Saturday, August 21, 2010

An old fashioned kind of guy


Got to thinking about all this new technology and have to ask is it really bettering our lives? With the cell phones, the twitters, the face book, GPS and all that are we slowly loosing our true identities as human beings? I'm sorry but I need more than the allowed 140 characters having given up passing notes in grade school. In communications I'd rather see somebody face to face followed by a phone conversation followed by maybe an email even though it's considered passe. As technology goes I remember the first pocket calculators that came out in the 70s. Math is not my forte so I was first in line to buy one. At first I thought they were great in fact after a while I got to memorize many of the calculations to the point where I didn't even need the calculator. They were after all far faster then my brain but after a while they become a crutch and you find yourself unable to do the simplest of math without one. Now it's just a matter of speed. Do I want to sit there with scratch paper doing the math or have the answers magically appear on the LCD? But then there's the issue of not having access to a calculator. Having grown up before their very existence is an advantage as long as you remember the formulas.

Then there's the issues with today's cars. There once was a time when I did nearly all the maintenance and repairs. But in the last 15 years or so the engineers have taken it upon themselves to stuff a computer or electronic sensor in every crack and cranny. Now I can understand some of it as wanting to enhance fuel consumption but overall the technology has sailed past my understanding even with a repair manual. My displeasure of this stems from the fact that now even those well trained high tech grease monkeys can't always fix your car and as I see it that only gives them yet another opportunity to inflate the bill. Used to be Mike the mechanic would tell you your exhaust bushings were going bad but you could check a repair manual to see he was lying. Now you'd be lucky to have a clue as to what he was talking about even with the manual. And of course they'll have to put your car on the diagnostic meter to find out what's wrong. Gad I think I've paid for about a dozen of those meters for what they charge to use it. Then there's the specialty tools that only dealers or repair shops have to remove a widget. You could buy one but the tool is one that you would only use once during the life of the car. And once you move to your next model the tools change as well.

What happens when there's a major technology fail?
Our technology may be the botox and face lifts of present day life making things look pretty but the infrastructure has arthritis. We live in a very thin veneer of civilization. Our power grid is 50+ years old and I see no great push to replace it. Yes we keep adding solar panels and wind turbines to the system but the backbone is pushing 60 and as we all know everything has a life span. Like our very nature we'll use it until it fails then wonder how we'll pay to replace it.

I can only hope that moving forward that technology would get simpler and not more complex. Well I said hope.

12 comments:

an average patriot said...

If technology fails we're screwed. If China or Russia can block our power grid we're screwed. They put chips in the engine so only those with access can work on them. I don't have a cell, I keep contact with technology at a bare minimum. This computer is it for me. One of my sons just tried to talk to me on face book. I was an asshole so he called. Some of us don't change!

Roger Owen Green said...

isn't that why you keep that fancy bicycle? to get away when it all falls apart/

Tim said...

Funny I've been thinking of that kind of stuff to. Yeah we would be screwed. We have no idea on how to be self sufficient. All that knowledge has all but been lost. I'll be honest,I'm near 60 and have never even caught a fish. I don't know one from the other. I've tried over the years but not even a bite. If we didn't have power, it would near impossible to live. You know what? I sure would like to try.

The Blog Fodder said...

It won't be the Chinese or Russians who cut the power. It will be the power companies in support of the Religious Reich's Second Amendment solution to mob rule aka democracy.

In the FSU, the government controls the electrical system and when the people get uppity, the lights can go out. Back in 2002, Kuchma ordered the trains (all electric) stopped to prevent people from coming to Kyiv to protest. Throw a switch. Helpless.

Eunoia said...

Most electronic calculators can only do arithmetic on scalars.

I still have a 2D slide rule to do vectors.

I do matrices on pencil and paper, tensors too.

Why isn't technology keeping up with our (my?) needs ;-)

Tom Harper said...

Calculators are great, but if a person can't do simple math and the calculator breaks, they're up sh*t creek without a paddle. Ever been to a supermarket when the computerized cash registers are down? There's nothing more excruciating than watching the cashier slowly figure out how much change to give back.

Demeur said...

Jim I don't blame you. I hate face book as well.

Roger who says I have a bike? I have two legs and good walking shoes.

Tim my grandmother grew up before electricity and cars. She taught me a few things.

Fodder that didn't stop the protest did it?

Eunoia I guess if I have a difficult math problem then I can call you.

Tom I noticed that they put a calculator on the cash registers now because the checkers couldn't do the simple math.

MRMacrum said...

I am positive I commented already...oh well.

I am also a retro-grouch who insists on doing as much math in my head as possible. I even pull out my father's slip stick from time to time just to play. I hate our total reliance on the electrical medium. But here I am using that which I hate........Oh well. Maybe it's more of a love/hate thing. Or maybe a selective hate thing.

Your post and then Blog Fodder's comment inspired my latest piece of flash fiction BTW. It will be up tonight.

S.W. Anderson said...

Re: that old-time bicycle. Looks to me like some advanced technology would be needed to get on and off of it uninjured.

Technology has always been a mixed bag. Just ask the guy who got an arrow in his chest while reloading his musket or the woman who got fingers or hair caught in the wringer of her 1930s semiautomatic washing machine.

GPS is fantastic, IMO. I'm pretty good at car navigating, finding my way to where I need to go and then my way back. But GPS makes it more certain, saving gas and time.

What you say about car technology is true. The special tool thing has been a bugaboo going back to the 1980s, at least. My wife had trouble understanding why, after buying the very special headlight I needed to replace, I had to go back and buy a very special screw driver to be able to take the old one out and put the new one in. The headlight was, as I recall, about $8, the screw driver was another $5.95. I think I used it three times.

Agreed, on what happens when electricity goes out. Life is at a standstill. Don't dare open the fridge and the quiet is deafening. As time goes on, we do become more reliant on it, and short of a history-changing calamity, I don't see any way of going back.

Facebook and Twitter leave me cold. Today's equivalent of Hula Hoop and pet rock fads, IMO.

(Turns off curmudgeon mode switch. :) )

BBC said...

I like some high tech stuff, and hate some of it. And when it comes to my mechanical things I like to keep them as simple as possible.

I guess that everything is a trade off and we don't really know where all this is going. In part because there are a lot of greedy and just plain assholes on this rock.

And then there's the religious nuts that are not above doing anything they can to you if you don't agree with them.

May we live in interesting times. I'm just doing a picture post in the morning.

BBC said...

They put chips in the engine so only those with access can work on them.

You mean chips in monkeymobiles? Hell, now they are making electronic guns that can disable them.

I'm keeping my old riding mower to get around on if I have to. As for a cell phone, I'll admit that I've taken to my simple one, it's cheaper than a land line.

BBC said...

Tom I noticed that they put a calculator on the cash registers now because the checkers couldn't do the simple math.

Why? If they can't scan the items with the computers they can't come up with a price for said item.

Hell, just put what you want in one of those bags they sell for a buck and no one will pay any attention to you as you leave the store.