Happy New Year, dear readers! As we shake off our hangovers and make resolutions, I suggest we virtually hold hands and pray that 2022 isn’t a repeat of 2020 and 2021.
A century ago, the Roaring Twenties ushered in an era of economic prosperity, cultural milestones including jazz and Art Deco, the end of corsets along with acknowledgment of a woman’s right to vote, innovations such as automobiles, radio and telephones, electrical appliances, and moving pictures.
So far, the 2020s have little to boast about: a deadly pandemic; social isolation; increased pushback against the basic human dignities of controlling our own bodies, loving whom we choose, existing without fear because of the color of our skin; the ever-increasing consequences of climate change, etc.
It’s enough to make any sensate being take to our beds with a bottle of booze and wait until humanity comes to its collective senses.
But hey, it’s a new year, and optimism springs eternal. We’ve still got a chance to turn this century into the Soaring 20s. It’s just gonna take a little effort.
This week, braving dreary weather, R and I visited one of our favorite wineries, where one of our favorite people manages the tasting room. She gently reminded me that I’ve been remiss in my blog posting, so Linda, this one’s for you!
Back to the topic at hand.
I’m all for smart technology, such as the dishwasher that senses when my dishes aren’t dry enough, or when I need to refill the rinsing agent so the glasses don’t have leprosy.
On the other hand, some inanimate objects seem to have been designed with a real smart-alecky attitude. Like my smartphone’s spelling “correction”, which regularly replaces perfectly good English with gibberish. Or its more obscure settings, which convey general condescension toward those of us who grew up with princess phones. (What? You can’t find that function? Bwaa-ha-ha…!)
Where does the term “smart alec” come from, you ask? (OK, you didn’t, but now don’t you want to know?)
It originates from the exploits of one Alec Hoag, an infamous con man in 1840’s New York. He and his wife Melinda, along with an accomplice known as French Jack, operated a con called the Panel Game, in which prostitutes and their pimps robbed customers. Or so says Wikipedia.
What’s next in phones, I wonder. Will the built-in camera automatically subtract 10 pounds and add hair to hairless heads? Will it flash a warning to delete a tactless text before we send it? Will it short-circuit if we drunk dial our ex-lovers or horrible bosses? Wouldn’t any of these features improve our lives more than AutoCorrect? I rest my case.
Smartass tech is poised to invade other aspects of our lives, too. Imagine a fridge equipped with auto-lock if you open it too often. Or between meals. Likewise, a scale that proudly announces your last weight. Or a mirror that self-writes helpful suggestions such as, “Time to color your hair” or “Ever considered Botox?”
Soon we’ll have self-driving cars, which could be useful for those of us who don’t have chauffeurs. But will they refuse to go somewhere they feel isn’t in our best interest, such as the racetrack or the restaurant that gave us heartburn?
The line between human and machine grows ever thinner, my fellow curmudgeons. Stay vigilant!
Garbage: it’s not just for landfills anymore! A company in New York City has created an all-purpose cleaner made from 97% food waste plus 3% sustainably sourced natural fragrance. Lab tests indicate that it’s 99% effective at cleaning tough dirt from multiple surfaces.
Rather than adding water — which accounts for as much as 90% in most household cleaners — all the liquid in this product is directly derived from the recycled food waste.
And instead of a plastic spray bottle that might or might not get recycled, the product comes in a refillable aluminum bottle.