A "good enough" mom muses about alpha moms, adoption, computers, the State Of The World, Internet quirkiness, and the Kosmik All
O brave new world!
While there are times that our world of technological marvels can be terrifying--global thermonuclear war plays as prominent a part of my nightmares as do tornadoes--I have to admit I like living in a world where we have indoor plumbing, central heating, LASIK surgery (da Bomb, I'm tellin' ya!), the internet, blow-dryers and Blues Clues videos. Without indoor plumbing, the Omegas would have to trek out to a cooold, dark hut to do our business. Without central heating, the Omegas would have to rouse at a ghastly hour to stoke the wood stove. Without LASIK surgery, OmegaMom would still have an ongoing, unhealing sore behind her left ear and a permanent red mark on her nose, resulting from the weight of her coke-bottle-bottom glasses (even when the lenses were made of so-called "lightweight" plastic!). Without blow-dryers, OmegaMom's hair would never, ever be fluffy, but would always be a dank dark helmet. Without Blues Clues, OmegaMom would be at a loss sometimes for something to distract OmegaDotter. The internet, of course, is both a blessing (Google! Travelocity! Amazon! USGS map downloads! Fifty kazillion free coloring pages!) and a curse (do you know how much time one can waste on the internet? Of course you do; otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this screed.). This week is full of interesting technology news. First, there's a week-long series on the technology and ethics of pushing the aging envelope on MSNBC. What are the downsides to people living a long and healthy life to, say, age 140? The Honor Harrington series, which I've discussed before, examines some of the social and ethical questions related to significantly extending human lifespans, and it's interesting to see that some of the same questions show up in these MSNBC articles. One of the main questions explored is what happens when the aging extension technology is concentrated in the hands of the "haves"...what happens to the "have nots"? In addition, there's the question of the balance between those with age and experience (and perhaps a tendency to stick to the tried-and-true) moving on and out to provide a place for the starry-eyed young things who are willing to try out new ideas. Next on my list is...oh, wow, wait for it!...The Invisibility Cloak! Yes, folks, it seems as if the technology to provide a cloaking device ("Keptin! There's a Romulan uncloaking in front of us!") is actually right around the corner. The folks who are working on it have come up with some ideas that just never occurred to me, in particular the rather nice thought of being able to "cloak" a refinery or some other unsightly physical intrusion, so that people who live on the other side of it can still have a good view of the bay, or whatever else is on the other side. You'd need a lighting code, I'd think, like that used for radio towers, so that no-one accidentally smashed into the side of one of the cloaked buildings... The reality is that this technology is being pushed by the military; but one has to admit that the most immediate response to such a device is, "What a handy thing to have if you want to spy on The Enemy!" This, of course, has its downside--I imagine the more forward-thinking gangster types are just foaming at the mouth to get hold of a cloak. Hmmm...the mafia with cloaking devices. Hmmm...Jealous wives following their spouses to rendezvous (how do you pluralize that?!)...Hmmm... Then, we've got Honda, demonstrating the use of brainwaves to control a robot. Kewl! My dreamed-of human-brain interface is coming closer and closer! Of course, right now, those brain waves are "collected" by using an MRI. I don't think we can all lug around an entire MRI with us, hyuck, hyuck. (The scientists who are working on the system envision a headcap that would monitor the brainwaves.) Currently, the majority of the brain-computer interfaces extent use electrodes implanted in the test subject's brain or on his/her head, to directly interface with the electronic impulses between neurons, so this is a step in a different direction. This device is being used to control robots; but one immediate application that leaps to mind is accessibility for people who have physical handicaps. All I want is to be able to think at the computer, "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party," and have it automagically appear on the screen...Or think at the lights as I walk into a room to have them turn on.
Stay tuned for another episode of Mz. Language Person denouncing the Use of Big Words. (I've got this book, see, one of a series by a particular science fiction writer, and I'm puzzled, at sea, baffled, balled up, beaten, bewildered, bollixed, clueless, flummoxed, foggy, lost, mixed up, mucked up, mussed up, mystified, nonplussed, perplexed, stumped, thrown by this writer's use of particularly odd words.)
posted by Kate @ 5/25/2006 07:41:00 PM  
  • At 5/25/2006 09:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As for the longevity problem(s) -- I rather like the approach taken by John Scalzi in "Old Man's War" (SF, of course). Namely, that old folks who have lived out their lives & want the treatments get them only by volunteering for the space military, which values their experience and needs the judgment that comes from living all those years. In return, they get updated bods -- and, if they survive their hitch, a chance at a new life on a new planet.

    Very rational.


  • At 5/26/2006 08:54:00 AM, Anonymous Mrs Figby said…

    Speaking of using implanted electrodes to monitor brainwaves, have you read the young adult sci-fi novel _Feed_? It's quite good.

    Also, LASIK? Totally. I'm lovin' me some 20/20 vision!

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About Me
Name: OmegaMom
Home: Southwest
About Me: Middle-aged mom of a 4-year-old adopted from China. Love science, debate, good SF and fantasy, hiking, music of almost every style. Lousy housekeeper. "Good enough" mom.
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