Friday, May 09, 2008

Dumb Houses

I do enjoy my 1905 dumb house, wood frame, a classic, don't get me wrong.

But you'd think by 2008, the American consumer would have a cute little LCD showing the home's electricity expenditure in real time, totals accruing, denominated in both dollars and joules (like those calorie / lap counters at the gym). You might even phone home and enter a password, to get the latest report on your cell. Break it out by room and appliance, presuming your house has the smarts (most don't yet, I realize -- dumb houses the norm).

Just a short time ago, the Montag oil guy read my oil tank with a stick. I undertand why old oil tanks don't have electronic output, like a car's, but why do new oil tanks still suck just as much?

All this lip-service to energy consciousness; where's the beef?

Utility companies might have to provide a USB port inside the home (gasp). So maybe we display the house energy stats on an unused TV channel?

And while on that topic, why can't we interleave a local home school channel on the neighborhood network? I guess that's what the Internet's for, but TV seems to have all this extra bandwidth, redundant programming, in households with no Internet.

That old community service idea, when did it die?

Meanwhile, millions of kids spend millions of hours watching TV, but their public schools mostly don't show them how to make it ("go learn that on your own, we adults are too busy"). Schools with no time to pass on the basic communication skills of the culture? How did that happen?

If it's about money, then let's get those instrument panels on TV. Maybe show us the data, instead of stacking the deck? "Too busy ripping you off to serve you" works in the short term, but customers will vote with their feet, if true competition is permitted (the true promise of capitalism, if we actually walk the talk).

It's so easy to imagine that "smart America" that "other tomorrow," more Jetsons, less Rambo or whatever this is (Idiocracy some think -- Bucky called it oblivion, but always with some seeds of utopia and vice versa (a yin-yang kind of thing)).