Have trouble focusing? Can’t seem to get through a book any more? This might explain why.
“Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial ” brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”
I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going–so far as I can tell–but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.
I think I know what’s going on. For more than a decade now, I’ve been spending a lot of time online, searching and surfing and sometimes adding to the great databases of the Internet. The Web has been a godsend to me as a writer. Research that once required days in the stacks or periodical rooms of libraries can now be done in minutes. A few Google searches, some quick clicks on hyperlinks, and I’ve got the telltale fact or pithy quote I was after. Even when I’m not working, I’m as likely as not to be foraging in the Web’s info-thickets’reading and writing e-mails, scanning headlines and blog posts, watching videos and listening to podcasts, or just tripping from link to link to link. (Unlike footnotes, to which they’re sometimes likened, hyperlinks don’t merely point to related works; they propel you toward them.)
For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.
I can still get through books and am always reading something, but more then ever, I find myself switching between books, giving up after a few pages. My memory is shot and I can’t spell anymore either. Why do I need those things when I have Google? It’s a little scary. I wonder how this is going to affect the generations growing up without knowing a world without the Internet. If it’s this bad for us, how will they be able to read anything longer than a few pages or paragraphs?
I finally broke down and bought a PS3, only a few years after it came to market. Such an early adopter am I. I don’t have any games. I don’t even know if I’ll buy any. I bought it for the Blu-Ray, as a media server (it has a 120GB hard drive) and to stream Netflix movies on my TV which is pretty cool.
However, I can’t get the system to work. My TV won’t recognize the console through the AV cables that come with the box. I searched the interwebs for a solution, but couldn’t find any that worked, so I ordered an HDMI cable on eBay and I’ve got a call into Sony customer support, but it’s really frustrating that it just isn’t working. One of those two things better work.
…are really boring. Can’t believe I have to listen to these jokers for the entire Giro. Where are Phil. Paul and Bob when you need them? Give me Al Trautwig. Give me Al Michaels. Give me anybody but these guys. I’d even take Craig Hummer.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have the Giro on US television, but we’ve got to be able to do better than Schlanger and Gogulski.
Hold your hats, but the Giro D’Italia is coming to American TVs for first time in it’s 100 years. It’s going to be on Universal Sports.
So what’s the occasion? One word: Lance. Lance Armstrong is back and riding the Giro for the first time. Can he win? I wouldn’t put it past him. He has an iron will and you have to know that his training has been insanely intense. However, he’s coming off a broken collarbone, he hasn’t raced a grand tour in a couple of years and doesn’t have that many race miles under his belt. More likely, he’ll be helping his teammate Levi Leipheimer win the race. Only one American, Andy Hampsten in 1988, has won the Giro, so it’ll be good to get another yank in the winners circle.The competition is going to be fierce. This is the 100th version of the race, so the Italians will be extra-motivated to keep the title at home. Should be an incredibly exciting race. Defending champ Alberto Contador, Armstrong’s teammate on Team Astana, will not be riding. Instead his preparing for his return to the Tour de France in July.
The Universal Sports announcers are rather dull. I’ll take Phil, Paul or Bob any day, but it will be a pleasant change to have commentary in English. Last year, in order to watch the event live, I signed up for the Italian Sports Channel RAI. For three weeks I watched the cyclists suffer through the Italian peninsula while commentators babeled in Italian I couldn’t understand. I was happy to watch it, and the animation of the Italian announcers was impressive. It would have been nice to understand what they were saying.
The three week Giro kicks off with a team time trial on Saturday on Lido di Venezia. Coverage starts at 5:30am PST, so set your DVRs.
If you don’t have a TV (or don’t have cable) or just want to follow the event online, the best place to track news of the Giro, as always, is Steephilll.tv
I love Matt Taibi. Anyone who can chart the dimensions of Valerie Bertinelli’s ass versus happiness is a hero in my book. But that aside, there’s no question in my mind he’s the most talented writer in America today. He’s also a brilliant wit and wordsmith and when he focuses his pen on someone, he doesn’t miss.
