Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts

Thursday, July 16, 2015

iGet taken back . . . and so does the iMac

I'm 18 again. And cool.

This was my afternoon listening -- during which the memories and the cool tunes came flooding back -- before there almost wasn't an episode of 3 Chords & the Truth this week. There almost wasn't a show this week because I finally took Production iMac to the Apple Store last night to get its recalled, big-ass "fusion drive" replaced with a brand-new, not-recalled version of the same.

The original hard drive seemed fine to me, but the email from Apple said they'd determined that my hard drive and others just like it were at risk of the computer version of cardiac arrest. Production iMac would need a transplant.

So as a PC veteran who has replaced my share of hard drives . . . and everything else . . . I was figuring along the lines of bring the thing in, go have cup of coffee, pick the thing up, go home. Unfortunately, while Apple products Just Work, they cannot be Just Fixed. Because cool design, or something like that.

THREE to five days, the verdict was.

"Well, then, I'm sunk. This is my work computer," I appealed.

"Let me check," the Genius Court said.

"There goes this week's show," your host groused during the wait.

As it turns out, the sentence was amended. Twenty-four to 48 hours in the shop, with no credit for time not served.

Under Apple's "good time" law, however, Production iMac was paroled early this afternoon -- a presumably rehabilitated digital audio workstation. (By the way, I can't say enough good about the Mac's "Time Machine" data backup. In less than an hour, the iMac was just as it was before. No hassle, no drama.

Windows boxes are all about the drama. I spent a night and part of a day trying to get our Dell laptop to work and play well with the studio equipment and digital audio interface. It was touch and go.

Actually, it was more like cuss and scratch your head.

But the Mac is back, and I'm not subjecting myself to the W-word anymore.  Not in the studio, at least.

All is well in the world, the Big Show goes on, and you'll get to hear you some Gruppo Sportivo, too.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Everything I need to know about science . . .

. . . I learned from Star Trek.

If you like, I can share it with you via my Surface. And you can read it on your iPad.

UNLESS, of course, you'd rather that I just contacted you via your communicator -- uh . . . cell phone.

BUT DON'T go totally booger-eater on me here, OK?

I SHOULD have told you the booger-eater thing earlier, shouldn't I? Siri?


OH, SIRI . . . while I'm thinking about it, could you give me an update on how that warp drive is coming?
In the "Star Trek" TV shows and films, the U.S.S. Enterprise's warp engine allows the ship to move faster than light, an ability that is, as Spock would say, "highly illogical." 
However, there's a loophole in Einstein's general theory of relativity that could allow a ship to traverse vast distances in less time than it would take light. The trick? It's not the starship that's moving — it's the space around it. 
In fact, scientists at NASA are right now working on the first practical field test toward proving the possibility of warp drives and faster-than-light travel. Maybe the warp drive on "Star Trek" is possible after all. 
According to Einstein's theory, an object with mass cannot go as fast or faster than the speed of light. The original "Star Trek" series ignored this "universal speed limit" in favor of a ship that could zip around the galaxy in a matter of days instead of decades. They tried to explain the ship's faster-than-light capabilities by powering the warp engine with a "matter-antimatter" engine. Antimatter was a popular field of study in the 1960s, when creator Gene Roddenberry was first writing the series. When matter and antimatter collide, their mass is converted to kinetic energy in keeping with Einstein's mass-energy equivalence formula, E=mc2.In other words, matter-antimatter collision is a potentially powerful source of energy and fuel, but even that wouldn't be enough to propel a starship faster-than-light speeds. 
Nevertheless, it's thanks to "Star Trek" that the word "warp" is now practically synonymous with faster-than-light travel. 
Is warp drive possible? 
Decades after the original "Star Trek" show had gone off the air, pioneering physicist and avowed Trek fan Miguel Alcubierre argued that maybe a warp drive is possible after all. It just wouldn't work quite the way "Star Trek" thought it did. 
Things with mass can't move faster than the speed of light. But what if, instead of the ship moving through space, the space was moving around the ship? 
Space doesn't have mass. And we know that it's flexible: space has been expanding at a measurable rate ever since the Big Bang. We know this from observing the light of distant stars — over time, the wavelength of the stars' light as it reaches Earth is lengthened in a process called "redshifting." According to the Doppler effect, this means that the source of the wavelength is moving farther away from the observer — i.e. Earth. 
So we know from observing redshifted light that the fabric of space is movable. [See also: What to Wear on a 100-Year Starship Voyage] 
Alcubierre used this knowledge to exploit a loophole in the "universal speed limit." In his theory, the ship never goes faster than the speed of light — instead, space in front of the ship is contracted while space behind it is expanded, allowing the ship to travel distances in less time than light would take. The ship itself remains in what Alcubierre termed a "warp bubble" and, within that bubble, never goes faster than the speed of light. 
Since Alcubierre published his paper "The Warp Drive: Hyper-fast travel within general relativity" in 1994, many physicists and science fiction writers have played with his theory —including "Star Trek" itself. [See also: Top 10 Star Trek Technologies] 
Alcubierre's warp drive theory was retroactively incorporated into the "Star Trek" mythos by the 1990s TV series "Star Trek: The Next Generation." 
In a way, then, "Star Trek" created its own little grandfather paradox: Though ultimately its theory of faster-than-light travel was heavily flawed, the series established a vocabulary of light-speed travel that Alcubierre eventually formalized in his own warp drive theories.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Good Lord

