If you were to walk into your kitchen to find the faucets gushing, the sink over-flowing, and three inches of water already covering the floor, what would you do first? Would you go find a jackhammer, and drill into the tile to empty the water into the basement? Would you look for a bucket under the sink so you could start bailing water out the window? Would you pull out your phone and look up a good plumber in your area? No, of course not. The first thing you would do is turn the faucet off.
On the heels of Mad Men’s final episode, which I found both subversive and saccharine, here’s a cool short article about Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, Mary Shelley: “Romantic Outlaws”.
It’s strange to think of a time when people would actually kill themselves over an intellectual revolt, or over a philosophical absurdity. Although, I guess we all do that now; it just takes a lot longer.
“The same year I first saw the Peat Glossary, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture, and willow. The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player, and voice-mail.”
– Robert MacFarlane, from Landspeak
“To believe in progress is not only to believe in the future: It is also to usher in the possibility that the past wasn’t all that. I now feel — and this is a revelation — that my past was an interesting and quite fallow period spent waiting for the Internet.”
This is my “favorite” sentence from this essay: “In Defense of Technology.” I read it because I’d hate to be one of those people who can’t even entertain any possible merits from a viewpoint they oppose.
And yet, while there is a case to made that our* lives are made “better” by time-saving apps, the production of iphones alone (never mind their use) rules them out as being considered a benefit to humankind—unless of course you’re pro- child slavery, let alone pro- destruction of our only habitat. The author of the piece mentions that he can now cut down on research time (going to the library? ew), as if more efficiently adding footnotes to a book more than merits the extinction of some 200 species a day. That research must be pretty damn important.
* By “our” I mean members of the First World; it’s hard to see how a teenage factory worker or a small-scale farmer gets to enjoy the perks of hand-held access to the internet, without even mentioning the incalculable destruction and misery it rains down upon non-humans.
Lest we forget—looking only at the sleekness and portability of an iphone—that the internet takes an entire oil-based infrastructure to produce and maintain. Or did you not know that there are miles of cables running at the bottom of the ocean?
Loquats abound in Austin right now. They look and taste like little pears, although they’re more tart than super sweet, and more fleshy than crisp. Anyway, I’m making some loquat wine, which is currently fermenting and I’m not sure how it’s going. But I’ll report back as the process continues, and if it turns out good then I’ll post the recipe…