Saturday, January 28, 2023

Whatever Happened To Fiscal Responsibility?

For most of us, when we make buying decisions, don't we first stop and ask, "Can we afford this?" We weigh the options, delay gratification sometimes, sharpen our pencils and decide accordingly.

Why does congress pass massive spending bills, then a few weeks later say that we don't have any money and "can we raise the debt ceiling?" I thought that debt ceilings were created as a means of keeping the government from spending like there's no tomorrow? Does anyone there give a moment's thought to the meaning of Fiscal Responsibility?


This is a story from a couple weeks ago:


https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/13/us-will-hit-its-debt-limit-thursday-start-taking-steps-to-avoid-default-yellen-warns-congress.html


Could this be why people play video games, watch TV, get wasted. The more you know, the more depressing it is. The more our government spends today on inefficient programs that do nothing to solve real world problems, the more concerned that we're going to be alive to see that dismal day when our Social Security benefits are cut, or eliminated.


Considering the fact that only half of the 10,000 Baby Boomers who turn 65 every day have savings and are relying wholly on government checks to survive, it's hard to imagine what will happen in about a dozen years.


This week I read that the end of Social Security could be as early as 2035. It had been 2037. It's not too difficult to see where this is all heading. The word "grim" comes to mind.


In case you missed it, here's my article about the Baby Boomer Death Clock.


* * * * 


My apologies for not being more cheerful today. It may be due to the frequency of having had to blow my driveway this winter, or perhaps the fact that the rats are back in the goose barn. (I wish we could get rid of the rats in government. At least the ones in the barn can be poisoned.) 


At least the sun is out. That's a good thing. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Poppits and PopGel™: A Fresh New Way To Think About Toothpaste

I like entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs don't see problems. They see opportunities.

For example, when Microsoft announced they were laying off 10,000 people, some might have felt pity for these 10,000 soon-to-be unemployed ex-workers. My guess is that a percentage of these, maybe 1000 of them (maybe more?), will leverage their experience and connections to start 1000 companies of their own. (Maybe a thousand more will be co-founders.) 

All this to say that entrepreneurs see differently. So when they study contemporary issues, some people are actually looking to identify the problems of the world so they can, if able, become part of the solution rather than sit in the cheap seats and complain about how bad things are.

Around the globe people are complaining about, even protesting about, the widespread use of plastics. There are literally thousands of products made from plastics, which are a derivative of oil. The process begins with the distillation of crude oil in a refinery. As we attempt to reduce our dependence on oil, we will also need to simultaneously work on developing alternatives for the plastics we currently use.

Did you know 1.5 billion or 8 million tons of plastic toothpaste tubes (made of multi-layer plastic that can't be recycled) are dumped every year into our landfills and oceans? The problem with plastic is how long it takes for these products to biodegrade, up to 500 years or more. According to one source, by the year 2050, plastic will potentially outweigh all the fish in the sea.

This is what caught my eye regarding a creative solution to one facet of the much bigger problem of plastics pollution.  

* * * * *

The name of the company is Poppits.
Their focus has been on producing an alternative to the utilization of plastic for toothpaste tubes. Most, if not all, toothpaste tubes 
are made of multi-layer plastic that cannot be recycled. Aluminum is an alternative material for toothpaste packaging. It's a natural element and is infinitely recyclable. The product Poppits is packaging is a toothpaste called PopGel™. Their slogan is "All the fantastic, without any plastic."
 

The company claims that this is the world's first 100% plastic-free toothpaste tubes, and they are inviting us to join their toothpaste revolution. 


Poppits plans to offer PopGel™ in three anti-cavity fluoride styles, including cooling Cucumber Spearmint Whitening ($9.99, green tube), Peppermint Super Whitening ($9.99, blue tube) and Mild Mint Sensitive Kind ($9.99, purple tube). I've been using the Peppermint Super Whitening.

Designed by a dentist and FDA approved, these whitening toothpaste gels are free of SLS, triclosan, artificial preservatives, parabens and microplastics. These are the world’s first toothpaste tubes that are 100% non-plastic, packaged instead in sustainable aluminum with a recyclable metal cap.*

Wayne Solan, the company's founder, was born in Ireland and has been an entrepreneur since his youth. In 2001 he moved to the "Land of Opportunity" (America) and settled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2008 he formed Dental Development Systems LLC to pursue the development of new packaging materials using pharmaceutical-grade water-soluble films that might revolutionize portions of the packaging industry. Poppits LLC was founded in 2019, and its first product (PopGel) came out in 2022.   

