Monday, March 19, 2012

Nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em!

Via Popehat, I encountered this fantastical piece of Luddism from the publisher of Harper's, one John R. MacArthur, who is... well, it's hard to say just what he's on about, actually, other than the internet and filthy lucre* and kids these days. It opens with a bit of industry insider "Hail-fellow-well-met" and reminiscing, then moves through some snide insinuations that this whole internet thing won't last because it's just an artless fad, like talkies at the cinema.

He then rambles through a maudlin complaint that those money-grubbing ad men have ruined everything by making it all about money, because nobody should be making money off this but writers! (And editors! And publishers! Or at least one presumes.)

He then closes with a shudder, describing an horrific scene from a sidewalk cafe where everyone is reading words off of cold, impersonal, glossy Macbook screens instead of warm, soulful, glossy Harper's paper. And they're probably reading the internet, where any lowborn jackanape with a keyboard can post their yawpings! Why, in my day...

Seriously, it's a couple pages, but it's fun, because this dude is in a bubble hanging in a vacuum chamber with acoustic tile walls. I feel a little bad chuckling behind my hand at the unhinged, but this train left the station years ago, and he's still standing on the platform and railing at the conductor.

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*Filthy lucre, by the way, is not "lots of money." It's "lots of money in the hands of people you think are icky or shallow or otherwise undeserving."

15 comments:

Tango Juliet said...

I think we'll get along just fine without him.

SGB said...

Hilarity. His next rant will no doubt be against the telephone because of constant interruptions while he readies his horse for the ride in to town.

staghounds said...

Criminy, seems like there are more and more of these things every year!

I thought I would choke when I read "... distinguish between a blog and an edited, thought-out piece of writing"-

ON A BLOG.

mikee said...

Perhaps he feels the government should step in to protect his industry from the upstart new technology and means of production, like they did for the buggy whip makers and, more recently, the remaining unionized auto workers.

Grant Cunningham said...

..."bubble hanging in a vacuum chamber with acoustic tile walls" is one of the best mental images you've ever penned.

Rob K said...

There were so many statements in that which made my head want to pop. That was a report from the wrong side of history. This one really got me: "Consider the power of samizdat, those cheap mimeographed pamphlets that helped launch a revolution in Poland and elsewhere." What does he think the Internet IS? It's the ultimate samizdat pamphlet!

Erin Palette said...

I would posit that the concept of Internet-as-samizdat should be called "Samizdata."

Angus McThag said...

He's not railing at the conductor. He's screaming at the foreman of the demolition crew there to tear down the train station because passenger service ended long ago.

Anonymous said...

He's ranting at the joggers on the nature trail that's now in the place of the rails.

Rob said...

I would posit that the concept of Internet-as-samizdat should be called "Samizdata."

And someone should create a blog called "Samizdata", and invite a bunch of liberty-minded people to write for it!

Brilliant!

Tam said...

Rob,

I See What You Did There. ;)

Critter said...

poor fellow. internet is hard.

Anonymous said...

"It's the ultimate samizdat pamphlet!"

Aside from the fact that a soviet dissident who published blogs, or used laser printers which tag EVERY SHEET OF PAPER they'd have been cooling their heels in the the "special needs" lock up pretty quick as the KGB traced their arses to ground in about 35scs.

Oh, in other news Connecticut has asked their DMV to consider putting RFID on license plates, automated photo-camera not being enough, apparently.

And sigint people have realized that you can monitor all those internet connected devices in the house and know at any time what people watching, downloading from netflix, when the fridge opened, and turn up the microphones without tell you, just like they do to cell phones.

Life in the panopticon.

The internet is the ultimate suppression and enforcement tool.

Paul said...

Damn! Rob beat me to it... (re: the guys at Samizdata).

Josh K. said...

I think we should burn that Gutenberg at the stake before that moveabke type thing catches on.

I want to in on the ground flower of this movement.