Monday, February 15, 2021

92 - How to Confuse Artificial Intelligence (sneak peek #2)

First...What you are about to read has nothing to do with how to confuse Artificial Intelligence. Let me explain.

Back a few posts ago, in October, 2020, I posted a small sample of my next book, which at that time went under the title, "Welcome to the Machine." It is set in the future, in 2075, and at this point my best guess is that it will be available in less than a year. This sample, that you are about to read, is the Prologue, which goes under the chapter heading, "The Dawn of Humanity." In the book it is immediately followed by "Chapter 1; 2075 - The Lunchtime of Humanity."

So, hopefully this makes sense. What you are about to read is from the ancient past. The book may or may not be titled, "How to Confuse Artificial Intelligence." In fact I'll take suggestions and responses. I've permanently turned off public comments on this blog, but you can email azzurriprods@mail.com if you feel strongly one way or the other about any title suggestions. And now to:

Prologue - The Dawn of Humanity

Kag squatted in front of the cave wall.

He dipped the point of his stick in the bowl of red berry pigment and lifted it toward the wall.

He stroked the red pigment to his right, painting the direction of an arrow flying toward a deer.

He had not yet painted the deer.

This was all Kag cared about, this painting.

"Kag!"

His older brothers Nog and Gog stood impatiently behind him.

"Kag, come on. We have hunting and gathering to do. The sun's already been up for an hour."

Kag did not respond. He peered intently at his cave wall painting. He moved his hand carefully toward the painting. With his stick he added a tiny dab of pigment to the tip of the arrow.

"Kag!"

Satisfied with his revision of the arrow, Kag finally responded without turning around.

"What's that?" Kag asked sarcastically. "Another day of hunting and gathering? Ooh! I'm so excited. I'm tingly with excitement! How will this day of hunting and gathering be different from - " Kag finally stood and faced his brothers " - the other freaking five thousand days we've spent hunting gathering?"

"Oh, don't go off on that again!" Nog looked at Gog and rolled his eyes.

"There's got to be something better than this," Kag complained for, what his brothers were sure, was the millionth time. "I dream of a time when we have machines in our homes that keep our food cold until we pull it out and cook it."

"Machines!" Nog said mockingly. "What the hell are machines?"

"And what is a home?" asked Gog, laughing.

"It's where we live." Kag shifted his feet, frustrated with his brothers. "You don't think humanity is going to live in caves forever, do you."

Nog rolled his eyes again. "Someone's going to live in a looney bin if he's not careful."

Nog and Gog laughed together. Then Gog stopped. "Hey, what's a looney bin?" he asked.

Kag interrupted once again. "There has to be more to life than this, all the hunting, and the gathering."

"Look, mate," Nog replied sharply. "You're living in a fantasy world. Hunting and gathering is all there is and all there ever will be."

Kag knew he would never convince his brothers. Reluctantly he joined them, and the three brothers began walking out the cave opening.

"Well, do we have to both?" Kag asked weakly. "Do we have to hunt AND gather? Isn't gathering enough for one person? I have to hunt also?"


Peter Wick

February 15, 2021

Thursday, January 14, 2021

91. So THAT'S what a bad President looks like

 I am writing this at a particular moment in time. It is Thursday, January 14, 2021. There are five days left in the Donald Trump Presidency.

I wanted to begin by marking what day it is because I feel this moment will eventually be forgotten.

Someday we will tell out grandchildren, "By the end of the Trump Presidency businesses were closed, buildings were boarded up, people couldn't leave their houses. There was a vaccine, multiple vaccines, for the virus that kept everyone in their homes, but Trump quit caring, and vaccines almost went to waste waiting to be shipped out across the country.

Our grandchildren will not believe us. "No, come on," they'll say. "You're making it up."

No, we are not making it up.

I worked under a bad boss several years ago, who quit trying, openly stopped caring, and eventually was fired by the company we worked for.

A co-worker of mine at the time said to me, "I always wondered what exactly a bad boss is. How does a bad boss act? What does a bad boss look like?  Well, now I know. That's what a bad boss looks like."

Donald Trump was always a terrible President; self-obsessed, racist, corrupt, reactionary, spiteful.

Then, eventually, he quit caring and quit trying.

Eventually the country fired him.

Many people are tempted to declare Donald Trump the worst President of all time. He might be. It's hard to tell, because moments are forgotten. We have no real way of knowing just how bad several 1800's Presidents were. Andrew Jackson? Three words: Trail of Tears. Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan? Come on down Civil War! Herbert Hoover? Hm, well, this one is an interesting comparison.

The Great Depression began on Hoover's watch, and Hoover's response was a yawn and a shrug. Homeless campouts were named after him; "Hoovervilles."

One person I was talking to about this recently suggested that this means we should rename all over-capacity hospitals "Trump-villes," or better yet, Trump Towers.

The point is a simple one. We don't know exactly how bad some of those old Presidents were in the context of their times. The only real reference point we have is how bad Trump has been from day one, and how horrifically terrible he has become in his final days in office. Trump has been so bad that many many liberal Democrats have openly said they would do anything to have Mitt Romney as President. Romney lost to Obama in 2012 (a little reference point for our grandchildren). Trump has been so bad that he has made those of us who couldn't stand George W. Bush, recall with fondness his butchering of the English language ('misunderestimate'), and pine for the good old days.

Trump has been so bad that the United States of America is poorer, worse off, more depressed and more scared than at any time in recent memory.

That's what a bad President looks like! Now we know. Good riddance Donnie baby. Don't trip over the armed extremists in the doorway on your way out. Don't be alarmed. You invited them

Peter Wick

January 14. 2021


Saturday, November 14, 2020

90. Another post making this blog ineligible for Google advertising

Google has suspended me from advertising this blog.

How did I react, you wonder?

I thought it was absolutely hilarious!

I spend a little money on advertising now and then, not all the time. Sometimes I'll advertise this blog, my books, movies, my website, my company Azzurri Productions/Publishing. Sometimes I don't want to spend the money, so I stop the ads. That's what I did, actually, before Google told me my blog-ad was ineligible.

"Sensitive event," their warning said, "US election."

I laughed. Was it last Summer's, 'Trump vs. the Virus'? Was it (pre-pandemic) "Make infectious diseases great again"?

Did someone actually complain to Google about me making fun of Trump? If so...hilarious! I could not be more proud.

For the record, I do not consider it censorship. Google has not told me I have to remove any blog posts. They just said they wouldn't take my advertising money. So, for all the Trumpsters out there complaining that Facebook and Twitter are censoring them, by not allowing them to buy ads on their sites, no, that is not censorship. That is a private company. You can go out into the middle of the public square and shout all the nonsense you want. No one is censoring your right to say absurd things.

So, Google, fine. I stopped the ad anyway, before you decided it was ineligible.

As for Trump and his desperate attempt to claim the election was stolen from him...HILARIOUS! No one is funnier than Donald Trump.

I am going to begin building up the theory that his whole Presidency was just big practical joke done on purpose. It was Performance Art. Donald Trump has proven to be a great satirical artist, showing us in real time what it would look like to have a true Worst President of All Time.

Just imagine, he proposed, how terrible it would be for the country, for the world, if we actually had a President this bad.

I don't believe for one minute that he ever actually believed anything he said. He never meant any of it. It was all just elaborate satire.

Performance Art!

Get it?

Any day now he's going to pull the mask off and reveal that he has been a Sasha Baron Cohen character the whole time!

There you go...send your complaints to Google, care of the advertising department.

Peter Wick

November 14, 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

89. First sneak peek - Welcome to the Machine (with apologies to Pink Floyd)

 Note: This is the very first sneak peek of the next book, which will not be out for about a year. The title, "Welcome to the Machine" is actually the title of a Pink Floyd song, and may not actually be the book's real title. The book is set in the year 2075. This is a random scene from the middle of a chapter.


