21st Challenge No. 20 Results

Luddite testimonials

Published April 9, 1999 1:43PM (EDT)

Judges' comments

There must be 50 ways to love your lever, but our readers found far fewer ways to renounce technology. We asked you to write a rejection of any technology, past, present or future. Many of you wrote to sincerely tell us how you're doing just that -- picking and choosing what works for you. Did we ask for sincerity? In addition, this Challenge was the first in which some of you dared attach JPEGs and GIFs to your entries -- as if we judged on technical merit. Hah! We reject attachments!

Sorry, no winner this time.

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Honorable Mentions

Earliest Times

"Don't get me started on fire. When I was a boy, we ran away from fire; we didn't sit around it burning our food. It's not natural, I tell you."

-- Ug, Tribal Elder

[submitted by Tom Davidson]

" "

-- Old-guard Cro-Magnon decrying the invention of written communication

[submitted by Owen Mathews]

Things were fine the way they were. Foraging with the warthogs. Occasionally falling victim to the predatory impulses of the less-civilized beasts. The use of the Bone for hunting has changed this and our innocence has thus been lost forever. What good could possibly derive from the mad desire to kill? I will never know the answer to this question. I am starving.

[submitted by Anthony Notaro]

The Middle Years

"Gutenberg, Schmutenberg. I wish that I had lived before technology was even

-- Moishe, Torah Scribe, 16th century

[submitted by Eli Neiburger]

"Thanks for the invite, but your project won't work. 120 cubits is bigger than anything that's ever been built, except maybe the Babel vaporware fiasco, but it's probably too small to do the job. Your gopherwood construction is hardly state of the art. Have you considered getting a deadline extension from the Maker? We'll be more comfortable on the outside, spearing fish. Please send our best to Japheth, Ham and Shem, and of course Mrs. Noah."

--The last communication from Mr. and Ms. Unicorn

[submitted by Arthur Stock]

Our Modern Era

I entered this contest by screaming the individual zeros and ones down a phone line.

[submitted by Michael Stern]

In counterpoint with our high-tech jobs, we have been turning back the clock a bit at home, expanding our gardens and orchards, keeping bees and ducks, spending more time on our feet (or our bicycles) than we do in our cars. I make all our bread, and am having a spare fireplace converted into a wood-burning brick oven. We grow shiitake mushrooms in our garage. We do not own a television, and have taken to spending the evenings when we are at home curled up on the couch with our cats, taking turns reading aloud to each other ... But you can have the Internet connection when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

[submitted by Catherine Kehl]

I'm not anti-

I love technology -- just don't have time for it.

[submitted by Brady Mattson]

"Send your submissions via e-mail only ..."

Blatant discrimination!!! Just because I use cuneiform on stone slabs, I almost missed your deadline. I chiseled all night in order to deliver my tablets to an Egyptologist for translation onto papyrus, find a monk to transcribe the scrolls on vellum, persuade the Gutenberg Society to typeset a single page, and beg Kinko's for a "rush" copy. I barely had time for my daughter to scan it into her computer and e-mail this protest.

[submitted by John Herpel]

"Course, ah'm disappointed. But no red-blooded, Southern gentleman should be usurped in the marital bedroom by one of them -- them 'thingies.' And no genteel Southern woman needs one."

-- Alabama Legislator Beau Britches on his defeat today (along with a majority of his colleagues) two years after passage of the 1998 law making it illegal to sell vibrators in the state of Alabama. Mrs. Britches filed for divorce late last year.

[submitted by Mary Waggoner]

I am not as much anti-technology as against the uses to which technology is often put, particularly digital technology. Articles that work perfectly fine in many cases no longer do so after a technological "fix." I could sum the whole thing up, I guess, with an axiom. PEOPLE DO NOT NEED SMART TOASTERS.

[submitted by Bruce Hume]

I wake up to the sound of my wind-up alarm clock. I watch the morning news on a television but you have to turn it on with a pull knob. I don't own a microwave and I make my own bread from scratch, without a bread machine. I'm learning to spin wool in my spare time and, for my birthday, my friend Wendy gave a blown-glass fountain pen that I use with a dip ink well when I write letters to her. What do I do for a living? I'm an online editor at a bleeding-edge technology Web site.

[submitted by J. Amanda Nielsen]

What Herman Melville knew:

Lo, man has become the tool of his tools.
Computers make the
unnecessary possible.

[submitted by Tom Cook]

Thanks for your submissions -- and check back in two weeks for the next Salon 21st Challenge.

By Charlie Varon

Charlie Varon is a humorist and playwright. His works include "Ralph Nader Is Missing" and "Rush Limbaugh in Night School."

MORE FROM Charlie Varon

By Jim Rosenau

Jim Rosenau is a writer, editor and software designer in Berkeley, Calif. Jim and Charlie are also co-founders of the citizens group Californians for Earthquake Prevention and partners in Mockingbird Media, which offers a full line of comic services.

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