Thursday, September 18, 2008

How did we get here?

Redwing's recent troubles and the culmination of long running financial collapses have got me pondering, "How did we get here?" As you read, please do some pondering of your own. Do you agree? Do you think I'm off base? How do we fix this? What's my role?

Are we kidding ourselves when we think that the world is a better place today than it was 100 years ago? Have we really made progress? I mean the kind of progress that REALLY matters! Sure, science and invention has brought us the automobile and airplanes, electricity and plumbing, the Internet and blogs, and the list goes on. But are we better off? Has this put an end to racism? Has it made our lives simpler? Are we having more fun?

I love technology and all the wonders that come with it, but now I wonder if it has come with too high a cost. This post is not about technology or modern wonders. Have we lost focus on what living is all about. This post is about: have we changed the racist, bigoted, selfish, ignorant, callous, covetous, apathetic nature of being human?

Regardless if you're religious, spiritual, or agnostic, I remember stories adults used to tell when I was a kid, and of stories I've read from ages past, there used to be a sense that people cared for each other. I grew up in poverty; was the minority in a 90% black neighborhood; was the only non-black kid in my class. I was reared to respect my elders and look out for my neighbor. I know that other kids were taught similarly. There were squabbles, fights, and riots in my neighborhood; it wasn't Eden by any means. But at the end of the day, we knew what was right and usually learned from it.

These days it seems everybody is looking for ways to ridicule people who are visually different. They are looking for ways to make a billion bucks. And they don't care who it hurts. Actually, it seems that sometimes it's better if they've stepped on someone to get there. Why does someone have to be subjected to such ignorance and denigration just because they support a black presidential candidate? Why are so many companies allowed to make tons of money off other people but, when they can't balance their own check book the government has to bail them out?

If I'm not making my point, I'll make it simple: what happened to our sense of responsibility? Why don't we look out for our neighbor? If we knew we could rely on each other in hard times, we wouldn't have worry about... anything else. Everybody does their part to make society better.

I don't have The Answer, but I do think this is one of the ways to get there.


Grey Fedora said...

How we got here... a few curmudgeonly ramblings:

In the 1960's, when computers and automation were making their debut, I read an article predicting that in the future, we would have to come up with a replacement for work; we would have so much leisure time because the machines would be doing everything.
A couple years ago, I went back to Pennsylvania on vacation. My wife, who is a west coast girl, wanted to see the Amish country, where folks still farm with horses. The Amish have to a large degree dropped out of the rat race.
A few days after we returned, I had to fast for a cholesterol test. Mercifully, I had a morning appointment. After drawing blood, I stopped by McDonald's where I witnessed a businessman wheeling and dealing on his cell phone.
I remember the first time I saw a cell phone. I was conducting a "bid walk" for some work we were sub-contracting. One of the estimators carried a bag phone, and was busy lining up the next appointment while I was explaining the work i needed done. He was already three jobs ahead of the other guys. It wasn't long before they all had cell phones.
How did we go from having to develop an alternative to work, to being so busy we're eating porno food, trying to keep ahead of the pack?

Diva (Mrs. Fedora) and I were discussing the budget the other day, and it occurred to me we have bills our parents never imagined in their wildest dreams. They didn't pay for cable TV, internet, or cell phone service, not to mention a computer that needs to be replaced every few years.

I ride the bus to work. You used to interact with the people in your immediate surroundings. Now everyone is plugged into their own private little world, with either earphones or a Bluetooth sticking out of their ear.
There is a lot of ambient noise on the bus, you can hardly hear a cell phone conversation. People assume the party on the other end of the line also can't hear them, which leads to the phenomenon of "cell yell" where bystanders are forced to listen to your half of the conversation.

Washington just passed a "hands free" law for cell phone use while driving. Diva bought herself an earbud, and asked if I wanted one.
Like most guys, peeing while taking a shower is as close as I get to multi-tasking. Studies have shown that talking on a cell phone is just as dangerous as driving while drunk. Hands free headsets solve only part of the problem. A passenger is aware of the traffic situation, and pauses the conversation if the road needs the drivers attention. The person on the other end of the cell phone has no idea what is happening. Besides, I drive a stick shift. I told her I can pull over if I want to call someone.

My parents lived through the depression and the war. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" was their philosophy.
I broke the handle on my pole axe. My father would have gone to the hardware store, bought a new handle, and attached it to the axe head. Home Depot doesn't even carry axe handles, I just bought a new one. I console myself that I am still using the old axe head as a wedge.

