Ebooks Are an Abomination

From The Atlantic:

Perhaps you’ve noticed that ebooks are awful. I hate them, but I don’t know why I hate them. Maybe it’s snobbery. Perhaps, despite my long career in technology and media, I’m a secret Luddite. Maybe I can’t stand the idea of looking at books as computers after a long day of looking at computers as computers. I don’t know, except for knowing that ebooks are awful.

If you hate ebooks like I do, that loathing might attach to their dim screens, their wonky typography, their weird pagination, their unnerving ephemerality, or the prison house of a proprietary ecosystem. If you love ebooks, it might be because they are portable, and legible enough, and capable of delivering streams of words, fiction and nonfiction, into your eyes and brain with relative ease. Perhaps you like being able to carry a never-ending stack of books with you wherever you go, without having to actually lug them around. Whether you love or hate ebooks is probably a function of what books mean to you, and why.

When discussed in the present tense, ebooks means Amazon Kindle ebooks. Competitors are out there, including tablets such as the iPad and the various software that can display books in electronic format. Precursors are also many. Ebooks appeared on Palm handhelds in the late ’90s. Microsoft made a reader for its equivalent, Windows CE. The first commercial e-ink reader was made in 2004 by Sony, not Amazon, although you’ve probably never heard of it. Barnes & Noble still makes the Nook, a Kindle competitor that seems like the Betamax of ebook readers. Before all of these, it was always possible to read on computers, portable or not. Adobe’s PDF format, first released in the early ’90s, made it easy to create and share print-formatted documents, viewable on any platform with a PDF reader. And you have been able to scroll through Word (or WordPerfect or WordStar or plain text) documents for as long as computers have existed, even if few would call such an experience reading.

Stop and reread that last clause, because the key to understanding why you love or hate ebooks is pressurized into it. Agreeing that books are a thing you read is easy enough. But what it means to read, what the experience of reading requires and entails, and what makes it pleasurable or not, is not so easy to pin down.

. . . .

Reading is a relatively useless term. It describes a broad array of literacy practices, ranging from casually scanning social-media posts to perusing magazine articles such as this one to poring over the most difficult technical manuals or the lithest storytelling. You read instructions on elevators, prompts in banking apps, directions on highway signs. Metaphorically, you read situations, people’s faces, the proverbial room. What any individual infers about their hopes and dreams for an e-reader derives from their understanding of reading in the first place. You can’t have books without bookiness.

Bookiness. That’s the word Glenn Fleishman, a technology writer and longtime bookmaker, uses to describe the situation. “It’s the essence that makes someone feel like they’re using a book,” he told me. Like pornography or sandwiches, you know bookiness when you see it. Or feel it? Either way, most people can’t identify what it is in the abstract.

Fleishman and I took a swing at defining bookiness anyway. A book, we decided, is probably composed of bound pages, rather than loose ones. Those pages are probably made from paper, or leaves akin to paper. These pages are likely numerous, and the collection of pages is coherent, forming a totality. The order of that totality matters, but also the form of bound pages allows a reader random access to any page, via flipping and fanning. Books have spreads, made of a left (verso) and right (recto) side. You can look at both at once, and an open book has the topology of a valley, creating a space that you can go inside and be surrounded by, literally and figuratively. Some books are very large, but the ordinary sort is portable and probably handheld. That held object probably has a cover made of a different material from the leaves that compose its pages. A stapled report probably isn’t a book; a coil-bound one with plastic covers might be. A greeting card is probably not a book; neither is the staple-bound manual that came with your air fryer. Are magazines and brochures books? They might be, if we didn’t have special terms for the kind of books they are.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic and thanks to D for the tip.

64 thoughts on “Ebooks Are an Abomination”

  1. I’m going to be a hypocrite and suggest people don’t comment on this (the hypocrisy being that I am commenting).

    Yes, the whole article is as silly as the title and extract suggests, yes quite a few of the facts are at least dubious, yes using the Association of American Publisher’s numbers for e-book penetration is foolish, and yes it’s just silly to invent a definition of “bookiness” and then condemn e-books for not fitting your definition. But it really doesn’t matter, it’s not worth arguing with, people believe a lot of nonsense and this is no worse than thinking that the moon landings were faked or that the earth is flat. It’s nonsense, but there is much more dangerous nonsense flooding the internet, so leave him to his delusions.

    Reply
  2. Personally I think the first paragraph pretty much says it all for this person, particularly

    “I hate them, but I don’t know why I hate them. “

    Why bother reading much further?

