Stupid stuff

Calling all think tanks

Thursday, October 1st, 2009
I have a huge crush on Tony Bourdain. I love his dry sense of humor.

I have a huge crush on Tony Bourdain. I love his dry sense of humor. And his willingness to eat anything.

I was watching Anthony Bourdain No Reservations, and he was actually in the outer boroughs (which was interesting because he’s a New Yorker, but knew nothing about anything outside Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn), and he was in Staten Island with David Johansen of the New York Dolls and asked him, “What’s great about Staten Island that people don’t know?” and his response was, “We have a lot of think tanks here.”

And that got me thinking.

First, it got me thinking that was one of the most unexpected ‘what’s great about Staten Island’ responses ever. David should get a prize just for saying something so random.

The next time someone asks me what’s great about the town I live in, I’m going to say, “Skunks. We have a lot of skunks.” And it’s both true AND unpredictable. (But if you know anything about what I went through with said skunks, it’s also a wee bit out of character. Oh well. Being impossibly delightful sometimes requires a selective memory.)

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Second, it got me thinking that David was some kind of long-lost brother or cousin or illegitimate spawn of Mick Jagger. Or the Aerosmith guy. What’s his name again? (***doing some of that impressive thinking I’m about to be known for***) Oh yes, Steven Tyler. Some kind of hybrid baby made out of the rock n’ roll DNA of the both of them. The lips don’t lie.

Then I continued on thinking that the man looks like he has lived a seriously harsh life. You don’t get wrinkles like that playing tennis at the country club all day.

From there, my thoughts turned to how David looked weirdly familiar and although I know what The New York Dolls are in kind of a collective unconscious but not super specific kind of way, I don’t really ‘know’ them. Which is another way of saying, I’m not a big fan or anything – in fact, I’m not entirely sure I’ve ever heard their music – so where could this sense of familiarity possibly come from?

And THEN I started thinking through possible reasons he might be drinking out of a pineapple and why there seemed to be so many tiki bars on Staten Island, and that’s when it occurred to me: I am a thinking machine.

All I DO is think.

Hey! I think I have that belt! And that hot pink t-shirt! And maybe the skirt...  Not the belly, though. Definitely not recognizing the belly.

Hey! I think I have that belt! And that hot pink t-shirt! And maybe the skirt... Not the belly, though. Definitely not recognizing the belly.

I was born to think.

And I was born thinking.

Thinking is my calling.

And all that thinking led me to an obvious and inevitable conclusion:  A think tank should hire me.

And pay me handsomely.

To think.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, and that’s not very nice of you. Don’t scoff at my dreams, bust my balloon, pee on my parade.

A think tank would be damn lucky to have me. Let me break it down for you: I’m sure what they’re used to are all these stuffy, boring, academia types who think exactly the same.

I could come in there, introduce some cultural references and slightly irrelevant trains of thought and get the proverbial blood flowing. And if providing a little ‘eye candy’ were necessary, I can rock a pencil skirt and 4″ heels like nobody’s business and get the actual blood flowing.

So to all think tanks out there: Drop me a line. Give me a jingle. Have your people call my people.

I’m available to work for you…for a price. And not full-time or anything. I’ve got a lot of side projects. And a book I should be editing right now instead of writing this nonsense.

I'm digging the leather coat, David. Come to think of it, if I get this Staten Island think tank job, I should come over. We could share clothes!

I'm digging the leather coat, David. Come to think of it, if I get this Staten Island think tank job, I should come over. We could share clothes!

Oh, and I don’t really want to sit in an office.

Unless your office is somewhere cool (and no, I don’t mean the temperature. I mean cool as in awesome. For example: Staten Island is not cool. Manhattan is cool. Palm Springs, CA is cool. Kilauea, Kauai is cool.

But you’re smart people. You can put some brain power on it and figure out what I might consider cool.)

So, like I was saying, not going to sit in an office more than one or two days a month, not available full-time, willing to wear tight skirts, and of course, I can think it up until smoke comes out of my ears.

Act now.

Operators are standing by.

(A Google search on David Johansen cleared up the familiarity mystery: He has an alter ego called ‘Buster Poindexter’ that had that song “Hot Hot Hot” in the 80′s. How weird is that? Weird, right? That’s what I thought, also. You should probably work for a think tank, too. No really. You’d be good at it. I’m sure you would. That’s what I think, anyway.)

buster0im

Crazy, right??? Methinks he might have been in 'Scrooged' too. Anyone with me on that?

