Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #9

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #9

…  Samuel Goldblatt III thought he might be able to sneak one past these Southern bumpkins …

Sneaky Sam-001

“Campbell’s property on Tennessee Street is worth millions to you, yet you’ll get it for pennies on the dollar,” the doctor’s son-in-law complains.

“Speaking of percentages, you’ll be getting a good fee for your part, you know blood moneythat,” chimes in George Lewis, the handler of the title arrangements.

“That is blood money to me, George and you best make sure that the Leon County Clerk will see you as the aggressor in this matter,” he implores.

“You will take the money I bet?”

No answer, is his answer.

“Let’s get past the pettiness and get right to the meat, men.” Samuel Goldblatt III does not linger on such trivial things as fragile human emotion. “Ten thousand dollars an acre is the agreed on price, am I correct?”

Samuel Goldblatt III

“It is ten thousand, only if I am the managing partner in the hotel,” Charles Wilson asserts. “Fifty thousand per if I’m not.” Ironically, the latter would obviously be best for the Campbells. But this is not about their welfare, rather the personal gain of the vultures.

Why do we need you Wilson? We could have leveraged our way into your Plaza, you know.”

“We will never know, Sam, will we? I am the sole owner of the Capitol Plaza and the only one who can pull off the land deal you need to erect your tower.” Stated like someone with clout of his own. “And I cannot stand competition, unless I have a stake in it as well.”

Holiday Inns knows full well that if they are going to make inroads into certain markets, regional lords, the holders of their dominion, will have to be players. The word “franchise” is a recent addition to popular vernacular and corporations have instituted these units to bring limited partners into the larger company umbrella. Charles Wilson is an example of a franchisee.

  Samuel Goldblatt the Third thought he might be able to sneak one past these Southern bumpkins; Fat chance.

“Sixty thousand for the lot, purchased by the Holiday Inn Corporation of America, with the Leon County Treasurer the payee, minus 5% real estate fees payable to McLoud Realty,” George Lewis enumerates. “Our attorneys will draw up the necessary papers, including the title search.”

Franklin McLoud stays seated, hands covering his face, disgusted with himself, as the others disburse, each his own way.  For $3000 dollars, he has seriously jeopardized the once proud Campbell Empire. It has been said, ‘every man has his price’, with some lower than others.

“I’ll see you at the funeral, Franklin. Try not to let this eat you alive. Leave that to the gators.” Lewis’ morose analogy disguises his true feelings. He is now the proud owner of two huge secrets – to deal with in the now and in those tenuous times to come.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #9


page 10

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 212

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 212

…Attorney Worth has located an abandoned stable on north Dearborn, the actual coach house for a Louis Sullivan designed home…

Coachhouse

North Dearborn

Also not very common in the middle of the Twentieth Century is specialized upscale livery by horse drawn carriage. Partially inspired by wife Edie’s insistence that he gives up his Checker Cab days, coupled with the inheritance left behind by his wife’s rich aunt from Jersey, Eddie Dombroski is teaming up with his cousin Rex from Western Springs on the concept of carriage rides in what is considered to be the downtown Chicago’s Loop.

There is a gaping hole in romantic conveyance in the city, in fact there are none at all. The only problem is, that despite his extensive knowledge of the byways and side streets, he has zero experience with Cleveland Bays, those 16-hand mahogany colored beauties that will tow the high-wheeled four person enclosed cabs.

Eddie is coachman to Rex’s footman, though one cannot exist without the other. Edie has broken away from her domestic chains to become the hawker for the fledgling undertaking and the three of them work together.

And seeing as Fanny has parked he fanny at that shyster Moore’s South Loop Hotel, they will be the perfect guinea pigs for this groundbreaking rebirth of a long lost mode of transportation. But he may be switching from the South Side for the North Side. Attorney Worth has located an abandoned stable on north Dearborn, just south of Lincoln Park, the actual coach house for a Louis Sullivan designed home. After clearing away the legal hindrance to keeping live farm animals, the Floridian decides he likes the home itself and buys it.

“What a wonderful place to start a family,” directing his comment to “we know who”, a “who” that is creeping up on the upper reaches of motherhood – tick-tock, tick-tock.

That puts Fanny to thinking. If he is thinking about children, he must have sexual intimacy on his mind. If he has carnal relations on his mind, then he knows that marriage must come first; which is the very same hurdle that Ace and Constance have facing them.

“Let’s get Rex and his horses into the stable first. The 28th is coming up fast and Constance wants us to meet up with Agent Daniels as soon as possible,” Fanny declares.