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  3. It can be fun watching idiots fumble around and make fools of themselves. After all, we know what heights human intellects can reach, but we have no real measure of foolishness…until now.

    As the saying goes, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt,”. Never stopped me, though.

    BTW, eink isn’t the only or even dominant ebook reading tech these days. That said, the “dim” screens are a feature, not a defect. Tastes vary but the low brightness of even front-lit screens is to make the text easier on the eyes for long sessions and reduce eye strain. Which it does.

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    • Exactly this. I read a lot in the early hours of the morning on a Paperwhite on a low, low screen setting. Doesn’t wake my husband, and is no strain on my eyes. Plus I so often find myself deep in the world of the book at this time. I don’t understand how the haters can’t see this! I sometimes find myself carrying on with the story in my dreams!

      Reply
  4. “Agreeing that books are a thing you read is easy enough. But what it means to read, what the experience of reading requires and entails, and what makes it pleasurable or not, is not so easy to pin down.“

    It’s super easy. A well-written book is what makes me it pleasurable. Full stop.

    Reply
  5. Ahh… even now the Atlantic is reduced to click baity titles.
    As far as ‘reading’ this screed, when I got to ‘and I don’t know why’ I skimmed the rest.
    Bookiness is a cute laugh, but that’s all.
    Maybe the author of this drivel is just trying to work through his Met Gala hangover?

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  6. As noted, this screed boils down to “I hate any technology that I am uncomfortable with.”

    Creating a definition that excludes those uncomfortable technologies does not change the thesis. I would surmise that he could continue with “written in a phonetic alphabet, from left to right, and top to bottom.”

    Perhaps even “in the English language” – I am not going to declare, although I think it likely, that he is unable to even read a French text, much less Hebrew or Arabic, or at the extreme, Chinese.

    Addendum – I, personally, hate telephones. Particularly the so-called “smart” phones. A bane on my existence, they are. Obviously I am an outlier there – and my comfort level with face to face conversations over that technology is irrelevant.

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      • Of course, that might lead to a twenty-first-century updating of Sweeney Todd: Vegan scones, sprinkled with actual vegan on top.

        I have little patience for virtue-signaling jerks, especially when they virtue-signal their visit to a vegan restaurant right near me with their SUVs emblazoned with “Meat Is Murder” stickers… and a bicycle rack hanging off the back into my driveway, causing me to miss a medical appointment. Come to think of it, the OP is rather a bit of virtue-signalling in and of itself, isn’t it? Notice that it not once considers that some people read e-books on devices other than walled-garden single-purpose tablet-like thingies?

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  7. I’d like to point out that the OP is not only silly, but ableist. I’m losing my eyesight, so most books are unreadable for me–and few are available in large print. But with my trusty Kindle, I can expand the font and read any book I want. And this dude is offended by that?

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  8. There was a good post from Kris Writes, she notes that it’s harder and harder to get printed books, from China, because of the Supply Chain problems.

    Gee, someone who hates ebooks is gonna have a hard time getting the latest paperback, ’cause Slow Boat From China.

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    • Yes, but they can always buy the e-book, save ooops, they’re trad published so they cost $14.95 each. Does an e-book hater also hate overpricing of e-books? And seriously, shortages of paper copies combined with overpriced e-books is going to seriously screw some writers careers.

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      • The print paper problem pre-dates the pandemic by several years.
        (We’ve discussed it here a couple times.)

        It is a global issue and if you do an online search for “book paper shortage” dozens of recent (sept 2021) reports pop up: from the US, Netherlands, Russia, Czeck republic, Asia, all over. It is not going away any time soon, even optimists expect it to run into 2023, at least.

        It is due to a confluence of issues that aren’t going away: environmental and economic.
        The way it breaks down is that producing treated paper for books is very expensive and requires environmentally sensitive chemicals. Plus the demand is stagnant and finicky. Meanwhile, there is a massive demand for shipping box cardboard that is way cheaper to produce, has higher margins, is less demanding, accepts recycled product, and is growing fast. Some paper companies are leaving the book paper market. All ongoing issues.

        On top of that, in the US, the paper market in general is dealing with pandemic rules, material shortages (pulp prices are up 50%), labor shortages, and even higher demand for non-book products like paper bags (many states are banning plastic shopping bags), pizza and other food delivery boxes, and shipping boxes. In fact, Amazon has resorted to a variety of new shipping pakages ranging from plastic envelopes to just sticking a label on some product’s clear plastic bag. (I got one minor order that way. They warned the contents of the bag would be visible and asked if I preferred a more “private” packaging method. I didn’t care; it was just some antenna cable adapters.

