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Lileks @ Lunch

James Lileks writes about everything - except sports and gardening

Pickles is repeating itself

According to Sunday's comic, Hi Flagston has not bought a computer since 1998:

That's the original Bondi Blue iMac G3, and it appears that Hi never replaced the original hocket-puck mouse. He was working with that unusable input device for over a decade and a half. Well, time to upgrade - so does he wipe the drive and set it out on the boulevard, or take it to the recycling center? No:

If there's anything more ridiculous than the age of the machine, it's the idea that Lois would smile if he took it up to the attic. I'll just add it to the other clutter, dear. Might come in handy some time. Most wives would be scowling at this point. Can't you get rid of it? Can't you get rid of anything?

Apparently not. Up in the attic:

So that's the only thing he saves? Old electronics? Plus Jarts, which were banned about forty years ago. 

Maybe there's an original Apple up there somewhere worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Could happen. Elsewhere in comics, Pickles is just admitting to everyone that hardly anyone carries the Sunday strip, or its target market has no short-term memory retention:


It's one thing to recycle a gag over the course of time, but the Sunday strip was yesterday.

SCIENCE Clickbait hyperbole for the Effing Love Science crowd: The Supermarket of the Future Knows Exactly What You’re Eating

No, it won't. It can't. I don't know half the time until I get there. But the Supermarket of the Future sounds understocked, and expensive.

There are also no shelves in the supermarket of the future, and there is a good reason for it. Buying food should be a moment of exchange and interactions, not the hasty choir it represents for most people. As Ratti explains to me, “We are interested above all in human interactions; interactions between people and products and between people and people.” So when purchasing bananas in the Coop supermarket, not only will customers be able to see the person in front of them buying canned pineapple, but who knows—they might even start a conversation.

First. I think he means "hasty choice." Perhaps European food-buying is characterized by frenzied masses of singers, but I doubt it. As for human interactions, the idea t customers will "be able to see the person in front of them buying canned pineapple" is just the stuff of blue-sky sci-fi, man. I mean come on. Next you'll tell me they'll use laser beams and plastic cards to complete the transaction.

Are Europeans currently unable to see people buying caned pineapple? Is there some law that it has to be done under a blanket? In the supermarket of the future, Criswell predicts, you will be able to walk up to strangers and say "I see you have chosen a round container from the Dole conglomerate," and then? Love, perhaps? (Gallic shrug) Who knows where the day may take you.

From the comments, of which there is one:

Will Soylent and similar products there will simply no supermarkets in the future.

That's just preaching to the choice. Of course there will be supermarkets.

When you go elsewhere on Munchies, you discover the elastic nature of their editorial standards.

I have never been a fan of theme parks. Even less so of the Magic Kingdom, which is a cheap copy of Adventure Kingdom in Veracruz, Mexico.

Really. It opened in 1982. It's a Six Flags joint now. The rest of the piece is about a nice lady from Wisconsin who lives in Mexico with an utterly undistinguished collection of recent Coke memorabilia. This website is from Vice. Needs salt.

VotD Grand Overlook Hotel.

Would you buy a robot dog?

A round-up of various things on the great, bounteous, generous sprawl of the internet. A lot of these come from aggregator sites. I’m beginning to wish there was an aggregator of aggregator sites.

SCIENCE! Tiny Hay-specks in the Swiss Cheese / Make the gas holes / Make them round

The mystery of swiss cheese holes has been solved!

CRIME LA mag headline: A Popular West Hollywood Aesthetician Was Arrested for Trying to Murder Her Rival. Was She the Perpetrator—or the Victim?

Any headline that asks a question is usually answered NO, according to the old rule. Judge for yourself if that’s the case here. The subject’s name is pure LA, and makes you wonder if her parents chose it and were later horrified, or if she chose it to remind people of a genial plump comedic actor, and leach off a few joules of celebrity power. Her name: Dawn DaLuise. (The answer is revealed soon enough; no professional author would leave that detail unexplained.) Good read for the lunchtime hour.

RISE OF THE ROBOT CHEETAHS Yes, it’s creepy, and you wish they had heads; they look a bit too much like houndeyes. But the science is remarkable.

Even though they’re modeled on cheetah behavior, you can’t help but think they’ll use this tech to build robot dogs. How many years until you can buy a programmable robot dog? How many owners would bring them to the dog parks anyway, just to pretend?

RETAIL TPM on Wal-Mart’s rise as the new town square. The author notes:

A few years ago, when I lived in Baltimore, I lackadaisically participated in the movement to prevent a proposed Wal-Mart from being built in my neighborhood. I could never imagine myself shopping there; to me, the store just symbolized more traffic and exploited workers. (Thanks in part to community pressure, the Wal-Mart plans have since been scrapped.)

Later she comes to appreciate, with reservations, what the store provides for small, isolated towns. It’s a mixed blessing. A mixed curse. I spend a lot of time on Google Street View looking at small towns - it’s a personal project detailing the grim state of the tiny burgs withering on the capillaries of the plains. A lot of those towns never had the variety of goods Wal-Mart brought, and from the looks of them, the rot and decline set in during the Carter years and never really healed. They hit their peak in the 50s, and it’s been a long slow slide ever since.

GOOGLE, WHAT IS 2+2? ANSWER: 5 Description of a product roll-out: “The demo was simple, elegant, and enough to make me forget, at least for a moment, about my right buttcheek.” It’s a Buzzfeed piece about the new Google photo ecosystem. They’ll host everything. For free. Forever. What’s the catch? C’mon, it’s Google.

The price is your data — and, by proxy, your privacy. Want to be able to find that picture of your second cousin you took six years ago? Let us look at and analyze the faces in every single one of your photos to figure it out. Want to know Skrillex’s full name? Let us see what’s in your headphones right now. Need that reminder to call your college roommate? Let us know where you are now and where you’re going to be next week and yeah, we should probably have your address book handy, too. You haven’t booked the trip yet? Don’t worry, we’ve got your search history right here so we figured you’d be booking the trip soon. Let us know everything about you. We promise it’ll be worth your while.

This fellow is not happy about that. (Warning: some cussing.)

You do not have to be afraid of CCTV anymore, not of all the camera’s that are in public spaces or stores. People filming you on the streets? Not really an issue anymore. Those were actions that took place in public spaces anyway. No, you now have to be afraid of those close to your that have Android devices. The seemingly normal action of taking a picture at a private party is now Google’s own private CCTV network in action. Photos will be uploaded automatically to Google’s cloud, analysed and categorised. Even if you choose not to use any of their services, they will be able to build a profile of you, based on photos and videos your friends take of you. Because they have facial recognition software running on their servers that is better at recognising people than you are. Welcome to 2015, it is now 1984. Your most private moments are officially non-existent. Google Photos was the final piece of the puzzle, the final move in a chess play designed to index all of the world’s data. All of it. Even your most intimate moments. Big G is always watching.

Unless you tell people in your private situations to turn off their phones, but that will soon seem like paranoid lunacy.

Begin the countdown: how long will it take before Google’s vast database is regarded as “metadata” and gets used accordingly as a national security tool? It’s amusing to see how Orwell got one detail wrong: Big Brother wasn’t imposed on society. People volunteered. People invited him in.

But that’s a tad alarmist. I find the offer tempting, as most proffered fruit in the Garden is, but wonder what happens when you are locked out of your Google account for whatever reason. All your life might be hosted there for free, but if you can’t get in, what then?