“Recalculating.” How can one word contain so much condescension, and negativity and yet seem so non-threatening in print?
Well, in print you don’t have a glob of plastic and glass with a glowing screen yelling it at you in a tone that utterly drips with derision. Yes, I’m talking about the GPS unit in your car and, if you have one, you know what I mean.
In roughly the last 10 years, the global positioning system has gone from a luxury item for truckers and yacht owners to a cheap, readily available device now seen in almost every car, on motorcycles, and even on long-distance bicycles. It’s sort of like an iPod with a really bad attitude and only one useful app.
I was curious about how we now find ourselves terrorized in our own vehicles by a device that was originally intended to help us. Oh yeah, that’s what they said about computers, too.
Anyway, I did a little research and found that GPS was developed back in 1973, based on older 1960s’ technology. The Department of Defense was looking for a better method of navigation and it eventually came up with a system of 24 orbiting satellites that became fully active in 1994. It was eventually updated and is now at the GPSIII stage.
But back before all the nasty voices and touch screens, how did we get around? Well, I dimly recall paper maps, compasses, and checking the innards of road kill.
We then graduated to printing out detailed step-by-step directions from places like Yahoo and Mapquest and finally, we arrived at the age of GPS where all we do is type in the address of our destination and press go.
From that point, we simply turn into drooling goobers breathlessly awaiting the next dictate from The Direction Mistress (as I refer to her).
But all is not well in the land of The Direction Mistress. Disturbing stories have begun to surface of people getting lost due to wrong directions; people driving into bodies of water or off cliffs, all at the behest of those little electronic navigators.
And that led me to wonder if something more sinister was afoot. Let’s remember that GPS was originally developed as a government project and built by the lowest bidder.
What if that bunch of orbiting satellites got nasty on us? What if they started talking amongst themselves and decided if we couldn’t even find our way around without their help, then maybe they should do something about it. And guess what? The United States isn’t the only country with such satellites in orbit.
The Russians have had the GLONASS system up and running all along and now systems from the European Union, India, and China are planned if not already operating. So here we have all these orbiting devices talking to all these ground-based devices and I’m beginning to wonder if they’re not plotting to keep us all lost on purpose.
I’ve personally been sent on wild goose chases by my GPS on multiple occasions and mine has supposedly endlessly updated maps. All I do is plug it into my computer and it downloads and installs the latest and greatest road maps for all of the U.S. and Canada.
Or does it? Does every update really just download the latest software update, or does the evil mother ship make the voice nastier, the maps less accurate, and the underlying hardware more evil?
All I know is that I’ve had three GPS units in the past 10 years and each one has gotten meaner, less accurate, and more snotty. I’m at a point now where I’m thinking seriously of dusting off the paper maps that have been sitting in my car in a bin under the passenger seat, getting out a compass, and brushing up on my road-kill innards divining skills.
I’m sure many people would suggest I’m just being paranoid, but I’ve seen enough sci-fi movies to not trust technology. I mean, how much can you trust a device that, no matter what voice you choose, it still says “recalculating” in a way that makes you think it’s really saying, “How dare you question my directions, you imbecile!? You’re lower than snail snot and have all the directional ability of a blind cave fish! Now get back on course before we drive over a cliff!” Oops.
Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg says he actually has all the directional ability of a blind cave fish; just ask his wife. However, he is starting to look at maps again.
I’ve been noticing lately that certain members of our population have taken to wearing very large sunglasses. Now, I mention this out of real concern for both national security and horrible fashion crimes.
I’m not really sure where the whole giant-sunglasses trend started but I suspect it was in the pages of very thick European fashion magazines. Those are the glossy bricks that feature pictures of models that look more like alien creatures than humans and that’s what really tipped me off. Now, stay with me.
What if a race of highly intelligent aliens was really interested in our planet? But, due to their appearance, felt they couldn’t really walk among us safely, as we’d all freak out and attack them on sight.
See, they look pretty much like us, except for huge reptilian eyes and a taste for fresh kale. Both are obvious tip-offs that they’re not human. I mean kale? Really?
In order to come here and get our kale, they had to make the stuff seem healthy or popular so eating it wouldn’t make people pay attention. I figure they covered this by quietly sending mind-to-mind messages to health nuts the world over to like kale.
I mean how else would you explain the sudden popularity of a leafy vegetable that resembles green leather and needs to be massaged with oil or cooked to be edible?
But the huge reptilian eyes were a bigger issue.
Then they got hold of a copy of European Vogue, looked at the ad for Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses, and had their eureka moment. They sent further brainwash messages to eyeglass designers to start enlarging sunglasses until they were big enough to basically allow a wearer to rob a bank in a pair and be utterly unrecognizable.
They also mentally suggested using lots of old pictures of Sophia Loren and Jackie Kennedy from the ’50s and ’60s to further bolster the new retro-chic, huge sunglass kick and they were off.
So does that mean that every person you now see wearing huge sunglasses is an alien looking to eat your kale? Very likely.
I mean logically, why would a normal-looking human being want to wear sunglasses so huge, ungainly, and ugly that their own parents wouldn’t recognize them?
I’m not talking about those wrap-around visors some seniors wear over prescription glasses. They’re scary, but they have a specific purpose.
No, we’re talking about “fashion” sunglasses here. These monstrosities, when genuine, cost more than my first car and could block not just UV radiation, but pretty much the entire visible spectrum of light. When I see people driving in these, I seriously wonder if they’re actually asleep, as you’d never be able to tell, so impenetrable are these lenses.
But most of these fashion crimes are made worse by the fact that the glasses in question are actually cheap knock-offs that offer about as much eye protection as a tissue stained with weak tea. If you really want to protect your eyes, as eye doctors now suggest, then huge, ugly cheap fake sunglasses may not be your best bet.
I mean, they’ll hurt your eyes and make it likely you’ll be mistaken for an alien and grabbed by Homeland Security types. And, if they catch you eating kale, then I’d say you’re pretty much alien toast.
If you want to protect your eyes, go to a nice store, buy some real sunglasses that cover your eyes, not up to your hairline, and wear them outside when it’s bright.
Wearing them 24 hours a day, seven days a week just proves you’re an alien life form. Why else would you do such a thing? Fashion by nature is very silly and looking in Vogue proves that by about the fourth page.
Would a normal human being really go to the mall or out to dinner wearing skin-tight, leopard-print leggings; a leather skirt cut three millimeters below your naughty bits; heels high enough to cause nosebleeds; topped off by a $900 cotton T-shirt and $3,000 sunglasses? Oh yeah, and without anything underneath but a thong constructed of dental floss and a single cotton ball? That’s fashion.
So, to the aliens, I say: Take the kale and go in peace but please brainwash the fashionistas back to where a simple pair of Ray-Bans will suffice. If you don’t act soon, the sunglasses will start to look like a full-face motorcycle helmet with a smoked shield by this time next year. And I won’t even get into the issue with the dreaded “helmet hair.”
Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg says his fashion sense (if you can call it that) includes jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers. In other words, he never left the late ’70s.