The Logical Endpoint of American Culture

Happy Meals exist as a special way to lure kids in, so the news that McDonald’s was making Happy Meals for adults led to a lot of clowning online. One person said that the“creation of a Happy Meal for adults is the logical endpoint of American culture,” and another said that the concept of adult Happy Meals is a “pretty powerful index of mental and moral decline.”

Ana Diaz in McDonald’s Happy Meals for adults make sense in a Funko-obsessed world [] published on Polygon

AI Powered Tower Defense for my Kitchen

This should win an Ignoble prize this year: scientists create AI powered laser turret that kills cockroaches []. Ignoble prizes are about things that “make people laugh, and then make them think.” I am laughing, but I am also thinking. I’m thinking someone needs to make this a reality quickly…

I need to defend my kitchen from ants. Cockroaches, not so much, but I am locked in an eternal battle with ants. I live on the ground floor or a building in the tropics and no matter how many times I win a battle with the ants they come back in a few days. They are endless, they are relentless.

I want this AI bug zapper to be a reality fast. Lasers would be awesome, I mean, who doesn’t like lasers [] (the original of that was a user bio on StackOverflow, but it’s long gone)? How cool would it be to walk into the kitchen and see little laser blasts taking our ants? Pew pew! (They should totally ad Hollywood blaster sound effects.) But without fog I guess you wouldn’t see the lasers. Add a fog machine too.

But, lasers require a lot of power… and you’ll shoot your eye out. How about we have an unholy union of Bug-a-salt [] and this AI powered bug slayer (still need the sound effects). I want to play tower defense with salt powered AI turrets in my kitchen.

I could start with them on counters and move them closer to the doors and windows, pushing back the frontline until all the territory in my kitchen is reclaimed from the ants. And then, the turrets will guard my borderlands. Creating a Maginot Line (scratch that, it failed), a DMZ around my kitchen.

Maybe we could build these on top of a robot vacuum chassis so we can have mobile salt gun bug killers, MSGBKs. Slap a camera on that and stream the video to the internet. I already have a robot vacuum and a robot mop, a robot bug zapper patrolling my house would be cool.

On the other hand, if you give an AI the ability to kill bugs, removing the human from the decision chain, are you setting the stage for the robot apocalypse? Is this how Skynet starts? Not with the military mounting machine guns on robo-dogs [] and allowing them to kill, but with a crusade against ants and cockroaches?

quotes ranting

The four drives

I am currently reading The Consolation of Philosophy [] by Boethius. And listening along to the Tolkien Professor’s [] Mythgard Academy podcast [] of their discussion.

In book two of Consolation, there is a discussion of what drives humans:

Some believe the highest good is being rich without want, so they toil to gain an abundance of wealth. Others think the good is winning the best reputation, so they seek the respect of their fellow citizens by obtaining honors. There are those who locate the highest good in the highest power. They want either to be rulers themselves or to ally themselves with those who are. To others the good seems to be the greatest fame, so they rush to spread their glorious name abroad by works of war or peace. But the largest portion measure the fruit of the good by sensual pleasure and joy. They suppose the happiest man abandons himself to pleasure. There are also those who confuse ends and means, like those who desire riches for the sake of power and pleasures, or who seek power for the sake of money or fame.

Boethius, from The Consolation of Philosophy, book 2, prose 2

This reminded me of something that a history teacher once said to me, and my whole class. I’m wondering now if they go the idea from Boethius, they never explained where it came from, and I think we were all too shocked to ask for more details. No doubt this is paraphrasing, as it was decades ago, and maybe it’s been refined over many retellings, but this is the essence of what they said:

Money, power, prestige and sex, are the four drive of the human race. Once basic needs are met, it is the desire to possess these four things that has shaped history.

History teacher who shall remain anonymous

If you have hung out with me for any significant length of time over the last three decades or so you have hear that, over coffee or beer or stronger. It has suck with me, I wonder if anyone else in the class remembers it?

Boethius actually lists five drives: wealth, reputation, power, fame and sensual pleasure, but it’s close enough. Reputation is as much of a function of the others as a goal itself. I wonder if my teacher had ever read Consolation?

Can you boil history down to money, power, prestige and sex? Probably not. But there are a lot of incidents in history, large and small, that are driven by these things. Wars over natural resources often boil down to money. Hunger for power has driven many a king, emperor or chancellor to conquest. Prestige? That’s a bit harder. But sex driving “history” is as old as the Trojan War.

There was actually a corollary to the four drives. It’s probably offensive, and it’s definitely sexist, and I debated even adding it here, since the internet never forgets and people will assume the worst about you. But for most of human history sexism was the default, and while no doubt this is a Reductio ad absurdum, it puts an interesting spin on the whole statement. Anyway, the corollary, added later by another friend is:

If you are a man; money, power and prestige are how you get sex. If you are a woman; sex is how you get money, power and prestige.

I told you it was sexist.

photography ranting

The Queen is dead, long live the King

As close as I’ll ever come to royalty, June 4th, 2002

So much for her immortality. 96 is a good run. 70 years as Queen. More than three generations. In any English speaking place The Queen refers only to her, and will for some time I expect. It will be a hard act to follow. And maybe it’s time to put an end to the whole thing, send the monarchy out while it’s on top.

I took the photo above on June 4, 2002 [], when the UK was celebrating The Queen’s 50th Jubilee. Stumbled on the motorcade a few blocks from the Guildhall. I was literally 6 meters from The Queen. Amazing.



Realse Date
August 27, 1996

ATLiens [] by OutKast is my favorite rap album (although Ill Communication [] could give it a run for it’s money, I love me some Beastie Boys). It came out at the end of summer the year I graduated from high school. I didn’t leave my home town for college like many of my friends and over the next year I spent many hours riding around Charlottesville, mostly with M█ who introduced me to the album. I can still remember how it felt to turn it up with 2000 watts and a couple of 12 inch subwoofers in the trunk… of my 1992 Toyota Camry. White boy in a Camry, not exactly a gansta.

Like most people outside of the deep south ATLiens was my first taste of southern rap. At the time MTV and the radio were filled with East Coast and West Coast gangsters. Previously, M█, who was my biggest influence as far as rap music is concerned, introduced me to both A Tribe Called Quest [] and Pharcyde []; Midnight Marauders [] or Low End Theory [] could make an appearance on this list. But Outkast, and ATLiens, was a different sound, mellow and laid back, more bass heavy and filled with dub and reggie influences that I don’t remember from from other rap of the time (not that I would have recognized those influences then).

I love André 3000 and Big Boi’s flows are awesome, and the southern accent was something new. I think the southern accent, the Atlanta accent, especially Big Boi’s works in a way I can’t describe. While I generally prefer André’s raps, I prefer the sound of Big Boi’s flow. Today I hear echos of it in Killer Mike on Run the Jewels [] tracks.

As far as my favorite tracks on the ablum go, 13th Floor/Growing Old and Elevators (You and Me), Wheelz of Steel and Jazzy Belle all stand out. And You may die, the intro is one of the best ever intro tracks for me.

ATLiens was the first rap album where the beats, independent of the songs made an impression on me. I even have an instrumental version of this album. Jazzy Belle is one my favorite beats ever. And I think owning and listening to the instrumentals was my first experience with what we would call lofi today, and a key influence on my later journey into both DJ Shadows early work and Jazz in general.

Ready to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:

And on Spotify: