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In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

Going.... going... gone?

December 20, 2012
The Daily Mining Gazette

Slowly, surreptitiously, almost without you realizing it, things are vanishing.

Some are happily replaced: no more old-fashioned washing machines, lead pencils, hot irons for waving hair, over-the-back-fence gossip, rubbers and galoshes. But now even the replacements are being replaced, usually by things digital, and if you don't like digital, then dig a hole to live in it with what you have left: Fond memories.

Changes are inevitable. Think back to when the wheel was invented; it changed the world. Same for the age of wood and stone when metal was forged.

If that continues, the post office system might go the way of the pony express, what with e-mail, FedEx, and UPS taking up the slack. What will be missed are those friendly, helpful personnel and the thrill of receiving or sending sentimental letters, many worth tying in ribbons and saving for posterity. If all past mail had been destroyed, think of what a loss it might have been for historians and collectors.

Smartphones have clocks (with alarms built into them), so as we go that route, it's farewell to the time keeper on the wrist or kitchen wall, or near the bed - a pity, because those talking digital time pieces will also cost us the pleasure of learning what "clockwise" and "counter-clockwise" mean.

Checks are being replaced by credit cards, which is supposed to save billions of dollars in the processing of checks. Also, there's word that money - pennies to paper bills - might soon become unnecessary. With the entire treasury complex gone, think of the money saved. But, ah, that jingle in the pocket, the wealthy feel of bills - also gone.

Sadly, the next to go might be paper used for reading materials like newspapers and magazines. Kids don't read them; adults turn to TV for their commercial-filled news and entertainment. So unless publishers reinvent themselves, there will be no reason to print or publish - and more's the pity. But wait - notice that while magazines are going online, the most concerned newspapers are taking on a new look, reminding their readers that they are also rich in local news and inspiration, and in memento items to be cut out and saved, little of which is to be found in the electronic media.

Books as well, once so loved by readers who appreciated the fresh smell, feel and look of bound pages, are being shoved aside for things like e-readers, tablets, and online computer editions. That once favored library ambience, loved by book aficionados, is in risk of becoming a distant memory unless those long familiar places include valuable additions - a meeting place for public forums, selective movie showing, informational programs and, especially, places with specially designated programs for the little tots - all are worthy additions.

How about landline telephones? How long will they hang on, what with every sort of fulfilling smartphones - already ubiquitous, and not just among the young. Could Ma Bell become obsolete? Unless she finds a competitive communicating system that would be cheaper and as efficient as the electronic gadgets, she just might. Like most of the other things in danger of disappearing forever, if she can't fight them, she might find ways to join them.

The same could be said with film photography. Eastman Kodak finally threw in the towel; will it join the digital revolution or simply fade along with the horse and buggy?

With revenues down, TV shows are desperately leaning toward the crude, the mundane, the pornographic and violent excesses to hold audiences, and are not succeeding. Cable rates are expensive, ads get louder and longer, quality sags. Kids are the last truly faithful TV users, for playing games. Sports brought the earliest TVs into homes; can they hang on to save them?

Netflix and its movie rental counterparts make a stay-at-home improvement over the dumbed-down Hollywood offerings on big screens; they once competed with the introduction of sound, color, wide screens, and now with costly 3D. Quo vadis, movie houses?

Many of our very personal possessions are still in our grasp, but we may no longer actually own them either; they may simply reside in the electronic clouds, since our computers have a hard drive for storing anything: personal pictures, music, movies, and important documents. To save space, toss the originals away?

What next? Will less polluting travel forms replace the romance with trucks and automobiles? Will people be replaced by robots?

Note: HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Some good ole things remain. Tune in to Marquette's NPR radio station (90.1 fm) for sentimental holiday music tucked in between regularly scheduled programs.

Rotten Tomatoes averages: "Hobbit," B



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