Reading Tom Disch's Live Journal today, I came across this:
The dark side to all this can be seen as the problem of atheism in a world of lawless and disaffected teenagers addicted to bingo. My friend grieved that so many young people were being "thrown away" by society. I grieve that anarchy now has the edge.
It was a damned refreshing outlook on the Problems We Face Today. Unfortunately, when I reread it a moment later, it actually read
The dark side to all this can be seen as the problem of atheism in a world of lawless and disaffected teenagers addicted to drugs. My friend grieved that so many young people were being "thrown away" by society. I grieve that anarchy now has the edge.
The Ugly Things website later informed me:
Welcome to Ugly Things, the ultimate rock'n'roll read, bringing you wild sounds from past dimensions, from times when rock'n'roll was young, daring, religious and viral.
Which turned out, on closer inspection, to read:
Welcome to Ugly Things, the ultimate rock'n'roll read, bringing you wild sounds from past dimensions, from times when rock'n'roll was young, daring, dangerous and vital.
Y'see, I'm an over-40 person. My eyesight isn't what it used to be, I can't find my glasses (of course), and my brain has apparently come up with a timesaving measure. Its solution is to invent up any words it can't make out. Usually, the brain's in the ballpark. People are fairly predictable after all, and sentences normally play out the way they intimated they would right at the beginning. Sometimes, though, brain gets it wrong. Amusingly wrong as above, or even spectacularly wrong.
Most websites use text sizes which just don't cut it for me. I can increase the font size or zoom (and destroy the intended layout of the page) using my browser, of course, but I'd prefer to read a page the way it opens, with the graphics and margins falling in the place where the designer intended them to be. I don't know why so many web layouts are only marginally readable. The answer I've seen around is that networking site providers want to woo teenage hip young things who early-adopt and are generally considered to be good for business. They have good short-distance eyesight and discrimination and *like* clutter, red-text-on-black-backgrounds and paragraphs with no extra line feed. That explains the layout on LiveJournal and most of Blogger, and makes a start on explaining the cramped, dark and noisy styles available on MySpace. (Then again, nothing can fully explain MySpace's layout. Unless – someone should try this - if you reverse the colors on the page, does part of the text jump out at you to spell "Here's to My Sweet Satan"? That might be it.)
That common answer, though, doesn't say why the networking sites are so desperate to herd the youngsters towards their hellmouths. After all, people my age have all the money, and there's more and more of us and fewer ankle-biters every year. And I – I just want to re-iterate this now – can't read anything smaller than 12-point type. It's not a problem with a book or a newspaper, which I can hold closer or further away until it swims into focus, or switch a light on to better illuminate the page, or (as a last resort) carry the thing around with me until a pair of glasses manifests on a table somewhere and then carry on reading. But the screen won't be moved or carried around, and the Forget-It Co-efficient of a web page (the time taken to load plus the time taken to find my glasses) is about one thousand times that of the Forget-It Co-efficient of a book. After all, I've usually gone out and bought a book, or at least um, bought it from Amazon. Anyway, I've actually decided in some meaningful way that I want it. With a web page, I've usually clicked on to it out of mild interest from somewhere else and have nothing invested in it. If it wants me to stay and look at it, it should at least be readable.
The above's not entirely true. I can read down to 8-point type. But at that level I substitute about 20% of the verbs and 10% of the nouns with words of my own choosing. Looking at the examples above – the two I bothered to copy and paste out of about ten double-takes today – it's more thought-provoking that way anyway.