        Longer term, there is the supply chain issues from decoupling from China and the move from global supply chains to “build where you sell”. Book paper will be in short and expensive supply indefinitely.

        eBooks may not kill pbooks but paper economics may. 😀

        Reply
        • Agreed, I remember some of the earlier discussions.

          However, my impression is that things have got a lot worse of late as shipping problems, to say nothing of land transport problems in southern China and general production problems, impact book production (along with everything else). Were short print runs and an unwillingness/inability to reprint – as reported by KRR – a pre pandemic problem?

          For that matter, does the USA have a shortage of HGV drivers the way Europe does? I’m not sure where the drivers have all gone – covid casualties have not been that bad – but maybe demand has soared along with home deliveries?

          Reply
          • Short print runs have been around for a while but they’re not due to paper shortages per se. It might have increased the practice but neither the shortages nor the pandemic are causing it. Rather it is big tradpubs responding to an overall stagnant market, their deprecation of the midlist, and the improved economics of POD. (Plus, yes, despite their best efforts: ebooks.)

            As for US driver shortages? Massive. Since long before the pandemic.
            Reports run up to nearly 2M vacant jobs with median salaries in the $40,000 range. It’s hard skilled work.

            Causes? A quarter of active drivers are 65 and over. Only 6% are female.
            Regulations have been increasing mandatory rest time vs driving time and total daily driving time. Plus pay is based on deliveries, not driving time.

            The problem has been addressed with double and triple container rigs.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQEyKNedxqs
            That common on that side of the pond?

            Still not enough. Even as we speak, a bunch of companies are developing robotic drone rigs that can be remotely managed via Satellite and 5G. Robotic Conveys are coming for long distance. Soon. Tests have been ongoing since before the pandemic.

            $2M jobs at $40,000 is a big incentive to go robotic. And battery+solar electric. Last mile delivery will remain mostly human but will be nearly 100% electric within a couple of years.

            None of this is going to help low value, low priority products like pbooks, though. Not any time soon.

            Reply
              • Not surprised about Australia.
                (Talk about open roads!)
                But if the numbers I saw about Europe (25% unfilled positions) are true, road trains and robo convoys should be on most trucking companies’ agenda.

                I’m just not sure how viable the big rigs might be on tbat side of the pond; the trucks/lorries I see in the news (lije the French trucker blockades) and other videos look to be much smaller than tbe eighteen wheelers that are the long haul baseline stateside.

                Long term, I wonder about the other continents where robotrucks aren’t really an option. It’s too bad airships aren’t anywhere as useful as fiction makes them out to be. 😀

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  9. There must have been a rip in the space-time continuum since we seem to have been swept back to the 1990s. Wasn’t this silly argument put to bed twenty years ago?

    The author of this piece must be congratulated, though, for his masterly grasp on the skill of gushing out pretentious twaddle.

    Reply
  10. Maybe in a perverse way, The Atlantic via this dubious writer of note, is taking pot shots at e-books because The Atlantic is partially/wholly funded by Jeff Bezo’s ex, thus biting the hand that gave her the money to begin with.

    Personally, I have no problem with e-books. Not for me yet, as my eyesight hasn’t gotten that bad for me to change over. But one day I will, and just like with regular books (got rid of magazines from my repertoire as the glossy paper gave off too much glare), I will embrace them wholeheartedly.

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  11. This sort of article is why I dropped my subscription years ago. Twenty years back, the arrival of The Atlantic in the mail made me do a little happy dance, setting aside whatever I was reading at the moment and the new issue getting my immediate attention. Then came the rising stupidity. I never expected to be interested in or impressed by every article. That would not be realistic. But the same writers appeared over and over expounding the same stupidity. It grew to the point where I could read the table of contents and know that vast swaths would simply annoy me. I eventually let the subscription drop, as the payoff wasn’t worth either the money or the time. I take the problem to be a desire to provide a wide range of viewpoints, without insisting that they be non-stupid. I can get stupid viewpoints for free. Why would I pay for them?

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  12. I have read a number of non-fiction books lately and the way the reader software handles footnotes is terrible.

    The ebook is an HTML file. There should be some way to have a reader/browser that lets me open two separate windows on the same book, one for the text, the other for the footnotes. The last book I finished had half the book as text, the other half as footnotes. There was no way to switch back and forth to read the footnotes, yet he put half of the discussion in the footnotes.