“After the stadium crusade is over, you’ll have to help me furnish the place.”

“I used to have simple tastes!”

To be foretold is to be forewarned. (or something like that)


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 178

American Oddities – WIF Fun Facts

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Facts About

America

That Make

No Sense

to Foreigners

America. It’s one of the biggest countries on Earth, both in terms of population and sheer size. It’s the planet dominating superpower; the heaviest hitter where culture is concerned; a place known by nearly every single human on the planet… and, to all but the 4-5% of humanity who live there, it makes absolutely no gosh darn sense.

 See, despite its cultural clout, America still seems deeply weird to foreigners. And we don’t just mean people who come from repressive kingdoms and tin-pot dictatorships. Europeans, people from Southeast Asia, Australians and Brits all find yuge chunks of life in the good ol’ US-of-A beyond comprehension. If you were born stateside, the following might not seem super crazy to you. But trust us, every single foreigner is reading this with their jaw dangling open and their eyeballs popping out.

10. US Toddlers Shoot One Person a Week

Americans sure love guns. The US has the highest rate of gun-ownership on planet Earth, and the least-restrictive gun laws (only Switzerland comes close). That’s all thanks to the 2nd Amendment, which has been the subject of near-constant debate since being written.

But it’s not the sheer number of guns in America that really astounds foreigners. It’s the crazy things that leads to. Things like US toddlers shooting one person a week.

There’s literally no other country on Earth you could write that sentence about. Even countries that are swimming in guns, like Serbia, Norway, and Switzerland, don’t have toddlers blowing one another away. To be fair, they have tiny populations, but, to be even fairer, c’mon buddy. US toddlers have shot on average one person a week (including themselves) for the past two years. Even war zones don’t have numbers like that.

More bizarre still, America keeps on arming its toddlers. In 2016, Iowa made it legal for babies to handle loaded guns. That’s right. The guys in the Hawkeye State elected to arm the very babies that are trying to shoot them. How’s that for hubris?

9. Bestiality is Still Legal in 9 US States (but premarital sex is outlawed)

Despite this being 2017, plenty of US States still have sex laws on the books that are… unenlightened, to say the least. And by that, we mean they were seemingly written by two guys named Festus and Bubba while necking with their pet hog Clancy.

Incredible as it may seem, there are nearly ten US States where it is still legal to have sexual intercourse with animals. We say ‘nearly’ ten, because one’s the District of Columbia (not a state, kids!). The other nine are Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. In addition, plenty of states still only consider bestiality a misdemeanor.

This would be odd enough if the US was a spectacularly licentious place, but it’s not. In addition to allowing you to marry your best-est sow, four states still outlaw either premarital or extramarital sex, or co-habiting with your partner prior to marriage. While the laws are effectively never enforced, the fact they’re still on the statute books attests to America’s unique mix of religious piety and deep-seated desire to mimic the guys from Deliverance.

8. The Highest Paid Public Employee in 39 States is a Sports Coach

Go to any other country in the Western world – Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, wherever – and the highest-paid public employee will be someone working in a selfless capacity. They’ll be the guys and gals running universities, or public hospitals, or the local council. America, though, laughs in the face of such devotion to the public good. Instead of rewarding headmasters or doctors or teachers, the highest public pay package in 39 states goes to sports coaches. Specifically, guys coaching football or men’s basketball.

We’re not talking comparatively small sums, either. The salaries involved would be enviable in the private sector. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, for example, rakes in over $7 million, plus bonuses, likely making him one of the highest-paid public employees not living in a corrupt dictatorship. For those from outside the states, this seems less extravagant, and more like an absolute inability to get priorities right.

Only Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont and both Dakotas refuse to award their highest public pay packet to a football or men’s basketball coach. Interestingly, both Hawaii and Vermont, as you’ll remember from a second ago, still technically allow bestiality. We’re really not sure what to make of that.

7. Over Half of All Americans Don’t Hold a Valid Passport

In 2014, polling company YouGov revealed only 8% of Britons had never left their country of birth to travel abroad. While this is maybe not all that super-impressive (Britain is tiny and France is close), it puts the US to shame. The same poll found only 50% of Americans would admit to ever having left the country. That’s nearly 160 million people who have never been to Canada or Mexico, let alone Europe or Asia.

For people who were born in Europe, that’s almost like saying you’ve never seen a glass of water. The idea of not going abroad from time to time is alien. In places like Germany, over 90% of the population hold a valid passport, and you better believe they use it.

