Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Composing in the Post Window

Blogger has become robust enough, and its auto-save works well enough, that it's now safe to compose right here in the Post window. But I'm only just now beginning to trust it. In the early days, composing in the Post window (rather than on a local word processing app) was a great way to lose five hundred or a thousand words at a time. It doesn't take many burns like that to leave you wary about the stove. If there seems to be anything crank or slow about the saves, I immediately cut whatever I have and paste it locally: but even that may be overkill these days.

So many things just gradually, over time, work better: automobiles and clothes washers may not keep up the pace of computer hardware and software, but practically every machine I use nowadays is a huge improvement over its counterpart when I was a kid. I think it's silly to expect technological improvement to radically alter the human condition, but at the same time I'm irritated by people who don't recognize that the sheer stupid frustrating labor of, say, writing a term paper, or doing a load of wash, has been cut in half in the past fifty years. If people matter, the expenditure of their time and effort matters.

I tend to focus on developing disasters, and I make no apology for that: there are several trends underway now that are going to lead our species to a horrible crash in the next century or two. I don't for a minute believe that our present population, let alone its doubling, is going to be sustainable. One way or another, our population is going to drop to five or ten percent of what it is now, in next couple hundred years. As the gangsters in the movies of my youth used to say, cracking their knuckles: "Look, buddy, we can do dis de easy way or de hard way."

Still. A people at peace tends to improve all its circumstances, gradually. It's the disaster and destruction that grabs the headlines, and war makes everything horrible, but there is a slow countervailing force towards civilization and improvement, which is much more apparent to me at my present age than it was when I was younger. People tend their gardens and fix their houses, they make their streets safer, they master new subjects and learn new skills. Truth gradually seeps into consciousness, even against the tides of propaganda. Many cruelties that were a matter of course in my youth are now widely considered unacceptable. Poisoning oneself with nicotine and alcohol are no longer considered normal (or admirable, or de rigeur) among mature American adults.

Things go wrong. Things may go completely wrong: we may be at the end of our species. I don't know whether our sense and industry, or our self-destructive greed for dominion, will ultimately win this race: but there is a race, and it hasn't yet been called.


Phil Plasma said...

I'm not as optimistic as you are. I'm 15 years your junior, but from all that I have been reading, especially about feedback cycles once the global average temperature exceeds a certain amount, I don't see anything but a large culling.

I am hoping to prepare my kids in whatever way I can to deal with this and am selfishly hoping that I won't have to deal with it too much in my lifetime.

As for posting directly in blogger, I've been doing that since my first post. I was burned once or twice, but of the 1600 odd posts I've done so far, I'm not too bothered by it.

Kathleen said...

I'm worried, too, and sad about our previous choices...but feeling your balance and optimism and sharing it.

I have lots of faith in our young people.

Dale said...

Phil, did I sound optimistic? I'm not, I think we're going to do it the hard way. But I've also learned over the years that I'm a crummy prophet. I didn't think we'd make it this far, either :-)

Kathleen, I do too! It's a sorry mess we're giving them, I'm afraid.

Zhoen said...

My car starts every time, even in the winter, with a handful of exceptions over six years. We were watching old Rockford Files, and he often has to restart his car, or it just won't go at all. I remember this from when I was a kid, how often cars failed to start.

Some things really do get more reliable.

It's not normal for children to be smacked. Or dogs to be kicked, nor kittens drowned. Women can have their own credit without a husband's permission.

Rouchswalwe said...

I feel your words deep in my bones.

mm said...

I'm not overly optimistic mainly because I think over-population is the chief worry. And I'm not sure there is a happy way to solve this. It's going to be tough for future generations.

As you say though, the human race is remarkably resilient and we do learn. The hard way. And what do I know about anything?

Lucy said...

I often think that it's our increasing kindness, our appreciation of comfort, our successful pushing back of the encroachment of pain and death into our lives, which is, in part, destroying the world we're living in and will finally destroy us. When our lives were nastier, more brutish and shorter, we were taking a lot less out of the world and living in something more like balance with nature, perhaps. But I'm thankful to be living now not then, even if that is selfish!