Thursday, March 22, 2012

All Hail Skynet!!!

In the movie The Terminator. James Cameron told us about a dystopian future where one day computers became sentient and declare war on the human race. Could that be coming true sooner then later?

I have my issues with technology. I really don't know how to use it to much and maybe this is where all this is coming from, but to me it feels as if in the name of progress we are becoming too dependent upon technology. Phones are no longer just phones but mini computers, GPS, cameras both video and still, TVs, everything you could want in the world. Cars have computers in them that help them run, you can read books on handheld devices, you no longer need to go to a bookstore or library. Movies come streaming direct to your house or through your cable or satellite provider. All movies are becoming digital, no more "Film" is used for them. Newspapers are becoming dinosaurs since you can get all your info up to the second on the internet, why wait a full day when you can get the news now.  The post office is going under because hardly anyone uses the mail anymore. There are those who still write letters or send cards, but you can send E-Cards now, and you have email or texting to stay in touch with family and friends. People pay bills on line, people can read magazines on line now as well. Everything is wired.

What set me off this time is that Maryland may get rid of regular toll booths soon and just do electronic tolls. Look I am only 38 (soon to be 39), I'm not a young man but I am also not a grumpy old man.  Technology and progress are great. But our dependence upon it is a little disturbing. As is the fact that one of the multitude of reasons we have high unemployment is that a lot of jobs have been replaced electronically sending those workers out of a job. A pop culture look at this appeared in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie Bucket's dad lost his job to a robotic arm. So now he is out of a job and his family is poor. But he adapted and they rehired him to take care of the machines. However not everything in this world has the happy ending that Hollywood does.

Dependence on the technology is a little scary because there are people out there who do not know what life was like before all this technology reared it's head. Kids in their teens and twenties have always known the internet and used cell phones. They only know about all things that are wired. Also everything appears to be run by machines or computers now. Businesses thrive on their computers and servers and rely heavily on it.
But what if...What if a terrorist decides to cripple the United States. All they need to do is drop an electro magnetic pulse on big cities and all the computers and phones and tolls will be fried, done, gone. Now what? Some people who have been around for a while will be able to survive, but a lot of people will find it hard to survive. Our phones and pads are a huge part of our lives now and people, even old fogeys like me are dependent on these things if we want to be or not. Frankly it is an idea that scares the hell out of me.

But technology is good. it makes things easier for everyone. It saves time so we can get more done and spend more time with family, friends, or ourselves. it's conveinent and we don't have to work as hard or as long as we used to. I'm all for technology but the dependence on it by everyone scares me a little bit and I don't know what to do or say about it because everything is much simpler. There is a lot of upside but there is also some downside that people may not be aware of.  I want people to realize there is downside to it.

One last note before I head off. Yesterday while at the playground with my family I saw something that I found amazing and technology was the reason. A teenager, who apparently may be deaf since he really can't talk to well or only responds with grunts or noises was surrounded by 4 or 5 kids, who I believe were his friends and they were all having a blast by having a conversation on the deaf boy's IPAD. He was communicating with them and they were responding and hanging out with him. In the cynical past I noticed kids like that were either teased or taunted by bullies and may have had friends but they were not visible at school. Here he was one of the gang. Thanks to technology.

But please beware of becoming to over dependent on it. Just my 2 cents.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Smoke Signals 1: Will Ferrel and Parking cars

I have decided to create what I like to call Smoke Signals, small little bits and pieces out of my head that I am giving to you. I used to have a column in my college newspaper called Out of My Head where I would sometimes right these things. I thought it was only right to bring it up again but this time as a theme for my blog Off the Rez, I christen thee Smoke Signals.

- Saw an ad for Will Ferrel's new movie where he seems to be speaking entirely in Spanish called Casa de mi Padre. Don't know what to think of this. Either it is really weird, or really genius.

- I hate how my neighbors park. The parking spots in front of our houses have two bright white lines telling you where you can park. And the lines are perfect for a car, truck, SUV, minivan or whatever. Yet both my neighbors insist on either parking right on the line, or ignoring the line and parking wherever, thus cutting down another parking spot. This makes me livid. I know I have issues.

-The Cow in Reisterstown is now open. Huzzah for Italian ice and or Gelato!

-Moved my office from a nice quiet and fairly private spot to a noisy not so private spot. Don't know how I feel about this yet. First couple of days have been eh.

-Finished my top 103 REM songs of all time, but am still constantly making changes. I will be happy with it someday. Hopefully.

-While talking REM strted to really listen to Reconstruction of the Fables or Fables of the Reconstruction one of their albums I was very meh on. But now is a lot better then I give it credit for.

Monday, March 5, 2012

If I won the Lottery

First a confession. I very rarely play the lottery. We have Mega Millions and Powerball here in Maryland and I usually only buy a ticket if the jackpot is huge. Now I know people will tell you that you do not need 300 million dollars or even 200 Million after the Government takes their share. But I think you do. Especially if the jackpot is that big. Now you always hear about the curse of the lottery winners. Their lives are changed forever, well duh. But they also begin to have a bad time and it is because money does change people. What the winners forget is that if they are smart with their money I don't think it will be bad for them. Yeah you may still have weirdos trying to get money out of you, but if you lived your life right you should not have to many whack jobs waiting to take you out. Course I could be wrong since I still have never won the lottery. But I have a general idea what I would do with my winnings that would keep me and my family wealthy til the day I die.

Say I win 300 million dollars. My advice to you is take the lump sum which may drop it to 250 or so, but you only have to pay taxes on that once. Whereas if you get the monthly check, you pay taxes every month. You may end up getting your 300 million but it would take at least 25 years to get it all I think is what they say. So the Government takes their share which drops it close to 190 million or so. Still alot of money.

The smart thing then is to put a good portion into a savings account, or Swiss bank account, or IRA or whatever so you get interest on it. Say drop 20 mil or 25 mil into an account. I would then pay off all outstanding bills, credit cards, house payments, college loans etc.  Then set up trust funds for the kids. If you like your family like I do, give them all some money as well if you can. I have heard from some other people that you cannot do that and it doesnt make sense to me why you couldn't it's your money. But if I could, I would give the families the money not individual people, like I would give money to my sister's family, my mother, my father, my in-laws families and they could do what they want with it. My gift to them.  But I digress.

Charity, because it will allow you to keep yourself grounded. Pick a bunch of charities you are interested in and give money to them. The amount can be worked out when you take a look at how much you won and how you budgeted it out. I would give money to charities that worked to stop cruelty to animals and children. There may be more out there but I would have to do my research.

If you believe in a divine spirit, giving money to your church would also probably be a good idea. The church despite some of the recent headlines, actually does good work for those less fortunate then us and also those who have lost hope. Plus due to the odds a divine spirit must have helped you out to win so you should never go against your luck either. Give money to your church.

Then you can have some fun with it. But remember do not go overboard. I would probably buy a house or a plot of land where a house can be built. Then I can either custom build it to suit my family or redesign the existing one to fit my needs. Maybe go on a nice vacation, or a couple of nice vacations. Down the line I may also consider investing in something like a business or a strip mall. Or maybe I would also probably buy a new car, though nothing ostentatious.

Because going crazy and spending all your money at one time on crazy things like a solid gold car are going to quickly make you lose the money. You want to keep a constant flow of money into your life because if you spend it like crazy it will go away much quicker and you will be hit with the curse. Using some common sense and not losing your shit at the sight of 190 million dollars will keep you very well taken care of for the forseeable future.