08 August 2009

Flagged Down

Filed under: Ben rates stuff that most people don't think about.

Today's topic is state flags. They're like armpits: we all have them, and most of them stink. Anyone who knows anything about vexillology or just plain graphic design knows that the whole state-seal-on-blue-bedsheet thing is supra-lame. My reference today will be NAVA's study on the state and provincial flags of North America. Looking, however, upon this study, it becomes clear that there are easy fixes for the abominations that are the flags of many of our states. Link to all state flags here. Suggestions for all 50 below:

Alabama: Dear Alabama, your flag is already taken historically by Ireland (the old Irish contribution to the Union Jack was the red diagonal part). You can use a red St. Andrew's cross on a white field, but you should put it in the canton and put something else in the fly. If you want to highlight your stint in the Confederacy, you could pull a Georgia and put the "bars" (of "stars and bars") in the fly, red, white, red. Or you could put a state symbol in there (not the seal!) like a yellowhammer or a stock car or something.

Alaska: Rock on.

Arizona: Please also rock on.

Arkansas: Ditch the "ARKANSAS" on your flag--it's distinctive enough as is.

California: I don't like the "California Republic" on the flag, but I think it has to stay for historical reasons.

Colorado: Continue to rock.

Connecticut: I expected better of you. For one of the original thirteen, you really have an unoriginal flag. Ditch the seal, draw a thin stripe of white down the middle horizontally (to represent the historical Western Reserve and the nickname "the Land of Steady Habits"), then deface it with three purple stars in place of the grapes on the state seal, representing your three original colonies, and to draw a connection to good ol' Washington.

Delaware: Ditch the date and the seal, and place one white star in the middle of the diamond of buff, for "The First State"

Florida: You are essentially Alabama/Ireland with the state seal in the middle. Replace the seal with a gold disc for "The Sunshine State".

Georgia: You will pass, this time. That thing in the canton is messed up though.

Hawai'i: Hang loose. Good job.

Idaho: Fail. I would suggest a tricolor of blue, white, and green, to show solidarity with the Pac NW, and seven stars, four on top, three on bottom to indicate the 43rd State. I'm suggesting a violation of the three-colors rule by making the stars the colors of precious gems.

Illinois: Keep the white, ditch the scenery. You can keep the eagle if you want, but he should only be holding the shield. Perhaps you should adopt the powder-blue stripes of the Chicago flag, and ditch the eagle entirely, keeping only the US shield.

Indiana: Ditch the "INDIANA".

Iowa: Ditch the "IOWA", drop the eagle to the middle.

Kansas: I would use the sunflower as the main motif, and make the flag green with a vertical stripe of white, with white stars across the green parts of the top, symbolic of the motto "ad astra per aspera".

Kentucky: I would do bluegrass green and white, 15 stripes total, vertical, for "the Bluegrass State" and the 15th admitted to the union.

Louisiana: Why, why, WHY do you not use the Fleur-de-lis in your flag? Do something like a cross between Quebec and the Dominican Republic: a white Saint George's cross through a field of alternating blue and red, with either a fleur-de-lis in the middle, or a number of them in the cross.

Maine: Go back to the 1901 flag.

Maryland: Please continue to rock.

Massachusetts: Make the whole flag that purple color, move the white star to the canton, and move the weird arm thingy to the center. Ditch everything else.

Michigan: Tricolor-style, but both sides the same color, a la Peru or Nicaragua--I suggest blue, but green works as well. A gray, yes, gray bar horizontally down the center, representing the chrome of the auto industry and the Mackinac Bridge.

Minnesota: Adopt the North Star Flag.

Mississippi: I'm not even going to touch that. The Confederate Battle Flag is a very loaded symbol, and I'm going to steer clear of commentary upon it.

Missouri: Pretty similar to Paraguay. I would ditch the seal in favor of just one symbol of the state, perhaps a dogwood blossom.

Montana: Utter fail. I would capitalize on "Big Sky" and do a horizontal quatre-couleurs a la Mauritius, but blue (for big sky), yellow (for gold), brown (which I'm also going to suggest on the Dakotas' flags--I think it's an accurate way to highlight the relationship residents of the northern Rockies area have with the land), and white (for silver).

Nebraska: Replace the seal with a cornstalk. Problem solved.

