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Published: Monday, 6/3/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

COMMENTARY

Why driverless cars are a bad idea; a poetic ‘Hokey Pokey’

BY TOM WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST

Driverless cars are not the future — they are here. California, Nevada, and Florida, all have passed laws allowing robotic cars.

If you thought cars that can park themselves are a revolutionary idea, how about this: Google (yes, Google) has been testing a small fleet of self-driving vehicles on California highways.

Apparently, the Google cars have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles without an accident while under computer control. Having lived and driven in California, I find that hard to believe, especially if the cars are on the same roads as vehicles with actual people at the wheel, particularly people who are gabbing or texting on their cell phones.

This whole concept is a really bad idea. Here are my top 10 reasons:

10. Unless the car is equipped with a mechanical middle finger, there will be no way for the vehicle to express displeasure with the driving habits of mere humans.

9. It gives the term “computer crash” a whole new meaning.

8. Auto insurance companies will have to produce even more annoying commercials: “Your computer could save $475 by switching to GEICO.”

7. Driving schools would become obsolete, costing jobs.

6. It would invite all manner of hanky-panky in the back seat.

5. Hardly anybody holds to the speed limit, so a law-abiding driverless car would anger the impatient humans behind, creating a traffic hazard.

4. Who will back-seat drivers complain to?

3. Who tosses the change in the toll-road basket?

2. The cranky GPS lady will have nobody to order around.

And the number-one reason I think driverless cars are a bad idea:

If a car is weaving back and forth and there’s nobody driving it, is it still drunk?

An elderly gentleman in Akron caused quite a stir when he left his aluminum walking stick behind after leaving an Akron City Council meeting. A brief evacuation was ordered after security personnel found the stick, which bore the name of its owner: Natural Hunka Kaboom.

Yes, that’s the fellow’s name, and I am not making this up. Mr. Kaboom, 65, a regular at council meetings, walked off without his stick, and well, you just can’t be too careful these days, so the chamber was cleared.

I covered Toledo City Council meetings a long time ago as a young reporter. They were a lot duller than Akron’s.

Stuff I find without even looking for it:

A classified ad: “For Sale, small upright piano. Runs good.” Hey, what else do you need to know?

On a lighted sign at a CVS drugstore: “Cover Girl. Buy one, get one free.” I’m surprised the line wasn’t out the door.

From an ad for a museum: “Earth without art is just eh.”

From an Associated Press wire story, a report on the spring-training success of the Cleveland Indians, who won their first five games: “The Indians lost their first game in six tries.” C’mon, I know they weren’t trying to lose, were they?

It reminds me of the late comedian George Carlin’s question: If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?

And this, on a T-shirt: “Normal. It’s Just a Setting on the Dryer.”

So that explains it — I’m spending too much time in the spin cycle.

One of the best wedding proposals I’ve ever heard (actually, I wasn’t there to hear it; that would have been rude) appeared in a Blade obituary a while back. The deceased’s family recalled that when it was time to pop the question, the question he popped was this: “I’m going to the jewelry store. You comin’?”

Ironically, and perhaps fittingly, the obit appeared in the paper on Valentine’s Day.

I’m thinking of checking myself in to the Hokey Pokey Clinic. You know, to turn myself around.

Speaking of “The Hokey Pokey,” somebody sent me the lyrics that Shakespeare would have written for the song:

“Oh proud left foot, which ventures quick within,

Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.

Anon, once more the gesture, then begin

Command sinistral pedestal to writhe

Commence thou then the fervent Hokey-Pokey

A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl,

To spin. A wilde release from Heaven’s yoke.

Blessed dervish! Surely canst go thou.

The Hokey. The Pokey. Banish now thy doubt.

Verily, I say, ’tis what it’s all about.”

Yes, Mother Shakespeare’s boy would have had fun with that one.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday. His commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard each Monday at 5:44 p.m. on WGTE-FM 91.

Contact him at: twalton@theblade.com



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