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Norbert Wiener’s worried vision for an automated America never was realized–until maybe now, that is. In an article in the August 18, 1950 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the cyberneticist and mathematician explained how the second Industrial Revolution might be a mixed blessing. The story:

Cambridge, Mass. — If Russia doesn’t ruin us the robots will, a noted scientist predicted today. Dr. Norbert Wiener, professor of mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Moscow and the new mechanical brains might even prove unwitting allies in driving the United States into a ‘decade or more of ruin and despair.’

Wiener is the bearded former boy prodigy who earned his doctorate of philosophy at the age of 19 and went on to develop the new science of ‘cybernetics’–the use of communication in controlling men or machines.

Will Take Over Tasks

He said the United States is on the verge of a ‘second industrial revolution’ in which robot factories operated by so-called mechanical brains will take over all the routine tasks of production from men.

‘Short of any violent political changes or another great war, I should give a rough estimate that it will take the new tools 10 or 20 years to come into their own,’ Wiener said.

But he added that the demands of a war with Russia would speed the development of robot factories and almost inevitably see the automatic man age in full swing within less than five years.’

What happen to humans when the robots take over?

May Be a Good Thing

Wiener has a word of warning about that in a new book, The Human Use of Human Beings, which will be published Monday by Houghton Mifflin Company.

If the new machines are used wisely, he said, it may in the long run ‘make this a good thing and the source of the leisure which is necessary for the cultural development of man on all sides.

But Wiener said the depression of the 1930s will look like ‘pleasant joke’ in comparison with what will happen if the nation misuses the new machines which can calculate, remember, pass judgement and even succumb to nervous breakdowns.

‘Thus the new industrial revolution is a two-edged sword,’ he said. ‘It may be used for the benefit of humanity, assuming that humanity survives long enough to enter a period in which such a benefit is possible.'”

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Here’s another video that’s popped up again after being unavailable for a spell. It’s narrated 1977 footage of innovations aimed to aid the deaf and blind. At the 3:40 mark, there’s excellent footage of the Kurzweil Reading Machine and its inventor.

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Those preparing for one apocalypse or another (and their personal shoppers) are driven by myriad forces: facts, prejudices and profits among them. But I’ll add another cause to those obvious ones: hope. I don’t believe the culture of dystopia is ringing cash registers because people are literally hopeful that billions of human beings will die, but I do think many hold dear the fantasy of a post-civilization because of the disquiet the developed word causes. To think that it could all be over is to ease anxieties. Maybe we don’t only fear scarcity but also the absence of it. From Jason Concepcion at Grantland:

“Modern life is way too dark for stories about building great nations. Tides are in full ebb. Dystopian fiction and media is a reaction to our reaction to the now constant whisper of bad fucking news: terrorism, financial crisis, the erosion of the middle class, historic drought, racial animus, global warming, choosing between water and energy. In dystopian stories, as in real life, the only sane reaction to a stranger with a gun is fear and flight.

Dystopias reflect the fear that our future will be one of scarcity, without the the promise of a great manifest destiny. ‘In a way, how can you be a sane and compassionate human being and not be increasingly alarmed by what’s happening to the planet, when it’s potentially civilization-ending?’ said author David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) recently in the New York Times.

Dystopian fiction takes the stark drama of the frontier and moves it into your neighborhood. This modern-frontier idea manifests itself most tellingly on reality television. Shows like Doomsday Castle and Doomsday Preppers take environmental and economic fears and view them through the lens of America’s demographic shift.

Both shows can be summed up as terrified white people stockpiling food and guns. One man on Doomsday Preppers explains his system for hiding and securing food supply caches thusly: ‘Out here in the rural areas, people are going to be spilling out to take what farmers have. I’m not going to allow my family to be a target.'”

Time Travel wanted

Looking for a way to travel or send information into the past. Please help.

