“It is better not to have the country run by sociopaths”

That is the lesson derived by Seth Meyers as he looks at the non-stop flow of nonsense and dangerous false information peddled by Trump and the people in his administration, including his odious son-in-law Jared Kushner. He points to the fact that Trump actually brags at his press conferences about how successfully Mike Pence, the vice-president and the head of the coronavirus task force, avoids answering questions posed to him by journalists.

As an aside, Meyers was understandably incredulous that one government site required people to send faxes to get the benefits they were applying for. Faxes? Who the hell has access to a fax machine these days? It turns out not only government bureaucracies. Just a month ago, I was sent by regular mail a form by the office of the new doctor into whose practice I was enrolling. I was asked to either mail the completed form back or fax it. At my home I have a photocopying and scanning machine but not a fax. Even if I had a fax machine, I think I would need a land line phone to send a fax and I don’t have one and neither do an increasing number of homes. When I called and asked whether I couldn’t just scan it and send it as a pdf, I was told no. Then to get my medical records transferred from my old doctor’s office to my new one, I was again asked to fax the request to the old doctor’s office.


  1. jrkrideau says

    My doctor’s office and my pharmacy have faxes. The doctor prescribes xxx in the electronic data system which prints out a hard copy which the office staff manually fax to the pharmacy. I have seen staff feeding the paper into the fax machine.

    Other than complete inertia, the only vaguely reasonable reason I have heard suggested is that it in harder to hack a fax than an electronic order.

  2. says

    is that it in harder to hack a fax than an electronic order.
    Nah, with the right drivers installed you can print direct from photoshop to FAX.

    I had someone ask me to send them a proposal by fax a while back, and replied, “would you like it in Latin, too?”

  3. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    A fax is sent over the traditional circuit-switched phone system, which means that the phone company records its metadata (from, to, when, length). A fax is hard(er) to fake, because the metadata is stored by the third party. That is why GSM phones supported a fax function. I’m not sure if the modern variants do it anymore, because they are packet-switched.

  4. Dunc says

    The phone system is no longer switched-circuit except at the very ends -- it’s almost all packet-switched over IP these days. And if you imagine that the metadata for all your other packet-switched communications don’t have their metadata (and probably their content) stored by third parties (note the plural) then I’m afraid you’re very much mistaken.

    My assumption would be that they still insist on fax because nobody’s rewritten the procedures since the 1990s, when they dropped support for telegrams and carrier pigeons.

  5. rojmiller says

    There are free online fax services you can use if you don’t have a fax. E.g., GotFreeFax

  6. lochaber says

    When I used to work in a hospital, faxes were one of the few communication methods that were acceptable under HIPPA, so I’m wondering if that is part of the reason they are still used in medical facilities and related areas.

  7. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    @dunc #5: the point is that in Steam System Seven days you could trace a fax by asking the details from the operator. Today many operators sell capacity by flat rate, and have no need to log the calls. (Law enforcement authorities are a separate issue, but you won’t get your details from them.)

    Anyways, faxes are obsolete, except maybe some parts in Asia. Many Asian scripts are still easier to write by hand and fax forward, than type by some obscure means on an ASCII keyboard to the email program.

    Today a far better way to transfer documents securely is to use someting based on end-to-end encryption, e.g. TLS. You can log yourself the metadata, which is authenticated cryptographically. Both parties can prove that the message was sent and received.

  8. Who Cares says

    I know the play store for android has fax apps in it. Probably the same for Apple. There are websites that do a [doc type] to fax service if you are on Windows, non phone Apple.

    Reason is most likely to have a literal paper trail. Aside from not yet moving on from proven technology.

  9. machintelligence says

    I used to use an all in one (fax, scanner, printer, copier) for my job about ten years ago. When I bought a new one with the same features I never set up the fax, since I had retired. I suppose I could if I really wanted to.

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