New World, Again


Oh horrifying new world, where every site I visit wants me to have a profile and to receive mailings. I have over 600 messages from them unread in my gmail account, and this is because I resent the time it takes me to even delete them. I don’t want to die thinking, “Good thing I deleted all those emails.”

Worse, with Facebook, events now send me emails. Events I never wanted to be invited to, from people far away, who believe networking and spamming are the same thing.

Yes, I am aware of your brand now. Your brand is indelibly marked in my mind as “annoying spammer”.

I continue to believe, meanwhile, that networking is what people who can’t make friends call their attempts to make friends.


Meanwhile, no one apparently told Rand Paul about the meth problems in Eastern Kentucky. But luckily, the entire state is pitching in.


I took my new iPad to a meeting with my editor, and after accidentally erasing notes because of an unwelcome and unexpected “undo/cancel” prompt, she said, “You’ve basically confirmed for me the value of a pen and paper.”

This is also what it did for me.

So far, on my iPad, I can pay more money to watch Hulu than when I watch it for free on my Macbook. I can stream Netflix films instead of leaving the discs unmailed in my apartment for years. I can download extremely beautiful digital versions of some of my favorite comics. I can read Twitter like it is a poorly thought-out magazine (see under Flipboard). When the face isn’t glowing, it is usually a smeary looking thing, like a window in a children’s classroom after recess. I bought a special iPad issue of Mac Life that claimed to have 200 books on disc for free for me, and when I opened them, found them to be badly designed Gutenberg Project copies of public domain items. Misshapen classics. It was like I’d left them in my car’s back window and they melted (Book people! Do not do this!). The ban on Flash leaves you feeling like you are inside a gated community of some kind, banned from viewing things everyone else can see on their devices. I am glad ebooks are booming, especially given what I wished for back in 2007, but I feel like I’ve been sold something that, for now, does less than both my phone and my computer. I can’t make calls with it. I can’t visit sites with Flash and even know what is on there (this is many sites).

A friend asks me if she should get it for her husband for his 40th. Before I answer she says, “I feel like it isn’t special enough.” Yes, I tell her. It isn’t special enough. Not yet.


As far as I can tell, the iDevices in general are designed by people who think of writing as something you for to create a text message. You cannot drop a cursor into the middle of a word on my iPad or iPhone except in their sad little Pages program on the iPad—instead, you must delete the entire word or hope the autocorrect dictionary offers the right word and that you do not accidentally erase it.

Relying on “autocorrect” is like relying on a unregulated corporation to do the right thing. It is soft paternalism applied to language.


I found this over on The Morning News’ Editor’s Desk Tumblr* — Colm Toibin, on the Catholic Church after the sexual abuse scandals:

The idea that the Church authorities simply don’t understand what is going on was further emphasised when the Vatican last month outlined its opposition to the sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy and to the ordination of women in the same document, and threatened greater punishment for those who got involved in the latter than in the former. Indeed, the document went further in its unwitting indication of how deep the Catholic hierarchy is in denial. It made a change in the way allegations of sexual abuse would be handled, doubling the statute of limitations from ten years after the victim’s 18th birthday to 20 years. It is clear that the Church still believes that it, more than the civil authorities, has a role in handling such cases, and that its rules about the statute of limitations remain somehow relevant.

The Church now has a strange ghostly presence in Irish society. Its hierarchy still meets as though it represents something, including power; and to some extent it does still represent power. Catholic parish priests still control the majority of primary schools: they appoint the teachers and chair the boards of management, despite the fact that in the most recent opinion poll only 28 per cent supported their control of schools. Orders of nuns in Ireland still own convents and schools and have control over some major hospitals. This might seem amusing until you need to ask for advice about abortion in one of those hospitals, or seek genetic counselling, or, indeed, try to get promotion as a doctor who has spoken out on these issues. The bishops, priests and nuns are sinking, but have every intention of putting up a struggle before they drown.

*Tumblr, of course, is for when you need to say more than Twitter and less than wordpress. Be sure to check me out at mine, Rebellitor.

I will return to the Manga series shortly.


  1. you’ve talked me out of getting an ipad. sigh.

    i make all my facebook notifications go directly into my archived messages in gmail. it has liberated my inbox. (which is sort of unfortunate, actually, as now i have no excuse for being so behind.)

    1. Well, here’s a thought. I bought it as a device for pleasure. Yes, it is a lighter portable computer that I could use for travel, and for some work tasks, like when I need to keep two documents open. And so it works, say, for having a copy of my editor’s letter handy while I work on my manuscript. But more importantly, I wanted to have a separation of my work and play devices, so at home it is usually the device I use for browsing my news sites, Twitter and Facebook, for watching any video (non-flash-based, of course) and the Netflix app does work well. It shines mostly in the reading of comics and magazines—the GQ app gives me a reading experience of the magazine that feels nearly transcendent.

      I think it will eventually be better—I’m saying this betting Jobs will lose his battle with Flash, for example—but for now I’m frustrated with it for being not enough of what it could be. But it is helping me separate my work and play devices. And that matters—the worst thing to ever happen to me was when my writing device became a shopping mall, television movie theater, magazine stand and mailbox. What this does is it takes the vast ocean of things on the web and mostly makes it into a window into it. Like looking through the bottom of a glass-bottom boat.

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