Changes In Society From 2010 to 2020

I admit the title of this post is a bit misleading, mainly because there is still six months left in 2019.  But as I have spent more time by myself and just allowing my mind to think and ponder, I got to thinking about the changes in society just in the last ten years.  This time last year I did a post on the changes my grandma saw in her 97 years of life.  Since today, June 28, is her birthday (she would be 101 if she were still alive), I am feeling a bit reflective on the things I’ve seen.  And it hit home the changes I saw in society just in this decade.  I’ve decided to do a for fun list of things that have occurred just in the 2010s.  I will try to avoid politics as, for one, it can cause too many arguments (and I’m just not in the mood for that) and, second, too many people think politics and economics can solve problems that are really technical and scientific in nature.  Though I am beginning to see more people pay attention to science and tech than I did even five years ago.  So here goes with the list.  Much of these changes are documented on webpages like future timeline.net, quantumrun.com, humanprogress.org, diamandis.com, kurzweilai.net, futurism.com, wikipedia.org, and with a few minutes of focused Google search.  So here goes

  1. Apple debuts the iPad (2010)
  2. Scientists create synthetic life (2010)
  3. Solar power dramatically drops in cost
  4. Beginnings of Augmented Reality (2010)
  5. Speech to speech translation in smart phones
  6. Scientists trap anti matter (2010)
  7. The death of Osama bin Laden (2011)
  8. First synthetic organ transplants (2011)
  9. Three Gorges Dam is operational in China (2011)
  10. Windows 8 is released (2012)
  11. Creation of human embryonic stem cells through cloning (2013)
  12. Gene therapy becomes available
  13. China’s first unmanned moon landing (2013)
  14. Google Glass is released (2014)
  15. Rosetta probe lands on a comet (2014)
  16. Test flights of NASA’s Orion Spacecraft (2014)
  17. Smart watches become popular
  18. Virtual reality becomes popular
  19. Self regulating artificial hearts (2015)
  20. Windows 10 is released (2015)
  21. New Horizons probe reaches Pluto (2015)
  22. Electric car ownership takes off
  23. Juno probe reaches Jupiter (2016)
  24. Agricultural robots
  25. Electric and hybrid car sales reach 100,000 per year for the first time (2017)
  26. Internet connected devices outnumber humans (2017)
  27. Beginnings of 3D printing as a consumer technology
  28. Beginnings of 5G networks
  29. Galileo satellite navigation system comes online
  30. LEDs begin to dominate lighting
  31. Connected vehicle tech
  32. Automated freight transport begins
  33. Autonous automobiles begin
  34. Beginnings of lab grown meat
  35. First vertical farms
  36. Increased automation in mining industries
  37. Half of the world’s population has internet access (2019)
  38. Reusable rockets
  39. Private space flight
  40. Social media becomes ubiquitous
  41. Beginnings of Cryptocurrency
  42. Beginnings of Blockchain tech
  43. Personal genome sequencing becomes common
  44. Macular degeneration becomes curable
  45. First demonstrations of solar sale technology
  46. Increased automation in retail stores
  47. Vast improvements in AI
  48. AI assistants become commercially available
  49. Wireless and implantable devises to monitor health conditions in real time
  50. The 100th anniversary of World War I
  51. Beginnings of trials of anti aging treatments
  52. Ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft become common
  53. Trials of medications to reserve obesity
  54. Trials of male birth control pills
  55. Internet based television becomes common

These are just a few of the highlights.  This is by no means intended to be a comprehensive list.  It is merely to reflect on the changes that have happened just in the last ten years.  Bill Gates put it well when he said short term is often overestimated but long term change is often underestimated.

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Why I Isolate and Don’t Socialize

Even though winter is all but over and the weather is warming up, I’m still spending most of my time alone and isolated.  Just been more irritable and short tempered lately.  Even hearing my neighbors walk down the hallway can irritate me anymore.  And since my neighbors are prone to argue among themselves and make lots of noise during the day, I have intentionally been sleeping during the days and staying up until sunrise for most of the last two weeks.  Why shouldn’t I?  It’s not like I have much of social life anyway.  At least I haven’t had much of a social life for the last few years once even social media stopped being fun.  I mean, do normal people enjoy being angry and argumentative all the time?  It seems to be that way to me.  It didn’t use to be this bad.  In fact, most people used to be pretty cool about petty disagreements.