But that’s Europe, we hear you cry, it’s a small continent with, like, a bazillion countries. Well, first, we’re pretty sure you’re exaggerating there, bud. Secondly, look at Australia, a country nearly as big as the US, and more cut-off from the rest of the world. According to official data, one third of the population goes abroad every single year. That compares to 50% of Americans over their entire lifetimes. Clearly, the US is a travel-averse country.

6. 30% of Americans Prefer Saving Money to Vital Medical Treatment

Compared to other developed nations, healthcare in the US is expensive. You can blame that on too much Obamacare, or not enough of it, but the fact remains that public systems, private systems, and public-private systems elsewhere in the world all deliver better service at lower cost. This alone can seem staggering to foreigners. Then there’s the American attitude to health. Faced with a serious illness or injury, around 30 percent of Americans would rather walk it off than pay for treatment.

 This… simply doesn’t happen elsewhere. Norway has the second most-expensive healthcare in the world, and pretty much no-one there avoids necessary treatment. Japan has an insurance-based, private system with payments often covered by employers, just like the US, and people don’t skip out on medical care. To find other people choosing money over hospitalization, you have to leave the developed world behind and start poking around in poorer countries where wages are low and healthcare unaffordable.

We’re not trying to rag on American healthcare here. America has some of the best doctors and hospitals going. But the idea that you’d choose money over health (or that you’d have to choose)? To non-Americans, that’s insane.

5. 7 States Have Custody Rights for Rapists

OK, let’s turn to some really, really dark stuff now. There exists a certain subsection of guys who like to rape women. Occasionally, this results in their victims getting pregnant. Depending on where they live and their religious convictions, the women may then decide to carry the baby to term. Now, here’s where it gets creepy. In around 7 states, it’s perfectly legal for the rapist-father to sue for custody of his newborn child.

Imagine that for a second. You’ve been violently assaulted, gone through the hell of guilt and self-recrimination, been courageous enough to bring the resulting baby into the world… and now you’re forced to watch as the D-bag who hurt you decides he wants to be a father to your son/daughter. Well, if you live in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming or Minnesota, that can totally happen.

In addition, there are 20 more states where it might be legal. In Indiana, for example, you can only block the rapist from seeking custody if you remember to do so within 3 months of your baby being born. This is some seriously dark stuff, and we guarantee that if you mention it to anyone from elsewhere in the developed world, their jaws will drop so low they hit the ground. Sure, some Middle East states may have even-worse laws, but that’s not really a benchmark to aspire to.

4. America Has More Self-Identified Patriots than Anywhere Else on Earth

In July 2016, Gallup released the results of their yearly patriotism poll. They found 52% of Americans call themselves “extremely patriotic”, the lowest level in polling history. The news triggered a slew of introspective articles by American writers, wondering what had gone wrong. For those reading elsewhere in the world, it felt like stepping through the looking glass. 52% is such a good score it leaves other countries eating the USA’s dust.

Such levels of patriotism simply don’t exist in the rest of the developed world. In a similar survey by YouGov, only 13% of Brits thought their country was “the best in the world.” That was the highest score in the EU. Germany and France got only 5% each. The second and third highest-ranking countries globally, India and Australia, scored 34% and 36%. But the US? The US busted through the 40% mark, with an additional 32% claiming America was at the very least “better than most other countries.”

For the majority of foreigners, the idea of showing US-levels of patriotism is simply alien. You will never see a flag in every yard in any other country on Earth. But that’s the US public for you: optimistic to a tee. Even if they’re unhappy with their current government, folks still believe that the idea of America itself is worth believing in.

3. Americans are More Likely to Get Bitten by Other Americans than Rats

The stereotype is that Americans likes three things: football, fast food, and violence (often all at once). It’s true that America’s murder rate is crazy-high. It’s also true that the national sport is getting drunk and starting bar-fights. But surely it’s not as bad as all that?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but this arresting statistic says otherwise. If you live in America, you are more likely to be bitten by another American than you are by a rat.

To be clear, this isn’t because US rats are particularly docile or rare on the ground. Cities like New York are completely infested, and people get bitten all the freakin’ time. There are over 40,000 rat bites recorded in America each year. The only trouble is, there are at least 45,000 human bites recorded right alongside them.

Again, this is a freaky fact for Americans, too. But, also again, it’s just something that doesn’t happen in most other countries. Sure, drunks in Britain like to hit each other, and Italian soccer hooligans are violent as heck, but biting enough people to outstrip rats? It’s something we can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

2. Americans Take ‘Fast Food’ Extremely Literally

The US is the birthplace of fast food. It’s the nation that brought the world the drive-thru, perfected the snack, and coined the phrase “lunch is for wimps.” Foreigners know all this intellectually. But confront them with a statistic like the following, and it’ll still blow their minds. Americans, you see, are the 3rd fastest eaters on Earth. On an average day, Americans spend only 74 minutes eating, nearly the lowest in the world.