From Mattathias Schwartz’s largely negative Technology Review critique of Nicholas Car’s latest book, The Glass Cage, which focuses on the dark side of automation, some smart commentary about the real nature of Facebook:

“Carr spends most of The Glass Cage treating automation as though it were a problem of unenlightened personal choices—suggesting that we should often opt out of technologies like GPS in favor of manual alternatives. Yet the decision to adopt many other innovations is not always so voluntary. There is often something seductive and even coercive about them. Consider a technology that Carr himself discusses: Facebook, which seeks to automate the management of human relationships. Once the majority has accepted the site’s addictive design and slight utility, it gets harder for any one individual to opt out. (Though Facebook may not look like an example of automation, it is indeed work in disguise. The workers—or ‘users’—are not paid a wage and the product, personal data, is not sold in a visible or public market, but it does have a residual echo of the machine room. Personal expression and relationships constitute the raw material; the continuously updated feed is the production line.)

Carr flirts with real anger in The Glass Cage, but he doesn’t go far enough in exploring more constructive pushback to automation. The resistance he endorses is the docile, individualized resistance of the consumer—a photographer who shoots on film, an architect who brainstorms on paper. These are small, personal choices with few broader consequences. The frustrations that Carr diagnoses—the longing for an older world, or a different world, or technologies that embody more humanistic and less exploitative intentions—are widespread. For these alternatives to appear feasible, someone must do the hard work of imagining what they would look like.”

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Google hobos they might be called, these employees of the search giant who apparently live in their cars in the parking lot while using the generous facilities of the company’s campus to bathe, eat and manage their errands. It’s an odd, modern mix of vagrancy and the lush life. From Alyson Shontell of Business Insider:

“Why bother paying rent when you can shower, eat, work out, do laundry, and sleep at your office?

Google perks are so good some employees say they’ve spent weeks living on campus to avoid paying rent, according to a Quora thread.

‘Technically, you weren’t supposed to live at the office, but people got around that by living in their cars in the parking lot of the office or the Shoreline parking lot,’ one Googler writes. ‘[One] guy lived in the camper for 2-3 years. Showered at the gym. Did his laundry on campus. Ate every meal on campus he could. After the 2-3 years, he had saved up enough money to buy a house.”

Former Google designer Brandon Oxedine says he lived on Google’s campus for three months in 2013.

‘I was in a unique situation working at Google where I had showers and food that were very convenient to me,’ he writes on Quora. ‘I lived in a Volvo station wagon…I set up a twin mattress from IKEA and put up black curtains (on the 90% blacked out windows) and slept there mostly every night.'”

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Via Delancey Place, an excerpt from Michael Capuzzo’s Close to Shore about the moral battleground that was summer of 1916 on American beaches–the Summer of the Thigh:

“The most shocking development was in the water, where the rising hems of swimming costumes became a battle line drawn by the Victorian establishment. In that summer of 1916, there was a cultural revolution over the ideal female form — the cover-all Victorian skirt-and-trouser bathing costumes gave way to lithe, form-fitting swimsuits, and the modern American image, practical and sensual, was born. The appearance of languorous female arms, legs, and calves as public erotic zones roused a national scandal. On Coney Island, police matrons wrestled women in the new clinging wool ‘tube’ suits out of the surf. In Chicago, police escorted young women from the Lake Michigan beach because they had bared their arms and legs. In Atlantic City, a woman was attacked by a mob for revealing a short span of thigh. The American Association of Park Superintendents stepped into the fray with official Bathing Suit Regulations, requiring trunks ‘not shorter than four inches above the knee’ and skirts no higher than ‘two inches above the bottom of the trunks.’ Police took to the beaches with tape measures and made mass arrests.”

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Maybe we don’t all need flying cars, but we have to be able to do better than the current municipal buses, which are essentially CO2-vomiting dinosaurs. From Daniel Gross at Slate:

“Forget about Tesla and its futuristic new Gigafactory. When it comes to using electricity for transportation, the real action may lie in the polar opposite of the fancy sports car.