"We founded Poppits with one goal, to revolutionize the toothpaste experience," said founder/inventor Wayne Solan. "Our mission is to ditch plastic tubes and provide high quality toothpaste in recyclable earth-friendly formats.  We’re all about creating a product that makes you feel good about using it every day. We are excited to announce that we have completed the first phase of our journey with PopGel, the world’s first toothpaste tubes that are 100% plastic-free, using recyclable aluminum tubes with recyclable metal caps. helping to reduce the 1.2 billion plastic toothpaste tubes that end up in landfills and oceans every year… we’re on a mission to make a difference.”

Currently the company has patented a toothpaste pod format that is still under development. It's an advanced delivery system for their toothpaste gels that Solan has touted as revolutionary. "Those who have been following us know we originally set out to introduce the pods first.  We’re getting close and have discovered unique ways to make the concept even better.  It’ll take more time but we’re very excited about it.  Revolutions come in stages. We're just getting started!"

The "Copernican Revolution" took 100 years from the birth of the idea to global adoption. With our current inter-connectedness new ideas can spread faster than wildfires. It took less than three months for Wordle to become a worldwide phenomenon at the beginning of 2022. It looks like 2023 will be the year of ChatGPT... and bioidegradable toothpaste packaging.

Poppits also has an eco-friendly toothbrush made of bamboo wood as well as a plastic-free corn fiber floss that is purportedly an improvement over plastic floss. The Poppits floss comes in a superior package as well that can be recycled. The toothbrush bristles were somewhat stiff. It's my hope that a softer bristle will be developed as they customize the product line

PopGel is available now on www.popgel.com and Amazon. The pods are slated for lunch in fourth quarter 2023. In the meantime, learn more and follow the company here at https://poppits.com/popgel/ 

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Almost Wordless Wednes: Just Because...

 What kind of story would you create 
from this collection of images?


What is it we are part of?
What is it that we are?

Credits: I do not recall how I ended up with the David Crosby illustration. Used without permission, but shared here as a nod to the CSN&Y bassist. I once owned his first album. The CS&N photo is courtesy photographer Gary Firstenberg.
The Bengals Boots are a shout out to Cincinnati Bengals fans. Good luck to the whole city this weekend as you pursue your Super Bowl quest. Also courtesy Gary Firstenberg.  
The Mona Lisa meme was floating around the social media space, captured by my digital butterfly net and pinned here. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

A Technicolor Translation Experiment: How Much Gets Lost In Translation?

Native Translator
OK, so I have often wondered how accurate the Google translation app is. To put it to the test, I asked ChatGPT to create a 100 word story which I would then use Google to translate, translate and re-translate from English to Spanish to French to Dutch to German to Italian and then back to English. How similar would the final English version be to the first version of this story?

Well, I'd been carrying this idea in my head for some time now and I finally got around to it. The result was interesting, and with the exception of a minor blip the meaning of the story (for the most part) came through quite faithful to the original in intent.

Here's the story. Whatcha think?

* * * * *

FINDING ONESELF

Can you write a 100 words story about a man trying to find himself?


Once upon a time, there was a man who felt lost and alone. He didn't know who he was or what he wanted in life. He set out on a journey to find himself, traveling to different places and trying new things. He climbed mountains, swam in the ocean, and even volunteered at a homeless shelter. But no matter what he did, he still felt empty. One day, while sitting alone on a park bench, he had an epiphany. He realized that finding himself was not about external experiences, but rather looking within. He began to meditate and reflect on his past, his passions and his goals. He slowly discovered what truly made him happy, and thus he finally found himself. In this manner he became a man both confident and content with who he was.


SPANISH

ENCONTRARSE A SI MISMO

¿Puedes escribir una historia de 100 palabras sobre un hombre que intenta encontrarse a sí mismo?


Érase una vez un hombre que se sentía perdido y solo. No sabía quién era ni qué quería en la vida. Empezó un viaje para encontrarse a sí mismo, viajando a diferentes lugares y probando cosas nuevas. Escaló montañas, nadó en el océano e incluso se ofreció como voluntario en un refugio para personas sin hogar. Pero sin importar lo que hiciera, todavía se sentía vacío. Un día, mientras estaba sentado solo en un banco del parque, tuvo una epifanía. Se dio cuenta de que encontrarse a sí mismo no se trataba de experiencias externas, sino de mirar hacia adentro. Empezó a meditar y reflexionar sobre su pasado, sus pasiones y sus metas. Poco a poco descubrió lo que realmente lo hacía feliz, y así finalmente se encontró a sí mismo. De esta manera se convirtió en un hombre confiado y contento con quien era.


FRENCH

POUR SE TROUVER

Pouvez-vous écrire une histoire de 100 mots sur un homme essayant de se retrouver ?


Il était une fois un homme qui se sentait perdu et seul. Je ne savais pas qui j'étais ni ce que je voulais dans la vie. Il a commencé un voyage pour se retrouver, voyageant dans différents endroits et essayant de nouvelles choses. Il a escaladé des montagnes, nagé dans l'océan et a même fait du bénévolat dans un refuge pour sans-abri. Mais peu importe ce qu'il faisait, il se sentait toujours vide. Un jour, alors qu'il était assis seul sur un banc de parc, il eut une épiphanie. Il s'est rendu compte que se trouver n'était pas une question d'expériences extérieures, mais de regarder à l'intérieur. Il a commencé à méditer et à réfléchir sur son passé, ses passions et ses objectifs. Petit à petit, il a découvert ce qui le rendait vraiment heureux, et c'est ainsi qu'il s'est enfin retrouvé. De cette façon, il est devenu un homme confiant et satisfait de qui il était.


DUTCH

OM JEZELF TE VINDEN

Kun jij een verhaal van 100 woorden schrijven over een man die zichzelf probeert te vinden?


Er was eens een man die zich verloren en alleen voelde. Ik wist niet wie ik was of wat ik wilde in het leven. Hij begon een reis om zichzelf te vinden, reisde naar verschillende plaatsen en probeerde nieuwe dingen. Hij heeft bergen beklommen, in de oceaan gezwommen en zelfs vrijwilligerswerk gedaan in een opvangcentrum voor daklozen. Maar wat hij ook deed, hij voelde zich nog steeds leeg. Op een dag, terwijl hij alleen op een bankje in het park zat, kreeg hij een openbaring. Hij besefte dat zichzelf vinden geen kwestie was van uiterlijke ervaringen, maar van naar binnen kijken. Hij begon te mediteren en na te denken over zijn verleden, zijn passies en zijn doelen. Gaandeweg ontdekte hij wat hem echt gelukkig maakte, en zo vond hij uiteindelijk zichzelf. Op deze manier werd hij een man die zelfverzekerd en tevreden was met wie hij was.


GERMAN

UM SICH ZU FINDEN

Können Sie eine 100-Wörter-Geschichte über einen Mann schreiben, der versucht, sich selbst zu finden?


Es war einmal ein Mann, der sich verloren und allein fühlte. Ich wusste nicht, wer ich war oder was ich im Leben wollte. Er begann eine Reise, um sich selbst zu finden, reiste an verschiedene Orte und probierte neue Dinge aus. Er ist auf Berge geklettert, im Meer geschwommen und hat sich sogar freiwillig in einem Obdachlosenheim gemeldet. Aber egal was er tat, er fühlte sich immer noch leer. Eines Tages, als er alleine auf einer Parkbank saß, hatte er eine Erleuchtung. Er erkannte, dass es nicht um äußere Erfahrung ging, sich selbst zu finden, sondern darum, nach innen zu schauen. Er begann zu meditieren und über seine Vergangenheit, seine Leidenschaften und seine Ziele nachzudenken. Allmählich entdeckte er, was ihn wirklich glücklich machte, und so fand er schließlich zu sich selbst. Auf diese Weise wurde er ein selbstbewusster und zufriedener Mann mit dem, was er war.


ITALIAN

PER TROVARE SE STESSI

Puoi scrivere una storia di 100 parole su un uomo che cerca di trovare se stesso?