    I use an ipad so there is plenty of room for two windows, but I would prefer to have a multi-window reader on my iMac so that I could make notes and access the internet for other material.

    I suspect that a multi-window reader on a big monitor would solve most of his problems, since he doesn’t seem to read novels for pleasure.

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    • Footnotes are for items that you wouldn’t interrupt the main text for. If it’s that necessary to read both the text and the footnotes together, then someone Isn’t Doing It Right.

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      • Dark Mirror by Barton Gellman uses paragraph long comments in the back as foot notes. Those footnote links are not shown in the front text. You have to go to the notes, and there is a link that takes you back to the front text page it is referencing.

        It is very difficult to activate the link and there is no context in the notes as to what the comment refers to, so the back half of the book is hidden from the front half of the book. That information is almost without context and is a jumble.

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      • Traditionally, footnotes (or more often nowadays, endnotes) are for citations. The reader may or may not care. If not, then having them discreetly tucked away, not impinging on the consciousness is idea. If the reader does care, they care a great deal, and allynh’s comment is spot on. When reading a paper book within my specialty, I use two bookmarks, one for the main text and one for the endnotes. This is part of why I usually buy such books in paper.

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    • Oddly enough, I much prefer the way the Kindle handles footnotes compared to their treatment in modern books. These days a paper book either places the footnotes at the end of the chapter or all together at the end of the book. Either way this makes reference to the notes difficult and I much prefer older books which place them where they belong, at the foot of the page. When implemented properly#, if you tap on the footnote number the Kindle opens a window at the bottom of the screen to display the note. This is probably as close as one can come to an old paper book.

      # Of course, not all publishers do this properly even though it works fine if you simply convert a Word file in which you’ve included endnotes to a Kindle file.

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      • I’ve yet to see a footnote appear at the bottom of the page in a pop-up window[1]. None of the books I have do that.

        – That separate pop-up window at the bottom is what I am trying to do.

        Jeff VanDermeer has a number of books where the main story is in the body of the text, yet an ongoing series of footnotes and annotations spilling across the page alter the main text telling a completely different story.

        The only way that I see how to tell those stories is on paper, using a larger format, like the Artist Way books, 7.5 x 9. Then I can have the body of the text and a wide margin for marginalia.

        Those books would be paper only, no e-format possible as far as I can tell.

        [1][quote]Footnote Guidelines – Kindle

        Amazon strongly recommends marking footnotes with the HTML5 aside element, together with the epub:type attribute. This allows accessible reading systems to ignore the footnotes except when followed by their referents and allows any reading system to handle them more intelligently (e.g., as popups). This usage ensures that even if the EPUB semantic is not recognized, the notes will still be treated as secondary content due the nature of the HTML5 aside element.

        Regardless of whether the aside element is used, Amazon requires formatting footnotes with bidirectional hyperlinks (the text is linked to the footnote and the footnote is linked back to the text). This makes it easier for customers to return to the text after viewing the footnote. On some Kindle devices, such as Kindle Paperwhite, footnotes with bi-directional hyperlinks are displayed in a pop-up.

        For a better reading experience, Amazon strongly recommends placing the footnote text at the end of the chapter or book.[/quote][2]

        [2]Not being able to place the footnotes and annotation on the actual page — keeping them in context — would defeat the whole purpose.

        I will have to lay out the story page-by-page on paper, so that the whole thing is visual, locked in place.

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        • Have looked at readers *other* than Kindle?
          There’s more to ebooks than Kibdles and their limitationsm

          Epub3 has supported pop-up windows for “aside” elements lie footnotes and end notes for years.
          https://pigsgourdsandwikis.blogspot.com/2012/05/creating-pop-up-footnotes-in-epub-3-and.html
          Apple and Kobo both claim Epub3 support.
          Mostly, this functionality is a feature of tbe *file* more than the reader.
          There’s other readers on PCs and Macs to look at, like Readium.

          Also, on PCs and Macs you can often open tbe same book in two windows side by said if that’s your preference. OneNote on PC is worth a look as it imports ebooks into layouts of your choice.

          You just need to remember that after the Kindle DX was sued off the market, Amazon gave up on academic ebooks. Their target audience is commercial narrative text. Anything else is an afterthought…
          …which leaves the field open to competitors.

