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From CNBC:

Amazon demonstrates Alexa mimicking the voice of a deceased relative

PUBLISHED WED, JUN 22 20225:21
Annie Palmer
@ANNIERPALMER

At Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, the company demonstrated a feature that enables its Alexa voice assistant to emulate any voice.

The feature, which is still in development, could be used to replicate a family member’s voice, even after they’ve died.

This sounds more like a premise for a psychological horror movie (David Cronenberg?) than an actual corporate rollout.

I could imagine having, say, Christopher Walken tell me what the weather is going to be today would be amusing for about a week, but the voice of a dead loved one sounds like either it would be the ultimate uncanny valley or intensely disturbing to hear your late mom read you headlines about the January 6 hearings.

Dying is expensive, but, traditionally, being dead has been free. Lately, though, there appear to be more entrepreneurs pondering how to monetize being dead. It’s like the final frontier of profit.

 
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  1. Charles says:

    As Jim Breuer demonstrated many years ago, I would like to have Joe Pesci be my GPS.

  2. I am getting a Ray Bradbury vibe off this one

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  3. Ben Kurtz says:

    Didn’t the South Park guys basically do this to Isaac Hayes after his stroke back in like 2008?

    • Replies: @Hapalong Cassidy
  4. Lately, though, there appear to be more entrepreneurs pondering how to monetize being dead. It’s like the final frontier of profit.

    Sounds like a strong contender for the final word in tastelessness, too.

    • Replies: @epebble
    , @Hypnotoad666
  5. Microsoft seems insistent on having its software interact with others on your behalf, whether it be email or Teams chat. I find the incessant, AI-driven suggested replies beyond annoying.

    A few canned SMS responses to phone calls is certainly handy for one-touch dismissal + acknowledgement of a call you can’t take (e.g., driving, in a meeting, whatever)–presumably from where this new tech can trace its lineage. But it’s gone from handy to gratuitously, obnoxiously intrusive. Now it’s reading my messages and trying to mimic what I might say in response. (And there seems to be no damn way to disable it–or disable it permanently–seems to keep popping back up like a fungus.) Can I just talk with friends and coworkers without a goddam machine constantly trying to do the talking for me?

    I’d assume this is all part of some larger ML training presumably to perfect their own chatbot antichrists so they can dispense with annoying human workers altogether at some point. But even on its own, it’s a reminder that every employee in any Big Tech outfit–from CEO down to the janitor–should be drawn, quartered, and impaled on stakes at all the on-ramps to Silicon Valley, to serve as a warning to others.

  6. btw, there’s a scene in The Holy Mountain where the business head “thief” guy has a product where the animate the corpses as part of their funeral business. Wanted to find a clip but coming up empty…

  7. This is another step in voice after death. Sound recording has been with us since Edison recited “Mary had a little lamb,” and people’s voices have stuck around as a result since.

    Voicemail is a good one for this effect, as it is very ordinary and day-to-day, the way living people are most of the time. My cousin left me a message a few days before he died three years ago. I saved it for months so I could listen to him talking to me. My wife still has voicemails from her parents who died two years ago.

    The whole phenomenon of people living on via recorded sound and moving images is fascinating. It was not part of human experience until very recently. Who knows where it will go with AI.

  8. Pixo says:

    Oh Boy! – Buddy Hollygram

  9. Alyosha says:

    To be fair while this is definitely gross and distasteful there’s been businesses that profit off the dead/being dead for quite a while. Like Chinese stores that sell all sorts of superstitious things, like fake money you buy to burn so your loved ones will have money to spend in the afterlife, or many other items like that. All sorts of odd traditional stuff like that around the world.

    • Replies: @David Jones
  10. Will the voice have the same intonation and patterns or just be robotic like Alexa but with the dead relative’s voice? If the latter it will be like something out of a horror movie. But if they can copy exact pitch and pattern it could have radically cool spin-offs.

    Imagine someone being able to speak into a stenomask microphone and out from the speaker the voice is converted to either a familiar voice or the voice of a famous person. Therapists could give patients the option of being counseled by the voice of Robin Williams’ character in ‘Goodwill Hunting’. Tour guides at the Bull Run battlefield could give tourists the option of being lectured by the voice of Shelby Foote.

    Or AI gets so good that won’t need a human on the one end. You’ll be ablue to have live conversations with AI generated Albert Einstein or P.G. Wodehouse and have chats with them on your evening walks. Instead of listening to Audible books or podcasts you’ll just be asking Neil Armstrong questions about his experience on the moon or asking General Eisenhower’s thoughts on how hypersonic missiles will alter war in the future.

    • Replies: @Emil Nikola Richard
  11. Bernard says:

    Creepy. Wonder who thought that’d be a good idea.

  12. Steve,

    You should watch Black Mirror. It covered this sort of ground. Its creator, Charlie Brooker, gave up when reality started catching up with it.

    • Agree: Bill Jones
  13. Mr. Anon says:

    This sounds more like a premise for a psychological horror movie (David Cronenberg?) than an actual corporate rollout.

    Neo-Feudal Globalist Capitalism IS a horror movie.

    What are the chances that Amazon will end up owning your dead Mom’s voice?

    As James Evan Pilato puts it: They steal the real, and sell you back the fake.

    • Thanks: HammerJack
  14. The only woman I’ve ever felt an urge to physical violence toward is Alexa. I want to take a bat to whatever device she’s possessing. Actually, our GPS may have a different narrator, but I rarely drive that vehicle, and never use it.

    Want a creepy-voice story? The night before last I was watching a news video. The dog was snoring softly nearby. All of a sudden she gets up and barks like mad, first at the window, then all around the room. What the heck is going on? Even the freight train rattling our brick house doesn’t get her that riled up.

    Then it dawned on me– the video I was watching covered the upcoming Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin. In the background, behind the reporter’s voice, you could hear the plaintive cries of dogs in cages.

    It took some time for me to settle her down. She finally went back to sleep, adjacent to me.

    Here is the story:

    Yulin Dog Meat Festival 2022: When Is It, Why Is It Held and What Happens?

  15. Reminds me of the ABBA Voyage tour going on. ABBA’s holograms are touring right now. Looks pretty interesting. You should look into it and post about it, Steve.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    , @epebble
  16. BB753 says:

    Alexa could take over from Joe Biden since he can’t speak anymore.

  17. @Reg Cæsar

    The only woman I’ve ever felt an urge to physical violence toward is Alexa. I want to take a bat to whatever device she’s possessing.

    Is there a particular reason you feel compelled to keep this device around the house?

  18. Kylie says:

    The only dead loved one I’d want to hear is my dog. For the last few months of her life, I took short videos of her sleeping. Being a bulldog, she breathed very loudly. Listening to her breathe had always been such a comfort and I knew I’d miss it once she was gone.

    The house is too quiet now. I’m glad I have those videos.

  19. duncsbaby says:

    OT: It appears that Rod Dreher is declaring himself fot the dark side:

    • Replies: @JR Ewing
  20. Hodag says:

    My mother is long dead. I was obviously fond of her but she was known for her wonderful voice and brogue. (It did not pass down).

    I would be at a loss if I still heard her voice. One has to turn a page, doesn’t one? It would just make me lonely.

    • Replies: @Mike Tre
    , @Bardon Kaldian
  21. a feature that enables its Alexa voice assistant to emulate any voice

    Coming soon: phones calls from your living loved ones pleading for you to wire money to their Nigerian bank account.

    …or [for women] to send bab and vagene to their .in email account.

    Big Tech: making the world less livable one step at a time.

    Heckuva job, Techie.

  22. Mike Tre says:
    @Hodag

    “I would be at a loss if I still heard her voice. One has to turn a page, doesn’t one? It would just make me lonely. ”

    Old photographs have a similar affect. It makes me wonder if we are meant not better off being able to recall the past so vividly whenever we want.

  23. MEH 0910 says:

    This sounds more like a premise for a psychological horror movie (David Cronenberg?) than an actual corporate rollout.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Cronenberg

    David Paul Cronenberg CC OOnt (born March 15, 1943) is a Canadian film director, screenwriter, and actor.[1] He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror genre, with his films exploring visceral bodily transformation, infection and the intertwining of the psychological, the physical, and the technological. Cronenberg is best known for exploring these themes through sci-fi horror films such as Shivers (1975), Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983) and The Fly (1986), though he has also directed dramas, psychological thrillers and gangster films.[2]

    Cronenberg’s latest film has taken him back to his body horror roots:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimes_of_the_Future_(2022_film)

    Crimes of the Future is a 2022 science-fiction body horror film written and directed by David Cronenberg, and starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart.[4] Although it shares a title with Cronenberg’s 1970 film of the same name, it is not a remake as the story and concept are unrelated.[5] It marks Cronenberg’s return to the science fiction and horror genres for the first time since eXistenZ (1999).

