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Caseythoughts Several items of interest have crossed my path this week, and though it seems difficult to step away from political news of note I'm sure you may find these notes of at least passing amusement in the 'tech" (definition stretched liberally, here) world.

When I wrote several weeks ago of a phenomenon called 'esports' several acquaintances told me they had never even heard of the term. Turns out that a local unscientific poll found that 68.2% of respondents when asked "What's your assessment of the esports craze?" replied 'What's an esport?' I feel proud to have informed Lansing Star readers weeks ahead of the wave about this strange 21st century happening, and since it turned into a print media cover story recently you, dear Star reader, are more well-versed than the average (is there such a thing?) Ithacan. You read it here first, again.

To update you on the local-est and latest, IHS students and their group adviser are suggesting (??) the purchase of 15 laptop computers specially designed for 'gaming'. That is probably not the only expense, but I feel confident in predicting that Lansing and other local school districts will begin to feel the heat to jump in with their own expensive program for the teen-aged couch potato enthusiast who calls it 'sport'. Interestingly, over 200 colleges are now offering scholarships for esports. I guess it might be a bit cheaper than what those celebrity parents in the news paid to put their privileged progeny in the 'elite' schools and found themselves indicted on fraud and numerous other charges last week. Of course, some of those schools have been disparagingly called 'diploma mills', and I wonder why. Then again, one college esports 'league' awards $3 million per year to its 20,000 players. I assume that's for equipment, not salaries. We want to keep the 'amateur' aspect of college sports alive, eh?

I see Elizabeth Warren has sent out the following: "Today's Big Tech companies have too much power. Too much power over our economy, our society and our democracy...they've bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit and tilted the playing field against everyone else." Basically, she is calling for a breakup of, Google (Alphabet, Inc.) and Facebook. Seems like she is biting the hands that feed her and the populist mob of politicians, since almost all (not quite all, but a significant percentage) of Silicon Valley's political largess is found in left of center campaign chests. Not surprisingly, staking out this position gives Warren the exposure and headlines she needs to stand out among more than a dozen candidates (and especially those that support Bernie Sanders' socialist positions) all vying for money and 'street cred'.

Something you might not know about that pronouncement from Elizabeth Warren: Advertisements on social media for a video link to her proposal/pronouncement were, amusingly, placed on Facebook. Adding to the irony (according to the Wall Street Journal and Politico) Facebook pulled those ads citing unauthorized use of their corporate logo. Facebook restored the ads, citing the desire to allow for "robust debate". Let the games begin, but, if I may, as Detective Columbo more than once said, "Oh, one more thing".

If you take that statement I quoted above from Warren, and substitute the words 'federal government' for the corporate names, would you be able to suspect the substitution? Libertarian and suspicious I am, and I plead guilty to those leanings, but who or what has too much power over the economy, society and democracy? The government, or Amazon, Google and Facebook? And who do you trust to defend the above? Don't the current political power brokers hold an awful lot of the 'cards', so to speak, no matter the political stripe? If I don't like the company's product or posture, I just don't patronize them, right? Try that with the government, who doesn't even have a 'product'. I realize that choosing to allow either Amazon or Washington to adhere to some founding principles may be a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but Amazon's/Facebook's/Google's record in pure entrepreneurial zeal and innovation holds more promise than any jealous government's threats to destroy the work, hopes and dreams of thousands. I would guess that Elizabeth Warren is looking elsewhere than Silicon Valley for campaign money. We're better off thinking she was looking for headlines, because I am not too sure there's 'any there, there.'

Finally, a tech note that might bring a chuckle to some, a wince to others. Combining the business and tech worlds, food delivery is getting weird, as entrepreneurs try to figure out how to bring us lazy Americans our lunch, dinner, snacks, perhaps while we sharpen and perfect our esports skills (or send texts to Elizabeth Warren). FedEx is now testing robots for same day delivery (Well, I hope it's same day). PostMates has filed for an initial public offering with a robot called 'Serve'. And, Amazon now has a robot delivery yet to be named. But, and this is a big but, technophobes (you heard that nomenclature here, first, again, Star readers) are looking at what happened when PostMate's rival 'DoorDash' tried out a robot delivery system in 2017. Seems people occasionally threw a blanket on the poor robot, confusing navigation. Others stole the food from the robot ('Where's the money, Mr. Robot? I'm sure I do not know, Mr.Programmer...') Dogs were also reported to be chasing the robots, and there were reports of students riding them, texting 'Sit on a food robot and it's an Uber!!'

No human jobs lost in the food delivery business. Yet. It all sometimes seem like a somewhat benign version of the arms race.

Final note: Best-est friend and I went to the Kitchen Theatre production of 'The Royale' and were stunned. It's tremendous, it will bring tears to your eyes and leave you drained, with deep, deep questions about the reality of race relations a century ago, and still bedeviling us to this very day. It is a marvelous piece of professional theatre and I would encourage you to consider seeing it. The Lansing Star is a patron and supporter of the Kitchen and I am proud to have been a part of a very appreciative and moved audience. Thank you Kitchen Theatre, and all those who support its fine production.

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