NRA: Paper jam

NRA: Paper jam July 13, 2012

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 24-33

Here’s what happens in these pages: Buck details the specs of his spiffy new SUV; Rayford wallows in self-pity; Jerry Jenkins belatedly tries to claim Loretta as his character; and the authors spend five pages printing out a document.

This, again, is what follows immediately after the perhaps-nuclear devastation of New York, London, Washington, Chicago and other cities that remain unnamed because neither the authors nor their characters are the least bit curious about them.

“Do you feel like you just spent the devil’s money?” Chloe asked Buck as he carefully pulled the beautiful, new, earth-toned Range Rover out of the dealership and into traffic.

“I know I did,” Buck said. “And the Antichrist has never invested a better dollar for the cause of God.”

We’ve written here about “meta-” characters — the inadvertent glimpses we find in these books of actual human feeling hinted at between the lines of the two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs hastily sketched by the authors. I wonder here if we’re not catching a glimpse of meta-Jenkins. The phenomenal success of the first two books in this series made the authors wealthy men. It’s possible here that we’re seeing Jenkins’ subconscious wrestling with that, feeling like all this newfound wealth is “the devil’s money.” Buck’s eager rationalization of his luxury purchase — which continues for two full pages — may be an expression of Jenkins’ own need to silence that subconscious uneasiness.

I have no idea what kind of car(s) Jenkins might have bought after laying up treasure via last-days hype. My guess is he did not buy a Range Rover. Based on what we read here, I would guess, rather, that he looked into buying a Range Rover, then used its ridiculous price tag to reassure himself that the opulent car he did buy could be regarded as a relatively thrifty option. (“It’s just a Lexus … it’s not like I spent $100,000 to get that Range Rover.”) But that’s just a guess.

Buck proceeds, in loving detail, to explain to his wife and to Jerry Jenkins’ conscience that this luxury SUV is an “investment” — not a luxury, but a necessity, really:

“Chloe,” Buck said carefully, “look at this rig. It has everything. It will go anywhere. It’s indestructible. It comes with a phone. It comes with a citizen’s band radio. It comes with a fire extinguisher, a survival kit, flares, you name it. It has four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, independent suspension, a CD player that plays those new two-inch jobs, electrical outlets in the dashboard that allow you to connect whatever you want to the battery.”

So for $100,000 they throw in free flares and a fire extinguisher. It’s a bargain! Particularly since Buck knows he’s going to need that fire extinguisher soon, when the first trumpet of divine wrath sounds and “hail and fire mixed with blood” are “hurled down upon the earth.”

The “high-tech” aspects of Buck’s litany sound quaintly 1997-ish now. The car-phone, I’m sure, was a key selling point for Buck — so much so that he didn’t bother thinking through how World War III and the ensuing judgments of the Great Tribulation might come to interfere with that phone’s ability to get service. (Just as he hasn’t thought about how these things might interfere with his ability to get fuel for this gas-guzzling car.) And that reference to those mini-CDs had me feeling nostalgic for the brief heyday of Laser discs.

This was all paid for with “the devil’s money” — which Buck explains refers to a super-special credit card provided only to “senior level” Global Community executives such as Buck. “Those of us at senior levels have a special code built into ours,” Buck says. “They’re unlimited.”

Chloe worries that spending $100,000 on a new car with his expense account might raise flags with the accountants at Global Community headquarters. Two points there:

1. Global Community is a worldwide tyrannical operation run by the Antichrist, the embodiment of all evil. I would think, then, that senior level executives are expected to abuse their expense accounts for all sorts of personal luxury items. That’s what those super-special, no-limit unobtanium corporate credit cards are for. If anything, the bean-counters at HQ might flag Buck’s account for a suspicious lack of charges for hookers and blow.

2. Buck has such a senior-level executive card because he is a senior-level executive. But apart from the perks that come with this job, both he and the authors seem to have forgotten he has any job at all. I’m sure his boss, the Antichrist, couldn’t care less that Buck just bought himself a new car shortly after his old car was destroyed along with the rest of mid-town Manhattan. But I’m guessing that Nicolae will care a great deal about the fact that the executive in charge of Global Community Weekly is blithely ignoring his journalistic duties, failing even to check in with the office following the outbreak of World War III.

