Life in the Filter Bubble

"The dynamics of personalization shift power into the hands of a few major company actors." The best lines from Eli Pariser’s 2009 The Filter Bubble in ten parts. This is Part II: How do corporations abuse Internet personalization? “If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” –Andrew Lewis as … Continue reading Life in the Filter Bubble

The Filter Bubble

You Are What You Click “Personalized filters play to the most compulsive parts of you, creating 'compulsive media' to get you to click things more.” Quotes from Eli Pariser's—The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web Is Changing What We Read and How We Think Perhaps the scariest thing about Pariser’s book is the fact … Continue reading The Filter Bubble

About Mohamed

Every year this time my thoughts turn to Mohamed (his story is here). I had reason to conjure his story this fall and found the image below. Pictured is the American Library, Kabul, circa 1958. Is this the building where Mohamed learned to love the United States? Where he read American authors and watched American movies? … Continue reading About Mohamed

Publication vs Glory

When I feel lonely in my writing I turn for companionship to John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction. The title provides added comfort, referring to Gardner's concise review of our trade as “Notes on Craft for Young Writers," implying that those who should benefit from it—and I benefit from it every time I open it up—are … Continue reading Publication vs Glory

Gandhi at 150

It's been 150 years since Gandhi's birth, initiating a circle that goes round today. This year Gandhi Jayanti falls on the fourth day of Navratri, and so we've made his iconic ashram part of our annual display. It's nearly finished, this replica of his simple home on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Gujarat. … Continue reading Gandhi at 150

Holidays Upon Us

It's that time of year! The lights are out and the home is warm. For the next weeks and months we'll enjoy the soft glow of string lights. Here in Western India Navratri begins tomorrow. It lasts nine nights. Throughout the period, in this part of the country, we'll recognize the victory of good over … Continue reading Holidays Upon Us

Cube Farm

BOGIE, or Why I Wrote Patchworks My second novel addresses gun violence in America. It didn’t start out that way. Patchworks' protagonist, a millennial grad student interning for peanuts within a government bureaucracy, didn’t appear until several months into writing. And, angry as I felt to see America shredded over and over again by episodes of massive … Continue reading Cube Farm

Swipe-N-Wipe?

The Internet can solve a lot of problems, but not this one. Spotted this sign in heavy traffic on the stretch between Navi Mumbai and Mumbai proper. Never did spot the facility itself as promised, 100 meters on. Or was that the place where all the cyborgs were lined up, that most human of all … Continue reading Swipe-N-Wipe?

War Novels and the War on Terror

More than 16 years ago, standing beneath a massive banner, George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq: “Mission Accomplished.” What followed this publicity stunt—he arrived on an aircraft carrier off California's coast riding in a Navy jet—were years of insurgency and bloodshed in pursuit of a Dick Cheney figment: Saddam … Continue reading War Novels and the War on Terror

It Rains, It Pours

Tuesday I flew to Delhi, this kitchen knife concealed in my shoulder bag. Security missed the 5-½” blade. Wednesday my phone blew up during a seminar I was conducting with 90 colleagues, a deluge of messages from Mumbai, much of the city underwater, including the 5km stretch between my son’s elementary school and home. A … Continue reading It Rains, It Pours