Thursday, July 25, 2019

"Can it be done?". . . Well, why the hell not?


When I was a kid, everything I was ever taught about the future was prefaced with, "By the year 2000. . . "   The Year 2000 was some sort of magical threshhold, a massive divide between our primitive way of life (nasty, brutish and short), and a brilliant new vision that seemed almost like the Third Reich in its monolithic, blinding purity. One day in Grade 5, the grade that was to change my life forever because we gave the teacher a nervous breakdown, we were even asked, one by one, to forecast what that astonishingly momentous year was going to bring to revolutionize the human condition. I have no idea what I said, and in fact nobody had much to say that was memorable, except for Michael de Haan (who is still on my Facebook page!), who said, "Twentieth Century Fox will become Twenty-First Century Fox."

That turned out to be about as significant as anything else I read and heard about the year 2000. Domed cities were a universal vision, perhaps inspired by the Jetsons and a certainty that the planet would soon become too polluted to inhabit. There would be no more food: we'd all take our nourishment by taking various pills. (I was secretly terribly worried about this one, convinced no one would ever be able to eat again. What would happen to all the restaurants?) All those zeroes just stood there in the future, and although they seemed to me like some nightmare from a bankrupt slot machine, to everyone else they shone like iridescent bubbles ready to lift the earth out of its squalid dilemmas once and for all - and mostly through the unmixed blessing of technology.

When the actual time came, if you can remember this, everyone began to run around in tiny little circles because of the Millennium Bug. The world was going to come to an end, supposedly, because of all those zeroes. Computers everywhere would malfunction, all at once, triggering global havoc. Time and Newsweek had the zeroes on their covers. There were whole books written about this, with the kind of bunkered-down hysteria that is still alive among the survivalists, happily awaiting the collapse of civilization with their stores of canned milk and dried beans.

You know what happened? Do you remember?  NOTHING. Diddlysquat happened when 1999 rolled over to 2000, except that the world had a hell of a party. It was comical to see the sale bin in the book store on January 1, heaped with untouched copies of those alarmist books. But in spite of what everyone was proclaiming, it wasn't even the 21st century yet - that didn't come until the next year. But by 2001, the world had other, more pressing dilemmas to face.

It interests me to see "futuristic" things like these magazine pages from the 1930s. Like reading Ray Bradbury, the flavor of it is almost right, then goes off-course somehow because no one really knows how to think about the future. Bradbury was more of a 19th-century poet with a manual mind, and could never get the hang of technology. Even a visionary work like Fahrenheit 451 didn't get beyond a clunky sort of radio in its communications systems. Thus his writings had a sort of stay-on-the-ground quality even as they reached beyond the stars.

I never futurize because it scares the hell out of me, what with the unprecedented power we now have to destroy the earth and everything that is in it (including all those groaning billions of people).  I am guilty of the worst kind of denial and suppression, because I want to have a nice day, thank you very much, and not sink into a depression from which I am not likely to emerge (unless I am blown to bits first).

No, I want to have a nice day, and for the most part I do, because I know how little control I have over anything at all. Those who say you rule and govern your life by the decisions you make don't take into account how utterly irrational most of our decisions are. We decide with our genes, our gonads, our superstitions, and our worst childhood fears. I have far more life behind me now than ahead, and believe me when I say, I don't want to waste one second of it in doomsaying. Besides, I might be wrong! The Soviet Union fell. The Berlin Wall came down. A Catholic Pope is making sense, at least some of the time. That's the list, folks, and it's short, but it might just be enough to sustain me for the rest of the day.

Friday, July 12, 2019

KFC EXPLOSION: Police do not suspect "fowl play"

July 12, 2019, 11:19 AM PDT / Updated July 12, 2019, 11:56 AM PDT
By Minyvonne Burke

Surveillance video caught the moment a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in North Carolina exploded, reducing it to rubble.

The explosion happened around 12:30 a.m. Thursday in Eden, which is about 35 miles north of Greensboro. Eden police said the fast-food restaurant closed between 10:15 and 10:30 p.m. and nobody was inside at the time it was destroyed.

There have been no reports of injuries, authorities said.

Video from Eden Drug, a pharmacy next door to the KFC, showed the building suddenly ripped apart by a large blast as debris flew through the air. A photo the Eden Police Department posted on Facebook showed the store reduced to just a partial building frame.

Image: KFC explosion
A Kentucky Fried Chicken in Eden, North Carolina, was reduced to rubble after it exploded early Thursday morning.Eden Police Department

“We are devastated by this incident, but most importantly we are grateful that all of our restaurant team members are safe and no one was injured," a KFC spokesperson said in a statement.

Employees who are affected will have their choice to work at six area KFC restaurants “to minimize disruption to their work schedules and pay” while the Eden location is rebuilt, the spokesperson said.

Eden Mayor Neville Hall told NBC affiliate WXII in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that he was several miles away and still felt the blast. He said residents and the store's employees are lucky.

"It's hard to see that and think you can be lucky about anything," he said, noting that if the blast had occurred hours earlier, the restaurant would have been "packed with people."

Authorities are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion. NBC affiliate WCNC in Charlotte, North Carolina, reported that energy and natural gas crews arrived at the KFC location shortly after the explosion.

"WOW!" Response to yesterday's post

As a followup to yesterday's lament, which was originally posted on Facebook,  I received a heartwarming outpouring of support from my fellow writers, many of whom aren't even on my friend list.  Some of the longer comments say "see more", so they aren't complete, but you get the idea. I had no idea ANYONE would respond to this. It's that "I'm all alone in this" thing, which it turns out I am not. I have  copied and pasted these without changing the format, as quite often you get nothing but one solid block of text. This is one of the longer things I have ever posted, but it's important to me that it be put up here to balance yesterday's lament. I also had a chance to tell some writers how I felt about them and their work. I didn't do the usual thing and intersperse photos (as I've always felt big blocks of text are hard to get through). But here are the comments, not quite complete. As Christopher Walken would say: "Wow."

·        Ruth Hill I am wondering why he is bent on criticising you instead of encouraging you. I also do not believe popularity is any measure of the quality of the creative endeavor. I am hoping you can ditch the grouch and surround yourself with
Margaret Gunning I think writers have a tough enough time trying to deal with editors, critics, etc. without getting it from their fellow writers. It's too bad. But his opinion doesn't carry much (if any) weight with me.

Amber Hayward A real writer doesn't write so that their words will not be heard, a real writer aims to communicate. Otherwise we could stow it all away in closets and feel we accomplished enough. Good grief!
Margaret Gunning I keep thinking: humans became human when they began to communicate with words. And that began with everyone sitting around the fire in a circle listening to the the Storyteller, mesmerizing everyone with the tale of. . . Oh, wait - take away that circle! A storyteller isn't a storyteller if they need THAT crap.
Lori Hahnel You don’t need a jackass like that in your life.
Margaret Gunning Well, he's blocked. It was kind of a shock to receive a tirade like that. And he wanted me to re-title my novel Glass Girl. The novel is about silent film comedian Harold Lloyd. But "girl" was a sort of buzzword in titles a couple of years ago. . . I don't know, everybody's an expert, I guess. (But you're right.)
Lori Hahnel Good for you for blocking him. What a weirdo.