St. God’s: Healthmaster Inferno

After Joe goes through triage, he is directed to the “diagnosis area to the right.” He waits in a short queue, and then enters the diagnosis bay.

The attendant wears a SMARTSPEEK that says, “Your illness is very important to us. Welcome to the Healthmaster Inferno.”

The attendant, DR. JAGGER, holds three small metal probes, and hands each one to him in turn saying, “Uh, this one goes in your mouth. This one goes in your ear. And this one goes up your butt.” (Dark side observation about the St. God’s: Apparently what it takes to become a doctor in Idiocracy is an ability to actually speak to patients and not just let the SMARTSPEEK do all the talking.)

Joe puts one in his mouth and is getting ready to insert the rest, when a quiet beeping causes the attendant to pause and correct himself. “Shit. Hang on a second.” He takes the mouth one back and hands him another one. “This one…No.” He gathers them together, and unable to tell them apart, he shuffles them trying to figure it out, saying “This one. This one goes in your mouth.” Joe reluctantly puts the offered probe into his mouth and continues.

The diagnosis is instant (and almost certainly UNKNOWN). SMARTSPEEK says, “Thank you for waiting. Dr. Lexus will be with you shortly.”

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The probes

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St. God’s: Insurance Slot Machine

The other depressing thing besides the FloorMaster that Joe sees as he walks through St. God’s lobby is the insurance slot machines.

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He sees a man with a blank expression and a bleeding head wound above his left eye, who stands a bank of slot machines. The backglass of each has diagonal logos advertising BLAKDIX capsules (n.b. the wallpaper advertises BONERAX), telling players they can play while they wait, and that they can WIN FREE MEDICAL CARE. The reel strips don’t show bells or fruit, but rather, pills. The blood from the head wound shines in the lights.

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This is the future that the GoP and insurance companies want.

Games and games of chance don’t obey standard usability principles. The point of them is that you don’t know if you’ll get what you want. So a regular analysis won’t do.

Slot machines are fairly standardized, and the only things these particular ones seem to be missing is a paytable. If you don’t know your slot machine lingo, that’s an information table, presented on the backglass, explaining what combinations of symbols pay out and how much. Three z-packs? Congratulations! You don’t have to die of sepsis today! No player should put money in a slot machine without knowing what the payout might be. And these machines don’t have them. In the real world, this wouldn’t fly. But in Idiocracy, it’s perfect. Let me explain. Of course it’s going to get political fast.

The shock of this half-a-second beat comes from the immediate recognition that the man is bleeding, and the half-a-second later realization that he’s standing at a slot machine to try and resolve his problem. Why isn’t he getting care? Why does he accept this? Why would anyone? This is stupid, you think. And you’re right. It’s stupid and inhumane that the richest country in the world would not use some of its wealth to take care of its citizens. Yet 44 million Americans have no insurance and another 38 million have inadequate insurance. That means nearly one-third of Americans are just hoping that they don’t get sick. If they do, they risk either getting that help and going bankrupt, or living in pain, getting worse…maybe dying. Also, you know, their kids.

No one wants to get sick. So in our system, we have the uninsured gambling with their lives.

This isn’t just how it has to be. Thirty-two of the thirty-three developed nations have universal health care, with the United States being the only exception. There’s an idiotic idea that America somehow gets great medical care in exchange for this, but that’s just a self-serving lie. The Commonwealth Fund did an extensive comparison of the healthcare in 11 developed nations, and the U.S. fared the worst. And individually, we pay about twice as much per capita than other developed nations. So our system is the most expensive, AND the worst, AND abandons ⅓ of our citizens to rolls of the healthcare dice. How can it be this way? Who is in favor of this? Healthcare for profit, of course, and that’s a GoP speciality.

We know that Democrats lead the way on healthcare reform. The Affordable Care Act was remarkable for how far it got with Obama facing a historically obstructionist Republican Congress, and the GoP has been trying to undo it since. Insurance companies know that the GoP is their friend. In 2012, the insurance industry donated nearly $55 million to parties and candidates and 68% went to Republicans. They know.

Which brings up back to the slot machines. People who stand at a machine that looks like it might give them healthcare (gosh, it looks like a slot machine. It must pay eventually, right?), without any indication that it actually will, are idiots, and any system that allows this is an Idiocracy.

We have one tool to combat making this image any more of a reality, and it’s a vote.

Fighting Idiocracy

Voter suppression tactics (undertaken in the bad-faith argument against voter fraud) include closing polling places near traditionally Democrat strongholds. What can you do?

Drive them yourself

If you have seats to spare make a broadcast on social media channels. Or offer to people who may face transportation challenges.

Join Find a volunteer driver group

Carpool the Vote seems dedicated to this cause, but is currently not accepting any more sign ups, but it would be worth checking in on the site to see if they open up again. I couldn’t find an alternate system, but if anyone knows it, speak up in the comments.

Share information about discounted and free ride-shares

Lyft is offering 50% off rides to and from polling locations on election day. Unfortunately I can’t find a way to donate to Lyft so they can make it free, so I will note that Uber—though a company with a much worse track record as a corporate citizen than Lyft—has promised free rides. (People have to have the latest version of the app, so also encourage them to update it.) Get that word out to people who can use it. Post on neighborhood Facebook groups, Slack, and NextDoor channels.

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Get people to the polls so they exercise their right to vote.

Airport Security

After fleeing the Yakuza in the hotel, Johnny arrives in the Free City of Newark, and has to go through immigration control. This process appears to be entirely automated, starting with an electronic passport reader.

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After that there is a security scanner, which is reminiscent of HAL from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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The green light runs over Johnny from top to bottom. Continue reading

The Memory Doubler

In Beijing, Johnny steps into a hotel lift and pulls a small package out his pocket. He unwraps it to reveal the “Pemex MemDoubler”.

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Johnny extends the cable from the device and plugs it into the implant in his head. The socket glows red once the connection is made.

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Healing chamber

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After Johnny was mistakenly reported as killed, the next time we see him he is in a healing chamber, submerged in green-underlit translucent fluid, resting on form-fitting clear plastic supports. He breathes through a tube, and a pair of small robot arms work busily to regenerate the damaged tissue in his leg.

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The main reason to discuss this chamber on a blog about interfaces is the material choice of the outside of the chamber. By being surrounded completely in a transparent material (glass? plexiglass? transparent aluminum?), it means that physicians can keep an eye on progress, and he can have visual interactions with visitors, as we see when Dizzy and Ace visit to share with him his mistaken death certificate (and for Dizzy to leave him a kiss.) Additionally it gives Johnny something to look at during the long hours of recuperation.

I’m not sure why the green light is necessary. The scene implies that it could serve some part in the healing process, but if not, I wonder if an amber light might signal a more human, nurturing warmth to Johnny and visitors. Narratively, you’d want to avoid anything too yellow or run the risk of the audience’s first interpretations drifting too far to the Andres-Serrano-esque.

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