Wednesday, January 16, 2019

agriculture, news, education ... is anyone driving here?

Driverless tractor in China
Changes come in on little cat feet:
1. AMHERST — Hampshire College is seeking a long-term partner to keep it afloat financially and may choose to not enroll a first-year class this fall, according to an announcement made by President Miriam E. “Mim” Nelson.
Nelson sent a letter to the Hampshire College community Tuesday morning informing students, faculty and staff that the college would like to have “a strategic partnership to address the challenges we’ve faced as an under-endowed institution, really from our very first days.
This/my area of Massachusetts is chock-a-block with college-level colleges (Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a variety of others) so that even before Hampshire opened its doors in 1970 and offered students a less-structured course of study, there was some question in my then-teen-aged mind whether another were needed. "Pot-holders 101" we used to jest.

Now, with 50+ years under its belt and several high profile scalps on its lodge pole (Ken Burns comes to mind), the need to dilute Hampshire's world or imagination somehow shivers the timbers. In an era of Trump and money and the inevitable "deal," does a partnership mean that everything will get watered down and pretend to be really kool when in fact it is just mediocre and looking for the next transactional buck?
In the news biz:
2. NEW YORK (AP) — The local news industry hasn’t been the subject of much good news itself, lately.
Newspaper circulation is down sharply, and so is employment in the newspaper industry. Financial cutbacks have led to the shutdown of nearly 1,800 daily and weekly newspapers since 2004....
There have been some 500 digital start-ups attempting to replace coverage offered at the 1,800 newspapers that have closed in the past decade and a half, Abernathy said. The problem is these sites mostly serve urban areas, since that’s where there is enough business to provide advertising, she said. She’s encouraged by foundations that support news, although much of that funding goes to international projects.
In agriculture:
3. Xinghua, China (Reuters) - A brand new combine harvester buzzes up and down a field in eastern China without a driver on board, chopping golden rice stalks and offering a glimpse of what authorities say is the automated future of the nation’s mammoth agricultural sector
The bright green prototype was operating last autumn during a trial of driverless farm equipment as the government pushes firms to develop within 7 years fully-automated machinery capable of planting, fertilizing and harvesting each of China’s staple crops - rice, wheat and corn.... Semi-automated technology is already fairly common on farms in places such as the United States, but fully-automated tractors and combines have yet to be mass-produced anywhere.
What will the farmers do if there is no need to farm the crops? What will the reporters do if there is no one to report the news. Well, maybe we can all turn to and build the Great Wall of Mexico? If there is no need to have anyone to do anything, what will we do?

All play and no work makes Jack a dull boy.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding colleges, The NY Times seems to have addressed the issue on a Macro level on Jan 12:
    Students in Rural America Ask, ‘What Is a University Without a History Major?’

    Regarding newspaper circulation, I wonder if it matters much. For example, whenever I travel I have gotten local newspapers. But for decades it’s seemed that local newspapers were a joke. I’ve needed to get The NY Times or another major newspaper to get some news. Have felt the same way about the freebie copies of USA Today provided by many hotels.

    Re: Manual Farming vs Automated Farming
    Ever wonder how many people really enjoy farming?
    I think I might enjoy managing a farm from an Agricultural IT Center. I know I don’t want to muck around. But every farm will need some folks who live for the muck.