Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Key to It All

     Did you know that one doesn't even have to have keys to enter or drive a car anymore?  Seriously, it's true.  And I am not talking about my buddy's 1984 Chevy Camaro Z28 that had no muffler, barely a hood, and which you could unlock with a dime and start without keys.  I am talking about brand new cars, right off the lot.  I am serious!  
     Just about every car these days has one of things that you can point at it and push a button and it goes "Bleep-bloop!" and your car is unlocked.  Or your horn and lights go off for sixty-two minutes while you try to figure out how to stop it and everyone gets all pissed off.  Or maybe your trunk opens.  But the point it that most cars have that stuff.  And some cars don't even have that.  They have these little thumbprint things on the door and you just press your thumb against it and as long as the fake key thing in your purse sends a signal that it's cool and your door unlocks.  Amazing!  The key doesn't even turn in my car's door when it's locked.
     Once you get inside you don't need a key anymore either.  Pick out just about any European and most Japanese cars and you can find that they have a button one pushes to start or stop the engine.  Okay, that's a little bit unnerving if you ask me.  No wait, that's a lot unnerving to me.  I know, Company.  You need that little fake key thing again to start the car.  If the car doesn't hear that little fake key chirping in your pocket, then it won't start.  But here is my question.  What happens if the fake key stops chirping?  How do you get into your car?  How do you start it?  Someone please explain this to me.  Or just figure it out, because I doubt that anyone has figured it out yet.  But before you do that answer me this...what ever happened to the common key?
     The key is probably the oldest and most prevalent forms of security in the history of the world.  It is the most important form of security technology since the advent of the moat.  I am serious.  And keys are good enough for millions of places and things that need to be secure, why have they fallen out of favor in our cars?  My car uses a key, and it hasn't been stolen yet.  In fact, every car I have ever owned required an actual, physical key that one sticks into the ignition to work.  And none of them have ever been stolen.  Every home or apartment that I have ever lived in has required a key for access and none of them have ever been broken into.  If I had used a padlock with a key to secure my bike I wouldn't have had it stolen from behind the Worldwide Headquarters.  
    So again, what happened to the key?  Where has it gone?  I have a ring of them that I use on a daily basis.  But to get into my office at my old job I had to have someone let me in with a buzzer.  Duke and Guy have to enter a code.  Are keys not good enough to get into these places?  Every jailer since time eternal has carried keys for the cell doors, but now they buzz and slide open automatically.  That's lame.  I didn't see an exceptional amount of criminals making escapes when keys turned in the locks.
    Okay, I can hear you snickering.  "Ummm...genius, locks that use keys can be picked.  Haven't you watched Gone in 60 Seconds and seen when they couldn't start the Benz without the special key.  But they picked the locks on a bunch of other cars like it was no big deal."  I know this, I've seen it.  But here is the deal.  Locks and keys have been around since like 1300, and all we have come up with to combat them is picking at them sometimes unsuccessfully with a small set of tools, or a Swiss Army Knife if you are MacGyver.  I think that's a pretty good track record, don't you? 700 years of relative success? Come on!  So I am going to stick with my keys.  I am happy with them.  And they work.  So screw you and your push button business.  I am going to keep turning my ignition.  That's the key to it all.

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