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February 10, 2016 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Brothers under the Tin

Twilight Zone. Outer Limits. Forbidden Planet. Futuristic possibilities limitless – except at our house.

When the Sears Christmas catalogue arrived, every kid on the block knew Robert was the answer. Oh, for a robot to clean your room and pick up stuff you were told to lug to your room. To pinch tormenting brothers without immediate personal risk. With flashing X-ray eyes to combat a mom’s steely glare.

Notes were left. Letters to Santa written. Not so subtle conversations at the dinner table. It worked in that Christmas movie with the Red Ryder You’ll-shoot-Your-Eye-Out Rifle.

Hopes weren’t all that high on Christmas. Good thing.

But dad had managed to find – and purchase under the Mom Radar – a six-inch wind up robot. There were a lot of laughs as the metal midget lurched across the floor. I still had to clean up all the holiday litter, but somehow resisted the urge to point out that if I had only gotten that robot…

It’s the thought that counts.

Red Tin Wind Up Mini Machine Man Robot (DJ SHin/Flickr/

Perfect for Christmas: glassy-eyed, wound up, and in holiday red. (DJ Shin/

Gearing up a few more current robotic thoughts:

A recent showcase featured a club encouraging girls to see math, science, and robots as fun (along with make-up, nails, and hair giggled the presenter). To affirm girls can do anything. Girl Power!

The young girls did seem interested in coding and robots. Seemed to be going well.

Then their final products were revealed: robots fluttering long eyelashes, sporting beaded dreads, popular hair styles, and dressed in child created high fashion outfits. The fancy robotic models swayed down a catwalk for a real fashion show.

OK. It’s the thought that counts. There is thinking there, isn’t there? Somewhere….

Meanwhile robots are getting down with getting up.

Bionic limbs make a real difference for anyone sidelined by injury. As one patient said, “Even to be standing up and able looking people in the eye again.” Miracles are happening daily at TIRR Memorial NeuroRecover Network with wearable robots. The video below shows the impact more than words can.

Now here’s where the money should be going: bionic solutions for our wounded veterans.

We owe them. Getting them up and moving – back to being as whole as possible – and back to being productive people. Win-win-win for the vet, his family, and society.

Mr President, Mr Biden, and members of Congress funneling money to cure cancer (or all the assorted diseases under that broad umbrella) is admirable, but first there’s a huge debt owed to these maimed veterans who served to protect and defend.

Can’t imagine anything that would lessen depression or make a wounded vet happier than to become a bionic superhero able to once again do life’s ordinary things without help.

They were promised. It’s the thought that counts.

Ha Ha Toy. SIlver Tin Robot. (DJ Shin /Flickr/

“Put your little foot. Put your little foot.” Robot rockin’ it.(Shin/

Bionic advancements are taking a huge leap in Australia.

The paraplegic have new hope of walking with a bionic spine that can be inserted into the brain without surgery. The paperclip size implant will allow a paralyzed person to move bionic limbs or exoskeletons by thought alone.

The process starts with the patient imagining moving a hand or arm towards a target on the computer screen which allows the surgeons to create a virtual map of the motor cortex and spot the region of the brain that needs assistance. Then the placement of the implant.

This is only the beginning. With refinement, researchers hope to help people not only walk, but to regain fine motor control.

“Australia scientists develop ‘bionic spine’ which could help paralyzed patients walk” (Video/article)

Thoughtful future.

movie poster. 1956. Robby the Robot in the Forbidden Planet./Lowe's/ not renewed,

More trustworthy than Uber. (1956.Starring Robby the Robot /

Certainly steps in the right directions.

Creating a high fashion robot to flirty roll down the catwalk or making the world a better place by helping a real person become an actual bionic superhero? Which do you think would interest kids more?

“High school club makes robotic arm for 11-year-old girl”(Video/article)

Thought does count.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

Robby the Robot with blaster. Tin Age Collection. Osaka Tin Toy Institute.(DJ Shin/

“Annoying brother? Point me to the tormentor!” (Robby the Robot with blaster. Tin Age Collection. Osaka Tin Toy Institute/DJ Shin/




  1. shoreacres / Feb 10 2016 6:39 am

    Has anyone made a robotic dog, yet? The name would be obvious: Rin-Tin-Tin.

