Ohms Law

Ed Kronk was a strange lad. Born of middle European parents who had emigrated to the great US of A, but who had never forgotten their homeland, he was always the odd one out at the little school on the hillside in a rural area in the backwoods of Indiana. His parents were fiercely determined that, even in the new land, the old ways should be kept, with the result that Ed was always struggling to reconcile two cultures and failing in the attempt. Physically he had little going for him either. He was a tall, rawboned kid whose knees and elbows always seemed to stick out at odd angles. His clothes were from the Sears Roebuck catalogue, the same as ours, but they never seemed to fit him anything like the same. Inevitably, he was the fall guy for the sixteen or so kids who attended the school. Baiting Ed was the favourite pastime at break, when there were no gophers or woodchucks to chase. As can be expected, this did little to improve his temper which, to express it kindly, had always been what can best be described as volatile.

Ed finally graduated and took a job with a bus company in a nearby town. Starting as a cleaner, he progressed and, when some one discovered that he was good at arithmetic, he was promoted to conductor; quite a good job from a country kid’s point of view. He was, moreover, totally honest. Honest to the point of fanaticism and it was this that saved him from dismissal for the number of times that he had a violent set to with a passenger for some real or, more frequently, imagined slight. It, also, eventually led to his downfall.

One night, towards the end of his shift, Ed had just taken the fare from a little old lady when she questioned the change which he had giver, her. Ed, tired after a long day, took this as doubting his honesty and promptly lost his temper. He seized the old lady and, without more ado threw her bodily off the bus, unfortunately into the path of a following vehicle. Needless to say the old lady was killed and Ed was arraigned on a charge of homicide. The ensuing court case was quite spectacular,  everyone could remember a time when Ed had had a go at them or their neighbour/ relative/ girlfriend etc. The prosecution demanded the death penalty and, following a unanimous verdict of guilty, this was the sentence given.

There were the usual appeals through the usual hierarchy of courts but the death penalty was maintained and there finally came the day of execution. Indiana is one of the States where the electric chair is still in use and, on the appointed day, a solemn little group gathered at the State prison. The Chaplain, the Prison Governor and the Doctor plus a few other officials arid the usual handful of reporters all waiting for the fateful moment. Ed was strapped into the chair, the Chaplain muttered a few prayers and the Governor gave the signal for the switch to be thrown. Nothing happened. Ed did not even blink.

The power was switched off, the Doctor examined Ed, and pronounced him good for another hundred years, and the power supply, wiring and electrodes were all checked. Ed, during this time was still sitting there as a mildly interested spectator. After being told l:y the technical staff that it was all systems go, the Goverior ordered a retry. Power was switched on but the result was as before — zilch.

Since, by law, only three attempts may be made to execute the death penalty it was imperative that the next attempt be successful. The Governor ordered that Ed be removed back to his cell while a thorough check was made on the equipment. Everything was checked  the power supply, the wiring, and the electrodes in power on and poweroff modes until everyone was satisfied that there was no malfunction. Short of asking for a volunteer there was little else that could be done.

Ed was brought back and strapped in. The Chaplain muttered his prayers and the Governor gave the signal. All those present craned forward. Nothing happened apart from Ed looking slightly puzzled. There was nothing else to do. Justice had been done according to the law and Ed was duly released to freedom.

The Press, as may be expected, made quite a field day of it, and Washington decided to send down an investigator to make sure that it was all kosher; that it was not some local plot to let Ed escape the consequences of his misdeeds. The investigator duly arrived and carried out exhaustive tests of the equipment. He also asked for Ed’s case file and a transcript of the trial. When, at last, he announced that he had finished his investigations a handful of worried people gathered in the Govenor’s office to hear his findings. ‘Ohm’s Law” he said. “Ohm’s Law.” they echoed. “Yes. Ohm’s Law. The current flowing through a circuit is directly proportional to the applied voltage and inversely proportional to the resistance. You all know this man and his occupation and you should have realised that it would be totally impossible to pass any current through such a bad conductor I

Mac. G6CCW.  Dec 1988.

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