'Alexa, get me an aspirin'

Wading into the murky electronic waters of the 21st century, it seems that vapid gadgetry proliferated this holiday season as grinning Grinches foisted this new, unwanted stuff upon their forbears in a vain attempt to once again beat them over the head with their lack of empathy or desire for things like "Electra"...or is it "Alyssa"?  Whatever.  Whoever she is, like the male seahorse, she seems to have spawned, with each hollow breath she takes, several mini-mes whose names are starting to meld into one gigantic "mal de tête."

Recalling with bitter laughter when President Trump said he would build a wall and make Mexico pay, I wonder about the scenario of the NSA flack who suggests a national DNA registry compiling all the information on the willing citizenry in an orderly fashion.  In fact, John Q would clamor for the DNA tests, actually pay for them himself and joyfully give the test kits as gifts to family members.  Voilà: the government  builds its "wall," and "Mexico" pays.

Well, that worked out so well on the naïve and gullible, so let's get John Q to joyfully ensconce a spy in his house and make him pay for that whole damn thing himself, too.  Thus was Alexa spawned...and spawned big-time this holiday season as members of the older generation were electronics-shamed into inviting this bossy, soulless know-it-all into their lives.

And what about crazy Uncle Ollie?  You know, the old guy who has lived in the attic forever?  He's going, "Forget about the tests!  Get the spy out of the kitchen.  I've dodged the coppers for 60 years now, and you're blowing it for me."  Well, maybe it's good that Uncle Ollie got caught for jaywalking 60 years ago because his niece Lulu took the DNA test, and that matched up with the DNA in the bubblegum Ollie spat out at the scene of the crime – so all's well that ends well, you say, but at what price, and do the ends justify the means?  "Anita, or whatever the heck your name is, bring me some aspirin."  (Do we have to observe rules of polite society when dealing with androids and say "please" and "thank you"?  Asking for a friend.)

"Aaliyah," or whatever she calls herself, aspires to be my "voice assistant."  Who knew we needed one...and actually never acquired one, because her salary would inevitably be too much, and I still know how to request stuff myself?

Why do I get goosebumps and exhale frosty air when I am in her surreal presence?  I wander vast billowing, open-windowed rooms that look out onto majestic mountainscapes gleaming with new fallen snow, listening to her modulated, lethargic, inflectionless voice.  She lulls me, trancelike,  into accepting her knowledge and commands.  She assumes calm control over any situation...dire, calamitous, "Call your mother-in-law"...but I don't want to, I helplessly whine, and she makes me.  You see: we have accepted complacency, quietly handed over the reins of power in a bloodless coup of the palace, and now we wonder what we ever did without the shrew.

So there you have it.  Future generations will write of this momentous moment in history when, in Trumpian fashion, we crafted our own demise, invited it into the inner sanctum, and paid for it all ourselves.  The government never had to lift a finger.  We accepted the key, locked ourselves down, and settled into the benign existence of banality.  "Alexa, what is the definition of freedom?"

Wading into the murky electronic waters of the 21st century, it seems that vapid gadgetry proliferated this holiday season as grinning Grinches foisted this new, unwanted stuff upon their forbears in a vain attempt to once again beat them over the head with their lack of empathy or desire for things like "Electra"...or is it "Alyssa"?  Whatever.  Whoever she is, like the male seahorse, she seems to have spawned, with each hollow breath she takes, several mini-mes whose names are starting to meld into one gigantic "mal de tête."

Recalling with bitter laughter when President Trump said he would build a wall and make Mexico pay, I wonder about the scenario of the NSA flack who suggests a national DNA registry compiling all the information on the willing citizenry in an orderly fashion.  In fact, John Q would clamor for the DNA tests, actually pay for them himself and joyfully give the test kits as gifts to family members.  Voilà: the government  builds its "wall," and "Mexico" pays.

Well, that worked out so well on the naïve and gullible, so let's get John Q to joyfully ensconce a spy in his house and make him pay for that whole damn thing himself, too.  Thus was Alexa spawned...and spawned big-time this holiday season as members of the older generation were electronics-shamed into inviting this bossy, soulless know-it-all into their lives.

And what about crazy Uncle Ollie?  You know, the old guy who has lived in the attic forever?  He's going, "Forget about the tests!  Get the spy out of the kitchen.  I've dodged the coppers for 60 years now, and you're blowing it for me."  Well, maybe it's good that Uncle Ollie got caught for jaywalking 60 years ago because his niece Lulu took the DNA test, and that matched up with the DNA in the bubblegum Ollie spat out at the scene of the crime – so all's well that ends well, you say, but at what price, and do the ends justify the means?  "Anita, or whatever the heck your name is, bring me some aspirin."  (Do we have to observe rules of polite society when dealing with androids and say "please" and "thank you"?  Asking for a friend.)

"Aaliyah," or whatever she calls herself, aspires to be my "voice assistant."  Who knew we needed one...and actually never acquired one, because her salary would inevitably be too much, and I still know how to request stuff myself?

Why do I get goosebumps and exhale frosty air when I am in her surreal presence?  I wander vast billowing, open-windowed rooms that look out onto majestic mountainscapes gleaming with new fallen snow, listening to her modulated, lethargic, inflectionless voice.  She lulls me, trancelike,  into accepting her knowledge and commands.  She assumes calm control over any situation...dire, calamitous, "Call your mother-in-law"...but I don't want to, I helplessly whine, and she makes me.  You see: we have accepted complacency, quietly handed over the reins of power in a bloodless coup of the palace, and now we wonder what we ever did without the shrew.

So there you have it.  Future generations will write of this momentous moment in history when, in Trumpian fashion, we crafted our own demise, invited it into the inner sanctum, and paid for it all ourselves.  The government never had to lift a finger.  We accepted the key, locked ourselves down, and settled into the benign existence of banality.  "Alexa, what is the definition of freedom?"