Here in the Free State of PIG, we dare to ask the hard questions. We dare to ask, why did user friendly conveniences like the telephone and the television turn against us and make us want break out Old Betsy, then lock, load and kill the damn things? When did it get so out of control, that an entire population was transformed into mind-numbed, instantly gratified, Techno Trolls? When did we stop being technology consumers and start being technology addicts who will throw granny under the bus to be the first dweeb on the block to own the latest piece of technological crap that's going to be obsolete next week anyway?
We call the drivers of this runaway technology bus techno terrorists. We considered calling them techno pushers but thought it might impugn the reputation of those capitalist icons, the street corner drug pushers. Like their drug dealing counterparts, techno terrorists know they've got humanity hooked on this relentless technological evolution. These techno terrorists are exploiting the techno addict's insatiable craving for something newer, faster, bigger and flashier. The techno terrorists have brainwashed techno addicts into believing their dazzling, new, features-intensive, whizbang has been transformed into a technological dinosaur the moment they switch it on for the first time. That easily, the craving for more is programmed into the techno addict, because techno addicts, like their drugged out counterparts, need a bigger, stronger, techno hit to achieve that same techno high.
Cooking has evolved from burning food to ashes over a roaring fire to burning food to ashes in an oven, and beyond. As usual, we listened to a techno terrorist Siren song that compelled us to transform food into ashes at warp speed in a techno terrorist death ray box we call the microwave oven. The microwave oven is ideal for gizmo crazed techno addicts who will always want to burn it faster, with more advanced computerized whistles and buzzers, whose only purpose is keeping the addict amused during the food charring process. How many more bags of popcorn must be sacrificed on this altar of techno terrorist technology run amok before we STOP THE MADNESS?
The humble timepiece has gone trough a similar evolution. When the venerable sun dial proved to be egregiously deficient in low light conditions, timekeeping technology created a variety of mechanical clocks. Eventually, timekeeping went electronic and the manual clock gave way to the programmable digital clock. Digital timekeeping plunged off the technological cliff when some techno terrorist perpetrated the first self-adjusting clock that would reset itself for Daylight Savings Time. Happily ever after? For a while, until America's Nanny State Nitwits expanded Daylight Savings Time and gave every existing self-adjusting timepiece in America a stress-induced nervous breakdown. Welcome to the Brave New World of appliances, PIGsters
[Hambo sez: Don't even get me started on the iWatch, part timepiece, part phone, part computer. I refuse to go there.]
The first great leap forward in long distance communication happened, when Bell's telephone replaced smoke signals, drums and shouting as the preferred method. The first phones were crude, and seemed to work best when you bellowed into them. In many places, a town only had one or two phones, usually in a popular outpost of capitalism like a store or a restaurant. That meant the user was shouting out his, her, hisher or its private business in a public place.
Phone technology advances reduced the public shouting factor with the first in-the-home phones which featured a gem called 'the party line'. Here, the user shared details of his life with the handful of people assigned to the same party line. Eventually, phone technology was optimized with each home assigned one, or more, numbers that weren't shared. Unwilling to tolerate that state of affairs, the techno-terrorists grabbed for the brass ring with a pernicious blight that spread like a plague, around the globe: the cell phone. Now, it's back to the beginning, with cellidiots bellowing details of their lives, in public places. Welcome to the Brave New World of communications, Sparky.
When Clyde Caveman needed to record important events, he indulged in a primordial form of graffiti called cave drawings. Eventually rock walls were replaced by an artist's canvas, and so it remained for a long time. In the fullness of time, photography became top dog, but it wasn't for the masses, since cameras were large and cumbersome.
Technology made the great leap with user-friendly film and cameras that didn't give you a hernia. Film developing became a big business, ushering in that pernicious pestilence, the vacation slide show. Unwilling to leave well enough alone, some hooligan perpetrated the digital camera, putting film makers and film developers on the fast track to oblivion. Digital photography is still top dog, but the stand alone camera isn't the most widely used photographic device. That distinction belongs to the cell phone. Tablet computers are also equipped with excellent digital photography capability. Welcome to the Brave New World of photography, Sparky.