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        • FWIW, I’m reading a heavily footnoted book on my Kindle (paperwhite) and all the notes I’m interested in pop up either on the bottom of the page as Mike Hall described or as a quick visit to a dedicated note page (if it’s long, I guess). I can see the note and the context that prompted it as close together as I can with paper books, considering the maddening amount of flipping I’ve had to do on some non-fiction to get to the notes and back to the context.

          I don’t really see the point of putting them all on the same page if it isn’t paper, as long as the reader can easily access them and get back before they forget what they were reading. ( really dislike long detailed notes all at the back and not divied up by chapter to make finding the silly things easier.)

          ps my kid is really irate with the DX getting sued off the market. That’s the one the kid prefers. WE’re nursing a few of them along.

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    • For an example of “Codex” used in a novel, read:

      Codex (novel) by Lev Grossman

      He goes into detail about the history of books that point to many interesting story possibilities. They are great for showing the Fabricated Histories Genre like Da Vinci Code.

      BTW, until they fix e-readers so that you can have multiple windows there are some books that can’t be ebooks, only paper because of limited e-formats.

      Note: Follow the comments I made and this is an example of splitting and altering the narrative depending on the marginalia.

      Reply
  13. I’m hoping to read the above-discussed article when the next issue of The Atlantic arrives in the mailbox. Yes, my wife and I still subscribe to “print” magazines. And to two “print editions” of daily newspapers. Both of us like to read–and to an excessive degree, collect–books, with sequential pages of text or images printed on paper. Why would we engage in such anachronistic behavior in this miraculous age of digital marvel? Chalk it up to personal taste–an indefensible eccentricity, judging by the torrent of negative comments regarding an article declaring a preference for print over e-books. I also don’t watch much television (it takes time from reading and writing) and don’t enjoy talking on the phone, though I don’t deny the utility of this 1870s-developed device. Or most of the other electronic gadgets that have sprung up in the last couple of decades.
    That said, I don’t think the author of The Atlantic article did a very good job of defending his preference for “print” books. It can be hard to defend nebulous personal taste. And, judging by the above reactions, a futile task in the present climate of on-line public opinion.

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    • Paul, I don’t think he really defended his preference at all, he just rubbished e-books, and not very competently. Hence the justified derision of the comments. I say this as someone who still gets a newspaper delivered every day, subscribes to about five paper magazines and has about 20 recently purchased paper books sitting on our sofa waiting to be read. So I have every sympathy for your preference for paper.

      However, my wife and I are also dedicated readers and book buyers, and we love our Kindles and only buy fiction as e-books. As you note this is basically a matter of personal taste and one’s preferences do not need to be defended (and should not be attacked), though for narrative fiction I do think there are good objective reasons to reject paper, not least that I have nowhere to store the 4,000+ books on my Kindle were they to be paper rather than electrons; then there is the fact that the numbers would be much lower had I to pay paper book prices.

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      • You just stated the major justification for libraries! Yes, there are more books out there than one person can afford or store, whatever be his area of interest.
        In any case, thanks for your reply, Mike. I don’t see any area where we really disagree. Fact is, I may some day come to like, even prefer, e-books. I’ve owned a cell phone since the late 90s (but never a smart phone!). And used a PC since the days of Wordstar and Lotus 123. But, being something of a Luddite at heart, I don’t embrace the latest technology with abandon.

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        • The main thing is to use technology only when it suits our lifestyle. My late mother-in-law wanted nothing to do with computers or the internet once she’d retired, despite having worked with them, so there was nothing more complicated than a dumb TV in the house. However, she was a huge consumer of paperbacks from her local library and as she aged she found that it was hard to hold anything heavier than a kindle and that her cataracts made reading difficult. So she tried my kindle, bought two for herself and loved them. (It had to be two as, with no PC or internet, we had to swop them over each month after adding new books to the one we’d kept.) Eventually the day came when she returned her favourite fantasy series – which she’d borrowed and kept so she could re-read whenever she wanted – and read nothing but e-books thereafter.

          I never used Wordstar but remember Lotus 123 with considerable affection. The way copy and paste worked is still better than the latest versions of Excel or its clones.

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    • Uh, the OP isn’t about expressing a *personal* preference.
      It is about condemning an entire billion dollar-plus industry.
      How about if the headline and article them were “cars are an abomination” and glamorized horse-drawn buggies? Still just a matter of preference?
      Or pined for pay phones in tbe age of cell phones?
      How about paper checks instead of credit/debit cards?
      Or like the other Atlantic article I linked, online purchasing?

