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So you think I'm a boomer, huh?Back when truth or accuracy still mattered, I was not a “boomer.” I was part of the greatest generation ever conceived: Gen-X. We told this to ourselves all the time. And everyone else listened too because we were in that “magic quadrant” of consumerism: that 18-24 year old sweet spot where every advertiser tries to sell you everything, so they listen to everything you say, like a guy at a bar trying to get into your pants. All the attention makes you feel special, not that we needed any help in that department.

Meanwhile, the real jerks were the hippie “boomers,” the generation before us, which screwed up everything and had love-ins throughout college, unlike us who were stuck in computer lab. They were the reason we were never going to see a dime of social security. They were the reason we had global warming. They were the reason why the job market sucked so bad, the “worst in a generation.” In short, they sucked.

If you had any doubts then, just ask us, we’d tell you: boomers sucked.


I’ve lived through a technological boon the likes of which the world has never seen before.  We’ve gone from Atari 2600 to Playstation 5, leaded gas guzzlers to EVs, TVs that had to “warm up” before you could see anything to smart TVs that can spy on you when switched off, all in a single generation.

We’ve reaped the rewards.  Efficiency, productivity, and the sheer quality of data gathering, and analysis has been nothing short of miraculous for businesses and governments worldwide.   We can spy on our neighbors from space, detect changes in an atmosphere hundreds of light years away, and stage increasingly weird “get me a napkin” videos where millennials tear the shirts off their buddies.

Yet, as we sit right now, the products of this revolution surrounding us, none of us – not the most skilled high-tech worker or the everyday user – can go a single day without a baffling software update, a completely inexplicable software crash of a key application that you’re depending upon to work, or something that no matter how hard you try you just can’t get to work like it used to.  Whether you’re analyzing financials, ordering a pizza, or playing a game on your console or PC, at some point during this day it will fail, and you won’t know why.

The reasons for the failures are many but they’re mostly due to bugs: code that was written to consider every possible situation a user would think of except for whatever it is you happen to be doing right now, which caused it to crash.   The software wasn’t designed by people with tons of user experience or excessive amounts of imagination.   It was designed by companies that got a bunch of venture capital based on a cool idea – an idea that was incomplete, un-designed, and in most cases didn’t work – which then led to a series of speedy code sprints to a product that just barely works, so they could get more money and “fix the problems later.”   Unfortunately, “later” never happened.

That company went on to grow and grow, all atop that stuff from the very beginning – the stuff that was designed to just barely work – until by now it’s gotten so complex, huge, and unwieldy, that every now and then it just crashes for no obvious reason.   Slap goes a code band-aid.

Modern software development lifecycle.Rinse and repeat this same process over every piece of software you interact with daily, and you’re left with the inescapable conclusion that technology is garbage.  We live in a world full of half-assed solutions to complex problems that don’t work like they should.  And when they inevitably fail, we are either left with a (at best) cryptic message that makes us feel stupid until we Google whatever nonsense phrase they’re showing us – which results in a long, meandering distraction down the always unhelpful rabbit hole of angry internet racism – or nothing at all except maybe a “error message” which doesn’t say anything helpful and delivers blanks on Google.

The kicker is that we’ve all gotten so used to this garbage, not only don’t we care anymore, it’s baked in to the entire experience of our lives.  How many times have you been using something that just suddenly crashes, breaks, or malfunctions, and your instant, passive reaction was to “reboot” instead of scream in anger or stop using whatever it is altogether? 

Whoops.We have come to expect SO LITTLE from our half-baked technological wonders that the billionaire moguls who foist off all this crap on us take it to the bank.   They know we’re gonna buy whatever gadget they’re selling because it’s cool, looks helpful, or whatever, regardless of whether it works reliably or not.  They’re banking on the training they’ve instilled in the world’s population to accept substandard garbage and pay a premium for the privilege.  They could make a smartphone that didn’t just “freeze,” suddenly stop using the same WiFi connection you’ve had for years, or crash right in the middle of a killer poker hand you’ve been waiting weeks to get just before you won.  They could do that.  They don’t because garbage is quicker and working that hard is hard.  Why bother if you’re a billionaire either way?

