iPhone: Oh, Gee

Everyone's so excited about the new iPhone with 3G. Not me - I'm waiting for the Zero-G version.

Just imagine: the hovering phone would be entirely weightless. And no wait means no lines to buy it.

Also, the new hands-free requirement of many areas while driving wouldn't be an issue if the phone just next to you.

I'm moved to song:

What's the big deal with
The iPhone in 3G?
The one I'm waiting for
Is the upcoming Zero-G.

The phone will be weightless
And oh-so-fine.
And with no wait, buying it
Will mean no line.

The new laws that require
Your phone to be hands-free
Would be no problem for
A phone in Zero-G.

MyPhone will be an iPhone
Floating a mile-high phone,
Wafting in the breeze
With Zero Zero Gees.


Little Jokes for Monday

I wonder:

Did the French use the guillotine to get ahead? Was the competition neck-and-neck?

Do fashionable ghosts wear fitted sheets?


A Matter of Degrees

The edge found her, as angles go,
A skinny and acute one.
And so he met her at the corner,
After a quick and straight run.

But she turned out to be obtuse,
And didn't aim to please.
His love for her was more or less
A matter of degrees.

He turned around, bent out of shape,
And gave up on his whim.
For now it was a fact she was
Not the right angle for him.



When I am King: Personal Computer

When I am King...

Computers will provide much more personal experiences.

It seems to me that we spend our entire lives accumulating memories, but never have a chance to sit back and enjoy them. It's like renting a video every day but never watching or returning it. Or like the kids carefully writing letters to Santa every year, but having them read by no one (Santa's a busy guy, after all).

Meanwhile, we're all too intent on having the experience itself, not the rerun. The job, the family, the vacations, the prison time ... it's like a birthday; all about the present.

So what do we have memories for, anyway? Why rent the movies if you can't figure out how to work the remote?

Some might argue that memories are used to make us wiser, to inform our future decisions based on past actions and consequences. That could be true. After all, it's been at least a couple of years since I stuck my fingers in a live power outlet. And nobody ever drinks too much again after they've had one bad hangover. But it seems that as a society at large that we are continually condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past with respect to the hell of war, ecological damage, and teen idol pop bands.

When I am King, my ministry will focus on making better use of our memory. Since we don't use the memories we store, let's use those neurons for something else instead. For example, a new "thumb drive" will obsolete the current USB devices by making it possible to upload data through our thumbs into some of that vast unused space between our ears. Why bother with all of the complicated memories about interactions with our families when we can more efficiently use that storage for simple JPEG pictures of the kids? Imagine how cool it would be if our friends could simply upload pictures of their kids directly to our brains. No more worrying about what to do with that awkward, posed hardcopy school picture; you can simply delete the digital version immediately instead.

But let's not stop at memory; let's go for the CPU.

Given the amount of crap on television that we're all apparently watching, it's pretty clear that our brains are on idle most of the time. What about putting them to use as a compute engine? As long as we've got our data now stored in our heads, we might as well use the brain as a local processor. Then all we need is some ports for the keyboard and mouse, a receptor for WIFI, and we're our own computer laptop, complete with a lap.


Wagner, Shmagner

While opera is really
The singing of notes art
They'd like to make more dough
For screaming out Mozart.
It could be that singers
Have toned down their bills
But some folks insist they
Pay less for cheap trills.

While pay is eroding
And salaries melting
It seems that the singers
Should tighten their belting.

Performers come cheaply,
None more so than men are.
Opera rates now cost
Two fives for a tenor.


When I am King: Antidote

When I am King...

It's that time of year: there are fresh tomatoes on the vine, the kids are starting to suspect that 'summer camp' is just a euphemism for 'school,' and the ants have moved in.
This happens a couple of times a year, during the wet season and then again when it's hotter than the inside of the popcorn bag in the microwave. I suspect it's when they're waiting for the home repair teams to fix the flood damage or repair their air conditioning, but maybe it's just school breaks and time for a little international travel.

I actually wouldn't mind them in my house. As long as they were dead. But instead, they're very much alive and crawling around everywhere and everything, like a zillion toddlers in a candy shop.

At first, I just put out some ant traps and waited for them to do their job. After several weeks and many more traps, I got a little anxious. Last night, I started a war of attrition, taking out every critter I could see on the bathroom floor. Others would enter the battlefield and go to their fallen comrades, and I could hear the conversations over the mayhem:

"Joe! Little Joe!"
"No, I'm your brother Ernie."
"Right, I knew that. You're hurt!"
"Yeah, I'm hit bad. Go on without me. Tell Ma I -"
"Company retreat! There's a large thumb seen in the -"
"Whoever you are, we're not afraid. Ants will fight. We will keep coming and coming and coming, and eating your shampoo and climbing into your bed and crawling into your nose, and one day -"

Of course I feel bad about killing all of them. No, scratch that - it feels great. Apart from the ooze on my thumb, it's pretty satisfying to strike back at the little buggers. But it's not enough; they just keep pouring in like spam into an inbox.

So I started the next phase of my plan: demoralizing the enemy. I've read that the ants carry off their dead somewhere, to "midden piles." If you create a mess of ant corpses near their trail, you'll notice that the bodies are soon gone.