I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to my nation and my friends over the next few years.  I used to believe that if we made it though these tough times, we’d have a real cool future.  But every time I try to be encouraging or bring up something cool science has done recently, I’m met with either stone cold indifference or fear.  My countrymen didn’t used to fear change nearly as much as we do now.  Hell, we used to force change sometimes out of boredom.  When I look at my elders, leaders, and even people my own age in my hometown and my country in general, I find it hard to believe that these peoples’ parents and grandparents landed on the moon, built personal computers, won major world wars, or even had the courage to immigrate to a new land where they knew no one and had only their dreams and work ethic to keep them going in the dark times.  Whatever pioneer spirit and love of innovation my people once had is dead.  And it’s quite sad.  But no one cares anymore, at least not enough to embrace change.  I know some really cool things are coming within the next ten to twenty years for the people of this world, at least those who are willing to push through their fears of change and adapt accordingly.

But I look around me in my hometown and my family and friends, and I don’t see any adapting.  I see nothing but fear and hate.  In some ways I’m glad I’m not well adjusted to my current reality.  The only people who seem to be are those who are nostalgic for a past that never really existed in the first place.  I no longer see the courage and original thinking that made my nation and it’s people the envy of the world.  And I won’t let us slip away without putting up a fight.

Pessimism and Optimism

Haven’t been outside of my neighborhood for almost two weeks now, mainly because of the bitter cold, snow, and ice.  I haven’t even gone outside this week because it’s been so cold.  Hopefully it doesn’t stay this bad all winter because I’m beginning to get kind of tired of being housebound all the time.  And I don’t think I’m the only one.  Seems to me that even my family are starting to get short tempered and irritable over the cold weather.  My neighbors are getting short tempered too.  And of course the people on social media have been short tempered and joyless ever since social media was opened to the public at large.  At this point I’m not sure I want to stay in touch with anyone besides family and a few close friends.  It just seems that humans get some kind of sadistic joy out of being angry all the time.  Personally I’m burned out on all the anger and pessimism.  Have been for a long time.

I almost never heard anything good about my fellow man or the world in general from my teachers and elders while in school or even in college.  I had one teacher in junior high who seemed to get joy out of ranting about how the “cold cruel world” was going to kick our thirteen year old butts.  And of course I rarely heard anything good about people in general from the news stations or even church service.  After observing these happenings until I was in my mid twenties, I started taking notice of what was actually happening compared to what I was being told by my elders and bosses.  After the economic crisis of 2008 and hearing that civilization was fixing to collapse any day, I payed attention and took notes.  Of course it didn’t happen and the people who stayed in the stock market and didn’t panic are now making major money.  That is when I came to the conclusion that the crowd is usually wrong. The whole ‘wisdom of crowds’ usually comes to nothing or mob mentality.  The world didn’t end with Y2K, or 9/11, or the housing bust of 2008, or the Mayan calendar of 2012, or when the conservatives were in power, or when the liberals were in power, or when social media became a festering cesspool for people to gladly wallow in negativity and pessimism.  After years of hearing that the world was going to end any day now and that younger people (or older people depending on who you ask) would be the death of us all, that’s when I had enough.  Enough is enough.  I have had it with fear mongering and pessimism about things that never come to pass or turn out to me more manageable than we previously thought.

Many worries are much to do about nothing and come to nothing.  And everything else seems to be more manageable than previously thought.  If our species can survive world wars, crippling famines, plagues that kill off millions of people, ice ages, tyrants, incompetent leaders, and even science used for evil purposes, some people can survive just about anything barring a comet hitting our planet or the sun going out.  I probably wouldn’t survive most major events, primarily because of my mental illness and declining physical health as I age.  But it’s okay as far as I’m concerned.

