Pearl's Paradise

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled teams yearning to breath free…"

December 1, 2017
by Steve Pearl

The GOP Tax Plan Will Fail Because it Ignores the Impact of Automation

To everyone who wants to believe the overly-optimistic economic growth assumptions the GOP is using to promote their “1% Welfare” tax plan, consider this tidbit from this morning’s news…

General Motors plans to deploy a fleet of fully autonomous taxis by 2019.

This isn’t sci-fi anymore, friends.  It’s real. Within a decade, as a seismic technological shift hits the transportation industry, tens of thousands of taxi, Uber, and Lyft drivers will lose their jobs. Full-stop. Soon after that, the same shift will hit the trucking and logistics industries and the ripple effect upon low-skill American workers will be even more catastrophic.

Within our lifetimes, human obsolescence will become the norm, not an aberration.

Transportation and logistics are not the only industries where automation will have a profound, job-killing impact.  Robotics are reaching into every aspect of our daily lives.  Soon, naively simplistic campaign platitudes like, “We’ll bring back coal jobs!”, (about 75,000 workers in total in an industry that was already decimated by cheap natural gas), will be utterly meaningless when millions of under-skilled Americans are forced to hit the bricks in search of meaningful employment.

At a time when this country should thoughtfully and wisely prepare for the imminent arrival of such a robotics-heavy future, aggressively mustering visionary social will to invest in education, innovation, and job retraining ahead of the catastrophe, the Republican tax scheme would only make higher education that much less affordable and out of reach for those who need assistance to adapt and innovate.

What do you think large corporations will do with the piles of cash the Republicans will hand them when this tax cut goes through?  Will they suddenly become uncharacteristically magnanimous and hire more employees?  Will they generously hand out big raises to the employees they already have?

Or will major manufacturers and corporations automate further, relentlessly driving down production and supply chain costs by replacing expensive human labor, thereby putting hundreds of thousands of taxpayers out of jobs as they drive up share value, taxpaying Americans upon whose unemployable backs the weight of government funding will fall, all because the GOP tax plan would let corporations off the hook for their historical part of fueling government revenues?

The answer, my friends, is that big companies will not add human labor unless it makes them a profit. The future is clear. The way to increase profit will will not include expanding human labor when every indicator is that self-driving, fully automated everything is the way to slash costs.

Make no mistake, growing the economy and increasing corporate profit will be driven by adoption of automation, not by a significant growth in worker productivity, as the GOP tax plan presupposes.  Many economists believe we have already reached the tipping point at which human productivity cannot increase appreciably beyond its current levels.  Such a bleak scenario, in which human labor becomes fundamentally “obsolete,” does not substantiate the mythic wage growth claims that the GOP is counting on to sell this scheme to middle-class Americans, people who are desperate for high paying jobs.  It is in the GOP’s near-sighted interest, therefore, to ignore this risk altogether and cram through a legislative “win” at all costs before the end of the year.  The GOP’s short-sighted legislative “win” could very well bankrupt our country under crushing national deficits and debt, only to drive us further into the equivalent of economic indentured servitude to debt-holding countries such as China and Saudi Arabia.

