Twisted 8 ½: The History of Human Technology


If in the aftermath of an apocalypse, the world has been reborn and a group of new citizens wants to find out what kind of technology pre-apocalypse humans lived on, I daresay that Jessica Zafra’s latest Twisted installment, Twisted 8 ½, would be able to provide an accurate albeit slightly sardonic record of its long and illustrious history.

Filled with 27 essays on the ups and downs of technology, the book gives its readers highly-entertaining stories they can easily identify with. Zafra tackles everything from gadgets that can’t speak to each other to coffee snobs and their shiny espresso machines. Make no mistake though. Twisted 8 ½ is not an in-depth and yawn-inducing tirade on modern technology. It is definitely made for light reading and for people who don’t take life too seriously.

Amid all the entertaining wit, however, are truths about technology that are rarely said aloud. In the essay Menage a Quatre, Zafra starts off by saying, “Technology makes your life easier. But first it complicates matters.”

And in Magellan Navigating Edsa, Zafra ponders on the chaotic reality of driving in Manila. She says, “Terrifying thought: Do most drivers really understand road signs? Do we really want to know?

In true Twisted fashion, Zafra delivers her thoughts in a simple and direct manner. There is no mincing of words here. What she says is what she means (unless her sense of humor proclaims otherwise).

What’s in a name?

Across essays, it is evident that Zafra loves giving her gadgets names. Her iBook is called James Tiberius Kirk. Her latest Macbook is called Marat. Her ancient coffee maker is the Baron Von Krups and her iPod is Eomer. They seem to fit in one big family.

I’m not sure just how widespread this gadget-naming trend is but I know quite a lot of people who treat their laptops and whatnots as if they were living beings. My sister calls her HP laptop Happle (yes, it’s an HP laptop with two Apple stickers on it). My boyfriend calls his Macbook Pro Mac-Mac (not entirely creative, I know). And one of my friends calls hers Tess (don’t ask me why).

See what I mean about readers being able to identify with the book? Quirks like this are all over Twisted 8 ½ although they are told in a matter-of-fact manner, making even the essay about looking for a nose trimmer feel like an everyday thing.

Twisted tips and tricks

In between pages of this book are tips and tricks that might be more useful to some than others. An entire essay is devoted to how you can avoid being involved in a sex scandal. “The old school, analog way to prevent this sort of exposure is to turn off all the lights. Bad for the cinematography.”

In Eyes without a Face, Zafra teaches you what to wear when you have your passport photo taken at one of those instant photo booths. Meanwhile, another essay sheds light on the art of reading and how new gadgets like Kindle are affecting it.

For the price of Php 100, Twisted 8 ½ is a rare gem. While some readers might have already read a couple or more of these essays on Zafra’s regular column, they do make good companions when you’re by yourself or with generally unpleasant company. Just be prepared to handle your sudden urges to laugh discreetly lest you want everyone thinking you’re some kind of lunatic. (

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