Americans Aren’t Ready for the Future Google and Amazon Want to Build

Dear headline writers,

The future is not inevitable. It is not an existing state of being that the universe continually slides into. The future is a hypothetical set of circumstances that result from our collective efforts.

It is misleading, irresponsible, and demeaning to write headlines like the one above.

It is misleading because it presupposes that the future is inevitable, and that our alleged lack of readiness is to blame for that future’s delayed arrival. But the future is what we choose to make it. The future does not arrive, it is arrived at. The future is something we build, not something we fall into.

It is irresponsible because you, as professional writers, should value your words and their meanings. And it is demeaning because it presupposes that your readers don’t value words and their meanings.

A more honest alternative to the above could be: American Opinion Split on What Future Tech They Trust. A more sensational alternative could be: The Future That Americans Have Already Destroyed.

And a more honest conclusion would be that these products and companies do not fail because “they were ahead of their times”, but simply because we didn’t want them or what they were making.

Thank you for your consideration.

PS. The headline is from an article on Wired published on 18 April 2014. If you want to read it, you can search for it. But I can’t recommend it.

   the future 

So I’ve been rereading A Farewell To Arms. Hemingway is funnier than I remember him being. Or maybe my sense of humor has changed since high school.

I opened the door, closed it, and went into the bedroom. Catherine was awake.

"What is it, darling?"

"It’s all right, Cat," I said. "Would you like to get dressed right away and go in a boat to Switzerland?"

"I’m almost packed," she said. "Darling, I’m awfully stupid, but why is the barman in the bathroom?"

"Sh—he’s waiting to take our bags down."

"He’s awfully nice."

"He’s an old friend," I said. "I nearly sent him some pipe-tobacco once."

"What are you thinking, darling?"

"About whiskey."

"What about whiskey?"

"About how nice it is."

Catherine made a face. “All right,” she said.

Don’t tell me how it ends. I’m so close.

A few weeks ago, during our latest little snowpocalypse, I decided that I needed to own a copy of Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker. Luckily, there was one for sale on eBay. Also luckily, it was going for much less than I expected. Even more luckily, I was the only bidder. And even luckier still, the sale ended less than 12 hours from when I found it. So I bid and I won. Lucky me.

The record shipped from the UK. While it was in transit my lady decided that I should have a record player. So I have one of those now, too.

At time of writing, I have four records:

There are 12 songs on the record and they’re all good but I wondered, if this compilation were to be made today, what would it include? So I made this list: Another fire escape, same sky.

   Scott Walker 

Systems like the attitude control, which maintains the orientation of the spacecraft; the gyro, a sensor that measures the satellite’s deviation from its set path; or the star tracker, a sensor that orients the satellite to distant objects in the celestial sphere, are the same across several ISRO missions.

"The building blocks are kept the same so we don’t have to tailor-make for each mission," said Mr. Annadurai

There are a lot of parallels to the Unix philosophy in India’s mission to Mars.

   India   Mars   Unix 
An excellent song for tonight. Also, an excellent deal if you buy the whole album instead of individual tracks.

An excellent song for tonight. Also, an excellent deal if you buy the whole album instead of individual tracks.

   Snoop Dogg 

President Barack Obama announced Jan. 17 he plans to discontinue the NSA’s in-house retention of phone metadata, but expressed an interest in either phone companies or a new third-party retaining the information. Phone companies are reportedly uninterested in doing so…

Change we can believe in.

Happy snow day, Portland.

Happy snow day, Portland.

What Pike and Church were uncovering turned out to be something much darker and harder to process than Watergate. With Watergate, there was a simpler narrative that reaffirmed America’s own fairytales about itself: Here was a bad apple, Nixon, and a few bad apples around him, eventually exposed and overthrown by the good guys—the valiant press, the politicians with integrity—proving that the American System worked after all.

But what the Pike Committee (and to a lesser extent the Church Committee) revealed was something much more systemic, much more complex and depressing to grapple with.

As Pike put it, in Watergate the American people were asked to believe that “their President had been a bad person. In this situation they are asked much more; they are asked to believe that their country has been evil. And nobody wants to believe that.”

via Pando Daily

If I am traitor, who did I betray? I gave all my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason, I think people really need to consider who they think they’re working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy.
   NSA   Edward Snowden 


I have a theory about nostalgia: that one’s desire to wallow in one’s past is inversely proportional to one’s hope for the future.