Ro-Bots Are Trying To Kill MeCommentary • ISSUE 30•15 • Nov 19, 1996 By T. Herman Zweibel, Publisher Emeritus (photo circa 1911) I'm often asked about the role of technology in our society, and whether it is ultimately beneficial or destructive. My reply: Technology is a scourge which must be abolished! I know this first-hand, for, as of this writing, a vast army of mechanical men surrounds my estate, ready to wipe me off the map! I should have never let my middle son, U. Fairfax, talk me into the notion of owning a mechanical gentleman—or a ro-bot, as he calls it. When U. Fairfax presented me with Mr. Tin, I despised the artificial bastard at first sight. Its eyes glowed an unnatural yellow and its voice was like the unbearable sound of metal grinding against metal. At first I gave it some rudimentary household chores, such as changing gramophone needles and darning stockings. U. Fairfax complained that I was criminally underusing this "wonder of the age," that it could do anything from playing a waltz on the concertina to ciphering the most difficult sums. So I commanded it to clear some brush in a remote corner of the estate. Mr. Tin did as it was told, but before long it returned to the mansion to ask if there was anything else I desired. Vexed at the impudence of this metallic monstrosity, I screamed that the only thing I desired was for it to get lost. Upon hearing my words, Mr. Tin silently wept and lumbered off for parts unknown. Good riddance, I thought. But I soon regretted my words. Shortly thereafter, stung by my rejection, Mr. Tin ran wild in the village, slaying a number of peasants and setting fire to the grist mill. The creature escaped into the mountains, where it began to construct others in its own hideous image. Before long, it had built a vast army, all for the sole purpose of wreaking revenge upon me! Technology is strictly for the birds! I remember the days before ro-bots, when everything was calm and carefree, and everyone played the banjo. Now my servants are frantically boarding the windows and stuffing sandbags. I beg President Wilson to rescue me from a horrid fate! I'm sorry I called you "Old Porridge-Face," Woodrow! Help!