Hey Baby, Want to Give Me the Heimlich Maneuver?

It's not easy meeting women. Well, not for some of us anyway. You can meet them through work, but that's not a big help if you freelance, are a Franciscan monk, or are a victim of the "recovering economy" who hopes romance can be found on the unemployment line. There's church, but that means sitting through sermons, getting fat from hanging around bake sales buying cookies you don't need or want, and playing bingo, which can be expensive. And embarrassing when you chat up the woman sitting next to you and she turns out to be your grandmother. You can be thoroughly modern and go online to use a matchmaking Web site, but that means having to become proficient at digital retouching since sooner or later the 55-year-old guy on the other end pretending to be a hot 21-year-old babe named Tiffany is going to want to see a photograph of you. One without the receding hairline, bags under your eyes, and the last 10 years of your life. That's why faking a choking episode to meet women sounds so enticing. Hey, it's been working for a guy in Punta Gorda, Florida.

The Choking Man, as a local newspaper nicknamed him, has a unique technique -- he goes to a public place and starts to cough, gasping for air, turning red, and flailing around wildly. When a woman runs over and gives him the Heimlich maneuver, he spits out a piece of the apple he was eating, then hugs and kisses her to show his nondying gratitude. And desperation. I'm not sure what he does if a man saves his life but I suspect he offers to share the newly recovered piece of apple and vows never to try that trick in Hooters again.

His modus operandi came to light after the newspaper reported an incident. It didn't take long for a half-dozen women to call and say they too fell for the man's trick. It's not clear whether he ever actually got a date out of it, but hey, you have to admire his resourcefulness. After all, not every loser can make it through the screening process for "The Bachelorette."

It's not surprising the Choking Man would want a woman in his life. After all, a study at Ohio State University (motto: "The Other Ohio University") found that getting married or staying married lessened the symptoms of depression in men when compared to being single, divorced, cohabiting, or choking on an apple in Punta Gorda. Big deal, Xanax is even better than marriage since it's cheaper, less prone to start an argument over which movie to see, and is available at any drugstore. Hopefully the researchers are conducting a follow-up study to see if being married to more than one woman at a time makes a man even less depressed, something they should be able to discover in Thailand where, in spite of having been outlawed since 1932, more than a quarter of the married men say they have two wives. Thai men are known to be gluttons for punishment.

There are definitely things the Choking Man can do to help him meet women other than shove pieces of apple down his throat. For one, he could take voice lessons. After all, a good voice is important to finding a mate in the animal world and, as all women will attest, we men are animals. For example, it turns out that the booming songs sung by finback whales aren't a sonarlike navigational aid as scientists thought, it's actually them practicing "Ol' Man River " for the next edition of "American Idol." Just kidding. Whales hate show tunes. Well, the heterosexual ones anyway. Actually the deep, low-pitched calls are made by males in order to attract females, much like construction workers calling out to passing women, except whales have much better results.

A good singing voice is also important to the black-capped chickadee, especially the males who have singing contests with each other. Hey, what else do they have to do other than sit around doing bad W.C. Fields imitations which get old very fast in the little chickadee world? Singing badly can have dire consequences for them -- if a male loses a singing contest, his partner mates with the winner. Now there's a twist "American Idol " hasn't thought of. Yet. True, mama chickadee returns to the nest after her dalliance, but she has a lot of explaining to do. And lord help her if the egg comes out looking like the other guy.

Probably the easiest thing the Choking Man can do if he ever hopes to find a woman is change his name. Nothing turns a woman off faster than to hear that your name is Choking Man. Unless, of course, it's Saddam Hussein, Miss Prissypants, or Carrot Top. He might consider changing it to something like, say, Torums Scarf Michael. Don't laugh, that's the name of the Kerry Blue Terrier which won the 127th annual Westminster Kennel Dog Show (motto: "Who owns who?") and you know he's not only going to have all the bitches he wants, but will get paid damned good money to have sex with them. If Choking Man doesn't like that name, he might consider appropriating the name of the Newfoundland which didn't win -- Darbydale's All Rise Pouchcove. Or at least the dog's middle names. With self-promotion like that, who needs to fake choking on an apple?

©2003 Barry H. Gottlieb, All Rights Reserved More Mad Dog can be found at www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of travel humor columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting On This Airplane For 12 Hours?" is published by Xlibris Corp. He can be reached at md@maddogproductions.com

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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