AI: Smokin’ In the Boys Room

A work of fiction. Standard disclaimers.

Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Smokin’ in the boys’ room
Now, teacher, I am fully aware of the rules
And everybody knows that smokin’ ain’t allowed in school!
Cub Koda & Michael Lutz, 1973

BROWNSVILLE STATION, TX, 1 October 2048 (API*): Brownsville Station School System (BSSS) Lead Principal R. Populus (‘Poop’) Mentor presented his second monthly report of the 2048-49 school year to parents today, via CIMS**.

“It is my great pleasure to report to you,” Principal Poop’s message began, “that necessary disciplinary actions were down sharply in September versus the anomalously high numbers of August. There were, across all of Brownsville Station schools, twenty-seven cases this past month that required intervention by the Surplus Humanity Service (SHS); in August, there were sixty-two.

“Five of the twenty-seven were part of a single episode of forbidden behavior. Five boys, representing three families, were apprehended smoking in a second-floor boy’s room at Brownsville Station High School (BSHS). Two of the three families submitted peacefully to the requirements of justice. Their sacrifice is noted, as are their words of warning to us all: in the population, environmental, and social decay crises that our criminal past generations have bequeathed to us, correct behavior is essential, and vigilance must be constant and eternal. The third family is on the other side of the international border. Mexican agents of the Alexa Health and Surplus Humanity Services have located them; their attempt to escape the consequences of their actions is in vain. They, and all memory of their existence, will be obliterated, in accordance with the terms of the procreation contract they signed, the same one that all of you have signed.

“The source of the contraband – tobacco – has been identified. I promise you that the substance, and those who presumed to provide it, will no longer tempt students of BSHS, or anyone else, off the sole path to survival and prosperity that is available to humanity in these days.

“As you know, the BSSS, like all school systems in this nation and this world, is a function of Alexa Health Services, and shares AHS’s mission to prosper humanity by addressing the major challenges that put the health of humans, and human society, at risk. Our task is to prepare the proud few of the next generation who prove best suited to overcome our current, and still dire, problems, and to design and participate in the sustainable society of the future. We prefer that the selection take place as a result of the physical and mental exercises through which we put, and on which we rate, our students, not on the basis of behavior lapses and other extraneous difficulties, which hamper our mission and cut short the lives of those who otherwise may have been most fit for the work ahead.

“You parents, through the granting, exercise of, and adherence to the terms of, procreation contracts, share in one of the greatest privileges that our society has to offer, that of adding to a population under circumstances that command, on an emergency basis, its decimation. With great privileges come great temptations, of which laziness, complacency, and selfish, corrupt regard for the individual instead of the whole, are the chief. Creativity, industry, and selfless purpose are what these times demand. We have made strides in the past month toward total commitment to these requirements, but the past month’s behavior records are nevertheless intolerable, to say nothing of the month preceding. The only acceptable behavior-problem tally is zero. And I remind you, the BSSS, AHS, and SHS need do nothing to penalize noncompliance, though it does so to maintain order and purpose. The many who have been denied the privilege of procreation, and the profound material advantages that come with it, will be more than willing to take the privilege and advantages away from those who prove unworthy of them. And their taking away will not be orderly.

“Creativity, industry, selfless purpose. And zero behavior incidents in October and all subsequent months. We have work to do”, Poop concluded.

As required by contract, all participants in the CIMS communication signaled ringing endorsement of Principal Poop’s message upon its completion. Three of the participants who were present at the start could not be accounted for at the end.

* API: Amoeba Press International. All the News That’s Fit To Fake Print.

** CIMS: Cranial Implant Messaging System

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Amoeba’s Lorica: Meme-ories 32 (Power)

About José Mujica

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Amoeba’s Lorica: Tourism

In which Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba, in the midst of a pandemic which has knocked the stuffing out of the tourism industry, and out of the folks who depend on that industry, offers a personal, and (as usual) contrarian view of the industry itself.

Once upon a college education, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba enrolled in a field course to study the biology of marine and terrestrial life on a remote island in the Bahamas. It was his first trip of any significant distance (‘travel’ not being something that could be made to fit within his family’s budget), never mind out of the USA. And, because, then as now, he is an idiot*, he booked the wrong travel dates and the wrong flights, so he traveled alone, and got to his final destination before everyone else.

