Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our Ever-changing Technology Part II

If you read my last post on changing technology and how rapidly we are seeing the entire world change around us, you know how I feel about some of the changes. After reading that post, one of my subscribers who happens to be a very high-level quadriplegic with no arm function, sent me an article showing this next high-tech toy soon to be on the market that will have the capability to grow that change even more dramatically.

It is called Google Glass and looks like this:

As always, click on the image to make it larger:

According to articles in New Mobility magazine, Popular Science magazine and a Wikipedia entry, Google Project Glass had originally been designed for paraplegics and quadriplegics who cannot use their arms as a way to maneuver their wheelchairs with voice recognition software. It is expected to be released to the general public sometime in 2014.

Initially, the idea was to wear them as you see them in the picture. However, they are still working on a version where someone could wear them with prescription glasses. They are even working on a version that would come with your prescription glasses built into the unit itself.

I can see tremendous opportunities for everyone, not just people with disabilities to benefit from an item like this.

However, I see a huge downside in this technology and how it could be misused by that multitasking person who is already trying to drive, text, eat a sandwich and keep his or her children behaved on the way to school during the morning commute.

As if distracted drivers do not cause enough traffic accidents already, just imagine what introducing this technology could do to that distracted driver in the lane next to you!

I am all for this technology and its appropriate applications for people with disabilities and/or able-bodied people in the workplace, or in the comfort of his or her own home. It does scare me to think of how it has a huge potential to be misused and will cause people to be even more distracted from their already busy lives.

Like I stated in my last post, I am all for new technology and the changes we see coming. But, like everything else, if it is not used properly, I see some tremendous downside to this new idea.

I look forward to your comments.



Monday, October 21, 2013

Our Ever-changing Technology

I had an interesting experience yesterday with a virtual friend. While chatting on Facebook with her I watched an entire football game and she was about fifteen hundred miles away from me. I have never done that before. It was a reminder about how much our technology has advanced in the last several years.

We all know change is happening exponentially. This was just one more example of how we are communicating in the twenty-first century. It was the perfect example of multitasking.

We were watching the Washington Redskins played the Chicago Bears and commenting about the game as well as carrying on a three-hour discussion about a number of things. It was fun because we would be in the middle of discussing something and all of a sudden I would see "TOUCHDOWN!!!!!!!" on my screen. Washington beat Chicago in a wild game 45-41! It was the second-highest scoring game in the NFL this year.

I know I wrote a few weeks ago about professional sports and some of the things I believe are wrong with them. I still believe that, and feel strongly about all the injuries in sports at all levels, but I still like to watch football. I especially like exciting games like this one.

At one point, I asked her if she wanted to switch over to FaceTime and watch the game while we were able to see each other. She said she could not do that because she was talking to a mutual friend on her smart phone! It was just another example of new technology and multitasking at its finest.

I want to show you a picture I found recently I find rather humorous:

Click on the image to make it larger:

I think you will agree with me when I say, "Technology is changing all of our lives in one way or another, sometimes on a dramatic basis."

I remember as each one of these new devices came out thinking to myself, "What will they think of next?" Little did I know just what was coming down the line.

It is often said, "If you think what has happened in the last ten years is dramatic, just wait until you see what happens in the next ten years!"

There is a classic example going on right now with the new iPhones. We are already at iPhone 5, and now we have the iPhone 5C and 5S. How long will it take Apple to come out with the iPhone 6? I am guessing it will be available for holiday gift giving. Call me cynical, but Christmas is only a little more than two months away. That is a long time in our new world of constant change.

I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Forty-five Years Ago Tonight

Forty-five years ago tonight after winning and placing third in the 200-meter dash in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, John Carlos and Tommie Smith made this now famous black-glove salute during the playing of the National Anthem.

Click on the image to make it larger:

On the left is Peter Norman from Australia. He won the silver medal. There is a great article in "The Nation" you should read by clicking here. As a side note to the 200-meter race that night, Lee Evans won the 400-meter dash the next night, he took the podium, received his gold medal and as the Star Spangled Banner started to play, he pulled out a black beret, bowed his head and protested much like Carlos and Smith did the night before.

All three athletes became pariahs because of their support for the Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR). Smith and Carlos also took off their shoes and wore black stockings to represent the poverty of African-Americans in the United States. Smith and Carlos also wore OPHR pins to show support for the cause. Peter Norman also wore one of those pins to show his support.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos traded back and forth several times the world record in the 200-meter dash in the late sixties. They went on to have successful careers with John Carlos eventually earning his PhD.

One reason this photograph carries significant meaning to me is because the architect of the protest of the Olympics was Harry Edwards. Harry Edwards was my Sociology of Sport Professor at Berkley in 1974. He was an imposing figure as he lectured to us in a large hall without a microphone. He did not need one. As an undergraduate, he was a discus thrower on the San Jose State University track team. Dr. Edwards earned his PhD at Cornell. He is now a Professor Emeritus in the Sociology department at Berkeley.

Edwards told Time magazine, he "wants to serve as a role model — the promising athlete who gave up the possibility of a career in professional sports to become a scholar instead." He also stated, "We must teach our children to dream with their eyes open," he said. "The chances of your becoming a Jerry Rice or a Magic Johnson are so slim as to be negligible. Black kids must learn to distribute their energies in a way that's going to make them productive, contributing citizens in an increasingly high-technology society."

I could write a lot more about this life-defining moment, but I want to put this thing to bed and go there myself.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

No Child Left Behind Needs To Go!

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is very frustrating for teachers, administrators and people involved in our schools.

If you read my last post regarding dumbing down our young people, you know I addressed some issues pertaining to what I see happening to the education of our children in our schools today. Between comments I received on my blog and Facebook, people who work in schools are very frustrated with the effects of NCLB and its requirements.

One person posted this cartoon about NCLB and all students having to pass the same standardized test:

Click on the image to make it larger:

If indeed, a standardized test given to every student with varying abilities in the fifth grade is supposed to judge a school by its test scores with no regard for the school's demographics, part of the country, inner-city, suburban or rural school, how can every school compete on the same plane? I, for one, contend they cannot. That is why I believe, along with many others, NCLB needs to go the way of the dinosaur.

Personally, it has affected me because many schools do not want to give up that extra day in class they could get with their students to prepare them for the test rather than go hear a motivational speaker in the gymnasium or auditorium. 

I often get the excuse, "The last speaker we had was not very good."  Therefore, I get judged by the last guy and not on what I might be able to do for the students in that school. It is very difficult to convince a principal, other school administrator or teacher their students might benefit in taking the tests by listening to what I have to say.

What often happens at the end of the day is the person in charge will come up to me and say something like, "You were right, you could hold their attention for ninety minutes and give them something useful to take back to their classrooms." 

You can imagine what I am thinking about that time. I want to say, "I told you so," but that is not the appropriate time nor place to gloat. I want them to refer me to another administrator so I bite my tongue, smile and say, "Thank you, would you help me get into other schools by spreading the word with your contemporaries who might also like to bring me in?"

Going back to the cartoon, the rest of the comment was: "I started working in the Roseville School District in 2001, and have seen a steady decline in basic learning skills. In many cases, I see teacher spending more time doing the paperwork required by NCLB then teaching. NCLB has done more to harm our educational system than anything else in our history. I wrote a lot of papers on this subject when I was in school."

That is not exactly a ringing endorsement for No Child Left Behind!

I do not have all the answers, and I'm not sure anyone else does either. I do believe something needs to be done and done in a hurry because our children are falling farther and farther behind the rest of the developed world in national rankings and numbers of high quality, well-educated people ready for the workforce.

As always, I welcome your comments.