Not a vookworm. Yet.

If there is a better definition for “ambivalence” than the feelings aroused by reading about “vooks” (electronic books with interactive video), I don’t know what it could be.

Los Angeles Times reporters Alex Pham and David Sarno write about how iPad-driven vooks make even Intro Chemistry interesting, something that makes me wish they’d existed when I tried, and failed, to like science in my freshman year of high school.

I’m more acquainted with the sentiments expressed by essayist Gary Shteyngart in this week’s New York Times Book Review, in which a vacation outside of cell range forces him to confess misgivings about a Facebooking, tweeting, arrow-driven, iPhoning inner life. The life that used to require only a book and a brain.

Reading a plain old physical (non blinking) book is an act as close to perfection as possible. There is nothing to fix about that experience. Yet I too am hooked on the device that is the gateway drug to vooks: the iPhone.

I am more likely to forget shoes than my iPhone. If I leave it behind by accident, I experience a wave of anxiety similar to that felt when buckling a seatbelt aboard a transcontinental flight, only to remember that the oven is still on.

This makes sense if one works and lives in a world requiring 24/7 connectivity. I do not.

I tap a keyboard most of the time, and almost none of what I write could be called “news” or “timely.” I live with my Best Friend and domestic time is typically spent within an arm’s length of each other. My pre-Best Friend best friend phones across three time zones every two days or so, the norm for much of the 39 years we’ve been acquainted.  The generous soul I consider a life-raft girlfriend here in town is, like me, temperamentally suited to short and intense meetings in person. A GPS-enhanced phone I need not.

So, what’s the allure? I think it must be a variation on a behavior I used to observe in my father. An extremely intelligent man with little formal education, he loved reading, reference books and electronic gadgets. The first two because they served as his ongoing college; the latter because mastering the newest technology was a way to have an edge over some smartass who went to Harvard but couldn’t rewire the stereo.

I managed to get the schooling he missed out on, and I’m not worrying much about keeping up with the smartasses anymore, but the iPhone is my hedge against the (many) gaps in my education and my skimpy pop-culture knowledge. And I have something he did not. The aps in my pocket supply me with English and Hebrew dictionaries; medical reference guide; new-music updates; NYTimes, the Constitution; NASA reports, food-safety database; Revised Standard Bible (loaded in anticipation of a dinner with Very Christian friends and found to be quite handy); Latin vocabulary. (Then there’s weather, the ocean-sound maker; police radio, ESPN scores and a running grocery list. A girl’s gotta take a break from thinking now and then.)

I’m holding out against vooks for now, but I suppose they’ll get me in the end.

Harvey Pekar dies. Doesn’t that just figure.

Harvey Pekar, best known for his autobiographical “American Splendor” graphic-novel series and the 2003 movie “The Quitter,” that dramatized his dejected world view, saw every glass as half empty. A half-empty glass leaving a ring on the table. He is dead at age 70, which just proves, as he always knew, that shit happens and then you die.

In a gesture as perfect as it was unintentional, the news of Pekar’s death was posted on the Los Angeles Times site, right under a handy pull-down menu labeled “Foreclosures.”  Harvey would have approved.

Harvey Pekar ("pee-kar") would not be surprised that people are posting his stuff without his permission.

Inherit the (Type Like The) Wind.

It’s a haunting question:

When your time is up, and you move on to whatever comes after this life…who will cancel your Facebook page?

Fortunately, the folks at Legacy Locker are on the job. This company offers a way for your designated beneficiary (and I’m using that word loosely) to access all your online services, pages and auto-payments…in order to protect or remove them.

I have mixed feelings.

On one hand, wouldn’t it be nice to know that Type Like The Wind would live on forever, its name renewed year after year? But, on the other hand, do my heirs really need to go through those 9,678 archived Gmail messages? It seems like a lot to ask.

Uh oh, the rich are bailing on mortgages too.

