Hard copy:
Actually I rather like reading things on screen.  You can magnify them and if you are looking for something you just read you can find it.  I mean I am always reading journal articles that seem to go “17% of great big hairy monsters (GBHM) are found in counties that border on the sea, while more than 50% of people live in those counties … blah, blah, on and on about cognitive expectation, fatigue associated with isolation, Loch Ness Monsters, meteorological sprites, temperature inversions … blah, blah … are seen half again as often as GBHM.”   No, that’s not a real quote.  And I’d probably remember the acronym if it were.  But it seems to be some sort of ritual of science to introduce otherwise useless, novel acronyms.  So I am frequently saying, “What’s that?  What are you talking about?”  Then I have to go back and find the definition.  This may take some time.  But with a word search function it would be easy.  Of course then there’s the small matter of getting back to where you were.  It’s no good marking the screen with a crayon.  Tried it.  Doesn’t work.

The ideal solution would be for people to say what they mean.  It would make it easier for us who are interested but also have lives to lead.  And of course I never tire of screaming about pointless mangling of the language: sea star instead of starfish.  “Starfish” means an echinoderm of the class asteroidea which has to be Latin for “kinda like a star.”  Sea star is not a word but a phrase consisting of a noun “star” which means an astronomical object and another noun “sea” which means a large body of water.  And a starfish is neither but it is sure a lot more like a fish than like a star.  If the phrase were star fish, then there might be an argument.  But starfish no more means a fish than it refers to St. Arfish, patron saint of yapping dogs.  (Did I use that one before?)”

Now if I present a weapon and blow a hole in my monitor at the sight of the phrase sea star I will soon have reason to regret it.  But if I snatch my pen and write all manner of evil next the term in a journal I assure you I will never regret it.

Well now they have determined that you will retain more and understand more out of some text if you read it on paper rather than on screen.  And that’s everybody, not just people who grew up reading books.  (Ferris Jabr Why the Brain Prefers Paper SIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 309 no. 5 November 2013 page 49)  So what that means to me, cursed as I am with a nigh pathological need to be understood, is that years ago when I was printing and distributing my newsletter “Wild Surmise,” I was working with a more effective (though hideously expensive even then) medium.  I can’t go back there, but here is what I am thinking.

If anybody really wanted to understand what I am saying and was having difficulty, the person would be well advised simply to print the article out and then read it.  And if that presents a difficulty, just write me at info@nobies.net.  Unless it becomes too expensive, and I find that almost impossible, I’ll send you a copy free.  If the size and number of requests ever get to the point where it is a burden, then I’ll have to think again but at that point there will be a proven market anyway.  So if you are having trouble understanding this, or anything else I write, drop me a note with your address and I’ll try to accommodate.  Sure it’s old fashioned. 

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