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What a way to start a New Year - living in a deep freeze. When I saw the national weather map two days ago and the temperature in Dallas, Texas was 24 degrees, I knew things were cold all over. The only really warm spot in the country was the far tip of Florida.
My apartment is nice and warm, thank goodness, but I feel terrible for those people and animals not as fortunate as I. I'm also glad I've discovered the joy of drinking hot cappuccino, a cup of which is on my desk as I write. It's been almost thirty years since I stopped drinking coffee on that good day when I threw black coffee and cigarettes out of my life. Today the coffee is half cream and no caffeine and there's absolutely no desire to light up the noxious weed. Now, if I could just spurn all carbohydrates.
I have removed beef from my diet. Just as I think it's insane to smoke cigarettes with all the bad stuff added to tobacco, so I think about eating anything to which so much junk has been fed. Someone listed everything shoved into beef cattle before they end up on a sesame bun, and I marveled that so many of us are still alive. The slogan "better living through chemistry", makes me gag.
Someday I'm going to do a survey. It will involve all modern technologies starting with the model "T." I will do a list of ultimate, true advantages and disadvantages to the human race, as a result of their development.
Let's start with the automobile, which led to all sorts of engines of death and destruction, not to mention the trouble involved in the production of oil. If the research had ended at the development of a vehicle that ran on batteries, we wouldn't have had to go through a lot of horrors before reaching that point again.
If the Wright brothers had stuck to building better bicycles, we wouldn't have the trouble of being stranded at airports, not to mention the transportation of all sorts of flu's and other diseases by airborne travelers.
As I'm writing, I am thinking up rebuttals of all my arguments. This is a long-time habit of mine. It's not a bad thing, playing Socrates with myself. The result is a softening of opinion, sometimes even a reversal. Not a bad pastime, playing one's own devil's advocate.
For example: if we hadn't persisted past Henry Ford's simple motor, we would still be fighting wars with horses. This would eliminate some casualties, but incur grave consequences for the poor horses innocently involved in the fray. Also, abuses involved in pulling streetcars up and down steep city streets, often icy and/or wet and slippery.
Wars would still be waged, with or without airplanes and helicopters. Again, there would be far fewer casualties but armies never needed wings to terrorize civilian populations. Just look at the Vikings, for Pete's sake. They managed to go pretty far to raid, kill, and pillage, just by wind and oar power.
The terrible plagues of history, including the Bubonic and Dutch Elm disease, not to mention the 1917 world wide Spanish flu were carried by ship, train, and horse and carriage. Today, disease travels faster and farther, but that's the only difference modern technology has made.
Finally, as much as I hold computers responsible for a lot of woe, I have to admit that, without them, one of the most wonderful events in my life would never have taken place. This would be, our recent landing on Mars.
It's probably not as special to the very young, but to me, after a lifetime of Martian literature and speculation, it is marvelous when I think that I can sit in my living room and see the surface of Mars, in color. I am overwhelmed with awe and delight.
Sure, it's red and rocky. So is the Valley of Fire in the Las Vegas desert. I've been there, and the resemblance is striking. Sure, it's cold, but so is Bangor, Maine. I can hardly wait until the cute robot starts toddling around.
Wouldn't it be great if a Martian Jeep suddenly appeared on the screen? Wonder if the robot is programmed to say, "Take me to your leader?"
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