Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I Learned this Week(ish) 2

School starts tomorrow.  Therefore I can think of nothing else but writing a blog entry.  Makes perfect sense. (There I go breaking my new year's resolution to put subjects in all my sentences).

1.  Americans seem more willing to drive across town to their nearest chicken joint to show they hate gay marriage than to write legislators or go marching in favor of better school funding... or, really, pick your issue.  Jeez, I could make you a really good chicken sandwich AND buy a kid a book for $20.

My theory is that they really wanted some juicy chicken nuggets, and just didn't have the nuggets to stand up for human rights and were willing to burn gas waiting in the drive-thru line for a taste of those tasty nuggets.  I wonder how many Americans became right-wing fundamentalist bigots today because the idea of giving up Chik-Fil-A was just too tempting.

Another take is that it must be a form of class warfare.  I think the Occupy protesters would have, for the most part, said the government has no place deciding who a person marries.  They were living on the streets in tents and taking showers in McDonalds' bathrooms for their protest.  How much political swagger can a protest really carry when everyone is in line at the drive-thru in their stinky SUV's?  It's middle class warfare against... well... against pretty much everyone else.  I don't think this paragraph really makes sense, but I'm moving on...

2.  I reminded myself how to jump a car and then later learned how to remove and replace the battery in my car without catching it on fire (as I once did in college-- my little Chevy Luv truck with the painted daisy hubcaps and the Nissan engine; my tuba was in the cab and it was a Friday at 6 p.m. at the U of A and nobody was around to help.  I ultimately started scooping handsful of dirt and putting them on top of the quickly melting battery, where the acid was beginning to leak over the sides.  It was one of many embarrassing moments in my life.)  In case you need this information, I found it at

Thankfully, the problem was the battery and NOT the alternator... at least so far.

3.  I learned that Taco Bell gives away free tacos when the D-Backs win.  But I'll never be able to take advantage of that, since I am immune to baseball.  Sorry, Honey.

4.  I learned that many recent stories about robots and A.I. contain a lot of eroticism.
 I was talking with someone about this (which I noticed in the collection of robot stories I'm reading) and they said they didn't see the correlation, except that the geeks who write the stuff must need to get some action.  But I think it makes sense.  Even the stories that aren't physically sexual explore the issue of intimacy, especially psychological intimacy.  It makes sense in stories about artificial intelligences because not only do they explore the nature of being human, which quickly travels to exploring human relationships, but they also explore identity (gender, sexuality included). Think about it; an A.I. doesn't have to have the same body forever... it's life span isn't limited to the lifespan of a human body... but if it were a true A.I. it's mind/ consciousness would continue to evolve. So, many of the stories explore the possibilities there, the idea that the A.I. could to varying degrees enter a human consciousness (and subconsciousness) and exist there alongside the human mind.  And so the full range of qualities of human relationships are explored.  Refreshingly, not all these stories are male fantasies about fembots.

The book is called Robots: The Recent A.I. , and here's my review from Goodreads:

Robots: The Recent A.IRobots: The Recent A.I by Rich Horton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this collection. It's been years since I read a lot of science fiction, although it used to be one of my favorite genres, and after reading this I felt a little more up to date on the possibilities being explored in the realm of artificial intelligence.

Many of the stories were quite erotic, and at first that surprised me. But I soon realized that it makes sense that stories that so directly confront concepts of human consciousness and identity would become stories about relationships and intimacy, physical and otherwise. Several of the stories involve an a.i. sharing interior space with a human. Others focus on intimacy between two a.i.'s who are life partners, life spanning hundreds of years. Another even explores the idea of an a.i. designed to promote the happiness of its owner, except that the owner is happy raping people. Quite disturbing, that one.

Some of the stories also explore the possibility for a consciousness other than human, which also makes a lot of sense. Why should humanity be the model for all forms of consciousness? And the last story of the collection, possibly my favorite, also hints at how human consciousness evolving alongside an a.i. consciousness creates a whole new life form almost. That story was also possibly my favorite because it explored ways of communicating based almost entirely in story, metaphor, mythology, and the possibility of an a.i. basically drawing on the monomyths of humanity to either carry out or create its own mythology.

I highly recommend this book, although I'm a little hesitant about lending it out to my students who were interested in it because of some of the content. They may have to find their own copy.

View all my reviews


  1. Good entry, and good luck on your first day back! Point of accuracy though, you only get the free tacos when the Diamondbacks score six or more runs. I know this does not help your immunity, but I don't want your readers erroneously demanding free food. :)

    1. Thanks for the correction. It just goes to show the extent of my immunity that I didn't have a more accurate recollection about the specific guidelines for free food.

      I don't hate baseball. It's just incorrigibly off my radar. :)

  2. You've had a very thoughtful weekish!

    Chick-fil-a... I'm glad that the owners felt secure enough to voice their opinions and that people were moved to rally, but disappointed that it was SO many people and THIS issue. Gay rights are human rights and - in 20 years or so - I'm sure most of those people will be embarassed to know that they stood on the wrong side of history.

    Like the Komen/Planned Parenthood mess, there was a bright side. Kudos to the Jim Henson Foundation and Jeff Bezos of Amazon for their timely words and donations!

    1. THe wrong side of history-- such a great way to put it.


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