Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Requisite Retrospective

As 2009 careens to an end, many folks are taking a look back, and I'm no different. It really has been a huge decade on so many levels. We've seen the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, constant low-intensity wars, the first non-Caucasian U.S. President, and rovers on Mars. The echos of the .com bubble at the start of the decade have settled and the full effects of the mortgage collapse will ripple into the next decade. Technology has seen dramatic, sweeping changes. Digital cameras have gone from proof of concept to ubiquitous. Digital and High Definition television came onto the scene only to be immediately challenged by streaming video. Cell phones have gone from bulky luxury items to indispensable, not to mention from phones to pocket Internet computers. Google got big and went public while the Internet survived Y2K scares and spawned social media. The iPod changed how we listen to music, and helped Apple become something more than a niche company. Pluto got demoted from being a planet, and it looks like the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate rather than slowing down. Two different space probes left the area of influence of our sun to enter interstellar space proper. Doctor Who regenerated.

On a personal level, it's been the decade where I entered my career, and held down a job for nearly nine years and counting. I've been through two surgeries, one of which really changed my life for the better. I moved into my first home, totaled my first car, and built a computer from parts, and participated in my first in-depth Bible study. I started to blog semi-regularly in 2005, switching to regularly in 2007. I managed to post weekly for over two years (producing very little original content in that time).

Looking back over the decade, what I most clearly see the faces of the people who have made my life what it is. Old friends from high school and college, folks from church who gave me insights into my faith, people from work who taught me the million things I have learned on the job and became friends in the process, and my ever-faithful family stand out as shining highlights in a world that has seen much darkness.

Looking forward has never been a particular specialty of mine, but it's always worth a try. The days of me regularly posting here ended a couple months ago so I could redirect my time to other pursuits, but I don't intend to let things here go completely fallow. The next decade will give us technological wonders beyond what we expect, though it's easy to predict that cable TV will face the full weight of the Internet that has already enveloped the print media and music industries. Our lives will continue to become more connected, with all the convenience and inconvenience that implies. Politics will likely continue to depress me. It's even remotely possible that I will finally send a text message.

Welcome to The Future everyone!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quote of the Moment

"I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks."
--Bruce Schneier, in his Schneier on Security blog.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Brief Dollhouse Epiphany

With only around three episodes left in Joss Whedon's latest show Dollhouse, I can finally pin a genre on it. It's a horror show. Considering it's always been about exploring the dark and desperate side of humanity, I suppose I shouldn't be as surprised as I am. But after this past week's pair of episodes, I can certainly say I have not been creeped out by a TV show this much in a long time. Possibly ever. The implications of a technology that can directly manipulate the human brain at the level of personality were bad enough in the first season, and have now been blown wide open. And they are truly scary. The idea of having your personality stored on a hard drive while your body is reprogrammed to do goodness only knows what is a magnificent horror premise. If you can watch without being disturbed then I'm not sure I want you anywhere around me.

However, "disturbing" doesn't exactly make for a great TV show pitch. And it doesn't help that the show didn't really come together well until after the first season. (Though you can make a case for the un-aired season one finale "Epitaph One" as being the real turning point.) A better writer than I am has a cogent summary of the missed potential on scifiwire. I could go into my own litany (why bring Paul into the second season when Boyd was already in a better position to fill the role he now plays?), but it's easy for an outsider to criticize. I'm no writer, just a viewer. And from my seat on the couch, Dollhouse had the potential to be better sci-fi than Battlestar Galactica, better even, perhaps, than Firefly, but that potential was not quite realized. However, us viewers will get a complete story out of it, which is better than most can manage.