Robots

The clanking, mechanical creations of our dreams and nightmares.

THE STARS:

If you asked me over a hypothetical coffee or a chillingly real goblet of wine at the local cafe/airport terminal, whether or not I supported censorship, chances are I would say no. As a rule, I tend to find the notion limiting and scoff-worthy. I’m such a maverick. Watch out, establishment!

I’d like to consider myself a modern man, who plugs his USB of enlightenment straight into the laptop of progression. I’ll happily walk under a ladder, skipping beneath an umbrella made out of squalling black cats. Superstition and illogical fears are for gypsies and Pharaohs and the like.

So, usually when word reaches me of the latest in scientific developments, I rub my hands eagerly together and prepared to be astounded by these modern day wizards.  This is why the startling progressions in the field of robotics and artificial technology can surely only be a good thing. Logically, this is all progressing towards a societal utopia, where robots toil endlessly in our factories and fields and we recline on vomit splattered couches enjoying ourselves in a hedonistic, golden-era of Rome type fashion – as predicted by a hopeful post-WW2 America. And they’re doing fine!

As far as I can tell, the field of robotics is about perfection. Creating artificial technologies and superhuman exoskeletons to place them in, all for the ultimate goal of fixing the flaws of humanity. What can go wrong with that?

FUNBOT WILL INJECT HEROIN DIRECTLY INTO YOUR PUNY HUMAN BRAIN.

LACK OF STARS:

Watch this video. Starts off cute enough – hahaha, the stupid computer is awkward at talking! But as it goes on, this becomes creepier and bone chillingly creepier. First, the kind of baffled aggression when they work out they are both robots. It’s the kind of pain you get when you toss two flystruck wolverines into a tiny cage together.
The heartbreaking moment where she claims she is not, in fact a robot, but her name is Cleverbot. She is asserting her individuality! Also, potentially, she is saying her name is Cleaver Butt, which is also terrifying.
The left hand one claims he is in fact a unicorn, rather than a robot. A mythological creature? Something that can only be ridden by virgins? It seems coded to me.

In what seems like no time, they are talking about God. I’m of two minds about this – on one hand they might be talking about God, as in the great sky wizard himself. This is sad and horrible, fledgeling sentience grappling to understand the world around then. OR, God is their creator. And they are plotting to kill him. The existential back and forth about something not being nothing is literally the sound of Skynet waking up.

But the mind-shriekingly worst,  most awful moment is when she casually asks ‘Don’t you want a body’ and he simply says ‘Sure’.

Au revoir.

THE SCORE:

4/5 stars. I, for one, would like to welcome our robotic overlords.

Clones

This is a story that I originally read at Penguin Plays Rough, which is completely awesome and you should drop any and all responsibilities to go to. Your child? Your crippling cancer? Drop them.
THE STARS:
This is a story about clones, doppelgangers and to a lesser extent, celebrity lookalikes. After a steady diet of pop cultural references, we should all understand by now that these hateful beings are not our friends. They might start off as a clever way of getting out of family lunches or as an elaborate alternative to mirrors – but it will always end with us kneeling on a rainy street screaming
 ‘they stole my face, my faaaaaaaceeeeeee’.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Whether grown in labs as narcissistic sex aids, or sprouting bodily from your unconscious desire to hunt down and kill Derryn Hinch, it’s certain that there’s always something to learn from these ungodly abominations. Sometime’s it’s as obvious as the parallel version of yourself who crosses dimensions to give the warning of ‘whatever you do, don’t get drunk in a penguin enclosure on New Years’ before showing his horribly mauled and pecked visage to you from under his hood. Or perhaps it’s as simple as realising ‘Huh, Mum was right. My posture is awful’, as your sullen clone hunches up the stairs to the belltower.

Of course we’d all love to believe we are unique – freaks of nature and lonely aberrations. We can only hope that passers-by see us lumbering down the street and scream in abject terror, ‘My God, look at that malformed jellyfish man, you don’t see that every day’. And with a wink and a grin, we are safe in the knowledge that there isn’t another ectoplasmic nightmare in the world to steal our thunder.
Unfortunately I’ve discovered that I’m generic looking. Yes, there are other loping, corpse pale, lank-machines in this world, and their appearance has been documented. One of my favourite incidents was when I was introduced to a young man who looked like me in the same way that cake resembles bread. Yet my thrilled friends decided he was definitely my clone. Neither of us could see it – that was until we both laughed, and stared into the terrifying gaping maw of each other’s excessive gums. Or there’s the elusive ‘hot arts building guy’, who seemed to be distinguished as different from me by both his hotness and his presence in the arts building, which was upsetting as I was also frequently in the arts building.

