Monday, July 26, 2010

Do not forget that this cannot be forgotten

Last week I encountered an article titled "The Web Means the End of Forgetting." We are living in a world where the occurrences of our everyday lives are being broadcast to more and more people, and once the information is out there, it is very difficult to remove. For example, I haven't touched my MySpace account in years, but everything is still there, still how I left it, and still viewable by those who stumble across it.

The proliferation of personal media is also removing the barriers between the different realms of our lives. (As George Costanza said, when one of his romances made the jump into the world of his friends, "Worlds are colliding!") The article gives an example of a teacher who was fired because of drunken photos of her on facebook.

Perhaps the thing I find most disturbing is the mention that employers are now asking prospective employees to open up their facebook accounts during the interview process for inspection. I don't agree with this breaking of boundaries between personal and professional life. If I'm a competent employee, and don't drink during the week, does it matter if I take down a handle of Jack on the weekend?

Of course, we all have the option of freeing ourselves from the web world--an employer can't look at my facebook account if I don't have one. But, to a certain extent, is that really that likely in today's ultra-connected world? Where should we draw the line?


The other day, I encountered the "Amazing Fact Generator." It made me happy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who nose?

I've written about my lack of a sense of smell before, but yesterday I encountered another article about another person suffering from this affliction. Bonnie Blodgett writes:
About 5 percent of the population suffers from smell dysfunction. (It can also be caused by a virus or a head injury, allergies or polyps, or a brain tumor.) Many anosmics endure debilitating depression as well, and they are more prone to suicide long term than those who go blind or deaf.
Again, I'm thankful that I can't remember having the sense; losing it seems more stressful than never having it. Also, at 5 percent, it isn't actually that rare. And I hope it is not the result of a longstanding brain tumor. ("It's not a tumah," Arnold says somewhere back in my brain.)


Scientists at Clemson are testing the time-trusted 5-second rule. Why are scientists always trying to mess with our completely unsubstantiated beliefs?


Lastly, a history of ketchup, written by Malcolm Gladwell. Since I'm only in Ireland for a limited time, and my roommate doesn't do ketchup, I've refrained from purchasing the condiment. However, after baking some potato wedges, I did whip up a homemade batch of ketchup-esque substance. Gladwell explains why my version cannot live up to the "actual" thing.

Now I'm off to Dublin to see the magical Guinness brewery. Cheers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ghosts of the past

When Roman Polanski's film The Ghost Writer was released, I would rant against the director whenever the media (trailers on TV, in the theater, posters in the mall, etc.) reminded me of this fact. I would announce--to anyone who was in the vicinity and would offer their ears--my boycott of the movie and offer a denouncement of anyone who volunteered to work with the man.

And now Roman Polanski is essentially a free man. Not that he wasn't really free before. He still lived his life of privilege; he just couldn't come back to the US.

The response of certain media types to the whole situation is somewhat appalling. Some people seem to feel that Polanski has done nothing wrong, or that his position somehow makes what he did acceptable on some level.

But, as Kate Harding reminds us, "Polanski raped a child."

I'm considering a boycott of any movie featuring anyone who has worked with Polanski since 1977, since working with him in a way says that the actor or actress condones what the director did. I realize it would make no difference in the world and would probably seriously limit the movies I could watch, but sometimes I feel we need to take some sort of stand, no matter how small.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Soccer sayings

I've been watching a lot of soccer this month and last. I've never been a huge fan, but I was unemployed and the people around me were watching it. Being who I am, I therefore fell in with everyone else.

Over here in Ireland, the commentators for the World Cup are fantastic. I wish I had kept a running list of some of their quotes, which run from brilliant to just strange to incomprehensible. Here are some of the ones I do remember:
  • "His shot is a little off. He didn't plant his foot, and he didn't believe in himself."
  • "That pass was an audacious flip."
  • "They've been making too many cynical fouls."
I wish I could remember more, but my brain got Guinessed last night, and I can barely think today. Luckily, other people out there in the wonderful internetical webisphere have compiled quotes from one of the commentators, George Hamilton (not the sun-baked actor, unfortunately).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease...

Just bought my plane ticket from Ireland home to Green Bay. Due to some difficulties with my credit card, and then a wait to see if prices would drop slightly, I didn't buy my ticket as early as I had initially intended. Consequently, there were none of my cherished aisle seats remaining (I don't like climbing over people when I need to leave to take a leak).

As I was complaining about this to my friend, she channeled Louis C.K. and his appearance on the Conan O'Brien show, where he rants about how everything is amazing and nobody's happy: "Did you fly through the air incredibly, like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you non-contributing zero?...You're sitting in a chair in the sky."

Sometimes I think we need to look around and be amazed by the world around us and also the things we as a society have created. Sometimes when I'm on a plane I like to remind myself that even though I don't seem to be moving, my head (and the body attached to it) is traveling at over 500mph. It puts things into a slightly terrifying perspective.

If we don't have respect, or even fear, for the technology, if we take it for granted what technology both can and can't do, we have situations like what is currently happening down in the Gulf of Mexico.

Arthur C. Clarke once wrote that any suitably advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In a way, we are living in a magical age. I hope we don't ever lose our wonderment, the sense that life can be something special.