In the Brave New World of computing, the most visible change is what we'll call portability. In bygone days, in addition to the desktop unit at work, and the one at home, many users carried a laptop to use when they were out and about. All of those items are still in play, but they're now considered Old School, in an era of tricked out phones with access to cyberspace. Recently, a new technological terror - the tablet computer - the iPad, Kindle Fire, etc - took portability to a new level, setting off a techno addict stampede.
Speaking of Computers, let's yammer about Windows 10. Have you wondered why they're giving it away? They don't need your $$$ because Win 10 is SPYWARE. It's a keystroke logger that will grab everything on your computer and upload it to a Microsoft server farm. After Microsoft uploads it, they can poke around in your bank accounts, private correspondence, business documents and whatever else amuses them, after which they auction it off to the highest bidder. Sorry Sparky, you're not allowed to bid on it. Microsoft swears it's harmless and can be disabled. Several technical publications tested that contention and reported at best mixed results. It's still watching, recording and uploading. Our advice, keep Windows 7 or buy a MAC.
Welcome to the Brave New World of books, PIGsters. The good news is that they still print them. The bad news is that bookstores are going the way of the incandescent lightbulb. The bookstore closest to the PIG bunker is 25 miles away in a seedy section of town. Yes, the library is still there, but it's infested by Urban Campers, and porn surfing perverts. Your best bet, for perusing a suitable selection of REAL books, is in cyberspace at sites like Amazon but the printed page is also under assault by a new technological terror, the E-reader.
In the Brave New World of books, you browse through the selections, pick one out, then instead of ordering a book and waiting for it to arrive, you simply download it over a 3G or wireless connection, right into your E-reader. Mere minutes after selecting it, your bought and paid for book is stored in your Kindle (or Nook if you got it at Barnes & Noble) where you can start reading it, immediately. Welcome to the Brave New World of reading, Bookworm.
Technology: Home Entertainment
On the home entertainment front, the lowly boob tube started out with crappy reception that got better or worse, depending on the blood-alcohol level of the relevant broadcast engineer. Programming was almost as bad as the picture quality, but, here and there, a worthwhile program made the ordeal enjoyable. Today, techno terrorists have spawned a revolving door of relentlessly changing viewing hardware and we have hundreds of channels clamoring for our attention. Despite TIVO, and oversized flat screens, most of the fare still sucks, even in high def. The good news is that you're no longer a slave to the engineer's drinking problem. The bad news is that you're now subjected to the whims of cable or satellite providers who will eliminate, or raise the price for, the few watchable channels and add ones that you wouldn't watch if your life depended on it. That's technological terror on an epic scale.
In the PIG bunker, we mitigated the 'nothing to watch' problem with a modest collection of movies and television series which allows us to watch a 'known good' selection from our collection whenever we want a diversion. Since tastes vary, we have at least two locations where we can pop in a movie for our viewing enjoyment. One such location is a small sitting room that We the PIGs call 'the book room'. For many years, it had a venerable television setup which allowed us to watch one of the 8 zillion satellite television channels, or use the DVD player to watch a movie from our collection. The boob tube setup got the job done, but, one dark day it started to show its age. To put it bluntly, the DVD-VCR unit ate itself, so I shopped around and found a replacement unit for a bargain price. There was just one problem with it, it was incompatible with the venerable CRT style television. So, I bought a new boob tube. Welcome to the Brave New World of television, Hambo.
The best way to demonstrate the advances in navigation technology is that venerable American classic, the Sunday drive. This automotive adventure usually starts when dad, a charter member of the Christopher Columbus school of navigation, proudly announces that he wants to explore a new shortcut to a popular family destination. The adventure reaches critical mass, hours later, when dad makes 'landfall' at a destination he never intended to visit, with no idea whatsoever how he got there. That's the magic moment when, brimming with mock bravado, he turns to his wife and claims that he did it on purpose and knew where he was the whole time. Justifiable homicide? Yup.
