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20200109jeffdorchen

Reminds me of some advice my father gave me. Or, no, not advice, more a chastisement. He said, “Quit dwelling on it!” I don’t remember what it was I was dwelling on, all those years ago, in our old house in Oak Park, Michigan, that starter ranch house with its olive linoleum tile in the kitchen, olive, orange and yellow starbursts scattered on the wallpaper, very hand-scrawled looking, like multicolored versions of Kurt Vonnegut’s famous sketch of a butthole.

In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen gets lost in the woods of a dying planet, and along the way finds Hillary Clinton, a piece of reasonably priced farm-raised salmon, trauma survivors, an iconic illustrated butthole, nostaligic wax, and the reason he wandered away from everything in the first place.

Read the transcript here

 


Episode 1061

Femward

Jun 23 2019
Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.

After decades of failing to perfect it, humans still can’t admit that artificial intelligence is pretty stupid. Artificial intelligence is about as intelligent as artificial flowers are floral or artificial fruit is fruity. My favorite thing about humans trying to create artificial intelligence is our penchant for denial. We’re great at denying that things are going terribly wrong. Witness our reaction to global warming.

Have you seen HBO’s Chernobyl? All the young Stalinists today are calling it “anti-Soviet propaganda,” as if propaganda were necessary to find a totalitarian thought-policing bureaucracy unpalatable. Anyway, whether it hews to reality or not, it’s a great story of idiots in denial finally brought face-to-face with their hubris of thinking they can control technology.

Now, I don’t want to be a knee-jerk alarmist. People are so worried about artificial intelligence controlling us. I notice no one is worried about artificial legs walking all over us, or dentures biting us to death. And, listen, we’re going to need artificial intelligence as our natural intelligence rots and falls off. Which it seems to have been doing forever. You know who thought so? Seneca. Or Cicero. One of those bastards. Diogenes!

But we must recognize when enough is sufficient.

I saw a video of a robot being hit by humans with rods, wobbling a bit unsteadily but regaining its stability, taking the rods away from its assailants, then threatening to thrash them if they tried to attack again. One woman’s comment to this video, “Can we stop being mean to robots?” My comment, “Can we stop improving robots?” Because people act like it’s inevitable that robots are going to get more agile and effective. It’s not inevitable. We can say, “I don’t want to live in that Black Mirror episode where the robot dogs hunt people down. Don’t build those!”

It’s not whether you can think your way out of the paper bag, it’s with what style you get out of the paper bag, and what origami shape you fold the leftover bag into. Wait, no it’s not. It’s best to avoid getting trapped in the paper bag in the first place.

Think about the Turing test. Just think about it. There, you’ve already done more than the Turing test requires from a computer. All... read more

Posted by Alexander Jerri
1061lineup

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at www.thisishell.com / subscribe to the podcast

 

9:20 - Law scholar Katherine Franke examines the radical potential of reparations for Black Americans.

Katherine is author of Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition from Haymarket Books.

 

10:10 - Writer Akemi Johnson explores the lives of Okinawan women living under US occupation.

Akemi is author of Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa from The New Press.

 

11:10 - Writer Zillah Eisenstein explains why the next revolution must be feminist and abolitionist.

Zillah is author of Abolitionist Socialist Feminism: Radicalizing the Next Revolution from Monthly Review Press.

 

12:00 - Journalist Aviva Stahl reports on isolation, torture and secrecy in an American prison.

Aviva wrote the report Force-Feeding Is Cruel, Painful, and Degrading—and American Prisons Won’t Stop for The Nation.

 

12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen thinks about AI, and how stupid it is.

Episode 1059

Sunk Cost

Jun 8 2019
Posted by Alexander Jerri
1059lineup

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at www.thisishell.com / subscribe to the podcast

 

9:20 - Writer Ted Genoways explores disaster politics, agriculture and austerity in a flooded Midwest.

Ted wrote the article River of No Return for The New Republic.

 

10:05 - Cultural critic Mithu Sanyal deconstructs a 2,500 year history of rape in our culture.

Mithu is author of the book Rape: From Lucretia to #MeToo from Verso.

 

11:10 - Chicana/o studies scholar Genevieve Carpio explores the intersection of spatial mobility and racial formation.

Genevieve is author of the book Collisions at the Crossroads: How Place and Mobility Make Race from University of California Press.

 

12:10 - Live from São Paulo, Brian Mier reports on mass student and teacher strikes across Brazil.

Brian reported on the 1.8 million large strike wave for TeleSur English's program From The South.

 

12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen reads an interview with a monster.

Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.

This is going to be a mere sliver of the mansion of love and mourning and celebration and remembering that the world’s people who knew Danny Thompson are revisiting right now and will probably carry on revisiting forever. My sliver. And it’s okay if this is only a small fragment of the lore and legacy of Danny E’ward Beano Q. Slotkins Esteban Vincente Harriett Beecher Stowe Thompson.

