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Caseythoughts I have to do something with all these newspaper and magazine clippings. They're one reason I depend much more on paper as my source rather than online news: I'm one of those people (few in number, no doubt) who is constantly tearing news stories from various publications, folding them up and dropping them on my 'desk' with every intention of mulling their content and finding ways to comment on them. Problem is, there are more clippings each week and I find the stack to be slowly, inexorably intimidating me. No one is around to complain to me about this stack, but, still...I suppose it could be worse. I've known one or two souls who don't keep the clipping: they keep the whole blasted paper or magazine and soon the stacks threaten like gravity ignored, or become furnishing for the ever-cramped and crowded home, firetrap, so it would appear, with the stacks of publications moldering in piles.

But this pile of clippings of mine will be the basis for shorter musings this week. Did I hear an appreciative sigh? A hop, a skip and a jump through the lesser-known but still interesting news bites. As the Chinese saying goes: "May you live in interesting times."

Just read about a restaurant in Manhattan called The Wilson that apparently has a real love of canines. On their outdoor patio are served special dishes for pooch and 'owner' such as grilled rib eye for the delicious price of $42.00 (hey, it comes with a plate of baby vegetables). If pooch is a little more health-minded, a $14.00 bowl of mixed berries can be served. Did you ever know a dog to eat fruit? Maybe if you don't feed Fido that day, he/she might. I think a cheese plate with whole grain (and locavore) biscuits might keep Fido happy. But I don't expect our pooch will be generous with a tip. That, I daresay, is still up to you. Bon appetit.

Daniella Hernandez of the Wall Street Journal writes about a child that, according to this Mom, burst into tears when a 'social robot' (huh?) he played with went offline. I'm still trying to figure this one out, but maybe Mom has the inside line on this one, since she is an artificial intelligence 'expert'. Makes me wonder if the kid has a suspicion that he is an ongoing experiment. Rana el Kaliouby is her name (the Mom), and says her child's experience and emotional bond with the 'bot' raises a question (only one?): Can such machines manipulate us in unforeseen ways to buy certain products or behave in ways that benefit the company that produced the robot, or the company that purchases its services?

I don't need an expert to raise, or answer, that question. We have had the answer to that since advertising went mainstream and media-savvy, early twentieth century. It's not a 'next step', for it's been here for over a hundred years (since, at least, Bernays graduated from Cornell). It just shows up with a new costume as technology and media develop and 'progress'.

They say the next evolution of software will be more 'emotionally adept', using facial expressions, vocal intonations and body language to decipher emotions and intent. And, of course, all those 'signals' are really non-verbal communication cues which we 'non-bots' use every day. I don't think this is the future: I think we're living the future.

Suggestion: if you've not seen it, find Steven Spielberg's "AI" and prepare yourself for the so-called future. It's not really dystopic. It has its fabulously funny human moments and insights, but it really does raise the question of our 'relationship' with the non-human elements of our world which is becoming, like it or not, more human. And if you've not heard the phrase, Google (verb) 'uncanny valley' as a concept.

I see the international space station (ISS) now has an 'Open for Business' sign in its porthole. Let's ignore the story last month about a pinhole found in its wall that apparently was suspected sabotage. Let's just fantasize about circling the earth a la 2001: A Space Odyssey.

First, talk to your banker or retirement adviser: Access to the station's "regenerative life support and toilet" is pegged at $11,250 a day, with another $22,500 daily charge for crew supplies such as food (who knew?) air and exercise equipment (what? No TV screen with CNN or Fox?). Extras on your bill of fare on the world's coolest and most exclusive hotel will include $42.00 for a kwh of power (NYSEG now sounds cheap) and $50.00 to send a gigabit of date to the kids back home ("Daddy just sent us a pic on Pinterest").

We're currently spending $3.5 billion a year on the ISS. A pittance, really, but we need to make a business proposition with the Marketer-in-Chief running things from the Trump, I mean White, House. Is there a way Budweiser could work the ISS into a Super Bowl ad? Six Clydesdales in the orbiter, though: an extra charge to clean up after the commercial is filmed? Can you see the ISS lit up like a Thomas Kincaid painting with a decorated fir tree in the porthole?

Finally this week, I get to show a little bit of my reading interests other than contemporary notes of passing interest. I started Churchill's History of World War II, and I've got to say that the more I read of and about Churchill, the less I like him. But, I found a marvelous quote from him decades prior to WWII that I have to pass on in light of our current trade situation that is roiling the markets. It was 1904, and in a speech Churchill as a member of Parliament stated: " It is a theory of the Protectionist that imports are an evil. He thinks that if you shut out the foreign imported manufactured goods you will make these goods yourself, in addition to the goods which you make now, including those goods which we make to exchange for the foreign goods that come in. If a man can believe that, he can believe anything. For we Free-Traders say it is not true. To think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man thinking that he can stand in a bucket and lift himself up by the handle."

Take that, Tariff Man.
Thanks for listening.


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