It was in the mid-40s today, overcast, mean. You wake up and get the paper and the Monday just hits you on the head with the round end of a hammer. But the arrow points to the sun this time of the year; it can’t last.

Did all the day’s work on Sunday, which makes for a curious Monday. It makes for showing up places and handing things in. Nothing to work on tonight but Bleat and Novel, and since the former takes but a breath or two, that means . . . archive consolidation. Whee. Get an irregular heartbeat just thinking about it. Means: collecting all the scraps of video and making larger chunks of video out of them, with titles. That’s it. So the year’s folder of phone videos have a home and a place.

Otherwise, what’s the point? What’s the point of taking all these pictures and videos if you never look at them, or cast them into a folder with evocative names like IMG_94342.mp4? I’ve made a point the last few days: don’t take any pictures. Don’t shoot any video. Spent the evening editing all the stuff into cogent little movies with titles and music. Emptied the folders. Cleared the phone!

Oh look 127 new mail messages

Open any device, and a blizzard of chaff shoots out.

This is where we stop and bemoan things, right? How it was better when you had 24 pictures of your entire childhood, except for the slides which no one looked at because no one wanted to get out the damned projector and set up the damned screen with its curious fabric, the skin of a glittery albino reptile. You probably didn’t have movies, but if you did they were probably ignored for the same reason as the slides. History was in short supply, period, husbanded at the library in books and cards, handed out for a limited time. (Unless you had an encyclopedia.)

But that was good, because it was hard. Here’s a piece by someone who enjoys the convenience and vast access the modern world provides. Having all the music he wants at his fingertips, instead of poking around in sheafs of records or taking the bus to the store to find it's sold out. The comments are the best part: everyone using a computer and the internet to tell us how the computer and the internet have ruined everything. It seems very English: the sin of enthusiasm is punished with a coal sack over your head until you stop insisting things are bright. Why you’re quite right. It is a dark place. Dusty, too. I don’t know what I was thinking.

The problem, you see, is that everyone is looking at their phones instead of their shoes. They are constantly communicating with friends, which would be great if the friends were corporeal, but since they are not four feet away, we are all lonely and abandoned little null-charge particles orbiting the dense dark star of the self. One of the comments linked to a Guardian piece titled thus:

For the most social of creatures, the mammalian bee, there’s no such thing now as society. This will be our downfall

Of course that’s from the Crown Prince of Generalized Miserabilism, George Monbiot.

The reason? Why, capitalism, of course.

Yes, factories have closed, people travel by car instead of buses, use YouTube rather than the cinema. But these shifts alone fail to explain the speed of our social collapse.

When you’re informed that the rise of YouTube is not sufficient to explain not just our social collapse but the accelerating rate of the same, you know you’re in the presence of an incisive mind.

These structural changes have been accompanied by a life-denying ideology, which enforces and celebrates our social isolation. The war of every man against every man – competition and individualism, in other words – is the religion of our time, justified by a mythology of lone rangers, sole traders, self-starters, self-made men and women, going it alone. For the most social of creatures, who cannot prosper without love, there is no such thing as society, only heroic individualism. What counts is to win. The rest is collateral damage.

Note how “competition” and “individualism” are twinned, so the latter can be part of the “war of every man against every man.”

This gives it away:

We no longer talk about people. Now we call them individuals. So pervasive has this alienating, atomising term become that even the charities fighting loneliness use it to describe the bipedal entities formerly known as human beings.

The definition of “human being” stands in contrast to “individual.”
An alienating, atomising term. Not the basic building block from which any society or organization is constructed. To be an individual is to be alienated. Because rights extend to groups, not individuals. To admit that the individual has a right alienates the collective.

Mr. Happy Fun Time continues:

We have ripped the natural world apart, degraded our conditions of life, surrendered our freedoms and prospects of contentment to a compulsive, atomising, joyless hedonism, in which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. For this, we have destroyed the essence of humanity: our connectedness

And there’s not an institution that once provided those things whose supplanting by the state Mr. Monbiot hasn’t championed.