Yes, I'm still here. No, I haven't quit the blogging thing or the 3 Chords & the Truth thing.

It's just that this studio-remodeling thing has taken on, to use an overused term, "a life of its own." This, actually, is kind of an understatement.

Please help.

For one thing, the amount of sheer stuff  I had accumulated in there over the years. Scores of old reel-to-reel tapes, for example -- many of them historical treasures from the 1940s and '50s. Man, did I underestimate the process of cleaning it out.

THAT, I don't dare pitch into the trash. Webcor "Electronic Memory" Recording Tape, you are safe . . . as are the 50-something-year old wonders hidden in your ferrite coating.

Anyway, the room now is empty. The walls have been washed and spackled. So has the ceiling.

And the dirty old drapes are gone. And the floor has been rejuvenated. And the light fixture has been replaced. Much cursing was done in the process.

Fortunately, electrocution was avoided.

MEANTIME, the new iMac waits in its carton. As do all other manner of gadgetry.

The old production PC sits, unhooked, on a cabinet in the middle of the dining room. I write this on my Microsoft Surface tablet.

Now comes the painting. Stay tuned, folks. We're getting there.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Going . . . going . . . going. . . .

This is the studio where 3 Chords & the Truth is recorded. Or, was the studio as of last week.

Here's the same studio a day ago as the deconstruction and remodeling proceeded . . . deliberately. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Honestly, the crap I've had to take apart. The cables I've had to clean and neatly bundle. 

The books and knickknacks I've had to box up and store. The stuff I've had to knock apart and move out.

The vacuuming! Oy!

Which leads us to today. It's getting there -- or not there, as the case may be.

Deliberately, alas.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You've gotta have a plan

Before I tear the 3 Chords & the Truth studio the heck up, I thought it might be a good idea to decide what it was supposed to look like when I put it back together.

Voila! A plan.

And it only took a week of looking at office furniture, considering building my own office furniture, looking at more office furniture and drawing up one previous floor plan that was mulled over and found to be wanting. This one, though, I think is a winner.

Everything is to scale, everything has been measured and measured again, and I found a way to repurpose much of what I already had. Best of all, I think we'll be saying goodbye to clutter and being cramped.

OK, I can tear everything the heck up now.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

And that's the way it is. . . .

This is how the studios look here in Omaha (by God!) Nebraska.

OK, it's "studio" -- singular. "Studios" just sounds better.
Anyway . . . this soon will be how the home of 3 Chords & the Truth was. Past tense.

The place is kind of dingy and way cramped, not to mention a little messy. Sounds like time for a remodel to me.

