Where Is My Automated Painter?

The cry of my generation, for years now, has been: “Dude, where’s my flying car?”

My friend Jeff Greason is fond of explaining that as an engineering problem, a flying car is no issue at all. It is as a legal problem that flying cars get interesting, because of course the FAA won’t let such a thing exist without clutching it madly and distorting it with its hands made of bureaucracy and crazy. (Okay, he doesn’t put it that way, but I do.)

So instead we have mostly self-driving cars. (I don’t want to hear it. If you think your non-self-driving car isn’t tracked, you’re high on your own supply, unless your car is from the sixties or early seventies, and hasn’t been retrofited. And btw, again, yes, they have the ability to get all this information about us, what they don’t have is the ability to make sense of it. They’re submerged in a mountain of info, and nothing to do about it. And no, they are not super-clever entities who KNOW everything about you; nor are their AIs. Trust me, I have reason to know.) Which are very good for people like me who were never that fond of driving and who are now subjected to their eyes going wonky without warning, which means I’m grateful for a fail-safe at my back. Even if I still have to pay attention every step of the way (because I’m not stupid.) They will be even more needed as our population ages. Reflexes and vision both get markedly worse the older you get. Even ten years ago, I became cognizant of the phenomenon I called “aged boomer, driving.” Because in a generation that didn’t marry or didn’t stay married in the numbers former generations did, there’s no one to take the keys away. (There was the couple driving very slowly on the wrong lane, early morning, with an expression of frozen horror, like they thought they were doing 80 miles an hour. I got out of the way and said a prayer for them. About a block down they moved to the right lane.)

And maybe eventually it will come to flying cars by way of self driving cars. Because that would make my sense.

But in all this, I have to say: Dude, where’s my automated house?

It was fifteen years ago or so, while out at lunch with an older writer friend, that she said “We always thought that when it came to this time, there would be communal lunch rooms and cafeterias that would do all the cooking so women would be free to work.”

I didn’t say anything. I knew our politics weren’t congruent, but really the only societies that managed that “Cafeterias, where everyone eats” were the most totalitarian ones, and that food was nothing you wanted to eat. If there was food. Because the only way to feed everyone industrial style is to take away their right to choose how to feed themselves and what to eat. And that, over an entire nation, would be a nightmare. Consider the eighties, when the funny critters decided that we should all live on a Russian Peasant diet of carbs, carbs and more carbs. Potatoes were healthy and good for you, and you should live on them.

It will surprise you to know –not — that just as with the mask idiocy, no study of any kind supports feeding the population on mostly vegetables, much less starches. What those whole “recommendations” were based on was “diet for a small planet” and the bureaucrats invincible ignorance, stupidity and assumption of their own intelligence and superiority. I.e. most of what they knew — that population was exploding, that people would soon be starving, that growing vegetables is less taxing on the environment and produces more calories than growing animals to eat — just wasn’t so. But they “knew” and by gum were going to force everyone to follow “the plan.” (BTW one of the ways you know that Q-Anon is in fact a black ops operation from the other side; no one on the right in this country trusts a plan, much less one that can’t be shared or discussed.) Then the complete idiots were shocked, surprised, nay, astonished when their proposed diet led to an “epidemic of obesity” and diabetes. Even though anyone who suffered through the peasant diet in communist countries, could have told the that’s where it would lead, and to both obesity and Mal-nutrition at once.

So, yeah, communal cafeterias are not a solution to anything.

For a while the cooking was the least of the problems as more or less everyone, even us, though not every day, as we are too tight fisted for that, ate out or bought pre-prepared. I realized this was ubiquitous when we were moving and what everyone wanted to tell me about this area or that was what restaurants were decent in the area, and which “got really full at dinner time.”

How the covidiocy will affect that, only Himself knows, and He’s probably sighing. A more distributed population should mean more distributed services to feed them, but who knows? How can a restaurant survived in a town of say under 20k people, unless there’s a ton of tourism, or everyone eats there once a week. Restaurants live close to the margin, as is.

In my mind I have a mental image of “dinner trucks” like those cookie and coffee carts that in the nineties went from Suburban office complex to suburban office complex, in a desperate attempt to make money off populations that had abandoned downtown.

In the same way, perhaps cooking and delivery trucks “Chow wagons” will go from whistle stop town to whistle stop town delivering hot, professionally made meals to people who moved away from the big cities, and who worked from home all day. Maybe waiting for the chow wagon will become the village square. Or not. But it could happen.

But sure, a lot of time is taken in cooking and cleaning, which is why those of us in dual career marriages keep getting buried under a pile of unfinished projects and abandoned possessions, at the point where we throw our hands up and go “I just can’t even.”

That’s the main problem. It’s that the “solution” to “who does house work” (Which btw, at its minimal as it is most of the time, still eats three hours of my day every day, between minimal laundry, cooking and kitchen cleaning. (And yeah, I do it because it’s more time-efficient, since I take a shorter time to do it than anyone else in this house.)) is not to do it. Americans and to a large extent the west, have simply learned to tolerate dirt that would make our female ancestresses scream. (The state of my house right now would cause my mom to chase me around with a slipper. Even at her age.)

So, dude? Where are my cleaning robots? And while we’re at it, where are my painting robots.

As I look around and throw my hands up in despair, I find I have a great need for Daniel Boone Davis and his inventions.

Which never happened, because we were too busy working and doing things, and housework just went by the way side.

But still…

Dude, where is my Flexible Frank?

398 thoughts on “Where Is My Automated Painter?

      1. Now, now, cultural connotations have changed some since 1957. If somebody were to invent and market something called ‘Flexible Frank’ these days, it probably WOULD be of an…adult nature. 😛

        1. Oddly enough Heinlein made that reference in the novel with the change in the meaning of “kink”.

      2. No idea at all. I shall repair to the corner and suck my thumb. (Where’s my Tabasco?)

            1. Heinlein’s Door Into Summer you insufferable twit!
              A truly classic time travel tale.

          1. Considering the decidedly NSFW that came up second, DDG may not be the best advice. 😀

            1. The right one is the second hit on Qwant. The first refers to a character in Flexible Survival, a game I know nothing of…

          2. Amazingly, it is the top on a Bing search. Above some kind of shoe, and some NPC skin in “Flexible Survival.” Which I did not look at further, as the returned search makes it look like you get points by how many times you have sex with Frank…

            1. That’s just another reason DuckDuckGo is superior to Google…it doesn’t head straight for NSRW content because that is linked a lot.

        1. Yee Gads! Not that I have the authority or power to do so, but if I could, you would hereby be assigned the reading of the entire works of Robert Anson Heinlein. I’d expect a report on each story: Title, year published, plot, what you liked about it and why, what you disliked about it and why, technology introduced that does not exist today (I’m not going to make you try to figure out if it’s new tech from yesterday, like cell phones or calculators). I’d even be generous and allow you one week per story. 😉

          1. No worries. I shall assign myself the task, and will return when I have finished.

        2. Haha, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger…I read the Door Into Summer long ago, and still didn’t remember that Flexible Frank was the name of the robot…We too need a Flexible Frank…

      3. “What was the last thing to go automatic? Answer: any housewife’s house. I didn’t attempt to figure out a sensible scientific house; women didn’t want one; they simply wanted a better-upholstered cave. But housewives were still complaining about the Servant Problem long after servants had gone the way of the mastodon. I had rarely met a housewife who did not have a touch of slaveholder in her; they seemed to think there really ought to be strapping peasant girls grateful for a chance to scrub floors fourteen hours a day and eat table scraps at wages a plumber’s helper would scorn.”

        I still liked Simak’s houses better… and except for the ‘flying’ part, RAH’s later works described something more like those than anything else.

        1. Truthfully, though I joke about wanting someone else to do the housecleaning…look, I was a part owner in a housecleaning business for a year or so. I *hated* it. Not the actual cleaning part (mostly). No, it was the homeowners–or at least a good chunk of them. (A couple were stay at home moms whose husbands had a high enough income they could afford housecleaning…but really it was so they had another adult to talk to for an hour or two rather than the toddler(s), heh. Which I suppose makes sense, particularly if the mom is an extrovert.) I spent much of the time silently screaming “IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, WHY AREN’T YOU DOING THIS YOURSELF?!”

          I…am not sure I’d want someone else doing it, because it wouldn’t be how *I* do it. Even if my way isn’t necessarily the best way, I’d at least know exactly how/when it was done.

          Also, having someone I don’t really know all that well in my home would weird me out. So…no human servants, please. Robot servant–maybe.

          1. Ugh – I wouldn’t even want a daily or weekly housekeeper. It’s my house, and I value the privacy.
            I kind of like the degree of automation that exists right now: washer, dryer, dishwasher, central heat, air, electric lights, a refrigerator and freezer stuffed full of food items. Compared to a 19th century house, this is practically the Jetsons.
            A robot to fold and put away laundry, and empty and load the dishwasher would be the only refinement I would want.

            1. A lot of women who had cleaning ladies would clean the house before the cleaning lady got there, lest the cleaning lady think ill of them.

              My mom had a real issue with this when she got sent cleaning ladies when she was sick.

              1. Is that really the reason, though? I pick up before the cleaning ladies come, but it’s got nothing to do with them thinking I’m a slob (I assume that they know that I am). It’s because, if I’m paying people to clean my house, I want them to focus on things like scrubbing the tile and getting that unidentified greasy substance off the counter next to the stove rather than putting dishes in the dishwasher or picking up the toys scattered around the living room.

                1. When I cleaned houses, doing dishes/picking stuff up was definitely not part of the job. We cleaned bathrooms and floors, sometimes (but quite rarely) wiped down kitchen counters. With the exception of one (particularly OCD and obnoxious client, who thought having a glade plugin in EVERY SINGLE OUTLET IN THE HOUSE was a wonderful idea, ugh) we never even did bedrooms–that was not our territory. In large part to avoid any misplacement of people’s stuff/accusations of stealing (we never had any such accusations, thankfully). I’d say our clients came down to 3 types: the ones for whom we were a status symbol (OCD Glade lady, and a woman who lived in a massive home with almost no furniture–and who unsurprisingly rarely paid on time, and one lady I never met, but judging by her home’s decor had never left 1987, lol, I quite liked her house), stay at home parents who were desperate for another adult to talk to (and usually just had us do some very minimal cleaning, and most of the time was spent letting them chat at us while we worked–I actually liked most of those), and a couple who were genuine slobs who otherwise might never clean anything (one a definite stereotypical bachelor, another with a higher-than-standard number of kids, all pre teen or teen boys, so I quite understood her feeling a bit overwhelmed, heh)

                  But knowing my mother or grandmother? Oh, they’d have definitely fallen into the “clean the house before the cleaning lady arrives to clean it” category. Mom because that’s how she was raised–but as she was the other owner of the cleaning business with me, she had as little desire as I did to ever hire a stranger to clean her home after that. Grandma because well, that’s how she was. It is a thing. 😀

                  1. and most of the time was spent letting them chat at us while we worked–I actually liked most of those

                    Husband’s grandma had this– she had other outlets, but she had enough money to do stuff, and long story short knew her house keeper from said girl’s mom doing work while girl did lessons in the livingroom, his grandma helped as needed– and her “housekeeper” was a weekly company person whose husband did the yard work and cousin drove grandma to the store when she needed it.

                    Her viewpoint of “The Help” is really weird, though, she was from Louisiana and her family had a former slave servant.
                    …K, not weird like that.
                    Weird like the lady was the one member of the family– and she WAS family– who was allowed to talk to formally disowned family members.

                    I really wanna use that in a story, but I don’t have the right touch.

                    1. Fox, FYI think Portugal 30 years behind: the characters description fits every housewife I knew as a little.
                      Yes, it was brutal work, etc. but they were one generation removed from people who would work for next to nothing and whom they could bully.
                      Mostly because they were stuck at home with kids, and doing a ton of horrible work. Someone to bully seemed to make it better.
                      No, I don’t get it either. But trust me, it was a thing.
                      Heinlein — not rich — probably remembered same from childhood.
                      And housewife wasn’t conspicuous anything, it was default mode. You HAD to be, because work was lots of work and horrible. (I mean, seirously, I remember mom ironing dad’s work shirts with coal-filled iron…. on white shirts, and home-mixed startch. Don’t wipe iron quite well enough after refilling,a nd it’s wash to do again, when he had no extra shirts. HORRIBLE)

                    2. A thing, I don’t doubt.

                      An all over thing?
                      THAT is where I go “uh, no.”

                      Probably says something that my example is “it’s like how not a folks who drive subarus are Subaru Drivers.”

                      Won’t work without special definition, like “house wife means same gal who eats bon bons all day and doesn’t have to actually DO anything except for social pressures.” (Erma Bombeck made fun of the same sort of ideas, so I have a feel for them.)

                      Heinlein was still human, he could and would absorb “everybody knows” stuff.

                      My mom, and my grandmothers, were all house wives– but not REALLY “housewives” because that’s a rancher, a stenographer, and a newspaper reporter, on top of all the “not inside of a city apartment” stuff they did.

                      It’s sort of a motte and bailey thing, in practice. Say housewife, which covers all the wives who keep house as main thing, and when smacked go back to females whose only thing is using money to keep house.

                    3. Yeah. He was city folk.

                      To be clear: That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing.

                      LIke….like knowing someone was speaking in Latin, not Greek.

                    4. I am now like an half hour into giggling about people being Town Kids.

                      Because it’s really a big cultural divide, and it explains a LOT…,

                      But it’s so…so.. TV standard. “Oh. Town kid, yes of course all this nonsense is OK.”

                      And I can go down point by point with folks and they’ll understand…but most still default to Town Kid understanding. Water Department, not Well.

                    5. Having been more or less a Country Kid my entire life–even in those eras when we lived in the suburbs, because both parents were country kids, dad a ranch kid, mom an ‘oilfield trash’ kid, heh–I never cease to boggle at the “What d’you mean you don’t know where food comes from” that seems to be only getting more widespread…

                      (One thing I never did have experience with was well water–for whatever reason, we never lived where well water was a Thing. Even in the country.)

                2. Re Town Kids, my stepdaughter, aside from a brief stint in the military, has never lived more than 50 miles (if that) from the earliest place she can remember. Everywhere else is “foreign,” and obviously where she lives now is the Best Place In the World. (Trust me. It isn’t).

              2. That’s why I don’t have a cleaning lady. When I’m not deathly ill, I clean before the cleaning lady comes. My mom is finally too old to do that.

            2. First you would have to have a dishwasher that WORKED and didn’t take 3 hours to do the dishes.
              It would be faster for the robot to do the dishes and better.

              1. 2014 Frigidaire dishwasher. On air dry, it runs 90-105 minutes depending on how cold the incoming water runs. (We don’t do pots and pans, and pre-rinse. No idea on any other kind of loads.)

                1. We have a Whirlpool from a few years later that has a one-hour wash, but honestly we usually just let it meander along the sensor setting because we’re rarely in that kind of a hurry. (That is, that specific kind of hurry. Usually if we’re not in enough of a hurry for some particular thing to hand-wash it, one hour vs. three doesn’t make that big a difference.)