So instead of leaving the bodies there to be found and carried back for a decent burial, I flushed them down, every last one of them. This should be a devastating blow to the horde, both because they cannot get the bodies back for any kind of ceremony or closure, but also because they don't know what happened to them. I want them to suspect that my house is a virtual Bermuda Triangle, from which ants sometimes never reappear.

Meanwhile, the traps go on, endlessly supplying 'poison,' which I suspect is just 'food.' It's good enough to attract the ants, so that I think it's working and will go buy more of it, but it's not actually doing anything to the creatures other than feeding them. Maybe it's some kind of health-conscious attack, providing meals that are high in sugar so that, eventually, ants will grow obese from this poor diet and need exercise and therapy to lead a normal life.

But I need something more effective than a poor diet, something that will actually kill them instead of just make them feel worse about themselves. I've thought about lacing the traps with Ouzo, as that nearly killed once, but I suspect they'll just leave an awful mess on the floor the next morning and then ask for more.

When I am King, I will institute a new policy for dealing with the ants. Every year, when the swarms gets bad enough and everyone is madly trying to figure out how to get rid of them, we will all go camping for a few weeks in an inter-species version of house-swapping. The ants can enjoy the comforts of our homes and ant-traps for a time while we camp in the outdoors which will be, from all evidence so far, ant-free.

In the meantime, I will also send some ministers to the Ant Council, to negotiate with the enemy. The ministers will be carefully selected from my staff as those with the largest thumbs.


Little Jokes for Thursday

I wonder:

Do bad painters die of 'art failure?

Do frustrated fishermen have angler management issues?

Do pilots get terminal illnesses?

Do cremators urn their living?


When I am King: A Death to Art

When I am King...

Parents will no longer save their childrens' artwork.

I discovered the true purpose of shredders the other day. Sure, they come in handy in the odd SEC-raiding-Enron situation, and they're passably alright at destroying blackmail correspondence. But their true calling lies with your kids' art projects.

People without kids must imagine that once a year, your child comes home with some heart-felt creation, full of love and personal touches, endearing in its clumsiness, and a truly one-of-a-kind objet-d'art that deserves prominence on the mantel, the stairway wall, or the cubicle divider at work.

But the reality is, of course, much more disturbing. Once a year? Make that once an hour. "Daddy, I made this for you!," says one of the brood, as she hands you something that was probably scribbled with a pencil that happened to be in her toes as she slept, recording its slumberous trajectory on an odd piece of scratch paper near the bed. It looks, after some careful inspection and a couple of 360s trying to get the proper orientation, like a genuine scribble, with only the addition of your child's name at the bottom to distinguish it from some of the pieces hanging in the MOMA.

Now comes the quandary: what to do with it. Of course you'd like to keep it, just like you'd like to keep the other pieces she's handed you in the past hour, or the dozens she's handed you today, or the landfill's-worth she's produced in the last week. But where to put the thing, or where to retrieve it from on the off-chance that someone says, "I want to see that scribble she produced at 10:47 AM on the 5th of July, 2008."

It will go into the trash, of course. There is no more room on your walls, on your ceilings, on your car dashboard, in your iPod RAM, or in the stacks of other past 'projects' sitting boxed in your garage and storage shed. You just can't fit another scribble.

This problem is exacerbated in places like California, where houses typically lack both basements and attics. These local storage areas were both invented out of a need to store kids artwork until they grew up and forgot about it, coming back to haunt them when the children had to help the parents move out of their family home.

But the minute you sneak it into the trash, at the bottom of the bathroom can, beneath the wet remains of a plunger repair attempt gone horribly wrong, that your daughter will somehow wander into that room, pull out that single piece of paper, look you in the eye with the beginnings of tears of tragedy, and say, simply, "Why, Daddy? Why?"

So you thank her for the beautiful art piece and tell her how wonderful it is, as you continue rotating it to look for the correct orientation. You reach behind your chair and flip the button on the shredder, turn around, and carefully feed the paper into the mouth of the beast.

Who says art is dead? It's not dead, but is instead a critical part of the shredding food chain.

Then it suddenly jams, stalling on the gunked up paint that pooled up in the middle of the scribble. You reverse the shredder, then forward again. Jam. Back, and forth, "Rrr-Rrrr! Rrr-Rrrrr! Rrr-Rrrrrrrrr!" You hear a sound behind you and turn around with the picture in your handle, fed half-way into the death machine, as your daughter looks on in horror. "Daddy! I made it for you!" The tears flow, and another day of failing as a father is complete.

When I am King, all children's drawing paper will automatically compost within 24-hours, saving both storage and environmental guilt. Parents will be able to accept and save the cherished pieces, knowing that tomorrow they will be gone. On the off chance that the kids discover that their works are not being hermetically preserved for future generations, explain to them that art, like life, is transient, and that trying to capture a moment in time of a childhood is like trying to hold a butterfly's wing without ripping it off. It is far better for their pieces to become One with the Cosmic Whole. Then pretend you have a phone call and hope they forget.


Coat and Tales

He lost his sweater and
Spun this yarn
On how the thing
Was just so darned

Warm. But now with
Knitted brows
He looked for it
Throughout the house

And often would pullover,
As he searched both near and far,
Looking 'round while driving in
His small and cozy car-