C'era una volta un uomo che si sentiva perso e solo. Non sapevo chi fossi o cosa volessi nella vita. Ha iniziato un viaggio per ritrovare se stesso, viaggiando in luoghi diversi e provando cose nuove. Ha scalato montagne, nuotato nell'oceano e si è persino offerto volontario in un rifugio per senzatetto. Ma qualunque cosa facesse, si sentiva ancora vuoto. Un giorno, mentre era seduto da solo su una panchina del parco, ebbe un'illuminazione. Si rese conto che trovare se stessi non riguardava l'esperienza esteriore, ma il guardarsi dentro. Ha iniziato a meditare e pensare al suo passato, alle sue passioni e ai suoi obiettivi. A poco a poco scoprì cosa lo rendeva davvero felice ed è così che finalmente si ritrovò, diventando così un uomo sicuro di sé e contento di quello che era.


ENGLISH --final version--

TO FIND YOURSELF

Can you write a 100 word story about a man trying to find himself?


Once upon a time there was a man who felt lost and alone. I didn't know who you were or what you wanted in life. He started a journey to find himself, traveling to different places and trying new things. He has climbed mountains, swum in the ocean, and even volunteered at a homeless shelter. But whatever he did, he still felt empty. One day, while sitting alone on a park bench, he had an epiphany. She realized that finding yourself wasn't about experiencing the outside, it was about looking inside. He started meditating and thinking about his past, his passions and his goals. Little by little he discovered what really made him happy and that's how he finally found himself, thus becoming a self-confident man and happy with who he was.


THE ORIGINAL STORY

Once upon a time, there was a man who felt lost and alone. He didn't know who he was or what he wanted in life. He set out on a journey to find himself, traveling to different places and trying new things. He climbed mountains, swam in the ocean, and even volunteered at a homeless shelter. But no matter what he did, he still felt empty. One day, while sitting alone on a park bench, he had an epiphany. He realized that finding himself was not about external experiences, but rather looking within. He began to meditate and reflect on his past, his passions and his goals. He slowly discovered what truly made him happy, and thus he finally found himself. In this manner he became a man both confident and content with who he was.



Monday, January 23, 2023

The Acerbic Wit of H L Mencken: On Politicians

This weekend as I was corresponding with someone about the state of today's political scene a quote from Mark Twain, a notable cynic on these matters, came to mind. This was followed by another quote from the curmudgeonly H.L. Mencken, whose scathing pen was more fierce than any sword.

I've enjoyed reading Mencken in the past, in part because he never once paused to consider political correctness in his writing like most writers must today. Writing for the Baltimore Sun, he seemed to relish kicking over hornets' nests. Here are some of his razor-sharp barbs on politicians and politics which I copied them from Wikiquote.  

* * * * *

Off goes the head of the king, and tyranny gives way to freedom. The change seems abysmal. Then, bit by bit, the face of freedom hardens, and by and by it is the old face of tyranny. Then another cycle, and another. But under the play of all these opposites there is something fundamental and permanent — the basic delusion that men may be governed and yet be free.

* * * * *

All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him...

The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.

* * * * *

My literary theory, like my politics, is based chiefly upon one idea, to wit, the idea of freedom. I am, in belief, a libertarian of the most extreme variety.

* * * * *

Every step in human progress, from the first feeble stirrings in the abyss of time, has been opposed by the great majority of men. Every valuable thing that has been added to the store of man's possessions has been derided by them when it was new, and destroyed by them when they had power. They have fought every new truth ever heard of, and they have killed every truth-seeker who got into their hands.
Homo Neanderthalensis Baltimore Sun (June 29th, 1925), The Impossible Mencken

    * * * * *

    No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.

    * * * * *

    Democracy, in fact, is always inventing class distinctions, despite its theoretical abhorrence of them.

    * * * * *

    If he became convinced tomorrow that coming out for cannibalism would get him the votes he needs so sorely, he would begin fattening a missionary in the White House yard come Wednesday. (Referring to FDR)

    * * * * *

    It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

    * * * * *

    Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

    * * * * *

    The chief difference between free capitalism and State socialism seems to be this: that under the former a man pursues his own advantage openly, frankly and honestly, whereas under the latter he does so hypocritically and under false pretenses.

    * * * * *
    I'd love to see what Mencken might have written about the past six or eight years. His way of putting things is entertaining, but if you've got thin skin, keep your distance. The best approach for all readers of Mencken is to enjoy the spicy flavor of the meat and spit out the bones.

