Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

November 23, 2013

The new gets old faster and faster

‘Can you send a fax for me?” asked Charlotte, a close neighbor, on the phone one morning. I was a little perplexed. It was like asking me if she could borrow our butter churn or a bucket of coal. Who sends faxes anymore? Didn’t they go out with mullets and Beanie Babies? Why not just send a scan, or an email attachment or a screenshot of whatever she was being asked to fax? Who was she sending a fax to? Had she invented some kind of time machine? Was she sending a fax to her old self in 1989 telling her not to marry that bozo Tom?

I had to check, but it turns out my printer is also a scanner and a fax machine, even though I had never used it for that.

“Sure,” I said. “Come on over, or do you need me to come over there and help crank your car?” Charlotte now thinks I am out of my mind. She has no idea that people once started cars by hand-cranking them. The only crank she knows about is me.

Old technology never seems to die willingly. I worked with a writer not so long ago who insisted on using a fountain pen. If he could have, I’m sure he would have used a quill. This meant that every single word he wrote had to be typed into the computer by someone else. His typist went on to become quite successful in the publishing business; the scribe, not so much. It turns out that what you write is more important than what you write with.

Go to almost any lawn sale and you’ll find cassette tapes and vinyl records and dictaphones and VHS players and giant, coffin-sized speakers that aren’t as good as the tiny ones in your car’s door, yet some people still buy them. People who say old vinyl records sound better than digital either have a hearing problem or a memory problem. No, I take that back. Maybe they just have a drinking problem. But even if it were true, once you’ve run a needle over a vinyl record a few times, you can throw high fidelity out the window and watch it smash like a dish at a Greek wedding. But if you like vinyl, there’s a program that will add authentic-sounding clicks and pops to the songs on your MP3 player.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Cable guys too slow with Internet upgrade Remember the good-old 1990s, when you could make a pot of coffee while waiting for the screeching dial-up modem to connect to the Internet at a leisurely 9.6 kilobits per second? Two decades later, the average American household's connection is 1,000

    April 16, 2014

  • A May Day fable SPRINGFIELD -- Growing up during the Cold War, May Day always was a bit ominous. On the evening news, we'd watch tanks, missiles and soldiers march by the reviewing stands in Moscow, Beijing and Havana where stone-faced Communist leaders would look

    April 16, 2014

  • Display it proudly Editor: Drive past the demolition site of the old Good Samaritan Hospital on North 12th Street in Mt. Vernon and you will see the Stars and Stripes proudly flying from the flag pole. The hospital has been reduced to a pile of debris, but Old Glory st

    April 16, 2014

  • Got raw milk ... and salmonella? A refresher course in the work of Louis Pasteur should be mandatory for advocates of so-called raw milk. For anyone who missed fourth-grade science, Pasteur discovered that heating milk for a very brief time killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria, camp

    April 16, 2014

  • Heartburn Tens of millions of Americans have been affected by the theft of their personal information in the digital age. In a recent major data breach at Target stores, numbers and names were taken from about 40 million customers, and many millions more suffe

    April 15, 2014

  • Hitting home I received an article today with a suggestion to use it in a column. This one really hit home to me because it was about the outrageous price increases in diabetic testing devices and supplies. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes several years ago.

    April 15, 2014

  • The cost of care This was a breakthrough week for health-care transparency. For the first time, the Obama administration released doctor-specific information about Medicare payments, starting with 2012 data on $64 billion worth of billings. Journalists immediately se

    April 15, 2014

  • Obama could stand to be a little more like LBJ On Thursday, President Barack Obama joined other dignitaries at a civil rights summit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson's signature accomplishment as president -- passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. And in a nod to

    April 12, 2014

  • Human performers, not animals Editor: The circus is coming to town with their circus animal slaves. Like other circuses who torture animals, the circus is very close to being shut down for good. Everything takes baby steps. Why should I waste my time with words when anyone can vi

    April 12, 2014

  • HYPE, HYPE, HOORAY! How long do you think you'd continue to buy this newspaper if every single story on every single page for the last three weeks was about a missing airplane? Or a hurricane? Or a baby down a well? Or any other single topic? No sports, no weddings, no

    April 12, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks