Tag Archives: computer

A Fabrication by Any Other Name

I prefer books over screens for my entertainment. I scoff at people that find joy in gluing their eyes to a computer screen. Surely reading is a superior way to spend time. To be fair, on closer inspection, just how different is virtual reality from fictional reality?

Human interaction suffers when life is lived predominantly within a computer screen. Yet many times, I get so involved in a book that I dread any human interfering with my turning of the next page. I want to stay in my fictional world. Screens and books are best as solitary endeavors.

I too feel the draw of a world filled with ubiquitous screens. I waste time clicking and scrolling through computer articles and photos. The dog and cat videos make me laugh. But I fear the sway of advertisements that push me to buy what the most powerful social media forces out there are selling. I try to resist this modern siren call.

Besides my Etch-a-Sketch, the television was the only screen I could stare at when I was young. My staring was limited to one-hour per day. And that hour had to be broken in half. So a half hour in the morning, another half hour in the afternoon. Maybe that explains why I read. I could explore fictional (and non-fictional) worlds with the flip of a page.

A flip of a page or a swipe of a screen, are they so different? I’m sure I could be swayed by reading too; that is if I only read one book. A wide and diverse reading list protects independent thinking. Social media lies behind a heavy curtain.

My father took me to the Detroit Institute of Arts one Saturday when I was young. I fell in love with this exciting, brand-new world.

Years later, I took my son and his cousin to the art museum. They were bored to death. I thought the suit of armor exhibits would surely interest them. More boredom. Unlike me, they had already spent hours playing video games and had a broader access to television. Television and computers were part of their school curriculum. How can a bit of paint on a canvas compete with the fast-changing and addictive colors and sounds that run across screens?

And yet, I admit to my own addiction. An addiction to the arrangements of 26 letters across a page. How can I judge others?

Books energize me, too much screen time depresses me. A screen has the power to dull a mind and passively lead a person to buy the ideas and products displayed so attractively on the virtual shelves.

Reading is far more active. A reader interacts with the author, with the stuff already read or experienced creating a solid foundation to build up ideas. Who knows, it can even bring about a change in long-held beliefs. Books breed independence and knowledge building. The ceaseless chatter of information on a computer ends up feeling shallow.

My prejudices lead me to forget that the oral storytelling tradition led to books and then books led to computers. Perhaps this is an inevitable course of events that is not necessarily better or worse, just the progress of imagination. The end of the oral tradition weakened our connection to each other. In turn, we connected with machines. Human to human, human to machine, machine to . . . How does the story end?

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High Marx for Effort

Alexandria some of your ideas are so 19th century.

Your concern with deindustrialisation and industrialization contradict each other. Industrialization created the climate change fiasco but you are worried about four decades of deindustrialisation in the United States.

Millions of good, high-wage jobs resurrected in the United States seems to be the antithesis to your basic premises. Manufacturing should be cut and not propped up. Less industry, less factories must be the real goal. Labor unions are a waste of time and resources going forward into the future.

A society based on 19th century technological advances does not reduce greenhouse gases. Solar and wind power is not free from problems that exasperate climate change and quality of life. To meet your goals, you must conserve energy use and act like a tight-fisted hoarder.

Reaching so far back to Karl Marx is perplexing. He was a wealthy, male, German/Jew: kind of a self-contained package of evil. In the future, and to some extent today, everyone will be in control of their own means of production and labor. All we need is an internet connection to a screen in our own little rooms.

Our life blood today flows through the internet. The future will be only more of the same. Wealth can be created and maintained by wifi. The bulk of energy production must be used to supply the appetite of our computers.

Many people work from home. We need a future where everyone works and stays at home, thereby saving energy on transportation, infrastructure, and buildings.

All training and education must come from the internet. A great deal of it does so already. We can demolish all schools and repurpose the material for warehouses housing machines to keep the internet alive. Teachers can move on to do art projects or just enjoy life. Think of the savings in heating and cooling those large number of buildings.

So much of the products we need to live are delivered right to our doors today. We can do better in the future by virtually stopping people from ever having to travel out of their rooms. The internet is the key, it is the only connection we must safeguard. Amazon: the staff of life.

If someone runs short of cash and the government funds aren’t enough, they can turn to the internet. An outrageous act publicized on computer screens already provides individuals with fame and fortune. Alexandria you must be aware of this and use it to advance your noble goals.

Sex, Math and Computers

The most valuable sex education lesson I learned took place in my high school geometry class. Computers and geeks mixed in with the sex ed.

Unlike my previous year in algebra, I loved geometry. How I went from barely passing to straight As in math, I’ll never know.

One day, my geometry teacher took us to a special room at school that housed a couple of computers. Nothing that I’m familiar with today, but large, mechanical desks with no screen that spit out punch tape and later ate it up again for the input and output of data.

Two guys in my class were already experts with these machines. They poked and prodded them into functioning. To everyone else, it was kind of magical yet boring at the same time. These geeks ended up with a four-year math/science college scholarship.

After our visit with the machines, our teacher told us that in the future every home will have a computer. That blew our minds, early 1970s style. What would we use it for? How many people could afford this thing? That computer looked bulky, complex, and unfriendly. The two geeks were the only fans.

Later in the semester, my teacher somehow brought up the  topic of sex in geometry class. He told us that sex takes up less than 1% of your time in married life. He ticked off necessary distractions such as working, shopping, cooking, childcare, cleaning, and whatever else needed to be done.

Today his lessons in love still stick. Although neither marriage nor heterosexual relationships are a given part to that theorem. Those few short minutes in some few short nights don’t seem to be worth the societal controversies. Whatever gets you through the night. A small part of our small time.

My first lesson with computers created an ambivalence within me which still remains. I love the possibilities and I hate my dependence. Like the human bond, deep feelings can move through the spectrum. An embrace may not be far removed from a push away.

Geometry class: you expanded the possibilities in my mind. I remember you fondly.