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Fred's Views


New Year's Wishes

I.ve never been one to make New Year's Resolutions - and I certainly never went overboard trying to keep them - so I won't be making any here. Rather, I thought I make a wish list. Things I'd like to see in 2008. But not the kind of list you might think. Just things I'd like to see or know or do or whatever. Here goes:

I've started to read Charlie Wilson's War. I'm about a third through it. The one thing it's made very clear to me is that this world sure isn't at all simple. Even well-meaning politicians like Jimmy Carter can do a world of harm by underestimatring the possible ramifications of certain actions. What I would like to see is a definitive history of the CIA. What it has been involved in - and why. I know there was at least one book written by a CIA dissident, but I'd prefer something as unbiased as possible. What I want won't happen in my lifetime, of course, the information is far too sensitive. Doesn't stop me from wishing.

I've always felt that one thing NASA does not do well is sell the space program. There has to be hundreds, if not thousands of things that exist to day but wouldn't were it not for the space program. I couldn't definitively name even one thing except, perhaps, communications satellites and GPS. I'm sure that computers, the Internet, cell phones, batteries and more have all benefitted from the space program, but I'd love to know exactly how the space program has changed my every day life.

On a similar note, I'd really like an expert to compare the world of the original Star Trek with our world today. How far along have we come? I would propose that our communications capabilities and our capabilities for data storage are at least approaching if not actually equalling what was mere speculation forty years ago. But what else?

I find myself oddly split on this item: Part of me would just love to see all those so-called reality shows thrown back on the garbage heap they came from. But if they were, I might be taping twice as many TV shows as I currently do - and watching even far more TV than I should. I love my CSI, but do I want to see CSI Chicago or CSI Honolulu or even CSI Nome?

And speaking of CSI, I'd like a reality check. I suppose it is possible that we can now do all the things they do on the show, but in what time farme? and in what cost? How realistic are these programs? And if we can really do what they do, why are so many people still getting away with murder, literally? On a similar vein, have you ever noticed how much detail modern computers can extract from a blurry surveillance camera shot? Can it really be done? Can I get a copy of that program for my computer?

For years we've heard rumours about the oil and gas companies trying to sabotage efforts to develop alternative fuels. Remember when we thought cheap, safe, nuclear fusion was just around the corner (a la Back to the Future, Part II?). Did the oil companies buy up the technology - or was the whole cold fusion thing really a hoax? On a recent Boston Legal, a lawyer argues that alternative fuel initiatives are actually more environmentally unfriendly than conventional fuels. Is this accurate? We are all beginning to believe in the green-house effect, if only because storms seem to be more severe and more frequent than in recent mnemory. Wouldn't it be nice to have some hard, irrefutable evidence one way or the other.

Of course I could get really out there and wish for definitive proof of the existence of God and life after death. Or I could get a little more down to earth and merely want the facts about my charitable organizations. How much of my hard-earned dollar really goes to help someone else - besides the directors of the charities, themselves. Oh, and meanwhile, back out there, how about proof of other life forms be they aliens from outer space or Sasquatch.

I'd like to know why rural and semi-rural inhabitants are treated like second-class citizens when it comes to home technology. As I've said before, I literally live next door to a major metropolitan city, but I don't have access to water, sewage, gas or cable. I can't get high speed phone service, the telephone alternatives to Bell that I've investigated don't offer service in my area. I just checked out Vonage, but it won't allow me to keep my current phone number. I can't say with certainty that the problem is that I live in a semi-rural area, but I assume it is. But is this the fault of Vonage or Bell? My money's on Bell. Fortunately, I do have access to wireless high-speed Internet - and it seems to be quite reasonably priced too! Still, I can't help feeling like a second-class citizen.

Those are just some of the things I'd like answered. I wonder if the list will change much by 2009? We'll just have to wait and see.


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