That’s only slightly over 20 minutes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and far less if you include time put aside for eating snacks. If you live in the USA, this probably doesn’t seem so weird to you (the working lunch is an American specialty), but if you live elsewhere… man, you’re probably wondering how the heck they do it. In France, the average eating time is 135 minutes a day. In Turkey, it’s 162 minutes. Even in Japan, where people work far longer hours than in the US, they still manage to put aside 117 minutes a day for chow. The only other countries to spend as little time eating are Canada (72 minutes) and Mexico (under 70 minutes).

This is probably to do with both the American hard work ethic and fast food culture, which prioritizes productivity over relaxation. The same can be seen in a related statistic on cooking times. Nowhere else on Earth do people spend as little time cooking each day as in America.

1. Government Departments Have Official Advice for Reporting Elvis Sightings

One of the things foreigners know about the US is that it’s full of wackos seeing wacko things. There’s a reason The X-Files was so popular 20 years ago. But it’s one thing to hear about guys filming shaky footage of Bigfoot on their cell phone. It’s another entirely to hear that actual US government departments have official advice for reporting Elvis sightings.

Here, for example, is a link to the Federal government’s official website for copyright. Hover your mouse over the link. See that it ends .gov? It’s impossible for anyone not representing a government entity to register a .gov address. This site is legit. It’s part of the Federal government, and paid for by taxpayers’ money. And it includes official advice on how to copyright your sighting of Elvis.

 This isn’t a joke section put up by some lighthearted bureaucrat indulging a whim. It’s completely, mind-bogglingly serious. Which means the government was getting deluged with enough requests about Elvis sightings that they went to the trouble to post official advice about it. OK, say it with me now, altogether: only in America.

American Oddities

wif-fun-facts-001

– WIF Fun Facts

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 200

… I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding of my family…

The newest visitors to SE Wisconsin have allotted one full day of getting familiar with the lay of the land (and lakes) and several varied combinations of Polly Pabst meals and country wisdom. Over liters and quarts of caffeine fortified coffee, they get answers to their most prominent questions…

“The name “Pabst” is everywhere around here, are you…” Connie begins to place people to places and places to history.

“Yep. I used to run away from it, unlike my brother Davey, who loves the family business and racing cars. But when I opened this diner, I would have been foolish not to take advantage of the name branding.

“I saw the Pabst Blue Ribbon neon sign in the window.” Ace has been known to sample adult malted beverages on occasion, so Pabst Beer has passed by his lips before.

“I don’t live out at the mansion. I have a small house nearby.”

“We took a long drive,” he uses hand signals, “counterclockwise around Oconomowoc Lake and Pabst Farms is the first thing you run into. You know, I didn’t know that cows made beer.”

“What else do you do with 1200 acres, Ace? Hops do not grow well above the 40th parallel, but corn and dairy cattle do nicely.

“There isn’t a better area in the country, it has it all; fresh water, oak forests, fertile soil, friendly people and all this only 30 miles from a major city like Milwaukee.”

“God certainly outdid Himself here, that is for sure,” adds Constance from her two day perspective. “I don’t know if we mentioned it, but we are going to get a tour of Danforth Lodge tomorrow. I hear that it is magnificent.”

Polly has perspective of her own, having grown up in a moneyed family, with a long storied legacy, “That is a good example of what happens when the patriarch senior, then junior get older and all that ostentatious construction makes less and less sense; the kids sell off and divide up the riches, without mom or dad to make a fuss. After Valentine took over Danforth, the luster of the Roaring Twenties and the money island that brought them through the Depression had faded into the past. Property like that just doesn’t make sense any more.”

“You are a bright woman, Polly, I’m impressed. What keeps you tucked away in Eagle?”

“I am tucked, but productive. You may not realize it, but we cater far more food, to wedding and banquets, than we serve out here. There are twenty people in the back getting ready for a party this weekend.”

“This building must be bigger than it looks!”

“It used to be a textile factory, an example of the shrinking manufacturing base in the United States.”

