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This week, Donald Trump decided to soften his image after publishing a tweet in which he encouraged violence against journalists.

Hey, Bones McCoy, I gotta seem like a nice guy. Let’s do a photo op at a petting zoo or a military cemetery or some crap like that.

I wish I was dead.

Why is that orangutan pointing at me?

Somebody bring me that little shithead so we can get out of this dump.


• Thoughts on Garry Kasparov’s Deep Thinking from Nicholas Carr and me.

• Frank Rich compares the scandals of Nixon and Trump.

• Bruce Bartlett offers a searing takedown of GOP anti-intellectualism.

• In 1952, Wernher von Braun dreamed of launching gas chambers into space.

• Steven Levy quizzes Sebastian Thrun about the necessity of flying cars.

• Alexis Madrigal wonders about the wisdom of brain-to-brain interfaces.

• Jennifer Doudna addresses her key role in the “CRISPR Revolution.”

Vice explores pet cloning, a very inexact and terribly expensive art.

• A brief note from 1928 about Rockefeller dimes.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Jack Dorsey, the Wonderland murders.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. will trump moderate?
  2. jack dorsey on trump and twitter
  3. thomas nast political cartoonist
  4. rev. billy sunday baseball preacher
  5. guglielmo marconi’s funeral
  6. bonnie and clyde getaway driver
  7. thomas mann at the white house
  8. the swami laura horos
  9. the wonderland murders
  10. the last straw was the dead doctor in the pool house

This week, the GOP may wreck healthcare, though I’m sure the doctors Americans will soon be able to afford will be fine.

Drop your trousers, cupcake.

Take two of these and call me in the morning.

Oh snap, that was the wrong leg.

I don’t treat Mexicans.

I’m prescribing lots of bed rest.


• Something I wrote about the GOP in January seems truer now with American healthcare on life support.

• Identity politics allow the GOP to not worry about bad policy.

• Jack Ma thinks our technological revolution may lead to WWIII.

• Sue Halpern asks pertinent questions about “whistleblower” Julian Assange.

• Germany spied on the US as the US spied on Germany. Not at all surprising.

• Human moderators, not algorithms, scrub the worst of the Internet.

• A raft of technologists and futurists consider conscious machines.

The Great Leveler author Walter Scheidel thinks further about wealth inequality.

Andrew O’Hagan addresses the fate of the novel in our wired, unreal age.

• Tim Kurkjian predicts what the MLB will look like in 2037.

• Old Print Article: Robert Louis Stevenson dies in Samoa. (1894)

• A brief note from 1928 about pet giraffe prices.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Eugene Landy, MADCOMS, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. brian wilson psychologist eugene landy
  2. timothy leary prison experiments
  3. robert white head transplant surgeon
  4. alexandre dumas’ personal physician dr. gruby
  5. doctor hypnosis
  6. ted nelson predicted technological future
  7. machines are for answers, humans are for questions
  8. executed by an elephant
  9. madcoms machine-driven communications
  10. i’ve been writing about the potential for authoritarianism in the united states for 20 years

This week, President Trump Googled “treason” and learned it was sort of serious. He immediately called his best lawyer.

What do you think, Morty? Am I going to get a warning?

It’s a capital offense, dum-dum.

That sounds bad. Will I have to pay a fine?

You’ll be hanged by your neck until you die, and it’s possible your head might pop off.

I don’t want kids kicking around my head like a soccer ball, Morty. Make sure someone picks it up.

Will do, peabrain.

Can everybody please excuse me for a moment. I have to take a call from a very prominent chimpanzee lawyer.


Jeet Heer writes of Trump as a capo with nuclear capabilities.

Bill Kristol thinks Trump may be the ruination of the GOP.

• Richard Evans offers historical context on Trump’s baffling behavior.

• Richard Reeves takes aim at the mockery that is American meritocracy.

• Sara Roy reports from the Gaza Strip, a deeply desperate place.

• Kazakhstan’s EXPO 2017 in Astana is a $5 billion boondoggle.

