Optimist and Pessimist

Fenster writes:

Either Ray Kurzweil is right about the Singularity, or he is wrong about it.  Either way, I feel a little uncomfortable about his appointment as Google’s Director of Engineering.

Either James Howard Kunstler is right about Peak Oil, or he’s wrong about it, but he ain’t going gently into that good night.

About Fenster

Gainfully employed for thirty years, including as one of those high paid college administrators faculty complain about. Earned Ph.D. late in life and converted to the faculty side. Those damn administrators are ruining everything.
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5 Responses to Optimist and Pessimist

  1. Epiminondas says:

    The reality of bringing Bella Abzug back to life just hit me. I’m having trouble breathing…


  2. James Taylor says:

    Kurzweil is as close to the caricature of the mad scientist as anyone I’ve seen or read.


  3. Fenster says:

    Kurzweil is not only a little krazy but a bit of a krank as well. He lives nearby, right on a lovely little lake near the center of town. It is posted no swimming but under a long time don’t ask don’t tell rule the cove near his house is used by a few swimmers and dogs in the summer months. All very low key and no damage done–Norman Rockwellesque, even. Kurzweil and his wife went out and conducted bacterial tests that purported to show high fecal counts, this in the hope of getting the police to finally crack down on access to the water.

    Now I know babies poop in diapers, but I haven’t pooped when swimming, even at the cove. And I don’t believe dogs poop while swimming–mine doesn’t, at least at the cove.

    The town has disputed the privately conducted study. The great scientist indeed.



  4. Toddy Cat says:

    Kunstler is a loon, too. I hope he doesn’t live near you as well.


  5. Fenster says:

    I don’t live in the same place as Kunstler but I have in the past. The source: his interesting memoirs, here:


    He is a year older. He applied to the same colleges I did. He moved upstate to go to college at Brockport in ’66; me Syracuse ’67. His flirting with the counterculture sounds just about like mine. He spent a summer on Cape Cod as a low-rent dishwasher in ’69; me ’71. We both wrote short memoirs of the experience. He moved to Boston in ’72, same year I did. In Boston we both made the attempt at writing about politics and culture. He was actually published, in The Real Paper, one of Boston’s alternative weeklies where a current friend was then one of the folks in charge. He wrote a piece about a meeting of the loony John Birch Society; I wrote one (unpublished) about a meeting of the loony National Caucus of Labor Committees.

    K left Boston in the early 70s to return to upstate NY, first back near Brockport then Albany. I left Boston for grad school in Albany in 1975. K’s last memoir puts him in Washington DC in 1975; I arrived there on a Congressional Fellowship in ’77.

    K eventually stumbles across Saratoga Springs, the area in which he has since lived. No, I have not followed him there, but about 10 years ago came within a whisker of taking a position at Skidmore.

    I also was struck by his style of memoir writing. It feels very much like mine.

    All that said, we are two very different people. Once he leaves the memoir form he quickly becomes didactic and almost tyrannical in his prose. His thinking, too. Interesting that when writing about himself he lets the blemishes show but when writing about THE WORLD, he knows it all.


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