Proof that this foreclosure tsunami is real:

“The housing bust that began among the working class in remote subdivisions and quickly progressed to the suburban middle class is striking the upper class in privileged enclaves…” writes David Streitfeld in The New York Times. (The other quotes are from the same piece.)

A hint that that Congress may figure this out soon:

“Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.”

Indication that this is beyond the reach of Congressional fixing:

“In a recent column on Freddie Mac’s Web site, the company’s executive vice president, Don Bisenius, acknowledged that walking away “might well be a good decision for certain borrowers” but argues that those who do it are trashing their communities.”

First thing to worry about as soon as you find a new place to live and unpack your sleeping bag:

A whole lot of people are going to grow up with the belief that “trashing their communities” is okay.

Additional gloomy whining:

I live in a city with a citizens committee for just about everything. Maybe we need to suspend those for a time and form the All-City Housing Cooperative that works on ways to hold back this wave. (That way we’d be sure to have an actual neighborhood in which to debate the merits of roses versus rhodies on the intersection traffic circles.)

And as long as we’re moving closer to real panic, let’s start substituting the words “and condominiums” every time we read aloud a sentence describing an increase in the number of houses foreclosed.

That shiny new high-rise downtown is going to have a whole new feel when the penthouse owners decamp.

Sad news: AP jargon gets the shove.

As a former daily-newspaper journalist (and for a short time about 100 years ago, a proud writer for The Associated Press) I am heartsick to hear of the death of some longtime terms of the trade.  Who would opt for “keyword” instead of “slug” or “correct” instead of “cq” or “instead of” rather than the time-honored “sted.” And it gets worse…)

New York (AP) – Subs Lede, the veteran overseer of Associated Press wire-service jargon, died last night in New York City after plunging from an office building at 450 West 33rd St.  He was 90.

A statement released to media outlets this morning by the New York City Police Department’s Tradition Protective Unit (TPU) said that the fall appears to have been the result of a deliberate push by an editor or group of editors working in the building.  No suspects have been named, but one source close to the investigation said that TPU is “looking for a gang of youthful offenders.”

Mr. Lede was well known for his years in the front lines, where he fought alongside his stalwart partner, Recasts Hed, who at this writing is also near death from an accident last week. Police will not comment on whether the incidents are related.

Mr. Lede took countless newcomers under his wings in the field and the newsroom, training such crucial figures as Previous Cycle and the controversial Note Contents.

In 1978, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News with colleagues Fixes Typos and Will B. Led. The trio covered the tragic collision between a Misplaced Simile and a Clumsy Metaphor in airspace over the city. Following the crash, commas and semicolons rained down for a 48-hour period. The prize-winning stories resulted in parentheses being added to unclear phrases throughout the United States.

Mr. Lede was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, New Throughout; a sister, Adds Graphic-Slug; and a nephew, Adds Byline.

At. Mr. Lede’s request, no funeral service will be held. Donations may be made to Updates with Color.

(Staff report moved on wire 20:38 2 July 2010. This obituary written by Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett was sent by the service late on July 2, 2010.)

Goodbye Senator Byrd. Be glad you missed the news today.

One of the faceless commentators talking during the solemn carrying of Senator Robert Byrd’s casket this morning observed that the most significant thing about the late Senator’s tenure is the enormous social change on his long watch.

Byrd himself exemplified that change, moving from membership in the Ku Klux Klan as a young West Virginian to a supporter of civil rights measures as a seasoned statesman.

The comment no doubt gave a lot of other people pause as it did me. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would have thought longer and deeper about the thesis had the footage of Byrd not been followed by a live studio shot about the oil spill.  On the set was one of the new news-hotties stretching her long legs from a tall chair facing the camera, chatting with Phillipe Cousteau Jr, grandson of the revered Jacques Cousteau.

Yes, Senator Byrd lived a long life. Long enough to die on a day when “news” comes from a nitwit in snakeskin high heels schmoozing a low-wattage, high-ancestry bullshitter about one of the worst environmental disasters on record.