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Future Shock, Grandpa Spaulding, Rant Here
"Future Shock" is a controversial book written by the sociologist and futurologist Alvin Toffler in 1970. Future shock is also a term for a certain psychological state of individuals and entire societies, introduced by Toffler in his book of the same name. Toffler's shortest definition of future shock is a personal perception of "too much change in too short a period of time." (They showed the film in science class at my junior high school. Anyone else remember it?)

Ray Bradbury wrote a number of stories in which characters reject or refuse to accept change or even make a deliberate return to the past. These characters are almost always presented sympathetically, from the young couple fleeing an unjust and oppressive government in "The Fox and the Forest," to the guy in "The Murderer," who destroyed every cell phone, pager, palm pilot, radio, and speaker of every kind within reach just to get some peace and quiet (sad to say, hilariously funny in print and SO NOT FUNNY on film--even those of us who can sympathize love our gadgets!), from characters surrounded by newspapers and other mememtoes of past times to the all-out escape of the guy in "A Scent of Sarsparilla."

Who I keep thinking of is Grandpa Spaulding in "Dandelion Wine," telling William Forrester he'll pay him to dump his newfangled grass in the ravine. (Interesting to note that in nearly 80 years no one has developed a variety of this grass which will survive in a northern climate--otherwise almost everyone would probably use it.) Grandpa insisted on loving the scent of fresh-cut grass and devotion to his dandelions. (Good for Grandpa!)

Well, I've been having quite a time this month. It reminds me of that story, not by Ray, but it was on "The New Twilight Zone" or one of those shows around that time and perhaps people will recognize it. Everything had to be made new every minute by a team of little blue workers. Sometimes they forgot to make a certain item for a certain minute, resulting in the phenomenon of looking for something, not finding it, then a minute later there it is. A young couple became trapped in the space between minutes and had to make a run for it as the blue workers' boss was going to keep them there.

Anyhow, there are an increasing number of blue workers on the loose daily. You spend hundreds of dollars on something that ten minutes later doesn't work without spending hundreds more. The browser I've been happily using ever since getting my computer has now given up on this application for Macs. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, I have to fall back on an inferior browser I don't like. To get my computer to accept the browser now recommended for Macs, I have to spend over $100.00 on an upgrade.

I was PERFECTLY HAPPY with the browser I'd been using all that time! But was that good enough? NOOO! Some Mr. Fixit geek has to come blundering along and destroy a perfectly good setup in the name of progress! So now I have to pay to keep up, not with Joneses I at least even see, but with virtual Joneses who just arbitrarily decide to screw up perfectly good things in the name of progress!

At one place I worked (where I was first introduced to Macs) the boss (the biggest jerk I've ever had the misfortune to witness in a lifetime and I hope never to see his equal) had this big thing about "upgrading the system." About once a day he would pull an all-nighter to "improve" things. The next morning there'd be a huge groan from the head secretary when she turned the system on, saw things she didn't remotely recognize, and had to be completely reinstructed in their use. Little blue men run amok!

I always renew my vehicle license tabs the first week in January--easy to remember. The people who sell the tabs have an annoying habit of grabbing the license paper and folding it into a tiny little square. It does no good to try to stop them--they grab quicker than I can move and fold and mutilate though at least don't spindle. (I'm lucky they don't insist on coming out and affixing the tabs themselves, too--I had one come near threatening this.) It's extremely annoying to me as I have an envelope in the car in which I lay these papers flat, so I have to carefully and scrupulously unfold them, but it's only once a year and they have all year to try to press the creases out before I have to get another one. Well, this year, someone decided to "improve" things and CHANGED the size of the paper! So now I HAVE to fold it to get it in the envelope and can only fit HALF as many papers in the same space (and my glove compartment is crammed as it is.) WELL, I AM GOING TO FOOL THEM! Before next January I am going to buy a different car and get a different size and shape envelope to keep my vehicle license papers in! THAT SHOULD SHOW THEM!

And who else hates that ugly useless travesty that passes as a TV Guide? Won't even fit in the holders right let alone give you a clue as to what's on television.

