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National Editorials & Columns

A world of possibilities at my fingertips

Mankind boasts an impressive list of inventions, but nowhere is this innovative spirit more recognizable than in the remote control.

Early humanity was responsible for creating things like the wheel, fire, fashionable hairpieces made of large bone and the notion of dinosaurs. In the past century alone technology has reached dizzying heights.

If you need proof just look at the advancements of audio devices, it reads like a genealogical Bible passage. Telegraphone beget Phonograph beget Record Player beget 8-Track beget Cassette Tape beget Compact Disc beget iPod beget Cell Phone.

Still, I place all my money on the remote control. You can have the Gutenberg press or the Internet; nothing will ever top the remote control. A remote control provides endless entertainment right at your fingertips — and you barely need to lift a finger to use one.

I won’t sit here and pretend like I know how a remote control works. I have no idea. For all I know it could be magic. I don’t care. All I know is I press a button, a little red light blinks on the remote and the channel changes from bull riding to professional wrestling. Everybody is happy. I am like a dog that comes across a delicious casserole, I don’t ask questions.

Don’t believe me? All right, you’re entitled to your own stupid opinion, moron. All I ask is that you indulge one request. For the next day I want you to manually switch stations. If you don’t like what is on one channel or the volume is too low I want you to drag your sorry carcass across the living room floor and manually change the channel or volume. Now do that for the rest of your life, and then tell me the remote control isn’t the best invention of all time.

Frankly, if I had to physically get up each time and manually press the buttons on my television I wouldn’t even bother tuning in.

I have never had a truly universal television remote control before. Up until recently I had three different remotes (two of which purporting to be universal) on my coffee table. One remote controlled the cable box, the other the television and the third was the only remote that adjusted the volume of my speakers. There was a fourth remote, which was for the VCR, but I rarely used it since VHS begets DVD begets Blu-ray begets ...

Last week after a cable package upgrade I received a new cable box and a brand-new remote control that I was assured was universal, easy to program and wouldn’t shatter into thousands of little Made in China pieces when I inevitably knocked it on the wood floor. Durability has always been a strong selling point for me, and it would be for you as well if you were as forgetful, jerky and clumsy as I am.

Getting a new cable remote could not have happened sooner. My old remote was in a terrible state. It was bound in duct tape, covered in a thick coat of grime and had all of the words rubbed off of every button. Sometimes it worked, and when it did I would have to point the remote directly at the cable box and press down with force to change the channel. It was out of (remote) control.

Once I got the new remote I took the old one around the back of my shed, distracted it with a gesture of kindness and shot it in the head, “Old Yeller” style.

Rest in pieces.

This new state-of-the-art remote control is the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, the ant’s pants, the fly’s thighs, the kipper’s knickers and other 1920 slang terms expressing sheer delight. It might have 62 buttons on it, and I might really only ever use or understand four of those buttons, but it controls every device in my home entertainment arsenal.

And this remote only serves to embolden my claim that remote controls are the best invention of all mankind.

So what’s my second favorite invention of all time?

Why it’s the television, of course.

Now if you don’t mind, I need to turn over on my other side. These bedsores aren’t going to heal on their own.

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