Monday, June 15, 2015


1. Tom Chatfield has penned a stimulating meditation on the role of technology in society and on the messianic concept of "the Singularity", in particular. It begins:
Lecturing in late 1968, the American sociologist Harvey Sacks addressed one of the central failures of technocratic dreams. We have always hoped, Sacks argued, that “if only we introduced some fantastic new communication machine the world will be transformed.” Instead, though, even our best and brightest devices must be accommodated within existing practices and assumptions in a “world that has whatever organisation it already has.” 
As an example, Sacks considered the telephone. Introduced into American homes during the last quarter of the 19th Century, instantaneous conversation across hundreds or even thousands of miles seemed close to a miracle. For Scientific American, editorializing in 1880, this heralded “nothing less than a new organization of society – a state of things in which every individual, however secluded, will have at call every other individual in the community, to the saving of no end of social and business complications…” 
Yet the story that unfolded was not so much “a new organization of society” as the pouring of existing human behaviour into fresh moulds: our goodness, hope and charity; our greed, pride and lust. New technology didn’t bring an overnight revolution. Instead, there was strenuous effort to fit novelty into existing norms.
It's a fascinating and thoughtful piece of writing that should give even the most dedicated techno-utopian pause. I urge one and all to read it and deal with it.

2. Discovering the comedy of Patrice O'Neal only after his death from a diabetes-complicated stroke in late 2011 has been a paradoxical experience. It's wonderful, because he's amazing to listen to, even when surrounded by the likes of Opie, Anthony, Bill Burr and Jimmy Norton. And, of course, it's depressing, because now that I've listened to all his O&A appearances as well as his concerts... that's it. There won't be any more new material from this man. Like the man says in First Blood: "It's over, Johnny." So when I ran across this beautiful New York Magazine tribute/feature on his life and times, I was glad to see that that the author of the piece, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, had done him justice. If you want to see why Patrice meant so much to those who knew and worked with him, check out the archive of his O&A appearances on Youtube (just search his name). There's like 100 hours of material. Unfortunately... that's it.

3. The Rialto Report, a website dedicated to exploring the early, "golden age" of adult cinema, answers the intriguing question: Whatever happened to Pat Barrington? Fans of the cinema of Ed Wood and Russ Meyer will instantly recognize this statuesque beauty, but the truth of her fascinating life is more astonishing than anything cooked up by the half-baked auteurs who made such mercenary use of her prodigious natural talents. I think my good friend Matt Pollack, the documentarian behind Run Run It's Him, will find this to be a particularly compelling narrative.

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