New Tech Round-up: Creepy Avatars, Slippery Ketchup, and Very Visible Spy Blimps

Hey there, space cadets! I am currently writing to you while flying around the Earth with the Space X Space Vehicle, and boy are my arms tired! Wait, no, I’m sorry, I’m being told that was terrible. I apologize. Anyway, it’s time once again to stop it with the clicking of the Diablo III and remember that there’s a real world by reading another New Tech Round-up! As always if you’d like more info on any of these topics you can find links to the original stories at the bottom of this post. Roll out!

I bow before our enunciatory, cardboard robot overlords.

The Port Authority of New York announced recently that it will be installing a handful of two-dimensional “customer service avatars” in the three airports in its jurisdiction at a cost of $180,000. Take a look at this video of one in action:

$180,000 for a stationary recording of a woman telling you things in the most stilted way possible. Because hiring an actual person to tell people things would require finding a person who needs a job and where in the world could you find one of those? Oh yeah, EVERYWHERE! Seriously, Port Authority?

Look, I love new and shiny, zany, ridiculous gadgets as much as anyone, and this is somewhere in the general ballpark of something cool, but is it really necessary to replace what would most likely be a minimum wage job with something this creepy and this expensive?

This is the first image to come up when I typed ”Creepy Expensive” into Google and I had to share; it’s called the Corpus Clock. It has a giant monster grasshopper on the top who consumes time every 60 seconds, and to mark the hour it plays a recording of a chain dropping into a coffin. It cost $1.8 million dollars. Steven Hawking not included. 

And really, for that much money could they not make it seem sort of human? The Uncanny Valley was mentioned in the source article, but I’m sorry, that concept is meant to describe animation and human-like robots. This is an actual human being who was filmed saying words with her human face. Well, I guess there was no way they could hire a trained actor who could convey emotion, I mean, where could they possibly find one of those who wasn’t already gainfully employed and not living on the street. Oh yeah, NEW YORK CITY!

Whatever, I prefer my avatars blue and barely clothed…or vaguely Asian.


 Better Living Through Chemicals

Ext. Day, Neighborhood Bar-B-Que. Steve stands at a grill and hands Barry a plate with a hamburger.

Barry: Thanks Steve, got any ketchup?

Steve: Right here, big guy.

He hands Barry a glass bottle of Heinz Ketchup. Barry attempts to shake some onto his burger to no avail.

Barry: Boy, this stuff is hard to get out.

Steve: Here, try this ridiculously sharp knife.

Steve hands Barry a knife. Barry sticks it in the mouth of the bottle, wiggles it, shatters the glass, spills the ketchup everywhere, slices open his wrist, jams the bottle in his face and creates quite a ruckus with his death spasms. Steve looks into the camera.

Steve: There has to be a better way.

Well, now there is! Hey folks, Fred here, back in the actual column and not that fake commercial thing, and boy do I have some exciting news for you from the world of food-grade lubricants. Some geniuses over at MIT (I don’t mean that sarcastically, chances are very good that they are, in fact, geniuses) came up with a chemical mixture that can be sprayed onto the inside of a ketchup bottle making the viscous liquid come pouring out of the bottle like so much [disgusting liquid waste] shooting out of your [totally gross orifice].

It’s like condiment laxative. 

I was pretty sure this problem was already solved with the advent of the plastic squeeze bottle, but then I don’t go to MIT, where maybe everyone is allergic to petroleum-based solids.  I can’t help but think of an anecdote that goes something like: NASA spent hundreds of millions of dollars figuring out how to get a pen to work in space, you know what the Russians did? They used a pencil. Sure we beat them to the moon, but they sent us Yakov Smirnoff. Who really got the last laugh on that one? Anyway, MIT, good job, but how about you work on something like a car that runs on salt water or something. We’ll be OK with the ketchup thing.

Seriously, problem solved like 20 years ago.

Redefines “Covert” to mean “Not Remotely Covert in Any Way.”

The US Army is developing a spy blimp that will hover over countries like Afghanistan uncovering all of the bad guy’s super secret plans for rocket boots and stuff. A spy blimp. That’s all white. And the size of a football field. And goes like 20 mph. And has US Army written on the side. They’ll never see it coming, unless of course they look up.


 So, OK, the plus side is that it’s flown remotely and can stay in the air for very long periods of time, I guess they figure the terrorists can’t hide forever. This still strikes me as ridiculous. It’s like sending the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man to infiltrate an Al-Qaeda Cell.

Oh man, sure am excited about this terrorism stuff! I sure can’t wait to step on a church, that’s going to be awesome. Hey, when do we get to the planning of which church to step on? Huh? Guys?

Wow. I’m sorry folks. All this stuff sounds terrible. I’ll try to find some slightly more bad-ass future tech for next time, like something that lets you talk to alpacas…or, I don’t know, something to do with butts. Whatever, I don’t make this stuff, I just aggregate it. Oh look, butt tech.

 It tenses after you slap it! Robot farts here we come!



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