Twenty years ago Woody Allen directed a nostalgic film called Radio Days about life in the 1940s, a time when living was simpler. The radio, a source of news and entertainment, was one of the more complex domestic devices of its era and was controlled by two knobs: one to turn it on and the other to change the station so that the whole world of airwaves could be accessed. Never making it to the big screen (which once meant movie theatre), another film was to be called Deckle Edge Days, referring to the only two choices in black and white photographic prints at the local drug store. Deckle edges recently appeared on the left and right sides of signs on the Merritt Parkway whose saw tooth pattern simulates the broken off edges of a wooden board. This represents a great leap forward from the old-fashioned interstate signs of the late 20th century.

Life, as we know it, has become increasingly tailored to the more technically savvy inhabitants who take for granted control over most of their creature comforts. Gone is the time of adjusting a TV’s rabbit ears antenna. Buried cables and unseen satellites were the next small steps leading to the Direct TV remote control unit which proudly displays a front panel of 63 control buttons. These are in addition to the fine tuning adjustments on the TV, DVD player, video recorder and analog converter box. Our Vineyard school system has yet to offer courses on the operation of personal control devices which are becoming an important factor in our daily lives. Gone is the Herculean effort required to raise ourselves from our supine positions to manipulate a switch on a television set.

The 63 buttons on a remote control device allow some people to have control over the minutest facets of information reaching their eyes and ears. Modern medicine is working successfully on bypassing the normal neuro-motor system responses to the external environment by sending controlled electrical signals directly to the brain. Known as deep brain stimulation, an implanted device sends a weak electrical signal to the Substantia Nigra portion of the brain to treat some symptoms of Parkinson's Disease. In a similar manner, stimulating the Subgenual Cingulate region of the frontal cortex has an effect on clinical depression. Akin to the now discredited work of the 19th century phrenologists, areas of the brain are being charted for other abnormalities such as Tourette’s syndrome and post traumatic stress syndrome.

Thus the minds of the Vineyard population can be made accessible to those who have the desire and the technical expertise to do so. A simple chip implant in the brain could open a mind to receive suggestions, sway the outcome of seemingly democratic town meetings and approve unpopular, costly or even dangerous projects. Implanting a chip is a relatively simple procedure but can hardly can be performed while one is dozing in a barber chair.

The reconstruction of the Martha's Vineyard Hospital is an enormous project of unquestionable benefit to this Island. Its sheer size has probably not allowed a close examination of the plans which could show innocent looking suites of rooms labeled Special Procedures or Nano Surgery. By accepting a minor intrusion into our bodies, the hearts and minds of the electorate and the elected shall be as one and peace and harmony can blanket the Island.

There is tremendous power in new technologies when put to use in the right hands backed up by the right minds. The hands and minds are here but are the proper ones being used?

Lee Mogel is an architect who lives in New York city and West Tisbury and contributes to the Gazette.