Jan 13 2013
In the great tradition of three-dot journalism as exemplified by two newspaper columnist legends, the late George Frazier of the Boston Globe and Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle, here’s a dumping of random stuff rattling around in my head this morning:
1. The Longform Renaissance: I spent an enjoyable hour yesterday curled up with a tablet and the recently departed Richard Ben Cramer‘s 15,000 word Esquire profile of Ted Williams. “Longform” isn’t my favorite term for the genre of big important essays and magazine articles, but it has stuck and seems to have a following. A combination of Instapaper‘s “read it later” functions, the Longform.org website, Flipboard on my phone and tablet…..and I’ve had a great time settling into the kind of writing the internet and our short-twitch attention spans were supposed to make extinct. These are good times to be a reader.
2. The Flu: in high school I stumbled onto the story of the great 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic that decimated the planet and ever since have been obsessed in a negative way with plagues and pestilence. Don’t get me going on buboes, Ebola, hantaviruses, Legionnairre’s disease. Some people freak out about parasites, I freak out about plagues and germ warfare. Anyway, I had the “flu” over the holidays — though I called it a “cold” and still don’t know the difference between a common cold/rhinovirus and the flu. Whatever: sick is sick and thanks to Mayor Thomas “Mumbles” Menino declaring a public health emergency and the Times for publishing the most awesome phrase in the English language — “explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting” — I gave in and got my first flu shot ever yesterday in the company of a dozen other panicked sheep at the local CVS.
3. A Tale of Two Computers in Two Cities: after throwing in the towel on my old Thinkpad and trying to upgrade it one last time with more memory and a SDD (utter failure for tedious reasons), I have decided to declare that life is best lived in the cloud, in Dropbox and Google Drive, where nothing important in terms of data or files are enslaved on a single hard drive, where nothing in synced, or copied, or worried about — but where my “stuff” just IS, existing here and there and everywhere. This means a renaissance of the desktop form factor — one in Cotuit that I built myself and which is awesome and a true battle station, the other an aged Lenovo K-series Ideacentre under my desk in New York City. Now to figure out some nagging points for sharing and my computing platform will come down to two Windows desktops, and an Android tablet and phone. Screw laptops. Feeble, non-upgradable traps.
4. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: for the last nine months I’ve been easing the tedium of the four-hour drive to and from my New York office by listening to a “book-on-tape” via Audible on my Galaxy IIIs through a bluetooth speakerphone that in turn tunes into the car’s FM radio. My one and only (and first) audio book experience has been the delightful reading of Edward Gibbon’s classic Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire as narrated by Bernard Mayes. I have the print edition and tackled it in the 1990s when I was obsessed with Byzantine history, but this time it is a delight to have it read to me. It isn’t for everybody, but then again, if you have an interest in great historical writing, this is the mother of all histories.