I think that you must differ from the average person in some way that makes it not enjoyable for you. Perhaps you are more sensitive to certain sounds and find them unpleasant. Perhaps you weren't exposed to music at a very young age. Your brain might be "wired" differently than average.
You might try attending a poetry reading or two, Hearing them read and discussed might help.
I think there's more of a range in American universities. A large percentage of the U.S. population attends post-secondary school. It's a large country with hundreds of colleges and universities. My impression is that our top colleges are comparable to Oxford and Cambridge. Bates and Bowdoin are reputed to be good schools. The question is how they compare to the colleges he could go to elsewhere. I, also, wonder how and why they were selected. Perhaps they are offering financial aid?
I think that studying math and becoming a math professor would put you in an excellent position to work toward preventing an unfriendly AI. First of all, you could, if you chose to, study computer science and artificial intelligence at the same time. Second of all, you will be in a position to influence others who may some day be working in the field. You can start a LessWrong chapter at the university you attend and the one you teach at. You can lecture/talk to your students at the importance of caution and safe guards in what ever they work on in the future.
I love it. I didn't realize you could write fiction so well!
The only thing I've done recently is send money to the Singularity Institute. I did, however, give birth to and raise a son who is dedicated to saving the world. I'm contemplating changing my user name to Sarah Connor. :)
I believe marketers do use psychology and many, if not most, Americans do buy "tons of shit that they don't need and that won't make them happy!"
Re: charitable gift funds. Fidelity calls it the Charitable Gift Fund, I know there are similar funds managed by other places. The way it works is that you transfer your appreciated stocks to it and take the tax deduction in the year they are transferred. Fidelity sells the stock and you elect which of their funds (growth, bonds, etc.) the proceeds should be invested in. When you wish to donate to a charity, you go online and direct Fidelity to make the donation. It must be to a 501c3 approved charity and a minimum of $50 must be donated. It's as quick and easy as writing a check and you can make the donation anonymous if you wish. Fidelity does collect some management fees for the service, but they aren't very high.
I think that some times children really want to know why, but your idea should usually work well in those cases, too. You're basically suggesting distracting the child so that they forget the undesirable thing they were asking or doing, and move on. That is a basic parenting technique.
I and some of my friends have gotten emails from scammers who say they want to buy several paintings from my artist website, but are moving and want to use a bank check- or something similar. What I have done is reply that I will only accept payments through PayPal. Then I never hear from them again. Bitcoins would also work. The problem with testing it out by accepting a check or Bank order and depositing it in case it is for real is that you will get hit by a hefty fee from the bank if it bounces.