• Zeeya Merali considers the morality of humans creating baby universes.

• Cars that are almost driverless are useful but not transformational

• Ornithologist Rich Prum answers question about duck copulation.

• Old Print Articles: The last days of Sigmund Freud. (1938/39)

• A brief note from 1945 about J. Edgar Hoover.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrases: Roxane Gay, Tex Rickard, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. roxane gay essay about birth of a nation
  2. donald trump cologne
  3. rev. sun myung moon mass wedding
  4. oriana fallaci in people magazine
  5. abe lincoln’s wife
  6. early personal computers tony hiss
  7. cambridge analytica
  8. thomas pynchon american camelot
  9. fight promoter tex rickard
  10. muhammad ali anchor punch

This week’s Comey testimony took an unexpectedly strange turn.

I have some questions for you, President Comey.

I’m not President.

Did I impeach you?


Did you resign?

No, I was never President.

I’m cold. I want soup.



• Masha Gessen argues Trump’s incompetence doesn’t preclude authoritarianism.

• Matt Yglesias reminds that Congress is to protect us from Presidential misconduct.

It’s difficult to imagine the Ryan Congress impeaching Trump, no matter what.

Bernie Sanders explains why he despises the “personality contest” of US politics.

• Our prolonged period of relative global peace may be interrupted in the worst way.

• Suki Kim went undercover in North Korea, that deeply troubled state.

• Garry Kasparov says, quite rightly, that AI won’t be in the hands of the few.

• Old Print Article: Old Print Articles: Deadwood, the widow-maker. (1877)

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Stephen Jay Gould, Alexei Navalny, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. who took your prosperity?
  2. societal collapse of the west
  3. trump presidency will end in calamity
  4. putin adversary alexei navalny
  5. elon musk benjamin franklin
  6. israel settlement in the 1920s
  7. charles r. knight dinosaur art
  8. stephen jay gould scopes monkey trial
  9. grindell-matthews death ray inventor
  10. essay our alien zookeepers

This week, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Accord, which was aimed at averting environmental disaster.

I will not stop until America is a small, hot cinder I can hold between my thumb and index finger.

Now that I’ve gotten revenge on the world because I was never hugged as a child, I can get back to the links. Just have to make one call first.

Hi Vlad, this is Don. I did what you told me to do and now America is in a deeper hole than Gregg Allman. So, you won’t leak incriminating information about me, will you?

Yes I will, dum-dum. I’ll ruin you at just the right moment.

Why would you do that?

I’m evil. It’s sort of my thing. Have to run now and have sex with dog in swimming pool. Bye.


You’re looking particularly lovely this evening, Princess Sassy.


Elizabeth Drew considers the recent debacles of the Trump Administration.

• Bernie Sanders, noted Caucasian whisperer, talks about Trump.

• Stephen Fry’s Hay Festival talk analyzed the coming Digital Age challenges.

Martin Rees meditates on the Big Bang, post-human intelligence, etc.

• China is pouring resources into efforts to Artificial Intelligence research.

• Walt Mossberg writes of “ambient computing” and its troubling seamlessness.

Tim Dunlop on the potential upside of DeepMind dethroning human Go champs.

• A brief note from 1922 about the “Teleview.”

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: John Dean, Billy James Hargis, etc.

The Man From Mars.

It wasn’t a commercial triumph like his namesake organ, but Laurens Hammond’s “Teleview” projection system for early 3-D films was critically acclaimed. The set-up was installed in Manhattan’s Selwyn Theater in the early 1920s, and moviegoers were treated to screenings of The Man From Mars, a stereoscopic film made especially for Teleview, which was shown on a large screen and on individual viewing devices attached at each seat. It apparently looked pretty great. Alas, the equipment and installation was costly, and no other cinemas adopted the technology. From the December 17, 1922 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. john dean trump narcissistic salesman
  2. maysles brothers salesman
  3. robert schuller religious salesman
  4. jack van impe end of the world
  5. billy james hargis hillbilly preacher
  6. benito mussolini talking picture
  7. i created a reality show in my house
  8. to be a machine author mark o’connell
  9. treasury secretary steven mnuchin oblivious
  10. tied to the whipping post

The events of this week do not bode well for Jared Kushner’s future.