I can say that I have lived a pretty good life considering the circumstances of having a mental illness my entire adulthood.  I have a good relationship with all my family members, I got to know my nephews and niece, I got to know quite a bit of my family history, and preserve it, before my grandparents died, I have cool friends who are willing to at least put up with my eccentric behavior and mental breakdowns, I haven’t been to jail or homeless, the longest I spent in a mental hospital was one week (and I have been working with a mental illness since age seventeen), and until recently was in good physical health in spite of fighting weight problems.  When I was a teenager I was able to go scuba diving and climb an Aztec pyramid when I visited Mexico.  In my early thirties I could walk five miles a day easily in spite weighing over 300 pounds.  I got to hike and camp in the mountains of Colorado.  I got to see B.B. King preform live a couple years before he died.  I got to see country music acts like Brad Paisley, Reba Macintyre, Sarah Evans, etc. preform live before they became big stars.  I have been able to live on my own with a mental illness for almost fifteen years.  And I got to learn about some of the cool things that science and tech are doing that will be coming to fruition within the next ten to twenty years.  My only true regret is that I might not live long enough to see some of the really cool things coming, like colonies on the moon or the first people on Mars or life extension tech or nuclear fusion plants.  But I am convinced that such things are coming in most people’s lifetimes.  And I am not an optimist by nature.  I had to force myself to become this way until eventually it became second nature.

Being Home Alone With Mental Illness Gave Me Time To Ponder Life In General (Or Philosophy From The Sofa)

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Haven’t been writing much lately  but that is mainly because I haven’t had much to report.  I have been quite stable for weeks.  Haven’t had any real bouts of delusion or paranoia.  The excessive anger doesn’t come up very often.  The hallucinations have subsided for the most part.  The ones I do have are more annoying than fear or anger inducing.

I don’t leave my apartment as much as I would like, mainly from the holiday crowds all over the place.  It doesn’t help any that many people I know seem to be in perpetual foul moods all the time.  It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for irritable people.  At this point, there is no way I could go back into working in customer service.  I can no longer stomach rude and angry people, even if I get paid for it.  Money is poor compensation for having to deal with uncivilized behavior all the time.

Even though I spend most of my time alone and at home, I still keep occupied.  Been reading a lot of science journals online and watching science programs on youtube and curiosity stream.  It’s too bad that more people aren’t interested in science and tech.  Both fields are fascinating, especially the last few years with as fast as these fields have been advancing.  The sad thing is I wouldn’t know about any of these advances if I didn’t specifically make a point of seeking this information out.  The media, at least easily accessible media, really does a poor job informing people to the current state of science and technology.  As much as people use these things, I would think people would be interested in hearing about these things.  I get that people are naturally drawn to bad news, it’s how we are wired.  I must be weird in that I just got tired of hearing about bad news and tragedy all the time and started seeking out what was going right and well.  I get enough bad news and negativity just from being mentally ill, I just don’t need outside sources adding to this.

In other news, Christmas is only two weeks away.  I readily admit to being tough to shop for as I am a practicing minimalist.  I really don’t require that much to keep me occupied and entertained.  I’m sure my family doesn’t find it very thrilling that I ask for things like clothes and home decorations.  I like electronics, but there are only so many I need as my computers do most of what I need.  I don’t need music CDs as I get most of my music through youtube and spotify anymore.  I don’t need movie DVDs as I can get everything through amazon and netflix.  I have got to say, having a high speed wireless internet connection has really decluttered much of my life.  Besides spending money on food, I just don’t spend as much money on miscellaneous things anymore.  Maybe the Star Trek economy where money doesn’t really matter that much isn’t three hundred years away.  We could be witnessing the early stages of it already.

I may not make much money but I still live what I consider a fulfilled life.  I know that many people of my generation and younger lament that many of us don’t have as much money or material possessions as our parents’ generations, but with much of living being digitalized, do we really need the whole four bedroom house with the picket fence and two automobiles in the garage?  What my computer and smart phone can do would have been worth millions back in the 1970s.  I probably wouldn’t even own a car except for occasional road trips.  As it is, I may not have a lot (not by American standards anyway), but I don’t feel lacking or poor.  It was just a matter of realizing what’s really important and adjusting accordingly.  It’s a pity that it took for myself becoming mentally ill and losing a career to realize all of this.

