Randall Kennedy and Joe Wilcox talk about digital assistant/artificial intelligence mayhem during Episode 93. They begin with a Twitch stream featuring two Google Home devices asking each other stupid questions—and answering them. Randall laughs: “It’s like two Millennials fighting over the friggin’ remote”, referring to the incoherent but continuous banter between the devices.
That leads into a disturbing discussion about the Amazon Alexa digital assistant. A few days earlier, there was a news story about a six year-old accidentally ordering a dollhouse and four pounds of cookies from Amazon when asking Alexa about them. But the saga doesn’t end there. “The news cast playing on the TV in other peoples’ homes who also had the Alexa—the Alexa heard the same language…and their Alexas start trying to order the dollhouse”, Randall explains. “It’s like this chain reaction”. … Frak That! Ep. 93: ‘Artificial Stupidity’
On the eve of Consumer Electronics Show 2017, Randall Kennedy and Joe Wilcox discuss the event that Joe likens to a room of 10,000 screaming kids, each trying to out-yell the other for attention. That’s the media mayhem that has kept him away from the annual tech pilgrimage in Las Vegas since 2008. “You couldn’t drag me there for any amount of money”, he says early in Episode 92.
Among their CES topics: Acer’s $9,000 laptop; the perfect Chromebook for over-weight hoarders; VR porn; drones dropping dead (from short battery life); fido trackers; BlackBerry’s last life; and the great Google privacy scam (you got none). … Frak That! Ep. 92: ‘CES 2017’
Randall Kennedy and Joe Wilcox spend 40 frakking minutes of Episode 90 blathering about other topics before they finally get around to discussing “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, which one of them paid to see. Chalk the other’s viewing to desperation living somewhere where the movie isn’t showing and may not be for some time yet.
Randall isn’t impressed with the lead character played by Felicity Jones—perhaps because he repeat-watched “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” right before “Rogue One”. “Daisy Ridley just grabbed me again”, he says. “It was an amazing performance by her…I was totally transfixed, totally rooting for her by the end of the movie”. By contrast, he feels “no real empathy” for Jones’ Jyn Erso. The charter’s transformation from “whiny Millennial” to “inspiring heroic figure” is unbelievable. “Why would anyone follow her? She’s done nothing to generate that kind of loyalty”. … Frak That! Ep. 90: ‘Rogue One’
On Dec. 14, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump summoned a dozen Silicon Valley CEOs to a summit at his self-named hotel in New York City. Joe Wilcox calls it a meeting with the “King”, while Randall Kennedy makes allusions to “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and riding the “Wonkavator” to the top of Trump Tower.
The two agree that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reminds of an insurance salesman. “They don’t look happy at all to be there”, Randall says of Bezos, sitting next to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Episode 89 is dedicated to these fearless supporters of Hillary Clinton and opponents to all things Trump. … Frak That! Ep. 89: ‘The Wonkavator’
Joe Wilcox tells Randall Kennedy how he hitchhiked from Maine to California at age 20 for the sole purpose of sleeping on the beach. That sets off a long discussion about the American independent spirit, and people who don’t like being told what to do. Hello, Episode 87!
Like wearing seat belts, about which Randall makes important observation: “I’m strapped in. I survived the crash. I’ve survived the airbag. But I’m not going to survive some guy named Phil from Panoma—300 pounds—flying through my friggin’ windshield. Thanks a lot, Bud. You killed me…because you didn’t wear your damn seat belt”. … Frak That! Ep. 87: ‘Independence’
Mauritius is “an island where people love to go to die”, Randall Kennedy tells Joe Wilcox, who is taken aback by concept “suicide tourism”. Randall is an American expat living in the country located about 700 miles off the coast of Madagascar. During Episode 86, he describes new trend “tourists who come here for the explicit purpose of ending their lives in paradise”. It’s mainly a European-resident thing, among people who visited the island, returned to their dark, gloomy countries, and were depressed by the contrast. They come back to Mauritius to never leave—alive. “It’s frustrating, because the hotels have to deal with the bodies!” Randall extols. For the staff, it’s “‘not another stiff who stiffed us on the bill!’”
Speaking of going to paradise to die, the podcasters spend time discussing the season finale of HBO’s “Westworld”. For Joe, Dr. Robert Ford’s exit is inconsistent with his being God over the robots. “He’d rather die than lose control of this thing”, Randall rebuts, calling the move a “big middle finger to the board of directors”. … Frak That! Ep. 86: ‘Good and Evil’
The day after American Thanksgiving, Randall Kennedy and Joe Wilcox discuss what they are grateful for in 2016. Joe begins Episode 83: “If not for fake news, we might have a different President of the United States, and there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, interesting to read on the Internet. This fake news stuff is just so good, and the other stuff is sooo boring—except for our podcast, but you don’t read that, you listen”.
Way, way later in the podcast, when talking about archeology, Joe brings up fake news again. “Imagine archeologists of the future, trying to understand our society, our culture, and they discover a treasure trove of fake news. What kind of mistakes could they make about what things were really like here in the 21st Century”. Of course Randall has an answer, and he identifies their source: “The ultimate arbiter of all things truthful—that news source of record for the 21st Century—the Onion.com!” They would understand, for example, “that half of us were abducted by aliens at one time in our lives”. … Frak That! Ep. 83: ‘Give Thanks!’
Gobble, gobble, and Happy Thanksgiving, ye Americans. For Episode 82, Randall Kennedy and Joe Wilcox hand out their first Turkey Awards—extemporaneously, without any preparation. Joe has one he believes “devout atheist” Randall will appreciate. Hint: “I’m God”.
Florida residents get three different Birds—one gent for answering: “Is it possible to run myself over with my own car?” Amazingly, yes, says Randall. Joe awards a Turkey to a Floridian who shoots people in the leg when they overstay their welcome. Like they can LEAVE after being wounded in the limb. … Frak That! Ep. 82: ‘Turkeys of the Year’
After a 10-day break, which Joe Wilcox attributes to the “Trump trauma”, he and Randall Kennedy return to catch up on the news that’s unfit to print. Joe begins Episode 81 by giving his cohost BBC’s fake news quiz. Which stories are true? Which are false?
Among the news reports that absolutely had to be false, but wasn’t, according to the Beeb: “A man in Edmonton, Canada was allowed to board a flight after a pipe bomb found in his bag was confiscated by airport security. A security guard at Edmonton International Airport even tried to hand the bomb back to the passenger, CBC News reported. The teenage passenger claimed to have forgotten the device was in his bag after making it with a friend for fun some months before. Canadian Air Transport Security Authority said several officers involved had been suspended”. … Frak That! Ep. 81: ‘Fake News’
Randall Kennedy is like a dog with a bone rambling on, and on, and on about Spirit Cooking, which set social media afire Nov. 3-4, 2016. He can’t resist anything that makes the Clinton camp a—borrowing from Ms. Hillary—“basket of deplorables”. Joe Wilcox isn’t convinced about alleged Satan worship and concoctions made of stuff Randall wouldn’t reveal on air (dare we say semen and blood). Episode 78 is nuts!
Referring to the Clinton camp, “I can’t help wonder if we’re gonna stumble into one of their inner meetings and they’re all standing around with a goat’s head chanting, or something like that—in dark robes”, Randall says. … Frak That! Ep. 78: ‘Spirit Cooking’