Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Technophobia And Our Relationship With The Modern World

                          Several months ago I wrote an article on this blog about some human being's purely sentimental attachment to older technology versus newer developments. As with its detractors,my own opinions modern "digi-tech" is based almost entirely on individual observation. I personally try at least to make an effort not to let bias lead the way in my thoughts and feelings. Now I'm not saying to pump myself up to appear superior in heart and mind to anyone else. But only to illustrate a thought process that took much time and effort to develop. And that more people would be wise to...well at least try to try. What I am writing about today again comes from personal experience. And it is not about modern technology and our reluctance to it. But rather about the more extreme end of this spectrum:fear of technology,apparently known as technophobia. And there's a personal story to illustrate this too.

                   Nine years ago my family purchased a Sony CMT-NEZ3 mini home stereo system. As with most such devices of the time it could play both standard CD's and MP3 discs,and it had a built in digital radio turner. But the main selling point to them is that even in 2005 it was one of the few systems they could find with a cassette player/recorder. As is typical of Sony products up through today apparently,the CD is held down with a black spindle that within the last year or so has come loose. It takes sometimes ten attempts at taking the CD in and out of the player in order to get it to play. Otherwise,the device clicks and continues to say "no disc". Yet its not broken in any serious sense: merely looseness clearly observable in the black spindle mechanism. Recently however,this has started to create a problem for me personally.

                     When I do my acrylic canvas painting some nights,I listen to music. Its all part of personal stress objectification in this particular case. In the last couple of weeks or so,I have noticed how the complicated process of repeating the same operation to try to get the device to play the CD has gotten me to the point where this entire fiasco was creating the exact level of stress my painting/music situation is supposed to help prevent. Down to the point where on some occasions I decided it might be appropriate not to even paint the given night. Tried another solution in my moms old yellow Sony boombox from 2000. However it has the same exact spindle,and of course the results were the same. In the end the solution was simple: plug my portable CD player into a surge protector with portable speakers. Worked like a charm in lieu of a better system. Still it was an important revelation for me.

                        Why would someone such as myself whose learned so much in the past decade about re-arranging life to prevent tension loose my temper on a device that doesn't care how I feel about it? It bought to mind another possible reason towards people's fear of technology outside their sentimental attachment to only that which they've known. Could be that a lot of people's fear and frustration at modern technology comes both from their lack of ability to understand it, but their irritation at the over zealous attitudes of the technologies developers. I've come to a conclusion that a lot of the new and less then adequate technologies-such as digital television and some lower end laptop computers,are developed by eager beaver type technicians who are perhaps so fascinated with their own inventions they neglect practicality to the everyday people. I think if humanism joined forces more with futurism,technology's performance would seriously improve. And therefore so would fear of it.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It Happened On A Sunny Morning 68 Years Ago-A Tribute To The Hibakusha

                    It was 8:15 in the morning in a city on the coast of Japan. It was a beautiful and sunny August 6'th. The year was 1945. Most of the other cities in Japan had been bombed by Allied aircraft and the people of this city started to realize that their city,so far untouched,might have been saved aside for a reason. So many people had their heads covered outside. Being the typical morning commuting hour, people were going to their jobs in and around the city. Soldiers stationed their were preparing for their training operations on the parade grounds. Children were going to school. Families were enjoying peaceful breakfasts in their homes-mothers,fathers and their children. One of these families saw this blinding white flash,brighter than a thousand suns,burst into the window. Than an Earthquake like shot blew them through the house as it flew about. And  some of them were knocked unconscious by the force of the blast.

                    When this family opened their eyes to look around them,they saw the city was now a smoldering inferno-blanketed by thick black smoke and fire. Around them were charcoal black figures-burnt to a crisp where they stood. There were charcoal black figures walking too-aimlessly in all directions with their shredded skin hanging off their outstretched arms. They pegged for water. Someone in the family tried to give them some out of a water pump. And the people died right after. Those who survived flung themselves into the river to escape the intense heat. As they piled up on one another,some of them drowned. Then these survivors looked up and felt raindrops falling. They started drinking the rain,which they noticed was black like oil. Black rain was falling from the sky. All around them,people still walking on the streets started to fall one by one,side by side and pass away.

                        For the next few days soldiers mounted rescue operations in this city. By then the same thing had happened to another nearby city. Within the next few weeks many more people died. And something strange started to happen. Other people who should've been getting better came down with an unknown illness. Their hair started to fall out of their heads. They became extremely weak and docile. Purple spots started to appear on their bodies. They threw up large amounts of black liquid and also started dying. Conversations with them revealed that these people were close to the ground zero where this flash had appeared-such as the people who had drunk the black rain.  Today years have passed since these events. This city has been rebuilt. And some of the people have survived. But all of them have had to live with ongoing health conditions such as deformed body parts,organ failures and an extremely high cancer rate. Survivors of this are known as Hibakusha-meaning Explosion Afflicted People.

                        As much as it sounds like a nightmare inducing horror movie,what you just heard was true. And the name of the first city is happened in was Hiroshima. No matter how we slice it, this was the first and only nuclear war ever conducted by any nation. People have debated the politics of dropping the first atomic bomb in war since the day it happened. And there doesn't seem to be any solid resolution as of yet at this point. Many have died during war since. Children and families in many parts of the world. Even victims of terrorist attacks such as 9/11. However I'd personally like to ask anyone who is debating with someone about the abolition of nuclear weapons to think about stories such as the one you've just heard. Think about the children who burned to death. Think about all the families destroyed by radiation poisoning from things like the black rain. And despite who cruel some people can be, think about if this is something you'd really wish on even your worst enemies.