Tuesday, 8 June 2010


That’s how many manuscripts I either sent to review, triaged, or made editorial decisions on last week.

It is also, coincidentally, the time in seconds it took between the O2 website being updated to introduce the new iPhone and my entering my details so as to be amongst the first to possess it. My iPad, by the way, continues to amaze me. And others. Just today (in Washington DC, where I was attending an NIH review panel), a complete stranger came up to me in Starbucks and said “Is that an iPad? F@!k, that’s amazing!” (Apologies to anyone offended by the pr@fanity - he said it, not me!). I let him touch it. But only after he’d washed his hands...

Gadgetry is taking over the world. It is all too common to see people walking along oblivious to anything but the conversation they’re having with what most often appears to be an imaginary friend. Inevitably, they have a bluetooth earpiece attached to their ear like some monstrous slug glued to their head. Today, though, saw the inevitable culmination of this obsession to talk. I was at Union Station in Washington, DC. The power-dressed woman coming towards me was talking nineteen to the dozen, apparently giving orders to some hapless assistant. But there was not a headset to be seen. Nothing. Not even a clip-on microphone. I figure she hadn’t noticed that her earpiece had jumped ship. I didn’t have the heart to tell her. After all, I could have been wrong, and she might have had some new-fangled gadget embedded in her person. Or been completely mad. I guess that is a plausible alternative. But I like the idea more that she’d dropped her earpiece without realizing. And I suspect her assistant would have liked that too.