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The absurd question “What do we really need for living in our modern world?” came up after searching Google for “Doggie booties“. Click images to see the vast array of what humans are spending vast amounts of their time and money making. It’s a whole industry! I suppose it is important and I have loved my dogs. I did attend to their needs quite well and they did show appreciation but I don’t think it ever entered their mind that I should have provided them with booties.

They loved to run in the snow, grass, concrete, pavement, rugs, terrazzo, and the only times I remember them having trouble was on hot summer days when the ground was very hot. Then they would run from one pool of shade to another to be able to stand in cool ground. They did have some problems with cheat-grass stickers getting in their paws and that did require me pulling those out with my finger nails when they couldn’t do it with their teeth. The doggie booties didn’t seem to be aimed at either of those problems and appeared to be more decorative.

My question is more general and aimed at humans. Are there things which we humans need that at first glance appear as Ignobel Prize-worthy as doggie booties? Perhaps decorative paper face mask air filters would fit that criterion. One of my friends just got back from Thailand and he told me there were several people on his airplane wearing paper face masks. He appeared a little put off by that but then said he had caught a cold on the flight. I remember going to a flu conference back in Berkeley about fifteen years ago and proposing that everyone wear face masks on commercial flights during flu season. That met with some humorous comments but wasn’t considered seriously by anyone. I still contend that if everyone wore a mask it would prevent most transmission. The people with a disease wouldn’t spread it so much and those without disease wouldn’t catch it so much either. It would be a win-win situation. But, No Sale.

Perhaps we need training videos for the everyday problems living in our modern world. For example, an hour ago I was on a major double-lane street and wanted to parallel park. I saw a spot a half a block ahead and turned my turn signal on way back and slowed down a bit, even tapping my brake light a bit. Finally, I was parked in a position to back into the parking spot and one by one the four cars that had been following pulled up behind me, stopped, figured out that I was trying to park, and in an apparent huff finally drove around me. I had trouble believing a simple normal automotive procedure would be so difficult for those people to comprehend. Apparently, they were all on their cell phones or potted. I have been driving with extreme caution lately because half the people here are totally unconscious. In a world with Oculus Rift virtual reality setups it will be possible to train people to be more aware of the ordinary actions of human behavior. Perhaps that’s what we need for coping with our modern world.

Virtual reality is aimed at games but training in ordinary behavior might be the big payoff.