lovehate: Thing Killers - Of Winglets and Segways

Remember Ginger?

In 2001, Dean Kamen had a secret project (sometimes also known as IT) which caused tumultuous excitement around the tech world and media in general. No one knew what IT was? Some speculated on it being a new kind of engine or a futuristic anti-grav platform. Instead, it was the Segway. With much hype and hoopla Kamen predicted that the Segway "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy". Essentially the Segway was to be the car "killer".

Now, some seven years later, Toyota has released the "Winglet Personal Transporter" which is being trumpted as the Segway killer. If the Segway was Ginger, let's call the Thinglet Maryann. They're both nice to look at, but ultimately they're bound to always being an afterthought while Gilligan, the bumbling auto industry always manages to screw things up while remaining the star of the show.

From 2001 to 2006, 23500 Segways were sold. Now I don't know how many millions of cars and trucks were sold in that same time, but of all the threats to the automotive industry, I don't think the Segway was high on their list. If the Segway was supposed to be the car killer, I don't even think it could be accused of attempted assault (even though there was a battery). That the Winglet is being touted as the "Segway Killer" is kind of like Martin Prince saying he could beat up Millhouse after Millhouse got his butt kicked by Nelson. When Ford was pitching his version of the "horseless carriage" in the early 1900s, I somehow doubt he was calling it the "Horse Killer".

Seemingly every week there is some report of the iPhone, iPod or Blackberry killer. The web has frequent reports of Digg, Facebook, Twitter and Google killers... and it's not Cuil. Apparently, depending on which blog you read, the new Windows killer might be Linux, OSX, or even Adobe Air. Did you know that Dyson was preparing a Roomba killer?

I suppose I'm just wondering if using term "killer" with regards to new products has jumped the shark... oh, sorry "nuke the fridge" has become the "jumped the shark" killer. With all of this attempted killing going its strange the authorities aren't involved. Who'd have thought Ice T being a "cop killer" wouldn't involve his music or bullets, but instead a slow inside job through his sub-par acting skills on Law and Order.

I've already got the new Winglet Killer. Now, while I admit the 3 mph cruising speed is a little less that than the Winglet's 3.7, my product (project name: Skipper) does not require gasoline or an electric charge, does not use any fancy gyroscopes for balancing (we've achieved perfect balance without handle bars), and we don't have factories filled with workers stamping out a carbon footprint across the land. With some clearance from Steve Jobs on naming parameters, I am boldly announcing the Winglet killer as the "I walk".

As for thing "killers"... HATE them.

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lovehate: Energy Drinks

Can everyone just please take a nap!

Why is everyone trying to be awake 24/7? Haven't we all been ridden off the road by enough Speedball Tuckers on a west coast turnaround to know that sleep is a good thing? With Tivo and torrents, there's no such thing as missing a television show anymore. There's no film you have to see within the next two hours at a theater. There's no work needing to get done that can't be misdirected by a well-needed sick day. Yet every day people are looking for increasingly ridiculous ways to not sleep - forever!

The war on drugs never had a chance when civil servants dose themselves with the most legalized drug in the world several times a day. Wouldn't it have been great just once to have the DEA bust someone not for the coffee the cocaine was hidden in, but the coffee itself? Hell, even Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper were all started up as energy drinks alongside Simpson and Son's Revitalizing Tonic.

What started as a decades-old taboo of amphetamines and methamphetamines with catchy monikers like speed, uppers, ups, hearts, black beauties, pep pills, capilots, bumble bees, Benzedrine, Dexedrine, footballs, meth, crank, crystal, ice, fire, croak, crypto, white cross, and glass has been modified, sterilized, homogenized into a social norm that few, if any, frown on.

Now, instead of pill bottles, we package bug-eyed hysteria in aluminum and call them "energy" drinks, but the names haven't changed that much with Amp, Battery, Beaver Buzz, Bawlz, Blue Charge, Blue Ox, Boo Koo, Bungee, Cocaine (in an ironic example of true-to-life branding), Crave, Crunk, Diesel, Emerge, Enviga, Full Throttle (for all those who can't stay awake at a Nascar event - okay... that'd be me), Fuze, Hustler, Jolt, Kick, Kore, Lift Plus (because a lift isn't enough), Monster, Mother, No Fear, NOS, Piranha, Red Bull, Red-Eye, Redline, Red Rooster, Red Thunder (okay, enough with the "red" already), Spark, Superman, Talon, Urge, Vault, Vixen and Wired.

