Our Strange Attitude Towards Power

I have lived through interesting times – and barely managed to survive. What can I say about them?

The end result has been the consolidation of power in the global economy – that was made possible by the Computer and its networks. But I am getting ahead of my story.

The first part of the 20th Century was dominated by different networks – built by Hollywood and the Radio. And incredible violence – WWI, Depression, and then WWII.

Almost unnoticed was a new technology – Electronics, that was going to have a profound impact on our lives. The basic device here was the vacuum tube – especially the Magnetron, invented by the British – who also invented Radar and Sonar. Every Microwave Oven is still powered by a Maggie – a truly amazing invention.

Electronics made the Radio possible – which the Nazis used with great effectiveness. to direct their troops, their aircraft, and their submarines.

I became an Electronic Engineer in 1959 – an expert in vacuum tubes. These were so common every American drug store had a tube tester – and stocked all the popular types. If you car radio went down, you pulled all the tubes from it – took them to a drug store, found the defective tube, and bought a new one.

The same was true of Audio – LP or 45 rpm records sold like hot cakes. Disk Jockeys became famous – and people listened intently to their radios to hear what the latest best-selling record was. I remember The Shady Lady of Naughty Lane – who was a baby girl! Everyone went to the Movies – at least once a week. Movie Stars were the most important (and richest) people alive.

All this ended abruptly – with Television!

This had an impact greater than anything before it. And put the Television networks firmly in power. The boob tube by-passed the mind entirely – and went straight to the unconscious centers of power. People became automatons, having no power of their own – but feeling they had all the power in the world!

TV changed who we were – and changed us permanently! Any changes we contemplate for the future must take this into account.

It changed how we related to Power.

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