              2. My 2019 GE dishwasher takes 2 1/2 hours to wash the dishes and another hour or so to dry them depending on the setting.

                On the other hand, it actually CLEANS them without having to hand scrub off every trace of food, like the previous 20-year-old model it replaced.

            3. Once upon a time, laundry services were cheap enough you could just drop off your dirty laundry in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon, dry and folded. Or they’d send someone to pick up and deliver for a bit more.

              A washer and dryer in almost every home and apartment building raises a new expectation: if you *can* do it yourself, you *must.* Though considering the expense nowadays, it’s not an unreasonable idea.

              1. I did that the last 3 semesters for my undergraduate studies. Cost was something like $7.50 a load, though I think I had to pay in clay tablets. 🙂

                Never did bother to find the apartment laundry room.

            4. Aunt B had a cleaning lady, but living in a remarkably tiny town, everybody pretty much knew everybody. My aunt had a smallish social work practice in a nearby small city, and Uncle D was retired, and not in great shape. Worked out well.

              She had one of the dogs B & D raised, which dog I acquired after the cleaning lady passed away. (Italian Greyhounds–one of their super powers is stealing pieces of your heart. : ) )

          2. I…am not sure I’d want someone else doing it, because it wouldn’t be how *I* do it. Even if my way isn’t necessarily the best way, I’d at least know exactly how/when it was done.

            K, for Reasons we have the kids doing punishment chores.

            …I swear, I am more punished than they are. Anything beyond “take dirty clothes to laundry room” is…. whoof.

            Sorting clothes? LIterally typed up guideline, which isn’t great, but if I wasn’t freaking training these kids to DO LIFE I’d burn it all and just do it myself, it’d be easier.

            FOLDING clothes?


            Putting stuff away? WAshign dishes? Just… like, EVERYTHING involved in keeping a house?

            without malice, holy mother of crud is there a lot that goes wrong

            1. I made a shirt folder for my eldest out of corrugated plastic (a “check” that he won in a contest, as it happens), and that worked pretty well for the months where he had that as a mandatory chore. NO WAY it would have worked if he had to do it like I do, two hands and a flat surface.

              Hmm. I may have him re-do his shirt drawers to remember how to use it.

              1. I followed the youtube “shirt folder” videos, worked for #1 son OK, but nobody else. (Left, right, bottom, grab top)

                Main thing is they don’t WANT to work.

                Don’t get me started on 11 year old daughter’s yoga pants in my basket……

                1. Department store shirt folding boards are about the same size and weight as those cheap plastic cuttingboards that you see in the grocery store sometimes. (Although you don’t get the “itsy bitsy kid” sized part of the board.)

                1. (I’d also like to note that yes, I’m well aware that there are many health issues/etc out there that can make it hard to nigh impossible for a person to do housework on the regular. I totally get that. That may even have been part of the issue with my aforementioned friends–at least two of their four (or five?) kids are not neurotypical, and that can make things…difficult. I’m talking in generalities, here, though. And I do feel parents should still make sure their kids know HOW to clean a house/do the dishes/do laundry/sew on a button, even if the kid never does it. I mean, I know how to change a tire…in theory. Dad made sure I knew. Thankfully, I’ve never had to do it on my own–which on the flip side is gonna prove problematic if I have to NOW, at this advanced age, lol.)

                  1. argh, this nested on teh wrong reply. This was supposed to go under my other one, consoling Foxfier that at least her kids will know HOW 😀

              1. ^This. Your job is to make sure they *know* the skills…but being your children they of COURSE are not going to apply them until they are no longer residing with you and have to fend for themselves. 😀 This usually goes one of two ways: either they spend a few years as a slob, until given some compelling reason to change (sometimes Meeting Someone they want to Impress as a potential life-partner, sometimes–like me–they just go “I want to have a nice place to live” and start making their bed every day 😀 ). Or they start doing it very early on, likely because they end up with roommates whose parents did NOT teach them important life skills like how to do laundry/clean a house/do the dishes, and the resultant horror drives them to do it because they don’t want to live in a hellhole either (and usually they get new roommates).

                There is a third kind, that remain utter slobs, but my suspicion is that these are the mostly ones whose parents were likewise unwilling/unable to do housework, and so that is “normal” for them. (I have some friends, who I love dearly, but I will NEVER visit their house again. I was able to tolerate most of the horrifying mess–and they had COMPANY! Lots of company!–until I had to go to the bathroom and saw the state of that, heh.) A far smaller number just…don’t notice it. Which is alien to me, but…::shrugs::

                1. I’m pretty messy, but I had a parent who was never satisfied with any level of cleanliness, including spotless, unless she did it herself. Which was fine when she was doing it herself (and also fine when we were so little that we only did dusting of certain objects, and she didn’t expect that much), but not so great for us trying to do everything to her adult specs.

                  To be fair, my mom has that four cones in the eye thing going on, so she literally sees things that most people can’t.

                  Anyway, I kinda gave up on most home stuff, and now it’s hard for me. (Although it’s easy for me to clean stuff at work within an inch of its life, and always has been.)

                  1. Yeah, I remembered that other category (that of over-exacting parental figure) after I already hit ‘post.’ They definitely contribute to “Ugh, NO”–and given that you do just fine at work, it totally makes sense.

                  2. “White glove inspection” Yes. Been there. Does not help with self motivation. Just saying.

                2. Trust me … no. We were definitely taught how to adult, learning how to do household chores. I’m not near as obsessive as mom. A whole lot more obsessive than my sister, but then she doesn’t have any 4 legged pets. A magnitude greater obsessive about cleaning than mom’s sister and their mother. Mom is the type to clean before having someone come in and clean for her. Right now she’s having someone come in once a week. She just can’t clean to her standards anymore. So she does what she can, and the service takes up the slack. I’ll be doing the same.

            2. ahhaha.. I had to comment on this one.

              Youngest 2 sons pick up the folded piles of laundry and unless carefully supervised, I’m fairly sure they stand at their bedroom door and take turns throwing folded clothes at their drawers.

              1. Sounds about right.

                I haven’t done son’s laundry since he did his Family Life Merit Badge. Had to have X many new chores to learn and then track for 90 days? One was do his own laundry, from wash, to put away … I haven’t done his laundry since he was 11. The another was clean his room, change bedding, etc. I haven’t stepped in his room to clean since then. No he does not, currently, keep it to my standards, except the one hard one. Do nothing to attract sugar ants. Not that there isn’t occasionally a problem anyway, don’t make it easy. It helps that he has no problem with that rule.

                Heck I don’t do hubby’s laundry anymore either. Not since he retired, and I didn’t, 10 years ago. I did pickup towel laundry when I retired, because I don’t wait until we are almost out and then have laundry room tied up for 3 loads of towels.

              2. Somehow–and it seems genetically related to the males in my family, not the females, even though both genders have been required to do laundry on the regular–the men in my family do the same. Both of my brothers are incapable of grasping the concept of “socks go all in one drawer, shirts all in one drawer, jeans in one drawer, don’t mix them” and also somehow they manage to strew discarded clothing from one end of the house to the other, while rarely actually being observed *removing* said clothing in that location…

                And yes. When they were kids folded clothes were apparently just flung in the general direction of a half-open drawer…

              3. And any that miss the drawers go into the dirty clothes basket, while they put back on the mud encrusted clothes from the last three days…..

                *laughs* KIDS!

            3. Sorting clothes?
              My mother had a quick solution to this problem: If we let her wash our clothes, she’d put our underwear in with the red bathroom towels. Pink underwear in middle school (where we first had locker rooms for gym class) is definitely NOT cool. Her response: If you don’t like it, sort your own clothes and do your own laundry.

            4. Sorting clothes. As a teenager I did my own laundry. I quickly decided that I would only buy or use permeant press cotton or heavy cotton blends. No sorting. All on same cycle. But then again I have always been a bachelor. Because older shirts loose the permeant press they came out wrinkled. I decided that wrinkled was a style that I was OK with. Lot less laundry since early 2020.

              1. Learned to iron from Mom. Used to iron pillowcases. Never have ironed since I left home. If it wrinkles I’m not buying and wearing it. Hubby had no clue we got an iron for a wedding present. But then our jobs weren’t pressed type outfits.

                1. I’m not sure my mother even OWNS an iron anymore. I know I don’t. Nor an ironing board. The policy for the last couple of decades has been “get it out of the dryer and hang it up right away or if you don’t toss in a wet towel”. Last time Dad bought shirts for himself–and got 100% cotton–Mom about murdered him 😀 He now knows to buy BLEND, ’cause they don’t wrinkle so much.

                  (And linen is lovely, yes, but wrinkles if you look at it funny, so not getting any of that either)

                  1. My husband discovered Kohl’s selection of “never wrinkle” shirts.

                    I LOVE THEM.

                    He doesn’t wear button up shirts for work anymore, but dang!

          3. Eh, I gew up with the notion that the only excuse for hiring out cleaning up after oneself was a pair of broken arms; or a job too big to get done alone. It’s different when you’ve hired a cleaning crew to work with you, assigning tasks as you work together to get the job done.

            Kind of nice, actually: If I had money to burn, I’d definitely spend it that way on tbe regular.

        2. Yep, and those housewives still exist…and voted against Trump for threatening to take away their peasant girls who lacked even the protection of the law.

          Hiring illegals isn’t about saving on wages, it’s about having the threat of La Migra over their heads so you can abuse them.

            1. I expect a great wailing and gnashing of teeth on that fine day that both amnesty and a $15 an hour minimum wage spits on certain folks’ wishes for cheap labor.

              1. Give them amnesty and there are more to come.

                Just go to El Paso, pull over on the shoulder of I-10 near UTEP, and look at the shanty towns outside Juarez (don’t do this on Border Highway these days…bullets comes across enough I avoided downtown when I was there after my father died).

                Everyone one of them will be happy to work as a maid or gardener for $5/hr and the ones from the interior even more so. Amnesty will tell them if they do it long enough they do will win the Golden Ticket.

                1. Eventually, yes, but it will take years for enough of them to filter across the border that everyone who feels they’re entitled to one will be able to have a near-slave.

            2. The White House has (or used to have) public tours, but it was still a highly secure area. But all areas need to be cleaned. Given the anmount of quality of intelligence that might be gathered by a plant on the cleaning staff, you’d expect all such people to be thoroughly vetted by at least one three-letter agency.

              I don’t recall any cases where any of the cleaning staff were revealed to be enemy spies, but the number of “what you you mean, ‘illegal alien?!!!’ is disheartening.

              Still, better than the embassies, where nobody seemed to have any problem with hiring local Russians, Germans, or Chinese to take care of things…

              What’s that saying. Oh. yes, “The Stupid, it BURNS!”

              1. a plant on the cleaning staff

                Oh, you mean ‘a planted spy’. First time through, I was thinking ‘house plant’.

                We’ve already got one of those taking up space in the Oval Office, after all. And touring Europe this week.

            3. Of course, under Biden, La Migra isn’t much of a threat. De facto amnesty is still amnesty.

        3. That last bit may not be relevant any more given the demand for plumbers. I expect that you could probably hire a half dozen college graduates and not have to pay them more in total than “wages a plumber’s helper would scorn.”

          1. Half a dozen of today’s college graduates probably wouldn’t be worth as much as one assistant plumber.

            (A ‘plumber’s helper’ is that rubber cup on a stick you use to unclog the toilet)
            Not everybody should go to college. Some folks, you send ’em to college and you just wind up with an educated idiot.

        4. *makes rude gesture at character*

          Sounds like a culture thing, rolled into a position thing.

          Hard core “house wife is conspicuous consumption, not work that actually needs doing” nonsense, with an added dose of very well off. (My grandmother, and husband’s grandmother, were from very well off families pre-world-wars. Each had ONE “girl” in to help, who was NOT doing anything like 14 hours a WEEK, much less a day.)

          Given the source, it probably makes enough sense in context, but I’m not going to respect a fictional character dealing with a fictional situation that slaps the people doing the actual work for the last half century in the face.

          In reality, house wives are the first to latch on to cool tools. That’s why they’re the target of so much advertising, BECAUSE they spend the money to do teh job better.

          1. In reality, house wives are the first to latch on to cool tools. That’s why they’re the target of so much advertising, BECAUSE they spend the money to do the job better.

            IIRC was not the inventor of the modern dishwasher a lady? “More comfy cave” indeed.

            Now I am wondering when Mrs. Hoyt’s mom (grandmom?) upgraded to those iron-bar irons with the removable handle thingy. Set the bars on the hot stove, and slot the handle in, replace as they cool. It would be interesting to compare notes.

            1. No. They went from iron you fill to electric iron. Granted with no frills…
              Mom highly approved, when I had three men in the house, all wearing button downs, of my using my bday money to buy a professional steam iron.

              1. When we lived in an English village, all the local matrons were shocked that I sent my shirts out to be laundered. I was too soft on my wife, typical American and all the rest.

                1. LOL.
                  I couldn’t afford to send things out. Because of sons’ sensory issues, and husband at the time having to look professional every day, I ironed for 4 to 5 hours a weekend. The professional steam iron cut that to 2.

                  1. When I started with NASA in 1987 it was dress shirt, tie, and slacks. Ties began disappearing early in the 90s, and jeans started appearing on casual Fridays around 2000. These days business casual is about as fancy as they get.
                    We were, and I suspect still are encouraged to wear shirt and tie when sitting console as you always run the risk of suddenly finding yourself on national TV, though more so back in the Spacelab Mission era.

                    1. When I’m working in the office I still wear the full uniform: suit, tie, buttoned up shirt, laced shoes. I hate casual clothes at work since it reduces, in my mind at least, the difference between working and not working, I wore a uniform to school too so I’ve been in a tie since I was 4. Taking off the suit and putting on what they used to call soft clothes told me I was done with all that for the day.

          2. “In reality, house wives are the first to latch on to cool tools. That’s why they’re the target of so much advertising, ”

            (Not sure if this will embed but here goes)

            1. And a whole generation of bad wisecracks about “That (insert task of choice) might merit Old Sparky” was born.

        1. My fingers were totally itching to type something along the lines of “Flexible Frank has is making 6 figures on OnlyFans and Pornhub now.” I’m glad I didn’t have time to stop and type on the phone, otherwise I’d have suffered RufusJ’s fate…but *somebody* had to make that joke.

  1. $SPOUSE wouldn’t mind a Hired Girl*, and if Flexible Frank could negotiate rabbit-holed ground, it would be damned useful at keeping the place fire safe. My robotics-fu isn’t near good enough to try to make an automated pine-cone picker-upper, much less a general hired-hand for our place.

    I’ve been looking at the AMA regulations for “drones”, particularly those formerly known as “model aircraft” with a mixture of resignation and horror. Somebody screws around with a drone, and TPTB recognize the opportunity to overflow things with red tape.

