Tuesday, 3 April 2012

What on earth?

The world is changing in many ways. You could call it evolution, although sometimes it seems to be working in reverse and sometimes it seems just plain silly. Progress is generally good and one cannot live in the past forever, but sometimes those so-called steps forward just seem a bit pointless. You know the sort of thing – ‘progress’ for no logical reason. I should clarify that what follows is not a sheaf of April Fool jokes despite how stupid they might seem.

The first of these dodgy steps forward is the announcement this week by Massachusetts firm Terrafugia that their production prototype Transition car-plane has successfully completed a test flight. The Transition car-plane (dumb name, but then.....) is a street legal car 2.3m wide which can apparently fit into a normal sized garage. Okay, so far. But with this car, at a flick of a switch or a push of a button (the story didn’t say which); it can pop out an 8m wingspan and be all ready for flight instructions.

Of course the company is quite breathless about their new toy and are no doubt salivating over the trillions of dollars they are expecting to make when ‘every home has one’.

They reckon they will have it on the market within a year. However, it is unlikely every home ever will have one for a number of reasons. For starters you need a pilot’s licence and at least 20 hours flying time before you will be able to fly this kite. Next, it would appear that it will not be the traffic escape route that every frustrated commuter has at one time dreamt of because it needs over three quarters of a kilometre of runway for takeoff. This means of course that once you are in a traffic jam; that is where you will have to stay. So while the Tc-p can be flown or driven; it is unlikely hybrid journeys to avoid traffic congestion would be feasible. The article in the Herald didn’t specify how much room it needs to land, but I’m betting it would probably be more than what is needed for take-off.

The only way I can see this ridiculous contraption working would be if you drove it to the airport, taxied onto the runway, flew to another airport and then drove into town. What with filing flight plans and getting air traffic control clearance, it might not be all that quick. The company reckons 100 vehicles have already been ordered, but there are always a few wankers who have to have the latest invention no matter how pointless it might be.

I notice there was no mention of how fuel hungry the Tc-p is or what sort of fuel or fuels it runs on. Actually this story raises way more questions than it answers, which is only too typical of journalism in the popular press these days. But I digress.

Even if this plar or cane isn’t particularly thirsty, it will still be unlikely to pop up in a garage near you anytime soon, because anyone wanting one of these babies will need to have a spare $338.000 lying around. I think you’d have to do an awful lot of flying in the normal course of your life for that to be an economical purchase and not just an expensive folly.

It would seem the car industry is quite keen on hare-brained ideas because Lexus has just released a new model that contains a very silly ‘extra feature’.  The new Lexus GS which has just gone on sale in Australia has a specially modified air-conditioning system that sprays a fine mist of invisible nano particles over the driver. According to Lexus (who might be lying, because if they are invisible how do you know?), it releases nano particles of between 20 and 50 nanometres in size that have negatively charged ions wrapped in water molecules. These are only emitted from the driver’s air vent and are claimed to purify the air and get rid of odours. It seems to me it would be better simply not to fart in the car, but there you go.

However this fantastical development which I know will make us all want a Lexus GS has another ‘benefit’ as well. According to Lexus, these ions contain roughly 1000 times the amount of moisture compared with normal ions which means it will be like having moisturiser applied to your skin while driving. I can see this beauty catching on with the lazy slobs in that Volkswagen advert who head off to the shops half awake, half dressed and picking their noses. They will be able to clamber out of bed straight into the car and get freshened up on the way to work without having to waste time or water in the shower. What’s next, I wonder. A car that dresses you and feeds you breakfast as well?

 The Malvern A&P Show is probably not the first place you think of when you think of new products being debuted. In fact, most of you probably don’t even know where Malvern is. My nearest guess is ‘somewhere in Canterbury’. However in the last week the A&P Show at marvellous Malvern previewed woollen coffins.

These are not simply hollowed out sheep, and despite what you are probably thinking, they were not invented by a sheep farmer from Malvern. They were in fact developed in another location famous for its woolly headedness; Yorkshire. I am guessing they came up with the idea because it can be so bloody cold in Yorkshire. The article in the ODT did not say whether the coffins are knitted or crocheted, but a local undertakers has added them to its range of eco-friendly caskets. The name of the undertakers is, appropriately enough, Lamb and Hayward. So I guess their next eco-friendly coffin will be one made out of hay.

However the silliest thing to come to my notice this week (apart from Judith Collins’ ill-advised legal action) comes from Finland. And to think Gezza (three dinners) Browneye was trying to make them look ridiculous only a week or so ago. Now they have achieved that all by themselves and it is one of their foremost companies that has come up with the silly application.

Mobile phone company Nokia has just filed a patent application for a tattoo. This seems silly and one is immediately drawn to the conclusion this must be a cock-up by the journalist reporting it and the actually means a copyright application. And why would they want to register ownership in any way on a tattoo?

However closer inspection reveals this is no ordinary tattoo; it is a tattoo with special powers. It is applied using ferromagnetic ink and it becomes a receiver for magnetic waves from your mobile phone. A tingle in your tattoo will mean someone is trying to call you. Apparently Nokia has plans to customise the feature so you can have differing tingles, itches or vibrations in your skin according to who is calling.

I say why leave it at a simple tattoo in one part of your body? You could have tattoos all over the place so that someone you can’t stand gives you a pain in the neck; a loudmouth gives you earache, or your darling gives you a tingle somewhere else.
Nokia also has plans to do a less invasive (or permanent) version which would consist of a wrist band that had the same properties. What I can’t understand is why they don’t just carry their phone with them. Then they wouldn’t need some intermediary system to tell them it was ringing? Sometimes these people are just too clever for their own good.

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