Abandoned Mausoleums as a Metaphor for Not Thinking About the Future

Last week, I watched JPVideos’ YouTube series about the abandoned Good Shepherd Mausoleum. The short version of the story is: the previous owner claims someone forged a check to steal all the money in the perpetual care fund and that because of his health problems he couldn’t fix the leaky roof, then he died, nobody paid property taxes for a few years so the local government sold the property through a tax auction in 2005, the new owners claimed they had no idea it was a mausoleum and cemetery when they bought it, they didn’t repair the roof, in 2010 they stopped paying property taxes, the overhang began collapsing which made it dangerous to access some of the crypts, water got in through the roof, so much mold grew inside the mausoleum that it was dangerous to breathe, in 2015 the local government condemned the building, every year the building falls deeper into disrepair, it’s only a matter of time until it collapses with the caskets inside.

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I’d Choose the Future

Many years ago, I saw a comment on The Archdruid Report from a teacher at an upscale private school. They’d done a class exercise where students had to answer which time period they’d want to go to if possible and why. The most popular answer was that they wanted to live in the 1960s. The teacher then pointed out they didn’t have to go to the past, they could also choose to go to the future. None of the students wanted that. These were upper-middle class students in the United States, and even they didn’t believe they had a future better than the 1960s to look forward to.

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What Would Machine-Learning-Generated Novels Mean for Readers?

Many people now talk about ‘artificial intelligence’ (which I prefer to call ‘machine learning’) writing works and replacing human writers. Some people even discuss the possibility that within a few years, machine-learning based software could write novels and displace human authors.

If such a thing to come to pass, what would that mean for people who read novels?

Writers have increased their use of ‘machine learning’ for years. For example, I’ll use ProWritingAid, which relies on machine learning, to proofread this blog post. It’s more powerful than a mere spellchecker, while costing much less than a human proofreader.

Nobody complains about tools like ProWritingAid taking jobs away from copyeditors and proofreaders. In fact, the professional copyeditors/proofreaders themselves use machine-learning based software because it enables them to get more done in less time.

Software programs writing novels inspires much more dread. But why? Computers have been able to generate crappy novels for decades. A ton of computer-generated novels can’t stop someone from writing a novel for personal fulfillment. The fear seems to be that computer-generated novels would take readers from human novelists.

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Two Thoughts on Pandemics and the “Livestock Industry”

First, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states that ‘coronavirus’ aid in 2020 and 2021 overpaid many agricultural producers, especially for ‘livestock’ and grains (most of which feed livestock, not humans).

For decades, tons of government subsidies have enriched “farmers” (I put this in quotation marks because many of the biggest payments go to people who have little to do with farming in their everyday lives), and the way it’s structured, most of the subsidies go to livestock and plants to feed livestock, not plants grown to feed people.

Of course, the coronavirus aid packages were corrupt as hell beyond agriculture (notice the airlines who took the aid money, laid off their workers, then spent the money on share buybacks to juice their stock prices). Much more money went into these corrupt deals than the $2000 checks sent to ordinary people.

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