Humans and their toys: The long, complex dance continues

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

If you’re one of the folks known as “early adopters,” you probably know all about Tuesday’s announcement of the iPhone X, including the fact it’s pronounced like a translation of the Roman numeral (“ten”) not like the letter (“X”).

You’ve probably already started saving your pennies to purchase one, which will cost you a cool thousand bucks, twice the cost of the original model introduced by Steve Jobs himself 10 years ago.

If that price is out of reach, you may be content to settle on one of the other two iPhones introduced in Cupertino, Calif., Tuesday, the 8 and it’s big brother, the 8 Plus.

And, there’s a new Apple Watch that doesn’t need an iPhone to work — Dick Tracey would have been proud.

Hmm, iPhone 8, iPhone 8Plus, iPhone X — one wonders what happened to the “9” and what it will be like once Apple gets around to building one.

The new top-of-the-line model does away with the “home” button and unlocks itself simply by recognizing its owner — should make Halloween interesting, shouldn’t it?

You can get in plenty of trouble with a smartphone, but not as much as with another example an expensive toy, a self-driving electric car.

Sadly, an Ohio driver became the first known fatal crash of a highway vehicle operating under automated control when his Tesla Model S collided with a truck that made a left-hand turn in front of him.

Both drivers were to blame for the accident, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded Tuesday.

“In this crash, Tesla’s system worked as designed, but it was designed to perform limited tasks in a limited range of environments,” said NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt. “Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed,” he said. The collision “should never have happened.”

Operators of semi-autonomous cars are required to monitor at all times, being ready to take over control if necessary. In the Ohio driver’s case, he had touched the steering wheel only 25 seconds out of the 37.5 minutes prior to the crash. The vehicle was designed to operate on an interstate highway, not a highway with intersections like the one on which the fatal crash occurred.

While the Tesla and iPhone are considered toys for people who can afford them, we doubt either of them will ever make it into the National Toy Hall of Fame anytime soon.

The top 12 finalists were announced Tuesday for the hall, located in Rochester, N.Y.

None of the toys on the list are particularly high-tech, and most don’t even take batteries.

Which is your favorite?

* Clue: Introduced in 1947 and still one of the top 10 best-selling board games of all time

* Magic 8 Ball: 70 years old

* Matchbox Cars: Introduced in 1952 and still a top seller

* My Little Pony: 1980s and again in 2003

* Paper airplane, Leonardo DaVinci wrote about them in the 1400s

* Play food: Various types for pretend tea parties and picnics

* Risk: Published in 1959

* Sand: One of human kind’s earliest toys

* Transformers: Mid-1980s comic books, cartoon series, animated movies, electronic games and a movie last June

* Uno: Get rid of cards as fast as you can

* Wiffle Ball: Perforated plastic ball batted and thrown since 1953

It’s a long way from sand to an iPhone X, but since both are made of silicon, perhaps it’s not that far after all.

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