Tag Archives: So it goes!

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 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.

Forgive Me iPhone, for I Have Sinned

I must confess, the main reason that I never converted to Catholicism is the same reason my t-shirt business folded: bookkeeping. I hated keeping track of every single purchase, sale, sales tax, transaction and never really knew what the hell I was supposed to report to Uncle Sam on my quarterly reports.

Given that the default mode on my moral compass points to “sin” (key word “default,” mom…) I cannot imagine trying to keep track of all my sins and accurately reporting them to the Catholic God’s taxmen, priests. Whereas a mistake on my business ledger might merit an audit from the IRS, a slip-up on my quarterly sin count may lead to being smote down in front of all my friends, eternal damnation, or God forbid, hand washing jock straps for the Notre Dame football team for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Catholicism or any other religion for that matter. All of my best friends, other than Jesus, have joined an organized religion. My problem with ascribing to any particular religion is all the damned rules (like using damn as a damn adjective). Nearly everything I’ve joined in my life, I’ve ended up quitting before too long — the one exception being the human race. But I’m telling you, some members in the latter group have been pushing all the wrong buttons and pulling all the wrong levers. I’m so close to falling over the edge. However, I would never kill myself; that would be suicide.

Converting (can you actually convert if you are not already in a religion?) to Catholicism presents the added burden of keeping track of all your sins, so when you climb into an outhouse-shaped confessional booth (see image below), you’ll spill ALL of your sins to the priest in the adjacent stall, receive a check list of Penance that needs to be checked off before you come back and drop your next load of burdens. Then, like Superman donning a cape and dipped in synthetic red and blue polyester, you emerge from the booth, conditionally absolved and feeling lighter, as if you can fly – or in the immortal words of Buzz Lightyear: “fall gracefully”.

No Priest on Duty: Enter at Own Risk!

Although, thoughts of converting to Catholicism just became more tempting with the new Roman Catholic App for your iPhone or iPad or iSin. The new app is designed to help penitents examine their Conscience based upon pre-programmed factors such as age, sex and vocation. Better yet, the app helps keep a running count and organize sins based on contrition. Moreover, you can add sins not listed in the standard examination of conscience such as “Third-Degree Blog Blasphemy.” The long-awaited app replaces the archaic Sin Abacus, which, with a couple of sharp turns en route to confession could shift your beaded sin count to absolution — something coined by some deceitful sinners, usually teenagers or closeted televangelists, as “The Absolution Sin Solution (ASS).”

Thank God for technology, eh? It’s only a matter of time before the Man upstairs, Steve Jobs, comes out with an ankle tracking device, the Sinulator, that monitors your sins as you commit them and simultaneously stores your history of sins in a nearby Catholic church’s mainframe and the Library of Congress. The only way you can get your Sinulator cleared is by going to confession and completely purging yourself, at which point the priest assigns Penance before entering the daily calibrated, secret code that wipes your slate free of sin. Should you keep procrastinating confession, your sins will merely accumulate until it reaches the Smite Point, explodes and smotes you down on the spot.

Kaboom!!!

I imagine God already has a Smite app on his IPad, which He plays with in between Facebooking, tweeting and playing Grand Theft Auto IV on His Xbox-360.

However irrational it may seem at this point in time, the prospect of having a Sinulator permanently strapped around my ankle is enough to deter me from signing on to the Catholic Church. I often have visions of returning home from a weekend in Vegas, still coming down from the roofies slipped in the Molotov cocktail I drank Saturday night, and walking blindly into a sin intervention, or Sinnervention. I am not one for surprise parties or being the center of attention, so the thought of being surrounded by family, friends, Therapist Bob and the neighborhood Exorcist scares the hell out of me.

“The reason we’ve gathered here, T.M., is to help you confront your conscience,” Therapist Bob would say, taking the lead. “But first you need to take the first step and tell us about this,” he continues, pulling the remains of my charred Sinulator from a cardboard box. “Your neighbor heard a loud explosion coming from your house early Sunday morning and the fire department found this among the remains.”