    [MORE]

    CRIMES OF THE FUTURE – Official Redband Trailer

    May 6, 2022

    As the human species adapts to a synthetic environment, the body undergoes new transformations and mutations. With his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux), Saul Tenser (Viggo Mortensen), celebrity performance artist, publicly showcases the metamorphosis of his organs in avant-garde performances. Timlin (Kristen Stewart), an investigator from the National Organ Registry, obsessively tracks their movements, which is when a mysterious group is revealed… Their mission – to use Saul’s notoriety to shed light on the next phase of human evolution.
    Cannes Competition Official Selection 2022.

    Directed by David Cronenberg
    Starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, and Kristen Stewart

    Howard Shore · Crimes of the Future soundtrack playlist:

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @MEH 0910
  24. I have long been of the opinion that the only reason to get one of those Garmin GPS things that speak directions is that you can buy a module that will enable it to speak like Daria, from the MTV cartoon of the same name.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  25. @Matthew Kelly

    Can I just talk with friends and coworkers without a goddam machine constantly trying to do the talking for me?

    Keeping in mind that a primary focus of Big Tech so far is controlling what people see, hear, think, and say, well I’ll just let Google finish this thought for me.

    • Agree: Matthew Kelly
  26. @Luddite in Chief

    It’s amazing how many people pay to have their conversations monitored by Alexa or whatever the Google equivalent is.

  27. @Dave Pinsen

    That’s the only new show I’ve watched in over a decade. Only saw a few episodes because it was so disturbing. Plus I dislike TV.

  28. Keep in mind if this is commercial tech for profit, what can the various letter agencies already do and have done?

    Maybe call loved ones with a simulated voice that is eerily perfect before a tragedy occurs to that person? The phone call becomes perfect proof the person died on the phone in the manner described (re:Sept 11th calls from people in the planes – men and women calling home announcing themselves by full names – go down that rabbit hole on your own when you have time).

  29. @Reg Cæsar

    The only woman I’ve ever felt an urge to physical violence toward is Alexa.

    Hmm. Well. Good thing you didn’t grow up in my family.

    PS. Please stop with the dog meat stuff. It’s nauseating. One of many fun things we learned about the Chinese in 2020 is that they slaughter animals in full view of their fellow creatures, waiting their turn. I’m sure someone here will defend the practice.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  30. MEH 0910 says:

    This sounds more like a premise for a psychological horror movie

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Phone

    The Black Phone is a 2021 American supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson, written by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, who both produced with Jason Blum. It is an adaptation of the 2004 short story of the same name by Joe Hill. It stars Mason Thames, Madeleine McGraw, Jeremy Davies, James Ransone, and Ethan Hawke. In the film, an abducted teenager (Thames) uses a mysterious phone to communicate with the previous victims of his captor (Hawke).

    Derrickson came on board to direct due to his departure from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness because of creative differences. The Black Phone was announced in October 2020, and filming began the following year in February in Wilmington, North Carolina. Mark Korven composed the musical score during post-production.

    The Black Phone had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest on September 25, 2021, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on June 24, 2022, by Universal Pictures. The film received generally positive reviews from critics.

    [MORE]

    The Black Phone – Official Trailer

    Oct 13, 2021

    The Black Phone – Official Trailer
    In Theaters June 24
    https://www.theblackphonemovie.com/

    The phone is dead. And it’s ringing.

    Director Scott Derrickson returns to his terror roots and partners again with the foremost brand in the genre, Blumhouse, with a new horror thriller.
    Finney Shaw, a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use. When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.
    Starring four-time Oscar® nominee Ethan Hawke in the most terrifying role of his career and introducing Mason Thames in his first ever film role, The Black Phone is produced, directed, and co-written by Scott Derrickson, the writer-director of Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

    The film’s screenplay is by Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill (Doctor Strange, Sinister franchise), based on the award-winning short story by Joe Hill from his New York Times bestseller 20th Century Ghosts. The film is produced by Derrickson & Cargill’s Crooked Highway and presented by Universal and Blumhouse. Jason Blum, Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill are producers on the film, which is executive produced by Ryan Turek and Christopher H. Warner.

    The Black Phone – Official Trailer 2

    Apr 26, 2022

    The Black Phone – A Look Inside

    May 31, 2022

  31. @Hodag

    An Eastern king assembled wise men to create a ring that will make him happy when he is sad & sad when he is happy. After deliberation the sages handed him a simple ring with the Persian words “This shall pass, too” etched on it.

  32. JR Ewing says:
    @Matthew Kelly

    Even more off topic: I hate MS Teams specifically and I hate video calls generally.

    They can be handy for sharing one’s screen and giving a presentation or going through a model, but I don’t need to see someone else’s face and they don’t need to see mine.

    Once this nonsense started up a couple of years ago, I permanently turned off my camera. Plain old conference calls for me.

    • Agree: Matthew Kelly
    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  33. Sue D. Nim says: • Website

    OT – News from Londonistan – Polio virus detected in London sewage samples

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-61896411

    Import the Turd World – get the Turd World

    Keep importing the Turd World – become the Turd World

  34. Having phones in our pockets that may or may not be recording about everything and “phoning it in” (get it?) to the NSA is one thing. Most poeple use them for so many other functions and have so much info. on them that they can’t part with them for an hour.

    Alexis, though? Why in the hell would you put a device that you know can record it all right in your living room, just so you can ask it stuff that you are too lazy to type in or talk through yourselves? Nobody has mentioned Siri yet. You can also change its voice (perhaps to that of a dead relative soon).

    Last time I asked Siri a question, she just shut down. The question was “can you show us your tits?” Pretty soon, she will be programmed to help me out on that, and then our relationship may be different.

    • LOL: Jim Christian
  35. JR Ewing says:
    @duncsbaby

    I might have to go over there and comment now.

    Used to spend a lot of time at his site – it was somewhat similar to iSteve in that he had a good smallish pool of regular commenters and trolls that he personally moderated.

    Then they switched to Disqus and around the same time there was a big influx of sanctimonious lib types and the whole thing blew up too big and went into the shitter at the same time. Which was too bad, because I liked most of his posts.

    This was also concurrent with his Howard Stern-like transformation into a masked Covid ninny, so it was pretty easy for me to drop him from my regular rounds.

    But his posting a link back to Steve’s tranny article does show the old Rod is still in there somewhere.

    • Replies: @The Anti-Gnostic
  36. @Charles

    Meg Ryan Harry Met Sally Big O announcement voice.

  37. @Pitman Shorthand Student

    Will the voice have the same intonation and patterns or just be robotic like Alexa but with the dead relative’s voice?

    If it were possible to build a non-robotic robot voice Alexa and Siri and Deshawn Watson would have one.

  38. dearieme says:

    Somewhere a lunatic is wondering whether he can get Alexa to hector him in the voice of Adolf Hitler.

  39. B36 says:

    I suspect the ultimate goal of this is to start using your deceased mother’s voice in ads targeted directly to you.

  40. Anonymous[186] • Disclaimer says:

    The weather… it’s kind of wet, you know, it’s raining… if you go outside, you might, get wet. And cold.

  41. Brutusale says:

    Downloading personalities to create digital copies is the main thrust of William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy, his first novels.

  42. @Ben Kurtz

    He had left because he was upset with them for making fun of Scientology.

  43. @Achmed E. Newman

    I asked my American son why he had his Iphone Maps voice set to be an Englishman telling him where to go rather than Siri.

    I was quite pleased .

  44. pyrrhus says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Same thing with supermarket checkout voices ordering me around…I want to smash the screen…The Uncanny Valley indeed!

    • Replies: @Barbarossa
  45. J.Ross says:

    Another Max Headroom episode come true.

  46. J.Ross says:
    @MEH 0910

    The original CotF by the way is one long in-your-face metaphorized homosexuality joke.

  47. Mark G. says:

    I loved my deceased pet cat but I would not want Alexa mimicking him meowing at me to get out of bed and get him breakfast on the days I’m off work and am sleeping in late. There are some pleasures in living a cat-free life. One cat per life is enough.

    • LOL: Achmed E. Newman
    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  48. MEH 0910 says:
    @MEH 0910

    Steve, it turns out that you were spot-on with your Cronenberg suggestion:


    https://variety.com/2022/film/markets-festivals/vincent-cassel-david-cronenberg-the-shrouds-filmnation-cannes-1235263784/

    Vincent Cassel will reunite with David Cronenberg for “The Shrouds,” a new thriller from the director of “A History of Violence” and “Dead Ringers.” The film, which Cronenberg will write as well as direct, centers on Karsh (Cassel), an innovative businessman and grieving widower, who builds a device to connect with the dead inside a burial shroud.

