Past And Future Views

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The murder rate was quadrupling but we were allowed – sometimes ordered – to take the subway in the bad old days if we were past the age of ten. Oh, those parents. But I guess it was relative. Why worry about your kids meeting a homicidal psychopath or some street toughs when you’re thinking about nuclear war? Those were the days when your kids were in school practicing putting their heads under the desk to prepare for nuclear war because, you know, that was going to keep them safe.

We weren’t really sure what they were, but “fallout shelters” or at least the signs for such things were everywhere. You’d see the yellow and black signs on random apartment buildings or on some door to a windowless basement.  Quick choice: die in a nuclear blast or get stuck in some room with strangers for weeks. Before you decide – ask yourself: Did these rooms have toilets? I don’t think so.

Yeah, what a choice. Radiation or hard time in a fallout shelter. Food and water, saltines and spam. And worst of all, other people. 

Fallout shelters and the threat of nuclear war fell out of vogue because people got to watch real war on their televisions each night as images from Vietnam were broadcast.  What crazy, scary times. 

Kids get trophies and medals for nothing these days. If they actually had “participation” awards in the old days they’d be legit. You participated and survived the sixties and seventies?  That deserves a trophy.

But you know, we  — us friggin’ humans — always look back with half full glasses. We call the bad old days the good old days. That’s how screwed up we are.

But I guess we also call them the good old days because what’s really scary is the future.

I want driverless cars. I think it’s absolutely insane that people who are 1) easily distracted, 2) sleepy, 3) generally uncoordinated, 4) dumb, and 5) all of the above can drive a four-thousand pound machine at high speed in the opposite direction of other high speed machines driven by All of The Above — separated just by a painted yellow line. Insane.

But now somebody says terrorists might program driverless cars so they become crowd-killing weapons. Great.

I want a robot house cleaner like the one on The Jetsons. But now I hear robots will be nothing more than wolves in robot clothing.  Someone created a robot that would ask permission to get into a college dorm. When approached by the robot, most students said no.  Then they gave the robots a box of cookies and dressed it in fun stickers from a local candy store. The robot got easy access.  And then someone said, what if the robot had a bomb inside the cookie box?  Man, oh, man.

And the latest thing from the near future? A memory prosthesis. You can’t remember where you put your keys and this brain implant will help. Sounds good until you realize you’ll also remember all the bad stuff about people you love.

I don’t want to scare you about the future. I’m just slipping into my winter mood a little early this year. Getting ready for three months in a fallout shelter.

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