Timeless truths for trying times

What’s wrong with people? Has the savagery, selfishness, and raw, animal hatred within the human species finally come out of the darkness to devour our society?! Fanatics in MAGA caps rabidly cheering a tyrannical, lying, insane president. Gangs of “Proud Boys” strutting around in militia costumes beating protesters whose politics they dislike. Wackadoodle extremists who advocate violence by promoting the group hallucination that Nancy Pelosi is leading a fiendish Democratic cabal of child sex traffickers and cannibals. But is that really who we are? Given the media and political focus on all thing awful about people, you would think so. But consider a couple of …

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Is more technology the answer to too much technology?

We humans have got to get a whole lot smarter, says Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla automobiles and CEO of SpaceX rockets. Musk is not merely reacting to humanity’s recent tendency to elect lunatics to lead our countries. Rather, he’s trying to warn us about the rapid rise of a radical new technology: Artificial intelligence. In common parlance, he’s referring to robots, but these are not the clunky, somewhat cute machines performing rote tasks. AI essentially has evolved to become an electronic brain—a web of evermore-complex super-computers interacting as one cognitive unit that can program itself, make decisions, and act independently of the …

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Robot farmers—E-I-E-I-O!

How’re you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen…Angus? Not “Angus,” the breed of cattle, but Angus, the 1,000-pound “farmer of the future.” He is not actually a he, but an it: A robot, toiling away on an indoor hydroponic farm that is soilless, and—yes—soulless. Programmed by a multimillion-dollar Silicon Valley start-up named Iron Ox, Angus’ homestead is an 8,000-square-foot concrete warehouse in a San Francisco suburb. The farm bot is more of a heavy lifter than a heavy thinker, wheeling around the warehouse to lift, move, and hand-off large pallets of produce to another robot that, so far, hasn’t earned a …

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A wealth of riches, a poverty of morals

Let’s say you’re a millionaire. That’s a lot of money, right? Now let’s say you’re a billionaire. That’s a lot more money! But how much more? Think of all those dollars as seconds on a clock. A million seconds would total 11 days—but a billion seconds equals nearly 32 years! Rich is nice, but billionaire-rich is over the moon—and the wealth of billionaires is now zooming out of this world. There are only 2,200 of these über rich dudes in the world, but the wealth stashed away by these elites hit a new record this summer, averaging more than $4 billion each. They’ve even pocketed …

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The exceptional greed of healthcare execs

Sometimes I don’t know whether to weep uncontrollably, laugh hysterically, or just throw up. I recently did all three when I saw another gusher of greed pouring out of corporate America. This one is especially nauseating, given today’s raging health crisis, for the culprits are major healthcare corporations! One perpetrator is Larry Merlo, CEO of our country’s largest drugstore chain, CVS. In this time of Covid-19, customers are surging into the chains 10,000 stores for everything from medications to masks. Yet, the boss has blithely left many of the pharmacies so severely understaffed that they pose a danger to public health. CVS pharmacists tell of …

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Trump judges require that ex-felons pay to vote

How nasty is the Republican Party’s massive campaign to thwart democracy? Ask the good people of Florida. This was one of only three states that permanently took away the voting rights of felons—who’d completed their punishment. In 2018, though, a whopping 65 percent of Floridians voted for a state Constitutional amendment that finally struck this malicious bit of legal ugliness from the books, thus restoring the political personhood of about a million people who’d served their time. But, led by Ron DeSantis, Florida’s right-wing goose of a Governor, the GOP demanded that an appeals court of hyper-partisan federal judges overrule 2018’s landmark vote by the …

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