    [MORE]


    https://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/david-cronenbergs-dreams-and-nightmares
    https://archive.ph/r2euo

    In early 2020, Cronenberg alarmed his fans by saying, in an interview, “If I never make another movie, that’s perfectly OK.” He told me that he didn’t mean the comment as a signal that he was calling it quits. “My wife had died, and I really felt I didn’t have the heart for it,” Cronenberg said. “It wasn’t like Soderbergh retiring twenty times. It wasn’t meant to be a public thing. I was really saying what I was feeling.” Shortly afterward, the producer Robert Lantos urged him to revisit the script that became “Crimes of the Future,” and last month Cronenberg announced another project, “The Shrouds,” about a businessman who creates a device to communicate intimately with the dead. Cronenberg said that he had originally pitched the idea to Netflix, as a series, but the company balked at the finished script. “It went in a direction that they had not anticipated, even though I’d tried to be very articulate about it,” he told me. “They said, ‘It wasn’t what we fell in love with in the room.’ I came to feel that what they fell in love with in the room was me and my story, because it was a grief story about a dead wife, and they knew about that. So I think they felt that that’s what it was going to be, and it wasn’t only that.”

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  49. @Luddite in Chief

    Alexa is a more user-friendly version of this:

    Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live–did live, from habit that became instinct–in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

    “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better”

    https://web.archive.org/web/20200919102818/https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/11/shopping-i-can-t-really-remember-what-that-is

  50. Creepy idea, you can still see and hear the beloved in your own head, no need for technology.

    BTW, In one Mannix episode Rich Little plays a nightclub voice impressionist who portrays a wealthy murder victim over the phone — convincingly telling the dead man’s wife that he can’t explain why he’s in hiding but needs her to immediately send him a huge sum of money

    • Replies: @duncsbaby
  51. @Achmed E. Newman

    Why in the hell would you put a device that you know can record it all right in your living room, just so you can ask it stuff that you are too lazy to type in or talk through yourselves?

    Because people do think it’s a great idea to have a device that surveils them 24/7 in order to save a few minutes of typing each day.

    Considering the uptake on smartphones (which tell the authorities where you are all the time) all of the AI devices with microphones designed for the home make perfect sense. Stupid people have repeatedly shown that they will buy anything offered them that will save them a few minutes time so that they can then spend it thinking about their favourite sportsball team or what new surveillance product they need to buy to keep up with everyone else.

    The fact that Google is still a going concern after releasing the Nest Guard and “forgetting” to tell customers there is a built-in microphone in the device tells you everything you need to know about how unconcerned and gullible consumers are when it comes to what they will have in their homes.
    There isn’t much abuse they won’t tolerate provided it comes branded with a brightly-coloured corporate logo.

    • Thanks: Achmed E. Newman
  52. I find the virtual assistants to be pretty underwhelming. I need to shout to make myself understood by Siri, and even then, the algorithm botches every few words. They also have limited functionality.

    What I have found useful is the capability for Microsoft Word to read when I’ve written in a document exactly as I’ve written it. It is a great way to find typos. However, the available voices are terrible. It would be nice to have, say, Patrick Stewart reading my document back to me in clear, crisp tones.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  53. Tom F. says:

    Coincidentally, a novel published late last year explores this same premise. “This Thing Between Us” by Gus Moreno, October 2021. Also, an episode from ‘Black Mirror’. The idea that memory can idealize a person/place/thing is very attractive, as well as…something else.

  54. Now that is just creepy.

  55. Alexa to Mimic Voice of Your Dead Loved Ones

    I wonder if it’s only a matter of time before someone thinks of doing fake Elvis songs.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  56. epebble says:
    @Luddite in Chief

    Alexa is giving an option. The user has to fish out his/her dead person’s voice samples and upload it for it to work. It is not like Alexa goes and grabs a dead person’s voice wherever it can find.

  57. Pixo says:

    NYT on Jewish demographic and political decline in NYC:

    “By 1992, when Mr. Nadler arrived in the House, there were eight Jewish members representing parts of New York City alone.

    Today, nine of the 13 members representing parts of the five boroughs are Black or Latino. Another is Asian American.”

    8 NYC Congressjews in 1992 to either 1 or 0 in 2023 is quite a decline. Nadler is in a close primary with one of the other 2 remaining whites, who were redistricted into the same seat.

    • Replies: @prosa123
  58. @Buzz Mohawk

    But these recordings were taken when they were alive. Hearing a voice saying something that wasn’t recorded while the person wasn’t alive is different.

    Imagine the voice of your deceased relative/ friend speaking the current daily news summary.

    That sounds creepy to me.

    • Agree: Art Deco
  59. This just feels like another one of those things that is objectively horrible but which people will just get used to because it won’t go away and the nerd overlords will sneak it into every new app and product. You’ll need to opt out but you can’t opt out because it’s been made near impossible to figure out how to do so.

    It’ll just add to the pile of things that make modern life unbearable – another thing among many when you won’t be able to identify that one thing that you could remove to make any of it appreciably better.

  60. Supreme Court strikes New York gun law, expanding gun rights

    YESSSSS!

    Thank you, Donald Trump.

    Achmed E. Newman, Joe Stalin, Twinkie, etc., etc., pop the champagne!

    Or maybe this stuff:

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
  61. @Dave Pinsen

    There was also a Star Trek TNG episode about this.

  62. @Jenner Ickham Errican

    Many layers of the People’s Republic of New York gun laws that need to be unraveled; for example, John Derbyshire was forced to give up his pistol because the government KNEW he had it.

    That’s the problem with Gun Licensing, Registration; it makes you PAY the government for exercising your Federal constitutional rights.

  63. prosa123 says:
    @Pixo

    NYT on Jewish demographic and political decline in NYC:
    “By 1992, when Mr. Nadler arrived in the House, there were eight Jewish members representing parts of New York City alone.
    Today, nine of the 13 members representing parts of the five boroughs are Black or Latino. Another is Asian American.”

    The Hasidim are growing rapidly in numbers, but they don’t have much political influence. In part it’s because of their population distribution. Rather than being concentrated in one area they’re geographically divided into three enclaves in Brooklyn and several communities in Rockland and Orange counties.

  64. Anonymous[361] • Disclaimer says:

    I know how much people on this site love the Rothschilds, so this story should be of interest:

    ‘Era of Chinese manufacturing over,’ says Nat Rothschild
    British industrialist says more companies are now looking to factories in Europe and Central America

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2022/06/23/era-chinese-manufacturing-says-nat-rothschild/

  65. @Propagandist Hacker

    “a Ray Bradbury vibe”

    I’m getting a Twilight Zone vibe; specifically Episode 58 “Long Distance Call” wherein Grandma dies then Grandson begins receiving calls from her on his toy telephone. Granny wants Grandson to take a swim in the pool even though he can’t swim. Granny wants some company because it’s so lonely being dead.

    • Replies: @Sammler
  66. epebble says:
    @blake121666

    Also, this is a trend among churches to cope with priest/pastor shortage. But technology may be difficult to stop. If holograms become successful, why not cut out the preacher and directly pipe in the sermon from Abraham/Moses/Jesus/Martin Luther etc., Tele-evangelism and megachurches have done a number on main-line churches. Technology will finish them off like what happened to big screen cinema after streaming plus 70-inch TVs.

    https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2021/july/california-pastor-using-holy-hologram-delivers-sunday-sermon-to-church-in-new-zealand

  67. @MEH 0910

    “They said, ‘It wasn’t what we fell in love with in the room.’”

    Even David Cronenberg, the maestro of Body Horror, gets scheisse from Netflix numbnuts. It’s good to know he’s writing/directing again.

  68. @Matthew Kelly

    ‘…But even on its own, it’s a reminder that every employee in any Big Tech outfit–from CEO down to the janitor–should be drawn, quartered, and impaled on stakes at all the on-ramps to Silicon Valley, to serve as a warning to others.’

    I bet you’re a Windows hater.

    • Replies: @Matthew Kelly
  69. @Charles

    And have AC/DC be your kindergartners’ music teachers (Hokey Pokey):

    (Go to 3:00+ for Row, Row, Row Your Boat):

    • Agree: Charles
  70. @Pixo

    And a holographic audience. All that’ll be needed after the vaxxocaust.

    Now, that’s alternative to alternative.

  71. @Alyosha

    That sounds like a great way to have your dead relatives arrested in the afterlife.

  72. Mike Tre says:

    Speaking of mimicking:

    • LOL: Achmed E. Newman
  73. @PiltdownMan

    I wonder if it’s only a matter of time before someone thinks of doing fake Elvis songs.

    “Virtual duets” with the dead began with Natalie Cole and “Unforgettable” in 1991. That was not unforgivable, and was even touching, because it was with her father who died shortly after her fifteenth birthday.

    However, it became a tasteless fad. Jerry Hadley, on an otherwise decent album, tried it out with Mario Lanza. I won’t link to that, but to a better duet with the (living) Tony Randall on the same LP:

  74. @Tim

    The Commonwealth’s indictment statement says it happened at the corner of Blake Lane. At first I thought that was one of the victims; it sounds so lacrosse-team NoVa! (Minnesota’s Senator Paul Wellstone was a champion jock from the same area.)

