothers, now a brand of Clair Global, was, in the '70s, one of the biggest American sound reinforcement companies (along with Showco, now part of Clair). When a Clair tour found itself in New York City, we would inevitably have some contact due to sales and maintenance of our products. And I would, inevitably, petition whomever for a T-shirt. Since I had trade goods, I was rarely refused. This along with many other Tees of the Day are the products of such interactions.

Roy Clair and his older brother Gene Clair founded Clair Brothers in 1966. Gene was older and died in 2013. So far as I know Roy remains with is, as does his fine company. They are much more than just T-shirts!

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