Wish I had known at 21


When I turned 21, I did not rush to the nearest pub. Instead, I was rolling up those cables in the TV studio, the Penn State Agricultural Extension Radio and TV Studio – under a Work Study program. Cables all over and someone has to stay behind after the shoot to “wrap” them. Little did I know, we can have SKY news reporters filming themselves with selfie sticks. Electronic News Gathering (ENG) no longer takes a 3-man crew. Just one. (on a side note, Network Anchor now goes on Apology Tour, for lying instead of catching others in the act e.g. Watergate).

Times have changed.

Softbank is selling Pepper (robot) for a mere $1600 to make money on the apps and maintenance. A star is born. So has “on demand” apps like Uber, using phone-sex independent contractor who should have been classified as an employee, according to California latest ruling. It looks as though the dis-intermediator has become the new middleman.

Times have changed.

Had I known all this, I would still wrap up those cables neatly and quietly.

At 21, one can drive around and shoot people mindlessly.

At 21, one can rush to drink all you can down in Tijuana.

At 21, one can code through the night (a joint program between Microsoft and China elite University has just been launched to foster technology and innovation).

At 21, one can backpack and see the world while one’s joints are still up for it.

I wish I had known all this. The ENG camera back then was so heavy. Plus the 3/4 inch tape deck, plus the battery pack. The things they carried.

But the anchors back then (my ABC World News Tonight) were so cool! Peter Jennings reporting from London, Max Robinson from Chicago and Frank Reynolds in Washington D.C.: fact-checking, no-holds bar and let the chips fall where they may. The fourth estate. Playboy interview was asking President Carter about his sex life. And the nation was boiled with anti-establishment cynicism (Carter admits “we are faced with a crisis of confidence”).

You are either real or you are not. Dig it?

Wish I could do it again. I travel more and shop less. No elbow patch sport coat, or Mr Roger sweater. No knee-high athletic socks. I would still keep running, reading and writing. Selfie reporter or 3-man ENG crew, content and character still count.

Now that I know. I wouldn’t buy in to too much Penn State defence team, or watch any of the Bill Cosby episodes. This might give some clues about perpetual hatred and in-fighting in America. Meanwhile, Japan is “softly” and quietly developing and launching Pepper. The battle will soon be declared: man vs machine. And someday, Roof will realize he has fought the wrong battle. The new “others” are machines, heartless and 100 times more efficient than the Nazis, whose philosophical root he embraces.

Come to think of it, I would just stick with my studio cables. Head down and humble. Too much thinking makes me restless. But then, would Rest of World leave me alone? What would my daughters think of me on Fathers Day? Dad, you are a coward. Too many books, too few action. Wish I had done more. Never too late.

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