January 25, 2013
First engineers developed a "smart fork" that tells you when you’re eating too fast. Not that there’s anything smart about that. Any fork will tell you you’re eating too fast when you jab the hand of another diner in an aggressive move toward the potatoes. I’ll be really impressed when they develop a fork that actually tells us the nutritional content of what we’re eating-the fat content, the calories, the carbohydrates-or that just cuts to the chase and asks, "Are you sure you wanna eat that?" Or in the case of highly processed junk food laced with carcinogens it’ll say, "I wouldn’t eat that if I were you." Yeah, I’d be impressed, but I still think that’s taking it too far.
I realize overeating is complicated and that food manufacturers put a lot of crap into our food-I know certain brands of "potato chips" have never even seen a potato-but I think we also, as consumers, have to take some responsibility ourselves. And for those who still willingly snack on deep-fried vegetable shortening seven or eight times a day I say let the process of natural selection take care of ’em. Let’s weed out overeaters by letting them eat whatever they want, and those who survive will make us stronger and able to enjoy pasta without guilt. After all, as Nietzsche said, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger." Although actually Nietzsche was plagiarizing the next-to-last words of Socrates, who is better remembered for his last words, "What is this I’m drinking?" Which brings me to smart ice cubes, although technically they’re not ice, they’re a waterproof jelly which contains LEDs and a lot of other complicated electronics that you probably shouldn’t be putting anywhere near your mouth. Smart ice cubes record how many times you tilt your glass upward, and blink orange when they think you’ve had too much to drink. And if you keep drinking-I’m not making this up-they’ll send a text message to a friend that you’ve had too much to drink and need help. Although in my experience any friend I’d probably pick to get the message would be too busy throwing up in the bathroom to read incoming texts.
Smart ice cubes can also be set to blink in sync with the ambient noise-particularly music-wherever you’re drinking, which doesn’t seem that smart because it makes the whole warning system completely useless. And also if you’re drinking at a disco or rave or party chances are the last thing you need is another set of blinking lights competing for your attention. Ultimately I think the only problem smart ice cubes really solve is that those of us who like our whiskey chilled but neat need an ice cube that doesn’t melt. We still don’t need the technology, though. We may have made significant technological advances in the ways we prepare what we put in our bodies, but, short of providing prosthetics to people who need them, do we really need to upgrade the way we eat and drink? The one exception might be smoking. Although I’d be fine with letting natural selection take care of smokers too it would be nice if it could be done without them polluting the atmosphere for the rest of us. And the solution to that may be these newfangled electronic cigarettes I keep seeing that give cigarette smokers a chance to take care of their nicotine cravings and their oral fixations without exhaling smoke at the rest of us. Except there are some electronic cigarettes that are made to produce steam that smokers inhale then exhale. And this is promoted as a "polite" way to smoke in places like restaurants without bothering other people. I live in the southern United States, so I inhale steam on a daily basis at least nine months of the year, and I know how irritating blowing steam at another person can be. Hey buddy, I’m trying to eat here, not grow orchids.