My Technophobe

Paspartout is a technophobe. She doesn’t just fear/avoid new technology (or what she refers to as all things ”touchy-swipey”), she’s a borderline Luddite – the Satnav sits in her lap (with the sound off and instructions relayed to me as I drive, with constant references to the oversized paper roadmap), my MacBook is viewed as unnecessary, Cloud Computing off-worldly, and the iPhone is her personal shuttle loom (getting her to answer it for me whilst we’re in the car is met with something akin to “aagh, don’t let the carrots touch the peas!”). Her own phone is still an old QWERTY Nokia – in fact, I recently bought her a new Nokia 3310 just so she could have some colour in her life! So, as you can probably imagine, getting her to embrace new technology is a somewhat Sisyphean struggle. Of course, by contrast, she’s a regular Facebook and email user, but enough of her contradictions.

The way I see it I have two choices – education or divorce (penal transportation has recently fallen out of favour, from what I hear). And isn’t that true of a lot of technology? We humans seem to have an almost bi-polar relationship with it. At one end of the spectrum there are those that embrace it just “because” (“gadget freak” gets bandied about in our house, though I prefer the term “early adopter”), and at the other we have the afore-mentioned Luddites. As for myself, I’d like to think I sit somewhere in between. In the interest of fence preservation, you understand.

So what is this resistance to change? I’m often faced with questions like “what’s the point?” and “why do I need to?” And you know, sometimes I’m not sure I have an answer. Well, OK, that’s not strictly true. You see, the bigger picture is actually pretty obvious to me: the more we experiment with technology, the better and more useful it will eventually become – the more able we are to address those issues previously left … well, unaddressed. Ultimately, it’s about improving our lot.

I think I understand where my Luddite is coming from, though. In the last couple of years I’ve seen a number of emerging technologies that frankly I struggle to see a valid, mainstream, purpose in (some wearables, for example, such as the Fin, Logbar’s Ring, etc.), but at the same time, I also see their development as absolutely necessary. Invention and imagination are both key in moving us forward from the future’s very own dark ages. And hopefully, there will be elements of those technologies that fall out into others that become more mainstream. At the same time, though, educating the market as to the need and/or benefit is as important as the experimentation itself. There has to be either uptake of that particular technology, or an ability to transfer portions of it directly into others, in order to move it forward.

Although, convincing people who aren’t natural early adopters, to take up new technology “just because” is a different matter. This is where my “but it’s cool” isn’t enough – you need a strategy. You need an answer to “why?” Whenever anyone asks me about that, I often reply with only one word – Velcro. What the invention of Velcro has proved is that a lot of other stuff – perhaps with a more easily understood application – falls out of the larger stuff. Thank you, NASA. Whilst the larger stuff might not have an obvious tangible benefit to most of us, there are benefits that affect the more mundane. Stuff like Velcro.

Although I sometimes think that divorce would be the less painful of the choices available to me, I’ve become rather attached to my Paspartout over the years, and so it looks as though my Sisyphean struggle is set to continue for the foreseeable future. If I’m honest, I don’t at all mind – just don’t tell the missus that.

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“Are you alone?” the voice said. The words came out of an impenetrable darkness, an emptiness that hinted at an echo where there was none. After a brief pause, it repeated the question, this time sternly, and clipped, its patience clearly diminishing, “Are you alone?”
“Of course I came alone”, followed a hesitant reply, “what other choice did I have?”
“Indeed. Well then, the name.”
“I need assurances.”
“You’re in no position to bargain.”
“I’ve taken risks, I need assurances.”
“Of what exactly? My ability to ruin your life? To destroy your career, your family? To forever taint that which you hold dear? All those things will happen unless you give me the name.”
Another pause followed. Then, with a single word, a fate was sealed.
“Wilson”

Spleen

“Good evening, my name is Spleen, Gerald Spleen.”
“Spleen? Seriously?”
He eyed the young man with a look of distaste. “And what’s wrong with my name?”
“Nothing, I…”
“It’s a perfectly normal name, and not that uncommon at all. There’s nothing odd about it, if that’s what you were thinking.”
“No, I…”
“A normal name, not like some of the other boys I was at school with. Not like that Michael Duodenum, the pretentious little shit.”

The Whisky Glass Window

“Well of course, I’ve left the odd lady via a bedroom window myself, you know.” The old man winked over the top of his whisky glass, as he first leaned forward in the high-backed leather chair, and then back again. We waved his boney fingers in the air.