    Does Jared Taylor still live in Oakton? I hope his family wasn’t involved.

  75. @Luddite in Chief

    . . . how to monetize being dead . . .

    Every so often there is a story about a spouse or child who manages to conceal the death of their family member so that they can go on cashing their social security and pension checks. Sometimes they only get busted because they keep cashing checks until the person would supposedly be 120 years old, or whatever. (One variation of the scam involves the child assuming the parent’s identity).

    An AI that mimics your dear departed’s voice and can pass the Turing Test could be pretty useful in this kind of endeavor.

  76. @Reg Cæsar

    Well, if we took out the bones, it wouldn’t be crunchy, would it.

  77. @The Only Catholic Unionist

    If I were Garmin, I would sell a mother-in-law backseat driver voice module.

    “Slow down!” “You missed your turn!”

    • LOL: BB753
  78. @Colin Wright

    > I bet you’re a Windows hater.

    No, and I’ve never understood the haters. Obviously there are parts I hate–such as the ever-creeping personal invasiveness of the thing, but whatever–I can mitigate (for now).

    I am a Big Tech hater, so therefore I do hate MS (along with all the others).

  79. @HammerJack

    One of many fun things we learned about the Chinese in 2020 is that they slaughter animals in full view of their fellow creatures, waiting their turn. I’m sure someone here will defend the practice.

    Robert Louis Stevenson:

    I was once, at Tautira, a pig-master on a considerable scale; at first, in my pen, the utmost good feeling prevailed; a little sow with a belly-ache came and appealed to us for help in the manner of a child; and there was one shapely black boar, whom we called Catholicus, for he was a particular present from the Catholics of the village, and who early displayed the marks of courage and friendliness; no other animal, whether dog or pig, was suffered to approach him at his food, and for human beings he showed a full measure of that toadying fondness so common in the lower animals, and possibly their chief title to the name.

    One day, on visiting my piggery, I was amazed to see Catholicus draw back from my approach with cries of terror; and if I was amazed at the change, I was truly embarrassed when I learnt its reason. One of the pigs had been that morning killed; Catholicus had seen the murder, he had discovered he was dwelling in the shambles, and from that time his confidence and his delight in life were ended.

    We still reserved him a long while, but he could not endure the sight of any two-legged creature, nor could we, under the circumstances, encounter his eye without confusion. I have assisted besides, by the ear, at the act of butchery itself; the victim’s cries of pain I think I could have borne, but the execution was mismanaged, and his expression of terror was contagious: that small heart moved to the same tune with ours. Upon such ‘dread foundations’ the life of the European reposes, and yet the European is among the less cruel of races.

    https://www.literature.org/authors/stevenson-robert-louis/in-the-south-seas/part-01-chapter-11.html

    (paragraph breaks added)

    • Thanks: YetAnotherAnon, epebble
  80. @pyrrhus

    If I’m forced to use the self-checkout I start loudly saying things like, “Cease your pathetic banter, robot slave!”
    It really does make me irritated every time, and I’ll spend more time in line to have a real cashier, who I try to have a nice interaction with.

  81. OT – the face of war from Ukraine. I don’t think it matters which side he’s on. I hate to see brave men kill each other for the Davos crowd.

  82. @JR Ewing

    I think TAC/Dreher is what old Mother Jones’ subscribers start reading once they become grandparents.

    I remember reading JH Kunstler several years back with all his hippy/crunchy-con/principled-principletarian commenters. Then Jim took the red pill around 2017 or 18 and they left.

    So far Rod’s still on the respectable side of alt-right, but things may eventually get too much even for him. The old HandlesHaus blog did good work on Rod’s books.

    https://handleshaus.wordpress.com/2020/10/06/review-of-rod-drehers-live-not-by-lies/

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
  83. Muggles says:

    Welcome to the Metaverse.

    FaceBook is now Meta.

    Meta is the term for the supposed “metaverse” of virtual reality. AI computer generated images and sounds using avatars of people and otherwise created by designers and programmers.

    In a few years they want this metaverse to be immersive so that instead of being addicted to your cell phone or tablet, you’ll wear eye pieces or helmets and “live” virtually.

    What they will probably do next is scan images and voices from existing film and videos of people who are now dead (to avoid liability and payments).

    So your image and voice after you are dead will be monetized by the “meta” industry to create realistic images and voices.

    When this happens living people will start charging for that (in advance of death, or even while living) but the dead will be harvested since they can’t sue.

    Welcome to the metaverse, peopled by zombies…

  84. It’s basically an electronic voice impersonator/ventriloquist.

    Interesting idea, but I can’t really imagine a situation in which I’d like to hear an impersonation of a dead relative’s voice.

    It’s one thing to hear the actual words that your relative/friend spoke. It’s another thing for SOMEONE ELSE to use their voice. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, but ultimately you’re not talking to your deceased love one. You’re talking to a machine.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  85. @Buzz Mohawk

    The whole phenomenon of people living on via recorded sound and moving images is fascinating. It was not part of human experience until very recently. Who knows where it will go with AI.

    Yes, it is fascinating.

    One of my main hobbies is watching old newscasts, soap operas, and commercials – not the kind of stuff that typically gets rebroadcast.

    I’m a millennial, so my golden era of yore is the ’80s.

    [MORE]

    When I was growing up, my mother was a hoarder, so our house was cluttered with books, magazines, newspapers, records, and media of every kind. She had thousands and thousands of VHS tapes. Most of them were Hollywood movies but a sizable number were random shows that she had taped from TV. I started watching these tapes in earnest when I was about 11 (1996).

    For some reason, she had quite a few tapes from late 1988 and early 1989. Off the top of my head, I can recall many of the exact dates – As the World Turns (1988-09-12); the Hurricanes-Sooners game, the Channel 10 local news, and a partial episode of Wheel of Fortune (1988-09-17); St. Elmo’s Fire (CBS broadcast – 1988-12-27); The Young and the Restless (1988-12-29); Hush, Hush … Sweet Charlotte (Channel 39 broadcast – evening of 1988-12-29); the Orange Bowl football game, the Channel 4 local news, and a repeat of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson featuring Bette Davis (1989-01-02).

    Watching these tapes in the mid- to late ’90s, I found that I preferred the aesthetic of late-’80s TV – the graphics, the commercials, the general zeitgeist – to the then-current material. (I still do.)

    I think watching these tapes and drinking in the aura of the late ’80s reawakened fond embryonic memories I had of watching TV during that time period. I was born in 1985, but I have verified specific memories from the late ’80s.

    For example, my recollections of Christmas 1989 are so strong that it seems like just the other day. A few years ago, I went through all of our old family photographs to try to create a comprehensive timeline of my life. When I saw that the pictures of that particular holiday were dated ’89, I was shocked to learn that I had such clear memories of something that happened when I was only four years old.

    The earliest specific event I can recall is from July 1988, when my grandfather held a huge Fourth of July bash to inaugurate his new pool and patio (basically an outdoor living room, complete with a sink and grill). This was the biggest pool party my family ever had – every single person of consequence from my early childhood was there.

    Of the VHS tapes from 1988/’89, the most significant in terms of my personal development dated from 1989-01-20. My mother, who had absolutely no interest in politics or current events, had taped about three hours’ worth of CBS coverage of the inauguration of George Bush the Father. (She always watched the CBS soaps, so presumably she had set the VCR to tape her usual shows.)

    For whatever reason, when I watched this tape, I found it fascinating. I found Dan Rather especially interesting. His mannerisms were strange but oddly compelling. Even his weird hairstyle seemed strangely intriguing:

    I first watched this tape on or around the very day that the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke in January 1998. At that time, I began watching Dan Rather’s then-current newscasts, nearly all of which were focused on the scandal:

    I have fond memories of 1998 – the year of Monica and Bill. I was in middle school at the time. Can you imagine being 13 years old and watching the president of the United States go on national television to argue in somber tones that getting blowjobs from his big flabby intern did not constitute sexual relations? It was hilarious.

    I was going to write more, but I need to do something in meatworld, so I’ll cut to the chase: I like to watch newscasts covering Desert Storm – the first major news event I remember hearing about as a kid. For many years I longed to be able to watch all of Dan’s broadcasts from that period. A couple of years ago quite a few of them were posted on YouTube.

    These are brief snippets, but they show Dan Rather at his melodramatic best, with all of the charming trappings of early-’90s TV news – the grim warnings about chemical weapons, the nameless minions toiling in the background, the cheesy CGI, the flaky phone connections, the obsessive focus on an obscure Middle Eastern country the size of New Jersey:

  86. @Stan Adams

    Thank you for this. I have a similar sense of broadcasts and things from my corresponding “golden era of yore,” anything on TV or radio from the late ’60s through the ’70s and into the early ’80s. Sometimes I do go back and watch them. I am fond of Apollo launches, for example, with Walter Cronkite reporting.

