The Null Device
Google Maps has expanded its coverage again. It now covers
all most of the EU (excluding Slovenia), Scandinavia and Finland (though not Iceland or the Faroes). Some parts of Europe (France, Germany, the Czech Republic and such) are more densely covered than others (Poland and Hungary, for example), and map coverage cuts off altogether at the EU's eastern frontier, though as a bonus, you get greater Moscow (or "Москва", as Google Maps, ever sensitive to local ways, labels it), plus an orange umbilicus of a highway connecting it to the rest of the known world, via the Belarussian wilderness. Greece and Istanbul are connected in a similar fashion through Serbia and Montenegro. Oh, and the Canary Islands get covered, presumably to cater to all the Europeans catching cheap flights there.
Remember Melanotan, the wonder drug which promised to turn those who took it into a new dominant caste of tanned, chiselled, hyper-attractive übermenschen and überfrauen with superhuman sex drives? Well, it turns out that the drug company shelved it because it did too many things to be marketable, instead using the project to develop different products. The first of which is a "super-aphrodisiac" named PT-141 which produces instant sexual arousal, bypassing the need for time-consuming foreplay, and making sexual fulfilment a possibility for today's overworked wage-slaves and compulsive multitaskers who lack either the time or the attention span to do things the slow, old-fashioned way:
The five-minute meaningful sexual encounter: if ever there was a holy grail for the age of the tight-wired global economy - with its time-strapped labour force and its glut of bright, shiny distractions - that is it. And if ever there was a reason to be wary of the pharmaceutical industry's designs on the market for sexual healing, say critics such as Tiefer, it's the attractiveness of that simple-minded ideal.
Tiefer is just as dubious about PT-141, which, as she sees it, is merely the latest expression of a 'big wish' that 'we could just bypass everything we want to bypass' on our way to sexual happiness, skipping the complicated, often lifelong work of sorting out all the emotional, physical and autobiographical triggers that turn us off and on.
Good things would come of it, to be sure. Marriages would be saved, fun would be had. But sexual Utopia? PT-141 seems just as likely to usher in the age of McNookie: quick, easy couplings low on emotional nutrition. Sex lives tailored to the demands of a jealous office or an impatient spouse. A dark age of erotic self-ignorance tarted up in the bright-coloured packaging of a Happy Meal.Of course, the next step that is needed is a drug that creates meaningful emotional bonding, of the sort that would take months if not years of laborious intimacy, in minutes. Just pop a pill before the speed-dating evening and, by the time the night is over, you will have acquired a soulmate. Think of the productivity gains that such an invention could usher in: no more need for dinner-and-movie dates, romantic weekends away or holidays together could translate into countless billions of extra hours either for productive work or economically beneficial consumption of entertainment products.