November 17, 2018

The Digital Traces We Leave Behind

“I don’t remember the final conversation I had with my father. Toward the end of his life, he was hard to understand on the phone, as years of substance abuse and failing health had garbled his voice. He’d call at inopportune times — from a rehab center or hospital on Cape Cod, or the home of a friend in Florida he had somehow charmed his way into — and I’d hurry to get off the phone. Sometimes I’d find myself annoyed by his attempts to reconnect, and let the call go to voicemail. It had been more than 15 years since we’d had anything resembling a normal relationship, and more than 30 since he and my mother had. Even in my frustration, though, it was hard not to think of his looming existential deadline. I may never get the chance to talk to him again, I’d say to myself. I always did. Until, of course, I didn’t.

On good days, he’d tell me about his latest living situation, calling from a flip phone with a number that changed as frequently as a drug dealer’s. He’d ask about my writing and where I’d traveled to lately, seemingly in awe of all the opportunities I had that he didn’t; even approaching 40, I’d revert to the role of a young boy eager to make his father proud, despite having received plenty of love from my mother and stepdad. He’d lobby me to put in a good word with my sisters on his behalf, a message I would relay. Just call the old bastard back, I’d tell them. You’ll regret it someday if you don’t.

I do, however, remember the exact day and time of our final few text exchanges, because they’re still on my phone, where, for at least as long as the cloud exists and I stay current on my bill, they’ll live forever. There’s a photo I sent him from December 2015, just after I’d had a chance to interview Tom Brady. What Massachusetts dad wouldn’t want to see that? It kind of breaks my heart to read his reply again now: “im so proud of u my son i cant wait to show everyone tomorrow i cant express my joy dad go get the big fish son agAIN IM TO PROUD FOR WORDS LOVE YOU DAD.” ”

Read more

JJ Best Of The Web

"You are being watched. Right now, cookies are tracking which websites you visit and what you click on while you’re there. Your smartphone is logging your location."

"The US placed sanctions on 17 Saudis on Thursday as punishment for their alleged involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi... according to experts, the move doesn’t go far enough to reprimand the kingdom."

"If the slow-motion crisis that is Gaza ever has a turning point, then this week’s deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, or what’s left of it, and Hamas leaders, under siege, is what the turning would look like."

"Nicholas Parisi's new biography, 'Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination,' fails to present a complete picture of the legendary screenwriter who did his best work outside the TV show that made him famous."

"Nearly a year after the tax cut, economic growth has accelerated. Wage growth has not. Companies are buying back stock and business investment is a mixed bag."

"By shifting accents, Australian expatriates are seen to be shifting class and status, indicating a sense of superiority to those who remain in Australia. The quickly acquired faux-British accent in particular has been associated with pretension..."

"Denim, usually in the form of the humble pair of jeans, is arguably the world’s most popular fabric. Over the years, it’s been worn by everyone from supermodels to soccer moms."

"Capitalism disadvantages women along several axes. The dawn of the industrial revolution enshrined a division of labor that largely confined them to the domestic sphere."

"In the past five or so years, hosting a Thanksgiving meal among friends a week before the actual holiday has become a standard part of the celebration for many young adults."

"Are these business owners trying to keep out certain customers? What about children? Or people who are paid in cash, or others who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t open a bank account..."

"Humanity is on the verge of a weighty achievement. On Friday, representatives of more than 60 nations will convene in Versailles, France, to approve a new definition for the kilogram."

"...the more modern form of the movement has its roots in late 19th-century Europe... The sole focus of some missions based in England and the U.S. was the conversion of the Jews to Christianity..."