Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dystopia Now!

There are two subjects that are consuming America at this moment:

1) Police-involved shootings;

2) Pokémon Go.

Indeed, as protesters take to the streets to decry the former:

Gamers also take to the streets to partake in the latter:


And one cannot help feeling that our society is on a collision course between the forces of outrage and utter self absorption.

Until I read the above article my only worry with regard to Pokémon Go was that my kid was going to discover it, but now I'm also horrified to discover that apparently you can add virtual Pokémon (Pokémen?) to the ever-increasing list of New York City bike lane obstructions:

See?


Shit.

This is very bad.  See, what this means is that in addition to dodging taxicabs, police cars, delivery trucks, garbage trucks, pedestrians, and of course bike salmon, we've now also got to look out for people who are playing a game that replicates the effects of LSD while harvesting their valuable user data.

And should you collide with one of these gamers while attempting to use the bike lane, it remains to be seen who the police will treat with more derision: you, the despicable cyclist; or the gamer, who deserves whatever happens to them for using a smartphone while walking--at least according to the State of New York:



I saw the above PSA on my local TV news station the other day and it really pissed me off, because while I wholeheartedly agree that it's not smart to walk around with your head up your ass I also think it's a little ridiculous to say that distraction is "just as dangerous when you're walking."  After all, when was the last time a distracted pedestrian plowed into a bunch of kids waiting for the schoolbus?

It's also important to keep this whole "distracted pedestrian" thing in perspective.  I mean sure, they're annoying, but they're also really not all that hard to avoid.  Consider the guy in the video:


Who slowly walks out into the street from between two parked cars:


And of course pays the ultimate price:


By which I mean he has to buy a new smartphone:


So should he have been paying more attention?  Yes.  But should the driver have been operating his vehicle slowly and cautiously enough to avoid something that occurs regularly in an urban environment?  Also yes.  Did you hear those tires squealing before impact?  If you stop short in the city and your tires squeal then you were driving too fast, and if you hit something it's because you weren't paying enough attention--even if the thing you hit wasn't doing what it was "supposed" to do at that exact moment.

And all of this is to say nothing of the fact that our hapless pedestrian appears to be in Albany, a city so boring it would be unbearable without smartphone augmentation.  I know what I'm talking about too, because I went to college there for four years--and that was before cellphones, when all we had to keep us entertained was LSD!

Anyway, I'm glad New York State is spending our tax dollars on making videos that say pedestrians get what's coming to them.

Speaking of crashing into stuff, the National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating that fatal Tesla crash:


DETROIT — A second federal agency is investigating a fatal May 7 crash in Florida involving a Tesla automobile operating in Autopilot mode that failed to stop when a tractor-trailer turned in front of it.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which more typically looks into accidents involving trains, planes, buses and ships, confirmed on Sunday that it had sent a team to investigate the crash, which killed Joshua Brown, an entrepreneur from Ohio.

You may be wondering why this particular crash is receiving such scrutiny when over 30,000 people are killed by cars in this country every year.  Here's why:

The involvement of the transportation safety board signals even greater scrutiny of the accident and Tesla’s Autopilot technology. The agency specializes in determining the causes of crashes and is familiar with the self-driving technology used in trains and airplanes.

“I think it’s very appropriate that N.T.S.B. is doing this, and I welcome it,” said Joan Claybrook, a former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator who continues to advocate improved auto safety. “I think there’s an urgency to find out if these autonomous systems are at fault because companies continue to push hard to get the technology onto the road.”

Makes sense I guess, but after well over 100 years of driving it seems fairly unlikely to me that we'll solve all the problems created by cars with more cars, but what do I know?

If only there were some mode of intercity transport that could carry large numbers of people over long distances on a dedicated right-of-way...


Ah, who am I kidding?  It would never work.

More private vehicles is the only way to go.  There are only 250 million currently on the roads, surely we can squeeze in a few more.

Lastly, speaking of creating less problematic ways of getting around, the Boston Globe has finally published something pro-bike:


To be clear, building a seamless and convenient network of protected cycling infrastructure will require trade-offs. On many streets, adding a cycle track means narrowing or removing car lanes, or eliminating on-street parking — scenarios that bring panic to car and business owners. Although research suggests that retail sales actually increase after switching parking for protected bike lanes, the proposals rarely see support from abutters. Yet we must acknowledge that our current transportation situation isn’t working for all residents, and it will worsen unless we take bold action to empower more affordable and sustainable options.

