Friday, September 10, 2010

Fahrenheit 451 R Us

Several months ago one of the cable movie channels showed Francois Truffaut's 1966 film version of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, which I had never seen before.  I was immediately stuck by the fact that the "giant" (by 1966 standards) wall-mounted TV the hero's wife Linda watches all day was really no bigger than those now owned by some of our friends.  I mentally patted myself on the back for resisting the urge to buy one of these obscenely oversized monstrosities.  Pride, as they say, goeth before a fall.

Barry, my loved one, has a service-related hearing loss, so we usually watch TV with the closed captioning turned on.  Unfortunately, for the last few months he's had increasing difficulty reading the captions, and now his optometrist has confirmed that he's developing cataracts.  This allowed him to assert that his desire for an enormous TV was not merely a Guy Thing, but a necessity.  I won't say I entirely believe this even now, but he also agreed to pay all the expenses associated with the TV, including the cost of the custom-made entertainment center needed to support the behemoth.  I hung on to the scraps of my pride by insisting that the entertainment center have sliding doors that can conceal the equipment when we aren't actually using it; I don't want entering our house to be a "Welcome to my TV" experience.

Some day I may tell you about the harrowing day the pieces of the entertainment center were delivered (3 elderly Munchkins spent several hours putting it together like a giant jigsaw puzzle).  Suffice it to say, all is in readiness for Moby TV, which is scheduled to be delivered some time between 1:00 and 5:00 today.

The impending delivery, however, is not the only reason I've been thinking of Fahrenheit 451 this week.  My boss recently sent me this Internet link, which I posted for the students in my online JavaScript class:

The link is to an interesting multimedia experiment that uses JavaScript and Google Earth to take you on a trip through the neighborhood where you grew up.  Several of my students freaked out about the "Big Brother is watching you" aspect of the software.  Of course, the images in Google Earth are not real time, but would it be that big a step to make them so?  And, back to the TV for a moment - televisions are less and less distinguishable from computers.  How long before your TV will store a cookie containing your name and the voiceovers in the ads start addressing you by it?

The front gate just creaked, so the delivery men must be here.  Just call me "Linda." 

"The public stopped reading of its own accord." -  Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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