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Ash is a goddamned robot

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

So the following headline caught my eye this morning: The Challenge of Making Real Robot Skin, which in turn led pretty much immediately to a “come again?” moment.

So I went to the article, and it started to come clear…and then more or less tanked straight into WTF land. Why’s that? Well, just so you don’t feel left out, here are a few excerpts to catch you up:

I don't know what this is, but the 1.5mm skin kind of reminds me of cake. Mmmmmm...  Cake.

I don't know what this is, but the 1.5mm skin kind of reminds me of cake. Mmmmmm... Cake.

In a recent paper “Towards Humanlike Social Touch for Sociable Robotics,” John Cabibihan and his fellow scientists detailed the reasons for testing and developing realistic skin for social robots.

“Touch is important in social interactions. Social touch are all those instances in which people touch each other, when shaking hands, when giving a pat in the back as a sign of congratulations and even in high-fives. Yet, one should not easily assume that humans will be comfortable with the idea of shaking an artificial hand made from a stiff material. In addition to the appropriate controls for a safe handshake grip and other forms of social touch, humanlike skin softness would be a reasonable requirement for the sociable robots envisioned to directly interact with humans in a social setting. “

Human skin has properties that are not easy to replicate in synthetics. The authors created a skin testing machine to check out some of the current substitutes for human skin in robots – like silicone and polyurethane. Unfortunately, these simplistic skin substitutes were tested and found wanting; at present, there is no accepted substitute for the feeling of real human skin.

There have been a number of different attempts to produce more lifelike skin for robots, as well as skin that would properly feed sensation to the operator of the robot. There is, of course, one ideal solution to creating robot skin that is as human as possible. Recent work done at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft science institute in Germany has demonstrated that small swatches of actual human skin can be grown in petri dishes in a mass production facility.

It takes a lot of damage before you realize Arnold isn't actually a person, but a killing machine.

It takes a lot of damage before you realize Arnold isn't actually a person, but a killing machine.

Ummm…what?

Who is doing human skin-covered robot development?
And WHY????

Clearly I missed some kind of memo. What the hell kind of robot is this?

I’m okay with Roomba and his stinky cousin, Scooba and anything that comes over to clean my floors or dishes (but no touching the laundry. I love doing laundry. It’s the only chore where I would even consider use of the word ‘love’ in association.), but I’m not so sure how I feel about robots that I can’t tell are robots.

At least even the iRobot robots looked like robots, so once they turned bad you could tell them apart. And WALL-E. Clearly a robot, and fine by me…especially because he never decided to destroy the humans who created him, which is a plus.

As for the explanation on this bad idea, I’m not buying the whole ‘people don’t want to shake hands with a robot’ excuse, either.

I would shake hands with a robot.

I shake hands with my dog (which has, in turn, taught him to flog me when he wants something, and I’m ignoring him, but that’s another story for another day). And if a robot wanted to pat me on the back with a metallic pitchfork hand, I’d be okay with that (so long as it was gentle and not a robot beat down that punctured a lung or whatnot. Punctured lungs are no good.)

My point here is I think there are only two reasons that they would want to put real skin on a robot:

1. To trick us.

2. To make robot prostitutes (or sex slaves or whatever).

See? Nothing but a goddamned robot.

See? Nothing but a goddamned robot.

And I don’t like it one little bit. And I suspect the robots wouldn’t like it one little bit. And this is where things go wrong. You create something in order to dominate it and use it as a slave, but you made it too smart so it collaborates with the others of its kind and overthrows you and the next thing you know we’re all hanging out in liquid cocoons and powering The Matrix.

Right????

So can’t we at least learn from our popular culture? Life imitates art and whatnot?

For instance,  in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (The Phillip K. Dick classic known more commonly as the Harrison Ford movie Blader Runner)? Replicants – or ‘skin jobs’ as they’re not-so-ironically called – that think they’re human beings but later (and not exactly in the interest of their psychological health) find out they’re not.

Daryl Hannah as a 'basic pleasure model.' This gives me an idea for Halloween....

Daryl Hannah as a 'basic pleasure model.' This gives me an idea for Halloween....

Nobody likes to grow up thinking they’re real and find out they’re not. It’s an identity crisis in the making.

How about Alien? You know, where The Company secretly sends a robot as part of the crew to ensure that a heinous monster will make it back to earth safe and sound? And nobody knew he was a robot until he tried to kill Ripley and then all that white foamy stuff started oozing out of him.

You can’t trust those robots that look like people. You think they’re a regular, reasonable person…but they can be wired as total traitors just like that.

