While testing a new Linux distribution, I went to the Wall Street
Journal online to see how the video-in-a-browser worked. It didn’t.
Sometimes I find a video that might be on point, but I pass
it by. I want words in a row, and I don’t mean spoken words. I want
the actual words lined up in a row on a page or screen. Sometimes a
picture will do, but I don’t want no steenkin’ video. Too slow and too
fast all at once. That is, speech is a lot slower than skilled
reading, but at the same time, it’s difficult to review a video on the
fly if you missed something. Much easier to reread a paragraph and
then go on.
I won’t say this perhaps curious behavior is caused by my profession,
but the two are certainly related. The first job of an accountant is
to write things down, to record what happened and when. The first
written words were bills of lading; only commerce was important enough
and intellectually complex enough to spur the invention of writing.
Our remote ancestors made a clay ball and sealed it around tokens for
the items in the load. The consignee broke open the ball and
confirmed the count. Then someone got the bright idea of making
impressions of the tokens on the outside of the ball so that the
carrier could see what was in the load. That was when mathematics,
Shakespeare, and your cell phone got their start.
Accountants have been writing things down ever since, and we’ve
developed the expectation that a piece of writing will contain helpful
I guess I don’t have the same expectation for video. I watch way too
much TV with little to show for it. Donald Trump made a joke about
Hillary Clinton’s emails; I thought it funny. After two days of
pundit apoplexy he pointed out that he was speaking with tongue in
cheek. The pundits didn’t believe that either.
I suppose in some perverse way this tale demonstrates that I did get
some useful information out of a video.
I’ll still look for a well-written Web page. And some way–any way–to
make sense of this election. One’s about as likely as the other, I
 Kate has a deal with her computer: it never makes a sound
and she doesn’t blast it with a shotgun. My guess is she hasn’t even
 Other skills were primarily physical and/or instinctual, not
necessarily easier. It’s one thing to know how to flake a spearhead
or bring down a gazelle (largely muscle memory) and something else
entirely to remember that you agreed to trade eight head of cattle,
including three pregnant heifers.