Jim Beam column:News from a story collection

Published 6:29 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) is as foreign to me as it was when I first heard it mentioned. A column about AI is one of 19 stories I have put into a folder on my computer that says “Read later.”

Andrew Schwarz, a professor at LSU’s E.J. Ourso College of Business, wrote a column in The Advocate about AI and it was the first one I pulled out of that folder Monday. Thankfully, Schwarz has a suggestion that sounds like it would be perfect for an AI dummy like me.

“Let us put together an AI educational initiative for our citizens that can empower us to be educated about this technology and bring economic vitality to our state,” Schwarz said. “I want leaders across the country to look at Louisiana and ask, ‘What is going on down on the bayou?’ We can do this if we act together to tap into the power and promise of AI.”

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“U.S. Navy faces most intense combat since WWII” was the headline on another story that caught my attention. The Associated Press said the American navy has prepared for decades to potentially fight the Soviet Union, then later Russia and China, on the world’s waterways.

However, the Navy is currently trying to keep international waterways open in the Red Sea corridor and is having to fight the Houthis rebels in Yemen who are using what the AP called “a seemingly inexhaustible supply of drones, missiles and other weaponry”

The commander of one American vessel said, “I don’t think people really understand just kind of how deadly serious it is what we’re doing and how under threat the (55 U.S.) ships continue to be.”

No, people don’t know much about any of that because their full attention is focused on two old guys who are campaigning for the presidency. Why we don’t have younger and better candidates is extremely frustrating for most Americans.

I stashed two stories about hurricanes from The Advocate in that folder. One of them says, “Residents across the Gulf Coast and in Louisiana are bracing for the start of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season — one that early forecasts suggest could be one of the most active on record.”

Unfortunately, I am perhaps one of a number of Gulf Coast citizens who isn’t making any preparations for hurricanes. Bryan, my son, is a great hurricane planner, but it has never been my cup of tea.

I love a sign that another story said was posted on the door at a New Orleans restaurant. It says the “Louisiana Hurricane Evacuation Plan: 1. Eat at Melba’s 2. Run Like Hell.”

Planning for hurricanes is bad enough, but now The AP is telling people in our part of the country that planning is key to staying safe in a tornado. I remember a week or so ago when Jamie, my daughter, called and asked where I was.

“I am sitting in a chair in a clothes closet,” I told her, “where there are no windows.” It was a first for me and I’m not happy about having to also worry about tornadoes.

How anyone can say climate change isn’t real is difficult to understand. Tornadoes are new for us and people’s homes are being blown away by more tornadoes in this country that they can count.

Another story in that folder is about Sandra Hemme, a Missouri woman whose murder conviction was tossed after 43 years in prison. Her attorneys say this is the longest time a woman has been incarcerated for a wrongful conviction. They also argue that the crime was actually committed by a now discredited police officer.

“The system,” a judge said, “failed her at every opportunity.”

This is just one of many stories we have seen over the years that give credibility for ending death sentences. The Innocence Project said in 2019, there were 143 exonerations in 34 states and Washington, D.C..

Illinois had the most with 30 exonerations. Other states with high numbers, in descending order, were Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Michigan, California, Florida, and Maryland.

Another story had more encouraging news. Atlanta and other cities are creating communities for the homeless with shipping containers transformed into studio apartments. Each has a single bed, air conditioning, a desk, microwave, small  refrigerator, TV, sink and bathroom.

A homeless woman said, “I’m going to stay here as long as the Lord allows me to stay here.”

Jim Beam, the retired editor of the American Press, has covered people and politics for more than six decades. Contact him at 337-515-8871 or jim.beam.press@gmail.com.


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