Human Assist

this really happened

some guy: "oh, and we have this great feature called 'human assist.'"
me: "okay?"
some guy: "yeah, we get real people do some of the work and act as filters."

it's like a we're living in the prelude to a movie, and it's called the terminator. with the utterance of that single term, 'human assist,' pictures of anthropomorphic cyborgs

and human batteries

quickly flashed through my mind. it wasn't a hard leap to envision the apocolypse unfolding right after this guy finished talking to me.

it's just that if we accept something like 'human assist' then we've suddenly begun subjugating ourselves to something else, constantly deferring to whatever we're 'assisting.' what's even more bothersome is how casually this concept is passed off and how readily this man accepted it as the next best thing since sliced bread. that sort of complacencey is dangerous.

it also mindlessly demeans everything we do. now, we don't actually do anything, we just assist. shit, i can hook a light bulb up to a hamster wheel and let a gerbil 'assist' me. do we really want to start thinking of ourselves as rodents? it's a slippery slope, i know. but this guy is committing us to a very scary first step.

A Haiku for Speakerphone

oh lady in the
cafe why do you talk on
speakerphone near me?

maybe you are old
and cannot hear things very well
is that why you yell?

who cares because we
all don't need to know about
your spreading rash and bad breath


The Moden Man's Guide to Survival

we've lost sight...

"pray tell, what have we lost sight of?" you ask.

it's hard to say outright, so i'll detail a few observations.
oh, and minor caveat, i'm as guilty as anyone else regarding this blindness. come to think of it, i'm just guilty.

on to the good stuff. here is a list of two things:
1. lighter
2. matches

if i want to fire up the grill, i reach for one of those two items. i can suck down smoke because i have matches in my pocket. when i feel like burning stuff, it flames from the molded plastic butane torch that i picked up in the bodega.

back in the day, our cro-magnon forefathers rubbed some twigs around. before that they banged rocks together. before that, they froze their asses off and everything they ate would qualify for what we now call a 'raw bar.'

i've watched my fair share of cable tv, which is to say that i've seen countless re-runs of 'castaway' on tbs. and, i think it's safe to say that tom hanks has single handedly provided us with the modern man's guide to survival.

if i were marooned on an island... no. something even more minor: if i was lost in a field 5 minutes from my house, i'd be fucked. i don't hunt, i don't tie knots, and i can't tell time via the sun. i can, however, cook up a mean pot of mac and cheese using my patent-pending 'sublimation' technique. even then, i need a stove.

it is a sad fact to say that the only reason i'd even be able to keep myself warm on those lonely nights a stone's throw away from my favorite modern amenities is because of the drama that unfolded between one stranded tom hanks, two pieces of drift wood, and a volleyball named wilson. it just leads me to think that we've drifted a long way ourselves ...from some of the essential elements the make us who are.

sure, we innovate. we create technology. we find ways to insulate ourselves and make things more convenient, more accessible. but, by pursuing a particular path of intellectual achievement, i think some of our better parts atrophy at the expense of a greater good whose goal isn't quite clear.

do we really need to make another, faster computer? what does this get us? faster youtube downloads. better porn. server farms and petaflops. energy crises. i'm not sure that these are really essential to anything innately 'human.' nonetheless, i exploit all of these luxuries just as much (or more) than anyone else.

perhaps it's that these innovations no longer enhance our survival; it's that they allow us to forget survival's necessity. maybe that's what bothers me. because i'm certainly not suggesting we all go out in the woods for a few days, hunt bobcats, eat some raw meat, and make thicket houses to get in touch with our roots.

i just think there's something to be said for the type of innovation requisite to survival. there's a spirit to it and a necessity that speaks to an efficiency, a purity ignorant of excess.

i wonder if anyone pauses to think how important that flame is in their hand when they strike a match or spark a lighter. i doubt they do.

maybe we just need to readjust our bearings.