Oh, Walter

Walter Benjamin said "Century by century we are becoming more estranged."
Sounds a bit cynical if you ask me.  Then again, I too would be just a bit cynical if my short life was taken by my own hand at the age of forty-eight while attempting to escape Nazis in my home country during World War II.  
Benjamin was a Marxist philosopher as well as a deeply pained thinker as evidenced by the photo above. The concept of estrangement was surely relevant during his lifetime.  The turn of the century brought the Industrial Revolution which inevitably reduced the individual to a dollar amount to be compared with a simple machine.  Two World Wars and two nuclear attacks later Benjamin felt poopy.  But I happen to disagree with this quote.  I don't think we are more estranged from each other or even to ourselves than we were any number of years ago.  Nor would I argue that we are less estranged thanks to communication accessibilities.  I think we are the same today as we ever were or ever will be.  We are brutes and brains.  Heroes and villains.  Sworn enemies and BFF's.  We cultivate, communicate, ignore, indulge, rape, pillage, pray and play.  We always have and we always will.  No matter what the 21st century brings in terms of technology, be it ipads or iteleport, we will remain the who, how and what we are: human.  

Bitter Little Pill

There's a rumor going around on talk shows and in magazines that the greatest invention for women in the last one hundred years is hair dye.  Say it isn't so women.  If we let hair dye be our crowning glory then we will continue to give our aesthetic more power than our intellect and the terrorists win.  Might I join the masses and suggest "The Pill" as the greatest invention for women in the 20th Century?  
You would think that because the pill has been around for a good fifty years that it would be as easy to get your hands on as, say, a condom.  Instead, intelligent responsible women like myself are meant to search far and wide for a doctor who will write a prescription without requiring a doctor's appointment weeks from the actual moment when a woman is in need of said contraceptive.  This means that less intelligent and less responsible women unlike myself are more likely to say 'screw it, I'll just use a condom'. But the trouble with using condoms instead of using the pill is that it takes the choice - and therefore, the power - out of the woman's hands and puts it into the man's hands.  That means that the same woman - you know, the not so bright or responsible one lets her not so bright or responsible partner control her future.  
It's the 21st Century.  A contraceptive that is affordable and accessible for women is long overdue.  If that contraceptive is the pill, than the pill needs to be handed out like candy in the waiting rooms of free clinics just like condoms are, rather than trapped behind the pharmacy counter with the Prozac and Oxicontin. 
Say it with me ladies: What do we want?  The pill!  When do we want it?  Now!  

Artifacts and Artifictions

Every century has a handful of artifacts that define its times.  Whether it be a rudimentary tool shaped from limestone, a broken plate uncovered my archeologists or the Enola Gay tucked safe and shamefully within the walls of the Smithsonian.   If mankind were to uncover the artifacts of the 21st century, say, five hundred years from now, what artifacts might they find, and would they define who we are? Which ones would tell the truth about our culture?  Which ones would mislead future generations to think we are something we are not?  And which ones would last buried deep under the earth long enough to be uncovered in five hundred years the way a gold sword or an arrowhead spear or a skeleton does?
My guess is that all things plastic, coltan and silicone will last.  Which means future humans will know that we were an inventive group that loved convenience, video games and big boobs.  
Luckily for us we live with the safety of knowing that our present is constantly being cataloged, recorded and filmed.  There should be little confusion about what is fact and what is fiction in regards to the 21st century.  In five hundred years our existence will be studied and understood by future generations the way we piece together through art, music, traditions and literature all that we know about the 16th century.  Yes, in five hundred years we will still be here through our artifacts and the pieces of us we leave behind.  Assuming there will be a 26th century, of course.

Fumbling Fingertips

I'm not going to argue wether or not change is, as they say, 'good'.  At least not tonight. I will stand by the believe however, that change is hard. I can attest to this not only because my life has been defined by thirty years of habits, good and bad, but because I recently switched from a PC to a Mac and my stomach is now in a nostalgic knot.  As capable as my brand new computer is, I miss my old one, the way one misses an old pair of shoes or a discontinued brand of potato chips or a hometown.
Old habits die hard, and we are a species that loves consistency, whether or not we give it to ourselves.  Consistency provided by brands, companies, tools and traditions keep us warm and fuzzy inside while giving us a sense of security, be it false or not.  It's the reason why, like it or not, there is at least one Starbucks within a mile of any zip code.  We love knowing that know matter how unpredictable the day is we can still get a grande decaf no whip skinny caramel latte that will taste exactly how we expect it to taste whether we're enjoying it in Stockholm or Santa Fe. 
And so, as I my fingers fumble on my brand new keyboard I know that for as awkward as I feel today, after years of typing on my new computer I will soon reach the day when I am as bonded to this new Betty as I am to the old.  And then, it will die, as all computers do, and the cycle will continue.  It's the circle of life friends. It happens to all machines, and I've heard it happens to humans, too.