I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the Theater Oobleck extended family social media reverberations, but we lost the father and scientist and friend and advisor and brother and stylist and baby and craftsman of us all, Danny Thompson, to a freak genetic ailment. On Monday night I heard he was in the hospital, awaiting a new liver, but in no danger, and on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email to the Oobleck core company members group saying he had died. Mickle Maher was crying. I barely got out of bed that day. Death had to take him quick, I thought at one particularly stupid moment, because with more time he’d have figured out a way to escape the Dumb Reaper. That Reaper is a bozo. He’s not as good a chess player as he’s reputed to be, either. He’s not even grim, he’s just an asshole.

If you don’t know what you’ve lost, world, you’ve lost plenty. You’ve lost everything. You think this is an exaggeration. How wrong you are. Danny Thompson lived as he liked, and loved as he wished, and was just the all-around master of creative flow.

I met him in Ferndale, in high school, although I don’t think he was in high school anymore by the time I met him. Anyway, he went to a different high school than I did, when he did. I met him when I was in high school, but when he wasn’t in a different high school. I remember him having a car, a big powder blue muscle car with weird chrome ornamental spheres embedded in the hood. It had a Winnebago engine in it, he said. His mother’s boyfriend, Dan, was an auto- mechanic. Danny’s good friend Tony Rowe was a hybrid Native American who had been dishonorably discharged from the army. He’d been stationed in Korea patrolling the DMZ and had punched his CO and broken his jaw. They allowed him to avoid prison if he gave up all his veteran’s benefits. This is how I remember it. And Tony had a friend, Roy. And I’m... read more

Episode 1057

Dose Encounters

May 25 2019
Posted by Alexander Jerri
1057lineup

Listen live from 9AM - 1:00PM Central on WNUR 89.3FM / stream at www.thisishell.com / subscribe to the podcast

 

9:20 - Journalist Thomas Fazi explains why no one is voting for democracy in the European Parliament elections.

Thomas wrote the article The European Union Is an Antidemocratic Disgrace for Jacobin.

 

10:05 - Writer Astra Taylor dreams of democracy's radical potential, and one day reaching it.

Astra is author of the book Democracy May Not Exist, but We'll Miss It When It's Gone from Metropolitan Books.

 

11:05 - Development scholar Suzy Lee makes the strategic case for abolishing borders.

Suzy wrote the paper The Case for Open Borders for Catalyst.

 

12:10 - Writer Garrison Lovely explores the past and future politics of psychedelic drugs.

Garrison wrote the article Make America Trip Again for Current Affairs.

 

12:45 - In a Moment of Truth, Jeff Dorchen honors Danny Thompson, A Legend of The Arts gone too soon.

 

 

Episode 1056

The Next Crash

May 19 2019
Posted by Alexander Jerri

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.

It’s nostalgia time on premium cable. I mean, it’s always nostalgia time on premium cable. But, man, Mohammed Ali. Got me listening to The Motorbooty Affair. This is Howard Cossell, reporting live from The Motorbooty Affair.

Hey, remember when Mohammed Ali, the boxer, refused to go to Vietnam and fight against the North and the VC? Remember why? Because it was a racist war, he wasn’t getting treated like a human being by the official society here in the USA, and he didn’t like that much, so why should he go do the same thing to some strangers on the other side of the world who’d never done him any harm? Remember that? Or something like that? That was when refusing to go to war wasn’t easy. You were forced to go to war. If you refused, you went to jail. You lost your championship title. There were consequences. Nowadays, they can’t force you to go to war. They just make you so poor you have no choice but to join the army. But it is a choice. Isn’t it?

Remember back when? When the world was sort of different, although since then the cruelties have shifted around, from public sector to private sector, from overt coercion to subtle, tacit coercion? Here and there, now and then? Nostalgia is unnecessary. You really just need the proper tools of interpretation, and you are instantly transported from the enlightened present to the benighted past. Watch The Handmaid’s Tale and you are back in your worst colonial collective memory. Just by rearranging the emphasis on intention, you can travel back in time while staying in the same place. To colonial times. Or to yesterday in Alabama.

Nostalgia didn’t used to be a dead end, but nostalgia is a dead end, especially now. We are approaching the future, and it looks like crap. Yet we are compelled to think of the past, because, eh, it’s the only thing we can remember. We are prisoners of our mental deficiencies. Look, it happens. It happened in Rome. It happened in Medieval Europe. It happened in 20th Century Europe. It happens because our institutions are adolescent. They’re stuck in a puerile stage of development. They repeatedly promise reform, because the people and the obvious awfulness of the situation demand it, but, like lazy teenagers, they continue the same behavior that burned the house down and wrecked the car, last time and the... read more