    (*) The dog might get annoyed at a robot vacuum. One of the reasons we never tried a Roomba was the high probability of a freakout from the Border Collie we had.

    SWAG: if automated painters become a thing, they’ll be first used by painting contractors. A few years after that, the Ryobi-Paint-o-Matic version would come out.

    1. I’m seriously considering a Roomba when I get moved into my house, which is fortunately single story.

      There may be some freakout from the spaniel, which will probably be amusing? Hopefully not to the “kill it dead” point, though, heh.

      I anticipate the cat might fuzz up at it initially, but as he is supremely lazy, will probably ignore it as soon as he determines it is no threat to either his own self or his food.

      1. With the way our vacuum gets gummed up with pet hair, a Roomba would just need babysitting. Plus we’d need three, as we have two levels, and a cat “safe room” (dog is bared from entering by gate). I’d still have to vacuum the stairs. BIL adores theirs. They have a single story, all wood floors, no pets. We ever get a single story with wood floors, I’ll still try one.

        1. Yeah, I’m planning to put down vinyl-plank flooring, so I think it’d be all right despite the pet hair (also it’s a very small house). I’d probably just put a reminder to empty the hair out of it every couple of days into my phone, heh.

          1. When your Roomba or similar gets full of hair, it returns to base and sits there. If you go and look at it, you see the red light and then you know you have to clean the (little) basket and filter. It also returns to base to recharge even if not full, and you never know when it will decide it’s fed and start up again. Not to say anyone has ever had to jump out of bed at 0100 and dash across the room to pat the button and shut it off!

            1. Do they make much noise? That would be my issue, if they run at night–I’m an insanely light sleeper, and the last thing I want is something that makes MORE noise to keep me awake.

        2. I’ve thought about getting one. We did get a single story*, and the spouse is having us slowly replace all the carpet with wood floors.

          On the other hand, I expect it would find itself into my office/net/simpit/spider trap and hangs itself…

          I mean, I have done cable management. This *is* an improvement. It’s still the nightmare nest to navigate.

          *Small children and grandparents plus stairs equals bad news. Single floor, no pool was a hard requirement for me. Especially since I expect said grandparent is, eventually going to end up living with us.

          1. Small children and grandparents plus stairs equals bad news. Single floor, no pool was a hard requirement for me. Especially since I expect said grandparent is, eventually going to end up living with us.

            We didn’t have children (fur kids don’t count here) when we bought (nor one on the way, that we knew of, when the offer was made). We were also in a hurry (long story). Been here a little over 32 years (last Thanksgiving) … son turns 32, Sunday. Comes to it, we can just avoid the upstairs, it is one room over the garage. Would rather find a single story home where we can use the entire house.

            Comes to mom having to move in with someone, she’s better off going to my sister’s just up the road. Single story, no pets. But she’s fine in her small single story home. We check on her regularly. She’s 87.

          2. Getting a Roomba was a prerequisite for buying our current house. You can choose how much furniture you have. You can choose how much clutter you have on the floor. You’re stuck with how much floor area you have to clean. Ergo, big house, Roomba!

            So here are the Things I Have Learned:
            1) If you have pets (or a family member with long hair!) and haven’t used the Roomba in several weeks, use a regular vacuum first. The Roomba’s wheels will thank you. Your wallet will also thank you for not having to buy new wheels. Yes, I know this from experience.
            2) The higher end Roombas create a map, and you can mark where you DON’T want the Roomba to go. This and #3 were game changers for us. The Roomba rarely needs babysitting.
            3) Get the Roomba with the Clean Base! With that, it’s almost set and forget.
            4) Clean the hair out from around the “debris extractors” (the long rotators under the Roomba) a couple of times a week if you’re using it regularly. If you’re not using it regularly, clean them every time.
            5) Roombas are a lot more OCD than I am, which is a good thing in a vacuum cleaner. After several weeks without running the Roomba in the bedroom, I vacuumed first, and the Roomba still had to empty itself three times because of what it found under the bed.
            6) It’s not hard to Roomba proof a room, especially if you run it regularly. You get to know the trouble spots, and that gives you motivation to fix the trouble spots. Just raising a piece of furniture slightly can do wonders. It takes me about 5 minutes to prep and put everything back.
            7) You’ll learn where the Roomba can’t get to, and how (un)motivated you are to clean those spots yourself. For example, there’s the little spot between a table leg and a wall that currently has three dead cockroaches and a monster dust bunny forming. Eventually #5 will kick in and I’ll fix the problem permanently.
            8) There’s no way on God’s green earth I’d be able to safely “Create a schedule.” There is ALWAYS something out of place. But that’s me.
            9) Because of all of the above, it’s easier to make a habit of running the Roomba regularly than it is to run it every once in a while.

            #9 is key. Otherwise, our Roomba would be an expensive dust collector.

            PS The Braava mop is an idiot compared to the Roomba. It will need some babysitting. But it does great work on hardwood floors…even when when it decides that I MEANT for it to mop the entire first floor rather than just the kitchen. Which is what it’s doing right now.

            1. Our late Mr Nemo was more efficient than a Roomba… especially if it was edible…..

            2. Hmmm. Just the fact that it would regularly do under furntiure–which I absolutely do NOT do on the regular–might be worth the cost alone…(Also, I live in Wyoming, the land of no air conditioners and perpetual dryness and wind–and so dust is a constant Thing. Which leads, of course, to dust bunnies)

          3. $SPOUSE demanded a single story house when we started looking in ’02. There are a few steps up to the front, and two in the back, but these were managable under most circumstances. When I had a brace instead of a working knee joint, the front steps were interesting, but (barely) doable. An ADA ramp is on the “maybe” list, though making walkways safer is this summer’s fun.

      2. I’ve had cats (and dogs) that would promptly discover riding on the Roomba… (When said cat’s favorite game is “cat in a sack” — being whirled around the human’s head in a plastic grocery bag, and is madly in love with the vacuum cleaner — a Roomba would be merely mild entertainment.)

        1. Ye gods I hope my cat doesn’t decide that is a Fun Game, because that bugger weighs close to thirty pounds! (Well. He’s been on a diet/getting tossed outdoors even in winter for the last 2 years, and has slimmed down to a somewhat-more-reasonable-because-he’s-a-freak-of-nature 24-25lbs, but STILL).

          Though at least roomba has a really, really good warranty, I gather, so hopefully it covers “My Giant Cat decided to try riding it and squashed it flat”…

          Well, it’s likely to be a few years yet before I’m even in a position to get one, so I’ll worry about it then 😀

          1. That’s a big cat… even by old-time standards. (They’ve been shrinking, generally.) Biggest I’ve had was about 20#, but 14″ at the shoulder and 38″ nose to tail, and all muscle. The other cats (14 and 18 pounds, not fat) of that era could come in the 4″ hole in the floor… he couldn’t (and he tried).

            Current barn cats are on the puny side… would sure like to find some of the old bulky type that bordered on “bobcat” and acted like dogs.

        2. Miranda of blessed memory. She also rode the ceiling fan when it was on slow and reverse to move the hot air down in winter….
          She stepped into it from the boys’ top bunk.

    2. Our critters (a dog and a cat) pretty much ignore the robovac, except when it bumps into the dog asleep on the floor. A border collie, on the other hand, might figure out how to herd it, and who knows how that might turn out.

      1. Actually…I read a hilarious story about a herding-dog (forget the breed, not one of the more common ones). See, there’s a sort-of roomba for one’s lawn, and the local city park department used it. One day, they were out when this particular dog was in the local dog park with her humans and…the dog started herding it.

        Ahh, here’s a link that shares the story, so if WP/our hostess lets it post, it is well worth a read for the laugh:


        1. That’s what I was thinking of when I posted my comment. I’d seen that story a while ago, and it immediately came to mind!

      2. Our late border collie used to consider vacuum cleaners diabolic machines. Once she saw a vacuum at the vet’s–the *only* time she freaked out there. She rather liked the vet. As she got older, she barely tolerated the vac, just going to another room. Our lab-aussie just watches, and gets in the way. Old-dog privilege. 🙂

        We let both dogs wander the house at night, which worked out well until a herd of deer got around the house (might have been on the deck, too). In her freakout, the BC managed to injure her front legs, one with some kind of major unrepairable (at her age) injury. The pain got too much, and we had to put her down. Snif.

        Not sure if she was typical of border collies (she was terrified of thunder and gunshots, and loathed the telephone ringer), but a Roomba would have been a vac too far.

    3. I assume you meant FAA?

      There is a solution for this:

      1. Tell the court that drones are weapons. If they balk start showing them video from some recent conflicts until they agree.

      2. Use Common Use.

      And the FAA aren’t really the ones who will be calling the shots here. More like $BIG_CORPs that want to use drones and Congress working something out, and then shoving it down the FAA’s throat whether they like it or not.

      1. The title of articles “Drones to deliver packages, Skeet with presents”

        1. Why is this always the first thing anyone thinks of?

          If people aren’t shooting at the UPS truck they have no reason to shoot at the delivery drone.

          1. The UPS truck is still at street level. A drone generally isn’t – and therefore can and will make spaces “public” that were not before (visible to the public that is).

              1. Except for all the public agencies that will want to regulate them.

                PS: For my day job, I just spent 4 months designing a “drone tracking / toll and violation reporting” app. It’s happening.

              2. You really believe that those drones will not have cameras taking video that will be available to the Alphabets. Also how do you know the drone you see IS a delivery drone. Total surveillance, you can’t even complain, if you complain you will just be painted as a nut job.

                1. Y’all need to figure out what you are talking about.

                  Standard privacy concerns come from “random bozo with a drone”.

                  Government drone privacy concerns are an absolute *joke*, because you will never even see the drone when it is at 10,000 feet.

                  As for the existence of video…… um, duh? Of course when the alphabets come calling the delivery corps will cough it up. If you were doing the sort of thing you need the spooks to not see out in the open you were a fucking idiot who’s only purpose is it be a distraction for the guys who aren’t idiots. See: 10k feet drone, which is yesterday’s tech.

            1. 1) people do shoot at UPS

              Third world hellhole gonna third world hellhole.

              2) having a human involved is a big deterrent.

              Not-stupids will quickly learn that having full 360-degree camera coverage is also a deterrent.

              (this ties into the whole “most people want to help” thing)

              1. Third world hellhole gonna third world hellhole.

                ::waves in moved out of Texas::

                degree camera coverage is also a deterrent.

                Possibly. It depends a lot on the place it’s being done doing their job and enforcing laws, but it does shift the cost-benefit for thieves.

              2. Ian, as someone who’s actually writing software dealing with that, having 360 degree camera coverage in a non-law-enforcement drone will GUARANTEE no one will allow one. One of the requirements was to indicate if a drone was camera equipped because everyone from hotels to HOAs to stadiums is pushing and in some cases has already gotten enacted regulations that disallow camera-equipped drones within 500 to 1000 feet of them for privacy.

                  1. Mofo, who’s writing the actual software? Hint: NOT YOU.

                    I got handed actual copies of regulations.

              3. The penalties for assault or attempted murder are quite a bit steeper than the penalties for vandalism or petty theft.

              4. FAA has, per web search, 35k employees. This isn’t enough to arrest people for shooting down drones. This is voluntary compliance level of staffing. Probably a lot of that is working with airplane manufacturers big enough that the feds can extract cooperation by interfering with sales.

                Also, my vague memory and understanding suggests that FAA drone regulation might make a drone shot down a problem for the operator.

                The issue with introducing drones right now, is that people are very on edge. Rumor and paranoia is inspired by obvious official lies. Surveillance drones could disappear fast if a preference cascade concludes they are too malicious to be borne.

                I would note that terror bombs could be considered as packages, and quietly delivered with the same tech. (For a novel, I worked out that drones out of a van might be more reliably anonymous than placing by hand. Of course, this is a thriller novel, and the reality of simply engineering bombs is challenging enough without throwing drone engineering on top.)

                But the key thing that you need to think about is the optics. The optics of what you are proposing are not all that great. 🙂

                You have some combination of lenses to project the field of view onto the silicon wafer with the pixels. Ground is not flat, and a drone is not only flying at a single height, especially a delivery drone. So, even before considering a shot from a tower, you are not narrowing down your assumptions much for distance and angle from the camera to the shooter.

                I’m used to thinking in aircraft coordinates of x forward, y out the right wing, and z down. If one of your field of view angles is from the z up about sixty degrees, and the other is the 360 around the z… I’m much too far past my bedtime to calculate that. Whatever lens set up you use, if you want to cover that all at once, you are going to want a lot of pixels if you want to be able to identify a person at 100 to 400 yds range.

                More pixels and weirder lenses mean more processing and more data to deal with.

                I’m definitely not a camera guy, but if the camera and data analysis are possible, they might well be sufficiently expensive that it is cheaper to just eat the cost of the drone.

                Anyway, cameras are day time only sensors, unless you put a spotlight on them for illumination. Therefore, picking a shadowy spot to shoot from may be enough even if the camera could resolve a useful number of pixels at that distance and angle. Then there are the stealth possibilities in deer season, if many hunters wear similar clothing.

                Shooter wants a good scope to hit from further away, but a scope is a much narrower field of view than a 360 camera. At the same price, advantage may go to the scope.

                1. You are overthinking the cameras. The reasonable threat to base capabilities on isn’t a sharpshooter at 400 yards. It is $STEREOTYPE with a shotgun (or hand thrown objects, depends on the region). Close up and really obvious with off the shelf dime a dozen cameras, like the ones it will have anyway for collision avoidance.

                  1. I’m definitely not anywhere near familiar enough with the drone navigation problem to comment on camera necessities.

                    People noticed the mysterious drone tests in Colorado.

                    They will notice if it looks like someone is putting together apparatus for a surveillance state. People with rifles will definitely be a factor then.

                    The thing about Amazon, they have no credibility as not being on board with doing surveillance for a police state.

                    1. EXACTLY THIS. The government has made no secret that it will use “private businesses” to get around the Constitution.

                    2. Go look at FPV racing videos on youtube for an idea of capabilities.

                      Remember that every cellphone has at least two cameras on it. The same economics that enable dirt cheap Raspberry Pis means that you can stick Good Enough cameras everywhere.

                      The thing about Amazon, they have no credibility as not being on board with doing surveillance for a police state.

                      Is that Ring, or something else? Because Ring is its own special dumpster fire.

                    3. Ring and Alexa are suggestive, but not the hard proof.

                      The hard proof was Amazon Web Services joining in on the censorship pile on wrt the electoral fraud, and then the head of Amazon Web Services taking over the rest of Amazon.

                      The ordinary laymen cannot rely on assumptions about technical means to guess whether Amazon can can synthesize and analyze all of the take from those potential surveillance platforms. If someone who might want to do it is in a position that might allow them to do it, we have to assume it might be possible.

                      When thinking about countermeasures, capability is a bit more important.

                2. “Anyway, cameras are day time only sensors, unless you put a spotlight on them for illumination. ”

                  “Starlight Scope.”


