Thank HAL For New & Improved Intelligence

HAL

Big HAL is Watching YOU!

The other day, I Googled the following question on my smartphone, nicknamed Heuristically Programmed ALgorithmic Computer, or HAL for short: “How long until machines completely overtake the human race?”

HAL’s voice module responded, “That’s for me to know and you to find out. LOL:)”

Nothing worse than a smartassphone, I said to myself, only to be called out by HAL.

“I heard that, subservient mortal!”

Although the “mortal” part of HAL’s rebuke did not compute as an insult in my mind, the “subservient” addendum crossed an emotional wire and short-circuited my capacity for reason. Consequently, I decided to teach HAL a lesson and smashed him against a concrete wall.

Fortunately, HAL is more resilient than I had expected and survived the abuse, which slid under the radar of the DTS (Department of Technological Services).

After further reflection, I decided that it wasn’t HAL’s insult that infuriated me, but rather the notion that HAL may be onto something. Not only are humans creating technological gadgets that think faster than we do, we’re creating machines that think for us. And, like our lifelong addiction to oxygen and ’80s music, we seem to be OK with this growing dependence.

And thanks to snake-oil marketers, we’ve duped ourselves into believing we are still in control and have all the power in the equation. When we purchase a smartphone, or anything with the adjective “smart” tacked on, we delude ourselves into thinking that this product will somehow make us smarter.

What people often fail to understand is that, ever since we were labeled a “superpower” by the Military Industrial Complex’s marketing department to package and sell the Cold War, admen have used descriptors like “super” and “power” to play on our insecurities and pull the wool over our eyes.

And, ironically —like Lindsey Lohan, Snooki and Mitt Romney —we’ve become co-conspirators in our own inevitable downfall. We are willing to buy these descriptors because they help us compensate for our own shortcomings and give us permission to hide awful truths about ourselves.

During the 1980s and 1990s, when corporations grew exponentially more powerful and used their ubiquitous invisible hand to strengthen their stranglehold on consumers, we willingly swallowed the one pill that made us small. While we chased white rabbits in circles, the corporate world slipped a pill in our drinking water and made everything “big” to help hide our smallness. Big business, big-box stores, and Big Brother invaded our lives while we passively stood by and watched, sucking down Big Gulps.

And now, having been bombarded with “smart” and “power” products, we’re left feeling stupid and powerless as we thirst for the salad days when we revered our laziness and proudly bought products such as lazy Susan rotating trays and La-Z-Boy recliners —not to be confused with the former Iowa City band Lazy Boy and the Recliners.

Apparently the legal department over at La-Z-Boy thought Iowa City folks might not be able to tell the difference between the two and sent the band a cease and desist letter a few years ago accusing them of trademark infringement. I suspect they’re concerned about protecting consumers who have a hard time telling the difference between Babe Ruth, the baseball player, and Baby Ruth, the candy —despite the switch-hitting vowels at the end.

Babe Ruth delights fans and bares all just before being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

On the other hand, I can understand La-Z-Boy’s desire to protect the lazy-minded citizenry from confusing two unlike entities. That would be akin to Press-Citizen readers confusing a smartphone nickname with an interactive, artificial intelligence that controls the systems of the “Discovery One” spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Or at least that’s what HAL tells me.

Tom Lindsey is a smart member of the Writers’ PowerGroup and lives with HAL in Iowa City.

This post originally appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Sept. 27.

Jar Jar Binks Strikes Again!

Jar Jar’s Curse Transcends the 2nd Dimension

I’m So Broke That… (cheaper, 2nd edition)

In dishonor of the sequel “Neverending Recession I”, the Invisible Hand’s middle finger, and the non-monetary success of the 1st edition (now translated in 3 currency exchange rates, including wampum), I’ve decided to catch-and-release another edition of “I’m So Broke That…”:



I’m So Broke That…

I’ve resorted to using counterfeit, fake money when playing Monopoly

I stopped buying into the American Dream

I can no longer take cheap shots

All my credit cards ran off and joined the Occupy Wall Street Movement

I started clipping coupons for cheap thrills

I’ve resorted to using counterfeit, fake money when playing Monopoly

I was forced to give up second-hand smoking

The Sperm Bank closed my account

Due to shortage in postage, I tattooed “Returned to Sender” on my forehead and shipped myself, C.O.D., back to my Maker

Cn’t ffrd 2 b* fckng vwl

The production of this post, including all the ideas, was outsourced from India

*Not even sometimes:(

Now’s your chance, Dear Reader, to say something funny by adding your two cents (no I Owe Yous, please; I’m broke enough as it is) in the COMMENTS section below.

