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Title:What Ever Happened To [...] #1003
Date:Friday February 17th, 2012
Author:Troubadour
[Default Article Image]The Washington Administraction Presents...

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO ["Pen and Paper"] ?


So, what in this world is ever happening to pen and paper? That's right, the implements by which the chronicling of civilization on this planet has forever been accomplished. Do we mean to say these tried-and-true tools are OBSOLETE? All paper disappears--including footrace entry blanks--so that if you're not pointing-and-clicking and "keyboarding" on thousand-dollar machines, you're just not happening anymore? You ain't civilized!? You're NOT entering any races and you AREN'T receiving any "live feeds" or "real time" progress reports (Tweets?) from all these events that, in fact, no longer take paper.

What *ever* happened to THAT stuff?

We have just returned from the computer store. At the computer store we learn amazing things. Not only is paper and pen (which have survived the ravages of time for centuries; and pencil, graphite, and hammer-and-chisel before that for millennia) currently obsolete, but the computer itself from 2003 A.D. and all of its software is also obsolete! Even CASH REGISTERS are obsolete!! Yes, in order to purchase this very new, very "hip" and most up-to-date cybertronic gimcrackery, I first had to "log in" via email, create a "user I.D. and password," whip out a credit card (which was "swiped") and SIGN the purchase agreement WITH MY FINGER directly *on* (yea, oh yea) the screen of this other (more portable) hip gimcrack thingy [OMG, I SIGNED A LEGAL DOCUMENT WITH MY FINGER!!!] and then, poof: some magical almost toilet-paper-like strip came curling out of yet ANOTHER (less portable) gizmotic printing press as my "receipt."

Whoa.

What ever happened to "styluses"? Are those otherwise electronically useful things called styluses ALSO OBSOLETE?

So now all you need in order to buy something is give them the finger???

Here's a question. For the several years now that we've all (unfortunately) been forced to sign up for racing events on-line, when you would get to the bottom for that "waiver" thingy [THE very thing required by lawyers to help persuade race directors that they can't be sued; when, in fact, they CAN--and ooh, how the lawyers all love THAT]...well, since computers won't generally allow you to SIGN a legally-admissible paper agreement with a ballpoint pen which the lawyers--at great billable hours and expense--can then submit to a court in a courthouse, all these online cyber-waivers have simply been allowing you to click with your mouse that radio button called "I AGREE."

So, how come that's no longer good inside an Apple store?

Now you are expected to SIGN a non-existent cybertronic digital facsimile of some purported legal agreement [you agree to PAY, they agree to a one-year warranty] which, in fact, doesn't even legally exist in "real time" and cannot therefore be attaché'd and/or brief-case carried into a courtroom. Aye, *there's the rub* (and never mind the pun on finger friction across some damn plasma screen): UNTIL the entire judicial branch of this government (and others around the world) gets together and AGREES that these whiz-bang sigs-on-plasma are legal and binding, almost nothing you "sign for" electronically has any validity. It can ALL be argued in court, and that's why the lawyers still love it and the post office stays in business. Once the Law no longer requires stuff like Registered or Certified MAIL, the United States Postal Service perishes from the earth...

...just like pen and paper.

Centuries ago, pencils were used. We shouldn't exactly gloss over pencils (especially not the No. 2 kind) because until Apple, Inc., completely re-does how standardized tests are taken, your teenagers are still gonna need pencils. This, too, ties in--miraculously, no?--to our discussion today relating instruments of WRITING to running, footraces, and (for example) the printing out and posting ON PAPER on the sides of buildings the nearly immediate RESULTS of all these soon-to-be obsoletely "scored" footraces. One of my all-time idols and champions in the sport, still living in the Northeast, went himself and followed in the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau and built--from scratch and using only hand tools--his very own cabin in the woods. So, how does all this tie in?

Henry David Thoreau's family business was pencil making. (Betcha dint know dat, huh?) In the early-to-mid 19th century, the Thoreaus had a, yes, "pencil factory" in Massachusetts from which young Hank rebelled and said, in effect, "take this job and shove it; I ain't workin' here no more," and then he went out to Walden Pond and built him a house--out of the same stuff as pencils are made of: wood (OK, and graphite). My fondest souvenir from college is--no, not a Thoreau pencil--a copy of "Walden Pond." And it sets my mind a-wondering what good ol' H.D. might say today about the Apple store:

"The mass of customers lead lives of quiet electronical desperation. In the long run--after hour upon hour of wasted effort--men hit only what they aim at. Here, use this pencil."

"In wildness," Thoreau wrote, "is the preservation of the world." How do I know this? Because the Boy Scouts carved that very quote into a wooden signboard and stuck it alongside a non-existent trail up on Jury Ridge along the Barkley Marathons course. But, just like the foibles and other follies of modern men--their Scoutmasters--they missed Jury Ridge and planted it somewhere else (yes, where even I have been lost).


( O_O )


And while we're at it, what ever happened to "wildness"?

Yours troubly,

The Troubadour
"800 years ago it took some real woodcarving skill to sharpen a pencil; is that, too, a dying art?"

