Runaway Future

24.8.2010

Ode to the man down the hall

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 21:35

Oh, polite old man who lives down the hall from me
What in the world has made you so angry?

Heading out for a run, I walked by your door
And heard you yelling that someone was a ‘fucking whore’

I’ve never known you to curse or raise your tone
And I’m not sure if you were talking to someone or on the phone

I would hate to be the one who receives your verbal brunt
Especially when you yelled out ‘suck a cock, cunt!’

I only caught a bit of your rant before I was down the stair
But the little bit I caught was too much for me to hear

You’ve always impressed me, taking your hat off in the lift
But now my opinion of you has taken a sudden shift

When you see me in the hall, you greet me and call me sir
But now I know, under the surface, what foul thoughts stir

17.8.2010

If by Rudyard Kipling

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 10:07

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

12.8.2010

media (an excerpt)

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 22:26

Somehow without anybody really noticing, the news changed from events that affect us – such as major wars and stock market crashes – to stuff that doesn’t affect most of us at all, like athletes slaying their wives.

Governments have figured out how to control the big bone-headed catastrophes that made news in the past. These days, you never hear about a cow kicking over a lantern causing a major metropolitan area to be engulfed in flames. Now, thanks to government regulations, all the cows use flashlights and nobody gets hurt.

Rich guys used to be able to manipulate the stock market and make huge profits at the expense of smaller investors. It was big news when the small investors discovered they’d been screwed. Now there are many safeguards against the small investor ever finding out how much he’s getting screwed. That means the financial news is limited to interviews with bald guys who try to guess why the market moved ten points today. It’s not really “news” in the sense that it has any relevance.

War isn’t as newsworthy as it used to be either. All the big countries with impressive weapons can’t figure out a good reason to point them at each other.

[…]

Social problems are reported as statistics that rise and fall for no apparent reason. The only fun part is watching politicians trying to distribute blame without accidentally using the phrase, “I sure hope you voters are as dumb as you look!”

Economic news is too abstract for the average viewer. It’s hard to be excited about news when you can’t even tell if it’s good news or bad news. The value of the yen is up? Uh-oh, now what do I do?

The occasional serial killer story is interesting, but the likelihood of the serial killer snuffing me personally is so small that it’s hard to get excited about it. Serial killing is a very bad thing, but logically, nine people killed by a serial killer isn’t as bad as ten people who are each killed by a separate killer. Serial-killer stories are the most impressive news we have, and they only sound relevant when they’re taken out of context. That’s the best evidence the news isn’t important anymore.

The other clue that all the important stories are gone is the number of news reports about other news reports. This morning I saw a news story about how a tabloid obtained photos of a crime scene. News about the news gatherers is more interesting than whatever they’re gathering news about. Could anything be less relevant than news about how someone gathered news about a story that wasn’t relevant in the first place?

[…]

I predict that news outlets will try to compensate for the loss of relevant news by focusing on stories that are more shocking and depressing than ever. At least that way they’ll get your attention and sell advertising even if the stories aren’t “news” in the traditional sense.

This will limit the reporting to a few stories per year about famous people who are killing other famous people. And if there are not enough of those stories to sell advertising slots, the media will do the only responsible thing – they will start to kill famous people themselves. Eventually, news people will get caught and got to jail, and that will be the end of traditional news outlets.

[…]

The end of traditional news outlets will not limit people’s access to information. Thanks to the ubiquity of video cameras and the Internet, every citizen will be a reporter. If something happens in your neighbourhood, you’ll tape it, stick it on the Internet with your own commentary, and make it available to the world. Sports commentary and statistics will be generated by fans who enjoy doing it for free. The weather reports will be computer-generated and constantly available by computer, pager, voicemail, and dozens of other sources. All news gathering will be disaggregated.

[…]

People will have access to software that constantly combs the Internet for “small” news that is relevant to the. The software will learn to filter out reports from Induhviduals who constantly post incorrect information. You will still get misleading reports quite often, but that’s no different from today.

Excerpt from The Dilbert Future by Scott Adams

Amazingly enough, originally published in 1997.

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