Crystal-clear and cold again this Friday morning here on California’s north coast as we wedge deeper into the new year.
Not that 2014 will see anything of retentive value to aid in warding off all the shit piled at the year’s front door, but there’s not much we can do about it. The world has been lugging around some nefarious stuff in our backpacks for years and years.
The great Isaac Asimov predicted some right-on shit 50 years ago for this 2014, but he wrongly concluded for us in the nowadays: Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity
(Illustration found here).
We wish — “boredom.” In the endless list of shit humanity is suffering from right now, ‘boredom’ has to be way, way down the line. Asimov in August 1964 had no understanding of climate change, no clue to what a heating planet will do once it starts the heater. No way in shit could he have predicted the collapse of the USSR, the surge of terrorism, or the US Tea Party.
And most-likely, he wouldn’t have even imagined the horror of the huge income inequality gap that’s choking this country, and a goodly-chunk of the world.
In Asimov’s view, life through science would only get better. He was on target with our communications gear:
Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone.
The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books.
Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica (shown in chill splendor as part of the ’64 General Motors exhibit).
In August 1964, I was about to become a high school sophomore — a nerd/geek/dork with acne. Of course, back in them days nerd/geek/dork was unknown in popular speech, weirdo/freak did just as good. In 1964, life didn’t appear to be hanging by the fingernails on a steep, nose-bleed precipice.
Americans ain’t brillant writers and forward thinkers — we’re real-lifers.
And we see gloom — a new survey indicates hope is dim:
Whether they foresee runaway technology or runaway government, rampant poverty or vanishing morality, a majority of Americans predict a future worse than today.
Whites are particularly gloomy: Only 1 in 6 expects better times over the next four decades.
Also notably pessimistic are middle-age and older people, those who earn midlevel incomes and Protestants, a new national poll finds.
Overall, 54 percent of those surveyed expect American life to go downhill, while 23 percent think it will improve, according to a December survey from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Only 21 percent predict life will stay about the same.
That minority may be onto something, however.
While no one can say what catastrophes or human triumphs are to come, contentment at a personal level has proven remarkably stable over the past four decades.
Interviews by the federally funded General Social Survey, one of the nation’s longest-running surveys of social trends, show Americans’ overall happiness as well as satisfaction with their jobs and marriages barely fluctuating since 1972.
Those decades spanned the sexual revolution and the women’s rights movement, race riots and civil rights advances, the resignation of one president and impeachment of another, wars from Vietnam through Afghanistan, the birth of the home computer and the smartphone, boom times and hard times.
The GSS, conducted once every two years, will send interviewers back into the field in 2014.
The AP-NORC Center survey asked people to rate the change in American life during the period tracked by the GSS, from 1972 to 2012.
A majority — 54 percent — say life in America is worse today than four decades ago.
Those old enough to remember the early ’70s are especially nostalgic, as are tea party supporters and people who live in the countryside.
Those who say U.S. life has declined are more apt to name politics, the economy, moral values or changes in families as the biggest difference.
The 3 in 10 who think life is better are more likely to point to computers and technology as the big change. Racial and ethnic minorities are apt to cite domestic issues, including civil rights.
Welcome to the future — tedious and bone-weary.