IT'S BEEN needed for a while, but my official excuse is the new, screamingly fast 27-inch iMac that's soon to replace the ancient Dell that's in here now. Trust me, a 2005 vintage is ancient in PC terms, and I was penny wise and pound foolish when I made that purchase almost eight years ago. The new and extremely tricked out iMac is sorely needed, particularly for audio production.
Soooo . . . while I remodel the studio into something more worthy of a fine Apple product, blogging will be sporadic, and we may miss a new episode of the Big Show or two. I'm hoping the disruption will be more than worth it -- both for me and for you.
Be there. Aloha.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


If you type "" into your web browser now, something will happen.

That's an improvement over what's been going on here -- or not going on here, actually -- for more than a week. About that, I have just two things to say:
● Never assume that pointing your Internet domain name at this website instead of that will be anything but a harrowing, drawn out, overly complicated and crazy-making experience.

● Avoid Network Solutions as a host for your website or as a registrar for your domain name.
Revolution 21's long not-so-national nightmare began as the web-hosting contract ended. Basically, I didn't want to pay significant green just for Network Solutions, may a camel pass gas in its tent, to host a website that did little other than point you to this blog, 3 Chords & the Truth and where to buy R21 swag. That and a couple of email addresses.

The plan was to leave the domain name -- -- registered at Network Solutions (pretty cheap and the contract had yet to expire) and just have the web address point right here to Revolution 21's Blog for the People. After all, the blog is where all the website action is anyway and, as you've no doubt noticed, it now has several pages for all the same destinations and explanations.

And the hosting is free on Blogger. That, my friends, is a big monetary and operational "Well, DUH!"

EXCEPT. . . .

To redirect your domain name, Google/Blogger gives you one set of instructions and Network Solutions gives you another. Blogger's won't work with Network Solutions -- indeed, the web host rejects one of the DNS addresses Blogger says you must enter -- and Network Solutions' do nothing on the Blogger front.

So you call the technical support at Network Solutions late one night -- actually, early, early one morning -- and the Guy Somewhere in Timbuktu gives you a third set of instructions that turn out to be somewhere on the bad side of bulls***.

So later that day, you send a help request in writing with a detailed summary of the problem and "27 8x10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what it is." They say they'll get back to you within a business day.

A business day passes. Nada.

Another half a business day passes. Nada.

You're doing a slow burn, and you do some research on the Web. And from running across many of Network Solutions' unhappy customers who became grateful ex-customers, and from seeing rave reviews of DNS hosting companies that actually can get your domain to work with Blogger, you decide to just transfer your domain to a better place. In this case, that better place is easyDNS in Toronto. Even between the devalued American dollar and the strong Canadian one, the price is what I was paying at That Whose Name I'm Done Uttering.

OF COURSE, after you've signed up with easyDNS -- which will redirect your domain name for you . . . for free -- then TWNIDU starts trying to rekindle the geek romance when you call up to inform them of the coming tech divorce. And then . . . then you hear back from tech support regarding that written help request you sent.

The service rep writes that he's sorry about the delay, and won't you please give him another chance or he won't be able to live with the shame and the loneliness and the regret, that he'll do something drastic if you don't take him back, he swears to God!

ACTUALLY, that's not exactly true. He wrote to apologize for my request being sent to the Group W bench, and to say that TWNIDU could just go ahead and reconfigure my settings and redirect the domain name for me.

For a minimum of $99.

Sorry, dude. The tech support from north of the border is fast, friendly, personal and free . . . and now everything works just fine. And we also find time to chat about beer a little.

Did you know that beer on tap is unheard of in Ontario, and you have to go to the provincial bottle shop to pick up a six-pack? Bien sûr, there are no such stabs at prohibition across the border in Quebec, for the Gallic heart (mine included) requires an unregulated sip, snort, quaff or blast every now and again.

Tonight, when I typed in "" and, lo, the blog appeared, I just may have hoisted a couple of cold ones in sudsy tribute to the good people of Canada . . . and their technology sector.

To TWNIDU, I merely say "FU."

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

MAD strikes again

Leave it to MAD to come up with the ultimate spoof of Crapple Maps . . . uh, I mean Apple Craps . . . er, Apple Maps.

At least that's the way I see it sitting in my houseboat here on Park Avenue in Omaha, by God, South Dakota.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Just to be perfectly clear . . .

