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Technology and the Privilege and Responsibility of Driving

In his New Atlantis article, "GPS and the End of the Road," Ari Schulman's description of driving through the Washington, D.C., area with the dubious help of a GPS navigator is priceless. Been there, done that.

Not only does Schulman remind us that GPSes sometimes fail to work properly in a dense network of roads, but he also makes some important points about how the use of technology is affecting our ability to drive. Be it with GPS or cell phones, we're paying less attention to where we're going than what's happening inside our cars. With the advent of new technologies, we're also seemingly becoming less responsible for our actions. Manufactures are adding technologies that correct a myriad of human errors.

There is another concern about these devices -- a neurological one. Ever heard the saying, "use it or lose it"? We're not exercising a part of our brain, the hippocampus. This, writes Schulman, "can lead to a decay in spatial reasoning skills." It also can lead to something worse. Schulman continues, "Poor hippocampal health is also associated with dementia and decline in memory function, including Alzheimer’s disease."

Finally, we're missing the "getting" there part of the trip. In significant ways, we're disconnecting from the real world around us. We're missing its grandeur, even in the little things. We're forgetting to imagine and wonder about other times and people who've traversed the same roads.

Comments:

Never tried to sell lemonade. Did try to sell books. Unfortunately it is really hard to compete with people who just want to empty their cellars.
Congratulations Ellen. Your party sounds like a lot of fun.
I'm afraid that if I don't use it, I'm gonna lose it. So, I got out of my car and rode my bicycle this evening. My recuperating knee and my body thank me. Fortunately, no squirrels attacked me. Perhaps I now have time and enough brain power to enjoy my new copy of _The Annotated Sense and Sensibility_:
http://www.amazon.com/Annotated-Sense-Sensibility-Jane-Austen/dp/0307390764/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314674653&sr=1-1
that I purchased at Barnes and Noble today.

Ooh, a real paper and ink book purchased at a real bookstore. *gasp* I paid full price. It was a treat during my excursion to the Big City to purchase food for the spread at our shindig this Wednesday. We're celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary by inviting everyone who helped us (so far...?!?) during our year of hospitalizations, surgeries, and recuperations. Chuck, Gina, Kim, Dennis, Lee, Rolley, Jason, you all helped me get through our challenging times this year. How about a quick road trip to Idaho for a great party this Wednesday. =) You can plug our address into your GPS, then you won't have any excuses for getting lost.

Dennis, unfortunately, the kids and I weren't able to have a lemonade stand on the 20th. =( We'll have to practice our lemonade stand skills, as they'd probably be handy in a barter society. And while we have lots of survival skills -- we did navigate across the Pacific and we often camp *way* off the grid, after all -- I noticed and purchased _The Ultimate Guide to Homesteading: An Encyclopedia of Independent Living_ while at Costco today. I'll add it to my summer reading. Currently I'm reading _Burke, Paine, Godwin and the Revolution Controversy_:
http://www.amazon.com/Godwin-Revolution-Controversy-Cambridge-English/dp/0521286565/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1314675740&sr=1-1
I even read it on the beach at an Idaho lake yesterday. I thought about walking down the beach to find others also reading it so we could compare notes, but I didn't think anyone else was reading it in between sailing and water ski sessions.

Well, I don't think I can pull any more threads into this comment. I heard there's a storm rated a "B" gale that's venting its anger through the North Abbey. But that can't be right, 'cause that Abbey is now in the almost deep south engrossing its occupant.
Yes but Rolley, I very seldom have any hesitation in asking directions. After all none of the people I am asking directions from are beautiful, intelligent and fabulously rich ladies who will automatically marry me if I refrain from asking them directions. Neither are they sadistic, man-eating, ogres who will devour me if I do ask for directions. They will forget me right away and life will go on.

As for exploding cigars, I have never smoked in my life. I have destroyed electronic planets, conquered electronic galaxies, and ruled as a brutal electronic tyrant. But the vice of smoking never held interest for me.

As for cats, I am fond of cats which is why I have gotten interested in Honor Harrington because her best friend is an Alien Space Cat. I have known several in my time and they were quite pleasant folks and as far as I know not one of them has hurt LeeQuod. Of course none of them were bobcats. They were all "domestic" cats as we humans in our arrogance choose to call them.
Aha, It Worked
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I managed to rouse Jason from what no doubt would have been an otherwise indolent evening. I think that means I can turn my bobcat pin right side up. And about time. That poor cat’s been looking at a topsy-turvy world for eight of its nine lives.

I’m talking about the bobcat, not Jason.

Then again…

Just kidding, Jason. Put down that exploding cigar before you hurt someone by inducing them to smoke. You know what happened to LeeQuod. Oops, I wasn’t supposed to say anything. Oh well, too late now, the cat’s out of the bag.

I’m talking about the bobcat, not Jason.

Then again…

Just kidding, Jason. Put down that explo…

Hey! What just happened here? Something neurological, I suspect. And all because of technology. Yes, technology. Kim was right. The dirty little secret is, GPS is just a dodge by us men to keep from having to stop and ask directions. So down with GPS and other threats to hippocampal health. Like Kim said, we sure don’t want to disconnect from the, uh, real world around us…
We don't have the ability to memorize large amounts of information because of writing as well.
Ok, Time’s Up - Somebody Needs to Comment
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Even if…even if… it’s…it’s….

Heh heh, “the Duck”.

Kim said, “With the advent of new technologies, we're also seemingly becoming less responsible for our actions.” Whereupon my mind seized upon this somewhat dated, but eternally apropos vignette of “vigilante” LeeQuod wreaking chastisement on one such technology ne’er-do-well…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS2nZySpdhg

Hurry back, Lee, so you can “plausibly deny” that was you.

In the meantime, Ducks 1, Squirrels 0
True enough and mores the pity. Why can't someone discover jump drive so we don't have to stay confined to our oversettled planet.