Reader Request Week 2018 #10: Short Bits

And now, to wrap up Reader Request Week 2018, short takes on some of the questions I didn’t otherwise get to:

Laura: A topic I’ve been pondering is to what extent the proliferation of entertainment & informational choices — Internet, cable TV, smart phones — is an overall boon or blessing to society. Were we actually better off when we had three or four TV channels, radio & vinyl for our music, paper maps for car trips, and shelves of encyclopedias to use for tracking down facts for our school papers?

Well, I wasn’t better off — having access to a vast ocean of information makes my life and job a lot easier. The problem as I see it is that we’re at an intermediary moment where a vast part of the population (roughly early Gen-X and older) is struggling with the consequences of the technology and we’re waiting for the people who are entirely comfortable with the new baseline of technology — and its consequences — to grow into power. Anecdotally I note that people my daughter’s age seem to handle the online world and the rhetoric that has arisen out of it far better than their elders (it’s one reason why the Parkland teens are running circles around the NRA, much to the latter’s furious confusion). So no, it wasn’t better, just different, and some people are understandably better suited to that previous time.

Ron Bielke: What is your position on guns? Would you support a total ban on guns in this country? Is there even a whisper of a chance I might see such in my lifetime?

I prefer my bow, personally. You will not see a total ban on guns in this country without changing the Constitution of the United States. For the record, I don’t think we need to amend the Constitution to have sensible laws regarding firearms in this country.

Andy: As a British (English, specifically) fan of your fiction and blog (especially US politics) writing: what does Brexit look like from where/who you are?

It looks like what the US looks like right now: What happens when stupid and cruel and racist takes over the national discourse. I think both the US and the UK will get out of their current stupid and cruel and racist moments and correct their courses, albeit somewhat the worse for wear, and it will take longer than anyone sensible would like.

Matt Mikalatos: Realizing that there are many worse things, but that doesn’t mean your own situation doesn’t have down sides: What are some of the difficulties of being (comparatively) well off and well known?

At this point, very few, for which I am appropriately grateful. At this point, the most “difficult” thing I have going on is somewhat existential, which is that as a more-or-less “franchise” writer for Tor (and somewhat less for Audible, who publishes my audiobooks), I do have responsibilities to hit publishing marks and maintain output quality and consistency levels that other writers don’t have, because I have a lot of people (and a publishing company) expecting specific things from me. It’s a great problem to have, to be clear, but on the other hand it’s not as easy to hit all those marks as I hopefully make it look to people on the outside.

Dann665: The last few years have been pretty…ummm….testy. Do you see a path towards rapprochement? Not necessarily a persuasion that any one perspective is better than the others, but towards being able to live with one another civilly?

Sure; the pendulum swings, always. We’ve been in less civil times before (not even counting the Civil War) and we’ve made our way. However, thinking whatever a new, more “civil” US will look like any previous era we’ve been in is folly. Also, of course, just thinking something along the line of “everything will be better when enough of the olds just die off,” which is the lazy person’s idea of change, isn’t gonna work. If you want a better and more “civil” US, go out there and do the work.

Jonah: What’s your take on college athletics and the NCAA money-making marching in particular?

I think the University of Chicago had the right idea in the 1930s when it cut its Big Ten football program because it was getting in the way of learning. Chicago has a football team now; it’s Division III, which I think is a fine speed for college athletics. At the level of Division I, the athletes (particularly in football and basketball) are being exploited, flat out. I’d tear it all up and start with a clean sheet if I could.

SusanE: How far left / liberal (and on which particular topics) is too far left / liberal, in your opinion? At what point are you like, woah, back up and bring in some perspective here?

I mean, I think capitalism, properly managed (which it’s not at the moment, and I think obviously so) works as a decent motivator for people and to spur innovation and creativity, so I think chucking it out entirely wouldn’t be something I’d be for, which is to be clear an entirely unsurprising point of view for a well-off white dude to have. I think the left generally has the same problem as the right, which is that at the edges it has a tendency to warp toward authoritarianism and away from representative governments, and that’s also never good.

John: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or one hundred duck-sized horses?

I wouldn’t fight them. I’d put them on display and make a bundle.

Christopher Franklin: I had the experience of seeing Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in a bright sunlit room with less than ten people just before its auction…. Has there been some visual work of art that left you speechless?

I just saw an exhibit of MC Escher work in Boston, and to be able to get up close to some of those pieces was a privilege, and fascinating.

