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Control S

November 19, 2009 1:49:17 PM PST
I remember clearly the first time a computer ate my work.

I was working at the L.A. Times, and was pounding away madly on the new computers the paper had just installed to replace the old typewriters.

(Note to those who've never used or have no idea what a typewriter is: You thought a lot more about what you were going to write before you actually wrote it. Editing on paper was, oh, about 947 times as difficult as editing on a computer screen.)

Save your work, every line. I, like most other reporters, listened only some of the time. Until the story disappeared when the system crashed. Then I listened all of the time.

Command Save, or some such keystroke, became standard operating procedure after every line. In fact, hang on, I'm going to "Control S" right now.

I'm back.

I get a warm tingle when I do that. A feeling that, if the system should crash right now, the 170 words or so I've typed so far would be saved, and not evaporate into a digital Neverland. And you just have to lose your work once to be a convert to the magic of hitting the save button.

Having said that, we are so dependent on computers these days, it's a wee bit frightening. We bank, we shop, we write, we document, we do just about everything on computers and/or the Internet. Or at least most of us do.

And hitting the save key doesn't always avert trouble.

Like this morning, when a "software configuration" failure in the FAA's "Telecommunications Infrastructure" in Salt Lake City disrupted flights around the country. Air traffic controllers were unable to electronically process flight plans.

Not a good thing.

Maybe someone just forgot to hit "save."

Or maybe not.

Flights in our area were messed up as well. They're getting back on time tonight. We'll have the latest on the snafu, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, the political gossip mill was spinning overtime today about Rudy Giuliani. Sources say he has decided NOT to run for New York Governor - although his spokeswoman insists he's not made an official decision. However, he's scheduled a news conference for tomorrow, and sources say he will announce he's running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by an appointee- Kristen Gillibrand.

Could the polls have had something to do with the decision? The latest polls show Giuliani trails Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic Attorney General, by 10 to 12 points in a head-to-head governor's match up. This is assuming that either gentleman runs for the office. The same polls show Giuliani leads Gillibrand by about 6 points.

We'll have the latest.

And we're taking a closer look at the growing use of debit cards - instead of credit cards - for holiday shopping. There are upsides and downsides to using debit cards. Our Lauren Defranco looks at both, at 11.

And finally, under the heading: very sad. Eight years after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, and as President Obama mulls what to do next in that country (more troops, withdraw, stay the same?), the South Asia regional director for UNICEF today made this pronouncement:

"Afghanistan today is without a doubt the most dangerous place to be born."

That claim was based on the latest U.N. report showing Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world: 257 deaths for every 1,000 live births. And the lack of security prevents polio and measles vaccine campaigns, and cuts the number of children in school - especially girls.

Here's another stat: 317 schools have been destroyed by the Taliban in the past year, he said, killing 124 people.

There are those will argue that our military effort has been fruitless, and then there are those who will argue that the statement makes it even more important for us to work there to change it.

We should learn the President's decision soon - perhaps within days.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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