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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon I predict that some time in the next few decades you will, like Caprice, get unsolicited advice on your lovelife from a machine. Not like the ELIZA program that's both rather old and more than a little stupid; I mean a machine that seems to be responding in a meaningful way.

The key here is unsolicited. Machines today can do unsolicited things, much like a Tivo offering up new shows it thinks you'll like, but those offerings can be non sequiturs because computers are only as smart as their programming and current programming techniques are like flintknapping. Or at best, steam engines.

(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs Bart wrote in to suggest Mercy Corps as an overlooked charity for hurricane relief, so there you go.

The various Venus Customs personnel are, un-shockingly, based on the typical TSA guys you see in every American airport. I want to stress that I'm not implying anything by this, as the TSA personnel I've met have always been unfailingly polite and professional -- even that one time I bought a one-way ticket out of Los Angeles the night before and had a badly-wrapped cardboard box full of wires and circuit boards in my carry-on luggage.

Finally, I did want to comment that I actually get unsolicited advice on my love life from machines every day. It usually consists of zombified Windows machines sending me offers for "enhancement" products and mail-order brides, but I guess it's the thought that counts, right?