I am still a geek.

In this view from the Revolution 21/3 Chords & the Truth studios as we get ready for the 200th episode of the Big Show, the CDs are Karrin Allyson and John Coltrane, the mixer is a Soundcraft Spirit ES stereo model, the microphone preamps run on vacuum tubes and the background on the computer desktop is from a 1944 ad for KOIL radio in Omaha.

Yep, geek.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A hard day's day

This was my day today.

I went through much of what needed culling or cleaning up -- metadatawise, at least -- in the Revolution 21 digital record library, and then I backed it all up. Well, today was taking care of the backup to the backup, after cleaning up the backup along with the main repository of musical goodness.


AS YOU can see (or perhaps not, picture quality being what it is on Blogger), after culling and cleaning up, I still have 16,372 songs on the old hard drive. That's 133 GB to you and me.

It happens when you fill up the hard drive the music library used to live on and need to transfer it to a newer, bigger one. That was Sunday afternoon's task.

Wanna know how long it takes to transfer 133 GB via USB 2.0? About four hours. If this computer weren't old in PC years, I would have upgraded to USB 3.0 long ago.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

F*** Google

After a year of resistance, it's about to become futile.

I'm going to get the new, "improved" Blogger interface whether I want it or not. In fact, I'm using it now.

And I hate it.

Perhaps "hate" is too weak a word. All right, I loathe it. Despise it. 

It sucks.

some things are easier -- allegedly -- with the new interface. Adding a video, for example. But not that much easier, and you get what you get. You can't change the size that way . . . see?

You can't customize the size of your photos, either. There's small, medium, large, extra large and original size. Before -- unless you were foolish enough to try to post to your blog from the Google Chrome web browser -- you could drag a corner of a picture and make the thing as large or small as you wanted.

If you'd like to try that with the new interface, dig into the HTML code, open up your calculator program and do the math. See the "TV set on acid" above? Did the math to get it that size.

I hate math -- even the easy stuff like that. Maybe I should invent a proportion wheel marked off in pixels.

Homogenization and standardization is the way of our postmodern, corporate world, though, isn't it? You know what? I resign. I quit. I refuse to be the idiot against whom everything must be "proofed."

If you want to be a cog -- or an idiot -- go ahead. Not me. I'm about this close to going off to live in a shack in the woods.

And this blog is now officially on life support . . . not that the world would come to an end if it did. Anyway, that's what I'm thinking. Your mileage may vary.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I say this at least three times a day

So, did she then go and kick the computer?

No, no reason. Just askin' is all.

I'll tell you whom she
did go and kick the crap out of -- the doofus who put the wrong take of the prerecorded weather segment on the air. And as she took out the control-room operator's kneecaps, and then something else, I'll tell you what she was heard screaming:

"Son of a bitch! Why is this happening?!?"

Monday, March 12, 2012

When Aspies do social activism

I'll take the Third World, please.

Once upon a time, before Hurricane Katrina washed away much of New Orleans, I'll bet this man was known to all as Mister Clarence. Mister Clarence probably didn't have much, but he had a home . . . and he had the dignity of being Mister Clarence.

Back before
le déluge, New Orleans was as Third World as it gets in what we fancy as the First, but at least it still had the dignity -- more or less -- of hearth, home and red beans and rice on Monday. Folks also had the dignity of being a someone instead of a something.

After Katrina, though, Mister Clarence ended up without a house, and he ended up in Austin, Texas. And he ended up homeless, just another nameless and unwelcome face.

AT THIS WEEK'S South by Southwest Interactive conference, though, Clarence is a hot commodity. To be precise, he's a hot-spot commodity -- desired not as a person but, instead, as Clarence the Homeless Hotspot.

Believe it or not, this is supposed to be pro-homeless activism of some sort. Many were not amused. Neither was I.

Well, I suppose it's a step up from being Clarence the Homeless Public Restroom and having to carry a urinal on your back all day. Praise God for small blessings -- like geeks not being much attracted to the plumbing-fixtures industry.

