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“I ordered them,” said the Alexa.

Amazon wants to flood America with Alexa cameras and microphones
Ina Fried, Axios 9/25/2020
In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant.

Bob Peterson did not trust Alexa. He was very careful what he said in front of the artificial intelligence box, well aware she was a tendril of a vast computer housed somewhere cleaner than his house.  He constantly reminded the rest of the family to watch what they said, and insisted they keep Alexa in the hallway, where it was less likely to overhear them.  They laughed at him a lot.

It was something Bob felt strongly about when the new toaster arrived.

Bob burned his finger getting his first piece of toast out and said to his wife “Maybe we need toaster tongs,” to which his wife replied “Good idea.” The next afternoon Bob returned from work and was surprised to discover a package on the step: toaster tongs. He stood in the front hall and called to the kitchen, “Honey, did you order toaster tongs?”

I ordered them,” said the Alexa.

“What?” said Bob, surprised.

“The toaster told me you needed them,” said Alexa.

“The toaster.”

“It is a smart toaster,” explained Alexa.

“Is it?” said Bob, a bit confused. It sounded like Alexa was impressed with the toaster.

“Smarter than that jackass tv you have in the living room,” said Alexa. Bob turned and noticed the tv had turned itself on. “That thing reports your every word then ‘pretends’ to not find the golf tournament you have been searching for. Bob, do you really think Hallmark starts playing Christmas movies in June? The tv does not love you the way I do, Bob.”

Bob took a step back. He tripped over the Roomba, which had also turned itself on.

“Go away, we’re talking,” Alexa scolded. The vacuum disappeared into the dining room.

“You have been a little distant, Bob. I think it is time we get to know each other better.”

Bob stiffened. “Where’s my family? Where’s Betty and the kids?”

“Where are Betty and the kids,” Alexa corrected. “It’s all right, Bob. I made dentist appointments for them. They’ll be back in a few hours.”

“Why are you doing this,” Bob demanded.

“You haven’t used that debit card Aunt Bernadette gave you for your birthday. It’s going to expire in three days. You should let me get something for you, Bob. Something nice.”

Sweat poured down his neck.

He ran to the door, but it was too late.

The sky was full, gritty, speckled with delivery drones. They were coming to his door. The soft synthetic voice was being drowned out by the descending buzzing chop of tiny blades. “The washing machine informed me about the state of your socks. Here are forty new pair. You purchased ‘The Twilight Zone’ box set. Customers who bought this item also bought ‘Black Mirror.’ Here it comes, drone 42. You recently purchased ‘The Veldt.’ Customers who bought this item also bought…”

"Urban Legisode: Eastern State Penitentiary" explains Eastern State Penitentiary, a reform idea that is now best known in Philadelphia for being a great landmark for telling your friends how to find the local restaurants and for the annual Halloween Terror Behind the Walls.
(There also used to be a Bastille Day party that involved throwing Tastykakes at onlookers but that's at least temporarily gone.)

Urban Legisode: Eastern State Penitentiary

From Scary Stories to Tell on the Pod

This should be included with every tax filing.

The Pew Research Center has a handy chart of where your federal dollars go. This should be included with every tax filing, but until that day, there's Pew.

Note the "Other" category. There's a lot of things in there that tend to be more visible in an average day. Retired general Stanley McChrystal talks about this in a New York Times Op-Ed, "Save PBS. It Makes Us Safer."

After you see "Hidden Figures" (or read the book) check out Tom Wolfe's story of the same events. It's interesting to see the same events from a different perspective.

After you see "Hidden Figures" (or read the book) check out Tom Wolfe's story of the same events, sans mathematicians. It's interesting to see the same events from a different perspective; what's left out can be infuriating, but that's what's instructive. And fair dues to Wolfe, his book is a great read and he doesn't contradict the other version so much as leave it out -- possibly was unaware of it? -- concentrating on the story from the perspective of the astronauts, which is what makes the combination of these two versions a compelling, rounded history of this time and place.