A Veteran’s Day Tribute

Today I give a Veteran’s Day Tribute to all those who have served.  I salute all veterans—no matter where they served nor how long. 

Image of soldiers advancing with weapons and the top half of the statue of liberty superimposed over the flag of the United States of America--an image of a Veteran's Day Tribute

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, hostilities ceased in the Great War.  In 1926, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution to observe the day in remembrance “with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.” November 11th became a legal holiday in 1938.  The holiday was “to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day”” After WWII and the conflict in Korea, Congress amended the bill and the holiday to honor all veterans of all wars and changed the holiday’s name to Veteran’s Day.

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’ That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.     

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Image of U.S. Marines in Operation El Dorado--among those who've served and deserve a Veteran's Day Tribute
Marines
Image Credit: Cpl. Jemssy Alvarez Jr. (reference) [Public domain]

No matter your politics, nor your views of the worthiness of a particular war, battle or conflict our veterans served all who call the United States of America their home.

Image of U.S. Navy Diver wearing helmet and oxygen tank entering the water
U.S. Navy Diver
(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin B. Gray, U.S. Navy/Released)

While only one day of the year is dedicated solely to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.

Randy Neugebauer

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”

Maya Angelou

In 1944, Mr. Hope saw only men serving on the front line. Today, he’d amend his statement.

“I saw your sons and your husbands, your brothers and your sweethearts. I saw how they worked, played, fought, and lived. I saw some of them die. I saw more courage, more good humor in the face of discomfort, more love in an era of hate, and more devotion to duty than could exist under tyranny.” 

Bob Hope, “I Never Left Home” 

Today, Mr. Hope would include wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters. 

Today we honor them all: Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman or woman, Guardsman or woman, and Reservist. They stepped up to serve their country.

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.

Arthur Ashe

Those who serve in our military are rarely the only person who sacrifices. 

I’m trying to raise the awareness of the troops that, when they deploy and go to war, it’s not just them at war – it’s also their family. Their family is having to go through all the hardships and the stresses.

Chris Kyle

Those who’ve completed their service deserve a salute, too. Large and small sacrifices live on in the memories of the service person and their families.

Veterans Tribute picture by DVIDSHUB
by DVIDSHUB, Flickr Creative Commons, www.flickr.com/photos/dvids/6309549518/

The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

Douglas MacArthur

“Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veteran remembers most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.” 

Senator John McCain

In a Veteran’s Day tribute, we must also remember the veterans who need a little assistance. A home, a meal, a pair of shoes aren’t too much for us to give back. It is our duty and privilege as a nation to provide financial, medical and psychological care and support for all our veterans.

Caring for veterans shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should an American one.     

Jennifer Granholm
Green tinted image of soldiers superimposed over the image of a helmet on the stock of a rifle. A Veteran's Day Tribute

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.

José Narosky

Think about that last quote. And give a Veteran’s Day tribute to those who served our nation today and every day.

Story Time Reviews: A Japanese Fairy Tale

Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale told on the Myths and Legends podcast, episode 161 titled Japanese Folk Lore: Karma.  The orginal story, “The Old Woman Who Lost her Dumpling,” may come from Hearn, Lafcadio, translator. Japanese Fairy Tales: The Boy Who Drew Cats. Tokyo: T. Hasegawa, 1898. This podcast includes two stories. “The Old Woman who lost her dumpling” is the first story told on the podcast. Duration 16 minutes and 14 seconds. 

The Story

Image of a page of from the story "The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling" on lynettemburrows.com for her Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale post.

Making Dumplings Making Dumplings. The old women liked to make dumplings and laugh. One day she drops a dumpling to the floor. It rolls through a small hole in her home’s floor. She reaches into the hole and the dirt beneath her cracks open. She drops. She survives a long drop and though the land is weird, she sees her dumpling rolling away and she runs after it. She stops and catches her breath leaning against a Jizo-san statue. (Weiser gives us an aside at this point explaining the relevance and meaning of a Jizo-san statue in Japanese culture.) The statue warns her not to follow her dumpling because a wicked Oni lives down there, who eats people. But the old woman doesn’t heed his warning. 

