100 jeopardies

by Wolf Pascoe on September 7, 2011

It’s traditional among bloggers to celebrate their 100th post with a special entry called, “One hundred things you don’t know about me.” (Surprise) this happens to be the 100th post of this blog.

I’ve been dreading this for some time because 1) I despise lists, 2) what I’m already doing here, which I like just fine, tells you lots of things about moi that you don’t know, and 3) I can’t think of 100 anything.

Was that a list? I’m not a mathematician.

I decided to do throw a knuckle ball. Something, for me, new. I’m going to tell you 100 things I worry about in the middle of the night, after a year of blogging, after a year-long swim in the Internet.

Strangely, I never worry about being a father in the middle of the night. I suppose this is because I worry about it all day long.

Je vous présente une collection de demi-formé méta-pensées.

Pensées. I like that. I don’t speak French. I got it from Google Translator.

Does this sound boring? I thought so. I’ll lie a bit to spice it up. In fiction, this is called being an unreliable narrator.

Fair enough? Here goes.

1-14. The thoughts already presented above. I’m counting them. Did I say I wasn’t a mathematician?

15. Nod to tradition. Something juicy you don’t know about me: I have a crush on Helen Slater. Who is that, you ask? Well, she played Supergirl in the movie, duh.

Moving right along.

16. Foreshadowing: it occurs to me this post will not have a happy ending.

17. I go to the Internet as one goes to a spring of fresh water, and I leave the Internet as one clambers out of a poisoned river strewn with the wreckage of flooded cities and the corpses of the drowned.

18. I didn’t say that. Arthur Koestler said it, except he employed the past tense, and instead of the word Internet, he used the word Communism. Koestler said this in a time when Communism was really scary.

19. To clarify, I’m not suggesting the Internet is Communism. It may, however, be a poisoned river.

20. I took Marlon Brando to lunch once. We had a nice conversation.

21. I’ve noticed a lot of posts on the Internet about how to make money on the Internet.

22. Nothing wrong with that.

23. According to most of these posts, a good way to make money on the Internet is to tell other people how to make money on the Internet.

24. Does anyone see a problem with this? Hands?

25. There isn’t enough money to go around as it is, so the only way for everyone to be paid on the Internet is if money circulates really fast.

26. TheInternetisreallyreallyfastalready.

27. My day job, I’m a physician, an anesthesiologist, has nothing to do with the Internet. It happens in real time. Nevertheless, every year, the work gets harder and harder, faster and faster. I’m required to accomplish more with fewer resources, and in less time. I’m given less time to get to know and understand my patients, for example. Clinical decisions about what I can and can’t do have been taken out of my hands and are made by non-physicians, who work far away. I’m part of a team, and I’m expected to be a team player. The core value I’m supposed to uphold is not derived from the Hippocratic Oath, which I swore to fulfill when I became a doctor. The new core value is called, with no sense of the Orwellian overtones, compliance.

28. It’s well known that Google’s business is not search. It’s advertising. A media scholar named Siva Vaidhyanathan said, “We are not Google’s customers: we are its product. We—our fancies, fetishes, predilections, and preferences—are what Google sells to advertisers.” In this scheme, search is just the bait.

29. It’s worth considering how the above line of thinking applies to medicine. It turns out that in medicine, humans are also the product. I’m analogous to search, which is to say that I’m the bait. My job is not to take care of you, but to comply. I sell compliance to institutions.

30. The above analogy breaks down at some point. The question is, who is Google in the analogy? Insurance companies? Hospital corporations? The government? Take your pick. What’s clear is that there’s a fight among them to be more like Google. The reason corporations want to destroy Medicare is that they want to be like Google. That is, they want people to be their products.

31. A writer I admire, in a long essay about making artistic choices, ultimately tells us they must be Deep. Indulgent. Complete. Elegant. Emotive. Maybe this is true. But interesting that she’s borrowed these words from the language of product design.

