A 1960s/1970s comedian from before entertainment was invented, Rodney Dangerfield, had a catch-phrase complaining “I don’t get no respect.” American conservatives, outside of their own small communities, could make the same gripe. Until now.
According to industrial leaks, Google, the cutting-edge IT company, is already designing a second-generation of its highly-anticipated Google Glass products, but with conservatives especially in mind.
The initial version, for the general public, is rumoured to be released late in 2013. Its core is a tiny prism mounted on spectacle frames just above the user’s eye-line. Altogether it resembles voice-activated controls in jet-fighter aircraft, but instead of firing weapons it allows one to read and dictate e-messages, send wi-fi video in real time and otherwise access Internet services hands-free while performing other tasks.
“Our second-generation product is upgraded substantially,” explains Arthur Chan, head of Google’s Applied Optics Lab. “At a testing stage we’ve targeted conservatives because, while they are not yet a huge consumer-base for IT products, their demand is extraordinary once they are exposed to its capabilities.” Anonymous sources in the industry said the manufacturer plans to launch its improved version in late 2014.
Chan explains that the second-generation of Google Glass combines enhanced software with video-animation, a brain-scanning trigger-function and good guesswork based on relentless sociological research. “It is a whole new life-experience,” the scientist promised.
Before Google began serious attitudinal studies of likely conservative consumers, Chan says their Glass2 product was “kinda dumb, maybe really dumb.” Every time a wearer walked past a black person, he heard through his headset an audio repeat of mournful ante-bellum “Negro Spirituals” and banjo music, even if the person he passed was a PhD chemist, a rap-singer or the US President. “Research proved me right. It showed us that some conservatives are black – that was a surprise to my white colleagues here in Northern California – and racial suppression actually has a very small following among conservatives overall,” he explained.
Chan shows me Glass2h, targeted at members of the Evangelical Christian Right. “It blanks out gay people completely,” he explains. “If some gay or lesbian walks up and asks you the time, you won’t see or hear them. Then there are random interruptions from a Heavenly Choir, like when you are ordering a sandwich at KFC, announcements that you have been pre-selected for The Rapture, and every so often the sidewalks open up and some virtual digitalised passerby appears to be hauled screaming down to Hell by demons with pitchforks. Users report feeling more relaxed and calm than ever before.”
Chan shows me Glass2c, intended for Neo-Conservatives, and I try them on with some hesitation but the effect is instantaneous and powerful. The ground seems to shake under the invisible pounding of marching hob-nailed jackboots. Sousa marches fade in and out of the middle-distance. Over the GoogleLab parking lot, behind some other buildings, half a dozen intercontinental ballistic missiles appear to launch, presumably off to pulverise some foreign land. Two digitalised Homeland Security marshals, heavily armed and dressed as Imperial Storm-troopers from “Star Wars,” swagger past and sneer at me reassuringly. I look back to Dr. Chan but he is prostrate on the ground.
“Mercy! Prease, big Amellican brother!” he sobs, hands clasped in supplication. “No hurtee me! No hurtee littre Chinaman! Me be obedient! I plomise! Have laundry? I washee-washee double quick!”
I remove the glasses and Dr. Chan still stands beside me in silence. “It’s a glitch,” he explains. “I was born in Sacramento, so I’m an American but my grandparents came from China. The software can’t recognise foreigners yet.” The other problem, identified by market testing, shows widespread Neo-con consumer dissatisfaction that the software only appears to kill passerby Muslim families, and not murder them for real.
As we return to his office, Dr. Chan explains that the model for fantasy-reading conservatives is almost complete: “Aslan coming out of Hooters, hobbits working at the car-wash, orcs tending bar. Simple stuff, really” he adds. But the libertarian product still has problems. “It works great at wiping out any sign of government, but it means that users can never read their government-delivered mail while they’re wearing the glasses. We’re working on it,” he explains.
Chan’s product for the traditionally crunchy Far Right may prove to be his proudest accomplishment. “It blanks out Hispanic immigrants, legal or illegal, through our patented non-video technology. We use a garlic-sensor hidden in the spectacle-frame,” he explains, “but so far it also makes Italian-Americans disappear so the glasses cannot be worn in pizza-parlours.”
“Of course Republicans are usually the antithesis of conservatives,” Chan observes, but the technology is dirt cheap. “We just bombard them with conventional emails inviting them to country-clubs and offering them insider stock deals,” he explains. “We know it’s bogus, they know it’s bogus, but it makes them happy: Republicans live and breathe bullshit.”
We return to his office and enjoy cups of organic green tea. I ask if he is developing a similar product for traditionalist Kirkian conservatives and he bursts into giggles. “This is going to earn me seven-figure bonuses,” he chirps, “not because we will sell so many, but because the profit margins are astronomically high.” The standard initial version is expected to sell for $1500 each, and he hands me a pair of the enhanced Kirkian specs to try on.
“Something is wrong,” I explain. “Nothing is working.”
“That’s because they are just reading glasses,” he replies. “They come in any strength or prescription you want. I saw the market research and had my flash of insight,” he grins.
“Real conservatives neither live in a make-believe world of ideology nor want to,” Dr. Chan explains. “And people such as us, well, we do like to read.”
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