MIT describes the Jerk-O-Meter as a "real-time speech feature analysis application." Translation: It tells you how you talk. Its purpose, says MIT, is "to predict if you are 'being a jerk' on the phone."

Translation: Um, well, that needs no translation.

The Jerk-O-Meter analyzes your voice tone and cadence while you're on the phone. Based on your performance, the phone displays messages ranging from "Stop being a jerk!" to "You're a smooth talker."

Of course, all of us would hail this invention as a great boon to mankind except for one tiny little thing. The Jerk-O-Meter only measures when the person with the device is being a jerk. The obvious question is, What do I need that for?

I know when I am not listening to the other person, when I am making exaggerated yawning faces, or doing that duck-beak hand-signal thing to indicate "blah, blah, blah" in reference to the endless blathering of the person on the other end, or when I am hooking the receiver to a little cassette player that says "Mmm-hmmmm," "Yeah," and "Oh, really?" at specifically timed intervals.

What I need is a device that tells me when someone else is being a jerk.

So I called my tech-savvy, first-adopter,­ marketing-expert, and first-rate jerk-determiner friend Lou to tell him about the Jerk-O-Meter in hopes that he would help me with this column. As always, he came through.

"The Jerk-O-Meter," he said. "Never heard of it."

My heart dropped.

But then my heart soared. Never, not once, have I ever heard of anything in the technological world and/or the weird world that Lou didn't already know about, had purchased, and had thrown out.

So everything would have worked out great even if Lou hadn't then gone the next step, which was to give me hope after I explained the device, complaining that it told me what I already knew.