For November 2005


November 9th, 2005 

The Power Of Television

 Although one of my spouses worked for the news industry in Los Angeles, I should probably relate an experience I personally had to illuminate things a bit with regard to the Page Footnotes for today.

Sandi and I sat as part of the studio audience for several television shows during our time in Los Angeles, and I noticed something that happened at each one that truly bothered me, and which taught me something about the Americans I live in proximity to.

Sitting as a member of a studio audience, there are monitors placed all about for the audience to see, which display what is currently being filmed. These are certainly useful when pre-recorded bits are shown, of course. But what is so disturbing is that these monitors are watched continuously, by the live audience, from the moment they sit down, until the moment they leave. The entire audience does this, despite the fact that the action is occuring not 20 feet from them, right in front of their natural senses.

Few people ever watched the actual show, with their actual eyes, actually in front of them. I couldn't believe it. I sat there dumbfounded, and looked around at the people in the audience, their eyes transfixed, watching the show, be it a game show, a sketch comedy program, or a sitcom, purely and exclusively on the nearby monitors....and then I turned my head and saw the actual living performers, doing their stuff, right there, in front of everyone, in front of me, not 20 feet from me. They were right there, but they were not real somehow to the audience...the audience never even glanced at them for more than a moment before their eyes went right back to the monitors.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I asked myself why these people had bothered to come into the studio at all! There in front of them was the living, actual process of filming a show, with live people doing things, and the audience had come in to sit and watch television screens affixed above them at a neck-straining angle. What was wrong with these people?

Show after show, regardless of the type of show, it was always the same. Sometimes there would be some few others, like myself and Sandi, that would watch the stage and not the monitors...but the vast majority of the audience spent their time glued at the small televisions mounted on brackets above, and to the sides, of the stage area. It was surreal, unreal.

I remember a person, in my youth, who once fervently argued that 'Lost In Space' was real, was what the space program was all about, and that the NASA stuff on the news was the entertainment program, the fake show. They were convinced of this because 'Lost In Space' had interesting people in it, real people, and the NASA stuff was so boring it had to be fiction. Apparently, they thought that life was supposed to be like television, or perhaps that television literally was life.

Plato's Cave has become a frighteningly real thing, for far too many out there.




November 11th, 2005 

Dire Drivers

 My computer was first damaged, and then completely bricked for the last few days. The damage occurred immediately upon visiting a website provided by a Forum member, and because the lockup this created (a lasting sort of lockup problem that made booting into anything but safe mode impossible) was very replicable, even in safe mode, the initial belief was that some exploit of Internet Explorer was going on that had damaged my installation of Windows.

An attempt to repair Windows lead to my machine finally bricking, which is to say all operation became impossible, with the installation program demanding files it could not find because it was unable to remember the existence of the drive it was operating from (buggy Microsoft crap!). A lot of work and a long call to Microsoft later, the problem was finally resolved, and the repair of Windows made safe mode once again possible.

Now the search for the original problem could begin again. Long story short; the Wacom tablet service was busted. I had very recently updated my Wacom drivers, you see, and there is something wrong with them. Or so we think. Perhaps something on that website munged the tablet service, or perhaps there was a browser exploit, or perhaps the tablet service merely reacted to something...but whatever the actual cause, rolling back my Wacom drivers fixed my computer. It was damn weird that things ran so well for a day or two before failing at a website, but...computers are cussed things at best in any case.

What I learned during my computer vacation:

I learned how very much I depend on my computer, and access to the internet. So many things I wanted to look up and learn about I could not. This made me realize that the internet has become my instant library. I have become enraptured by the ease of finding out facts, trivia, and trivial facts. I hear about something, my first response is to look up a couple dozen pages of information about it, and then average out an approximation of the truth of it...unless it is a reasonably trusted source, like say an online dictionary or such, in which case I can make due with one glance.

I also learned how cut off from the world I feel without the internet. Checking my Forums, news about things on various websites, even just being able to read online comics, gives me a strange feeling of community and connection that I missed greatly. Illusion or new society, online fraternity is missed when lost.

I also learned how very important having the computer as a tool is for me. I really missed being able to draw on it. Sure, I could sketch in a notebook, but compared to painting with light and creating things to share with others....such a thing can never compete. Thus I also learned how important to me being able to draw my online cartoons is. I really value doing my online works, and it matters so much to me to have folks see them.

Oh, and yes, there is the matters of e-mail and games. Those matter too.

I learned a profound respect for my little friend the computer. Console machines are great for play, but the computer is truly the star among machines in my world, it would seem, because the Universal Machine not only permits play, but much more importantly provides the foundation for the work I do that matters to me.

I am soooo glad to have it back. Thank you Stephen, for working so hard to make my machine function again.

It is sublime and divine to be online and feelin' fine.



By Jennifer Diane Reitz

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