November 17, 2019

Saturday Brunch, November 2, 2019

Hello, friends, and welcome to the weekend. Ready for brunch?

It’s November 2019 and Los Angeles is in a state of urban decay. The population has exploded to 106 million people, and humans face a new threat from manufactured biological robots gone rogue…

Back in 1982, this is how Blade Runner director Ridley Scott imagined the world would be. Here’s the trailer. It’s interesting to see how they imagined society would be.

Speaking of robots, what if they all had your face? Or, to put it another way, is your face worth $129,000? A company will pay you that for using it for their robots:

The company is searching for a ‘kind and friendly’ face to be the literal face of the robot once it goes into production. This will entail the selected person’s face being reproduced on potentially thousands of versions of the robots worldwide.

Obviously, this is not our usual remit of request, which is why we’re making this public appeal to try and find the right person. The designer knows that this is a big deal, and has agreed a fee of £100,000 to license the rights to the right face.

We know that this is an extremely unique request, and signing over the licenses to your face is potentially an extremely big decision. However, if you think this could be one for you please make a submission below:

Please send an e-mail with your photo to faces@geomiq.com

To be honest, I don’t even want my face; not sure why this company would. But it would have a nice perk: when the robots take over you can pretend you’re one of them and survive.

Married priests? Maybe soon, at least in the Amazon. Roman Catholic bishops gathered at the Vatican on Saturday proposed allowing married deacons from a region of the Amazon to become ordained priests in order to help address a clergy shortage in the region. Pope Francis still needs to affirm the proposal, but if approved, the change — though limited in scope — would represent a fundamental shift in what it has meant to be a Roman Catholic priest for nearly a millennium.

The text of the proposal does not make it immediately clear whether the change would apply only to married deacons who wish to join the priesthood, or if those who are already priests would be allowed to marry. The plan would only apply to the Amazon region.

Security cameras captured footage of a man robbing  Twin City Coin Laundry in Crystal City. Look carefully at the back of his shirt: An unidentified man wore a rather ironic shirt while allegedly stealing $600 worth of money from a laundromat vending machine in Crystal City, Mo.

Sure worry works: 98% of the things I worry about don’t happen.

Pope Francis is hoping to give the Vatican Secret Archive an image makeover by changing the name of the ancient collection to something less mysterious. Francis declared that the collection, which dates back centuries and contains millions of documents, will from now on be known as the “Vatican Apostolic Archive.” Of course, scholars have long had access to the Secret Archives for pontificates up to 1939. That was the beginning of Pius XII’s rule began. Pius XII’s pontificate ended in 1958, and according to tradition, the archives concerning his papacy would not be open until 70 years after that date, or 2028. However, earlier this year, Francis announced that the Pius XII portion of the archives would be opened eight years early, in March 2020, amid pressure from scholars who want access while some Holocaust survivors are still alive.

“The church is not afraid of history,” Francis declared.

Francis did say, however, that the tunnel connecting the Vatican to Area 51 would remain off limits.

Police are searching for a man who walked into a bank in Nebraska this week and tried to open a checking account with a fake $1 million bill. Staff at the Pinnacle Bank branch in Lincoln reported the Monday morning incident to police. Bank employees say the man was adamant that the bill was real despite tellers’ attempts to convince him otherwise.

I was able to get an exclusive look at the $1,000,000 bill. Seems legit.

photo montage effect ofoneMillionDollarPhotoMontag 1272

The costs of a desynchronized workweek: “Whereas we once shared the same temporal rhythms—five days on, two days off, federal holidays, thank-God-it’s-Fridays—our weeks are now shaped by the unpredictable dictates of our employers. Nearly a fifth of Americans hold jobs with nonstandard or variable hours. They may work seasonally, on rotating shifts, or in the gig economy driving for Uber or delivering for Postmates. Meanwhile, more people on the upper end of the pay scale are working long hours. Combine the people who have unpredictable workweeks with those who have prolonged ones, and you get a good third of the American labor force. The personalization of time may seem like a petty concern, and indeed some people consider it liberating to set their own hours or spend their ‘free’ time reaching for the brass ring. But the consequences could be debilitating for the U.S. in the same way they once were for the U.S.S.R. A calendar is more than the organization of days and months. It’s the blueprint for a shared life.”