Nevada: You're only pretending not to fail. Replace the wreathy stuff with seventeen white stars in a circle around the big one for the 17 counties of the Silver State. I would have it so the top point of each of these stars points outward. You can keep the "Battle Born" if you must.

New Hampshire: I would just have it half blue, half gray (for "the Granite State"), divided diagonally from the bottom-hoist to the top-fly. You could put "LIVE FREE OR DIE" on it, if you wanted.

New Jersey: Buff with three Jersey blue stars stacked close vertically in the center, representing the three plows in the seal and the 3rd state in the Union.

New Mexico: However you say "rock on" in the Zia language.

New York: I would keep the dimensions, and make it a blue field with a white wedge extending from the bottom center to the two top edges, with just the eagle surmounting a globe as the device. "EXCELSIOR" can be kept, if it must.

North Carolina: Your flag barely passed.

North Dakota: Horizontal tricolor--blue, white, brown.

Ohio: You overdid it, which I love.

Oklahoma: Ditch "OKLAHOMA". We should be able to tell what your flag represents without having to read. Since we can't, highlight the Osage artifact with a white or yellow lozenge in the middle.

Oregon: Why does your flag have two sides? There's not enough vexillological content for one. Use the flag of Cascadia's color scheme, and choose a something to put in the middle. I suggest an O shape with a state symbol inside. If you want, you can invert the Cascadia scheme so as not to look like a separatist.

Pennsylvania: I'd do a blue field with red and white stripes, vertical, on both sides, with the red stripe outward, and a gold keystone in the center.

Rhode Island: I would ditch the banner with "HOPE" and change the anchor and stars to a deeper gold color or, preferably, red.

South Carolina: Rock on, Southern-style.

South Dakota: I would do a blue field with a brown stripe at the bottom, in the blue field an image of Mount Rushmore.

Tennessee: Yeehaw.

Texas: I choose not to mess with this one.

Utah: Seriously, with all the symbology that is rampant in this state, I'm sorely disappointed. I would do a multi-color field like my suggestion for Louisiana, cut by two arches, facing opposite directions, and crossing in the middle. The upward-facing one looks like a U for Utah and represents the canyons. The downward-facing one represents a beehive or the arches the southern desert is famous for. The recent license places have used a tan color and sky blue a lot, so I would suggest all of the sections other than the three in the top-center be tan, and the top-center ones sky blue.

Vermont: Go back to the Vermont Republic flag, and straighten the stars. You might reverse the colors of the canton so as not to be as hard on the eyes.

Virginia: This is the toughest of the redesigns--it's hard to imagine how to make a flag that represents the most storied state in the union, the Mother of Presidents. I suggest a 13-stripe red/white horizontal (a la the "Don't Tread on Me" naval jack), but with the top stripe blue with eight white stars, representing the eight presidents to hail from VA (with the option to add more if another Virginian is elected president).

Washington: Vertical tricolor, white, green, blue, with a gold profile of George Washington in the center.

West Virginia: It'd be awesome if WVU just gave up their logo. It's kitschy-fabulous. But otherwise, you would want something that focuses on its loyalty. I would say horizontal tricolor, blue, red, white, with a white stripe on the hoist side. The white L that's made by this pattern is representative of West Virginia's loyalty to the union (and to peace) and the state's two panhandles.

Wisconsin: I would do this: a red field, crossed in the center with a blue bar surrounded by two thin white stripes. Blue bar studded with 30 white stars (for the 30th state). The red flag is representative of Wisconsin's name "it runs red", referring to the Wisconsin River's color, and the design is vaguely reminiscent some Asian flags (esp. Thailand), emphasizing the importance of the state's Asian population.

Wyoming: Keep everything, lose the seal in the buffalo's eye.

As you can see, there are some trends in my suggestions (and the existing flags)--certain colors (green for the Pac NW, purple for New England, brown for the Northern Rockies) can tie regions together.

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30 July 2009

The Cultural Butter Battle

" 'I'll blow you,' he yelled, 'into pork and wee beans!
I'll butter-side-up you to small smithereens!'"
-Dr. Seuss, The Butter Battle Book

I was delighted to find that Crystal had brought a stack of the children's classics home for our baby today, including The Butter Battle Book. At first, my delight was in that somehow, some way, we might be able to instill in our child's pre-two-month-old brain and understanding of the idiocy that was the Cold War, but upon reading of the heartache of the Yooks and the Zooks, I was much more delighted and scared to realize how applicable the story is to our own society. Indeed, the post-superpower world is not brought to an eternal struggle of Western society vs. radical Islam, but Donkey vs. Elephant. The monopole is becoming bi-polar again, and the butter-side is still the big concern.

