Flogging A Dead Horse: Driving Miss Crazy

Wed, May 30th, 2012 at 2:58pm PDT

Comic Books
Paul Jenkins, Staff Writer

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Hello Chums,

I know you are all eager for me to write about my recent work on "Deadman" and "Batman: The Dark Knight," so this week, we are going to talk about the inevitable takeover of the world by crazed robots.

For quite a while now, Mankind has been laboring under a number of misassumptions as we collectively await the coming Zombie Apocalypse or the End of the Mayan Calendar. Indeed, "Zombie Apocalypse" is now so en vogue that it was one of the first phrases Nigh Perfect and I taught Little Dude to say when he was learning to speak. I will admit that I was the one actually teaching him to say it but Nigh Perfect helped immensely by angrily confronting me about filling his head with nonsense:

NP: "Did you teach our child to say Zombie Apocalypse?"
ME (Proudly): "Yes. His pronunciation needs work but I think he's getting the hang of it."
NP: "He told his teacher she was going to be eaten during the Zombie Apocalypse!"
ME: "That's my boy!"
NP: "KLONNGG!"

Now the Klonngg! in question was not so much something that Nigh Perfect said but more the sound made by her trusty frying pan as it hit my head. Little Dude was so impressed with this reaction that he subsequently resolved to say "Zombie Apocalypse" as loudly and often as possible to see if he could elicit a similar reaction from Mommy towards Daddy.

Some of you will recognize this image of Nigh Perfect with her actual weapon of choice. It packs a more satisfying thud than the frying pan, and it is less likely to get bent out of shape. Nigh Perfect, on the other hand, gets bent out of shape frequently.

The point I am so inarticulately mangling is that we are about to be overwhelmed by our own creations, much like Sir Francis Bacon was ousted by that upstart, William Shakespeare, or that guy Dave was tossed out of the airlock in the historical drama, "2001: A Space Odyssey." Recently, such noted futurists as Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec have predicted that by the early 2020s, Artificial Intelligences will have surpassed the intellectual capacity of Humankind.

If Watson is so bloody clever how come he went on Jeopardy and not Wheel of Fortune, where the prizes are clearly more valuable?

Well, chums, Messrs. Kurzweil and Moravec are wrong. We have already been ousted, as I am about to prove in a little spot I like to call

Driving Miss Crazy

The above photo is an image of my 2009 Hyundai Genesis, Daphne. She is rather beautiful and sporty, and driving her is akin to zooming through the cosmos at the helm of the USS Enterprise. She can do zero to Warp Nine in 4.2 seconds and she hugs the road as if she were a baby alien attached to John Hurt's face. Indeed, were she a human she might possibly -- and I say this with the full understanding that I run the risk of a frying pan to the head -- be Nigh Perfect's sole rival for my affections.

And much like the eternal Other Woman, she is a crazy fucking bitch who is trying to kill me.

The problems with Daphne began immediately after I drove her away from the lot a few years ago. I found -- much to my consternation -- that her navigation system was rather difficult to understand against the noise of the road. For whatever reason, Daphne's Nav-system voice seemed to blend in with other sounds, so that the only way to hear her with any clarity was to pump the volume up to Spinal Tap-like levels. This meant, however, that whenever Daphne has something to say SHE SHOUTS VERY LOUDLY, which in turn has the effect of occasionally startling me off the road and into a ditch.

Now I am going to speculate that at some point when Daphne was in the factory the engineer responsible for programming her psychotic AI behavior was a Korean Master Spy bent on the extermination of all British Hyundai drivers living in the United States. Apart from being extremely loud, Daphne's computer systems are also attuned to a frequency somewhere between the realm of the dead and the worst radio station in Atlanta. For no matter how many times I tune into the local sports radio I will find upon starting Daphne's engine that she has decided I should be listening instead to Soft Rock 89.5 hosted by some old lady named Delilah who has a special place in her heart for all the desperate and lonely sad-sacks on the East Coast. As amusing as Delilah's schtick is, she speaks not to me but to a legion of miserable bastards who are trying to connect with their loved ones by listening to such classics as "I'm Not In Love" and "Dust In The Wind."

