Folks who know me well regard me as something of a technophobe. I still have my stereo speakers from the 1970s (good ones, but seriously antique; I have eschewed digital quad setups, as I have only two analog ears), my regular car has a manual transmission (albeit with exactly twice as many gears as my first car), incandescent light bulbs still illuminate significant portions of my home (lending my evening visitors robust pink skin tones rather than the sickly bluish shade created by fluorescent tubes). My cell phone, I am told, can be used to watch network TV (complete with subtitles, where applicable), take clandestine high-resolution photos, locate my precise position on the surface of the planet, and place a last-second bid on eBay. I use it for two things only: to place and receive phone calls. I don’t always answer it when it rings, in fact, thanks to one bit of technology I have embraced, caller ID. When I do get a call from a number I don’t recognize, it is usually a wrong number, typically someone looking for “Kaneko-san”, who hasn’t had this number for at least six years that I can personally vouch for. My guess is that the people looking for Kaneko-san haven’t talked with him/her in some time. Perhaps they are debt collectors tracking down cold files. There sure are a bunch of them, though; I get calls for Kaneko-san at least once a week.

One major problem with technology is that it seems there is always somebody willing to pervert it to a use that the inventors did not intend (the atomic bomb jumps to mind). This no doubt explains why there is a warning label on electric paint strippers, which use super-heated air to melt old paint, “do not use this as a hair dryer.” As admonitions go, this one seems about as obvious as “do not use this toaster in the bathtub”, but probably there is someone out there who would do that as well, if not warned off by an non-removable “skull and crossbones” label. (Note: those labels are made from the strongest material known to man; try removing one sometime if you don’t believe me.)

The digital age has brought forth all sorts of new innovations just waiting to be corrupted, often by your friendly government agents. In Great Britain, digital cameras, which started out as a wonderful boon to photographers everywhere, record your every move—well, not yours particularly—but those of everyone in a given area of the city. It is said that GB has more of these silent monitors than all the rest of Europe put together, which is a good reason not to visit the Mother Country, in my estimation. It is not that I plan to do anything unlawful, but if I am picking my nose or scratching my bottom surreptitiously while walking down a seemingly deserted London street, I would prefer that it didn’t cause undue merriment at the local police station or, worse yet, show up on YouTube after I am famous.


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