Friday, April 15, 2005


The nickle finally dropped for Rupert Murdoch regarding the demise of the printed newspaper, which as I've said I will not lament, especially when everyone gets their daily news fix from sleek little handhelds, as opposed to, for example, the woman beside me on the train this morning who as I was nodding off in cozy modern commuter comfort actually made a quite passable tambourine out of her daily gazette, beating it to the tune of When the Saints Come Marching In I think it was, trumpets, tuba and bass drum not required.

As to the tambourine technique, you have to have been in Japan and seen the way train commuters read their newspapers, using the street version of fast Fourier transformation (reducing the number of computations needed for N points from 2N2 to 2N lg N, where lg is the base-2 logarithm). This method was developed way back when commuters were advised to leave their sweaters at the office so as to make more room on the trains.

Under such literally social pressure, the commuters fold their open newspaper further in half lengthwise, then crosswise and so on till it is down to the size of the article they wish to read - overhead, if need be - complexly unfolding and refolding several meter-square surfaces a few hundred times or so in a complex newsy-noisy origami that wasn’t particularly bothersome back in the days when everyone was standing and rocking together on the way to work anyhow, but now that the trains are bigger and there’s more room and spacious seats in which to doze off, the pros still fold their papers the old way, as the woman next to me did this morning - such a petite woman, could jump in the ring with any pro folder...

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