Riff Raff: Observations, a robot fridge, etch-o-sketches, and selective free speech

by Michael Tilley (mtilley@talkbusiness.net) 444 views 

A robotic, voice-activated refrigerator is being tested. It will deliver to your IKEA couch your over-priced, millennial-loving craft beer. Don’t need the dog. Don’t need your legs. This is the beginning of the end. Fair warning: The Whirlpool-made devices suddenly move to Mexico and leave a toxic mess in your kitchen. When’s that medical marijuana become available?

• Let’s check back in on the Fort Smith metro area. A city, a region, with an impressive early history that was smart and full of potential seemed in recent decades to not be able to get up off the empty manufacturing floor. Found itself in unnecessary fights. Often with itself. Rarely learning from past failures. Often seeking to escape its reality without a well-considered plan. The place was the title character in “Cool Hand Luke.” What the city and region had was a failure to not only communicate, but to collaborate; and collaborate beyond demographic status. Regional leadership was unable to accept that past economic dynamics were of little use to future economic realities in which technology would disrupt at speeds beyond the region’s ability to recognize, and well beyond its ability to adapt.

The past few years have brought a change in attitude within the city and from onlookers. From where and why this new view emerged, and if it will be of enough substance to foster a transformative reality, can be debated later. But it exists. For now.

Where Fort Smith once received as much interest as an etch-o-sketch at an Apple store, folks are now paying attention. Fanciful murals and other conversation-inducing art decorate downtown Fort Smith. New commercial developments fill the heart of the city. Successful new festivals bring the roar of metal hogs and and a healthy taste of Americana music to the city. A new charter school. A university that is now a university and not something emerging from a former community college. A “Why not here?” message is being pushed to those all important millennials; and it’s more of a statement than an interrogatory.

We’re staying tuned to what happens next. Hope you’ll join us.

• On the topic of interesting developments, there’s Arkansas State University. Readily admit to not always paying close attention to the Jonesboro-based university, but in the past few years have watched with interest. And have been impressed. Unique is a word common to the school. They have a unique arrangement with a new university in Mexico. They are working toward a unique program that could create a disaster preparedness facility not now in existence anywhere else. They’ve taken a lead and unique role in preserving Johnny Cash’s family history in Arkansas. They are pushing to be more of a research university, to include using spinach leaves to replace heart veins. Spinach. In the heart.

They are putting money and energy into a business women’s leadership center. They have an osteopathic college. And the university’s reputation for developing future business leaders continues to grow.

As with the folks in Fort Smith, we’re staying tuned to what happens next across the state at ASU. Hope you’ll join us.

• Oh say can you speak? It depends. If you’re talking positive about the country and God and the military and police and Jesus and guns and family values and firefighters and the flag and God and NASCAR and veterans and the country, then you bet, speak up. If not, well, shut up. You’re just being politically correct. We’ve got no time for that because we’re all gonna be great again.

To wit. Folks who say football players – or anyone, for that matter – must stand during the national anthem deny protections of our first amendment rights, which means they threaten their ability to criticize folks who don’t stand for the national anthem. Have found it disturbing the number of folks who find pleasure in the fact that Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who began the practice of kneeling during the national anthem, has yet to be signed to a contract by any team.

You disrespect a national anthem – something that wasn’t around when the country was formed and thus is something for which our glorious founding fathers never stood – much more than a kneeling football player when you demand reverence to a nation’s symbol in violation of a key principle that makes the nation the home of the brave.

Again, to wit: Women who march for the right to vote don’t even know their own place in the family structure much less have the intellect to know how to vote in the bests interests of America. Those not willing to sit in the back of the bus where they are supposed to should not be allowed to use public transportation. Those who march on public streets and across public bridges in violation of police orders deserved to be hosed down with high-power water cannons and attacked by police dogs.

Prescribing appropriate behavior – beyond the reasoned criminal code – is the primary tool in the toolbox of tyrants, theocrats, thugs and all of the folks for whom we’ve sent troops overseas to kill. The primary tool.

The true risk to society is from the pleased when a black man – or any person and gender – with more talent than others in the same profession is unable to get a job because of a protest.

The words read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The 1943 West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette ruling sought to assure us all that beliefs would be protected.

“If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”

Having more empathy for a symbol than a soul does not make you a good American.

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