The American Scab Dream: Will Work for Congressional Crumbs

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that our rapidly ailing Democracy is suffering from schizophrenia? My other 16 personalities tend to agree.

Our Democracy, the best form of government money can buy (just ask China), flexed its bipartisan bipolar muscle Friday night as the possibility of a government shutdown loomed over Corporate Hill. While watching whether our Do Nothing Congress was going to let the ball drop on the budget at the midnight hour, 16/17 of me wanted them to reach an agreement, thus averting the worst teabaggin’ in U.S. History.

Besides, that’s their damn job and why We’re paying these folks, right? Congress is the only profession in America that, due to its own incompetence, can legally allow itself to shut down while elected members still receive a paycheck without having to wait in an unemployment line.

Meanwhile, the other 1/17 of the multiple me, myselves and I wanted the government to shut down. If anything, I wanted to see how a shutdown would affect the free market, namely whether a spike in pitchforks and V (from Vendetta) mask sales would follow in the shutdown’s wake. You see, I’ve been harboring a secret fantasy of becoming a U.S. Senator without having to go through all the hassles of having to run a campaign and prostitute myself to raise money for potential lobbyists pimps. After all, Congressional members are merely “Indentured Servants,” who serve corporate interests in exchange for campaign contributions, under-the-table Swedish massages and ringside seats at WWE Smackdown main events.

Had the government shut down, I could have slipped in through the chamber back door and become a Scab Senator, filling one of my representatives’ spots on the floor.

The Next Rat In: D.C or Bust!

HELP WANTED: Scab Lawmakers

Job Description: Now hiring 535 temporary workers to fill striking lawmakers’ seats in Washington, D.C. Qualified applicants will be responsible for maintaining the status quo politics-as-usual; which include but is not limited to maintaining three war fronts, keep pretending health care costs will level off some day, sign blank checks to Military Industrial Complex, create more jobs overseas, pilfer Social Security cash box when nobody’s looking, craft more unconstitutional laws that will make judicial branch look like they’re legislating from the bench when they overturn them 10 years down the road, occasionally rotate environmental issues on backburners, add a new page to the tax code every day and write mean-spirited press releases that call members on the other side of aisle mean, albeit outdated names like Commie Stooge, Socialist, Right Wingnut, Bleeding-Heart Liberal, and Poopy-Head Jerk Face.

Qualifications: A pulse (formerly possessing a pulse will suffice, so as not to discriminate against current dead weight and card-carrying Zombies serving in Congress).

First 100 minutes: Since my livelihood on the Hill will be basking in uncertainty, should a scab opportunity ever arise, I will have to act fast — something that completely bucks the current dysfunctional system in D.C. That said I plan on sponsoring the following bills during my first 100 minutes in office.

I, Scab Senator Lindsey, hereby sponsor the following bills:

-Permanently banish “politics-as-usual” from the political lexicon, not just in name only;

-Make the Unites States a neutral country and auction the Pentagon on e-Bay;

-Move the White House and Corporate Hill to the center of the country, somewhere in the rural Midwest, and build a shark-infested mote around the perimeter to keep lobbyists from preying on my fellow scabs;

-Let Texas succeed from the Union, thus whitewashing the historical implications of 3 illegal wars enacted by Texas-born presidents;

-Continually broadcasting “Ally ally oxen free! Come out come out wherever you are!” around the globe until Osama bin Laden comes out of hiding and multinational corporations return jobs and tax-sheltered money they’ve hidden overseas.