JReynolds197: Is there any period of history that interests you and you keep coming back to?

The 1920s in the US fascinates me and is what I consider to be the start of what we might consider the American Century. So it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if in the next decade or so we see the close of the American Century, and see the rise of what I suspect is the Pacific Century, where the US is still a hugely significant player, but not nearly the only one. I think this will make the next quarter century a very interesting one to live in, like the 1920s were (and also the 30s, although… differently), and one I think I will have been glad to be here to see.

Malarkus: Re your post last year about millenials. Should we just start killing off the boomers?

No, that will take care of itself soon enough, and I’m generally against wholesale murder, of boomers or anyone else. In any event, I’m pretty sure boomers per se are not the problem, just the latent-to-overt racism a non-trivial number of them appear to suffer, chained to their groveling admiration of Mammon, and how the combination of both has led to some horrible damn decisions.

Cthulhu: Hair: at what point will you switch into full Bezos mode and just shave it all off (but keep facial hair)? When oh when will you do the decent thing and pull a full Patrick?

I tried bald a little more than a decade ago to see what it would like; I thought it looked fine but Krissy didn’t like it, and she’s the one who has to look at me all the time. I suspect at some point not long from now I’ll go full Patrick Stewart, since the hair in the front is thinning more significantly now and I don’t like the idea of wandering around with wisps. But no solid time table on that.

Dave Divilbiss: What do you miss about Fresno?

Not much? Which is not to say that I did not enjoy or appreciate Fresno when I was there — I had a ton of fun there and I think the city generally gets a bad rap in California. But the things I would miss about Fresno at this point are the people I knew there, and I’m still in touch with them and we’re still friends. So what’s to miss? I’m still fond of Fresno, but I don’t miss it.

Frankie: What are your thoughts on public education funding? What are your thoughts on recent teacher walkouts in multiple states? And, any general thoughts regarding public vs. private education?

I think public education is immensely important and needs to be funded so that every student gets a good and useful education, not just the ones in the “right” zip codes. I support the teacher walkouts generally, because the shit public school teachers have had to put up with in the last several years at least is nonsense. I went to private schools for high school and college and benefited from both, but a “vs” position is not the way I’d want to think about it — public education needs to robust and useful to students independent of any discussion of private schools. That’s the baseline. I don’t think throwing money at public schools will solve every problem, but I think adequately funding public schools removes a lot of problems and lets people focus on the other, different problems. Bottom line: Every public school in America should be a school you’d be fine with having your own child at.

Richard Winks: Do you think you might restore the dog population in your family?

Krissy will decide that. I’m not going to rush her on that score.

Heather Wallace: I really admire your cat photos and struggle with taking photos of my cats with my cell phone camera. They always close their eyes with the flash. What tips can you give aspiring cat photographers?

One, stop using flash and take the picture in a room with adequate lighting. Two, take a whole lot of pictures, one after another. It’s a digital camera, you’re not going to run out of film, and you can delete the pictures you don’t like. That’s a start!

Edward Brennan: Should one be civil to those people who are not civil to you? Obviously, we should not normally be assholes, but is being an asshole a justified response to an asshole? What about if someone is being an asshole to others, what do we do?

My general rule of thumb is to treat people with civility until and unless they give you a reason not to. Where that line is for each person is in a different place, and may depend on context. Also let’s also note there’s a difference between tolerating people who might be momentarily rude and/or obnoxious, and tolerating the actions of people who believe you or someone else aren’t fully human and/or don’t have a right to the same freedoms and privileges they might enjoy. Much of the question of “civility” these days boils down to racists and bigots plaintively whining that their opinion that other people are somehow inferior isn’t treated with respect and gravity. And, well. Fuck those guys. Fuck them right up the nose. As I’ve said before, if you want me to treat your ideas with respect, get better ideas.

And that wraps up the Reader Request Week for 2018! Thanks to everyone who asked questions. Let’s do it again in 10 to 12 months!

27 thoughts on “Reader Request Week 2018 #10: Short Bits

  1. Reader request week is always a pleasure! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on random and insignificant matters as well as the big ones!

  2. As a boomer, I’m really glad that you don’t advocate wholesale murder of boomers! Thank you.
    It floors me that the idealism and inclusionism of the 60’s, when I attended high school and college, has given way to racism and devotion to Mammon amongst boomers. On the other hand, this is hardly only limited to boomers; a lot of the racist junk I see seems to be evinced across the age spectrum, and I doubt that very many in my generation are plotting murders a la Dylan Roof, for example.