The court finds you, Jared Kushner, guilty of espionage. You are hereby sentenced to death by hanging.

Good call, Wapner. He’s guilty as sin.

Wow, he kicked like a stallion. I barely knew the guy, but I hear his widow’s got the best body. I’m gonna move on her like a bitch.


• Veteran Watergate reporter Elizabeth Drew thinks if Trump is ousted from the Oval Office, it will be (and should be) a slow process.

• Josh Barro wrote of the GOP’s bullying immaturity. Then the U.S. President shoved a Prime Minister.

Maggie Haberman of the NYT is a reporter made for this odd political moment.

• Mark Zuckerberg continues his carefully choreographed U.S. “listening tour.”

• In 1966, Hugh Hefner predicted we’d all live in technological bubbles.

• Economists Raj Chetty and Tyler Cowen discuss American social mobility.

• Steven Levy reflects on the lessons learned from Kasparov-Deep Blue.

Ransomware threats magnify once the Internet of Things becomes the thing.

• Tim Harford writes of the economic effects of “superstar firms.”

• Denis Johnson died. A look back at a particularly chilling piece of his reportage.

• A brief note from 1940 about Knut Hamsun praising Hitler.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Bill O’Reilly, Oppenheimer, etc.

10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. war is poetry to steve bannon
  2. germ warfare
  3. james baker donald trump supporter
  4. trump’s compulsive believers
  5. blundering into nuclear war
  6. bill o’reilly abe lincoln
  7. congressman john lewis
  8. woody guthrie in nyc
  9. oppenheimer on trial
  10. great journalism from 2016

Ah, Riyadh at last. Here, I’m finally free of Russiagate.

The medal’s nice, but can we touch a glowing ball with some other men?

Sally, we’ll get to state business as soon as I’m done opening a golf course.

This is great. What could possibly go wrong?

Hi Don. Remember to remove sanctions on Russia or pee tape, recorded phone calls, treason-related hanging, et cetera.

Who are those men handcuffing your husband?


• Trump undermining democracy and the GOP tearing the social safety net are dual threats to peace in America.

In the wake of the Washington Post Trump scoop, read Garry Willis’ 1974 review of All the President’s Men.

• Tax reform is a ridiculous reason for the GOP to protect Trump.

• Matt Taibbi penned an appropriately punishing postmortem of Roger Ailes.

• Julian Assange, perhaps a Kremlin stooge, spoke to Spiegel.

• Peter Diamandis believes humans will soon be massively connected.

• MADCOMS could make machines the “driving force in our culture.”

• In 1979, David Levy, chess hustler, knew machines would soon dominate.

• Technology giants, not the government, may build the AI Future.

• Nicholas Carr argues the robot apocalypse is being oversold.

• A brief note from 1888 about elephant executioners.

• A brief note from 1936 about Man Ray’s near-decapitation.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Alec Baldwin, Julius Evola, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. nassim nicholas taleb on trump
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  4. toscanini fascist italy
  5. will we have another civil war?
  6. breitbart and julius evola
  7. malcolm gladwell alec baldwin
  8. opioid epidemic clermont county ohio
  9. tim berners-lee fixing the internet
  10. yann lecun machines with common sense

Vlad, this is Don. I made Comey disappear like Richard Simmons, so my troubles are over, right?

No, all these calls are being intercepted. You will still hang. So will that despised despot you love so much.

You mean you or Rodrigo Duterte?

No, the other one.


• The GOP’s odd Trump support may be partisanship. Could be something worse.

Zeynep Tufekci writes of the failings of the press during this desperate time.

Garry Kasparov talks technology, chess, Russia and more with Tyler Cowen.

 Yuval Harari imagines what will become of the post-work “useless class.”

