Tag Archives: exercise in futility

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.

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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.

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 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.

I’m So Broke That…

Having finally paid off the first installment of this bit, I’ve finally managed to scrape together enough material for a second installment of:

I’m so broke that…

I asked the Tea Party to refund my membership dues.

I couldn’t pay full homage to the late Ronnie James Dio.

I’m STILL saving up to file for bankruptcy.

I pawned one of my kidneys.

I’ve considered emigrating to Mexico.

A Census worker counted me as .4 — which is less than half the man I used to be.

My accountant* fired me (*Turbo Tax).

My wallet, after feeling empty and unfulfilled, ran off with my neighbor’s coin purse.

I voted for change, thinking I was voting for literal change (talk about shortchanging voters, eh?).

I STILL owe myself an apology for actually posting this cents-less dribble.

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.

Top Ten Women Tiger Woods Has NOT Slept With

America's Next Top Swinger

Once all the women who allegedly slept with America’s No. 1 Player Tiger Woods have officially stepped forward, it was only a matter of time before the remaining women left in America who have NOT slept with the golf ace would come crawling out of the woodwork (I know, I know…bad pun).

Fortunately for the latter population of women, a social networking group has started up on Facebook, “I have not slept with Tiger Woods,” – a place for the scarcity of women in America who feel left out and have a place to share their non-sexual experiences with one another. The group has already swelled to nearly 1,400 members, who allegedly did not sleep with Tiger Woods, and I imagine FOX News is tapping this source for up-and-coming ambush interviews.

Inspired by the Tiger Wood’s sexual prowess and the neglected holes he left behind, I thought I would do my part by creating the following list:

Top Ten Women Tiger Woods Has NOT Slept With

10. _____________________________

9. Ibid

8. Ibid

7. Ibid

6. Ibid

Tiger Woods pumps his fist in the air to celebrate finishing off the back-9 at a high-end brother outside of Las Vegas

5. Ibid

4. Ibid

3. Ibid

2. Ibid

1. Ibid

If you or anyone you know or don’t know has NOT slept with Tiger Woods, feel free to add their name in the COMMENTS section below.

More Useless Advice That May One Day Kill You (vol. 1)

The Almighty advised me to not look back while He’s barbequing sin on an open flame. Forrest Gump taught me to keep running. And Therapist Bob told me that I need to stop living in the past and running from my problems.

And now all I have for you, dear Reader, is more useless advice that may one day kill you:

1. Never sleep with a cockroach unless they promise you, in writing, to take you with them into the post-apocalyptic paradise.

2. Vote OTHER

3. Walk softly and carry conceal a mid-range CS Super Soaker.

Is that a Super Soaker 50 in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? (your deserved groan here)

Is that a Super Soaker 50 in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? (your deserved groan here)

4. Rules were made to be amended (see U.S. Constitution, Geneva Conventions, and latest edition of Dungeons and Dragons Official Handbook)

5. Never trust anyone who tells you they LOVE dead baby jokes.

Autopsy: Man decapitated with mobile wire for telling one-too many dead-baby jokes to the wrong baby.

Autopsy: Man decapitated with mobile wire for telling one-too many dead-baby jokes to the wrong baby.

(Disclaimer: Please don’t kill the messenger, unless they advise you to do so – for a nominal fee of course.)