The cry of my generation, for years now, has been: “Dude, where’s my flying car?”
My friend Jeff Greason is fond of explaining that as an engineering problem, a flying car is no issue at all. It is as a legal problem that flying cars get interesting, because of course the FAA won’t let such a thing exist without clutching it madly and distorting it with its hands made of bureaucracy and crazy. (Okay, he doesn’t put it that way, but I do.)
So instead we have mostly self-driving cars. (I don’t want to hear it. If you think your non-self-driving car isn’t tracked, you’re high on your own supply, unless your car is from the sixties or early seventies, and hasn’t been retrofited. And btw, again, yes, they have the ability to get all this information about us, what they don’t have is the ability to make sense of it. They’re submerged in a mountain of info, and nothing to do about it. And no, they are not super-clever entities who KNOW everything about you; nor are their AIs. Trust me, I have reason to know.) Which are very good for people like me who were never that fond of driving and who are now subjected to their eyes going wonky without warning, which means I’m grateful for a fail-safe at my back. Even if I still have to pay attention every step of the way (because I’m not stupid.) They will be even more needed as our population ages. Reflexes and vision both get markedly worse the older you get. Even ten years ago, I became cognizant of the phenomenon I called “aged boomer, driving.” Because in a generation that didn’t marry or didn’t stay married in the numbers former generations did, there’s no one to take the keys away. (There was the couple driving very slowly on the wrong lane, early morning, with an expression of frozen horror, like they thought they were doing 80 miles an hour. I got out of the way and said a prayer for them. About a block down they moved to the right lane.)
And maybe eventually it will come to flying cars by way of self driving cars. Because that would make my sense.
But in all this, I have to say: Dude, where’s my automated house?
It was fifteen years ago or so, while out at lunch with an older writer friend, that she said “We always thought that when it came to this time, there would be communal lunch rooms and cafeterias that would do all the cooking so women would be free to work.”
I didn’t say anything. I knew our politics weren’t congruent, but really the only societies that managed that “Cafeterias, where everyone eats” were the most totalitarian ones, and that food was nothing you wanted to eat. If there was food. Because the only way to feed everyone industrial style is to take away their right to choose how to feed themselves and what to eat. And that, over an entire nation, would be a nightmare. Consider the eighties, when the funny critters decided that we should all live on a Russian Peasant diet of carbs, carbs and more carbs. Potatoes were healthy and good for you, and you should live on them.
It will surprise you to know –not — that just as with the mask idiocy, no study of any kind supports feeding the population on mostly vegetables, much less starches. What those whole “recommendations” were based on was “diet for a small planet” and the bureaucrats invincible ignorance, stupidity and assumption of their own intelligence and superiority. I.e. most of what they knew — that population was exploding, that people would soon be starving, that growing vegetables is less taxing on the environment and produces more calories than growing animals to eat — just wasn’t so. But they “knew” and by gum were going to force everyone to follow “the plan.” (BTW one of the ways you know that Q-Anon is in fact a black ops operation from the other side; no one on the right in this country trusts a plan, much less one that can’t be shared or discussed.) Then the complete idiots were shocked, surprised, nay, astonished when their proposed diet led to an “epidemic of obesity” and diabetes. Even though anyone who suffered through the peasant diet in communist countries, could have told the that’s where it would lead, and to both obesity and Mal-nutrition at once.
So, yeah, communal cafeterias are not a solution to anything.
For a while the cooking was the least of the problems as more or less everyone, even us, though not every day, as we are too tight fisted for that, ate out or bought pre-prepared. I realized this was ubiquitous when we were moving and what everyone wanted to tell me about this area or that was what restaurants were decent in the area, and which “got really full at dinner time.”
How the covidiocy will affect that, only Himself knows, and He’s probably sighing. A more distributed population should mean more distributed services to feed them, but who knows? How can a restaurant survived in a town of say under 20k people, unless there’s a ton of tourism, or everyone eats there once a week. Restaurants live close to the margin, as is.
In my mind I have a mental image of “dinner trucks” like those cookie and coffee carts that in the nineties went from Suburban office complex to suburban office complex, in a desperate attempt to make money off populations that had abandoned downtown.
In the same way, perhaps cooking and delivery trucks “Chow wagons” will go from whistle stop town to whistle stop town delivering hot, professionally made meals to people who moved away from the big cities, and who worked from home all day. Maybe waiting for the chow wagon will become the village square. Or not. But it could happen.
But sure, a lot of time is taken in cooking and cleaning, which is why those of us in dual career marriages keep getting buried under a pile of unfinished projects and abandoned possessions, at the point where we throw our hands up and go “I just can’t even.”
That’s the main problem. It’s that the “solution” to “who does house work” (Which btw, at its minimal as it is most of the time, still eats three hours of my day every day, between minimal laundry, cooking and kitchen cleaning. (And yeah, I do it because it’s more time-efficient, since I take a shorter time to do it than anyone else in this house.)) is not to do it. Americans and to a large extent the west, have simply learned to tolerate dirt that would make our female ancestresses scream. (The state of my house right now would cause my mom to chase me around with a slipper. Even at her age.)
So, dude? Where are my cleaning robots? And while we’re at it, where are my painting robots.
As I look around and throw my hands up in despair, I find I have a great need for Daniel Boone Davis and his inventions.
Which never happened, because we were too busy working and doing things, and housework just went by the way side.
Dude, where is my Flexible Frank?