I hope everyone is having a spooktacular Halloween. This piece will scare you, read if you dare. It starts with artificial intelligence. We've made impressive toys like drones, little espionage creations from MIT to get Castro, a tiny robot that looks like a mosquito.
But man's technology can only put in data to a robot and have it operate on formulas; they don't seem to do so hot on original thought. They can't seem to make a robot that can understand metaphors and complex problems and come to a precise judgment. A robot can process input, but it still operates by the limitations in man. So far they're still impressed when a robot can be 'taught' to recognize the movement of a human flipping pancakes onto a frying pan, and repeat it with any success - but even these high-falutin pancake robots are like a nervous person bowling, they're too stiff for the elegance of the action.
Technofixies are overrated and wrongly touted as progressive. There is currently no robot that can withstand the nuclear waste in the crumbling nuke plants on the coast of Japan. and just when you think things couldn't get any spookier, you find out on Russia Today that the yakuza are involved with supplying inexperienced exploited indigent workers, locked into forged contracts, to handle the precarious clean-up of the greatest ecological disaster in human history - this ongoing massive radioactive spill. They call these trapped workers "nuclear gypsies." Yes, the yakuza are a Japanese mafia, as strange as it sounds, it's as real and documented as Al Capone or any American gangster.
I think that's the problem with people not talking about this in small towns. Something so utterly dangerous that hangs on weak beams in deepening mud on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Methane plumes widening, missing plankton (the base of the marine foodchain) dissolved starfish, all these climate feedback loops, it's hard to wrap your mind around. You know we have all these different names for ocean, but there is really only one water body. Nature doesn't share our discriminations.
The reason we don't hear about this, is because regular people, good people around here don't conceive of the evil in our institutions today. We don't encounter such evil in a place like Chautauqua County. For the most part people are trusting and down to earth, with humble ambitions. We're more about being cozy in beautiful landscape with family, woodsmoke smells, seasonal traditions, harvest festivals, giant pumpkin contests, stuff like that. It's hard to take seriously the notion that evil is carried out by unthinking mechanisms in an unthinking system. But that's how the most dangerous evil does the most damage, by systematically carrying out a profit agenda, by individuals playing small roles, unthinkingly, and in concert together.
So I know the people here are not too self-absorbed or foolish to understand the critical situation in Japan. I think they are so trusting they can't comprehend of the quantities of corruption they need to understand to put the puzzle together. It is such an avalanche of corruption to explain where we are today, most folks just want to enjoy their life and not look at ugly things, as long as there are distractions still worth looking towards. I know people are trusting and good natured here, because all summer and most of the fall, I've had a bad radiator on my car, and the many times I stopped in a parking lot, propped the hood open with my trusty broom handle, and adjusted the fluids, strangers would always ask if I needed help.
With such lovely townsfolk why do I insist upon writing about such dreadful topics as nuclear gypsies and near-term-human extinction? Well because, it's interesting, it's true, and it's historical. No one who isn't ready to believe me will be capable of understanding, so it can't hurt anybody, but it might interest those other readers, the cream of the crop reader, I trust, will appreciate my honesty. And while I'm being honest, a funny thing happened, a local politician blocked me in my driveway at home to advertise himself as an anti-government politician. Literally government got in the way of my small business that day, but I smiled and nodded even when he took a long time trying to chum it up and dropped suspiciously invasive personal information. I just sighed a deep, "hallelujah" when he finally backed out. I told my dog, "it takes all kinds."
So let me make this simple, two years ago, an earthquake and typhoon suckerpunched a nuclear power plant in Japan which is understandable because it's situated on faultlines. The massive storm crippled the power plant, which is located between a mountain river and the Pacific Ocean. It was a nuclear plant built on the shore of the ocean, despite known design flaws by General Electric in the 1970s. I heard in an ABC investigative report interview that nuclear engineers at the time of the design, quit because of ethical disgust at GE, and switched to careers committed to anti-nuclear. Now it's two years since the spill, this plant's been leaking and weakening all this time, and now it is exposed that the workers are inexperienced pawns of the yakuza, and that if this thing falls and there is currently no plan to stop it, and it continues to weaken, and three major typhoons were all converging on it just last week, we're all toast.
But we are good country folk and we refuse to believe that things are so messed up. I love this beautiful county in the fall, and i don't blame you for getting lost in its grim victorian gothic beauty of the darkening fields ablaze with orange yellow, red and the bleached blonde of dead weeds and rusty scrub brush.
My personal favorite, is the winding roads and the smell of wood-stove from heated homes, blowing in cold wind. I always bring that up, but it hits me the hardest of all the smells of our region, anywhere you smell sweet wood burning in the cold, you're home. Let's appreciate what a beautiful world we had.
Lindsay Morrison is a Forestville resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org