Monday, February 2, 2015


1. A recent article by Internet security expert Soren Dreier begins:
Here are some sordid scenarios. Your ex-girlfriend can see every time you swipe right while using Tinder. Your former husband is secretly listening to and recording your late-night Skype sessions with your new boyfriend. 
Some random slippery-dick is jacking off to the naked photos in your private photo library. For millions of people, it’s not hypothetical. Someone could be spying on every call, Facebook message, snapchat, text, sext, each single keystroke you tap out on your phone, and you’d never know. 
I’m not talking about the NSA (though that too); I’m talking about software fine-tuned for comprehensive stalking—”spyware”—that is readily available to any insecure spouse, overzealous boss, overbearing parent, crazy stalker or garden-variety creep with a credit card. 
It’s an unambiguously malevolent private eye panopticon cocktail of high-grade voyeurism, sold legally. And if it’s already on your phone, there’s no way you can tell.
Pretty intriguing stuff, no? Keep reading to find out more.

2. Yesterday, I linked to an online copy of the classic Franz Kafka short story, "In the Penal Colony". Today, I bring you another disturbing short story classic, postmodernist extraordinaire Robert Coover's notorious "The Babysitter", which you can read, online, for free, at this link, and which begins thusly:
She arrives at 7:40, ten minutes late, but the children, Jimmy and Bitsy, are still eating supper, and their parents are not ready to go yet. From other rooms come the sounds of a baby screaming, water running, a television musical (no words: probably a dance number--patterns of gliding figures come to mind). Mrs. Tucker sweeps into the kitchen, fussing with her hair, and snatches a baby bottle full of milk out of a pan of warm water, rushes out again. "Harry!" she calls. "The babysitter's here already!"
It's a classic, it's nice and short, and you won't soon forget it. Also, please feel free to contact me and let me know if you're enjoying my decision to run more fiction in these "suggested readings". You can either leave a comment below or contact me directly at, as usual!

3. I've noticed the rapid proliferation of a Youtube video in which Irish TV host Gay Byrne gets an earful from actor Stephen Fry when he asks what the noted atheist would say if he were to find God waiting for him at the Pearly Gates upon dying. Watch Fry's response:

Although it's fun to watch Byrne squirm as Fry lets loose with his unabashed take on the issue, I don't think his answer is all that enlightened or intelligent. I would even call it philosophically naive, for in a universe without evil, pain and suffering, the concepts of goodness, love and pleasure would have no meaning. Absolutely none, whatsoever. These things only exist in contrast to each other. Also, if an eternal paradisical afterlife did, in fact, exist, any suffering experienced by anyone in this mortal, finite world of ours - no matter how tremendous, terrible or unjust - would seem utterly inconsequential by comparison. I'm not saying that I believe that this is the case; I'm just saying that Fry's stance in this instance is philosophically unsophisticated, no matter how posh his accent.

1 comment:

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