One of the great American fictions is freedom. We continue to labor under the illusion/delusion that we are free and independent citizens of a free and independent state. The point is long past when there was not some law broken by each of us every day that, if enforced, would bring us before the bar as a criminal, or some regulation broken that, if enforced, would bring us a minimum of a stern fine and detailed harassment. In short, the Yankee government has all of us in a ‘gotcha’ position and the illusion of freedom is more a matter of more laws and regulations than can be enforced than any actuality of freedom.
This slavery transcends the matter of membership in our highest organization. We are all slaves of who we are and what we do. Those who attend school are the slaves of that system, and largely demonstrate the apathy towards effort so common of the slavery condition. Too, the teachers in that school system are also slaves and demonstrate that same incompetence of resentment. For which matter, all of us who have to have jobs to exist are the slaves of the work place and the organization that employs us. Parents are the slaves of their children and their children are the slaves of the parents, and so forth.
Hence I was gathered in by this morning’s podcast at the gym, an episode of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s “Quirks and Quarks” from the end of march. For a change this was not one of those depressing pieces on the end of humanity but supposed to be upbeat, a series of vignettes (interviews) on developing technologies (or more properly, developing applications of technologies.) The vignette that riveted my attention span was about the unholy marriage (cohabitation?) of Gooey and General Electric to make a ‘smart’ electrical distribution network.
The picture painted was one of economy and sustainability of computers adjusting when things were done to optimize the use of power and the money spent on it. This all sounded very rosy but I was chilled by the thought that we would now be the slaves of our appliances and tools.
One example was a clothes dryer waiting until late at night to run. My first thought, the result of FD SCP’s efforts to teach me some of her reality, was that the clothes would sour and mold sitting there waiting for hours to dry. Then I carried this further and envisioned some poor person getting up in the middle of the night to wash and dry clothes because that was when the computer would permit their use. And this in a nation already sleep whacked. I was instantly reminded of that Leon Uris novel about life in post Great Patriotic War Berlin. I also imagined a family without clean clothes to wear because the computer would not let them wash their clothes.
I then imagined people who had to delay their meals until the computer would allow them to use the kitchen, or children delaying or missing homework because the computer would not let them use it. I envisioned workers calling in to their bosses to say they would be absent that day because the computer would not let them charge their (in future common) electric automobile. I saw gatherings moldering in the dark because the speaker could not get there, or the lights and heat/cooling be turned on in the hall, because of computer optimization of the electrical network.
Yes, the future is bring. And maybe I will be happier with those dark CBC podcasts about the end of humanity more. At least we can die free.
 Yes, as I told you before, I have a deliberate latency in these podcasts. Part of this is subscribing to more than I can listen to, but that is also deliberate in that I need a backlog to get me through the periods when these podcasts (or rather the podcasters) go on holiday.
 My apologies to James Burke. I too sometimes lose grasp of what is technology and what is manufacturing.