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The Silent March of Progress

While reading “China’s plan to run the World ” I started thinking about electrical outlets. Specifically the difference in electrical plugs around the world. In the 1900’s when these technologies were being created, it seemed that each country had its own ideas about power and what would be standard. It seems that there are 12 different types of electrical plugs in use in the world today. In India, they use the plug that the British used when India was a colonial power. The Brits updated their plug in 1946 but it wasn’t adopted by India when they gained their independence in 1947. In this way, the number of “standard” plugs grew to what is now 12. It seems as China expands its influence, building it brings its idea of technology and progress to the world- it sets themselves as the standard of what is progress, what is good and worthwhile and what is not.
Some years ago I heard an interview with a man who walked the equator. When asked what was the most influential thing he saw in his travels, he recounted how in the smallest, most technologically challenged area, there was a generator, a VCR and a television and each night, people would sit around the television and watch whatever movie they had access to. The idea that what they were watching was some sort of standard idea, of what everyone should have, was the most powerful and influential thing he had see in his journey.
Technology not only brings change, it brings ideas and in this new global village, nothing moves faster. What will we do when everyone wants what we have or when everyone else wants something else?

China, technology,

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The Birth of Alternate Truth?

I often think of Galen better known as Galen of Pergamon, a prominent Greek physician, surgeon and philosopher in the Roman Empire. While accomplished of all medical researchers of antiquity, might be a strange person to dwell, he influenced the development of various scientific disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology, and neurology, as well as philosophy and logic. The problem was that as good as Galen was, his book was never updated for more current information. Centuries after Galen’s death, his book was taken as the book on medicine and when later scholars like Paracelsus disagreed with Galen, they were told that what they saw did not matter as it disagreed with Galen and Galen, they felt was truth hence, anything disagreeing with Galen was wrong. (There is a fascinating discussion of this in Daniel Boorstein’s, “The Discovers”, a book I highly recommend..)
This does not seem so far from the idea of alternate truths, and that today, with the internet one can find a source to back up whatever claim one makes. No matter how ludicrous a claim is made, it seems that someone can find some internet source to back it up. While, with Galen, it took years for the truth to will out, it now seems that we have a moving target in the realm of Alternate truth. Whereas with Galen, there was a finite monopoly on truth, the book was written and so his truth was determined. However today it seems that we have levels of truth, a tweet does not convey the truth but requires an interpretation and revision with a parade of soothsayers needed to discover the real meaning of the truth. Oddly enough, it seems that this was the initial objective of Galen.

Trump, Alternate truth

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The New Prometheus?

I was interested to see there is now a museum of expired technology beyond typewriters or rotary phones to apple clam shell computers and floppy disks. The thought is that some day we might need to get some information that can only be read by this older technology. This may be a good thing but it brings to mind the blind spot in our planning and thought process. If we were to look farther back in the past we might pause at the ancient writers preoccupation on the animating force of man and the universe. What is it that makes us go, this mix of air, wind and water makes us alive. While we are still struggling with this question we do know what makes computers run yet how concerned are we about that future? What happens to all this technology past and future if we don’t have the electricity to make it run? While we should be concerned about the past and preserving it what good will it be if we don’t have the ability to re-animate it. While Dr Frankenstein had lightning we may not be so lucky. Are we neglecting supporting our future while saving our past?

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