Friday, October 18, 2013

1241 Artifax

1241 Artifax

One of the dumbest inventions of all time has lost its usefulness. The fax is the carrier pigeon of the electronic age and deserves nothing more than cameo appearances on the shelves of museums specializing in outdated artifax.

Yes, there was a brief spurt of reason to have one when the telephone company priced the Telex out of the marketplace.  It was wonderful… you could send pictures and text over the telephone.

Now, who needs it?

Email and email attachments are fast and free.  Just scan in a document, attach it to an email and send it … wherever.  No special receiver needed on the other end.  No worries summarized by the plaintive cry  “it SAYS it went through.  But can I be sure?”

Fax use is declining, even though billions of faxes still are sent worldwide each year.  Japan is the leader though it has six million fewer machines than number two user, the US.

Why are people still using them?  

Because they can.  Because the cost of the machine and the extra phone line haven’t yet been amortized.  Because it’s a bad habit.

There are programs to help you quit.  Cold turkey, slow withdrawal, 12-step, pills, tree hugger propaganda.

It’s time we took this campaign to the streets.  Demonstrate outside Best Buy and Staples.  Post posters. Write letters to the editor.  Demand an end to this telecom plot to force business to buy extra phone lines they don’t need.  Demand an end to the killing of trees just so you can get three coversheets for a two word fax.

Occupy Fax.  Force it to its outmoded useless knees.  

Okay, enough parody.  The fax was a nice interim step between the even more outmoded Western Union and the Telex and today’s e-mail attachments.

Somehow, a fax seems -- or seemed -- to carry undeserved weight.  It’s environmentally costly.  Its fan base is shrinking either by attrition (they die) or coming to their senses.  And its verification system is iffy.

There’s no serious suggestion here that the thing be outlawed.  There’s probably some Constitutional commandment against that anyway.   And who wants to deal with the National Fax Association, the NFA in its crazy notion that the only defense against a bad guy with a fax is a good guy with a fax.  (Forget the line about enough parody.)

But seriously… who needs these bulky, space gluttonous machines?

Wait.  The fax machine in the corner is receiving something.


--Congress has to stop acting like your cable company. The brinkmanship will continue until someone with some clout unbundles irrelevant and unrelated proposed legislation and lets each item stand on its own. Even the senate proposal to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling contained major pork for at least one state, Kentucky, home of Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell… a dam his state wants and says it needs.

--Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford NY) says his party has pretty much gone nuts.  Unlike McCain in the senate, King has been consistently right wing over the years which gives him a bit of weight in making his analysis.  If it’s crazy conservative by King’s standard, you better believe it’s really really insane.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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