Many years ago, when I was at the Providence Journal, we had a Sunday supplement called The Rhode Islander. Included was a feature called, "Speaking Out" — opinion pieces submitted by readers.
About the time of a significant change in our traffic laws, a reader sent us a piece on why the right-turn-on-red was a terrible idea.
Almost everyone who reacted to the piece thought the writer was nuts. I can't remember now what prompted right-turn-on-red; maybe it was intended to save gasoline, though I never worried how much fuel I wasted while my car idled at a red light.
However, the man who warned us about right-turn-on-red was absolutely correct. It increased driver impatience, and may well be the father of road rage.
RECENTLY I READ about a Georgia driver who got out of his car and fired a gun into one driven by a woman who, in the opinion of this deranged idiot, had paused too long at a stop sign. The shot missed the woman and killed her grandchild, a passenger in the automobile.
Over the years I've noticed that everything created in the name of convenience eventually backfires. Two words — fast food — pretty much says it all. But, yes, it's a convenient way to become obese.
Or think how many marriage would have been saved if someone hadn't invented the television remote.
IN A FEW DAYS my wife and I will be visited by a representative of our wi-fi provider to upgrade our service, and promising to make our wi-fi faster than a speeding bullet.
Thing is, if I had gone to sleep 40 years ago and woke up today, I'd be amazed and pleased beyond measure to have all the appliances and electronic gadgets at my disposal. But I know that tomorrow, or the day after, I'd be whining about every two-second delay I encountered in getting online, or a four-second freeze when I started a television program on my Roku.
It's our nature to quickly adjust to change, then become dissatisfied when we encounter the first glitch. And for what?
On the other hand, if you resist certain things — the way I resist using a cell phone — you look at people who are addicted to making telephone calls while they drive, shop and eat, and think they are inconsiderate dimwits.
OVER THE PAST few years I've lost interest in sports. There was a time I watched football for hours on Saturdays and Sundays, and never missed Monday Night Football.
Now I occasionally watch a college game, but the only pro football I've watched since I retired fourteen years ago are perhaps six New England Patriots games during visits from my daughter, a Patriots fan.
Most of the reasons I lost interest in sports have to do with electronic gadgets — instant replay overkill, annoying graphics superimposed on the field, announcers spouting meaningless computer-generated statistics, websites publishing childish sports speculation because space is limitless, and unedited comments posted by fans with the intelligence of a toddler, even if their birth certificates say they are adults. Sports have become too annoying to be enjoyed. That's why attendance and TV ratings are down.
I DO SPEND a lot of time online, though the Internet is a propaganda wonderland and an outlet for practical jokers. The inmates are running the institution, and one result is an overabundance of phony news.
Which reminds me, who really won the Presidential election?