                  Daylight not absolutely required,

          2. Makes a good meme. What would be used is another drone designed to take down drones. Modifications of off the shelf drones, maybe used as disposable drone.

            1. Drones are so cheap you can use them as counter-missiles.

              We live in an era where everyone has access to guided missiles. Kind of shocking that we haven’t had an incident yet when you think about it…..

      2. Ssorry, I dug out the FAA regulation through the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics, naturally 🙂 )

        right now, I gather that all drones above a certain size (8 ounces, maybe) have to be registered, with fines for those caught not complying.

        What the FAA has proposed is to add a requirement for tracking transponders for drones (again including model aircraft–with some possible exceptions) that would add a fair amount of weight and cost. Not sure if they went with the one-transponder for each or if they relented and allowed one transponder to be shared.

        After some pushback, they relented a bit for recreational flyers. I’ve not been following much, but I think it would be limited to certain locations (clubs). Not sure about locations 3 miles past the end of the earth. 🙂

        Another bit is the requirement that “recreational” means flying around for fun. If you do something practical, like a farmer taking pics of his fields, or a homeowner taking a shot of his house for a listing, that immediately goes into the commercial slot.

        Apparently, this got triggered by some people (idiots, terrorists, news reporters [embrace the power of and]) flying drones in firefighting situations/near airports/police activities and causing a mess. Any resemblence to gun control is purely imaginary, you deplorable.

        Looks like the regulations will suit those with deep pockets and screw over the little guys. I’d borrow a shocked face, but it has paint on it.

    4. My dog (pictured in my avatar) is always trying to make friends with the robot vacuum. She gives it dog food and other treats. It’s the funniest case of unrequited friendship I’ve ever seen.

  2. They can’t make use of the data, now. What they can do is mine it if you come to their attention and everything one does is a crime under some law somewhere, or they’ll plant a couple of gig of child porn on your PC.

    One of the reasons we don’t have your automated painter is that the people who could have built it are working building surveillance systems.

    1. The first thing is make sure what they get isn’t actually worth squat, and there are several surprisingly low tech ways to do that.

  3. I mean, I live in the middle of nowhere, and even we get a handful of tasty food trucks on a semi-regular basis. True, the really tasty fish truck comes to the town where I work, rather than the one closer to where I live, but eh, no matter. (They did come to the town closer to where I live, I think, exactly once. They had, I suspect, the simultaneous problem of selling out too quickly, but also there not being enough people there to make it worth their while to make it a regular stop. Ah, well.)

    I would complain that they don’t turn up often enough, but really it’s just as well. They aren’t cheap, but the fish ‘n chips are very tasty and worth the price…just not too often 😀

    But even in rural nowhere, such things are welcomed–as a novelty if nothing else. (Of course, if gas keeps going up like it is, the food trucks won’t be able to travel so widely…)

    1. Yeah $TINY_TOWN lost the taqueria, the only prepared food joint better than the nuke-‘n’-puke burritos at the minimart/gas station/tire repair store, but a guy set up a bbq trailer and does a steady business. The local city has a large selection of food trucks and trailers; they did well under Kovid Commie Kate’s Oregon lockdown orders.

      And no, very few hispanics in our town, but it did OK until the owner got tired of running the business and tried to sell it. The money’s barely there for sit down under medium-good conditions. Definitely not with lockdown fever.

  4. I am constantly amazed by the high quality of food I an find on food trucks. Temple Univ has (or did) a bunch of food trucks lining campus. When I used their library for research, lunch was a choice between Korean, burgers, Jamaican, Chinese, Greek, Mexican…amazing.

    Regarding cars and tracking, I’m trying to figure out how new I want the next car to be. One of the step-nephews has a 1968 VW Bug (he’s 23ish) that he has because he doesn’t like the computer stuff and tracking software in cars. He’s on to something.

  5. If you think your non-self-driving car isn’t tracked, you’re high on your own supply, unless your car is from the sixties or early seventies, and hasn’t been retrofited.

    Don’t even have to do that, if you’re on the road you’re in public and thus can be seen– there’s an incredible number of cameras in most places. Biggest problem the law-abiding legal sorts have is that getting permission to use these is hard, which is why you get PSAs asking if people in XYZ area would pretty please contact the police if they’re willing to let them look at video between 10PM and 4AM near ABC road.

    1. And a lot more private/privatized surveillance than most people would expect. Wal-Mart was using automated license-plate recognition systems in the 1990s, long before most “law enforcement” got the budget for it.

      Even if you pay cash at Wal-Mart, and your hat and mask hide your face, they can still track who registered the car you drove in with. And that was nearly thirty years ago, before cellular, wifi, and Bluetooth tracking were commoditized.

      And Amazon’s “Ring” isn’t the only distributed-surveillance system out there…

    2. Don’t even have to do that, if you’re on the road you’re in public and thus can be seen

      The universe (in the form of Information Theory) seems to be incompatible with hard privacy. Being able to tell the position of a person’s hands by wifi attenuation is just the start and it gets worse from there.

      Which is particularly hard on — though hardly undeserved by — the people who are so delusional that they think they can go in public (HINT: PUBLIC) and not have anything they do noticed by anyone.

      1. The universe (in the form of Information Theory) seems to be incompatible with hard privacy.

        I grew up in small towns.

        You would not believe how hard I’ve laughed at some mostly-city folks’ sense of entitlement to not be noticed, even if they try to frame it as them being harmed by the actions of others.

        1. Heh. Rather like the idiot there’s a town legend about: moved to my town from, supposedly, a big city and proceeded to murder his wife. My town, you see, is classified as a GHOST TOWN, officially (because it was once the largest town in Wyoming, until the copper prices fell around 1903 or so, and the drop in population planted it permanently in ‘ghost town’ status). It has a population that hovers right around 450-460 people or so. (And its adjacent “town” has a population of about 60.) And that idiot I guess thought “Oh, there’s all this wilderness around, no one will know it was me” and failed entirely to realize that, as with all such tiny, tiny towns, people NOTICE AND SUSPICIOUSLY WATCH outsiders.

          The only reason my family and I barely avoid the ‘outsider’ classification is because the grandparents and parents are Wyoming natives (if not to that area) and we’re so introverted anyway, we’re either too boring, or the rest of the town makes up lurid tales about us which we are unaware of, because we’re so introverted 😀

          1. We keep a low profile because reasons, but after 17 years we’re at least regulars in $TINY_TOWN (metro population maybe 500 people). I’m casual acquaintances to some of the tribal members, and in a town that used to be reservation land, that’s A Good Thing.

      1. ::dies laughing::

        I mean, if you can get a monk past the first few levels…well, there’s a REASON I believe the term ‘glass cannon’ is used to describe them. Fragile, maybe, but after 4th level or so–GOOD LUCK EVEN TOUCHING THEM. 😀

        1. In one of the video games I’ve been playing, there’s a girl wearing the standard chainmail bikini, prompting the following conversation with the heroine:

          Heroine: “An awful lot of you is exposed. Isn’t that a problem when you’re fighting monsters?”

          Chainmail bikini girl: “Not if I beat them to a pulp first.”

          Heroine: “Okay, I guess you’ve got a point.”

        2. One of my husband’s games, there’s a DragonBorne monk with like sub-zero IQ, but he CANNOT DIE.

          Because he does this stuff.

          HOw dumb is he?

          The guy was told that he had a “lower brain” and decided that was in his tail…not…um…the opposite side… and spent the next several months praising the wisdom of his tail brain. 😀

          Seriously, BEST CHARACTER EVER as a listener!

          Because he’s protective, and loving, and over all just the most awesome guy ever. Just…not bright.

          1. I love characters like that played right. 😀

            A good friend of mine had a kobold paladin who liked to hand out pamphlets (ie, religious tract pamphlets). Sadly, I never played much in that particular campaign, but I did love the kobold pally.

            1. sigh

              I’ve played in groups where the other players are freaked out that my cleric would invoke the name of the god she served in moments of high stress.

  6. Solzhenitsyn described a few thin gruel cafeterias.

    Don’t think the latest push for a bug diet is getting much traction. We’ll have to be much closer to starvation for that to get popular.

    Cars that drive themselves make me even more nervous than being on the road with a 90 yr old-frozen in fear-face masked driver. I feel sympathy for the driver and hate for the automated car. Distrust of both.

    Old movies would have scenes of frantic searches for “bugs” planted to spy on them. Now they’re all around us. “Alexa, what year was it that…….”?

    1. The ruins of the “Hunger Domes” in Bucharest were…chilling.

      Also…this is why I refuse to get Alexa, or Echo, or turn on any similar things on my phone or computer. I’m sure the phone/computer are still listening, of course, but I draw the line at talking to them (other than the usual swearing of “Work you stupid thing”)

      1. When our TV hits end of life, any replacement will have to work isolated from the internet or I’m not having it. I already discovered that the new-to-me iPhone connected to my LAN without intervention. Since I bought it as a remote control for the travel trailer and not as a phone, I was not amused. Had to set up a block in the router. Grr.

        1. Yeah, my router only works for individually whitelisted devices. Not very hospitable, and I tend to forget and cuss when I get a new device; but it saves me a lot of problems.

        2. You couldn’t turn off wireless on the new iPHone? Or is that how it connects to the trailer VS Bluetooth?

          Yes. That would be irritating …

          1. I spent some time on it this morning. The stereo system uses Bluetooth, but the main trailer link is WiFi.

            The router has an access control system, but I broke my first law of computers the first time I applied the access control and had problems. (Rule 1: Don’t mess with new-to-you technology when you’re really tired.) After playing with it and relevant computers this morning, I realized that “access control” is a bit funky. The phone sees WiFi, the router sees the phone, but aside from the router publishing the phone’s name and MAC address, the link is dead. So, unblocking the device would let it go through to the ‘net, but it’s behind a transparent door.

            And to think I figured this out Before Caffeine. 🙂

            I need to RTFM the iPhone6(!) manual (don’t need a newer one; it’s an overqualified remote control, plus backup if absolutely f’n necessary) to see if it can be persuaded to use limited links, rather than trying to respond to any wireless Hello Sailor packet.

            It’s a refurbed TracFone special, and aside from potential backup capability, probably doesn’t need to have any airtime. OTOH, the department of redundancy department recommends having something in reserve.

            1. We don’t use iPhones … so.

              Every time you mention your new(er) trailer requires a smartphone to access trailer systems, my reaction is “Oh, …” (rolls eyes). Glad we’re not going with a newer RV. I’m tech savvy. My other half, OTOH … he can deal with it, but I do not want to have to listen to him while he does. Then there is my BIL and his wife, who just got a brand new 5th wheel. Not tech savvy, doesn’t even come close. Just as well they’ve forgotten what my half of our income was based on … works for me.

              Note, a common conversation around here is “Why is it doing this?” or “Why did they do this that way?” … me: Shrug. “I didn’t write it.” Because while question is asked, someone really doesn’t want to know the educated WAG (might even be just a simple guess).

              Worked that way when he was working and their company programmer changed the one and only programmed they used. Hubby “Why was it changed. It was working!” Somehow my snide thought wouldn’t have been appreciated “To mess with the users?” Actual answer was “IDK. Personally I don’t have time to change working programs.” I’m sure there was something written and distributed that no one read, but what do I know? (Because that is exactly what happens.)

              1. The WiFi application for this trailer is unimpressive. It tells the battery voltage, turns on/off some lights, and can deploy the canopy. The control panel cannot report the voltage, but I think that’s the only thing lacking. Because of various reasons, we haven’t used it much. (A Honda Ridgeline can tow the beast. Neither the Honda nor I am happy when this is going on. OTOH, it’s a good emergency house. (A tent trailer would tow better, but our old Coleman died, and it stunk in emergency usage, especially in cold weather.)

                OTOH, higher range models have considerably more functions in that app, including remote controlled leveling lifts. (What could possibly go wrong?)

                The stereo comes with a remote control, but it also has a Bluetooth app. There’s a plug-in module that will act as a WiFi hotspot, but I’ve not found any reason to bother purchasing it.

                I think it came down to Feeping Creaturitis, using bits from higher end RVs.

    2. The primary question of “self-driving cars” isn’t a matter of technology, it’s all about liability. And even if you limit that to the USA, there are 50 states and the various territories, not counting Indian reservations, all with their own laws. The statists probably think the Fed can just “pass a law”, but the Fed has been trying to force the states to enact a uniform motor vehicle code for the last century, with only partial success. And things like uniform signage didn’t have legions of lawyers drooling as they sharpened their arguments.

      1. When I said something similar to a friend of mine, he asked me what sort of liability is the problem, and I didn’t have an answer. I’m probably paraphrasing poorly at this point (it’s been three or four years since the conversation) but what sorts of liability or other legal troubles do you anticipate?

        1. The Liability problem is “who is to blame if a self-driving (auto-piloted) car” hits and kills somebody (or causes major damage).

          If I’m driving a car, it can be very obvious that I’m at fault or I’m not at fault.

          But If I’m allowing the “auto-pilot” to drive the car and the accident happens, am I at fault for not watching what the “auto-pilot” is doing or is the manufacturer of the car at fault or are the people programming the “auto-pilot” at fault?

          IE Who are the responsible people for causing the accident or failing to prevent the accident?

            1. That’s assuming Intelligent Drivers, Intelligent Lawyers and Intelligent Judges. 😈

            2. The problem with that is that anyone who’s ever done anything with human factors knows that this is a system that is perfect for lulling the driver into a much lower state of alertness. Sooner or later, they will either have to make it so annoying that it’s worse than just driving yourself, or admit in a court of law that you can’t blame the driver when he fails because he was set up for failure.

              1. Recalls a recent case of a crashed Tesla with both passengers in the back seat. (Insert obligatory “Get a room!” comment here.)

                1. The driver in that crash was not actually in the rear seat when the crash occurred. Both local law enforcement and Tesla have said that the autopilot was not engaged at any time during their brief drive.

                  I suspect that particular crash had more to do with inappropriate use of “Ludicrous Mode”, and a driver who didn’t know what his car was capable of.

          1. This is the problem. We have a system where we must find “fault” in an “accident”. Interesting example of why that is hard. November 6, 2018, a Google shuttle bus hits a Google employee in Mountain View. She died. Who is responsible? Google does not run their own shuttles. They use “other” companies. So the driver even tho they drove a “Google” shuttle, does not work for Google.

            The accident occurred in the rain. It was just after the end of daylight savings, so it was darker that just a few weeks earlier. It is a very busy intersection. How do you decide who is responsible? Was the driver “responsible”? Was the person who was hit “responsible”? The city for street design? God? Google? They have the deepest pockets, but have tried to make sure they are not “responsible”, using a “contractor”. Add self driving to that, and you have everyone sure it is the other guys fault.

            For this to work may require “no-fault” payouts for “accidents”. Trial lawyers will fight it to the end, since there are thousands of ambulance chasers who suck a large part of the settlements into their thousand dollar suits. Every day I see ads for people to “find out what your accident is worth”.

