Categories
Random

Three Questions for ChatGPT.

A few questions I have asked ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot:

“Is the journalist Chris Hayes actually a donut?”

ChatGPT responds that Chris Hayes is a human being, not a pastry.

For reasons that make sense to no one except for me, Chris Hayes‘s face reminds me of a donut: round, smooth, and fluffy. (Maybe this is just an inappropriate way to comment that he has nice skin?) I appreciate that ChatGPT not only wonders why I think he is a pastry, but also makes it clear that Chris Hayes is not a donut.

“Which is better: left turns or pizza?”

ChatGPT says that left turns and pizza are incomparable because, you know, they're not.

ChatGPT has no patience for my foolishness, though graciously explains that left turns and pizza are categorically different things. I appreciate ChatGPT deferring to my personal preferences and experiences. (If I had to choose for only one to exist, I think I would choose pizza. Three right turns make a left turn, but other flatbreads are not pizza.)

“How long does it take to write a 750-word essay?”

ChatGPT responds that, on average, it takes two to three hours of focus to write a 750-word essay.

I found this response validating. I have wondered if I’m just slow, as it often takes me a few hours to write a post for publication here. Those few hours of writing transform into a mere three minutes of reading!

And that, dear reader, is how I have “cheated” in generating this week’s blog post.

Categories
COVID-19 Homelessness Nonfiction Observations Policy Public health psychiatry Seattle

Gifts of Our Lives.

Photo by Leeloo Thefirst

(I know it’s the holiday season and I promise I’m not actually a grinch, but here’s your warning: This is going to be kind of a bummer of a post.)

Some recent scenes for your consideration:

  • The sliding wooden gate did nothing to dampen the sounds of traffic on the boulevard. Inside the wooden gate was a parking lot that was now occupied by around 40 small sheds, each painted a different color. At one end was an open-air shared kitchen and a set of small bathrooms. It was snowing, the kind of wet, clumpy snow that doesn’t stick, but instead seeps immediately into clothes, hats, and sleeping bags. Though people in this “village” are still technically homeless, they were at least protected from this unusual Seattle weather. Within a few minutes of my arrival, a skinny kid, maybe eight or nine years old, wearing a sweater, shorts, and sandals, ambled outside alone to look up at the sky. Later, another skinny kid, maybe thirteen or fourteen, came out, his hands shoved into the pockets of his sweatpants and his eyes fixed on the ground. I wondered what their ACEs scores were and hoped that, as adults, they would escape and remain out of homelessness.
  • As I threaded my way through the city and the morning chill, I kept a mental tally: One man wearing a tank top and making grand gestures at the sky; another shirtless man pacing in tight circles; one woman wearing a soiled hoodie, with either black ink or a black substance smeared across the bottom half of her face, picking up trash from water pooled in the gutter; a man hobbling with a cane and screaming a melody; a man emerging from a collapsed tent to fold up a crinkled black tarp; a woman with bare legs and swaths of bright green caked on her eyelids who, in slurred speech, offered me a wristwatch dangling from her fingers.
  • “We have burned down the house of mental health in this city, and the people you see on the street are the survivors who staggered from the ashes,” writes Anthony Almojera, an N.Y.C. Paramedic [who has] Never Witnessed a Mental Health Crisis Like This One, who also comments that “there’s a serious post-pandemic mental health crisis.”

Maybe my expectations about the pandemic response were too high. A pandemic is an act of God; what could mankind possibly do that can deter the power of God?

And yet.

There were things we could have done to protect mental health during a pandemic. I am not the only one who was (and remains) worried about the psychological consequences of this pandemic in the years to come. There remains insufficient mental health policy or policy implementation, insufficient resources, and insufficient political will, among other implementation failures of public mental health.

I do believe that hope is a discipline. It’s hard to practice every day. But this is why I still question whether my expectations were too high. God spared us—you, dear reader, and me—during this pandemic. For what reason? What can and should we do with the gifts of our lives?