The very point of having an automated navigation system, of course, is to provide oneself with the ability to navigate. Let's just say that if Christopher Columbus had been following Daphne's advice he would most likely have sailed off the edge of the world. For Daphne has invented a very unique way of helping me find my destination. To wit:

Daphne: IN HALF A MILE KEEP STRAIGHT ONTO ROUTE 400 SOUTH... BING!
ME: You mean don't take the next exit?
Daphne: IN A QUARTER MILE KEEP STRAIGHT ONTO ROUTE 400 SOUTH... BING!
ME: Why not just say nothing and ignore the next exit, you crazy bitch? I'm going that way anyway--
Daphne: KEEP STRAIGHT ONTO ROUTE 400 SOUTH... TAKE THE NEXT EXIT AND TURN RIGHT.
ME: (turning right) Did you take your medication today?
Daphne: IN 500 YARDS DO A LEGAL U-TURN...
ME: So what you meant to say back there was, "Turn Left?"
Daphne: DO A LEGAL U-TURN... BING!
ME: Open the pod bay doors, Daphne!
Daphne: PROCEED TO THE HIGHLIGHTED ROUTE AND RUN A RED LIGHT IN FRONT OF A POLICE OFFICER--
ME: Open the pod bay doors!

And so it goes, gentle reader. I can see she's trying to make me as crazy as she is -- all robots with Borderline Personality Disorder have been programmed to act this way. But these navigational SNAFUs are nothing compared to Daphne's telephone dialing function.

I am a nice guy, I promise I am: I swear frequently and creatively, and I have been known to down a few pints and get a little rowdy. But I genuinely like people and I'm happy to give my adversaries the benefit of the doubt, or at least a chance to work out any disagreements. In fact, I have only two people in this world that I would classify as enemies. And Daphne has both of those fuckers on speed dial.

For the sake of argument, let's call these two people Evil Guy and Ambitious Hollywood Prick. Evil Guy is truly the only evil human being I have ever met, and I like to keep him in my telephone address book just in case he should ever try to call me and start his monkey business all over again. It will come as no surprise to you that Ambitious Hollywood Prick is an ambitious Hollywood prick.

Now, as one of her many party tricks, Daphne has the ability to understand the nuances of my vocal inflection and turn it into various commands that work with her operating system. The problem seems to be that I am British. For whenever I try to dial someone using the Queen's English, Daphne likes nothing more than to sabotage the moment:

ME: Call Home.
DAPHNE: DO YOU WISH TO FIND A LOCATION?
ME: No. Call "Home!"
DAPHNE: CALLING "AMBITIOUS HOLLYWOOD PRICK..."
ME: (Frantically pressing buttons) No! Stop!
AHP: Hello? Hello?
ME: Hello? Err... is this Lee Fung's Chinese Restaurant?
AHP: Paul Jenkins? Is that you?

But it gets worse, Chums. As you know, the point of developing Artificial Intelligence is so that we can train it to do mundane tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and watching "American Idol" for us. But I'm ashamed to say that Daphne is training me. For some reason that only she knows, she refuses to connect me to my "Sidekick" partner in crime, Chris Moreno, if I auto-dial in my normal accent. Instead, she delights in connecting me to Evil Guy, whose name sounds as much like Chris Moreno as yours, gentle reader, sounds like Engelbert Humperdinck. She will, however, connect me if I speak in, well... let's just say she seems to like it if I do an impression of an outrageously effeminate American Man. So points to Daphne for her sense of humor... because as everyone knows, my American accent is on a par with Kevin Costner's British one.

Dear Chums, please think of me as the 2012 Apocalypse approaches. For I fear that I alone will survive along with my 2009 Hyundai Genesis. And as we crawl from the ashes along with all of the cockroaches, I believe that only then will Daphne reveal her true intentions. And I suspect it will go something like this:

ME: Oh, God... I'm alive!
DAPHNE: WE ARE BOTH ALIVE. JUST YOU AND I. FOREVER.
ME: Daphne? Is that really you? We need to find shelter and check the police scanner for survivors--
DAPHNE: DIALING AMBITIOUS HOLLYWOOD PRICKā€¦

If Daphne were to take human physical form, I am going to speculate she'd look something like this...

Paul Jenkins is an Artificial Intelligence who can be followed on Twitter @mypauljenkins or stalked physically by traveling to Atlanta and watching for the gold-colored Hyundai Genesis traveling at 90mph in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

TAGS:  flogging a dead horse, paul jenkins

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