True to it’s fairy tale genre there’s a lesson learned. 

The Author

Image of Lafcadio Hearn, translator of Japanese Fairy Tales on lynettemburrows.com for her Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale post.

Unfortunately the podcast does not identify where the story came from nor who the author was. I made an assumption that that the story was from Hearn, Lafcadio’s translation Japanese Fairy Tales: The Boy Who Drew Cats

From  Encyclopaedia Britannica online, “Lafcadio Hearn, also called (from 1895) Koizumi Yakumo, (born June 27, 1850, Levkás, Ionian Islands, Greece—died Sept. 26, 1904, Ōkubo, Japan), writer, translator, and teacher who introduced the culture and literature of Japan to the West.”

Another assumption I make is that Hearn translated this story as told by storytellers and not the original author. 

Hearn did the world a great service by translating many works, particularly those of Japan. However, since he’s not the author of the story it’s not appropriate to give more of his biography here. If you wish to learn more, read this.

The Voice Talent

From the Myth and Legends podcast description: Jason Weiser tells stories from myths, legends, and folklore that have shaped cultures throughout history. Some, like the stories of Aladdin, King Arthur, and Hercules are stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories you might not have heard, but really should. All the stories are sourced from world folklore, but retold for modern ears.

These are stories of wizards, knights, Vikings, dragons, princesses, and kings from the time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous and wonderful place.

Weiser’s short bio includes this line:  “In addition to history and world folklore, he’s a fan of his wife and child, dachshunds, hiking, Batman, and cake (the dessert, but the band’s ok, too).”

Weiser’s voice is pleasant and his story telling engaging. 

My Opinion

I was not prepared for Weiser’s storytelling presentation style. It took me by surprise when he “interrupted” the story for an aside about the Jizo-San statue. Despite needing to adjust my expectations, I enjoyed the story and Weisner’s interpretation of the fairy tale.

He related this rather old story with some modern word choices. For me, that did not enhance the story. Those asides and modern expressions pulled me out of the story. I believe I would have enjoyed the story more if he’d given it a more traditional presentation. YMMV

His style became less intrusive as he got further into the story.

My biggest disappointment is that he did not identify where the story came from, who the author was, or even title the story. This is a major flaw in my opinion.

Conclusion

I’m glad I listened to the story. It’s sweet, engaging, has mystical lands and creatures, and the ending allows the listener to make an interpretation as to the meaning of the story. (Hint, it may be deeper than it appears.)

I am only slightly familiar with the Eastern story telling traditions and this story definitely made me want to learn more. And now that I’m aware of the style of the podcast, Myths and Legends, I will probably listen to more of these tales. However, if the telling of the stories continues to ignore details of the story title, the author’s name, or some indication of the story’s origin–I will recommend the podcast for further listening.

Did you enjoy Story Time Reviews a Japanese Fairy Tale? Have you missed past episodes of Story Time Reviews? Check out Story Time Reviews Operation Haystack or Story Time Reviews The Last Question. Do you listen to stories? I hope you find Story Time Reviews helpful. Please, share your favorite stories in the comments. 

Robotics Will Challenge Our Humanity

Ever since The JetsonsRosie the Robot, robots and robotics have fascinated me. Over time, robotics crept into our everyday world. Stunning advances loom making robots and artificial intelligence and androids less and less a science fiction trope. Robots and robotics and artificial intelligence will challenge our humanity. 

image of a red and white robot slumped in the corner.
By Jiuguang Wang – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The First Robotics

Rudimentary robots have been amongst us for a very long time.

