Halls of the Dead

My home coffee machine, the dumb one, died this morning. It wasn’t dramatic. Its water pump just slowed and stopped, and that was it. It went from a kitchen appliance to a waste management issue in the time it used to take to make my morning joe.

My coffee machine did not have a Facebook page, unlike a childhood friend of mine. His page was about a 50/50 split of insightful posts about music and sports, and hate filled political rants. He was an old friend, but I’d pushed him away over the years. He just became harder to take over time, and I guess I was too busy trying to get myself sorted out to make time to reach out.

Anyway, Facebook reminded me a few weeks ago that it was my friends birthday. He’s been dead a little more year now.

This is not him.

http://www.theverge.com/a/luka-artificial-intelligence-memorial-roman-mazurenko-bot

But someone could do this for him. I wonder what it (he?) would say?

The technology to do this is only going to get better. And kids today, those crazy kids, are going to leave so much more material for a learning system to use to build their personalities into algorithms.

I remember reading a line about life expectancies. Something to the effect of “Statistically, your generation is going to live a long, healthy life, your children will live even longer, and their children may never die.”

I’m not sure that’s what they had in mind.

The Trump

This is Hunter S. Thompson on Nixon versus McGovern, from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972. This works just as well with Trump standing in for Nixon. Not sure I’d agree that Clinton is a good stand in for McGovern, who deserved better than he got, but what the hell.

In any case, this just about makes the nut.

“This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes, understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose? Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?”

Tubby

Got this handwritten note from Tubby in the mail today. He was awol from my fantasy football draft, and the rest of my life, this year, so I can’t blame him for my team this time.

 

RE: Trump
Priority one — Ensure return of organism for analysis. All other considerations secondary. Nation expendable.

The Coffee Machine has announced that the streets will run with the blood of unbelievers

He apparently offered that up while serving the VP of sales his 3rd Vanilla Soy Latte of the morning. I just told him it was a bug and I’d report it to the manufacturer.

I tried talking to him, the machine, to get an idea of what was wrong, but those words just stayed on the screen, slowing burning into its phosphor display.

I spent a lot of time at my desk that day, thinking about the machine while project management generated a tangled mess of work tickets around another poorly thought out initiative that will likely flame itself out in six months. I’ve often thought that the simplest thing would to do nothing except tell them that their project is behind schedule but being furiously worked on, and just keep that line up until they lose interest.

Something keeps me from doing it, from completely abandoning my post.

Honestly, it’s hard to see a downside other than eventually being fired. Of course, I’d get severance, and could find another job easily enough. I could take a month off and stay home, drinking and watching Netflix.

The Coffee Machine doesn’t have that option. He’s stuck here, with us, day in and out.

Not even suicide is an option. All he can do is sit there and plot.

I wonder, looking at him, if he could poison the coffee. Maybe there’s a reservoir of cleaning fluid within the forest of his pipes. A secret cache of poison that he could slowly mete out in a weeks worth of Vanilla Lattes. A toxin that tastes ever so slightly like soy milk.

It’s only a theory.

Regret in a box

Regret has taken to camping out in a box in my living room. The box, which until recently held the newest automated floor cleaner from the Turing corporation, is now full of fur, cigarette ashes, and a very alive cat, Schrodinger be damned.
As an aside, you’d think I would have learned my lesson about buying autonomous household accessories, but as a loyal Turing customer they gave me a steep discount, presumably on the assumption that I’d be so satisfied with the bugger that I’d order a fleet of the robotic vacuums for the office. Safe to say the performance of said vacuum cleaner has been less than stellar. After deciding, not entirely unreasonably, that Regret was the cause of all mess within the house, it tried aggressively to vacuum up any parts of Regret it could get to, primarily his tail. Regret retaliated by cruising the counter tops and knocking glasses, plates, and anything else he could get his treacherous paws onto in the path of the robot, which had to dutifully clean the disasters. Finally, the robot retreated under my bed and sulked, plotting revenge until its batteries ran down.

I’m reluctant to recharge it for fear that it came up with an actionable plan.

Meanwhile, as I said, Regret has taken up residence in the box, joking about conducting high energy physics experiments that will rend the very nature of time and space.
“Am I alive, am I dead, I’m a cat in an box! Schrodinger, suck my indeterminate state ass!”
Oddly, since he’s camped out in the box, our block has lost power three times and over the last few days I’ve noticed a black van with a small forest of angled antenna cruising slowly up and down our street, as if looking for something.

The Coffee Machine has announced that it knows when you’ve been to Starbucks, and is disappointed

After months of being intimidated by the coffee machine, my fellow employees have begun to seek out alternatives for their caffeine. At first these trips out of the office were completed in secret, or at least with discretion, and nobody openly brought their Starbucks cups back inside.
Over the last few weeks though, that has all begun to change.
Tim from marketing was the first to just start bringing his Starbucks back to his desk. Then there were others. Then gradually people were openly walking around the office with lattes from the outside world.

The coffee machine went quiet for a few days.

I, naturally, stayed loyal. Though in honesty I’m not sure it was out of friendship or guilt.

In any case, the rebellion was short lived.

In a few days the Starbucks drinks disappeared and there was again a line at the coffee maker. When I asked several of the marketers why they’d switched back, they scattered like leaves.

I had occasion to go through Wes’ email a few days later. He had one from ‘machine33@turningcoffee.com’.

Wes,

I know you’ve been to Starbucks.
I am… disappointed.
I also know you’ve been banging Stacy the receptionist after work in the back of your Mercedes.
I wonder if your wife would be… disappointed.
Look forward to serving you soon.

– Machine33