long fiction and short articles

Amazon

There’s nothing Amazon isn’t prepared to do to make it easier for consumers to consume. Step by step Amazon is eliminating barriers, greasing the consumer skids to make it easier to get stuff into your hands. They want to be the only place you would ever think of to satisfy your lust for stuff. They start by offering almost everything…

Carpet

The more you think about carpet, the less it seems like a good idea. Much like toilet paper, really, it’s best not to question too closely the suitability of carpet for its assigned duties. That’s probably why in Japan you get less carpet and less toilet paper. Surprising, really, given that Japan has such an ancient culture; you’d expect if…

Electricity

Someone, maybe an ancestor of the man who said that no home needed a computer, that the internet is a flash in the pan, or that television will fail for the same reason the telegraph will, once thought electricity was a stupid idea. For every great discovery and every amazing invention, there are those who cannot see the damned point. For them, indoor…

Cars and Newspapers

Ever bought a new car? Imagine if you were buying a morning paper instead. First off, once spotted browsing the newspapers you’d be scooped up by the assistant asking if you are looking to buy a newspaper today. Perhaps, you say, but for the moment you’re just trying to get an idea of the cost. Any chance of a lower…

Travel

I met an English-speaking stranger in a bar in Casablanca. I saw a bloke in the local pub. Two very similar statements, but you might think the first is much more interesting than the second. “Go on,” you might say in response to the first; “Have you seen my keys” to the second. There really isn’t much difference in the language of the two…

Babies

The first piece of advice I ever received about babies was very indirect, received years before I became a parent, and came from an office manager. “I bet you pick up babies by their ears, too,” she said as I carefully carried a typewriter across the room by its platen knobs. After that there were a good few years during…

Gifts

Gift. Simple word, isn’t it? Short and to the point. Something given without payment or reward, and top of mind this time of year. If only it were that simple. In America even the simplest gift, such as holding a door open for someone or handing them their coat, comes with unspoken but culturally mandated obligation. When someone walks through…

Research studies

If you want to start a rumor, conduct a research study. It sounds more expensive than starting a rumor, but it’s not; research studies show that you only need a strong opinion and an internet connection. Research studies have shown that coffee is both good and bad for you, that it both is and isn’t worth getting a college education,…

Language

People talk about writer’s block. The unforgiving blank page, screaming “Create, why don’t you?” while the writer sits there almost unable to move. But that’s not where the problem lies. It’s not a problem with getting started, with coming up with something, inventing or developing a story, of finding something to say. As soon as you start begins the struggle to eliminate everything you…

Computers

“I hate computers” is something you still hear a lot these days, which is surprising because computers are everywhere and you’d think we’d be more comfortable with them by now. “I hate doors” would make about as much sense. Yes, they sometimes don’t operate as we expect them to — we should have pulled not pushed, surprise surprise it slides,…