Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 20, 2015 in Stuff You Should Know

Heads-up Displays: Safety Measure or Distraction?

As technology continues to evolve at increasingly higher rates, especially in automobiles, safety advocates struggle to keep up. Many luxury automakers, including Audi, Jaguar and Chevrolet have begun offering a “head’s up display” as part of luxury car option packages. This feature projects basic information usually found on a dashboard—like the speedometer—onto an area approximately six feet in front of the windshield. While the option is currently limited to high-end vehicles, those who follow the industry believe it is only a matter of time before every driver of every car will have one.

Opinions on this future are, naturally, divided. Supporters say that having the transparent displays at eye level will make drivers more attentive to the road ahead of them. They also note that the display can be disabled at any time. If added protections such as collision warnings or other cautionary measures can be added, all the better. Opponents, however, say that drivers, in general, are becoming overloaded with data and that the display option opens the door to unnecessary information such as advertisements for the nearest restaurant or music playlists. Such data, they warn, can lead to distracted driver accidents.

What Do You Think? The president of the independent National Safety Council calls the technology in cars industry “the Wild West.” Find out what he means by that. The general manager of product planning for Audi says that the heads-up is intended to help combat driver distraction. With whom do you agree? Explain your answer.

Update on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Earlier this summer, btw dedicated a You Decide! post to the Iran Nuclear deal. While Congress is still in the process of deciding the fate of the bill, we thought we would provide an update. Both sides feel strongly that their way is the way to protect the country against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Republican opponents have proposed a resolution against the deal, but the Democrats currently have secured enough votes to block this resolution. This means that President Obama will not need to use his veto power (which he was likely to do) to make the deal become operable.

Beyond the general opposition to the nature of the bill, Republicans claim that the Obama administration has never provided Congress with the details of two “side agreements.” These were allegedly negotiated between Tehran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. These Republicans say, by law, that Congress is allowed to review them. In response, the administration says no such agreements exist. Some are calling this a major foreign policy victory for the president, while others say that lifting sanctions on Iran will only create a more emboldened country that the State Department has labeled a state sponsor of terrorism.

What Do You Think? Did you participate in the You Decide! survey? Do a little more digging and determine if you still feel the same way. Why or why not?

Queen Elizabeth II Hits Milestone

President and Mrs. Nixon, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prime Minister Heath

Her Majesty the Queen has been meeting heads of state for many decades.Credit: National Archives and Records Administration. Oliver F. Atkins

You likely know more about three-year-old Prince George and infant Princess Charlotte than the rest of the Royal Family. That’s okay, they’re pretty cute. But their great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II has temporarily hijacked the headlines by becoming the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch. The previous record was held by her great-great grandmother, Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to her death at age 81 in 1901. There will be no formal marking of the milestone, although many media outlets have used the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the occasion.

Elizabeth II assumed the throne at age 25, after her father, George VI died at age 56. Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 was the first major international event ever broadcast on television (still a relatively new technology). In 2002, there was a Golden Jubilee celebration across Europe to celebrate the Queen’s 50 years on the throne, with similar celebrations held in 2012 to recognize 60 years.

Dig Deeper The life of Queen Elizabeth II is a fascinating one. When she was 18, for instance, she became the only female member of the Royal Family to join the armed services, where she trained as a mechanic and military truck driver. Find out another detail about her life and write a paragraph about what you learned.

McDonald’s Heads Toward Cage-Free Eggs

Out of all of the eggs produced in the United States each year (about 43.56 billion), more than four percent are used by McDonalds. That’s a lot of egg McMuffins, one of the chain’s most popular menu items. After negative press regarding the inhumane ways poultry and other meat-producing animals were being raised (stacked on top of one another in very small cages), the fast-food giant recently announced its goal of purchasing 100 percent of its eggs from hens raised in “aviary systems.” While not fully “free-range,” these structures will allow chickens to move more freely inside of barns.

This is part of a growing movement where consumers are becoming more vocal about their complaints about companies who do not adhere to reasonable humane standards for animals. Some opponents say that such measures will lead to a drastic markup in eggs in order to accommodate the changes. Egg producers say, however, that the retailers distort the actual cost by marking up unnecessarily. The fact that many chicken barns are empty due to the recent avian flu epidemic will make conversion to cage-free operations relatively easier.

What Do You Think? How much do you know about the pros and cons of cage-free chickens? Do you think that other restaurants will follow McDonalds’ lead? Why or why not?