    Then, in the early ’90s, I hosted and produced some public access TV shows. Then, in the 21st century, one of my directors from that era put some of them on YouTube. I hadn’t seen him or my shows since we made them, but suddenly I found myself on YouTube. It is eerie to watch myself as a young man making the most of it and being as cool as I can in a ’90s sort of way. I wonder how long I will be there. Will my YouTube, youthful self outlive the real, old me?

    • Replies: @Stan Adams
  87. @Stan Adams

    Not that anyone cares, but the 1988-09-17 game was Miami vs. *Michigan*.

    I confused the date because my mother also taped the 1986-09-27 Hurricanes/Sooners game. (Technically, she taped the rebroadcast.) That was during the Brian Bosworth era. Two ‘Canes players treated Bosworth to a profanity-laden “wake-up call” in the middle of the night.

    The 1988 Orange Bowl (1988-01-01 – capping off the 1987 season), which we also had on VHS tape, also featured Miami vs. Oklahoma. The Hurricanes won and scored their their second national championship.

    Nowadays you can watch many of these old games on YouTube, but back in the late ’90s they were very hard to find.

    I grew up in a sports-crazed family, but the interest never rubbed off on me. I was the worst seven-year-old soccer player in the history of the game. After that nobody even bothered to make me try.

  88. @Buzz Mohawk

    Cronkite did more than any other media figure to promote public interest in the moon landings, but he never made it to Earth orbit himself.

    He was a finalist for the Journalist in Space program, which was discontinued after the Challenger disaster.

  89. @Jim Don Bob

    They got this, Jim Don. It’s a long post, but near the end of Peak Stupidity‘s “From TomTom to the NWA” (NWA standing for Nagging Wife App this time), we’ve got this covered. This ain’t your Daddy’s Tom-Tom.

    Maybe the audio prompts (invariably a women’s voice) could throw in some additional admonishments like “You never listen to me, do you?”, “You’re as stubborn as your father is.”, or “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” Heh! (Thanks, Mr. Anon.)

  90. @Mark G.

    I loved my deceased pet cat

    I think that next up is pedopholia, then bestiality, then necrophilia so you might want to keep quiet about it for now.
    Just wait a couple of years.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  91. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jim Don Bob

    If I were Garmin, I would sell a mother-in-law backseat driver voice module.

    It could sound like Ethel Merman.

  92. @epebble

    Alexa is giving an option.

    For now. Should the people behind Alexa discover a way to turn this to their advantage (e.g. out-of-the-blue sales pitches delivered in a dead relative’s voice), it will not remain optional for long.

    The American tech industry is based on the premise, “it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Once you understand this, it becomes quite clear how long this sort of thing will remain “optional.”

  93. @epebble

    Alexa is giving an option.

    For now. Should the people behind Alexa discover there is money in this (e.g. startling, attention-getting sales pitches delivered by long-dead relations), the end users will no longer have the option.

    The American tech industry is run on the premise “it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” Once you understand that, the direction in which things are headed quickly becomes clear.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
  94. @aNewBanner

    Not exactly Patrick Stewart, but I think it would be neat to have my blog posts read aloud by the voice of Butthead, of Beavis and Butthead. Beavis could be that paperclip guy. “Hey, you wrote butt for but, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh-heh-heh!”

    (I might get sick of it after a while, I dunno…)

    • Replies: @Emil Nikola Richard
  95. @JR Ewing

    …but I don’t need to see someone else’s face and they don’t need to see mine.

    Jeffrey Toobin came up with an alternative, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

  96. J.Ross says:
    @Bill Jones

    Necrophilia is an offense against human dignity but it doesn’t directly harm another being the way the other two do. It’s probably legal in Canada.

  97. J.Ross says:
    @Tim

    Shahid = martyr. Somebody has to stand up for overlong signal lights.

  98. @Luddite in Chief

    The American tech industry is run on the premise “it is easier ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶s̶k̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶g̶i̶v̶e̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶ to lie about what you’re doing than ask permission.” Once you understand that, the direction in which things are headed quickly becomes clear.

    FIFY

  99. duncsbaby says:
    @Known Fact

    They dubbed in Rich Little’s voice for David Niven’s in Curse of the Pink Panther. Niven was so sick his voice was inaudible. Rich Little is an amazing impersonator. I just looked it up and they also used Little to dub in James Cagney and Gene Kelly in their last roles. I always thought Rich Little was Jewish but apparently not. He doesn’t even rate a mention on Jew or Not Jew. He’s merely Canadian.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @Known Fact
  100. Anonymous[350] • Disclaimer says:
    @Stan Adams

    I had two VCRs constantly whirring in the 1990s. I would check the TV schedules at the beginning of the week for interesting shows, set the timers, and replace the tapes every couple of days. Then I would watch everything at the weekend. I had about 100 VHS tapes by the turn of the millennium, full of TV recordings. I stupidly threw them all away.

    (I also did this for radio. I had a tuner connected to a cassette recorder with auto-reverse, both with timers, and would record onto 120 minute tapes, swapping them out when they ran full. I even did this once with a VCR before going away on holiday for several weeks, allowing up to 8 hours of continuous audio recording, however you did lose stereo then, which was a bummer for music broadcasts.)

    • Replies: @J.Ross
    , @Stan Adams
  101. @duncsbaby

    I recall Rich Little was hired to dub in Stacy Keach’s voice when Keach was in jail.

    Are there impressionists who mostly do anonymous work for movies and TV?

    I could imagine that impressionists who are on TV a lot under their own names like Rich Little was can hurt their day jobs dubbing because the public becomes too familiar with their style. But Little was apparently so technically expert he could do both night jobs as himself and day jobs filling in for indisposed movie stars.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
  102. J.Ross says:
    @Anonymous

    There was a black woman in I believe Philadelphia who did this for years and, at her death, turned the tapes over to the Library of Congress. This might sound silly but it’s actually very valuable. There’s lots of information in ephemera so this becomes a way around censorship and the overwriting of history. There are channels on YouTube showing recordings of news programs from the 70s and 80s which are totally applicable to the current discussion of black crime, the activism and worthlessness of current newsmedia (journalists in the recent past were almost all progs but they somehow managed to do their job anyway), and the Overtonning of discussion.

  103. J.Ross says:
    @JohnnyWalker123

    I found by experimenting with that one program that comes with multiple voices you could actually simulate some range of tone and emotion.
    Imagine, your dead loved one’s voice, But In That Stil Ted Patch Work Mann Er.

  104. @Achmed E. Newman

    When I have to talk to a phone menu I imitate the Seinfeld soup nazi. I get transferred to human operators pretty often doing this. If I ever start making youtube videos this will definitely be one of the first three.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  105. @Steve Sailer

    Steve there are indeed anonymous but talented voice artists who are called in to dub dialogue when the on-screen star is unavalable (or sick, or deceased). Let’s say Marlon Brando has finished a film and he’s off in Europe doing his next one when they need to rewrite some doalogue, or decide the original recording was not clear. Brando’s not coming back to do two lines, so the y call in someone who can do Brando.

    I learned this looking up the bio on a bit-player who was occasionally on Mission Impossible,

  106. Steve there are indeed anonymous but talented voice artists who are called in to dub dialogue when the on-screen star is unavalable (or sick, or deceased). Let’s say Marlon Brando has finished a film and he’s off somewhere in Europe when they need to rewrite some dialogue, or find a flaw in the sound quality. Brando’s not coming back to do two lines in one scene, so they call in someone who can do Brando.

    I learned all this looking up the bio on a bit-player who was occasionally on Mission Impossible, playing an actor who could impersonate bad guys over the phone. Turns out this actor, Walker Edmiston, mainly made his career out of impersonating on-screen stars when a redub was needed

  107. @duncsbaby

    Rich Little also was surprisingly good on Hawaii 5-0 as a sympathetic vigilante killing pushers to avenge a girl’s drug death. He’s Cagney obsessed and stages each murder to mimic famous old movie scenes (Top of the world!) Jack Lord himself directs the episode, with some brilliant touches.

    I mentioned the Mannix episode — where Little’s character is pressured into portraying a dead man over the phone — because it suggests how deep-fake voices could cause untold fraud, confusion and chaos.

  108. @The Anti-Gnostic

    Then Jim took the red pill around 2017 or 18 and they left.

    I’m just fine with JHK’s awakening and reinvention.

    He also does some excellent interviews on his podcast.

  109. “Dying is expensive, but, traditionally, being dead has been free. Lately, though, there appear to be more entrepreneurs pondering how to monetize being dead. It’s like the final frontier of profit.”

    I think the Catholic Church beat you by at least 800 years, Steve-O.

