Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Future

My sixty five year old father has bought himself a computer, purchased online services from the phone company, and started computer classes at the local community college. The computer is set on a simulated oak particle board computer table, which has been placed next to an actual oak roll top desk - the desk where my Great Grandfather Taylor sat to manage his fur trade in black bound ledgers of closely lined pale green paper. My father sits at his new desk vexed by the manuals he doesn't understand - written in "computerese" he says, rather than Standard English. He is becoming increasingly alarmed by what he discovers on the internet.

On a recent visit, we sat in the flickering light of the tiny tube T.V. in my parents' kitchen.

"I don't know which it will be," he stated flatly, "marketing or the internet. But one of them will bring an end to civilization."

"You sound pretty sure about that." I smiled.

"Oh yes. Absolutely. Of course, the worst thing about it all is that I won't be around to say I told you so."

I noted that my desperate need to be right about everything might be at least partly genetic.

We watched the news turn into commercials: "erectile dysfuction" and "acid reflux disease" pills; an American Made car which paradoxically promises to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil by burning ethanol blended fuel derived from heavily oil reliant/consuming argribusiness corn; and a fast food chain pushing a "Fourth Meal - between dinner and breakfast!", to Americans who one must suppose are not nearly fat enough.

His eyes followed the quick cuts and undulating graphics washing over the screen. Barely audibly he concluded:

"Then again, maybe I will."
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