Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Two additions to my list of “things I’m glad I won’t be around to see.”

1) Interference

Have you noticed how your cell phone seems to interfere with any electronic device that generates sound through a speaker? Yesterday morning I made a couple of cell phone calls from bed. (Lest you get an image of me luxuriating with breakfast and the newspaper in bed, let me explain that I was fully dressed and in a New York City hotel room that was so tiny that the bed was the only comfortable place to talk on the phone.) The bedside clock radio started making that whiny “hih-hih-hihihitty-hih” sound that I also get from my computer speakers and my car radio when the cell phone is on. I assume it’s cell phone interference.

It then occurred to me that my electronic devices were telling me that my hotel room was receiving “excellent” signals both for the cell phone and for wireless internet. And that a few days ago, a techie-looking guy came into my office at school with some device and reported that my office was now picking up an excellent wireless internet signal. And when I turn on my laptop at home, even though we consciously chose not to have wireless, we’re picking up a weak wireless signal from a neighbor.

The fact is we don’t know what the health effects of all these signals are. It’s just another technology where we just plunge ahead willy-nilly on the assumption that “what we don’t know can’t hurt us.” And I think about that lone voice in the wilderness, the president of that small Canadian liberal arts college who refused to let his campus go wireless because “we still don’t know the health effects of wireless signals.”

What if we’ve basically doomed the next two generations of our people to a high incidence of brain cancer?

2) Spelling

Speaking of dooming the next generation, what are we doing to the next generation of spellers? Don’t be fooled by those documentary films about a small enclave of spelling bee nerd kids. Contemporary pedagogy has experimented broadly with “free” spelling in order ot encourage kids to write without constraint, but more importantly, IMing and text-messaging is bringing up the younger generation to non-standard spelling, not to mention a fairly conscious inattention to punctuation and grammar.

Will we revert to the non-standard spelling of early modern English? That is not necessarily an “end of civilization” worry, since Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson, among others, were products of that cultural milieu.

Or will we keep standardization and see our young people come to rely increasingly on “spell check” and “grammar check” software that will turn their chatroom gibberish into comprehensible prose? So basically, all written language will be filtered through computer programs controlled by Bill Gates. Nice thought...

1) That would certainly help bail out social security, and poise the "third world" for a grand takeover of the planet, since they'll be alive and ostensibly brain cancer-free.


We will evolve humans that can survive in E-M fields and bird flu (since the others will have died).

2) We will move away from an alphabet-oriented language to one of pictograms. Spelling won't matter anymore at all. (and how is verifictionary helping to promote good spelling? Hm???)

hmryeymv: the good ship "Her Majesty's Rhyme V"
oskr, r u felng krnkee 2da?

yr frn,


I can't even make my kid use the spellchecker. He has actually said "LOL" and "WTF" out loud like they were words.

Following on wpk's comment, I wanted to tell you that my (perpetually cranky) mother did not start the "glad I wont be around to see..." line until she was 50.
my favorite are the words that are AUTOMATICALLY corrected - I keep spelling separate as "seperate" and it just automatically changes it! UGH - how will I ever learn....
Just the other night, I was thinking a commonly misspelled word similar to separate -- desperate -- at least will be spelled correctly by the next generation, thanks to the popularity of the tv show "Desperate Housewives".

See, it's not so bad...
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]