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Thursday, January 16, 2014


I heard an interesting bit of news on the radio the other evening.
While mundanely making my way home in a post-work fog, the radio announcer stated Ohio Highway Patrol Troopers would soon be discarding their pens when issuing citations. As I mulled this over in my addled state, he then went on to say troopers would be issuing e-tickets.
With a swipe of the offender's drivers license in an electronic device, Johnny Law has only to tap-tap-tap on a key pad to complete a ticket.
Well...what about them apples?
Initially, I wondered how the citing officer can attest they are the one who actually wrote the ticket.
Sure, we now have “e-signatures”, yet my e-signature looks remarkably like every other time I type my name in the computer.
Of course, they could use the wonderful screen and stylus technique. Certainly, you have used this marvel of our time when signing for a purchase in a store, or the receipt of a delivery.
They are utterly amazing. These devices (at least the ones I have used) all posses the uncanny ability to transform anyone’s handwriting into a reasonable facsimile of a five year old dragging a stick through mud.
It is an ironic (no, diabolical) quirk of these little monstrosities when they sense one is actually attempting to write neatly, they render the result all the more indecipherable.
All that aside, my thoughts went next to the Court system. What if a local jurisdiction's Clerk's Office was not compatible with the Patrol's system? Would charges fail to be filed? Would defendants get off due to lack of prosecution?
Lingering for the briefest of time upon these legal matters, I soon thought of the most obvious fly in this seeming marvelous ointment.:
When was the last time you received a concisely worded, correctly punctuated, spelling-error-free text or e-mail? One with out abbreviations (r u busy, LOL, btw), the use of “...”, no run-on sentences, and no :) or :( characters. Yes, the same as me, I see.
Can you just imagine the citation of the future?
Jacl Smiith
124* Garfrnl Rosd
Cgattanpga TB
U r cuted 4 speddinf twwit 42mpb in a 53 zome.
U r 2b in Coyrt on Febbray 29, 2014
OR U cab pau fins of 250#

Sends chills down one's spine, doesn't it?

Yet, perhaps the most disturbing (to me, at least) is the ramifications of moving one step further along the road from writing.
Since the first human scratched the vague shape of a mastodon chasing his hunting buddies pell-mell through a primordial forest in the dust by a stream; we as a species have yearned to express ourselves.
The first crude strokes of Cuneiform having led to the various forms of language, alphabets, and script, resulted in a treasure trove of uniqueness

Have you ever wondered how various letters not only got their names, but also their sounds?
Nah, I didn't think so. Me neither.

Consider, though, why do we call an “e an “e”? Why not that “double curvy thing”?

And the sound of a long “e”. How did that come about? Did the first scribe to write the letter begin to giggle at its ludicrous appearance “Heee heee heee”? Did a young scribe-in-training just assume the older, wiser man was naming the letter?
From then on, it was known as “heee”, until the Angles and Saxons who resided in the area yet to be known as Cockney, got hold of it. With their aversion to the letter “h” (or “aitch”), they dropped the first letter.
Of course, this aberration of speech raised some eyebrows while conversing with the local Picts and Celts by saying “Eee” rather than “Heee”. But, being more numerous and louder talkers, the poor letter “Heee” is forever known as “Eee”.
Just think how poor our language would be without our curvy little pal.
What would elephants in cartoons exclaim when they see a mouse? Shouting “---K!!” just has no punch whatsoever.
What would people yell while riding on a roller coaster if they couldn't say “WHEEE!!”?
Know what- forget that one.
I have heard people on a roller coaster before. They say lots of things. “Wheee” is not usually in the Top Ten Words Yelled from a Roller Coaster.
If people have never written, think of the immeasurable wealth of literature, poetry, and comic books that would be lost.
Consider, for a moment, there would be no market for autographs. Anyone could squiggle any old thing on a piece of paper, and sell it as Abraham Lincoln's signature.
Can you imagine, while at a ball game, going up to Cal Ripken with your program, only to stare blankly at one another? He can't write, and you (having never written) wonder why you are extending a mustard smeared program to the Ironman of Baseball.
“When in the course of Human Events...” would be so much blank space on an old piece of parchment.
No Shakespeare, no Cicero, no Twain; on and on it would go. All lost simply due to not being able to write.
Imagine being stranded in the woods and not being able to write. Oh, I have heard the rationale a zillion times; “I have my (cellphone, tablet, i-phone, latest whiz-bang gizmo), I can just call for help.”
Sure you can.
Assuming you have a signal, the battery hasn't died, or you didn't drop the ridiculously fragile thing in a pile of goose down.
You spend three or four nights, teeth chattering from the cold, while you stare at strange glowing eyes in the darkness. Finally, just when you are about to abandon all hope, you are discovered by a hunter making his way to his tree stand. He is able to write out the word “HELP” in the snow. Soon, the thumping of rotors is heard as a rescue helicopter arrives.
As you are being trundled on your way to safety and cell-towers, you can not help but think:
“I would have been spared all this if only the Ohio Patrol had not given up pens!”

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