“Hmmm, well alright, it was only the once, but then like the old saying goes – you only ever need one tick in the box”. Of course, I had no idea what he meant – it wasn’t a saying I’d ever heard, but then technically speaking, his memory did go back further than mine. His eyes twinkled in the half-light as he gently laughed at me, clearly reminiscing about an event-filled youth. As it should be. I understood the bedroom window thing well enough, though. That was something we could bond over.

“One more for the road, Arthur?” I asked.

“Don’t mind if I do, old boy,” he smiled, “don’t mind if I do”.

God came over to my place

God came over to my place last night. He wore his usual baggy jeans and faded Rip-Curl T-shirt. He just stood there, as I answered the door, with a stupid inane grin on his face – like he’d just done something really dumb that he was incredibly proud of and that he thought I ought to see right away. In fact, that was exactly what he said to me, as he played with his long, curly hair, in that “I’m the almighty but I’m just too damned cool to mention it” way of his. Bastard. You see – he likes to think that he’s smooth, but he’s just an ordinary Joe. Actually, no, he’s not like any ordinary Joe, I don’t think he could be ordinary if he tried. Slack fucker.

Apparently, he’d been sat by the river contemplating the kind of things that your average deity (him, average? No, surely not) contemplates when sat by a river, with, I hasten to add, what was left of the very nice skunk we’d scored the previous evening, when apparently it suddenly dawned on him.

“What dawned on you?” I asked.

“The point, man. The whole fucking deal, you know?”

“And just what is the point?”

“Oh. I can’t remember. Ain’t life a bitch?” He was grinning again, but when wasn’t he? “You gonna let me in, then, or what?”

I stepped to the side, as he came in off the front porch. He walked past me – drifted would have been more accurate – and across to the French windows. He put his forehead against the glass and closed his eyes, his breath frosting the pane in front of him. Well, that was different, I thought.

“So, what is it that I’m supposed to come and look at, then? What dragged you away from your posse tonight to come all the way over here?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do I mean? You knocked on my door, said I had to come see something straight away, and then went all indefinable on me, even going so far as to breathe on my French windows. I mean, breathing is new – when did that start? Oh yeah, and where’s the rest of my weed? I’m not going to see any of that again, am I?”

He coughed and grinned at the same time, as if he’d been caught out in some way. Oh yeah, he had.

“Oh man, that was some sweet, sweet love you gave me, right there. I tell ya – you really should have stayed, man. Me and Shiva, we…”, he looked all wistful. “Ah, Shiva … now there’s a chick who knows how to party!”

“I think I’m fairly certain I don’t need to know where you’re going with that,” I sighed

He was drifting off again, I could tell. He had that glazed, happy look in his eye that said, “I had way more fun than I ought to – way more fun than you’ll ever have.”

“I might have to ask you to leave”

“Man! Seriously?”

“Probably, yeah.”

I didn’t mean it, but I felt that he was missing a boundary or two and could probably do with reeling in a bit. Only a bit, mind you – it doesn’t pay to get too wild when telling him off. He can be a bit – what’s the word I’m looking for? Petulant. He hasn’t been around as long as the rest of us, so think of him as a bit of a teenager, but with celestial powers, and you kind of get the idea. The last time anyone had a go at him, he drowned an entire planet. It was only one in an otherwise bountiful, and ever expanding, universe, but a fairly significant one, nevertheless. Or it would have been. He didn’t even have the decency to do it quickly – he made it last a little under six weeks, and did it with rain. He’s beautiful, but he can be vindictive like that. I mean, wow – toys/pram, anyone? Still, most of them were Thwack-Fuckers, so it wasn’t all bad.

The ancient game of Thwack-Fuck was very similar to what’s now known as Golf. Played by the upper echelons of boring and badly dressed people, often so deeply ensconced in their own anal passages that it led to an unfortunate increase in volume when they spoke. It starts in the early stages of playing with two loud noises – “THWACK!”, as a small and, as rationality would ordinarily dictate, inoffensive ball is struck with a disproportionately large stick, followed by the word “FUCK!” as the ball fails to go in its owner’s intended direction – hence its original name. The name was later changed in order so as not to offend. Pfft!

“What was it you wanted me to see, anyway?” I repeated. Too late, I’d got lost in my own thoughts (about him, ironically) to realise that he’d wandered off again. Bloody new gods – it’s like herding cats. I hate cats.