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A Phony's History of the iPad [Three Best Things 1/25/10 - /1/31/10]

J. D. Salinger

In 1965, author J. D. Salinger retired with the world heavyweight book-writin’ title belt. By the early ’80s, his Catcher in the Rye was simultaneously the most-banned and second-most-taught book in American schools. He died this week at 91.

Holden Caulfield says: “Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

The iPad

To paraphrase Dee Dee Warwick and Mike Tyson, iPad’s gonna make you love iPad. Need one good reason to convince yourself that you’ll never fall for it? How about twelve?

There’s this: “If the first personal computers required permission from the manufacturer for each new program or new feature, the history of computing would be as dismally totalitarian as the milieu in Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad.” And this: The thing that bothers me most about the iPad is this: if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today.” But the iPad isn’t meant for computer geniuses. It’s meant for their moms.

The iPad is crap futurism whose lack of Flash compatibility might give us a future without Flash. That would be fantastic. The future also promises nine tablet computers that might wind up being as good, better, or cheaper than the iPad. (As with MP3 players and smart phones, Apple wasn’t the first or necessarily the best; they were the loudest biggest and shiniest most magical.)

Holden Caulfield says: “It’s funny. All you have to do is say something nobody understands and they’ll do practically anything you want them to.”

Also relevant:

Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, who also died this week, shoehorned all history into a single narrative and avoided citing his claims — which you can get away with if you’re writing a history text like this, but not if you’re writing one like this. He didn’t exactly become a historian’s historian. But he achieved a harder thing; he made young people see history for what it is: an evolving story with unreliable narrators, usually written by the winners.

(IS THERE A LINK-OF-THE-WEEK IN HERE SOMEWHERE?)

One of Zinn’s last interviews, with PBS in December 2009.

Holden Caulfield says: “People always think something’s all true.”

A word:

Has anyone checked on Matt Damon this week? Good Will Hunting was basically Catcher in the Rye: Math Version, and Damon’s character is a big Zinn fan. In fact, Damon was Zinn’s real-life neighbor growing up, and was one of the first people to read a draft of A People’s History.

Status update: ENGINE is sad for Matt Damon.

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