An Ideology, a Product

Some cultures let well marketed products become a national ideology.There are cultures that try to solve everything through over-engineering. Take the bit about road safety that was snuck into the Biden infrastructure bill:

Beaconization—or equipping bicycles and pedestrians with transponder beacons that can be spotted automatically by sensor-equipped cars—has been given the official seal of approval in the U.S…

Millions of posts, poles, and signs have already been equipped with low-power transponders so they can be detected by today’s sensor-equipped cars and tomorrow’s autonomous vehicles (AVs). The chipping of road furniture and junctions is a key part of a burgeoning new sector: “intelligent transport systems,” or ITS.

The narrative that autonomous vehicles are the only way to create safer roads and relieve congestion has been whole accepted by the American establishment and the tech crowd. This is laughable.

Basic traffic calming and road design keep Dutch roads safe for cars, cyclists and pedestrians — without having to put a chip into everything.

Teslas and Apple Watches

I see a lot of Teslas in Amsterdam, and I’d rather ride along next to one than a car belching out exhaust. The externalities of battery production, waste and electricity generation aren’t solved problems, but one step at a time.

From what I can tell, Tesla isn’t a national ideology in the Netherlands. It’s an expensive toy for rich people. As far as indulgences go, it’s one of the least harmful ones. What’s frustrating is when Elon Musk’s marketing becomes a national ideology, which looks to be the case in America.

I enjoy wearing my Apple Watch. Tracking health data and putzing around with watch apps are harmless pastimes, and I’ve gone on extra walks just to hit my 10k steps or whatever.

Getting everyone to wear an Apple Watch in order to fight obesity would be idiotic, albeit a massive win for Apple’s marketing department. We all know what we need to do to get in better shape, and it can mostly be done for free without any apps or devices.

But hey, I like my watch and can easily afford the indulgence. That shouldn’t make it an ideology. Nor should I demand people without Apple Watches change their behavior to increase my enjoyment of my watch.