Hello and good morning. Welcome to another Thursday, and thus to yet another edition of my weekly blog post. I think there’s only one more Thursday in August this year; that will be next Thursday, obviously, since such things in the real world tend to proceed in linear order.
Actually, that might not be the case. Reality could happen out of order, but with causality arranged as if in order, and we wouldn’t know. If, for instance, we randomly cut up the frames of an old-fashioned film, or did the analogous process with some form of digital media, each frame would be in its place in the story, and no matter in what order they were “shown”, the characters, so to speak, in each frame would be experiencing whatever they “were” experiencing in that frame originally, as if it happened in order, and they would be none the wiser. This concept was explored, if I recall, in Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, in which the main character becomes “unstuck” in time and begins experiencing his life out of order.
Okay, I can’t restrain myself any longer.
Who the hell at Microsoft decided to add a stupid text prediction function to Word? As someone who writes quite a bit—often very long stories—I find such additions maddening, and madness is something from which I’m never very far in the first place, so I really could do without the nudge. Are there really people out there for whom this is a useful function? If so, perhaps they shouldn’t be writing.
Let’s go back to the old way and leave spelling and grammar checks for when I select the functions deliberately. Whoever at Microsoft thought this auto-fill crap was a good idea, could you please submit your reproductive organs, along with those of your first-degree relatives, for immediate disposal? I want to see your genes removed from the gene pool.
Perhaps I’m overreacting, but it really pisses me off. How long will it be before someone just opens his or her word processing program and says, “Okay, Shithead*, write me a thousand-word blog post about what’s happened this week,” and then just looks it over after it’s done? Could one really consider the result to be something written by that person? I hate such crutches, and I particularly hate the fact that they are active by default and that I am forced to stop what I’m doing to look up the process for deactivating them.
People at Microsoft, take note! This is NOT a selling point for people like me; it’s a point that makes me want to commit violence. I know there are plenty of troglodytes out there who have difficulty dealing with spelling and grammar and creativity, but should we really be encouraging them to imagine that they can succeed at such things via shortcuts? They already elect each other to high office almost uniformly and screw up nearly everything that they touch. We need to make things harder for them, not easier (especially meeting each other and having children)!
I guess I’m a bit overstressed. I apologize. It’s just that so much of the world is so frustrating, and as I get older, it just becomes ever more frustrating. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to endure it. As I expected right from the start, while the Internet and Web have certainly given us powerful tools for the advancement of knowledge and intelligence, they has also, even more so, enabled the advancement of stupidity. And since it’s always easier to break things than to build them, stupidity has significant advantages.
I’m moving along rather slowly at editing In the Shade, because I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate, but I am making progress. At least it, being an older document, doesn’t appear to have been set up with the text prediction function automatically on. Of course, I’m probably going to need to take the step of turning it off for every new document that I start.
Do people think this actually makes them better at writing?
I’m reminded of a discussion on a Sam Harris podcast once, I don’t recall who the guest was** but he mentioned that there were technologies that make things easier for us that also enhance or improve us—he gave the examples of abacuses and bicycles—and there are technologies that make things easier for us and make us individually “weaker”, such as automobiles and electronic calculators. There are situations in which the tradeoff is acceptable, of course, such as in long-distance travel and in rapid and sophisticated math, but it’s worth thinking about whether and when we want to make certain things easier. Remember the tubby, floating, useless future humans in Wall-E? Remember the Eloi from H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine? Don’t be Eloi!
On that note, I’m going to bring this to a close for today. I hope you’re doing well—unless you’re the sort of person who really needs predictive text, in which case you’re probably beyond my or anyone else’s help. Still, try to take care of yourselves, and be as healthy and happy as you reasonably can be.
*This is my proposed name for such a program.
**And I’m very sorry for that fact, because he was quite interesting.