The weapons are vast and powerful, but all psychological and political, whether they be the 9/12 project, or, say, the entire career of Nancy Pelosi. Is it any wonder the names of some of these Weapons of Mass Obstruction? All the media psyops and political maneuvering is leading to a possibly dangerous end, and I think that there are some who think this is a viable path for America. This is absolutely ridiculous. Were the Culture Wars to become the Clan Wars, debates on marriage and taxes would become fights over farming implements and water rations.

Think about it--are any of these issues worth moving into Thunderdome for?

Now, I'm not here to offer a magic solution, but I would think that the average American has enough intelligence to find moderate candidates for public office and vote for them. This is moderate--that means, if you're a standard Republican, they're a little to the left of you. If you're a classic Democrat, they're to your right a bit. If enough people voted not for the person that would push their party away from center, but toward it, we might still have a country for a while.

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26 July 2009

Blogcitos

From the Wikipedia page on Soyuz TMA-11: "Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, speculated that the ballistic reentry was connected to a Russian nautical superstition that having more women than men on a craft was unlucky. "This isn't discrimination," he stated when challenged on the point. "I'm just saying that when a majority [of the crew] is female, sometimes certain kinds of unsanctioned behaviour or something else occurs." Perminov said he would try to ensure that the number of women would not exceed the number of men in the future."

From the Arizona Republic: "About one week after being placed on paid leave, Ruhland sparked a criminal investigation against Denney, who he claimed assaulted him by hitting him in the crotch with a water bottle at police headquarters five months prior."

From the back cover of Inventory: "In a culture that worships the disposable, lazy lists obligatorily put together by self-serving editorial staffs at the likes of Barely Information Magazine, The A.V. Club has decided to embrace what it parodies until it meets itself just outside of heaven and shakes its own hand while flipping itself, and you and me, off. Kudos A.V. Club!" (David Cross)

From a link I saw on from a friend on Twitter: http://www.safes.com/

Went to Pro's Ranch Market #7 (Mesa) this week. Holy amazing. It's like being in Mexico. If you live in Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, or Albuquerque, or are passing through any of these areas, I very highly suggest the in-store taqueria. The best tacos and quesadillas I've ever had anywhere.

13 April 2009

The Worst Bar Graph in the World

Please take a minute out of whatever you're doing to make fun of this bar graph.

[Graph from Slate and HHS]

This bar graph was posted by Timothy Noah of slate on Friday morning--it is horribly, fundamentally flawed, as any student of basic statistics can tell you. Yet Mr. Noah is so convinced of the power of the graph that he bases an entire two long, impassioned pages of text on it. He urges you to stop what you're doing and look at it.

For those who cannot tell just by looking at the graph what's wrong with it, I'll enumerate the atrocities: 1) the title is not clear--it doesn't explain whether this is a percentage (and if so, what is the sample size?), a per capita dollar amount, or a gross dollar amount being portrayed. 2) the y-axis is completely bare. There is no label (what is being measured?!) and there is, more importantly, no scale. 3) the x-axis is actually the most confusing. It is labeled "2008" while the title claims that it is measuring 1999-2008. Is this just 2008, or is this a composite?

It claims to be from the HHS, and it does appear on the healthreform.gov website. The site itself claims as a source the Kaiser Family Foundation. I could find this exact graph nowhere--in fact, the KFF site seems to be full of well-done, well-organized charts, graphs, and data. I even started looking for the data from which the graph was made, and I only think I found it (Additional Presentation Slides, page 3). This chart makes so much more sense, I can't quite tell if it's the same data.

Nonetheless, independent of your stance on healthcare, this chart should definitely give you pause.

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10 March 2009

The Unknowable Facts, Part I

Why "informed voter" is an oxymoron.

It seems to me that the economic situation is a perfect example of an issue that's been on my mind since the elections. In one debate, McCain took Obama to task for claiming to be concerned for Afghanistan but not having visited Waziristan. It really didn't make sense to me, and even when I looked up said stan on wikipedia, I still didn't know whether it was such an important point. The issue was confusing, and I wasn't sure what to believe. Iraq has been like this the whole time--some claim Bush did it for the oil, some to finish his father's business, some because he really believed in those WMDs.

