16 May 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project


Letters to the Editor

Trade magazines love to excite controversy in their editorials, possibly because the existence of a new mounting package for a resistor or perhaps a new angle for a screw thread doesn't have the verve of a sex scandal or the excitement of a land speed record.  If things are slow, a gratuitous comment about immigrant engineers or an advertisement with a scantily clad human female holding a voltmeter is sure to draw out forces for good in the community with the predictable and polarized responses. 

The editor of Design News is a bit of a whiner.  In a March 2006 issue she delivered a somewhat intemperate diatribe about a misbegotten schnurg who had the temerity to use his Blackberry while attending a press conference.  Worse, he was sitting next to her.  Evil incarnate!  I would have ignored this editorial (as I do most) but since this particular issue of the magazine had a cover article on hybrid vehicles, I thought it would be nice to slip in a notice for my web site.  Hence the letter below, published in the 10 April 2006 issue.


I just read your Blackberry editorial and can only ask "Why the fuss?" The "user" was operating a chair, not a motor vehicle. He was pressing buttons quietly, not bellowing into a cell phone. He wasn't paying attention at a press event, presumably missing the vital information that will propel you and the other rule followers to the top while he sinks into the muck.

Rather than find it "intensely annoying" when people show contempt for rules, I find it distressing that so many rules are promulgated. If a rule serves a useful purpose, e.g., "turn off the cell phones," OK. If its effect is simply to be meddlesome or officious, I prefer to think of it as an opportunity for entertainment.

And, speaking of entertainment, take a look at www.PriUPS.com it goes perfectly with your lead article about using hybrid vehicles for power.

Richard Factor Little Ferry, NJ

Which is not to say that I disavow any part of my letter.  I truly feel there's too much of this bothersome rulemaking going on.  If you are thinking of promulgating a ukase, here's free advice:
  • Is the putative rule both of actual value and not overbroad?
  • Will it be entertaining for you to watch people trying to obey it?

If you can't answer yes to either question, find some other activity to take your mind off the urge until it passes.

By the way, my rule, Conservation of Text, isn't really in either category, but it is mine

Richard Factor