Some people predict that it’s only a matter of time until our ordinary telephones disappear and are replaced by individual devices about the size of a pocket watch—one side will have a TV screen and speaker; the other will entail a set of buttons you can use to activate various functions or dial world information for any given individual. And if that person doesn’t answer, it will mean that they are dead. Under such circumstances, absolutely no one can get lost anymore.

—Alan Watts, Just So: Money, Materialism, and the Ineffable, Intelligent Universe

I had noticed over the last few weeks that my phone seemed to be slow to receive emails, and I was having problems getting texts to go through to certain people. I didn’t think much of it, because a smartphone is little more than an mp3 player to me. Today, though, I rebooted it and promptly received five voicemails and a couple texts that had apparently been in limbo for who knows how long. I know full well that various corporate and political actors would love to eliminate the possibility of true “private time,” and that the little surveillance devices we all carry around make it easier for them to do so, but it still pleases me to see how, for no particular reason, things just sometimes stop working as expected, introducing just that little bit of unpredictability into events again.