And praise God for our Third World enclaves. After we have forgotten, at long last, everything about what it was like to be human, we still will have these benighted places where we might rediscover --
as we dodge the gunshots in the ruins -- the things we used to know.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Because someone had to do it

Some of the language here is NSFW. But Dad is just reading
what his 15-year-old wrote about him on Facebook.

This is the best reason I've ever seen for not enacting stringent gun control.

Personally, though, I would have gone for either buckshot or slugs in a 12-gauge shotgun. At least three shells' worth, maybe more. Sometimes, you need to kick a little ass -- or blow up a laptop -- to stem the rising tide of entitled barbarianism.

Oh . . . save the .45 and the hollow-points for the little princess' smart phone. That would be AWESOME.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Sic transit gloria mundi

Steve Jobs is dead.

He died today at 56, about 35½ years after he co-founded Apple -- the company from which our capitalist society derives the worth and breadth of his existence.

CBS News and

Jobs also set the company on the path to becoming a consumer-electronics powerhouse, creating and improving products such as the iPod, iTunes, and later, the iPhone and iPad. Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world, and has a market capitalization second to only ExxonMobil, which Apple surpassed multiple times this past August.

He did so in his own fashion, imposing his ideas and beliefs on his employees and their products in ways that left many a career in tatters. Jobs enforced a culture of secrecy at Apple and was an extremely demanding leader, terrorizing Apple employees when he returned to the company in the late 1990s with summary firings if he didn't like the answers they gave when questioned.

Jobs was an intensely private person. That quality put him and Apple at odds with government regulators and stockholders who demanded to know details about his ongoing health problems and his prognosis as the leader and alter ego of his company. It spurred a 2009 SEC probe into whether Apple's board had made misleading statements about his health.

In the years before he fell ill in 2008, Jobs seemed to soften a bit, perhaps due to his bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004.

In 2005, his remarks to Stanford graduates included this line: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important."

Later, in 2007, he appeared onstage at the D: All Things Digital conference for a lengthy interview with bitter rival Bill Gates, exchanging mutual praise and prophetically quoting the Beatles: "You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead."

Jobs leaves behind his wife, four children, two sisters, and 49,000 Apple employees.

THAT IS our measure of this just-departed man. Late was the day that even Jobs himself started to seriously question the limits we placed upon his worth . . . and upon the true meaning of his life.

Sic transit gloria mundi is a concept that bedevils us. Always has, always will as we scratch and claw here in a desert land well east of Eden.

UPDATE: My old 1993 Mac. Started right up last summer after a decade in the closet. Despite the point of the above posting, you gotta give the man, and the company he founded, their technological props.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Twitterian Paradox

"Follow me and I follow you"?

Uh, not exactly.

And not only because of the hypocrisy of it all will I not follow back @followmeback on the Twitters. I will not follow back @followmeback because I'm allergic to spam.

You follow me?

Friday, August 19, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: Save the DJs!

I wasn't serious. I didn't mean it.

Back in 2001, as producer of another music show long before 3 Chords & the Truth, I let the computers take over.

The "organic" hosts didn't show up, so I let the computer do it. See, there was this text-to-speech demo on the Internet . . . and with a little creative writing, and a little editing. . . .

It was a joke! I swear to God. I didn't think that. . . .

I mean, why the hell would you want to get rid of perfectly competent people who . . . for going to all the trouble of hiring people to write a disc-jockey script for a computer program to follow . . . so you . . .
can fire disc jockeys?

THIS IS America, dammit. We don't have to make sense.

We don't have to employ actual humans anymore, either. We at the Big Show are nervous this week.

A non-human DJ will take to the airwaves next week in San Antonio, Texas, in what may mark another step on the path that puts flesh-and-blood radio personalities out of a job.

The DJ is an artificial intelligence program called Denise, who was built by Guile 3D Studio to serve as a virtual assistant to answer phone calls, check email, conduct Web searches and make appointments, among other tasks.

Dominique Garcia, a radio personality in San Antonio, purchased Denise for $200 and programmed the AI to serve as a DJ. Denise will hit the airwaves on Aug. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. CST on KROV.

"A lot of radio DJs are pretty upset with me because it does work," Garcia told me.

