Pen mightier than sword, but keyboard beats ’em both
Today the Schnoz is all goose-pimply with mock suspense, for this is the day we find out if Joe Q. Public will turn in enough John Hancocks to qualify initiatives for the November ballot.
The signature deadline marks the culmination of a red, white and blue-collar exercise in direct democracy. At its best, it should showcase fresh public policy ideas from well-meaning, ordinary citizens.
Alas, what we’ll get is warmed-over hash from Tim Eyman, plus Bill Gates showing how much democracy $1 million buys these days.
We’re supposed to sit on the edge of our seats, breathlessly wondering if voters will get to decide the fate of charter schools or the two-thirds legislative supermajority for tax increases.
Will Eyman show up in Olympia today dressed like a gorilla or Darth Vader? Perhaps Lady Gaga?
Excuse us while we stifle a yawn.
Thankfully, there is one citizen proposal this year worth its salt. Initiative 1241 is a visionary measure that would eradicate one of the greatest threats to our way of life.
No, it’s not childhood obesity, Japanese tsunami debris or Dale Washam.
It’s the curse of the traditional typewriter keyboard design.
Control-alt-delete, then reboot:
Daniel Elliott of Lynnwood filed a ballot measure that would require public school students starting in the fourth grade to be taught the Dvorak simplified keyboard. It also would ban the traditional QWERTY-style keyboard in schools.
Elliott is part of a group of disciples who evangelize passionately for the keyboard pioneered in the 1930s by August Dvorak, a University of Washington professor.
They believe society has long conspired against Dvorak’s design, despite the fact it lets people type faster, more accurately and with fewer repetitive stress injuries.
“I will be turning in as many signatures as I can,” Elliott told The Nose. “Even if it’s not enough, it’s a start.
“This is for the kids and teachers who deserve to see a change in public education for the better,” he said.
He points to an experiment from the 1930s in which 2,700 students from one school district learned the Dvorak method. It took them one-third as long to master as the traditional typewriter.
The district in that experiment, by the way, was Tacoma.
So, hooray for I-1241. But why press the shift key on only one paradigm? The world is full of many other revolutionary ideas that never got a fair shake. Washington could be the first state to adopt them all.
The metric system. Esperanto. Betamax video. Ranked-choice voting.
And now, a limerick:
In honor of Gov. Chris Gregoire and her latest overseas trade mission – this time to Ireland and environs – we penned a wee bit o’ verse in the native form.
There once was a guv in Belfast,
Whose junkets were frequent and vast.
Lame ducks sure can roam
But she feels right at home
’cause the booze there is way overtaxed.Some might consider it odd
That a Gregoire would hit the old sod
They forget that this lady
Was once an O’Grady
A surname the Paddies applaud.
Inspiration takes time:
The Sound Transit board has approved names for the five new light rail stations that will open between 2016 and 2021.
It wasn’t easy. According to the news release, “The action caps months of outreach gathering input.”
How exciting! So what did they come up with for the new station on Capitol Hill? The Capitol Hill Station.
OK, we like the simplicity. How about the University of Washington station? Wait for it
the University of Washington Station.
U District? That’ll be the U District Station. Next stops will be called the Roosevelt Station and Northgate Station.
Did we mention this process took months? Now you know why your great grandchildren may not live to see the extension of light rail to Tacoma.
A coda from last week’s column:
A loyal reader liked our idea to open McNeil Island for VIP lodging during the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
“There are already folks on hand to staff the new ‘resort,’” the reader pointed out. “A very committed group at that. One could say they all have a ‘special commitment.’”
And where will the guests eat? The Hard Rock Cafe, of course.
Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com.