Showing posts from 2021

The Power of Insignificance

 [ . . . ] the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.                                                                                     George Eliot, Middlemarch The Greatest English novel of all time Does anybody read George Eliot anymore?  I have come to believe that Middlemarch is the greatest novel ever written in the English language.  For sometime I was convinced that the accolade had to go to one of Thomas Hardy's many novels.  Hugh Hood, novelist and my professor of the 19th-century novel, assured our graduate seminar that the title of greatest and most influential novelist belonged to Charles Dickens.  The officious, online award of number one is invariably given to James Joyce's Ulysses --that novel that everyone knows about but almost no-one has read. Literature is "an a

The Mystery of the "Off" Switch . . . Solved! Sort of.

Where's the "on" switch? Just when I was feeling so smart because I'd bought myself a new fancy-pants Mac computer, I had to spend 45 minutes looking for the power switch to turn the damn thing on.  Then I had the problem of figuring out the right way to turn it off.  In the early days of personal computers, people mocked the fact that you had to choose "on" to turn your computer off.  Though I thought myself more savvy when I bought my Mac, apparently, pressing the near-invisible "on" button was not the right way to turn it off. "OK Boomer" These " OK Boomer " moments became a motif--these days people say " meme "--in my encounters with technology.  Every time I dealt with a new "app" (why does everything have to have a nickname, abbreviation, initialism or acronym which obscures its meaning?  A sour-grape complaint for another day), I ended up asking "how do you turn it off?"   The millennial resp