Weekly output: Apple’s environmentalism, terrorists and social media

Happy Easter! I mean, unless you’re a UVA fan

(Sigh.)

Yahoo Tech Apple-environmentalism post3/21/2016: Apple’s making good on its environmental promises, but are they enough?, Yahoo Tech

After Apple’s iPhone SE and iPad Pro introduction Monday, my editor asked me to take a look at the environment-minded presentation that led off the event. The big thing to realize about that: Data-center electricity use adds up to a tiny fraction of the U.S.’s electrical budget.

3/24/2016: Get terrorism off the Internet? It’s (still) not so simple, Yahoo Tech

This was another current-events-driven post, in this case a response of sorts to the suicide bombings in Brussels this week. I would like to see my news-analysis work focus on more boring topics.

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Weekly output: Trump closing parts of the Internet

As I type this, I have six pieces for various clients that I’ve completed but which have yet to be posted–three of which I filed this week. So, yes, I was more productive than this paltry list would suggest.

Yahoo Tech Trump close-the-Internet post12/17/2015: Dear Donald Trump: No, You Can’t Shut Down Parts of the Internet, Yahoo Tech

This post was slightly unpopular with Trump supporters, as I noted yesterday. Were I to write it again, I would have acknowledged upfront that countries like China and North Korea can and do wall off parts of the Internet–but that if we could exercise that level of control over Iraq and Syria, we most likely would have rounded up all of the current crop of terrorists.

Meanwhile, if you didn’t leave one of the first of the 1,928 comments the story has drawn to date–getting featured on the Yahoo home page yields results!–please accept my apology for not having read your feedback yet.

Donald Trump supporters have some opinions

Thursday’s post at Yahoo Tech critiquing Donald Trump’s notion of “maybe, in certain areas, closing the Internet up in some way” did not go over well among Trump fans.

Trump-supporter messagesI expected as much, but I did not quite expect to see quite their rage so poorly expressed–like, for example, the fellow whose entire message consisted of a one-word subject header, “Bull,” and the “Sent from my iPhone” signature. Another disgruntled individual closed with “Your a Complete ASSHOLE.”

A few less spittle-flecked messages expressed disdain for my calling The Donald a blowhard or a loudmouth. My response: If Trump isn’t one, then those words no longer have any meaning in the English language.

Several asked why we couldn’t cut the terrorists off from the Internet when North Korea, China or Cuba maintain an iron grip on their citizens’ online access. Well, if we could exercise that level of control over Iraq and Syria, wouldn’t we already have rounded up the Daesh death cultists by now?

Finally, a few led with “you’re just a member of the liberal media.” Hoo boy, I’ve never heard that one before. I will have to warn my colleagues about this novel insult they may come across on the Internet.

On the other hand, a couple of people wrote in to say they appreciated the story. So I’ve got that going for me.

 

Je t’aime, Paris

Eiffel Tower in 1991Lesser-known fact about me: For one happy summer in 1990, I qualified as a part-time Parisian. I owed that to my dad, who had first lucked into a transfer to his employer’s Paris office and then–nepotism at its finest!–arranged a summer job for me there.

Each morning, I’d board the train in the suburb of Louveciennes, transfer to the RER, escape from the subterranean, odorous archipelago of the Châtelet – les Halles station, and enjoy a short walk to Dad’s office. I’d plug away at building out a database, then take a long lunch break and explore the city.

I’d come back, immerse myself in Paradox for another few hours and then head home. I felt like I’d won an occupational lottery on top of the life-lottery victory of my parents’ move to France in 1989 and my subsequent spring, summer and winter breaks there.

Paris office viewThe two and a half years my family spent around France’s capital before returning to the States in 1991 gave me the chance to know the city beyond bucket-list tourist attractions: the sculpture garden of modern architecture that is La Défense; quiet, tree-lined streets in the inner arrondissements; the roof of the old opera building that a friend and I somehow made our way to after ditching a tour.

This time also left me with an enduring fondness for baguettes, croissants, Camembert, crêpes, Côtes du Rhône, steak frites, duck breast, any other entrée done up with a pan sauce, and Calvados.

And it taught me to speak French well enough that Parisians stopped automatically replying in English. (I had an unfair advantage at Georgetown’s foreign-language proficiency exam: When my examiner handed me a Le Monde story and asked me to discuss it, I realized I’d read that piece a week before while spending Easter with my family.) That fluency has faded, but I still enjoy dusting off my rusty French to help a visitor like the gentleman at the Walmart near Union Station who needed a prepaid SIM card for his phone.

France passport stampsI wish I were writing this out of idle nostalgia. But I’m not. The city I adored 25 years ago fell victim to a series of monstrous crimes Friday night, apparently committed by the same craven death cult that has murdered thousands more across the Middle East and has no right to call itself “Islamic” or even “human.”

There is nothing I can do to reverse that. But I can say this much after almost a quarter-century apart: Paris, it’s been so long since last we met, but I will return. That’s a promise.