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By Joel Klebanoff

Paper Beats Electrons

I've uncovered a potentially catastrophic rift in the space-time continuum. If our top scientists don't quickly start paying attention to the problem and find a solution, it may soon be too late for humanity. I'm surprised that no one else has noticed it yet, but think about it. Certain events remain a constant distance in the future no matter how far the clock on the wall advances. That shouldn't be possible in a universe governed by the laws of physics as we know them.

I'm not talking about the silly, inconsequential truisms you were fed as a child such as, "tomorrow never comes." No, I'm talking about important, measurable technological milestones that are always an invariable period in the future.

Fuel cell cars are a good example. For more than a decade, the leading experts in the field have been telling us that mass-produced fuel cell cars are 10 years away. They're still telling us that. They'll probably be saying the same thing a decade from now.

Another example is electronic books. For some time now, industry gurus have been telling us that the mass adoption of e-books is just around the corner. Yet, no matter how far we travel, that corner always seems to be the same distance ahead.

If we don't do something to rectify this situation, and do something rapidly, a day may come when time stops completely. Then where will we be? What will happen if that day arrives after you receive an exceptionally large bill from a particularly belligerent company, but before you pay it? Bill collectors will hound you for all eternity. It's true that you only have two legs for them to break but, still, we definitely need to solve this predicament quickly.

When it comes to e-books, I think I know why this is happening. Rather than being just around the corner, the mass adoption of e-books is some long and indeterminate length of time away for the plain and simple reason that printed books are far superior to e-books and will continue to be so for quite a while to come.

Here are just a few of the more obvious, substantial advantages of printed books over e-books:

Just as an aside, did I mention that MC Press is publishing a printed book, BYTE-ing Satire, containing a collection of the first year's worth of my tirades? Of course, I'd never, never in a million years, allow that to bias my writing of this week's column. Never, ever. Honest. Would I lie to you? Oh and by the way, did I mention that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are all real beings who are under my employ? Honest. Would I lie to you?

As you've probably guessed, this column was first published at the official launch of my book, BYTE-ing Satire.

This article originally appeared as part of a weekly series of "Tech Tirades" in MC TNT from MC Press Online. The first year's worth of Tech Tirades does not appear here. Instead, you can find them in BYTE-ing Satire.

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