Daily Office: Thursday

Mars attacks!


¶ AntErnauts: It looks fussy, with the capital ‘E’ and all, but it’s easy to say: anternauts. It’s my coinage to describe people who don’t know enough about the Internet to be able deal with it intelligently. Combine such ignorance with police power and watch out!

Librarian William Hallowell, sadly for him, knows a thing or two about the type. He was held for thirty hours, among other affronts, because police officers lacked the basic Internet competence to know that they had picked up the wrong man. Benjamin Weiser reports.


¶ Cool: I just bought one of these. Now I wonder if I needed it.  


¶ Patience: How did flounder evolve, with both eyes on one side of their head? Slowly but surely, that’s how.


Morning, cont’d

§ AntErnauts. The need for such a word came to me after reading a slew of entries at Perry Falwell’s Booksaga. When the Goodwill clerks got wind of the fact that Mr Falwell was re-selling books bought at Goodwill on the Internet, they got upset and raised prices, clearly thinking that the Internet bookseller was some kind of wicked parasite.

My first idea was “AntErnets,” but I was reminded of the French term, Internaute, which renders the idea of “surfing the Web” rather more elegantly grown-up, and which, by suggesting the idea of a (probably unknown) destination, is more to the point than the thrill-seeking American metaphor.

Noon, cont’d

§ Cool. Yesterday, when the climate was fairly Singaporean, the blue room, supposedly chilled by a window unit air-conditioner, didn’t seem much cooler than the rest of the apartment. Never quite powerful enough for the room, it had, I figured, pooped itself out, even though it was new last year.

I did a little research. According to P C Richard’s “A/C Advisor,” the Amana portable would be a strong-enough replacement. So I printed the page and walked up to the local branch this morning — it’s all of a block away — and bought it. Of course the salesman tried to talk me into buying a more powerful window unit.

The Amana is still in the box. The weather’s rather pleasant today, and I’m inclined to spend it reading. The kitchen needs a minor re-think, and I’ve got to do something radical with a two-foot pile of books. Meanwhile, it occurred to me that I might have a look at the filter of the window unit. My, how dusty that was! Did cleaning it make a difference? Who can say? The weekend promises to be steamy: I’ll find out then for sure.

All I really want to do today is watch movies. The Other Boleyn Girl — the DVD arrived yesterday — would be perfect. The scenery-chewing is so energetic that it’s amazing that the actors didn’t start chewing on one another!

Night, cont’d

§ Patience. It’s clear, I think, that what separates those of us who can deal with evolution from the intelligent design people is patience. The ID folks just can’t get their heads around the vast time-frames that evolution has enjoyed for getting things done. Talk about “take your time!” In their gut, ID fans agree with Archbishop Ussher, the primate of Ireland who worked it all out and came up with 4004 BCE as the date of creation. It simply can’t have taken longer than that!

Floating around in my head is the figure of 170,000 years. That’s how long we’ve been human. Of that, 160,000 were spent not only prehistorically but pre-everythingly. The oldest human settlement for which there is an archeological record — last time I checked — is Jericho, clocking in at 7500 BCE. For about two-thirds of that time, we’ve been writing things down. For only five hundred of those seven thousand years, we’ve been printing them. Toner doesn’t come into the picture until the day before yesterday.

The Intelligent Design people are probably better-adapted to the exigencies of life than we more thoughtful types are. It’s very hard to remember the stages of an intellectual journey, and there’s no good reason why we ought to be able to. The minute we arrive at what feels like a destination, we know that we were always headed in its direction. You may call this the Whig Interpretation of History if you like (and you’d be right to do so), but it’s also the way history feels — when it finally becomes “history.”

In fact, however, the earliest version of an eye began as a mildly light-sensitive patch of skin. As best we know. Perhaps it predated what we call “skin.”