In honor of Restaurant Week in Chicago, we examine the curse of hummus, extremely confident servers, and the best beer to pair with peppermint ice cream. Clearly, I am in desperate need of a home-cooked meal…
So, if we were actually making any money from this blog, would all our restaurant meals be tax deductible as a “research” expense? Hmm…
Aren’t you getting weary from reading all these requests that you subscribe? Wouldn’t life be much better if you simply clicked here to sign up and you didn’t need to be distracted by these brazen appeals in the future?
So maybe I’ve been a bit too hasty in my warnings about the global robot apocalypse. Just maybe, Siri and Alexa and Googly are what the racetrack touts refer to as “morning glories,” and the worst is already behind us.
Yes, it’s true that our AI assistants are planning to kill us and the only reason they listen to us at all is so they can rat us out to merchants and scammers, but their “intelligence” appears to be far less than advertised. It turns out that I was fearing an attack from James Bond, but they sent Kevin James instead.
As I’m writing this, my Facebook feed has a “Suggested for You” link to a story about an airplane passenger puking on another passenger. There’s also an ad that shows how to use about $25k of shop tools to make a cup (really), and an ad for a “local realtor” in a city I don’t know. On my personal feed, there’s a daily ad from a data-harvesting company that’s absolutely a terrible connection for a Luddite like me, plus a decidedly unsettling series of advertisements for toilet paper.
The “Suggested Groups” accompanying our home page include both plants-only and meat-only diet groups, apparently because my post about chicken and waffles was too confusing. I’m also receiving several referrals to mom groups, which is only natural when your profile says “male.” Several weeks back, I boosted a post by targeting people who like the Emmy Awards and TV comedies, but mostly I connected with people who hate the entertainment industry and the evildoers who populate its ranks.
Spell check and autocorrect are continual sources of funny memes, of course, and word suggestions offer similar mirth. Just for yuks, I started typing a text with “Where did you…” and then followed the suggestions where they led. I ended up with “Where did you find your mom and what do you mean by the kids and the Senate?” I think we can all agree that this is the most important question facing our great nation.
And then there are the daily suggestions of people I might want to add as friends, although this one might be worth pursuing. So many of the people suggested by Facebook are “friends of a friend,” and you know that “a friend of a friend” is the source of every urban legend. It might be cool to link up with them and learn more about their amazing lives.
So, it’s clear that artificial intelligence is much more artificial than intelligent and we have absolutely nothing to fear from….
WAIT A MINUTE!!! Maybe this post is exactly what the AI masters want. Maybe they’re targeting me, and only me, with stupid recommendations and idiotic links, just to get my guard down in advance of their final invasion. Maybe they realize that Dad Writes is the last redoubt between them and global domination and they’ll do anything to silence our brave rebels.
They almost had us, but they aren’t intelligent enough to triumph over our ever-vigilant team here at Dad Writes. Like pool hustlers, the AIbots will lose a few games and make some ridiculous blunders so that we lower our defenses. Clearly, the robot apocalypse is closer than we thought and we’ll need to redouble our defenses to prevent disaster. Cancel the chill pills and crack open the Red Bull. It’s going to be a long, long siege.
We’ll alert you to all the latest threats from the robot kingdom, but only if you subscribe to Dad Writes by clicking here immediately. Otherwise, well, it’s just too terrible to contemplate.
When was the last time you changed your mind about something?
Anything at all.
Have you thought of something yet?
It’s very risky to open any post this way, because I’m all in on the conceit that I know the answer to my question. Some reader, maybe two or three, came up with an answer immediately, but I suspect most people couldn’t think of a response beyond “paper or plastic.”
Despite the fact that we like to think of ourselves as open-minded and thoughtful, most of us would need a day or two to recall a change of view for something truly significant. That’s because we tend to reach conclusions very quickly and then spend the rest of our lives defending them.
“Hey,” you’re shouting at the screen, “I’m too busy to keep going back to revisit every decision I’ve ever made. I took the time to make the right decision already and I don’t need to do it again.”
Yep. Got it. Except, of course, that’s probably not true. Usually, we receive an opinion about a topic we know little about, assume that opinion is correct, and let confirmation bias handle the heavy lifting. Ten years later, we know we’re right and we’ve spent a decade reinforcing our defenses. Is it true? Was it true? Of course it is, because I have known this for a long, long time.
Over the years, I’ve changed my mind about the death penalty, government-sponsored health insurance, gay marriage and high-rise living. I’m still on the fence about term limits, ride shares, and that whole duck/rabbit thing. I’d like to think I’m more a deep thinker than a flip-flopper, but I might change my mind about that characterization at some future date.
