Funny and/or Strange

North Koreans, Pissed At Chuck, Launch Bomb Strikes

I guess I’ve pushed it to far, making fun of North Korea. They’re coming for me, with everything they have.  Meanwhile, in the bowels of hell, the old madman is laughing, and I’m just stuck here warily watching the skies.



Stupid Stuff Micro-Post: Apple Watch

Stupid Headlines that show up in my news aggregator, and maybe even other Stupid Stuff that I find–a new tradition I talked about here.  Who knows?  No one knows–it’s a big, damn mystery.  But the world is brimming with Stupid, and I’m setting out to document it and share it with you on days that I can’t think of anything worthwhile or positive to write about.

The Apple Watch Sold Out In Under 6 Hours images
So, while we know a sucker is born every minute, people will soon be able to count just how many suckers that is while simultaneously pinning fruitcake recipes on Pinterest and making up hopelessly nonsensical hashtags.  As if the congenitally self-absorbed, on the street and on mass transit, aren’t annoying enough, now we’ll have to put up with an army of douchebags talking into their jacket sleeves like a bunch of melodramatic secret service agents.

It is a tragedy that I will, forever, associate this abomination with one of the most wonderful human beings ever to walk the planet, but when I first heard of a Apple developing a wrist phone/whatever-else-it-does I immediately thought of Dorothy Parker’s timeless quote, “What fresh hell is this?”

Thoreau once said that “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”  Imagine if that poor, brilliant SOB had experienced some sort of strange future dream full of hipsters, tech geeks, and–gods help us–investment professionals  mumbling into their shirt cuffs?  He’d have hurt somebody, or he’d have hurt himself.  Hear me now: I will never own one of these.  Of course, I misplaced my non-smart cell phone two weeks ago and I’m just now thinking that I might oughta look around the house for it.


What To Name A Generation?

iGen? in all their glory

I recently read a moderately interesting article from NPR about generation names, where they came from, and how they evolve.  Towards the end, the author mentioned how the generation now referred to as Millennials were, for a long time, called Generation Y–a nod to my group, Generation X.  The Gen Y name, according to the writer, was a placeholder utilized until the marketing people who drive these definitions felt that they had an adequate enough grasp of the overall group characteristics to slap a label on them.

There are many things about this generation that I do not understand.
There are many things about this generation that I do not understand.

Interesting, I thought, but what about my kids?  There is no name for that generation, as yet, beyond “those damned kids and their loud, shitty music why can’t they stay out of my yard!” which isn’t, from a marketing or sociological standpoint, all that useful.

The leading term seems to be “iGen” in a nod to the technology which has been ubiquitous to these young people–the first generation to be born into the fully digital world.  The “iGen” name also reflects the monstrous looming presence of the Apple Corporation, progenitor of much of the defining technology of the era.

The counter-argument, and it is a poignant one, is the appropriateness of naming a generation after dominant technology when so many of that generation are economically limited in access to much of that technology.  I see the point, but I would argue that in the era we called “the space age” very few people actually got to go to space (some short-haired white guys, some dogs, and a few monkeys notwithstanding.)

It seems to me that within an age–or a generation–individuals are defined not just by their ownership or use of a defining element, but by their access–or lack of access–to the same.  More precisely, in an age of the internet, a young person without access to the internet is equally effected, whether negatively or positively.  Indeed, it could be argued that the negative relationship–or lack of relationship–is felt more profoundly than the positive, especially when their is a mainstream expectation that this access is universal.

My solution, of which I’m very proud, is to simply add a question mark to the favored “iGen” nomenclature.  So, iGen becomes iGen? –at once recognizing the power of the definitive technology as well as the questions surrounding the equity of this definition amidst the social and economic inequity of access.  Although the question remains: is it cynical, or just realistic, to name a generation after the individuals that the society of the time leaves behind?  I wonder.

Please begin my historically significant Wikipedia page….here

Or read more here.


Colleges Ban “Selfies” At Graduations

Just when I’ve reached maximum smugness in my quest to be the stodgiest, crankiest, post-luddite resister to technology, a bunch of college administrators have gone and made me look like a card-carrying member of the electronic cognoscenti–a real live, glowing tech wienie.  Go figure.

