Sunday, November 4, 2007

Technology, technology

Hurrah -- I can now use my own laptop instead of my friends' computer, which has a French keyboard and drives me nuts; it takes me at least three times longer to type on that one because it has the q where we have the a and the a where we have the q and the m where we have a semicolon and the semicolon where we have the comma and so on. I got a transformer plug at FNAC this morning after church. Stay tuned for a report from church. Usually I go somewhere French when I am here or do whatever my hosts are doing, but I decided for multiple reasons to go to the American Cathedral, Paris's Episcopal church, on this All Saints' Sunday.

I am probably the only person on the street with no cell phone and I had buy a phone card to make a call. They do still have public phones here, but far fewer than they did a decade ago, and the ones they do have no longer use cash. You have to find a place to buy one or you can't make a call. This was already true on my last visit five and a half years ago. Fortunately, there were plenty of news kiosks and cafés where I was (in one of the dreaded tourist neighborhoods, the Champs-Elysées, where I try not to go).

And the quotation of the day in today's New York Times:

"If anything characterizes the 21st century, it’s our inability to restrain ourselves for the benefit of other people. The cellphone talker thinks his rights go above that of people around him, and the jammer thinks his are the more important rights."
*********-- James Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University

It's been true for a while, at least in the U.S., that the noisy have rights over the silent. Perhaps not on the books, but in daily practice: in three different apartments in two different cities, people whom I politely asked to quiet down in the apartment above have either laughed in my face or lectured me about my lack of tolerance. I kid you not.

I love the street musicians here. They are musically the best I have heard in any place. In the halls of the Métro this morning: 1) Erroll Garner's "Misty" on the saxophone, accompanied by one of those fake-orchestra boom boxes; 2) Schubert's Ave Maria on the accordion.

1 comment:

Kenneth Wolman said...

I read the Times article about increasingly popular and illegal cell phone signal jammers, and I wish to go on notice I intend to purchase and use one, illegal or not. Right, I own a cell, too, but I loathe it for its intrusiveness, expense, and general feeling that I give someone a tacit right to violate my privacy. Years back I was on a train with a bunch of guys and one young woman who was breaking up with boyfriend via cell phone on the train with the assumption she could not be seen or heard if because it was a cell phone. You can speak loudly with no regard for anyone else's hearing or what they are hearing. They are truly offensive instruments of Generation Non.