• The Asylum Issue

    Bad News: When It Rains, It Pours

    The Asylum Issue
    10 27 2015

    Bad News

    When It Rains, It Pours

    Somehow I wasted a full 11 hours watching the entire Benghazi testimony by Hillary Clinton. I’m mentioning this specifically out of pure outrage that upon reviewing my notes for this week I failed to even mention it once, despite having convinced myself and my roommates that I was “watching CSPAN for my column”. Alas, I merely wasted my life one dry, borderline gaslighting question after the other. The next day I saw that Hillary had somehow managed to improve her numbers after the Republican media circus. And here I am boring you with news about the presidential campaign when I could be apologizing for being late.

    What’s my excuse this time? I was lurking in the back row of the local anarchist infoshop during a presentation of Dixie Be Damned, a new book covering the 300-year history of anti-state insurrection in the American South. I got a chance to corner the authors and ramble to them about how Twitter was probably to blame for something or other when I realized “Oh shit, my column!”

    So, with that, let’s just dive right in. Dust off the soundtrack, and crank the crank, because here we go:

    Monday, October 19

    The chill of late autumn is upon us. As we haggle with our landlord to track down the termostat for our apartment, refugees in Europe are facing a much more dangerous situation. Namely, that the tens of thousands of displaced households seeking asylum in the northern European countries don’t yet have warm homes.

    New statistics available indicate that the National Rifle Association, and their crusade for unregulated gun ownership, is marching toward at a dark, demographic cliff. Across race, age, and class lines, the NRA is losing the statistical battle in the hearts of the nations “majority” groups, which are quickly changing from white, male, and old to ... well, not. Experts speculate that the NRA “inevitably” will become “marginalized in a changing America”. For the record, I support unregulated gun control, but just for every person who is opposed to the dusty white conservatives obsessed with the NRA.

    As usual, all the busy little feet in the race to the autonomous vehicles are taking another lap this week. Cadillac was testing their driverless car in Washington DC today. The software update to Tesla cars that automatically added self-driving functionality to all existing Tesla cars got a chance to breathe. In fact, new research into artificial brain cells are helping computers navigate like humans.

    Big wins for Oprah today – she bought about 10% of Weight Watchers’ stock and made about $70 million dollars in less than a day. Which has me standing in front of the mirror, rubbing my dad-bod tummy, and asking myself whether or not I’m getting poorer.

    I try to stay out of the presidential race – mostly because there is just too much bad news there – but I just had to include this story from center of the conservative beast about the fear and anxiety caused by a recent claim that the Republican establishment seems to think that Donald Trump will win their nomination.

    For the last few weeks, I’ve been editing stories about small earthquakes in California out of this column, but I can’t do it any longer. For the last few weeks, San Ramon Valley just east of California’s Bay Area has been rumbling with seismic activity. Today, over 200 tremors shook the region.

    Tuesday, October 20

    Today, NASA said the probability that a serious earthquake will rock Los Angeles in the next 3 years is 99 percent.

    Further proof in my ongoing dossier on the sheer futility of certainty in economic argumentation is this new expose on wealth therapy – the growing trend of psychological counsel for America’s millionaire class. Yeah, and just when you thought this politically-correctness was getting a tad out of hand.

    A new study was reported today that found that children who spend more than three hours on social media a day are twice as likely to suffer mental health conditions in their youth. Honestly, this isn’t even information I can use in my daily life – what I really want to know is what happens when someone spends more than eight hours a day on social media. What are the mental health complications there? Asking for a friend.

    Google doing-it-up again today as footage was released of early testing of their drone delivery system – a network of remote services capable of delivering on-demand parcels to residential and commercial property. Imagine a world where hundreds of little robots fly through the sky delivering online shopping hauls to their homes. If just then you visualized riding in the back of a pickup truck with wrist rockets chasing down valuable loot and plucking it from the sky like some sort of post-apocalyptic shanty-pirates, hit me up.

    Speaking of online shopping, Mastercard announced that it is experimenting with new facial recognition software which would enable people to pay for online purchases by taking a selfie. This comes as great news to kidnappers, torturers, and anyone else willing to duck-tape someone to a chair and force them to smile into their camera long enough to charge about ten new Playstation 4s to the card.

    Last but not least this Tuesday, a partner at Google Ventures, the tech giant’s investment company, says that the digitization of human genetic information is not only inevitable, but necessary for the survival of our species. Ok, really? I thought “lifehacking” was over – do you really mean to tell me that all of this life-extension science is going to play out well for all of us? You think the employees at the Dunkin’ Donuts down the street are going to benefit from “optimizing the human genome”? Honestly, the only thing that we could really get out of this research is if the database gets hacked and we find out just how inbred European aristocracy is.

    Wednesday, October 21

    New brick-laying drones are being tested in Zurich, laying the groundwork for a new industry of remote-control building construction. Bad news for the global expanse of unchecked urban development, but perhaps the final experimental research necessary before I get the opportunity to live out the fantasy lurking in my deepest, darkest being since I first played the game Starcraft.

    In its ongoing struggle to prove that one day it could make some money, social media company Twitter has been bragging to the big-money about just how effective it could be at selling its users’ data – namely by quantifying how, when, and why big ideas travel quickly across the world. Interesting note here – the main cited example of “value” in the data ... #BlackLivesMatter. Not surprising then that Twitter will be sponsoring a presidential town hall forum on #BlackLivesMatter and Campaign Zero with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and maybe even Donald Trump.