Adam was met by a strange man with a commanding presence.

"Adam Douglas?"

"Yes."

"I'm Thomas from Sparkle-fye."

"Sparkle-fye? The music hub?"

"Yes, Sparkle-fye. I'm here, Mr. Douglas because our records indicate that you owe us -" The man looked to his left and brought up a spread sheet. "You owe us exactly two million, three hundred thirty two thousand, six hundred and fifty four dollars...and fifty two cents."

Adam stared at the man as if he had been hit over the head by a solid metal object.

"Mr. Douglas?"

"Did you just say I owe Sparkle-fye two million dollars?"

"Yes, slightly more," Thomas said, matter of factly.

"How...how? How the hell do I owe two mil - "

"You have a habit, Mr. Douglas, of getting the song - " Thomas looked right and brought up another spread sheet - "One Lonely Night, by the artist, Cello Bongo, stuck in your head, is that not true?"

"I hate that song," Adam said. "It always gets stuck in my head."

"Exactly, Mr. Douglas."

"So...What..."

"Mr. Douglas, when you signed up as Sparkle-fye member, you signed our 'terms and conditions' did you not?"

"I mean, of course, you have to, but no one reads - "

"Section three, paragraph seven, 'The listener agrees to pay the sum of four dollars and ninety nine cents each time a song plays in their own head."

"What?"

"You've been playing the song 'One Lonely Night' repeatedly -"

"I don't play it," Adam objected. "It gets stuck in my head. I don't even like the song."

"Mr. Douglas," Thomas said calmly, "There is no reason to become agitated."

"I'm not - " Adam caught himself and swallowed his anger. "Are you telling me that I owe money every time a song gets stuck in my head?"

"It's in the contract."

"But...but..."

Thomas stood in front of Adam with a commanding expression. "Two million, three hundred thirty two thousand, six hundred fifty four dollars, and fifty two cents," he said. There was a moment's pause. then he continued. "We have payment plan options."

Peter Wick

October 14, 2020

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

88. I Was Yelled at by the Director of Forrest Gump

 After what has turned out to be a fun experience capturing a screenshot of my brief moment in the new film, "Bill and Ted Face the Music" (click here to see the shot on my website), I have found myself remembering with happy reminiscence, the year and a half in the 1990's when I spent as much time as I could hanging out, getting paid, and sometimes appearing on screen, as an Extra in countless movies and TV shows.

The best part of those days since then, has been the line I have thrown into any "Two truths and a lie" game, when I include the statement, "I have worked on one Oscar-winning film."

It's not a lie. It's one of the truths.

Robert Zemeckis, the Oscar winning director of the film, almost sent us all home before we even made it to the set. A group of us guys were hired to be the All-American football players who meet President Kennedy. He took a look at us as we got off the bus from the wardrobe department, and asked, "What's this? What the hell is this? Where are my football players?"

None of us were bulky the way football players are supposed to be.

"Send 'em back," he said disgustedly. "Get me some football players."

The guys I was with were instantly dejected. A few turned back toward the bus. I stood awkwardly, wondering what my angle would be, how I could stay. Robert Zemeckis himself bailed me out, though.

He looked at me and asked, "How tall are you?"

"Six feet, half inch over," I said.

"Okay, you can stay. We need a stand-in for JFK."

The scene is the one where Tom Hanks meets John F. Kennedy, along with the other All-Americans, and makes a big deal out of having to pee.

They used real footage of President Kennedy, removed a woman from the shot, put Tom Hanks in her place, and had an actor with a killer President Kennedy voice, say the lines that the President says in the film. In between takes, I was placed on the set to stand where Kennedy stood, while the crew set up lights and wondered around me taking light meter reading.

How do I know, you might ask, that they were using this particular shot of Kennedy and removing a woman from the shot, to be replaced by Tom Hanks?

