Whenever there’s a mass shooting here in the U.S., people cast blame all around. It’s the liberals. It’s the conservatives. It’s atheism. Lately, it’s transgender people. It’s the breakdown of the nuclear family. It’s socialism. It’s capitalism. It’s too many guns. It’s not enough guns.
One factor that doesn’t get much attention anymore is the socially isolated juvenile factor. Back in the ’50s and ’60s, this was high in people’s minds. The problem was socially maladjusted kids.
But nobody ever thought to try to correct the social isolation except by punishing it. We did nothing at all until a kid got in trouble, and then we put them in youth jails. We called it “juvenile detention” back then.
South Korea has come up with a gentler, more proactive approach. They’re identifying socially isolated young people and offering them money, up to $500 per month, to help them connect better with society.
I don’t think it could work in U.S. culture because it would set off the whole anti-socialism crowd too much. It looks like social engineering. Well, OK, it is social engineering.
But hey, it’s South Korea, not the U.S., so it might work for them.
I’m not clear how the money is expected to be used to gain entrance into society. Will it pay for the internet? A dinner out and a movie twice a month? When I was breaking out of severe social isolation in graduate school, my technique of choice was to share a bottle of Bacardi 151 with amenable people. You don’t need $500 per month for that. Of course, I don’t recommend that technique today. That would be wrong.
Speaking of socially isolated youth at risk of getting into trouble: Jack Teixeira, a gamer working for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, gets his hands on classified U.S. military documents and shares them with his gamer buddies because, why? He was lonely? It made him popular? It got him a ton of attention, including from the FBI. To his credit, he didn’t shoot up a school. I think people who don’t shoot up schools should get $500 per month to keep up the good work.
The big surprise to me in the leaked documents is what it seems to say about the fate of Russia’s Spetsnaz forces during the Ukraine War. That’s their version of the Special Forces. The surprise is only Russia was responsible for the troubles they had. Their commanders just threw them into the war without exploiting their special training. It gives me a kind of hope.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should be paid more to stay out of trouble. We don’t pay Supreme Court justices enough. They shouldn’t have to rely on billionaires to pay for vacations. After all, Thomas is a valuable servant of the people, I’m sure. The people should pay to send him to Cancún regularly. He needs to get out more.
If we can’t bring our collective selves to give Thomas a raise, at least we should try and arrange for him to have more and better billionaire sugar daddies. One billionaire shouldn’t have to butter up Thomas alone. Elon Musk still has some money left over after buying Twitter. He could help. So could a handful of Waltons, if they put their wallets together. It beats trying to tax billionaires. Let them pay for access to judges, something they actually enjoy.
Let’s finish by talking about AI chatbots! The Washington Post did a study to figure out how good AI chatbots are at substituting their expertise in place of search engines. I believe they framed the question badly.
WaPo found that AI chatbots are a poor substitute for search engines, but the reason they would be was obvious in advance. They give one-off answers, whereas search engines give you thousands of hits to sift through and choose from. So basically, the search engines rely on you as much as on themselves. You add to their expertise with the choices you make.
AI chatbots don’t prompt choices among answers or “hits” the way search engines do, right? They just give you one answer.
Wrong. You can ask them for multiple answers. That’s on you. And by “you,” I mostly mean you, WaPo. You should have opened the test up to allow the bots to give multiple answers.
I was certified socially maladjusted. You can all probably tell.
Dr. Wes is the Real Change Circulation Specialist, but, in addition to his skills with a spreadsheet, he writes this weekly column about whatever recent going-ons caught his attention. Dr. Wes has contributed to the paper since 1994. Curious about his process or have a response to one of his columns? Connect with him at [email protected].
Read more of the Apr. 19-25, 2023 issue.