    As far as getting rid of us: 1) be careful what you wish for. 2) you might be waiting a few years; my father died at age 94 (I’m 68) and so I have a chance to be around a good while yet, along with many others of my cohort.

  3. 100 duck sized horses. A normal sized duck’s beak & wings aren’t a problem for people. You’re more likely to break your neck falling down if ducks freak you out and you try to run away in a panic. If you assume a middle sized horse weighs over 1000 pounds. A 1000 pound duck? Now there is something to get panicky about. Ducks weigh less than 5 pounds unless you count some of the domesticated breeds which can exceed 10 pounds. Lets be silly, we are talking about horse sized ducks after all, and call it 20 pounds. One hundred 20 pound horses are no threat. Not enough power to do any real damage and no way to climb up on you so swarming up on you is out. One hundred 20 pound dogs could be a problem but that is because their mouths are evolved for predation. Horses mouths aren’t. It would still hurt but I don’t think it would do any real damage even accumulatively.

  4. I highly recommend the book ‘One Summer’ by Bill Bryson that covers 1927 and the years preceding. Great read about that time period that interests you.

  5. I used to read the Encyclopedia Britannica for fun. Now I read Wikipedia for fun. Much more fun, because I can chase cross-references without getting out of my chair. I am well aware of the many ways in which Wikipedia is unreliable, but it still ups many people’s baseline of knowledge fast.

    I was on the Internet in 1983 (I have receipts), and I plunged in with utter joy. I could talk to people about my weird and obscure interests, and they’d talk right back with things I didn’t know. I could ask questions, and somebody who knew the answer would usually be around. I made lifelong friends whom I haven’t seen in person to this day. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive /But to be young was very heaven!

    My kids grew up on the Web, in an era where our pediatrician solemnly warned us that more than 15 minutes of Internet per day would inevitably result in corruption by pedophiles. (We laughed and ignored her.) Both of them used the Internet to keep in touch with friends and make new ones; with the Web, it is possible to find your tribe, and maintain it, without having to live in the same place. (This applies equally to child pornographers and Nazis, of course.) One of my children wound up being a shut-in, and the Internet quite honestly kept them sane.

    Three channels of television added up to having your choice of (say) Mister Ed, Petticoat Junction, or Lawrence Welk, plus whatever was on on the UHS stations. I don’t miss that one little bit, nor do I miss having my choice of books limited to what a store chose to stock, plus what I could talk them through ordering from _Books In Print_. (I much preferred the rare stores that would let me look through _Books In Print_ myself.)

    There are a lot of bad consequences to the current Web era, and I’d certainly like to see some major changes in how people are allowed to behave. I don’t mean “be polite”, I mean “don’t make anonymous death threats”, implementation to be determined. But I wouldn’t go back to my youth, when the sources of information were highly curated, and rarely with my interests in mind.

  6. As re the photography bit, I really like the rapid-fire mode my phone has: touch-and-hold the shutter button, and it takes up to 30 shots in quick succession. It’s really easy then to save the best frames and trash the rest.

  7. Anyone who says “we just need to wait for the nasty old folks to die off” isn’t paying attention. Those old folks are busily teaching their kids and grandkids the same nasty attitudes! It wasn’t an old fart who drove his car into a bunch of protesters at the KKK/Nazi rally and killed one. It’s not old farts shooting up schools. It’s not old farts in the incel terrorist movement. It’s going to be up to Gen X and the Millennials and those who follow after to clean up the shit out of their own gardens, because waiting for the Boomers to die ain’t gonna do it.

    College football, in particular, is being used as an officially-unpaid farm system for pro football, and this needs to STOP. Let the NFL develop their own farm teams and pay the players just like baseball does, and let the college games go back to being for students. (Note that when I say “officially unpaid”, this does not mean that the participants aren’t compensated — only that the compensation tends to be in other forms than money, and isn’t supposed to exist so everyone looks the other way. The Olympics have the same issue.)

    To use the language of the sixties, I’m disappointed by how many people of the Boomer generation have sold out. Not the ones who were conservatives back then; they just followed the expected track from youthful to adult conservatism. But the ones who resisted Vietnam, who were involved with the Civil Rights movement, who were talking about creating a better world… and who are now in positions of power and in the pockets of the Man. You don’t get from Point A to Point B there without making a very deliberate decision to abandon your principles.

