Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ambushed on Amazon

I often peruse the book reviews on amazon.com. There, I am refreshed and renewed by the thoughtful and literate discourse that takes place. It’s almost like another country.

I find it enormously heartening whenever my fellow Americans make new and exciting word choices that only rarely combine ‘Obama’ and ‘socialism’.

But all that changed after visiting the page for Michael Lewis’ The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, a book about the Wall Street cutthroats who savaged our economy for personal gain.

Techies who fancy themselves environmentalists have littered the site with belligerent demands and accusations, most of them centered on either a. Amazon’s b. the author’s or c. the publisher’s refusal to offer the book on Kindle. And how that refusal dooms planet Earth.

Never mind their entertainment options.

As a confirmed business-hater and avowed environmentalist, I would ordinarily pump my fist and yell right alongside them.

“Flaming death to the fascist corporate pigs!” Or something like that.

But not this time.

The contradiction is staggering. Traditional books are bad for the environment, but plugging in an electronic device that necessitates repeated charging and uses a stream of disposable batteries is somehow good for it?

Okay. Let me get my Shirley Temple on so I can deny the visions of coal-fired power plants in my mind, too.

Maybe I’m too cynical. I admit to viewing technology through the jaded eyes of one whom has seen—and heard—way too much breathless, this-is-gonna-change-the-world hyperbole. I mean, the last thing that lived up to its brochure was my 1991 Honda Civic.

In addition to the technology itself, I’m also a mite skeptical of people who unblinkingly embrace it as a panacea.

It was noneother than Groucho Marx who wrote that technology is the opiate of the people. And when it comes to technology, my money is on the guy who asked “Shall I call a cab or would you like to leave in a huff?”

On the other hand, perhaps it’s ignorance. Sheer, dumb-as-fuck ignorance. I mean, maybe it is just that simple. Plug in, log on and save the planet from imminent apocalypse.

I don’t know.

Mostly, I think it’s a collective shriek from the Twitchy Nation, caught in the spasms of tech-denial.

It’s these very circumstances that provoke their greatest and most hideous fear: techlessness. I’m sure it’s in the Constitution somewhere that you should never have to live life in real-time. Ever.

Well, logging off now. I’m re-reading Walden.

And yes, it’s available on Kindle.

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