Say the word “keyboard” and people today almost invariably think “computer.” This is because today most people use a keyboard only in connection with a computer or computer-based devices (laptops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, etc.). The fact is, keyboards predate the computer and its derivatives by many centuries, being parts of specialized machines used for specialized purposes. However, public awareness of keyboards only began with the development of the first commercially successful typewriter in 1868.
The change in society wrought via the typewriter, of which keyboards were an integral part, was truly monumental. This is why the keyboard unquestionably deserves a place of honor on the list of what I like to call “extraordinary ordinary things.”
Continue reading A Perfect Combination, the Keyboard and Mouse: Extraordinary Ordinary Things
The outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine has riveted the world’s attention on the unthinkable, a major war on the European continent. Although it has been some 77 years since the last major war in Europe ended, to anyone paying attention its outbreak should have come as no surprise. War appears to be inherent in human nature. So invoking it seems to be inevitable as long as human beings have the material means and political ability to put it into practice.
Continue reading How Computing Could Help Put an End to Wars. All Wars. Everywhere in the World.
The purpose of the “Extraordinary Ordinary Things” series of blogs is to highlight that certain things have become so embedded in daily life that we hardly ever think about them, and then to show how they are really dramatically remarkable. Frequently, examination of a particular extraordinary ordinary thing opens the door to a much broader concept whose effects on society are virtually incalculable. This is the case here with the TV remote control, specifically, and the virtually all-encompassing concept of remote control in general.
Continue reading TV Remote Control—Extraordinary Ordinary Things
I am an American. I say this with no overtones of pride or regret. It is simply a statement of fact. I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, California. I have been living in Brussels, Belgium since 1974.
The reason I mention all this is because being an American living abroad, I am considered to be somewhat of an expert on the United States, its history, its laws, its customs, etc. I am frequently solicited by my non-American friends and acquaintances to explain something they have recently heard about this wondrous country across the ocean because they simply don’t have the background to understand it. I say this sheepishly because Europeans know more about my native country than most people in my native country know about theirs. They also care more about my native country than most people in my native country care about theirs.
A key element in things they have heard about the United States in recent years (particularly since the advent of Donald J. Trump) has to do with the vaunted U.S. Constitution, officially known as the Constitution of the United States of America.
Continue reading The Constitution of the United States of America—Extraordinary Ordinary Things￼