Manual Dexterity

The TimesHanging on my office wall is a framed copy of The Times newspaper dated Thursday, November 7th 1805, carrying the first reports of the Battle of Trafalgar fought off the Spanish coast on the 21st October of that same year; a dramatic sea battle in which famed naval hero Admiral Lord Nelson died at the moment of victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets.

The dispatches, written on the 22nd October and carried by fast schooner back to England, filled the entire newspaper with a detailed account of the battle, news of which had taken over two weeks to filter through to the reading public. It was an age when demand for news of world events outstripped the publisher’s ability to print sufficient copies of the four-page newspaper. Queues formed in clubs and coffeehouses to read of the events that had taken place in far-away Spain.

The point of this historical diversion is to highlight the fact that today it’s no longer necessary to forage through rubbish bins searching for a discarded copy of The Times in order to keep abreast of world news. Thanks to sophisticated communications technology capable of beaming real-time images and commentary directly into our homes twenty-four hours a day, it’s almost impossible to remain ignorant of what’s taking place in the furthest reaches of the globe.

Bombarded with neatly encapsulated summaries of what it is that the media think that we need to know, few people have either the time or the inclination to wade through reams of text for the detail. It’s got to the point where even the telephone is becoming obsolete as far as voice communication is concerned.

Captivated by technology, it’s now become commonplace for people in the same office to conduct conversations via e-mail rather than lean around the partition and ask for a paper clip. Although it’s a growing phenomenon that only adds to the information overload, e-mail does at least have the advantage of encouraging people to express their thoughts and ideas in the written form – and to hopefully read and comprehend what it is that others are saying to them.

Regrettably, however, even e-mail is starting to be overshadowed by the Short Message Service (SMS) capabilities of the mobile ‘phone. The non-verbal equivalent of cavemen grunting, snorting and farting to make themselves understood, the SMS syndrome has, in just over two decades, wiped out several thousand years of literary achievement. It’s accomplished this by reducing ideas and concepts to what are essentially coded abbreviations in which people are able to quickly and readily learn what is happening – without necessarily understanding how or why.

Always keen to seize on popular trends that have the potential to make him wealthy, my mate, Krabbmann, is already catering for the diver of tomorrow by producing a Nu-Speak diving manual divided into sections, each of which can readily be absorbed during a single visit to the bathroom.

With the potential to be a classic of its type, he’s allowed me to reproduce various sections of his Dive Manual, beginning with the chapter dealing with some of the Gas Laws:

“Boyls Law
Volum s n invrs prprtion 2 pressr. The depr u go the gra8r the wtr pressr aktng on ur bdy. Gas spces wivn ur bdy wl b cmprsd nles the pressr s ekwlsd.

“Dltn’s Law
The prtial pressr of gs in a mxtur wil rmane cnstnt & act ndpndntly of uver gses. As u go depr N2 bcums nrcotc 2 u. Ths gs tho inrt hs n ansthtic efect.

“Hnrys Law
The solublty of a gs in a likwd or fluid is drectly prprtonl 2 pressr. Suplid by rspration & crclatun N2 isnt usd by the bdy & is progrsivly absrbd by ur tissus untl absrbtn ekwvlnt 2 sroundng wtr pressr s achvd.”

Some people might consider it to be unnecessarily wordy, but I do believe that the section on dive planning is worth repeating in its entirety – even if only to reinforce its importance to diver safety:

“2dys dve strts the nite b4. Pln ur dve nd dve ur pln. Mke ur nmbr of acnts eql 2 ur dcnts.”

A little more succinct is his treatment of decompression.

“Rli n ur cmputr.”

There will, of course, be detractors who pooh-pooh Krabbmann’s efforts, but given the number of would-be divers who complain about the worth of more orthodox diving manuals – and the difficulty of carrying the same when traveling – there’s a huge market potential for one that can be stored on a mobile phone.


The article above was first published in Nekton on-line magazine in November, 2005.

Categories: Counter-Strike

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