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     I haven’t got a compelling theme for an essay today, so have a few selected lunacies from various parts of the Internet.

     1. Sulva Comes Knocking Once More.

     Yes, Gentle Reader, there are shadowy forces with malign intentions. They have an agenda – a sexual agenda – and you just might be drafted into it:

     Our future sex lives will be filled with robots, virtual reality pornography, and haptic sensations implanted into our skin, according to a paper by "futurologist" Dr. Ian Pearson commissioned by online sex toy shop Bondara. Science fiction storytellers and anyone else who has ever considered how technology will impact sex has likely considered similar ideas.

     To find out just how much technology is reshaping the way we connect with humans and vibrating objects (and to advertise their new teledildonic devices), Bondara published a paper written by Pearson that details some expectations of virtual and robot-assisted sex in the future.

     Hm, sex with robots -- again. Is this merely an extrapolation of current trends? One might think so, but:

     Pearson says virtual sex will be as casual as porn by 2030; VR-enabled sex toys will be owned by a majority of people by 2035; and sex with robots will be more popular than sex with humans by 2050. It's unclear where, exactly, Pearson is pulling his predictions from as there is no methodology included with the paper.

     Double Hm. Retailers’ interest in selling their wares can’t explain all of this. For my suspicions, I recommend that you read this 2014 essay and the short story “The Screwfly Solution,” by Dr. Alice Sheldon (a.k.a. “James Tiptree”).

     2. Protection From Whom?

     The following cartoon by Michael Ramirez is getting a fair amount of exposure:

     Powerful, eh? However, there’s a misconception buried in that striking visual metaphor: The function of the police is not to protect us from criminals or crime.

     The nominal function of the police is to pursue those believed to have committed crimes and force them to face the justice system. If that provides us with a “defense” of some sort against crime, it’s entirely indirect, via deterrence. But for deterrence to work, it must be credible: i.e., the man pondering a crime must assess his risk of being:

  1. Identified;
  2. Caught;
  3. Indicted;
  4. Tried;
  5. Convicted;

     ...as unacceptably high for the prospective gain from his crime.

     Add that there are “impulse” and “necessity” crimes that cannot be deterred. Unless a policeman is literally present where and when the crime is about to occur, he cannot protect its victim-to-be, even by the deterrence route.

     So how do you feel about Constitutional carry today, Gentle Reader?

     3. Are We That Bad?

     Any number of persons have said things along the lines of “why bring a child into this horrible world?” (I remember it most vividly from an episode of Normal Lear’s “All In The Family” sitcom. It came from meathead Michael, played by Rob Reiner, of course.) My usual rejoinder is something like “Are you unhappy about having been born?” If memory serves, I’ve never received an answer, other than a scowl.

     Courtesy of the esteemed Charles Hill comes this snippet of condemnation of the present age:

     Someone I follow on twitter posted a photograph from one of those truly beautiful European libraries and made a comment about how he could "carry around more books on my phone" and it seems to me that that's a big part of the malaise of our times - or at least, the malaise I am feeling. That the beautiful and the aesthetic are slowly being replaced by the functional but ugly, and no one seems to think that losing those aesthetics don't in some way impoverish us. I once referred to it as "the gradual crappification of everything" - how some nice groceries close up and are replaced by wal-marts with bad management and surly employees and tvs at the end of every aisle blaring ads, how it's no longer "profitable" for students to do anything outside of technical or STEM degrees, so the humanities are in decline or are derided, that instead of lovely places being appreciated people complain about how the space could be "better used more efficiently" or something like that.

     And I admit, sometimes I feel like we will someday be surrounded by nothing but concrete-box buildings, noise, and greyness, and very few people will ask, "Why are we here? Isn't this an unpleasant state of being?" because everyone will have been convinced that this is The New Normal and it is all we merit, because anything else is "unprofitable" and therefore not worth it. Or that it's somehow all we deserve because we are awful. And I don't know, yeah, humans are awful but having an awful world around us doesn't exactly encourage us to be better

     No, Fillyjonk: Humans are not awful. You’re projecting your current emotional state onto seven billion other persons, who – from time to time, I’m sure – make similar projections of their emotional states onto you.

     Profit drives many things. Some we find wholly beautiful. Others have for us a very ugly appearance. And others still blend competing currents of beauty and ugliness. But it's the task of each of us:

  • To find beauty and inspiration for ourselves;
  • As far as we’re able, to create additional beauties for others to share.

     If you find “the world” – meaning your surroundings – to be getting uglier by your lights, ask yourself a simple question: “What am I doing about it?” Then ask “What can I do about it?” The rest is an exercise for the man of good will.

     4. A Vignette.

     Certain things “trigger” me: i.e., they cause me to rear up on my hind legs, bellow Have at you! and charge into battle. I’ve been trying, for some years now, to whittle away at that set, with limited success.

     Yesterday, I had an unpleasant exchange with a Militant Atheist. I’m sure you know the type: utterly convinced of his religion – yes, Gentle Reader, as a statement of belief about the supernatural that gives rise to other aspects of one’s behavior, atheism qualifies as a religion – and quite willing to slather any theist he encounters with contempt. This particular specimen called me “irrational” for believing in God.

     The impulse to strike back surged in me. I fired up the old word processor, typed a scathing refutation of his various fallacious assertions, inferred from them his total lack of knowledge of both propositional logic and the Christian moral code, and reviewed it for accuracy, clarity, consistency, and logical soundness. And yea verily, it was good.

     Then I deleted it.

     I’d had a close call, and I knew it. There’s simply no good to be had from that sort of exchange. No one gains. Everyone loses. The general tenor of society, including the sort of disembodied society we have here on the Web, would be further degraded. So why do it? To demonstrate that my intellect and erudition are superior to his? Vanity of vanities!

     You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. [Matthew 5:43-48]

     I’m trying, Lord. Really I am.

     Enjoy your Bastille Day.

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