November 9, 2016
by Steve Pearl

Making Peace Amidst the Chaos

Christians shoulder an enormous responsibility in the aftermath of this election. Some Christians celebrate this as a victory. Others lament it as a loss. Either way, God calls all who believe in Jesus Christ to be peacemakers and mediators in times of great crisis.
Here are a few thoughts about how Christians can become peacemakers and mediators in this time of deep division within our country.
  1. Don’t gloat. If your candidate won, your candidate won. Do not forget that by some estimates 60% of the people who voted for the winner did so more out of hatred for the loser, not because they thought the winner was a great candidate. Both candidates had historically high unfavorable ratings.  There was no “winner” in this election, only a “victor.”  History has shown us that those who do not respect and embrace the voice of the losing minority – especially when it represents nearly half the country – risk losing the power they fought so hard to attain by the very next election.
  2. Don’t whine. If your candidate lost, your candidate lost. Like it or not, your neighbor just sent you (and the rest of the country) a soul-piercing message with their vote. You may not like that message, but you would do well not to ignore it. Now it is time to move on, to engage in constructive dialogue with your neighbor, and do the hard labor of pursuing your passions for your causes without whining or complaining.  The job of winning converts to your cause just became monumentally more difficult due to the viciousness of this campaign.
  3. In every meeting and in every conversation, be gracious in speech and deed. No matter how difficult it may seem at the time, hold your tongue (and your keyboard) when provoked. Elevate your rhetoric above the rancorous partisan divide and do everything in your power to seek common ground before battleground. Ask questions and seek understanding before demagoguery. Leave demagoguery for the politicians and instead reach out to people you don’t understand or to whom you do not relate so you can understand them better.
  4. Live your life according to the guidance of Scripture, not our perverse, repugnant, Reality TV culture. Re-read Romans 12, Micah 6:8, Galations, James, 1 Corinthians, Matthew 5-7.  Take your pick. The Bible is full of guidance for how we can live our lives as salt and light to a dark, craven world. Do not put false hope in those who, by the evidence of their life’s work and their words, do not share your faith. Do not let your steadfast commitment to the hard work of a life in Christ become watered down as the powerful and mighty tickle your ears with words that may sound appealing, but ultimately lead to destruction.
  5. Seek the wise counsel of other Christ-followers, diligently pursuing fellowship with those who would hold God up for the world to see and who embrace their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. Seek out and bond with earnest believers, whether you understand their political bent or not. Build fellowship up within the church, becoming of one mind in Christ even if we are not of one mind in politics.
  6. Look in the mirror and be ready to take accountability when you use rhetoric that you know is intended to inflame, not defuse.  If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit is your guide, pricking your conscience when you are about to open your mouth and launch a crushing salvo.  Yes, there is a time for inflammatory rhetoric. There is also a time for words that bring peace. The Bible makes it clear that all who call on the name of Jesus Christ will face attacks and abuse for our commitment to God and holy living. Let’s be certain we are not attacked and abused simply because we brought it on ourselves out of arrogance, fear-driven hatred, or selfish ambition. Save your inflammatory rhetoric for the times when it is need most; for when the marginalized are further marginalized by a society steeped in fear and suspicion, for when the poor are made poorer by those who could not care less, for when the weak are discarded because they cannot contribute as much as the strong, for when the powerful are falsely lauded to curry their favor, and for when the humble are ignored because they choose to seek God’s power over the power of man.
  7. PRAY! PRAY without ceasing, seeking a heart molded and crafted by Christ, lifting up the name and person of Jesus Christ so high that you become a mere speck in the background and all that remains is His heart and His presence.
We are imperfect creatures, sinners saved by grace alone. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Now it’s up to us to show the world the joy that comes through a life sold out to Christ.

June 8, 2015
by Steve Pearl

Apple WWDC 2015 (Sort of) Live Blog

Okay, so it’s not exactly a “Live Blog.” It’s more like…

“I recorded the WWDC 2015 Keynote address, came home after work, grabbed a glass of orange juice, put my feet up, watched the festivities, and decided to write down my self-consciously witty thoughts.”

By the way, you wouldn’t believe it for all the snark I’m about to drop on you, but I’m a huge fan of Apple. 2/3rds of my computers are Apple products. (Sorry, no iPhone. Too limiting for this geek.) Then again, I can’t stand it when anyone purports to invent a solution that someone else has already invented.

If you just want the Cliff’s Notes version, here it is…

Apple has lost its innovative edge. Oh, Apple is still phenomenal at waving its hands mysteriously and pronouncing, “It’s magical!” to astonishing, crowd-rousing effect, but with few exceptions, WWDC 2015 took the shine off the big red fruit from Cupertino.

Have fun!

0:00:   Bill Heder is still one heck of a funny guy. Love the intro bit!  If you haven’t seen it, find it.

0:10:   Okay, it’s not really a “Live Blog,” ‘cuz I’m not using any live blog technology. And I’m not even watching it live. Ah, what the heck. Here we go.

0:10:   How magnanimous. Giving a bunch of rich schmucks tons of free Apple product just ‘cuz they held a baseball hostage.  I’ve seen some dud stunts before, but giving a bunch of overpaid baseball players free Apple product seems a tad self-serving, n’est pas?

0:10:   Fanbois unite! Cheering for more Watch apps. Woo Hoo!

0:11:   Yosemite. “Beautiful” release. Uhhh… Looks like one of my kids old coloring books.  Mavericks, cool.  Yosemite, meh.

0:13:   Nice dig at Windows 8 adoption rate. 8.1 @ 7%. Very cool. (For the record, I’m writing this on my Lenovo Yoga laptop under win 8.1, watching the recording on my Macbook Air 11.6.)

