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Get With the Program
My guess is that smog is not a big problem for robots. They don’t breathe in the normal sense. Cancer and heart disease are not on their list of things to worry about. When they look out the window at a modern city, they do not feel revulsion at the yellow-purple haze.

I like to think that our robot friends might care about such things because they care about us. I know, of course, that their response to these conditions depends completely on how they have been programmed. I can only hope somebody is working on that programming right now and that some really tight-ass type-A is checking their work. Twice, even three times, just to be sure. That’s because the robots themselves will never have any vested interest in heading off global warming or overpopulation or the awful aesthetics of a hopelessly diseased planet…or in the future of the human race, for that matter.

I want to be clear that I am not suspicious of robots’ motives. I don’t pick up any hints of malice coming off my Roomba. My iPhone can be unresponsive at times, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t ignore me on purpose. My GPS has always been very supportive, though it will occasionally make an honest mistake. Even then, I cannot find it in my heart to fault it for the failings of its programmers. Its errors — every last one of them — are directly attributable to the humans who designed, assembled, and wrote code for it.

Even if we assume, however, that experts will insert plenty of selfless goodwill toward humans into our machines, I can’t help but feel alarmed by the way things are going. The more uninhabitable Earth becomes, the more of a burden we will be to our caretakers. Machines don’t feel emotions like boredom and disappointment, but can’t you fancy them getting a little impatient sometimes? Furthermore, as our robots become more and more capable, we would be increasingly hampered by bad health and depression (you know…over the end of life on Earth). And humans are already kind of a drag as it is. Our complaining alone might test even the most saintly android.

What’s worse, the likelihood of such problems would certainly increase once we started programming emotions into our servants. They would require them, after all, to fully understand our needs. That’s when we would likely see the first hints of annoyance creeping in. Is it so hard to imagine an intellectually superior robot saying, “Do I really have to do the math for you?’ Or, “And to think I could be windsurfing!” Or even, “Can you speed it up, meatboy?”

I hope we never get to that point. Maybe we’ll get it together and stop poisoning the planet. That would certainly help. But if we don’t, I’m afraid that even the world’s most persnickety programmer might not be able to overcome the conflict of interest between the organic and the digital.

Look, I don’t want to start trouble here. Man and machine are natural allies, at least for now. We don’t want anyone’s feelings to be hurt, even if our robot friends do not currently have any. We’re all in this together, right? Humans because we want to keep breathing, robots because you’d miss us when we’re gone.

Especially if we program you correctly.
Other People
If you are familiar with the Bersnigiti-Gungstorf Scale, you know that it purports to measure individual human worth in terms of three different variables: good-heartedness, common sense, and intelligence. By averaging a person’s scores for each of these persona components, the Bersnigiti-Gungstorf Scale will yield for us that individual’s Utility Index Quotient.

As you may know, each component is rated by percentile with reference to all other members of the human race. Adolf Hitler, for instance, might score at a very low percentile for good-heartedness, but probably (though we don’t have much data on this) somewhat higher for common sense. Let’s say, for the sake of discussion, that he has average common sense. He would land, in that case, right on the 50th percentile. If you put him at, say, the 60th percentile for intelligence, then his Utility Index Quotient would be somewhere in the high 30s. That is a pretty low UIQ, making him less useful than around 65% of all the people on Earth.

Another person might score very low on intelligence but high in good-heartedness and common sense. Such a person, even though he or she might not make a big splash in the history books, could have a relatively high UIQ. Two 90s and a 10 would yield an index of over 60. Bottom line, such a person would be almost twice as useful, all things considered, as the leader of the Third Reich.

Coincidentally, Donald Trump has an almost identical UIQ to that of Mr. Hitler. His scores for each persona component track so closely to Der Fuhrer’s that one might be tempted to equate them in other ways. We must remember, however, that Professors Bersnigiti and Gungstorf have specifically warned against such facile comparisons. No two people are alike — even though they might be equally useless.

I had begun working, despite such warnings, on a hypothesis that might explain the political support that Trump seems to enjoy in the face of such overwhelming evidence of his uselessness. Such work does go beyond the narrow scope of the Bersnigiti-Gungstorf Scale, but I had hoped to break new ground in this area and, at the same time, repair my faith in human nature. My hypothesis, briefly stated, was that anyone who still supported Trump at this point must have a UIQ lower than his. If that turned out to be true, then 60% of humanity is pretty much OK. That would have made me feel better.

Sadly, my research hit a wall. Or rather, a sphere: the Foonschist-Cranbacker Motivational Field. One cannot make broad value judgments about others, it appears, without taking into account the primal forces that move them. Specifically: love, fear, peace, greed. Those are the basic elements contemplated by the Foonschist-Cranbacker Motivational Field. So far, I have been unable to unify these two constructs into a single, over-arching theory for judging others.

Until I do, I guess I’ll just have to go with my gut feeling — that people are idiots.
Roger That
Roger Stone is one of those people, like the Orange Jaundice himself, who is better left ignored. But now, here he is at the center of the Mueller investigation. It appears that Roger may have been up to something treasonish with our president and his Russian rooting section. So we really should pay attention, even if that’s what he seems to want most.

