Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Ever Happened to the US?

Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out - New York Times

Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes. The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way. Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out.

If the "Star Wars" movies are remembered a century from now, it'll be because they are such exact parables for this state of affairs. Young people in other countries will watch them in classrooms as an answer to the question: Whatever became of that big rich country that used to buy the stuff we make? The answer: It went the way of the old Republic.

Listened to MPR chortling over a judge deciding that the governor has no right to use his unallotment power to cut funding to some group or the other. We live in a "make it so" world where ever more of the teeming masses believe they have a "right" to everything from talks with a shrink to a flat screen TV -- oh, and while that is being gotten up for them, please be sure it has a negative carbon footprint. People know how less and less of how and why their lives operate, but they feel that they are totally justified to get more of whatever they want at someone else's expense, and complain that it wasn't acquired with a cheap enough rate from the folks that knew how to do it!!