Because...I snuck behind the set, where the special effects guys were working on the clip live in the moment while we were shooting.

It was easy to find my way back there. I wasn't being used during the actual shooting. I just had to listen for, "Cut," and make myself available to stand.

So, while everyone was shooting, I found the computer area, and became fascinated by the process I was watching. They blocked out the woman's presence, inserted Tim Hanks, and placed the actors lips over President Kennedy's, saying the line, "I think he said he has to pee."

I was standing there watching, transfixed, when I missed the word "Cut" out on the set. a moment later Robert Zemeckis came back to see how his special effects were going. I turned around as he came in. We made eye contact. He did a double take, then walked right up to me and said, "Aren't you...supposed to be....OUT THERE!? How did you even get back here? Get out of here!"

I was a little embarrassed, but as I walked back out to where the lighting guys waited for me, a realization landed on; I wasn't fired...AND....I was just yelled at by Robert Zemeckis. THAT'S SO COOL!

That was also the day I learned one other thing, something that I think remains true today; that Tom Hanks actually is the most normal, fun, and unpretentious actor in all of Hollywood.

But getting yelled at like that, that memory is gold for me. That's probably my favorite moment of getting in trouble in my whole life.

Peter Wick

September 15, 2020

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

87. Trump vs The Virus - A strategy session

Scene: A secret planning headquarters in the underground bunker beneath the White House.
Those present: President Donald Trump, Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, Radio host Rush Limbaugh, former game show host Chuck Woolery, Fox news host Sean Hannity.

Trump: Okay, everyone, let's get this meeting started. Question one: Can we nuke the virus?
Hannity: How would we nuke it, Mr. President?
Trump: Easy! Lure the virus into a room. Make up a story about sick people who want to get infected. Get the virus in there, then NUKE IT!
Hannity: Wouldn't that also blow up the whole house?
Fauci: The whole city!? Multiple states?
Trump: Fauci, you're not a nuclear expert. This is above your pay grade! Guys, you've got to think boldly!
Hannity: I just don't think we should be setting off nuclear weapons against a virus, Mr. President.
Fauci (to Hannity): Since when did YOU become the voice of reason?
Limbaugh: No one has any guts these days!
Trump: So true, Rush. So true. See guys, that's why I gave him the medal at the State of The Union.
Limbaugh: We need to be more like the Donner party. You've heard of the Donner Party?
Trump: Of course, that's where Jeffrey Epstein and I - 
Limbaugh: Different Donner party, Mr. President! Different party entirely.
Trump: There were two?
Limbaugh: The Donner Party, back in the old west days. They were trying to get to California by wagon train. They made the mistake of going during Winter. They got stuck in the mountains, no food, nothing!
Trump: Wow! No one's ever heard of this before, Rush. What happened?
Limbaugh: They ate each other. They turned to cannibalism.
Woolery: Didn't they all die?
Limbaugh: Half of them. Half survived! They adapted! they didn't complain. THEY ADAPTED!
Fauci: So, you're solution is for half of the country to die, while the other half eats them?
Limbaugh: Adapt! ADAPT! We're  AMERICANS!
Trump: That was great, Rush. You've got to start replacing Fauci as my number one voice on this.
Woolery: We're all overreacting, Mr. President. This whole virus thing is a media hoax. There is no virus. the media is in on the Deep State.
Fauci: What would anyone get out of making up a virus and hundreds of thousands of deaths?
Trump: Fauci, you're a smart guy, but you're way too into facts.
Fauci: I'm a scientist. Science is nothing without facts.
Trump: Exactly! Science is nothing without facts!
Fauci: You agree?
Trump: I DO! So....what is the solution?