We briefly check back in with Rayford here for a half-page interlude with him and his new ethnic friend:

“You’re gonna be ferrying a lot of VIPs back to Iraq,” Hernandez said. “But that’s nothing new for you, is it?”

“Nope. I’m afraid it’s lost its luster by now.”

“Well, for what it’s worth, I envy you.”

Rayford Steele has two standard responses in all of his interactions with others. If what they say strikes him as insufficiently deferential or insufficiently impressed by him, then Rayford goes into a moody, self-righteous sulk, indignant at that person’s alleged disrespect. If what the person says is deferential and they are impressed by him, then Rayford goes into a moody, self-pitying sulk, indignant at that person’s failure to appreciate how very, very difficult it is to be Rayford Steele.

Chico’s “I envy you” comment may actually only reflect that his own job at the moment involves evading insurgent aircraft while seeking a safe place to land during a perhaps-nuclear conflict, and that Rayford’s assignment of ferrying VIPs in relative safety seems preferable. But Rayford interprets that remark as deference and admiration, and thus responds accordingly:

Rayford was stunned to silence. Here he was, what Bruce Barnes referred to as a tribulation saint, a believer in Christ during the most horrifying period in human history, serving Antichrist himself against his own will and certainly at the peril of his wife, his daughter, her husband, and himself. And yet he was envied.

“Don’t envy me, Captain Hernandez. Whatever you do, don’t envy me.”

This is why Rayford is so much fun at parties, and why Hattie Durham had such a delightful time during her years pseudo-dating him.

Meanwhile, back at the Range Rover:

As Buck neared the church, he noticed yards full of people. They stared at the sky and listened to radios and TVs that blared from inside their houses. …

Yes, with the eye of a trained journalist, Buck notes all those people out there, desperate to learn what’s happening, desperate for some way to find out the details of who, what, when, where, how and why. If only there were someone whose job it was to bring them that news. But Buck can’t worry about such things now, he’s got to get to the church.

Buck was surprised to see one lone car in the parking lot at New Hope. It belonged to Loretta, Bruce’s assistant.

“I don’t look forward to this,” Chloe said.

I don’t look forward to this either. We first met Loretta early in the first book of this series, learning little more than her name and that she’d lost her whole family in the disappearances. But she was the first character in these books to have an appropriate and recognizably human response to the horror and trauma of The Event. She alone was shell-shocked and shattered, devastated by the loss of the children she loved and by all the children of the world.

And thus, from that moment on, Loretta became my favorite character. I developed a proprietary fondness for her. Let Jenkins keep his cardboard sociopath heroes — Loretta is ours.

And so, while Jenkins ignored her after that, my imagination kept Loretta very busy indeed. While Bruce spent two whole books neglecting his congregation locked in his study with his “inner circle,” I imagined Loretta taking charge and ministering to the needs of this desperate community. Somebody had to be doing that, and Jenkins made it clear that it wasn’t going to be Bruce, so I assigned the task to the only other character there with a name. Thus while Bruce was diverting church funds to pay for his personal Tribulation-shelter, I imagined Loretta busily helping the congregation prepare as best they could for the calamities that Bruce’s prophecies said were soon to arrive.

So while Jenkins hasn’t bothered with Loretta for the past 900 pages, I’ve been fleshing out her character in my mind, supplying her with a richer backstory and setting her to work on the common-sense agenda that our alleged heroes have utterly neglected up to this point.  Yet now, two whole books later, Jenkins thinks he still has the right to come along and tell us what he thinks Loretta is like.

Too late, buddy. I already know. She’s sardonic, capable and resourceful and she’s played here by the late Kathryn Joosten. And I doubt I’ll be able to tolerate Jenkins’ attempts to tell me any different.

They found the woman, now nearly 70, sitting stiffly in the outer office staring at the television. Two balled-up tissues rested in her lap, and she riffed a third in her bony fingers. Her reading glasses rode low on her nose, and she peered over the top of them at the television. She did not seem to look Buck and Chloe’s way as they entered, but it soon became clear she knew they were there. From the inner office, Buck heard a computer printer producing page after page after page.

