Saturday, November 30, 2019

There Are No Smart Phones Or Dumb Phones

Nowadays, we hear a lot about smart phones, smart televisions, smart audio speakers, smart electricity meters, smart refrigerators, smart this, smart that.  You would think these technological wonders were self-created, self-aware, self-perpetuating, self-repairing.

There is no "smart" technology or "dumb" technology. These devices are the brainchildren of humans who have created and programmed them to do whatever it is they're supposed to do. A rotary dial phone, for example, can't take a picture or send and receive text messages or record videos. That doesn't make it dumb. It wasn't designed to do any of those things. Does that make Alexander Graham Bell a "dumb" inventor because he neglected to make his phone "smart"?

Instead of calling these devices "smart," they should be called "enhanced" or "augmented" technology.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Bad Policing In Harlem

The following is a letter-to-the-editor that I sent to The Village Voice. The letter was published in the March 3-9, 2004 issue.

Dear Editor:

Ta-Nehisi Coates's valentine to the NYPD ["Black for Blue: Learning to Love Tha Police," February 18-24, 2004] brought to mind the night, two summers ago, when I needed the police. Unlike in Coates's situation, they did not deliver. After being pushed down a flight of stairs by a young man outside my place of employment, the Mount Morris Baths in Harlem, I called 911 three times. The police never showed up.

Two paramedics arrived about 20 minutes after the unprovoked attack. By then the young man and his buddies were long gone. Fortunately, the only damage was a scraped knee and broken eyeglasses, but it could have been much worse. I thought about writing a letter to the precinct commander, but then I changed my mind, thinking that it would be a waste of time. Maybe the quick response of the police to Coates's partner was because a female was the victim. And maybe because my location was that of a gay men's bathhouse, the police didn't feel it was necessary to exert themselves by making an appearance.

Whatever the reason, it certainly didn't make me think that they cared about me, the victim of a crime.

Charles Michael Smith

Ta-Nehisi Coates replies: "Thank you to everyone who took the time to write in. Feedback is a vital part of any attempt at responsible journalism. I'd like to extend my condolences to you, Mr. Smith, for that terrible incident and NYPD's lackluster response. As your case so poignantly demonstrates, there is still work to be done, in terms of police-community relations."

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Learning Another Word For Jet Lag

While reading Jeanne Mackin's riveting novel, The Last Collection (Berkley, 2019), about the rivalry between Paris couturiers Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel, I learned a new word--desynchronosis, the physical ailment one experiences traveling across time zones via airplane. It's better known as jet lag or jet fatigue.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

What's Your Choice--An Amusement Park Or A Museum?

I recently discovered a new television network called Dabl (seen in the New York metro area on WCBS, Channel 2.3). It focuses on lifestyles.

The first show I've seen so far is Doctor & the Diva. In their "This or That" segment, they asked this question: Would you prefer to be locked in an amusement park or a museum? Kimberley, one of the show's hosts, said she'd prefer to be locked in an amusement park because she'd be bored in a museum. Her co-host, Steve, said he'd prefer the museum.

Having spent many pleasurable hours in museums, that would be my choice, too. Museums offer so much to see, do, and learn, how could anyone be bored? Especially at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, my favorite, which is so large, with so many exhibits, you could spend the whole day there and not see everything.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

People Magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" Title Is Meaningless

While channel surfing early this morning, I watched The Wendy Williams Show on the Bounce channel long enough to learn that singer John Legend was selected to be People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.

To me, the title is meaningless since every year a different man is chosen. The Sexiest Man Alive title should be a lifelong honor instead of a temporary one. If John Legend is the Sexiest Man Alive this year, why wasn't he last year? And what happened to the guy who held the title last year and the guy chosen before him?

It's clearly a ploy to sell more copies of People magazine and nothing more.

Thursday, November 14, 2019



Note: November is National Native American (or Indigenous Peoples) Heritage Month.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Legalizing The World's Oldest Profession

Dear Editor: 
The legislators can pass all the laws they want, the clergymen can deliver all the sermons they want, and the editorialists can write all the scathing editorials they want. None of this will ever put an end to prostitution. The best solution is to legalize it. In this way, state and local authorities can minimize the number of prostitutes under 18. It also would minimize customer ripoffs, make periodic physical exams mandatory, and eliminate the often brutal pimp. Here's another plus--it would be a good source of tax revenue.

Note: My letter-to-the-editor was originally published in the Voice of the People column of the New York Daily News on July 9, 1979.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Friday, November 1, 2019



Note: Don't forget that Daylight Saving Time ends this Sunday and to turn back your clocks one hour.