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No iPhone in Heaven?

Posted Tuesday, June 29, 2010, at 10:49 AM

"Hello, Central?"
Clearly nobody could have predicted where telephones would end up back when the Carter Family recorded their tear-jerker about the limits of communications technology, "No Telephone in Heaven." But here we are at the point where great swathes of the populace feel that if they can't take their phones to heaven, maybe they'd rather not go.

Google and Apple are now the King Kong and Godzilla of mobile communications, and their epic struggle for domination of that and all other technology explodes and crashes daily across the internet. (Microsoft seems to be playing the role that Tokyo played in the movies.) Of course, there are little hitches and drawbacks to both companies' phones. For instance, there have been some complaints about a touchy interface on the Droid, which has been known to spontaneously call Turkmenistan from user's pockets. That sort of thing can set off diplomatic incidents. And the iPhone apparently doesn't work if you hold it incorrectly, but Steve Jobs, reaching back to his beginnings in vaudeville, solved that by saying, "Then don't hold it like that."

But I'm afraid I'm one of those dullards who sees these "phones" (they aren't really phones, after all, but life-swallowing brain replacement engines) as something less than floated-down-on-wings-of-angels boons to humanity. But what do I know? Part of my ambivalence is undoubtedly prejudice brought about by my own early experience with telephones--specifically with the one my grandmother had in her home. My grandmother was not a person who embraced change for its own sake. Or anything else's sake. She chose a hairstyle in 1916 and stuck with it for the remainder of the 20th Century. In 1946 she bought a Pontiac, and she would have never gotten another car if some younger members of the family had not staged a coup sometime in the mid-1970s. (Even then it had to be another Pontiac.) And I don't know when the first telephone came into her home, but her first one was still there when I arrived and she saw no reason to get another. Ever.

This phone weighed about twelve pounds and was apparently made of solid iron. The cord had cloth insulation on it. It worked well enough, but it had one slight drawback: in any sort of electrical storm it became literally deadly. If lightning flashed anywhere within fifteen miles, the phone went off like a pistol shot. Talking on any phone during a thunderstorm is probably not a good idea, but with this phone, forget about talking--we were afraid to even be in the same room. When thunder boomed anywhere in the vicinity, it began to arc and crackle like something Kenneth Strickfaden created for "Frankenstein." We all just cowered in another room until it all blew over.

Child is father to the man, so they say, and after that experience I never fully trusted any telephone not to suddenly blow my brains out. Adding to the phone the ability to track demographic trends in Australia, identify faces of international fugitives or launch missiles hasn't really endeared them to me any more, either.

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No Way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- Posted by kathyandjimill on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 2:41 PM

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