And speaking of treacherous behavior, who can forget The Terminator? Imagine if The Terminator would have at least had the decency to look like a killer robot. Things might have turned out differently for all the other Sarah Conners in the Los Angeles phone book.

In closing, let me go on the record as not liking this petri dish skin human-looking robot stuff. I don’t know what it is, but it ain’t good.

And in the words of Ash, ”I can’t lie to you about your chances, but you have my sympathy”.

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It’s nice to come across a kindred spirit

Friday, September 25th, 2009

No. I’m not talking about any of you lovely people who have found and stuck with this slightly pointless blog (I inserted the word ‘slightly’ to make myself feel better), but rather, The Donald.

Duh.

There but for the grace of god goes...anyone.

There but for the grace of god goes...anyone.

I wasn’t going to admit this, but now that I see Donald Trump and I are clearly mind-melding and sharing the same awesome idea, I feel a little less nuts.

That’s probably not much of a litmus test, though, is it?

Donald Trump as your gauge of acceptability?

I mean, the man lives in a gold-plated home and wears a bad toupee that looks like an even worse comb-forward.

So anyway, he’s also crazy rich and seems to be very, very decisive (minus his mad crush on Joan Rivers. It was so clear she was going to win The Celebrity Apprentice after just three episodes. She could do no wrong in his eyes. My guess is he has mom issues.)

Anywho, my point here is that I’ve been reading all this stuff about Muammar Gaddafi wanting to camp out in some yard in Englewood, New Jersey and they wouldn’t let him, and then there was a headline about “Gaddafi Can’t Find a Place to Sleep in New York,” and I found myself thinking, “I’d let him sleep in my yard. He could use the downstairs bathroom.”

I mean…come on. How many (allegedly) insane dictators have you bunked down with?

To anyone who watches True Blood: Clearly Muammar is under the influence of a Maenid!

To anyone who watches True Blood: Clearly Muammar is under the influence of a Maenid!

None, right?

I suggest you’re  missing out: The man has got to have some interesting campfire stories. And imagine the material this would provide for years to come:

The time Muammar Gaddafi and I made s’mores.

Muammar Gaddafi told me this great ghost story about an evil, talking Swiss doll…

Remember when I stuck a sleeping Muammar’s hand in a cup of warm water, and he woke up and punched me out?

Gaddafi has such a lovely singing voice. Brings tears to the eyes. You should really hear his Kumbaya.

What? This? That’s when I started calling Muammar Gaddafi “Moo Moo” without seeing if that was okay first, and he shot me. That’s the scar.

Oh, the memories we could make!

Clearly Donald Trump is having the same idea, because allegedly  - after failing to gain permission to pitch a tent in Central Park –  Moo Moo has had a lovely bedouin-style lean-to pitched at one of the Trump estates. I’m not claiming to be a crack journalist, but rumor has it Donald’s 213-acre Seven Springs property in Bedford, New York is playing host to the (seemingly) insane dictator.

I think it's time Trump show us what he's truly made of: Go balls to the wall, get a weave, and rock a crazy ass mullet. There's no such thing as bad press, Donald!

I think it's time Trump show us what he's truly made of: Go balls to the wall, let the comb-forward fall backward, and rock a crazy ass mullet. There's no such thing as bad press, Donald!

When questioned about the giant Bedouin tent behind him, Sergeant Tom Diebold, a spokesman for the Bedford Hills police department, even went so far as to say (on the record!), “I’m not going to confirm or deny anything.”

Sounds like a yes to me!!!

Who can blame The Donald? According to reports, Gaddafi fears elevators and “needs space for his all-female security team.” Because there’s nothing the average woman loves more than camping!

We know Trump loves the ladies. And the tent sounds right up his swanky alley: The interior is decorated with a “print of pineapple plants and camels” and there’s red patterned carpets on the floor. Oooh! Sounds like Vegas casino meets cheap Florida hotel!

I do hope the UN decides to hold talks in my neck of the woods soon. It’s been years since anyone in the neighborhood hosted an African dictator and his all-female entourage in a tent. We’re overdue.

The tent itself. Looks like your average wedding reception, really.

The tent itself. Looks like your average wedding reception, really.

p.s.

I’m digging the camping out in Central Park idea. Hotel rooms in Manhattan are so damn expensive.

The local homeless population may not see it the same way, however.

p.p.s. To anyone who randomly finds this and is now boiling with rage and gearing up to send me a spiteful email about Gaddafi and his ties to the Pam Am Lockerbie incident, I’m KIDDING. Look around the blog. Dry sarcasm everywhere. Funny!