I do admit, a bit too much change is preferable to living in some Third World dump waiting to die of bird flu, but if anyone has a complaint along the lines of THEY FIXED WHAT AIN'T BROKE AND THEY CAN JUST TAKE IT AND DUMP IT IN THE RAVINE, feel free to rant here. Thank you very much and have a nice day Smiler.
Posts: 7289 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ummmm, Dandy?

We all think the world of you on this board, and I'd dearly love to meet you if you are ever in LA, but I do have two quick suggestions, meant in the most sincerely polite of fashions:
1. Perhaps you should lay off the coffee for a few days, and
2. Perhaps you should give your current car to me (!) when you get your new state-registration-foiling vehicle.

Just some thoughts:>

Yes, I too remember Future Shock. The film seemed so sinister when it first came out, and seems so dated now. But we have raised a whole generation, or two, for whom constant and rapid change was such a fact of life that they don't see it the way we mid-20th centurians do.
One thing I have noticed is that even for those of us who would love to be "power users" of all of our new fancy-schmancy technology, basically we are too darned BUSY trying to get some actual WORK DONE to read the INCH THICK manuals that come with everything from computers to toasters these days. Why, I STILL haven't read my entire cell phone manual yet, and I've been using it for more than a year!
Once I had a cell phone, and one day discovered I could find foreign currency exchange rates on it, and that it could be used as a voice tape recorder, and... who knows?

I'm afraid I'm accidentally going to launch the space shuttle or something with my current phone. Perhaps I SHOULD read that huge manual...
So most of us are what I call "applied users"--not "power users"--of all this new techno-toolage. We quickly learn just enough to use the stuff for what it seems to be intended, and don't bother finding out about all the other more exotic features.

All I know is that the children of today may never know the refreshing freedom of buying a phone without having to read a book about it.
But the next time I'm out of the country, I will enjoy being able to pick up my phone and figure out what the current value of a US dollar is compared to a Euro-dollar...

OH! Brave New World!
Posts: 52 | Location: LA,CA | Registered: 07 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This is just too excellent. You go, girl! Now I have to go check and see if my envelopes are the right size for the next evolutionary step in technology.

This all goes back to things like the straight razor. All you had to do was strop it once in a while. Then someone invented the safety razor and made it disposable. And how many versions of that have we seen in a lifetime. Then there’s paper towel…


“Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal” – Albert Einstein

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." – Albert Einstein
Posts: 861 | Location: Manchester CT | Registered: 13 August 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Future Shock?! THIS is Future Shock in the flesh! What else do you make of the internet?

Not long ago, all that was available to a writer was that he had to pray he got published in the local newspaper, or, heaven sent, an acceptance by some magazine. Miracle upon miracle if it was a large circulation magazine.

Then there was the matter of getting information. You might spend hours researching a topic. And those who would know more than what was available in print, were probably happy as readers and not writers. Lo and behold the internet provides one to write stuff available immediately to the eyes of the whole wide world. How exciting! And countless individuals out there who may never take up the pen, now pound the keys to put forth information on every conceivable subject and idea. It more than boggles the mind.

And so, not even Future Shock itself was the slightest ready for such a gargantuan thing.
Posts: 5 | Registered: 06 January 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yes, I do remember that episode of the New Twilight Zone, about the Blue Men who operate outside of time and restage the "set" of our lives from second to second.

It came out around 1984 or thereabouts. I don't know the title, but I recall that the leader of the Blue Men (who was, I think, wearing yellow himself) was played by the late actor Adolphe Caesar.

I think of that story often when I can't seem to find my car keys!

Posts: 25 | Registered: 10 May 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Posts: 2792 | Location: Basement of a NNY Library | Registered: 07 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I re-read Toffler's book a few years back. Profoundly accurate in many ways. We have all but lost the culture and conditions that RB wrote so eloquently about for so many years. It is amazing though that he still wins over young readers in spite of the F451 mentality that pervades our present.

