The leaves are mostly down and raked—in quantities fearfully greater than at our old house. Here it is the maples that dominate the landscape in yellow. Transitions, we hope are transitory, and a settling down should slowly set in. In any case, posts to this log have virtually vanished, what with mile-long to-do lists still to be worked. But some old habits are returning, among them reading out-loud. The book we recommend is James Galbraith’s The End of Normal. It ought to resonate with those who follow economics. Its most curious thematic—not stated so much as implied—is that the transition (yet another one), this time to the Post-Oil Age, actually began already in the early 1970s. Which brings echoes of my surprises when I realized, over the decades, reading authors who’ve been most influential in forming my own views of modernity, that the current decadence was fully alive and well in the 1930s already, before I was even born. Galbraith’s “normal” is the unbending faith of our culture in the unfailing growth in the economy, the reliable certainty of endless new waves of technological change that will continue to generate it, and a consumption culture, therefore, that will never end.
Brigitte yesterday found a rather fantastic book review, “The Creepy New Wave of the Internet,” by Sue Halpern in the New York Review of Books (11-20-2014) (here). It describes the next wave said to be rising, ready to make life worth living in the immediate future ahead. Worth reading if you have the stomach for it. I did not manage it—but then, of late, I’ve been suffering from (stress-related) irritable bowels. The wave is described as the Internet of Things (IoT), thus objects communicating with each other. Hold on to something firm please: it is projected as a $14.4 trillion industry by 2020.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, sure enough—no doubt to correct my total lack of faith in the future—comes an article proving that Halpern may have a real thumb on the pulse of things—comes an article on dog collars and whistles linked into the Internet so that uptodate pet owners can track their animals and measure their caloric expenditures on walks. This sort of thing—still in early stages—is sure to give new life and growth to the Pet industry, now measured at $58 billion. Our faith in Fido will get a lift from the growth of three fiercely competing companies—no doubt just the first of a whole swarm—in the dog-tracking segment of this market. Bowls that will signal when they have been licked entirely empty will follow—joining the reinvention of eggs, in the grocery business. We have, if you believe Sue Halpern, eggs in a future that will count themselves in the refrigerator and let you know, via your iPhone, when it is time to buy more eggs.
All this came crashing down on me today—when, with the lawn fully raked, my escape into the old normal was denied me. Besides that, the temperature out there is not yet entirely controllable by devices trafficking inside my blood stream informing my Internet-enabled hoodie to turn on the heat using a battery pack that doubles as my zipper and is, of course, rechargeable entirely by a wireless energy transfer that Tesla once saw in his wildest dreams.