• The ransomware attack reminds that a computerized world is a fraught one.

Michael Bess believes the ETA for profound bioenhancement is 2050.

The driverless future may leave Uber and Lyft on the side of the road.

• Old Print Article: Cranks and criminals that worry the wealthy. (1905)

• A brief note from 1949 about Il Duce’s stolen loot.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Caroline Cushing Graham, etc.

10 search-engine keyphrase searches bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. charles lindbergh feud with roosevelt
  2. caroline cushing graham essay about david frost
  3. nixon credibility gap trump
  4. francis fukuyama on autocrat trump
  5. mass weddings in fascist italy
  6. silicon valley and trump
  7. silicon valley immortalists
  8. harry tracy wild west outlaw
  9. westworld robot outlaws
  10. lawrence summers robots

This week, Mark Zuckerberg bottle-fed farm animals, perhaps hoping the photo op would help him in the 2020 Presidential race. He got the idea from a politician who’s been very successful in U.S. elections.


The American hard right has gone soft on the Kremlin. Why?

• Timothy Snyder predicts Trump will attempt an unconstitutional power grab.

Google wants to build a discrete city to conduct experiments.

Elon Musk wants to implant electrodes in our brains.

Yuval Harari asks if biometrics and algorithms can commandeer art.

• Siri’s Tom Gruber believes “personal memory enhancement” inevitable.

• Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the Carrie Nation of holy water, predicted US fascism.

• Lee Smith eulogizes Edie Sedgwick chronicler Jean Stein.

Algorithms tell Facebook when you’re sad and help judges determine sentences.

• Some U.S. workers training AI to complement them (replace them?).

• A brief note from 1932 about Dunninger the Mentalist.

• A brief note from 1932 about an octopus attack.

This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: John DeLorean, Anwar Sadat, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrase searches bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. john delorean in 1974
  2. direct democracy
  3. howard scott technocrat
  4. virtual reality inside our head
  5. autonomous car is a moving panopticon
  6. anwar sadat interviewed at the pyramids
  7. auction of zoo animals
  8. when a society descends into chaos
  9. luciano fiordi on robots
  10. esso gas station benito mussolini

This week, Sebastian Gorka, who couldn’t get security clearance to be a greeter at Walmart, left his White House position to spend more time with his family.


Matt Bai thinks the media may prevent Trump from normalizing. Oy gevalt!

• John Dean tells Spiegel that Trump supporters crave authoritarianism.

• Jay Rosen analyzes the “ritualized warfare” of the Trump WH and the press.

Henry Giroux discusses American authoritarianism and other recent nonfiction.

Ezra Klein talks to Playboy about politics (of course), media, Virtual Reality, etc.

• Demis Hassibis and Garry Kasparov share optimism for machine intelligence.

Facebook is approaching its Fake News issue as an engineering problem.

• Steven Levy asks Jack Dorsey about Twitter trolls, including the President.

Laurie Penny on the selling of well-being ideologies in sick societies.

• Old Print Article: Rev. Billy Sunday preaches his last. (1935)

• A brief note from 1950 about germ warfare.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Michael Tolkin, Christof Koch, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. michael tolkin discussing dystopia
  2. christof koch technological species
  3. joan didion newt gingrich moon
  4. cave of forgotten dreams
  5. robbing lincoln’s grave
  6. lawrence summers on artificial intelligence
  7. social welfare programs 1930s fascist europe
  8. are we living in a computer simulation?
  9. the ecological crisis in the 21st century
  10. p.t. barnum congressman

This week, Bill O’Reilly was finally fired after years of allegations and settlements regarding sexual harassment, which left him time for shoe shopping.

I want to loofah your vaginas.

We don’t have vaginas.

Okay, just give me some shoes then.


• Michael Wolff, a dreadful man, writes about Bill O’Reilly, a dreadful man. It’s what you’d expect.

• Response to Andrew Sullivan’s appallingly stupid take on race in America.

• Masha Gessen considers the ramifications of a U.S. military coup.

