McStuff and the triumph of democratic mediacratization

The Peak Experience.

In a recent post, I reflected on the strange compulsion to record every iota of our individual and collective experience and then share it with everyone else, each of whom is trying to do the same. How can anyone enjoy an unmediated experience of night-time Hong Kong from Victoria Peak, for example? (“Colonialized: The Peak Experience”)

There I stood at the rail on the viewing platform, getting a many-elbowed massage from others who had mounted … Read more

Traitor, hero or some of each?

Government surveillance is a public service; E. Snowden is a self-serving traitor.

vs.

Government surveillance is evil; E. Snowden is a heroic champion of our individual freedoms and dignity.

xkcd atheists & fundmenalistsMaybe we should adopt a perspective superior to either of those.

The truth may well lie somewhere between two poles. At least if you acknowledge that we conduct healthy societies and polities in the tension between ideals of perfect security and perfect freedom, perfect harmony and a Hobbesian state of … Read more

Japanieces & tilefish & things

What have tilefish and superyacht owners got in common?

Collin posed this question at the end of his last post, “Pharaonic fish and flash fatcats.” And now he has invited me, Jack Shackaway, who remains unbound by considerations of political correctness, to explain.

The following passages are from a novel in progress starring yours truly — even written by yours truly though Collin will no doubt try to claim otherwise. The book is a work of … Read more

Zombie nation: Shutting down

In my previous post I suggested that persons and cultures, our very realities, are narrative in structure. What happens when you interrupt such narratives? Many of us are finding out, thanks to our increasingly ubiquitous and much-beloved digital communication technologies. There follow two especially obvious ways this is happening.

Applying a cell phone to the side of one’s head in public has the effect of disconnecting the brain. In this condition, cellphone users show characteristic signs of aimlessness, milling about … Read more

What is writing?

 

J.P. Donleavy, an early literary hero of mine, was quoted in Playboy (May, 1979) as saying, “Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.”

Would that this were so. Meanwhile, another spin on the essence of writing is going the rounds on Facebook:

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In other quarters, writers instead turn whiskey into piss and engage in binge writing in the intervals between their alchemical endeavors. (I encountered the expression “binge writing” listening to a Letterman interview Read more

Digital civility rools, or doesn’t

Vertically walleyed: A new affliction, an occupational hazard for the digitally connected and cool, a neologism of sorts coined right here and right now.

“My students tell me about an important new skill: it involves maintaining eye contact with someone while you text someone else; it’s hard, but it can be done.”

That’s from a great NY Times article by Sherry Turkle, “The Flight from Conversation.” And this advice has expanded my notion of what’s fittin’ and … Read more

Premature evacuations offend spirits of the place

Here on my eight-floor balcony, watching the sun retire across the river to the west, I can almost hear the waters advancing from Saphan Kwai. Or is that merely the kerfuffle of conflicting rumor? For weeks, here in Phya Thai District, we’ve awaited the floods from the north as they advance with glacial alacrity. One of the many rumors, inconsistently promulgated by government officials, was that we might well be spared altogether.

Ultimately, though, it seems the hi-so spirits of … Read more

Creative word use, politicians, natural laws

 

In a recent post, “Get your new words while they’re hot,” we looked at neologisms that have appeared in these pages. Read on for more along those lines.

Back in March of this year Bill the Mathematician sent me to the “Church For Christ” site, which quoted Sarah Palin’s now-famous remark:

“We need to take this opportunity to talk about Jesus and rebute these lies and show people they cannot simply seek the truth, but

Read more

Get your new words while they’re hot (warm, anyway)

David_Foster_Wallace

Watch the English language evolve! Here are some of this site’s neologisms—original, borrowed and even commissioned—from my posts over the past year or two. The numbers refer to how many hits each gets on Google as of right now.

* Cymbalalalazophobia (fashioned to order by Dr Anthony Alcock, coiner of words for our age extraordinaire). 0 hits (a big surprise) 

* Iktsuarpok (with thanks to the Inuit and to Adam Jacot de  Boinod for collecting this specimen). 7,570 hits

 … Read more

Cymbalalalazophobia: Things to worry about when the sky isn’t falling

So  just the other morning I suffered something like a flash of cymbalalalazophobia, which is hardly surprising, Sara claims, given my lifestyle.

My recent “Hope in dark times” post elicited the following Facebook query:   Is there an official fear of hi-hat cymbals phobia?

If there weren’t, it stuck me that I had a friend who might be uniquely qualified to coin such an expression. Dr. Anthony Alcock is not only a fine classical scholar, linguist, Egyptologist, jazz & blues … Read more