Sunday, November 07, 2021

[szwdclra] pedantic SOS

the SOS signal in Morse code is:

it is not:
...  ---  ...

the correct former lacks pauses; the incorrect latter has two internal pauses.

pauses are meaningful in Morse code: .- means A, whereas .  - means ET.  ...---... means "I need help"; ...  ---  ... means sos, not an English word (maybe the plural of "so").

how many deaths have been caused by a sender mistakenly inserting pauses into the code?  probably very few.  but is it zero?  maybe something involving an automated receiver that triggers an alarm if reads the pauseless correct SOS signal, immediately getting a human's attention, but merely records the message on paper if there are pauses, which a human might eventually get around to reading, later that week.

or, tell a fictional story of someone refusing to render aid because the sender misspelled the SOS signal with pauses.  this requires setting up a backstory that the pauses cause the receiver to identify the sender as someone they don't like, similar to grammar nazis hating people who make certain misspellings, or the identification of someone as African-American (then subsequent racism) based on their pronunciation of "ask".

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