Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #184

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #184

…Alpha looks handsome in his black cap and gown,  but pays a price, his dark presence soaking in the penetrating sunlight like a sponge…

LATOBSD3-001


At the end of the second quarter of 1913 Alpha Omega Campbell is about to graduate from Tufts University School of Medicine, formerly Boston College of Physicians and Surgeons. If anyone from Quincy would have been so foolish as to predict that the runt of the family they had rescued from the grip of Jefferson Smythwick, would become a doctor 17 years later, they would have been laughed out of town.


Old Doc Ziggy was the first to have an inkling back in 1897, when Maggie Lou was new and the then Alfrey Campbell would explore all the wonders of his black bag. He has spent the intervening years as A.O.’s personal career consultant, imparting as much of his knowledge as he could and encouraging him the rest of the way. It has been sixty years and an Atlantic Ocean away, since a German university fashioned the good doctor.

Now he is the proud Omega to his dear Alpha, part of the well-traveled Tallahassee contingent, here in Boston for a slice of history; Willy, Amanda & family of course, with John, Martha, James, Abbey, benefactors Herbert and Phoebe, Laura Bell and 16 year old Maggie Lou.  Out of nowhere, Atlantic City produces brother Hosey and a floozy, though no one would freely admit to any association.

A hot summer sun beats down on the plaissance grounds, where Tufts graduations are held; ten rows of folding chairs for the graduates, twenty for spectators behind.

         Alpha looks handsome in his black cap and gown, with three rings on each sleeve and white shirt and bow tie, but pays a price, his dark presence soaking in the penetrating sunlight like a sponge. Looking closely at the second row, you can see the third person in, in between Misters Calvert and Carson; fall off his chair like a lead-filled balloon.

 Prowling nearby, as they often are where there is a significant human interest story to be had, Harv Pearson plops his notebook on the grass to rushes to his aid, without realizing there are over two hundred new doctors in a fifty foot radius. “We need some water and a towel, Campbell’s dehydrated,” says physician in waiting, Carson.

“He will not be the last,” Harv suggests, “not if they don’t shorten those speeches.”

 He will be the last black person to faint, the other two of his original freshman class minorities having dropped out of school early on.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Graduation Day by Howard Temperley

Graduation Day by Howard Temperley

Episode #184


page 172

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #170

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #170

… The Blountstown General Store is considering Love Dairies as sole supplier of milk and associated products, as well as growing demand for Savannah Cigar tobacco products…

Driver School-001

Willy can tell the difference in power and handling from the 1906 model that he drives, mostly on hills where, even fully loaded, they do not bog down.

“I be puttin’ her in a lower gear, Clete, like this,” he pumps his left leg twice on the left peddle, while shifting a stick back towards him. The sound of the engine becomes more earnest, but their speed of 15 miles per hour is maintained.

“That looks easy ‘nough, Willy. When are you goin’ to let me take the wheel?”

“Somewhere on the way back, likely on that open stretch we passed a ways ago.” He would rather do all the driving, but that defeats the purpose of training.

Welcone to-001This day they have Road 12 to themselves. The route begins to wind close to Blountstown, calling for caution, especially on the inside of corners. On roads designed for wagons and autos, there is not room for anything but the Mack truck. Whenever Willy cannot see around a corner, he pulls on the air horn cord. That usually keeps the way clear.

Once safely within the Blountstown village limits, they locate the new center for directions in towns across the country; the gas/service station replaces the local diner. There is usually one per town, as is the case in this one on the Apalachicola River. With a grunt and a mumble, a grease smeared hand points to Blountstown General Store, which is next to the Blountstown Barber Shop on one side and the Blountstown Saloon on the other. One wonders who either founded or owns the town. You are right.

The general store is considering Love Dairies as sole supplier of milk and associated products, as well as growing demand for Savannah Cigars-001Savannah Cigar tobacco products. Both are important staples to this typical mill town, but mill owner, Hank (you guessed it) Blount, wishes this fair priced and prompt company could supply a third staple Love Dairies2-001for his workers: whiskey.

If it were not for the profitable backhaul, which is the avoidance of running an empty truck back to warehouse, bartered quantities of lumber and flour; produced in Blountstown with the aid of rushing river water, channeled through paddle wheel and electric generator (Blountstown Power & Light), dealing with Hank Blount would have been out of the question. Herb Love has heard disturbing rumblings from the city, 25 mile southwest of Quincy, but images of a thousand families in need of nourishment tilts his better judgment.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Company Town-001

Episode #170


page 158

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode 65

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #65

… “Alfrey is a bright boy, Willy. He will do well at whatever he does.” Love means what he says. Unfortunately for Willy, cigar making may be setting his sight too low….

