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Sunday, January 3, 2016


This is nerve-wracking.  I tried to replay the first lecture I had recorded and discovered that there was nothing on my computer.  It had evaporated.  After a frantic half-hour, it occurred to me that it was still on the camcorder, so I erased everything from my computer [all the empty files], and went through the entire process again, transferring the lecture to the computer [in two files, for some mysterious reason], splicing the second onto the first, trimming the beginning and end off, and saving it all with the title "Robert Paul Wolff Ideological Critique Lecture One," which I presume is how it will appear once I upload it to YouTube.

This technology is like a Hopi Rain Dance -- if you do everything right, it rains, and if it doesn't rain, you know you did something wrong but you don't know what.  How do you young people stand it?


Chris said...

People of your generation tend to find Apple Macs easier to use than windows based PCs.

Jon said...

@Chris: People of any generation tend to find Apple Macs easier to use than windows based PCs.

Keith said...

I witnessed something like this tonight, as my wife repeatedly tried to upload something to her Etsy site. And I pondered this whole annoying "young people (who are so good with computers") thing. Rubbish. And rubbish to the silly Apple thing too.

It is long established that experience has a lot to do with doing things, failing, doing again. And not giving in till the lesson is learned. Now, I'm not 8 or 18. I'm 68. But it is still my experience that you learn by not giving up

Perhaps, though, the young have a greater capacity for not giving up?

formerly a wage slave said...

I am tired of this condescension about Apple. I can't prove it, but I haven't got an Apple, and I find there's something unaesthetic about my current not-Apple laptop. And something clunky about the programs. In fact, if I had as much free time as do retired Professors I could write a book (I am sure) about the degradation of aesthetic standards implied by the constant need to create some new "cute" (as they seem to imagine it) gadget or ring-tone.......(You may say that I am out of line by speaking of free time, and you may say that I am just a whiner because I am not so impressed by technology as you are; and you might be right. But I'm not going to erase what I've written.) I do think that the emotional mood and spirit fostered by capitalist technology in the internet age very much resembles communist ideological celebrations as described by Milan Kundera, seen through the eyes of his character Sabina: it's just all so kitsch. And it is poor taste and to be forbidden to say or think that it's not so cute or not so fun .... or not so easy to use.... (One might also mention Facebook "likes" and the endless celebrations and cute or funny things posted there...)

Chris said...

I'm basing my claim off anecdotal evidence. My father, who is of Wolff's generation, and his friends, often needed technical help, and found transferring to macs and apple products to be easier. I know Steve Job's goal was to make an operating system that was naturally intuitive. And Windows has never been that....

formerly a wage slave said...

Your remark was sensible. My response was over the top, if heartfelt.
And my remark was based upon personal experience, even if I'm between you and RPW in age. I've felt pinned against a wall by younger people who offered me Apple as if it were a crutch. --And when I say that, I don't think I'm over-reacting.
I mean I spoke with the particular person who offered me Apple as a crutch at sufficient length to get some idea of his perspective. (He was my student and we spoke regularly.)

What I did not say in my previous post was this: When I switched from Apple to a Windows based device, I noticed specific disadvantages. I shall mention just the one that comes to mind: to print, and check up on printing, I have to go through more steps than with my old Apple. That's a clear difference. More time wasted. More steps. Not just some sort of cognitive failure on my end.

But what my previous post did not make clear is this: I would say that Apple is no kind of savior. Like Bernie Sanders, I'm not pleased or charmed by the noises coming from other people's smart phones. And, as I live in Central Europe and regularly use public transit, I suspect I'm forced to endure them more than many residents of the USA. ( don't know that; it's just speculation.)

And Apple in particular, I believe, has gone out of its way to cultivate the culture of the cute. And, I find it cloying.

It's probably totally natural and understandable to love puppies and small children, but one can push that too far. And it cannot replace serious art.

Since I've opened this can of worms, I shall also point out that as someone who wrote his Ph.D. thesis on a typewriter, at a time when everyone else did it on a computer (usually a Mac), I know the advantages of technology, and even once transitioned from Windows to Apple--and did so with great pleasure. But, despite that appreciation, I also have the feeling that a group of people with altogether different ideas of how to address a person you've never met before, and different ideas of what is cute (or even 'natural') have now entered my life, and taken charge of parts of it without asking my permission first.

Moreover, I have no way to cut out or stop their "cute" intrusions. I've just got to put up with it; and that is something I deeply resent.

BTW, my allusion to Kundera must have been needlessly obscure. I was talking about his novel, "the Unbearable Lightness of Being", and since there's a film, I might mention that the character I referred to only appears very briefly in the film. The film differs in other significant ways from the novel, so much that MK said of it that it had very little to do with the novel, its spirit or the characters, and no longer allows adaptations of his books.

Oh, how I do envy anyone who can avoid the vicious circle of spontaneous outburst followed by an awkward attempt to be more judicious..... (I should probably get out more.)

Chris said...

Much of my father and his friend's problems were often printing related. Especially printing from websites they were reading, or e-mails they would exchange.

Personally I don't like either, and I agree with you apple is no savior. I've reverted back to an old flip cell phone, and in all honesty I wish I had the fortitude to throw my computer in the garbage.

formerly a wage slave said...

Oh, I manage to print. It's just that I know it was easier with my Apple than it is today with my Windows-based laptop. Since I've begun on this path. I just want to add one more story about what the Computer Revolution has meant to me:

Some time ago in the past twelve months, my employer decided to move pay day two calendar days. Instead of receiving payment on the 11th of the month , we now receive it on the 13th.

The only warning about this change was a message located somewhere on the university's website. I know not where. The opening page of the University's website is full of information of zero relevance to me. So, I am very much in the habit of ignoring that page, and proceeding on to the pages which are directly relevant to me.

I live paycheck-to-paycheck, so this change of payday created serious problems for me. When I complained, I was informed that there had been an announcement.

I hope that someone recalls “The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy” in which Arthur Dent's home is about to be destroyed to make room for a bypass. When he complains, he learns that there had been a public announcement--placed in the bottom drawer of a file in the basement of a government office.

There is an additional sweetness in all of this. As it happens, I rent from my employer, and the day rent is due on the rental contract was geared to the original pay date. When my pay day changed, rent day did not. So, every month I receive an email telling me that the rent is late. Well, I cannot pay rent until I am paid; and the people at the housing authority realize that, so I pay no late fee. (Thankfully.) Yet, it is galling every month when I see my name on a public notice of people who have failed to pay their rent posted in the lobby of the high rise where I live, and also receive an official email sternly warning me that the rent is late.