9/5/2007 – Editorials


By Richard Peterson

 

A recent editorial by Lloyd Omdahl says in a more polished way what I’ve said in this column for several years. It’s long past time for the "Fighting Sioux" nickname to go.

The nickname is like a scab that will be picked open again and again.

The issue is not going to go away. It will keep resurfacing, draining effort and money from a great university which shouldn’t have to waste its time and effort on this issue.

I have no doubt that reason will eventually prevail and the nickname will be scrapped. But a lot of people are going to have to grow up before that happens.

—000—

This item by Huck Krueger of Devils Lake appears on his blog (http://www.afewconcepts.blogspot.com):

One morning my coworker, Dave, and I talked about the past, specifically our childhoods. He mentioned an example of the generation gap. He and his son, Steve, came across a phonograph in the corner of their attic. After examining it thoroughly, Steve figured out what it was. It must have seemed like a relic to him, because he asked, "How does it work?"

Dave’s anecdote brought to mind a time when I visited with a junior in high school, whose parents are my age. We discussed how technology evolved so fast, no one could keep up with it. Then he asked me how we got along without PCs and the Internet when I was a kid.

I joked that we made do with chisels and stones for writing and that I had a diplodocus for a pet. I rephrased it, telling him we had typewriters — almost like carving in stone — and black-and-white TVs. Then there was a new technology called cable, which gave us a whopping seven channels! Before that, we only had rabbit ears and picked up a couple fuzzy channels. That was back when we all lived in caves.

But seriously, he made me think: how did I get by without my computers and the Internet? Times have certainly changed. I have even changed. Nowadays, I feel like a fish out of water when I can’t access the Internet or my e-mail.

I have a cell phone that I hardly use, but I’ve fallen behind, since I don’t have an iPod, Blackberry, GPS or the latest computer for that matter. The youngsters today can call me an old fuddy-duddy for not caring to acquire them.

Somehow, I got by without those gadgets. And I don’t recall having a problem with that. Well, not a life-threatening problem, anyway.

I remember when I first took programming waaaaay back in 1981 — prehistoric time for this generation. But I actually thought this computer stuff wasn’t something I’d care to get too involved with, unless I found myself involved in business administration. I wanted to fly, not sit in front of a screen. That’s why I didn’t have a problem with the lack of a computer.

I also remember my parents’ response to the new technology.

My dad said something like, "When we were kids we didn’t have TV, telephones and tape players. Now computers are making life too easy, unless of course the buggers break down." And I’m sure his father said something like, "When I was young, we didn’t have radios, or electric starters on our cars, or indoor plumbing. And we were lucky to have a car."

Yes, it comes around: with each generation, the age of the dinosaurs and cavemen keeps getting moved forward a couple decades. My experience tells me that the speed of technology can take most of the blame for that in the past 100 years. Thanks to the age I now live in, I must resign myself to the fact that today’s generation has forced me to step aside and take my place as the next generation that grew up in ancient history.

—000—

I’m a generation older than Huck Krueger and I’ve known for some time that I’ve witnessed ancient history.

As a senior at UND in 1963, I had my first introduction to a computer. It was a huge thing with a long whatchamacallit in which punch cards were sorted. The computer had its own language, Fortran, if I remember right. I had to learn some of it and spent quite a lot of time on a project devising a quiz which would determine the political leanings of those who took the test (liberal or conservative). With the help of that computer, I did devise a test that seemed to work.

At the time that computer at UND was state-of-the-art. Not many people had access to it and only trained personnel (not me) had the expertise to operate it. Today it would be considered extremely primitive, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

After graduating from UND, I had nothing to do with computers for the next 10 years, until I started buying Compugraphic typesetting machines, which are probably best described as the marriage of a camera with a very limited computer. It took photos of type.

Eventually we bought Radio Shack TRS 80 computers and hooked them to the Compugraphics, which was a big improvement.

I don’t remember when we graduated to genuine computers and laser printers, but the improvements have been coming one after the other over the years.

 


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