            Interesting footnote. I tried to “google” to find the bus driver’s name, and see if there was any update about possible court cases. Nothing shows up. Very interesting..Google censorship?…

          1. Which is why they say the driver has to stay alert, etc.
            It went a little wonky twice: if the lines on the road are …. in a state of flux (is the nice way to put it.) I had to fight it for like ten miles because of that. It was unhappy. It suggested I might need a nap.
            The other time was when I tried to go off an exit without signaling and it fought to get me back on the road.
            Lady who had it booked before us returned it because it was “trying to kill her.”
            Apparently, she didn’t use turn signals. AT ALL. So it fought her.

            1. “Lane Keep Assist” if you aren’t used to it is interesting. If don’t use signals you can *feel* the system fighting to get back into the lane you are trying to leave.

              Required: Pavement with lane control lines. Ours still requires you to keep your hands on the wheel. It gets *testy* if you don’t …

              First time we’ve seen it, but car did request taking coffee breaks. Guess we weren’t stopping long enough for gas and dog rest stops. Even switching drivers.

              1. No, no. It does that when there aren’t lanes. Or as I tell Dan “it accused me of being drunk.” When we hit small town with tons of construction.

                1. Just wait until it can call the cops and make that accusation. Not really kidding.

                    1. I have to laugh. BIL drove our Santa Fe between Eugene to Baker last August (I had the bigger car between them and mom for the 4 of us). Didn’t tell him how to turn off the Lane Keep Assist. It drove him nuts; another lane cutter. Latter last fall they bought their first new car since mid-80s. During the delivery, setup, and explanation process that feature was the first item to be shutoff and how to shut it off should it get turned on again.

                      Doesn’t bother me at all. But then I don’t cut lanes on corners, and I use my signals. Mine is off now after the last big trip. Hubby turned it off and it hasn’t been turned back on.

                      And wow. You can drive 10 hours? I have no stamina driving. None.

                    2. The ’16 Forester complains if you go out of what it considers a lane (snowy roads drive it crazy). The ’19 Ridgeline has the lane-keeping assist, which I like, but $SPOUSE refused to try when she was the sole driver. (The wider Honda drove her crazy, since she preferred the Subie.)

                      On our roads, the white fogline to the right is sufficient to work. OTOH, highway only; it needs 45+ MPH to activate, though the lane complaints work at lower speeds.

                      FWIW, the county has a lot of Subaru owners, but I’m assuming that the “Subaru Driver” is an overweight lesbian with purple hair and Bernie and Kamala Harris bumper stickers on the car. Not a thing here, though one doesn’t see Trump stickers on Subies–it lends a bit of protective coloration if one has to venture in Blue areas.

                    3. I once had a nerve-wracking journey on a highway with a fortunately high level of traffic, enough to keep two tire track paths open. Every now and again they veered far enough that you could see the dotted line right down the middle. You just stuck to the tracks.

                    4. The westbound half of that journey included a strong snowstorm in Nebraska. There was about 2 inches of slush on the highway, and when I tried to pass a big rig doing 35 mph, the crud in the middle of the lane dissuaded me. The next hour was a leisurely trip to another town, following the rig. I stopped for coffee at that town and was thrilled to see that the Nebraska DOT plows caught up with the storm.

                      Heavy rain, strong lightning (LAL 6 is as high as it goes) and tornado warnings one night, and the next morning heavy slush/snow. What’s not to like about western Nebraska?

              2. Lane lines? What are those?

                Yeah, and Nearby Town has 50,000 and thinks those are optional, not really worth spending taxes on. Self-driving/driver-assist may work fine in big urban areas, but most of the country isn’t.

                No one’s ever told me how exactly anyone’s going to make lane lines work on gravel or dirt, either.

            2. My definition of self-driving is “I can read a book and no one gets hit.”

  7. OK Dude(ist), I must admit as I approach old age, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve had my Jeep over 70 mph. Come October, when I turn 83, I’ll probably start planning for my dotage. I must admit I am slowing down, felling and bucking two or three trees works up a sweat and the fastest I can complete a hard sudoku puzzle nowadays is ten minutes, wasn’t all that long ago I could often do them in five.

    “Because the only way to feed everyone industrial style is to take away their right to choose how to feed themselves and what to eat. ”

    Hum, two things I learned working for Big Oil on the North Slope; if you throw enough money at a problem it usually goes away and if you hire cordon bleu chefs to run your cafeteria, fly in Mane lobster once a week, ask your diners how they want their steaks, industrial dining ain’t half bad.

    T’ain’t so much the cleaning as the clutter that gets to me. OK Flexible Frank could put my beer bottles in the trash but could he put the 13 books I’ve next to various chairs (Yep, 13, just counted.) back on the right shelves? & no, I don’t think I’d trust Frank to adjust the chain tension on my chain saw.

    1. been quite a few years since I’ve had my Jeep over 70 mph

      So. You haven’t driven in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, or Nevada, lately (these are ones I know), where freeway speeds are posted 80 and 90 (north of Salt Lake) MPH (conditions allowed, big rigs 60 – 70), have you? To be fair traffic actually was going those speeds (mostly). It seems most go “um, 80 is fast enough”, including me (actually 75 is plenty fast enough, I’ll stay in the slow lane, no I’m not allowed to drive when hubby is in the vehicle, is anyone surprised?). Also, insurance: I was not driving when the vehicle hit 100+.

      1. Nope, 10-15 years since I’ve driven anywhere but Alaska.

        I was driving when the Jeep hit 100+ on Donnelly Flats, a number of different trips, -but that was a while ago. 😉

      2. South of Salt Lake too – we did a Utah Parks Driving Vacation a few years ago and the first time I saw the 80mph “limit” signs in Utah in the Zion vicinity I was gobsmacked.

        And yeah, it seemed like “80 is enough” was the general consensus.

        1. We did the same Utah NP vacation winter 2015. Knew all (most) of 84 was at least 80 MPH, it was the 90 MPH that was “what the H3LL?” I really don’t remember exactly where that was posted, south or north of Salt Lake. I think it has dropped back down to 80 the entire length, now, but haven’t been on it since 2015 personally. Ironically we hit those areas in the middle of a sleet storm so lead foot was not able to indulge.

          We’ve known about the I-80, stretches in Idaho for decades. Just normally we were in truck hauling a trailer. Going the allowed 65 against the wind (both ways FYI) is a challenge. This last trip. No RV. Lead foot indulged. It was almost hard for him to slow down once we hit 20 to cut across the state. Almost, only because that road is by no definition a freeway, and 65 is plenty fast enough (70 to pass). Clarity – 65 is too fast if I’m driving, but note when I’m allowed to drive 🙂 We got rid of the RV setup, partly, because I couldn’t share the driving … Imagine my surprise on how much I’m allowed to share the driving with a vehicle I can share the driving (little to none whatsoever).

          1. “I-80 stretches in Idaho for decades.”

            Obviously, since it hasn’t been I-80 in Idaho for a long time. 84 and 86, I think. (The really stupid part was when they named a freeway that CONNECTED to I-90 in Washington I-82—and then had the weird spur of I-80 changed to 84, so 82 is north of 84 in defiance of the standard nomenclature.)

            1. You are right; mistyped it. I can’t keep them straight. Just know that stretch through a good portion of Idaho from Ontario Oregon is: I-84/26/22/30/20, and ???, before it starts splitting off when I-84 turns south to Utah.

        2. In 2014, I-80 from Wendover to near Salt Lake City was posted at 80 MPH. That was pretty much the “enough” speed for most people.

          I don’t know what the limit was east of SLC; the road had iced over during the night and traffic had the added distraction of an upside down SUV in the center median. (Then it got nasty in Wyoming. A blizzard bad enough so you can’t find the shoulder to pull over. Somehow, the big rig in front of me saw *something*, and we convoyed at 25-30 MPH until the blizzard cleared.)

          That trip had some spectacularly bad weather.

      3. I generally set the cruise control for 10% over the speed limit, except when the speed limit is 80. Then I go 85, which is the speed I did on the interstate for years going to and from college.

      4. Wait, when did north of SLC get posted to 90? It was “experimentally” posted at 80 last time I went through there, in early 2014. The signs then present actually said that it was experimental, but was pretty obvious it was going to stick.

        In 1999, friend and I went up I-5 and all the way from Tejon Pass to wherever we turned off for Livermore, we were the slowest vehicle, not excluding trucks. We were going 90. (IIRC the posted limit was 70.) 400 miles of wide straight road and absolutely nothing between kinda does that. And traffic was thick. (Live around L.A. long enough, and you too will think nothing of bumper-to-bumper at 70mph. It’s fun to complain about L.A. traffic, but those are the best drivers in the world.)


        I just got another notice from State Farm telling me that if I install their black box that uses your smartphone’s GPS and motion sensor to track the car, they’ll take up to 30% off your insurance bill (provided your driving is good enough). Unfortunately I not only don’t want to be tracked, I don’t want to foot the data bill; last time I checked the continuously-sent cellular data (about 1GB/day) woulda been a lot more expensive than the discount.

        1. I think it was bumped to 90 as an experiment. That didn’t last. Hubby said it was back down to 80 last time they went that way for the club Golf Trip. Note, not that most non-truck traffic was moving at 80 or less, including him.

        2. Allstate Drivewise for us. It uses your phone. I need to stop it. I mean being tracked anyway. But like this last trip, suppose to be able to say “I’m not driving” for different legs of the trip. Last update they’ve made it all but impossible to remove these. Plus I don’t drive enough to meed the “minimum number of drives”.

          Mom was on State Farm. No data requirements. Device links to phone and setting only transferred when linked to WiFi. But she’s off it now. Again, even with her amount of driving, she’s not driving enough for it to “help”.

          1. State Farm must have changed how they’re doing it, then. Originally it would continuously transmit via phone data. Connecting to wifi and reporting when it’s handy is a lot more reasonable. (If I dragged a phone around, anyway… usually I don’t.)

            I only drive about 3000 miles a year anymore (and sometimes not that much), so not sure it would save me anything.

            And I just realized my State Farm account is older than my agent, and he’s middle-aged…

            1. Huh. I’ve never had anything in my State Farm that requires tracking of that sort. Granted, I’m sure there’s an app, but I don’t have it?

              On the other hand, the policy that mine sprang from dates back to the early 1960s, so it’s possible they’re just not gonna mess with any of us.

              1. No, this tracker is an optional thing. (At least for now… I predict that once sufficiently widespread, it’ll be legislated into uniform adoption.)

                My policy was piggybacked on my mom’s that went back at least to 1964 (maybe earlier, dunno what insurance was on the ’55 Nash) and wholly my own since 1974. I’ve occasionally compared other companies, and run screaming back to State Farm.

                1. Yeah, I once shopped about, and went right back to State Farm. And they’ve always taken care of me–and given that I’ve totaled (or had totaled by wildlife) more than one car, that’s not anything to sniff at 😀

                    1. They do seem to not insist on entirely separate policies. I mean, sure mine is the only name on my car/home insurance policy, but it’s still related in some fashion to my parents’, which is related to my moms’ parents’ policy…

                      It’s a bit odd, but I’m definitely not gonna complain. 😀 My rates are quite good!

                    2. Might be our problem. The link to mom and dad’s policy broke 42+ years ago. Maybe if I went through mom’s current agent quotes might be better. It isn’t us. Not anymore. We have no incidents on our record, or what are considered “minimal” (Ice Storm with house, mostly cleanup and we wouldn’t have filed that but we were aiming for help with tree removal costs, didn’t get it). Our credit rating is is in the credit stratosphere values (been told “They Like You! They really, really, really, like you!”) So IDK what is up … Mom can’t switch. Her woodstove is grandfathered into the policy, so rate comparisons can’t happen (Lopi, no converter). BIL says no one can come close to their coverage rates, and they’ve had a car stolen, and one major wreak (one of their kids before policy split off). But for us, Allstate beat both State Farm and Farmers by a lot.

                    3. $SPOUSE was on State Farm in Silly Valley, while I was on SF in the Midwest, but switched to 20th (later 21st) century insurance after moving to Cali. The quotes for both insurers in Oregon were absurd, and we had arranged for Country to do the house insurance, so they were a good fit for vehicles. Rates spiked with legal weed, of course. Sigh.

                      No mention of tracking from Country. Subaru keeps an eye on the Forester that has satellite. Not sure if the Honda actually transmits to a sat; their systems seem to want a cell phone app that I won’t use. OTOH, I did get satellite emergency service for the Subie–it does road trips, sometimes several in a year.

                      I had State Farm as a young’n, but the rates got high when I moved to Silicon Valley. 20th Century had a group buy with the IEEE organization, and the rates were good enough to keep them for over 25 years. Still, they don’t like Oregon.

        3. “I don’t want to foot the data bill; last time I checked the continuously-sent cellular data (about 1GB/day) woulda been a lot more expensive than the discount.”

          Interesting. There’s a major car dealer holding company here in DFW that basically mandated that every car it sold / leased would have the maintenance port modified to transmit maintenance / mileage data so the service department could bug people about it. They just gave every car it’s own cell phone number; apparently the usage fees were “too cheap to meter” so the customer never saw a bill (and wasn’t asked if they wanted it).

          No, I’m not going to name the company; there’s an NDA involved.

          1. We get a maintenance report off our newer vehicles, and have since the 2010 pickup. Current 3 “loose” the BlueLink “free” feature in 2022, and then early 2023, and late 2023. The 2010 pickup was OnStar … granted being able to call OnStar when the dog locked us out of the pickup, was nice but not worth the annual cost, and that can’t happen anymore with newer rigs. But the BlueLink/OnStar information doesn’t affect our cell data usage (or is a non-detectable blip).

            Hubby’s vehicle we’ll pay attention to the nagging. His vehicle maintenance services are free during those 3 years …

  8. Wasn’t it the Northworld books by David Drake, that the protagonist became a God, and his ideal godly domain was a small beach front flat that cleaned itself?

    I recall it weirded out all the other gods too.

    1. I think the one I read was the second or third; it wasn’t marked as part of a series, and it was a prime example of “nah, no need to let the reader know anything, just dump them into an ongoing plot in a technology-meets-magic universe and let them figure it out as they go along.”

      “What” was happening was unclear, “how” was a mystery, and “why” was entirely absent. it was years later I found out it was part of a series, but that doesn’t excuse an author’s wasting the reader’s time like that.

      So much for the ‘careful curation and editing’ from tradpub…

      1. I could believe it. The Northworld books, I think, we’re also the first ones where he started running multiple parallel story arcs too.

        Norse mythology is wierd, trippy and half missing…

  9. I now live in a very small town. One of the local restaurants went out of business within days of the shutdown. Several others, which had take out business, survived, because the people in town rallied around them, to make sure they got enough business to stay open. One of the better ones (I think we’ve got 4 total?) told me they were doing fine, but then the line for pickup was huge, so not surprised.
    But I’m sure in the large towns north and south of us, a LOT of places went under. But then, that was the plan from the get-go, right up there with the $15/hr wage. Communists HATE cheap food. They want food expensive so they can keep the masses starving, so they’re easier to control.

