I remember when I realized the value of America’s military.
My parents, radical activists who came of age in the 1960s, raised me to abhor war. Whether or not they intended it, by the time I was a teenager, their anti-violence philosophies left me suspicious of the police and disdainful of anyone who voluntarily chose to join the military.
I knew very little about the armed services. My father had avoided the Vietnam War draft by donating his services as a VISTA lawyer (absconding to Canada was considered the alternative). Whether or not his own father had served in WWII I never knew — I have a vague feeling my great-uncle had, but it was rarely discussed.
On my mom’s side, what I knew was that my grandparents had very narrowly escaped Berlin, right before the Nazis clamped down and corralled all Jews into concentration camps. I was aware that the U.S. had helped bring down Hitler, but I somehow placed it all in the past, some fuzzy bygone era where fighting was necessary. War was bad, and those involved in it were bad, I was convinced. I went to “No Nukes!” rallies and shunned friends who enlisted.
Then I went to college and met my husband. Then I dropped out and learned more from him, and with him, than in any school I’ve ever attended. One of those lessons was the realization — epiphany, really — that a military was an essential part of society. Continue reading How I learned to believe in Memorial Day
The internet is great at coming up with new words. Some of them are easy to sound out (selfie, wearable, even “emoji”), but acronyms are a much tougher phonetical nut. They’re no less words than the clusters of letters around them, yet don’t have agreed upon pronunciations. When you read them, what do you hear? Here’s my take.
Continue reading Sounds of the Internet’s Most Annoying Acronyms
Music is the sound of consciousness breathing.
Like a runner out of breath or a contentedly sleeping child, the music emanating from Earth is the whistling sound of life.
Breathe in: babies are born, bees pollinate, cities grow, birds migrate, farms prosper, a new species is discovered!
Breathe out: clashes of might and power strike individuals to the ground, forests are destroyed, vehicles spout poison, people die.
Tragedy or bliss, the music plays on.
My least favorite thing about Twitter is the cornucopia of tw- words it spawned. But in Philadelphia, we also have to deal with ph-words. Which is worse?
Continue reading Portmanteau-No
After six years with various iPhones, I lasted all of five days trying out my first Android smartphone. But I’m not mad about the $50 restocking fee I had to give the AT&T store to give the Galaxy S5 back. It was a worthy experiment that made me realize what I do like about iOS and what I want out of a phone in general, plus helped me break some less than stellar habits. Here’s what I learned.
1) I want my text messages pushed to me.
I’m not a big fan of push notifications — I have pretty much all of them turned off — but I rely on push for accessing texts quickly and easily. It’s something that defines the medium (for me, but obviously not for everyone). I used to get miffed/mystified when my Android-using husband didn’t get my texts right away, but now I know why. Continue reading iPhone 5s vs Galaxy S5: Why I Lasted 5 Days on Android (and You Should Too)
If someone dies and you want to tweet about it, go for it. You’re doing them a favor.
Last week, New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan died. I didn’t know him, I didn’t even know of him, by name. But I felt like I should’ve.
While I was sad to hear of a brilliant man’s relatively early death (he was 59), I was grateful for the flood of tweets memorializing him. Peter Kaplan was a person worth remembering, but also a person worth discovering.
These days, even minor celebrities’ fame explodes when they die. Instead of dismissing the surge as a symptom of pop-culture obsession, consider it an opportunity to learn about one more human and extend whatever impression they made on the world just a little bit further. Continue reading It’s Alright to Die
When I really want to remember something, I write it down where it could disappear at any moment.
An unsaved, unnamed notepad document, open on my screen. Its analog equivalent might be a scribble on a piece of tissue so light it could be blown away by the slightest window breeze. Continue reading Noted
My least favorite part about meetings is they often provide incontrovertible proof that other people are not as smart as you guessed/hoped/thought they were.
Face to face to facepalm.
“Something no more miraculous than a cup of coffee is enough transcendence for one day.”
— My Dinner with André
I’ve written before about the AeroPress as the pinnacle coffee-making method. One of its best features is how amazingly easy it is to use, but it can seem daunting at first. All the specifics—how much water to use, how to grind, how and when to pour and press—are left to personal choice.
As a starting point, I present below a step-by-step guide to my brewing process (which I act out every single morning). Tweak the measurements to your taste to create the best cups of coffee you’ve ever had.
Continue reading How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee with an AeroPress
What does it mean to like or favorite something on the internet today?
The above is a riff on a line from Robin Sloan’s recent coup d’app, Fish. His tap essay explores the difference between liking something online and actually loving something online. Robin posits that in the overwhelming stream of great posts, articles, pics and videos, something we love on the internet is something come back to, something we read or visit at least twice. Fish is a beautiful essay with a strong point; it’s innovative, well-designed and touching, and I am a big fan.
However, I don’t quite agree with the disparagement of liking, faving (and even +1-ing) that helps form the essay’s underlying thesis. According to Sloan, when you deign to spend a click on one of these actions, (emphasis his):
“You’re saying to your friends or followers: This is worth your time. (But me, I’m on to the next thing.)”
Continue reading In Defense of Likes and Faves: Doodling in the Margins