Municipal intracity buses may be déclassé, unloved, slow, lumbering behemoths. But they’re the workhorses of America’s transit systems. Last year, according to the American Public Transportation Association, buses hauled 5.36 billion passengers. While usage has fallen in recent years, thanks in part to the growth of light rail and subway systems, buses still account for more rides each year than heavy rail, light rail, and commuter rail combined—and for about half of all public transit trips.

Proterra, a South Carolina-based manufacturer with Silicon Valley ties, thinks it can lead the electric revolution. Fueled by the two forces that are transforming renewable and alternative energy in this country—venture capital and the U.S. government—the company has already put a few dozen electric buses on the road, with the promise of more to come. ‘Our technology could literally remove every single dirty diesel bus from cities,’ said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple.

It’s difficult for all-electric vehicles to compete against super-efficient hybrid gas cars like the Prius or the hybrid-model Camry, which already get very good gas mileage. ‘But we’re competing against the most atrociously inefficient vehicle in the planet,’ said Popple, a former finance executive at Tesla.”

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A follow-up post to the recent one about the history of air conditioning in the U.S., here’s an exchange about initial resistance to the machines from an interview with Salvatore Basile, author of Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed America, by Susannah Locke of Vox:

Question:

There seemed to be a ton of resistance to the idea of air conditioning. People weren’t even interested in the idea of getting cooler air. Why was that?

Salvatore Basile: 

The US is a puritan country. And because we’re a puritan country, I found that there were people who would quote the book of Amos from the Bible as the reason — that the Lord was the being who created the wind. In other words, man was not to do this. So fans were inherently sinful. This, I think, carried on to the idea of any machine that would change the weather, even though heat was something that we’d been doing for millennia.

The idea of cooling your own air, I have a feeling, to many people that felt very self-indulgent at the time. I think they objected to that from a moral standpoint. So the idea that human comfort would be mixed up with morals, well that’s sort of a bad place for the PR of air conditioning to exist. And when we got into the idea of having a machine that could actually cool the air (and the first examples of that were in the 19th century), there was one man who was ousted from his church because he had seen such a machine. And it was powered by a steam engine, and his church committee had accused him of lying because such a thing could not exist. It was against nature.

So transferring that into the modern time, I think there were many people who thought

God made bad weather so you should just put up with it.’ And I think the idea of dealing with heat was to ignore it. Indeed, in Victorian society, one must ignore hot weather because it did not exist. That was simply the given standard of behavior for the time. And so many people would ignore it and then keel over from heat stroke.

With that kind of mindset in the population, to offer them the chance to be cool did create a lot of opposition at first.”

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The famous “Crying Indian” PSA from four decades ago, which showed a Native-American tearing up over how we had carelessly polluted this great land, was a rousing success, playing upon both a sense of guilt (of both the environmental and genocidal varieties) and one of patriotism. The print and TV ad’s weeping star, Iron Eyes Cody, became (literally) the poster boy for “American Indians.” One problem: He was Italian-American, as much a fake as the glycerine tear he had “shed.” Many parties had an interest in maintaining the lie, and even after the actor was at long last exposed, he continued to deny the ruse until he passed away at 94. Talk about commitment to a role. From Zachary Crockett at Priceonomics:

“From 1930 to the late 1980s, Iron Eyes starred in a variety of Western films alongside the likes of John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Ronald Reagan. Clad in headdresses and traditional garb, he portrayed Crazy Horse in Sitting Bull (1954), galloped through the plains in The Great Sioux Massacre (1965), and appeared in over 100 television programs. When major motion picture houses needed to verify the authenticity of tribal dances and attire, Iron Eyes was brought in as a consultant. He even provided the ‘ancestral chanting’ on Joni Mitchell’s 1988 album, Chalk Mark in a Rainstorm. 

