Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mind Reading?

Some time ago I discovered the joys of RSS feeds. For those of you who have been in a coma since 2000, an "RSS feed" is when you subscribe to a "blog" and new "posts" to that "blog" are automatically delivered to you via a "reader."


(Actually, if you have been in a coma since 2000, we have a lot of catching up to do. A lot. First, there was this presidential election ...)

Anyway, since my objective in life is to be All Google, All the Time (I can't wait for "Google Mortgage" - I mean really, I can't), I use the Google Reader to gather all my blog posts.

Something about being able to subscribe to any blog I want is addictive. I started with good, safe stuff like Time, CNN and the New York Times. But I'd read or hear or see something by somebody and, naturally, I'd Google them to see if they had a blog.

And the answer an overwhelming amount of time was Yes. And subscribing is so easy - just one fateful click. So now I subscribe to about 50 blogs, spanning nations, writing styles and political persuasions. "Daily Kos"? Come on in. George F. Will? Right this way. Wackjobs from the extremes of the Left and Right? Gotcha covered. "Failed TV Pilots of the Eighties"? Click.

The problem is, managing all these posts is worse than having a pet grizzly bear. Except the bear is easier to take care of.

If you don't show up on a regular basis to read and delete the constant spewing, it just mounts up. After a while - about 12 hours, actually - you lose complete control of the situation. After a thousand of the little bastards crowd onto your list, even Google throws up its virtual hands and stops counting.

Something about "You have 1,000+ Unread Posts" is a little off-putting. There's a part of me that wants to scrap everything and start over. But there's another part of me that reminds me that I subscribed to all those sons of bitches, and I'm duty-bound to read them all.

So my Delete Finger - yes, that one - poises precariously above its eponymous computer key, and after the traditional battle of wills between the angels on my shoulders (remember, that one was once an angel, too), one of the angels wins - which one depends on your point of view - and the Moving Finger deletes.

Maybe it's not what Omar (a terrorist name, BTW) Khayyam had in mind, but if he were writing today, here's what he'd say:

The moving finger types, and having typt,
Endlessly rewrites; nor all your piety nor wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
But your Delete key washes the whole damn thing out.

Actually, for all we know, that is what he wrote, but his translator - a British guy named Fitzgerald, who, since he lived in the late 1800s and was, well, British, wouldn't know a computer if it bit him on the ass - got it wrong. And who's got the time to learn whatever-the-hell terrorist language Mr. Khayyam used?

So the daily - or should I say, hourly - battle for my mind and heart continues. To stay on top of it all, I would have to give up my day job. If I had one. (Wherefore art thou, Google Mortgage?)

My only consolation is that maybe, somewhere, I'm clogging up someone else's reader with this posting. But judging from the number of people subscribing to my blog - Hi, Mom, and a big shout-out to the other person - it's small consolation indeed.