But the computer says…

I’ve often heard complaints from folks in various industries and in the arts about the dismal state of our education system that fails to teach children to think for themselves, to creatively problem solve, and consider solutions outside of the “normal” way of doing things. I’ve seen some of this over the years and I’m not convinced it’s entirely the fault of our education system but more a symptom of our society always looking for a quick fix (and there always being one available for a price). If it breaks, call the repairman. And computers and our reliance on them is a big part of that problem. (Ouch! – My keyboard just gave me a shock!!!)

Long forgotten is the concept of Garbage In, Garbage Out. Nobody considers that anymore. It’s just “the computer says” so….   (cue voice of god)

Today I got to experience that at one of my favorite pick-up-a-quick-healthy-meal venues, Saladelia. I have nothing bad to say about Saladelia – the food, the service, etc., etc., etc. BUT – well – they have their nifty little computer terminals at the checkout counter now that apparently communicate directly to the kitchen which is all of 20 feet away with an open window to the checkout area. People are constantly going back and forth so actual human interaction and communication is good and easy. I placed my to go  order with the nice young man at the counter and perhaps distracted him with some small talk because when I paid he handed me one of those put-this-on-your-table numbers. So I reminded him that this was actually a to go order and he got a worried look on his face and simply said “I’m sorry” and pointed to his computer terminal and that appeared to be the end of it. I was confused and asked him if maybe there was a different price since it was to go and he looked even more worried and pointed to the computer again (I can’t see the screen) so I said “you’ll change it to “to go”, right?” and he looked even more worried and then got that “I just had a brilliant idea” look on his face and said “Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll get you a to go box and when your meal comes you can just put everything in it and you’ll be all set.”

Now everything I ordered is in the salad display area at the checkout counter so it’s not like someone’s already preparing a meal for me back in the kitchen. Someone behind the counter actually has to fill my plate from the display and no one is doing that. There are several people standing around and I can’t imagine that they haven’t heard this exchange. So I go sit at a table with my little number and after about 5 minutes the girl who was standing next to the guy who checked me out fills a plate from the display and brings it to my table. I quickly scrape it all into my to go box and leave.

Perhaps the computer keeps tabs on the number of dishes that need to be washed and the number of to go boxes that are used. No? No. The computer says it’s “dine in” so the minions have to follow what the computer says. No one can say to the person standing next to them “this guy meant to have take out so just put it in a take out box instead of on a plate, ok?” I mean, the computer is always right, right?

Transparent Government – Not.

The words politician and criminal have been long been synonymous but since the days of Tricky Dick many Americans have fought hard for open records laws and more transparent government. Great progress has been made and the Freedom of Information Act was a huge milestone. But politicians are constantly fighting back so keep their actions secret and ground is being lost again. He’s certainly not the only guilty one but Mitt Romney, who aspires to lead the country, is a frightening example of those who are trying to hide their actions from the public. This Reuters article has the basic facts. This one from the bloated MSNBC site puts a little more spin on the story.

Cassandra’s Nightmare

Cassandra’s Nightmare by Kitty Mitchell

Friend Kitty Mitchell sent this back in July and I meant to put it up then but never got back to it.
Many on Ocracoke Island are opposed to offshore drilling for oil and Kitty paints the picture well.
Here’s what she said back in July – some things have changed since then, obviously, but the issue
still needs to be addressed strongly.

I know I’ve stepped in it this time, but I don’t care. The visions come for a reason so I’m passing it on. My newest painting is a post card to Senators Dole & Burr, and also to Congressman Walter Jones, and to Mr. McCrory. Three cheers to Bev Perdue who is the ONLY candidate so far that has refused to endorse off shore drilling. This will not be good for our economy. We have a thriving tourist and fishing industry that does not need to invest our resources in old polluting technologies when we are so capable of doing better for ourselves, our children and our planet. We have more wind than oil, it’s ours and it can’t be shipped to China. Feel free to use this image to save our coast, I only ask for artistic credit.
Painting by Kitty Martin Mitchell

 Painting by Kitty Mitchell


“Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss”

I don’t have a dog in this race but I watch with great interest:
As artists seek to bypass the RIAA/Mafia and turn to the web and self publishing/promoting, interesting things happen. Sites have sprung up to help fledgling artists get their work out to the masses but who benefits? One new site – Bebo – has just been sold to a subsidiary of Time Warner, generating some controversy. I like the reference to “sharecroppers”. The ever-wise Burning Bird has this to say. The plot, as usual, thickens.


It’s been happening more and more and it’s really getting on my nerves. You’re at a concert in Duke Chapel listening to delicately written music from the 15th century being sung by women with heavenly voices. Just as they reach a delicious dissonance and the tones are suspended in air, the audience collectively holds it’s breath waiting for the resolution and cli-ick!  comes the loud shutter of the camera shattering the fragile, shimmering harmonics.

Why, with all our modern technology, we can’t have cameras with silent shutter mechanisms is beyond me. And it seems to be the flashy digital SLR’s with their enormous lenses that are the noisiest – even noisier than my old Nikkormat. They seem to be saying “look at me, I’ve got the latest and greatest!”.
Until the idiots behind these cameras at least learn to hold their shots until the loudest part of the music, or better yet, use something quiet, they should be banned from any musical event. They’re even a nuisance at outdoor folk music events and the like.
This particular instance (and he took many pictures during the most delicate parts of the performance) was at the Women’s Voices concert in Duke Chapel last night.