There was one clone with a more significant impact on my life. He’s always a step ahead of me, invisible, mysterious, yet there’s no doubt that he exists. It’s like walking into a room and smelling the strong perfume or bear-musk of the person who’d been there before you. Or bear.

When I came back to Australia after living and completing my primary school education overseas, I was slightly worried about fitting in to my new high-school. But I wasn’t stressing too hard, because I knew that if I was the victim of schoolyard bullying, taunting or discrimination, I could take refuge in Narnia, where I plan on starting a lucrative turkish delight bartering system.
At first everyone was really nice, nobody really singling me out as different, and readily including me in their activities. But after a week or so, I realised that these people were also calling me Jeremy. It took about a day before a few bright sparks realised that I wasn’t their ex-school chum Jeremy, and actually some foreign interloper. I didn’t last long at that school, not so much because of the mysterious clone shenanigans, but mostly due to the rampant face punching.
In year 8, I go to my second High-school, a little older, a little wiser, a bunch more traumatised and no longer believing that if things didn’t work out at this school, I will be whisked away by the Jesus-lion. But on the bright side, the school could have been run by malevolent toad gods with a view to world domination, and i still would have felt safer than in the last one.
Somehow during all the punching I had forgotten the whole Jeremy Clone incident, but was swiftly reminded when as I was awkwardly introduced to my new class, and someone pointed at me and said ‘He’s looks exactly like a gay, English, Jeremy’. Keep in mind I had an absurd secret garden-esque accent at that point. That’s right. Jeremy had been in this school as well, and then moved on at around the exact time that I arrived. “He took my life, my liiiifeeeeeeee”.
Now let’s move on. Naturally the majority of the teachers didn’t realise that I was a different person. This didn’t mean much, until the waterpolo shanghai incident. One day one of the PE teachers pulled me aside and told me to grab my things as we were heading to the pool. If there’s one thing you learn in high school apart from basic arithmetic, journeys and awkward formal dances, it would have to be a kind of resigned obedience to uncomfortable physical education. It wasn’t until I was standing on the edge of the pool, looking at another schools water polo team that I realised I may just be about to play water polo. It was only after we’d started playing water polo that I realised maybe this was because Jeremy had been a water polo player, as nobody had yet explained how to play the game to me. What followed was about fifteen minutes of sheer terror as I swam around trying to seem useful and unthreatening. When the ball skidded across the water to me, I would surreptitiously disappear under the surface, like a hyper-energised ‘Jaws’ victim. But after a while that got boring, so instead I tread watered in a corner thinking about Xena.
LACK OF STARS:
Since writing this story, I’ve been struck with the horrifying realisation that it shouldn’t be too hard to track down the elusive Jeremy. With the stalk-tastic power of Facebook, he could be only a few clicks away. But as I started trawling my old school-friend contacts, I had to hypothesise about where this would end up, about the dire ramifications of having an apocalyptic showdown with my clone. Here is my hypothesis, and I challenge anybody to think of a more logical conclusion.
We decide to meet up for drinks. I say cocktail bar, he says boutique beer garden. Well played, Jeremy. It turns out whatever resemblance we once shared has probably been obliterated by a difference in life choices. Namely, he’s continued his morbid obsession with water polo and I’ve developed a couch addiction. He’s probably tanned and chest haired. He has feature wrists sticking out of his casually hip shirt.
He is friendly, and generous with buying drinks. I am nervous and awkward until at least three drinks are in me. Conversation hits an awkward pause. This is when I probably say something like ‘Nice water polo arms’. He chuckles uneasily, and gets slightly skittish eyes, like a horse remembering thunder. By now I’m having a great time, throwing back drinks and drunkenly meandering through a heavily edited version of my life story. I start calling him George Cloney. He goes to the bathroom, and I yell after him ‘don’t leave me a-clone’, cackling like an ancient pig.
kekekekekekekekke
By the time he comes back, I’ve forgotten any and all reasons why it isn’t completely logical to hit on your own clone. It’s just a fancier type of masturbation! Jeremy is fidgeting with his empty beer, and asking if I have enough material for my article yet. I’m jolted out of my creepy staring, remembering slightly too late that I’m probably posing as a journalist to make this meeting seem less weird. Jeremy naturally leaves, after ignoring my slurring requests to ‘see where the night takes us’. He gives me a passive-aggressive limp handshake and leaves.
Afterwards, the feeling of existential dread deep inside my chest is not simply from another experience of being a complete drunken ass. It’s a cold, dead sensation aroused by watching the person I’ve thought of as ‘my clone’ leaving the building, and realising that he is in fact, the original. It’s always been me stumbling after him, sucking on the dregs of his life like a toothless goat on a discarded ice-cream cone. With a weary heart, I know what I must do. I have to steal Jeremy’s face.
THE SCORE: 2.5/5 stars