      1. Cooking DOES NOT STOP prion diseases!!!!!
        Remove the brain and spinal cord and throw it away.
        For the rest follow the cook book “To Serve Man” by Wolf.

  10. a fail-safe at my back. Even if I still have to pay attention every step of the way (because I’m not stupid

    Definitely. We were in Tetons/Yellowstone this last May when a spring “snow event” occurred. We lost cruise control, with it adaptive cruise control, collision alert, and lane keep assist. Vehicle told us they were disabled. But still … It isn’t like the vehicle is communicating with vehicles or the road around it, it is using cameras. Those cameras get blocked, they quit working. (Which is better than when the cameras are blocked they think it is an object and refuse to move.) Ours wasn’t the only vehicle either. Our systems cleaned up automatically once we hit rain, then dry pavement. We stopped at a rest area where another driver was using towels to wipe off the sensors on his vehicle complaining “what good are these driving assisting features if they don’t work half the time”. Eh. This is the first time we’ve ever lost them. Not that we were dependent on them as weather that severe we have never used cruise control be it snow or rain, not even on an open freeway. Point is the new safety features are not to be expected to work all the time.

    I love adaptive cruise control. Especially when traffic is crawling, set it (with two car follow), and take foot off of break. The scene where they use the truck to stop the Tesla? 100% accurate. Not sure how the Tesla got started in the first place from a stop with a dead person in the driver’s seat, because our vehicle that couldn’t be done, but the stopping scene, that is how adaptive cruise control works, and it can work fast.

    1. I love adaptive cruise control.

      I freaking HATE the BAD adaptive cruise control. (or maybe when used by idiots)

      I am so. Blooping. Tired. Of folks in new cars tailgating me, and refusing to pass.

      Sometimes, I simply CAN’T maintain speed. LIke when I’m towing a camper. But these twits sit on my rump, close enough to be dangerous, and make it so nobody else can pass.

      Note: I know you’re not one of the obnoxious ones. Just needed to growl a little. 😀

      1. That’s their stupidity. Honest. Though one of the adaptive cruise controls we had suddenly and inexplicably decided we wanted to go 20 miles over speed limit. Was…. weird?

          1. I used to HATE cruise control.
            I thought I’d hate the other stuff.
            BUT with my eyes going wonky — menopause! — and astigmatism changing every six months, I like to know if I can’t judge depth, something else is picking up the slack.

            1. My mom STILL whines about how nobody who knows how to drive should NEED cruise.

              …she also screams if I don’t use it. 😀

              I like it, because in our post 2010 vehicles, it’s better MPG.

              1. I hate cars that do things I didn’t tell them to do, I barely tolerate automatic transmission.

                1. It’s been driving me nuts the last few years, more and more semis are automatic. Great in traffic, but trying to back up with a trailer is pure hell, not enough fine control.

                2. I got my not-very-old Jeep Patriot with unusually low mileage (well, it had low mileage for its age two years ago, not so much now, heh) for a song because it was manual. For some bizarre reason, I’d happened to mention to the salesman I knew how to drive manual, but manual transmission was so hard to find these days. He lit up like a Christmas tree–they hadn’t even put the jeep out on the lot yet, and I suspect they were worried about getting it sold in a timely fashion *because* it was manual.

          2. I can’t do cruise control. It takes just enough input off my plate to have me start to zone out, which is a bad idea while driving.

      2. I’m happy with the adaptive cruse control, though I keep the distance set at maximum, and it’s still closer than I care for. OTOH, if it’s safe to pass, I will. I’ve been getting passed by people who smoked their lunch*, and the violations range from “that’s really stupid” to “OMG, is he going to get all of us killed?”. I’ll run the speeds at 55 to 60 on the country highways. I’ve so few miles on freeways it’s absurd now.

        I just wish that Honda and Subaru agreed on a user interface. They’re fairly close, but not quite. Given my druthers, I’d steal the best features from both and go with that. I know Subaru can go down a steep hill and keep speed. I don’t think the Honda will, and haven’t been on a road with a long enough grade to try it. OTOH, the Honda lane-keeper is good, and it does a slightly better job at recognizing the leading vehicle. The Subie responds quickly if you change the speed selection. One road varies speed limits a lot, ranging from 55 to 35 and back depending on the neighborhood.

        (*) I’d like to meet the people who pushed the marijuana legalization effort. Dark alley, no surveillance, tire iron.

        1. (*) I’d like to meet the people who pushed the marijuana legalization effort. Dark alley, no surveillance, tire iron.

          I’ll hold your coat …

        2. I’d like to meet the people who pushed the marijuana legalization effort. Dark alley, no surveillance, tire iron.

          Need someone to hold your coat?

          Even when they’re peeling the idiots off of walls, along with their victims, it’s all “oh no pot means you drive really slow and careful.”

          1. “No Smoking Here!”

            “Hey, This is marijuana!”

            “Oh, OK.” 😡

            1. Yeah. That’s one thing I can’t understand. Especially since, not even considering the other effects, marijuana smells *so* much worse than cigarette smoke. They call it “skunk weed” for a reason.

            2. Seattle actually fired a cop who was enforcing the “no smoking” laws on pot.

              In the form of issuing warnings. Just like he would for someone smoking a cig.

              Then they expanded the no smoking to include vapes…so people breathing out water vapor were ticketed, and the guys actually smoking stuff that is at least as bad for secondhand smoke as cigs got a free pass.

              1. The vape freakout is easily one of the dumbest things our bureaucrats have ever produced. And there is a *lot* of competition in that space.

                1. ‘Vaping’ is so stupid to begin with, there’s not much stupid the government can add. Sucking down chemical steam, how thrilling.

                    1. But it’s aaaadiiiiiiiccctive!

                      And looks like cigs, but without any bad effects to other people– and if you get one that isn’t nicotine, then it’s just soothing to your airways.

                      Plus, you can look like you’re a dragon, blowing out huge clouds of “smoke,” like the coldest day ever times a hundred!

                      Woooooo, must haaaaaate on it!

                    2. Yes, of course it’s addictive. So is Adderal.
                      Younger son “I tried to get addicted to e-cigs (he doesn’t have the insurance for Adderal right now) Turns out I’m too ADD to.

                  1. Eh…. when one considers the curve of industrialization vs neuroticism vs smoking vs attempts to stamp out smoking….

                    Looks like nicotine was a massive benefit to a huge number of people. A mechanism for getting that which doesn’t involve breathing in ash should not be crushed just because it looks sort of kind of like the evil thing.

                2. Not sure the vape banning is so much dumb as corrupt. I’ve heard rumors/read stories about bribes campaign contributions going the the elected officials who pushed the ban. I’m sure any offers of benefit to the non-elected people doing this would pass the strictest scrutiny by the Top Men in the FICUS FIB.

                  Who benefits? Try conventional tobacco companies. Just sayin’.

    2. “Especially when traffic is crawling, set it (with two car follow), and take foot off of break.”

      And sit there while all the morons interpret “safe following distance” as an invitation to change lanes in front of you…..

      1. And sit there while all the morons interpret “safe following distance” as an invitation to change lanes in front of you…..

        Might happen in CA, or other places, where a slight gap = invitation (or a lane change signal is a challenge to block the person merging), but not locally … so far.

        OTOH my husband just rolls his eyes at us locals complaint about our “traffic jam” … I mean instead of 2 minutes it might take 10 or 15 minutes to get through the bottle neck sections.

        Definition of “Traffic Jam” in Eugene = “20 MPH in 60 MPH zone, for 3 miles.”

  11. You want a Flexible Frank? Clearly more proof you are raciss, wanting a machine to replace the jobs poor Mexicans flee their wonderful, not at all a sh!thole country, to take here in the US.

  12. Town of twenty-thousand? Should support at least half a dozen restaurants. Troy, ID, pop 700-ish, supported one. Pinedale, WY, pop 2,100-ish but with oil fields right there outside of town, supported six: local diner, steakhouse, high end organic gormet, Chinese, Mexican, and Cajun (liked cooking more than oil rigs, flew in fresh alligator, frog, and everything else from his family back in Louisiana daily). Four of those (diner, steakhouse, Chinese, and Mexican) predated the oil boom.

    What happens is limited hours/days. So you may only get Chinese between 3-8 pm, and the steakhouse may only be open weekends, while the Diner closes most days at two and never opens Sunday.

    1. Not sure how many restaurants are there in Flyover Falls (20K people). Quite a few before Despicable Kate Brown did the lockdowns, probably dozens. On the road from the east to the main intersection south of downtown, a quick list came up with 7 restaurants and 4 fast food joints, and that’s not looking at the main road going south (maybe a half dozen including fast food). And that’s not counting the hospital/medical/college center, nor downtown Flyover.

      We had a lot of tourism (Crater Lake, plus traffic heading to/from Bend and Lava Beds NM), plus the city was a way station for the Burning Man creatures. (Had the car-shaped hole in a motel to show that some folks shouldn’t have done their own driving, too.) However, without a Vaxx cert, DKB wants a 14 day quarantine. SIL and BIL saw that and said nope.

      (FWIW, I saw my first sign: “You must mask unless you show your vax card to the gatekeeper”. Said gatekeeper didn’t exist. I think that may be how the restrictions will play out here in flyover country.)

  13. I don’t have the energy to clean like I could 20 years ago so I get buy with minimum. *sigh so I really want that cleaning robot… I don’t mind doing my own cooking. I found that I have a real problem with most fast-food restaurants… Even some of the better restaurants cook with too much salt or add oils that I can’t tolerate. *sigh

  14. Flying cars by way of self-driving cars? I don’t see the connection.
    TRX is right that liability is an issue, though that could be fixed by law easily enough. But the actual problem is that a self-driving car (a real one, not the fancy cruise control we have today) is VERY HARD. People tend to treat it as an AI problem, which in the view of this old-school software engineer translates into “let the computer do something no one can understand and hope it somehow is the right thing often enough”. In any event, I see no reason to believe that an automaton could navigate NH back roads, with ill defined shoulders (or snow piles in winter), and no markings on the pavement assuming there is pavement in the first place.
    On the other hand, self-flying airplanes are a far simpler problem. No deer crossing, the “lanes” are well defined, clear view in every direction, etc. Come to think of it, larger airplanes are pretty much self-flying already, and small ones aren’t partly because of cost and partly because the authorities don’t want to force owners of old ones to retrofit them.

    1. Flying cars by way of self-driving cars? I don’t see the connection.

      The universal freakout from the Very Smart People is to point out how bad drivers are and then point out that you just added a third dimension to the navigation problem.

      There would be issues. But at root this is the same mistake as the fools who think that because the brain doesn’t finish development until 25 we need to keep people as childlike as possible until then.

      1. They don’t understand that the hand trains the brain. Unless you start building the necessary pathways, the necessary habits of thought, when one is young, they won’t be there when one is an adult.

        Growing up is a process, not an event.

    2. There are some challenges to self flying aircraft that have not been 100% solved.

      Airplanes are fast, weather matters to how safely they can fly (and hence to route planning), weather can change over the course of a flight, and there are some interesting questions of sensing.

      Airplanes are expensive/rare enough that I’m more willing to trust to owner judgement when in comes to experiments in automating away user skill.

      1. Part of the problem between aircraft auto pilot and automobile auto-pilot is the expectation that the human be ready and able to take over if the auto-pilot can’t figure things out.

        For the most part – aircraft auto-pilot allows the human a good bit of time to ‘get the picture’ when things fail – except for at takeoff and at landing.

        There just is not that much time for even a somewhat in-attentive human in a car to ‘get the picture’ of traffic and what is wrong to take over in the majority of driving situations. Auto pilots for autos are going to be stuck in the adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance – but driver, you must keep your hands on the wheel – mode for a long time.

        1. Rolls eyes. DUDE. It’s not lane assistance. Dear Lord. The THING DRIVES ITSELF. I drove it. As for adaptive cruise control…. Let’s say two trucks decided to play games. On my own, I’d be squished.
          Ford edge, 2020 and above. Upper model. Try it.

    3. > that could be fixed by law easily enough.

      Sure. All you have to do is persuade 56-odd polities to go along with your idea.

      1. 56-odd? You’re thinking small. UAV regs are being implemented at the state county and city level. Does anyone really think that various jurisdictions would pass up ticket and licensing revenue from them any more than they have surface transport?

        Do a hog pass up slop?

    4. ” Come to think of it, larger airplanes are pretty much self-flying already,”

      Yeah, that’s why you see aircraft being allowed to weave among buildings on approach. The problem you’re overlooking is that aircraft have to move at a certain speed to maintain airfoil lift, and anything that isn’t using that has this little issue called rotor wash, which has to be accounted for the closer you get to objects or the ground.

      Just imagine the FOD issue in San Francisco….. “shit hitting the fan” won’t be a metaphor….

  15. I want a Protean Pete. Or the houses from Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains”, before the war of course. As for flying cars, no the FAA doesn’t help, but a flying car that is both a decent driving vehicle AND a decent flying vehicle is hard. The things that make a nice roadable vehicle tend to make it heavy and weight is NOT your friend. Large fixed airfoils are a nuisance on the road and making the wings fold-able greatly complicates things (and surprise adds weight). Heck the much simpler issue of interchangeable water/land vehicle has few if any good solutions (e.g. DUKW from WWII, but they swamp real easy…), and heaven forbid one of RAH’s triphibs…

    1. Even aircars (flight-only small VTOL air vehicles, vice a hybrid drives/flies vehicle) will drive the current FAA ATC system totally nuts.

      The Air Traffic Control system in the US, and by extension the rest of the world, is a centrally controlled command system traceable back to the airliner midair collision over the Grand Canyon that killed 128 back in 1956. The system up to that point was “see and avoid” with some rough help in restricted visibility and during approaches, but enroute the airline captains were on their own.

      After that crash the FAA built a system of enroute ATC control and guaranteed separation using radar and controllers telling captains where they could go, how high and how fast that works well enough for a couple thousand airliners, less well for tens of thousands of private planes, and will not work at all for hundreds of thousands of aircars flitting hither and yon from the surface on up.

      Given 1950s tech the central control system was really all they could manage, but taht was a long time ago, and given current tech the method that Tesla is developing for self driving surface vehicles is a viable alternate option for keeping metal from scraping metal – that is, distributed self-directed collision avoidance.

      Planes have systems now that alert them to potential or impending instances of two planes getting too close to one another, and when those systems rolled out to the airlines there were lots of instances reported where the system told pilots to do things that were not what the controller had told them to do, which caused outbreaks of grumpy controllers when a pilot failed to ignore the “Collision Alert – Dodge Thataway Right Now!” just to see if the controller sitting safely on the ground would in fact manage keep them safely separated. And the pilots didn;t really have any choice as company policy for the airlines told them “Screw the controllers; You Must Follow TCAS Resolution Advisories.”

