Friday, October 24, 2014

Observations on Gun Control

I suppose the invention of the gun was heralded as a wonder.  I am not going to research the history.  I do know that the gun was useful for hunting and then was found to be used in war and for self protection in general.  But, somewhere along the way I think we got confused and never really put a cap on the use.

The atomic bomb was heralded for ending World War II, and we went through the Cold War, building up stockpiles of bombs.  Finally, with some sanity we realized that the use of nuclear bombs we would annihilate everyone and we started down the path of strategic arms limitation.

I'm watching the TV right now and seeing the story on the news about the killing today of a High School student in the State of Washington by another student with a gun in the cafeteria.  I flashed back to the terrible day a little over a year ago when all those innocent children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut suffered the death of well over 20 young children. And then I flashed to all the other massacres that have occurred by teens in recent years.

I watch the aftermath of these terrible events: the 2nd Amendment fanatics and the NRA rally for no controls on the use of guns. I think that the logic is that because the Constitution says something about the right to bear arms, any citizen, no matter how crazy or violent, or no matter how many crimes they have already committed, should therefore have the right to have a gun.


I think the reasoning goes that if we do not have this right, then the government might suppress the citizenry and create some sort of oppressive and non democratic society, or something like that.

My mind turns to Great Britain.  They have gun control.  Do I think that there is more of a chance that some despotic ruler, maybe the Queen, could impose a despotic reign and take away the rights of the citizens because they do not have "arms".  Hell no.

So, what's different here in this country?
I don't know.  I wish one of you gun happy, 2nd Amendment fanatics would explain it to me.

Even the right of free speech has its limitations. You cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theater.

How many people will be killed and maimed before we come to our senses?
We have probably killed more innocent people with guns than all the nuclear bombs that have ever been detonated. Let's get our priorities right.

It's time to support gun control legislation.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Apple's Newest Addition to its Product Line-up

This blog has concentrated on the history of Science and Technology and the important makers and milestones, their creativity and innovation.  Sometimes that history is being made before our very eyes.  I believe that one of those moments has just occurred.

 We all know the history of this great company and the incredible string of innovative products that have been released with amazing success.  Consumers love them. Their brand name is the envy of everyone looking to market a product successfully.  They are now the largest corporation in the world with a string of retail stores that produce more revenue per square foot than any other retailer.  A company whose customers line up for blocks, camping out overnight to be the first of their friends to have one of their new products.

Of course the company we are talking about is Apple.  They have captivated the world with their dazzling array of offerings.

But make no mistake, it is not the consumer that is first in the minds of the Apple executives.  They are always trying to maximize return for their shareholders.  The stock has increased many fold over the last decade and promises to continue to do so into the future. They pay handsome dividends and have aggressively repurchased shares on the open market with the vast amounts of cash that they have accumulated through sales of their products.

All that having been said, Apple has now embarked on the most innovative new product to further enhance their bottom line.  We all know about the "i" line of products: iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and, of course, iTunes.  This is not to mention their Macs, Air,  AppleTV, and the announced, but not even released, Watch and Apple Pay.  But now we have the iCahn.  Yes, the iCahn.  This extension of the "i" line of products is so innovative and profitable that the production costs are free, the margins are infinite and the marketing costs nothing.  The iCahn promises to increase the share price and dividends substantially.  Since the iCahn was first rumored, the price of Apple stock has increased over 50%, the dividend has been increased, and the stock has split 7 for 1.  With the news just released, the iCahn promises to double the stock price once again.

The importance of Icahn's "letter" to Tim Cook was not the 4500 words contained in it, but rather, just the changing the first letter of his last name to "i" and then capitalizing the "C".  This addition to the Apple line-up is pure genius!

Congratulations, Apple!

But, this brings me to the real point.  The real innovation is that there has been a slight of hand here. It should not be called the "iCahn", but rather, by its homonym "iCon" (not to be confused with the heteronym "icon" where the stress is on the first syllable).  Truly, the iCon will do wonders for Apple's bottom line, but as Carl well knows, this is most likely a self fulfilling prophecy perpetrated by the iCon himself.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bas Relief Wood Carving of Joseph Priestley at the Northumberland PA Post Office

I just discovered this Bas Relief Wood Carving of Joseph Priestley at the Northumberland PA Post Office.  This carving by Dina Melicov was completed in 1941 as part of the WPA Federal Arts Project.

For other images of this carving see here or here.