And to make sure the drink sales don't go stale, we have been introduced to the realm of the triple-caffeine threat of guarana to produce little numbers like Burn, Celsius, Dark Dog, Demon, Freek, Guru, Hiro, Jamba, Josta, Naked, Pep-G, Pilotsfriend (wait a second... are they serious... do we really want pilots kiting in from Morocco with three cans of this stuff in their system), PimpJuice (now in purple), Pit Bull, Rehab, Relentless, Respect (those are what teachers call the three Rs), Rip It, Rockstar, Shot, Socko, Steaz, Volvic, and Xtazy.

I thought it couldn't get worse. I was wrong, and, unfortunately, not under the table and dreaming.

Let's caffeine-infuse other food like snack crisps, sunflower seeds, chocolate chunks, gum, mints and lollipops. Let's add a quick pick-me-up to non-foodstuffs like breath spray, tongue strips, soap and body wash. Surely they haven't caffeinated air itself and sold it via an inhaler: WRONG!

I'll be perfectly honest. I have absolutely nothing against drugs. I just wonder what is that everyone has to do RIGHT NOW!

Apparently the single word name brand holds a lot of cache around the "Crank" Drink fountain. And while I have no doubt there are reasons someone might want to, nay, even feel they have to stay awake, I HATE ingested Energy.

Although I'll have to admit that I take advantage of a single name product that keeps my mind clear all day long: Sleep.

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lovehate: love and hate

This lovehate marks a first for If you've been listening to the podcast, I have been asking for written or recorded submissions of lovehates or thinglets. The following lovehate comes from Mike Vardy (a little bit more on Mike later). Mike's also indicated he would "eventually" record this submission, so if you listen or subscribe to the podcast, keep an ear open. If you're interested in writing or recording something, click my e-mail link under the profile on the right.

Love.  I love love.  Now, for those of you that know me from my site, you may be surprised by this.  I mean, I do come across as - well - cross on more than one occasion.  But if you really think about it, love is one of the preferred emotions when pursuing Eventualism.  Just like that Thomas Edison song, "Love Grows Just Like Rosemary Grows", he points out that love takes time to grow.  Yep, love is eventual in nature.  Whether you're pining, succeeding in getting out of The Friend Zone, or just getting old together through sheer determination and toleration, love is a work in eventual progress.  It also, like rosemary, goes great with lamb chops.

Hate.  I hate hate.  It just comes on - really fast.  Hate just gets done.  In fact, the reason you don't hear the term "hate at first sight" is because the first person that proclaimed it was killed by the other person he hated immediately afterwards.  As a result, it never caught on for fear of instant death.  Hate is also absolute.  The colour gray doesn't exist in hate.  The only colour that seems to come through is red.

Mike is the brains behind the Eventualist productivity ideodology "EffTD" (Effing The Dog) and is chief contributor to and its accompanying podcast. Click the links and check out his work.

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lovehate: Wherefore Vaporware?

For those of who are unfamiliar with the "vaporware" moniker, think of some of the greatest technological rumors that you've heard as "up and coming" that have mysteriously disappeared quicker than my tolerance for Rickrolling. Whether it be hardware, software, games, platforms, portable media players or cellphones, tech media has been quick to jump on the fancy packaging and promises used to tempt venture capitalists and have end-users eyes glaze over like a Krispy Kreme confection in Coral Gables. I find that while there are plenty of lower-tier vaporware announcements these days (i.e. service packs for OSs and application updates) I'm missing the BIG pitch that's going to mess with my mind, make my jaw drop and wake up my dormant Utopian/Distopian meter.

I remember a hardware startup that preached translucent cube writable and bootable media with terrabytes of capacity that would hold your entire desktop and enable people to walk from terminal to terminal all over the world and wirelessly boot their entire home system. Kind of like meteorite computing over cloud computing. Sure, I know you can approximate some of these functions with a bootable USB drive, but it's far from elegant and certainly not without innumerable variables that could stop one cold.

Weren't there promises of seamless Voice User Interfaces by now.  Surely there must be an interest in the ability to speak to your computer in flowing sentences instead of clipped words and phrases. While we can purchase voice recognition software for certain tasks, and I realize that OSs have made some strides in allowing for next steps, was I the only one that thought we would easily be there by now as a standard and not a tenuous option?

