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Saturday, August 31, 2013
The Hokies’ most optimistic fan
There’s always the outlier, the guy who hedges his bets or thinks he’ll beat the spread. That honor this week belongs to Roanoke Times fearless forecaster Ryan Boitnott.
There isn’t a spread or even anything riding on the outcome other than the prestige of picking the most winners in the Sports section’s weekly football contest.
For today’s game in which the Virginia Tech Hokies will be fortunate to leave Atlanta after putting at least one score on the board against Alabama, all the fearless forecasters, save one, took the safe bet.
Not Boitnott. He’s backing his company’s most famous spokesman. After all, if Frank Beamer has so much faith in K-Guard that he used it for his own home, why not have faith Beamer’s guards will hold the Tide and bring an upset win home?
Firing up the Internet
A point lost on most of those seething in the blogosphere over a Virginia Tech professor’s commentary, “No, thanks: Stop saying ‘support the troops,’ ” is that Steven Salaita expresses genuine support for the men and women who serve in the U.S. military.
Indeed, as he wrote on Salon.com, a regular dispute with his wife centers on his willingness to support a career in the armed forces for their son, who is too young to have an opinion just yet.
Salaita’s theme is that equating support for the troops with support for war hinders a robust debate over U.S. foreign policy. And just as important, sentimentalizing soldiers and sailors as an amorphous group makes it easier to ignore that they are human beings who return home with physical and mental health challenges that too often are unaddressed and lead to joblessness and homelessness.
The professor obviously wrote his commentary aiming to rattle as many cages as possible. He accuses politicians and corporate executives of disingenuously employing patriotism to win votes and profits, but manages to gig all Americans, no matter how well-meaning, for going along.
But Tech officials properly note that the First Amendment gives him the right to be provocative. The 1,378 comments posted on Salon.com as of Friday afternoon are evidence that he has achieved his goal.
Smart car meets Smart Road
Nissan announced this week that it plans to have a self-driving car on the market by 2020. We entered that data into the old bio-computer and calculated this is only seven years away. The family heap out on the parking lot is six years old. Given that the average age of automobiles on the road today is 11.4 years, and that “average” hardly sets one’s sights high enough, we figure when it’s time for a trade-in, autonomous autos might be on the lot.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
We can dream of cars that will free us to eat, drink and be texting while we drive. More opportunity for self-indulgence, though, must take a back seat to addressing society’s real needs. Next week, Google is bringing its self-driving Prius to Blacksburg, a vehicle that has safely maneuvered through city streets in California with a blind man at the wheel.
The car will be at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Smart Road Tuesday afternoon, an event big enough to warrant appearances by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Morgan Griffith. Which got the office smart-aleck to thinking: If Google can make a car that a blind man can drive, can it come up with technology to steer a bill safely through Congress?
Weather JournalStorm track isn't very snowy for us