Small Talk

Small talk: ski masks with beards, taxis of the future

Marketplace Staff Nov 19, 2010


Kai Ryssdal: This final note on a Friday afternoon, a chance to escape the heavy-duty news of the week and touch on what didn’t quite make the headlines. Courtesy of Brendan Francis Newnam, Rico Gagliano and the rest of the Marketplace staff.

Brendan Newnam: Dalasie Michaelis, web developer for Marketplace. What story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

Dalasie Michaelis: Well these six poker buddies in Texas wanted to start a company, and they threw out a bunch of ideas. The one they decided to go with was ski masks with beards.

Newnam: Wait, what are they?

Michaelis: They’re basically ski masks with beards attached to them. So you look like Santa Claus or ZZ Top or Saddam Hussein post-capture.

Newnam: And how’s the business doing?

Michaelis: It’s doing really well. They sold out their first production run of 10,000 and they’re producing more.

Newnam: I didn’t realize there were so many kidnappers and robbers who wanted to stand out and have a little style.

Rico Gagliano: George Judson, managing editor, what story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

George Judson: I’m going to be talking about vending machines that can see you coming.

Gagliano: From where?

Judson: Well in Japan, they’ve come up with a vending machine that has facial recognition: It can see who you are, what kind of person you are and then it recommends what drink you should have.

Gagliano: So if you look like a drunk, it’ll tell you to have a beer?

Judson: Exactly.

Gagliano: Does it have a different voice depending on what it thinks you are? Like if you’re an old person with a hearing aid, is it like, “PRUNE JUICE!”

Newnam: Nancy Farghalli, editor at Marketplace, what story are you going to be talking about this weekend?

Nancy Farghalli: New York City is going to be running a contest to find its taxi of the future. And they pick three finalists and one of the finalists is from Turkey.

Newnam: I didn’t realize Turkey made cars.

Farghalli: They do, and the coolest thing about this taxi? It has a sunroof, so you can look up and see the skyline.

Newnam: That sounds nice, but for a future cab, I just want it to have a functioning air conditioner, I want it not cost a lot of money and I want it to avoid traffic. Do they have some way of doing that?

Farghalli: It’s called the subway.

Ryssdal: If you like that, there’s plenty more where it came from: a podcast Rico and Brendan do called Dinner Party Download.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.