MIKE JAMES: Back off, man, I’m a scientist

The recent relocation of The Daily Independent's newsroom from the second floor to a street-level space left me unable to carry out my perennial threat to toss my work computer out the window and watch with joy as it plummeted to its fate on the concrete below.

This is a vow I have taken almost daily and which those who spend their days shackled to a keyboard will find familiar. There is something about a computer and its foibles that frustrates almost to violence those who depend on it to earn their living, which these days means a majority of us.

I am not alone in the newsroom with my dreams of cyber-murder. My colleague Charles shatters the air almost daily with imprecations of loathing for the machine that sits placidly in front of him, its unblinking gaze daring him to carry out the unthinkable atrocities about which he mutters under his breath.

One day last week his exasperation meshed with my own vexation and within five minutes we had formulated half a dozen plans, most of them involving sledgehammers, to slaughter the miscreant machines.

I have two sledges, I said. One has a long handle and the other looks sort of like Thor's hammer, except no matter how hard I try or what pagan oath I roar to the north wind when I throw it, it never comes back to me.

Which one should I bring, I asked.

Bring them both. We have more than one computer, Charles said.

I have a well-sharpened mattock too, I said.

Might as well bring it too in case anyone else in the newsroom wants to join in the fun, he said.

Wait a minute; this is not fun, it is an experiment in physics, I said. We will make calculations of weight and leverage and map the distribution of rubble and measure the shards to see which implement of destruction performs best.

But we are writers, not scientists, he said. Perhaps your outlook is skewed. You may hate your computer, but there is no reason you cannot have fun with it.

Perhaps we should toss them like Frisbees and see which one goes furthest, he said. From the growl in his throat I inferred he was confident who would win that contest.

But Frisbees are round. And computers are not, I said. I do not think a computer would fly as well as you think it would.

Charles thought for a moment.

Maybe you are right, he said.

Of course I am right. A computer would drop to the ground within a second, I said.

No, not that, he said. Trust me, I could make a computer fly.

You were right about the science, he said. This is physics too. We will have to make painstaking observations and keep meticulous records of the process and results.

Well, I admitted, maybe we were both right. I guess it will be fun too. Let the experiment begin.

For science, he said.

For science, I said.

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