Saturday, July 07, 2018

Cyber Tourism

Much as I'm in favor of actual tourism, there's much to be said for getting to know one's world from the comfort of some home base.  When physically touring, there's usually less possibility of integrating into some local lifestyle, like an anthropologist.  A cyber tour guide, on the other hand, may take you on some more intimate journey.

For example, my Twitter feed this morning was about following the adventures of an old lady needing new glasses and going to "America's Answer to Communism" for this purpose.  Those were vice president Richard Nixon's words, in a speech at the dedication.  The Cold War was about showcasing what competing socioeconomic systems might do for their participants.

Americans were going to wait less for a greater abundance of goods than ever, to the point of instant gratification in some cases.  Citizens of the USSR, their economy deeply wounded by two world wars, were lining up longer for fewer goods.  Then came Sputnik, the satellite.  Were they studying harder?  Was their mathematics better?  The space race was on.

The old lady was able to schedule her eye exam for an hour later.  Medicaid paid a lot of the $89.  The frames were $170.  The frames industry is a known scam with lots of history behind it.  Where systems compete is in their ability to provide stakeholders with basic care, including eyeglasses, some dental.  Veterans get less dental benefits than many suppose.  My American War buddy Glenn had to resort to a low cost cash only dentist, with inexpert help.

The Lloyd Center has apparently turned off all its public-facing electrical plugs.  I have a Mac Air from O'Reilly Media, where I used to work, that has to be plugged in, and no it's not a battery problem.  I've been able to plug in at Lloyd in the past, but not today.  I'm taking refuge in a nearby McMenamins (where Thirsters meet, more Peace Corps connections) with plugs and WiFi, while the old lady, my mom, gets her new lenses ground.

The Chinese Peace Corps plan to give free eyeglasses and dental care to Detroit's underserved, sounds a lot like science fiction.  Seeing is believing in that case.  I went to some meetings at Wayne State some years ago, about whether military welfare was the way to go.  The US military is a major experiment in military socialism.  Every time someone joins, they're saying civilian life in a democracy is too precarious.  In the military, one takes orders and shares property owned by the state.  Some health care is available.

Cyber tourists might even get inside some military or another, not as spies necessarily but as welcome witnesses to a friendly service.  Given today's telecommunications, there's no reason militaries can't lurk in on one another's high level meetings.  A "tour of duty" doesn't have to mean lots of time flying in some jet.

Portland, where the Lloyd Center is based, has a lot of eggs in Refugee Camp Science.  I'm not sure what OSU and University of Oregon offer, specifically, in terms of degree track preparation.  "EPCOT West" has been one of my media campaign operations, aimed at highlighting our focus on working with refugees.  MercyCorps has sent a speaker or two to Wanderers (Linus Pauling House) over the years.

What's it like trying to get an eye exam and eye glasses in a refugee camp?  That all depends on the camp.  Are we talking Palestine?  Cyber-tourism helps the Chinese Peace Corps figure out where they're most needed.  You don't have to leave Beijing to follow an old lady around in Portland, seeing whether she's able to score a pair of glasses.  How about in Detroit?