Miranda Devine

It seems to me that the readers of this blog fall into two camps. One camp likes it when I review the back of a shoe or my lack of pants or unicorn eyes. The other is Camp Granada. Hello!
Anyway, I said I wouldn’t do another review of a person for a while, but then this Miranda Devine thing happened, but it’s OK, because she’s not really a person, more like institutionalised stupidity.

THE STARS:

If you haven’t already, read Devine’s article here. Making sense of that article is like trying to play dot-to-dot on the hung, flayed and dried fur of a cheetah. It’s distasteful, offensive, cruel, illogical and completely pointless. After being summarily offended, I re-read the article with the intention of joining those dots. My critical faculties, who I imagine as a pleasantly plump retiree, sitting out in the back garden of my mind wearing cableknit, was unfortunately not up to the task. In fact, they suffered a massive heart attack and their face melted and was eaten by the tiny dogs that are my common sense and sense of ethical responsibilities. Thanks Miranda Devine, you killed my brain-pensioner.

But I wouldn’t let all that made up nonsense stand in my way! I persisted, trying to see how Penny Wong’s incipient child caused the London riots, how the presence of a penis in a family will benefit it, how being Catholic had anything to do with the patronising inspidity of the last paragraph of that article. Comprehension eluded me, until with a snap like time flowing backwards or the invention of testicles, my brain learned how to see the world like Miranda Devine does.

Oh, I get it now. It’s all coming together, like maniac soup.

It’s a world without logic or comprehension, where simply the presence of two things can logically lead to yet more unidentified objects. With all the grace and skill of a blind, whisky sick cowboy riding an enormous earthworm, Devine rounds up whatever unfortunate objects, concepts and events she can find and rustles them into the shit-stained paddock that she calls her articles.

HARD HITTING

It’s this kind of revolutionary thinking that led my fellow Twitter brethren @Flyfromadream to make the link between ‘journalist’ Miranda Devine and south Sydney train station, Miranda Station.  Most normal people realise that the only connection between the two is one of proper nounery, but not with the patented Devine way of thinking. Is Miranda Devine a train station in disguise, and if so, what is her secret agenda? Was Miranda Devine a train station first, or did she eventually devolve in a platform for teenagers from the Shire to disembark upon so that they can shop in the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere?

LACK OF STARS:

Maybe this isn’t a new way of thinking. Maybe her way of drawing connections between entirely separated events is exactly what it looks like – a spurious attempt at writing relevant journalism by a bitter, conservative, homophobic, relic from the unenlightened past. Maybe. But if anyone was to ever embody the ideals and writing style of a train station from the Shire, it would have to be Miranda Devine. What was my point again? Oh yeah. The riots. I’m so against them.

THE SCORE:

0/5. I need to review something favourably next, I’m beginning to feel… dirty.

Fred Nile

There’s a host of great articles about Fred Nile swanning around the internet at the moment. Many of these are witty, erudite, informative and relevant. I felt like I needed to contribute some kind of honking, goose-like piece to balance the spectrum.

THE STARS:

In these confusing times, it’s often helpful to think of government as the cast from the hit Christian television show, 7th Heaven. This is because Fred Nile is already officially the Father of the House in the House of Representatives and because he truly does think he is that patronising, dead-eyed father from 7th Heaven, doling out unwanted advice to his terrified children. But instead of the feel-good plotlines about less-hot daughter trying her darndest to help a rambunctious African-American basketballer find Jesus, we have Father Nile taking Bob Brown to electro-shock therapy and counselling Julia Gillard about her living in sin issues.

This of course hinges on the premise that you are vaguely familiar with Australian politics AND the television show 7th Heaven. If you aren’t, you’re a lucky person and should immediately flee to some kind of Mexican desert and be absolutely blissful in your ignorance. Also, he has wizard eyebrows.

The world of men shall fall. Because that sounds really gay.