Removing car lanes?!?  No!  Where are the self-driving cars supposed to go???

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

What up!

Ted K. said...

151. The social disruption that we see today is certainly not the result of mere chance. It can only be a result of the conditions of life that the system imposes on people. (We have argued that the most important of these conditions is disruption of the power process.) If the systems succeeds in imposing sufficient control over human behavior to assure its own survival, a new watershed in human history will have been passed. Whereas formerly the limits of human endurance have imposed limits on the development of societies (as we explained in paragraphs 143, 144), industrial-technological society will be able to pass those limits by modifying human beings, whether by psychological methods or biological methods or both. In the future, social systems will not be adjusted to suit the needs of human beings. Instead, human being will be adjusted to suit the needs of the system. [27]

P. Bateman said...

top two on twofer tuna taco tuesday?

shut the mother fudging front door

Anonymous said...

What time is it, anyway?

PODIUM TIME!

McFly said...

Them 2 trains in Italy done went and rammed one another. Mass transit "docking" does not far well.

Buffalo Bill said...

Top ten? no way duder

McFly said...

*fare

ken e. said...

present-waying

cdinvb said...

Too hot here. Think I'll just drive to a strip mall place and get a cup of dark roast coffee. No trains. More lanes. Good paying jobs for hard-working Americans. To serve you better.

Jello Biafra said...

Give me convenience or give me death!

Serial Retrogrouch said...

Eleventeenth... two days in a row!!!

bad boy of the north said...

top 15?i should hope so.
speaking of trains.......robot says pick trains.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Damn, missed the breakaway. Scranus!

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

I heard on the radio that people have kayaked out into the water to collect the pocket monsters or whatever they are in Pokémon Go. I predict the next self-driving Tesla crash (oopsie, I almost said accident) will be due its non-driverplaying Pokémon Go. How would that be for irony?

leroy said...

My dog loves Pokémon Go.

He doesn't play it.

He says it lets a talking dog blend in when getting coffee or riding the subway.

I'm not convinced his sense of anonymity is attributable to augmented reality.

NYers always pretend to act blasé around celebrities.

N/A said...

We're also consumed with Amazon Prime Day, today, too!

Anonymous said...

heh, heh. "Abutters…"

CommieCanuck said...

I was sitting on the toilet this AM and a Pervasaur was staring at me the whole time.

And I liked it.

CommieCanuck said...

Hey, right near work a woman found a Squirtle!.

Bryan said...

And how long before ppl drive and play the Pokemon?

JLRB said...

Loved the bibshortguy Hillary mash up

Almost got run into on sidewalk by a smarting phone distracted touristing pedestrian on my way back from lunch - somehow I managed to take one whole step to avoid the collision - oh the humanity

Billy said...

That Boston Globe op-ed is from the president of the Boston City Council no less. Good stuff. I should write her an appreciative letter–no doubt she got a lot of hate mail from that.

Glory said...

Hey, Ted K anticipated Pokemon Go!

CommieCanuck said...

And how long before ppl drive and play the Pokemon?

uh, three days ago

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Strava seems to be able to quickly tell if bikes were on moving cars when records are set. Sounds like Pokémon Go needs the same kind of thing. If they suspect you were in a car, they should just take away whatever was won. That will stop the car distraction of Pokémon Go!

My bot check asked me to select all pictures of street signs and there were none. Only one sign saying 168 acres for sale in an otherwise empty field?

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Scranus is as scranus does.

Federico F. Fredriksen said...

Where are the smart cars supposed to drive? I would assume on the sidewalk - same place as drivers drive now.

N/A said...

Are Smart cars going to be programmed to automatically drive into Dunkin' Donuts, or will you have to "like" it when it "accidentally" drives in to one, to create a trend, like songs with Pandora?

Anonymous said...

Make every street in Boston one way. Plenty of room for a bike lane.

spokemon said...

you guys are a bunch of cards.

CommieCanuck said...

Whereas formerly the limits of human endurance have imposed limits on the development of societies (as we explained in paragraphs 143, 144)

We? Is TedK not a person, but an institution?, like Anonymous? like Trump University? Go TU! Comb over the other team!

to much of a good thing said...

smart phones are making us stupid. really stupid.

Victor Kaminski said...

vsk said ...

I thought paying the ultimate price would be a personal lecturing from dorothy rabinowitz.