Anyway, I had a nice social day. Spent the morning, as usual, disconnected from everything until 9:30, at which point I took to the web to find out what to write for the work blog. Walked the dog and waved to neighbors. Drove - ALONE! - to work, cocooned in my car apart from humanity, plotting my every man against every man strategy. At work I chatted with co-workers and made merry. Lured my fellow metro columnist into one of the “Phone” rooms we have when you need to make a call that requires privacy, and beat him senseless with an iron bar. He’ll be okay. Lesson learned.

After work, went with daughter and Scout to the vet; all the vets and front office staff crowded the counter to ooh and ahh over his coat and applaud his tricks, such as standing on his hindquarters and holding up his paws in a PRRRAISE JAYSUS posture. The vet was glad I brought him in for his heartworm, and I said I had dreamed the previous night that a mosquito the size of an eagle fastened on his back. She was happy to see him again; she treated Jasper for ten years as well.

Home; dinner with the family, then we went to separate places to be alone and stare at electronic devices to drain away any sort of empathy and fellowship we had previously accumulated. Then we rejoined at the end of the evening to vow that we would try even harder to degrade our life conditions and engage in convulsive hedonism tomorrow.

“The atomising kind, Dad?”

“Is there any other? All right, off to bed. And no chatting with friends. That’s the sort of thing that destroys the essence of your humanity.”



This week's needless feature gleans the detritus and cast-off treasures found at my favorite antique store . . .

You might think I put these together for Meaningful and Thought-Provoking Juxtaposition.


Nope. Someone else did.



Until the much-anticipated Return of Elsie, we continue with the great names of . . .



I'll roll these out once a week for a while. Some you'll know. Some you may be reminders of that sic transit gloria mundi business.


A "leading singer" for the Met, he enjoyed doing popular music now and then. And why wouldn't he?

Of course, the record you see above is just clicks away on the internet, because it is an age of miracles.

I used to dream of a massive world-wide computer library that worked just like this. Well, not entirely. There would be whirring tapes and monotone voices and clacking sounds, but otherwise, sure.

An old favorite from the early days of Product surfaced again, with our friends the uncomfortably anthropomorphic Ks:

Who were the Ks? This geneology page says: "The Kelling Nut Company was formed by Max KELLING & a Mr. KARL in Chicago in the early part of the century. (Originally called the "DOUBLE K NUT CO.") Max told my cousin that they used to peddle their product down Michigan Avenue in Chicago when it was a dirt road. Eventually they patented a machine that kept the nuts heated evenly, keeping them fresh."

And that would be this.

The store would have a Nut Lady who manned the machine and scooped up the cashews. That was her job. I'm sure she had a special cap, too. When she went home she never wanted to eat another peanut again. The next day? They did smell pretty good.

Roomba's distant ancestor. This is so bleepin' American I want to weep:

It worked simply: one button for start / stop / reverse; one for left / right.

Cost: $180. Today that would be $1,571.23. I don't think they sold well; if you could afford that, you had someone cut your lawn. And you know it was hellish to control and probably ran over the cord the first day.



Man, that's a T.

What's missing from the package? A picture of a woman with hair. Or any sort of graphic, for that matter. It's all words. That's the sort of assumption you can make when your population is literate and speaks the same language.


She couldn't be happier, because her housework apron matches the wallpaper AND the sponge AND the chemical-reaction welts on her cheeks: reports the following news: "Soilax has been discotinued and is being replaced with Soilmax." No! Discotinued? Does that mean they had to hustle to find a replacement?

Sorry. Here's a question: "I used to use Soilax to clean dirt and nicotine from the surface of oil paintings. It is no longer available. What is a non-toxic substitute?"

Gah, I hope that's not from someone who works at a museum.


Daughter's hitting Mom's supply as well:

These people live on levitating slabs of linoleum.


That'll do; Tumblr returns, if I remember it, and work blog and the rest. Let's hope tomorrow's warmer. And less atomising!


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