Vin Crosbie's Personal Blog

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‘Red’ vs. ‘Blue’ Map of the 2020 U.S. Election

Politically conservative simpletons in the United States of America are fond of posting on social media maps of the nation that have each county colored either red for a Trump victory in 2020 and blue for a Biden victory that year. They like to do that because it colors the U.S. mostly red for Trump. And it is true that Trump won more than 2,500 counties and Biden fewer than 500 during that election.

What the simpletons either don’t realize, forget, or ignore is that not all counties in the U.S. are equal. Trump indeed won thousand of largely empty or sparsely populated U.S. counties. Yet although Biden won few than 500 counties, he won those where not only most U.S. citizens live but in which 70-percent of America’s economy resides. Trump overwhelming won Texas’s Loving county (population: 54) but Biden overwhelmingly won Los Angeles county (pop.: 9.9 million),

It is infantile for politically conservatives to post colored maps showing that Trump won a greater geographic aggregate of the emptier counties in the U.S.. Elections are instead won by gaining the greater number of citizens’ votes, which Biden did during 2020 by more than seven million votes (equal to more than 109,000 Loving county’s). However, if it makes simpletons feel better to post such maps, give them all the red and blue crayons they need. I expect a similar outcome from the 2024 election.

You Won’t See U.S. or European Airlines Staffs Doing This

A frequent international traveler, I often post about how bad U.S. airlines have become and how European are starting to decline, too. The contrast between airlines from the Americas and Europe and those from the Middle East and Asia has become stark. Skytrax has long published the most objective and reputable ranking of the world’s airlines. Only one airline from outside the Middle East and Asia ranks among Skytrax’s Top Ten in the world: Air France. Moreover, no more than one airline from Europe and the Americas ranking in that top ten is usual. In recent years, Lufthansa had ranked in the Top Ten but no longer does; not more than one airline from the Americas or Europe has in decades; and in many years none does. Skytrax hasn’t picked its Top Ten for 2024, but atop its Top Ten last year were: Singapore, Qatar, ANA (All Nippon Airlines), Emirates, Japan Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air France, Cathay Pacific of Hong Kong, EVA (Evergreen Airlines) of Taiwan, and Korean Airlines. Although a pedant might claim that Turkish is a European airline because it’s based in Istanbul west of the Bosporus, its service is distinctly Middle Eastern (meaning very good). Although their small airline, Drukair, isn’t rank by SkyTrax, the people of the Kingdom of Bhutan, a nation which uses a civic metric called the Gross National Happiness Index to judge itself, could make a case that it has the friendliest service in the world. Judge from this five-minute video from them. You won’t see the employees of Delta, British Airways, Latam, or Olympic doing this.

Homie Extremists

I regret that during the past 25 years of working with New Media, what has distressed and alarmed me most is discovering that a tangible percentage of the people with whom I grew up harbor extremist opinions. I estimate that the percentage of whom is approximately less than five-percent, yet that means one in every twenty. That number, like their extreme opinions, is unfortunately too tangible.

My mother was from a multi-generational Republican family (her ancestors was a Republican politician who served in the Connecticut State Legislature. My father was from a Boston liberal immigrant family (the Crosbies are lowland Scots). I thus grew up with political differences; I’m used to dealing with opposing political opinions.

However, what I’m not used to is political ‘opinions’ based upon clearly disproven lies. The political opinions of mature adults aren’t based upon lies. As psychologists will tell you, a characteristic of a mature adult is that the person changes his opinion when faced with contrary evidence that disproves that opinion. He will also acknowledge that the opinion has been disproved. Only liars or psychologically immature adults knowingly base their opinions upon clearly disproven lies. I unfortunately know, among the people with whom I grew up, too many psychologically immature adults or knowing liars. I’ve grown shocked to realize that is what they are. I’m tired of knowing them and am repulsed at their deceits or immaturity.

Worse, some of them purport to be Christians. During my life, I’ve gotten to know many Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists, and can state that I don’t know any who based their political opinions upon lies. Perhaps that is simply because as an adult I met these Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists and chose to make them my friends. Whereas, by contrast, I did not choose the people with whom I grew up; those were simply the kids who happened to live within the school district where I lived while growing up. Almost all of those kids were purportedly Christian (indeed, very many because I attended a Catholic parochial elementary school). I’ve become amazed at how some of these Christian kids have grown to become bigots, Christian nationalist extremists, or both.

This year, I intend to drop as friends and block from my social media feeds those among whom I grew up who harbor extremist opinions. I should have done so years ago. I first however feel a need to tell my other friends why I am dropping and blocking those extremists. I realize that I needn’t tell my friends why. Yet the reason I will tell them why is because they too have been enduring these extremists, perhaps putting up with them too much ‘for old times sakes’. Silence in response to bigotry or lies merely encourages the bigots and liars to spread their lies and prejudices more. Stop them here and now.