Midnight Ramblings and Optimism

Have had my days and nights backwards for the last couple weeks.  Been getting most of my sleep in the mornings and staying up most of the night.  Yet, it doesn’t seem to be negatively effecting my mental stability.  If anything this has been the most stable summer I’ve had in years.  Granted this sleeping during the days while being up most of the night is putting a cramp on my social life.  But I didn’t have much of a social life to start with.  So I spend much of my nights listening to audiobooks on youtube.  I listen to mostly non fiction science books and some science fiction.  I still don’t watch much tv.  I’m not even really that excited about football season this year.  But I am looking forward to cooler weather.  I am glad I have made it through most of the summer with no real problems.

Perhaps I am having fewer problems because I socialize less than I have in previous months and years.  I leave my apartment only to run errands and even then I make it a point to run them in the early mornings or late nights to avoid crowds.  I have made a point of avoiding angry, irritable, and rude people in person and online.  Of course this does limit how many people I hear from or talk to.  I really don’t talk to many people anymore, mainly my family and a few friends.  Sure it gets kind of lonely but fortunately the loneliness doesn’t last long.  I’m glad I don’t have to rely on other people to keep me entertained.  Sometimes I am my own best company.

In spite not socializing much I am still optimistic overall.  I haven’t been outside of my hometown much this summer.  But anymore with the internet, I can still keep in contact with friends and family.  And I can keep myself occupied with free audiobooks, free online courses, and free music online.  I would have had to spent thousands of dollars for the things I have read or listened to online just fifteen years ago.  And I can get all this for a dollar a day in internet service fees.  And I love it.  I wouldn’t trade living here and now (unless I could be wisked a couple hundred years into the future and be exploring strange new worlds like Star Trek).  And I have some of my family members and a few of my friends to be the same way.  My best friend from high school (whom I’m still great friends with) loves speculating on future science and social trends when she’s not discussing Game of Thrones.  But I guess she gets tired of me talking about baseball and computer games, so that makes us even.  My thirteen year old nephew is going to be working with robotics and 3D printers this year in his junior high.  And to think I was impressed with the old Apple II GS when I was growing up.  I often joke with my niece and nephews that they might not need drivers’ licenses.  Now it’s looking like even I might not need a drivers’ license in ten years.  Wouldn’t hurt my feelings that much.  Sure we don’t have flying cars like Back To The Future said we would, but even that movie didn’t predict the Internet boom, smart phones, or renewable energy starting to become affordable.  I wouldn’t even have cable tv except it comes with my apartment.

What I’m getting at is that right now in 2017, despite the bad news we’re constantly hearing on the news channels and our online news feeds, we’re still living in some pretty cool times.  It is, in many ways, a good time to be an average person.  Sure I may not be able to ever afford a house like my parents or brother.  But I don’t need a large house in an affluent suburb with the picket fence and two car garage.  I can currently live quite well just in the apartment in the small college town I’m in.  I currently don’t need much to live a decent standard of living that even the kings and industrialists of 1900 couldn’t have imagined.  It is not, however, a good time to be a control freak or spiteful hate monger.  We’re always probably going to have problems like these but, unlike in past eras, the overwhelming general consensus is that being a dictator or hateful person are bad things.  For most of civilization’s history, the idea of the ‘divine right of royalty’ or having hatred of people different from your own little group was pretty much unquestioned by the vast majority of people.  We have made progress as a species.  And we will continue to make progress even if people take it for granted or don’t pay attention to it.  The only reason that we don’t hear about the good going on is simply because good news doesn’t sell.  Good news doesn’t sell only because we as a species are not wired to pay much attention to good news.

Keeping My Mind Occupied

It’s been a few days since I wrote so an update is in order.  I haven’t left my apartment much the last few days.  We’re in the middle of a heat wave and it’s really too hot to be out if you don’t need to be.  I still have some groceries from when I went shopping a week ago, so there’s no need to go out yet.