By all accounts, he was Hollywood’s — and America’s — favorite Native American.

But several (real) Native American actors soon came to doubt Iron Eyes’ authenticity. Jay Silverheels, the Indian actor who played ‘Tonto’ in The Lone Ranger, pointed out inaccuracies in Iron Eyes’ story; Running Deer, a Native American stuntman, agreed that there was something strangely off-putting about the man’s heritage. It wasn’t until years later that these doubts were affirmed.

The Italian Cherokee

In 1996, a journalist with The New Orleans Times-Picayune ventured to Gueydan, Louisiana, the small town Iron Eyes had allegedly grown up in, and sought out his heritage. Here, it was revealed that ‘America’s favorite Indian’ was actually a second-generation Italian. 

‘He just left,’ recalled his sister, Mae Abshire Duhon, ‘and the next thing we heard was that he had turned Indian.’

At first, residents of Gueydan were reticent to reveal Iron Eyes’ true story — simply because  they were proud he’d hailed from there, and didn’t want his image tarnished. Hollywood, along with the ad agencies that had profited from his image, was wary to accept the man’s tale as fabricated. The story didn’t hit the newswires and was slow to gain steam, but The Crying Indian’s cover was eventually blown.”

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Fallaci by Scavullo, 1990.

Fallaci by Scavullo, 1990.

I posted this video once before, but it was removed soon thereafter: It’s a fun look from 1978 inside the studio of legendary fashion and portrait photographer Francesco Scavullo. Star-crossed model Gia Carangi is his ridiculously beautiful subject.

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From the October 9, 1911 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Memphis, Tenn. — William J. Walsh, a grocer, was killed here late yesterday in an altercation which followed his attempt to destroy the out-of-season straw hat worn by Jewel Bush, a blacksmith.”

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Semi-autonomous vehicles are certainly close to be road-ready–cars are already outfitted with some such features–but I would have assumed that fully autonomous ones were more than a decade away. Elon Musk says that it isn’t so, that they’re just a handful of years down the road. From Phys.org:

“US electric car maker Tesla is developing technology that could see vehicles run on ‘full auto pilot’ in as little as five or six years, according to its chief executive Elon Musk.

The colourful entrepreneur said his firm was stepping on the accelerator in the race against rivals such as Google and Volvo to create a driverless car, which could revolutionise the road by drastically cutting mortality rates.

‘The overall system and software will be programmed by Tesla, but we will certainly use sensors and subcomponents from many companies,’ Musk told reporters in Tokyo Monday.

‘I think in the long term, all Tesla cars will have auto-pilot capability,’ added Tesla’s 43-year-old head.

There are no self-driving cars on the market yet, but several automakers have been working on autonomous or semi-autonomous features, such as self parking, which are seen as a major advance for the auto sector.

Musk’s comments suggest that the arrival of self-driving cars could be closer than previously thought—a January report by the research firm IHS said they could start hitting highways by 2025 and number as many as 35 million globally by 2035.”

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A paperless world can save the trees, sure, but those data centers we’re all plugged into come with tremendous needs for water and electricity, and every technological advance seemingly grows that beast a little more. From Izabella Kaminska at Financial Times:

“Most technology users remain blissfully unaware of the internet’s carbon footprint because most ‘users’ never have to come up close and personal with a data centre.

Yet, for all the energy efficiency that technology brings us, data centres remain the technology world’s dark little energy guzzling secret.

Data centres, it could be said, represent the unglamorous side of the technology business. They’re the plumbing that holds the whole thing together. They’re the secret sauce that gives one player an advantage over another. As a consequence, there’s zero advantage — either from a security or cosmetic point of view — of bringing attention to where your data centre is located, how it is run or how much energy it consumes.

The location of Visa’s data centres, for example, is strictly guarded. Google, meanwhile, releases only sparse information about how much energy their centres consume.