32. The Hunger Games, a wildly successful series of YA novels which I confess I enjoyed, deliberately re-creates the experience of a video game.

33. Resolved: The corporations are not winning because they own Congress. They’re winning because the products they make own us. Which is in some sense saying that their products are us.

34. You probably knew all this. McLuhan undoubtedly predicted it. Nostradamus too, maybe. I didn’t know it, not when I started blogging. I was a playwright.

35. I started this blog not to share my opinions or sell anything, nor to give advice, nor to save anyone or solve anyone’s problem. I didn’t want to be bait. I wanted to tell stories about what happened in real time.

36. Where you sing your pain, a Buddhist saying goes, that place is a Temple.

37. Can you have a Temple on the Internet? I don’t think so. I think real Temples are slow. They need real people in real time. They need quiet.

38. In the nightmare world of Orwell’s 1984, every room had a telescreen. You watched the telescreen, the telescreen watched you. The telescreen couldn’t be turned off. There was no switch.

39. Our world is more subtle than Orwell’s. It allows switches, and trains us not to use them.

39-59. In an essay in the New York Times, Sam Anderson notes that Google gives over 8 million hits for “information overload.” Of the Internet, he concludes: “We need to remember the value of nothing. It’s like breathing: you can’t inhale all day. We need to learn to make peace with the information we don’t know, to embrace the zeroes, to relearn the pleasures of hunger, need, interruption, restraint. We need to work up our ignorance muscles. We need to organize our internal absences to create meaning. We are responsible, in other words, now and forever, for our own deletionism.”

60. The above is so important it counts as 20.

61. There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.

62. The above, from a speech by Mario Savio, Berkeley, California,1964.

63. I had lunch with Mario once. We had a nice conversation.

64. When Nick goes to sleep, we usually put on a CD. Nora chooses it. I like to listen in the dark. We’ve been doing this since Nick was very young. Sometimes, a song called “Wings of Horses” comes on. It’s a song we’ve been playing for him since he was born. The song makes me cry. Every time. These moments transpire in real time, one second per second.

65-75. Works of art entail a questioning of the ways our carefully constructed self-definitions limit and imprison us.

76. The above, from an essay about theatre by Guy Zimmerman, counts as ten.

77-87. When we become addicted to feel good fantasies we grow impatient with the sufferings of others. Before long, acts of barbarity seem a small price to pay for our own comforts.

88. Ibid. He’s talking about entertainment here, and how it differs from art. Ten points.

89-95. As all the great religions remind us, what we are, finally, is too deeply mysterious to provide the easy answers we crave. This basic groundlessness is, in fact, the real subject of tragedy.

96. Ibid. This basic groundlessness. Isn’t that the Internet? Is groundlessness the Internet’s true subject? Award ten points.

97. I used to think the invention of the Internet was equivalent in importance to the invention of the telephone. But it’s more than that. I don’t believe that people, other than telephone operators, routinely spent ten hours a day on the telephone shortly after it was invented.

98. As great an invention as the Internet is, it’s not as great an invention as sex. But of course, you can have sex with the Internet.

99. I never worry about whether the Internet is as great an invention as anesthesia.

100. I worry that the Internet may be a form of anesthesia.

A

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Helen Slater flying. “You gotta be advanced to understand Supergirl.”

Image Credit: FantasyStock.

A

EXPRESS YOURSELF!

Do you have night thoughts? Unburden yourself. Just Add Father is listening.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

ChopperPapa September 7, 2011 at 7:37 am

100. The internet is a form of escapism that allows so many others to forget their own lives….it’s reality TV in bits.
ChopperPapa recently posted..The demise of dads.

Reply

Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I’d have known that, if I watched reality T.V. I suppose when Apple is done with us, there will just be One Screen for everything and everyone.

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Ant September 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

Really love what your doing with your blog, seriously. Ill try to keep up with your posts.

You had me in grinning like a child when i read point 23.

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Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Really love your name. Thanks for dropping in!

