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Crawling Back into the Womb, or Rather, the Egg

Has the advancement of technology outpaced all hope for humanity?

In 1806 William Wordsworth lamented in a sonnet, “The world is too much with us….” Well, here’s a news flash—things haven’t gotten any better. In fact, in these contemporary times, humankind’s challenges seem to have evolved far beyond those of Wordsworth’s reference. Yes, of course, the menace of terrorism abounds and environmental hazards continue to proliferate. Each year it seems some new contagion is hatched. And the specter of a nuclear weapons assault has reared its head once more. But those global risks, deadly as they might be, aren’t what concerns me the most personally. No indeed. I’m instead focusing on the fact that everyday technology has leaped so far ahead of the common person’s ability to comprehend its power and effect that even an innocuous-but-naïve klutz poses a threat of unintentionally creating some major calamity. Right in one’s own backyard, so to speak. Why, no one can feel safe anywhere anymore!

Take, for example, the awesome power of the “tweet” combined with the adolescent hormonal surge. Johnny entices Suzie to share her most secret of her secret in an electronic version of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” Of course, boys will be boys, especially when it comes to bragging rights, and Johnny shares with a buddy his acquisition of Suzie’s secret. Well, the next thing you know Suzie’s secret has circled the globe six times, law enforcement has become involved alleging child pornography, two families are up in arms and at each other’s throats and the school principal has somehow gotten drawn in and been fired. See what I mean?

Or, consider the increasing prevalence of the civilian drone—here, there and everywhere. Putting aside questions of privacy reservations, how about the real danger to commercial aircraft engaged in a landing descent? News reports indicate that at least three or four incidents occur daily where evasive maneuvers have to be taken by pilots to avoid a collision. News and medevac helicopters are especially at risk. Laws regarding airspace seem to have little efficacy as the danger arises usually not from malevolence or intent but rather from stupidity. And who needs a 747 dropping in unannounced?

Furthermore, as aircraft threats go, how about the increasing incidence of laser pointer beams shot up into cockpits? As far back as 2012 the annual incidents had reached nearly 4,000 and since then the FBI reports they’ve increased to a “near epidemic level.” Again, presumably the vast majority of these are simply initiated by the “clueless” seeking amusement, unaware of the magnitude of destructive potential attached to that handheld device. One pilot described such an encounter as producing temporary blindness, burning eyes, disorientation and distraction. What a way to come in for a landing!

So now, to top things off technologically, we have Google developing a “self-driving” car, the newest concept possessing neither a steering wheel nor pedals. The latest prototype hasn’t been tested yet in heavy rain or snow and still has difficulty identifying potholes or traffic cops using manual signals, but other than that, what could possibly go wrong?

All this has thrust me into a despondent funk, failing to see any hope for retrieval of fortune for humanity. It’s called to mind not only Wordsworth’s declaration, but also the Professor Farnsworth’s meme, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore!” And brought to the forefront of my thinking a comment made recently by a professor emeritus with whom I was dialoguing online who offered the following observation regarding all men: “…[T]hat one has issued from between the woman’s legs, and wanting [to] get back [ if not a caesarian birth] is lifelong, the womb. Free food and board.” Yes, as the comedian Shelley Berman years ago opined on the topic, “Let’s face it. We all want to go back!”

Nevertheless, just as I was approaching the nadir of my darkest hour, my old trading buddy Stan stepped up to the rescue, e-mailing me an astounding discovery. A technological innovation that, in a manner of speaking, could effectively remove one from the frenetic world of human turmoil and revert one to a womblike existence! (Employing technology to defeat technology—kind of like fighting fire with fire!) While surfing the Net in search of diversion, as Stan is frequently wont to do, he stumbled onto…the EcoCapsule!

Manufactured in Slovakia, the self-sufficient, 86-square-foot, egg-shaped pod, has all the luxury features of a hotel room—kitchenette, toilet and shower, sleeping space for two, work table, picture windows and large door. And it’s powered solely by solar and wind energy with battery backup, includes a rainwater collection tank and sufficient thermal insulation to withstand extreme weather. It even serves as a charging station for an electric car one might employ to tow it. Designed by Bratislava-based Nice Architects initially for scientists and rangers who work long periods in nature, the egglike capsule can accommodate its residents for more than a year without benefit of any outside resources and can quite literally be set up anywhere in the world. Wow! Now there’s the ticket!

I can see myself stocked with MREs and loads of reading material, hidden away in some mountain wilderness, far from the madding crowds, taxes, bills, and by-laws. Off the grid in near supernal joy, leaving the world of runaway technology and terror to its own demise!

Of course, upon further reflection, there’s the cost. The EcoCapsule doesn’t come cheap. Shipping to the U.S., too, would be a real setback. And once established wherever, would I have reliable Internet access? Hmmmmm. Could make writing and blogging difficult. Also, there’s always the chance, as with Murphy’s Law, something will go wrong with the system. How to secure repairs from a remote location? And what about a medical emergency—say a rattlesnake bite? Damn, always those flies in the ointment.

Well, I can see this whole thing is going to take a good deal more contemplation. Perhaps my original assessment of the state of man still stands firm after all. No one can feel safe anywhere anymore! And that’s a fact!

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Mark Scheel
Mark Scheel grew up in east-Kansas farm country. He attended both Kansas State University and The University of Kansas, majoring in psychology and English. Prior to writing full time he served overseas with the American Red Cross in Vietnam, Thailand, West Germany and England, taught at Emporia State University and was an information specialist with the Johnson County Library in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. His stories, articles and poems have appeared in numerous magazines including The Little Balkans Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Cincinnati Poetry Review, The Kansas City Star, Heritage of Kansas, Samisdat, and Poet as well as many sites online such as Common Ground News. His literary activities have also involved membership in The Kansas Authors Club, a seat on the board of directors for Potpourri Publications Company and an editorial position with Kansas City Voices magazine. He co-authored the book Of Youth and the River: the Mississippi Adventure of Raymond Kurtz, Sr., and his collection of stories and poems, A Backward View, was awarded the 1998 J. Donald Coffin Memorial Book Award. His most recent book is titled The Pebble: Life, Love, Politics and Geezer Wisdom.

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