Cellphones may do a number on Cuba

They can revel in having to endure taxi drivers speaking nonstop into cellphones while driving.

And then there's the sheer lunacy of people who insist on using cellphones to turn their cars into extensions of their living rooms and offices.

Recent studies have concluded that it's not the cellphone per se that's the danger; it's the conversation, which distracts drivers from the task at hand.

Nonsense. It's totally the cellphone, as anyone who's ever been behind some bozo with a handset clamped to his or her ear will attest. People yakking on a cellphone typically have only one hand on the wheel and thus are driving more cautiously.

That typically means slower. And because they've got only one hand free, you can kiss away what little chance they might have had of using their turn signal before changing lanes (not that this seems to be a required activity in SoCal).

Hey, Cubans, want a laugh? Get yourself behind some nimrod in a '57 Chevy with a manual transmission and watch as he or she struggles to shift gears while simultaneously steering and holding a cellphone to one ear. It'd be funny if it weren't so terrifying.

Don't even get me started on people who send e-mails and text messages while driving. Are they kidding? (Note to editor: I don't mean you, of course.)

Cellphones also mean you're never out of reach. Sure, you can turn the darn things off, but that runs contrary to the whole idea of getting one in the first place.

Friends, family, colleagues, employers can find you any time, day or night.

That's a good thing, obviously. And not.

Modern Cuba is no stranger to revolution. Things will clearly be different when you can reach out and touch anyone you please. In a sense, the looming ubiquity of cellphones marks the island's coming of age, and could accomplish more change than a succession of U.S. presidents was able to pull off.

That is, if the things actually catch on.

I've never been to Cuba. But I'm told that the cities are colorfully alive with the noise of the streets -- car engines, people shouting, music -- while the beaches and countryside can be blissfully quiet.

Coming soon: the ceaseless joy of other people's ring tones in timba, the latest Cuban sound.

Yeah, welcome aboard, Cuba. You'll love having cellphones.

Just wait until your government decides that everyone should also have a credit card.

Consumer Confidential runs Wednesdays and Sundays. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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