Tag Archives: regulation

The Freedom to Communicate – or Not?

The Freedom to Communicate – or Not?

 

New legislation in California goes into effect for the New Year that allows for writing, reading and sending text messages as long as this is only done using voice-activated systems.  The idea is that you can send text and email messages as long as there is no need to hold or look at the device.

That bill seemed reasonable enough to me in light of the fact that you can use your phone that way in California.

I do however think that the technology for all of this still has a ways to go, but what there is now is workable with a bit of practice.

Somewhere around election time I remember hearing some discussions about this “Freedom to Communicate bill”, but it seemed fairly obvious that it would have to become the law of the land in light of the fact that the same technology is legal for phone calls.

I also found myself wondering; how does a police officer or Highway Patrol officer know that the fact you are talking to yourself in the car means that you are texting or emailing and not just using your phone.  If a person is using voice-activated systems for any reason, the person is simply in the car talking.  How would it be possible for a police officer to know that the talking was for texting and not to place a call or is not actually a call?  Then of course there are those of us who might occasionally find ourselves talking to ourselves in the car.  What would it be about texting or emailing verbally that would send a signal to an officer two cars away saying:  “That person right there is not calling someone or talking to themselves, that person is verbally texting out loud.” (insert sudden siren sound).

The idea that someone was enforcing voice-activated texting in California was preposterous anyway so this really bill just eliminated a weird glitch in our state’s legal system.

Then, in a brilliant flash of “WTH” the National Safety Council rushed to our rescue (for no apparent reason).

According to the leader of this daring rescue; Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council “Safe driving requires a driver’s full attention — hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving,”

At first glance, that seems like a fairly reasonable statement, but then if you think it out, it does leave one to wonder how far this will all go.  For example, talking to a passenger in the car is not “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving” is it?  Should we make talking in the car illegal altogether to ensure that we are all “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving”?  After all, that would be the only possible way that a ban on voice activated texting and emailing could be enforced while voice activated use of the same cell phone for calls is legal.

I totally get what this Janet Froetscher person is trying to get at, but the only logical end to that logic is that a driver should never do anything in the car but drive because it is safer.  Yes, it is safer, but it is also tremendous and preposterous overkill.  However, making a law that outlaws any talking in the car, as well as outlawing any eating of fast food, doing makeup, changing the radio, rolling down the windows, turning on the heat etc. would be the only way to legislate “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving”.

I remember (many years ago) in Drivers-Ed being told that if I needed to roll down windows or fool with the heating system I should probably pull over to a safe area, come to a complete stop and do what I needed to do and then cautiously reenter traffic.  WHO DOES THAT?!?!  Apparently, a hero named Janet Froetscher; rolling down the highways and byways of America “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving”.

Meanwhile, back here on earth (I know, several people reading this inserted jokes about how California is not “back here on earth” – go ahead, laugh it up), most of us can handle a few mild distractions such as conversation with our significant others while driving no matter if the person is in the car or is heard through the speakers in the car.  I suppose I can do just fine in a conversation with my phone through the speakers and mic in the car also.

I honestly think this Janet Froetscher person is wasting our time and the time of the people working in government in California’s time.  I can only hope this doesn’t end up wasting our tax money in research or otherwise preparing to defend against some unenforceable voice-activated texting ban.

Janet Froetscher!  STOP TRYING TO SAVE US FROM THINGS WE DO NOT NEED SAVING FROM!

She’s like a fireman that runs up to your house in the middle of the night with an ax, breaks through your door, runs into your bedroom, snatches you out of bed and whisks you off to an ambulance when there was no problem with you or your home at all.  All she gets is a:  “Thanks for all of your efforts and for caring, but I didn’t need saving right now sooooo:  What the heck are you doing!”

In her defense, I do agree that with the current technologies available to most of us, it would be pretty hard to send a text or email without ever looking at the phone to see what I’m sending.  I mean:  if you thought auto-correct could cause problems, try voice-to-text software and auto-correct on an email or text that you never see before it is sent.

I think this Janet Froetscher person would do better to focus her efforts on trying to pressure phone companies to improve their voice-to-text operations in their phones, so that there is no need to glance at the screen.

On a deeper note; I wonder if it is going to also be legal to write articles using voice-to-text technology while driving?  If I post an incomplete article next week, it is because I was getting pulled over for voice-to-text typing while driving and didn’t get to finish.

Reporting from my car (not necessarily:  “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road and mind on the task of driving” I suppose);

 

Alethinos P.