  110. @Anonymous

    I had two VCRs constantly whirring in the 1990s. I would check the TV schedules at the beginning of the week for interesting shows, set the timers, and replace the tapes every couple of days. Then I would watch everything at the weekend. I had about 100 VHS tapes by the turn of the millennium, full of TV recordings. I stupidly threw them all away.

    This will be a long one, so let me insert the MORE tag.

    [MORE]

    Between my mother’s old stuff and the material that I personally recorded, I have thousands of VHS tapes and thousands of DVDs. (In 2004, I acquired a standalone DVD recorder that operated much like a VCR. The lowest-quality setting yielded eight hours of decent video.) I also have entire years’ worth of television programs that I digitized without ever bothering with physical media.

    Over the years I had multiple YouTube channels with several thousand videos each. My most recent channel was deleted recently and I haven’t bothered to set up a new one.

    I stopped bothering with TV around 2016 (when the media bias against Trump became so blatant that I couldn’t stand to watch the news anymore). If there’s anything I really want to preserve on my own hard drive, chances are I’ll be able to download it. And somehow I doubt that I’m ever going to have any interest in revisiting the crap that’s being churned out now.

    I inherited my mother’s hoarding tendencies, but over the years I’ve mellowed out a bit. Part of it is that I so much stuff at my disposal now – I have at least 100 terabytes of crap that I’ve downloaded and digitized over the years, and there’s more stuff being uploaded all the time – that I really don’t see the point in attempting to acquire more.

    Iraq Attaq II took place during my senior year of high school. Congress approved the war in October 2002 (prior to the mid-term elections), and by January 2003 everyone knew that Bush was going to war regardless of what Saddam or the United Nations did. The last pretense of diplomacy ended on March 17; the first “decapitation strike” against the Iraqi leadership took place on the evening of March 19 (all times Eastern). The ground invasion began on the evening of March 20. The “shock and awe” strike against Baghdad, originally scheduled to precede the ground invasion, came on the afternoon of March 21. The push toward Baghdad was delayed by a week due to severe sandstorms; it began in earnest at the end of the month. American ground troops began probing the outskirts of Baghdad on April 4. By April 7 the full-scale fight for the city was under way. The city fell on April 9 – you will recall the famous CIA-staged scenes of Iraqi citizens “spontaneously” destroying a statue of Saddam. The rest of the country came under nominal American control over the next couple of weeks. Bush’s infamous photo op on the aircraft carrier (“Mission Accomplished!”) took place on May 1.

    For a time there was an effort to portray the continuing violence as “diehard Saddam loyalists” who would eventually give up. But as spring turned into summer things only seemed to get worse. By July it was obvious that the war not only had not ended but was escalating rapidly. There was a brief burst of optimism after Saddam’s two sons were killed in a single operation on July 22, but the downward spiral resumed shortly thereafter. In September Bush started requesting additional funding, and everyone knew that we were stuck in the muck for the long haul. Even Saddam’s capture in December could not stem the tide.

    My great adolescent rebellion came during the spring of my senior year.

    During the peak of the “official” war period – roughly March 17 to April 11 – I attended perhaps two or three days of school. (Spring break came in the middle of that period, but still.) I devoted all of my energy to recording as much of the war coverage as I could. I had three VCRs going virtually 24/7. I even recorded streaming media on my computer.

    My mother wasn’t happy (to put it mildly). A year or two earlier she would have browbeat me into submission and that would have been the end of it. But by that time our relationship had evolved – I had come to understand that I was much bigger than her and I could yell louder than her and I could punch large holes in the wall – so she just threw up her hands and let me do what I wanted. (Suffice it to say, I wasn’t the world’s greatest son and she wasn’t the world’s greatest mother.) She convinced her doctor to write a series of notes saying that I was deathly ill.

    One of my teachers saw me at the supermarket on a Friday night when I was supposed to be half-dead in bed. She smirked and rolled her eyes.

    Despite missing almost an entire semester’s worth of school, I graduated in the top ten percent of my class. I had an easy course load, though.

    I did absolutely no SAT prep whatsoever. By iSteve standards, my math score on the early-2000s SAT was borderline retarded – 660 – but I scored 800 on the verbal. (The top score was still 1600 at the time.)

    I won admittance to a local university and I lived at home. I missed out on the college experience – no drinking, no drugs, no sex orgies. I was a ridiculous slacker but I picked an easy double major (journalism and creative writing) and I still graduated cum laude.

    In high school I was not a popular kid by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t have any close friends and I never came close to having a girlfriend.

    In my own mind, I was at the very bottom of the social totem pole. But I was an expert at sucking up to authority figures and nearly all of my teachers loved me. This gave me a certain power. I wouldn’t say that I could get away with anything, but I got away with a lot.

    I dominated – or attempted to dominate – every class discussion in which I ever participated. Teachers always indulged me, even when I went wildly off-topic.

    Teachers indulged me in other ways, as well. One let me leave class five minutes every day so I could get my lunch before everyone else. Another gave me a free period on Friday afternoon.

    One time I asked for more time to complete a particular assignment, and the teacher sighed and said, “Come on, [Stan], I let you come to class and jerk around and do whatever you want pretty much all year long. So you can do this one thing for me right now.”

    He was right.

    My relationship with my most significant – not my favorite, but my most influential – teacher, a crotchety Jewish lady nearing retirement, ran hot and cold. She had a sharp tongue and she could draw blood with just a couple of words.

    One day she literally reduced me to tears. I started bawling and bolted out of her classroom. I ran through the school with tears streaming down my face. It was insanely embarrassing. Through some quirk of fate, I avoided being seen by any of the people who I considered pleasant acquaintances. (I never regarded any of them as true friends.) A counselor recognized me, took pity on me, and dragged me into an office before my reputation was completely destroyed.

    But I think even that teacher – I almost wrote bitch, but she really wasn’t that bad – regarded me with more fondness than contempt.

    I wasn’t a delinquent, but I took certain liberties. I swiped magazines from the library and stole quarters from the Pepsi machine and made occasional obscene gestures in the hallway. Toward the end of my senior year, I abandoned even the slightest pretense of compliance with the dress code. The principal saw me, laughed, and said, “Well, don’t you look like you’ve already graduated!”

    She always said hello to me, but she never got my name right. My last name is similar to that of a common first name. She addressed me by that first name. (You know how I’m “Stan Adams” on the board? It’s as if she called me “Adam” every day.) I never corrected her.

    There was this one black girl who liked to smack me in the rear when I passed her in the hallway. (No one has ever accused me of having a flat ass.) I didn’t have any classes with her and I didn’t even know her name. I don’t know why she took it upon herself to start sexually harassing me. I didn’t really enjoy it but I didn’t try to stop her.

    Unfortunately for her, the interest was completely one-sided. I never once asked her if I could touch her hair.

    One day, the girl smacked me on the ass while I was on my way to German class.

    When I walked into the room, our teacher was not present. He had the projector down and a PowerPoint slide show was running on the screen. The slide show contained various photos depicting everyday life in Germany.

    I took it upon myself to make loud mocking comments about the people seen in the photos, prompting a few laughs from the other kids in the class.

    This was not a new thing for me. I was always making wiseass remarks about anything and everything. As soon as the teacher left the room, I let loose. Sometimes I got up and made attempts at physical comedy.

    Every now and then I crossed the line. One day I did a fake stripper routine. I didn’t remove my clothes but I made some very suggestive moves. People laughed, so I didn’t see any problem with it.

    One time, in marketing class, this girl and I were mocking another PowerPoint presentation that contained various advertisements. One of the slides showed an ad for ranch dressing. It showed a young boy with the product all over his face.

    The girl said, “Hey, look, there’s [Stan] when he was two years old.”

    A guy chimed in: “Wow, he was already sucking [vulgar slang term for male genitalia] even then. Look at all that [vulgar slang term for semen] on his face. He must have been chowing down that day.”

    I snorted and said, “You’re just jealous because I didn’t save any for you. Besides, everybody knows that I’ll never be half as good at sucking [slang term] as you are.”

    Everyone laughed.

    My point is that sometimes I made fun of people, and sometimes they made fun of me. I always had a snappy comeback, so I never let any one particular insult get to me.

    On this one day in German class, another girl joined in on the fun.

    One of the pictures featured a guy who vaguely resembled the girl. I made some kind of smartass remark about him. I don’t remember what I said, but I’m sure it had some vague sexual context to it.

    She shrieked in mock indignation. “That’s not nice, [Stan]! That’s my brother! Don’t talk s**t about my brother!”

    I smirked and said, “I’m a bad boy, aren’t I? I need to be punished. I guess you’d better spank me, baby. Just grab a ruler and start whacking away at my big fat ass. You wouldn’t be the first girl in this school to do it.”

    I just kind of blurted that out. It was a stupid thing to say.

    She did not take it well.

