August 12, 2019
Today we’re featuring a brand-new essay from our August “The Heck With Tech” issue, publishing this Saturday.
Do you think the “Internet of Things” is a few things too many? Does the recent deluge of smart technology make you long for the dumb old days? Editor in chief P.J. O’Rourke does.
And whether you’re a tech wizard or a digital dunce, we think you’ll enjoy what P.J. has to say…
And Other Smart Devices
I’m an ordinary middle-American old married man. I’m used to everybody being smarter than me. Major media outlets are full of reporting and editorials about how stupid my political, social, and cultural ideas are. I long ago conceded the point about who has the brains in the family. There’s a 25th wedding anniversary approaching to prove it. I have teenagers. They know everything. I have hunting dogs. I can’t tell if there’s a pheasant in a corn row 60 feet away.
I suppose I’m smarter than the chickens I keep. Although… they’ve got a swell coop, a spacious yard fenced high and low to protect them from life’s perils, and free food every day, and they’re not doing a damn thing – such as laying the eggs they’re supposed to lay – in return. So I suppose I’m not.
But now it’s not just everybody that’s smarter than me. Everything is smarter, too.
The world is full of “Smart Devices.” Or so I’m told by a certain smart-alecky, five-pound smart device in my lap… (Although it turns into a moron if I spill a cup of coffee on its keyboard.)
Forgoing that temptation, I Google and find…
PC Magazine‘s “Best Smart Home Devices for 2019.”
The article beings…
What if all the devices in your life could connect to the internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands?
Let me tell you what the “what” is in this “what if” scenario. I’d forget my password. That’s what.
Also, I do not care to start having conversations with inanimate objects. I’m at an age where this is the kind of behavior that could cause my wife and children to stage an intervention. (“He forgot his password and his password is ‘password.'”) And I’d wind up in the Memory Care unit of the local nursing home.
But even assuming I remember my password and assuming I’m allowed to remain in my own house with in-home senior care… I’m still baffled by PC Magazine‘s list:
The Video Doorbell will enhance my household security by giving me a live, on-screen image of who’s at the door. Really? There’s this thing that never needs batteries and works perfectly when the Internet crashes… It’s called a window. I look through it. Also, I have a 12-gauge pump.
A Smart Thermostat can be adjusted from anywhere with a WiFi connection. Oh, good. Now my wife and I can argue about whether it’s too hot in our living room or too cold in our living room even when we’re on vacation hundreds of miles from our living room.
The Smart Microwave is so smart that when you touch “defrost,” it tells you, “Quit nuking the Swanson Hungry-Man Classic Fried Chicken frozen TV dinners and learn how to cook something healthy, Fatso.”
If the Smart Bathroom Scale is in league with the Smart Microwave and thinks telling me what I really weigh is a smart idea, it’s about to find out just how heavy the big back tire on my John Deere is.
The Smart Vacuum Cleaner doesn’t look so smart anymore… The iRobot Roomba i7+ may have AI, but my Labrador retriever has teeth.
And who needs a $2,430 Husqvarna Automower 315 Smart Lawnmower that mows the lawn automatically when you’ve got teens who mow the lawn automatically (if a lot of nagging counts as automation) in return for the car keys? (Although there is the matter of that $2,430 body and fender repair from when Buster backed into the phone pole…)
I also don’t need a 5g high-def 2.0 version Home Surveillance Camera. I mentioned I have teens. Do you think I want to know what goes on when they’re home and my wife and I aren’t? Besides, they leave evidence that even Sherlock’s dumbass sidekick Dr. Watson could make accurate deductions from. “I detect that someone has tried to flush a pony keg down the toilet.”
And that’s just some of the new stuff from the “Internet of Things.”
What things will get smart next? Are we ready for “Smarty Pants”? A pair of slacks that send you a text message: “We really do make your butt look big.”
The Internet of Things – when I hear the phase I feel like things are not only getting too smart but are also starting to gang up on me. It makes my flesh crawl…
This is the kind of medical information that my smartwatch would send directly to my in-home senior caregiver… if I owned a smartwatch. I don’t, because I own Chicago’s first album released in 1969, when smart people were skeptical about the benefits of technology, even the analog kind with very limited intelligence.
As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me what the time was on my watch,
And I said
Does anybody really know what time it is?
Does anybody really care?
If so I can’t imagine why
We’ve all got time enough to cry…
Cry, “Enough already with the Smart Devices!”
Plus there’s this to consider…
Two ordinary middle-American old married men are playing golf.
First Golfer: Take a look at this golf ball. Doesn’t matter how bad you hook or slice. It’s got a flashing red light and a beeper and a GPS chip and a Bluetooth tracking locator and a camera that sends you a selfie of its location.
Second Golfer: Wow! Where did you get that golf ball?
First Golfer: I found it.
Now here are some of the stories we’re reading…
There’s a lot to fear. Even with the recent pullback, stocks are still near all-time highs and have lofty valuations. Investors don’t see an end to the trade war anytime soon. And it’s hard to keep relying on the Fed cutting rates to justify pushing stocks higher.
This curious trip was a reconnaissance mission, but not to gather intel about anything on the ground. A Boeing spokesperson says it was an “engineering flight,” conducted at the FAA’s request, gathering data on the jet’s performance.
Humans are like ungainly packets of meat when paddling in the ocean and should be easy prey compared to fast-moving fish and seals. So, why are so few people attacked by sharks?
And let us know what you’re reading at [email protected].
Publisher, American Consequences
With P.J. O’Rourke and the Editorial Staff
August 12, 2019