It Is Very Punk To Like Kittycats, Okay?
Baby Beto by Wonkette Operative "hvdv"

Welcome again to your weekly escape from all the nastiness out there! Let's dive right into the kitties and puppies and stuff, shall we? A quick reminder to folks who wonder when THEIR lovely pet pics will be featured in Nice Things: Check the date on that calander next to little Beto up there. I have a LOT of your kitty and doggy and ferret pics, and I may not get to 'em all immediately, or ever. But I will try! Yes, you can post or email more, but only if you promise you'll at least try to be patient!

Your Thornton Update!

Thornton's doing quite well, actually. He seems to have missed me while I went to Montana to spend Thanksgiving with Yr Editrix, Shy, and Wonkette Preschooler. Nobody around here appears to have a real name (OK, in person, Rebecca and Donna Rose do, But while we were filling our Wholesome American Guts, anyone saying "Andy" or "Marty" must have known them long before Wonkette). Kid Zoom (see?!), who had other Thanksgiving plans, looked after the cat while I was gone, and reports Thornton was a Very Good Boy, with nary a pee incident at all. On Thornton's part, that is; Kid is generally not a concern in that area.

So like I say, a very affectionate cat. He tends to stake a claim and stay put, leaving me immobilized.

At least until he's finished meditating.

Lest you think he's mostly inert, here's proof he has the nigh universal must-get-inna-box gene.

I believe my cat may be physically impossible.


How is that head connected to that body? Or maybe it's just a weird phone-camera optical confusion?

Thornton is a mood.

But like I say, he seems glad I'm back. I don't think I've ever met a more affectionate cat; I know for certain I've never owned one.

He is, in short, a purry home companion.

Yes, I have become that cat owner. Resistance was futile. I have been assimilated.

But looka his ittle crossed paws!

You Should Go Read This Hilarious 'Feral Scooters' Story. Yes, Right Away.

This feature has from time to time mentioned computer research scientist Janelle Shane and her wonderful "AI Weirdness" blog, which brought us those memorable algorithmically-generated candy hearts:

Hold on a damn minute! That AI Weirdness post from 2018 predicted this summer's Twitter invasion of feral hogs? Scary.

In any case, Ms. Shane now has a book out, with one of the best possible titles: You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It's Making the World a Weirder Place.Looks like I'll have to buy that sucker!

The point is, Janelle Shane also wrote a ridiculously fun "op-ed from the future" for the New York Times a month back which became one of the many, many tabs that sat open in my browser for freaking ever, and I finally got around to reading it.* The "op-ed" presents an argument from a fictional 2031: "We Shouldn't Bother the Feral Scooters of Central Park."

Shane posits a world where some entrepreneurs got the bright idea of building a very particular machine-learning algorithm into autonomously-driven electric scooters. All self-driving vehicles would involve some AI, but this imagined version optimizes the scooters for long-term survival. So they evolve. A sample:

We've been safely coexisting with the feral self-driving scooters for over a decade. They're part of the cityscape now, the last remnants of the scooter craze of 2021, sky-blue scooters that cruise the streets in solitude or cluster around their charging stations on the edge of Central Park, rippling their rainbow LEDs and beeping occasionally [...]

The feral scooters don't want to harm humans — they're not nearly intelligent enough to have such a goal (based on the specs I could find, their raw computing power is somewhere around the level of an earthworm's). They are just another form of life trying to survive, and yet they aren't life as we know it — they're something much weirder and less understood. It would be a shame to let a brand-new form of life go extinct.

It's a very fine imagining of an AI that doesn't want to kill us -- and that also doesn't even accidentally wipe us out while pursuing some other goal.** But don't read the NYT comments, 90 percent of which are from people who didn't read the story, or missed that it's a fictional scenario, and are just airing boring complaints about the plague of real rental scooters. You do that in our comments and I guarantee I will mock you (as a reader, not in my role as non-comments moderator).

Also, Shane's fictional report on scooter ecology and natural selection is easily the funniest AI story I've read since Naomi Kritzer's Nebula and Hugo Award-winning "Cat Pictures Please," which I have to harangue you once more to read, if you have somehow missed it. It's the most plausible explanation for the Internet of Cats, and another story where the powerful AI is decidedly not Skynet.

Also too, Naomi Kritzer retwote me, eeeee!

Me, a fanboi? Maybe a little! Kritzer also has a new book out, so I'll be loading up my tablet with it, too! It's a YA novel that a reader mentioned in Nice Things before Thanksgiving, with the very promising title Catfishing on Catnet. You may also want to check out her story collection, which, surprise, is titled Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories.

