Storage media creep, dismal future, and what if Lincoln had lived

Jaquandor, Buffalo’s favorite blogger, who answered so many of my questions that you’d think I was from New Jersey, writes:
(Sorry to be so late in the game with these!)

You’re not late. One can ask me questions anytime, though I specifically request them periodically. Hey, if anyone else has questions, ask away.

To what degree are you tired of “storage media creep” — meaning, the progression from LPs to CDs to MP3s or from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray to streaming?

I am EXHAUSTED by it. I rant about it periodically, especially when it leads to what I like to call W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. (the World Wide Conspiracy To Get You To Buy New Copies Of Stuff You Already Own). This is why I 1) still have an LP player, a CD player, a VHS player, DVD player, and 2) don’t jump on the next technology bandwagon very quickly. I’m not going to get all of those newfangled things, because of cost and some incompatibility with each other. I do have music in the cloud – I have no idea what that means – but it’s mostly stuff I got from Amazon for free or cheap (Lady Gaga’s last album for 99 cents.)

And what do you think of the increasing sense in which when we buy something, we’re not getting ownership of anything for our money, but merely permission to use it?

It angers me. One library vendor decided, after the fact, that library patrons can only take out an e-book, I believe, 28 times, because that’s some average book circulation number. Then the “book” would cease to operate. It’s also true of library databases, where what’s available seems to change from year to year, not to mention soaring prices.

To this day, I get peeved around Neil Diamond’s birthday. I bought his CD, 12 Songs. Then I discovered that SONY had placed essentially malware on its own disc which prevents me from copying an album that I own onto my iTunes or other device; indeed, I believe that even playing the album on my computer could damage the computer. So I must play it on a CD player. I read, well after the fact, that there was a recall, but I keep the disc as a reminder of corporate copyright overreach.

When you think of the long-term problems we face, which one(s) bother you the most from the perspective of your daughter having to be part of the generation that deals with them?

The environment, clearly. I think that the melting ice caps will mean catastrophic weather. Corporations will dupe people into thinking that hydrofracking is a good thing until some disaster that will make the BP oil spill look like lint on a new pair of pants. I also expect that there will be major wars in the 21st century over potable water, moreso than fuel.

We may have already passed the tipping points on global warming, say scientists at the Planet Under Pressure conference. Worse. on March 19, Tennessee became “the fourth state with a legal mandate to incorporate climate change denial as part of the science education curriculum when discussing climate change…. The ALEC bill passed as H.B. 368 and S.B. 893, with 70-23 and 24-8 roll call votes, respectively.”

How different do you think the post-Civil War era would have been had Lincoln not been assassinated?

Wow, this is SUCH a good question, because it’s so TOTALLY UNANSWERABLE. Which won’t keep me from trying.

Like an assassinated President a century later, I believe that Lincoln was evolving on civil rights issues. I can only wonder how he would have dealt with the Radical Republicans that drove much of Reconstruction in his absence. Would there have been compensation to slave owners that remained loyal to the Union? Would blacks ex-slaves have gotten their 40 acres and a mule, which Lincoln supported but which Andrew Johnson rescinded? If these two things had taken place, might some of the racial animosity that exists in America today have been better ameliorated?

And here’s yet another question: would Lincoln have run for a third term? I always thought he felt his destiny to serve. It was only tradition, not the Constitution, which barred it at the time. And he may have proved more tolerable terms for Southern states to re-enter the union, without the seceding states feeling totally demoralized. I think it was the quick end to Reconstruction that helped allow for the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings and the like.

And I just had a debate with someone online about this, so I’ll ask your opinion: how much does the common usage of the phrase ‘begging the question’ bother you? This to me leads into a lot of interesting issues regarding how languages evolve. Thoughts?

It doesn’t annoy me. It has an ancient construction that most people don’t understand. Maybe because it involves “proof” and “logic”, and those are not elements of modern discourse. Politicians beg the question, in the classic sense, all the time.

Its more modern meaning, “raising the question,” the more pedantic complain about, and I can be rather that way, but not on this. Language changes.

I remember that my good Internet friend Arthur was complaining about those folks in the Guy Fawkes masks not knowing who Fawkes really was, or what he stood for. Didn’t bother me.

Whereas I’m still bugged by it’s/its, et al. And the word among no longer seems to be in use at all. I learned that it was between two, but among three or more, yet between is now being used to the exclusion of among. I’ve pretty much given up that fight.

Jaquandor, this begs the question (modern sense): what was the nature of the debate you were having?

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19 thoughts on “Storage media creep, dismal future, and what if Lincoln had lived

  1. I guess I am a luddite, I have NO music on my computer or cellphone, I like owning cd’s. Technology is used to promote consumer spending! As for Guy Fawkes, I thought he was a Catholic Revolutionary who was caught planning to blow up the houses of Parliment. He wasn’t an anarchist, that came from Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta comic.

    • Tom- re Fawkes, that’s my point, that the image of a character, even a historic one, evolves, sometimes to unrecognizable form.

  2. An interesting set of questions. Some of my hesitancy over the Kindle is because I couldn’t simply lend someone a book. That might not be a bad thing considering how many I’ve ‘lost’ over the years.

    And I confess to using ‘begging the question’ incorrectly. I guess it comes from trying to translate Latin phrases into modern usage.

    ‘The exception that proves the rule’ is another phrase used frequently in the wrong context.

  3. Thanks for stopping by. As for music anything that can be played through speakers can be copied. It’s the simple physics of audio media. You just have to know how to do it. Ask any 15 year old.

    Lincoln? Hard to say. After what transpired after the civil war in the south I now understand a bit about their grudge. They had their voting rights stripped and many other limitations placed on them when the war ended. I think Lincoln would have had his hands full trying to rebuild the country.

    As for water a native american is quoted as saying that water will eventually cost more than gold.

  4. I did not know about “begging the question.” I did know about “the exception that proves the rule” that Parrots brings up. I probably first learned that one in Carlin’s Napalm and Silly Putty.

    The one that gets me that shouldn’t is “i.e.” vs. “e.g.” It shouldn’t get me simply because I wish my own grammar was better.

  5. My debate was about the very phrase “begging the question”…a blogger I like came down firmly on the “Isn’t it horrible that people use this phrase incorrectly!” said, to which I said, “Meh.” For me, the problem is that the wording of the phrase suggests pretty precisely the common, technically-incorrect usage; this, combined with the existence of a perfectly good alternative (‘circular reasoning’) which much more clearly indicates what is being indicated, points to the fact that we should just give up “begging the question” in terms of its original meaning.

  6. 🙂 I have a lot of those, especially for spelling. I pronounce “jalapenos” in my head “jah-la-pen-ohs,” for example, to remember how to spell it.

    I agree that words and phrases naturally evolve in definition. For example, “cynicism” once had nothing to do with pessimism or pragmatism. It was a Greek school of philosophy. “Apocalypse” doesn’t mean “end of times,” it means “revelation.”

    • And now Revelation (the book) means “end of times”, to many. I’m getting less fussy by the year; a failing or a resignation?

  7. Well, the “apocalypse” one annoyed me a little until I just found out I’ve been using “begging the question” incorrectly all my life.

    Then again, I do actually read the books I talk about, and when people assume they know what’s in there, such as the Bible, that does still irk me.

    I dunno. I think it’s gone on forever though. In Ben Franklin’s autobiography his 13th virtue is “Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.” He claims he added it after a Quaker friend said he lacked humility. I see it as a “you can sit with us…” inside joke… 🙂

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