Also on the other side of the coin, there is an interesting s.s. by Gahan Wilson entitled The Manuscript of Dr. Arness. The protagonist has found a way to conquer death, slow everything down. In the end, he has achieved what he set out to do. Ultimately, after reaching the ripe young age of 250yrs., we find Dr. Arness, who had become lonely and isolated from all of his known realities, in a museum sitting in front of his typewriter finishing a manuscript, pistol on the table, and his finger poised to type the letter "y" in a perfectly motionless attempt to finish the word "irony."

When he completes this last message to the world, he will end it all on his own terms - but at an even slower rate.
"I wonder how long it will take me to do it? As I said, the situation is not without iron

So, with computers, micro = mega, speed of light messages us before we can even exhale, invisibility is a real commodity, vast distances between here and there are chopped in time and the farthest point on the globe is as easy as a click: http://www.aad.gov.au/asset/webcams/mawson/default.asp

We will speed up, rather than slow down, as with Dr. Arness. There will be a final immeasurably rapid increase in all that is physical. (The Time Traveller in HG Wells' classic comes to mind.) Then a burst of every color that ever was will slice through the now, to be extinguished with a barely perceptible ....pfffft!
Posts: 2792 | Location: Basement of a NNY Library | Registered: 07 April 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You guys raise a lot of interesting issues, as I knew you would.

First, as to the car. I was being faintly tongue-in-cheek about replacing the whole car just to change the size of the envelope. (It's irony.) Obviously, the solution would be to get a different size and shape of envelope--which is what I had to do when the repair bills became so numerous they literally burst through the old envelope.

Obviously, were I the least bit remotely happy with that car I would simply replace the envelope, not the whole car. The fact is I wouldn't sell or give that car to anyone who in the least was kindly disposed to me or vice versa. It is, in the immortal words of Peter Brady, best suited to "cavit some guy's eruptor." It's twenty years old and I've driven it for about twelve years. Three out of four hubcaps are in the trunk and the other is on the road someplace because it needed some fancy tool to lock them on and the guys who changed tires once lost it. The manager of the place offered to pay for a new hubcap and key IF I could find them. His gamble paid off--as I don't have my whole life to spend looking, I've never been able to find them! And the missing hubcaps are the least of that car's troubles.

But this brings me to the truly serious problem and the truly serious question. Not only am I an extremely reluctant maker of major purchases who must be DRIVEN TO IT by some "final straw" (such as the change in vehicle license size), there is the "Future Shock" angle to consider. In the "old days" of cars, if your spindly-crank broke, any mechanic worth his salt could either repair it or replace it with a new spindly-crank. Nowadays you open up the hood and everything in there runs on a microchip--the repairer of machinery would be dumbfounded!

Now obviously I know not everyone in my community drives a 20-year-old car, and the mechanics aren't shuffling little old men of the Tim Conway variety (though years ago there used to be a character in town just like that) but I am afraid of getting some huge new shiny thing home that will break down in the driveway and no one around here will have a CLUE as to how to make it go! Does anyone have advice on overcoming this? I'm thinking of asking the mechanics what cars they have the least trouble with--then buying THAT!

The internet is a big help as I can go to a message forum, such as that at the "Car Talk" website, and ask advice there. That brings me to the next item: DON'T throw away all your informational books! Presumably they're written by people who really KNOW their subjects, or at least did a good enough imitation to fool the publishers into putting good money into printing them. On the internet, particularly newsgroups, you can ask a question and get a volley of rude responses, everything from "read the book, stupid" to much worse. If you do get anwers, you can't rely on their accuracy. I have found a few nice forums able to guide me to books I'd not otherwise have known about, and places to learn of the existence of books and purchase them. So ways of getting information have become much faster, but I have NOT given up on books as a major source! (It's sad that to get information these days one often has to run a veritable gauntlet of rude, crude, lewd, and socially-unacceptable remarks which would never have been directed by the local reference librarian!)

William F. Nolan and his wife had at least 12,000 books (maybe it was a lot more--I'm not all that great at numbers--) and he told a story of once being afraid he'd have to drive to the state library to get a translation of a phrase into Ukranian or some European language when his wife pulled out a book containing the exact information! Nowadays, of course, he'd just go online--but I have also received an email from him, sent by way of an intermediary, that he does not have time to correspond with people as in the old days--so it's a tradeoff.