So far this is acceptable. Loretta can have reading glasses. She wears them, I imagine, attached to a lanyard looped around her neck. The lanyard was made by one of her nieces at Bible camp. Loretta never takes it off.

Loretta had been a southern belle in her day. Now she sat red-eyed and sniffling, fingers working that tissue as if creating some piece of art. Buck glanced up to see a helicopter view of the bombed-out Northwest Community Hospital. “People been callin’,” Loretta said. “I don’t know what to tell ’em. He couldn’t survive that, could he? Pastor Bruce, I mean. He couldn’t still be alive, now, could he? Did y’all see him?”

No. No, no, no, no, no. This is just wrong.

I can accommodate the possibility that Loretta might be southern. We could tolerably make her like one of those formidable aunts in Faulkner or Walker Percy. She could be a “steel magnolia,” even. But not a wilting southern belle. No. And definitely not with this community-theater-Glass-Menagerie accent. This is unacceptable.

About the only thing Jenkins gets right in this scene is that again Loretta is the only one smart enough to be sad at sad news. She weeps when Chloe confirms that Bruce is dead, hugging Chloe in her grief. Buck finds this off-putting:

He would grieve in his own way and his own time, but for now he didn’t want to dwell on the tragedy.

He seems to resent Loretta’s grief in the same way he resents that helicopter news crew on the TV, risking their lives to report the breaking news story from the hospital. Buck would report on that in his own way and his own time, but for now he didn’t want to dwell on it.

“What’re you working on in the office, ma’am?” he said.

And thus begins one of the longest and most thoroughly detailed set-pieces thus far in the Left Behind series. For the next five pages we are treated to the painstaking account of Loretta’s efforts to print out all the files on Bruce’s laptop computer.

I’m neither joking nor exaggerating. Five pages explaining how Loretta used a “Print BB*.*” command to send all the files to the printer, or how church tech-guy “Donny Moore” set up the office laser printer with “old boxes of continuous-feed computer paper.”

Bruce’s lap-top computer, it seems, had contained more than 5,000 pages — single-spaced — of his sermon notes and the results of his “research” on the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation.

Buck, Chloe and this southern-belle impostor Loretta discuss what a valuable resource it is to have all of this material, but as usual they don’t say anything at all about the actual substance of what those 5,000 pages says.

That’s a shame, because what we have here is a miracle akin to the feeding of the multitude. The book of Daniel is 14 pages long. The book of Revelation is 16 pages long. Bruce’s “literal” reading of those 30 pages produces 5,000 pages of commentary. Hallelujah, it’s a miracle!

It’s also not clear why having 5,000 printed pages is in any way more useful than having all of that text conveniently stored in searchable form on Bruce’s computer, but Buck views this doorstop of a manuscript as “a gold mine.”

“The best we can do for this little flock that has lost its shepherd is to get those pages reproduced. I don’t know what this place will do for a pastor or a teacher, but in the meantime, people need access to what Bruce has written. … This is a treasure that everyone can use.”

And then, suddenly, we catch another glimpse of what is surely meta-Jenkins briefly surfacing from the author’s subconscious:

Chloe spoke up. “Buck, shouldn’t you try to edit it or shape it into some sort of book form first?”

“I’ll take a look at it, Chloe, but there’s a certain beauty in simply reproducing it in the form it’s in. This was Bruce off-the-cuff, in the middle of his study, writing to fellow believers, writing to friends and loved ones, writing to himself.”

The very best writing, you see, isn’t “edited” and shouldn’t be “shaped … into some sort of book form.” It’s just reproduced as is.

That’s either a revealing Freudian slip or else it’s Jenkins explicitly mocking his audience. I can’t tell which.

The vital thing, to Buck, is that they find some way of distributing Bruce’s writing to everyone at New Hope Village Church. Here, in descending order of convenience, are three simple ways of doing that:

1. Create a website for church members and post to it all of Bruce’s notes in an interactive, cross-indexed, searchable format. (Nicolae was written in 1997, so the Web is well-established by this point.)