Latest victim: Thomas Friedman.
Remember Friedman’s take on Bush’s Iraq policy? “It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel,” he wrote, “as long as you remember you’re driving without one.” Picture that for a minute. Or how about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:
The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging.When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”
First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the editors over at the New York Times editorial page spend their afternoons dropping acid or drinking rubbing alcohol. Sending a line like that into print is the journalism equivalent of a security guard at a nuke plant waving a pair of mullahs in explosive vests through the front gate. It should never, ever happen.
You have to read the whole thing.
For a Democracy to be healthy, there needs to be a thriving, strong, and adversarial media that forces truth out from the dark corners of the government and keeps the people informed so they are capable of making educated decisions about who should be running the country (and, notably, who shouldn’t). Our current media establishment has failed in this regard. You want proof? Go no further than that many people in this country still think Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. If the media was doing it’s job, any myths which the government tries to peddle would be scoffed at and debunked immediately. Instead they fester like open sores on the body politic and are perpetuated by a broken, corrupt system that instead of questioning the powerful, allows itself to be coddled by it.
If you want to keep up with latest stories of our corrupt media, the best place is Glenn Greenwald’s Unclaimed Territory on Salon.com. Greenwald, a former constitutional law and civil rights lawyer, writes with rapier like precision about the failings of our media, the corruption and lawlessness of our government and the hypocrisy of our leaders. Most of the stories he covers are completely ignored by the mainstream media, so if you want to stay informed about these topics which the media talking heads want to ignore or wish away, Greenwald is the best place to start. I’ve linked to some of the more recent media critiques below the fold.
What’s the best thing about my DVR, you ask? Well, I can now watch PTI when I come home. I don’t know why ESPN only broadcasts the show in the middle of the day on the Left Coast, but it doesn’t matter anymore. They can show the program in the middle of the fucking night for all I care, because I just record it and watch it when I get home (zipping through all the commercials, of course). Kornheiser and Wilbon yuck it up and keep me up to date on the sports world at the same time. Perfect.
What else do I have on my DVR, you ask? Besides the random movie here and there, here’s what I got:
I can’t remember the last time I made a mixed tape. For that matter, I can’t remember the last time I owned a cassette player that could record. Must have been in high school and I need some serious hypnotherapy to remember most of what went on there.
But no matter. Don’t need any of that analag shit to make a mixed tape these days. Just need Muxtape. It’s as simple as you can imagine. Open an account. Upload MP3′s. Share. When I get home tonight, I’ll set one up and share it will ya’ll. In the mean time, check out the Resurrection of Cool on Pandora if you want to hear some cool jazz.
- American Idle (63)
- Apia Harbor (15)
- Art (19)
- Books (34)
- Character Actors (4)
- Cinema (63)
- Cool Stuff (6)
- Cricket (9)
- Critters (151)
- Cycling (162)
- Dreams (1)
- Education (12)
- Food (64)
- Friday Cat Blogging (12)
- Gardening (2)
- Health (47)
- Housing Situation (21)
- Humor (68)
- I Want This (6)
- I'm a Complete Idiot (8)
- I'm Confused (21)
- It Really Sucks When… (51)
- Life in General (70)
- Life In Samoa (96)
- Media (38)
- Money (36)
- Music (19)
- Musings (47)
- News (69)
- On the Home Front (36)
- OYJ (59)
- Peace Corps (44)
- Photography (111)
- Poetry (3)
- Politics (209)
- Random (9)
- Religion (22)
- Skiing (95)
- Sports (107)
- Tech Stuff (95)
- Television (40)
- Theater (4)
- Travel (85)
- Uncategorized (9)
- Vail (47)
- Video (9)
- Viva Brasil (1)
- What is wrong with people? (2)
- Work (11)
- Writers (4)
- Yellowjackets (6)
- You're Doing it Wrong (1)
- Your Tax Dollars at Work (3)