As for the inch-thick manual, I am with you there. When I posted on newsgroups about the Internet browser problem, I was met with every sort of a rude response ranging from I should have read the manual to I should also have read every press release from Microsoft and every other computer-related firm on every version of every product they have out there! I replied to the effect of, who has time for that? I just want something that works and came here for advice as to what works for other people. Thankfully, most of the responses were helpful along those lines and I bought something that should really help for less than half of $100. (Wait till they've upgraded twice--then snap up the upgrade from two numbers ago cheap, I say! The same as I do on cars.)

Another thing on the inch-thick manual. I purchased a video camera I *thought* had two settings--"Day shot" and "Night shot"--a matter of one simple switch to adjust and keep track of. I was trying to tape a stage performance and obviously "Night shot" was out as the lights were so bright people were getting washed out even on the regular setting. So I set it to regular and instructed the lady operating the camera to keep looking in the window thingy (LCD panel, it's called) at what you're getting and zoom in or out as necessary to keep peoples' faces from being obliterated. She did a really good job and saved almost all the shots.

Well, after I started trying to do some editing of the NINE HOURS of footage we shot, which needs to be brought down to four, (which still isn't done as the close editing involves using the computer--it cost over $200.00 to get the stuff in and Lord knows when and if I'll ever get it out and at what price--) in desperation I went through the manual and found there's a way to adjust the camera for different lighting situations! Who knew? I was using the same setting for EVERYTHING that wasn't dark night--I did get a lot of washed-out pictures--but thanks to the LCD panel which shows an approximation of what you're getting, it's possible to quickly move forward or back or zoom in or out and save most of those shots so we got only a few really bad ones, and many nice closeups we'd never have had with just a stationary camera.

As the opening number, "Rock Island," from "The Music Man" observes, it was Uneeda who started it by putting the cracker in the sanitary package and they made the cracker barrel "obsolete, obsolete, obsolete"! (The same phrase the fascists chanted at "The Obsolete Man" on that "Twilight Zone" episode--the last fellow who still bothered with books!)

A superior world in many ways, but an infinitely more complicated one!
Posts: 7289 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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This subject reminds me of “My Watch” by Mark Twain.
Posts: 861 | Location: Manchester CT | Registered: 13 August 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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"Future Shock" has always been around. Think of someone born in 1855, and died in 1950. Ninety-five years old. Saw EVERYTHING!!!

And that incessant need to 'throw-up' ones base nature onto paper or the theater or paintings, has also been around forever, but constraints of moral fortitude has kept societies sane. The perculation and festerings that seem to always boil just out of sight, is not a matter of a supressed society, but the very nature all humans are born with. Cut loose... and seeing that one only uses somewheres around 5% or less of his brain... monsters unbeknownst to anything seen before would be unleased.

For instance, The Howard Stern program is nothing new. It's the very same old thing that has been expressed in countless societies before thru the centuries. What gets me is that there's that notion that this a new thing. Groundbreaking! Maybe a new thing for someone just opening his eyes to what has always transpired. Only thing different here is the technology. Stern's voice is not only heard in a small room, but across the globe and into the heavens. THAT is only thing different.

All the while, there are poets like Bradbury who have determined to exude a quality that is NOT found in man's nature UNLESS God put it there. It's a gift. Like the coach in the movie 'Chariots of Fire' exclaimed pertaining to talent: "...You can't put in what God's left out!" But all the junk that spews forth came out of the devasting soul-condition each one is born into. You've heard it said: anyone is capable of the worst actions! Left alone, untouched by Providential care, it would be a dark, dark, dark ...very dark world.
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ray has always maintained he is not against technology and "it's like a hand in a glove, it depends on what kind of a hand you put into the glove." It can be used for good or evil. I wasn't saying it was evil, just complaining about the bother of constant change for the sake of change when it is not always necessary. These little blue Mr. Fixits who think they're doing one grand thing mess up one if not half a dozen others in the process!
Posts: 7289 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I imagine there are two primary reasons for all these upgrades, fixing what isn't broke.

