my heart is like an open highway

If you already have a list of potential Christmas presents for me, note down the following:

An Unbreakable Umbrella: The security entourage of the President of the Philippines carries these. The Unbreakable Umbrella can support the weight of a full-grown man and acts as a fully functioning umbrella. It will pass through any metal detector or casual inspection. It will also wreck the shit of any person you hit with it. Price: $180

Five-In-One Emergency Tool: Saw this in SkyMall while flying to Baltimore this past weekend. SkyMall regularly targets weird product niches, like “things to help you break out of a trapped car,” this being the latest in that line. This keychain conceals a spring loaded stainless steel pin that can supposedly shatter auto glass – just the thing if you drive into a lake or flip over your car or if you get bored with opening the door.

Sick puppy that I am, I see a concealed metal pin that can break a windshield and I wonder what else it can do. Some drunk asshole starts shoving you around, pull this out of your pocket and hide it in your hand. Warn him to back off. Then, should he fail to heed you, thwack him with the business end in the temple. If this doesn’t terrify his friends, or if you prefer a simpler approach, use the 140 db emergency alarm to scare them off. And if the cops show up, what can they do? I hit him with this simple keychain, officer; I dunno what happened next!* Price: $23.

Either An Asus EEE 7″ Laptop Or An iPod Touch: If you love me enough to break the $200 price ceiling – an arbitrary limit, really – I would not mind having a very tiny computer to take around with me. The Asus EEE does everything I need a laptop to do – surf the web and open .doc files – and it offers the street cred of running Linux. However, for the same dollars, you could get an iPod Touch with 4x the storage space and a glossier display. But no keyboard. Ultimate usability on one hand, ultimate portability on the other. Decisions, decisions. Price: $400.

Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero: Do I even need to describe this one?

Possessing no supernatural powers, Batman is the most realistic of all the superheroes. His feats are achieved through rigorous training and mental discipline, and with the aid of fantastic gadgets. Drawing on his training as a neuroscientist, kinesiologist, and martial artist, E. Paul Zehr explores the question: could a mortal ever become Batman?

Zehr discusses the physical and skill training necessary to maintain bad-guy-fighting readiness while relating the science underlying this process, from strength conditioning to the cognitive changes a person would endure in undertaking such a regimen. In probing what a real-life Batman could achieve, Zehr considers the level of punishment a consummately fit and trained person could handle, how hard and fast such a person could punch and kick and the number of adversaries that individual could dispatch, what it would be like to fight while wearing a batsuit, and the amount of food one would have to consume each day to maintain vigilance as Gotham City’s guardian.

Price: $18

* Periscope Depth does not advocate the use of this product in felony assault.


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