26 April 2011

Isaac Asimov on the Limits of Imagination

Today I started reading Isaac Asimov (shock!). I find it at once encouraging and dreadful that our imaginations at once can out predict technology by decades and also fall behind by decades. In Asimov's short story "The Dead Past," he posits a machine called a "MultiVac" which can store data and recreate it in hard copy in a few minutes. With even a smart phone and a printer several minutes would be a gross over-estimate of the requisite time to perform such a task.
Among the things which Asimov created in this short story the only thing which hasn't been invented yet is a Chronoscope - a device by which one may actually watch and listen to the past. Pretty cool, right? Wrong. As Isaac Asimov points out the past begins this instant and travels backwards. This device would allow anyone to be a Voyeur or a spy or any number of things from which we are at least moderately able to defend ourselves against. In a world with such a device privacy would be literally a thing of the past.
The only thing that Asimov didn't expect was a culture of exhibitionism and voyeurism. Such a culture has gripped the world of the internet. Anywhere you look, it's apparent. Even Facebook has "Get a Hot Date Tonight" ads in the side bars - or perhaps I should say especially Facebook? You see, the internet has developed a culture that has not realized that it exists outside of the box the says "Teh Interwebz." People frequently post on Facebook about their rampant sexual encounters or their binge drinking/drug use/vandalism. There is an entire generation that wants to be exposed - but only from the privacy of their own corner of the internet. For some reason there is a HUGE disconnect for people (us Millennials especially) between what we do on our computer and what happens in real life. We assume that because everything is password protected that no one else that can affect our lives will see it.
Perhaps the Chronoscope would be a relief for this subculture of the internet. All of a sudden, they wouldn't have to bother with facebook or twitter updates about how baller their lives are. They could just advertise that they were doing X to Y and then let people tune in on their home chronoscopes. Oh wait- they already can thanks to the magic of home webcams.

-Thomas Mercurial out.

22 April 2011

Well we're screwed.

Being the astounding academic that I am, I tend to read quite a bit of dreadfully serious philosophy. By cross-referencing these completely legitimate sources, I have discovered that this world is indeed ripe for a reckoning. I cannot help but assume that Dr. Gene Ray is in fact the Nostradamus of our time, and only Randall Munroe can widely broadcast such a dire message. In less than a hundred years, war will be beginning. Dr. Gene Ray, himself above god, is of course immortal and will be the one to - in the colloquial - "set us up the bomb."
I doubt very much that Nostradamus was a huge fan of self-fulfilling prophecies, but if you want to be accurate you have to do it yourself; time is simply too fickle a mistress.

13 April 2011

National Undergrad Lit Conference

Howdy folks,
I got back from NULC (National Undergraduate Literature Conference) a couple weeks ago. It was amazing to get the opportunity to hang out with so many serious writers. It was also gratifying to know that I blew all of the non-serious writers out of the water. There were a few people that went simply to be able to say they went.
No joke, one girl had a two page story about a dog, from a dog's perspective, about not having food or water for almost a week. There were a few problems with the story logistically, but the one that stood out in the minds of my group was the lacking conflict. What pray tell, makes a short story except a conflict? Without a conflict there is no story. On the bright side, Chenoa, a woman from my group, got to finish her entire story because of the extra time.
This was my first time reading any of my prose aloud. It's a fairly unsettling experience. Although, I must admit that I still find reading my own poetry aloud much more jarring. Poetry is a much more direct window into the soul than prose. It's almost impossible to write poetry outside of one's own experience, while my prose is almost entirely outside of my experience (obviously, people must be based on people, whom I've actually met).
My sister totally rocked her poetry reading. I'm ridiculously proud of how well she did. Her tone and attitude was spot on for her pieces.