Old Jokes

Technology changes the way we live.

There was an old comedy sketch in which two men are riding on a bus.  One is holding on his lap a shopping bag. Suddenly, the sound of a telephone ringing comes from inside the bag.  The man pulls out a telephone handset, attached to its spiral, pigtail cord. He answers the phone, “Hello?” He turns and hands the phone to the other. “It’s for you.”  This was hysterical comedy in 1963.  

Woody Allen, in 1973,  said about crazy people who would walk down the street talking to themselves, “They should be required to walk in pairs.”  Very funny.

An observation I would make about those maps you find in subway stations, bus and air terminals, you know the ones I mean with the words “You are here.” printed on a big, red arrow?  I would say: “How do they always know where I am?”  That was humorous in 2003; not so much anymore.

Cordless phones, mobile phones, and GPS made all of those jokes disappear.

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No Editorializing. Please.

On the very day I sold my sixteen shares of IBM stock the company issued its quarterly dividend, forty-nine years after a single share was given to me on the occasion of my Bar Mitzvah in the hopes that some love of all financial would be instilled in me were that actually necessary being the Jewish son of a Jewish accountant.  At the time of the sale, that one share, which had split and run up in price, split four for one and run up in price again and split and run up in price yet again, now amounted to sixteen shares.  As always, the quarterly dividend was put into a reinvestment account and was promptly converted to .072 shares of new IBM stock and added to my account.  As I had intended to close the account when the shares were sold, I called the brokerage the day after the sale only to be informed that the account was not empty, that I still owned .072 shares of stock and I would have to sell the remaining shares before the account could be closed.  Moreover, the cost of the stock sale would be greater than the amount the sale would fetch as my .072 shares of stock, at the time, was worth about $14.76 so it didn’t really pay to sell.  In fact, I would have to pay to sell the fractional share.  That was four years ago.  I have owned .072 shares of IBM ever since and regularly receive quarterly dividend checks valued at $0.06.  The check is computer generated.  Along with the computer generated “$0.06” dollar amount written across the middle of the check, the check had the required, spelled out amount –“ONLY SIX CENTS”.

The words “SIX CENTS” is required.  That’s understood.  All checks have the sum written in dollars and cents, and, spelled out in words so that there are no mistakes.  “ONLY…” was thrown in for good measure. Only I find the “ONLY…” somewhat offensive.  It implies that my six cents is a measly sum, a niggardly amount, ONLY worth mentioning insofar as attention should be drawn to the fact that it is very small.  It would be as if the computer had written out the words, “TWO THOUSAND (WAY TO GO!) DOLLARS”.  What if the computer had written “THREE HUNDRED  TWENTY-FIVE RESPECTABLE DOLLARS” or “ONE MILLION, FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY-EIGHT THOUSAND, FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY ONE DOLLARS AND FORTY-NINE CENTS WHICH IT PLEASES ME VERY MUCH TO BE ABLE TO WRITE”? The computer should leave the editorializing to someone else.  Don’t you think?

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Idea: Iphone App for Macular Reading

Display one word at a time at about 60 wpm as large as can be on an iphone.  The app is also a mail reader and shows a list of all email in large type.  When the user selects the email it immediately starts displaying it as it is read.  

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