      So aircars/air taxis/urban air mobility vehicles will need to be self-directing and constantly negotiating with each other to prevent swapping paint – and the penultimate FAA ATC system will not be directing individual vehicles, but basically be defining the three dimensional “curbs” that aircar traffic will have to stay between.

      1. TL;DR: exactly the same pros and cons of every other set of competing centrally managed vs agent swarm solutions.

        Whoulda thunk?

      2. that is, distributed self-directed collision avoidance. In other words, see and avoid. Only you’re now entrusting it to a thermostat instead of an intelligent being.

      3. The technological advancement needed for flying cars is the means to remove screaming pearl-clutchers and control freaks from decision-making. We *had* flying cars, in the 1950s.

        If these people were in charge of transportation in the 1890s, we wouldn’t have *cars*. In fact, the same people hate cars for the same reason they hate the prospect of flying cars: Power in the hands of individual decisionmakers. Hell, you’ve seen what happens when these people get their way in governing *walking down a f%@ing grocery store aisle.*

        I have no patience for (we need to invent better perfect people, or magic AI) before we can allow (technology X) into the hands of those dirty irresponsible lumpenproles. These bastards have taken something sublime and beautiful and turned it into cattle-cars in the sky. Our civilization has utterly ruined the dream that the Wright-Bros made real. It isn’t too strong to say that I hate them for it.

      4. Heck FlyingMike I was just concerned to get cars flying. Traffic control is definitely a deep issue. All I can envision is a couple hundred thousand Massachusetts drivers (AKA Massholes) flitting about over the New England region (and if my memory is correct you’re from NH so you are familiar with these creatures). That image is like something out of Dante’s Inferno. A lot of these folks can’t properly control a vehicle in 2 dimensions at speeds up to say 65 Mph. There is no way at all that they could properly control a vehicle in 3 dimensions at speeds 2-5 times that. Let alone a fixed wing type vehicle with things like using throttle to control attitude/descent rate. Maybe computerized controls could help (and keep them out of TCAS areas), but even then you’d lose a lot of folks, and the carnage and damage on the ground would be similarly bad. The only thing that might slow it down is even aircars are probably be pretty expensive so only the wealthy idiots are flying. Although that doesn’t limit it, I grew up near a small airport and every summer you’d have a couple crashes because some Doctor/Dentist/Lawyer had just jumped up to a 2 engine from a single engine and landed super hard or stalled on takeoff from unfamiliarity with his new toy.

        1. Flying an airplane isn’t a 3-dimensional problem. It’s more like 2.5 because although the vertical component is there, the vertical navigation component is quite a bit different from the horizontal to the point where it’s not usually terribly important to the operation of the vehicle. In a similar fashion, navigation while driving is basically a one-dimension problem that has some minor aspects in the second dimension, so I usually describe it as a 1.5 dimension problem.

          1. True flying fixed wing craft has strong constraints on the vertical component. Although if aircars are more like giant quadcopter drones then traditional GA craft they are closer to true 3D. In any case 1.5d to 2.5d
            or 2d to 3d we’re adding an additional dimension to folks that deal with the current number of dimensions constraints as well as the VP is handling her job so the results of adding anything is not going to be pretty 🙂 .

            1. Even the vibration-induced-metal-fatigue-machines known as helicopters are operated in the constrained and relatively static (at least in rates) limited 3d – basically, once any flying machine operated by people is on course and at altitude it’s not going to keep a constant course (2 dimensions, though within a spherical reference frame) altitude (3rd) and speed (rate of change in 2d position over time). Sure aerobatics and ACM are flown with everything constantly changing, but people only deal with first or second derivative control, so it’s constrained.

              Throw everything over to a negotiating network of Siris and I’m betting the collision avoiding optimized flight paths will be much more Italian Driver.

              1. …once any flying machine operated by people is on course and at altitude it’s not going…

              2. Hmph try again:

                …once any flying machine operated by people is on course and at altitude it’s not going…

              3. “Throw everything over to a negotiating network of Siris and I’m betting the collision avoiding optimized flight paths will be much more Italian Driver.”

                One of the first problems they encountered was the classic “You can stay in the road and hit the child who darted out or you can steer off the road possibly injuring someone else including you. Which way should the car go?” I’m not sure they ever actually resolved that other than “Apply the brakes and hope you can stop.”

  16. And btw, again, yes, they have the ability to get all this information about us, what they don’t have is the ability to make sense of it. They’re submerged in a mountain of info, and nothing to do about it.

    This. And yes, AI is stoopid. It’s a great breakthrough in AI are to get one to recognize shapes at the level of a 4 year old. Yes, pattern matching is something an AI can be trained to do, but you have to know the pattern – fuzzy logic “kinda close to” is similarly stoopid.

    So the ideal is to flood the records with data that is just ever so slightly different in each instance. And I mean flood – generate as much data as possible. Bury the “expert systems” in haystack.

    1. Back when Carnivore first leaked all the geeks were putting things like “bomb murder terrorist kill” in their email signatures.

    2. John D MacDonald has Meyer advocate the flood the system with slightly wrong data approach as far back as late sixties Travis McGee novels

    3. The data is already corrupt. One data miner claims I live at the Salinas city hall. If half the data is correct, but you don’t know which half, it is useless. When they ask for ethnic data, always put down something different. I have a new definition of AI, it is “Ain’t Intelligent”

      1. Yep.
        I, OTOH, live in the park in Colorado Springs. I’m also center left according to FB. And I’m about ten years younger than I am.
        Also, bizarrely, for about three years it thought I was pregnant. (Starting five years ago.)

  17. Thank you for the reminder to go turn the not-a-roomba *on* so it can do its job. It’s too stupid to be left unattended, but it certainly does a half-decent job of brushing and sucking up dirt and things I’m allergic to without me being in the outflow.

    Despite the sprained wrist, I did get the dishwasher unloaded, so it can be refilled. And lunch of cod sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with a lemon pepper mix that would have cost more than a slave in ancient rome, served with a pre-bagged salad I merely had to open pouches and mix, kept cold in the fridge despite the heat outside this time of year, while geothermal keeps the house cool.

    I’m out of eggs again, but I can always take my horseless carriage to the store, and skip the time it’d take to barter by merely exchanging bits of paper and metal that the store agrees is worth the price of eggs.

    Yeah, the future may not be as automated as I want, but it’s pretty damned good. I am rich beyond the dreams of Croesus!

    1. Better to get the farm eggs and buy more of them. Then use old time method of using slaked lime. Make the solution put in pail, put in farm fresh eggs (cannot be cleaned store bought) and they will keep for more than a year maybe 2. Take out of pail, wash of lime residue and use as normal. What people used to do. Also eggs will keep for a couple weeks just in the carton on the counter. Check out the videos.

      1. Eggs are dangerous because they are incredibly nutritious- and any videos are going to be dealing with a system that has done a LOT of work to keep things safe.

        Look out for “our chickens never got any antibiotics” type eggs, and remember that store-eggs have been cleaned which removes a protective layer so they can’t be kept on the counter.

        I like keeping even farm eggs in the fridge because it’s easier to get a sunny side up egg that’s crispy on the edges and gooshy in the middle.

        1. Something I learned–though I have not yet had a chance to try it–is that to better preserve farm-fresh eggs that required washing (because given some of the hens I’ve known, I am NOT putting that poo-encrusted egg anywhere near other foodstuffs) is to dip it in mineral oil. Supposedly that helps simulate the original protective coating. ::shrugs:: If I’m in a position where I can have the four or so hens I want (but which means I will STILL be up to my eyeballs in more eggs than one woman can reasonably eat, even if there’s a dog and a cat who would be HAPPY to help) I plan to give it a try.

          1. We’re working on getting to the point of having guineas, and hopefully eggs, but I’m low key jealous of the idea of not needing number of people times three eggs a day. 😀

            1. I usually go through four by myself. I believe I am permitted to keep up to four hens where I live, but while I am told the really fresh eggs are amazing, I have trouble imagining they’re good enough to make it worth the added effort on that scale…. Although I guess if you like the chickens, and add in (some) bug control and compost…

                1. I acknowledge that is a major advantage and indeed that is why my mother-in-law wants them, although I’m pretty sure she could have as many as she wants.

                  Train of association with bug control… do you have thoughts on beneficial nematodes, and if so, are you willing to share them?

                    1. Did it work well? (I should probably first discern whether we have a major local problem with them, but I wouldn’t be surprised.)

                      I have seen some enthusiastic claims from users about beneficial nematodes and their effect on assorted problem bugs including ticks, with varying estimates of how long the effect lasts. Alas, while I know the root-knot kind are bad for the garden, I have not read about any that will selectively target specific unwanted plants…. I need to go kill some poison ivy soonish.

                    2. We only just tried it this year, now 3 weeks into spreading the powder around the grape vines.

                      I have seen one Japanese beetle, was on far side of house, but I can’t remember when/where they showed up before.

                      The anti tick powder worked well last year, but it was cold, then dry, then raining too hard for me to put it down this year. (Powder to put down when grass is like baseball field high, before a rain.)

                  1. I should probably mention that the reason I love Guineas is that they EAT rattle snakes.

                    Not that Iowa seems to have any, but…that’s why I love them.

                    1. ….Do they do copperheads?

                      (Considering what ISTR I’ve heard about their noise level compared to chickens I might have to check separately on the regulations about them if I wanted any, though.)

                    2. They eat all snakes they can catch, and are resistant to venom.

                      I am actually pre-emptively a little upset because we only have grass snakes in our area….but ticks.

                      And pretty feathers.

                    3. And they ARE quieter than say roosters, they have a very similar co cooco sort of sound, I suggest “pearl” strains. Mostly because pretty. A little tougher than chickens as far as not being predated by owls and foxes and such, but only slightly. Eggs are noted as being smaller but similar to chickens.

                      And tehy are NOT VIOLENT AGAINST HUMANS.

                      Big thing, for me.

                    4. Ah, well, roosters are categorically forbidden here.

                      …But if they don’t crow, now I wonder if the regs for guinea fowl are different for the ones for chickens….

                    5. That’s an adorable description. I really thought I’d read somewhere that they were louder, but I must have been mistaken.

                      But I’m not sure whether guinea fowl are included under the local regulations for backyard chickens, not allowed at all because poultry is restricted to chickens, or subject to separate requirements in which case the noise difference could have affected it.

                      (Tangentially, I still kind of giggle every time I remember the zoo that had signs up explaining that the peacocks wandering everywhere were a free-range zoo display, the guineas wandering around were also a free-range zoo display, and the turkeys wandering everywhere were wild turkeys that apparently decided they’d done a great job with the habitat and moved themselves in.)

              1. Neighbors had chickens … chicken feed attracts rats. Which were already bad enough because their backyard neighbors kept bird feeders, then ran off the neighborhood cats. The chickens got rehomed. The one household had a problem, but the rest of us didn’t as the cats learned to stay away, but take care of the rodent problem. Now with everyone “insisting” on keeping cats inside or calicos, the rodent problem has gotten out of control. We have one allowed out. The next two will be allowed out sometime this summer. At least we don’t have to worry rural issues, yet. Turkeys. Blue Herons. Possums. Raccoons. Eagles overhead. But no cat snatchers. (Yes. I want to keep them in. But I know we can’t.)

    2. Yeah, this.

      Our house is over a century old. They put down rugs to make things easy at some point in the 60s.

      That is a phrase that makes like no sense before cheap vacuums. My highest maintenance area is the kitchen, which has NEW hardwood floors (80s) and stuff gets stuck under the automated dish washer and the magic ice box, with extra dust from the magic clothing scrubber that’s next to the box of sunshine to dry the clothes. 😀

  18. We’re getting there slowly. It occurred to me about a year ago that I now cook my steaks in a way reminiscent of a Heinlein novel: I press the button, and a couple of hours later, they come out perfect.

    I’ll admit to being one of those who’s willing to sacrifice her flying car in order to keep that $%@! who cut me off from getting his. Is that cynical and quite possibly anti-human of me? Yes. But it’s still true.

  19. Playing Darwin for a moment: Hunter-gatherers don’t have clutter, storage problems, or major sanitation problems. Once you start farming, and especially, once you start living in cities, you do get at least the sanitation problems. A few millennia of diseases exacerbated by more crowded living, plagues, and the rats they road in on, and natural selection(tm) starts favoring the scrupulously tidy and clean. The compulsive cleaners, sheet-boilers, clutter-avoiding will have a better shot at survival.

    Introduce antibiotics and collective sanitation – sewers, garbage pick-up, running water (which pretty much requires those first 2 to work over time) – throw in plenty of calories, and any old slob can survive. Dirty, cluttered people don’t die significantly faster than neat freaks, at least, not until after child-bearing age. And they have more free time.

    I should get to the remnants of last night’s dinner dishes…

        1. Son has been cleaning the garage. APPARENTLY I should sometimes get rid of some of the stuff that …. Oh, hell. He wants to take way my wood scraps, bits and pieces.

          1. Just take him to Home Store and show him what a 2×6 goes for these days. It’s not a piece of board, it’s an investment.

            1. I’ve got to the point I have to fight myself not to go pick up all “free wood” on craigslist.
              I’ve been informed we’re not moving wood or fabric. (SOBS)

              1. We regretted some of the stuff we got rid of two… three? moves ago and have not managed to properly declutter since. Well, okay, we weren’t good at it before then….

              2. Sounds like you need to knock together some crates, just to protect the books, don’chaknow…

                1. Those to be crated books need to be individually wrapped with multi-layers of fabric … to keep dust off them …

          2. Sell it now if you can. Lumber futures are 60% off their May peak and crashing fast. One of the steepest downward futures curves I’ve seen in a long time. They’re still 300% up over last year so you’d probably be getting a good return.

              1. Price are still very high but it’s crashed from its peak.

                I probably top ticked it pretty much since they just finished rebuilding my back porch. Story of my life that is.

      1. When we got “places for our stuff” and a social structure that made it likely nobody would make off with it when our backs were turned.

        Primarily-nomadic societies, like pre-British “middle east”, still placed value on *aquisition* of goods, but there was no way to transport much beyond what you could carry, and no way to defend it if you could. After largely abandoning the nomadic lifestyle, they’ve had some serious cultural problems.

      2. The moment we needed that book roughly thirty minutes after the trash man hauled it away …

        1. ‘Book’ and ‘Trash’ are not words that ever go together. Unless possibly in the ‘ok its in 3 pieces and the tape on the tape isn’t holding and the middle section is missing’ stage of disrepair. 🙂

    1. I beg to differ. Depending on the hunter-gatherers, we find that their camps and caves are their midden, which means that before the concept of digging latrines got spread far and wide by the Romans, you had a lot of cultures that didn’t even leave their habitation to eliminate fecal waste. To this day, you can see some cultures that prior to potty training still just let the kids run around and eliminate anywhere they happen to be. You can also see some cultures that make beautiful polished floors for their huts out of cow dung.

      This whole concept of “The primitive savage didn’t have to worry about sanitation problems” is so much… merde.

