Tuesday, December 6, 2022
Monday, December 5, 2022
I am seriously late to this fine and disturbing book, published in 2005, just when I was writing under deadline and not reading anything new.
I haven't seen the film, but I'd heard enough to have some idea of what the book was about. It was the Audible edition that I listened to (an excellent narrator) and I can highly recommend it.
Dystopian fiction at its best. Like the scenario I envisioned a few days ago with Universal Auto-Correct, the premise in both cases is bizarre and far-fetched, but the idea at the core invites the reader to look around them for similar situations.
I can't say it better than these paragraphs from a review in The Guardian (full review HERE):
"Perhaps the most sinister aspect of the novel is the way it reflects ourselves back at us. In this world, the cost of a world free from cancer and diseases is, in human terms, catastrophic, but, as one character asks, how can we go back to a world where these diseases cause so much suffering and indignity? In the same way, our trade off for the luxury of development and the necessity of ending poverty seems to be locking us into a cycle of dependency on fossil fuels. Let alone the thought of where our cheap clothes, technology – and the raw materials which build them – come from. I’ve never quite encountered such a well-written fictional account of cognitive bias – the way we modify our beliefs or our behaviour to avert the guilt or discomfort at holding two self-contradictory beliefs in our mind at once – at society’s level. This alone makes this a precious book indeed. The spike in anti-migrant and anti-Muslim hate crime in a post-Brexit Britain, not to mention the rise of Donald Trump in the US or the far right in Europe, has been a salutary reminder of the need to always avoid ‘othering’ human beings; this book is full of such compassion for humanity it must surely be a worthy antidote. The idea of letting the technological or medical genie out of the bottle without considering the full moral, social and environmental implications is as relevant and haunting today as it has ever been."
Sunday, December 4, 2022
And the lights! Yesterday was so dark and gloomy that the lights were a wonderful addition. Slowly we are inching toward full Christmas glory--John plans to get a tree on Saturday and Justin, Claui, and Josie will help us decorate it on Sunday.
Saturday, December 3, 2022
Once the entire populace had been chipped, installing UAC (Universal AutoCorrect) was possible. Of course, there were fierce debates—the utility of social lying (Oh, no, it’s delicious--I’m just not very hungry or Of course you look good in yoga pants) as a lubricant for interactions was so obvious—but the damage done by the larger lies (I was working late; I never saw that man before; they invaded us; I won the election; what climate change?) was impossible to overlook.
It was so simple. If one spoke an untruth--whether knowingly or from ignorance, the chip would override the original statement and the speaker would hear themself saying, "No, that's wrong. Actually . . ." and going on to correct the statement.
Quis ipsos custodies custodiet? you ask. The custodians were carefully programed bots—of course, it was humans who did the programming, to begin with, but once the parameters of Truth had been laid down, the bots were perfectly capable of amazing feats of extrapolation.
As a safety measure, a quarterly review was instituted—on the ninth day of January, April, July, and October, UAC would be disabled for 24 hours, during which time a re-assessment of its reliability and its social utility would be performed. For the first years, this review was carried out by social scientists, religious leaders, and politicians, but when a series of particularly horrendous accidents removed a number of the review panelists, the few that remained withdrew, leaving the work of assessment to the bots.
Life with UAC has run smoothly ever since the bots enabled the chips with a shock feature. The general population has learned to think carefully before speaking or, indeed, before asking difficult questions. Political rallies have ceased altogether, ever since the debacle which saw a certain carefully arranged blond comb-over stand on end and finally, as the mouth under the comb-over continued to speak untruths, despite the increasing strength of the warning shocks, the comb-over, now rippling like prairie grass, caught fire.
UAC was an especially difficult challenge for the legal profession. Courts were still needed to assign punishment for confessed crimes. But many once prosperous lawyers simply resigned rather than work under the constraints of UAC. Some went mad first.
Particularly interesting was the phenomenon of people waiting till the quarterly review days to propose marriage or to enter into business arrangement . . .
I have no idea where this is going or if there will be more. It's an intriguing thought, though.
Friday, December 2, 2022
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Sunday, November 27, 2022
Saturday, November 26, 2022
I received an email from PayPal regarding suspicious activity with my account. Someone was requesting a considerable amount. There was a phone number to call to request a refund and, alas, I called it.
Don't do that. I ended up with someone who purported to be helping me, but the call went on and on and finally I got uneasy and ended it.
Back on the PayPal page, there was a way of dealing with this problem and, indeed, a warning about this very thing.
So, with passwords changed and bank account blocked for the time being, that's how I spent afternoon. Fingers crossed all will be well.
Friday, November 25, 2022
Thursday, November 24, 2022
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
There was a small kerfuffle on a Facebook group I follow. Someone wondered why in the world people would use paper plates for a Thanksgiving feast and, rather promptly, other people told her--disability, rather spend time with family than washing dishes, etc. After major pushback the original poster amended her post to apologize and to say that now she understood.
It reminded me of something I wrote maybe twenty years ago...
It’s the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and I’m at the grocery store. The weather is cold and snowy, and I’ve skipped painting class to get ready for Thursday. My shopping cart is piled high with raw ingredients – a 20-pound turkey, celery, onions, kale, cranberries, butter, whipping cream – okay, there are two bags of cornbread stuffing and several cans of pumpkin puree and chicken broth, but in my mind, these are raw ingredients.
In the checkout line, I study the tabloids; I have only the vaguest idea who Jen and Brad are so I turn my attention to the shopping cart ahead of me – paper plates, plastic cups, pre-made pie crusts, a can of lemon meringue filling (I mentally taste the artificial flavoring and my worst fears are confirmed as six jars of pale brown gravy slide down the belt.) There are two large bags of frozen broccoli florets and I silently congratulate the benighted shopper for not having succumbed to the lure of the canned green bean, mushroom soup, and canned fried onion casserole. But I am inwardly appalled at the idea of a Thanksgiving dinner with such uninspired ingredients. Then the cashier says to the tired-looking woman, whose groceries these are, “Big family Thanksgiving?”
A beautiful smile illuminates the weary shopper’s face. “Yes, we’ll all be together,” she replies softly, as though caressing each word.
Monday, November 21, 2022
Saturday, November 19, 2022
Another black walnut box with resin inset. If any of these look like holiday gifts to you, pm me for prices.