Friday, December 02, 2016

COLUMN: Drudge

"I don't know what the world's coming to these days."

That's always been one of my mom's favorite phrases. She said it when I was a kid, she still says it today (though more often than not, she opts for a slightly saltier variant involving hell and handbags.) When I was a kid, this was usually the cue to roll my eyes, crank up the Depeche Mode tape on my boombox, and say something like, "Gah, mom, you just don't GET how things work nowadays!"

When I was 13, I thought I had the world figured out. Today, I've sat for the past half-hour staring at a computer screen, and I'm pretty sure I can say with absolute certainty that I don't know what the world's coming to these days.

I was just skimming around some news headlines and suddenly found myself at the conservative crossroads of the internet, that magical news aggregate known as The Drudge Report. Sure, it's a right-leaning site notorious for conspiracy theories and self-righteousness, but I'll be darned if it's not occasionally a barrel of jaw-dropping fun. The site might stand for everything I tend to sit for, but there are times that you can learn more about the state of the world from one page of Matt Drudge's links than you can from a whole day on Google.

If there was ever a pile of evidence to prove just how nutty our society is, it's the headlines I'm staring at right now. My only hope is that a thousand years from now, some future historian doing research on our ancient civilization will find a screenshot of today's Drudge Report and spend a considerable amount of time wondering just what the heck his forefathers were thinking about back in 2016.

Let's look at some of the highlights of today's headlines (which, by the time you read this, will be two week old headlines, but trust me, it's worth it.)

First off, I'm skipping the top stories because they're all about the election. Me telling you that our current presidential election is kooky is about the least breaking news I could possibly offer. I've been beat up over chickens and clowns all month long. You couldn't pay me enough to wade into this political abyss. The only person I like arguing about politics with is my uncle in Alabama, and that's just because it's fun to watch his face turn red.

When it comes to this election, I'd personally like to employ Scrabble rules: When all the remaining moves are lousy, we should be able to lose a turn and draw all new tiles. I'm not a huge fan of anyone left in the running, but let's just say I find one candidate far less insane than the other, and I support that candidate wholeheartedly, whoever she may be.

So I'm skipping all the stories about Bill Clinton's secret love child and Hillary's e-mails and I'm going straight to the stories that matter, like this one: "ROBOT REPLACES BABY." We've spent the past week so concerned over which body parts Donald Trump wants to grab that we've totally overlooked the fact that BABIES ARE BEING REPLACED BY ROBOTS. I would much rather see Anderson Cooper devote time to the Great Robot Takeover than suffer through the on-air staff of CNN chomping at the bit to say a word that rhymes with "wussy."

As it turns out, the headline is a BIT misleading. As much as I was looking forward to my future robot offspring, the real story is that Toyota (yep, the car people) have just introduced Kirobo Mini, a pocket robot programmed to talk and act like a human baby. At a height of four inches, the Kirobo Mini comes with a camera, microphone, and Bluetooth capabilities, presumably for those moments when you want to share on Facebook whenever your battery-powered soul-less pocket abomination does something cute.

Does it have any practical use? "It wobbles a bit," project manager Fuminori Kataoka told Sky News. Well, I'm sold. Sadly, the Kirobo Mini is only available in Japan for now, but I'm sure it won't be too long before crazy cat ladies the world over will instead start filling their homes with unholy legions of wobbly robo-babies.

Was it sexist of me to stereotype crazy cat ladies? Perhaps I need the help of the next story: "UNIVERSITY OFFERS COURSE FOR MEN TO DECONSTRUCT TOXIC MASCULINITIES." It's happening at Duke University, and the Telegraph reports that organizers hope to "explore, dissect, and construct an intersectional understanding of maleness, as well as create destablized spaces for those with privilege." I have absolutely no idea what any of that means, but I'm guessing it involves both beer pong and reruns of "The A-Team."

There's no good segue to my favorite headline on the site: "SEX IN SPACE... STRAPS REQUIRED." Yes, with all the troubles plaguing mankind, it's good to know that our scientists are prioritizing the crises that really matter, like space nookie. According to an article in the Daily Mail that quotes "sex in space expert" Professor Anja Geitmann, there are multiple concerns to zero-gravity whoopie making, such as -- and I quote -- "floating fluids." Consenting adults would need straps to ensure that the horizontal mambo remains horizontal, so it's clearly just a matter of time before E.L. James writes "Fifty Shades of Mars." Most importantly, had I known that "sex in space expert" was a real vocation, I clearly would have chosen a different major in college.

It's a worthwhile endeavor, though. Just this week President Obama recommitted his goal of Man on Mars by 2030. Given current technology, that's a one-year round trip, which makes an awfully long time for a crew to cohabitate without someone putting on an Al Green record.

I was talking to a friend earlier today and mentioned the space-sex article, and he immediately asked, "Didn't you write about that once?" I didn't remember it, but I just checked. Sure enough, seven years ago I wrote a whole column about space nookie -- I even used the same Al Green joke, but back then it was Barry White. And guess how THAT column started? "I just read the craziest thing on Drudge Report..."

So maybe the world isn't coming to anything bad after all. Maybe Matt Drudge is just a space pervert. Either way, I'm staying tuned.

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