Daily Archives: July 9, 2014

I finally join the smartphone revolution, kicking and screaming. A fascinating look at “restorative justice” in prisons. And Ginny Weasley hosts a live-blog on Quidditch

I am definitely what you’d call a “late adapter” when it comes to technology.

I hung onto VHS tapes and my VCR far longer than most people I knew, refusing to give in to the DVD-ization of the world.
I clung to my music cassettes all the way until 2004, when I finally started buying CDs, and only did that because my new car had a CD player and not a tape deck (first CD I bought? Not surprisingly, it was Barry Manilow.)

And with cell phones, I was way, way behind the times. Long after every other person you or I knew was walking, zombie-like, down the street pecking at their iPhones or Samsung Galaxy, I hung in there with three consecutive models of the LG Cosmos, the ColecoVision of cell phones.

I didn’t want a Smartphone for a lot of reasons: 1, I didn’t want to constantly have my head down, buried in email or a stupid game, while the world around me passed me by. 2, I didn’t want to be so “available” to the world via email and everything else, and 3, I spend enough time on my phone, talking, that I didn’t feel the need to be on it anymore.
I was mocked by my friends relentlessly when I took out my phone; my buddy Andrew used to ask every few months “still got that crappy phone?” when I’d see him.
Still, I was a proud non-conformist in this area.
Until last week. My wife got a fancy new iPhone 5s, and when the trade-in value for her iPhone 4 wasn’t much, she asked if I wanted to keep it and finally upgrade. So I did.

I wanted to hate it. I tell myself I’m going to go slow and be careful not to get sucked in like others.
But since activating it on Saturday, I have a confession to make:

I kinda love it.

I caught up on a lot of Web reading on the subway today. It’s so much easier to text, and far less painful for me (I have tendinitis in my thumbs, and texting on my old phone gave me inflammation, believe it or not). I’ve already used my Google Maps app and my HopStop app a few times; having a smartphone is bound to prevent me from getting lost so much.

I just have to keep repeating to myself: “I won’t get sucked in, I won’t get sucked in, I will not become a zombie!”



**Next up, I was really intrigued by this story in the Sunday New York Times about a new program in a Norfolk, Mass. prison called “restorative justice.” The concept has been around a long time, and it works like this: Inmates come into a group session with other inmates and confess their feelings of regret and remorse about their crimes, while from the outside, victims and victims families of completely different crimes sit in the same circle and share their feelings of loss as well.

Ideally, both groups come away with a new appreciation for the pain and suffering the others have endured.

The story has some great quotes in it, and I’m hugely in favor of anything like this that can give people in prison some peace (By the way, forget to write about this when I saw it a few weeks ago, but I highly recommend the documentary available on Netflix “The House I Live In,” about how incredibly screwed up our war on drugs is, and what it has turned our prisons into.)

Here’s an excerpt: Ms. Wornum, 58, talked about the summer night three years ago when her son Aaron, a 25-year-old musician, walked out of their home with a cheerful “Be right back.” Forty minutes later the phone rang. It was a hospital; her son had been shot. He took his final breath in her arms.

“You touched me the most because it really made me understand what I put the family through,” said Mr. Sahin, 37, who was 22 when he killed the young mother. Taking a deep breath, broad shoulders bent forward, he continued. “I really don’t know how to overcome this or if I can overcome it. I’ve done a lot of bad stuff in my life. But I’ve reached a place where I’m not numb anymore.”

**Finally today, this is great for Harry Potter lovers like me: In the midst of World Cup fever, the website Pottermore.com is hosting a live-blog from Ginny Weasley from the Quidditch World Cup Final on Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern (as you already know, it’s Brazil vs. Bulgaria in that one).

My first question for Ginny: How “magical” of a boyfriend is Harry these days?