2012 CBI Tournament: Pitt Prevails Against Butler; Heads To Finals – SB Nation Pittsburgh

2012 CBI Tournament: Pitt Prevails Against Butler; Heads To Finals – SB Nation Pittsburgh.

I want to care, but it is difficult to get really fired up about our chances of winning a tournament that would cement us in the top 130 teams of college basketball. Not the top 64 – those go to the teams invited to the NCAA Tournament. Not the next 64 – those folks went to the NIT Tournament. I guess we are talking #129 or 130, depending on whether or not we pull it out in the best of 3 series against Washington State.

Kind of hard to talk smack about this, isn’t it?

Even so, I am considering buying a couple of $20 tickets and going to game 2, hosted at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh this Wednesday.  When else can I say I saw the Panthers fight it out for a championship for only $20?  The way I see it, it is a golden opportunity.

This is a long way off from just a year ago, when Pitt basketball tickets were unreachable and Pitt stood at a pinnacle – going into the NCAA tournament with a #1 ranking!  These are many of the same players, for pete’s sake!  Also, just last year this same #1-ranked team was beaten in the NCAA tournament by … Butler!  Butler is the team that Pitt just beat in this year’s CBI tourney to advance to the finals.  Revenge?  I’d rather not, and instead have beaten Butler last year, like we were supposed to.

Coal Mining and the Technologies Reshaping Our World – and Workforce?

GT Briefing March 2012: Technologies Reshaping Our World.

One of the things that piques my interest in the story above is the concept of  mining jobs being replaced by robots.  This only makes sense – when you can remove the human element from a dangerous situation, do it.  This potentially saves lives. We already do it in combat with drone airplanes and remote bomb-diffusing agents.

The thing that struck me was how ardently the pro-mining lobbies fight against green energy/renewable energy initiatives in the name of saving mining jobs.  It appears that the coal mining industry (at least) holds a future with less and less human mining jobs – maybe one new job of a person behind a monitor and joystick for every 20 human-mining jobs lost?  Just an arbitrary guess.

It just appears to be a losing proposition – instead of fighting for industry jobs that are already doomed, why not undertake the difficult and long-term process of retraining miners for the new jobs that are on the horizon?  These new jobs include the robot operator, but also the solar panel installer, the windmill technician, and the geothermal well-driller.

Alternative and green energy is no longer a characterization of left-leaning tree-hugging liberals.  That went out the door when George W Bush put solar panels on his ranch in Texas. The endeavor of green energy is now an actual and sustainable business model, employing actual laborers and contractors, making actual money for companies (and producing actual energy!).

People need energy.  Those of us living in the Appalachian Region need to think ahead five or ten years, think about what re-training we need to meet the emerging demand of green energy.  We need to evaluate our current skills and consider which ones will likely be outsourced by technology.

Instead of fighting the stream of modernity and defending mining jobs, lets acknowledge that making humans work in mining jobs is a dangerous (but respectable and honored) relic of our past.  Let’s start training up a workforce to meet the new energy challenges of the Twenty-First Century.

Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” | Video on TED.com

Internet vendors use cookies and behavior tracking to develop sophisticated and refined user profiles. This data is subsequently used to provide users with ads and products that we will purchase, based on our previous behavior or the behavior of people “like” us.

But isn’t the internet all about finding things you don’t already know about or want (to buy)? Isn’t is, in addition to a place where we buy things, also a place where we learn things?

In the brief video below, Eli Pariser describes the phenomenon known as “filter bubbles.”  Filter bubbles proposes that we exist within specific “filters” that internet vendors have crafted to best match our user profile (which they have developed for us or bought from someone else who did) with products or services that others similar to our profile would want.

The sum of this process is that we end up being served products, and even content that we already know about or want. How, in that process, is there room for us to learn new things?  How would be exposed to political or religious or other viewpoints that differ from our own?

The internet has a lot of baggage hitched to its bumper. Some of that is that the internet should be freely accessible to all, that the internet should be completely anonymous, and that the internet should be a great learning tool.  But in the reality of developed Western cultures (at least), non of these things are true. It is, instead, a titanic marketplace and we, the users, are the products being bought and sold in exchange for (on one hand) content we consume and, on the other hand, cold hard cash.

Are consumers getting a good deal on that?

Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles” | Video on TED.com.

As the Burgh Turns

The Civic Arena is looking more like a post-apocolyptic film set than a playoff hockey rink. It’s it hard to believe that I once saw a dog show inside that crater. In younger days, I played a frantically screaming extra in the movie Sudden Death for a scene inside that dome. Don’t look fir me in the background. Even though I’ve never seen the only movie I’ve ever been in, I am pretty sure you won’t be able to see me.  I was one of a few hundred extras and our job was to run away from an exploding score board.  Where are you gonna be looking?

When we weren’t running from explosions, we all huddled in the hallway where the studio provided us with doughnuts.  You would have thought we had never seen such delightful treats before.  I remember people grabbing four, five, SIX whole boxes cradled in their arms and walking away laughing about how they got their free doughnuts.  Of course, these were donuts meant to feed all 700 of us, and yes, you got 70 of them. Greaaaaaaaaat. Good luck with the diabetes.

And so the Burg turns.