Even though I’m stuck at home, I have been keeping occupied.  I found a free gaming site online that carries many of the old Apple games I grew up with in the late 80s and early 90s.  So I have spent quite a bit of time there the last few days.  I’m still working on some old computer games as well as having bought a couple cheap games a few days ago.  I’m still calling my family and friends at least once a day.  So I have intelligent and fulfilling conversations even without leaving my couch.  Been playing enough computer games lately that it’s keeping me occupied.  I usually play games while listening to audio books or science lectures on youtube.  Plowed through a few audiobooks already this month.  I got through the first book of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  It’s a good read.  If you are into any kind of science fiction, I highly recommend it.

I’m also watching old Star Trek reruns on Netflix.  So I’m keeping occupied, entertained, and getting my science fiction fix at the same time.  It’s a shame I didn’t discover my love for good science fiction until I was in my thirties.  I think I would have enjoyed those kinds of things as a teenager.

I haven’t had any bouts of depression or anxiety for weeks.  I’m also no longer hallucinating.  Most of my hallucinations were auditory ones that were doing commentary on everything I was doing, kind of like play by play of a ball game on the radio.  I sometimes felt things on my skin, feeling like bugs crawling on my skin.  When I’d go to look, there would be nothing there.  Other hallucinations I’d have involved hearing foot steps outside my door, hearing my phone vibrate when no one was calling me, and sometimes I’d even hear knocking at my door that was so soft that I could barely hear it.  About the only hallucination set I still have is the feeling of bugs crawling on my skin.  I still get that a couple times a day.

Overall I really don’t have a lot to report.  Been mentally stable for weeks and I really haven’t gone anywhere besides to the convenience store to buy soda pops a few times a week.  I’m now sleeping only eight hours a night.  I’ll usually sleep five hours in the middle of the night, wake up at sunrise, stay up a couple hours, then sleep another two to four hours until late morning.  So  far it’s working out to be a good summer routine.  Fortunately have been able to avoid stressful situations and aggravating people.  Hope I can keep this up for the rest of the summer.

Incentives and Rewards

I haven’t been paying any attention to the news for months now.  At least I haven’t payed attention to anything outside of science and tech lately.  It’s too bad that there aren’t any news channels that really devout any of their schedule to talking about science news.  As popular as Anthony Bourdain’s international travel and food shows are on CNN, I really think there would be an audience for these such shows.  As it is I get most of my news online anymore.  I even get my local news online now.  If I can keep the internet going and my computers don’t crash, I can stay well connected and I don’t even have to leave my living room.  I’m doing a job (or at least a public service) and I’m wearing gym shorts and no shoes right now.  Good luck trying to do volunteer service around your community without putting on pants or shoes 🙂

I enjoy tech and science.  I always have.  My brother and I used to take apart some of my dad’s old electronics equipment just to see how they were put together.  Since my dad has been a ham radio operator for years (my brother and I have our ham radio licenses too), he always had some pieces of equipment with circuit boards and wires we could take apart and see if we could put them back together again.  My parents gave us lots of building toys and brain builders every Christmas.  Seems like we could always count on getting Lego sets or brain games or books for Christmas and birthdays.  I suppose I just took having medical professionals for parents that really made learning fun and stressed the importance of doing well in school for granted.  It wasn’t until I was in college did I realize just how rare having books and enrichment games at home really was.

If there is any point to my previous two paragraphs, it is that we get what we reward.  My parents and my friends’ parents rewarded creativity and intelligence.  It really helped me in college when I had an academic scholarship that paid for half of my college expenses.  I don’t think there were any people in my high school class that got any athletic scholarships to college.  Unfortunately too many people, at least in my country, think that their tickets out of the slums or dying rural towns are through athletics or being entertainers.  Sure mediums like youtube have made it possible for people to make middle class wages with a decent following.  But even the ones making middle class income are few and far between out of the millions of producers on youtube.  In short, we don’t need armies of youtube comedians or singers, but we can definitely use more scientists and engineers.