That said, I must confess that I won’t be converting to Catholicism or purchasing the confession app any time soon. And the only piece of advice I have for any of you contemplating either of these is the following:

During confession, if you ever feel a priest’s foot tapping against your foot underneath the adjacent stall, I suggest you take a peek and make sure he doesn’t have a Sinulator strapped around either one of his ankles…

THE END Kaboom!

The Daily T’wit: Twitter Killed the Media Star

Daily Tweet T’wit: 15 Tweets of Fame: Jay Cutler and LeBron James remind world they’re like rest of us & one tweet away from only making six figures.

Granted, Twitter is not the first media tool to take down cultural icons and institutions, which has been documented in the following historical montage of techno-kills:

“A Brief History of Techno-Killing in America: Part I”

Television Killed the Literary Star (1950s)

Video Killed the Radio Star (1979)

Porno Killed the Porn Star (1988)

John Homes died in 1988

24-Hour Cable News Killed Free Thinking (1980s to Armageddon, which, by the way, will be covered around the clock)

Youtube Killed the Political Star (2004)

To Be Continued in a Theater Living Vegetation Room Near You…

To get your daily dose of tweets, be sure to follow Say Something Funny on Twitter.

(Warning: follow Say Something Funny on Twitter at your own risk, making sure to take a hard left just before falling into the Apocalypse…)

Zombie Hate-Crime Pierces Heartland of America

It was only a matter of time before America’s love/hate relationship for the dead would rear its ugly head. America’s growing addiction to living vicariously through the dead — namely vampires, zombies and Keanu Reeves – took a stake in the heart last weekend in my hometown Iowa City, when an alleged zombie was physically assaulted at a restaurant for breaking dead Jim Crow laws, which were supposedly buried over fifty year ago – only to be resurrected in the 21st century.

In regard to mainstream America’s pop-lust for zombies (e.g. “Shaun of the Dead,” “Zombieland,” and The Rolling Stones), this lust has been fed from a distance, usually through two-dimensional mediums – unless you get your fix through a plasma television. But now that zombies are feeling more comfortable in their decaying, leathery skin, they are more inclined to come out of the idiot-box and expose themselves to the mainstream public, slowly dragging themselves across tabooed invisible lines and intermingling with the living.

“Brainnnzzzzzz…may I have the next dance with your juicy brain, sexy mortal?”

Such was the case at Panchero’s Mexican Restaurant in Iowa City when a patron, who for whatever reason felt threatened and called the victim a “zombie” before first punching him in the eye, then the nose – inevitably breaking the latter. Iowa City police are still searching for the suspect and Crimestoppers has offered a reward of $1000 (or the cash equivalency of pickled brains) for any information leading to the arrest of the suspect. To help bag the alleged zombie-beater, police have released the following photo captured by a security camera from a nearby blood bank:

shaun of dead

Picture of alleged zombie attacker fleeing Panchero's and swinging at onlookers with a bloodied cricket bat.

Given when and where the alleged zombie attack took place should be a cause for grave concern. Most locals, dead and alive, know that Panchero’s is not a fertile breeding ground for zombies, especially amongst the after-hours drinking crowd, whose brains are stewed in cheap beer. Moreover, most of the clientele consist of hormonally-repressed college boys who were unable to score at several nearby meat-markets and need to fill the void with a two-pound burrito (your pun here). Granted, like most of their mortal counterparts who drink domestic beer by the pitcher, I’m guessing zombies also crave empty calories on occasion.

Because crimes perpetrated against zombies are rare (or are rarely reported by zombies; I’m guessing for every assault reported there are at least a 1000 that go unreported), news of the zombie assault was picked up by national news affiliates across the U.S. However, what the corporate-news lifeline failed to report is that Iowa City is a very welcoming community, especially when it comes to treating zombies as if they were alive and granting them the same rights and protections as their mortal counterparts.