To be clear: I loathe our society’s fetish for new technology and the cult of planned obsolescence that drives it.  I have a dumb phone, not a smart phone–it supposedly takes photos as well as receives phone calls (when I happen to turn it on, which is rarely), but I couldn’t tell you how.  It costs me $84 a year via tracfone–$20 plus tax every 3 months for 60 minutes plus 60 bonus minutes, and I’ve saved up thousands of minutes. I keep the phone in my truck, so I always know where it is–but I won’t answer if I’m driving.  Clever, right?

glass-blowerThe version of windows I use is so old it’s made from blown glass.

Windows 8 makes me angry.  Really angry.  Throw glasses and kick the cat angry.  I don’t use my daughter’s laptop because it unnerves her when I shout and curse at inanimate objects, but it’s the idea of the thing as well as that incomprehensible, alien interface.  Some geeks locked in a climate-controlled cell in Redmond, Washington decided that it was time to take a perfectly good, largely intuitive system and declare it outdated.  Why?  Because they can.  Because you’ll buy it.  Because some of you rushed to buy it the minute it came out–blasted early adopters, you’re the worst of the worst.

The difference between the tech addicts and lemmings is that lemmings rush over cliffs in a harried state of semi-consciousness, the result of some strange biological imperative related to a delicate sense of the world around them.  The tech-crazed, while they may be semi-conscious due to obsession with their tiny wittle eensy weensy touchscreens, throw themselves happily on the jagged rocks below, having willingly paid for the chance to do so.  Indeed, they look forward to it.

I was appalled when,  just days ago, a good friend of mine proposed that computer coding be added to our school district’s curriculum, as advocated by some group of geeks somewhere–I followed the links, read some arguments, and shook my head: not my thing.  Should broader tech ed be available at young ages?  Absolutely–but foisting that agenda on all students is a lot like making the argument that everyone who drives, or will drive, an automobile should take 12 years of design and engineering classes.  But, that’s me–I don’t need to teach my computer to do things I don’t need it to do.  It’s purpose is to serve and entertain, equal parts herald, messenger, librarian and jester.

It should be shocking to you, then, that I’ve been appalled by the story that a handful of colleges and universities have banned the utterly obnoxious ritual of “selfies” at their graduations.  First among these was Bryant University–that’s right, Bryant is in the news again!  It is little wonder that the administration of Bryant is banning this vanity–they are constantly on the tongues of mainstream America, an assault on our senses unprecedented in our time–Bryant!  Bryant!  Bryant!  They must be fearful–understandably–that they’ve reached the saturation point of cultural and media exposure.  We’re all sick of Bryant–if we hear ONE MORE THING about Bryant!  Argggghhhh.

Or not–because, let’s be honest: this is the first and last you have or will have heard about Bryant.

Since this (non)story broke weeks ago, administrators at Bryant and South Florida University (are these places real?) have back-tracked a bit, explaining that the ban was merely to help speed along ceremonies and preserve a sense of decorum, but I’ve been unable to find a withdrawal of the threat withhold diplomas from violators, nor have I found any references to students actually facing punitive measures for violating the bans, so the point is pretty much moot.

It’s an interesting situation to consider, however, and a curious position in which I find myself in commenting upon it–no matter how derisive I feel about our cultural obsession with trendy tech, I’m far more enraged by accounts of arbitrary authoritarianism. I don’t consider myself particularly rebellious, but there is nothing worse–in a regular, day to day life–than penny-ante autocrats exerting their limited powers because they can.  Threaten to withhold a diploma at the bitter end of a student’s 4 or more year slog through academia?  That’s on par with the Deli lady at the old A & P store near where I grew up, who forced you to take a number even when you were the only person in the store.

Or is this story just a whole lot of nuthin’?



Functioning Hoverboard–Changes Everything

What they’re not telling you here is that the current HUVr Boards are not yet commercially available and face years of testing before they will be.  The prototypes in the video cost more than $1 Million each–but the fact of the matter is that this changes EVERYTHING.  Once the costs come down, we’ll see this sort of tech added to everything from shopping carts to automobiles, from hospital gurneys to battle tanks.

The military is already working on a “trackless hover tank” prototype.


Cut Away Previews.indd