Today I present two quasi-profound thoughts fresh from my math professor:

“The proof for Taylor’s Theorem with Remainders is absolutely gorgeous.” I can’t comment on that one, not having taken calculus. The other one, however, is surprisingly true: “Stuff takes time. The slogan for your [the class’s] lives is ‘Instant!’.”

Instant. I feel lonely if I don’t see, or hear from, a friend every day. I feel slighted if I don’t get a reply to my emails within a day or so. And heaven forbid somebody ignore an IM! But there was a time when people spent years apart and exchanged letters every month or so. A letter – via what we consider “snail mail” because it takes so long. Too long, we say. It must be strange to be an adult who grew up before computers and all this immediate gratification. The world must seem to move awfully fast these days; kids don’t have time to just sit and talk or go for a walk – after all, we can talk on IM and I can get something else done simultaneously! In fact, Blogger offers an example: “Push button publishing for the people,” they say. Why should we want such a thing? Now people needn’t talk to me to find out about my life and what I’m thinking; all they need to do is check Semicircular Reasoning and voila! you know what’s up with me. But… but… is this all so good? I cannot deny that I enjoy being able to Christmas shop while simultaneously sitting on my duff and avoiding crowds; but is that better than going out with a friend and spending the day battling crowds, searching, and building a relationship? I cannot say that having lots of boxes from Amazon.com or ThinkGeek really beats a day out in the world.

I wonder if the day will come when the world is left to the nobodies and anybody who’s able will remain in their domiciles constantly. The outdoors becomes an anathema where only the losers spend time – the losers or kooks. It becomes so polluted and foul that the beauty of it vanishes: where’s the appeal then? Who wants to see mountains of garbage, miles of gray smog hanging over a city, and ghettos full of starving people picking through trash heaps? (Sounds like Third World countries today, doesn’t it?) It could happen, I think; but not soon because my generation still has such close ties to going Out. Not as badly as in Isaac Asimov’s Naked Sun in which people actually develop a fear, a paranoia, of human contact. I don’t think we could actually ever get to the point where people no longer desire to spend time with each other in person at all. We could, I think, get to the point where the Great Outdoors isn’t so great anymore, where it’s just dirty and icky and requires too much physical exertion. Why go out when you could stay in and play a game that provides a similar but less messy & exerting experience?

I, however, plan to go on a nice long walk as soon as possible. That outdoors is calling my name.

– KF –

3 thoughts on “Instant: Now You Know Me.

  1. Taylor’s with Remainders is more along the lines of elegant (to the universal mind) and asthetically pleasing, but not such a strong description as ‘gorgeous’. There’s still plenty of series garbage in it, and how can something be called that if it doesn’t require Greek lettering? Gorgeous is a word I reserve for beauties such as Rolle’s Theorem, Cauchy sequences, and Fermat’s Last.

    If Taylor’s is gorgeous, it’s because it somehow works. There’s a really lenghty explanation, but I prefer to think of it as just one of those nice telescoping things that we talk about abstractly, and force people into seeing at least once in any calculus course, just to prove Newton and Leibniz weren’t spewing ‘utter nonsense’.

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