-They all look at each other, confused and afraid to answer the question-

Trump: GET RID OF THE FACTS!
Limbaugh: Brilliant!
Trump: If science is nothing without facts, we get rid of facts. Then...SCIENCE IS NOTHING! WE WIN!
Woolery: You're an amazing man, Mr. President.
Trump: Okay, let's get on this. Fauci, I want you to force all testing of the virus to stop.
Fauci: Wha-aa-aat!?
Trump: No more testing. If there isn't any testing, there won't be any more disease! 
Fauci: It doesn't work that way. Imagine shutting down cancer screenings!
Trump: Great idea! Shut down all cancer screenings too. I just cured cancer! Hannity, go on the air and start touting Limbaugh's cannibalism cure! You're all great people! Well, not you Fauci. Thanks for coming. Let's go, gentlemen! We have an invisible enemy to defeat! Oh, and that reminds me, We have to mobilize the military also.
Fauci: The military, to do what, exactly?
Trump: Tanks, Fauci! Tanks! This virus is no match for the power of the Unites States military! Once it gets a good look at some of the state of the art tanks we have, it'll go running! Let's go, let's go, let's go! We're winning! let's go win this damn thing!
Peter Wick
July 14, 2020

Saturday, June 13, 2020

86. SuperStar Bio (hint: the joke is on me)

The internet is The Wild Wild West.

Only in the world of website startups, desperate for clicks and daily visitor stats, would I turn up on something called, "Superstar bio."

And yet it has happened. My SuperstarBio entry has some eye-opening information about me, including some facts that even I did not know. For starters, it lists my Net Worth as 2 million dollars. I laughed out loud when I first saw this. Pretty good joke, I thought. 

Then I went to my bank and showed them the website. "This says I'm worth 2 million dollars," I said. "This is a reputable, respectable website. So, you know, where's my 2 million dollars?"

The bankers looked at me sideways, as if I had lost my mind.

I learned many more surprising and unknown facts about myself, facts that were confirmed by another reputable and respectable website, Star9. I discovered that I am only 5-feet 9-inches tall. This came as a shock. The last time I measured myself - the last several times I measured myself - I came in at a half-inch over 6 feet. What happened, I asked myself. How did I lose 3 and a half inches? My only consolation was the weight I seemed to have lost in order to come in at their listed 160 pounds.

Between the two websites, I learned that my favorite food is 'vegetable rice.' I learned that my favorite destination is Los Angeles (not much of a destination since I actually LIVE in Los Angeles). My main 'qualification' is that I graduated from high school, and my hair color is 'light brown.'

The internet is an amazing place. At least they left my family and girlfriend history blank.

I want to set the record straight once and for all. I am going to create a list, here, of all the juicey details everyone wants to know about me. My hope is that this will clear up everyone's confusion once and for all.


PETER WICK STATISTICS


Education: Rumors only. Yes, there seems to have been some sort of education, but we are still trying to verify


Profession: Saying no to things that might make money


Known for: Appearing for two seconds - maybe less - in the upcoming, "Bill and Ted Face the Music."


Salary: Only slightly more than celery


Net Worth: You know what, let’s keep it at $2 million. That sounds way better than the truth


FAMILY AND RELATIVES


Father: "It's possible that we are all Frank Sinatra's children," -Ronan Farrow


Mother: Janet


Brothers: The one with the beard and the one with no hair of any kind


Sisters: The one with the giant dog and the one with two repaired joints from soccer injuries


Marital status: Dysfunctional


Wife/girlfriend: Why, did someone say something about me? Did they sound like they were going to court?


PETER WICK’S FAVORITES


Hobbies: Collecting things that should be thrown out


Favorite food: What can I have right now without going to the store?


Favorite destination: Away (just.... away...)


Favorite color: Blue (yes, they had this one right)

Body type: Bipedal humanoid (except when spotted crawling on all fours)

I can only hope that this new information satisfies my hungry fans.

Now if you would please let Mr. Wick through the door....excuse me..please, please make way...I'm sorry Mr. Wick is not signing autographs or taking selfies with his fans...if anyone has any ideas regarding a good, viral, career-ending scandal, Mr. Wick is taking suggestions.

Peter Wick
June 13, 2020