    Re hair, there’s a middle ground between wispy and full-dome — the monk’s tonsure. :-)

    I firmly believe that the decline of public education over the past 30 to 40 years is the result of deliberate sabotage, as part of the right wing’s long term plan to dismantle the New Deal, repeal the social advances of the 60s and 70s, and restore the age of the robber barons. The idea was to produce a large chunk of population which, never having been taught much in the way of science or anything in the way of critical thinking, would be easy to delude. And it’s worked a treat. Yes, that desperately needs to be fixed, but it’s not going to be easy and we’re going to have to fight for every inch of recovered ground.

    Re treating assholes with civility, I couldn’t say it any better. Not pushing back against that kind of shit is a big part of how we wound up where we are right now, with Nazis and white supremacists being elected to public office.

  8. I just saw an exhibit of MC Escher work in Boston, and to be able to get up close to some of those pieces was a privilege, and fascinating.

    This is driving me nuts, because I live in the Boston area, and since that exhibit opened I haven’t been able to get a weekend where my whole family is pointed in the same direction to get down there and see it. And it’s only on for a couple more weeks.

  9. @Lee:

    The idea was to produce a large chunk of population which, never having been taught much in the way of science or anything in the way of critical thinking, would be easy to delude. And it’s worked a treat.

    For that hypothesis to make sense you need to explain why the older generations don’t seem to be any smarter or more critical thinkers than younger ones.

  10. Also a boomer here. I have been a liberal all my life. I absolutely loathe the current administration and feel that they will go down as the most corrupt administration ever.
    Not all of us boomers sold out but for many years I feel like I’ve been swimming against the tide. Young people today give me hope though.

  11. With the boomers, I’m waiting for the nasty Gen Xers to replace them, because lets all face it- Paul Ryan is such an improvement. Yeah I am Gen Xer.

  12. Kitten Lady has a tutorial about taking kitten pictures on YouTube. Natural light and taking lots of pictures were two of the tips; the third was to get down to the kitten’s level, which I also observe in the picture of Spice that is (as of the time I am commenting) showing up in the tweets.

  13. That high tech info thing: — I see two things at least with the proliferation of information and channels to get it from.

    1. I’m vision-impaired, legally blind. Being able to access text I can enlarge to suit me, or audio content, or text-to-speech and speech-to-text, ebooks, enlargeable maps, any and all of it — This is a tremendous equalizer and benefit for me. The social aspect of the web, forums, blogs, and so on, also help level the playing field for me. My eyesight does not have to matter to other people; only my brains and my emotional maturity need to matter to others. What I look like also doesn’t have to matter online, unless I, or friends, want it to. So these are very good things. But the web, and particularly social media, also has a lot of growing up to do, in how people socialize and fail to get along. There need to be better ways for us all to get along well. And youth/minors need a chance to interact in ways that do not ban them from learning and information, or from making friends with anyone, yet also keep them safe. That really could be extended to all people. It applies to handicapped folks, LGBT folks, other minorities, males and females and folks who don’t quite fit either one, and basically all kinds of people.

    2. John Scalzi’s comments addressed how people today, especially older or economically / educationslly disadvantaged people, are having trouble getting fair and equal access, and learning to use modern technology to get at information. (How do you use this thing?) (But what if you can’t afford a subscription to buy the device or use this or that service?) And so on. — This is also important for school kids and young adults, in college or out working. If you or your family can’t afford that fancy, pricey new tablet or phone or laptop or whatever gadget it is, or if you can’t afford that nice broadband, moderately-high-speed access plan (cable, web. cell phone, etc.), or the various cool services available (for audio-video, ebooks, software services (looking especially at Adobe and Microsoft, there) — Then you as a young person, either out working or in school, typically both, are going to be greatly and unfairly disadvantaged in school and work and your personal life and enrichment. This is not just fun, unnecessary stuff. It’s banking and other public and government services, education, medicine, you name it. If you cannot get on the bus or get up to the table or in the cafeteria line, then guess what? You don’t get to ride or eat with the folks who have the advantages in work, school, personal life, and play, and so you miss the bus and you miss being at the table in the big tent, and you go hungry inside because of it. (And I realize Mr. Scalzi is well aware of those kinds od disadvantages, and was not omitting that from his thinking.)

    However, there’s another side to it too that Scalzi addressed some: Wow, our technology is only in its infancy. Look at what you can and can’t do with most ebooks, for instance, that you should be able to do because you can do all those things easily with a printed book or other printed matter. This frustrates me as a book lover and former designer! Not only do I want any beautiful font and color and layout options, but I want some very basic things we do with real paper books. I miss those big, beautiful book covers. I miss being able to pick up a book in the bookstore or library, look at the front and back, the blurbs inside the front covers, check the table of contents (outline), leaf through it and see if it suits me, whether it’s a non-fiction book for reference learning, or a fiction or poetry book or art book, for enjoyment and that other sort of learning we get from arts and literature. There are many other things we all do with real books that we just can’t easily do with ebooks yet.

    That goes for most other online information sources and formats, too. The web itself, and the networks (and access methods and speeds) we use to get at the info, are still, well, kinda primitive and clunky, as advanced as they are. That gets back to my point about equal access above, but it gets at the maturity of the media (plural of mediums) too.

    One real pet peeve for me is how very many ebooks do something really stupid with tabular, columnar data: Many of them (and many word processors and publication / layout programs) store tables and columns as — bitmapped images, ruining any possibility of using or enlarging the text beyond a certain point, killing it for speech readers, killing the “text” nature and searchable nature of it too. This is needlessly stupid, because the ebook formats and any decent word processors do have table formats built-in and ready to use. Ebooks get this from the HTML table markup tags underneath, so there is zero reason for any word processor or page making or ebook making program to do this. Zero. Yet it gets done A LOT and TOO MUCH.

    We also need higher resolution images stored in ebooks, so people can enlarge those and still see and use them. This holds true for interior illustrations and figures and for the cover art, and for toons and manga.

    PDF format is bad about that too, the tables and the images.

    But that’s getting into too fine a level of detail. — My point is, our software and our networking and our cool devices are still not really mature and capable yet. They are getting better, but they still have many things to work out before they are anywhere near as full-featured and usable as any piece of printed matter, whether it’s a book or newspaper or magazine or your cereal box.

    Two other pet peeves: All those **** ads sprinkled all over news/magazine sites online. Could you all _please_ quit embedding those in the middle of the articles? Put them to one side or the other. Better yet, turn those off. Find some other way to fund your content, but don’t make me wade through that, whether it’s a free source or especially if it’s a paid subscription source. Maddening.

    The other pet peeve: I keep seeing product / package designs and corporate identity designs where someone, some committee or department or boss, put together text and backgrounds that have wa too little contrast in color, size, or other readability / legibility aspects. If the average consumer (paying customer) cannot see at a distance or close-up, what that says on your package or screen or printed matter, or video, then…you have just irritated and lost your customer. If any substantial portion of your buying market (people with glasses, ordinary vision problems, or impaired vision) cannot read that, then you’ve lost your sale. — And this is, ahem, basic Design 101 and Art Principles 101 and Color Theory 101 level stuff. White text on beige or yellow or orange? Light grey with any of those? Are you seriously kidding me? Also very dark colors, such as navy or royal blue or browns, with dark grey, black, or similar dark colors? Same problem: You just failed basic ease of recognition of text or imagery. How did these people pass their freshman graphic design or journalism classes? How can they keep design jobs? How does that get past focus groups and prdduct testing? — I ask, because I keep seeing this a lot lately, and sometimes, I don’t even pick up a product, or pick it up but won’t buy it, because…what is that saying? (This is not just my individual eyesight. This is a basic design principle, and the people producing these should know better. I wonder how much they are losing in sales and they don’t know it. Just senseless.)

    Anyway, ranting aside, my points on modern high tech still stand. I think we will see things improve, but it will take time. Unfortunately, in the meantime, some people will be needlessly and unfairly disadvantaged, and that harms our growth as a society. The next Einstein or Hawking or Mozart or Shakespeare might be out there, or hey, the next Scalzi. Or y’know, pick the great current band or singers of your choice. These folks all need an equal chance, and if we don’t give it to them, we could wind up missing out as a society on what they had to offer, because they didn’t get the chance to flourish along with the well-to-do folks. Van Gogh, for instance. Edgar Alan Poe. etc.

  14. Frankly, I found the remarks about boomers gratuitous and offensive. None of my friends are “slaves to mammon” and 95% of us are still on the left end of the political spectrum. My wife, for example, taught inner city public school kids for 34 years. Stop the offensive generalizations, please.

  15. Jeff M:

    I’m okay with you being offended, particularly as you don’t appear to have been a careful reader of what I wrote. As a hint, there’s a difference between “all” and “a non-trivial number.” When you’re offended by what you think I wrote, rather than what I did write, that’s not actually my problem.

  16. Jeff M. — consider that your friends aren’t a random sampling. The hard fact is that in 2016, more than half the white people our age (I was born in 1960; presumably we’re close) voted for Trump; that’s bigotry and greed. You and I might not like sharing a demographic group with those folks, but that’s the reality.

    Anglotopia — “One Summer” sounds great; will definitely check it out. I share John’s fascination with the ’20s; setting an upcoming book in 1928 Pittsburgh.

  17. I have to question whether the vast ocean of information can offset the half-vast cesspool of misinformation and disinformation. I tend to the side of the former, but there’s not enough wariness toward the latter.

  18. Dear Ruth, et al.,

    I’m going to call major BS on this whole “Baby Boomers are/were X” thing. It’s facile to the point of stupidity… when applied to ANY cohort. Whether pointing forward or backward, it’s just another flavor of “the kids[parents] these days, I don’t know what’s wrong with them, and they should get the hell off my lawn.”

    I’m an early-side baby boomer (68) and hard left. Always have been. Just a quick look at the real demographics, that the baby boom “generation” does in fact cover an entire generation. Do you really think kids born in 1946 have remotely the same outlook as ones born in 1965?!

    And, back then, even among people of my own age, the majority, the vast majority were not hard left radicals. Many of them were quiet sympathizers, but far more were moderate-to-conservative, and they just wanted to get on with their lives. What made it look different is that that we controlled the political discourse for several years, a confluence of Vietnam, civil rights, the draft, and a burgeoning second wave of feminism. But that doesn’t mean we were monolithic nor even collectively in the majority.

    Those of us who were actually in the various movements but he well knew this. There wouldn’t havew been nonstop protests, monkey wrenching, sometimes riots, if it wasn’t because we were trying to swim against the current.

    What we WERE naïve about was thinking that we were the inevitable wave of the future. Youth and inexperience will do that. To the degree that we thought about it, which wasn’t a whole lot, we imagined we’d be ultimately taking over the reins of power as those “old guys” died off. Except street politics ain’t the same as electoral politics and just because we could dominate the former and force change on the world doesn’t mean that we would be the ones who the majority would want to elect to office.

    Yup, I know a lot of my old friends you’ve gotten more conservative over the years. And I know a lot who’ve gone the other way. Thinking about one who in the 1980s was a Reagan Republican — she was so committed to the cause that she voted for him TWICE — and by 2016 she was a Sandernista. She’s not alone.

    There are ways to analyze the different generations that make sense. Painting them as “A’s are B’s” isn’t even close to one of them.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  19. 57 Channels and nothing on… I have cable for internet and an Apple TV which is basically crap, but TV leaves me indifferent now. Soap operas about outlaw bikers? ‘Reality’ TV about nudists in Alaska? Pass.

  20. Ctein, I’m a few years younger than you and I suspect that us bomers have seen too much of what did *not* work out very well. But very few ‘new’ ideas are new at all. Both left and right are recycling their bumper stickers and crap ideas from the 1930’s as near as I can figure.

  21. I’m reading Head On right now. I’m at page 137. Chris mentions, around page 100, that Haden’s could virtually teleport by jumping from Threep to Threep around the globe almost instantaneously. This would require a set of autonomous Threeps, off the grid, but opens up a fascinating possibility for future stories.

    Murder and mayhem, perhaps?

  22. The plethora of choice goes beyond information and entertainment to include cuisine, attire, and many other aspects of daily life. There are many still living who didn’t grow up with multitudes of options: “When I was young, there was only one color of cheese. There was only brown bread and white bread….” Et cetera. And there are those unable, for whatever reason, to choose between options, preferences or no. Bombarded to exhaustion, at least some of these people seal themselves off as best they can from the ongoing Niagaras of data competing for their attention. In response, news outlets (for one) up the ante. “Found dead; horror smash; unsolved murders; troubled children; anxious wait….” I won’t even get started on the advertising industry.

    While the Internet is a vast ocean of resources for anyone with the means to get at it, one needs a rational mind, a strong set of filters, and a really good bullshit detector to navigate it with sanity.

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