Fucking Sweet Meteor of Death get here soon!!

vsk

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

to much of a good thing said...
smart phones are making us stupid. really stupid.

Idiocracy, the movie. Mike Judge will be proven to be prescient.

Hee Haw the Barista said...

Ride by shooting

1904 Cadardi said...

I, for one, welcome our new autonomously driving automobiles. At least they are somewhat less likely to deliberately swerve into cyclists. Unless of course you buy the Put-em-in-a-deeeaaatch package.

bieks said...

Virtual rat mingling with the flying rats - nice.

Walking and texting/gaming is far more dangerous than driving, because it's all about what happens to YOU. The rest of humanity (what's that?) doesn't exist. As long as those 27 airbags keep YOU safe, your only concern is the major annoyance of getting your car repaired. But seriously, as long as you can stare at your phone, what's reality got to do with anything?

P. Bateman said...

i downloaded pokemon go...just to see what the hell this "trending" f'ing topic is all about. i caught one that was on my laptop which my explain why its been running a bit slow lately.

so far though that has improved performance so i'm running some actual virus/registry clean up instead.

i do see there is another monster in the office building next door. thinking about walking over, catching it and loudly proclaiming:

i came. i saw. i KICKED ITS ASS! and then leaving an invoice for $500

dont worry, i'll bike over.

Dooth said...

The people playing Pokémon Go Fuck Yourselves! are the worst.

Very Slim Pickins said...

The Vancouver edition of Pokemon Go takes to to Wreck Beach where you'll find something that looks like a two headed Dodo Bird sitting on Babble's bush.

N/A said...

Oh, sure, it's all fun and games until crowds of nerds stumble into Babble's bush.

CommieCanuck said...

I, for one, welcome our new autonomously driving automobiles. At least they are somewhat less likely to deliberately swerve into cyclists.

yeah, but fuck toddlers.

Sorry, but the idea what we put lives into the hands of software written by error-prone meatbags, driving hardware assembled by error-prone meatbags, is somehow safer than just a decent driver's test with enforcement, is stoopid.

MEAT BAGH

mike said...

Chinpokemon go is the Cipollini preference...

CommieCanuck said...

I, for one, would not like to run over by a 300lb butt plug.

grog said...

If Pokémon Go let me capture Recumbabe, then I would play.

Dorothy Rabinowitz said...

I'm with HERpes...

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

When a self driving car hits a self riding cyclist, who will be at fault?

1904 Cadardi said...

Commie,

So you'd rather leave it to Pokemon Go playing meatbags? Because that whole decent driver's test WITH enforcement is a pipe dream that isn't happening. Ever.

It's meat bags either way.

JLRB said...

So how long before some Kickstarter techie creates an app that combines Pokemon Go with Strava - bicyclists chasing little imaginary creatures for the personal best

Some guy from upstate said...

Ouch. I don't say mean things about NYC. Although, realistically, you're not far off the mark (http://www.keepalbanyboring.com/). These SUNY kids, they got no love for the state capitol. Its just eat shitty pizza for four years, puke on my lawn, and hightail it back to the city two days after graduation.

Anyway, nice guess, but distracted smartphone walking guy is actually in Schenectady, corner of State and Barrett (https://www.google.com/maps/@42.811837,-73.9401514,3a,75y,289.1h,80.4t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sYfg9izC4E-ncgDU-4YWPrg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en). You were probably fooled by the CDTA bus shelter. If you had lived in Schenectady, like I did before I moved here to the "big" city, you would know that it is yet more boring still, although there is some pretty nice singletrack exactly 2.4 miles from the very spot where the smartphone came a cropper.

But really, distracted smartphone people provide great sport. Guy walking across Madison (the one with St Vinnies Church, not the one with the ad agencies), nose buried in phone. I coast behind him and say "boo!" Fun reaction. Great sport. At least they move in straight lines.

Anonymous said...

Albany boring? Naahhhh. come to think of it, I haven't been downtown for years. Then again, I'm over 50 so, I have to go to bed by 930.

C'mon up and see us. Maybe The Book House will allow your scranus inside to hawk your book and you can go to a college bar where you will no longer fit in.

Of course, you did ditch the big city for Bronx... YMMV.

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Virginia H. Patton said...

I don't know anything about police-involved shootings, but Pokemon Go is subject that is really consuming America and all the world. This game is very popular, sometimes it seems to me that people are crazy by it and their behaviour isn't adequate.

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