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The speech-related developments spotlighted in this column don't quite warrant a full news story, but they're still too eccentric for us to pass up.

»»» Ever feel like that smooth-talking IVR at your bank doesn’t really love you? Ever have the sinking feeling that the automated system used by the cable company doesn’t actually care if you have a nice day? If so, then your search for positive affirmation and love is over. Look no further than a very special USB mouse from Japan’s Rakuda. This pastel-colored, heart-shaped new best friend has no problem saying those three little words everyone longs to hear: "I love you."

In fact, with every click and scroll, this effusive and profoundly committed mouse does just that. It lights up, says "I love you," and makes it all better after a hard day. Is your boyfriend that in touch with his feelings? Does your wife even speak to you anymore? Not likely. But, for approximately $21, everlasting, true, fairytale love can be yours.

»»» But wait. You’re still not feeling satisfied. Love is one thing, but what about conversation, companionship, probing philosophical debate and discussion? We’ve got that too, with the Talking Toilet Roll.  

Available on bimbambanana.com for $45, this bathroom essential allows you to record a message on your toilet roll. Anything you want: "The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains," or "Metaphysics is a dark ocean without shores or lighthouse, strewn with many a philosophic wreck," or "I talk to God, but the sky is empty." It’s up to you. After that, it’s just a matter of heading off to the commode for a little chat. The Talking Toilet Roll fits all normal toilet paper  roll holders and just might make the perfect holiday gift for someone with nothing else to do.

»»» Finally, if you’re getting together with friends or just drinking alone in the dark, the Talking Butler—also available from bimbambanana.com—will make the relentless crush of time seem a little more palatable.  

Simply snap this bald-headed, bearded little fellow onto the neck of any bottle of wine and he starts talking. For only $96, the Talking Butler—who can determine how many people are drinking, when the bottle is getting empty, and when he has been removed from an empty bottle—will be your new drinking buddy. And he actually gets more intoxicated as time passes, shouting out phrases like, "It’s drinky-poo time," "Jolly good vintage," "Very, very drunk," and "Burp." Let’s see the phone company’s IVR do that.

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