Young A.O.-001

“That is it, by golly! Picture this: Our five-pack cigars in a box with a window to view them and a picture of you standing proudly beside one of your seven foot tobacco plants. We will call them Loyal Campbells——get it? Royal Melbournes and Loyal Campbells!” Herbert Love can see it plain as day.

Loyal Campbells-001

Willy responds modestly, partly because he has never seen a picture of himself, only reflections on glass or other shiny objects. The artist rendition that Herbert Love has in mind will nearly immortalize Willy Campbell, the very essence of tobacco growers in America.

“I knows you will do right by me, sir,” he correctly trusts, “and can we take Alfrey with us when we call on the Ferrells? Ima tryin to light a fire under him, not much inerested in tobacco, caint figure out a direction.”

“He is a bright boy, Willy. He will do well at whatever he does.” Love means what he says. Unfortunately for Willy, cigar making may be setting his sight too low.

“Say, for tomorrow, let’s load half the wagon with ice and half with milk. No use wasting a trip.” Ever the consummate businessman, he figures that before they get to Hillside Estate, Love Dairies-001they will be stopped by folks wanting and needing what the wagon holds. With an eye to the future, as soon as Herbert can devise a better mode of transportation, he is toying with delivering house to house, not just store to store.

The next day, someone who flirts with the top of the world and his protégé, someone who has previously flirted with inconsequentiality, join forces for an exploratory mission of marketing and good will. Neither man is aware of all the possible ramifications of the trip, across rough roads and many stops along the way, leading to an end only God himself knows of the conclusion.

For those along the way, they see what looks like to lifelong partners, pursuing the same goal. Together, they comprise one of the greatest hedges against prejudice that exists in the post-Civil War Florida, let alone the remaining rebel states.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #65


page 60

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #48

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #48

… At Hillside Estate, Martha has a payroll of three, for duties in her house, grounds thereabout and a flower garden that puts other botanical creations to shame…

The elimination of slavery has proven to be a difficult task, one that mere laws of emancipation could not do and whose foothold is so strong that only the flood of generations will launder it from the stained fabric of the few.

The holder of the final and most rewarding segment of Escape from Fort Sumter South is prepared to do her part.

Martha Ferrell does little laundry these days. In pre-Civil War days, house slaves would clean the clothes of their masters, toiling in an unappreciated reward less cycle of work, work and more of the same. There are no labor laws protecting the length of work days or the minimum age of the person doing the work.

At Hillside Estate, Martha has a payroll of three, for duties in her house, grounds thereabout and a flower garden that puts other botanical creations to shame. John Ferrell needs four men to tend the stable, barns and fields. Their spread of 500 acres is one/tenth the size of Fort Sumter South, requiring less staff, but producing barely enough revenue to make Hillside a viable estate. However, unlike Sumter’s two hundred, the seven Negroes under the Ferrell watch are paid; a monthly sum that allows for autonomy, to live in houses of their own doing, in the enclave of the free.

A horse of a different color is an entire newly freed family like there will be soon. And though the Campbell sojourn is to be temporary, no act of kindness can ever be more sincere. The former slaves will be properly clothed and rested in preparation for a future in the considerable empire that is Herbert Love. On San Luis Lake they holiday, in Quincy they will thrive.


Alpha Omega M.D.

San Luis Lake-001

Episode #48


page 45

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 223

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 223

…at no time do you sample the wine, to do so will result in severe consequences…

COMISKEY PARK

Pentateuch-001

“This is the Communion bread. There will be one loaf per section isle and itcommunion will be served first. The consumer, (actually termed communicant), will tear off a chunk and pass it to the right, to the end of the isle. Do not eat the bread you guys, I repeat do not eat the bread,” Winters/Penty is speaking to a meeting of 500 Comiskey concessionaires, who temporarily put down their cotton candy and soda to hand out communion elements.

“The little bottles of wine will be in a tray like this one and each person will take one and pass the tray to the right.” The Boss of them glares into each and every one of their eyes. “But first we must get the wine into the bottles. Watch and listen.”

He enlists two pre-trained volunteers to demonstrate.

“Do you see how these little bottles have a screw on cap? Working in pairs, one will twist the cap counterclockwise to remove it; your partner will fill the turkey baster from the pitcher, then fill the highly collectible souvenir bottle. Then you will replace the cap and place the bottle in the tray.” Concession captain Winters is coordinating the assembly of 45,000 doses, (actually termed servings), of Communion wine. “Just like the bread, at no time do you sample the wine. To do so will result in severe consequences (fired from a $1.75/hr. job?)… No finger licking, no nothing!”

To ask these men to refrain from sampling is a stretch. A hunk of this and a sip of that, it is a well practiced perk, when no one is looking. Don’t you think the gals at the hot dog stand occasionally test the doneness of their encased meat?

In this case, any covertly consumed spiritual product will have unfortunate side-effects.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 187

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.


A.I.-Proof  Vocations –

WIF Jobs

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