Sunday, August 8, 2010

DPLD - Dystopian Public Library District

Today after work, I ran a bunch of errands. This included a trip to the "library" they just put in by my house. I gave library extra punctuation not as a "hey, you like English, I like English, here's a free set of quotation marks" gesture, but as a way to tell you all I don't actually consider it a library. I went in hoping to find Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, and/or Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Instead, I found half the library devoted to children's books and movies (which is fine. I like children and think they are entitled to a section. Maybe not half the library, but you know. Something.), one quarter devoted to non-children's movies, and the remaining quarter hosting an odd sampling of books - none of which were "classics."

Granted, it's a tiny library. I don't expect the NYPL here. But still - it was weird that half the library wasn't even books, it was movies, and that nothing in there had a copyright date prior to 2001. Perhaps, though, this is the library of the 21st century - one where there's more psychobabble than an Oprah marathon, and it's more Blockbuster and daycare center than a home for tomes.

True, the world is changing. I too am guilty of spending more time on the computer, and less time with a book in my hands (even now, I'm blogging instead of finishing Crime and Punishment). At the same time though, I hate to turn the famous Princess Bride quotation "When I was your age, television was called books!" on its head. Dr. David Nobel, founder of "The Summit" ministries, says, "If you want to be a leader, you have to be a reader." If he's right, this new library is raising up a generation of followers. Americans today can have long discussions about their feelings, but can't analyze events. They can compute data and project numbers, but they can't process philosophy. They can create multimillion-dollar ad campaigns, but struggle to appreciate a work of art. I am certainly guilty of all these things.

However, for America to remain a world power, we must do both. Clearly, times have changed, and having your secretary type your memos will both cost you time, and get you slapped with some sort of anti-chauvinist lawsuit from the ACLU. As our technology moves down the road, though, we cannot lose the finer things in life - literature, art, music, creativity, humor. In fact, when we embrace our creative, cultured sides, our computations tend to come out better as a result. In other words, we could have more technological breakthroughs if we spent more time in other areas. We could create more wealth by changing the way we think. After all, the renaissance had da Vinci - not a touchscreen. Big ideas should be investigated not only to maintain our humanity, but also because they could have serious economic benefits. Don't believe me? Check out the going rate for a van Gogh these days.

Ironically, our libraries seems to be heading towards an automated, uncritical lifestyle. Aldous Huxley warned against a similar lifestyle in Brave New World. But then, you would have to read it to defend against it.

I went to the future in:
Black pencil skirt, beige top with open back, black & silver hanging hoops, and zebra stilettos with red buckles.

You're Fired!

Today when I walked into the office, I put my purse in the desk drawer as usual, turned on my computer, and headed to the kitchen to make green tea. Except, today I was met with the smell of something burning. I looked around the kitchen, but didn't see anything just sitting there flaming (after all - I don't work with Adam Lambert). I looked into the microwave oven, and sure enough, there were two small, very black lumps on the tray. I immediately opened it (just a crack), and determined that they had formerly been two chocolate chip cookies.

I knew it had to be our associate attorney - he burns stuff in the toaster oven on a weekly basis. Usually it's around lunch, so we know to buzz him when the entire office smells like burning pepperoni pizza, or newly chocolate english muffins. He then comes in, sighs, laughs ruefully, and says that he "really has been meaning to buy a little egg timer for that stupid toaster oven." He then eats his charcoal-icous delight, and burns something a week later.

Today though, it was 8:00 am, and there were already burning cookies in there. If your life requires two warm chocolate chip cookies on a Monday morning by 7:45 am, it's pretty sad. If you forget that you wanted those cookies by 8:03, I don't think it's that sad. I think you just wanted cookies. Still though, it's a little awkward to buzz your coworker and say "um, hey doofus. I know you were hoping for a sugar high this morning, but your pre-breakfast dessert is now toast. Or rather, it's burned like toast. Because you left it in the toaster oven too long." After all, there was a microscopic chance I was wrong about the owner of the cookies. So, I decided that if no one had claimed the burned baked goods by 8:10, I was calling our associate attorney.

Luckily, about 8:07, who comes strolling into the kitchen, but the master of the toaster oven, the associate attorney. He didn't say anything, I didn't say anything. I waited until he got back to his office, and then I laughed.

How does this relate to economics you ask? Well, if you need to buy a timer, you should buy a timer. The $5 it'll cost you to buy a timer will, in one month, save you two burned cookies, one burned english muffin, one burned piece of pepperoni pizza, and one burned turkey sandwich. It will also save you the humiliation of being known as the guy who can't work a toaster oven. It will save your coworkers (and any debtors/clients who come in) from having to smell the too-toasty version of your food. As Michael Scott would say, a timer is a win-win-WIN. Or, without the timer, you could continually burn things, and risk getting fired. Ba-da-chhhhh.

I lamented the fate of those two cookies in:
Grayish pencil skirt, olive green three-quarter-length sleeve eyelet jacket, black lace tank, peacock feather earrings, gold owl necklace, antique-inspired charm bracelet, and black and gray menswear-inspired pumps.