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Linking research & learning technologies through standards » Nick Nicholas

(Greek Linguistics)


US, so far

You'll have noticed even more extended radio silence than is usual for me on a trip overseas. I've spent three days in Irvine CA, and am now heading to DC, on a plane four hours delayed.

Which brings thoughts of decaying infrastructure. An unsustainably greened Orange County, with the same gargantuan buildings and brobdignanian freeways (just as I'd bemoaned here about Oracle HQ), a vista which will host tumbleweeds in my lifetime. Airline fleets with bits falling apart as I type. Western Civilisation, throwing out its books for PDFs, to leave behind neither.

Well, no, I'm not happy I'm missing my dinner out in DC, and my Monday has been killed in waiting lounges and overnarrow seats. I'm never happy to be anywhere near an American airport, and even less so an American domestic flight, whose desperate piling on of carry-on luggage is not a million miles away from the chickens and farm implements piled onto a bus in the Third World.

I had a great time of it nonetheless in Irvine, great enough to make a point of staying offline. Not because it is Irvine. I lived in Irvine for three years, and never reconciled to it, never got it or tried to. Irvine's hex on me has by now been broken, I don't have the feeling of dread and emptiness I used to (except when I contemplate its infrastructure); but I still find little in the landscape to detain me. Except the bookstore monopolies, though even those are starting to be shut down by the internets, and nudge towards eBooks.

But what detained me in Irvine was who was in it. I spent three days of chatting with old friends, and that was a glory. (Well, two and a half days chatting, and half a day photocopying references—another of my Luddite hangups.) The chatting wasn't consistently profound—I use chatting advisedly; but it wide-ranging, familiar, and lots of fun.

The kind of chat, I am not ashamed to admit, that led us to giggle for a quarter of an hour over this confluence of YouTube memes:

*Why* this confluence of memes is so knee-debilitatingly funny to my culture is a topic that deserves at least one post. (You can start here for an intelligent take on the Russian song, and some good comments taking it further—not least my own.)

The fate of a society that spends more time on Bread And Memes than infrastructure deserves another post, but I think it would get too depressing to write.

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