0:14:   OS/X “El Capitan.” What? No kitty cats? No National Park names? Way to go, ya self-consciously hip California surfer dudes.  “Duuude, let’s go do El Capitan!”

0:15:   Wowzers!  Apple adds side-to-side gestures in Mail inbox. Android much?

0:16:   Wait…  Safari what? They still use Safari? Does anyone really use Safari?

0:16:   Uh, Google Chrome has had the sound icon on tabs for about a gazillion years. Way to innovate, Cupertino.  About the only thing Apple’s mastered is muting the audio from the address line.

0:17:   Okay, I have to give them this. Spotlight is still the slickest fully integrated search going. Microsoft might catch up some day if they can figure out how to beat Apple and Google at the Siri/Google Now game.

Click to continue reading “Apple WWDC 2015 (Sort of) Live Blog”

September 10, 2013
by Steve Pearl

Apple’s “Big” iPhone 5C/5S Announcement Hits and Misses

I’m so glad I dumped my Apple stock when it hit $600.00.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still think Apple makes killer products.  Nobody, but nobody, is better at basic industrial design and a rock-solid consumer ecosystems than Apple.  If you want the most elegantly designed, longest-lasting, most functional, personal computing tool on the market, the odds are it’s going to be an Apple product.

Every time someone asks me, “What should I buy?  A Mac or a PC?” my answer is easy.  If you want the most durable, easiest to use, best designed laptop on the planet, grab a Macbook Air.  Light.  Long battery life.  Blazingly fast.  Durable.  You’ll still be doing great work on it 7 years from now.  Spend more, enjoy more.

I can’t say the same for ANY other major PC manufacturer except Lenovo.  I’m in LOVE with my first-gen Lenovo Yoga 13.  (I’m typing this on it now.)  And from what I’ve seen of the Yoga 11s and the second gen Yoga 13, I think Lenovo has hit the sweet spot in the competitive laptop marketplace.  The Yoga line actually makes Windows 8 appear – dare I say it – usable.

Click to continue reading “Apple’s “Big” iPhone 5C/5S Announcement Hits and Misses”

July 2, 2013
by Steve Pearl

Faint Praise for Win8.1 Preview Highlights Microsoft Arrogance

Microsoft_DownloadI know I’m starting to sound like a Microsoft hater.  That’s not true at all, but with the amount of time I’ve spent lately bashing MSoft for Windows 8, you could get that impression.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…  There are many elements of Windows 8 that I actually like.

But it’s hard to deny.  The recent release of the Windows 8.1  Preview underscores just how intransigent and arrogant Microsoft has become.

In Windows 8, Microsoft decided to re-write everything everybody ever knew about Windows.

They left us access to the “Desktop” but without any of the “desktop functionality.”  They yanked out the one item that has been kicking around in every incarnation of Windows since 1994.


Listen up, Microsoft…  To paraphrase that immortal debate performance between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle…

“Mr. Ballmer, I knew the Start Menu.  I was personal friends with the Start Menu.  What you’ve given us, sir, is NOT a Start Menu.”

Click to continue reading “Faint Praise for Win8.1 Preview Highlights Microsoft Arrogance”

June 27, 2013
by Steve Pearl

Windows 8.1 – Proof that Microsoft Still Doesn’t “Get It”

Announcement for Microsoft Build 2013

You can call me obsessive if you like.  I prefer to call myself a stickler.  Certain microscopic pieces of grit get into my shoes and I just can’t walk another step until I remove them.

Such is the case with the Windows 8 “Modern” interface (the artist formerly known as “Metro”) and Microsoft’s stubborn insistence to reject user community outcry.

Ohhh…  Not true, you say, you who have just witnessed Microsoft’s keynote speech at Build 2013.  You had the distinct pleasure of watching – either in person or streaming live – Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his merry band of lackeys tell you that Microsoft “gets it.”  Microsoft understands your pain.  

Microsoft is about to make everything that is wrong about Windows 8 right with a wave of a magic wand.

Click to continue reading “Windows 8.1 – Proof that Microsoft Still Doesn’t “Get It””

January 19, 2013
by Steve Pearl

Lenovo Yoga 13: Major League Hardware, Whiffle Ball OS.

A little over three months ago I picked up a Lenovo Yoga 13 to replace my small-ish Acer 11.6″ TimelineX.  My college-aged son needed a new laptop on which to do game design studies, so I gave him my 15″ Macbook Pro and decided it was time to head in a new direction.

