Thursday, July 07, 2005


Or, Boosting Your Boots' IQ ...But Still Running Around in Circles?

By Professor Ovid Publius Hadweenzic, a latitudinarian linguist from the University of Ecum Secum in Old Sweat, Nova Scotia (with an abiding interest in the history of fetish footwear, how an Old Mother managed to raise her brood in a shoe, and why one sportswear company decided to market an “intelligent” sneaker in a world full of tortoises and hares with two left feet)

The other day I set out on a scientific expedition of sorts to figure out if "smart technology" had been invented by a handful of "smart alecks", "smart assess" and "smarty pants" to aid the ineffectual, inept and incompetent who populate the planet.

Judging from our wide wide world of wonk, we have a fine array of wayward souls to choose from including dingbats, dorks, dumbbells, dunderheads, and dweebs (plus their close-relatives, the affable but nevertheless intellectually-impaired nincompoops, ninny-hammers, nudniks, and numskulls), it's difficult to see just who "smart technology" would appeal to.

Being an “egghead”, I’m used to living on the margins of society with “nerdy geeks” and “aliens from outer space”. Like my humble companions, I’m committed to undertaking a perilous journey in search of the “Big Bang” (the event that gave birth to the blessed universe), the “Big Bird” (the one who presides over the entire blinking place), and the “Big Bad Wolf” (the darned devil in disguise who makes a mess by eating little grannies and blowing houses down just for the heck of it).

My first inkling that we had a problem was a glance at my on-line vault of vacuous thoughts, vapid experiences and very vexing pieces of misinformation. Sure enough, my super-duper search engine revealed some delightfully dubious data:

· 125,000 web pages devoted to “smart technology” (with another 818,000 web pages dedicated to “smart people”) and

· 587 web pages dedicated to “dumb technology” (with a whopping 4,450,000 web page devoted to “dummies”, and an additional 129,000 web pages exposing all manner of things about “dumb people”).

Clearly these trivial tidbits of truth leave a lot to be desired. One could easily conclude, erroneously of course, that our lonely planet is inhabited by a plethora of “dummies”. The first clue might be the fact that the “dumbfounded” elements of our society appear to outnumber the “smarty pant” folks by a factor of 4:1. Second, it would appear that “intelligent” tools and technologies do not rank high on everyone’s hit parade of “fun” things to do or play with, (judging from the long list of consumer complaints and the short list of extraterrestrials who’ve actually dropped by for a peek at this peculiar place or declined to leave hospitable greetings).

It’s rather amazing indeed that “smart” folks with their “smart personal object technology” - (SPOT) are so featherbrained about what makes life worth living. I grew up with “Think & Do” books featuring the adventures of Dick and Jane together with their animal companions, (a cat named PUFF and a dog called SPOT). Today’s kids grow up with a remote control device in their hands so they can flick on the latest lessons about life from “Big Bird” or the “Teletubblies”. Frankly since "SPOT" is so full of bleeps, blips and blotchy blobs, it’s not surprising the “digital do-gooders” have written books about how to help the “digitally-challenged” adjust to “virtual reality”.

But, “real people” do not fall in love with “robots” or “intelligent” toys, and clearly know the difference between a "Barbie" doll and a Playboy "bunny". They like simple, affordable, easy-to-use things that bring them a sense of joy not pain in the brain. And believe it or not, some still like the feel of cold hard cash under a mattress, rather than an unpleasant surprise involving fraud-prone “smart” cards (a.k.a. plastic money) and hacker-friendly on-line banking systems.

On the other hand, while males prefer dogs (that chew bones and bark up the wrong trees), females prefer cats (who keep a clean place and know when hissing and clawing pays off so they never end up in the doghouse). So, like it or not, PUFF - (Personally Useless Facts & Fluff), appeals to everyone regardless of age, race, color, creed, and religion …especially those who have a penchant for tripping the light fantastic in spite of the fact that they've got two-left feet and can't do the Highland Fling, hate bagpipe melodies, and wouldn't wear a kilt in public unless it comes with a pair of fashionable briefs.

The “deeply digital world” in which we live may have been created by the "Guru of Gobbledygook", but the Goddess of Glitch still knows when to throw an agonizing little analog aardvark into “systems” devised by “smart people” with swelled heads who think machines are more intelligent than their often muddle-headed makers.

Why are “smart” folk with “soft-skills” spending an inordinate amount of time and money trying to make everyday “hard” objects “intelligent” (be they appliances, blinds, books, cars, drills, key-chains, paint, sneakers, telephones, or wristwatches)? Why are they so interested in taking these objects “beyond their core functions”? Why can't they live a day without a gadget, gewgaw, or GPS gizmo guiding their every move?

When 80% of us don’t need or use the “cutting-edge” new features of these everyday things, when we can’t be bothered to scroll through a CD-ROM “help” manual to find the "off" button, and don’t have time to take an advanced software course to learn how to program a VCR not to mention how to stop it flashing 12:00 am, it’s time for a hair transplant and a nifty new “plug and play” tune … “Get Your Latest Smart Software With Grunt Work Included for only three easy payments of $29.95 plus shipping and handling charges”!

“Smarty-pants” may have invented all those “productive” pocket technology devices but, fractured fingers and fried brains are a testament to the damage caused by being tethered to them 24/7. Far from visions of “sugar plums dancing in one’s head”, or just a good night’s sleep, the daunting number of daffy devices and incompatible technologies are leading to system screw-ups, BotBattles, and even Robotic Inchworm Drill Flops on Mars!

Stop talking to your PC. Quit running around with your digital camera to capture an artificially-intelligent dinosaur roaming free in Disney Theme Park. And, forget about the latest “smart” night vision on your vehicle; (you shouldn’t be driving anyway, you’ve had one too many “smart” drinks fortified with Gingko Baloba for your own good)!

Why not just take things easy, smell the roses, kiss the Blarney Stone, and whatever you do, share some good-old fashioned fairytales with friends or family ...and include a pitcher of fresh milk (courtesy of a contented cow) plus a plate of real cookies (courtesy of Mom's favorite recipe)!!


For those in need of a good fit ...they might drop in and see the folks in Footville (Wisconsin)

If you can't stand know-it-all "intelligent" shoes might want to try the latest designed for dumb souls, "the learning shoe"

For those who can't recall the tale about the Old Woman and the shoe... feel free to let your fickle fingers fly over the keyboard to:

But if you're more into "Battered Soles", then you might want to let your pinky fingers poke about the pages of this hilarious account of a one-day spiritual pilgrimage from Peterborough to Lakefield, Ontario (the town next door)

On the other hand, if you simply "must have" an on-board computer in your sneakers (like the Adidas 1 brand that comes with a built in micro-processor that supposed to adapt to the shoe's level of cushioning depending on the wearer's environment, then you might want to order it online from a London-based website called "Crooked Tongues"

Maybe you're just wondering why every smart man you know isn't buying a pair of Aussi Ugg boots?

And for those who really need a pocket power fix in a big way... check out: or

All right, settle down and stretch out in the world's first "intelligent" bathtub (though we haven't spotted any dumb ones of late):


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