The romance of a phone with a curly wurly cord
Remember the sound of a telephone ringing through a hallway?
The kind that attached to the wall and had a long, curly, plastic cord that could wrap around your arm but never quite stretch as far as the couch.
It was bulky too; heavy enough to need its own table or a hall-stand that doubled as a storage cabinet for the inevitable pile of White and Yellow Pages crammed underneath it.
Well, they’re making a big comeback - the landline, that is. Ditto the fax machine and dial-up modem. But the likelihood of you noticing this phenomenon will depend on three possible scenarios:
1. You happen to be deputy prime minister, Wayne Swan who’s made no secret of his preference for the humble fax machine when it comes to conducting business deals and the like.
2. You’re a passionate and politically active Egyptian citizen determined to have your voice heard, despite serious attempts by your (now ex) government to repress your right to communicate via the internet with the outside world .
3. You’re a survivor of a catastrophic natural disaster, like our own Queensland-based contributor, David Pierce. A resident of Magnetic Island, David was able to pick up his landline when The Punch called to get the lowdown on Cyclone Yasi, the very next day.
You may also be a citizen of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. And at the request of your 86-year old king, Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, a man who has ruled the country for the past twenty years with a fierce disregard for dissent and protest, you’re about to fax him some feedback on the way things are running.
Khaled Bin Abd Al-Aziz Al-Tuwaijri, chief of the Saudi Court told the Jerusalem Post that the kingdom wants its subjects to voice their appeals “directly and without barrier”.
Saudi citizens have been given several ways to express themselves; firstly, a Facebook page, but it’s not like you can write freely on the wall. Each person must first be confirmed as a “friend” of the Palace before being granted the right to post and each message must include a phone number and email address.
Other Saudi’s might choose to ring the Palace mobile or fire off an email (email@example.com), which will then be printed off and “passed directly to the King”.
But it’s the fax that appears to be the King’s preferred method of communication; several numbers have been allocated to citizens eager to express their grievances and a reply is guaranteed within 24 hours.
King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz is not the first person to turn back the clock.
American National Public Radio has located rampant fax usage during the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake, the collapse of the Interstate 35 bridge in Minesota and the time the email-server at the White House “went on the fritz”.
Henry Petroski, a professor of civil engineering at Duke University told NPR that in times of emergency, they also just make us more comfortable, providing “a path of lesser resistance”.
The only real problem of course, is remembering where you put them.
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