LET THE MEETING OF THE

LET THE MEETING OF THE FUTURE SNITCHES OF AMERICA CLUB COME TO ORDER

When we drop by the home offices of Scholastic Inc. on business, we always fill our backpack with spare copies of pre-K and kindergarten magazines to occupy Small Fellow on road trips. This weekend, as dinner at a Pocono region restaurant dragged on, and on, we pulled an old issue of Let's Find Out called "People on the Go" out of our backpack.

The issue's back-page visual discrimination exercise asked Fellow to look at a picture of a busy neighborhood and "circle the silly things." Now, among the very silly images on this page were a car riding on tires made of pizza, a bear on a bus, and a rowboat atop a tree. To his credit, Fellow spotted most of these anomalies. But he also told us that a dog running down a sidewalk was silly. Why? "It doesn't have an owner." And a hot dog stand (not a cart; more like a shack) was silly, because "it doesn't have a door." Curious, we sent his responses to a career counselor. She has advised us that Fellow is best suited to a career as a "gadfly."


YES, THIS IS BRILLIANT, AND INSPIRING. I'M STILL NOT BUYING ONE.

The LeapPad gets a new mission helping to teach Afghan women about basic health care.


CAN YOU HEAR ME LYING NOW?

The New York Times was all over the map with its editorial the other day about Cingular Wireless' "Escape-a-Date" service. The new feature allows you to program your cell phone to call you during a blind date and give you voice prompts to help you trick your companion into thinking you have to leave urgently. Silly enough, and obviously for people of low character. Fine. But the Times seems somehow offended that liars are now able to take advantage of automated services. Escape-a-Date is:

another step forward in the institutionalization of lying, for those who lack the mental wherewithal to lie for themselves.
So your concern is a lack of imagination? Um, excuse me, paper of record? It's Freelance Dad here, trying to raise kids who tell the truth, and asking you to keep your eye on the ball: The problem isn't that cell phones are making it too easy for people to lie. The problem is (wait for it) that people are lying!

Flailing its arms wildly as it tries to crack open some pinata full of morality with the editorial, this very brief item also summons up this nightmarish vision of our wireless future:

It's easy to imagine a whole new series of automated cellphone services . . . [such as] "Disappoint a Child."
Yes, that's right. We know that when we've been saddled with a particularly Dickensian moppet, hungrily slurping her gruel across the table from us at Balthazar, we can't wait for the prearranged call from Cingular:
"Yes?" ...
"What?!" ...
"No, no, don't apologize, You did the right thing calling me. Now tell me exactly where you are." ...
"OK, got it. I'll be right there. Stay calm." ...

"Sweetie, I want you to listen to Daddy now. That was Elmo on the phone. He's fallen down a well and he needs Daddy to come rescue him, so I've got to drive to Sesame Street right away. Now, you go ahead and finish your gruel, and then Marcel will bring you some Nilla Wafers. Don't worry, Daddy paid the check already, and here's $20 for cabfare home, OK? Now you be a good girl, brush your teeth and go right to bed and Daddy promises he'll give you a call tomorrow. Gotta go now, before Elmo chews off his foot."

August 9, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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