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2008: Thirty Years in the Making
We may not have transporter beams or warp speed, but in the last thirty years
science fiction has become science fact.

By Charles C. Schrager

Iím sure we all remember the original ďStar TrekĒ shows, the ones with the Spock, Kirk, Scottie, and Ensign Johnson (heís the guy they always take on away missions that ends up dying.) Well I caught a rerun of it last night and couldnít help but notice the communicators - you remember those right? The little flip open-style ones that always seemed to break at the worst possible time. When that show was made, those were pure science fiction. Today weíve got cell-phones that make them look obsolete.

Whatís the point you ask? Well Iíll tell you. The last 30 years have been amazing in terms of our advancement. Think about all the things that have been, if not invented, then drastically improved. It used to take a computer the size of my office to get a dot matrix printer to create a sheet of paper that said welcome home, now you can do it with a computer that fits in the palm of your hand. 30 years ago how many television stations did you have? Iíve got over 800 now (and still wind up watching re-runs of ďStar TrekĒ when I canít sleep). Remember how big and heavy that TV of yours was back then, now youíve probably got a flat screen LCD television that weighs less than some books. You remember how tough it was to program your first VCR? Does anyone even use a VCR anymore? DVR, FIOS, Blu-Ray: someone picked up from 1978 would think we had all gone insane with the way we talk.

If you need further proof that anything at all can happen, look no further than the Boston Red Sox winning multiple championships.

Now youíve been reading this magazine long enough to know that at some point Iím going to tie all these obscurities to cigars. I know you know that, and you know that I know that you know I know it. So why belabor the point any longer. Despite all the technological and sociological advancements there is one area in which we have distinctly regressed, and that is our tolerance of each other.

Race and religion have always been hot button issues, and likely always will, but in the last few years weíve seen smaller issues crop up and their advocates, on both sides, seem to be filled with more vitriol than ever before. Rivalries between politicians (and their supporters) on either side of the political spectrum used to be heated, but they were respectful, now they are still heated but with a genuine disdain for the other party. Fans from one sports team have been known to kill fans from other teams, and of course, there is the ever-widening effort by non-smokers (or reformed smokers) to criminalize and ostracize smokers. First by shoving them into smaller sections of public venues, then by shoving them out the door, and more recently by pushing them away from the door to the establishment, lest any non-smoking patron think that your facility caters to those disgusting smokers.

So there you have it, we have spent the last thirty years advancing our technology in ways no one could have dreamed. Maybe if we take a little time now to advance our willingness to tolerate others the next thirty years will be even more amazing. Start with something small, like smoking, and who knows what differences we can learn to tolerate in others before itís all over.

- C.C.S.

SMOKE - Winter, 2007/2008


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