She may be tucked away, but an entrepreneurial treasure nonetheless.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 168

New Stuff – Don’t Blink and They’re So Yesterday

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Tech Items

You Need To

Know About

We often check out sci-fi movies and books for ideas on what future tech could look like – anything from Marty McFly’s hoverboard to Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber – but what we don’t realize is that there are so many amazing gadgets and gizmos already around us. Every year, genius minds come up with fantastic ideas that have the potential to be game-changers. Sure, some ideas may fall flat, but for every weird and wacky item, there is a genuinely cool piece of technology that we humans could be using for many years into the future. Let’s take a look at 10 items that seem from the year 3017, but are actually coming very soon or available now.

10. PowerRay underwater drone by PowerVision

Sure, drones can record incredible footage from the sky, but what if you want to explore another vast and open area: the ocean. That’s why the Powerway underwater drone looks to be hugely popular, as it will be able to be controlled underwater to depths of 98 feet (30 meters). The little submarine-esque item can record 4K video and stream it to your phone, which is not only fascinating to the average seagoer, but also useful for fishermen. A sonar function is available which can apparently detect fish from up to 131 feet away (40 meters) and baits them with the help of a blue light. This makes us think that fishing doesn’t sound so hard after all!

9. Spectacles by Snap Inc.

Snapchat is already one of the most popular apps in the world, and now the company behind it all, Snap Inc., has now released their very own physical product: Spectacles. These record 10-second clips at the press of a button, which can then be uploaded to your Snapchat account. These sound useful, as you can have your phone in your pocket but still be able to record things from your POV, and they are stylish enough to be worn outside (unlike Google Glasses, RIP). However, there has been some discussion about privacy concerns regarding the Spectacles, as the thought that someone could be taking a video without your knowledge or approval is a real issue among people today.

8. Smart bikes by LeEco

LeEco has created smart bikes that contain some very useful improvements to your regular bike. There is a 4-inch touchscreen attached to the frame, which can provide you with on-screen directions and riding stats, as well as a compass, speedometer and barometer. There’s also some lasers attached to the handlebars, which create a virtual lane in front of you, which is kind of cool. There will be two types available for LeEco’s smart bikes: a road version and an all-terrain version. What’s great is that the smart bike doesn’t look so much different from the bikes of today, thereby reducing the risk of theft as it’s not over-the-top and ostentatious.

7. 360 smart bed by Sleep Number

This is perhaps the most high-tech bed on the market. The 360 smart bed is said to adjust to your ideal level of firmness and support, as you can control all settings relating to comfort. What’s really fun is that if the bed senses you snoring, it will gently raise the head section to (hopefully) prevent it for the rest of the night. Sleep Number’s bed can also warm your feet, which is said to help induce sleep much faster. In the morning, you’ll get sleep statistics sent to your phone, which means getting good sleep is now training of sorts.

6. The Core by Norton

The Core is not only a modern router for the home, but also a very stylish and futuristic-looking item – exactly what we want! But it’s more than a pretty sight, as the router contains security features that are said to prevent hackers, malware, and viruses from ever getting into any item with an Internet connection. As we have smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even fridges connected to the web, this is a big advantage in a world where cybercrime is a prevalent threat.

5. U connected shower system by Moen

This is something we’re really excited about, as getting the perfect shower temperature every morning seems to take way longer than we’d like. From your smartphone, you’ll be able to pre-heat the water temperature before you even get in, as well as setting a time limit to turn off the shower so you don’t spend ages in there and end up late for work (easy to do on a Monday morning). This device could also help in drought areas, as there’s no need to waste water as you wait for the perfect temperature – it happens instantly.

4. Moxi stroller and phone charger by 4moms

Everyone loves to get two things done at once, so that’s why 4moms made the moxi. The stroller doesn’t just get your child from A to B, but can charge your phone whilst doing so. Using kinetic energy, you can ditch regular old electricity to keep your phone from running low. There are additional great features of the stroller too, like an LCD dashboard that shows various data, headlights and taillights, and a fully adjustable seat and handlebars.

3. Pop instaprint camera by Polaroid

Not a company to dwell in the past, Polaroid has gone full 21st century by creating their Pop instaprint camera. Able to print 3″ x 4″ prints on-the-go, the camera gives you those instant memories but in a much more modern and sleeker design. The Pop from Polaroid can also shoot 1080p HD videos, making it the ultimate party or travel item. The notion of printing out photos has died somewhat, as most of our pictures tend to stay on our phones or computers, but the Pop camera bridges the gap between digital image and handheld phone.

