With the news that Steve Jobs was relinquishing the reins as CEO of Apple Inc., I remembered the Mac Classic that still sits in a closet, so reluctant am I to give up a keepsake that marked my gateway to the future that was personal computing. In the early ‘90s, that little dinosaur was the only way for me to stay productive when away from the office (floppy discs and all); I still recall the thrill when the tiny black-and-white monitor with the Happy Mac icon first lit up on the desk in my bedroom and I was off and running.
The Mac Classic
Macintosh was a savior after a traumatic initiation into the world of computers, via a journalism internship at The Miami Herald when I was in college. Back then, the only operating system was known as DOS — complicated and scary, it left such a sour taste that I was sure if I ever saw a black screen with green characters again I would scream. But in my magazine years, along came the Mac, then the state of the art in desktop publishing. And it was transformative. Took to it like a (mouse) to water. So intuitively simple and unintimidating — I was able to forget all the previous trepidation that could well have left me technologically challenged forever.
The rest of the Apple story is of course history, but I must admit to unfaithfulness along the way. This Machead succumbed to the practicality of the times, unloyally transitioning to the imitator Windows, even bypassing an Apple iPod for a Microsoft Zune. (Ok, so the Pod didn’t have FM, what can I say.)
But as with any great love, one always returns. The iPad will eventually sit alongside its granddaddy in that crowded closet. And the Jobs legacy endures.
“I’ve learned only one thing: No matter how hard it is to do it,
it’s harder not to do it.”
Watching Gloria: In Her Own Words, a documentary about Gloria Steinem now airing on HBO, made me think of how this icon of the feminist movement impacted women’s lives in ways deeper than I realized in my formative professional years. (A time in the ‘80s when, as a magazine editor, my frustration at the lack of financial parity with a male art director – because he was married and had a family and I didn’t – was typical.) Polarizing aspects aside, I don’t think it’s exaggeration to say that most working women owe some little debt to Steinem, who took such a simple concept, economic fairness for half of the population, to the streets, and to the publishing world with the groundbreaking magazine Ms., in an in-their-face fashion that could not be ignored by the powers that were. She didn’t do it alone, that’s for sure, but (here we go again) as one of the more “attractive” faces of the movement, she got the lion’s share of the attention. (The sad and sexist ridicule by such antediluvians of the network news establishment as Harry Reasoner and Howard K. Smith has to be reseen to be believed.)
Listening to her now is a reminder that feminism is really only a part of the larger word “humanism” when it comes to addressing the continuing inequality that exists in so many sectors of society. And we’ve come a long way (maybe) — in no short measure thanks to pioneers like Ms.Steinem.
A street scene from this year’s “Fringe,” considered the world’s largest arts festival, permeating the Scottish capital of Edinburgh throughout the month of August.
(Photo: The Telegraph / UK)
A craze du jour for the Facebook and Twitter crowd, featured in a prominent article in The Miami Herald, describes how the planking phenomenon — positioning yourself as rigidly as a wooden board face down in all kinds of places, the more unusual the better — has hit the streets of South Florida. (The point is to upload pictures of your exploits for sharing with other “plankers” across the Internet.)
Intrigued by this idea of social networking gone physical in public spaces, I found that planking (which caught fire over the last couple of years) may already be passé, with other offshoots like owling (left, crouching in the form of the night creature), teapotting (posing with one hand on hip, other in the air, like a spout), and batting (below, hanging upside down like a bat and folding the arms in a v-shape on the waist) coming up the rear. And let’s not forget cone-ing (funny video here) — buying an ice-cream cone in a drive-thru and grabbing it by the wrong end, eliciting a predictably startled response from the provider. (Punked, with a taste of vanilla.)
It brings to mind how every decade seems to create its own set of faddish adventures, be it goldfish swallowing, flagpole sitting, or the hula-hooping of the last century. (Actually, 1920s flagpole sitting is remarkably similar to 2011′s owling.) In the case of planking, one psychologist says that young men use it to establish their place in the male hierarchy, and to impress and attract the opposite sex; but just as many women do it too, which makes me guess that these rituals provide some sort of communal outlet for distraction from the difficulties of trying times, a form of societal escapism that reinvents itself in a never-ending cycle.
As for this year’s choices, I think I’ll stick to planking – in bed.