Yeah, paperclips are still great

Published on September 08, 2020

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When I was a little kid, I used to watch 60 Minutes with my grandfather every week. He liked Andy Rooney, and since I worshiped my grandfather, I watched Rooney with him.

I remember one episode specifically when he talked about inventions that were good, and those that were bad.

He looked in his desk drawer and here is what he found in there. Things that were good: elastic bands, scotch tape, paper clips, safety pins, combs, matches, steel wool, shoelaces and the remote control. Bad? Post-it Notes, self-cleaning ovens and phones that rang during dinner (obviously he didn’t have an oven or phone in his desk, but he wandered in his soliloquy and got to them on his own).

Imagine, he got paid a lot of money to talk about things like this. And he was famous for it! Everyone talked about his episodes the next day. He was considered a curmudgeon. And people loved him for it.

Sometimes I think that his kind of stories about nothing are all people want to read. Sometimes I wonder why I even continue to write this column.

Because if that is the kind of thing people want me to write about, I have no interest.

Instead, I prefer to write things that will stimulate discussion. That has always been the premise of this column. I don’t necessarily care if readers agree with me or not, only that what I write stimulates conversation (online or in person) between two or more people who disagree on a subject.

But some people apparently don’t want that. They want me to write about rainbows, unicorns and all the wonderful things going on in the world.

Okay, so let me be clear, this is an opinion piece. Not an even more condensed version of Reader’s Digest.

With that said, let’s talk about last week’s column. It was political. It was written by a self-confessed liberal who was born and raised in Massachusetts. A place so liberal that even a Kennedy can lose an election to someone considered MORE liberal!

So, if anyone thinks I’m going to write much nice about the current administration, they haven’t been reading my column long enough.

But it shouldn’t matter! The object of ANY opinion piece anywhere in the world is the same: stimulate debate and perhaps, just maybe, some understanding.

But I’m not smart enough to try for the second part of that—I don’t expect to change anyone’s opinion in somewhere around 500 words. That’s never going to happen. But rather, what I hope for is that it will stimulate discussion between people. Because then maybe one of those people can convince the other how wrong or right what I am saying is.

Heck, if my column doesn’t achieve that, I’d at least like to see a rebuttal letter every once in a while. Not a twenty-word post telling me how stupid I am—I get plenty of those. No, a real letter telling me how wrong I am and WHY. That would be great. That would mean that thoughts are being exchanged. That would mean that what I wrote drove someone to challenge me and put in the effort to debate my points.

I say all of this now because two people said they would quit their subscription to The Cuenca Dispatch because of my column on politics last week.

There were 5 other in-depth, real news stories last week in the newspaper that had nothing at all to do with politics. Not a word. They were well-researched, in-depth news from Ecuador that you won’t get anywhere else.

Yet a 541-word opinion piece is going to make them stop their subscription. Really? Let me say a few things about that.

First, I don’t own this newspaper anymore. Haven’t for a year and a half. So, don’t blame the newspaper for what I write.

Second, I don’t get paid to write my column. I do it because it had always been part of the newspaper, and some people like it. And those who don’t, generally like to debate what I say.

Third, did you stop watching Fox news when they supported their reporter last week who the President demanded be fired? Because she certainly reported something you didn’t agree with.

Last, I’m not Andy Rooney. I’m never going to write about paperclips or elastic bands again. Or combs. Maybe I’ll write about a remote control someday. Though probably not.

But I’ll still watch old clips of Rooney’s pieces, even though I disagree with him on the self-cleaning oven and Post-It issues.

I’m just sayin.’

P.S. Here is Andy on good inventions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwi7NvDdX6M

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