The Fish
for 11 June 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Suck Staff

Joey Anuff
Joey Anuff


Terry Colon
Terry Colon
Art Director


Ana Marie Cox
Ana Marie Cox
Executive Editor


T. Jay (the man) Fowler
T. Jay Fowler
Production Manager
& Ass Kicker


Heather Havrilesky
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor

Suck Alumni
Suck Alumni Text

Carl Steadman
Carl Steadman


Sean (Duuuuude) Welch
Sean Welch


Owen Thomas
Owen Thomas
Copy Editor


Matt Beer
Matt Beer
Development Manager

Machine to the Slave

You're right about the
elimination of tedious tasks
being the so-called "killer"
Internet app. The trouble
with the Net now is that it
is itself a tedious task. In
fact I think it virtually (no
pun intended) epitomizes
tedium: For every minute I
spend engaged by it, I spend
10 bored out of my skull,
reading insipid emails or
loading pages from a site
that ends up being completely
off the mark.

P.S. Speaking of "push"
technology, subscribing to
Suck is cool.

By God, what we really need is
an AI to browse for us. It'd
spend six hours a day
randomly cruising sites,
collecting an enormous cache
of data, and then delete it
all and go home.

- An Entirely Other Greg

Fish With Letter Icon

I just read your Suck piece on
AI, and you seem to think
that humanity's gonna be run
over by their own invention.

The minute "the boys in the
lab" use those millions and
billions of venture-capital
dollars to finally come up
with a machine that can think
like a human is the minute
that you've got a
multimillion dollar machine
that hangs out at the water
cooler and takes three-hour
lunches like the rest of us.

To wax philosophical, if the
computer is at least as smart
as the human, then it knows
it is intelligent. If it
looks like Pamela and sorts
socks to boot, as you say, it
would realize that it's being
wasted and go off and - in a
fit of mocking irony - join
Earth First!.

Sean Cearley

My major point was supposed to
be that people are naturally
afraid of things they don't
understand, one of which will
eventually be AI. That said,
people are more than happy to
have machines - scary or not -
do things they don't like
to do, and as spooky as AI
might be, that's the crack
through which it's going to
emerge to snuggle up against

By the time we finally
understand human intelligence
enough to reproduce it in
silicon, presumably we'll
understand it enough to
short-circuit parts. AI isn't
just going to spring, wholly
formed, out of the forehead
of some garage-bound geek,
it's going to be a long,
slow, arduous process of
discovery. And during that
discovery, we're presumably
going to learn how to unplug
the bits we don't like,
water-cooler conversation

A more interesting question
is, how do we know what parts
to unplug? If you give a
banking program a sense of
greed (so it will be a better
banker), will it have the
potential to embezzle from
its owner/employer?

- An Entirely Other Greg

Fish With Letter Icon

Subject: Kasparov - loser?
Nah, try sellout

The best theory I've heard
thus far re Kasparov's recent
defeat is that he represents
the modern equivalent of
1919's Black Sox; that is, he
sold out to the Russian mafia
for so many rubles (or
perhaps a currency that
doesn't suffer from
four-digit annual inflation).
C'mon - how could Kasparov
miss a draw an amateur chess
weenie saw? In this light,
the supposedly
flambéed corpses of
Kasparov and his pet ego are
strictly red herrings for the
coroner's office.

Robert L. McMillin

Nice theory, except that chess
players are known for their
pomposity and/or pride. Would
you sell your dignity and
your raison d'être for
a price? Probably, but
Kasparov probably wouldn't.

Fish With Letter Icon

Dear Suck,

So why is Hopper's Nighthawks
kitsch, anyway? I agree that
it's overexposed, but that
doesn't make it kitschy in
and of itself. It's not
Hopper's fault that one of
his works became an icon, and
it's not stylistically or
thematically out of sync with
the rest of his paintings. Or
is it that you think all
Hopper is kitschy and
Nighthawks was just the
painting that became the
overexposed one? What you
guys need is an art critic to
write for you, and as it so
happens, I'm available.
Credentials? Hey, I went to
Swarthmore, dammit!

Srinivasan Sethuraman

You know, we sort of knew some
self-styled art lover was
going to dress us down for
misusing the term "kitsch."
Technically, of course,
you're right: The original
German term did apply more to
a sort of burbling-up of
cultural drek than the abuse
and overexposure of
particular images. Still,
Clement Greenberg's famous
1939 formulation of the term
has stuck in mainstream
consciousness ever since.
(Oh, and you can also blame
one of Greenberg's
Cézanne reviews from
the same period for the
contemporary notion of

Anyway, if you're a regular
Suck reader you must surely
know by now that we like our
put-downs cheap, kitschy, and
as mainstream as we can



Fish With Letter Icon

Mad about Ads

Subject: You have the most
annoying banner ad on the

the file mine shareware banner
is like having a highway
warning sign flickering on
and off in your face while
trying to drive ... or like
having every page of the
magazine you are trying to
read dipped in perfume.... do
away with it or lose your
most loyal reader ...

Mike Tronnes

We're regretful, yet not
apologetic. Annoying ad
banners are one of those
things that we'll have to
tolerate just as long as the
Web is more Las Vegas than
Bar Harbor. It will only
become the latter when Big
Money comes to town and
starts taking an interest in
"classing up" the "look" of
the place.

Fish With Letter Icon

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