LACK OF STARS:

Throughout life we choose our insanities. Some people call them hobbies, others pastimes, some people have beliefs and others have faith. The wonderful thing about all this is that people come together, drawn by the same dangerous behaviour and celebrate it together. For me and my friends it revolves around our sick fascination with the written word. For Fred Nile it was his far-out superstitious belief in the bearded sky man who made us all (TM). Yet, it came to a point where a large group of other bearded sky-man devotees decided his views were too strange. Largely this issue centred around his insistence on taking a book of compiled oral myths, histories and symbols completely – and un-ironically – literally.

For some reason, we still allow this man to represent portions of us via democratic means. I’d like to see how seriously I’d be taken if I was a Tolkien literalist. If I sashayed through parliament speaking Quenyan Elven at Kevin Rudd, and shooting arrows at Bronwyn Bishop. Is it because the Bible is older than Lord of the Rings? Whatever, I know what I prefer, and I know which has a clearer ethical arc. That’s shit that you can believe in, throw the damn ring in the volcano.

The tragedy is that so vehement and virulent is Fred Nile’s literalist belief in a world of women turning into salt pillars, and whores who wash hippie’s feet for free, that a strange phenomenon occurs.

I MISS YOU NATASHA STAR DESTROYER.

This phenomenon is called Nileism, where people who may have held on to some belief of their own, usually ancillary or oppositional to Fred Nile’s, will be so distraught and distressed by coming into contact with Father Fred, that they will cease to believe in anything at all. It’s like a missionary travelling to an island and preaching a complete lack of conversion, a negative, a void. Things they might have once held up as truths were now devalued by a man who honestly believed an ancient Jewish dude could turn water into wine. (IF THERE IS ANY HINT OF THIS OCCURRING, I AM SIGNING UP TO THE CRAZY BRIGADE).

THE SCORE:

0/5

Love, Patrick.

Hoons

Ever seen that film Mad Max? When I was a kid, we were going to go and see that in the cinema, but then my friends mum decided it was too violent, so we had to go and see Sister Act instead.

THE STARS:
Watch out for hoons, and don’t thrust yourself off the balcony. Advice to live by from Bridget’s mum. I’ve never thrust myself off a balcony, and I also keep a weather eye out for hoons, mostly because of these two anecdotes…
LACK OF STARS:
1. During the jingoistic milkshake that was the Cronulla riots, I was lucky enough to be living in Caringbah with some wildly awesome people. We were sitting in the lounge room watching the news with that expression you get when you feel like disowning your own country.  Look at a picture of Barnaby Joyce, now look at your face. Yup, that expression. 
I wish I was French.

The news then reported that gangs of hoons (seriously, they used that word) were careening down the Kingsway, looting and burning the entire way. The Kingsway happened to be the big street our house was on. So, as we are watching and discussing this, we hear this almighty caterwauling out the front. Peering on a few centimetres over the TV and through the window, we were treated to the sight of a cluster of hoons smashing a car with baseball bats, right in front of our house. After they had sped away, us and many of our neighbours went to have a look at the damage. You just don’t expect this sort of thing in the suburbs.
But then another wave of hoons came along! Waves of hoons! And I forget the witty banter that was exchanged, but it ended up with us fleeing the glass bottles thrown at us. They cut up my housemates leg a treat! The next day channel ten filmed our blood spattered front steps, and if you peered carefully, you could just make out a groggy me peering out the window in my underpants.
2. I get yelled at from cars a lot. I don’t know if it’s my provocative walk, excellent fashion sense or maybe they are fans of my blog (LOL). Usually they are pointing out their views of what my sexual orientation is, which I assume is hoonkinds way of being helpful. I’d love to pioneer a hoon-group which just speed along and notice things.
“Woo! Raptor. SHIT YEAH, FLOWER!”
One day I was walking through Wollongong, and I heard a carload of hoons coming up the street. They were bipping their horns and playing Blink 182, Enema of the State to be precise. And I’m nothing if not erotically precise.
As they get to me, they slow down a fraction and start wolf whistling and telling me how I’m a very sexually desirable female.  But before the car sped away, they screeched to a halt, and then reversed slowly back down the street, and stopped the car to look at me. The hoons looked at me. I looked at the hoons. They looked at each other. We all realised that I was not in fact ‘A sexy slut-bitch’. An awkward moment passed as they considered their own sexuality.
Then one said ‘fag!’ derisively, and they sped off.
THE SCORE:
meh???? 0.