But according to a new report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch the plumbing that holds the world’s information and technology communication systems together already consumes up to 10 per cent of the world’s electricity.”

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Keremeos Highway, 1951.

In 1951, the Children of Light commune of British Columbia believed the end was near, but the group lived to a ripe old age. In the aforementioned year, several dozen members of the sect boarded themselves up in a Keremeos farmhouse and awaited doomsday. It never arrived. They soon left town and eventually relocated in Arizona. Two stories follow: One from the 1951 Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the “end of the world” and a coda four decades later from the 1995 Los Angeles Times.

_______________________

From the January 6, 1951 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Keremeos, B.C. — Thirty-five members on an unorthodox religious sect barricaded 11 days in a five-room farmhouse waited today for the end of the world in two more days.

The sect has been in cramped, self-imposed exile near here under the leadership of a gaunt, 60-year-old farm woman, Mrs. Agnes Carlson, since the day after Christmas.

The ‘Children of Light’ sealed themselves off from the outside world to await what they predict will be ‘doomsday’ on Jan. 8.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police, worried about sanitary conditions in the barricaded house because of overcrowding, have kept a close watch outside.

The only person known to have left the house since the group went into seclusion ‘to await the end of the world’ was a widow who walked out after the group asked her to surrender her wedding ring, police said.”

_______________________

From the 1995 Los Angeles Times:

“The story of how they traveled from a Pentecostal church in tiny Keremeos, B.C., in 1951 to this isolated patch of southwestern Arizona desert, a 100-mile drive from Phoenix, is proof that they are God’s chosen, members say.

Prompted by a divine vision, a Pentecostal preacher and former businesswoman led about 40 followers out of Keremeos and on a journey throughout Canada and the United States. They preached at churches and communes about the apocalypse and the importance of repentance.

The group picked up and lost people along the way. They found a destination when the words ‘Agua Caliente’ appeared in fire-like letters in the sky to Elect Gold, the preacher.

Evidence that God was with them continued, in a donation that helped them buy the land in 1965, in a desert dotted by brush and surrounded by rocky foothills near Gila Bend.

Further proof, they say, is in the water source they found on the property, the date palm orchards and the thriving gardens of beets, carrots, cabbages and pomegranates.

The Children do nothing to recruit new members, although over the years a number of travelers have temporarily lived at the commune.

With Elect Gold said to be nearly 100 years old and bedridden by illness, Elect Star has assumed the role as leader of the sect.

They welcome occasional visitors. On a recent afternoon, three retired couples from the Midwest who drove four miles off a paved road to reach the commune were given a tour by Elect Joel, an 85-year-old former honky-tonk musician from Indiana.

Later, Elect Joel entertained the guests by playing ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ on the living room piano. Another member of the sect handed out bowls of homemade date and banana ice cream.

‘I think the sun will stop shining before this fades out,’ Elect Philip said. ‘We may look a little worn out, but God still has work left for us to do.'”

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Speaking of autonomous vehicles, GM is aiming for 2017 to have leading-edge semi-autonomous function. From Jerry Hirsch at the Los Angeles Times:

“GM is to offer what it is calling ‘Super Cruise’ in a new Cadillac model that [GM’s chief executive Mary] Barra didn’t name.

The system will allow drivers to switch the vehicle into a semi-automated mode in which it will automatically keep the car in its lane, making necessary steering adjustments, and autonomously trigger braking and speed control to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.

‘With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands-free and feet-free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around,’ Barra said. ‘And if the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work.'”