Don't worry, I like dog-based science fiction,*** too.

* If there were a Mission Statement for Sunday Nice Things, it would definitely include a notation that "staying current" is not a priority. We're more than happy to bring you stuff from months or years ago, because look, a nice thing!

** For an example of that genre, I strongly recommend -- again -- the delightfully creepy "Friendship Is Optimal," a perfectly terrific science fiction story that combines a hypothetical computer game based on "My Little Pony" with the AI thought experiment of "the paperclip maximizer." But it's set in the "real" world, where cartoon ponies are merely an entertainment property, and involves an AI that takes its directive, "to satisfy everybody's values through friendship and ponies," to world-devouring ends. You don't need to be a Brony to enjoy this sucker.

*** As your attorney,**** I advise you to read all the Kij Johnson you can get your hands on, too! She even did a brilliantly dark story that's tangentially about Little Ponies, but quickly turns from pastel cuteness to horror.

**** I am not an attorney.*****

***** I am also not David Foster Wallace. As a writer, that's disappointing. As a human being, it's delightful.

Caution: Earworm Ahead:

CBC reporter Jennifer Van Evra notes 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the novelty song "Mahna Mahna," which we mostly know from the Muppets:

Muppet Show - Mahna Mahna...m HD 720p bacco... Original!

An early version of the sketch first appeared on Sesame Street on Nov. 27, 1969, but it was an appearance of Jim Henson and His Muppets on The Ed Sullivan Show on Nov. 30 that cemented the song's fame.

Original muppets mana mana

For all the considerable charm of the pink aliens in the Muppet Show version, we prefer the less-polished original, frankly.

Ah, but here's the best part: it originated in an Italian soft-core flick!

The song originally appeared in a racy Italian film called Svezia, inferno e paradiso (Sweden: Heaven and Hell), in a scene where a bunch of Swedish models crowd into a sauna wearing little more than bath towels.

It was performed by four session musicians from the RAI orchestra under the name Marc 4, was sung by Italian singer and composer Alessandro Alessandroni along with his wife Giulia. The song also appeared on the 1968 soundtrack album for the film.

And here it is! [Spoiler: implied nudity, under towels, only]:

Mah Nà Mah Nà

Maybe you should listen to some "Afternoon Delight" to get that tune out of your head.

Gee Trump's Old LaSalle Flushed Great

We hate to mention this guy in a Nice Things, but there's a poop joke, so we have to: Donald Trump made A Idiot of himself again complaining that water-saving design standards are terrible, because "the environment" is a myth and we should waste everything. But of course he had to say it all weird: "You turn on the faucet and you don't get any water … People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times." Not surprisingly, the internet pointed out that Trump is full of shit.

At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I really think my Hot Take deserved to go viral, damn it:

There he goes again (fifteen times), complaining about a problem that's largely been solved. But Trump also thinks big cars that get shitty gas mileage are safer, which is why the next presidential limo will be a 6000 SUX.

Bring On The Random Twitter Stuff!

Remember the weirdass cat video from a couple weeks back? (make sure the sound is on)

Dude who did the 'Hey, Ma!" voiceover is back again, with another True-Life Nature Adventure:

Twitter informs us this is the work of sportscaster dude Michael Rappaport, so there's a mystery solved. And yes, it's apparently a real cat named "Wilfred Warrior."

And then there's this video from 2015, featuring someone who is Not Rappaport, featuring a couple of Boston dudes encountering a sunfish.

Hilarious Guy fishing from Boston FREAKS out when he sees an Ocean Sunfish (EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)

It is NOT a "baby WHEAL."

Fortunately, there's also a meme:

Another thing we learned from Twitter this week: It's extremely punk to love your mom. We never doubted it.

Also, too, from the replies:

And speaking of... I think this illustration is actually better without any context at all.

Next: a cute kid!!!! Also, according to multiple people in the replies, your own Google home widget machine may or may not start echoing (haha, wrong brand) the one in this video

Did I mention open tabs earlier? Oh yes, I did!

Historian Kevin Gannon's large main dog Yoshi and small auxiliary backup dog Lulu remain adorable:

Additional Dog Content, to balance out all that Thornton earlier (no sound in this first one, don't bother):

No sound here, either, because these are still photos, silly.

Cats again. You should follow this account. Honestly, you should:

Arguably the most New Jersey tweet ever, from the governor's official twitter account:

Have a great friggin' Sunday, ya mooks.

[AI Weirdness / NYT / "Cat Pictures Please" / "Ponies" / CBC /]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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