Abu Bakr al-Baghadi was a hirsute terrorist, murderer, and rapist. He also founded ISIS. So it was a little surprising the way the Washington Post initially reported his death:

View image on Twitter
To be fair, WaPo soon corrected this. But not before the internet got ahold of a new meme: WaPo death notices:

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Here are some others, sans pictures

  • Jabba the Hutt, daring, proactive and enterprising ladies man found asphyixiated at the hands of disturbed employee.
  • Darth Maul – Martial Artist, Excellent Student, Promising Young Leader, died tragically today at 25 in a brawl with two men wearing hoodies.
  • Judas Iscariot, a noted local coin collector and close friend of Jesus Christ found dead at 30.
  • Voldemort, austere wizard who overcame a severe facial deformity to achieve dark lordship, dead at 71
  • Thanos, noted rare gem collector and population control advocate, murdered during home invasion.
  • Jeffery Epstein, Child worker rights activist, dead by (assisted) suicide at age 66
  • Big Bad Wolf, lung capacity legend & bacon enthusiast, dead at 6
  • Coyote, entrepreneur, gravitational addict, avid birder, dies episodically.

Okay, there are hundreds of these. Just click #WaPoDeathNotices if you want more. Feel free to share of few of your own (no fair swiping them off twitter) in the comments.

Netflix tests a new feature that allows users to speed-watch titles. Directors don’t like the idea, obviously.

If you die in the same hospital you were born in, your average velocity is zero.

The following video is fake. I am posting it for a couple reasons. First, it is funny (at least if you watch the whole thing). Secondly it shows how good fake videos can be now, even ones made by people you’ve never heard of. A LOT of people this week took this as legit. Fake news has a very bright future.

Arthur Krystal surveys a handful of books on aging. They are mostly “chatty accounts meant to reassure us that getting old just means that we have to work harder at staying young.” Is that true?

“These authors aren’t blind to the perils of aging; they just prefer to see the upside. All maintain that seniors are more comfortable in their own skins, experiencing, Applewhite says, ‘less social anxiety, and fewer social phobias.’ There’s some evidence for this. The connection between happiness and aging—following the success of books like Jonathan Rauch’s The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 and John Leland’s Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old, both published last year—has very nearly come to be accepted as fact. According to a 2011 Gallup survey, happiness follows the U-shaped curve first proposed in a 2008 study by the economists David Blanchflower and Andrew Oswald. They found that people’s sense of well-being was highest in childhood and old age, with a perceptible dip around midlife.

“Lately, however, the curve has invited skepticism. Apparently, its trajectory holds true mainly in countries where the median wage is high and people tend to live longer or, alternatively, where the poor feel resentment more keenly during middle age and don’t mind saying so. But there may be a simpler explanation: perhaps the people who participate in such surveys are those whose lives tend to follow the curve, while people who feel miserable at seventy or eighty, whose ennui is offset only by brooding over unrealized expectations, don’t even bother to open such questionnaires.”

What has been your experience regarding aging and happiness?

A Florida Democrat has put her face on condoms and revealed she plans to hand them out at a pride event in Orlando this weekend. State Rep. Anna Eskamani unveiled the design of her personalised prophylactics in a tweet Monday evening.

View image on Twitter

The former local Planned Parenthood director told Orlando Weekly that the custom condoms were not at all a juvenile attempt at publicity, but a “fun way to talk about courageous discussions” around sexuality and health.

Yep. Nothing like a politicians face on a condom to start “couragous discussions” around sexuality and health. You can just see it. A loving young couple…heat of passion…clothes coming off…breaks out the condom…sees politician’s mug…”hmmm, ya know, instead of shaking the sheets, let’s have a nice, courageous discussion of sexuality and health”.

Happens ALL THE TIME.