Moreover, the zombie community has been more visibly active in Iowa City lately and refuses to stay underground — as if they were ashamed of being dead. To increase visibility during the daytime hours, the zombies staged a Zombie-Pride march in broad daylight in September, marching (if slowly dragging your clubbed feet counts as marching) from a local cemetery to downtown. They carried signs to ensure their voices could be heard, shouting lively chants such as “We’re zombies, we’re proud and we want to eat your brainzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

zombie march ic

"Brainnnzzzzzzzzzz...brainnnnzzzzzzzzzzz..."

Furthermore, to help zombies feel as if they fit in to the art scene, the Iowa City Community Theater staged “Zombie Prom” the past two weekends and encouraged zombies to out themselves and come to the musical in full regalia – a zombie coming-out party, if you will.

And since the attack, leaders from the zombie community and zombie sympathizers have publicly decried the senseless attack and are pressuring authorities to treat the assault as a hate crime. After all, zombies are fairly harmless, not to mention dead, yet some zombies who have been victims of assault still manage to maintain their compassion, as demonstrated by Freddy in “The Return of the Living Dead” when he was assaulted by Tina and said:

“See? You made me hurt myself again! I broke my hand off completely at the wrist this time, Tina! But that’s okay, Darlin’, because I love you, and that’s why you have to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!”

Besides, if America is truly concerned about a new class of citizens eating the collective brains of our society, I think it is safe to say we’ve already been doing that for years – slowly eating our young from birth:

zombie baby tv

(Disclaimer: no brains were consumed, at least literally, during the penning of this post.)

F*** Obama’s Real Health Care Reform

My favorite 4-letter F-word is, you guessed it: FREE.

Despite the cautionary advice that “nothing is free” or “you can’t get something for nothing,” I’m a sucker for free stuff. What can I say, I’m a public school teacher, and I know better than to jump into the middle of a rabid teacher scrum when post-it pads are at stake.

If anyone has mastered giving away free stuff with an invisible price tag attached, it’s Obama, Inc. Obama the Campaigner mastered giveaway marketing during his presidential bid and has lobbed these practices into his presidential money-raising strategy. During the campaign, my addiction to free-stuff helped me procure an “Obama ‘08” bumper sticker and button, neither of which I contributed any money — despite the accompanying solicitations for donations.

Regarding the latter, I will admit that I was thoroughly disappointed when my button showed up and it was the size of a quarter and could only be seen with satellite vision. I realize size isn’t supposed to matter, but I was too embarrassed to sport my new microscopic button in public, as if the button itself symbolized my free-stuff addiction. Either that or I had an affliction of button envy and was not about to compensate for my inadequacies by sporting a flag pin on the lapel of my collared t-shirt.

More recently, Obama, Inc. was giving away free bumper stickers to help push its health care reform through the dysfunctional aisles of Congress. All I had to do was sign a petition pledging my support for President Obama’s three principles for real heath care reform.

Actual Size?

Actual Size?

Unfortunately, I will have to wait 4-6 weeks until my free bumper sticker arrives. By then, the duct tape keeping my bumper attached to my car could become unglued, much like Obama’s health care objectives once they gets tied down with red tape and green lobby money in Congress. Although 6 weeks in Congress is a mere blink-of-the-eye in the big picture of getting things accomplished. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t like the way things are going in Congress, just wait a couple of years and you still won’t like the way things are going in Congress.”

In the meantime, I’ve decided to come up with my own bumper sticker ideas, one of which I may order from an online bumper-sticker company:

1. My Other Car Is a Health Insurance Payment

2. All I Wanted Was Real Health Care Reform, and All I Got Was This Lousy Bumper Sticker

3. Shit Cancer Bankruptcy Happens!

4. W.W.J.I.? (Who Would Jesus Insure?)

5. Coming to a Hospital Near You: Attack of the Right Wingnuts Socialized Health Scare

6. Underinsured Baby on Board

7. So it goes…!

8. FREE Obama’s Real Health Care Reform!!!

Feel F*** to vote for your favorite bumper slogan (or offer up your own, hence public option) in the COMMENTS below…