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Thoughts of spamjams waiting for green to go

OCH, it was so sweet.

I'm talking about Google's new self-driving bubble car, unveiled in yonder California just the other day.

It has a wee smiley face, and a cute button-nose but, otherwise, no front whatsoever, nothing with which to batter your way into lesser traffic, nothing to announce: "I am here. Me heap-big best driver. Me king of the road."

It's more like kitten of the road. As such, it's doomed to failure. Maybe in California, where everyone wears flowers in their hair and flowing clothes upon their sun-kissed torsi, folk will flounce into showrooms with their purses akimbo.

But not here in misty Scotia Minor, where men are not just men but great big, hairy-legged dudes with dead deer tied to their backs as they stride across the heather with scowls upon their brows. I jest of course. You and I know the truth.

I'm often struck, however, by how often foreign persons, particularly Americans, hold to such an image. It's as daft as my image of Californians. When you point out that, as a matter of fact, the Scots are a craven, biddable people, they feel deflated. Well, how do they think we feel?

Last week, some Scots even voted for a party that routinely slanders them as subsidy junkies. No, not Labour. Their Unionist buddies, Ukip. This country gets weirder by the week.

But to get back to that weird, wee car. It only does 25mph, bless it, and has no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals. What does it have?

Buttons, madam. Buttons, for the pressing of. And, of course, a computer screen, that rectangular space into which our world is vanishing.

Google says it has given its car a "friendly" face so that it is non-threatening and helps the public accept the new technology. By "the public" they are referring presumably to those among us who are cartoon characters.

Top, as opposed to bottom, experts gripe that computer hackers could have a field day, causing gridlock. Isn't it odd how, nowadays, you have to factor in the purely malevolent into everything you do?

Non-malevolent know-alls also say the software could lead to "spam jams", which sounds like a ghastly concoction of processed meat topped with a fruit-based preservative.

It's hard to think of thrusting executives queuing for such stomach-churning vehicles, even though they should be the first people made to drive them. That would take the wind out of their sales figures.

Not too taken with the wee cars either will be these macho women with dyed blonde hair who drive those big black Bearsden tractors. Google's cars are aimed unashamedly at gentle people.

Even assuming you're one of those, what are you supposed to do while travelling from A to, not B - been there - but to Peterhead or Arisaig or even south to Teeside?

You could take in the sights, I suppose, or improve yourself with reading.

The other day, stuck at traffic lights, I tried reading Kate Bush lyrics in my CD paraphernalia.

But I had hardly got to "I must work on my mind/For now I realise/Every one of us …", aargh, before the lights irritatingly changed to green and I had to pay attention to the road again.

How am I supposed to acquire wisdom with a ruddy car to drive at the same time? A self-driving car could fast-track my learning, even as it trundles along at 25mph.

But to get back to that weird, wee country. You'd think a Google car might take off, as it were, in a place where 50% of residents are too scared to do things for themselves.

They're comfortable with others taking all the decisions, even if those others have spent the last 18 months putting the brakes on their future and snarling us all in rhetorical spamjams.

On the other hand, perhaps Scotia Minor could self-drive herself? Malevolent forces would put "Greater Austerity" into her sat-nav, taking us via the picturesque villages of Penury, Ignominy and Shame.

They'd seek to burst our bubble car and boot us in the bollards too. But we'd get home in the end.

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Automotive

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