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January 4, 2012

Poor Tom's Almanac: The evolution of change — is it good?

As Father Time approached Baby New Year, I caught him whispering something in the child's ear. The news couldn't have been anything good because it led to a frown.

More unemployment maybe? Higher gas prices? More foreclosures? Another conflict perhaps?

Whatever may be in store for 2012, count on progress being somewhere in the mix. For better or worse. Is the world moving too fast? Are we keeping pace with technology? One of my children has no home telephone and doesn't know what a postage stamp looks like.

Like him, the other two let their cell phones do the talking and figuring. They could go for months inside a fallout shelter and still keep in touch with the outside world.

Maybe it's me. The older I get, the less tolerance I seem to have for progress. You're looking at the guy who balked when electric typewriters replaced the manual. When computers came along, I came very close to leaving journalism because I felt intimidated by all this jazz.

I also felt the same way about microwaves, DVD players, and iPods. When Blackberries hit the market, I thought they were something you threw into a cereal bowl.

You know what they say. Progress always means change ... but change doesn't always mean progress. Stretching the point, city traffic, for example, moved faster in the horse-and-buggy days.

I finally saw the movie "The Time Machine." Being a big science fiction buff and aficionado of H.G. Wells, I enjoyed the book back in my high school days but somehow never saw it screened until a friend loaned me his copy.

In it, the lead character invents this concoction that travels through time. He finally lands in the year 8,000 and the world he sees is hardly what he would ever imagine. The moon has shattered and the human race is divided into two classes — those who live by light and others prone to darkness.

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