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Alex Baer

In Brain Function We Stand

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A rectangle of nice, restful, healthy, vibrant green below and sky blue above, in the upper half -- just the thing to celebrate the vernal equinox.  Then, a set of finely thin-ribboned, parallel bars in pure white, sunshine yellow, and rich cream, arranged in the lazy X of a saltire, ranging from corner to corner, and intersecting in the center.  Then, on this center spot, a large apple-red sphere, not unlike an actual apple, silhouetted, and sporting wavering rays of varying lengths.

Finally, within the large center spot, the stark white of a rippling strait jacket, with the hard red of a slashing bar through it, from upper left to lower right -- the clear international symbol for NO.

And there you have it -- the start of a new nation, Terra Sanitas:  The Land of the Sane. Small details remain, of course, which include -- well, if you want to get picky about it -- everything else, except the flag part.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 March 2014 20:18 Read more...

This Computes Just Fine, Thank You

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Enjoy this sight experience while you can.  Before long, robots will also be reading the news that they, themselves, produce.

In fact, give it 10 or 20 years, and half of all jobs in the U.S. will be held by machines.  The Oxford study does not provide details on other ripples through the financial and social strata.  This leaves a lot of room for paranoid imagination, also known as alternately laughing at improbabilities and scaring the bejesus out of yourself.

When it comes to robot workers, perhaps the adage is right:  It's not if you are paranoid, but if you are paranoid enough.  This is not your grandfather's replacement-by-robots fear, not even its reality, as it has already worked out in the world.  Pick your metaphor:  This time it's serious as a heart attack, this program's on steroids,  it's a whole new level of...

As always:  When someone else's job is filled by a robot, it's cost-efficient progress.  When it's your job that goes under, via the cold, articulated hand of robotics, it's an unfair radicalization of the global economy.  Both are probably correct.  Neither treat flesh-based units very well.

Thinking of buying some penny stocks in a robotic future world?  Step this way...

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 March 2014 10:32 Read more...

Would You Like to Eat on a Star?

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... or, you could carry moonbeams home in a jar.  You could go shopping for a snack.  And, you know, nibble on a Pitt?

So much for musical whimsy.  Down to business:  How about some Angelina chops? Some Brad burgers or Pitt pits?  No, we're not talking about acting abilities or World War Z cuisine.  Not really.

We're talking Soylent Sausages here.  Or, as a buddy chimed in,  The Other White Meat.  Yes:  It's what's for barter, if the dollar fails.  Or, as another one emailed:  Is this Soylent Bling?

Yes, it's all of those things. And more.  Too much more.

For the ultimate in a concept that's really hard to swallow, how about snagging some celebrity tissue samples and making artisanal salami out of that lab-grown meat?

(We'll wait here.  Go back and re-read that if you like.  Take your time absorbing that one, and re-spool your mind as needed.  OK -- done?  Good deal.  Onward.)

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 March 2014 21:10 Read more...

Progress Means Siring Satire & Parenting Parody

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Once upon a time, life in America made sense, at least in everyday comings and goings.  There were unspoken bargains of reasonableness in effect.  These were the handshakes and nods of fairness in play.  When it came to some sort of public issue, there were more tipped hats than launched birds-of-a-middle-finger flocking together.

Of course, back then, we were a hat-obsessed nation, with head coverings of all sorts trickling their way into the language.  When we weren't hanging around, hats in hand, we were taking our hats off to this or that person or idea.  We even had feathers that others gave us, to put into our caps, thinking or otherwise.  You could actually wear a Pork Pie, right on your head.

(We could even do something quite crude to fill up a hat, in one hand, and then wish in the other, in order to find out which event might happen first -- a sort of an early barometer of misfortune and an early betting calculator.)

Life here wasn't perfect, not by any means.  But, it was earnest and shared.  Then came the birth on these shores of Satire and Parody, the two hipster kids from the big city, corrupting our farm-hand sensibilities as we kept morphing into a nation of city dwellers, where a couple major corporations would come to own all the food and farms, and our roots, in order to keep competition nonexistent, but always espoused, and to give farm subsidies a place to go when they got tired of hanging around the Treasury.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 23:14 Read more...

Death: No Longer a Passing Fancy

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The cost of paying attention keeps going up:  Increasing cases of thyroid growths near Fukushima.  Tar sands.  Poisoned water supplies.  Drones.  North Korea.  Corporate welfare.  Tainted and questionable food supplies.  Chemical weapons.  Gun violence.  Man-made gases eating the ozone shield.

There's even a recent report of a dormant virus coming back to life after a nap of 30,000 years.  After a run through the headlines, I'm feeling very much like I could use a nap of a few thousand years myself.

As hazardous to one's sense of calm as is trying to stay abreast of current events, it's even more dangerous to one's head wiring to start connecting the dots between disparate events.  That's where you go from losing peace of mind to shredding, and shedding, pieces of mind.

Show you what I mean:  What do you do with the realization that your country and culture is a death cult?  Taken individually, there are a number of troubling points of concern.  They go deep.  Added up, and you start to feel like an accidental conspiracy theorist, thunderstruck on a sunny day, zapped by a bolt from blue sky, holding the lightning rod high when the Big Paranoias have come out to play.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 March 2014 15:08 Read more...

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