January 3rd, 2011

A Few More Remarks on _The Tyranny of E-mail_

Having slept on it, and having gone through _another_ three drafts, I think I have a final two paragraphs to say about That Book.

(1) Email is not appreciably different from, certainly not worse than, other communication proxies. It is less intrusive than a knock on the door or a phone call. It is about as intrusive as a letter or a direct-to-voice-mail or a fax or a post to a shared, private forum. Whatever problems you have managing your volume of e-mail are not a result of mechanization _per se_, much less a sinister man-machine interface. There might be some problems in terms of the details of the interface and filtering technologies available. If you feel like a more mechanized interface is somehow impossible to ignore or evade or say no to because it has invaded you/your brain/your whatever, that's a sign you need a change of perspective.

(2) While you might need a change of perspective, you should not tell yourself and other people a long, involved, inaccurate and structure-free story covering 4000 years in a hundred plus pages, dragging everything from agriculture to the Eisenhower administrations highway plan to Madonna's marriage to Guy Ritchie into it and making uncalled for snarky remarks about someone's parenting choices. You should _never_ do this, but doing it to explain, or justify, or whatever sending less e-mail, spending more uninterrupted alone time and assembling a very rudimentary time management system just makes you look diagnosable. It's like setting off a nuclear weapon to kill a cockroach. The cockroach probably survives, and there's all this fallout, too.

trying to read _Typecasting_

It has a really annoying prose style, altho nothing like the previous book I read. I've been skimming and then reading in more detail to see if it's worth committing to reading the whole book. A lot depends on how much I might learn from it, since it covers a lot of familiar ground and again, that prose style.

In any event, I stumbled across a story that I had not previously had this much detail on. The summary here is excellent:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrie_Buck

It certainly helps explain why Holmes Jr. is so roundly ignored in some circles. It's hard to rehabilitate the guy who wrote a Supreme Court opinion justifying sterilizing a rape victim because she got pregnant (<-- an oversimplification). Using mandatory vaccination as part of your argument just guarantees silence on all sides.

What a nasty opinion that was in every respect, "dodging" both equal protection and cruel-and-unusual. Next time someone asks you for a Supreme Court opinion you don't agree with, cite this one.