Wanna see a slow-mo of a water droplet hitting sand? Of course you do:

Can humans communicate brain-to-brain without language? A new study demonstrates we can, but boy is it inefficient:

“We present BrainNet which, to our knowledge, is the first multi-person non-invasive direct brain-to-brain interface for collaborative problem solving. The interface combines electroencephalography (EEG) to record brain signals and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to deliver information noninvasively to the brain. The interface allows three human subjects to collaborate and solve a task using direct brain-to-brain communication. Two of the three subjects are designated as “Senders” whose brain signals are decoded using real-time EEG data analysis. The decoding process extracts each Sender’s decision about whether to rotate a block in a Tetris-like game before it is dropped to fill a line. The Senders’ decisions are transmitted via the Internet to the brain of a third subject, the ‘Receiver,’ who cannot see the game screen. The Senders’ decisions are delivered to the Receiver’s brain via magnetic stimulation of the occipital cortex. The Receiver integrates the information received from the two Senders and uses an EEG interface to make a decision about either turning the block or keeping it in the same orientation. A second round of the game provides an additional chance for the Senders to evaluate the Receiver’s decision and send feedback to the Receiver’s brain, and for the Receiver to rectify a possible incorrect decision made in the first round. We evaluated the performance of BrainNet in terms of (1) Group-level performance during the game, (2) True/False positive rates of subjects’ decisions, and (3) Mutual information between subjects. Five groups, each with three human subjects, successfully used BrainNet to perform the collaborative task, with an average accuracy of 81.25%.”

Read more on the study here.

Mourners at a funeral in Germany got an involuntary high when they were accidentally served hash cake, police said Tuesday. The funeral party went to a restaurant after the burial in Wiethagen for coffee and cake, a German tradition. After eating the cake, 13 people reported experiencing nausea and dizziness and needed medical treatment. The Rostock police said the person in charge of the cakes asker her 18-year-old daughter to bake them. The mother mistakingly gave the wrong cake to the mourners. She instead took the hash cake, which was made for a separate occasion.

They really need some sort of identification next time…

Well, that does it for this week. Don’t forget to add some WaPo death notices in the comments, and to send your mug to the robot face competition. Who knows, you could be the face of Skynet.

Comments

  1. It would take more than $129,000.00 to use my face on your robots. Who knows where they’re going. Someone may mistake me for my robots and be really pissed off at me for something or another. 2019 is obviously not as Ridley Scott predicted it but we’re probably closer than we think with all of the AI that’s going on out of the public eye.

  2. And….as regards aging…If I were king of the world I would make “The Force of Character and the Lasting Life”, by James Hillman required reading. I have no pony in the race. It’s just chock full of insight into what gives unsolicited and unconjured meaning to the aging process.

  3. Nausea and dizziness? 13 people needed mefical treatment. The other 30 guests had a great time.

  4. Obituaries:

    Adam, creator of Hide N Seek and first man to “blame it on a woman,” dead at 930.

    Cain, copyrighter of “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and first ever to be marked by the Lord, dead at 730.

    • You are also a riot Ricardo Row. (Also in use: Ros, Roe, Yo, Hey Yo Wo) Still can’t wait to get to Oregon and drink a little Pinot.

    • I checked out a few of those death notices on Twitter and I have to admit a lot of those folks are pretty clever. One which caught my eye; a photo of the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz” with the headline, “Local flying enthusiast perishes in water accident.”

      On a much more serious note, something major is wrong with the state of journalism when what is supposedly one of the nation’s top newspapers is much better known these days for its gaffes than its actual reporting.

      • Rampaging Chipmunk says

        Just speculating, but I wonder if what happened was that in the post-WWII era, we as a society actually just gave journalism more credit and weight than it really deserved; especially regarding opinion pieces. The idea of yellow journalism is certainly not new. Not sure that is actually true; just a thought.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Yeah. If you ever saw “The Front Page” (1931 movie from a 1928 Broadway stage play, remade i 1940 as “His Girl Friday”), they show Reporters not as Heroic Crusaders for TRVTH Woodwards and Bernsteins, but pathological liars who would say/write/publish anything (and do anything to anybody) that would increase circulation/ratings/fame/profits. The more spectacular/tabloid the spin, the better. The original 1928 stage play was written by two former Chicago newspaper reporters.