      Saturday, January 21, 2023

      I Asked ChatGPT to Name the Best Super Bowl Ad of All Time

      Illustration by DreamAI
      Is it too early to talk about the Super Bowl? Ad agencies and corporate entities that have a stake in the game have undoubtedly been thinking about Super Bowl 2023 since just moments after the Rams scored their winning touchdown against the Bengals with two minutes to go in last year's Super Bowl LVI. 

      It seems like in the old days companies unveiled their ads during the game. That changed so they could generate more buzz in advance, and for years I used to buy a USA Today on the Friday before Super Bowl weekend just so I could see the summaries of the ads that would appear that year and when their were slated to be seen. 

      Nowadays, waiting for the Big Game is no longer anyone's strategy. Yesterday, with the Super Bowl still three weeks off, I saw rollouts for Apple TV+ and Budweiser, so we're getting near the finish line. Everyone is in a rush to begin capturing eyeballs.

      Because AI is all the rage, a ChatGPT one of the biggest cannonballs on the block this month, I thought I would ask the intelligent machine what the best Super Bowl ad of all time was. ChatGPT actually responded the way I would have. "It's really hard to pick just one, but here are a handful that would be in the running for such a designation."

      Here's the actual exchange:

      E: What was the best Super Bowl ad of all time?


      ChatGPT: There have been many memorable Super Bowl ads over the years, so it is difficult to choose the best one of all time. Some of the most highly regarded Super Bowl ads include:

      1. Apple's 1984 ad, which introduced the Macintosh computer and was widely hailed as a masterpiece of advertising.
      2. The Budweiser "Whassup" ad, which aired in 2000 and became a cultural phenomenon.
      3. The "Mean Joe Greene" Coke ad from 1979, which is remembered for its heartwarming portrayal of a young boy offering a Coke to a tough-looking professional football player.
      4. The Volkswagen "The Force" ad from 2011, which showed a young child dressed as Darth Vader trying to use "the force" to perform various tasks around the house.

      Ultimately, the best Super Bowl ad is a matter of personal opinion.

      HERE ARE LINKS TO THE FOUR ADS ChatGPT CITED:

      1984 Macintosh Introduction
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfqw8nhUwA

      Budweiser's "Whassup"
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJmqCKtJnxM

      The "Mean Joe Greene" Coke ad from 1979-80
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xffOCZYX6F8

      The Volkswagen "The Force" ad from 2011
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdZMypElBpo

      * * * 

      Here's what I got when I asked Google a variation of the same question. I just wanted to compare. There were two overlaps, which I highlighted here.

      E: What are the best Super Bowl ads of all time
      Google: Best Super Bowl Commercials of All Time
      1. Early Showers — Coca-Cola (1980)  (Mean Joe Green spot above)
      2. 1984 — Apple (1984) ... (MacIntosh rollout above)
      3. Betty White — Snickers (2010) ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o83aMEBFQs
      4. Frogs — Budweiser (1995) ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yb4Lc-Xqsq0
      5. Wise Guy — Diet Pepsi (1990) ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=642nvFNc_ME
      6. Security Camera — Pepsi (1996) ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cJzTgFPj64
      7. The Showdown — McDonald's (1993) ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1shK-j_u6LI
      8. It's Halftime in America — Chrysler, 2012. ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8VpW8P8_kU

      Enjoy the games.

      Friday, January 20, 2023

      More Examples of AI-generated Versions of My Own Original Paintings

      This is a continuation of yesterday's post in which I showed the various ways one of my paintings had been interpreted by DreamAI.

      Firebird (original painting)
      Firebird Suite (AI collaboration)

      Apache Brave (original)
      The color scheme is there, but in the original 
      he is looking to his left, and in the AI version 
      he is looking to his right, a curious alteration.
      The Pioneer (original)
      AI collaboration using the "Floral" art style.

      My Back Pages. 2"x 2" original painting
      My Back Pages -- Flora Style
      My Back Pages (Steampunk Style)
      Amanda -- 12"x 24"
      Amanda-esque AI interpretation of my painting.
      Amanda -- DreamAI collaboration in comix style
      The Boxer -- Acrylic on Illustration Board
      DreamAI collaboration.

      Dylan Received the Medal of Freedom -- Acrylic on Canvas
      DreamAI rendition, Dylan receiving the Medal of Freedom
      * * * * *
      Nearly all of my art is available for lease or purchase. You can see more at my Many Faces of Ennyman site and on my Instagram page.



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