Thursday, October 30, 2008

Morse Key and Telegrapher's Paralysis

We think that getting Repetitive Strain Injury from using a mouse all day is a new thing.  Maybe not so.

Mid last century,  there was an affliction known as Telegrapher's Paralysis (also known as Glass Arm).  Like RSI, it was common among telegraph key operators who would frequently be called on to transmit up to 20 words per minute by rapidly pressing the Morse key.

I guess the term "Telegrapher's Paralysis" is obsolete, though it might perhaps be argued that the ailment is not, it's merely caused by a different technology.

In any case, there can be no doubt that morse key and telegraphy is obsolete.  And I don't know about you, but I think it's rather sad that kids today will never know the thrill of receiving a telegram, except by watching old movies.  

My favorite telegram scene is probably in It's a Wonderful Life, right at the end when Sam Wainwright cables to tell George Bailey that he'll cover him the money he needs.  

Would it be the same if it was read from an email?

I doubt it...for a start, you'd lose the "stops" (if you get what I mean), as well as the sense of important urgency.

I mean that was the thing about a telegram - they were only sent at momentous occasions in people's lives: births, deaths, and (in George Bailey's case) bail-outs.  In these days of Twitter it seems we constantly telegraph each other such trivia (hey, I'm watching a TV show!  Eating cornflakes for breakfast!), that the truly important moments are lost in the mix.  If we highlight every word on a page, how will we know which ones really matter?

And I guess that's what a telegram did.  Highlighted the moment - and every word counted.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

a movie about me?

A very strange thing just happened to me today.

I was working, as per usual, at the library, and a woman started telling me about her laptop and how though it was only four years old, it had become obsolete.  She was disgusted about this, angry even, and somehow I ended up telling her about my encyclopedia.

Too sympathetically perhaps because then I discovered:

She's a writer, a kind of strange lady...from Scotland, of all places.  And she now wants to write a movie about me.

Is it a good idea for me to co-operate?  I honestly do not know.  On one hand, it may help my Obselidic endeavour.  I'm sure it would.   As they say, no publicity is bad publicity.  But I feel wary.    I have a feeling she's of the "don't let the truth get in the way of a good story" field of film-making.   Though you know...maybe in this case that would be a good thing.   

After all, what is the blockbuster to date?  A man rants, never raves; he catalogues, writes, collects, and dreams.  It's not exactly popcorn dark knight hoo-ha heaven.  Just day to day life...a sequence of events with no beginning, no middle, no hero and no end.  

Welcome to my life, Diane, my real life.  One may think it romantic, a last stand against the disappearance of everything we think matters.  But it's not.  It's just what I have to do.  Like opening a tin of tuna for my cat.  Not good or bad, not interesting or dull, just what it is.

And if you want to make a movie out of this??  

Good luck.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Protein Called Love

I've been thinking about this a lot recently.  What are feelings?  Can feelings become obsolete?

I know, we're launching into the realm of metaphysical esoterica, but consider it for a moment.  

There is a theory that love is merely an illusionary state, created by an increase in certain proteins in the body, in order to encourage the procreation of the species.  It's like your body creates a mental trance with these proteins so that you won't listen to logic and reason - at least not until the propagation is done.  Then the proteins decrease, and it's "see you in the divorce court".

Given that hypothesis, wouldn't it then be fair to say that if physical contact is no longer necessary for procreation - well, isn't then love obsolete?

Of course, saying love is obsolete would suggest that "love" even existed in the first place,  when in truth what we've been talking about when we say "love" is actually a protein.  So to be precise: the protein called love, that's what's obsolete.