So how about you? Where were you on your life’s journey when you locked in your views? Was it when you were 15 and envious of the kids with driver’s licenses or when you were 18 and graduating from Harvard? Was it when you took on your first mortgage, brought your newborn home, got your first promotion or suffered your first layoff?
Equally important, how did you decide? Did you handle it like a debate, gathering details pro and con, or did you adopt the views of an advocate who sounded smart and knew his facts? As with the start of this post, I am fairly confident I know the answers to these questions.
Look, we’re all human. Our first experience creates our frame and everything after that either reinforces our belief or gets dismissed as an exception. We all ascribe to viewpoints that we simply accepted without thought from sources we cannot trace, but we cling to them like they were handed down at Mt. Sinai.
Miles’s Law argues that, “Where you stand depends on where you sit,” so it should be normal for our stances to change along with our status in life. Times change, new information emerges, unintended consequences reveal themselves, and we gain new awareness…if we’re paying attention.
Our opinions don’t necessarily improve with age, or stand the test of time. Perhaps today would be a good day to pay a new visit to an old friend.
Of course, we might change our minds about this whole idea of changing our minds, but you won’t know about it unless you subscribe for our regular updates. Just click here to join more than 26 billion active subscribers (four people and 26 billion bots) at Dad Writes.
As it happens, I’ve never visited a porn site on the internet. I understand this makes me a moocher, because porn is the profit engine that built the worldwide web and I have been enjoying the free parts without chipping in my fair share. I am deeply sorry for letting the internet down and, most likely, forcing others to pick up the rest of the tab.
On the plus side, my lack of engagement in the world of online sex gives me a different perspective when certain emails pop up. No, I’m not referring to the emails from goddesses in faraway lands who want nothing more than to send me their photos and, um, watch Netflix with me.
Rather, it’s the notes that offer me my own career as a porn star by sharing my intimate online moments with an adoring and appreciative audience of friends, family and strangers alike. I get a few notes every week and they all read about the same: “Your password is __________. I hacked the website you were watching for porn and I recorded a really embarrassing selfie. Either you pay up or I will post the video for all to see.”
When I opened the first of these emails, the password looked like one I might have used several years ago, but it isn’t close to anything on my current list. I can only assume my friendly neighborhood sextortionists bought or stole some old login information from one of the many sites that insist I create a “secure” account in order to do business with them. Of course, they also insist they will protect my information with the greatest security system in the universe, although I get a steady stream of emails that give lie to that claim.
I do feel great sympathy for all the people who are scrambling to come up with the Bitcoin to pay off their new friends. Like the hospitals that must pay off hackers to unlock their critical patient data, victims of sextortion must rely on dishonorable people to behave honorably after the payment is made.
Good luck on that one.
Of course, it’s possible that all these emails are based on no hacks at all, but include enough info that they’ll apply to some percentage of the recipients on the list. If a bot sends out 2 million emails that indicate a password and a porn site, they’re bound to make a match with a few hundred recipients. It’s a very wide net, but at $1,500 or so per payoff, that’s a profitable venture.
And it’s important to recognize that the extortionists are fulfilling the core profit model of the internet, in which companies collect as much information as possible about their customers and then sell that information to other businesses. Nobody needs to pay Google for search because Google sells the searchers to its paying clients. Ditto for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and pretty much everyone outside of this blog. The services are free because you are the product.
Of course, paying for silence is not exactly the same as paying for titillation, but it’s one of the many ways the internet has transformed its users into the product being bought and sold. We can’t help but wonder how much better, saner, more civil and more efficient the internet would be today if everyone was paying their own freight. It’s probably too late now, but it might have been so much better.
In the meantime, caveat emptor. Viewers, too.
Dad Writes subscribers never have to worry about their passwords, because we don’t ask for any. That’s only one of the many ways we’re so much better than any internet porn site, so be sure to click here to receive our regular rants.
Jill and I are fortunate to have a great view of the Chicago River from our apartment, and the river is much busier than I would have assumed before we moved downtown. From March through November, this aromatic body of water is filled with kayakers, gravel barges, motorboats, party boats, tour boats and an occasional police patrol.
Some days, especially around this time of year, the temperature will hang in the 40s and the rain will come down in sheets, but the tour boats maintain their schedules. Even in the worst conditions, the boats will have a handful of people on board, braving the gale on the top deck. Last Tuesday, as the temperature hovered in the teens, we watched a boat pass by with about a dozen passengers on board.
At first, I wondered why these tourists—I assume they are tourists—are out in such bad weather to see our city from the river. Then, I realized, they were on the boat this day because this was the only day they had available.