The economic situation is worse. Now we have something that we can't explain, that's happening for reasons we can't explain, with solutions we're not sure about. I've had the same argument with my friend Keith that economists have had on Slate, and I'm sure these same discussions (with bigger words) have on in university faculties across the nation and beyond.

We'll never know about most of these things. I don't know that any amount of retrospect or declassification can really inform us about these issues, and as such, I don't think any of us have claim to the vaunted citizens' title "Informed Voter".

Complicating this matter is the influence of the pundits. The discussions of complicated matters in public forums tends toward the sensational and allows us either a despair at a hopelessly broken political system, to which our only recourse is laughter, or worse, a despair at a political system broken, but not hopelessly if certain of the pundit's opinions were implemented. In essence, commentary on the news is confusing the situation further.

I know this seems like the middle of an essay, and that's probably because it is. Next part will deal with the function of rhetoric in politics and what we can do to make decisions as citizens.

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04 March 2009

Of Chuck and Psych

This may be the last season of television.

The '00s will likely be remembered, media-wise, as an age of experimentation and adventure. Superhero movies have multiplied alongside popular thinking films (Stranger than Fiction's ilk). Young adults' tales have been brought to the mainstream. On TV, reality was the name of the game for a while, and once the networks sorted out that genre's place in the market, complex, arcing series of the 24 and Lost generation took over. Comedies fought back from the sidelines by indulging in the "Tenenbaum effect"--documentary-style was the new gimmick (The Office, Arrested Development). USA Networks' Monk broke ground, and an unlikely show on cable in an unlikely slot became wildly popular. The show's appeal was simple--character-driven dramedy, based on Tony Shalhoub's maddening character. The combination of a police procedural and a paranoid, obviously early-00's comedy was easy to pick up on, and clues to the barebones backstory were frequent and obvious. It was lighthearted and fun, but had a good draw and some suspense. It was critically acclaimed and got great ratings (after a while).

USA's follow up, Psych, was much along the same lines. Shooting for a younger demographic, it blends the interracial buddy-tale aspect of Scrubs, the crime-plus-jokes of Monk, and a very basic romantic tension its predecessor lacked. Shawn Spencer's antics are also pop-culture reference-laden, like many other shows that have hit it big (Arrested Development again).

NBC, the basic-channel with the most innovation today, made its own magic with Chuck, the tale of lovable nerd Chuck Bartowski and his adventures in modern espionage. Again, it's got a lot of action and suspense, sprinkled with laughs (kind of the opposite dynamic as Psych), and a lot more of a romantic subplot (it's clear that he and his stock CIA girl contact, Sarah, are interested in each other).

All of these shows feature a tiny core ensemble (though Chuck's cast is much larger, few of the peripheral characters get more than a couple lines an episode), and all adhere to one philosophy: it's all about the people. The generation that gave us emo and Facebook is not likely to be won by gimmicks. This tactic is working, with one problem: the format is inherently unstable.

Sharks, by their nature, wish to be jumped, but modern sharks more than ever. It's not that attention spans are waning, necessarily, it's that these narratives are not built to withstand more than five seasons, max. Psych is already starting to fade, showing a poor last half of its third season. Chuck maintains a tenuous grasp of a large viewership, but conflict there, too, wants to be resolved. Shows like The Simpsons and Knight Rider have had little in the way of an overarching plot to resolve, and so can go on forever. The modern-day killer show, though, requires at least something that's begging for resolution.

For every hit, there is a flop. Or seven. The people who are giving us these hits need more space to create, and more competition in the creation process, so networks need to give these creators smaller orders and more warning that "we only want this thing for four or five years", so that they can get on with their lives unless they nail something together that can span a longer frame.

DVD and online streaming will make television more and more dynamic, and so we need something we can just watch. Obsess about a little (but we've got a blogroll, a facebook profile, and a twitter feed to read, so don't step), but mostly just watch, whether that's a season at a time, or one ep a week.

If someone doesn't act soon, there really won't be any more television to speak of, and the reality shows and cliffhanger shows will take over, leaving Television a land full of specialized zombie viewers. (This is bad for networks; overall viewership goes down.)

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01 March 2009

Man's Search for Downtown

In which my wife and I find that Phoenix is the schizo town that can't figure out where it wants the cool people to go, and we get ready for Spring Training.

