What do Pluto (the planet), Queen guitarist Brian May, the Israeli Beresheet lunar lander, tardigrades, comedian Dave Chappelle, and Netflix, all have in common?
Firstly, that they’ve all been very prominent in my news reader (and perhaps yours as well). Secondly, they all deal with socially divisive things (some more than others). Thirdly, they all caught my eye because they have to do with things I feel a bit strongly about (some more than others).
Let me explain…
The other day I saw in a New York Times article that Alvin Toffler had died last month. The article wasn’t really an obituary so much as about Future Shock, the book Toffler wrote back in 1970. If you’re around my age, you may remember him and the book; both were a bit of a big deal.
I hadn’t thought about that book since back then, but as the Times writer points out, “it seems clear that his diagnosis has largely panned out, with local and global crises arising daily from our collective inability to deal with ever-faster change.” Truer words! Even in 1970, the technological pace was starting to affect people in bad ways, and it certainly hasn’t gotten any better since.
The article really struck a chord! I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately — and have written a few posts — about the growing disconnect between people and their grasp of the technological modern world.
Put on your arithmetic caps, dear readers. Also your math mittens, geometry galoshes and cosine coats. Today we’re venturing after numeric prey that lurks down among the lines and angles.
There’s no danger, at least not to life or limb, but I can’t promise some ideas won’t take root in your brain. There’s a very real danger of learning something when you venture into dark territory such as this. Even the strongest sometimes succumb, so hang on to your hats (and galoshes and mittens and coats and brains).
Today we’re going after vectors and scalars (and some other game)!
You couldn’t know this, but my blogging workspace is littered with balls of virtual crumpled paper. The ones writers make when they rip failed writing attempts from their typewriter, smush them up in disgust, and toss them disdainfully over their shoulder. This post — which has been in my mental queue for well over a year — has the strongest resistance to being written that I’ve ever encountered.
I wrote the note you see here somewhere back in 2013. It seemed like exactly the sort of thought chain that would make an interesting post. Many of the items in that chain (consciousness, art, science) are things that fascinate me and are even areas this blog tries to discuss.
So why is a post about it so dang hard to write?
Last time I wrote about willful ignorance as one good definition of stupidity. This time, I want to explore some ideas about why there seems a growing amount of it in modern society. Of course that necessitates first addressing the question: Is there a growing amount of it? I believe the answer is yes, but I also believe a lot of the reason for it is the growing complexity of society.
There was a time when a clever person could fix their washing machine or their car. Our machines were fairly simple then: a motor, a few hoses, some wires and belts. It wasn’t hard to figure out. A clever person with experience and tools could even fix their radio or TV. Replacing a burned out “tube” was a common household activity.
Now our machines bear the warning: “No User Serviceable Parts Inside”
I find myself in an increasing funk the last few weeks. By now I’m feeling maximally funky, but unfortunately not in the good way. Funky often refers to smell, and in this case the increasing stink is mental. I’m just … fed up, halfway between tired and disgusted, many miles south of annoyed.
Work accounts for much of that, perhaps all of it. Yet another week of literally zero progress. In fact there was a setback: vendor work that didn’t, and the vendor is being difficult about dealing with it. I seem to be on the IT project equivalent of the Titanic (and there are a scary number of parallels).
And for a variety of reasons I’m feeling a strong sense of impedance mismatch with the world.