Wednesday, April 27, 2011

. . . Vice


1. an immoral or evil habit or practice.
2. immoral conduct; depraved or degrading behavior: a life of vice.

"The Internet made the world a smaller place..."
~His Royal Highness Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales

Fair warning: This is actually going somewhere, it is just going to take a while because it is a big garden with lots of paths down which I am compelled to lead you.

Speaking of Vice, like a lot of people my dependence upon the Internet, and specifically the World Wide Web, often appears to me to border upon vice, but not for the reason that you are probably thinking...

Addiction might be another word that applies, though a case might be made that, in view of the fact that I also make my living partly from the Internet, an automatic dispensation applies... Or maybe not.

I live and work on Cape Cod, a chunk of land that is arguably an island off of the coast of Massachusetts but that, clearly, is not actually part of the United States, even if we use its money, its postal service, follow its laws, and display its flag most of the time.

It is very common to hear residents of Cape Cod refer to a trip off-Cape as "going to America" and just as common to hear the Cape Cod Canal and its two bridges (which save for the various ferries that provide transportation between the Cape and Plymouth, Boston, and Providence, Rhode Island) referred to as "The Border" -- as in "I crossed the border today, it took me two hours."

Despite appearing to be a very large place to the people who live here, in the grand scheme of things the Cape is not really a very large place at all, this I willingly admit. It is a community of communities, and a really nice place to live and raise a family -- and while it is too big to entertain the notion that you know everyone in your neighborhood (I don't) -- it is so small that it barely appears on the national version of the maps you can buy at Exxon stations. I am just saying...

Among the many different social, fraternal, and service groups that I participate in as a member, I belong to an informal group called the 4th Estate Rod & Gun Club (which is intentionally not what it sounds like), a private but informal club whose reason for existing is to provide an excuse for men and women who happen to be employed in the profession of writing to come together to chat and be social over cups of coffee at the local Dunkin' Donuts.

Membership in the 4th Estate Rod & Gun Club (or 4ER&GC as we like to call it) does not involve the use of fishing rods or guns, and in fact only has one basic requirement for membership: you have to also be a member in good standing of the National Press Club.

We meet once a week on Wednesday mornings -- because Wednesday is Hump Day -- and it gives us something to look forward to on Monday morning when we haul ourselves out of bed and gird our loins to face another week...

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,
adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The established routine of the 4ER&GC is very simple in that we meet at the same Dunkin' Donuts every Wednesday morning -- I cannot tell you which as I am sworn to secrecy -- and, after we stand in line individually and in small groups, clustering together to follow the herd instinct that is a product of urges prompted by the reptilian brain, that oldest and most influential of our thinking structure, we sit together in still more complex groupings -- clearly for mutual protection should a Boston Cream Donut jump off of the shelf behind the counter and go postal -- and we talk.

Not wildly,with great enthusiasm, or all at the same time, though it can happen...

What we talk about is different each week -- but there are things we never talk about because they are forbidden subjects. Like religion, politics, the most recent antics of the Cape Cod Commission, or how truly horrible Joe's wife is as a cook. We are permitted to discuss the weather, but that only happens if the weather is uncooperative to the point of being worthy of discussion...

No, what we discuss -- the topic that we have each separately as individuals spent the past week mentally masticating since the previous Wednesday -- is whatever it was at the last meeting that we decided would be the subject of discussion for the next meeting.

We are highly motivated to carefully consider what we will say about the topic of discussion, because whoever makes what the majority rules as the most interesting contribution to the topic at the meeting wins a dozen donuts, which are paid for by the other members of the club, to take away with them at the end of the meeting. Very highly motivated, I assure you.

"Sprinkles are called "Jimmies" in New England."
~ Y.M. Boots-Faubert, Ice Cream Philosopher

At today's meeting the topic for discussion was the question "Is our growing dependence upon the Internet a vice?"

The simpler answer would be "Yes" and the clever answer would be "No" but the problem with that is that simple or clever never wins the fancy box of gooey donut goodness that is the prize for delivering the best response to the Question Du Jour.

Is our growing dependence upon the Internet a vice?

During my week of random thought on the question... When I had the time... I came to the necessary conclusion that as I did not have the time to properly think it through, I was better off relying upon the wisdom of someone who did have an opportunity to mull over the question of vice, and I arrived at this quote, which expresses my heartfelt answer:

"Every vice is only an exaggeration of a necessary and virtuous function."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My considered reply, based upon my faith in Mister Emerson, is that our growing dependence upon the Internet is in fact a vice, but a vice with virtuous and necessary function.

I won.

Friday, April 22, 2011

. . . Free Media

You do not often find something that is free and valuable at the same time, but the huge collection of free eBooks, Audio Books, and media not to mention Sheet Music and digital copies of historic documents that can be had online for the asking are certainly a valuable resource.

Here, in no particular order, is a list of links for free media resources:


Audio Books

Sheet Music

Television & Movies

I am not endorsing any of the links above -- I make them available to be helpful, as these are the links that I use when I am looking for free media and to be entertained. YMMV.