Dad's life expectancy took a turn for the better when his wife aimed him at computerized mapping programs which gave him directions to his destination, in as much detail as he wanted or needed. Since it was high tech and suitably manly - it didn't involve asking for directions or consulting a map where another man could see him - dad was on board in a heartbeat.
Techno terrorists were far from satisfied with this utterly workable solution, so they tempted dad with a new gizmo, the GPS unit. One look at that goodie's whistles and buzzers and dad was happier than a pig in slop. We're thrilled for dad, but we wonder how happy he'll be when he finds our his Garmin has a female voice (my brother calls her 'the bitch') telling him when, and where to turn. Welcome to the Brave New World of navigation, dad.
[Hambo sez: Speaking of GPS, it's at the heart of a proposal to tax the miles you drive. If you look deeper, a GPS mileage system would tell Big Brother more than how far you drive, it would also report WHERE you drive.]
Technology: Highway Safety
At the dawn of the modern transportation age, some especially adventurous travelers abandoned existing forms of transportation and opted for a new kid on the block, the automobile. The ride was rough and uncomfortable, the roads were daunting, at best, and traffic safety was a matter of "You're on your own, road warrior Sparky".
As transportation technology evolved, those rutted, dirt, roads gave way to gravel, then asphalt and finally the multi-lane, high speed interstate highway system. Highway safety technology kept pace as the stop sign gave way to the stop light, and the roving cop, gave way to a motorcycle cop hidden in the weeds with his radar gun. If road warrior technology stopped there, the situation would be annoying, but tolerable, due to a nifty countermeasure called the onboard radar detector. Unwilling to tolerate this technological stalemate, techno terrorists spawned the speed camera and stop lights that are tweaked to make the amber warning light so short you're hard pressed to see it. Traffic safety has given way to a Nanny State, revenue raising techno-snitch. Welcome to the Brave New World of highway Safety, Road Warrior Sparky.
Technology: Big Brother Is Watching
One of the most vile aspects of the Brave New World of technology is the way it lends itself to unwarranted intrusions into our daily lives.
* Capitalists use the unique electronic footprint of a shopper's cell phone to track the shopper's movements though a mall.
* Public Utilities install computerized meters on businesses and homes so they can monitor use and shut off power when they feel the need. They also install 'intelligent' thermostats, allowing a bureaucrat to adjust the temperature in a business or home to suit his, her, hisher, or its needs/agenda.
* Vehicles are so computerized, hackers are now targeting them.
* Your nosey neighbor doesn't need to peek over the fence, anymore. He's using a camera equipped drone, these days.
* You can't strike up a conversation at a social gathering, because everyone there is too busy texting each other.
Technological advances are a fact of our existence and so, apparently, are the techno-terrorists who feed off our techno addictions. Techno addiction is not, however, etched in stone. Do you really need to replace your fully functional boob tube with that hi-def, 93 feet wide, flat screen just to stare at Kim Kardashian's hippo size butt? Do you really need to upgrade to the latest high definition digital, or satellite, radio to listen to some bellowing boom box host spout his Kool-Aid fueled drivel? Do you really need that kicked up cell blight, or can you get the job done with the one you've got? Do you really need a new computer, or has that techno addict next door nagged you into it with his relentless, "my computer runs circles around yours" bragging? Do you really need a car that is so computerized it will randomly engage its 'we're all gonna die' runaway mode?
If you're buying techno crap to stay on the constantly moving technological leading edge, you're hooked, techno addict Sparky. We think it's time to go cold turkey and kick that techno addiction habit. It's time to use something until it wears out, or ceases to be functional. Do that, and it will be the techno pushers who start to feel terrorized for a change. Bold New Concept.