Rude Mechanicals

Get… off… my… LAWN!

Growing up, we thought our grandparents had witnessed the most amazing era in human history. Sure, we saw the Moon landing on TV, but we were only ten at the time, and while it was certainly cool, we lacked the experience and understanding — and poetry — to put it in a larger context. Our grandparents had seen biplanes, for chrissake. They knew what the Moon meant.

We would have been old enough to hang out at the pinball arcade when we started having thoughts like that. The place was an ad hoc mechanical museum, not because the proprietor had any taste, but because some machines were cheaper to rent than others.

The old ones had their charms, all bells and spinning scorewheels and worn boards. But the lines formed around new shinies like Captain Fantastic, with electronic sounds and digital numbers. Truly that was the future of quarter-enabled entertainment.

Until the night Pong showed up.

Forget the Moon landing. In our life, because of the timing of our birth, we’ve experienced two Wizard of Oz moments when sepia erupted into Technicolor: The opening scene of Star Wars, and a damn dot bouncing back and forth across a screen. Boop. Boop. Boop. Boop. Buzz.

About five hundred miles south of us, Steve Wozniak and his buddy Steve Jobs were working on one of the successors to Pong, a “colorful” game called Breakout. (They cheated: the colors were provided by a plastic overlay.) The game finally hit the arcades in April 1976, by which time Woz had put his burgeoning skills to work on another project.

Apple Computer was incorporated that April 1. Forty years ago.

Reading about the Lindbergh flight in 1927, could our grandparents have extrapolated that to a Moon landing forty-some years in the future? We certainly couldn’t have imagined a future where Pong ultimately begat the iPhone we’re writing this on, a gadget that is inconceivably more powerful than the computers that guided Apollo 11, and which encapsulates gee-whiz stuff like wireless communication and the Internet itself.

Not to mention ubiquitous porn, of course.

As monumentally symbolic as the Moon landing was, that’s all it was: A symbol. It didn’t affect our lives, unless you count Tang. But the future that Pong heralded and Apple helped enable has so permeated our lives that the post-Millennial generation is being called Digital Natives, kids for whom our own mechanical past might as well be so many biplanes, it’s so distant from their experience.

We still haven’t achieved Jetsons yet, much less Star Trek. But where we once would have thought that the Moon landing marked the end of history, it turns out that history is only beginning.

Presuming, of course, that humanity doesn’t melt the planet first.


Francis the talking (former) neocon thought the end of the Cold War was the end of history. Didn’t turn out that way either.

And speaking of a speck on the ass of the dust mite of history… I think I won the Stinque NCAA bracket for the 4th time in 5 years (fuck Duke.)

To complete the circle, the “Killer App” for the recently released Oculus Rift Virtual Reality 3D headset is… a virtual reality pinball arcade.

@ManchuCandidate: Yeah, that was a backhanded allusion. You can declare an end to a chapter, even an era, but History goes on until there’s nobody left to tell it.

And even declaring Ends, you have to beware of Sequels. The triumphalist moment at the end of the Cold War ignored all the shit we pulled to win it — all those bastards who were our bastards, like, oh, the Shah and Saddam — and overlooked that the Ottomans’ mess still hadn’t been resolved. History, like certain bad superhero movies, is one damn thing after another.


I’m King! I’m… wait… wut?

/Does 5 second happy dance and goes back to job hunting/

Well, damn. I might fly back for the riot parade. Philly is due for a parade.

“Small celebratory fires…”

/legal eagles/

Has everyone heard that some outfit called George Mason University is gonna get a $20 million payoff for renaming their law school the Antonin Scalia School of Law (ASSoL)?

This has to be an April Fool’s prank, ‘cuz it’s jus’ 2 good 2 B tru!

@¡Andrew!: The original (hashtagged) abbreviation I saw was #ASSLaw, but same diff. The official name remains unchanged, but they’re now trying to promote it as “The Antonin Scalia Law School”. Good luck with that, gang.

@¡Andrew! and @nojo: The Notorious RBG said he would have loved ASSLaw.

They could franchise it in the Confederacy.

Go ASSoLs!!

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