Thursday, 21 March 2013
Working in Ottawa today --Dystopian future
Good morning folks,
I will be working in Ottawa today.
Predicting the future for the purposes of making movies is tough to do.
I recently watch Rollerball for the umpteenth time, James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams. Roller-skates, motorcycles, a steel ball that can crush a man's skull all wrapped up in what looks like roller derby with corporate sponsorship that is part of a larger plan to demonstrate both the futility of individuality and resistance to the will of the corporation. Has Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D minor as the theme song (why pay a composer when there are some many dead ones to choose from?) 1975.
In the 70's when I first watched it, I thought, hey --cool computers, of course at that time I was rubbing two sticks together with the likes of a Timex Sinclair or a TRS80 Model 1 (I still have one, still works!) and then in the early 80's a VIC20! These guys had a wall of IBMs and an inner room of what looked like a large Sperry Rand Univac 9400 system, and then yet a more inner room with a liquid core computer named ZERO that looked more like a beer chiller.
Unfortunately, the inner computer could only spit out mindless drivel and reportedly misplaced the entire 13th century. "Corporate decisions are made by corporate executives, corporate executives make corporate decisions." Yeah, thanks for that remarkable insight wrapped up in a tautology.
Sidebar here, I don't want to get into a large debate about the relative strength of the positions in the 1971-1973 Honeywell vs Sperry Rand case aka the ENIAC patent dispute and the whole question of derivation from John Atanasoff's Atanasoff-Berry Computer, and yeah, the ABC employed binary adder circuits to compute logically where as the ENIAC employed decimal ring counters to compute enumeratively, but the bottom line is that Sperry Rand filed their patent late. The ENIAC had already been released to the public. Case closed bitches.
And we are back.. All in all, a modernist view the descent into nihilism with life having no objective meaning, intrinsic value or purpose. Or a nice conflict of one man against a world hell bent on snuffing his individualism. Either way, Yay!
The thing about many of these doom and gloom movies of some future dystopian society is that the appliances all seem to work, and work well. Why is that? The house that James Caan's character had .. Jonathan, yeah, that's it .. All the shit worked! TV, fridge, stuff that rose up out of other furniture and appliances, all cool and working.
This morning I wandered downstairs to get a cup of coffee. The light was not on. Friends.. our coffee pot has a magic red light that when on means coffee.
So I figured, Sharlene merely forgot to set the delayed on timer. So checking if she put in water and coffee, I realize that the machine was hot. But no red light. What did this mean?
I lifted the coffee grounds basket, there was hot coffee in the tank, another good sign. But no red light. I grabbed a cup and placed under the dispenser nozzle and pressed in. An eerie silence and delay, but then.. a stream of coffee. YAY, no red light but we have coffee. And then I did a bad thing. I really wanted a red light, so I pushed the 'on' button. The red light came on.
I settled back into my usual morning routine, but then after perhaps 5 minutes.. the coffee machine from Hell emitted a loud and very high pitched beeeeeep beeeeep beeeeep. 'O'? I asked myself. (yes, dash dash dash is an O in Morse code). But why would the CMH issue a plaintive O?
I walked back into the kitchen to investigate this articulating appliance and it merely sat there with its red light on, and although it has a LCD screen to communicate with its nihilist masters, no additional information was available.
Deciding that the was a one off complaint about my out of sequence button pressing I once again resumed my morning routine. And then it cried out again. And again. And again. I saw no option available to me. I turned it off and dumped out my cup of coffee.
Have a good day, beware the rise of the machines.