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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 7, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Saturday, April 7, 1973 THE LETHBRIDCE HERALD g Computers are quite beyond corruption By Margaret Luckhurst, former Herald Staff writer It has been six months since I left Lethbridge and I regret to say I haven't accomplished very much. Oh, I've learned lo make puff pastry, my silver is nice and shiny, and I do a lot of baby-sitting for my grand- children but I confess I miss my work at the good old Her- ald. I have applied to local newspapers but they aren't ex- actly panting for my services EO I have sought employment in other related fields. Unfortunately, I'm never at my best when quizzed by an in- different personnel officer. My vague answers plus my nerv- ousness work against me. I pick at my gloves, and stammer and can't remember the answers to the simplest personal questions such as how many children do I have. Last week I rocked a hiring and fir- ing man by absent mindedly stating 14 to that question. Then stumbled all over myself ex- plaining I was counting all my immediate family wives, hus- bands and grandchildren. I could clearly see in his cynical eyes the unspoken message "we can't take on this little old lady, why she's even wearing a If they'd just let me sit down and type out a story on say, "why I have now started wear- ing hats again." I might make a more positive impression. In- stead I have to fill out forms asking all sorts of impertinent questions such as "age" which I think I should be able to lie about, and "sex" which I think is quite apparent from my name. At least, I haven't heard of any male Margarets but with unisex so popular there may be a few of them around. Some forms are straightfor- ward and require only a few vital statistics on formal edu- cation and typing speed. Others ate mind-boggling and are fed into a computer for results. I always feel, after gurgling through the computer, some- thing akin to the Little Ginger- bread Boy, all stamped out into a form with no specific identity. I even look to see if the mole on my left ear is there, and when I establish that it is. I'm happy to know I'm still me, and not a nameless hybrid, evolved from highly nourished but com- pletely aloof computerization. As an example, recently I "answered an ad for "someone capable and willing to edit a small, monthly business paper with a domestic slant." I was pretty sure I could do the job and even improve the product, but the agency handling the applications insisted I fill out a massive "orientaton'1 test which, as it turned out proved me to be bordering dangerously on illiteracy, with a touch of early senility thrown in. The last question included various little tests in spelling and arithmetic. "If a bee leaves Station I, and travels 30 m.p.h. where will it meet a passenger train leaving Station II travel- ling 50 m.p.h.. a distance of 40 miles with two stops of 15 min- utes each required by the train." I remembered that one from Grade V or thereabouts and I wasn't going to fall into any trap. Cleverly (I thought) I answered "there are no pas- senger trains in Manitoba that would condescend to stop even if passenger trains still ran, which they don't, so obviously the bee will never sec the train at all." On page two I was confronted by a large ink blob which would be able to give the anal- ysers an insight into my per- sonality. I studied the formless splotch for a few minutes but I honestly couldn't fin in it any- thing ethereal or artistic. It simply a juvenile form of messiness, which, I stated, re- minded me of a scorched hole in my ironing board over. I don't remember Jco much about three, four and five, but somewhere in all this probing I had to say whether I liked pink better than yeltow and if I preferred my mother to my father. I couldn't sec what these bad to do with my writ- ing an intelligent column on crocheting, or hew to make rolled oats taste like sirloin steak, so I just put "some- times" beside them both. And the thing was, those were bas- ically quite honest answers. The upshot of this test was that I never heard from these people again. I think maybe computers don't like me, which is quite mutual for I don't like them either. In their course of duty they are quite beyond cor- ruption, make few incorrect judgments, and only fail when disconnected from the wall. My husband claims you can beat these tests b y try- ing to guess what the employers want you lo say on the forms. They take them very seriously and therefore so must L So in- stead of replying that an ink blob looks like a murk on the kitchen floor I have to try to convince them that it reminds me of a poem, or an intricate or beautiful design worthy of a place in the national gallery. This of course would be a de- liberate falsehood but it may impress those who want to search my innermost soul. At any rate I was called to come in and "answer a few ques- tions by a leading public rela- tions" firm so I had getter get myself all neated up and have another go at modern employ- ment practices. Somebody ought to write a book about them say, that's not a bad idea! Nothing to do At Stewart Game Farm, Lethbridge Phofo by Bill Groenen Book Reviews Canadian identity has to be real "Survival" Margaret At- wood (House of Anansi Press Limited, 287 Margaret Atwood's latest lit- erary contribution is a chit- chatty, Canadian rendition of the Oxford Companion to Lit- erature. She begins with the idea that "every country or cul- ture has a single and inform- ing symbol at its core which holds the country togeth- er and helps the people in it to co operate for common ends." Then she goes on to prove that the literary symbol uniting Canada is survival The basis of her theorem is that Canadian literature is al- ways about victims. According to her, we are all victims. (She places us into four basic "posi- depending upon how aware of or how much of our victimization we are willing to admit: One, to deny the fact that one is a victim; Two. to admit one is a victim but to ex- plain it as an act of fate; Three, to admit to being a vic- tim but refuse to accept the assumption that it is inevit- able: Four, to be a creative non-victim.) We have an irresistable urge to fail, she says. A Canadian author won't likely have his hero suddenly inherit money from a rich old uncle; he'll more likely "conjure up an un- expected natural disaster or an out-of-control car She says "Canadians are forever taking the national pulse like doctors at a sickbed: the aim is not to see whether the patient will live well but simnly whether he will live at all." Miss Atwcod fits most Cana- dian literature inUi nine cate- gories: nature, animals. Indians and Eskimos. Canada's explor- ers and settlers, families, dis- appointed immigrants, histori- cal heroes