  5. Since many of the new jobs created in the last years have been in foodservice, including in the most recent national monthly jobs report, we can look forward to even more workweek desynchronization (as well as low wages among much of the population).

    • Rampaging Chipmunk says

      I’ve speculated that we’re headed towards a very stratified society just by virtue of the way population growth works. Basically, lower income people tend to have more children while higher income people have fewer children. Thus, a larger amount of the children being born are born into situations where they are less likely to achieve upward mobility thereby increasing the overall number of lower income people while higher income people become fewer in number but have an increasingly solidified hold on their status. End result is increasingly large segment of population that is not educated enough for anything other than low wages jobs and a shrinking yet powerful and highly skilled/educated “business class” that has most of the wealth and opportunities. I suppose an aristocracy in a way. Not sure I explained that very well; I’m just banging this out on my phone while cooking; but I think I got my general premise across.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        When applied to intelligence instead of income, this is called “Marching Morons Syndrome” after a particularly-nasty 1951 SF short by C.M.Kornbluth. The same idea was treated more lightly as the background premise of the 2006 movie Idiocracy.

  6. Pope Francis still needs to affirm the proposal, but if approved, the change — though limited in scope — would represent a fundamental shift in what it has meant to be a Roman Catholic priest for nearly a millennium.

    Actually, not being married is not a fundamental characteristic of being a priest, though it is a widespread requirement of the Roman Catholic Church. Eastern-rite Catholic Churches (in full communion with the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church) have had married priests for a long time now, some for many centuries, others for a shorter time. In the case at hand, the exception to the common celibacy requirement for priests of the RCC would be dropped in the Amazon for different reasons than it historically has, and that accommodation would be a significant development, but it would not fundamentally change what it means to be a priest.

    • I should say that celibacy is not a fundamental requirement of priesthood in the worldwide Catholic Church, of which the Roman Catholic Church (where celibacy is a requirement, though not a defining characteristic of priesthood) is the largest member.

    • I’ve never understood the Catholic requirement for priestly celibacy. The Catholic Church claims to have been founded by the apostle Peter. Scripture tells us Peter was married.

      Meanwhile, the opposite is the case in the Protestant world. Rare is the never-married pastor in a Protestant church. Although my church broke that mold when it hired a never-married senior pastor to replace the retiring incumbent, a man with more than 20 grandchildren. We’re not Southern Baptist, a good thing since Albert Mohler declared back in August that “to be human is to be a parent.”

    • Good information, Robert F.

      There is the ‘Catholic Church’ which is in union with the Pope in Rome, and the ‘Catholic Church’ has MANY ‘rites’ of which the Latin (Roman) rite is only one. Most people don’t know this.

      My own dear godmother was Catholic, of course, but she came from a Ukrainian family that settled in Johnstown PA and were Byzantine rite (Ukrainian) Catholics. Same religion. Different liturgical rites.

      A ‘rite’ is explained here somewhat:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_particular_churches_and_liturgical_rites

    • The Catholic Church has married priests already. One of my classmates from our Church of Christ school of fifty years ago, a ministry student then, is one now. He and wife later left that fellowship to become Lutherans. After twenty years they became Catholics. There is some kind of provision that has been in place since 1951 that allows converts to become priests. At the time of the article below, there were several hundred examples of such. I did not know Philip well but remember him as a thoughtful person of insight who showed to me an awareness of and demonstrated the importance of relationships and feelings. Our fellowship at the time was much more focused on an unyielding rationalistic legalistic and literal approach in those days.

      https://www.inquirer.com/philly/living/20100606_The_priest_-_and_his_Mrs_.html

      • thatotherjean says

        It’s also true that the Roman Catholic Church accepts married converts from the Episcopal priesthood as Roman Catholic priests.

  7. Re: the Blade Runner trailer’s version of L.A. 2019: It always rains in southern California.

    • And where are the flying cars?

      Seriously, it’s still one of the best movies ever made.