2. Copy all of Bruce’s files onto CDs — maybe even onto those “two-inch jobs” — and give everyone in the church a copy.

3. A 2,500-page printed copy of Bruce’s notes would be the least convenient form, but if they’re intent on getting everyone in the church a copy of such a thing, at least they won’t have to pay for paper, ink or printing. Buck Williams, remember, is the publisher of Global Community Weekly — this universe’s version of Newsweek. Buck owns and operates printing presses at dozens of industrial printing centers all over the country, so he could easily arrange to have this printed up fast and cheap.

Do I even need to tell you that our heroes don’t do any of those things? No, instead they go with Plan D — sending Miss Loretta-Mae Sue to Kinko’s:

“I think Loretta ought to take all those pages to a quick-print shop and get them started. We need a thousand copies of all that stuff, printed on two sides and bound simply.”

“That’ll cost a fortune,” Loretta said.

“Don’t worry about that now,” Buck said. “I can’t think of a better investment.”

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  • Ursula L

    It may be difficult for a layperson to read stuff off a floppy disk. It is well-nigh impossible for a layperson to access certain historical materials right now, though, because of the care that must be taken with these materials. There are people with the tools and training to retrieve information even from corrupted files on old floppy disks. Sometimes things are irretrievable, but not nearly as often as paper and parchment and cloth items are. There is no one who can retrieve something that’s crumbled to dust. As an historian, I say: please, save things digitally.  

    Digital methods are really, really good for sharing copies of rare historical materials.  Scan them once, send copies around to everyone who wants them.  

    But keep the originals.  Digital copies can’t replace their value.  

    Ephemeral copies to be shared and studied in the short-term aren’t a replacement for durable forms for long-term storage. 

    Two, three hundred years from now?  Or a thousand years from now?  The things you can rely on are the human eye, the human brain, the human imagination.  When they’re excavating someone’s collapsed house, or through the layers of a landfill,  digital copies will be useless.  The disks, flash drives, old computers, etc. will be examples of the technology of the past.  The retrievable information will be things like old newspapers, or signs from buildings, scraps of books, etc.  

    Because, at some point, people will stop maintaining the digital information.  Wars and disasters will intervene.  People will decide that this or that, more and more with every generation, isn’t really interesting and worth maintaining.  And what will last will be what has a chance of being usable after sitting buried in desert sand for a few hundred years.  

    If it is historically important, then the format it is in needs to be something that can be abandoned or forgotten, and picked up later by archaeologists with little knowledge of the source culture, and they can reconstruct and work to deduce the meanings.  

  • I cannot think of any possible way old newspapers will be retrievable one thousand years from now except in digital (or whatever it’s called by then) format. And I don’t understand why you think people will maintain digital formats less than physical ones when digital formats are both easier and cheaper to maintain, and when they can be and are widely distributed in a way nothing else can be.

    Also, no archaeologist with little knowledge of a source culture can deduce the meanings of anything they pick up. 

  • GeniusLemur

     Yes, but CAN we expect electricity to be lost? Electronic records to be wiped out? ARE the characters learning to cook over a fire? Stockpiling anything? As we’ve seen again and again, nothing that ever happens in these books will disrupt ordinary life.  To point out two very recent two examples, a mushroom cloud hanging visibly in the air won’t disrupt business at a luxury car dealership in the slightest, and the fact that downtown Chicago is a war zone doesn’t mean an old woman can’t run down to Kinko’s by herself and make a few million copies.

  • That’s  a really huge point. What if there’s an EMP attack during the series and/or the various wars and disasters knock out electricity for months, even years, at a time?

    No substitute for paper documents, manual typewriters, as well as hardened portable generators and a hardened laptop, plus a car from the 1960s. (why yes, I’m thinking of Jericho)

  • Makabit

    What’s the point of giving everyone in the church a work that is not only massive but indigestible? Better to simply find an archivist in the congregation to catalog it, and a true* editor to create a 20-page tract that can be more easily handed out in secret.

    I’m frankly surprised they thought of giving it to the church members at all. The Trib Force people’s general concern for the members of their church seems to be incredibly low at the best of the times.

  • AnonymousSam

    Well, there might be a traffic jam.