• Thoughts on Russiagate from Watergate accomplice John Dean.

• In purple Pennsylvania, Trump support has weakened but not collapsed.

David Grann includes All the President’s Men among his top True Crime titles.

• Life is cheap today in America, and cheap is often expensive.

Rachel Nuwer wonders if Western society is headed for collapse.

Alexei Navalny explains why Putin terrorizes the elites of his inner circle.

Steve Wozniak believes Apple and Facebook will be bigger in 2075.

• Online stars in China are investing heavily in surgical “perfection.”

• It’s best to never waste precious moments reading celebrity profiles.

Old Print Article: Maxwell Bodenheim murdered in Bowery flophouse. (1954)

• A brief note from 1934 about gangster John Dillinger’s remains.

• This week’s Afflictor keyphrase searches: Jose Canseco on killer robots, etc.


10 search-engine keyphrases bringing traffic to Afflictor this week:

  1. stalin wife’s suicide
  2. fordlandia tragedy
  3. walter scheidel the great leveler
  4. jose canseco’s theory of robots
  5. ursula k le guin alternative facts
  6. nikola tesla sleep habits
  7. kazuo ishiguro wealth inequality
  8. ryan avent social disruption
  9. american secularism
  10. is there an alternative to nations?

Vlad, this is Don. What’s the good word?

Pee tape, recorded phone calls, money trail, evidence of treason, noose for hanging, yada yada yada.

Well, at least the Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn went off without a hitch.

Arrest that gardener. He looks like an illegal.


  • Noah Smith writes of the plague effect of decades of neoliberalism.
  • Michael Tolkin talks apocalyptic visions from Trumplandia.
  • Garry Kasparov thinks intelligent machines will be a boon, not a threat.

Peter Singer advised utilitarians of good conscience to serve in the Trump Administration if they felt they could mitigate the awfulness of what was to be a deeply dishonest, bigoted, sociopathic White House, the caveat being they need be prepared to resign if asked to participate in unethical behavior.

The jury is still out on that advice. Everyone involved is complicit in the wanton destruction of the environment, an existential threat, and any attempts at neutralization will be rebuffed. Civil rights, voting rights, and women’s rights will be rolled back, no exceptions. Scientific research and culture will be casualties.

Mattis and McMaster are sometimes exhibited as examples of those who can inject some sanity into an unprecedented shitstorm, but they’ve both already had to often act within the constraints of Trump’s alternative universe, a constellation of lies about his predecessor wiretapping him, millions of illegal voters casting ballots, etc. McMaster has been able to eject Bannon and other kooks from the NSA, a real plus, but over time he’ll certainly have to carefully weigh how far he’s willing range from his core values.

A poisonous environment can gradually work on the healthiest bodies.

· · ·

In a Nautilus essay, Singer analyzes a different ethical question: How should we treat non-humans who possess some form of consciousness, whether we’re talking about ETs or animals that help make a BLT? The moral philosopher breaks no new ground in his arguments but states them well. As he writes, “the existence of another mind—another center of consciousness—places moral demands on us.”

The opening:

Last January I was walking with my granddaughter along a beach near Melbourne when we noticed several people gathered around a rock pool, peering into the water. Wondering what had attracted their attention, we went over and saw that it was an octopus. If the spectators were interested in it, it also seemed interested in them. It came to the edge of the pool, one of its eyes directed at the people above, and stretched a tentacle out of the water, as if offering to shake hands. No one took up the offer but at least no one tried to capture the animal or turn it into calamari. That was pleasing because, as Peter Godfrey-Smith says in his recent book Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, an octopus is “probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien.”

If we do ever meet an intelligent alien, even a tasty one, I hope we have sufficient ethical awareness to think of more than pleasing our palates or filling our stomachs. My view that this would be the wrong way to respond to such an encounter, however, leads to a deeper question: What moral status would extra-terrestrials have? Would we have obligations to them? Would they have rights? And would our answers depend on their intelligence?•


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