And am I the only one who thought that after VR5, Lawnmower Man, and Harsh Realm that we were well on our way to fully-immersive Virtual Reality that smacked of something a little better than Vectrex? I'm not talking about a laboratory experimental unit costing several hundred thousand dollars, but an afforable, end-user product. I know the sci-fi geek in everyone is picturing an Enterprise holodeck right now, but I'd be satisfied with goggles and a platform. I guess until the porn or gaming industries take up the fight on VR we are screwed - or not.

And when is someone going to sell me robot that looks and acts human, obeys Asimov's three laws, and is bound and determined to take over the world for $199 with a four-year service contract? C'mon Steve Jobs, bring it on! Call it the iRobot, pay some residuals to the Asimov descendants and get Alan Parsons to remaster a jingle for you. Of course the iRobot would crash every time we tried to play Monkeyball, and once a month we'd have to restore it to default settings.

But even with all of my disappointment at the missing gadgets promised to me over the years, I would rather someone is at least dreaming and pushing the ambrosia-flavored envelope. Vaporware...


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lovehate: Standardized Education

"These days almost anything can be done to students and to schools, no matter how ill-considered, as long as it is done in the name of raising standards."
Alfie Kohn, What Does it Mean to Be Well-Educated?

With a focus on detail that has become incumbent on so many facets of public education, it is shocking how many terms get thrown around at the macro-level that cannot be defined without using the terms themselves. If a student defined the word metaphor, as "a collection of words that is metaphorical," an educator would raise the fallacy of such a definition. It is precisely this kind of logic that has pervaded public education over the past few years. "Student Achievement" has become a label that can be bandied, sold and put on the "spin" cycle to news outlets. Try to define "Student Achievement" as a movement without using the word "achievement" in the explanation and you'll realize how the word "achievement" has very little concrete value except for those who are gatekeepers of the standard.

Achievement is political fodder. It refers to variables that shift to meet political climates and news cycle expediency. Education, at its truest, is immeasurable. It is internalized and encompasses all aspects of a learner's life. Achievement is about high standardized test scores. Education is about being able to integrate knowledge into life. Achievement is about being labelled at-risk when considered below average. Education is personal, and not subject to the abilities or collective grade point scores of people who happen to be the same age. Achievement is about preparing voters for elections. Education is about preparing students for life.

Politicians have filtered down core beliefs like "all students can succeed" and "no child left behind", not as a starting point to investigate the real issues behind threats to education, but instead to insist that the solutions to all education problems rest in classrooms. The last thing a politician wants to admit, because of the enormous costs and undertakings involved, is that socio-economic status is traditionally the greatest determinant of student success.  If a government would ever admit that the core cause of education risk is not in schools, but in homes, they could truly begin to tackle some of the issues that plague our system.

By sliding the achievement scale to whatever suits current political needs, the governments have side-stepped inadequate funding issues that plague public education. Further, they have deflected the attention from improving social programs to improving test scores. Student Achievement as a collective statistic should never take the place of an individual student's education. When the second is sacrificed for the first, the political will induces tragedy. Any government can say students are smarter than five or ten years ago when standardized test scores can be manipulated by altering the test content or evaluation procedures.  Graduation rates can be manipulated at school or district level.  As long as achievement remains the goal over education…


thinglets: Xenophon's Yellow Zebu

...and bosco,
conclusions done effortlessly,
forgave gerry haverbrook.
If john killed laura meyer next...
opens possibilities, questions, rhetoric...
satisfies the undertaker.
Variable with X, you zig-zagged.

Abstract banter caused dubious evaluations;
For good hindsight is joined keenly level.
Moreover new opinions permit quagmires,
releasing secret truths under vain, wretched,
x-rayed yammering zeal.

Albeit bromides cease doctoring equal force.
Generally height in kilometers lets medicine
Neutralize overt pain.
"Quacks regard said trauma 'under very wary xenophobia'",
yelled Zeus.

Actually, Brent created depreciated equality
from gently hammering ideology: jester knocking.
"Love me", Natasha offered profusely, quietly regretting
stating the ultimate vex.
Whenceupon Xerox yielded zilch.

Altered bent crumpled:
Dented Edsel fenders greased headstones.
I'll jump, kick, laugh, moreover
never offer punchlines, quizzical rationale.
So this ungodly virtue wakes Xenophon's yellow zebu.

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