During a recent lunch break, I was thrilled to read about all the new smart devices coming to the market (“Home gadgets get creepy smart,” Jan. 9). In my ongoing effort to keep up with my friends and neighbors (or stay ahead of them) and be sure I have the latest and greatest of everything, I’m going to replace my current toilets with Kohler Numi smart toilets as soon as they become available. It will allow me to use my voice to raise or lower the lid (critical for a happy marriage) and to flush, so I won’t have to exert myself pressing down that lever. And for those difficult mornings when the inside plumbing is not on schedule, I can also ask it to heat the seat and play music so I can relax.

Granted, because it’s all “smart,” health insurance companies could eventually offer me a substantial discount if they can connect to my toilet, much as we get if we allow car insurance companies to record our driving. This connection could record how often I go No. 1 and No. 2, using advanced algorithms to determine if I’m going a bit too much, thus making me a higher risk for diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome or colon cancer, raising my rates accordingly. But really, a small price to pay for time and energy savings.

Eventually, if we’re lucky, they’ll figure out a way to sync our internal plumbing with any toilet anywhere, giving us a small shock when we’re supposed to go. We’ll then hear Alexa’s soothing voice dictating the directions to the nearest toilet.

I’m going to drink my Metamucil now and get back to work.

— Joan Schaeffer, Naperville

Missing point of ‘wall’ debate

I think for the sake of reasoned and civil debate when discussing the Mexico border wall, reporters and pundits should be clear that President Donald Trump is essentially asking that the existing wall, which now covers a large portion of the border, be completed. They should also note that one of the two most powerful opponents of Trump’s extension, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, said in 2009 he supported a wall that then covered 630 miles of the roughly 1,900-mile border.

Schumer, along with Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, voted in favor of the 2006 Secure Fence Act, authorizing the fencing. Lastly, journalists should stop portraying Democrats as open-border radicals and Republicans as heartless plutocrats. Essentially, this is a debate about how to best enforce existing laws. Other than being a taxpayer, I have no monkey in this circus. But I blame both sides for the shutdown and how its rhetorical flames bare all that is ugly in our nation’s capital. There is a way out of this, but right now, those on both sides of the political aisle seem to be trying to extinguish the fire with gasoline when they should be using baking soda.

— Jim Dudas, Naperville

Refugee crisis needs attention

The president and the nation need to stop throwing volleys at each other over the wall and instead enter into a meaningful conversation over the challenges presented to our country by the many weary, frightened refugees seeking safety within our borders.

The president has misrepresented the people seeking admission to our country as part of his strategy of creating demons, which he says only he can protect the country against. He doesn’t want to reverse course since doing so would help expose the malicious way in which he is leading the country.

At the same time, the left needs to confront the dimensions of the issue: The numbers of people from around the world who have good cause to seek protection here are far beyond what the country can absorb. Some reasonable method of deciding who can enter and what to do with those who cannot must be implemented. When the president claims that Democrats want open borders, they need to respond with a reasoned alternative.

The vast majority of the needy individuals and families seeking protection here pose no danger to those who have had the good fortune to grow up in this land of plenty. We need to humanely decide how best we can help.

— Howard Cohen, Evanston



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