2. Touchscreen by Tanvas

Have you ever wanted to feel what the material is like of a shirt when shopping online? Well, Tanvas can make that possible with their touchscreen technology. Tanvas has partnered with apparel company Bonobos, so you can know how smooth or rough those pants are before purchasing. It remains to be seen about what other applications this technology from Tanvas can be used for, but for the meantime, this could be very useful for online shoppers who want to go that extra mile.

1. Kitchen assistant by Hello Egg

Move over Alexa, there’s a new voice-operated home gizmo in town. Hello Egg’s device is specifically made for the kitchen, where it will assist you in planning meal ideas for the week, as well as keeping your shopping list organized and shouting out instructions for when you eventually start cooking. We really love this idea, as it can be often confusing to cook a new meal with only written instructions, but thankfully Hello Egg’s assistant has the option to show videos too, in addition to voice directions. No more burnt meals!


New Stuff –

Don’t Blink and They’re So Yesterday

A.I.-Proof Vocations – WIF Jobs

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Jobs That

Artificial Intelligence

Can’t Take Away

Let’s face it. Pretty soon, robots will take over the world, and humanity will become a distant memory. The good news is, by the time technology catches up to The Terminator, we will already be dead.

Artificial Intelligence is invading human territory to take our jobs away, but these robots are going to have a hard time getting everything right. Here are 10 jobs that A.I. can’t take away from humans… at least, not yet.

10. Authors

When you think about it, writing is just rearranging words that already exist. So, A.I. should be able to figure out patterns in language to make their own stories. And, they have! Well, sort of. One Game of Thrones fan and professional programmer named Zack Thoutt was sick and tired of waiting for George R.R. Martin to write his next book, The Winds of Winter. So he decided to create an artificial intelligence software to write it for him.

Just to give you a taste of the results, here is a quote:

“This dragon does not say we had four of a band, or no men or rats and two singers, the great pack of men and the winged trees.”

Maybe that story would make sense after a few glasses of wine, but it’s not likely that a robot will publish a New York Times bestseller any time soon.

9. Fashion Designers and Tailors

Unless you’re a fashion designer, most people in the western world don’t bother learning how to sew clothes anymore. The majority of the clothing in the world is made by people living in Third World countries like Bangladesh, where their working conditions are appalling. However, these people need those jobs to survive. Without the clothing industry, there aren’t enough jobs to replace them, so many of these people would starve to death.

So, who would ever want to risk ruining the lives of millions? Well, there’s Dov Charney. In case you weren’t aware, he founded American Apparel. He was kicked out of his own company because multiple employees came forward with sexual harassment accusations. Charney denies this, but the mattress in his office says otherwise.

He decided to start a new company called Los Angeles Apparel, where he is still employing American seamstresses and tailors. However, his loyalty to his employees seems rather shallow, because he would clearly rather be alone counting his money in a factory with a robot invented by Steve Dickerson called “SoftWEAR”. This robot is learning how to sew clothes. The only snag is, robots don’t have a human sense of touch. They are great at sewing straight lines, but they can?t anticipate when fabric moves or wrinkles. For now, Charney’s plot to ruin even more lives has been foiled.

8. Psychologist

One thing that artificial intelligence is truly terrible at is showing empathy. Since it has never been a human, how can it understand our emotions? Chatbots can?t pass the Turing Test, which means they can’t communicate on the same level of a human conversation.

Alexa and Siri can’t even understand our search requests half the time. Do we really want them to give us advice about our traumatic childhood memories from the third grade? We certainly don?t think so. Besides, therapists need to pay off their crippling student loan debt somehow, and not everyone can be a weirdly successful radio therapist.

7. Doctors

Artificial Intelligence is beginning to break into the medical field. In the future, we’ll be able to get a simple diagnosis by taking a photo on your smartphone. A.I. will run through a database of photographs and compare with yours to see if there’s a match.

There are already programs that exist that can check for skin cancer on that mole you’ve been meaning to get checked out, and another that will look for diabetic eye disease. Heart monitoring watches already have the ability to check for an irregular heartbeat, as well. As time goes on, more and more medical issues can be diagnosed at home.

However, that doesn’t mean A.I. will be taking the place of real doctors. With robots, there is no such thing as bedside manner. Can you really imagine a world where a soulless chunk of metal tells you that you’re dying in six months, with absolutely no empathy? People will always need a human to communicate with about their body, and there needs to be a sense of accountability, in case something goes wrong. After all, if you’re in surgery and things go awry, you need a surgeon who can improvise, not an oversized computer who lacks any semblance of adaptability.

6. Musicians

Artificial Intelligence has been able to create its own music, from Irish folk songs to marimba, and it’s actually quite good. In Japan, a fictional video game android called Hatsune Miku is so popular that she already sells out her own concerts.