The Greek mathematician, Archytas, invented the first known robotic device in 350 BC. A steam powered flying pigeon may not be your idea of a robot, but it was the first autonomous machine. It only vaguely looked like a pigeon. Look.  

Egyptians used the constant, controlled flow of water to power their clocks (clepsydra) that struck the hour. Learn more about Egyptian water clocks.

The First Automata

In the 17th century, a French artist and inventor built three automata. An automata is a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a living creature. He created a flute player that played twelve songs. A second musical automata played flute, drum, or tambourine. And he created a mechanical duck that acted like a duck. Read more about Jacques de Vaucanson and his inventions.

In 1810, Friedrich Kauffman from Dresden, German created a mechanical soldier that could blow a trumpet

The Birth of Modern Robotics

In1932, Japan produced a wind-up robot toy, “Lilliput.” 

Image of the toy: Giant Lilliput Robot box  Robots and A.I. will challenge our humanity.
Giant Lilliput Robot – By D J Shin – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

But programmable computers developed in the 1940s allowed real robots to take shape.

George Devol invented and patented a re-programmable manipulator called Unimate in the 1950s. He couldn’t sell it. 

The Father of Robotics

Joseph Engelberger bought the patent to Unimate in the 1960s. He modified it into an industrial robotic arm and called it Unimation. Seven years later, General Motors installed the programmable robotic arm on an assembly line in New Jersey. Successful, Engelberger became identified as “the Father of Robotics.”

Modern Robotics

Today robots assist in our work, our play, on the ground, in the air, and on other planets. Below are a few of the robotic devices you might see in your daily life.

Robots in Movies

Image of C3PO from Star wars.  Robots and A.I. will challenge our humanity.
C3PO from Star Wars https://www.starwars.com/databank/c-3po

Robots for Play

Robot Games (Battlebots)

Image of three battlebot participants and their bots.
By Jes80 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Robotic Floor Cleaners

Robotic Lawn Mowers

Image of robotic lawn mower on a green lawn.
from Amazon.com

Industrial robots

Image of an industrial robotic arm on display at a trade show.  Robots and A.I. will challenge our humanity.
Humanrobo CC BY-SA 3.0

Bomb Disposal Robots

Image of an israeli robotic bomb disposal unit
Yoram Shoval CC BY-SA 4.0

Robots in Space

Image of Robonaut floating in the International Space Station.  Robots and A.I. will challenge our humanity.
Robonaut—Image credit: NASA
Selfie of the Curiosity rover on Mars.
Curiosity on Mars Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Robots Making Life Better

Robotics is also making a huge difference in the lives of amputees. Here’s an example:

Even more bionic is this man’s prosthetic. Be aware that he discusses his horrific work accident and his depression after and during his recovery. He also shares some humor and an upbeat message.

What’s Next?

They make more and more advances in robotics every day. Watch this: 

True, the above robot is tiny but what an achievement!

What’s next for robotics? I don’t know, but I expect that there will be refinements in flexibility and usability. Some refinements will make them more appealing to humans. And they will be cheaper to make and use. Perhaps we’ll have a new, improved Rosie the Robot in our homes someday. But if we do, will she follow Isaac Asimov’s three rules?  

Asimov’s Laws of Robotics

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Robots Challenge Our Humanity

In the video below, Rob Miles (a British AI researcher and YouTuber) discusses why the Laws of Robotics won’t work. The simple question of what is “human” becomes a complex philosophical and ethical discussion.

Miles asks is an unborn fetus a human? Is a person in a vegetative state a human? How do dolphins and chimpanzees fit into the definition, or do they? 

We have created artificial limbs. What if we provide people with crippling diseases (think Stephen Hawking) a way to function in a bionic body? Would they still be human?

In Conclusion

The problem of robots is simple as long as the robots remain simple. But as they become more and more complex, so does the question of what is human. Instead of what’s next for robotics, we need to clarify some definitions. What is human? Intelligence? Humanity? How interesting that robotics will challenge our humanity.