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Maybe the Pope would understand

technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology

Simple gray rule

Maybe the Pope would understand

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1984, The Syracuse Newspapers

Old-timers in the paragraph factory fondly remember the days when "rubber type" was an impossibility. In fact, it was part of a joking remark to anyone who had written a story that was too long: "Get out the rubber type, Harry," one editor would say to another.

These days, technology has made rubber type a reality. It's not really rubber, of course. It's not even type, at least not the way we used to think of type as something you could hold in your hand.

These days type is nothing but a series of images on film. It can be stretched and pulled in any direction, and so it's about as close to rubber as you can find.

With modern-day photo typesetting, we can make words italic or even boldface any time we want to, just by pushing an extra button on a keyboard.

We can even make the words much smaller and pack them much closer together, to get more in on each line.

Alas, we cannot make the computer that runs all of this photo typesetting do the thinking for us, rubber type or not. It was a lesson I had to learn all over again last week after realizing, too late, that five pints don't fit in a quart pot.

The five pints were the many inches of type I had written for the special Money Matters American car issue. The quart pot? You guessed it—the space my column was supposed to fill.

So I learned a lesson, right? Get too windy and they cut you off, eh?

Just like Larry King on the radio, right?

Well, not exactly. You see, in computerland we have a way around these things. The computer saves everything. All you have to do is send a little electronic message down into those tiny memory cells, and beep-beep out comes something you wrote a long time ago.

So I figured maybe I'd take advantage of this newfangled talent and stick what got cut out last week on the end of today's column. I reached (electronically speaking, you understand) down into my computer terminal and pulled it out.

Here it is:

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Bishop Harold Dimmerling of Rapid City says he's not interested in seeing a petition that seeks to have Democratic Rep. Tom Daschle excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church. "That's not the way it goes," said Dimmerling. "It's between the individual and God."

Well, nobody's perfect. Maybe somebody in Sioux Falls has got the end of last week's column.

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