Could you live without the internet for a month?

559 – The Matrix – Seamless Texture

In a word, no.

About a month ago, there was a major 3G outage in Huntsville and I was without internet for a good two hours or so. Let me point out, at no point during that two hours was I even in front of a computer, though if I had been, I would have had the internet, since only the cellular connection was down. No, I had to do without the internet at, like, Barnes and Noble and the movie theater. And it was … painful, almost. That's stretching it a bit. But it was a noticeable void. I've nicknamed my iPhone "the pocketful of omniscience," and it's not terribly far off. It's an extension of me, of my mind. Doing without it is, in effect, a partial lobotomy, as surely as if a part of my actual brain was removed. Without my phone, I KNOW less. With it, I know things I don't even know. Like in The Matrix, where you can instantly know how to fly a helicopter or kung fu, without having to learn it or have that information already stored in your brain. You just know. With the phone, I know how to go places I've never been. I know what people I've never met look like. I know why the Ryman Auditorium looks like a church. I know all the words to a song I've only heard part of. I know what my best friend is doing on the other side of town or a state away.

So, yeah, if you cut out the part of my brain that remembers how to get places or what people look like or lyrics to songs, I'm sure I COULD live for a month. But I'd really rather not have that happen, ya know?

Ditto the internet.

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Today In History

Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.

Sounds of Solons

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “Your elected leaders.”

My brother is running for city council.

I mean, really, it would be pretty tough for me to write a post about elected leaders without mentioning that fact, wouldn’t it? Arguably a little lacking in the “full disclosure” department.

It’s been interesting for me because, to be honest, my level of knowledge about local politics is pretty minimal. I have some small amount of knowledge that was unavoidable, but, unlike the rest of my family, I just have no passion for it. I’m very much the Billy Carter/Roger Clinton of the Hitt clan, I’m afraid.

In my defense, however, I come by it honestly. That wasn’t always the case. A decade ago, I knew far more about local politics than I do now. Heck, a decade ago, I knew more about local politics than most of the local elected leaders.

During my newspaper days, it was my job to know. In a series of small towns in Mississippi, I got to know the local politicians, got to know the system, got to know the community. I not only knew how things worked, I knew why.

And that’s exactly the problem today. I grew up no different from my brothers, very much interested in politics, and even minored in political science in college.

But through my work in newspapers, I got a very different sort of political education. Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill once famously said that all politics is local, but I would go one step further. All politics is personal.

I understood politics in the communities I covered because I knew the people involved. Well. I knew where they lived. I knew where they’d worked. I knew who their families were. I knew who supported them financially, and who those people’s families were. And I knew how all of those things came together to define how the political system in the community worked.

Trying to follow local politics now is like listening to Beethoven on a xylophone. The basic information is there, but so stripped down of its full richness as to make it no longer the same thing. I can read in The Huntsville Times about the city council, but I don’t understand in the same way. I don’t know these people. I don’t know why they really do what they do. I don’t know who they are beholden to, and what those people’s interests are. And as a result, anything I read seems so superficial as to be pointless.

But now, there’s a chance that, depending on how things go in August, politics becomes personal again.

Could be interesting.