I know.  I’m weird.

Who in their right mind would give up a perfectly fine, super-fast, super-durable, 15″, non-Retina, unibody Macbook Pro for anything but another Macbook Pro or say a Macbook Air?

I thought about the Air, really I did.  I even considered the super cool, ultralight, 11.6″ Macbook Air.  I even bought one as a super duper open-box buy at BestBuy.  I liked it.  A lot.  Very snappy.  Very sleek.   Instant on.  I mean, hey, it’s a Mac!  Duh!

And then I tried to lay the display back a little bit further than Apple decided a display should move.  No joy.

And then, because I’m spoiled by my iPad and my Android tablets, I tried to touch the screen to move around some document elements with my fingers.  No joy.

So I decided to think out of the box.  WAY out of the box.  I stumbled upon the Lenovo Yoga 13 at BestBuy and immediately fell in love.  You remember that old song?  I think it was Fred Astaire who sang, “Heaven…  I’m in Heaven…”

At first, it was a joyous engagement.

Then…  Well…

Great hardware can only do so much to mask so-so software.

Read on for the details.

Click to continue reading “Lenovo Yoga 13: Major League Hardware, Whiffle Ball OS.”

December 19, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Haunted by an Image of Innocence Lost

(WARNING:  After the break this posting contains descriptions that may be too visceral and too fresh for readers who have lost loved ones due to gun violence.  I urge you to read the remainder of this post with that caution in mind.)

There is one picture from the Sandy Hook massacre I just can’t shake.  I see it when I put my head on the pillow at night.  I see it when I wake up in the morning.  I saw it dance before my eyes as I drove to the office the other day.

It’s not a picture of one of the dead children, those beautiful, smiling kids whose lives were snuffed in the blink of an eye.  I can’t forget those images, either, but they don’t haunt me in quite the same way.  If God is truly as merciful as He promises, then I must believe they are with Him in paradise.

No, the image seared in my memory is the picture of a chain of children being led from the Sandy Hook Elementary school.  I think the third girl in the chain is the one whose face I can’t shake.  It’s the face of innocence lost, of adult horrors bestowed on too young a child.  Her mouth is gaping, her eyes clamped shut.  She is clearly sobbing.  The trajectory of her life has been altered permanently by actions of unspeakable evil.

Click to continue reading “Haunted by an Image of Innocence Lost”

September 18, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Matthew Perry Hits Home Run with “Go On.”

I pretty much wrote off NBC.  I'm still not sure what I think about a network that airs insipid, deliberately offensive comedies like, "Animal Practice."

But tonight, I saw a gem in the making.





Matthew Perry is one of those actors I "want" to like.  He "seems" likable.  He "plays" likable.

Tonight, I liked Matthew Perry.

"Go On" is a new half-hour sitcom by NBC that revolves around Perry's relationships in a bereavement support group and his life as a radio sports personality.  From start to finish it had laugh-out-loud moments, deft, intelligent acting, and characters with some nuance.  Yes, it was absurd at moments.  Aren't all sitcoms?

But there was something about the show that reminded me a little bit of one of my favorites from the 90's.  It felt like an updated version of "Mad About You," minus Helen Hunt and with an ensemble cast that drew the whole thing to a touching, logical conclusion.

I'm watching again.

You should, too.

Matthew Perry may not be your cup of tea, but perhaps…  just perhaps…  "Go On" is.

April 4, 2012
by Steve Pearl

Learning about Love, One Day at a Time

Recently I was prompted to go back and look for resources that would help me do an extended study on the subject of "Love."  We all think we know what love is, right?  It's that gooey, warm feeling you get when you meet someone you think is your "soul" mate and then you start to plan your life together.


The infatuation that comes with that first meeting, that "love at first sight" encounter, is nothing but a passing fancy.  The first time you hit a speed bump you realize all is not well and perhaps, just perhaps, your "soul mate" really isn't all that and a bag of chips.

Perhaps you survive the speed bump.  Things get back on track and you move forward.  So you stop worrying about it and life gets back to "normal," whatever "normal" represents for you and yours.  Of course "normal" might not mean "healthy" and there might just be festering yuckiness lurking under the covers of your relationship.

Then you hit a bigger speed bump.  

This time it's a whopper.  You hit the wall at warp speed and this time things get really bitter, really fast.

Click to continue reading “Learning about Love, One Day at a Time”

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