Make America Great Again – Get Chinese Investors!

Sad, but true.  Now I don’t know if Confucius ever said that, but it seems that many American inventors and entrepreneurs developing innovative technologies for the U.S. military are finding more support from Chinese investors than from the Pentagon.  For example, Neurala, a Boston start-up that makes robots and drones got little response from the American military when it needed money.  But it landed an investment from a state-run Chinese company.  

Beijing is encouraging Chinese companies with close government ties to invest in American start-ups specializing in critical technologies like artificial intelligence and robots to advance China’s military capacity as well as its economy.  The size and breadth of these Chinese-U.S. deals are not clear because start-ups and their backers are not obligated to disclose them.  Over all, China has been increasingly active in the American start-up world, investing $9.9 billion in 2015.  Chinese investors have money and are looking for returns, while the Chinese government has pushed investment in ways to clean up China’s skies, upgrade its industrial capacity and unclog its snarled highways.

I bet that Donald Trump could personally help Neurala and other American technology start-ups, and make America Great Again.   Save U.S. budget dollars by NOT flying his whole family around the world and NOT going to Mar-a-Lago every weekend.  Maybe he too could begin investing in America’s future, just like the Chinese!

Ray Myers


Feeling Blue in the Rust Belt – Try a Video Game!

When Donald Trump proclaimed that he was going to make AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, people in the Rust Belt heard him  loud and clear.  Here was their savior who had spent most of his life on the banks of the Hudson River in New York.  He had lots of money, and they had seen him on TV telling everybody how smart and rich he really was (I hope I get to see his tax returns sometime soon).  I am not sure exactly what he is planning to do in the “Rust Belt,” but I think it has something to do with reopening those old factories that once made that part of America a great place to raise a family and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor.  I am not sure exactly how long it will take Trump and company to re-engineer that part of America but in the meantime, try a video game or two.

As reported in the New York Times, “These games do not aim to make players feel successful and powerful as conventional video games do, and instead challenge people to look at the world in a different way.  Creators of the games said they were more interested in showing the complicated lives of the people and places the world has left behind, as well as the economic realities that inevitably circumscribe their stories.  We wanted to create stories and mythologies about the places we’re from and the people we know and that includes addressing the economics of it.”  Sounds more like a training video for real life in that part of the country than a video game.

Not to worry, play a video game, help is on the way.  I am not exactly sure when it will arrive.  It seems that President Trump is very busy these days in Washington: filling his Cabinet and draining the “swamp.”

Ray Myers

Make Car-Driving Fun Again!

Well, the assumption here is that the more technology we pack into our cars, the more fun we will have behind the wheel.  I am just not sure if this will happen.  Then again, I am not so sure Donald Trump will make America great again.  I like driving my car the old-fashioned way with the radio as the only “auditory aid” I have.  I guess some people consider that a distraction, but it does enable me to practice my vocal skills when no one else may be listening, except when my wife and/or other family members, friends are in the car.

I first heard about this expanding business venture when I read a news article about Pearl, a new Silicon Valley auto-accessory start-up staffed predominantly by former Apple employees.  Most of them wanted a different work environment where they could contribute to making the car America’s second home with nearly all the technological conveniences you may want.  I am not exactly sure if this was the primary motivation,  but it seems that most of the former Apple employees were also looking for a more collegial week environment.  Managers brief employees on coming products, company finances, technical problems, even the presentations made to the board.  What would Henry Ford say, or maybe this is what he had in mind all along.  In any case, the Pearl employees, making auto acessories seem to be enjoying their new “mission” that frees them from the secrecy and paranoia of the Apple days.

I am just wondering about how many accessories you really need on a car.  But maybe it is just a simple fact that we are spending so much more time in our cars that we need all these other conveniences to keep us alert?  I am still trying to master the backup camera.  I just find it hard to look at the dashboard to see what is behind me.

Ray Myers

Tech-Free Friday – Some Advice for the Donald

As a public service for the President-elect, and maybe for the rest of us as well, I would like to offer the following for our collective consideration.  This is excerpted from the United States Office of Government Ethics’ website and presents some information on how executive branch employees must avoid conflicts of interest in the execution of their governmental duties, so as not to be disqualified from working on such matters.

Financial Conflicts of Interest
The public may lose confidence in the integrity of Government if it perceives that an employee’s Government work is influenced by personal interests or by payments from an outside source.  An executive branch employee’s Government work may have the potential to benefit the employee personally, affect the financial interests of the employee’s family, or involve individuals or organizations with which the employee has some past, present, or future connection away from the employee’s Government job.  Separately, an employee might be offered a payment from a non-Federal source, such as a former employer, either before or after entering Government.  Accordingly:

An employee may be disqualified from working on a particular Government matter.

An employee may be prohibited from holding specified property.

An employee may be prohibited from accepting a payment from a non-Federal source.

Employees Entering Government

Individuals who join the executive branch may be required to take actions, either before becoming an employee or shortly thereafter, in order to comply with ethics laws and regulations concerning conflicting financial interests and impartiality. 

Current Government Employees

Executive branch employees have a continuing obligation to take the actions necessary to comply with ethics laws and regulations concerning conflicting financial interests and impartiality.

I know that the Donald will probably seek out and receive more profe$$ional advice on how to deal with this matter, but I offer this information freely.

