ex Machina

When people talk to each other, there is a social code of acceptable behavior. When they interact with machines, there is no such code. If there is a machine between two people, the rules seem to not apply as easily, and people often act as if they are dealing with a machine – because that is what they have in front of them.

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Stories are all around us. There is a reason behind how things are and why they were arranged the way they were. Sometimes, the stories are alive even as they stand in silence.

My hometown of Saint Paul has many relics of the people who first ventured west to pioneer the end of the Mississippi. Their names live on in the streets around us and in the headstones at Oakland Cemetery. Their values are present in the homes we live in, antebellum Greek Revival structures that call us to believe in Democracy, much like the Greek Revival towns like Utica that they came from.

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As kids, we learn all the rules that get us a good mark in “Plays well with others”. One of them is how to form a queue or line and act like good little kids that do not frazzle our saintly elementary school teachers more than necessary.

This carries over into being a supposed adult. When I went to pick up my son at summer camp recently, they had an elaborate procedure in place to guarantee the kids’ safety. Everyone had to present a form of ID to pick up their child, and it was compared to a list of valid parents and caretakers. This operation took a lot of time, and so everyone automatically formed a line.

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“Make No Small Plans”

“Make no small plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood”

When Daniel Burnham said this, he was an architect who was at the top of an architect’s world. He was in the process of designing the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, a neoclassical playground highlighting all the great gifts of the mechanical age and the rebirth of the city ravaged by fire 22 years earlier. It was the right time and place to think big. The bosses of Chicago loved it, and the people were enthralled.

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