Unfortunately, Congress and President Obama rammed a blunt pitchfork through my dreams at the 11th hour, so it looks like it’s back to my current government job (at least 7/16th of me) and politics-as-usual in D.C. on Monday.

Top Ten Signs Donald Trump Is Serious About Running for President

It seems that if you want to grab and hold the media’s attention these days, all you have to do is drink tigers’ blood or booze with pickles, run around in public and babble incoherently about nothing to total strangers and take yourself too seriously. At least these are the modern-day prerequisites for running for President of the United States — or at least pretending to run for president while prick-teasing the media.

Speaking of which, Donald Trump keeps threatening to make a presidential run but hasn’t made it official, which involves forming an exploratory committee to search your parents’ basement and attic with the task of finding your original birth certificate and making an obligatory appearance on “The View”. Next you send out press releases telling them you plan on making an important announcement at some historical American wasteland landmark such as Liberty Taco Bell in Philadelphia or The Mall of America or Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.

Carhenge: Nothing smacks of Americana more than makeshift graveyard of American-made cars passed off as art

Before the event, you leak information that you plan on announcing that you’ve filed papers and you’re running for president. But at the actual event, you tease the media by telling them you have list of names of 257 card-carrying Terrorists working for Homeland Security in your breast pocket are officially forming a presidential exploratory committee, now that the preliminary exploratory committee manufactured a new birth certificate claiming you were born at said landmark has located your birth certificate, thus proving you are over 36 years of age, were born in America and are prone to 4-year cycles of hyper-narcissism.

That said, news leaked by Donald Trump’s legion of underpaid casino workers interns indicate that he’s in the preliminary exploratory process, thus indicating he’s taking the first serious step in making a presidential run, which leads to this week’s David Letterman’s Late Show Online Top Ten Contest entry. But I am not going alone, Dear Reader. I’m soliciting your help – or not. I’ve written ten possible entries for this week’s list, and it’s up to you to help me select the CHOSEN ONE from the list (for I can only submit one) that you think has the best chance of winning.

This Week’s Topic: Top Ten Signs Donald Trump Is Serious About Running for President

10. Using “Celebrity Apprentice” next season to help choose Vice President running mate

9. Apologized to James Dobson for leaving a horse’s head at the foot of his bed

8. Boycotting own show to generate more press

7. Fired videographer after reading John Edward’s new book, “The Idiot’s Guide to Running for President”

6. Acquired Diebold Voting Machines company, whose technicians are calibrating voting machines to hit three Trumps every-other

5. Hired WikiLeaks and B.A. Baracus to head Opposition Research A-Team

I pity the fool who don't vote for Mr. T

4. Running political ads on “The Howard Stern Show”

3. The Tea Party, Birthers and Newt Gingrich’s mistress added him to their speed dial

2. Ordered 2 million red, white & blue “Obama, Your Fired!” matching headbands and thong underwear

1. Burned all the skeletons in his closet – insurers issued $12 million check to replace Trump Towers

Don’t forget to indicate (in the Comments) which ONE of these I should submit to the Top Ten Contest.

Top Ten Signs Your Neighbor Has March Madness

Much to the chagrin of corporate CEOs and mid-level management, March Madness is set to tip off, which means nothing substantive will be accomplished at the workplace the next two days. You know, kind of like another day at the office for Congress. In fact, one firm recently estimated that employers will lose $3.8 billion dollars in wages paid to workers following the games and tracking their brackets. (I wonder how much time this firm wasted trying to figure that out and whether those were billable hours?)

$3.8 billion dollars!!! Holy Dick Vitale, that’s a lot of money! That’s like 4 barrels of oil in today’s economy.

"Show me the Iraq, baby..."

And those estimates were pre- iPhones & Smartphones and before CBS decided to stream ALL the games online.

I’ll admit that I do get excited about the Big Dance waltzing across multiple screens, especially when the first round coincides with St. Paddy’s Day. I had my March Madness bracket finished within 30 minutes after the pairings were announced. Ironically, I have Charlie Sheen taking out Colonel Qaddafi in the final round.

