The Rant 

First of all, I must say that I didn't expect it. In my last brilliant, wisdom-filled, Pulitzer-worthy, disruptively innovative (I just read a long essay about disruptive innovation vs. sustainable innovation and I have a throbbing headache) column here, I asked a few questions and asked the commenters to answer them for me. It was a rhetorical request, as the comments usually accuse me of everything from the Syrian unrest to Lindsay Lohan's last failed rehab trip, but some people came through with very thoughtful and entertaining answers and I just want to say thanks.

When I sent out the inquiry, wondering why there has been a snail, in its shell, stuck to the ceiling for months in my bathroom directly over where I stand in the shower, a very wise gentleman suggested: "They were here first. We should respect that and try to peacefully coexist rather than exterminate. (See Native Americans.)" I absolutely agree and that is why I have not moved the little terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk. (Yeah, blame it on Wikipedia if that was wrong.) I did, however, take him down temporarily, paint an "S" on each of his sides, put some wheels on him, and raced him up and down a makeshift drag strip in the den while screaming, "Look at that S car go!"

Okay, okay, okay. I know. But sometimes it's good to be silly, and I still think about Mick Jagger walking in to find Bianca in bed with Dennis Weaver and screaming, "Hey, you, get off of McCloud!" OKAY. OKAY.

I could get a lot more serious and write about that wild and crazy Chris Christie signing that bill into law this week barring licensed therapists from practicing gay conversion — that's trying to turn gay teenagers straight. That a high-profile Republican who will probably run for president in the next election did this is, to me, a sea change. Of course, some groups oppose this on the grounds that it prevents parents from treating their children the way they choose to, even if it means, according to sources quoted in The Washington Post, who have been that route, "making them strip naked and attack effigies of their mothers with baseball bats" and "undergoing electric shocks and being given drugs to induce vomiting." What some parents won't go through — or allow their children to go through — for the sake of "normalcy." Now, if Christie will just let up on his stance that civil unions suffice, as opposed to allowing gay marriage in New Jersey, he might be able to start his own cause-oriented party.

I love people who support causes and the things they do in their struggles for what they believe in. Just the other day, a gentleman who was a very well-known and controversial civil rights advocate in Memphis during the 1960s was walking around South Memphis carrying a sign and a megaphone telling all who would listen to call the Memphis City Council and "Say no to smart meters." It was so endearing to see someone still passionate about a cause that he had just taken to the streets all alone to spread his message. Of course, I wasn't immediately aware of what he was referring to by "smart meters," thinking that they must be some kind of Big Brother parking meter that monitors your car and everywhere it goes and so on and so on. When I finally found out what they were, I realized I wasn't that far off the mark.

I don't know where I have been, but I wasn't aware of the war raging in Memphis about Memphis Light, Gas & Water installing these "smart meters" that would wirelessly calculate and transmit usage information to a network and allow for utility companies to remotely turn power on and off. At first, it sounded like just another technological advance, but then I read about the knock-down, drag-out fights going on at public meetings because some people think it is a form of "communism" in that they are being forced on us and they will allow the government to conduct surveillance on our personal utility habits, like which television shows we watch at which time of day and how many times a day we flush our toilets and take showers.

Wow. No pun intended, but I've been totally in the dark about this. And now I'm scared. If anyone really knew my television viewing habits, I would be so humiliated. I have been known to watch 12 consecutive episodes of Law & Order reruns on more than a few marathon occasions. If Mad Men were to come on at 3 a.m., I would set my alarm and get up to watch it. And yes, oh, yes, I have been known to glue myself to the Lifetime Movie Network to veg out to schmaltz every now and then. As for how many times a day the ONE toilet in my house that is shared by three people gets flushed, I don't know if the new technology can keep up, so I am still on the fence about the smart meters.


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