With global warming, nuclear tension, and national security scandals plaguing the news, the world just doesn't seem like a very friendly place right now. Fortunately, we live in a golden age of wonder technology, such as Roombas and frogurt. So it stands to reason that we're better prepared than ever before in human history to deal with these dire challenges, huh?
Ahem, no. In fact, many of civilization's problems are being addressed with solutions that, at the latest, were developed when Abraham Lincoln was in office. In what ways are we turning back the technological clock? Well ...
#4. Russia is Reverting to Typewriters to Ward off Cyber Attacks
In light of all the recent NSA and Internet spying headlines, the Russian government has turned to typewriters for the preparation and storage of sensitive documents. For the benefit of our younger readers, typewriters are 19th century devices left over from an era when the only reason to learn how to type was to pursue a career in public records (and not to call your friend a dick-basket on Facebook).
President Vladimir Putin recently decided to invest $15,000 on electric typewriters for immediate use in his
regime presidency. This doesn't sound like a lot, until you consider that we're talking about freaking typewriters, here. Unlike computers, typewriters can't be infected by surveillance bugs from Western intelligence agencies (or become riddled with malware, thanks to an errant click on a pop-up ad for fluorescent cartoon breasts). Seeing as how recent reports indicate that the NSA has been spying on Russian presidents and European officials alike, this might honestly be one of the least crazy things Putin has ever done.
#3. L.A. is Fighting Drought by Paying Homeowners to Rip out Their Lawns
In order to battle severe drought problems, the city of Los Angeles has been paying its residents cash to tear their lawns right out of the goddamned ground.
"When you asked me to 'help you get rid of some bags of grass,' this wasn't what I had in mind."
Evidently, L.A. homeowners have the type of grass that soaks up way too much water instead of allowing it to spread throughout a community that desperately needs it. (You may notice this as being reflective of the overall class structure of California.) So for the last four years, the city's Department of Water and Power has been paying people $1.50 for every square foot of grass they rip out, and recently upping the ante to $2 per square foot in hopes the water-hoarding grass will be replaced with less demanding sod. This has resulted in a staggering 1.5 million square feet of grass being yanked out for a total payout of between $2 million and $3 million, a figure that becomes even more incredible when you consider that people normally destroy their lawns for free.
#2. The CIA Will Break into Your House if They Can't Get Your Info Online
So let's say that you pull a Putin and buy a typewriter to keep the NSA the hell out of your business. After all, if you're keeping all of your personal information on physical paper -- instead of storing it in a data cloud powered by invisible elves -- no two-bit cloak-and-dagger outfit can intercept it, right?
Wrong, because the CIA will just break the fuck into your house and steal it.
They'll also steal all but the last two seasons of X-Files, because they are terrible people.
As high-tech as information has become, the low-tech ways of acquiring it are still very much in practice. In fact, CIA "black bag jobs" -- wherein government agents go on foot into people's homes to plant bugs, rifle through drawers, copy hard drives, and eat the rest of the Milanos in the pantry -- are currently being used at levels we haven't seen since the Cold War. Always remember, no spy agency has cracked the riddle that is two cans affixed to a piece of twine.
#1. North Korea Will Fix Your Missiles for Sugar
A North Korean ship departing from Cuba was recently stopped at the Panama Canal. What was on board? 240 tons of Cold War-era missiles, two MIG fighter jets, and 250,000 sacks of sugar, because North Korea doesn't do anything unless it is bizarre enough to be reenacted on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
As it turns out, Cuba was sending the old weaponry to North Korea to be refurbished, and the copious bounty of sugar was included as payment. That's right -- North Korea is repairing old Soviet technology in exchange for sugar. Cuba's economic strategy has apparently not changed since the 16th century, as they are still operating on the currency metric of a Caribbean pirate trying to barter his way into the governor's mansion.
On second thought, maybe the sugar was North Korea's idea ...