02/21/1994 at 01:00 AM EST
A nifty new gadget was recently introduced which, when hooked up to a VCR in playback mode, will automatically detect and blow right past any commercials. Actually, I already have one of these in my home: my 7-year-old, Erin. She is (as I suspect many of her generation are) an absolute Paganini with the VCR. As soon as a commercial (or a coming attraction at the beginning of a rental movie) starts, Erin has that tape flying in a fast-forward blur. She can eat a pickle, conduct a conversation, play with her vast Barbie collection, even turn her head away from the set completely. And yet, when the feature resumes, she'll drop down on the first frame with unerring precision. Our children may lag behind their contemporaries in other industrialized countries as far as language skills, math, geography and the like, but when it comes to VCR virtuosity, I will match our American youth against anyone in the world. And that is a resource that surely must give our global competitors pause.