Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


He was an unhinged, crazy bastard but people loved him.

Rolling Stone has put the original essay from Hunter S. Thompson online so people can read what became Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Yes, Thompson lost the plot with an eventual crash that left him in the mountains, paranoid but unbroken. But he could write very, very well.

Minitel


It was slow and clunky, but it worked and that's all that mattered:
Combining a monitor, keyboard, and modem all in one beige plastic package, the Minitel terminal — known as the "Little French Box" — was once a common sight in French households. With it, writes Julien Mailland in the Atlantic, "one could read the news, engage in multi-player interactive gaming, grocery shop for same-day delivery, submit natural language requests like 'reserve theater tickets in Paris,' purchase said tickets using a credit card, remotely control thermostats and other home appliances, manage a bank account, chat, and date." All this at a time when, as Schofield puts it, "the rest of us were being put on hold by the bank manager or queueing for tickets at the station." And what's more, the French got their Minitel terminals for free.
In order for regular Americans to get on the Internet in the 1990s, they had to have a computer with a modem and a phone line. By the time you got all of that lined up, you had to pay for access and that meant about $25 a month to someone like America Online.

I kind of like the French idea better.

Blockbuster



The Blockbuster Video Chain was a horrific company, a blight upon the American retain landscape. It was easily the worst company of the 1990s and early 2000s (says me).

Who is nostalgic for anything related to Blockbuster? This is a picture of a game you can play in your home. Why would you want anything with the blue and yellow logo of eternal evil on it? I see the Blockbuster logo and I see red.

Get rid of this shit, man. There should not be any of it left. When they closed those stores, think of all the Blockbuster bullshit that was thrown away. The signs, the bags, the bins, the display cases, the shelves on the wall. Think of all the stores they once had. A lot of them are now Panera Bread stores or places where you can get vaping crap. There should not be any of this, it should all be gone. They should set all of their remaining merchandise and mementos on fire and disappear into the sordid annals of history, going the way of those stores where people sold belly slaps and gum that didn't work.

I'm still mad about having to pay late fees. All of America should still be angry. I'm still giving Netflix money because that's what killed Blockbuster.

Why would you play a game like this? You should fling this goddamned thing into the rafters. It's not safe to start fires in stores, so don't do that. But, shit. Where was this considered a good idea? In a pitch meeting attended by people who didn't have to live in a country where there were no good movie stores and where a Blockbuster video store was just there, like a blight?

Don't you remember going there and being forced to wait to get movies? You'd have to sweep in and try to get a new release. You might have to move up and down the aisles like a shark and wait for a dopey kid to put a just-returned copy on the shelf. Then you would have to wait in line to rent it. Oh. I can't rent it until I pay late fees? Well, goddamn.

Don't get me started on what it was like to rent a movie and find out some idiot had put the wrong movie in the wrong box. Or that they had failed to rewind the damned thing.

Fucking late fees. When am I getting over them?

Never.


John le Carré


John le Carré on how far we have fallen from grace.
I try to imagine how it was for Palme in those times: the shuttle diplomacy, the tireless reasoning with people locked into their positions and scared of their superiors. I was the lowest form of spy life, but even I got wind of contingency plans for outright nuclear war. If you are in Berlin or Bonn when the Russian tanks sweep over you, be sure to destroy your files first. First? What was second? And I doubt whether your chances would have been much rosier in Stockholm. 
In Berlin, in August 1961, I look on as coils of Russian barbed wire are unrolled across the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint, otherwise known as Checkpoint Charlie. Intermittently, in the days that follow, I watch the Wall go up, one concrete block at a time. Do I lift a finger? No one did. And maybe that was the worst part of it: the oppressive sense of your own irrelevance. 
But Palme refused to be irrelevant. He would make himself heard if it killed him, and perhaps in the end it did. 
It’s October 1962 and Cuban crisis time. I am a junior diplomat at the British embassy in Bonn and I have just moved into a new hiring beside the river Rhine. German decorators are painting the walls. It’s a sunny autumn and I think I must have been on leave because I am sitting in the garden writing.