Sunday, July 01, 2007

Big Brother and the Bay Bridge, Golden Gate, etc.

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When I returned to Cal, I took two courses in the summer of 1966. One was Photography, from Penny D'Hamers, (best teacher I ever had), and the other was Technology and Anthropology.

In the second course, in addition to learning about the progress of technology over the last 4 million years, we also learned about society and technological change. The most practical take-away was that people are very reluctant to change, and that some changes can completely destroy a society.

The article, "Steel Axes for Stone" (or was that Steel Blades for Stone Axes" ?) discusses a situation in which the missionaries in a coastal Australian village gave steel axes to those who converted, and the women and children went for them first. Prior to this interference, only the men had axes, and the stone to make axes was obtained by trading salt, which the inland communities needed. If a woman or child neeeded to use an ax, they had to get it from a male. Suddenly the culture was turned upside down, the women and children had better axes of their own, and the whole trading sytem went down the tubes, and the society fell apart.

Today we have a much more complex society, but one in which the people are still reluctant to make changes. Case in point, toll taking on the Bay Bridges. In 1953 or so an engineer came up with a hair brained scheme to collect tolls only one way. At the time they collected them both ways. By 1973 or so things were so bad they had to give it a try. Now we have the engineers and FastTrak. I got these the day they came out, and have watched in wonder over the last 7 years while very few additional people went for them. Driving into the Bay Area I marvel at the Troglodytes (sp) who have raced pass me on the freeway all the way from Sacramento, all lined up to pay manually.

Now the Bridge Districts have decided enough is enough, and they're increasing the number of lanes for FastTrak and lengthening the approaches for FastTrak (The CHP gonna love patrolling this). It's about time ! Hint, if they rename FastTrak to ITrak, it will sell much better. They could put in a traffic radio based on the car's current location to make it really cool.

Privacy, who cares ? As Bill Joy has pointed out, you don't have any anyway. And it becomes a matter of who has the time to track you anyway ? What makes you think you're so special ? Yes, you are unique, just like everybody else. How many CIA operatives does it take to track 300 million Americans ? Especially if they only work eight hour days ? Are we going to outsource that too ?

Now if we can just get some common sense into our energy supply and solar research. The A-Bomb and the Moon Shot were examples of SOCIALISM (eek! a mouse!) and NASA and NOAA are more examples, of things that work for society that are RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT !

Hey, when was the last time anybody said we should privatize the military ? Yes, I know, Dick Cheney's been doing his part to accomplish this for the benefit of his buddies. Hey we must have the most inefficient military ever. It's run BY THE GOVERNMENT ! Eek A Mouse Again... Republicans only use logic when it suits their desires. Liberals are no better....

Another note on techno change. The DVR is absolutely wonderful ! My wife even has completely mastered blasting through the commercials at ultra speed, and so we just have blurs of what's for sale. Again, there should be a button to mute the sound for x number of seconds. You hit the button, and punch in a number, for silence during live viewing. I'll bet a cookie the MegaCorps have patented the concept and put it on ice. I may make one anyway, just a button pusher over the mute button on a timer. Just like quick timing on a microwave.

Have a good day.....

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