Damien on… Progress
Is it just me? Or is it a FACT that since the early Seventies, all FORWARD steps have been giant steps BACKWARD – except with technology.
Let’s look at the facts. In the Seventies, audio-visual equipment was CRAP, by today’s standards. So were cars, telephones,etc. But now we have high-tech digital gear – like TVs featuring umpteen channels, which we can delay and watch at our leisure. And play on giant screens, with multi-channel sound.
We have devices Bond’s “Q-branch” could only have DREAMED of. Mobile phones that work anywhere and take pictures – even low-res video. This computer connects Your Humble Scribe to the WORLD and allows him to instantly look up ANYTHING. Even talk to people via video-phone.
Cars now have voices which tell you where to go – like Kitt. And their “smart” engineering will keep you between the ditches, unless you’re an idiot. And even then, they’ll keep you alive – provided you wear your seatbelt.
And all this stuff is CHEAP. Mass-production has meant that in real terms, these toys cost a FRACTION of what one would have expected, back in The Good Old Days. In My Day, most people RENTED TVs – to buy one would have cost you a month’s wages. And all you got was a flickery 19″ black and white picture, with mono sound.
Whereas today, a tube-TV has a 28″ colour picture with stereo sound and can be had for just TWO DAYS’ wages. For a month’s wages you can get a FIFTY-inch HiDef LCD TV, a Blu-Ray disk player, a Tivo, a DVD-recorder and a 6-channel 250W sound system – and have enough left over for several Blu-Ray HiDef movies.
Whilst a modern CAR has loads of gadgets and yet costs significantly LESS – in real terms – than a ’70s chariot. But this is where it all starts going WRONG. The thing is, despite HUGE leaps in safety, handling and braking capabilities – speed limits are far LOWER than they were in the Seventies.
Then there’s P.C. Originally designed to EASE our load, by eliminating racism, sexism and sexual harassment, its excesses mean we dare not TOUCH another human being – and have to watch every word we say, for fear of falling foul of an “ism”. (For more, see WAY down this strip).
If a man puts his hand on a distressed worker’s shoulder, he gets sacked for sexual harassment. And if a middle-aged man calls a black KID “boy”, he may get KILLED. Thanks to P.C., we now live in a climate of FEAR.
Then there’s Health And Safety. One example. I visited my old workshop teacher, to find he had QUIT teaching. The reason? There are now so many rules governing safety in schools, his job had become impossible. He’s gone back into industry.
I pointed out to him that during the whole five years he’d taught me, there’d been NO accidents in his workshop AT ALL. Precisely, he said. And the cossetting means that when kids enter the real World, they are UNPREPARED for the dangers.
And what about those cars? Every year, the safety standards rise – which results in perfectly good cars being SCRAPPED, because it’s cheaper to buy a new one than pay the exorbitant costs needed to keep an old one on the road. At least – legally.
Plus when you do get behind the wheel, you encounter “pavement widening” – which is another way of saying road NARROWING – the Euston Road, in London, used to have four lanes. Now it’s only got two. The others are reserved for buses. When you SEE one.
Then there’s smoking. Basically, you CAN’T. Those little tubes of joy that the Chancellor hits you for 1000% tax for, are unusable in any building or vehicle. Even your OWN, if it belongs to a company.
Finally, there are the RULES. Every year, “improvements” to our lives result in more and more RULES. Modern society is so REPRESSED, I for one opted OUT – and now live in The Developing World. Hopefully, by the time it catches up with me – I’ll be DEAD.
In short, since the early Seventies, if you overlay a graph showing the improvements in technology with another one showing the Quality Of Life – THEY WILL FORM AN “X”.