News and Tribune

March 3, 2014

CUMMINS: Is life passing you by?

Local columnist

— We exist in time, which moves forward, not back. We travel through space, which is endless according to sharp astrophysicists. Their calculations indicate the universe is 13.8 billion years old, and light from a galaxy more than 13.8 billion light-years away hasn’t had time to reach us yet. You may argue that earth is only 6,000 years old as recorded in Genesis. If this is true, then how did Noah put two dinosaurs on his ark? He asked God, who told him to take two baby ones.

Speaking of light, we also know that light from our nation’s capital in Washington has not had time to reach the voters yet. From a scientific standpoint, there is light and there’s also darkness, lots of it. With two powerful electrically-charged forces in Washington counteracting each other, light does not escape from this black hole. How could this be? Einstein said that space and time are warped, which also explains politics.

You shouldn’t worry about time passing until your time nears its warped phase. From a personal standpoint, two important things have passed me by — material wealth, and what should be the simple things in life such as ordering a pizza.

Did you know that Facebook spent $19 billion to acquire a messaging startup company, WhatsApp, which is adding one million new users each day? To me, a billion is about the same in scope as a light year is. Facebook may be as important as light, but how does WhatsApp fit into my life? Although it would speed up my messaging, I am entering the twilight zone and not in any hurry to merge with dark matter that’s only six feet deep.

Hi-tech passed me by back around 1990. I remember the earliest tech thing that made our lives much easier, the hand-cranked butter churn. Using the plunger type in a wooden-barrel wore your arm out. And provided someone brought a chunk of ice from town, the hand-cranked ice cream freezer was pure joy during the day of rest with family and friends on a Sunday afternoon. We sat around talking and eating fresh strawberry ice cream made from fresh cream from the Jersey cow, but modern times eliminated the day of rest.

As one uses up his allotted time, why would he want to do it faster? It makes no sense. He can’t live faster when his body functions, five senses and his reactions reach a curve in the road as does his time and space. But my reactions remain intact. I react vociferously in using a mobile app to order a pizza.

After calling and picking up a pizza, they informed me they didn’t want me calling. On the pizza box, it said, “Calling the Store is So 1990.” To eliminate the human touch, you scan an app: “After placing your order, save it as your Easy Order, and order it faster on your computer or mobile in as little as 5 clicks.” When hungry, I want to eat, not click, click, click. And get this, “If you’re going to use a phone, try one of our easy-to-use mobile apps for Windows 8 Phone, iPhone or Android.”

To Google is to be informed. It’s like asking somebody, who’d had some schooling back before 1990. I Googled Android that, “features an intuitive rear key placement and a 2.26 GH2 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad Core Processor — our most advanced smartphone yet.” Help me understand what an “intuitive” rear key placement is, and just how smart can a smartphone be.   

How do semi-sane people keep up with all this stuff, a Snapdragon 800 Quad Core Processor? Could I get by with a 400? Explain it in butter-churn terms.  

Are you into cloud computing, or “swarm” intelligence yet? A swarm of Harvard researchers designed a construction crew of tiny robots able to build complicated structures. They programmed the robots using rules based on the behavior of termite colonies. Swarms of termites build mounds of up to 42 feet tall without collaborating with each other. Harvard wants to train their little robots to build things like termites do. Now we know how termites fit into the grand scheme of things.

You can’t believe anything you read in the paper these days. I can’t believe I’m living in a world where I need a password to be included in the grand design. I forgot my password, but they’re going to email it to me to expedite my remaining time.

— Contact Terry Cummins at