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Opening Arguments

Stupid things

Got a letter in the mail this week:

Dear Mr. Morris: In your column of Aug. 13, your topic was cell phones and how many people use the "stupid things." When my children were young and said "that stupid car" or "that stupid chair," etc., my retort: This car (chair, whatever) is an inanimate object and therefore incapable of being stupid. I always got the rolling-eyes treatment, therefore it's OK if you did also. However, I hope you did smile. God bless, Nora Walters.

No, Nora, I did not smile. This is far too serious an issue to treat so frivolously. When I wrote "the stupid things" about cell phones, I did not really mean that they are "stupid." That was merely shorthand for "they are evil in the way they often make their users feel stupid."

There is a lot of evil in the world, Nora, so much that the hordes of tyrants, criminals and politicians cannot contain it all. The evil spills out and is sucked up by technological innovations that allegedly make our lives easier but mostly exist to befuddle us. Do you know how a car engine works, Nora, or the inside of a TV set, or a microwave oven? Of course not. There are 326 people in the whole world who know about that stuff, and they charge us twice as much as they should to fix it because we don't know any better and they can bamboozle us.

Chairs don't fit into that category, Nora. They don't do anything but just sit there waiting for us to just sit there. Chairs are stupid, Nora. If bombs can be smart, chairs can be stupid.

I really meant to be clearer about the evil nature of supposedly inanimate objects, but it wasn't my fault it didn't come out quite right. It was the fault of the stupid keyboard connecting to the stupid word-processing program in my stupid computer.