A psychologist I know pointed out to me the ill effects of long term contact with someone with a borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with a BPD tend to destabilize others by fostering a mood of crisis and anger wherever they go.

We are just now coming out of four years in which millions of people have been bombarded by messages from an individual with BPD. This might not have been so bad if everyone else were completely stable to begin with.

Alas, we live in a society in which many people suffer the effects of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). People who were often beaten or otherwise mistreated in childhood often grow up with unresolved feelings of rage that can easily be triggered.

To an individual with ACE, a call to expression of hatred, violence or xenophobia can feel pleasurable. Hopping in a truck and looking for violent encounters with people they don’t agree with can be a form of self-administered therapy.

Add the veneer of authority to the dysfunctional person who is making that call to violence, and things can quickly veer out of control. People can and will get hurt.

In the long term, we need to reduce ACE by systematically combatting childhood abuse. Meanwhile, we’ve already gone a long way toward solving the short term problem by voting the disturbed BPD individual out of power.

Future Zoom

In the early days of movies, a “movie” was a silent movie. Over the course of several decades, elaborate protocols were developed around silent movies.

Actors used pantomime to communicate meaning. Dialog was mainly in the form of intertitle cards.

Audiences came to accept these limitations, and pretty much to take them for granted. Cinema was a visual medium without sound, and that was that.

All of that changed in the late 1920s. As soon as talkies came upon the scene, silent film started to die a rapid death. In a few short years, all films were talkies.

I wonder whether something similar will happen with the evolution of tools like Zoom, Google Meet, etc. They all have serious limitations that we simply take for granted — such as the inability to maintain proper eye contact with different people in a meeting.

Yet as soon as those limitations go away, we may look back on these early versions of the medium the way we now look back on silent movies. There may be a fond appreciation for the early pioneers who helped pave the way, but I suspect that very few people will want to turn back the clock to the way things are now.

My new favorite number

There were 13 original colonies that got together to form the United States. And nowadays, if you are at least 21 years old you can vote in those United States.

As of today, my new favorite number is the product of 13 and 21. Another great thing about this number is that it is greater than or equal to 270.

On the other hand, today I would like any number greater than or equal to 270. 🙂

In the balance

It seems odd to be going through each day this week while so much hangs in the balance. It is as though a giant Sword of Damocles is hanging over our heads.

I suspect that things will go well, just going by the numbers, the uncertainty is unnerving. It’s kind of like driving along a cliff at night, knowing you will probably make it home safely without going over the edge, but not being 100% certain.

Let’s just hope we manage to stay on the road.

Decisive moments

It would be interesting to compile a list of decisive moments when various technologies created a fundamental shift in perception. I’m not talking about the moment when a technology was introduced, but rather when a change in perception of that technology caused a seismic shift.

For example, the first truly perfect blending of computer graphics special effects and live action in a Hollywood movie can be found in the 1989 movie The Abyss. The scene with the water snake told people within the industry that it was possible to seamlessly combine the magic of CGI with the realism of live action.

But it wasn’t until three years later, when Jurassic Park came out, that there was truly a seismic shift in the perception of CGI effects. The famous kitchen scene was a tour de force that essentially put the nail in the coffin on old fashioned practical effects, and started the shift to the massive use of CGI that we have today.

It would be interesting to identify such moments in other technologies and their corresponding industries.