Advertisements

The Romney Race Card

The race issue has come up again in American politics with a question to Mitt Romney about the doctrines of the “Book of Mormon”. 

This guy named Bret Hatch apparently got the microphone at a Mitt Romney town hall meeting and started reading quotes from the Book of Mormon about blacks and their being a curse and the idea that because of that people of color are somehow a lesser people.   

Romney cut this man off and demanded that he ask a question.  Mr. Hatch (apparently a Ron Paul supporter) then asked if Romney thinks it is okay for a white man to marry a black woman.

Mitt Romney responded with a firm “NO!”   The question is, can old Mitt “un-ring” the bell?

The race card has officially been pulled almost at the same moment that Mitt started to shift his campaign from a focus on the republican primary to the Presidential election.  Now that this has been mentioned and has made the news, it will be a growing conversation from here on out.

Mitt may be able to pull a similar card on the President by bringing up the man that President Obama was calling his pastor when he was first elected, Jeremiah Wright.  The only problem Mr. Romney will have with this argument is that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is an individual with racist leanings that President Obama has long distanced himself from and the Book of Mormon is the religious doctrine of his faith.

This is a real problem for the Romney campaign is on two fronts:

  1. The racial tension of the country is mounting fast and the Republican party is already skating on thin racial ice.  
  2. The Religious Right, a huge part of his own Republican party already has huge doubts about his Mormon faith and this just brings those things to the surface amidst heated words from other candidates from his own party.

Ol’ Mitt is the most likely candidate by far, but he is taking a beating before he has even begun the real presidential campaigning.

This is also a big problem for the Republican party, which has been struggling to distance itself from the idea that it is the party for those who think minorities are somehow lesser people except for a rare few that join them.  Count this as another step, way in the wrong direction.

I am forced to think that this might be one of those things that might demonstrate that he might not be the best candidate as he might not be electable.  His own party doesn’t like him, his religious leanings are going to be an ongoing stress, many think of him as a flip-flopper, and other Republican politicians are having a field day discussing why he is not a good candidate (some suddenly endorsing him later).

I cannot see these questions going away and any answer to the race and the Book of Mormon question has the challenge of trying to convince people that the written doctrine of his religion and his beliefs are at complete opposites ends of the spectrum.  (Although I do believe the official stance of the church has departed away from such doctrine, it is still in writing).

No More $36.00 Candy & $39.00 Espresso

Another post from a while ago…..

Have you ever gone to the ATM machine to take out twenty dollars and later find out that that was really an overdraft and there was a fee of thirty or thirty-five dollars?  Or have you ever decided to make a real small purchase from a local store or from the dollar menu of your nearest fast food place and not realizing that you were out of money in your account turned a one or two dollar purchase into a thirty five dollar KitKat or McDouble?

Welcome to one of the greatest sources of revenue that many banks have; our ignorance or inability to balance our accounts.  It happens to everybody and our ignorance is the banks blessing.

The truth is we all had been given a this special “service” that many banks provide in which they will, in the unlikely event that I make a mistake with my balance, pay whatever I am trying to get and charge me a small fee for this service.

The thing that makes it hard to believe is that I could accidently bring my account to zero without noticing and then make several small purchases (lets say a dollar each) and incur a thirty-five dollar fee for each purchase.

Lets look at what that means.  Lets say I take 5 trips to the local gas station and get a one dollar coffee after my account has reached zero.

 5 $1.00 purchases X $35.00 fee each = $180.00

 That’s one hundred, seventy-five dollars ($175.00) profit that goes to the bank for loaning me five dollars ($5.00).

This great service that the banks are doing for me is an automatic part of many bank accounts you open in the United States.  In some cases it has been a service, but in many cases it has been a terrible punishment for a simple mistake. 

There are new laws in the works that will make two huge changes to this system.

The first change is that this “overdraft protection” has to be optional and a person opening an account has to opt in to this program.  Any person who does not want to have “overdraft protection” will have to have the option to opt out.

The other big change has to do with ATM withdrawals.  If a withdrawal is going to overdraft a person’s account the ATM machine is going to have to tell the person and inform the person of the fee that will be imposed.  In this manner the person is choosing at the time if he or she in fact wants to use this service or not.

Is this the end of the thirty-six dollar candy bar or the thirty-nine or forty dollar cup of coffee?  I have my doubts.  But I do believe that these new laws will at least allow people to chose if they want to spend a bunch of money they do not have and to chose if it is worth thirty-five dollars in fees for whatever they are trying to buy at the time.