28 Comments

  1. McPherson’s engineering is at least 30 years outdated. There used to be sets of two or three flexible metal wires that could be attached to the lower corners of the wheel wells, as a guide for “parking by Braille”. I don’t think I ever saw them on the east coast, but back before electronic sensors were possible, they made sense in southern California, where curbstones can be 10 or even 12 inches tall.

  2. Kilby: Out here they were called “curb feelers” and my brother’s crowd found them hilarious, seeing them as a public admission you were not only a lousy driver but wildly uncool.

  3. Thanks, I didn’t know about the reality of curb feelers. I do recall a time in robotics research when the exciting new idea for propulsion was to have maybe 6 legs like an insect (or of course a Rover) extended outwards, and not entirely controlled in details by the central “brain” but each one relying for rhythm and fine control on its own “ganglion”.
    That is of course not what is pictured here, but if the tires were gone we’d be closer to that.

    Did we explore spellings with X-?

    I luv/hate the phrasing of the sign in the bank. Trying to foreground the positive in it (“we’d be happy..”) ahead of enforcing the rule seems in part actually a friendly approach, but also in part a maybe-hypocritical p.r. gesture. Think of how universally mocked “Your call is important to us” has become.

  4. Thanks for those, Andrea!

    In the TED Talk segment, he mentions at various points that even when the higher-order matters, like goals or steering, are controlled by the “wrangler” person, there are other controllers on board that manage the legs coordination and so on.

    Ha!, they did provide an acronym explanation for ASIMO, but of course it suggests the name Asimov.

  5. I can chime in (ha!) regarding the “organ grinder” guy and monkey.

    They really were a thing.

    In this video (part of a tour of a fascinating music machine museum in The Netherlands) a nearly 200-year-old hand-cranked organ is demonstrated, and trained monkeys are mentioned.

    (Skip to the 2:10 mark)

  6. I remember curb feelers. I didn’t know what they were at the time, but they were always on ‘status’ cars like Caddys. The bigger the land yacht, the more certain you were to see curb feelers.

  7. That was delightful!! Brings back memories – both the sounds of the organs (which you rarely see in Amsterdam anymore), and the accents of the three people.

  8. A friend just bought a 2018 Prius; she says it parallel parks itself (NOT that the wheels turn 90 degrees, as I suggested) . . . I told her: 1) who parallel parks anymore these days; and 2) I’ll believe it when I see it.

  9. During my last visit to A’dam in 1980, my grandmother refused to give the organ grinder any money ’cause the wheel was electrified and he wasn’t actually doing any work.

    I s’pose by now, these organs are all in museums; not exactly a career for millenials.

  10. Better yet, imagine McPherson’s cartoon running in your daily paper WITHOUT the caption ! Endless fun ! Thank goodness it finally showed up here !

  11. Speed Bump in reverse: In the 70s, I was doing some police reporting in a Detroit suburb and encountered a police report of an attempted armed robbery at a convenience store. The would-be robber demanded money. The lone clerk was on the phone. Talking. And talking. And talking. Eventually, the robber left.

  12. Mitch4, re the bank’s sign:

    This is a friendlier version of, “We know your call is important, so we won’t interrupt you. Come up when you’re finished.”

  13. @ Mitch4 – Bill’s layout of 16 different variants did in fact include at least one experimental spelling with “X-“. I’m not sure whether that inclusion was the direct reason, but the table also omitted the most popular “H-” version (which happened to be the spelling that appeared on the card that year).

  14. @Andréa
    “A friend just bought a 2018 Prius; she says it parallel parks itself (NOT that the wheels turn 90 degrees, as I suggested) . . . I told her: 1) who parallel parks anymore these days; and 2) I’ll believe it when I see it.”

    A friend of mine (parents are seriously, filthily rich) drives his dad’s (third) Tesla. I used to stand on the porch and get a great laugh out of him trying to parallel park in a space that was huge. Then one day he did it perfectly,, first time. Yeah, the Teslas self-park.

  15. Hubby couldn’t parallel park to save his life; turned out he has little/no depth perception. Can be as frustrating for the passenger as for the driver (and for the guys in the window, I’m sure).

  16. This Prius even ‘tells’ you if the space you’re going to go into is long enough. I cannot remember the last time I parallel-parked.

  17. One of the buildings I would drive to when I was productive member of society had 2-hour employee parking along the curb near the entrance. I occasionally had to parallel park then. You do get a bit rusty after not doing it for a long time. Fortunately the Venerable Bronco isn’t that hard to park as it’s not all that long and its turning circle is pretty small.

  18. @Andréa

    I parallel park all the time, but when I tried to teach the aforementioned friend how to do it, I found it very frustrating. A YouTube video said that you can use landmarks on your own car to see when to turn. Google ‘how to parallel park’. You don’t need depth perception at all.

  19. 1) This was all before YouTube existed; 2) Hubby is a Norski; “You can always tell a Norwegian, but you can’t tell him much”. So I didn’t bother,

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