Resolved: one, two

It's New Year's resolution time. I've made two good ones. Let me try to persuade you to join me in making them.

Telecommunications technology is the problem. Changing human behavior is the answer.

But forget the model of promising not to do something you do that you know you shouldn't - unless you make frequent cellphone calls in public spaces and have a loud voice, or work for a telemarketing company. Then you have to change your own behavior first.

Resolved: In as many ways as possible, including writing state legislators, you will work to take back your phone and privacy in your home - without having to purchase a second, unlisted number.

If you're like me, one of the first things you do when you come home from work is check your answering machine to see who has called.

And then, if you're like me and you get home around dinner time, you leave the answering machine on to screen out unwanted telemarketers.

"Don't call" laws are in their infancy. Thirteen states have passed do-not call laws. Some are good, some adequate, and some have so many loopholes as to be unenforceable. Legislation can give you the ability to opt out of unwanted calls. Demand it.

The Boston Globe recently reported that the top 10 telemarketing firms can make 560 phone calls per second.

The Globe then did the math: 33,600 calls a minute; 2,016,000 calls per hour; 16,128,000 per eight-hour day; 80,640,000 per five-day week; or "enough to call every phone number in the United States, some several times over - each and every month."

And every night on my phone, I would add.

Resolved: Now that smoking cars no longer exist on US passenger and commuter trains, request that the local transit authority replace them with "cell-phone cars." Mark them so people who want to, or have to, make prolonged cell phone calls (we're not talking the quick call to friend or spouse saying the train's running late, meet me later) have a place they can and should go to, leaving the rest of us in peace and quiet.

Restaurants can do the same. Most don't have the obnoxious cellphone user problem, but some do. If you are in a restaurant and someone at a table nearby is yacking loudly, tell the manager either the phone goes, or you go.

Smoking isn't allowed in most restaurants; or if it is, there's a cordoned off area for it. Ditto for cellphones. The better restaurants in Italy don't allow cellphones, a European version of the Old West where you had to check your gun at the door.

Need I add, ditto in movie theaters? Be sure to include pagers as well.

Comments or questions? Send e-mail to Ideas editor, Ideas@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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