Yankee Folly of The Day:
What you possibly didn't realize is: General Washington, before his presidency, used an eye, Mack, to plot his battle plans in three dimensions over topologically accurate fully motion-simulated (by rattling) maps that his password-successful site users had gigglingly oogled in real time.

____________________________________________

To Which Is Now Added...

Monday Afternoon [was: Morning] Quarterbacking [Re: WEHT #1003]

Posted: Monday, February 20, 2012 6:05 PM


[I'll try to contain my enthusiasm. This--right here, right now--represents my first-ever public post as concocted on my brand-new Mac machine. You know, the one replacing all pens and papers and other implements of construction hanging around my desk. 'Tis troubly a momentous occasion, no? It surely must rank right up there with teething, busting out of my playpen, and figuring out how to "con" ma for the first time. I feel liberated. Free as a newly lain babe--then leaping out of the manger, ripping clear of my swaddling clothes, and crawling ass all over the stable and barnyard. Otherwise, of course, these cybertronic rites of passage are just miserable. It's taken me all day to learn how to send and receive messages on this titanic S.S. Jobs' monstrosity. Please bear with me….]

Regarding feedback from my Friday's post (and fortunately there wasn't a lot, thereby giving me more time for the computing while saving some on the editing), my friend M.B. said it most succinctly: "I couldn't agree more. We're all doomed. And obsolete."

D.B. asks: "Why would anyone pay $1,000 for a computer? I'm sitting here at my 15.6 inch, 4 GB, Windows7 Home Premium laptop with Wi-Fi, USB, 250 GB hard drive, free software that equals Microsoft Office, other free software, CD/DVD read/write, software that will copy almost anything, and more. All for about $500 a few years ago."

Ahh, but I've been told by countless other intelligences (both of this world, and others) that Macs get no viruses. So, when I factor in all the wasted time--and ALL THE EXPENSE--that my old "Windows" machine cost me by always having to go into "the shop" for all manner of virus repairs, a thousand bucks is a bargain!

"There is paper to my left and pens and a #2 pencil (with eraser) to my right," adds D.B.

Yes, here too. I was mostly exaggerating about the obsolescence of old-fashioned writing materials. Of course, didn't they also once believe that--since now civilization has finally invented them--telegraphs, typewriters, mimeographs, and pay phones would never disappear either?

Regarding those Number 2 pencils and whatnot as required of today's kids trying to get into college, J.C. informs that "the so-called 'SmartBoard' set-up also provides 'clickers' for students to give responses to their clever teachers' on-the-spot T-F or M-C questions" and "instantly graphs who's right and who is stupid (just by graph or pie-chart . . . ). I assume Scantron (use #2 pencil only) technology is long a thing of the past, except in community colleges and in subject area depts. who have so far kept its existence a secret from the administrator."

Wouldn't ya know: my own teaching experience best remembered was as a sabbatical fill-in (i.e., a substitute) for one year only at a community college. So, that's why I've been thinking kids will surely have to hang on to their pencils.

But I do like J.C.'s agreement-by-inference with this cool statement: "Hate to sound Glenbeckian, but when the apocalypse does come, in ways we didn't ever anticipate, and the Big Grid in the Sky comes down, those who can't write with a stick and their own blood are screwed." Which, I'm thinking, is yet another argument for public schools to KEEP TEACHING cursive writing to the kids.

R.M. agrees in principle with my "wonder and bemusement and consternation at the foibles of this electronic age--an age which people 50 years our junior readily accommodate."

"Remember rotary dial phones and TV's without remotes?" he asks. "The young'uns would find these to be of Neanderthal vintage which [justifies] . . . paper entry forms phase-out." And he noted something else about those paper entry blanks: "the most recent race in which I participated offered no option other than 'sign me up sports' which required I submit, electronically, information to unknown parties, who might use said information for identity theft. They offered no paper entry alternative, so my credit card info is going to endlessly be in cyberspace readily accessible to hackers. Surprisingly, on arrival at the race, there were raceday entry forms for which they would accept untraceable cash--a factor not advertised on their website."

And this: "your experience at the cyberstore is, indeed, sad commentary on what will befall us" and "pencils were once a useful tool 'for constipated accountants.' Let's see your tax preparer try that with his keyboard, and the 'associates' at the Apple store as well."

C.P. said, "I thought this might be of interest to you. Sort of along the same lines. . . . A quote from Michael Moore from his latest book, 'Here Comes Trouble'--a book I highly recommend: 'This is my first volume of such short stories. I wanted to commit them to paper while paper (and book stores and libraries) still existed.'"

And regarding my assumed losing of woodworking skills over the millennia, J.B. noted: "There still are some carpenters that can sharpen a pencil with a jackknife: the old ones. I asked the older superintendent, who carries a BlackBerry and an iPad."

Me personally? Deze daze I seemingly have no real use for pencils, since i am (unlike certain accountants alluded to above) rarely, if ever, constipated.

Have a nice evening, y'all.

Yours troubly,

The Troubadour
"800 years ago our lutes were all acoustic, unplugged, and made out of wood; but today you make music by Wi-Fi"

Yankee Folly of The Day:
It's no longer afternoon. In fact, it's probably not even Monday.
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Posted:February 17th, 2012 5:08 pm
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