So, if during subsequent weeks you see me posting here about bigots and political liars who are unfortunately among my acquaintances, you now know why.

Why here on this blog? Because by posting here then simply linking to that on the several social media I use, I don’t have to repetitive writing the some posting on each of those social media.

A Notable Mechanical Figure in the Evolution of Robots

Yes, you read this blog posting’s headline correctly.

Although the concept of automata dates from ancient times and the modern concept of robots dates from the 1920s, has during the past 15 months have the basic technologies needed to create a real one converged. The OpenAI company in December, 2022, publicly introduced a text-based artificial intelligence ‘chatbot’. Within a few months, text-to-speech ands artificial voice technologies literally gave it voice. Meanwhile, other companies such as Boston Dynamics were building human-like mechanisms capable of performing work such as might occur in warehouses or factory assembly lines. Now, a company named Figure has combined all that into a prototype working robot. That’s an amazing evolution in such a short time. See for yourself in this video. Meet GPT-5 Body. You need only watch the first three minutes (the remainder is technical information). You now live in the future.

Gullible Billions of People Aren’t Prepared for This

To say that humans evolve at a glacial pace is to call glaciers as race cars. Evolutionary changes to our bodies, including our physical brains, take hundreds of thousands of years or more. Evolutionary changes to our thinking occur more quickly yet still take hundreds of years. Civilization has progressed remarkably since the year 1524, shortly after the beginning of the Renaissance and globalization; and the changes since the years 1024 (tjhe medieval period) and 524 (the ‘Dark Ages’) have been striking. Nonetheless, due to technological innovations, our physical senses, which we’ve depended upon since time immemorial, can now be easily fooled.

For some 30 years now, it has become easily for anyone with personal computer software to alter still photographs (‘It’s been photoshopped!’) And for the past 20 years, first in Hollywood and lately by any video blogger who owns a $20 ‘greenscreen’ rig, video can be altered in such a way as to me or you in any video scene. Yet now the nascent technologies of machine learning and Artificail Intelligence (AI) have become able to create entirely artificial but incredibly realistic videos. The first video here is an example from the Open AI company’s Sora software. I daresay most consumers nowadays who see a print advertisement or television advertisement or cinema scene may not realize that much, even possibly most, of what they see was ‘photoshopped’ or ‘greenscreened’. And I submit to you that if you show consumers this Sora video without telling them that it is artificial, most will believe that it is real. The second video here takes this even further: allowing the artificially-generated people–or even dead actual people–realistically to say things that they never said.

We are no entring a time in which it will become difficult to tell whether something in still photography, audio, or video is real or not, because the retouched, artificial, or entirely faked will be too perfect for the average consumer to tell the difference. What’s known as ‘media literacy’–namely the ability and knowledge how to tell the difference, isn’t much or at all taught in schools. If caveat emptor is Latin for ‘buyer beware’. then videntium cave or ‘viewer beware’. I estimate that at least ten percent of my some 800 Facebook ‘friends’ are so naturally gullible that they wouldn’t be able to tell, might even not think it even possible, that such a video is artificial or fake. I think there is another ten to fiften percent who if a faked video supports their political opinions, would ‘Share’ it (i.e., spreading lies) so that others of their ilk or the gullible would themselves virally ‘Share’ it. I fear that a ‘golden age’ of deceptive propaganda and deceptive marketing has begun.

2.4 US$100 Notes per Each Man, Woman, and Child on the Planet

It’s interesting to note (no pun intended) that the most numerous U.S. currency note in circulation is the $100, not the $1, note. Although the $1 note is perhaps the most numerous within the U.S., around the world–in which the principal reserve currency in international trade is U.S. , the $100 note is the most popular and numerous. There are 1.43 billion $1 notes in circulation worldwide, but there are 18.5 billion $100 notes ($1.85 trillion). That’s equal to 2.3 $100 notes for every man, woman, and child on Earth.

The Future Smartphone Will Be Without Apps

I wholeheartedly agree with this five-minute video story by Android Authority that the smartphone of the future won’t have or use Apps (i.e., individual single-purpose software applications) but instead simply use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to communicate/find/view.obtain/what its users wants. That Deutsche Telecom, one of the world’s largest cellular telephone services provider (such as its T-Mobile network in the United States) is experimenting with this concept (I’m sure that other cellular networks also are) shows how likely this might be. Watch the video and discover why this will happen. The this video uses a regular Android phone from today as an example.