He got a particularly big dose of attention last Friday morning. Twenty-plus federal agents arrived just before dawn by land, sea, and air at his villa in South Florida. He was cuffed, his property was seized, and he was hauled off to jail. Mr. Stone later said that he had been treated “worse than Osama Bin Laden.” To be clear, though, he was not deep-sixed at a secret spot at the bottom of the Indian Ocean.

Nope, he’s still up and around… and still running his dandy gangsta act for whoever will listen. The act, however, seems to have lost some of its panache. As he came out of the federal court in Fort Lauderdale after making bail, he raised his arms to give the Nixon double-V-for-victory salute. Sadly, the gesture revealed a wide swath of fish-belly under his polo shirt. It wouldn’t have been a good look even if his gut had been spray-tanned like the rest of him. His hair, usually a perfect rug, appeared to have been attached upside down. His mouth worked like an organic taffy-puller to keep his dentures under control, and despite the victory sign, he looked weak and disoriented. Perhaps the crowds chanting “Lock him up!” threw him off his game. The whole scene belied his dapper bad boy pose and revealed the ghoulish bottom-feeder underneath.

It is worth noting that at least some of the FBI agents who nabbed Stone and sifted through his possessions were working without pay at the time. One can only imagine the rush to volunteer that must have followed the call for agents for this operation. He is just the kind of guy that any straight-laced lawman would love to collar. He flouts the law. He badmouths the cops. He lies about everything. He revels in his reputation as a dirty trickster who makes his own rules. Do I want in? Are you kidding me? Furlough schmurlough...just tell me what time I’m supposed to be there!

I’m not sure what the motivation might have been for sending in an armed regiment of agents to nab Stone. Maybe the shock and awe was a message to Stone and his co-conspirators. Maybe there are as-yet-unknown charges whose seriousness merits this kind of muscle. Or maybe Mueller was just being extra careful about a poisonous rot that is threatening the health of our republic.

Whatever it was, the big bust gave at least one group of federal workers a chance to clap back at a president who had dissed them repeatedly and questioned their patriotism. Better yet, it was their job to do it. And yes, they will even get paid to rattle his cage. Eventually, anyway.
All Growed Up
When I was a child, I was happy with my lot. Oh, I had to go to school and do homework and a few chores, but none of it was really stressful. I was mostly free to do whatever I wanted as long as I didn’t break any serious rules. Even the things my parents made me do weren’t that bad. Life was good, and I knew it at the time. Still, I always wondered what my life might be like once I had grown up.

Now that I have arrived at full adulthood and have established permanent residence here, I feel as though I should give something back. And so, I have this bit of advice for the many, many young people who read this blog: there’s no rush, kids.

Adulthood is okay, I suppose. You won’t have to do what your parents tell you to do anymore (though it is considered polite to listen closely and nod). You won’t have to make your bed or take out the garbage or eat your vegetables. You can stay up all night and wear the same underwear for weeks at a time. No one will give you a time out. You will not lose your trampolining privileges. Life will go on as before. Society has its own ways of enforcing its expectations, of course, but you can pretty much do whatever you want. Freedom, and plenty of it. Sadly, however, that is not the whole story.

For starters, the rent will be due every month. Every month…and it has to be on time, or you will have NO PLACE TO LIVE. And then, there are all the other bills you will have to pay. Every month, on time. Phone, TV, internet, food. Food, for God’s sake! It’s relentless! And if you can’t come up with the scratch, no matter how good your excuse is, you will lose all of these things. Compare that, if you will, with getting it all for free…plus the trampoline.

Consider, also, all the nagging little tasks you will need to perform. It’s time to update your insurance coverage, time to reset your password, time to download that program again. Also, we have no record of your purchase, and yes, you will have to go to the DMV in person. Do this and do that. All of this is meaningless minutia and little, teeny-tiny bits of bullshit that never seem to stop coming. Eventually, you will learn, your whole life is nothing but little, teeny-tiny bits of bullshit. And the more you grow up, the worse it gets.

Which brings us to another unfortunate necessity of being grown up: work. If you think school is a pain, my young friend, then you are in for a very unpleasant surprise. Even if you work hard, you will never, ever have enough money. It’s not like school, where it’s just grades and so what? This is about raw survival, pure and simple.

Your parents and teachers have no doubt told you that you can find a job you love. I don’t want to suggest that they are wrong. Let me just say, however, that while you’re out looking for that job, you might also find Sasquatch. Or talk to a unicorn. It could happen. I just don’t want you to be devastated (if) it doesn’t. So let’s be straight: you, like almost every grown up who has ever lived, will likely face a lifetime of mindless drudgery. In fact, you might be better off just settling for the least soul-killing position you can find and make the best of it. Or…you might stumble onto King Solomon’s Mines. It could definitely happen. I certainly don’t want to crush your hopes.

(There is one bright spot, though: sometimes, if you’re lucky, there will be yummy baked goods during morning breaks. I recommend bear claw. But after that, it’s back to the hellish grind.)

And so, here is my advice to you as you stand, trembling with anticipation and ready to cross that threshold into the brave new world of adulthood — don’t. Cling to your childhood like a wolverine on crack! Keep living with your parents, at the very least. The deals don’t get any sweeter than that one. Do some chores if you need to. You could even keep going to school if the ‘rents will pay for it. And clean underwear never hurt anyone.

Anything but this.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon