Better, Faster, Cheaper

Feb. 17 - One of the things I never used to do—and I mean never—is watch heavy metal cat videos. I suppose they must have been out there on VHS or Beta when I was in high school, but I never saw them at the rental places and none of my friends ever offered to lend me a bootleg.

I don't know how I survived.

I lived in absolute insulation. The news was broadcast only a couple of times a day on television. I was utterly disconnected from events in the next state over, let alone goings-on in other countries. I was seldom exposed to important political movements from halfway around the world.

Friends you haven't met yet...?

All I knew about people was what they told me, or what sinister gossips told me about them. I might have studied or worked for years alongside people of unusual character without ever having known it. Or people of unusual talent. (Thanks, Adam.)

I might have thought I knew something about Hans Christian Andersen from having read his fairy tales in English.

And without subscribing to a lot of expensive magazines, I wouldn't have known to what extraordinary lengths my government was going to protect me from my own appetite.

And I certainly couldn't play stupid video games without blowing a significant chunk of my pathetic income.

This little litany may sound like a prologue to the nostalgic mutterings you hear from wheezy old blowhards all the time. "Things were better in my day! Simpler! More honest!"

It's not.

People who talk that smack are actually saying they've given up on the future. It's too fast for them, too confusing, too broadband. "Damnation! I remember when I had to dial-up to AOL on a 2400-baud modem and half the time I got a busy signal! But I liked it! I loved it!" Sure. They probably also love proctological exams, cold sores, and root canal.

Pardon my lack of nostalgia.

I don't have any big regrets in life but, philosophically speaking, I don't give a damn about the past. It's over. Nothing to be done. The future is here and it's better, faster, cheaper, sexier, more nutritious—and global! And it just keeps coming. More and more of it, every day, as long as we live. Anything that sucks today can rock tomorrow.

Pessimists will tell you just the opposite. They'll talk their gloomy mush about declining this, or deteriorating that, or the terrible trend toward whatever. I say, ignore them. This is, surely, the best of all possible worlds, and it just keeps getting better.

The worst-case scenario when I was in high school was a global thermonuclear war that would almost instantly render most of the developed world a broiled, radioactive wasteland. The worst-case scenario today, as I understand it, is the detonation of a suitcase nuke in a major western metropolis, followed by the immediate establishment of the world's largest parking lot somewhere in south Asia.

Isn't that progress?

When I was very young, my mother's parents (who happened, by chance, to be my own grandparents) lived in London for a while. They may as well have lived on the moon. Here I am in Denmark just 30 years later, and think of it: half an hour after getting computer images of the child in the DMG's womb, my parents are looking at those images in their Connecticut home. (To say nothing of the strangers in Australia, South Africa, and Japan seeing them on this website.)

We live in a world where like-minded malcontents from every nook and cranny of this big old rock can chat in real-time about the horrors of modernity. What's not to love about a world in which you're never more than a few clicks away from a kindred lunatic?

So roll your eyes all you want at the notion of heavy metal cat videos. Personally, I think the number of heavy metal cat videos available to the average consumer ought to be some kind of index. When all the world has free and immediate access to heavy metal cat videos, then surely we will have entered the next great stage of human development.

Meanwhile, the passage of every day just brings us that much closer to that inevitable paradise.

* * *

No American president has ever been born on February 17. It is, however, the birthday of one of the worst minor-league baseball players in recorded history: Michael Jordan turns 40 today.

Others celebrating their birthdays today include Rene Russo (1954), Jim Brown (1936), Alan Bates (1934), Hal Holbrook (1925), and Red Barber (1908).

Today was the festival of Quirinalia in Ancient Rome.

The Moron's Index
Bean Counter: 13 weeks + 4 days
Days as a Non-Smoker: 3
Reasons I Can Think for Maintaining This List: 0

Dagens Ord (The Word of the Day)
Skat. Treasure. As such, it can be used as a pet name (min dejlig skat = "my lovely treasure"). It also means tax. The secret of the Scandinavian psyche is buried in there somewhere. I'm sure of it.

Happy Tuesday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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