Saturday, October 29, 2016

Two Small and Legless Trunks of Electronic Devices - column

Mack Hall, HSG,

Two Small and Legless Trunks of Electronic Devices

This weekend my summer-new computer did the Aunt Pittypat thing – it suffered the vapors, and fainted. While waiting for the high priestess of electronmongery to perform an exorcism I am pitty-patting the keys on an arthritic older computer – about three years old, which in computer years is 120 – that I never got around to tossing…uh…recycling. If this fails, I’ll scout out the good ol’ Royal typewriter that I bought for $10 when a newspaper office long ago computerized itself.

The wise ants among us back up their files daily to an external drive. The frivolous grasshoppers defer that easy-enough chore with “Oh, I’ll let it pass; I backed up stuff only last week.” I am a grasshopper, playing the fiddle while Rome burns. Or something.

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A friend in the far north lost his MePhone in a river while catching a large salmon. That seems to be a good trade. The bad part was when the fishing party made camp in the chilling evening and my friend had to make a word by rubbing two typewriters together.

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Women read stupid stuff – bodice-ripper novels, magazines with recipes and gossip and pictures of Duchess Kate’s baby, and articles about diets.

Now we men, we real men, we read the really important stuff – the comparative merits of the Lancaster bomber and the B17, gunfights at the Something Corral, baseball, spies, and spaceships.

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October 7 is a good day to read G.K. Chesterton’s poem “Lepanto” and reflect on the solidity of history, which affects our transitory present and our not-yet-happened future.

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New Orleans is greeting the autumn with a merry set-to about the statue of Andrew Jackson (who really was a bad man), among other monuments. One group wants to censor history out of existence, and the other group, led by David Duke, who also seems to be a bad man, wants the statue to remain.

I submit that the proper response to a questionable monument is to add another monument telling the narrative from a different point-of-view. After all, the Custer National Battlefield Park wasn’t bulldozed; it was quite logically renamed the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The city bus on which Rosa Park refused a seat was not recycled as a dozen Toyotas but was restored and is now the center of a museum on the campus of Troy University in Montgomery. In both cases history was enhanced, not obliterated.

No one can learn from history if history is destroyed by cultural suicide.

And, after all, time and nature tend to reduce all our human vanities anyway. As Shelley wrote of “two vast and trunkless legs of stone”:

     “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
     Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
     Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
     Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
     The lone and level sands stretch far away.


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