Ah ah ah ahhhh CHOO! is a sound I haven’t made and never make; my sneezes are more sudden and explosive. Had about four per day. Good ones. Satisfying ones. When the cold really has you in its grip, constant sneezing and snorting make up most of the misery, but when the cold’s either a light one or is being fought with every tool in your personal arsenal, the occasional percussive detonation is welcome.

Since I had a cold, I went to the office; no fear of getting one now! I can go out in the world without fear! Well, no, but, well, yes; I did go in. But I touched nothing, using gloves for the doors, and my office is so far removed from the Throbbing Heart of the Newsroom I’m not going to contaminate anyone. It always makes me wonder what happens when you’re exposed to a cold while you have a cold. Does it get in line? Add to the one you already have?

The Dome, a week after last week’s pictures:

The walls are coming down more quickly now; explosives have been employed. Things fall. The ignominy continues.

It's not very compelling. I thought the demolition would be interesting. It's just ugly.

Turn around, and there's the train station. Note: the trains do not run on the bridge. It's meant to be an homage to the Stone Arch bridge, I guess, but man, that's a lot of decoration for a train station. It serves no purpose beyond adornment.

But it's still a sight, like beholding an aqueduct built by very short Romans.

Even on the coldest meanest day of the last week of the dullest month, there's beauty.


Should we all disconnect from technology? Sure, right after you’re done reading this, and enjoying the tiny video snippets, and then getting acquainted with 1922 Patent Medicine catalog. Also, after you read this from the New Republic. It’s about how people are disconnecting for the wrong reasons, or something like that. I can’t quite tell.

But couldn’t the “disconnectionists”—as one critic has recently dubbed this emerging social movement—pursue an agenda a tad more radical than “digital detoxification”?

It’s not an emerging social movement. It’s a buzzword bandied about by people who know someone who’s looking at their smartphone less frequently, or expressed a desire to look at it less frequently, and who also know someone else who’s really into not looking at the internet very much any more, for spiritual reasons.

For one, the language of “detox” implies our incessant craving for permanent connectivity is a medical condition—as if the fault entirely resided with consumers.

Or it’s a word borrowed from another context because people get it right away. It doesn’t imply a medal condition at all. Nor does anyone think that someone who detoxes from something is entirely at fault. But if we want to start banning the word “addiction” to indicate “overindulgence in pleasurable things,” great.

And that reflects a broader flaw in their thinking: The disconnectionists don’t seem to have a robust political plan for addressing their concerns; it’s all about small-scale individual action.

Well there’s a problem. Replace “disconnectionists” with any other word and I think you may have grasped the pith of the fellow’s worldview.

“Individuals unplugging is not actually an answer to the biggest technological problems of our time just as any individual’s local, organic dietary habits don’t solve global agriculture’s issues,” complained the technology critic Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic.

There’s a link to Alexis’ piece, which is much more interesting. He wrote about a retreat for people who want to unplug (“Camp Grounded”) that was described thus:

The urge to check in, to check out, to Vine, to Snap, to Tumbl, faded with surprising ease. But the Camp Grounded vision of technology's toxic influence is more holistic: money, clocks, alcohol, drugs, and any talk of people's ages or work were all off-limits. Conversations could no longer begin with 'What do you do?’

Pity. You learn the most interesting things by asking those four words.

Of course the urge fades with ease. When I’m on a ship I don’t miss any of it. There have been times in port when I get a wifi signal or activate my phone just to see if anything horrible happened while I was away, and it’s like opening a can that emits a deafening screech. It’s nice to step away.

If I walk around the office looking at Twitter it’s mostly because I’ve been walking through the office for 17 years and there’s really not a lot that’s new to see.

I love the way he ends the piece, which elbows the New Republic piece’s fussy worry about ROBUSTNESS in the broad political action arena:

I refuse to accept that the only good response to an imperfect technology is to abandon it. We need more specific criticisms than the ever-present feeling that "'something's not right." What thing? Developing a political agenda to remake, improve, or forbid technologies requires some sort of rubric: how can I judge what I'm using? What are the deleterious impacts? How are they specific to these media and this time? Which effects are *caused by* the technologies and which are *enabled by* the technologies and which just happen to *occur through* the technologies? What are the ethics? What are the mechanics? What is the baseline?

No way to answer any of those to everyone’s satisfaction - but it doesn’t matter. It’s a fad, another version of the urge to pare away the sinful additions to the pure life, and get back to the natural condition we were meant to have. But then we had to leave the cave and ruin everything.




We return to the thrilling days of yore when FX were cheap and budgets ranged all the way up to $7.98 per episode. King! King of the Rocketmen!

He always looks like Suppositorio, the Future Clown:


When last we saw our heroes, they were trapped in a tunnel with lava streaming towards them, with no way out!

Hey, here’s a way out! Didn’t see that before.


In Rocketman's defense, the helmet does cut down on your peripheral vision.

Meanwhile, back at Science Associates, the Associated Scientists are mourning the loss of the Decimator, the super weapon developed by Millard and destroyed by the lava. Jeff King says he thinks he can rebuild it. No one’s surprised that their chief of security is suddenly a Supergenius, but never mind.

King makes a BIG CONSPICUOUS SHOW of putting the “plans” for the Decimator into the safe, then hides out. Sure enough, one of the associated scientists returns to steal the plans, but we can tell he’s been drugged by Dr. Vulcan. I mean, obviously.

He can only say RFD-48. What does it mean? “Rural Free Delivery,” I thought.


Jeff heads down the road, and then a body meets a henchman, comin’ down the high (way). This just cracks me up.


That leaves one at the cabin, and Jeff wants him to take him to see Dr. Vulcan. You know what that means: FISTFIGHT. So we have that box checked.

There’s a gun battle, too. But King gets the bad guy with his last bullet and runs to his car to get - well, you know.

I coulda had a V-8!


Back to the reporter’s apartment building, where - wow! Fistfight #2!

But off in the distance, the henchmen hear something - and tell me this isn’t the best cliffhanger we’ve seen so far. Cinematically speaking, which isn’t something you can say too often.

I'll bet they miss, but still.

A new update today: McConnon's Book of Presidents. A 1922 patent medicine book with Presidential bios. Eight pages per week through March. The update button is on the right. Where it should be. Where it always is.

Work Blog between noon and one; Tumblr as usual. See you around!




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