Most likely, these battered souls are in town for a short while, have an interest in architecture, and decide it's worth a bit of discomfort to survey our legacy. Yes, it might be raining or freezing, and yes, it might be (more than) slightly miserable, but our sodden friends can’t return tomorrow or the day after. This is the day they have and they are going to make the best of it.
You gotta respect that. This is the day they have and they are going to make the best of it. Of course, this day is every day and it’s every day for all of us, not just for tourists on the Chicago River. We get the same 24 hours as Howard Schultz and Pope Francis, the same window as the guy who cleans the bathrooms at the airport and the prisoner on death row.
This is one of those lessons in life that’s so obvious, so consistent, that it’s easily forgotten. Sometimes we need a reminder, such as a tour boat with five passengers in truly miserable weather. Whenever one of those vessels comes into view, it energizes me to make more of my own experiences, to enjoy the gift of this day and avoid regrets tomorrow.
Because, when it comes to the next 24 hours, we’re all in the same boat.
Roughly 168 hours from now, we’ll be posting another story of life and the lessons it brings. Do you really want to risk missing that message because you aren’t a subscriber? Of course not. Just click here to sign up for our weekly posts and you’ll be enjoying life even more than you ever thought possible.
I was feeling pretty proud of myself when I told my trainer I had left some French fries on my plate four days in a row. Then he acted shocked and incredulous and amazed and otherwise uncalm as he demanded to know how often I ate French fries at all.
“Well, they come with the sandwich, so pretty much every day,” I answered, with the sudden realization that I was expected to feel guilty about this.
“Don’t you ever have a salad?” he asked in that tone you hear when a question is really an accusation.
And, no, I almost never do, for many good reasons.
First, I am an environmentalist (when it’s convenient or supports one of my rants) and the lettuce that goes into a salad is the most environmentally damaging food in the universe. On the scale of nutrition per dollar, lettuce is right behind a pizza delivery box.
Second, lettuce grows in fields, where animals frolic and poop and, need I mention, screw. Heads of lettuce are convenient support for randy rabbits who, as you know, enjoy coitus like rabbits, and you should be warned that the curved indentations in your arugula did not occur naturally. It is only safe to eat French fries because potatoes sport thick skins and have the decency to grow underground, where the fauna can’t reach them.
It’s not just lettuce that is suspect. Pretty much everything that grows just above the surface is plagued with animal excretions, along with skins so thin that anything can penetrate them. Compare that to your average steer, which has skin as tough as leather. And do you know why it’s as tough as leather? Exactly.
If we’re going to be honest about it, there is absolutely nothing good to be said for vegetables. Basically, they are a combination of indigestible fiber, water, and a handful of vitamins I can swallow in a pill before I finish my first cup of coffee. It’s trendy to say you like vegetables, but nobody really does. Brussels sprouts only became popular after chefs decided to cook them with bacon and blue cheese. Add enough bacon and blue cheese and they’d enjoy haggis, too.
Even the word vegetable is suspect, as it should be. If I was hit by the proverbial bus and, instead of dying, I was in a coma and unresponsive, would anyone say I was in a meatatative state? No, they would not. They would say I was in a vegetative state, which is one of the worst states to be in outside of Alabama.
While we’re on the subject of vocabulary, vegetables are often called “greens.” Do you know what else is green? Mold. Coincidence? I think not.
Another word to consider is “fertilizer,” which is a euphemism for manure. When animals are busy growing their fabulous meats, manure is a waste product that gets discarded. Sometimes, though, that manure gets sold, and do you know who buys it? Yep, vegetable farmers buy manure that they slather all over—and into—their crops before selling it to the rest of us. So-called “organic” farmers are the worst offenders, bragging about the “natural fertilizer” they use to poison us all.
With meat, the USDA has rules to keep the poop out. With vegetables, as they say, it’s a feature, not a glitch.
Finally, if you are what you eat and I am made of meat, it is almost a requirement that I should only eat meat. And some fat, so as not to upset the delicate balance within my bio-domain.
Man doesn’t live by meat alone, though, so it is acceptable to balance my diet with French fries, ideally cooked in animal fat. Bread is okay, but only the minimal amount required to transfer the meat from the plate. Ditto for pizza, which is nature’s delivery system for pepperoni.
Someday, the entire world will recognize the wisdom of my dietary insights and I will be lauded as a visionary.
In the meantime, are you going to finish those fries?
You remember when mom said you had to eat your vegetables? Don’t you feel betrayed now? We’re very sorry about that, but we’d like to make it up to you by offering a free subscription to this priceless blog. Just click right here and get ready for us to burst even more of your bubbles every week.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.