Insanely Expensive Dining Insanely Done

I’ve been fortunate to have eaten at three Michelin-starred restaurants (Le Bernadin, New York City,  3 stars:  ABaC, Barcelona, 2 stars; and Man Wa, Hong Kong, 1 star) in recent years, and am a fam of the Hungarian restaurant owner (42, Budapest, 1 star)  Alexander ‘The Guest’  Varga’s YouTube channel about visiting Michelin-starred restaurants. His most recent review, however, is about Alchemist, a 2-star restaurant in Copenhagen which is so ridiculously over-the-top that viewers of movies and TV shows such as ‘The Menu‘, ‘Tampopo‘, or ‘The Bear‘ will chuckle. The 50-course (yes, fifty!) meal, it’s price, and the diner’s experience are insane.

By contrast, the world’s #1 ranked restaurant is Central in Lima, Peru. Here is Alexander’s review of that excellent but non-insane restaurant.

The World’s Best Airline Cabin Crew

Yesterday, I blogged about Singapore. For much of the past 20 years, its airline has been ranked as the best in the world. How do they do they achieve that? In this sixteen-minute video by Sam Chui, the most popular airline blogger in the world, learn some of the answer.

I’ve been fortunate to have flown on Singapore Airlines many times, including one around-the-world (honeymoon) trip, as well as thrice on the world’s longest non-stop flight. I will fly them again anywhere. Watch and learn why.

Don’t Go to Hong Kong: visit Singapore Instead


For several centuries, Hong Kong was called the ‘Gateway to the the East‘. Western businessmen make the British Crown Colony their Far Eastern base of operations. Western tourists planning to make their first trip to Asia more often than not made it their first stop. I know many retirement age Americans who still want or suggest Hong Kong as a destination.

That was fine advice until the turn of the millenium. In 1997, the British handed Hong Kong back to the the mainland Chinese government, and the Chinese Communiist Party (CCP) has since wasted no time transforming the Hong Kong into another province or city of the People’s Republic. Shanghai, rather than Hong Kong, has become the largest business city regarding China. International businesses are moving either there or to another ity that I’m about to mention. The CCP has enacted censorship and cracked down on political dissent. Hong Kong is a democracy no more. It’s still a wonderful, fascinating place, but it’s not the old Hong Kong of the 20th Century.

Instead, as The Economist news magazine verifies, Singapore has replaced Hong Kong as the major business city, with the exception of Tokyo, in the Far East:

“Singapore is no paradise. The pleasantness of its urban fabric is thanks mainly to the toil of the foreign migrant workers who make up nearly a third of the workforce. Their contribution is a curious blind spot. Meanwhile, politics is tightly constrained, as is civil society: you may be arrested for holding up a placard with a smiley face. The media is cloyingly tame, while foreign journalists, it is made clear, are here on sufferance. With nearly 500 executions in the past three decades, 70% of them for drug offences, Singapore’s use of capital punishment is grotesque.

“Still, a far brighter future beckons for Singapore’s young than for their counterparts in Hong Kong. They are slowly pushing at Singapore’s rigid boundaries. This month, in a first, a few hundred activists gathered on Labour Day to call for greater rights for, among others, foreign workers. The launch of 
Jom reflects a growing desire for independent voices. In Hong Kong, by contrast, a transport-news website promoting road safety, of all things, this week became the latest target of the authorities and was forced to close. Singapore is at a crossroads. Hong Kong has hit a dead end.”

I know both cities. Hong Kong is fun to visit, but always daunting for first-time travelers to Asia. By contrast, Singapore has much of the exoticism such travelers crave, but is twice as prosperous and much more educated than Hong Kong. The majority of Singapore’s citizens speak English (the ‘Singlish’ version of it) as fluently as Mandarin Chinese. Singapore is also a democracy, albeit with rather authoritarian and censorous rule by its dominant political party which has been governing it since it founding. Nevertheless, it is a better place to do business or vacation or shop than Hong Kong. I’d heartily recommend Westerners who want to visit the Far East for their first time to visit Singapore rather than Hong Kong. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.

[Likewise, as I’ll write sometime, westerners who are planning to make their first visit to the Middle East should visit Qatar or Oman, rather than Egypt or Dubai. They won’t see the pyramids or the world’s tallest building, but they’ll be welcome and see true Arab cultures.]

Island of the World’s Greatest Beaches

Over the years, I’ve visited five of the eight island that comprise my wife’s native Canary Islands archipelago. I hope sometime next year to spend time on the one renowned as having–no kidding–the best beaches in the world. That island is Fuerteventure. Its 1,660 square kilometers (640 sq. miles), about the size of the Isle of Man or half of Rhode Island) have over 304 kilometers (189 miles) of white sandy beaches in the Atlantic. See for yourself: here is a three-and-a-half minute look at its beaches.