Erin's Journals

Monday, January 8, 2024

Just a thought… People must understand that science is inherently neither a potential for good nor for evil. It is a potential to be harnessed by man to do his bidding. [Glenn T. Seaborg]

It used to be, one week into a new year, I would have just finished putting the correct digits on the date line of every page in my cheque book. Nowadays, cheques aren’t something that are even in my annual life, never mind daily. I think I wrote all of one in 2023 (and yes, I got the year right).

Every day I marvel at the technology at our fingertips. Rob spent a day of our current family trip away learning (thanks in part to a 4000-page online manual) a new way to edit video to the high specifications needed for an upcoming visual podcast that we’re stepping into this year. While he toiled in a bedroom, the rest of our family used a QR code on the family room TV through our son-in-law’s phone to get onto his home Netflix account instead of typing in an endless string of numbers to do so. Amazing.

While stranded at our home airport for several hours on Thursday, we were notified by text of the delays to our flight which – thanks to a failing engine – never did take off. But we knew before announcements were made. We were put on another flight that night, and had a 3-hour stay in an Edmonton hotel instead of our earlier plans to connect in Calgary and head on to California.

So we lost a day of our trip, but this time our luggage stayed with us – a miracle in itself, as we’d been told it’d be going straight on to our final destination. And how did we know where they were? Apple AirTags in our suitcases. Incredible.

As we settle into 2024, many of us feel a sense of dread about the technological wizardry (and in some cases, sorcery) that abounds: AI is producing videos that aren’t real and are meant to dupe and infuriate the unsuspecting, incurious and biased. A huge American election looms later this year that will have worldwide effects if it goes in one particular direction. Those forces looking to strengthen ties with, say, Russia will be doing all they can to muddy the waters and create dangerous undertows. So, yes, it’s scary.

But can we tip our hats to the science that means waste water testing (go, poo!) shows where and by how much Covid numbers are up, hopefully encouraging even just a few more people to mask up in public? Anecdotally, in an overcrowded US department store Saturday, I could count the number of people wearing masks (who were not employees) on one overly-sanitized hand. But that science is there to help us, if we choose to pay attention.

I guess what it all comes down to is not just what gifts the gods and demons of science have created, but how we use them – for the betterment of humankind through protective and security measures, or the darker forces of subterfuge and deception.

I’ll always be a glass-half-full kind of person, and while we can dread and lament what the future holds, we can also take responsibility to be cautious – not overly afraid and paranoid, just cautious – and to make sure that, as individuals, we use those powers for good. As much as we can, anyway!

On that note, I’ll remind you that my friend and Gracefully and Frankly podcast partner Lisa Brandt and I are finally getting together in as close to an in-person setting as we can with you next Monday. It’s a free Facebook Live event happening at 6 pm Eastern Standard Time, 3 pm where we’ll be together here in California.

You’re invited to sign up right away and join us for an open forum on whatever you want to discuss or just to spend time with two people we hope feel like old friends to you. Just not that old; Queenagers is more like it. And we’re happy to say that our also-young friends Kim and Kathy from enVyPillow are giving us gift certificates to reward some of our visitors next Monday as well. See the details on our Facebook page and we are so excited to talk to you then.

See? Told you technology could be used for good. And even for fun!

Rob WhiteheadMonday, January 8, 2024