Sunday, December 12, 2010

Things Break…

Well, folks… This morning my mom wanted to know why the iMac I bought her a dozen years ago did not let her surf the web anymore. She complained that she had hardly used it, except to get movie listings, look at photos of her grandkids, and do email; only for just a dozen years. An hour later, the roof of the Metrodome caved in under a pile of fluffy snow. Might some engineer or architect have expected it to snow quite a bit, just one of these days in Minneapolis?

Tomorrow, expect an earthquake in New York City. The Chrysler Building will land as dust floating on the gentle wind over New Rochelle. The day after, I am prepared to see some kid in Bulgaria hit a couple of buttons on his PC and launch ICBMs bunkered in Siberia toward Canada. Poof! Gone are our friendly cousins to the north.

Things made by humans break, they wear out, and sometimes go pretty well wrong. This is particularly true of computers and the Human actions that they mediate.



  1. Things DO fall apart. Chinua Achebe was right. No suicides, please.

  2. Thank you for introducing me to this this Achebe, fellow. I have some learning to do, tonight.

  3. Well, well, well… coincidences abound. I might have had lunch one day, lo many years ago, in the same cafeteria at UMass - Amherst, with Achebe. We just happened to be there at the same time, but never met. The Nigerian connection is also interesting. Among my prized memories is the education offered by another fellow from Lagos. It was dawn in a beautiful, little botanical garden in, of all places, Schenectady, NY. Yes. Drugs were involved, and they worked quite well, at the time.

    My new friend got up from his prayer to greet the Sun, swirled around and pronounced, "You Americans, you have no idea of the abundance around you!" Then he took out his wallet and produced to little photos. One was a shot of him in silhouette, framed by a bright white light hidden behind, and black walls, ceiling and floor all around. He informed me that the figure was he, standing in the basement of his father's big bank in Lagos. The walls were actually racks of car batteries that kept the lights on during frequent electrical black outs. Now and again, some cleaning guy would go down there with a cigarette, and blow the entire place up by carelessly igniting the toxic, combustible fumes from the batteries.

    The next shot was on the street, taken from across the bank. There was my friend, grinning next to a horse on a mud road. Behind him was the big, modern building of his father's business. Just exactly perfect.

    Anyhow, you have my assurance that there will be no suicides. Perhaps one doomed mission or several more. But, I thank you for the provoking this wonderful memory.

    If you have the time and inclination, tell us about yourself. Let the Calliope Conversation ride.

  4. Jay Gatsby shone brighter than Tom Buchanan...that horse on the mud road is the choice of the heart.