Ray Myers

The King of Twitter Insults – America’s Next President?

Whoever thought that Twitter would become a powerful political tool in the social media battle for the hearts and minds of the American public.  Build up those followers and start firing away.  You can do it any time of the night or day, and never have to worry about whether it is accurate, libelous or slanderous (maybe there are some legal limits?). But maybe you don’t even care or worry about such “subtleties” if you are the Donald.  Just take a look at this past Monday’s New York Times if you would like to get a flavor of his favorite targets and topics over the past seventeen months.  Please don’t expect to be enlightened about current events and world affairs.  These little tidbits take direct aim at his political enemies or anyone else who may be getting in his line of fire.

No one seems to be firing back in this Twitter battle.  The Donald has taken the high ground (some may call it “low”) in freely attacking whomever he chooses.  So after he dispensed with all his Republican rivals from June 2015 through April 2016, he has now taken almost exclusive aim at Hillary Clinton as his primary target.  But even in doing this, he has apparently not chosen to hone his assaults in a more factual way.  Why even try?  I guess he figures that he has fooled most of the people most of the time, so now he can fool all the people all the time.  In the coming weeks we will all have to figure out who is fooling whom.  Don’t believe everything you read on Twitter!  It is not designed or never was intended for political discourse.

Take a look at Monday’s New York Times.  On two full pages of the “A” section are just some of his tweets over the past seventeen months.  Retweets are not included, nor are any other insults made outside Twitter, such as on television, in speechs or in public interviews.  I just wonder (dread) to think what a Trump State of the Union Address would be like.  Scary, huh, and it’s not even Halloween.

Ray Myers

Harasser-at-Large – Trump as Just One of the Boys

“The Donald” has taken locker room banter to a new (lower) level in the political arena.  Thanks to social media and his penchant for “tweeting” and saying whatever he wants to anybody at any time, he has become the country’s Harasser-at-Larger.  He is the undisputed champion of cyber bullying, but unfortunately many just see all this as a digital manifestation of the old adage, “boys will be boys.”  It is simply “locker room talk” as defined by Mr. Trump, not meant to be heard by the “weaker sex.”  But all this makes me wonder about which is truly the weaker sex?

Interestingly, recent research has shown that boys seem to be particularly sensitive – even more than girls – to social influenceces and role models who can help them overcome disruptive behaviors.  Conversely, by excusing bad behavior as a boy thing, boys get the message that they can not improve themselves.  But there are still opportunities for boys to improve behavior if the right cultural support is provided.  Gender studies’ authorities now say they have evidence that if you shift the discourse around boys and give them the cultural support they need to solve problems with strategies other than aggression and to express their feelings without being mocked, they respond like any human being.  So there is still hope that all of us MEN still have a chance to become human beings.

I am still not sure if all of this could help Mr. Trump in preparation for his debate tonight with Hillary Clinton.  But then again, who needs help if you are already “the Donald.”

Ray Myers


Computer Has Voice, Personality, and Political Potential

I guess it’s just not enough to give your computer a voice like IBM’s Watson; he/she also needs a personality.  In other words, here is the latest update on this voice-enhancing endeavor.  “Machines are listening, understanding, and speaking, and not just computers and smartphones.  Voices have been added to a wide range of everyday objects like cars and toys, as well a household information “appliances” like the home-companion robots Pepper and Jobo, and Alexa, the voice of the Amazon Echo speaker device.”

Now here comes the scary part.  One software firm in Israel is now considering developing a “conversational character,” an avatar that could be deployed on a social media platform during a political campaign.  For example, a plausible-sounding Ted Cruz or Donald Trump could articulate the candidate’s positions on any possible subject.  What a concept!  Just prerecord your responses to any burning issues on the campaign trail and let your avatar do the rest.  No more flip-flopping, or nuancing on issues as the campaign develops.  Unfortunately, I think that would be the part I would miss the most.

The developers of this software claim that this social media platform will enable the audience to have an interactive conversation with the candidate.  A real virtual interactive conversation?  Is that what we really want in terms of understanding the political positions of our candidates?  Maybe that is what is actually happening already.

Ray Myers

Face Time With Donald Trump!

Donald Trump has certainly brought a new dimension to our Presidential debates.  We are still a long way off, but the Donald’s performance in contrast to his Republican rivals has set him apart as he eschews the prescribed decorum for listening politely to opponents in favor of facial mimicry and animated body language.  I am not sure where he learned all these “upstaging” moves.  Maybe when he was hosting the “Apprentice” on TV, he realized the image he created there was more intriguing than the show’s predictable format: who gets to survive in the big city.  He was in charge and had the power to say “You’re fired!”

It all just seems like Donald and his fellow Republican candidates are living in an alternate reality.  A reality that technology has helped build through the emergence of popular social media platforms, and also through the application of visual imagery capable of producing a message that is worth a thousand tweets.  It’s all about the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).  Please have a look at Trump Faces GIF on the Internet.  No need to debate, just make a face!

Maybe it’s all still on the eye of the beholder, and Trump is leading a new trend for politicians to show their true feelings using facial expressions and body language in more creative ways.  Forget about your debating coaches.  Just get a mirror and try on some new faces.

Ray Myers