If the young want to know why the old keep looking to the past, I’ll tell them. Sometimes, we old folks don’t like where the future is taking us. Our measuring stick is Time and being longer than theirs, the old can recognize the difference between progress and change. We also know the difference between change and hype. If a thing is new, that doesn’t make it good. I’ll never be convinced jeans with holes in them are cool. And the style isn’t new, by the way. It’s grunge from the 1990s (Click)
We old folks like the idea of home doctor visits when we are sick. We like telephones that don’t have to be programmed. We enjoy browsing through bookstores or any store where we can examine what we’re buying. Most of all, we like our privacy, a commodity of zero value to the young, it seems. Yes, we think longingly of the “good old days” when the sky wasn’t chocked with carbon emissions, and the seas were free of plastic. My generation and those that came before me are responsible from that mess, I’m afraid; so we mourn all the more for what was lost.
Simply put, there’s a longing in the old for the familiar. This new world changes too much. I feel like I’m living inside a kaleidoscope. If I could banish one word from the human language it would be “upgrade.” That’s why I had to laugh when I came across an excerpted article in the May 4, 2018 issue of The Week. Stephen Hawking, (1942-2018) among the most brilliant minds of all time, and no slouch when it came to looking into the future, resisted change.
Afflicted with ALS most of his life, the physicist had long relied upon the droid voice of his synthesizer, the CalText5010, to communicate with the world. Over those years, the model he depended upon had been upgraded several times. Hawking received many offers to replace his old one. He resisted. Eventually, the machine gave out before he did. Obsolete, its components were no longer manufactured. The CalText5010 was beyond repair. Hawking didn’t give in to change, however. He put out a call to the scientists in his community. Did anyone have an old cog lying around?
His colleagues rallied to the challenge. Was it possible to go back in time? They scoured their labs, their computer departments, and looked in old drawers. Bit by bit they assembled the necessary parts, enough to bring CalText5010 came back from the dead. Hawking’s voice lived again, robotic and familiar and comforting to us all. That synthesizer supported him to his final days. He used it speak to his doctors and caregivers and to say goodbye to his friends. (“Saving Hawking’s Voice,” The Week, May 4, 2018, pgs. 36-37.)
The world without Stephen Hawking is poorer. But because the CalText5010 lives, we can always hear its mater’s voice. (If you don’t get this last pun, your way too young to read this blog.) (Click)