You lead a busy life. You cannot be expected to keep up with all the major happenings of the world. That is why I am here. As you read this column, you are burdened by someone who cares. So in my continuing efforts to keep you informed, here are some of the earth-shattering news nuggets you may have missed in recent weeks.
The 2020 Subaru Outback can detect if you are tired: It is true. Subaru is now manufacturing a vehicle with a “distraction mitigation system.” It includes a camera that can track changes in your facial expressions. This system will identify signs of fatigue or distraction. When you’re about to doze off or if you’re not paying attention to the road, it sends you (and your passengers) visual and voice warnings to wake up and drive right.
This is similar to how my dad used to rouse me out of a 10 a.m. slumber to remind me that I was supposed to be earning my keep. However, there is one major technological difference. Subaru’s system does not pour ice water on my face. Perhaps that will be an option on future models.
The United States Postal Service is testing self-driving trucks: Also true. What could possibly go wrong? Now don’t get ahead of me. Your friendly neighborhood mail carrier isn’t going away any time soon. For now, the driverless trucks are hauling the mail only on long, lonely highways in western states where two coyotes are considered a traffic jam. So for the time being, no worries. A real, live postal person will still make sure your Mother’s Day card arrives just before Father’s Day.
Baby names: For the second consecutive year, the most popular name for baby boys is Liam. There are sure to be lots of little Liams toddling around in a few years, but that’s nothing compared to the most popular name for baby girls. Emma is the name of choice for the fifth consecutive year.
In other words, those of us with commonly used baby boomer names like Steve, Bob, Debbie and Linda are no longer in vogue. Soon our aging names (yes, including David) will go the way of Durwood, Esmeralda, Ophelia, and Archibald.
Yet there’s hope for us old-timers. Prince Harry and Duchess Meagan just named their baby boy Archie, which is sure to inspire a revival of that classic moniker. Plus, the aforementioned Emma was among the most popular names of the 1880s. The moral of this story is, if you live long enough, your name might make a comeback.
Why kids are so tired: No matter your age, at some point in your life, you fought sleep. Whether it was a paperback book with a flashlight, or a transistor radio under your pillow, we all had our ways of cheating the Sandman. Now experts say it has reached epidemic proportions. Needless to say, they have conducted a study, so I know it is true.
The culprit is now the smartphone. For many kids, it is the last thing they see at night, and it wakes them up in the morning. Some say they delay the need to answer nature’s call, because they don’t want to miss a text, a pic or a Snapchat. The result, according to science? Less sleep, a late start out of bed, and a rushed breakfast. All of which they say, contributes to poor performance in school. Yet we call it a smartphone.
You can now buy an intelligent toilet: I’m serious. Finally, something worthwhile, for a mere $8,000. I’ve been around a lot of toilets in my time, and they’ve all been as dumb as a rock. They just sit there, and expect me to do all the work. But not the Kohler Numi Toilet. From the brochure: “The Numi Toilet offers personalized features that let you fine-tune every aspect of your experience: from ambient colored lighting to the heated seat and foot warmer. Numi delivers hands-free control, personalized cleansing functionality, and music.
Did you say music? What songs would an Intelligent Toilet play? “Pressure” by Billy Joel? “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” by Journey? “Takin’ Care of Business” by BTO?
As for “hands-free control” and “personalized cleansing functionality,” I’m not sure about this. In some aspects of our daily lives, it pays to be a do-it-yourselfer. I’ll let your 21st century robots vacuum my floor, mow my lawn, and change the cat litter. But keep them out of my bathroom. I think if I was suddenly flush with cash, and spent eight grand on a commode, God would tap me on the shoulder and say, “Did you ever hear that old saying that God would let you know if you had too much money? Well, today’s the day.”