But don’t worry. There?s no way A.I. can kill “Lisztomania”‘, which is the phenomenon fans feel towards their favorite musicians. Robots will probably never replace dreamy photos tacked on bedroom walls of little girls everywhere, which means that pop stars are safe, at least for now.

5. Police Officers

You may have seen security guard robots by Knightscope patrolling malls, but their usefulness is questionable, at best. The inventors compare it to a police car parked on the side of the road. If people know they are being watched, they are more likely to behave. Some may see these walking trash cans and believe that Robocop is the next step in technological law enforcement. In reality, humans truly don’t want artificial intelligence in charge of arresting people.

At Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a program was created that uses facial recognition to determine if someone is a criminal or not. They judge features like scars, facial expression, and even the curve of someone’s lip. If you have ever seen Minority Report, you know that this won?t end well. The program has already received a lot of backlash, because obviously, people can?t help if they were just born with a jacked up face.

4. Judges

The European Court of Human Rights gets so many complaints sent to them on a daily basis, it’s not possible to try all of the cases in court. In 2015, the University College London came up with an algorithm that was able to predict a cases’ outcome correctly 79% of the time, which helped them cut down on human work hours sorting through paperwork to find winning cases.

But that doesn’t mean a robot can sit in place of a judge. Human empathy has a lot to do with the outcome of a case. For example, an impoverished mother stealing a loaf of bread would probably be let off with a lesser sentence than someone robbing a bank. Well, unless Javert is on the case, of course. As we just mentioned in the last entry, A.I. also has a nasty habit of being incredibly biased when it comes to facial recognition. Without a 100% accuracy rate, someone would likely end up in jail when they’re actually innocent. Um, y’know, because that never happens with human judges, of course…

3. Art Teachers

Art is an incredibly important part of human history and culture. Even if you were the type of student who fell asleep during art class and wondered why your tuition dollars were being wasted on information you’ll never need to know in your future career, we think we can all agree that we definitely don’t want art education to fall into the hands of a robot.

Thankfully, robotic arms only have the artistic abilities of a 4-year old, and they’re equally as terrible at identifying the artist of a painting. An A.I. program called Recognition searches an image for colors, composition, and facial recognition. The matches they come up with are interesting, but not exactly accurate, like comparing a photograph of corn to a Jackson Pollock painting.

2. Pro Athletes

The 2018 Winter Olympics featured the world’s first skiing robot competition. Does this spell out doom for human athletes everywhere? Not so much. The owners of these mini robots had to chase down their creations as they crashed through flags and fell over on their way down an incredibly small hill. Which is hilarious, but not really a threat to Mikaela Shiffrin’s career just yet.

Considering how expensive it is to build a robot in the first place, it’s safe to say that developers won’t want to create a million-dollar machine just to push it down the side of a mountain. This means that in the future, robots will leave all the broken bones and sports injuries to us humans.

1. Clergy

Last, and certainly not least: the job that is guaranteed to never be taken by a robot is a member of clergy. Robots only function with evidence based on data and facts, and these soulless buckets of metal have absolutely no concept of faith. In fact, a study conducted by The Future of Employment claims that there is less than a one percent chance that clergymen would lose their jobs to robots in the future.

Compare that to telemarketers, who have a 99% chance of being replaced by automated voice messaging systems, and… well, what do you know? Maybe there is a God after all.


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Unusual Pirated Products – WIF Consumer Corner

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5 Unusual

Pirated Products

As a wise man once said, piracy is often a pricing issue, not a servicing issue. In short, people pirate things not because they don’t want to pay for them, but because the legal avenue to obtain them is unnecessarily obtuse or customer unfriendly. With that in mind, here are five amusing stories about lesser known, but oddly popular items that have found themselves being pirated over the last few years.

 5. The Green Lantern movie was searched for more in 2011 than “porn”

If there’s one thing it’s not hard to find on the internet, it’s images and video of people doing the horizontal hug. Pornography is ubiquitous online and remains one of the internet’s most traded and oft-pirated forms of media… except for in 2011, when more people wanted to watch that terrible live-action Green Lantern movie.

To explain, according to collated list of the 100 most searched for terms on a popular torrent site throughout all of 2011, more users searched the words “green lantern” that year than they did the word “porn”. Along with apparently being more popular than the most generic search term to find pictures of boobs online we can think of, “green lantern” was sought out by pirates more often than even objectively better content that came out that same year, like Captain America: The First Avenger or Breaking Bad. Then again, maybe the reason pirates torrented the Green Lantern movies so much is because they didn’t feel it was worth paying for it. Hell, we wouldn’t blame them, we paid to see that movie and wish we could have that money back every time we don’t have enough change to buy a soda.