LinkFor now, Denise requires human assistance to write the script for Denise's talk breaks and slot the voice track into the playlist.

For the most part, the script writer tells Denise exactly what to say, though "she" has the capability to tell jokes when asked, provide the weather forecast and look up things on the Internet. She can't, however, fill airspace by herself.

"That technology does not yet exist in the AI world," Garcia said. "It is not as sophisticated as that; that's the ideal situation."

I AM in trouble, Hoss.

Gotta prove I can do this here show better than my Dell running a $200 bit of software.

Gotta get the ratings up here on 3 Chords & the Truth.

Gotta be upbeat. Bright. Peppy, hip, happening and now.

I HAVE TO ENTERTAIN, DAMMIT!!!!!!!!!!! Make people love me. Make them . . . love . . . me.

And that's why this week's edition of the Big Show is going to be the hippest, upbeatest, happiest, high-energy episode of 3 Chords & the Truth you ever did hear. Dammit.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there . . . please? Aloha.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some people (namely me) never learn

Anybody know how to get a 33-year-old bumper sticker off a flat screen?

I'm so stupid! I vaguely remember cracking open a bottle of cheap Canadian whiskey last night, then something like, "Hey, y'all! Watch this!"

Should I just buy a new monitor?

One day, I swear, I will learn my lesson. You'd think I would have following the time I touched my tongue to the storm door when it was 15 below zero outside.

The doctor says that with one more surgery, I should once again be comfortable with the letter "S."

That's it! Lesson learned.

From here on out, I will stay away from the cheap Canadian whiskey and drink only the expensive stuff.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The iMac and the typewriter should be friends

Hey, steam punks! Watch this!

This isn't just making modern technology look and act old-school; this is the actual fusion of old and new tach tech. The typewriter isn't just an artsy keyboard evacuated of its ortiginal original function . . . its essence.

No, this is all typwwriter typewriter and all keyboard, as well. It's positively theological.

It's also pricey. And being more cheap than intrigued, I'll likely be forgoing this particular tech fusion.

ON THE OTHER HAND, I can see myself squirreling away my pennies (andq and dimes, quarters, 50-cent pieces and dollars) to get me one of these to USBify and hook up to the fambly PC.

You juset just can't beat the combination of heavy metal and hot lead. No siree, Bob.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The elite get to pica their poison

It seems that I've been retreating headlong into the past lately.

Part of it, I guess, is some sort of rebellion against the ugliness of today's prevailing culture . . . the ugliness of what passes for civilization today, period.

Another part of it is sheer weariness at the banality and stupidity of the popular culture that's actually popular.

Most of it is boredom. I find the present dull. Radio is dull. TV is dull, most of it. Too much of music is dull.

Drudge is tedious; cable news isn't. Isn't news, that is -- cable "news" is tedious with a capital "T."

Consumer products are boring, too, but it doesn't matter because they'll be obsolete in a year, anyway.

And whatever happened to great industrial design?

Maybe I'm not the only one bored, though. Maybe lots of people are, Maybe that's why typewriters are making a comeback. Vinyl records, too.

I just bought a 1959 Olympia manual portable typewriter. All it is is a printer with elbow grease, except that it doesn't "do" artwork, but it's a lot prettier than my computer. And unlike my computer, it will still be useful in another couple of years.

It doesn't crash unless I drop it, and it works just fine when the power goes out.

I can pound away at the keyboard with two angry fingers without worry. Nothing's going to splinter, and it sounds really cool.

I can feel my words going onto paper. I am connected. I am, quite literally, "in touch."

I can pound out a literary masterpiece much as I did three decades ago on a similar device in the ancient, clamorous and quite alive newsroom of
The Daily Reveille, when all of Louisiana State University could marvel at all the news I saw fit to pound onto an 8
½-by-11-inch newsprint sheet secure in the bowels of an ancient Royal.

Or Underwood. Or Olympia. Maybe Olivetti.

You'd be amazed how fast you can type with two fingers.
(Or maybe you wouldn't be. It's like texting with your index fingers and not your thumbs. Only much more forcefully.)

