Sometimes I despair that dependency, government, regulation, shitty schools, and oh I don’t know… everything… is at odds with the ingenuity of the human spirit. Don’t say it hasn’t happened to you. I know it you’ve had that same nagging fear.
We should be an inventive creature. We should be adaptable. (With or without the Curmudgeonry.) Yet here we are, the latest and most amazing generation of that overgrown monkey brained creature that started by walking upright and eventually became self-aware, and we sometimes get bogged down. Sometimes we seem to forget that we rock. We are meant to be awesome! We were born to use our brain in the service of something unexpected and interesting. Hopefully something fun. We were meant to make the next version of the radioactive, glow in the dark, hovering, mousetrap. Not, as many suppose, to shuffle papers or push around other humans.
The arc of history is not always upward and onward. Sometimes it stagnates. I don’t like the merest hint that I might be in a period of stagnation. But sometimes it looks like it may be coming. People without adequate technology to program PacMan flew to the moon. They flew to the moon with sliderules! Decades later I can have satellite TV but we collectively lost our shit and never went to the moon again. Yes to “Bridezilla TV” but no to “space, the final frontier”? Really? Why?
On a smaller scale I’ve seen computers pop up everywhere but simultaneously dumb themselves down. I used to meet geezers that had never seen a mouse and I found that understandable. Now I meet kids who have never been without a smart phone that can call Hong Kong, yet they can’t swap their own batteries or understand where they’ve saved a file. I find that reprehensible.
I don’t like sliding backwards. I was promised hovercars and space flight, I got Twitter and Starbucks. I demand a recount!
More desperately I get nervous at the local level. The near universal lack of ability to “invent or fabricate” makes me nervous. The market is awash with new cars but can’t always find a decent mechanic to fix an old one. For that matter I can’t find a stick shift car because apparently humans can no longer comprehend a clutch. How can that happen? (For that matter even with anti-lock brakes and auto transmissions have you seen how some people drive? …but that’s another story.)
It shouldn’t be easier to find a surgeon than a plumber. It shouldn’t be easier to have a new house built than find a carpenter to remodel a bathroom. I can have a new garage built in a day but if the garage door breaks I have to fix it myself or go without. Who saw that coming?
Luckily one can fight back against the sinking feeling. First you turn off the TV (and set it on fire) and then you go fishing. That doesn’t always work but you really should go fishing as often as possible.
If that doesn’t work I seek out people who like to display their manic works of creativity. I’m talking about illogical but rabidly inventive gatherings like Sturgis. South Dakota periodically hosts more lunatic mechanics per square mile than most places in the history of time. Does a Harley need nitrous injection? Is it logical to weld a chrome encrusted likeness of Marylin Monroe on a 30 degree rake springer fork? Hell no…but it’s been done because it’s awesome. Monster truck rallies, stock car races, 4×4 competitions, machine gun shoots, outlandishly intricate model train sets, steam-punked computers; some dude using a 3D printer to make something never before seen; these are the stuff of freedom leavened with intelligence (and sparked with a little craziness).
My favorite, all time best cure is an antique tractor festival. There will be fellows there who wear overalls non-ironically. They’ll nonchalantly talk of winching a rusted engine block out of a hedgerow and welding it back together from when a growing tree split it in half. They’ll say this while leaning against the result which is now freshly painted and running smoother than it did when it was built. (Often it was built when WWI was called “the great war”.) The same goes for fellows who build their own steam engines. I’m glad to know that hobbyists can and do re-enact the entire industrial revolution in their garage for fun. What a relief!
That said I present the popinator. This is well and truly the most useless gadget on God’s green earth. On the other hand, look at what it has inside. It is complex, it can target sounds, it can compute trajectories, it is something that could not be made without great technology and people with time to kill. It, as stupid is it may seem, is the opposite of sliding into another Medieval doldrum. It’s as whimsical as it is brilliant. I have no intention of buying one but I’m glad to know that it exists.
H.T. to Musings Over A Pint. (I might add that the fellow in that blog does a fair bit of brewing of his own beer. Another ray of hope and push back against