      It is okay to say you favor something as a *personal preference* and something entirely different to brand it something that should not exist, that makes the world a worse place.

      How about telling the authors getting a half billion dollarsca year in payouts from Kibdle Unlimted alone that ebooks are an abomination, that KU shouldn’t exist, that the added revenue they get is somehow ill-gotten?

      If you hang around here enough you’ll find me repeatedly pointing out that *how* things are said or done matter at least as much as what is done. Such a truism should not need saying in tbis era yet we see pundits ignoring it over and over. Along with actual facts about what ebooks are, why tge exist, and how they are used.

      eBooks aren’t for everybody. Neither are cars or cellphones or any other modern tech. And if a given tech isn’t to your liking, that’s fine; nobody is going to send a thug kneekapper to punish you. But don’t expect folks who not only like but *need* that same technology to just roll over and play dead.

      Because in tbe real world outside tbe internet and the pundit minds, needs outweigh preferences every single day of the week.

      Somebody really needs to tell the author of tbe OP to chill out, get over themselves, and live and let die.

      $0.02

      Reply
    • I read the paper Wall Street Journal everyday. The subscription includes the online version, which is very good. But, I can get a good idea of what’s happening in the world much faster with the paper than online. I can’t search for last week’s article on the central bank of Botswana, but I can take care of today pretty well.

      Reply
    • And, judging by the above reactions, a futile task in the present climate of on-line public opinion.

      It’s not at all futile. Sound ideas and well-reasoned arguments are far from futile. It happens here all the time.

      Ideas exist regardless of the package they come in. They may be assertions, accusations, preferences, opinions, etc. But the idea stands alone. The packaging offers no protection.

      Reply
  14. On the whole, I think the world would’ve been better off had the automobile never been invented. Same goes for television, atom bombs, jetliners, gas leaf blowers, drones and i-phones. Admittedly, I’ve watched television on-and-off since 1949, got my driver’s license in 1963 and, since the late 90s, had a commercial driver’s license for trucks and busses. Some inventions are just too universal to ignore. As to inventions that have been more a benefit than a curse? I’d include the wheel, the printing press, the railroad, the electric motor and its applications, and mechanical refrigeration–it keeps the beer cold.

    Reply
    • It’s that lost primordial feeling of community we used to have squatting in the dirt around the fire. Everything that has happened since then has made things different, and that’s bad for sensitive people obsessed with themselves.

      Reply
    • Better off without cars?
      Tell that to Californians with two hour daily commutes.

      Nukes? MAD gave us a cold war ratber than a hot one with the soviets. And nukes might yet keep the CCP from going all Genghis.

      Main thing is the world goes as it (collectively) wills rather than as any single person might wish. Which is a good thing for folks like tbe OP author; they would not enjoy living in a world where *I* call the shots. 😀

      Reply
        • Or they would be piled up like “greater” NY. Or Mexico City. Or Nairobi.
          No cars means no suburbs or exurbs and greater concentration.
          Figure half of California around LA and half around Santa Clara.

          Hmm, might make for an interesting alt history story.

          Just realized: CAVES OF STEEL was published in 1953 and NAKED SUN in 1957.
          The federal interstate act that led to suburbs was signed in 1956.
          It always bothered me tbat in Asimov ‘s future nobody lived outside the titular cities. As a child of 30’s NYC the only world he personally knew was urban. (He even refused to fly.)

          So, what would a world without cars be like? CAVES OF STEEL.
          Interesting…Int
          Need to reread it now.

          Reply
    • Before the development of the automobile, cities had serious problems disposing massive amounts of horse manure and urine. The cities stank, especially during the summer, and disposal of animal waste presented a serious public health problem.

      Reply
  15. My father used to commute from Jersey to New York City by train, and for the most part enjoyed it.
    Yes, we made it through the Cold War. Now if we can just continue to keep the nukes from escaping the silos.
    And the world goes on, despite human bumbling. And egotistical dreamers, after too many chilled beers, thinking of how they could do a better job ruling the world.

    Reply
      • Sarcasm fonts (and tags) don’t help.

        On one forum that I frequent, it’s a convention to put sarcasm in green text.

        So nobody does it, because, duh, if you actually need the text to be green, you’re too stupid to understand it anyway. The actual phrase ‘green text’ has acquired a connotation somewhat similar to ‘training wheels’.

        Result: people post the most outrageously stupid things deadpan, with no green text, and huge flamewars erupt because other people thought they were being serious.

        Reply

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