      • I wouldn’t want a flying car. I don’t like heights, and I don’t like driving. No thank you.

        • We’ve had flying cars for years

          they are called ‘motorcycles’ and they CAN and do go airborne unfortunately for their riders. Any rehab facility in the country will have at least one or two beds where a motorcycle accident victim has gone flying through the air and survived (sort of).

        • thatotherjean says

          Amen, brother. No flying cars for me, either.

      • It’s one of the very few movies of its genre that I actually have liked. The setting is germane to the story, but there’s much more to it than the setting.

        My word, Harrison Ford looks so young…

        Dana

  8. “our weeks are now shaped by the unpredictable dictates of our employers”

    “Our computerized schedule system says this is more efficient. If you don’t like it, we can always replace you.”

  9. senecagriggs says

    John Wayne Gacy, noted epicurian of rare cuisine, died in a comfortable position at age 52.

  10. If you have adequate financial resources and stability, maybe you’re happier as you get older. I wouldn’t know, since I have neither. I will say this: I’m far less self-conscious than when I was younger; but maybe that’s because I’m better at pretending I’m like everyone else in the worlds I travel in than I once was. But that doesn’t translate to happiness.

  11. The possibility of robot soldiers? Just another weapon for people to kill other people with. It’s been going on since the beginning of humanity. Nothing new, just a more effective weapon.

    • Sarah Connah?

      • Of course, fake information, including videos, are the most powerful weapon of all. Who can we trust, when illusion cannot be distinguished from reality?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Who can we trust, when illusion cannot be distinguished from reality?

          81% of Evangelicals would say “TRUMP!”

  12. Hashish causing nausea? That’s the first time I’ve heard of that, except among those who use too much of it on a regular basis.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      The Edibles in question might have been over-concentrated or inadequately prepared. I remember the “Eating Grass” chapter from the Sixties paperback A Child’s Garden of Grass beginning with “Grass must be cooked. Eating raw Grass will not get you stoned; it will only make you sick.”

  13. Klasie Kraalogies says

    Well, South Africa just beat England to win the Rugby World Cup. Their captain, Siya Kolisi, was born one day before the apartheid sports ban was lifted in 1991. He grew up in a township where his favourite toy was a brick. He became the first black South African Rugby captain.

  14. Is there a reward for information leading to the apprehension of that man whose face is on that fake million dollar bill? I may have information concerning his whereabouts….

  15. “Can humans communicate brain-to-brain without language? A new study demonstrates we can, but boy is it inefficient…”

    Did the study also test the effects of negative reinforcement on ESP ability? 😉

  16. Fast-forwarding through movie credits is nothing new. This happens on broadcast and cable TV all the time. Sometimes I actually want to read the credits for some reason, and can’t because they’re miniaturized and speeding by.

    Dana

  17. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    The text of the proposal does not make it immediately clear whether the change would apply only to married deacons who wish to join the priesthood, or if those who are already priests would be allowed to marry. The plan would only apply to the Amazon region.

    I would figure it would apply to “promoting” married deacons.

    Before clerical celibacy became required in the West, the rules still used in the East were in general use: “A married man may be ordained, but and ordained man cannot marry.” As used today for Permanent Deacons, this means he cannot marry AFTER ordainment. If he’s married when ordained, he stays married but cannot remarry if widowed. (I think “or divorced” assuming he didn’t initiate the divorce, but I’ve never heard of a RL case.)

    Since a Permanent Deacon is ordained clergy (of a lower rank than actual Priest), this dispensation might mean counting the ordination as Deacon as Ordination and the ordination to Priest more as a “promotion” within the existing ordination.

    In the early days, the Western Church also had “Deaconesses”, so there might be some precedent for ordaining women as Permanent Deaconesses. (Priests would remain male because deacons cannot hear Confession or consecrate Communion, which are reserved roles in the Sacraments.) I think this might be the Middle Way that eventually gets adopted. (Unfortunately, Progressive Catholic Activism is as fixated on Pelvic Issues as any Evangelical — they lock into a New Trinity of Ordaining Gays, Ordaining Women, and Accepting Birth Control.)