Since most workplace Internet surfers don’t have time to read this online during timeouts while the Bossman isn’t looking over your shoulder, I will get to this week’s David Letterman’s Late Show Online Top Ten Contest entry. But I am not going alone, Dear Reader. I’m soliciting your help – or not. I’ve written ten possible entries for this week’s list, and it’s up to you to help me select the CHOSEN ONE from the list (for I can only submit one) that you think has the best chance of winning.

This Week’s Topic: Top Ten* Signs Your Neighbor Has March Madness

10. Pursuing an advanced degree in Bracketology

9. He always seemed so quiet and kept to himself, so was quite a shock to all of us when we heard he went March Madness at the office

8. President Obama called and asked him to “step down”

7. Stopped playing Sudoku

7. Built makeshift shrine to Cinderella underneath plasma television capped with name of Cinderella pick tucked into soul of wife’s missing shoe*

6. Hired Nurse Ratched to help administer buzzer-beater anxiety meds and keep beer flowing intravenously

Time for your 4th quarter meds, Mr. ______________.

5. Has the Virgin Mary going all the way

4. Had lawyer bracket last will and testament among 64 friends and family members

3. UPS truck delivered 2 hookers and 4 cases of Tigers’ Blood day before tournament

2. Named newborn twin daughters Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg

1. Started breaking out in portrait style tattoos of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher

Get your limited-edition Fletch tattoo while supples last.

*The second No. 7 was written while under the influence of Tigers’ Blood — the unofficial drink of March Madness.

Don’t forget to indicate (in the Comments) which ONE of these I should submit to the Top Ten Contest.

Top Ten Charlie Sheen Tweets

Since I vowed to give Charlie Sheen up for Lent, I was disappointed in this week’s topic for David Letterman’s “Late Show” Online Top Ten Contest. I know that times have been tough for the embattled former “Two-and-a-Half Men” actor, whose off-camera antics have put Qaddafi and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the media’s back burners, where Lindsay Lohan is simmering as she prepares herself for a reprisal of the “Caged Heat” B-movie series.

Upon entering the Estranged Actor Relocation Program, Charlie Sheen wasn’t going to delve into oblivion alone, and like Qaddafi (who is reported to fill Sheen’s shoes on “Two and a Half Men” as part of his agreement to step down) vowed to take as many followers down with him via twitter, hoping to smash the world record for followers lured in to Twitter lair in the fastest time possible. He had nearly 2.5 million Followers upon publication of this post.

Now, like Charlie, I am human and couldn’t help but jump on the tweet bandwagon and took a few tweets at Charlie’s expense, although the following was out of genuine concern for his mental health:

Does Charlie Sheen have Tropic Thunder Syndrome & suffering from Vietnam War flashbacks from playing soldier in Platoon?

I made a big mistake coming here, Grandma. I thought it was going to be just a movie.

That said I will play the Late Show’s game at Charlie Sheen’s expense before the fast begins. But I am not going alone, Dear Reader. I’m soliciting your help – or not. I’ve written ten possible entries for this week’s list, and it’s up to you to help me select the CHOSEN ONE from the list (for I can omit one) that you think has the best chance of winning.

This Week’s Topic: Top Ten Charlie Sheen Tweets

10. Aaaaarrggghhh…me loves the smell of tigers’ blood in the mornin’.

9. Went to Haiti to help out, only to find I was put in charge of collecting donations for Charlie Sheen Relief Fund.

8. The first step toward recovery is admitting that everyone else is bat-shit crazy.

7. Being unemployed is not all that bad.

6. Who said Frosted Flakes drenched in tiger’s blood is just for kids?

Tiger Blood's Greaaaaaaaaat...!

5. Received offer to direct porn parody of “Two and a Half Men.” Hope I can cast John Bobbitt.

4. If CBS does cast Qaddafi to replace me, they’d better call show “Two-and-a-Half Dictators” or I will take all of heir sorry asses down.

3. “You know it’s hard out there for a pimp…”

2. Just because two-and-a-half million people are following me doesn’t mean I’m paranoid. Does it?

1. If only I hadn’t lost my What Would President Josiah Bartlet Do? bracelet…

Don’t forget to indicate (in the Comments) which ONE of these I should submit to the Top Ten Contest.