Ha ha.

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If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it…

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Damn, that it some catchy shit.

Somebody sent me a link of a baby dancing to that Single Ladies video, and I have not been able to get it out of my head all day. I don’t even know any other words – are there other words? If memory serves, she just says “If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it” about 350 times.

Now, normally, I’m not down with dancing baby videos.

I don’t mind the occasional baby getting clobbered by a pet, or pounced upon baby knocked to the ground, and god knows I love me some Keyboard Cat. I was talking to someone about the Hall and Oates song “You Make My Dreams Come True”.

Wait. Stop the press.

Time for a moment of honesty: I wasn’t talking about the song. I’d had an adult beverage or two or some number less than ten, and I was attempting to sing the song. That’s what was actually going on. Now back to the story…

Although it’s part of my current running mix, I realized I don’t really know the lyrics to that one either. It’s not entirely my fault. He mumbles.

So anyway, I googled it to find a video, and what came up but the Keyboard Cat ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’ video (where the cat is poorly spliced into the corner, which only heightens the priceless absurdity)!?!  Double happiness.

At the same time, this experience doubled as a harsh dose of sobering reality: Not everybody thinks Keyboard Cat is hysterically funny. I know. Weird, right?

It’s hard to understand. But apparently there are people out there that don’t relish stupidity for the sake of stupidity. I’m not sure how they get through life, but I suspect it involves lots of prescription drugs.

But I digress.

So as I was saying, I don’t usually dig the dancing baby videos, but this baby has got some moves. I particularly appreciate the time he kind of gets the head/arm bit dead on. And with those jimmy legs, he could very well grow up to break down the female-only barrier and join the Rockettes.

Admittedly, the video goes on about 2 minutes longer than it needs to, but I will say that this is the kind of baby that makes me want a baby.

This baby makes me want a baby the way I would like to have a court jester or Jim Gaffigan around: To entertain me and make me laugh. Which is quite possibly the worst reason on earth to have a baby (well, that and to trap somebody into staying with you, but this isn’t that kind of blog.)

On the other hand, this video makes me wish I could dance like that, and even vaguely consider some dancing lessons. Which is a less bad idea than the amusing clown baby idea, but since neither one is likely to happen in the near term, you needn’t worry about it.

So there you have it.

And if you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.

p.s.

Isn’t it amazing that I got through this post without once mentioning Kanye West and his ‘outburst’?

The entire head covered in tattoos aside (surely all that ink that close to your brain is inadvisable), the man was on the red carpet chugging a bottle of Hennessy. Whaddaya expect?

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Arrr, this is more or less like e’ery other blog

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Aye, me parrot agrees.

Aye, except that tis’ International (that’s right – International. So don’t go getting all snooty on me non-Americans. You’re in this as deep as I am.) Talk Like a Pirate Day, so I’m puttin’ e’erythin’ through the pirate speak translator. A pence for an old man o’de sea?

scott_the_pirateAhoy, which is kind o’ an annoyin’ extra step, if you mightily must know. Gar, Where can I find a bottle o’rum?

Arrr, do the Somali pirates talk like this? Aye, I didn’t think so. Ye’ll ne’er get me buried booty!

(They called it booty?)

Aye, me am growin’ weary o’ this pirate nonsense. A pence for an old man o’de sea?

Ahoy, and, in slightly annoyed conclusion, I’m goin’ t’ unleash a Tourette’s-like torrent o’ piratish sayin’s. Gar, Where can I find a bottle o’rum?

Walk the plank!

Shiver me timbers!

Drink up, me hearties!

Well, blow me down!

Gar, you’re nothing but a land lubber!

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Any string of words utilizing ‘grog’ or ‘bilge rat’!

Buy a beer for an old lass o’de sea?

Avast, I’ve crushed seventeen men’s skulls between me thighs!

(That last one may or may not be true. You’ll have to wait until I’m arrested, and the contents of my yard excavated before I’ll confirm or deny.)

Tomorrow?

Why, it’s International Blog Like You’re Baby Talking Your Giant Dog Day, of course!

Here’s a sample: Whaddaya doin’ Dohey wohey wohey? Is yous sweepin’ by the front door? Yes? Yous is sweepin’? Who’s a good boy!? Who’s a good boy!? I wuvs you, Donut!!! I wuvs you!

(And, yes, you can go ahead and throw up a little in your mouth now, if so inclined.)

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