We should expect MORE from our technology, not LESS.  Like it or not, we’ve pinned a substantial portion of humanity’s future on our technological inventiveness, and the stakes are getting higher.  Do we really want to hand over more and more responsibility to AI systems that suddenly decide, for no apparent reason, that maybe that popular German dictator from World War II had some good ideas after all?  Or maybe that a movie called “Airplane!” is some sort of instructional film, and a solid model to mimic when used in the fancy new autopilot system?  Or how about when that fancy new pacemaker decides it’s time to constantly reboot after a failed firmware update?

Bat-cuisineCHICAGO – Local restaurateur Harvey Lin is on a mission to revitalize and elevate “bat and other wildlife” dishes which have “gotten a terrible rap” in recent years.  “It’s been a hard sell to get patrons to branch out from local staples,” Lin said.  “Particularly in light of COVID-19.  It’s given bats, pangolins and other exotic wildlife a terrible reputation.  I want to show that these meats are just as delicious as ever, even more so.”

Lin’s restaurant “Bat-cuisine,” on the corner of Michigan and W. Wacker Drive downtown, recently re-opened after numerous lawsuits (it was once called “Batfood” and was sued by Warner Brothers), health-code violation shutdowns, and citizen protests with a “mission” to bring “exotic cuisine… out of the Asian wet-market and… into Chicagoland homes.” 

“There are few pleasures in life better than a medium-rare bat smothered with a bear paw and pangolin scale sauce,” the recently retooled menu reads, underneath a picture of the dish titled ‘Monthly Special.’

However, despite numerous coupon promotions and a blitz of television commercials, it’s still a struggle to get patrons in the door.  “At this point, I’m not sure what else I can do,” said Lin.

For some, however, the restaurant is a rare “taste of home,” particularly for recent immigrants, whose continued loyalty has allowed Lin to “keep the lights on” over the last two tumultuous years.  “There is nothing like it in the whole of Chicago,” said regular Mary Li as she ate the “Monthly Special” with a glass of warm tea.  “Delicious,” she added, holding up a piece of dripping bear claw and rare bat flesh.

When asked about the potential health effects of his cuisine, Lin was unwavering.  “We get this a lot and it’s simply a non-issue,” said Lin.  “Have we gotten sick, yes, everyone gets sick once in a while, but there’s no reason to blame the food.  The fact is that this is a common practice for millions of people who love it, and there’s very much to love.  We simply want to bring this love here, to our new home, and share it with as many people as we can.”

At this point our interview was brought to an abrupt halt as public health officials burst into the restaurant and ordered an immediate shut-down.  Outside, Harvey Lin pointed to the yellow tape now surrounding his establishment and noted this was “just more harassment” of the type he’s endured for years, while EMTs rushed past with patron Mary Li, who gave us both a hearty “thumbs-up” before being loaded into a nearby ambulance.

As a postscript, it should be noted that Mary Li is currently recovering from an “as of yet unidentified zoonotic disease,” and is expected to make a full recovery.  Owner Harvey Lin, meanwhile, has started a third on-line campaign to raise enough money to pay the recent fines and legal costs, and ultimately reopen ‘Bat-cusine’ again.  He is currently at 23% of his goal.

IRREVERENT Restaurant Critic-at-large Norm StandardIRREVERENT Restaurant Critic-at-large Norm Standard is the author of several award-nominated cookbooks, including “The Stuff Nobody Should Eat” (2017) and “Bitchy Chefs, Good Food” (2019).  He currently hosts the “Food-o-rama” podcast with James Beard-nominated co-host Chef Frieda Muss.




Photo: Ambulance by Obi Onyeador on Unsplash


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