  • PJ Evans

    I think that Loretta would have been going through the files on Bruce’s computer and erasing all the p0rn. And maybe the more embarrassing of the other files. (I would have been sorting them into ‘print’ and ‘other’ folders, based on the first pages or the file names.)

  • Wait a sec – Loretta doesn’t know for sure yet  that Bruce is dead, but she’s already printing out his private files?

    Who the heck refers to a southerner as a “southern belle” these days anyway?  That makes her sound like Scarlett O’Hara or something.

  • Tonio

    “suspicious lack of charges for hookers and blow” The novel version of The Final Conflict has a similar backstory about disciple Dean’s recruitment. After his hiring by Damien’s  corporation, Dean is given a mistress of “exotic” ethnic background who uses drugs and sexual sadism to lure him to the dark side. By thy time she pulls out Revelation and explains who his boss really is, he almost cries with joy.

  • Lawrence LaPointe

    Buck has such a senior-level executive card because he is a senior-level executive. But apart from the perks that come with this job, both he and the authors seem to have forgotten he has any job at all.

    Casting call:
    Mitt Romney as Buck

  • Ken

    I think the failure to remember the two prophets is part of the “checklist” nature of the work. They were mentioned when they appeared on the schedule, now they are irrelevant until it’s time for them to die.

    Come to think of it, that may explain Fred’s observation on “the perhaps-nuclear devastation of New York, London, Washington, Chicago
    and other cities that remain unnamed because neither the authors nor
    their characters are the least bit curious about them.” Yeah, yeah, second horseman, did that, now let’s fill pages until the next item on the list.

  •  I think they were going for Amanda Wingfield (as Fred suggested) or Blanche Dubois. Incidentally, dropping a stock character duplicate like this into the narrative is a step down from Fred’s imagined version of Loretta but a dramatic improvement over the other characters, who lack even that amount of flair. It’s kind of like how the 3rd-rate Dan Brown knockoff sequence in the 1st book (with Alan Tompkins and the London car bombings) was an improvement over the phone calls and plane rides that dominated the rest of the book, even though by any objective standard it was still awful writing.

  • Jessica_R

    Oh no, Mitt Romney is *totally* Rayford.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I think in last week’s comments someone noted that the Tribbies don’t even pray, so it’s a very special kind of Christianity they practice.

    They did pray that one time near the end of LB or the beginning of TF in order to establish that they are born again Christians with the special prayer feelings. Since then, not so much.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Gotta say, as far as detailed, thoughtful side-discussions go, I’m preferring the one here on the permanence of different types of media over the bestiality one over on the other thread.

  • LoneWolf343

    I always envisioned Loretta as black, myself. Probably just on name alone.

  • There’s a song we sing based on Deuteronomy that’s got stuck in my head with all the talk here of all Bruce’s words: “now into your care these words are given. Cherish them, imprint them on your heart”. In trying to find that song I found related bits that aren’t in the song, like “bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart” – and now I’ve got the mental image of someone trying to do that with 5000 pages.

  • Lauren Kuffler

    It may have been mentioned already, but how the flippin’ hell is Loretta going to carry the end result? I actually have 5,000 (8.5 x 11, 20 lb, 75 g/m^2)pages sitting nearby…  entirely filling an 18 x 11 x 9 inch box.

    I just did the calculations to make sure my estimate of the ridiculous weight of that box is correct, and, well. with 20lb paper, 5,000 pages weighs… 50 lbs.

    I say again: How is Loretta the 70 year-old grief-stricken woman going to be tottering through the Chicago suburbs with this?

  • Tricksterson

    Wait, don’t the prophets get smuggled out of somewgere and into somewhere in this book?

  • GeniusLemur

    But are Bruce’s writings important? Does anything ever come of the mass of printing? We don’t find out what’s in there that’s so important now, do we ever? After this scene, are the hard copies of Bruce’s precious writings ever even mentioned again?

  • There’s a bestiality discussion? *must not look must not look must not look*

  • How is Loretta the 70 year-old grief-stricken woman going to be tottering through the Chicago suburbs with this?

    What, are you saying someone should help her? Are you trying to deny her the dignity of self-sufficiency?! Envious pinko socialist communist!!!