    The medical stories are fantastic. It’s a good reminder that, as a species and as individuals, we still can do good things. Thanks for the memories, and for the updates.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 7:19 am

      Lots of mechanical woofs. Here’s some ( At one early point there was stiff one covered by white fur that had a squeaky “bark” and had a red remote controller. Probably make by Ideal, too. Mom snorted and said there was a real dog that real dog in the backyard that could use some paling with.
      The exoskeletons fascinate me. Such potential. (HINT HINT Congress) Thanks for adding a buzzy comment


  2. easyweimaraner / Feb 10 2016 6:41 am

    I’m afraid kids today would love the catwalk robert more :o( I always wanted a robot, so my parents bought a lego robot set… my cousin put it together for me, because he is much older and wiser than me (6 month). the doofus put super-glue on the bricks and failed… so I had a misconstruction what remained unfinished forever… either diy-disasters run in our family or he did it with purpose (I’m sure he did, his face was green with envy the whole time)


  3. marthaschaefer / Feb 10 2016 6:58 am

    I’m all for the research that helps those in need. Those NOT in need are the robots dialing all day long for the candidates. Sorry, just worn out from the Primary frenzy here…


  4. Kate Crimmins / Feb 10 2016 7:09 am

    Sometimes I wonder…is it the thought that really counts?


  5. Ally Bean / Feb 10 2016 8:05 am

    Anything that makes a child comfortable with something new and different, whether it be girly robots or mechanical arms, seems like a good idea to me. The results may or may not be what the adults intended, but learning to interact with robots or using your geeky skills to help other people will open kids up to possibilities everywhere they go. And that’s where the future will be.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 9:03 am

      It’s like pink Lego blocks that bothered people. Like you say, nothing wrong with using interest to open a new world. (I am a bit disappointed the pink lego group now include building little shops with items to buy…geesch, does sopping and the mall have to be the only thing? Even Barbie, the career gal, mandated a high performance car. Pink works.
      I was originally excited about that girl’s club, until the woman engineer began to look embarrassed and stumbled trying to support it. By the end it looked like she was shoved aside and the older woman were overly involved dressing up the doll robots and they were the ones moving them down the catwalk while the girls (bored) clapped. Great idea, but maybe odd implementation. With luck some of the girls after it was over, took the robots in their own hands and explored possibilities with them. It’s a start. Thanks for rolling in with a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. D. Wallace Peach / Feb 10 2016 8:40 am

    So much to comment on here! Except I won’t comment on the sashaying girlie robots. Well, I will: ugh. I hate the stereotyping, and I agree with you that kids would get a huge kick out of doing something positive for another person. That’s empowerment; that would make me want to learn more and do more. The advancements in the interests of helping people regain their physical capabilities are amazing, and I agree that more investment should be a no-brainer. I don’t think it needs to come by reducing funding for cancer research. We can do both…very very easily. It’s a matter of priorities, not money πŸ™‚


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 9:22 am

      After watching the presentation, I would have been more excited if the adults would have stepped back and let the girls be more involved and experiment, instead of making so many “suggestions”and taking over. The giggling by the spokesperson at the first over the makeup, and hair style comment should have been foreshadowing? Oh, well, hope the kids got to keep the robots. Maybe they can play/create more free with them at home. Gotta start somewhere. Generally kids show much more kindness and consideration for others than many adults.
      To clarify, I’m not talking about reducing any funds for medical research or cancer research. (Have family dealing with cancer, “survivors” possibly cured, and “living with cancer” which cannot be cure, just stalled). I am talking about the President’s big announcement of a “new initiative” with big funding “for a moon shot” to cure cancer. (First, it’s not a moon shot – bad comparison). I would have been excited IF 1. the funding was going to existing medical/research/research universities institutions to finally support them, and 2. if within hours the Big Pharm companies hadn’t immediately given press releases saying they were on board!!!!. Big Pharm and insurance companies under this administration have made out like bandits, been big political donors, and had made cancer patients’ lives so much more miserable, difficult, and unnecessarily stressful. Fund research yes, but make sure the money gets to scientists, doctors and the institutions already in the fight. And audit the funding. Create jobs from production of new medical technology.
      Other than that, funding medical/bionic research here will improve lives of people everywhere…so let’s spend the available money stateside, first, – and our vets should go to the head of the lines.
      Great comment. Like you said, priorities. People, not company profits. Thanks for adding the perfect comment treatment

      Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach / Feb 10 2016 9:53 am

        I agree that the approaches taken by politicians often make little sense. Healthcare isn’t seen as a priority except for the sound bite. It bothers me that life is valued based on a cost-benefit analysis. Big pharma and insurance are no different. And vets! I have a rant for that too! It’s a commitment to care that should be at the top of the pile. πŸ™‚


