what if no placeholders exist?
Wednesday, November 19 2014
Today Gretchen went with Mark (of Mark & Maresa) down to some sort of Korean spa that Mark likes down near the George Washington Bridge. Supposedly it's a great place to hang out and get shit done, all while wearing goofy uniform robes in a warm environment. Mark says one can actually live there for periods of time if necessary, sleeping when needed in recliners that are provided. It's open 24 hours a day and the daily rate is much more reasonable than a hotel room. Meanwhile, today marked a peak in an ongoing cold wave, and while they were down there wearing robes and reading books, I fed the insatiable appetite of the woodstove.
At some point I started smoking pot and my brain filled with ideas again. I've been reading a book about the origins of television called Tube (I've had it for a long time, but I only really started reading it several weeks ago in tiny brownhouse-visit-sized pieces.) Today while under the influence of wacky tobacky, I marveled at the LCD displays around me and then thought about the preceding technology of CRTs (whose evolution is fresh in my mind after reading Tube). CRTs, wondrous as they were, ended up being a technological placeholder for something that works better and takes up much less room. The same is true of magnetic tape as a recording medium; it was a placeholder waiting for the arrival of thumb drives or micro-SD cards. But, I wondered, what if there are some technologies for which no placeholders exist, something as complicated as an LCD monitor for which a CRT-level interim technology would not suffice. Would the necessary technological leap be too big to be possible? Perhaps this is the problem that is holding up some of the great advances the 1960s assured us that we'd have by now. Maybe not jet packs, but perhaps human-level artificial intelligence or self-driving cars. (Don't let Google fool you; self-driving cars are still a long way away; current cars make far too much use of extremely detailed digital maps.)
I also had another brilliant idea, but after obsessively honing the opening phrase "In [the] field of practical microeconomic theory (i.e. retail engineering)" I realized I had completely forgotten it.
By the time Gretchen returned, I was intoxicated enough for her to notice. Among other things, she'd gotten a speeding ticket while driving on US 209, not long after a probationary period for some other automotive infraction had ended.
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