A close call in the post-modern world

March 6, 2009

whisperingSometimes those who tell us the truth don’t do us any favors. For example, I’d rather Dan hadn’t told me what was wrong with my car. The battery was dead when I tried to start the Beetle on a recent morning, but Dan couldn’t find anything wrong with the battery, the alternator, or anything else in the car. The car ran for a week or so, but after it stood idle in the garage for a few days, the battery was dead again. After a closer and more invasive inspection, Dan told me that the battery went dead because of a bad door latch on the driver’s side. Dan says there’s an electronic component in the door latch that “tells” the car when the door is closed. But that component is defunct, so that the car “thinks” the door is open all the time – so Dan says. If the car thinks the door is open, it doesn’t shut down some systems and lights that are shut down when the door is both closed and locked – in other words, in “sleep mode.” As a result, Dan says, these systems are out there in the garage or the driveway humming away as though it were normal business hours. They’re “talking to each other” – those were Dan’s words – and heaven only knows what they’re saying, particularly what they’re saying about me. What if one of those systems had the personality of HAL, the computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey”? It might have decided that a driver too negligent to have a working door latch – and lock the door, for Pete’s sake – was incompetent to drive the machine. The systems that have been out there whispering in the night might have wound up, as the Scripture says, taking me where I did not choose to go.

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