What if you crossed Apple with a mechanical seagull?
It's one of the joys of the Information Age, really, that you can glean such insight in just a few mouse clicks.
Try it yourself. Go to latimes.com (naturally). Click on the latest headline about the seemingly doomed debt-ceiling talks in Washington.
When you're finished hiding your eyes or throwing something or screaming -- or whatever you do to relieve stress -- head on over to the Opinion tab, and click on "Hurtling toward economic chaos." Mike Davis' chilling doomsday Op-Ed, with its prediction of a U.S. recession, a European debt crisis and a China gripped by a real estate bubble all coming together to send the world into the economic abyss, will render you catatonic.
But all is not lost. No. A corporate knight in shining (and very stylish) armor is just another click away.
In Business, you'll find "How high will Apple shares climb?"
A decade ago, just before Apple's hit streak started with the October 2001 release of the first iPod music player, the company's stock was $10 a share. The stock's 4,000% increase since then far surpasses nearly every major technology company's 10-year performance, including Netflix Inc. (3,000%), Amazon.com Inc. (1,100%) and Google Inc. (474%).
But wait, there's more! "Apple rumored to be testing new, ultra-thin MacBook Pro," The Times' Technology blog reports breathlessly, as if a laptop computer that is so thin you can barely see it holds the key to world peace.
On the other hand, who am I to scoff: If the whole state were doing as well as Apple, we'd all be living in Malibu and driving Ferraris. So bring on the ultra-thin MacBook Pro!
Finally, though, there's the real breakthrough. Not since "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" have I been so excited by, well, seagulls. So don't leave that Technology blog; just click on "Flying robotic seagull attracts flock of birds."
German engineering firm Festo has developed a robotic seagull that's so lifelike it appeared to fool real birds into thinking that it was part of the flock.
SmartBird is an ultralight flapping-wing robot inspired by the herring gull, and it can start, fly and land autonomously, Festo said. It weighs less than a pound and has a 6 1/2-foot wingspan, according to a company fact sheet.
In this case, though, a picture (or video) really is worth 1,000 birds, er, words. Seeing is believing, even for real seagulls.
After you've watched the videos a couple of times, imagine this:
What if we got Apple together with Festo and produced a flock of robotic politicians (ultra-thin ones, of course). They would solve this silly debt-ceiling crisis and then move on to Medicare, Social Security, taxes and the "tea party." They'd be made in China, naturally, so its economy would keep humming; here in the U.S., Apple's rising stock would float all boats; and as for Europe, well, we’ll keep working on that.
Now that would be a good-news story I'd click on.
Photo: The Apple Inc. logo is seen in the lobby of New York City's Apple store. Credit: Mike Segar / Reuters