1. The inherent human capacity for innovation, invention and striving toward progress and change--which is what keeps us building Mars land rovers and Hubble/Spitzer space telescopes and writing new poetry and books and, well--new posts on the http://www.raybradburyboard!

2. The inherent feature of our global economy for earning more more more money, otherwise known as GREED. The upgrades are DESIGNED to put more of your money into the accounts of the upgraders.

Hey, since all of you are smart enough to love the work of RBradbury, you're probably inquisitive enough to be interested in the newsletter sent out by http://www.physorg.com, which contains a compendium or digest of news items from the realm of space, tech, science and physics.
But that's not all: today there are items about everything from the pre-big bang cosmos to terraforming Venus to a plan to stockpile the world's variety of plant seeds (doomsday failsafe plan) to why sleep deprivation may contribute to weight gain.

Thought you all might be interested. Ah, so good to have another good reason to catch some ZZZZZ's=it's part of my weight loss plan!

There's also an article about Levi's IPOD- friendly jeans--they will allow you to plug your technology into your pants, so to speak.

I went to the incredible fashion show at SIGGRAPH here in LA last year--SIGGRAPH being the international convention for techno-based graphic artists. There I saw shirts with solar powered batteries installed that allowed you to recharge your cellphone and other electronics by plugging them into your shirt, clothing that had emergency alert sensors built in to allow you to call 911 in an emergency by pressing a part of your clothing, clothing with GPS (global positioning sensors) devices built in--otherwise known as "every parent's dream come true, every teenager's nightmare"--and clothing with bizarroworld bands built in that would expand or contract when someone with the right frequency pressed a button on their cell phone miles away, effectively allowing the far away person to send the wearer a "hug" by remote control--it was all pretty amazing stuff.

But frankly, rather than getting a hug-receiving shirt I would rather get 'em live...

One more funny story--Years ago I was at a high-tech seminar in Austin, TX. I was talking to a twenty-something man about a Marcom job (marketing communications) his company was listing. I said, "I am a degreed artist." He asked, "What software do you use." I thought for a moment, reluctant to tell him that I learned how to draw and paint with the same tools Leonardo and Rembrandt used, but finally revealed, honestly: "My hands."

He replied, " 'My Hands'? I haven't heard of that software!"

I replied something like, "ARRGGGGHHHHH!!!"

This message has been edited. Last edited by: N. K. Love,
Posts: 52 | Location: LA,CA | Registered: 07 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Don't you Just...
Hate it!
When you can't connect with a link like

Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Nard, I just hit that link and it went straight over....? No Prob.
I've always wanted to ask you--why does your location say Chicago--don't you live in LA? I know I saw you at the Woodland Hills Library taking photos of Ray at a booksigning last fall.
Fess Up!
Posts: 52 | Location: LA,CA | Registered: 07 November 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Wanna hear a sad story...I mean, REALLY sad? What's been weighing on my mind for a month and helped in touching off this whole rant--putting me in rant mode, anyway--was I was going to wow my friends by adding a few simple, but elegant, touches to a little film in which we all participated. I thought creating and editing these touches would be the hard part...hollow, sepulchral laugh..ha...ha...ha.

Doing them was a breeze, but getting them into a form I can use, I've been confounded by technology: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.video.dvdr/browse_fr...2a2#351d1b066678a2a2

Any major Macintosh whizzes out there, I could REALLY use your help!

As for GREED, keep trying not to think of the two competitors in the early days of radio. The one fellow who ended up winning out had some pull in high places and got the FCC to change broadcast frequencies so that none of the other fellow's radios would work! The other fellow committed suicide by jumping off one of the now-obsolete broadcast towers, and the one fellow pretended innocence of any role.

What I mainly think of, though, and thought of a lot in my long decision-making process before buying this computer, is the ad with the guy driving home with the brand-new, latest-model, state-of-the art computer, who, before even getting it home, sees workmen putting up a billboard for the NEXT model--implying the thing was obsolete before being so much as plugged in!

Hey, I drive around in a 20-year-old car. (Not that it always GOES, mind you.) I want to get a lot more mileage out of my current computer!

Also, I absolutely refuse to wear any item of clothing that's smarter than I am!
Posts: 7289 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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