    Meanwhile, YouTube (still notoriously unprofitable) unveiled its new service for ad-free videos, permitting users to pay directly for the service to remove advertisment interruptions from the viewing experience. Hey. Ad-free content. Sounds cool. Worth paying for maybe.

    Wikileaks plans to release all the hacked emails of CIA director John Brennan’s emails following the bumbling hacker-like pot-smoking high-schoolers who found their way into his email system by calling AOL and Verizon to reverse-engineer his password. Omg, I watch that last vido on a loop all day.

    Thursday, October 22

    Let’s see. Big day today. First, there was this judge in Colorado that ruled that Facebook post can constitute campaign donations, which seems benign but has huge precedent repercussions. Then, there was the moment that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, jumped up a rung in the list of Americans with the most money (he jumped over the Koch brothers and is now number three, by the way). Oh, and the city of LA announce their new toilet-to-tap program for treating and recycling waste-water. Hmm, and apparently cheese is as addictive as crack cocaine. Tell me about it.

    What’s more? Facebook announced their new universal search algorithm, allowing users to peruse their entire database of human interactions and associations. Oh, and the massive $725 million ranch in Texas that sold to a mysterious buyer. The growing concern that hackers may pose a threat to the international collection of satellites orbiting the earth. All-in-all, a pretty chill day as days go.

    Friday, October 23

    Friday began as most Fridays do – extremely fucking shitty. How so? Well let’s start with this evolutionary study that human hands may have evolved specifically to punch things. Yeah. Lol.

    And new techniques now allow couples to “screen out abnormalities” from their genetic information before they conceive. Hey, Eugenics. That’s never been weird, gross, or ethically problematic! What they hey, let’s give it a go.

    A study was released today that found nearly 70 percent of all people currently taking perscription anti-depressants are not clinically depressed. This isn’t the first study of this kind, but I’m including it today just to ... well ... I don’t know, rub it in I guess that we have a serious problem on our hands that neither sociology nor healthcare seems to be handling reasonably. That’s the name of the game (this column) after all.

    Speaking of massive signifiers of a collective unease, the new Star Wars trailer was released today during some football game that I wasn’t even watching. A record 112 million people watched it in less than 24 hours. I don’t have any more sassy jabs to make about the new Star Wars movie, because I’m busy trying to Fandango my way into a Twitter date.

    Speaking of a galaxy far far away, billionaire industrialist and general swine of all swines Charles Koch of Koch brothers scum and villany suited up for a company Halloween celebration by wearing the traditional ceremonial robes of his people, the dark sith lords.

    The evening, Hurrican Patricia, the most powerful hurricane ever measured in the Western Hemisphere made landfall in west-central Mexico. With winds recorded at upwards of 200 mph, it quite literally broke the instruments used to measure the intensity of tropical cyclones.

    I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t share this article about emotionally intelligent robots capable of recognizing boredom in humans and programmed to simply avoid them. Instead of developing complex cloaking devices to hide our ramshackle ships from the patrol drones while we’re deep in the caverns of the ruins of planet Earth in some sort of dismal Matrix-like desert of the Real, we could just cue up the Jimmy Kimmel show and play Uno. And here I thought surviving the apocalypse was going to involve a cunning combination of self-preservation and cooperative problem-solving. Thanks for nothing, idealistic science-fiction classics.

    Saturday, October 24

    Ok, I can already feel my word-count limit buckling under the pressure of this mega-post so I’ll try to keep it brief: today the Washington Post published documents from 1980s era cold-war tensions that officially reveal that the Soviets were convinced the United States was planning to sucker-punch them with a nuke. Boy, am I glad to be alive now, and not then, otherwise I’d have grown up during a time when we were constantly living under the fear that global superpowers would erupt in chaotic conflicts with rammifications that would ripple forward in history for generations without possibility of resolution or peace. Fweeewwwf.

    Ever wonder how economic regulations apply to internet technologies? Yeah, neither has anyone else ... and apparently it’s starting to add up. Companies like Uber, AirBnb, and Facebook are constantly getting into legal battles with entire nations to resolve disputes and the outright illegal applications their software provides. And so a new conversation is beginning to define “platform”, and mobilize the US government on behalf of a new digital protectionism.

    Torrential rains pummelled the American south following the El Niño–driven Hurricane Patricia, which is – let’s just check – yep, the fourth week in a row I’ve covered devestating flooding in the United States. Wahoo, climate collpase!

    Sunday, October 25

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve always seen a bit of sorrowful shame in Tony Blair’s face. Not sure why, but he always seems like he’s hoping you aren’t about to out him about all the stuff he did in high school. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but in any case he issued a longwinded apology today for “mistakes” of Iraq and other Middle East campaigns that may have lead to the rise of ISIS. We would accept your apology, Mr. Blair, but unless you have a time machine ...

    On this most historic of terrible weeks is this study from USA Today that found that most “Millennials” are concerned primarily with economic inequality and climate change.

    Lastly, everyone seems to want the US and Russia to have some sort of beef with each other and frankly I don’t get it. It’s like somehow the chaos of the world would make a little more sense if only Putin and Obama were like two schoolchildren planning a fight after school. I don’t buy it, but regardless I found this article about the Russian navy getting too close for comfort to deep undersea internet cables interesting. Mostly because I still think it’s hilarious that the entire internet relies on like 12 submarine cables. Snippy snippy.

    Tune in next week!

    Every hurricane from now on “strongest ever recorded”! NASA announces they’ve found a new moon! Turns out it’s not a moon, it’s a space station!

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