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Ant September 11, 2011 at 11:16 am

My email doesn’t seem to be working.

Thanks for the email, hahah as long as i can help someone im happy.

If you need help with anything just ask.

Have a great day

Reply

BigLittleWolf September 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

I love your title (with or without Vanna, oh right, wrong game show).

I have mixed feelings about #17.

I’m concerned (yet not surprised) by #27.

I’m concerned (yet not in disagreement) by #100.

I am impressed with your mastery of New Math, or would it be Old Math, or simply the fact that your Orwellian overtones and fine foreshadowing resonate with what is old and new, and something most of us never counted on actually coming to pass.

Do pass GO. Do collect $200. Virtual, of course, as the Internet doesn’t make all of us any of that reallyfastmoney after all.

And congrats on your hundred. Add one, and you’ll have a dalmation.
BigLittleWolf recently posted..Five Accomplishments, No Medals, Parenting Ourselves

Reply

Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Thank you for acknowledging my fine foreshadowing.

Where do I get this $200?

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David September 7, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Wow! This is a potent blog entry. So much quotable stuff, so much to ponder. I laughed. I cried. I grew increasingly uncomfortable. Congratulations on reaching 100! I look to your blog for an interesting take on the world, Wolf, and you never fail to deliver.

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Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I laughed. I cried. I grew increasingly uncomfortable.

The definitive review of this blog.

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Lucas September 7, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Superbly poignant, insightful, cutting wisdom. Thank you Wolf:)

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Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Most welcome, Lucas.

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Barbara S. September 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Congratulations on 100! This was a great list, especially for someone who doesn’t like lists (I’m a list person, myself, so I feel qualified to judge.) You’ve brought up so many good points and despite our differences of opinion on lists, I agree with most of what you’ve mentioned. #27 – your job description could be anyone’s. Very scary.
Barbara S. recently posted..Summer Sweet and Summer Sour

Reply

Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm

your job description could be anyone’s.

Whataworld, whataworld, whataworld.

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Privilege of Parenting September 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Although the revolution will not be televised, it may, at least in part, be currently being blogged. As for point one hundred, perhaps as human voices, such as your own, wake us we will not necessarily drown.

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Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Well, then, we must go, you and I, and hope not to be etherized upon a table.

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Charlie September 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm

A great milestone, and a worthy milestone post. Deep stuff.

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Wolf Pascoe September 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Thanks, Charlie.

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Planner2015 September 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm

There is a fine line between the pursuit of knowledge for furtherance of a tangible goal, and the pursuit of – ahem – ‘knowledge’ for entertainment’s sake. (96-100)

Great post, lots to think about. Cheers to your 100th.

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Wolf Pascoe September 8, 2011 at 12:03 am

Hi Planner,

Glad you’re still around, and on track!

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Alameda September 10, 2011 at 12:02 am

we added knowledge(?) a little at a time, by choice, in libraries or at home-magazines, then books, then movie theaters(exception), then videos, lastly (for now) the internet which took some of the choice away! it is becoming a blur. we are all in compliance somehow (easy access) to information we cannot authenticate always. man (woman) curiosity takes us to 17.

your hundredth is another masterpiece

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Wolf Pascoe September 10, 2011 at 10:03 am

Maybe we’re not supposed to keep up. Maybe we’re all little cells and the real brain is the Internet? Or what the Internet will be when we can access it directly, without terminals and keyboards?

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lorithatcher January 25, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Brilliant. Sad, Scary, and Lovely. One at a time (or not).
And for some reason, I love lists.
It seems such good logic that any list of 100 should certainly contain some items that are worth more than one, but I’ve never thought of it.
I’m off to make my list of 1000 ______. (don’t know what the blank is, but I do know some of them will be worth 100).

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Wolf Pascoe January 27, 2012 at 1:23 am

Lori,

I don’t know about brilliant and lovely, but I’ll take sad and scary. You may have inspired me to make another list.

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