  • Lauren Kuffler

    What, are you saying someone should help her? Are you trying to deny her the dignity of self-sufficiency?! Envious pinko socialist communist!!!

    Oh, never. Her solo attempts might eventually produce shadenfreude, which is about as close to actual enjoyment as can be had in observing Left Behind.

    Also, have they considered using the manuscript as a weapon? You could have a great Bond one-liner of “Words have weight.” before dropping the whole darn thing on someone’s head from a great height.

  • PJ Evans

     Just dropping that manuscript on someone’s foot would be effective.

  • Tricksterson

    Yeah, of this whole segment that, for me, gets the Golden Douche Bag Award.  Why couldn’t Buck or Chloe drive her to Kinko’s in the Buckmobile?

  • I’m neither joking nor exaggerating. Five pages explaining how Loretta
    used a “Print BB*.*” command to send all the files to the printer, or
    how church tech-guy “Donny Moore” set up the office laser printer with
    “old boxes of continuous-feed computer paper.”

    So much wrong in this.

    Why issue “Print BB*.*” multiple times? * is a joker/glob character, so “BB*.*” means “all files whose names start with ‘BB'”. If you enter it multiple times, you get multiple copies. Yay for command line magic.

    Continuous feed paper is something everyone wants to forget. Especially people who bought laser printers. You know, laser printers had this one very huge advantage – they take paper casettes which in turn can be fed with *gasp* normal sheets of paper! Continuous feed was for the groundlings who had those cheap line printers. Low quality paper, not archiveable quality, difficult to handle, messy edges.

  • I think I actually remember why. The remainder of Loretta’s scenes will be consumed by a complicated set of vehicular musical chairs where Buck, Loretta, and Buck’s editor and token lesbian character Verna Zee swap cars and cell phones over and over until one of them dies a horrific death after being crushed by one of the cars (guess who?)

  • Buck: “…there’s a gold mine in that room. From
    glancing at those pages, I can see that Bruce is still with us…”

    Chloe: “Buck, shouldn’t you try to edit it or…”

    “Edit it, Chloe? It’s a gold mine! When you find a
    gold mine, you don’t go hacking away with a pick-axe or a shovel! You
    preserve it just as you found it! There’s a certain
    beauty in simply leaving all that gold inside the rock!”

    Flogging the dead equine here, but there is so much fail on these pages…

    “….our printer was pretty new and fancy and should be kicking out close to fifteen pages a minute.”
    “And you’ve been doing this how long?” Chloe asked.
    “Just about ever since I talked to Bruce from the hospital this morning…”

    The old paper box, the likes of which buck hadn’t seen in years, noted that it contained five thousand sheets. He guessed that it had already used 80 percent of it’s total…

    Flash fiction time! 

    [Fun with math tells us if Loretta is telling the truth, it would have been less than six hours since Loretta spoke to Bruce, give or take. We know that Rayford fought his way through traffic to find the dead Bruce Barnes “in the bluster of suburban Chicago’s early afternoon”. Buck and Chloe might have saved some time driving on sidewalks and over medians and through oddly-deserted-for-some-unknown-reason playgrounds on their way back, but they also had a stop at the Range Rover dealership. So either Loretta is fudging her story a little about when she started and/or how long everything took or the writers as empty-headed hacks. Option A is more fun…]

    18 Months, Two Weddings, and a Nuclear Attack Later…
    All three felt the gaze of the Author slide away, probably to wherever Rayford and Amanda were.
    Chloe blinked a few times, thinking.

    “Wait, if we’ve been gone for 10 hours, the printing should have finished a long time ago…”

    Loretta gave a start.

    “Well, I had to get the tech guy, and we had to find the paper boxes… aren’t you going to look at those printouts? You’ll need to read it all to find the good stuff…” Loretta motioned towards the small study, it’s door still ajar.

    “You want us to read it all?” Chloe asked, suspicious of the anxiety in Loretta’s voice.

    Loretta looked flustered. “…only while we’re waiting for the printing to finish… it won’t take much longer, I don’t think…”

    Chloe drew the compact hand crossbow she kept hidden under her coat and leveled it at Loretta to Buck’s shock and disbelief.

    “It’s a trap, Buck. She’s trying to stall us, get us to stay here in one place. She’s an agent… of him.”

