October 5, 2017

Is there a translator app for pig Latin?

Did you know Custer won the Medal of Honor? You know, the Custer who died at the Little Big Horn, who fought as a young man in the civil war? The Custer in the 7th Cavalry? Indeed, he won the nation's highest award for valor. Not the Custer you are thinking of, not George Armstrong Custer, but his little brother Tom. Honest, look it up. I would not lie about stuff like this.

Edit: in fact, he was the first to earn the Medal of Honor twice. 

The Senate is moving closer to speeding the process to get driverless cars to the market. Can I get a show of hands? Who wants a self-driving car? Isn't a vehicle where you are along for a ride just a bus? You know this is going to backfire. The auto manufacturers think this will open a whole new market and increase sales. Über and others envision a fleet of cars hovering around just waiting to drive you where you need to go, eliminating the family vehicle. The cost of paying for a ride will be cheaper than owning a car as you dispense with insurance, fuel, and paying for a depreciating chunk of steel and plastic sitting unused for hours at a time in your driveway and parking lots. If you insist on driving, dangerous human you, who makes bad decisions, will pay outrageous insurance rates. GM will scream wait, we did not intend for this to happen, but it will be too late. Unfortunately, I doubt I will be dead before all of this happens, so I can bore my granddaughter with tales of how I used to drive myself to school, in the snow, uphill.

I do not possess the vocabulary to adequately express my loathing of the idea of self-driving cars.


Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I have a vague recollection that GA Custer was once promoted, accidentally, because someone in the War Department confused the two brothers. And it seems like instead of the erroneous promotion being rescinded when discovered, it was allowed to stand, and that's why GA Custer was in charge at Little Bighorn. Joe, do you remember something like that, or am I completely at sea?

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Oh, and real self-driving cars are going to be impossible until we get true AI. Anything else is going to be a horrible disaster waiting to happen. And since we're never going to get true AI, we're never going to have truly safe self-driving cars. The bad thing is that, as you say, insurance rates will go up for people with manual drive cars, when the rates really should skyrocket for people who will trust their lives (and yours) to a computer.

Og the Neanderpundit will likely confirm that computers can do a great job when all parameters are known and the code is tight and optimized for a particular situation. But they get a little sketchy when you start throwing monkey wrenches into the mix.

Years ago, I was minding my own business driving along a busy thoroughfare here in Indy, when all of a sudden, a kid darted out from between two parked cars, chasing a ball if I remember correctly. It was my good luck that the kid darted out in front of the car in front of me; it was the kid's bad luck that he darted just in time to get clipped by the car in front of me, whose driver of course locked up his brakes, albeit too late, and I had just enough separation from him to get stopped before I rear-ended him.

When I think back on that accident, I just don't see how an automated vehicle could have avoided it any more than the human driver of the car did. We were in the right lane, both lanes were packed (so there was nowhere for the driver to go), there were cars parked all along the street, and by the time an automated vehicle's radar or lidar or whatever would have assessed the fact that the movement was a crunchy running out into traffic, it would have been too late anyway.

I never did find out if that kid made it, but he was out cold lying in the street. I've hoped for nearly 40 years that he was OK and just learned an important lesson from the incident.

But please don't tell me that a self-driving car would have prevented it.

Joe said...

I have not heard that story of Custer's promotion. That does not mean it is not accurate. Stephen Ambrose, in "Crazy Horse and Custer" does not mention it, nor is it mentioned in "Son of the Morning Star". The latter I read decades ago and my memory isn't what it once was. Ambrose I am reading now and he is a pretty thorough historian. He has not shied away from the bad stuff about Custer and takes a fairly even-handed approach. It could be that he could not substantiate it and thus left it out.

GA was either loved or loathed by those who knew him. There was nobody in the middle ground.

Ambrose makes an interesting comparison of Custer to Patton. Both were wasteful with their men, had terrific endurance, were hard chargers, self promoters, were remarkably brave, and often reckless. Both had episodes that damaged their careers and could have been booted them from tne Army but were saved by the exigencies of war.

Joe said...

BTW I loved your post on tne Vegas shooter. I still cannot comment on your blog.

Joe said...

One more thought, GA Custer was already a general when Tom won the MoH. That makes me doubt the wrong guy got promoted story.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

The vague recollection seems to be telling me I read it in Shelby Foote, and it wasn't connected to the MoH. It was an early promotion, too, like from lieutenant to captain or some such, but without which it wasn't likely he would ever have made it to general. But I may be dreaming. Too much Benadryl lately.

I need to read Foote again.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

(Of course, Foote can be fallible; he has Lew Armistead dying on the field at Gettysburg, right at the High Water Mark, when in actuality he was transported to a field hospital after the battle and died there after hanging on for a day or two.)

Joe said...

According to the Internet (and everything is true on the Internet) one source for the "promoted by mistake" legend derives from the old Errol Flynn movie. I haven't watched that since I was a kid, so I don't know.

But now you have driven me to do research, darn you.

Ed Bonderenka said...

Bur can autonomous cars drive a stick?

Joe said...

I can

Jean said...


Joe said...

Thanks Jean

mts1 said...

Well, when I was a kid, we had this darned Three on a Tree, and you had to coordinate yanking on the transmission stick and feathering the left foot to downshift right before the turn and hit the sweet spot where you accelerate going into it, on slush, with rear wheel drive, and studded tires.

Man, your grandkids will hold you in the same esteem as Neil Armstrong and Lucky Lindy when you tell them that. Then go into when you'd set your own points and space your plugs when you did your own tune-up. Mention that some cars had a throttle knob that you pushed in when you started and slowly pulled out when the engine was warm, then they'll wonder how a 16 year old operated a vehicle without and engineering degree. Then shrug and say your little sis taught you all of the above.

But don't tell them you took typing class in high school to bang out those term papers a lot quicker and because it was "a useful business skill." They'll be at 45 w.p.m. by age 5 and find you a moron.

Joe said...

My first car was a three speed on the column and the intricacies of the manual choke took a while to figure out. I have long argued drivers Ed should be done with a stick shift and in a mall parking lot.

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