You'd also be amazed at how typing on an old Olympia, or Royal, or Underwood, or Remington is no fit pursuit for sissified fingers.

The whole process is
sooooooooo not postmodern. And that's my point. Postmodern is dull and vaguely uncivilized. We have become dull . . . and vaguely uncivilized.

out of balance. We, somewhere in our moral BIOS, know this -- thus our boredom. Thus our youngsters' newfound fascination with the low-tech hi-tech of their elders' youth. Thus, I am happy I found my 1959 Olympia at an Omaha estate sale for $5, grabbing a piece of how I used to "kick it old school back in the day" in advance of hipster-inflated pricing.

If I were in New York, for example, I would be so screwed. Exhibit A is this New York Times article from March 30:
Shoppers peered at the display, excited but hesitant, as if they’d stumbled upon a trove of strange inventions from a Jules Verne fantasy. Some snapped pictures with their iPhones.

“Can I touch it?” a young woman asked. Permission granted, she poked two buttons at once. The machine jammed. She recoiled as if it had bitten her.

“I’m in love with all of them,” said Louis Smith, 28, a lanky drummer from Williamsburg. Five minutes later, he had bought a dark blue 1968 Smith Corona Galaxie II for $150. “It’s about permanence, not being able to hit delete,” he explained. “You have to have some conviction in your thoughts. And that’s my whole philosophy of typewriters.”

Whether he knew it or not, Mr. Smith had joined a growing movement. Manual typewriters aren’t going gently into the good night of the digital era. The machines have been attracting fresh converts, many too young to be nostalgic for spooled ribbons, ink-smudged fingers and corrective fluid. And unlike the typists of yore, these folks aren’t clacking away in solitude.

They’re fetishizing old Underwoods, Smith Coronas and Remingtons, recognizing them as well designed, functional and beautiful machines, swapping them and showing them off to friends. At a series of events called “type-ins,” they’ve been gathering in bars and bookstores to flaunt a sort of post-digital style and gravitas, tapping out letters to send via snail mail and competing to see who can bang away the fastest.

IT MAY HORRIFY many of these hip young folk that they could be well on their way to becoming Catholic. Praying with rosary beads. Going to old churches with lots of statues. Lighting prayer candles. Saving prayer cards. Eating Christ.


You know, tangibility. Making abstraction
tactile. Making it real.

Today, we have abstracted ourselves to death, in the sense of making everything theoretical and living one's life in a state of metaphysical detachment. Words, music, interpersonal communications . . . God. It's all the same.

They exist in the cloud. In cyberspace. As hypotheticals. Anywhere but here and now.

It's positively Protestant in the Calvinist-est sense, if not downright atheist.

MP3s and iPods and iPads and laptops are all very Protestant -- perhaps even megachurch in the Joel Osteen-est sense, only without the "praising" and stuff. They're functional, utilitarian, quite non-mystical (not counting the occasional incantation in hopes of warding off a Blue Screen of Death), promise you "your best life now," and we usually have a good explanation for how it all represents "progress."

Vacuum tubes, phonographs, records and typewriters, on the other hand, are Catholic. You have to touch them, and you get "smells and bells." Especially when you get to the right margin.


You can't hear your favorite music without first touching it. You have to do something tangible beyond trolling a menu. And you get to see what you hear -- the music goes round and round, then it comes out here.

You can't express your thoughts without touching them. They are literally without form until you strike a key, which then hammers your point home -- to a sheet of paper. Which you lovingly pull from the machine and send into the great beyond, out of which it emerges to be touched -- and read -- by another human.

All very Catholic, we ancient believers in the "communion of saints," "smells and bells," statues of our heroes in the faith . . . and in feasting on the body and blood of the Creator of the universe and Savior of us all.

Good Protestants have Jesus in their hearts. We Catholics have Him in our stomachs, too. See John 6.

iPods vs. phonographs. MacBooks vs. typewriters.

MY COMPUTER and my hard drives full of music are expediencies.
Tools. Purely functional and utilitarian.

My typewriter and my old record changer -- my old records -- those are affairs of the heart. I've known that since I was 4. Some young folks are just discovering it.

Sometimes, being in touch requires being
in touch.