August 22, 1994

Monday August 22, 1994

Andrea’s party was on Saturday night, and I met Brooke, Andrea’s friend from work. She’s been telling me about her for a month now, and I wasn’t prepared for how beautiful she’d be. It was, of course, intimidating. It was worse when Andrea and Sue kept demanding that I go over and talk to her. I’m not a real smooth guy under that sort of pressure, and so it took me a while to talk to her. She’s a teacher, too, and went to teacher’s college in Buffalo. I think she’s working with the Etobicoke board this year, but it’s not permanent. She lives in Malton (near the airport) and she’s 28, but she looks more like 21. I don’t think Andrea thought I was interested, just because I was so casual, but I was actually quite interested, just a little intimidated, and of course, I’m not much of a mover. I’d like to see what (if anything) she says to Andrea about me. To be honest, I felt she was miles out of my league, but I’m flattered Andrea even considered me in the running.

Unearthed

The Net, Premiere Issue, June 1995

During the excavations that took place this past week while Brooke and I moved, I found this ancient relic from the past. My “cyberspace companion” featured some helpful articles. My favourite was “Six Myths: Unmasking Cyber Lore”:

  • Myth 1: The Internet is a single network controlled by one organization.
    • Fact: The Internet is actually a patchwork of commercial, educational, government and public and private networks, all cooperating to achieve an open, interconnected communications system.
  • Myth 2: The Internet is free
    • Fact: Don’t believe it for a moment. All of the Internet’s conduits, computers, and information resources are paid for by someone. Often an organization provides free Internet access to its members as part of an affiliation. But, for people lacking Internet access through an organization, getting on the Internet carries a price tag.
  • Myth 3: The Internet will usher in a new age of democracy, a socio-political nirvana.
    • Fact: People created the Internet, people run the Internet, people drive what happens on the Internet — and people are human. No inherent technological properties of the Internet will bring democracy or a new age of global community.
  • Myth 4: Internet users are cyberpunks and content they create is cyberporn.
    • Fact: While some consider portions of the material on the Internet to be immoral, obscene, or useless, much of it is no more controversial than what’s found at a public library or in a bookstore.
  • Myth 5: The Internet is chaotic. There’s simply no way to find anything.
    • Fact: While no Internet information-collection or resource-searching tool is flawless, there are landmark collections and tools on the Internet that you can use to find what you want.
  • Myth 6: The Internet is hostile to newcomers — the hapless newbies.
    • Fact: While a newbie can get mercilessly flamed for ignoring or flouting the Internet’s social customs, there are plenty of ways a new user can get up to speed in a hurry.

In this pre-Google world, Myth 5 was especially amusing to read. Yahoo still resided at its Stanford URL (http://akebono.stanford.edu/yahoo). And I love how many times they use the prefix “cyber”! Can you remember your first experiences with the “Internet”?

Best. Correction. Ever.

The statement “In New York City, someone stole the penis of a chocolate Jesus” is not true; the source was a satire website that was mistakenly thought to be a genuine news source. Harper’s Weekly apologizes for the error.

Harper’s Weekly is an email with a bunch of odd news mixed in with more serious stuff. The fact that it’s usually pretty funny all on its own made this “retraction” even better.

By the way, Harper’s recently revealed an amazing new site with access to PDF scans of their entire 150 years of back issues, free for subscribers. After my complaints about the lack of a DVD archive, this is amazing news. No new, potentially obsolete hardware to buy, just a low rate of US$16.97 per year, and that gets me the printed magazine as well. Genius! Big ups to the brilliant Paul Ford, who’s behind the curtain.

Harper’s On Torture

Harper’s is going from strength to strength recently, taking on the Iraq war with ferocity and honesty. Here are the last two paragraphs of an article about torture entitled “What We’ve Lost” by William Pfaff that appears in the November 2005 issue:

International illegality, the deliberate repudiation of international law, and torture, gratuitously employed in defiance of the moral intuitions of ordinary people, all show that the Bush Administration has chosen to place itself outside the moral community of modern Western democratic civilization. This is not an unwarranted or outrageous judgment; it logically follows from the evidence. It seems a strange choice to have been made by an American government that more than any other in history identifies itself with righteousness and with Christianity.

In that respect, if one is to invoke religious judgments, I would cite André Malraux’s remarks to the novelist Georges Bernanos, who had returned to France from wartime exile and asked what judgment Malraux made on Europe in 1945. Malraux replied, “With the camps, Satan has visibly reappeared over the world.”

Why aren’t the mainstream media talking this way?