Monthly Archives: October 2017

Is it 1984 yet?!

NPR: Aexa, Are You Safe For My Kids?

“Earlier this month, the toy-giant Mattel announced it had pulled the plug on plans to sell an interactive gadget for children. The device, called Aristotle, looked similar to a baby monitor with a camera. Critics called it creepy.

“Aristotle […] was designed to “displace essential parenting functions, like soothing a crying baby or reading a bedtime story,” says Josh Golin, executive director of the advocacy group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “So that the children would form an attachment to it.” […]

But some of the concerns with Aristotle apply to Alexa and Google Home. In terms of privacy, both Alexa and Google Home are always “listening” to conversations. Once they hear a trigger word — such as “Ok Google” or “Alexa” — the device starts recording the conversation you’re having with it. Then it uploads the conversation to the cloud so it can learn better how to understand you and help you. Both Alexa and Google Home allow you to listen to the conversations, and the companies say you can delete them.”

Call me paranoid, but I would never in a million years install such a device in my home.

How to train your kitty to stop waking you up in the middle of the night

NPR Fresh Air: Who Says You Can’t Train A Cat? A Book Of Tips For Feline-Human Harmony. (36:53min, transcript)

“The common wisdom about pets is that you can train a dog, but you can’t train a cat. Today’s guest says you can train a cat, but it takes an understanding of how cats learn. Sarah Ellis is the co-author with John Bradshaw of the book, “The Trainable Cat,” which is now out in paperback. Among the things she’s trained her cats to do is come when she calls, voluntarily walk into the cat carrier to go to the vet, take medicine and be friendly to her dog and her baby.”

The last of Earth

The Economist: Joseph Schmitt died on September 25th.

“He was there when Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947; when Alan Shepard made America’s first manned space flight, in 1961; when John Glenn first orbited Earth, in 1962; when Apollo 8 went round the moon in 1968, and when Apollo 11’s module landed on it in 1969, for him the most mind-boggling moment of all. The team had never worked so hard at anything. But he went on for many years yet, to suit up men for the first Skylab flight and the first Shuttles, before in 1983 he left to get on with all the stuff at home that needed fixing.”