Richard Fernandez (Belmont Club) on technology and magic.
When the last cellphone in the Caliphate is destroyed or worn out no one will know how to make another. Their 8th century is capable of producing fanaticism but probably couldn't make a ball point pen. Objects in the ISIS universe are "magical" -- put there by Allah in the possession of the infidel for holy warriors to plunder and enjoy until the power which inheres in them gradually fades away.
Surprisingly much of the modern world is not very different. Many people treat technology like magic even in the West. How does a cell phone work? Dunno. Where does it come from? The store. Civilization depends on the knowledge of a small fraction of the world's 7.5 billion population. The know-how to make pharmaceuticals, complex devices, aircraft, computers, industrial chemicals from scratch is probably confined to a few million people concentrated in North America, Europe, Russia and North Asia. The rest of us are end users. ...
Neo on celebrating the New Year.
Back then each year had seemed almost endless, and the punctuation of that last day, with its celebrations and dramatic turning of the number of the year into one we’d never seen before (wow! 1959! next, 1960!) was exciting and fresh. It also meant I was growing up, gaining in privilege and stature.
In high school it was still sort of fun—we went out in big packs, once or twice to Times Square to watch the whole thing in person. In college it became more problematic because I went home for Christmas vacation and was away from the boy friend de jour.
Then later on I was married. What do married people do on New Years? Parties still happened, but they were starting to end earlier and earlier (New Englanders don’t tend to be nightowls or wild partygoers, I’m afraid). For me they functioned mostly as an excuse for getting dressed up. It doesn’t help that I don’t drink much. Watching others get drunk has been an interesting spectator sport over the years, but not really my favorite activity.
As for that “growing in privilege and stature” thing—well, I’m kind of on the other side of that particular slope. ...
Erin Palette at Lurking Rhythmically has a Firefly dream. Go to the post for details.