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Fully autonomous cars may be further up the road, but smart, connected cars are something we could do right now if common standards were achieved and infrastructure updated. Some of the benefits from the Economist:

“Some parts of the transformation are already in place. Many new cars are already being fitted with equipment that lets them maintain their distance and stay in a motorway lane automatically at a range of speeds, and recognise a parking space and slot into it. They are also getting mobile-telecoms connections: soon, all new cars in Europe will have to be able to alert the emergency services if their on-board sensors detect a crash. Singapore has led the way with using variable tolls to smooth traffic flows during rush-hours; Britain is pioneering ‘smart motorways,’ whose speed limits vary constantly to achieve a similar effect. Combined, these innovations could create a much more efficient system in which cars and their drivers are constantly alerted to hazards and routed around blockages, traffic always flows at the optimum speed and vehicles can join up into ‘platoons’ on the motorways, travelling closer together, yet with less risk of crashing. …

If cars are to connect, new infrastructure will have to be built. Roads and parking spaces will need sensors to monitor them; motorways will need dedicated lanes for platooning. But this will not necessarily be expensive. Upgrading traffic signals so they can be controlled remotely by a central traffic-management system is a lot cheaper than building new roads.”

From a blog post about longevity by Peter Diamandis, one of the true believers behind Singularity University, who thinks humans may soon outlive all their troubles–or at least their old ones:

“One of the companies I co-founded earlier this year Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), is working on increasing the healthy, active human lifespan even further.

Our goal is to make 100 years old the ‘new 60.’

Imagine being able to maintain esthetics, mobility and cognition for an extra 40 years. I co-founded HLI along with Dr. Craig Venter (the first person to sequence the human genome and create the first synthetic life form) and Bob Hariri, MD/Ph.D, one of the world’s leading pioneers in stem cells.

What decisions would you make differently today if you knew you would most likely live to be 150? How would you think about your 50s, or 60s? How would you evaluate your career arcs, or investments, or even the area in which you live?”

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You can’t currently bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water, as Jake Gittes was told. The severe California drought has transformed the city’s ubiquitous swimming pools from oases into threats. From Rory Carroll in the Guardian:

“Some cities have turned off fountains and rationed water until – unless – rains come. California has given local agencies the authority to fine those who waste water up to $500 a day. Environmentalists are depicting green lawns – another symbol of the middle-class dream – as reckless.

Against that backdrop, private swimming pools can appear indulgent, if not selfish. The average uncovered pool in LA loses about 20,000 gallons to evaporation per year.

Those with leaks can lose an additional 700 gallons daily, according to [UC Santa Barbara media studies professor Dick] Hebdige. His essay for the 2012 Backyard Oasis exhibition on southern Californian pools was entitled, ‘HOLE … swimming … floating … sinking … drowning.’

Christopher Hawthorne, the Los Angeles Times architecture critic, said private pools represented a bold 20th-century effort to cleave the metropolis from the natural world, specifically the Pacific.

‘Increasingly that brashness looks misplaced or antique; instead we seem at the mercy of forces beyond our control when it comes to water,’ he noted last month. ‘The swimming pool – like the surface parking lot, the freeway, the lawn and the single-family house – is rapidly fading as a symbolic and cultural marker of Los Angeles.’

As you descend into LA, arguably the second most striking thing about the city – after the endless, concrete vastness – is the number of turquoise pools. Big and small, rectangular and square, round and oval, thousands glint in the sun.

There are an estimated 1.1m pools in California.”

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The Woodlands, a master-planned suburb of Houston established in 1974, was the bleeding edge of quantified smart homes, as each unit was wired and connected.

BEDBUGS FOR MALICE – $30 (Bedstuy Bushwick)

Hi! New York can be a pretty difficult place to live! As they say, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere!

I’ve lived here almost a full calendar year, and have found that it’s super difficult to keep positive. There are so many things trying to keep you down – the subway track work, craigslist roommate scams, reappearing enemies from college, ex girlfriends finding out your account info…That said, I recently moved into a room that happens to be infested with bedbugs. Luckily for me, I’m not allergic, and barely notice them. My girlfriend, however, is blaming me for HER infestation, even though it’s totally NOT. MY. FAULT. I really didn’t know we had them, and by the time we found it, it was too late. She broke up with me. Unfortunately she was also my boss, so I need to find a new job.