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 10:19 am

          You are so right. Real easy to spend other people’s money on your whims. Easy to make sweeping promises and statements when it doesn’t affect you personally and ver will touch you. Like Congress and elected officials who have their own extra special healthcare plans and insurance – paid for by the ordinary taxpayers who do not have the same. With all the mergers, the now giant hospital corporations are shouldering in with the other two. Doctors (now most are salaried hospital employees) and nurses are trying to maintain patient care – but the hospitals systems are dictating how much time can be spent per patient and more. A real mess. Your last sentence should be on billboard. Thanks

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Carrie Rubin / Feb 10 2016 10:32 am

    A “bionic spine”, fascinating stuff.

    As for the girls and the robot fashion show, I imagine if we didn’t bombard little girls with princesses, glitter, and fashion, they would grow up with other things on their minds. There are traditional boy toys that are frivolous too, but it seems the girls get the short end of the stick. I wasn’t exposed to those things as a child (other than a Barbie doll which interacted on a regular basis with my brother’s GI Joes, so she could certainly hold her own), and as a result, I don’t have much interest in them now. I wonder if I had been exposed to them as a child, would I have become a different person? Interesting notion for sure. (At least to me. πŸ™‚ )


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 10:55 am

      Seriously. We tell girls they can do anything, then tell them to dress up robots and have a style show? Kid are curious and like to tinker. Odd thing is that after 5 years of working/observing behavior and learning patterns of actually 3-4 year olds in groups, the girls at that age are often more fearless, more willing to explore icky stuff than the boys. That boldness to experiment gets crushed or redirect much too early. My mother was a “doll” and sewing/cutsey person, I never was (which caused conflicts) preferring discarded older brother’s “boy” toys like Erector sets, trains, microscopes, chemistry sets, hammers and nails to build forts and stuff. So is it nature or nurture? Better put to give a broad range of open ended experiences and let the individual choose their path. Thanks for the robotic nod!


      • Carrie Rubin / Feb 10 2016 11:11 am

        Yes, agreed. A broad range of open-ended experiences are good. And there’s nothing wrong with teaching our girls (and boys) how to knit, sew, cook, bake, etc. In fact, we should. These are not girlie traits so much as important skills. But we can do it without the metaphorical and literal pink and glitter, I would think.

        Liked by 1 person

        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 11:46 am

          If you eat, you should be able to select groceries and cook. Buttons fall off and need to be fixed no matter the gender. It’s like placing the writing instrument/crayon in the middle between a child’s hands and letting them choose which hand it feels comfortable in. Humans seem to be far too focused on boxing up with labels and expectations – far too early. Love your last sentence!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Carrie Rubin / Feb 10 2016 12:09 pm



  8. The Hook / Feb 10 2016 11:25 am

    We’ve never been closer to the ultimate synthesis of man and machine.
    The future sure won’t be boring…

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 11:53 am

      I found the Japanese view of robots’ nature interesting. “The Japanese held onto a belief that human exploitation, and not technology itself, was where the true evil lay.”(1940-50’s. Japan was a major source of robot toys. Their robots were usually not evil but servants and helpful )
      Contrast with the American and European robots which “always had a threatening undertone” (nice robot article here
      Looking at all the robotic developments these day (including those annoying robo political calls!) we really are opening a brave new world. Thanks for tinkering over a comment


      • The Hook / Feb 10 2016 11:59 am

        Of course the evil lays in those who wiled the tech, not the other way around! American filmmakers love post-apocalyptic/”bad robots” scenarios.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 4:29 pm

          Nothing like a good scare – just like aerobic exercise, right? HA HA. (Thought you’d enjoy that link with all the toy robots)
          Do you think bad robots or kindly, but confused robots would ever make it as Bellbots? Could be a hilarious movie/slasher film script there. (Oh, darn, someones typing it up as we speak…hotels being like a whole ‘nother universe.) Thanks for the rcokin’sockin’robot comment


  9. sustainabilitea / Feb 10 2016 12:42 pm

    Two thumbs up for the advances to help wounded vets and other be able to lead more normal lives! There are some amazing things being done (or already done) out there. Just have to make sure they get to those who need them. Funding is always a factor as well. Although one candidate this round talks continually about “free college”, there ain’t no such critter as “free.” Someone, read “taxpayer”, ultimately pays for everything that’s “free.” It costs money to invent things, to make medical advances, etc. Fair (a debatable term) compensation should and must be made. So many factors. But we should take care of those who fight to keep us free to argue about all these things.

