The March of Progress

April 12, 1998


Before there was Facebook or Twitter or any of that social-media stuff, there was email. And before that, there was the fax machine. Before that, I suppose people were forced to tell each other jokes face-to-face. And has anyone ever figured out where those old jokes originate?


25 thoughts on “The March of Progress”

  1. One of my favorite memes that I saw this weekend: A Priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar: FINALLY!

    From a yesterday’s thread posted a few minutes before Jimmy posted this one:

    I had an interesting weekend. A friend that I used to run with turned 50 this week (that seems impossible, he is forever 30 in my head) and ran 50 miles to raise $10,000 for the Food Bank in Spring Harbor MI. He had seen my posts on Facebook to complete a “virtual” marathon and it helped prod him to do it.

    Well my marathon was 3 weeks ago and I have been walking regularly and have done 8 miles each weekend. I feel great so I figured that I would try to do 12-14 miles on Saturday, stopping when my body started to slow down. There is another park nearby that has a porta-john so I was able to dial it in. I blew past 12, then 14 miles. 16 miles was my fastest mile. There is an old saying that the first half of the marathon is 20 miles and the last half is 6.2. Sure enough as I completed 20, my legs started to slow and I just walked another half mile to my car.

    My friend is a lawyer in a small town and has raised money before. I am thinking of holding my own fundraiser as there are so many in need in the Detroit area, but I am not exactly sure how to go about it. I have put out a few feelers to my church and several media folks to see if they can give me a legitimate organization that people would be able to trust to give money to and maybe do something over Mother’s Day weekend.

  2. “A Priest and a Rabbi…”. Substitute “joke” with COVID-19 and I guess that’s how viruses just keep circulating around and around populations until a vaccine thankfully comes along to kill it. Jokes are fun, though.

  3. I remember working in a main office of a company with a few branches when fax machines came out. The branch had to call us and we’d have to make sure the fax machine was turned on. And they were big too.

    • I thought fax machines were pretty amazing when they came out too. The one we had was bigger than a washing machine. We replaced it with one slightly larger than a breadbasket.

      However the worst thing about fax machines is when someone programmed your home or work phone number and when you picked up the phone you got the high pitched sound that the Fax machine gave you.

      I also remember a plot twist in the movie The Firm where the curled up thermal paper spit out and flew behind the machine. It was only later that it was found. I suppose they could use a wrong text number as a plot twist, but that scene dates the movie.

      • We would run go look at the fax machine as it received the fax. It was one you could watch the fax as it was being created. We thought it was amazing. Now so antiquated!

  4. The first fax machine I ever saw was the one the Navy used to transmit weather maps to ships at sea in the 1970’s. It was the type where you clamped the image you were sending on a cylinder that rotated while it was scanned in small vertical lines and reproduced on paper the same way at the destination.

    • Reproduced on paper?

      The FAX we had occasional access to at USATCEUR in Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1970, received onto something more like foil. Metal-coated paper, I guess from the darkness of distant memories, so “paper” wouldn’t be wrong, just sort of misses the full impact.

      A needle with a intermittently-visible spark audibly burned in the image.

      I only saw it working once. Most of the high-priority information came by telex, but occasionally someone would send us a picture of a suspect. All of this, telexes and faxes, would be carefully arranged by phone first, and a couple of us – I was probably chosen from whomever was in uniform and armed that day, to accompany a plainclothes investigator – would be dispatched to make sure no unauthorized eyes saw what we were receiving.

  5. I’ve tried twice to leave a link to a blog showing Starlink satellites photobombing the Aurora Australis. If you care, you can find a link to it at today’s SpaceWeather dot com site.

  6. I’m old enough to remember before the time of faxes (No, we didn’t use dinosaurs) when people would use photocopy machines to make copies of what we now call Memes to post on the company bulletin board or in the break room. Some of them were copies of copies of copies … darn near illegible.

  7. I’ve heard at least 6 times in the last hour that a major problem with testing is a big shortage (oxymoron) of long straws. Warning: the following is highly technical. Hold a regular swab in your left hand. Hold a thin drinking straw in your right hand. Insert swab A into straw B. You now have a long swab. I haven’t patented this so feel free to use it.

  8. “And has anyone ever figured out where those old jokes originate?”
    Yes, indeed! Isaac Asimov wrote a short story that explained it all… and managed to eliminate humor forever in the world. See “Jokester” on Wikipedia for the details.

  9. Asimov wrote his autobiography, a big two volume set which I looked forward to reading. I plodded through the whole thing which was highly detailed if you wanted a description of meetings, contracts, where he ate lunch, etc. What a disappointment. Now the Foundation series. That was something else.

  10. Checked out some NE crane info sites. Apparently they’ve been moving N through the refuge area daily since early March, should be mostly gone soon. Peace,

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