If I were the supreme commander of a highly advanced but malevolent alien race intent on conquering Earth, I wouldn’t just send in a fleet of starships and start blasting away with paratrethiconic quantum phased lithmogrium bursts. Why, these primitive humans might not appreciate what invincible genius they were witnessing. Like apes attacking a particle accelerator by throwing bananas at it, they might decide to detonate one of their crude nuclear devices at my delicate equipment with the annoying result that I would then be forced to waste resources recalibrating it.
No. Rather, a shrewd commander would save his valuable resources and conquer the target planet by stealth. Better yet, he would allow them to conquer themselves. It would be a simple matter to seed small tidbits of technological advancement into their culture. Of course, the technology would need to be something obsolete by my standards, with little military value, yet just beyond the threshold of their current capabilities. Furthermore, it would have to be done in such a way that they would believe that they themselves had invented it. Then, obsessed by the lust to corner the market, they would foist our technology upon their fellow drones during peak buying rituals. The pitiful cattle would literally trample each other for the privilege of owning their own personal copy of our Trojan horse. If managed with finesse, they would end up literally thanking their captors for their own subjugation, even going so far as to label their new toys with such symbolic names as “Android” or “Apple”. (For anybody unfamiliar with the “Apple” reference, please read the story of Eve and the snake in the Garden of Eden.)
Well, the good news is that we needn’t worry our little heads about such things. Thankfully, there isn’t some malevolent alien race attempting to conquer us. Conventional wisdom assures us that the only entities bent on such nefarious goals are quite earthbound. That certainly is comforting. As much time and money as folks devote to their apps, It would be frightening if they were being used as a mind-numbing zombie-producing sedative, or some sort of a hypnotic indoctrination technique.
But, no worries! Those nifty little apps are perfectly harmless. At the minimum, they serve as cute remedies for boredom or clever ways to boost efficiency and enhance productivity. At the other end of the spectrum, they may very well be the crowning achievement of our entire civilization. So, with that cleared up, let me just review a few popular apps in order to illustrate their value.
Basically, you can break apps down into categories such as Games, Travel, Entertainment, Social, Lifestyle, Business, Photography, etc. Perhaps the largest and most popular app category is the game category. Who can resist a good game? Games are intellectually numbing…I mean…stimulating. They help improve thumb motor skills and increase blood flow to the adrenal gland.
A classic example is the game known as “Angry Birds”. This app truly illustrates how far mankind has come since the stone age. Back in the knuckle dragging days, with nothing better to do, men commiserated with each other’s sorry existence over a crude game of Chess, Go, Seti, Mah Jongg or Mancala. Boooring! Who wants to sit around shuffling pebbles on a table, when he could be jamming out to an exciting game of Angry Birds?
What! Never heard of it? What rock have you been hiding under? Picture this: Pigs. Pigs everywhere! Nasty, smelly grunty pigs. Oh, what can we do? What can we do? These pigs keep hiding behind obstacles made out of wood, stone and whatnot. Get them out of here. How can we bust up the obstacles? How can we chase the pigs away? All I have is a slingshot. Oh, wait! What’s this? A birdie? A red birdie? An angry red birdie? Why is the birdie angry? He seems to be angry at the pigs. Awesome! So am I. Maybe birdie and I can work together to solve this problem. Nah! Too touchy-feely. I’ll just stuff this angry bird in my slingshot and shoot him at the pigs. Spaang! Sorry birdie. I guess this just wasn’t your day.
No, seriously! That’s the game. You shoot angry birds at pigs with a slingshot. Period. Isn’t that great? It helps vent aggression. No protocol. No deep thinking. No complicated move sequences to keep track of. You just shoot at creatures by using smaller creatures as projectiles.
One more quick game review will demonstrate the sophistication level of modern gaming. “Hatoful Boyfriend” is one of the most downloaded game apps of 2020. The premise of this brilliant game is simple: It’s a pigeon dating simulator. No, you read that right. Pigeons. You know, rats with wings? As a pigeon you get to fail at love, squabble (Get it? Squab? Squabble? A squab is a baby pige… aw, never mind) and die. It’s a short life, but you you and your bird of a feather flock together, enjoying it while it lasts, sharing cozy little intimate dinners of tire tread imprinted french fries after which you take turns crapping on a statue. That is, if you can find any statues left standing in 2020.
Moving on to the Travel category, we find an array of popular apps designed to help us locate services of various sorts while in a strange place. For instance apps such as Expedia, iExit, GasBuddy, or Kayak can identify eateries, gas stations, car rentals or hotels. This, of course, is an absolute godsend. So much better than the old method of looking around and reading nearby signs. After all, who can guess what double golden arches are supposed to mean? The gold color could indicate a bank. The arches might suggest cascades of gasoline pouring out of a gas pump nozzle. The twin configuration might be symbolic of a pair of pillows at the head of a hotel room bed. Very confusing! Apps clearly simplify one’s travel experience.
In the Lifestyle category, there are some really exciting options. Mixology would probably be one of my favorites if I were a drinker. This handy app lets you input what alcohols and mixers you have on hand, and then offers up possible libations that can be created from them. After all who can keep track of complex liquor ingredients after you’ve had a few?
Those who use the Mixology app a lot will find that it dovetails nicely with the WebMD app. It would work something like this:
“Mishen, Lister! I ain’t any more under the –hiccup– affluensh of inkahol than shum people may think I am. I only had two martinizh, and anyway, the drunker I shtay here the longer I get…oof! Tardblum it! Who moved that wall into my way?”
“Tee-hee! I think you dropped your pocket, and now your faish izh bleed –hiccup– bl-blee…leaking! Tee-heee-heee!”
“Izhit shposed to leak like that?”
“I dunno, but I don’t think your ear izh shposta be on your chin. Teee-heee!”
“It ain’t? Well shtop laughin’ an’ look it up on my WebMD app.”
“Hey! Tee-hee! Look at thish cute shkeleton. He’s hot!”
In the Entertainment category, the hands down clear winner is the Netflix app. Wow! We sure have come a long way in a few short years. It seemed like it was only yesterday when big screen TV’s were all the rage. Back then people had the quaint notion that the bigger the screen, the more enjoyable one’s movie viewing experience would be. Now it seems that squinting is cool. Personally, I have to admit that I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. I tried watching an old M.A.S.H episode on my phone the other day. I was halfway through before I realized I was actually watching The Ghosts of War instead. But that wasn’t half as embarrassing as getting arrested for watching child porn. It took me forever to explain to the judge that I had only been watching Netflix’s latest original series. After all, if it’s on Netflix, it must be legal. Right?
I could mention dozens of other apps, but I think I have provided enough examples to illustrate my point. Thanks to the wizardry of modern phone apps, our civilization has clearly advanced to a level of cultural sophistication and intellectual superiority unparalleled by any other people in the prior history of the world.
I do have one gripe, though. There just don’t seem to be enough apps available for Alaskans. Not all Alaskans seem to appreciate many of the popular ones. For instance, Google Earth doesn’t work very well in most of Alaska. Zipcar doesn’t make much sense in rural Alaska either, especially in a village that gets around primarily by snow machine. However, I can think of a few apps that would come in really handy.
With all the food apps on the market, I don’t see why a camp cooking app can’t be made. How many charcoal briquettes do I need to pile on the lid of my dutch oven if I want to bake a batch of bannock? How long do I soak my gorp before it’s soft enough to eat? A wild mushroom and wild-berry identification app would help provide variety to the wilderness menu.
How about a fire lighter app? Swipe the touch screen, and—whoosh! A flame shoots out of the microphone to ignite your campfire or wood stove. If that would cause too many problems with TSA, how about at least a hand-warmer app? Or a smoker app for quick hickory smoking your game in the field?
Then you could have the Wyoming knife or ulu app. In my book, that would be a real winner. Shoot your trophy bull moose, then whip out your iPhone, take a picture of him to post on Instagram and then field dress him with the same device. For that matter, why not a game calling app? Let your app emit a moose grunt or a coyote yelp. It could scream like a rabbit or squawk like a mallard. There’s no reason why an app couldn’t store a call for every species on the North American continent.
When fishing, a lure app would be great. Simply tie your smart phone to your fishing line, attach a hook and select your chosen lure simulator, whether it be a spoon, spinner, crankbait, or even a dry fly. Then cast it out and watch it work its electronic magic.
Someday, maybe I’ll start my own app company and market some of my great ideas to fellow Alaskans. After all it’s past time we moved into the twenty-first century. I’m convinced that it would only take a few outstanding apps to make our state a better place. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. My new buddy, sLarin-5 who flies down to visit each evening in his cool Frisbee shaped airplane agrees with me. In fact, I think he’s the one who suggested it.