So, I’m trying to make my challenges and hardships work FOR me instead of AGAINST me. I need some extra ca$h, and if I can help-a-bruthah out while I’m doin it, the more the merrier!

I’m aware that it’s impossible to live in this city without fucking someone over. So, I am selling my bedbugs and bedbug eggs for people to use against people. You can let it roam in their bag, their home, etc etc. I am simply selling bedbugs, how you use them is your business.

I will package them up so that they both a) live and b) stay in their container.

Tesla has quickly built the kind of brand loyalty that even out-grades Apple at the height of Steve Jobs’ second go around as guru-in-chief. Why? An explanation of the emotional pull of Elon Musk’s EVs, from Tamara Rutter at USA Today:

“Another way that psychologists explain brand loyalty is through emotional connection. All of the most recognizable brands today have one thing in common: They make an emotional connection with consumers. One of the easiest ways for a brand to do this is by standing for something. In fact, a study by marketing research firm CEB found that rather than being loyal to a company per se, people are loyal to what that company represents.

Tesla wins major points in this regard because it is passionately dedicated to promoting mass adoption of electric vehicles in hopes of one day solving our planet’s energy problem. People feel good about driving a Tesla because they no longer need to buy gas, and as a bonus, they’re helping the planet in the process.

Many Tesla drivers have launched meet-ups or social gatherings for fellow owners and enthusiasts to connect with one another. There are also dozens of meet-up groups around the world for electric-car enthusiasts in general. The important takeaway here is that creating sustainable energy solutions is an increasingly important cause today, one to which millions of people are committed.”

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No matter how many more stories Margaret Atwood writes in her life, the one she is currently working on will be her last, in a sense. The last one read for the first time, anyhow. The author’s current work will be buried in a time capsule for 100 years as part of a deep-future project which runs counter to our insta-culture. From Alison Flood at the Guardian:

“Depending on perspective, it is an author’s dream – or nightmare:Margaret Atwood will never know what readers think of the piece of fictions he is currently working on, because the unpublished, unread manuscript from the Man Booker prize-winning novelist will be locked away for the next 100 years.

Atwood has just been named as the first contributor to an astonishing new public artwork. The Future Library project, conceived by the award-winning young Scottish artist Katie Paterson, began, quietly, this summer, with the planting of a forest of 1,000 trees in Nordmarka, just outside Oslo. It will slowly unfold over the next century. Every year until 2114, one writer will be invited to contribute a new text to the collection, and in 2114, the trees will be cut down to provide the paper for the texts to be printed – and, finally, read.

‘It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don’t think about it for very long,’ said Atwood, speaking from Copenhagen. ‘I think it goes right back to that phase of our childhood when we used to bury little things in the backyard, hoping that someone would dig them up, long in the future, and say, ‘How interesting, this rusty old piece of tin, this little sack of marbles is. I wonder who put it there?'”

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From the July 26, 1910 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Canton, O. — Because they wanted to be ‘bad men’ and also needed to treat their sweethearts, John Warner and Ray Metcalf, each 11 years old, committed 600 burglaries. They were arrested here yesterday and after confessing to their misdeeds led the police to a disused coal cellar where they had cached the major part of their plunder.

A diamond ring was recovered which they had sold for 20 cents, and a gold watch had been disposed of for 15 cents.

Their operations extended from East Liverpool to Lorain, and according to their confessions, borne out by police reports, in one day they entered as many as seventy-five houses.”

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

  1. thomas mann interview in the new york times 1955
  2. british taxi driver george king who went to mars
  3. joan didion writing about newt gingrich
  4. why did egypt become the cradle of civilization?
  5. p.w. singer on cyberwar
  6. steve jobs on computers in the classroom
  7. footage of earthworm robots
  8. tv appearances by gloria swanson in her later years
  9. helen gurley brown interview
  10. manfred clynes who coined the term cyborg

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