    Buck paused. “But once the Author looks back at us, we’ll be… well, whatever He wants us to be. What’s the point?”

    “Because we all have to pass the time somehow!” Loretta cackled, before diving into the women’s restroom. Buck made a start towards the door before he heard the slide of a shotgun and decided to throw himself to the floor. Buck checked himself for wounds, and wondered how long it would take the Author to notice them again. For the first time, he nearly looked forward to it.

  • The_L1985

     They are useful, though, if you want to send someone a copy of only a few small PDF files.  More compact than the usual CD size, and you don’t have as much sense of having wasted hundreds of potential MBs of data space.

  • The_L1985

     FedEx/Kinko’s has very reliable service.  For when it absolutely, positively HAS to be printed out by tomorrow’s apocalypse.

  • The_L1985

    Minor nitpick:  Plan 2 for printing Bruce’s notes wouldn’t have existed during the time NRA was written.  CD-R’s weren’t available until 1999 at least, and weren’t well-publicized for another year or two after that.  (Earliest ref I remember is a 1995 Popular Science, which predicted that writable CD’s would exist by 1999 or 2000, and also predicted Blu-Ray.)

    If Ellenjay don’t have the creativity to write about new things that already exist, they’re that much less likely to write about new things that will exist a year or two in the future.

  • Vermic

    Buck checked himself for wounds, and wondered how long it would take the Author to notice them again. For the first time, he nearly looked forward to it.

    Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a character that could never have been known as a human named Buck Williams, a thing whose personality and theology is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance.

    Inwardly: alone. Here. Living under the thumb, under the authorial gaze, of the mind of Jerry Jenkins, whose books we bought because our time was badly spent and we must have known unconsciously that he could do it better, however marginally. At least Chloe and Loretta are safe at last.

    Jenkins will be all the madder for that. It makes me a little happier. And yet … Jenkins has won, simply … he has taken his revenge …

    I have no phone. And I must scream.

  • Fred’s readership is large enough that you’re probably not the only one, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet you’re in the minority.

  • Just for fun, I decided to work out the file sizes involved.

    Say, 5000 pages single-sided text. Assume 100 monospaced characters per line to make the math easy, and call it, let’s see, 100 lines per page, again to make the math easy, I’m going for ballpark estimates anyway.

    50,000,000 characters.

    Now, if each character is represented by 1 byte and there’s no overhead for the file system then that’s printing on the order of 50 megabytes worth of stuff.

    Iiiiiiiiiiii don’t think Jenkins thought that one through.

    That said, ASCII text is fairly highly compressible. So assuming you can get the file to 1/3 of its original size, (actually, depending on the exact compression mechanism you can get up to 6x compression, but let’s be conservative) then that’s now down to approximately 15 megabytes, give or take a few.

    That’s probably 12 or so 3.5″ floppies. Not unmanageable, but a pretty gargantuan set for 1997 standards.

  • Raj1point618

    You’re First in my book, Hawt Stuff!

  • Raj1point618

    “Chloe,” Buck said carefully, “look at this rig. It has everything. It will go anywhere. It’s indestructible. It comes with a phone.

    A phone! A phone, Chloe, a phone! A phone! A phone, a very palpable phone! A PHONE! A PHONE, PHONE, PHONE, PHONE, PHONE!

  • PJ Evans

    Low quality paper, not archiveable quality, difficult to handle, messy edges

    Microperf paper takes care of the messy edges, and some of the tractor-feed paper holds up pretty well – I have stuff my father printed about 20 years ago, and it’s still good.

  • PJ Evans

    MS  Office 6 took ten floppies of that size. (Why, yes, I have installed it. More than once.)

  • E-foster

    i always imagined him either as Mitt Romney, or Mr. Pewterschmidt from Family Guy

  • Kit

    Oh. No. No, no. NO!

    I read the bit about the car-phone and I almost had to stop reading your amazing summary-commentaries (I don’t bother with the originals). The phones, even in your deftly mocking version, are unbearable.

  • E-foster

     it sounds like she may have gone full-retard

  • Iiiiiiiiiiii wouldn’t use that word around here, if I were you.