Matthew Polly, in a Slate article describing the beauty of St. Petersburg, Russia, chalks a lot of the city's soul up to its decades of oppressions. He says, "Democracies, while far more pleasant, leave behind places like Phoenix." Sad, but true. I'd like to back my newly-adopted city up, though, with this thought--the Valley of the Sun has about 160 years of catching up to do.

My wife and I were struck by the awesomeness that is San Diego's Balboa Park while on a short vacation there in January. On our return, we thought, "Surely the country's fifth-largest city and fourteenth-largest metropolitan area must have a place where all the cool kids go. You know, where people play music on the street corner for money, and there are overpriced hot dogs." Perhaps I added the hot dogs myself. We're still kind of on the search, but we think we've got it nailed down. Here were our steps:

1. Actual downtown Phoenix/Copper Square. This was sorely disappointing. Copper Square is not really a destination. The science museum area is fun, and there are some people around, but all the attractions are things you have to pay mad cheddar for (the sports arenas, sci museum, other museum-type dealies). There was a monster-truck rally downtown, and a man selling bottled-water on the street, so that was kinda close.

2. Encanto Park. This is apparently one of the "Phoenix Points of Pride", which means that it's something the government pays bank to upkeep. It was alright. It pretty much just looked like a city park, though, with a mini-amusement park in the middle. We did not go to the middle, as we were not looking for mini-amusements. They did, however, have paddle boats.

3. Papago Park. This is the home of "Hole-in-the-Rock", a geological formation of rock with a hole in it. We hiked up to the top of the rock, and saw the hole. It was ten whole minutes of awesome. Then we saw a rabbit and a roadrunner and some old people having a party. Not really much to speak of, but there's a lot more of this park we didn't see.

4. Mill Avenue District. This is pretty much what we were looking for. The main drag of Tempe (home to ASU) has a bunch of hippies and artists, buskers and bums. It's got the funny-looking stores etc. It's not really well developed yet, but it's headed in the right direction.

There isn't really a central meeting point in the city, but instead of there being no city center, there appears to be multiple. Enlightened, but slightly disheartened by this information, we're going to get what we can out of life here by going to Spring Training, which apparently draws quite the crowd. Awesome.

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28 February 2009

Reimagining and First New Post

So, it's taken me over seven months to figure out what I'm going to do with my blog. Those of you who have checked this thing realize that it's done little or nothing in recent months, and many of you have probably removed this blog from your feed readers et c. The problem lay in that my personal life updates have been subsumed by my family blog, which is semi-private (unsearchable on google), and all the minutiae have been faithfully posted on facebook and twitter. I've started another blog, to which I will link you all at an appropriate time, that deals with a primary political concern: the relationship between rhetoric, the unknowable facts, and the partisan divide.

Which leaves this blog: I've decided I'm going to update it primarily with:
  • Musings (in which I discuss a trend, how it's impacted me, and open up for comments)
  • Reviews (in which I say what I think about things)
  • Rants/Raves (in which I sternly warn the readership to avoid something or highly recommend it--this is by the way of commercial products and enterprises)
There you are! Hopefully there will be a continued infusion of smart things, the funny, and the bizarre sensibility that was part of the blog previously.

First Post

This is a Musing about cyber-stalking. Cyber-stalking is cyber-bullying a grownup. It doesn't have to actually involve stalking in the historical sense of seeking contact with a person, it just means that you get involved in their life in a way that is undesirable to that person.

I have a friend, who I'll call Will. He's not an avid facebooker, but he likes to post occasional status updates and has a number of friends. He wrote a letter to his university's newspaper in which he, like many authors of letters to editors, denounced a practice and proposed a hypothetical and hyperbole-laden solution. (The issue at hand was obedience to the school's dress code.) Because his solution was taken literally by some who read the article, a facebook group appeared demanding that he apologize for his words, perceived as sexist by those who did not see their irony. The group's leader appears to have made a facebook account specifically for the purpose of creating the group-- he didn't have a profile picture or very many friends. Members of the group engaged in what appeared to be slander and descended to fairly serious depths, some going so far as to imply that Will was a rapist. Some of his friends joined the group to battle the accusations, but in the end, this only fueled the flames.

