...when the first primitive fish were stomping out of Lake Ontario on their stubby lobes; shaking themselves dry, taking their first gasps of air and checking out what this new living-on-the-land thing was all about: when they first gazed up at the tall, but primitive, conifers, cycads and horsetail ferns, as they slowly and painfully made their way up the lush State Street jungle, shyly avoiding the swooping giant dragonflies and other gaudy insects that had already well-established themselves on land (or perhaps eating them as their fishy wants were wont): in that sweaty and ancient age; before Xerox, before Kodak, before even Mr Watha and boozy old Abbot Ginn of the Rocks ; and before the great Neatenniel himself settled here, not to mention the even bigger dinosaurs: when Europe was still stuck to America and you could still walk your fishy walk on your stubby lobes all the way from England to New England without all that messy business of having to un-evolve again to go through the soggy bits: when haþ in þe ram his halve cours yronne, but there were no smale foweles to maken melodye because it was so long ago: back then; pre-podcast, pre-internet, pre-(can you believe it?)computer; back in the most past-y of the past and almost to the Beginning; back so far that the count of the years almost has no meaning....
A strange and ominous thing occurred.
But more of that later...
Did you know that I first started doing these essay things for Old Whassisname over twenty years ago? Though that may not seem long compared to the vast vistas of Deep Time we've just been contemplating, it's long enough to scare the willies out of me.
Ahh!! Back then, in The Day of course, we had studios with big reel-to-reel tape recorders; and every Wednesday (I was on of a Wednesday then) without fail I would leap out of bed at 2 a.m. get a brilliant idea and dash off an essay, from scratch and on my first generation Mac (that to this day still lives all packed away in a closet), print it out on a dot-matrix (there's technology for you), drive over to the station and park in the open space beside it (now long since multistoried), sneak in through the back entrance (Lord knows what's happened to that), record it (razor blade-ily editing it as necessary), cue it and have Simon say something nasty about me and have it on air by 7:15 the Same Day---Hah! We were Men and we didn't mess around in those days---well... yes... actually we did, but that's another story.
And now, in the pathetic and wimpy present, what happens all these grillions of seconds later?
Here I am one thousand four hundred and thirty five and a half miles or so away sitting in my home at a laptop that is literally hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than that old 128k Mac; a laptop moreover that with the mere plugging in of a little signal processor and a half-way decent mike also serves as my recording studio and editing suite!
O Razor blades!
(Suusque lex inclitus!!)1
Oh! Yes! The fish!!!
Well we don't have any more time to spare on them.
And the strange and ominous event?
Suffice it for me to ask if you are aware that Simon has been doing his shows for so long that for 99.99999% of his career on the air...
radio hadn't even been invented!?
Cheerio for now
This essay commemorates the 30th anniversary broadcast of Simon's show.
It was the least I could do for him (I know, I checked)
1 LatComSci Pun
"O Tempora! / O Mores! (Suusque lex inclitus!!)..." Let me assure you that this is by far my funniest joke ever! And it's my most brilliant pun, and the fact that it is probably totally incomprehensible hardly matters.
And anyway the pun ought to be a pretty obvious one to anyone well-versed in both the Classics and the Computer Sciences, combining as it does a reference to Gordon Moore and his famous Law about the speed of change in the computing world, and an equally famous passage from M. Tullius Cicero’s ORATIO QVA L. CATILINAM "O tempora, o mores! senatus haec intellegit, consul videt; hic tamen vivit. &c." (Shame on the age and on its principles! The senate is aware of these things; the consul sees them; and yet this man lives).
btw for another look at that lex moorish, and one from a quite different perspective see this essay .
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