Monday, April 26, 2010


From the BBC's interview with mobile phone creator Martin (Marty) Cooper, last updated on its website on Friday, April 23, 2010.

"The future of cellular telephony is to make people's lives better - the most important way, in my view, will be the opportunity to revolutionise healthcare," he added.

Simply seeing the word telephony brings back the children's poem "Eletelephony":

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I've got it right.)
Howe'er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I'd better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

But then, there is the quotation that follows, in the article: "We could not have predicted the annoyance that people have when the phone rings at the opera, but it doesn't take a cellular phone to make people be rude."

This raises the question: How, then, do cellular phones figure into daily acts of rudeness? (How does the availability of guns figure into daily acts of violence?)

Oprah Winfrey wrote an Op-Ed in yesterday's Times asking people to please switch off their phones while driving, lest they inconveniently run down a teenager biking home, or collide with another car. Distracted drivers, she asserts, are the new drunks on the road.

Duly noted. Are distracting audience members the new drunks in the red velvet seats?

Jason Alexander told a story during a Channel 13 broadcast of the "The Women," about the time he was performing in a play, and, mere feet away, a phone rang. An audience member in the front row took the call. I don't know if this really did happen or not--it seemed farfetched--but I and everybody I know has had at least one night at the theater/ballet/modern dance performance/opera marred (ruined?) by the buzz or the "ring" of the mobile phone. Why the performance-attending public has to put up with this is beyond me. Sure, it makes a funny story. Would the offender like to treat the entire place to a new round of tickets?

The article says it was on a New York street that Mr Cooper stood "and made the first phone call from a prototype cellular phone." Would that Mr Cooper would now invent 1) A cradle-to-cradle plan for manufacturing these little devils, and/or an acceptable way of disposing of them, and 2) A wormhole to the days and nights of ring-free performances in New York.

It doesn't take a cellular phone to make people rude, but it certainly helps things along. Maybe an expanded definition of health care is in order.

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