    Nature or nurture? Some of both, I think. Despite what’s often bandied about, men and women, boys and girls, aren’t the same. Nor would I want them to be!!

    Has anyone ever used one of those robot vacuum cleaners that operates itself? I’ve always wondered how well those work. Now if they could just move the furniture while vacuuming…



    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 5:07 pm

      So many possibilities that can can huge differences in a life. Not to mention the benefits of productive individuals and new tech/manufacturing jobs.
      The research is happening. Great if it’s in research universities/med school/institutions as it allows those to earn money from their discoveries (patent rights/intellectual rights/income which might offset/prevent tuition hikes for all their students/patients. Helping fund edu is a goal,too, right?). Ramping up production of anything usually lowers price as developmental costs are covered faster. Getting vets bionics seems to be win-win.
      Would that every child have the open-ended opportunities, experiences to provide background knowledge to build on, the resources, and guidance they need to become whomever they are. And the wisdom to follow their strengths, and not be bothered by their weaknesses. No rigid patterns for kids! Color outside the lines as long as you can!
      Oh, the robot vac. The German has one. She finally stopped barking at it, and just leaves the room. Ella, however, has been known to start it up unexpectedly in the middle of the night. The vac itself (from Costco I understand) does a good job of sweeping up all the assorted crumbs left by assorted mammals in the kitchen and living room (under coffee table even) but dog hair must be cleaned out of the vac daily (in their place anyway.). So daily light cleaning is OK, but you’ll need the Jetson’s Rosie if there’s furniture moving involved. Thanks for plugging in a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Littlesundog / Feb 10 2016 1:31 pm

    Watching that video… really amazed me. I’m so out of touch with the world at times, avoiding the drama and chaos of life, that I tend to miss out on some of the good news that is out there as well. These advances in medical technology are mind-blowing sometimes. I had to laugh at myself too… when I first began reading this, the “Jetson’s” cartoon popped into my head! Do you remember Rosie the robot? She cracked me up, and as a kid I always hoped one day I’d have a Rosie for a housekeeper!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 4:44 pm

      The Jetsons were a natural connection. Loved that show and Rosie. The writers did explore quite a bit of robot benefits and their flaws – as well as presenting her so close to being human. Watching the tech developments recently seem to indicate that you may actually be able to have Rosie’s early models in your lifetime. Cool, yes? Thanks for wiring in a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  11. PiedType / Feb 10 2016 7:33 pm

    Indeed they were promised. And we do owe them. Everything. Right now. Not three months or six months down the road on some hidden wait list. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get this country to focus on debts and obligations to Americans before we go running off trying to save the world.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 10 2016 7:54 pm

      The attention on stateside problems is so out of focus that it reminds me of a dog trying go in a straight line only to see “Squirrel!” every other step. It’s beginning to feel like the sayings about the cobbler’s kids not having shoes to wear or the carpenter’s wife always needing the roof repaired. State of the Union Message: “For want of a shoe, the horse was lost”
      Totally frustrated at the lack of concern and action to fix the problems here first. So much show over the Veteran’s Adm. and Veteran hospital problems – and what’s changed? And more troops being sent into harm’s way to return home needing care. What will it take. (More than campaign generalities and promises) Thanks for winding up a comment to march over


  12. heretherebespiders / Feb 11 2016 3:37 pm

    Wow. How about instead of making science ‘girly’, we make it okay for girly to be scientific? Or just stop the whole field from being gender specific in the first place? Doctors are already more female than male. Maybe because it is ‘girly’ to care for others? What’s the ratio of female to male veterinarians these days? Can guess already that women are climbing in that field too. But… Space, genetics, microbiology, quantum physics… Still rather male dominated I think. Too boy?


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Feb 11 2016 6:27 pm

      Science and all subjects are gender neutral – until educational systems and parents who have set ideas get hold of them. Baby steps….there are still patients who greet women doctors with “What? I didn’t know they allowed girls to be doctors.” Seriously. It’s still that way..and we’re not exactly in the backwoods here in one of the largest cities of the US.
      That feature on the robotics program for girls looked so good at the beginning. Now if the objective had been to make a robot first, then they have to decide what to do with it, maybe it would be OK. But to start off saying “We’re going to make a high fashion robot with hair, makeup and clothes and have a style show….gag.But maybe the kids got to take them home and retool them for more exciting robot work on their own. That would be cool.
      Thanks for cheering robot’s rules!

      Liked by 1 person

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