Whelp, my wife has COVID and I’m isolating to see whether I show symptoms. We relaxed the distancing/masking in my region and, predictably, cases are going up. We’re vaccinated and boosted, but Mrs. Allen still feels very sick. I’m fine so far, and I hope we can go back to being a happy couple of pigeons soon.
A strange thing happened. I ate a Walmart fudge brownie, then some peanuts and drank some coffee. It tasted exactly like a memory of waiting for a table at Smitty’s with my grandparents. The yellow wavy glass, the vinyl bench, the smell of my grandmother’s perfume, the sound of silverware, the juice glasses with the distinctive bulgy profile… it all came back. It was clear in my mind to a crazy degree. It only worked once, though. No matter how many brownies I ate.
Unrelated: I’ve been doing some macro photography. I saw this weird moss and lichen on the top of a post. The vibrant red color is very interesting. I would love to know what the pigment is. The red nodules were about 2 mm in diameter. What a fun lens. It made me think of an old comic, A Softer World. So, I tried to make some things inspired by their style.Continue reading
I think it will come as no surprise that young couch potatoes tend to be overweight. What I think might come as a surprise is that a few hours per day of sedentary vegetation is not the problem. According to the National Academies, it may well be the advertisements that the kids are watching that’s causing it rather than the actual time of inactivity.
And I get it. If you want to make lots of money, you need to buy low and sell high. That means buying corn syrup (cheap) and effective advertising (kids are the easiest) and selling it for ten times the market price. Now maybe advertising could convince kids that orange juice was awesome. The problem is that the value added is not all that high. Special name brand orange juice probably can’t be driven up in price by a factor of 10 because nobody will bay $20 for a bottle of OJ (Or so I once thought…). Name brand sugar water, on the other hand, certainly can because the price was so low to start.
Where does that laeve us? Kids want crap because they see crap on TV. Value added foods like cola and flavored tortilla chips (both derived from corn, interestingly) make money. Kids get fat, somebody gets rich. And who are to say that’s not just fine and dandy?
The Hob Series at Dresden Codak seems to have resolved. I can tell you that it is a good story because I am still thinking about it. It’s funny that it would resolve today. Coincidentally, I was thinking about the Simpsons quote which I remember imperfectly:
Flanders‘ son: “What do taxes pay for, Daddy?”
Ned Flanders: “Why, taxes pay for all kinds of things! Roads, sunshine, the air we breathe, and all those people who just don’t feel like workin’, lord love em’.”
So, here’s the question (mostly hypothetical): If we could make a largely automated system that could provide basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, basic medical needs) to everyone with only 1% of the worlds population working (a volunteer force, effectively) would that be a good thing? There would still be lots of places for people to have gainful employment – entertainment, service, luxury goods, etc. But nobody would have to work at all if they didn’t feel like it. Would it be a better world, or a worse one?
When I was younger, I thought that would be a better world. I am not so sure any more. Utopia seems a lot more oppressive than it used to.
Dresden Codak’s Hob is a 24 page graphic novella. The author, Aaron Diaz, explores themes of futurism and psychology. The way he weaves his characters’ subtle family drama and childhood baggage into the story is quite remarkable. Of the whole story, this quote struck me as most poetic “[the thinking machines] can give you anything you want, save relevance.”
The futurist vision is the new synthesis of occult dreams and new science. The promise is whole new worlds and the time to explore them. Infinite wealth and immortality.
It is as abhorrent to some as it is seductive to others. IEEE spectrum wrote up a while issue on it; it’s not as fringe as you might think. They call it the Singularity. Will we ‘evolve’ to become one with machines? Will organic humans still be relevant? Relevance is the question on my mind when I read this. What makes people relevant?
I think it’s different from the things that make people “good” or “worthy” or “interesting.” Those don’t have the same grim connotation. People can lack any of those qualities and still we would keep them around. But what about irrelevance?
They say the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. That’s why I don’t trust Utopia anymore. I’m not sure that many of us could survive not being needed.