Ten Best: Things that haven’t changed my life

by Gus Lubin

Barack Obama

Like the state of North Carolina,several days after the election I don’t know what I think. I don’t feeldifferent, except for a few spurts of hope, and the world looks thesame. The thing about elections is that they demonstrate the statusquo. We didn’t shatter a racial barrier or fix the country. We justrevealed that there was no racial barrier — though there was racism — and that the country wanted change. Realizing that change will take time and a lot more work.


Howdid we live without it? As I don’t have one, let me tell you. We madecalls with cell phones, we listened to music on radios and we spentfive hours a day on the internet already. Many of us remain in thiscarefree world. Still, users report dependence, and they foist the toolupon us. At any pause in conversation, they offer help — “Are youlost?” or “Do you want to look it up?” — and whip out the iPhone. Thenwe wait like children for its oracular answer.


Iam disappointed by the past 45 days of sobriety. Having heard that lawstudents quit alcohol for a month before taking the LSATs, I expectedto develop razor-sharp thinking. Instead, all I have managed is to savemoney and to stay out of legal trouble. Where is the bright new leaf?Where are the clarity and contentment, the joyous mornings and healthyrelationships?

Global warming

There was record snowfall in New England last year, and pretty perfect weather in North Carolinaright now. Climatologists could stifle thousands of skeptics by using aterm that was more accurately descriptive and dramatic, likeeco-apocalypse. As for the green revolution and changes wrought in mylife, there are few. I have had an environmental conscience since firstgrade and Captain Planet. In the past decade it has been offset byfinancial concerns. I don’t litter, but I can’t afford a Prius.

Economic Meltdown

Onthe radio I listen to tips for saving money at the grocery store.There’s talk about carpooling or taking the bus to work. And people areworried about jobs. But these are familiar ideas for an unemployedpost-college student. May I suggest evaluating groceries by cost perounce? You can get pretty far on Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies,frozen burritos and of course Top Ramen. Also, try volunteering forpaid medical and psychiatric studies.


Followingits audacious claim to revolutionize transportation, the Segway did nosuch thing. At best the robotic gyroscopic machine revolutionized citywalking tours. Tourists, often elderly, obese or Asian, can glide frommonument to monument and back to the bus without ever touching theground. In fact, you can even do this in the Triad. Triad Glided Toursoffers gliding tours of historic Greensboro, nighttime Greensboro andthe parks and gardens of Greensboro. In the end, the ability to move atwalking pace without moving your legs is a very small step for mankind.


Anothermysterious device, the Nintendo Wii promised to turn gaming into ahealthy and active hobby (the opposite of what Segway did for walking).Rather than button-mashing, video games would involve swinging,balancing and shaking. But I play video games for comfort, not fitness.There must be something new to the Wii, because it is the first videogame system not to come to me naturally. Let it appeal to kids andretirement communities; I will, like other growing-up gamers, cling toretro systems.

Patriot Act

Ifthe FBI has been monitoring my library records (which include a novelby Naguib Mahfouz), listening to my phone conversations (“You hang upfirst.” “No, you hang up first…”) or searching my house without awarrant (they might find postcards from India and a DVD of The Battle of Algiers), I happily haven’t noticed. Noticing might take the form of waking up in Guantánamo, like Harold and Kumar. The USA Patriot Act, which stands for Uniting and Strengthening Americaby Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and ObstructTerrorism Act of 2001, seriously, gives me a vague sense of fear, but Igo about my life as normal.


Iam young enough not to be intimidated by blogs, like my parents, ormystified, like my grandmother, but I don’t read them. In my five hoursa day on the internet, I have just enough time for e-mail, news andonline errands — without following someone’s personal narrative. Am Imissing something? When Time named You, as in the blogger, asthe person of the year in 2006, was I not included? I enjoy the speedand immediacy of the internet by reading good newspapers online. Thedownside of this, however, is the feeling of disappointment, everymorning at the breakfast table, when I pick up The New York Times and discover that I read it all the night before.

Daylight Savings Time

Whatthe — it’s suddenly very dark. Sometime recently there was a timeshift, a 25-hour day, and winter came full on. The cell phone, whichkeeps time for me, changed automatically. Now, for the sake of harvesthours, or power bills, or something, the sun sets at 5 p.m. I regretthis, but my life goes on.