Wednesday, November 03, 2010

What the Hell???

... is happening to our society?  Every time I think we’re making a stride forward, some idiot just has to go and prove me wrong.  No, its not what you think.  I am not going to bitch about the American election results.  Okay, that’s a lie.  I am going to bitch about the American election results, but only for a little bit.

“My fellow Americans (hey, I am a North American!) ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”  Sound familiar?  C’mon folks, it took the Republicans in the House twelve years to run your economy and country into the ground.  After two years, in the middle of the biggest recession your nation has seen since the Dirty Thirties, you are ready to go back to the people who put you there in the first place because President Obama didn’t instantly fix everything with his Harry Potter magic wand???  Jesus!  The Democrats brought you tighter financial accountability and an actual health care plan!  Not to mention getting you back some actual respect in the international community.  Oh, I forgot, that’s Communist/Socialist rhetoric.  My bad.

At first I thought this was a modern phenomenon - “I need instant gratification!” owing to the fast food, high speed internet, Twitter and Facebook and Instant Messaging world we live in, but it turns out this is a historical fact.  Throughout American history (and maybe throughout other countries too, its hard to compare different electoral systems though) the President’s party loses significant support mid-way through the first term - people are just that impatient and that unwilling to cut some slack.  So its not a new thing. 

Maybe it’s the American “love it or leave it” ideology - look at what happened to the Dixie Chicks for a prime example of this.  Why can’t it be “love it or leave it or maybe work to make it better?”  Can’t we have fundamental disagreement without having death threats?

(To my American and ex-pat Canadian friends, I don’t mean to lump you all together here, just talking about the overall trend and some of the larger ideologies)

So now we have members of “The House” who are Tea-Party members... just like the Mad Hatter.  He was crazy too, but at least he had a reason - working with all that felt resulted in mercury poisoning...  So what’s these folks excuse?  Bigotry?  Intolerance?  Lack of education or understanding of the fundamental principles their country was built upon???

Bah.  Enough American politics, it just gives me indigestion.  And no, the Yanks aren’t the only ones with leaders with their heads up their collective behinds, Mr. Harper, I am looking at you and your creepy hair and creepier policies which are eroding the rights we’ve spent generations building upon.  But it is time to discuss something far more serious.

Our iron died this morning.  Plugged it in to iron my shirt, and nada.  Nothing.  No heat, no light, no steam.  Its about ten, maybe twelve years old, so it gave good service.  A twenty-one steam salute will be held as we toss it into the recycling.

I went onto Canadian Tire’s website to find another iron that will do the job, only to be bombarded with so many options that it boggled my mind.  “Digital temperature readout”, “Intelligent electronic controls maintain and inform you of actual and selected temperatures”, “T-Fal durilium soleplate with active lines for easier and faster 2 way ironing” and “USB interface for continuous monitoring of power and water usage, as well as built in Mp3 and DivX capability.”

Okay, the last one is a joke, but what the hell is a “durilium soleplate” and why do I need a digital temperature readout??  What happened to the two dial system???  “Silk/Rayon, Polyester, Cotton, Linen” and “No Steam, Little Steam, Lotta Steam”, right?  Why does my iron need to be intelligent?  I thought that was my job!

And that’s what has a stick stuck in my proverbial craw.  As we design things to get smarter and smarter for us, it feels like we are getting dumber and dumber.  Spelling and literacy rates are plummeting in the first world countries, after all, our software checks our spelling and grammar for us, so we never have to learn these basic skills.  Math?  Bah, who needs it, my iPhone has a built in calculator, currency and temperature converter and world clock to track what time it is here in my home town, in my dad’s home town and in Sri Lanka, just... cuz.  Map reading skills?  Why bother!  Damned iPhone has a built in GPS, accurate to within ten feet that can tell me where I am, and let me know when to turn, where to turn and how to turn.  Yet despite all these advances, my damned toaster still burns one slice of toast into a solid piece of charcoal while leaving the other a pale and slightly warm piece of bread!

Of course, intelligence isn’t, and shouldn’t be, defined by what we know.  It is, and always has been, our ability to use logic and reason to solve problems, to learn.  So maybe I am just being a boring old fart when I say that I don’t need a durilium soleplated iron with digital readout of projected ironing time and pressure sensitive steam modulizers to get a nice crease on my Dockers.  Maybe its just me, old before my time, sitting on my rocking chair on the porch, pining for the days when you heated your iron on top of your wood stove and yelling at the kids to get the hell off my lawn. 

Of course, they can’t hear me - they’re all texting on their iPhones with earbuds in.