November 28th, 2007



The afternoon mail brought the National Geographic's 2007 holiday gift catalog. I never look at it, but this year something on the back cover caught my eye. They are selling "...Remote-controlled Tarantulas With Realistic Moving Legs." Oh, dear. "Because their eight legs move separately, be prepared for screams when one scuttles realistically from beneath the table." They then add "Educational fact card included", totally justifying the expenditure of $48 (two aaa and three aa batteries not included) for a fake furry spider with seven inch leg span.

The catalog also has a couple of other remote-controlled robotic toys, including a cartoonish green snake ($19.95) and a traditional humanoid-looking metallic robot ($39.95) that shoots colorful foam disks from its mouth-slot. Unlike the tarantulas, however, neither of these has much of a shot at making any of your more skittish relatives wet themselves on Christmas morning. But what I want to see in the catalog next year is a water tank in which a remote-controlled robotic Gardiner Greene Hubbard on water skis can be made to jump over a remote-controlled robotic shark. It would be only fitting.