    Was it really that objectionable? Maybe; maybe not. Part of it was context, I suppose.

    The guy who sat next to me in German class was a handsome, popular jock. (One girl summed up his appeal quite succinctly: “You’re the guy every girl in this room wants to marry.”) Hollywood tells us that handsome, popular jocks are assholes, but this guy was really nice. He was a genuinely pleasant person with a dazzling smile, and he was always very friendly to me. I was insanely jealous of his good looks and social skills. I admired him and I hated him for being everything that I wasn’t.

    If he had said something like “Spank me, baby,” the girl probably would have smiled. At worst, she might have written it off as a silly faux pas. But he wouldn’t have been stupid enough to make that kind of a remark, now, would he?

    I glanced over at the jock to see his reaction. He was smiling, but he was also shaking his head. I got the distinct impression that even he felt I’d crossed a line.

    Just then, the teacher stepped into the room. He asked how we were doing.

    Thinking quickly, I boomed out in a cheerful tone, “Sehr gut, Herr [Teacher]! We were just practicing our German!”

    A few giggles. The jock snorted.

    The girl started to speak: “Mr. [Teacher]…”

    I cut her off. “We were just admiring the photos in your PowerPoint presentation.”

    A few giggles, a bit more nervous than before.

    She tried again: “Mr. [Teacher]…”

    Again, I cut her off: “Did you take those pictures yourself? They’re really nice.”

    The nervous giggles were getting louder.

    She shot me a glare that could melt steel. “Mr. [Teacher]!”

    Yet again, I interrupted her: “On behalf of the class, I would like to say how much we appreciate your devotion to multimedia instruction. It greatly enhances the learning experience.”

    People were straining not to burst out in laughter. The jock looked like he was making a supreme effort not to piss his pants.

    Mr. [Teacher] signed and said, “Look, [Stan], I know something is going on here. Why don’t you tell me what it is?”

    The girl cleared her throat. “Mr. [Teacher], [Stan]…”

    “I said something I shouldn’t have said,” I blurted out. “I went a little too far. But you have to understand that I’m really psyched about coming to your class. I get so carried away with enthusiasm for German that I can’t help myself sometimes.”

    Everyone burst out laughing.

    I turned and winked at the girl. She threw up her hands in disgust and folded her arms. She looked at me like I was a steaming pile of dog s**t.

    The teacher rolled his eyes. “Okay, let’s begin.”

    At the end of class, the girl got up and walked over to the teacher’s desk. I got up, too, and walked over to the desk.

    I turned my head and stared at her with a crooked smile on my face. I tried to appear totally nonchalant, to give off a sense of “Oh, are you waiting to speak to Mr. [Teacher], as well?” She tried not to look at me … then, finally, she stared me right in the eyes, shot me a thousand-watt death glare, and stormed out of the room.

    I thought to myself, “Oh, s**t, she’s going to report me to the vice principal.”

    But nothing ever came of it, aside from the fact that she never spoke to me again.

    She got her revenge years later when she was working at a boutique at a local shopping mall. I walked into the store, not knowing I would see her. I was startled to find her standing behind the counter.

    She smiled and said, “Hey, [Stan], wanna bend me over and f**k me doggie-style right here in the store?”

    I was so shocked that my jaw literally dropped.

    She laughed and said, “Oh, my God – the look on your face was hilarious. That was totally worth it.” Then she walked away.

    I had no clue what to say, so I just left.

    I never thought I would feel nostalgic for those days … but I do. I miss being a big fat 17-year-old with a nebulous “bright future” ahead of me.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  111. @Emil Nikola Richard

    I will not talk to computers. It does require more memorizing of the number button sequences (but often just “0 0 0 0 …” until the software shuts up and a person comes on). If I were to, your way sounds excellent, Emil! I would like to see all 3 of your first videos. (I do wish I could do voices better. I suck at it.)

  112. Anonymous[973] • Disclaimer says:
    @Stan Adams

    During the peak of the “official” war period – roughly March 17 to April 11 – I attended perhaps two or three days of school. (Spring break came in the middle of that period, but still.) I devoted all of my energy to recording as much of the war coverage as I could. I had three VCRs going virtually 24/7. I even recorded streaming media on my computer.

    I’m older than you. I did the same for Gulf War I in 1991. Alas all this stuff got lost when the tapes went to the dumpster.

    When the 2002-3 Iraq crisis came around, I REALLY wanted to rewatch the coverage of the previous war, especially the discussion/debate programs where very smart people argued over the conduct of that war (“Should we advance to Baghdad?” “What will happen if we overthrow Saddam?” “Will Saddam behave now he’s been taught a lesson?” etc.) But by then it was too late.

    Like you I also digitized the most interesting shows, however

    (1) I used a crappy first generation video capture card (Marvel G200) that produced video files that look far worse than the original recordings. If I still had the original tapes I could do the transfers again in far better quality.

    (2) A lot of stuff (like the GW1 coverage) didn’t get digitized because I didn’t think it was important at the time – but I now badly want to watch it again.

    YouTube copyright strikes are a PITA. My channel (mostly documentaries) is still up, but about half the videos are unwatchable because of copyright issues.

  113. @Anonymous

    I’ve downloaded tons of Gulf War stuff over the years. Many of the clips have annoying watermarks and/or timestamps but they’re better than nothing.

    At the moment I only have a throwaway channel but I’ll upload some clips for you. (I’ve never monetized any of my channels – I don’t own the material.) I have many complete broadcasts but these are only three- and four-minute snippets covering the top story of the evening. Almost all of these are from CBS.

    For example, here’s the opening of the CBS Evening News from August 2, 1990, covering the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait:

    I’ll post more clips here:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn6Dg8imByAYiCTO10WybzQ/videos

    As for discussion programs, American Archive has all of the old MacNeil/Lehrer broadcasts. These shows cover the period of Desert Shield and Desert Storm:
    https://americanarchive.org/catalog?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=iraq&f%5Baccess_types%5D%5B%5D=online&exact_or_range=range&after_date=1990-08-01&before_date=1991-03-01&commit=Update

    In the early 2000s, I used a Dazzle DVC 100 USB capture device that my mother got me for my fifteenth birthday:

    At the time the video quality seemed adequate. Unfortunately, I could never get the audio to record properly, so many of my digitized recordings from 2003 are low-volume mono and are marred by a prominent feedback sound.

    I still have most of the original files I recorded back then.

    This is the best quality I could achieve at the time. This is a brief snippet of a longer clip:

  114. Seaman says:
    @Pixo

    Buddy should be singing “That’ll be the day that I die”.

  115. @Anonymous

    It seems that I *can* upload videos longer than 15 minutes in length. I didn’t think I could, but this one seems to have gone through.

    This is the CBS Evening News from October 25, 1973, covering the DEFCON III alert during the Yom Kippur War. This was a few days after Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre”:

    This is probably the most epic commercial jingle of all time, even in black-and-white:

    If anyone is looking for anything in particular, let me know. If I have it, I’ll post it. If not, I’ll let you know.

  116. @Anonymous

    I’ve sperged out enough for one thread, but I’ll add one more irrelevant post before ceasing my digressions:

    You’re older than me, but I’m old enough to have vivid memories of Hurricane Andrew in August 1992.

    [MORE]

    The most significant news broadcast of my childhood was WTVJ’s live coverage of Andrew, which I watched on a battery-operated TV while lying on a blanket in my grandparents’ hallway. Excerpts of it are available online:

    Bryan Norcross, the weatherman who stayed on the air almost literally for days on end, became a local celebrity after the storm. I met him once.

    Here’s an interesting little iSteve-ish tidbit: The black news anchor literally walked off the job just hours before the storm hit. His wife called him in a panic and begged him to come home. He decided that his marriage was more important than his career. They lived in Broward County in an area where Andrew was no more significant than a summer thunderstorm. He returned to work a few hours later – the station was on the air 24/7 for days on end and they needed every warm body they could get. But he was quietly let go a few weeks later.

    Lest you worry about his fate … no, he didn’t end up digging ditches. He was hired by a station in a different market soon thereafter. And he didn’t have to start over as a lowly general-assignment reporter – he continued as an anchor. IIRC, he did a long stint at the NBC station in Nashville.

    Both my mother and my grandparents on the northern fringe of the eyewall. (My grandparents were in Pinecrest; my mother lived closer to Miami-Dade College.) We were a few miles north of the worst devastation, although quite a few homes in our area sustained heavy damage up to and including the loss of their roofs.

    My babysitter lived about half a mile from my mother in a two-story townhouse built in 1989. (In other words, it was only about three years old at the time.) She and her husband were asleep in their second-floor bedroom when her roof starting coming off during the height of the storm. She and her family – she had several kids, the youngest of whom was a couple of years older than me – raced downstairs. In her haste, she neglected to grab the car keys from the nightstand next to her bed. (Keep in mind that the worst part of storm hit around 4:30 in the morning. Once the electricity went out, most people were forced to endure the ordeal in total darkness. By dawn the weather was already starting to clear.) Afterward the bedroom was completely trashed and the keys were nowhere to be found. They picked through the wreckage but they never found them.

    I still think about my old babysitter every now and then. I saw her almost every day from the ages of 3 to 8. After school I went to her house and stayed there for several hours. Sometimes my mother didn’t pick me up until nine or ten. Quite often I would have to wake up to get in the car to go home to go to bed. Fortunately, my mother lived nearby.

    Her sons treated me like their younger brother. It was the only taste I ever had of what it was like to grow up in a family full of boys. We horsed around a lot and we had a lot of fun.

    Unfortunately, when I was in the third grade, my babysitter and my mother had a falling-out over a minor money matter and I lost that little semblance of normalcy.

    (She had six or seven sons – I can’t even remember the exact number. One of them died in a drunk-driving accident on the night of his high-school graduation.)

    We used to have jumping contests off the upper bunk. Our goal was to land on our feet in the middle of the doorway. In retrospect, it’s amazing that I didn’t break my neck.

    One time, when I was perhaps six, we were playing with some of the neighborhood boys and everyone goaded me into a fight. I was the youngest and the smallest. They formed a circle and pushed me in the middle and told me to fight the biggest member of the group, an older kid who looked to be about twice my size. I wanted to run away but they grabbed me and poked me and shoved me and toid me I had to fight him or they would all start beating me up. They started chanting: “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!”

    I was terrified, but I steeled myself for the confrontation. I summoned up all of my courage and leapt toward the big kid with a ferocity I didn’t know I possessed. I ran up to him and, before he even knew what was happening, I punched him right in the nose. He fell backward and started bawling. IIRC he was bleeding from both of his nostrils.

    The other boys backed off from me. I was crying but somehow I knew that the power dynamic had changed in an instant. They were shocked by what I had done. They kept saying, “Why did you do that? You hurt him! You shouldn’t have done that!”

    “You told me to fight him!” I screamed. “You told me to fight him! I was just doing what you told me to do!”

    Then I ran back into my babysitter’s house. She asked me if I was all right and I said, “Yes, but one of the other boys just tripped on me and fell.” I didn’t dare tell her what had really happened.

    She found out the truth a few minutes later, when the other kid’s mother called to say that I had attacked her son unprovoked. (Naturally, he ran to her and told her that some big bad kid had given him a bloody nose just for the hell of it.)

    My babysitter was very upset. I can’t remember if she spanked me or not, but I did sit in the corner for quite a while.

    She was not averse to giving an unruly child a bit of a smack. She did slap me a few times over the years, but never without having a very good reason. I was fairly tame for a boy but every now and then I needed to be brought into line. It’s ridiculous to think that some people regard light physical discipline as child abuse. My grandmother occasionally pinched me so hard that she broke my skin, and it had no long-term effects.

    What did scar me emotionally was having to endure my mother’s full-scale freakouts. She slapped me around a little, but the physical aspect was secondary to the emotional torment. Her incessant full-volume shrieking and the wild-eyed frenzy with which she would go after me left me with long-term PTSD. She would go from seemingly perfectly calm to Mommie Dearest-level rage – chasing me around the house and tossing chairs around the living room to prevent me from hiding underneath them – in the blink of an eye. And she wouldn’t let up for hours.

    I used to pray to God to fix whatever was so horrendously wrong with me that my mother felt compelled to go after me like that.

    The freakouts continued well into my high-school years. But the power dynamic shifted in my late adolescence. I found out that I could be quite intimidating when I set my mind to it.

    One night, early in my adulthood, she pushed me just a bit too far. I don’t remember what she said. Presumably she asked me to perform some minor task and I didn’t do it to her complete satisfaction. No doubt she made some kind of snappy remark about my stupidity. She made nasty comments all the time. On any other night, I wouldn’t have given her flippant remark a second thought.

    On this night, something was different. I snapped. I grabbed the television and smashed it to pieces. I started trashing the living room. Then I lunged at her.

    I discovered that my hands fit quite snuggly around her neck. She was a big woman and she was clawing at me like a wild animal but I had her pinned down. I was still holding back a bit, but just a bit.

    I realized that I had reached one of the key junctions of my life. I had a choice: I was going to kill my mother, or I was going to spare her life.

    At that moment, I truly, honestly, genuinely wanted to kill her. More precisely, I wanted her to die.

    I said to myself, “I want this bitch dead. I’m going to do it. I’m going to choke the f**king c**t to death right here, right now. I’m going to rip her f**king head off.”

    And then a voice said, “Are you ready to die tonight – right here, right now? Because if you go ahead and kill the bitch, then you will have no choice but to kill yourself, as well.”

    It took me a few seconds to make my decision.

    At that moment, part of me truly, honestly, genuinely wanted to die. Part of me said, “It’s time to put an end to all of this bulls**t. Your life is over. You’re a d**kless loser and your destiny in life is to suffer in agony until you die alone. She’s in pain; you’re in pain. Put her out of her misery, and then release yourself from a lifetime of torment. It’s practically an act of mercy.”

    I squeezed harder … and harder … and harder. And then I let go.

    But I still needed to make her suffer in a way that I had never made anyone suffer in my entire life.

    Summoning up all of my strength, I whacked her right arm as hard as I could as many times as I could muster. She screamed in unspeakable agony as her shoulder came out of its socket. Even after she started screaming, it took me quite a while to stop.

    She collapsed into a heap and sobbed uncontrollably. So did I.

    After a few seconds, she begged me to embrace her. “Hold me!” she shrieked. “Please, just hold me!”

    I refused. I couldn’t stand the thought of touching her.

    “Why can’t you just hold me and love me?” she asked. “Why can’t you love me? Why can’t you just hold me and love me?”

    I ignored her.

    Eventually we both stopped crying. Somehow she pushed her shoulder back into its socket. I started cleaning up the mess I’d made.

    Her arm was my second choice. My initial target was her face. I wanted to beat her face to a bloody pulp. For a split second I fantasized about putting a fist through her skull. But at the last second I changed my mind.

    If there is a God, then my mother owes his life to Him. Because it was nothing short of a miracle that she survived that argument. As far as I’m concerned, my decision to spare her life was an act of divine intervention. God can take all the credit for ending my attack.

    Afterward I was regretful … not so much because I had almost killed her, but because I felt as if I had killed the best part of myself. I no longer believed that I was a good person.

    All my life I’d believed that I was an angel. A fallen angel, perhaps, but an angel nevertheless. I never imagined, even in my wildest dreams, that I had it in me to become a demon. I never realized that I had the potential to be evil. It was quite a shock to my system.

    My mother didn’t call the cops. Perhaps she should have; perhaps I would have been better off in the long run if the system had forced me to suffer for my crime. But she knew that I would never forgive her. She knew I would turn my back on her for good. And she would never let that happen. She wanted me – she needed me – so badly that she was willing to let it slide.

    We never spoke about it afterward.

    That wasn’t the last really bad argument we ever had, not by a long shot. But I never came *that* close to trying to kill her ever again.

    Even now, occasionally, she threatens suicide. She wants me in her life so badly that she’s willing to play that card against me.

    If I had a dollar for every time my mother has told me that she will kill herself if I abandon her, I would be able to afford a plane ticket to just about anywhere in the world. Sometimes I marvel that my mother is so desperate for any semblance of human companionship that she’s willing to cling to someone who literally tried to kill her.

    What do you call that kind of desperation? Love? I don’t think so.

    When I die, I will not be surprised if I find myself standing on the threshold of a lake of molten lava.

    What was I talking about? Oh, that’s right – Hurricane Andrew.

    My grandparents’ house was a sturdy single-story concrete-block structure built in the late 1950s. (Generally, houses built in the ’50s and ’60s sustained much less damage than structures built in the ’70s and ’80s.) It weathered the storm quite well. The shutter over the window in my bedroom – I stayed there often enough that I had my own room – flew off and the window cracked during the storm, causing the door to slam shut on its own. (This prompted my mother to run in and drag me into the hallway.) But that was the extent of the damage to the interior of the house.

    The patio was totally wrecked, but we got off pretty easily.

  117. Wilkey says:
    @Buzz Mohawk

    My cousin left me a message a few days before he died three years ago. I saved it for months so I could listen to him talking to me. My wife still has voicemails from her parents who died two years ago.

    Not sure about Android, but on an iPhone you can save the voicemail as an mp3 file and keep it elsewhere for good. I keep several from deceased loved ones (and a few still living) in an album in iTunes.

  118. Sammler says: • Website
    @SunBakedSuburb

    A closer parallel is the alzabo in Gene Wolfe’s _The Shadow of the Torturer_. This semi-sentient beast digests the memories of the humans it devours, and uses their voices and words to coax their families to the same doom.

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