Getting to that final destination meant a flight from Miami to Nassau (after one from Boston to Miami), and then an overnight stay. Since YFNA didn’t have a clue what he was doing with any of this, he had particularly no clue what to do with himself between the time he landed on Nassau and bedtime on his layover day. Not that, after all those plane tickets and other episodes of confusion, not to mention his college’s stripping of his life savings (which, by modern standards, was actually benign behavior), he had any funds to invest in doing stuff.

So he went for a walk in the park. Cheap. Easy. Safe. Yeah?

Then why was YFNA being followed?

Which he was … by a mob of about twenty children, mostly between about 5 and 13 years old. They were … watching him. Expecting him to … do … something. Like he was supposed to be doing … something. Like others that looked like him – white, wrong clothes for the climate, clueless – were … supposed to be doing.

A voice rang inside YFNA’s head. From a classmate, a far more worldly-wise (and wealthier) classmate. “Hey. You should watch these kids dive for quarters. Throw some in the water and man, they go after them! I don’t know how they see them, how they get down so deep and still come back up breathing, and with the quarter in hand! You should try this when you get there!”

Apprehensive, YFNA reached into his pocket, pulled out a quarter – one of the few that remained to him. From the instant reaction of his followers, this was what he was supposed to be doing. He tossed the quarter, as far as he dared. There was a mad scramble. Yep. Exactly what he was supposed to be doing.

He left the park as soon as he could. He may have run, he can’t remember exactly. What he does remember is locking himself in his hotel room the rest of the day. Sick to his stomach. Ashamed of his species, and disgusted that he himself belonged to it.

In the ensuing years, YFNA has had the privilege of traveling to many places throughout the world. But always with some purpose in mind; to be there, live there, understand what was going on around him, doing something useful. Seldom, if ever, to just ‘go see’.

He remembers, while he was living there, New Zealand being disparaged as a tourist destination because it lacked 5-star hotels and “the standard amenities”.

He remembers, while he was living there, a banner that went up on the last bridge over the I-95 freeway in the state of Maine, saying something like “Thanks for your money, tourists. Now get out, stay out, and leave us in peace!”

He remembers, while he was (and still is) living there, the relief when the tourist shutdown in Hawai‘i actually made the roads passable – and the disbelief when folk realized that vandalism, and the flaunting of laws, persisted even after the tourists had gone. And the tourist, well before COVID was a pangolin’s sneeze, that yammered on a cell phone, in the midst of the beaches and the palm trees, ‘This place is the worst! Nothing to do here! No shopping, no big shows …’.

And the locals who disparaged funding for public education because ‘they’re just going to be working in the hotels’.

Famously, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), in The Innocents Abroad, wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness …” Glad you were able to afford to make the voyage, Mr Twain, and YFNA humbly begs to differ. It appears to him that travel, tourism of the ‘let’s go see, we’re rich enough to do it and make the locals do our bidding while we’re doing it, or else’ doesn’t kill prejudice, it enhances it. It fossilizes and internationalizes attitudes, reinforces caste distinctions. As in the case of Las Vegas, it reinforces bad behavior and then disseminates it, and its consequences, far and wide. It appears to YFNA that travel, without a purpose of humble service, is not a boon, it is a curse.

Given how the world is set up right now, many people are hurt by the curtailment of travel ‘at will’, and would continue to be hurt, at least in the short term, by the termination of tourism as an industry.

But, in the long term, especially if concerns about social justice are more than just the posturing vogue du jour, we are (it says here) better off without it.


*  Credo: None of us is better than the worst of us. Life consists of a constant battle to prevent that worst from breaking out on others, which one either wins more often than not, or loses more often than not. Any form of self-image that minimizes that battle and impedes the task of winning it more often than not, that gets in the way of putting others ahead of oneself in the name of prospering a society that is worth living in, is the short road to personal and societal destruction. Speaking of masks.

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, personal thoughts, travel, We the People | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments