Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Had Nuthin'

Nothing to write about this morning and considering, I'd be just as happy if that was still the case. A friend of mine was robbed of valuable things, some of them irreplaceable.

What makes it worse for me is, there's a good chance his stuff was taken as a result of trusting a gadget. A gadget that failed in a way I would not have expected.

I'm reminded of the late A. Bertram Chandler's "Commodore Grimes," a sort of starship-Captain version of Horatio Hornblower, who was given to describe fancy navigation/control devices as "being at the mercy of a single fuse." --Since Capt. Chandler commanded actual seagoing ships in real life, he was in a better position to know than many folks.

But consider items like your garage-door opener, your car's remote lock, that celphone you use as an excuse to not carry a well-stocked Just-In-Case Bag in your car. You count on 'em like they were some solid, magical talisman, don't you? I certainly have, and I should know better, since I fix related stuff for a living.

Remotes can and will fail. Celphones are no more reliable than their battery and the reach of the transceiver "cell" they are operating within.

Check the things you can check manually rather than counting on the blips and beeps that supposedly confirm they're working; they are not direct confirmation that the action really got done. Have a backup for the things you can't check.

You can never prevent lapses of memory or attention; no precaution will stop the guy with a concrete block who wants what's in your car, home or cranium. But we can improve our odds; we can slow down some of the bad guys, some of the time.

What we can't do is make bad stuff that happens to good people unhappen. If you're an entropy warrior, that's a terrible feeling. There will always be bad guys and sometimes their side wins -- all the more reason to keep pushin' 'em back.

Update: Tam points out that we all like to think ourselves cautious, but most people notice only those things that have either burned them or about which they know the risks, while missing many other things of equal or greater risk. It's true and the biggest risk of all is our fellow humans. IMO, you do what you can, take the rest on faith and keep moving; that's how it works. It's not optimum but it works more often than it doesn't.


Anonymous said...

I have a cellphone, and a GPS (not the road kind, but the walking through the woods kind) I prefer NOT to rely on them except in extreme emergency. Everything else? When the power goes out we sometimes don't notice.

Anonymous said...

And you've read Commodore Grimes too.

It's beginning to feel like I'm being stalked...

NotClauswitz said...

I always worry about the garage door opener, now I have concern about the car-locker-beeper thingy - I never had one before. The convenience is a bit disconcerting, but now the reliability or trustworthiness is cause to be questioned?

BobG said...

As someone who grew up without things like GPS, cellphones, calculators, etc, I already have a habit of not trusting my safety to too many gadgets. And the thought of ambling down the street with a music player in my ear blocking out the environmental noises freaks me out. Unless I am in a reasonably secure environment, I want to know what is happening around me.
Just my opinion.

tanksoldier said...

The last few years of my military career we began to get GPS and other gadgets. My last tour in Iraq most leaders were totally dependent upon them even when following roads. Everyone is taught to read a map and use a compass but few do it regularly anymore. very few ever check the GPS against a map.

staghounds said...

Which is why so many people are so very careless of their health, their finances, and their driving. Haven't had a heart attack, been destitute, or in a terrible wreck, YET.

NotClauswitz said...

I read somewhere that since the advent and popularity of GPS use aboard sailboats, the number of collisions and near-collisions have increased dramatically, simply because more and more sailors plot their charts to the same way-points, and are guided more reliably to impact (not to mention shoals that are mis-mapped being ignored and run-aground, etc.).
One sailor crossing the Atlantic in the middle of the ocean was surprised to find another boat bearing down on him in a collision course, 3-thousand miles from land and he had chosen the same intersect - all because they shared a common GPS-charted destination.

I know people who've moved here several years ago and still don't really know their way around the streets and are unaware of prominent identifying landmarks because they constantly rely on GPS to tell them where they are and where to go next - they have self-idiotized. They really don't know *where* they are.