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Sunday, 21 October 2012

On This Day in Typewriter History: A Blue* From The Bolt

PART 152
*Blue: Australian slang word for an argument or for a mistake.
It was the headline that naturally caught my attention: “A letter from the typewriter museum” it said. Funny, I couldn’t recall sending a typewritten letter to arch-Australian conservative columnist Andrew Bolt.
On this day (October 21) last year, the Canberra-based Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation was allegedly responsible for a typewritten – yes, as in written on a typewriter - memorandum promoting its online news blog. The memorandum was said to have come from CSIRO’s media liaison unit.
Bolt posted on this the following day, saying, “The CSIRO, at the cutting edge of science, technology and global warming modelling, pecks out on a trusty Remington a press alert about solar blogs and other ‘new stuff’.”
Of course, if true, such a thing would have been prime fodder for Bolt, a 53-year-old “journalist” born in the mid-19th century. Bolt is a Murdoch media hack, radio commentator and television host. He spends all his time doing Uncle Rupert’s bidding, which is to knock the Labor Federal Government and anything vaguely associated with it, for whatever nebulous reason he sees fit.
The idea that Australia’s national scientific institution, presumably operating with state-of-the-art technology, might still have been using a typewriter to construct memorandums was right down this alley.
As might have been expected, there was considerable response to and comment on Bolt’s blog post, much of it suggesting the CSIRO was using an attention-grabbing technique known as a “Yowie’s footprint”. This is an elaborate ploy in which a scientist cleverly constructs a bunyip's or a cryptid’s foot (not that easy to do) and leaves a fairly convincing print somewhere in the Outback, the idea being to heighten interest in scientific research and thus provide increased funding. The last known case was the famous “Nullarbor Nymph” of 1971-72.
In other words, it was suggested Bolt had either been fooled by a pretty straightforward CSIRO hoax, was at best party to it, or that he had simply missed the point altogether.
Anyway, judge for yourselves. Here are some of the more interesting comments attached to the blog post:
“Well that dispels any doubts as to our place at the cutting edge of science, doesn’t it? What a joke.  Can you imagine if everyone is forced to go back to a typewriter?  I typed for a few years on an old typewriter and it is not fun.”
“This has to be a joke, right?”
“It’s post-modern, ironic and hipster-cool. What’s the problem with it?
“New grads are going to find it hard because they can’t spell unless they have a spell check!” 
“They are my kind of people.”
“There’s this thing called satire that conspiracy theorists confuse for literalism. I’m almost inclined to think that I should include humour along with satire, but the point would likely be lost.”
“The 21st century is fun! Try it."
“Without a backspace key, you’d be stuffed...”
“Is it April Fool’s Day already? The lamest gag ever…”
“I hear they are hoping to install telex next year…”
“They’re a Sharp lot.”
“Sure it’s not a joke?”
“Brilliant - loved it.”  
“Obviously they need a solar-powered typewriter. Thrown in, a multi-million [dollar] research lab, some utes [utility trucks] and cars and increased super [annuation] and super computers, all for the renewable cause.”
“If real - pathetic. Who still owns a typewriter? Where does all the money we give CSIRO go?”
“I wonder who ALI is?”
“What’s a typewriter???”
“Maybe in this case they should have called it a tripe-writer!”
 “At least the typewriter will still work when the wind turbines are not turning.”
“You can start using the typewriter straight away - no massive operating system to load before getting started.”
“No need to update the software - nor install an anti-virus program - disinfectant and a cloth work very well.”
“Tmails don’t go viral so easily.”
“Harder to ignore a memo on the desk or the fridge in the tearoom.”
“Can be delivered when the server is down.”
“Same sort of technology they’re using for climate change models. Explains a lot really!”
“This is from the days when spellcheck was still between our ears.”
“This cannot possibly be real.  Say it isn’t so.
I do not believe it, or a disgruntled employee is trying to take mickey out of them?  Then again, being a government show, it just might be fair dinkum and typical of its lagging behind.”
“It appears to me that the use of the typewriter was intended to be quaint and funny. And, it also seems that the Huw Morgan who wrote the blog is a self-described aficionado of typewritten communications and a collector of old typewriters.”
“For God’s sake don’t tell them the war has ended!”
“Perhaps they don’t trust the security of online transmissions.”
“You really need to be keeping up with the times. CSIRO going back to typewriters is just part of a wider green carbon reduction strategy being rolled out. The ultimate goal is to eliminate all devices requiring electricity, such as computers, printers, internet, and mobile phones. The next phase of the carbon footprint reduction steering committee is to access green grants to buy a whole heap of horses and reintroduce pony express to deliver these typewritten memos. Other green communication technology initiatives are: Carry pigeons; Talking to one’s neighbour; Swiss alpine horns; Smoke signals (only if carbon offsets have been purchased); Add any more you can think of and I will type up a memo for our next planning meeting.”
“But you have to use carbon paper with the typewriter…”
“Maybe a secret agent working South of the South Pole, or in China.”
“What about all that carbon black used in the ink on that typewriter? As we know - CO2 is that black, sooty stuff that makes the sea levels rise. This typewritten release just drowned another whale and caused a polar bear’s temperature to rise by 100 metres! Don’t argue - the science is in.”
“You guys have all missed the plot.  Here is a responsible government instrumentality doing its best to keep alive a priceless, communications heritage item, much like that guy clip-clopping around Melbourne Town in a horse-enhanced vehicle while fending off mindless Town Hall bureaucracy, and the best you can do is pour scorn.”
“Seems the government funding is running a tad low.” 
“Must be hell calculating all those sea level rises with slide-rules.”
“It’s called marketing, and given that you have republished it, it seems to be working swimmingly.”
“Should the date be 21 October 1911?”
“No one really does perfect typing anymore. Don’t need to with autocorrect.”
“I cannot believe a typewriter I learned on 50 years ago exists outside a museum.” 
“When the water rises 6m, all the electronics will be under water, so back to the typewriters and carrier pigeons.”


Scott Kernaghan said...

My original reply to this was so expletive riddled, that I had to start again.

Bolt, is a... a..... I better not say what I want to say in polite company.

You missed comment on how he got his television show, through Gina Rindheart (Australian mining magnate, for those who don't know - and I intentionally miss-spelled the last name).

Anyway. I find it amazingly absurd to read that Bolt was ripping into someone over a typewriter! The (expletive laden insult removed) is the poster child for the 'lets return to the 50s' mob.

It also further highlights how incredibly narrow minded he is. The reason he probably never liked writing on a typewriter, was because he can't write for s**t, and he needed something to correct his spelling so that he never had to go back and re-read what he said... Which would usually make any sane man question the cr*p that he just wrote.

Scott Kernaghan said...

I meant to add: "Bolt and his followers ripping into"

Cameron said...

I found this HIGHLY amusing!

notagain said...


Richard P said...

I never heard of Bolt, although of course we have rightwing nitwits in the US. I assume this letter is either a spoof or a clever attention-getter. And it certainly has gotten attention.

If you want your communication to be noticed -- typewrite it!