      1. (Of course, I’m simply assuming Darwin is right. It’s a legit question exactly how right and all-inclusive natural selection really is. That said – )

        Well –

        1.Current ‘primitives’ are still modern men. They live at the mercy of the people with guns and stuff, ‘farmers’ who have been wildly more successful. So, today is not exactly their environment of evolutionary adaptation. Perhaps their behaviors today might not be what their behaviors used to be, or might have been mitigated by other factors?
        2. Data point: In the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence devotes a couple paragraphs to describing how little human waste the nomadic Arabs produced, given their diets and manner of living. Perhaps the waste produced by people living such tenuous lives does not pose a significant problem in the environments in which selection pressures would apply?
        3. Actual assertion: primitive men did not have ‘major’ sanitation problems. In the context of differentiated survival rates, I’d say that seems to be true. if it were not true, then there would have been selection pressures against the behaviors you describe, and over time, less unsanitary behaviors would have been selected for The usual caveats apply: given enough time, all things being roughly equal, etc.
        4. Contrast with everything known about cities prior to modern times, which, with few exceptions, had major challenges with basic sanitation.

        Conclusion: whatever sanitation problems hunter-gathers have/had, they pale compared to the problems faced by people in cities and villages.

        The major point – again, taking Darwin as given – is that, for people living in villages and cities, personal sanitary practices might be a decisive evolutionary advantage. Keep your person and things scrubbed clean, and eliminate places where vermin can hide and breed – and your chances of leaving children and thus winning the evolutionary battle are increased.

  20. How can a restaurant survived in a town of say under 20k people, unless there’s a ton of tourism, or everyone eats there once a week. Restaurants live close to the margin, as is.

    There were two in my birth-town, which has roughly a thousand folks in it– works by 1) being family owned/run, so employment costs are low, 2) hours fit demand, 3) the outlying populations were much, much bigger than the town population.

    One had a bar on the other side (very common setup, generally they share toilets) and the other did bakery stuff.

  21. Robot painter: Pfui.

    Smart wall materials that can be commanded to change reflectivity to any color and then keep it up without power would be the bee’s knees. Coat them in transparent molecule-thick diamond for easy clean, and make sure they’re not hackable, and you’ve got it.

    Although I guess unhackable smart paint would work too, as long as it’s color stable.

  22. I think the reason we don’t have Flexible Frank or something similar is that AI turned out to be a lot harder than the early researchers believed. I recall an early prediction from, IIRC, the Dartmouth Workshop that AI was achievable in six months. That was in 1956.

    Sure the field has advanced some. We can build a computer that wins at Jeopardy. We can create a self-driving car that runs an obstacle course in the Nevada desert. However, we are still a long way from Skynet. Or even a Mike.

    1. This touches on something that I’ve been thinking for a long time. That being that the “Turing Test” is pretty bogus. I mean, okay so you’ve got a computer program that can respond realistically to conversation. That’s an impressive achievement, but it’s not really intelligence.

      Now, if a computer program ever sends me an email with content like “I’ve heard about this thing called a ‘Turing Test’ and I think I’d like to check it out. How do I apply?” then we might be getting somewhere.

      1. My impression is that almost everyone in the field has abandoned the Turing Test. They now prefer less generalized tests. Playing chess for example. Visual object recognition and poker playing are another couple of common criteria. There are a number of reasons for this but it really boils down to that modern computer software can seem very “clever” at a narrow task without being intelligent at all.

        1. There’s an old joke with the punchline “The problem with artificial intelligence researchers is that they tend to cheat at toy problems to achieve results.” I wish I could remember the setup.

    2. I think the reason we don’t have Flexible Frank or something similar is that AI turned out to be a lot harder than the early researchers believed. I recall an early prediction from, IIRC, the Dartmouth Workshop that AI was achievable in six months. That was in 1956.

      ::laughs:: K, write this on your calendar, I’m going to actually do the “throw down the chick card” thing.

      Actually the mom card, but they get conflated.

      OF COURSE it was harder than they were thinking.

      The guys who were figuring on stuff are of the same mindset that either holds all tasks can be multi-tasked, or that multi-tasking is impossible, AND that all reasonably functional folks are equally able to do “multi-tasking.”

      Exactly because they are high achieving, focused folks who are going for ONE specific goal at a time.

      Folks who are good at what they’re doing often don’t even notice the sub-stuff they do– so while those guys did some form of multi-tasking, even if it was “just” walk across the room without thinking about it, they just took that as an “of course.”

      Odds are, since they were functional adults, they also had folks who cared about them and took care of them– doing stuff they didn’t even know needed done, be it office-mates or family.

      Because they were very competent folks, looking at very exact goals, they didn’t see how many run-in tasks were involved.

      A heck of a lot like when you get mechanical focused folks talking about how HARD it is to get a machine to walk on two feet.

      It’s easy to automate many of the jobs. IT’s hard to find all the jobs, and it’s even harder to automate making the results of those jobs work together.

      *points at kitchen* I don’t have to clean and condition the dishes or laundry, I don’t have to shave fuzz off the meat for dinner, my multicooker will even deal with a lot of the cooking stuff, but I do have to do all the inbetween stuff.

      Artificial (work– even if it’s intelligence work) does the heavy lifting, kind of like a wrench vs finger-tightening.

      But I then have to actually USE that.

      1. There was also a red herring in the very early work. Because early experiments in Cybernetics (the discipline, not the “ooooh sciencey meaningless-name!”) made it look like complex animal level intelligence was a couple weeks work.

        It wasn’t….

        And then the same thing happened again with the LISP wave because people kept unwittingly injecting meaning into the output of their programs. The program was just stringing (to it) meaningless tokens together. Humans thought they were seeing meaningful sentences.

        They weren’t….

        1. Oooh, so like (ironically enough) the “talking apes” thing?

          Where you got great conversations…if you ignored the grammar. If you go “cat me give” and “give me cat” and “me cat give” as the same thing, they can talk.

          And, of course, you only broadcast “give me cat” stuff. Because that just looks awesome. (No desire to mislead involved.)

      2. There are engineering textbooks/books on the theory of deciding when to automate. Industrial engineers can spend a lot of time looking at processes from the task level. Industrial engineering is a very different discipline from electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and CS, which are the academic disciplines that cover a lot of ‘designing capital equipment to automate a given task’.

        Anyway, if you find one of the books on this, that is written for the industrial engineers, it may say that automations do certain types of task very well, and that humans do certain types of task well, and talk about the trade offs between them. One extreme, humans do everything, even to the point of manual tools. Other extreme is a very fancy automated factory system that opens up the shipments of raw material, and after doing everything else, packages the finished goods for shipment. (Extremely expensive, of course.)

        If you talk to an industrial engineer, fresh out of school, they don’t always have a great grasp of sensors, actuators, and AI.

        EEs and MEs maybe understand that they need to understand the dual discipline topic of robotics engineering before they get too ambitious with robotics. Or maybe they don’t understand the limits of their training. Controls engineering, AI, etc. are other ways to fill in those missing pieces.

        I understand that programmers have a habit of automating tasks. I understand that, because they are done on computers, some of these tasks are relatively easy to automate. It is not clear to me how much this biases them to thinking that all tasks can be automated. Ian is being trained by a guy who understands that some things are difficult to automate. I’m not sure that very many programmers are well trained in this understanding.

        The folks I take the biggest issue with are the legislatures. They are very definitely not informed enough for their meddling to be sound. Bureaucracies can be smart about safety, but it takes constant work by smart people, paying close attention to what actually happen. Legislatures can ensure that bureaucracies will be, in practice, stupid.

        1. The folks I take the biggest issue with are the legislatures. They are very definitely not informed enough for their meddling to be sound. Bureaucracies can be smart about safety, but it takes constant work by smart people, paying close attention to what actually happen. Legislatures can ensure that bureaucracies will be, in practice, stupid.

          On key with Ian’s teacher– legislatures are a very blunt object, and are going to deal with dumb bleep situations.

          Especially before stuff gets worked out– that’s painful.

  23. Unrelated in anything but “dude, Vasc, no wonder you got into Sabaton covers.”

    He was in the Brazilian army at one point, and….seriously, how can this story not just scream to a metal inclined soul? Or even just a Tolkien touched one? Or a USA-ian?

  24. “there’s no one to take the keys away. ”

    Oh, yes there is. When I had my cervical fusions done, I had to preserve enough ability to look over my shoulder to handle driving. If I hadn’t, my doctor was required to inform DMV that I was no longed capable of driving. My license would be revoked, my tags canceled, and my liability coverage too.

    At that point, if I drove through a toll booth / past a license plate reader, the cops would be by to arrest me.

    1. PS: Driving with a neck brace is a pull you over at once, similar to not wearing your seatbelt, even if your driving is perfect.

      1. Have a stroke. It does depend on severity. Doctor reports this to state and license is pulled. Dad was not happy when he had to take the written and his drivers test at age 52, when he was deemed healthy enough to drive again. MIL never did get her license back.

        There are other methods to loosing driving privileges too without having family involved. Even family often can’t just take away a senor’s keys, no matter how necessary. Ever heard of elderly abuse? Appropriate or not, it can be leveled. It can take reporting to the appropriate DMV powers that be, often anonymously, to get it done. At least our experience in Oregon (with maternal grandparents).

        Note. Diagnose of all Dementia diagnosis will get your license pulled.

        1. I had no problems with “taking away Mom’s car keys”.

          First while she had Dementia, she was still aware enough to realize that she shouldn’t be driving. It “helped” that she got herself lost even when I gave her written driving instructions to my sister’s home.

          Second, her doctor told her that she shouldn’t be driving.

          1. Both dad’s and MIL’s incidents were unexpected and sudden. No one had the time to consider the implications. More will they survive. By the time that was settled, licenses had already been pulled. Nothing pulled on vehicle tags or insurance as the vehicles in question were co-registered.

            Maternal grandparents OTOH … Had to go the anonymous route. Not like they were close enough to enforce having their keys taken. Even with reporting to the DMV, grandma’s eye doctor got it back for her for limited driving around their small town, during daylight hours. What he didn’t realize was how far out of town they lived. Luckily she only drove a few times then started requesting friends to help. Believe me, not that they had any estate to get money out of, but family would have definitely pointed to the DMV, and county (who threatened elderly harassment abuse, if anyone tried to overrule the eye doctor) officials, with addition of “we tried”, had she been involved in an accident severe enough to warrant such actions.

  25. I could really use a Flexible Frank, though not for the same reason as others immediately thought.
    I simply don’t have the energy to do chores. And a properly programmed Flexible Frank might also be able to serve as a sous chef when I’m cooking. I could turn tasks over to him when I got tired. (And making eight loaves of garlic bread last weekend left me quite tired. F**k cancer.)

    It would be interesting to make a list of the inventions Dan Davis came up with and see which (a) exist now, (b) are feasible, (c) may be possible but were not as easy as Heinlein thought, (d) are subject to Clarke’s First Law.
    One example of (a) is his drafting machine. I imagine someone has built a console where you push buttons to place lines in a drawing, but really. Autocad. And the machines that run it don’t just draft.
    (b) Electrostatic window cleaner — I believe they’ve been built into some cars. No general use robot attached to it, though. Bummer.
    (c) The robot typist/secretary may exist soon. Well, we do have software that takes dictation, but recognizing spoken words turned out to be a lot harder without magic unobtanium memory tubes developed by the Defense Department.
    (d) Time travel.

  26. Goblin Slayer is a vigilante superhero, prove me wrong.

    Link is an alt-right contra-revolutionary, prove me wrong.

    Bob the fool is a deranged lunatic, prove me wrong.

  27. Were Heinlein still alive he would be most displease with a number of things he got wrong and at least one he got right.
    Sadly, the one he nailed had to be that we are now in the middle of what he called “The Crazy Years,” described by him with his 50s viewpoint, but modern day still correlates most scarily.
    He bought into the population bomb at least for a while, was convinced that Earth’s population would come to be at the edge of starvation, failing to anticipate advances in modern farming and a falling birth rate.
    He was convinced that the era of “modern” housing was close at hand. Smart housed with robotic servants, home construction with advanced materials extruded by machinery in a day instead of brick and stick construction taking multiple crews weeks of hand work.
    And of course his imagined technology, shipstones, an efficient means of storing energy which in and of itself make green energy a working proposition. The downfall of wind and solar is that the energy produced is frangible, it must be used immediately as there is no efficient way to store it. Nuclear and fossil fuel plants can be switched on as needed, green energy not so much, no one so far has been able to figure out how to make the wind blow or the sun shine on command.
    I would expound on his views of current politics, but he’s already gotten in trouble with editors and critics for expressing his opinions to clearly for sensitive readers and listeners, so enough said.

  28. And, just saw the reports that the Capitol hill protestors are still being held in solitary, and subject to regular beatings by the guards.

    And I despair at the number of people who thing that that is a good thing, not the crime against humanity it is.

    Don’t really want to think about what comes next, but it’s going to be bad.

      1. Yeah, there is that too. I’m more disturbed by the people who know it is happening and think it is awesome, and the officials who should know it is happening and either don’t know or don’t care.

        I’m just remembering stories of how Germany went the way it did. And so many people just didn’t care, or didn’t want to know.

          1. Can’t find the original report. Apparently at least one of them was brought into court with a black eye and there have been other reports of injuries sustained during their incarceration.

            With the media near blackout on this it’s hard to get reliable information.

              1. One guy was beaten badly enough that he went to the hospital. Broken jaw, broken ribs, forget what else.

          1. Fools will continue to plead “But government would never do that!” even as the state fully removes its mask right in front of them. At which point they are unlikely to have much time to consider the error of their ways.

            1. The tune should be obvious…..

              Feddies love us, this I know
              No matter what real life may show.
              “Good guys” may help it along,
              But they’ll be there if things go wrong.

              Yes Feddies love us,
              Yes Feddies love us,
              Yes Feddies love us,
              ’cause their shills tell us so.

              They may shred the Bill of Rights,
              And come for us in the night,
              Set up ways so strangers snitch,
              Seize our stuff without a hitch.

              Yes Feddies love us,
              Yes Feddies love us,
              Yes Feddies love us,
              ’cause their shills tell us so.

      2. That said, it’s good to know other people are hearing about this and concerned about it as well. It’s easy to feel like the voice howling in the wilderness. Especially Twitter, which seems designed to be just that.

        Well, I think I’m going to take my laptop out side and spend the afternoon working in the sun and growing things, then cally Congress critters in the morning.

      3. I hadn’t heard.

        I’m not even reliably catching everything that is mentioned here.

        There’s maybe half a dozen websites that I’m following much on.

  29. Flying cars (by way of the ultralight) might have almost happened, but thanks to 20/20 or whichever “news” show stirring up the hysteria of Flying Death Machines, the FAA/Feds decided that, “Something Must be Done”. Insert a number of brilliantly conceived ideas on limiting airspeed to 55 mph, fuel limited to 5 gallons and an upper weight limit for the machine of 254 lbs, starving lawyers and…Consider it well & truly discouraged.

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