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Wiser’s Wramblings-Volunteers Needed

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

As I traveled home from Olean earlier this week, I ejected my Barbershop learning track CD and tuned into my “go to” road news/entertainment channel National Public Radio, to catch up on all the news and political shenanigans. I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry over ongoing activities. Fortunately, they were featuring one of their daily “info-specials” and were talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI). “Tongue in cheek” I considered the topic appropriate if you apply the terminology literally as opposed to figuratively. As I listened to the dialog most of the way home, I pondered whether to make that a main topic for today’s Wramblings. Although it was very informative, I didn’t think it was of sufficient interest to bore you with any more than a basic introduction. An everyday example of AI affecting us, is using massive data banks of stored information, data, facts and intelligence plugged into humongous, large, super-fast computational devices from which to anticipate and substitute outputs, such as human sentences, dialogue, or written output. The major issue lately has raised the question; “Should people, like students, be allowed to use AI to generate outputs, such as written papers, rather than to compose such materials on their own?” One small example of AI would be what I un-affectionately refer to as “Auto defect” (autodetect) wherein a keyboarded word input in a word processing type program, will assume what it thinks you are going to type next, and/or to give you suggested words, or sentence completions. As I write this, I “actually” want to say just what I just wrote. Autodetect/correct suggests that the word actually should be left out to make my statement more easily understood. It puts a subscripted message below the phrase saying, “More concise language would be clearer for your reader.” I do like auto correct when it likes my placement of the comma or period outside of the “   “ marks at the end of a sentence where I intend them as “air quotes”.  

Touching back on npr briefly, I find their programming and news to be politically “neutral,” and that is a big plus for me.

Along with other very disturbing news stories reported recently was the shooting of a teacher by her 6-year-old student. The boy used his mother’s legally obtained handgun pulling it out and shooting the teacher, apparently un-provoked, as she was teaching a class. Although her injuries were initially thought to be life threatening, she is currently listed as in stable condition at the hospital. You just have to shake your head at so many aspects of this, and ask yourself: “why was there a gun where a 6-year-old had access to it? Why was it loaded? How did he know how to shoot it depending on chamber loading method? Why on earth was he compelled or motivated to shoot his teacher?

Not the age old “chicken and egg” question, but has anyone else noticed their eggs, at least the brand sold by Walmart, having a much “tougher” membrane between the shell and the yolk? I thought it was my imagination until my wife mentioned it the other day. I had been noticing it for the past few months. I guess we’re going to have to replace the “nut” in that phrase: “That’s a tough nut to crack,” and say: “that’s a tough egg to crack.” Just don’t carry all of your eggs in the same basket.

 My good friend Dan “Eagle Whisperer” Jordan and I, share a penchant for virtual “slap stick” comedy as displayed publicly on Facebook nearly every day. I mentioned it to him the other day and said that we could become known like the “Klick and Klack” duo except we would be “Kluck and Chuck”. He took exception to that, and perhaps rightfully so, as his preference was that we would be known as “Dan -N- Doofus”. He does continue to tell me that I am “Wiser than he is.” That may be true, but only in name. I don’t have a river named after me. You can tune into our show almost any day on Facebook by friending him. He needs more friends that aren’t already covered with feathers.

This spate of moderate “winter weather” has rejuvenated discussions on “Climate Change”. There is pretty much a standing argument any time we get an unusually long, extended, severe cold spell, with the questions raised regarding “Global Warming.” This, for some, would seem to disprove that Climate Change truly is a concern, and that we must be heedful of what causes it. The “believers” feel that we should keep, or start new, measures that we could and should follow to stop or reverse the trend.

Quoting a recent Greenpeace article: “Although it’s not the type of extreme weather typically associated with climate change, extreme cold is yet another sign of the effects of global warming. The 2021 cold snaps, reaching a record -25ºC in Spain and bringing snow to Greece, have impacted more than a billion people worldwide; 100 million in the US alone. From China to sub-zero Texas, people have suffered gravely with blizzard conditions, inadequate heating and failing energy systems. Global warming doesn’t mean that winter is cancelled. It may mean that, over time, there will be fewer, but more extreme, cold snaps like those experienced around the northern hemisphere in winter 2021. Warmer Arctic air has shrunk glaciers and melted away a significant amount of sea ice. This has led to what some scientists are cutely calling a ‘cold blob’ – a patch of the North Atlantic ocean southeast of Greenland where glacier meltwater is cooling the ocean. This cold patch has messed with the Atlantic Ocean currents that underpin the Gulf Stream – which a new study has shown is weaker than it’s been in 1000 years.

The jet stream is also weakening. A strong jet stream will keep the cold air – and weather – contained in the north. A weak jet stream will develop deep ‘meanders’, which will draw cold arctic air southwards. An unstable polar vortex is thought to be behind the jet stream weakening.”

Citing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)… Greenhouse gases are the major contributor to Global Warming and are primarily “humanly generated,” unless of course you consider the Methane gases emitted by cattle. Carbon Dioxide gases are the chief contributor, and they are a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels, automobile emissions and other such emissions into the atmosphere.  Being conscious of the growing threat, the US has made a concerted effort to rein in these emissions. This is not always popular with the public but the results speak for themselves.

The graphic shown below illustrates the pattern, and shows the promise of reversal. From the 1990’s until about 2007 or 2008 our greenhouse gas emissions were on the incline. The turnaround, and subsequent reduction in the Greenhouse gases has steadily declined since.

Chart, line chart

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I can’t let a week go by without making a grammar comment or two. I recently heard the word “surreptitiously” mentioned but it was pronounced in such a way that it sounded like “Syrupeticiosly.” The former means that something was done secretly. I guess then that if something is done syrupeticiously it is done “sweetly and secretingly”. I will allow a groan at this point.

Going to a more serious note, several recent tragic events have brought to the forefront the importance of our Emergency Responders, in whatever role they may be in. The nearly fatal football related injury to the Buffalo Bills player gave us the honor of seeing so many people serving in that capacity and doing such an amazing job. Few of us have had the dubious distinction of having witnessed things like that firsthand, so what we saw play out during that Monday night football game should have awakened a new understanding and appreciation for just what all of those, and all of our, local responders are charged with, and capable of doing. The on-field people were not and are not, the only ones to whom we owe our gratitude and thanks. From the equipment drivers to the medical responders, and to the doctors and nurses, we are indebted.

Not all of these people were paid monetarily for their services. Some were compensated only by, and from, the self-gratification in just being there, and being able to help someone in need. Volunteers are in short supply and their ranks have dwindled. Please consider volunteering in some capacity either by becoming an EMT, joining your local volunteer fire department or ambulance corps, or even  in a hospice facility.

I will do a small part today as I join the Maple City Barbershop Chorus singing for the residents of two “assisted living” facilities in Hornell.

Your availability, as a volunteer, in any capacity, would be welcomed and much appreciated.

Thank you to all who volunteer. You will not regret it.

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