I was unaware of the group's existence when my wife and I received friend requests from two suspicious characters, both women we didn't know. Both of their profiles were faces on white backgrounds, and looked familiar, as if they could have been B-list actresses of some sort. I advised my wife (though this was unnecessary) not to add them, as I had read an article about social-networking fraud, and though we were unlikely to be dupes in such a scheme, it made sense to stay away from them. It turns out they were members of this group, and were some of the most vitriolic participants in it. They had attempted to add all of Will's friends--perhaps in order to turn them from him. His wall, however was full of "These people are horrible. Why would they do this?" and the like.

Turns out Will had apologized to the group in its early hours of existence, but they wanted more, it seems. They would not stop until their goal--whatever that may have been--was met. Like terrorists, these people did awful things with terribly unclear motives. Eventually the group was removed (partially due to many of Will's friends reporting their ToS violations), but the questions regarding their actions remain.

If you are the victim of similar attacks, please inform the providers of the medium through which you are attacked. That is, if you are called, contact your carrier. If you are contacted over the web, talk to the website management. In the case of facebook, etc, you can get friends to report the offenders and/or groups. Do this; it'll help your case.

You might also want to inform your local police. They can't do much, but they'll at least have a paper trail if things get out of hand; it'll also afford you a little peace of mind.

Do any of you have experiences or opinions you want to share? Please comment.

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27 November 2008

One little thing.

So, I know many of you know this, but if you don't, I'll let you know I have a little thing with fantasy sports. Specifically, fantasy deathmatches. As in, if it hadn't been concurrent with my marrying my dream girl, the highlight of my summer would have been when Mega Man killed the Joker. That serves him right. Anyhow, I guess they don't have to be death-matches, because how do you kill Jupiter's moon, Io, or multimillion-dollar search industry giant Google? Welp, y'all should check it out, 'cause I said so and 'cause it's fun.

Link!

11 November 2008

Robot Veteran's Day Parade!

Though military drones exist, they don't count because they don't go on their own.

In the spirit of posting our essays, here's the robot slaves one Oly was talking about. Circa 2007.

The State of the Universe in the Context of Robot Slaves,
or: Where's my electronic manservant?
or: You are not my mother! You are a Snort!

Ever since mankind has been able to get its puny mind around the idea of advancing technology, the authors of Amazing Stores!-type fiction have been predicting that our doom by eugenics or electronics was just around the millenial bend. Most of these scenarios occur before 2012, when the Mayan calendar ends, by which time many expected humanity to undergo a catastrophe of eschatological proportion*, eventually submitting to robot rule.

I am sad to say this isn't even vaguely a possibility, not even in the advanced-sounding year 2007. The most menacing thing we've got out today is the Tamanoi Vinegar
Robot by Japanese tech corp Buildup, followed shortly by a toddler sized green thing that likes the taste of human flesh. The scariest thing about the state of robot slaves is the fact that they all look just like what we imagined them to be, only they don't do jack. They're not even good slaves, for the most part, from the ASIMO, which appears to by the animate version of the MTV astronaut (remember the 80's? Neither do I.) to those commercially accessible toys that appear to boast only the virtue that they look like primates or dogs. The only decent servants out there are Roomba and his kin, who though fairly effective at being robots as well as slaves, have the downside of looking like mutant frisbees, and not being menacing (read: cool) in any way.

Don't even get me started on artificial intelligence (or even text-to-speech). While an undergrad in linguistics, I worked for a state-of-the-cart research group doing the language tech thing, and I'll tell you that most of my time was spent behind the keyboard and mouse manipulating an authoring tool that was to Visual Basic as Duplos are to Legos. I managed to make a little agent that would tell me the weather forecast in a creepy voice, but with load time and all the possibility for mishearing on the speech rec side, it was still easier just to bookmark the website I used as a source. Alas, in this modern world, you don't even need a weatherbot to know which way the wind blows.

My solution to the problem is simple. Roombas and Scoobas should be used as the basis for further robot slaves. It appears they've got the software. All that's missing is to beef up the servos and stack Darth Shoyu on top of it, for a truly rockin robotic vacuuming experience. Heck, you could give the dude a broom, hotglue him to a Scooba, and have a most wicked counterpart to the Jetsons' Rosie. I further suggest the mashup of those dogbots and the tasting machine as the creepiest robobaby ever. At least then the inevitable revolution wouldn't be an uprising of cybernetic trilobites.ยค

* It is interesting to note that the Mayan glyph for "apocalypse" appears to be a stylized rendition of Gort.