November 13, 2006

It's the All New Mobile Footnote Check Station!

Here's something I've seen many times without laughing that suddenly amuses the hell out of me:

All New Mobile Footnote Check Station

I don't know if it's the obvious oldness of the thing labeled "all new," or if it's the idea that putting books on a wheeled cart was ever exciting enough to warrant a painted label trumpeting it's newness and mobility. Or is it that I have a vague memory of a time when the expression "check station" would seem very strikingly modern? Or is it poignancy of the variations in the typeface, the way it begs us to really feel how new "new" is and how mobile "mobile" is? Is it the crazy redundancy of the little check in a box at the end? Is there something funny about the idea of law students feeling really, really urgent about getting footnotes checked? Or is it the way -- despite the label -- it's quite obviously not a footnote check station at all?

ADDED: Or was it always meant to be funny, in some lost 1970s hippie way?

19 comments:

Chris said...

This had to seem very silly and campy at the time it was done, didn't it?

Maxine Weiss said...

I fail to see the humor.

Laughter is good, though.

Say, when people use "LOL" ...are they really laughing?

Or, is that notation merely a suggestion?

"ROFLMAO" ....now people aren't literally doing that, when the use of that notation is employed, are they? That'd be pretty difficult, I'd say, although...

Peace, Maxine

Ron said...

If it were the "All-Singing, All Dancing Mobile Footnote Check Station", all footnotes would be arranged in Busby Berkleyesque patterns. Best cinematography gets an "A" in all classes that semester.

"We're in the money, c'mon my honey..."

Theo Boehm said...

That cart oozes 80's hype, doesn't it? It caused a smile, at least, but also gave me a little frisson of near-disbelief.

The very fact that a law library could have a "station" to check footnotes is wierdly wonderful by the standards of my old academic discipline.

When I was in grad school, almost certainly before that cart was created, we had to check our footnotes by grinding through illegible microfilm copies of 100-year-old monographs; by taking the intercampus bus to Berkeley to check on the only copy of a critical edition of certain little-known Medieval MSS west of the Mississippi; by writing a friend in Germany to check with his university research librarian about their copy of that 17th century treatise with marginalia scribbled by Werckmeister; by flying to Washington to buttonhole an old friend working as an assistant at the Library of Congress to see if he could help get me some face time with an important MS that just didn't seem to be available in microfilm; by.....

Well, you get the idea—training for old-fashioned scholarship, which was fading fast, and for which a very slim market existed and exists. Ergo, no PhD for ol' Theo.

So, your law library may look a bit sterile, sorry to say, but at least the books are on dust-free shelves within reach. And, unlike the research materials I was familiar with, their contents do not range from the cryptic to the obscure in five languages. Finally, and most importantly, the coffee's free (at least one hopes).

Wickedpinto said...

I didn't think of it's origin, I was thinking of the fact that moving anything that narrow with a 5 gallon coffee maker on top of it, should be in violation of OSHA standards.

If that coffee maker tips, everyone in the environment would be moving like people covered in boiling oil.

kimsch said...

Are the napkins on the lower shelf reference copies?

Wade_Garrett said...

If you think that looks sterile, wait until you see the actual University of Wisconsin law school library. Its basically a carpeted airplane hangar with bookshelves.

Wickedpinto said...

Exactly how mobile is it when the only thing it's carrying is plugged into the wall?

S.T. Steiner said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
S.T. Steiner said...

I wouldn't go near that coffee after an hour or so, you'd be asking for a bad case of . . . .

Pogo said...

What a sweet, ridiculous little braggart of a cart. No longer new, not mobile, not checking footnotes.

It calls to mind three things:
1)Nothing is older than yesterday's future.
2) Hope is the thing with feathers.
3) In two decades, I'll look like that.

David said...

You see those in the movies where the trustee wheels it down the aisle in front of the cells!

"I'm in a Pasternak mood today!"
"No Pasternak but a couple of Micky Spillanes or ...!"

Too Many Jims said...

The only time I can recall checking footnotes in law school was for law journal. You were given a certain number of pages of an article and you had to make sure that every quote was exact and each paraphrase was accurate.

Most of us would take 8 or 10 volumes to a carrel or table to check footnotes. Because my mom was a librarian, I (usually) made sure the volumes were re-shelved. I suspect that somebody who got sick of re-shelving books tried to make it "cool" to roll this cart along to check footnotes, figuring that at least this way the volumes would be on a cart. When that failed they made it into a coffee station.

ricki said...

Somehow, I think it says something very telling about the state of education in our country that a "mobile footnote check station" has been repurposed as a coffee cart.


or maybe I'm just embittered because I'm grading student "research" papers this week and finding that Wikipedia is apparently the new authority on All Things.

kimsch said...

ricki, I am so sorry. I only ever use wiki to find real sources...

Internet Ronin said...

Are we voting on what it all means? I vote it was meant to be funny.

As it once was a lowly book cart used to return books to the shelves, normally, one would assume that someone actually read all or part of the book, but the joke seems to be that all the books gathered therein were used only to check footnotes (and probably very quickly at that).

Kirk Parker said...

"1)Nothing is older than yesterday's future."

I want my flying car, dammit! Popular Mechanics promised me...

rafinlay said...

I just assumed that checking footnotes was so deadly dull that you needed ready access to a large quantity of coffee.

and the word verification is: iuzsip. "I use sip", which just proves it.

Hazy Dave said...

Your search - "All New Mobile Footnote Check Station" - did not match any documents.

...Yet!