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Post Week in Review: December 28-January 3

Published: January 2, 2015

People We Lost in 2014

Newspapers, sites, and TV networks have been running their “year in review” segments the past few weeks. CBS Sunday Morning does a beautiful “those we lost” wrap-up every year of the famous and not-so-famous people who have died. There’s always a couple of people who I completely forgot passed away in the past 12 months.

‘Sorry,’ Says Facebook

PromesaArtStudio / Shutterstock.com

PromesaArtStudio / Shutterstock.com

Speaking of the year in review: a Facebook apology. The social networking site seems to apologize a few times every year, for the site going down or for privacy mishaps or for launching a new feature that users dislike so much they threaten to quit Facebook over it — and they mean it this time!

This week the social media powerhouse had to apologize for giving people an automatic look back at what happened the past 12 months via a post that showed up in their feed. It said “Here’s What Your Year Looked Like!” You can probably guess that some of the things that happened in the lives of users weren’t that great and they didn’t want to relive them. One person in particular was upset because his daughter passed away earlier this year.

Is Facebook run by actual humans that can anticipate emotions and consequences or is it just robots automatically launching “cool” features?

Is the Internet the Answer?

Maybe social media — or the Internet in general — isn’t the answer at all. That’s the premise of Andrew Keen’s new book, bluntly titled The Internet Is Not the Answer. Keen has a lot of problems with what the Web has become, from social media to how big corporations have taken over to how the online world consumes our lives. And he has a lot of great points to make that should be listened to, because he’s not coming at it from the perspective of a Luddite who hates technology and progress. He’s been a Web entrepreneur and tech guy for 20 years.

The Next Web has an essay from Keen adapted from the book, and it’s worth a read.

Five Uses for a Manual Typewriter

Perhaps a lot of those problems would be solved if we just used typewriters more. I like typewriters. A lot of people don’t because you just use them to write something and can’t save files or access the Web. But that’s like not liking your toaster because you can’t watch TV on it (though I’m sure someone is already working on that hybrid). There’s a typewriter renaissance happening right now with websites devoted to the machines and famous celebrities dedicating apps to them.

The Wall Street Journal lists five practical uses for a vintage manual typewriter. Obviously they’re all writing related, but specifically typewriters are fantastic for writing thank-you notes, for labels and postcards, and for just getting writing done without distractions.

Of course, there are people who just don’t like typewriters. I imagine they’re younger people who have grown up with computers and tablets and can’t imagine having to use some ancient technology that requires a lot of force from their fingers, not being able to correct/delete/cut-and-paste something easily, and needing strong arms to can carry it everywhere (though most typewriters weren’t really made for mobility, except the portables). They need the light-weight, the smooth clickety-clack of the plastic keys. Those were just some of the problems faced by 19 year-old Cory Blair. As an experiment for the American Journalism Review, the college student used a manual typewriter for a month. It didn’t go well, and I don’t think he’ll be using one again if he can help it.

I’d advise him to buy a typewriter and keep it somewhere in his house. They’re great if you want to write, just purely write, with no distractions from the Web, no messages coming up, no need for a power source. (See also: pen and paper). He might even learn to like it! Especially if he just keeps it in the corner and doesn’t have to lug it around all the time.

Lost Raymond Chandler Work Found

Hey, he used a typewriter! Chandler is one of my favorite writers, so it’s great to hear that someone discovered a lost operetta of his, The Princess and the Pedlar, at the Library of Congress. A group of people would like to perform the comic opera on stage but the Chandler estate has refused permission because they consider the work so minor that Chandler never even listed it in his official bibliography. People who have read it really like it though, and they’ve started a petition to send to the Chandler estate. Who knows if it will work, but if you’re intrigued you’re invited to sign it.

New Year’s Resolutions

We all make resolutions, right? Some people say it’s a waste of time, especially since it’s coming at an arbitrary time of year and doesn’t really mean anything. But I think it’s natural for us to think about our lives at this time of year. The holidays are over; a new year is starting, so of course we’re going to think about changing/updating/correcting things. The secret is to be specific about the resolutions. So instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight!” actually pick out something specific you can change (“I’m not going to eat cake and nachos for dinner!”). What’s your resolution for 2015?

Mine? To stay off Facebook and use typewriters more.

January Is National Hot Tea Month and National Soup Month

When I think of winter foods the first two I think of are tea — I got this for Christmas — and soup. And now that it’s January we have several reasons (cold, snow, early dark nights) to make both of them. Here’s a list of some sites with great soup recipes:

Cooking Light
Food & Wine
Food Network

And, of course, we have some fantastic recipes at The Saturday Evening Post too. I’m going to try the Onion Soup.

Upcoming Anniversaries

January 8, 1642: Galileo dies.
Read a biography of the scientist and scholar at Biography.com.

January 9, 1913: President Richard M. Nixon is born.
Read SEP Archive Director Jeff Nilsson’s feature about Nixon’s early life.

January 10, 1961: Dashiell Hammett dies at 67.
Read a biography of the writer of The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man at MysteryNet.com.

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