A few weeks ago, my printer gave me an error message: Waste Ink Tank Full, and quit working. I thought I would just empty the waste ink tank, and carry on.
I couldn't find a waste tank anywhere on the printer, and the user manual didn't say anything.
I went online, and found an independent site that explained it. The printer has a sponge glued to the bottom which collects drippings from the inkjet cartridges. After so many cartridge changes, it assumes the sponge is saturated. Soon the ink would smear on the paper as it moves through the printer, so it gives you the error message and shuts down. I couldn't find any instructions on replacing the sponge.
Frustrated, i took it down to Best Buy. The Geek Squad guy had also never heard of this problem, but when he called the alpha geek, he confirmed what I had read online.
Best buy didn't carry the replacement sponges. They could send the printer out for repairs. It would cost $300, and I would be without the printer for a week or two. Better off to just buy a new printer for $100.
I bought the printer, and proceeded to tear the old one apart. After almoset completely disassembling it, sure enough, there was an ink soaked sponge on the bottom plate. If the manufacturer had put a couple screws in the bottom, it would have been a ten minute job to replace a fifty cent sponge. The printer was perfectly good, and would probably have given me years more service, but they had designed it to be disposable.
When I went to the manufacturers web site to complain, I couldn't help but notice the full page display extolling their "green" values. A rule of thumb is every pound of finished goods you own caused about forty pounds of pollutants to be released into the environment.

My parents had the same telephone the entire time I was growing up. Because the phone belonged to Ma Bell, it was economically advantageous for them to make a rugged instrument that would last a lifetime. I stopped at the phone kiosk at the mall the other day to ask a tech question, and the kid tried to tell me I needed a new phone, because mine didn't have the latest and greatest features. I have never sent a text message or played a game on the phone. I just barely figured out the phone book feature. I took a picture once, but never figured out how to download it.
The one way the cell phone has made my life simpler is I no longer have to wear a wristwatch because the phone shows me the time.

RedWing said...

Thank you for the excellent post. Your questions are great ones. Ones that need answering NOW. My experience is just that, MY experience. The reason for me sharing it was to help stop the ignorance that could cause any of YOU to experience it.

I wish I knew what to do. I've had a reporter call me but my wife isn't up for me talking back. "Ignorance is Bliss" is an old phrase that's been around for years. It is no longer valid. Ignorance breeds hatred. PERIOD. Lack of education in this country is a nightmare that must be solved. Whether your white, black, hispanic, cuban, jewish, irish, christian, catholic, baptist, methodist, etc. should not matter.

Who you pick for president should not MATTER to anyone but yourself. Just like with any religion...DO NOT force your beliefs on anyone. Guidance is allowed, but the decision is the persons.

Any person who DECIDES to be an ignorant racist bigot should be spanked about town with a trout. And guess what? So should their parents or friends (whichever caused it).

When babies are born they don't know hatred. They are TAUGHT it. If we can solve the problem of the teacher...we can fix the world.

Larry said...

Here is how we got here.. Please note, there is bad language in the following video. I almost laughed my arse off.

Erica said...

Dear John McCain:

We're not that stupid. Sure it would be nice if the women of America
believed that everyone with breasts and a vagina believed in equality.
But it ain't so. Women have differing views -- just like men.
Some like beer; some like chardonnay. And some prefer AA. Some like
automatic weapons; some don't. Some think every pregnancy is
sanctified; some don't. Some think presidents should be qualified for
office; some don't care.
But to take the struggle for equal rights that has gone on for two
centuries and embody it in the person of Sarah Palin is not just
misleading but abusive. Charging rape victims for rape kits is a
travesty of equal rights. Insisting that government impose your own
views of abortion on others is anti-equality. Cutting funding for
black teenage mothers is anti-feminist and racist. Lying to the
electorate about your record is insolent. Do you think we're too
stupid or indolent to check?
We have checked. You are lying and so is she. But you must think that
a big lie repeated over and over becomes the truth. And it seems that
many Americans are with you on that.
You are so good at the bold-faced lie that you even seem to believe it
yourself. When Barbara Walters and Joy Behar accused you of lying on
"The View," you claimed you weren't.
I guess your handlers have decided that after eight years of Cheney-
Bush saying one thing and doing another, truth no longer has any
meaning. Say it often enough and we'll believe anything -- like the
good commercial-watchers we are. So, prep Sarah to sound like Hillary
-- and we'll be fooled.
It remains to be seen how many will.
But one thing is clear. You have reached a new low in your regard for
the public. You have blown your credibility. Usually politicians wait
to be elected to do that.
It's fascinating to watch you and your party try to co-opt the idea of
change, the idea of equal rights after eight years of being in total
control and trashing the country for women, for workers, for taxpayers
and for anyone who earns dollars.
Do you really think we're that stupid? Apparently you do.
Tax cuts for the rich have produced trickle-down unemployment. You
want to try that again? We don't. The private sector has not policed
itself. Failing banks and mortgage companies prove that. The deficit
has swelled. Insurance rates for health care have swelled. Women are
joining the ranks of the poor faster than ever.
Play it again, John?
As Sarah Palin said, lying about her lust for earmarks, "Thanks but no