Saturday, January 16, 2016

Liberated by the iPhone

The title of this blog will make sense in a few minutes, but first you need some backstory. Lately when my husband, Jagdish, and I are driving from Connecticut to Providence, we discuss recent happenings on the political front. We analyze which presidential candidate holds what views and what effect his or her policies will have.

On one of the trips we talked about the differences between the tax plans proposed by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. One cannot easily do this without touching on the 10% — 90% economic model.

Jagdish was searching for the word for the type of government where a small percentage of people have all the resources and the power over a large group of have-nots. I suggested that would be an oligarchy. He then came up with a plutocracy.

We wondered what the difference was between the two. I wasn’t certain, but I thought that plutocracy was a more generic term for the rule of many by a small group. I believed oligarchy was more specifically the rule by a small group who controlled the bulk of the resources (money and land) of a large group who had virtually nothing. It turns out I had it backwards.

The way we figured this out is how this post came about. Since I’m always the driver, Jagdish set about looking up the definitions of oligarchy and plutocracy on his iPhone. He quickly found the answer and clarified the two for me. A proverbial light bulb lit up above my head.

In years past, when my husband asked what a certain word meant, here is what happened. About 80 percent of the time, I was able to answer his question with certainty. Fifteen percent of the time, I had a general idea of the meaning, but was a tad fuzzy around the edges. Five percent of the time, I was extremely unclear or totally clueless.

I’ve always maintained that if you can’t explain what a word means to someone else, you don’t truly understand its meaning yourself. Twenty percent of the time, we had no clear definition in hand. Most who know my husband can probably see where this is going.

Jagdish would simply move on in his reading, feeling no less enlightened then when he first asked the question. I, on the other hand, would feel dumb as a post. Frustrated, more often than not I would get up, trek somewhere to find our Webster’s unabridged, and look up the exact meaning. If I were feeling particularly peevish, I wouldn’t tell him what I learned unless he pleaded to find out. Of course, that happened as often as when he went for the dictionary. Which was practically never.

Which brings me back to the iPhone epiphany. I’d estimate that 95 percent of the time, my husband finds exactly what he’s looking for. This means I’m frustrated just 5 percent of the time, not 20. Not only does Jagdish look things up on his own, he types notes about them into his phone. This is especially helpful to me when I’m driving.

Take this post, for instance. I asked him to key in a short version of our oligarchy/plutocracy conversation so I would remember to blog about it in the future. And voila! Here I am doing it. It turns out I have been liberated by my husband’s iPhone. There is a god after all.

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