• Satan's Digital Butthole - R.I.P. Mr. P.J. O'Rourke

    From Mork@mork@invalid.example to tilde.nsfw on Mon Jan 23 11:16:41 2023
    I confess it is with some reluctance that I’ve established this Web
    site. I don’t like computers. The last thing the world needed was
    television that talks back. Computer images are too close for the top
    part of my bifocals and too far away for the bottom part. Microsoft Word
    was designed by pre-teen math bee contestants. Spell-check can’t spell.

    Half a year into the current presidential administration it still
    redlines “Barack Obama.” And I see by the wavy green thing that’s supposed to alert me to incorrect usage that no one in Redmond, Oregon,
    has ever heard of the subjunctive. I write on an IBM Selectric that
    makes no girly noises when I turn it on and off, where I can
    automatically “save” my copy by yanking it out of the roller, and on
    which no spam appears unless I leave a sandwich atop the keyboard.

    The Internet, or as Dave Barry calls it, “CB radio with typing,” is a marvelous research tool—if you want to know who played the lead in the
    1954 giant ant sci-fi epic Them!, and, I don’t (James Whitmore).
    Otherwise it’s a source of Wikignorance, and, speaking of that, I’m a professional journalist and am able to make up facts without assistance,
    thank you.

    As for the way the Internet has made personal communication easy—why
    would anyone want to do that? Think of the personal communications
    you’ve made with the greatest ease—things that just popped out of your mouth. Almost every one of them is something you’d like to take back.
    Now it’s out there in the ether forever instead of just stuck in your spouse’s mind for the next sixty years. And if I’d wanted to hear from grade school friends I would have stayed in grade school.

    Fiddling with social communication devices is what people do in public nowadays instead of smoking and to about the same good effect. I have no
    use for e-mail, which degrades the banality of the postcard message by subtracting the view of the Matterhorn. Blogging is an abomination. To paraphrase Emily Dickinson: “How public, like a frog/To tell one’s name the livelong day/on a self-admiring blog.” And I hold Twitter to be the lowest form of human communication, something between the front tooth
    thumb flick with which the Neapolitan tells you off and a Bedouin fart
    of satisfaction after a repast of lamb eyeballs.

    But what truly irks me about the digital age is that content is free. I
    used to be a writer. Now I’m a content-provider. I have three dogs to
    feed, whiskey and shotgun shells to buy, children to send to college, a wedding anniversary to shop for. Perhaps you can understand my
    irritation with content is free. Plus you’re not getting a sweetheart
    deal either. Something that’s free is worth it.

    And don’t get me started on video games. I’ve observed my children while they were wasting time with video in its various forms, and I’ve
    observed them while they were wasting time with video games. Mere video
    has the advantage of being passively stupid. Video games are actively
    stupid. Video leaves the intelligence of children inert. Video games
    suck the intelligence right out of their heads. Although Wii, I suppose,
    does represent some progress—a way to get kids to bump into furniture without drugs.

    In sum: The computer is the light shining out of Satan’s butthole. I
    hope you enjoy my Web site.

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