4. The most commonly pirated eBooks are about being better at sex, Photoshop, and math

Thanks to the rise of electronic reading devices like the Kindle, it’s possible to download and, perhaps more pertinently to this article, pirate your favorite books. Meaning that yes, we live in an age where it’s possible to illegally download 18,000 copies of the Bible if you really felt like it.

Like most things online, sites on which it’s possible to illegally download eBooks meticulously track what users are doing and the results are actually kind of fascinating. For example, in 2011 it was found that the 10 most torrented ebooks by users of the PirateBay included two books about using Photoshop, and three books detailing how to be better at sex, neither of which seems all that surprising at first. However, inexplicably sandwiched between both these things on the list is a book titled 101 Short Cuts in Maths Anyone Can Do. A book that, as far as we can tell, detailed neither how to blow a woman’s mind in bed or better use radial gradients. Meaning maybe, just maybe, it was torrented purely for the benefit of learning something interesting, but ultimately useless in real life. Speaking of which…

3. People love pirating college textbooks

There are hundreds of horror stories about the ever rising cost of college textbooks floating around the internet, from students having to pay hundreds of dollars to buy a book their professor wrote, to textbooks being reprinted every year just to force students to buy them again. Most sources are in agreement that college textbooks simply cost too much, but few offer a solution to the problem. Or, should we say, few offer a legal solution to the problem… because many students have found that pirating a textbook they’re going to use for one class is a preferable alternative to eating nothing but ramen for a semester.

Along with uploading PDFs of popular course books, more enterprising students have skirted around the soaring price of college reading material by doing things like pooling their cash buy a single copy and photocopying every page. To make this fact even more hilarious, the Washington Post has found that some students have even been found pirating textbooks for ethics classes. Meaning there’s a student out there somewhere writing an essay about the ethics of digital piracy, while referencing a pirated copy of their course textbook. The only way to make submitting that essay a bigger slap in the face for the professor would be to position the printer over their sleeping face, and replace the paper in it with slices of wet ham.

2. Pirated cable boxes offer better service than actual cable companies

Online streaming services have been collectively kicking the cable industry in its aging, greying sack for a while now, and for the most part cable companies have done nothing to try and compete with the superior service they provide. For example, a common complaint about cable companies is that they refuse to offer a la carte programming (basically the option to pick and pay for only one or two channels), and have repeatedly insisted that this isn’t possible. Which is weird, because the people pirating their service can do exactly that.

Yes, there are unscrupulous folks out there who will sell you a pirated cable box or Android device with any channel you want unlocked. The difference being that, unlike cable companies (who will slap on a bunch of stuff you don’t want and charge you $80 dollars every month for the privilege), the people those same cable companies call thieves, will charge you once and only give you exactly what you feel is worth paying for, with regard to channels. For example, in Canada some people were caught buying a one for a one off fee of about $100, purely so that they could watch Game of Thrones on HBO, a move that saw HBO send pissy letters to customers reminding them that “it’s never been easier to legally watch HBO shows in Canada.” A sentence that’s technically correct, if you’re willing to pay about $100 per month for a top tier cable package. In other words, the pirates are offering customers a better deal than cable companies, and the reaction from those companies is to do absolutely nothing to make their service better.

1. Keurig has spent years having an amazing pissing match about their coffee maker

Keurig is a company best known for making single cup coffee machines that use those weird little pods. They’re also known for being huge, whiney babies about people who don’t specifically use their coffee pods. The company maintains that only official Keurig brand coffee pods should be used with their machines, despite most generic coffee pods working just fine.

Keurig, rather than trying to compete with these rival companies by offering a better selection of products, lowering their prices, or producing higher quality coffee, have opted to instead design ever more sophisticated machines that refuse to accept anything but official Keurig pods. Keurig is so gung-ho about this that they released a new machine that didn’t even work with old Keurig podsleading to a massive public outcry when customers who bought one realized they had to buy the newer, more expensive pods compatible with the machine. An endeavor that proved to be ultimately fruitless, because every time Keurig does this, generic brand coffee pod makers always find a way to circumvent it either by pirating the technology in the pods or figuring out how to mimic it. Still, it’s kind of nice to know that right now, there’s a company getting rich selling pirated pods of coffee. If only because that sentence sounds hilarious.


Unusual Pirated Products

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WIF Consumer Corner