Mark Twain once wrote a hilarious short story ("Political Economy") about falling victim to a lightning-rod salesman and ending up with a house that was a virtual magnet for thunderbolts. E. E. "Doc" Smith began his Vortex Blasters sf series with a tragic but similar event, where a configuration of protective devices led inadvertently to a disaster it was designed to avoid.

But in real life, wouldn't it be deliciously ironic if strobes on top of school buses, installed as a safety measure, turned out to distract nearby drivers and thereby cause rather than prevent accidents? And what if pop-ups or flashing-banner Internet advertisements, through an indirect chain of events, triggered the collapse of any company that paid to push them into people's faces? Or if spammers and telemarketers were to lose their veil of privacy and find themselves subject to constant personal intrusion, day and night?

So is it obvious that I abhor the escalation of attention-getting technological devices in modern life? (Not that I'm complaining about displays of decolletage, mind you!)

(see also StrobingTailLights (28 Nov 2002), UnintendedConsequences (10 Jun 2003), SkylarkDuquesne (1 Nov 2003), ... )

TopicScience - TopicHumor - TopicLiterature - 2003-11-15

You may be interested to know: Either Dave Barry or Gene Weingarten (I do no know whom) once put the phone number of someone related to telemarketing in his column. According to a follow-up column, the number got so much traffic that they had to shut it down. The columnist apologized, and declared that he would not tell his readers that the new number was ...


(correlates: OnStage, AirFlow, BalanceTheBooks, ...)