4/22/13 Maybe There’s an App for That
How often have you been doing some chore and think, "There's got to be a better way"? You're not alone. Gadgets and gizmos are everywhere for doing all sorts of things. Gadget freaks love them, others find them of dubious value. Some work well, others are what you might call a bad improvement. Then there's the Japanese chindogu, the unuseless idea.
Chindogu is an invention that works, more-or-less, but which there really isn't any practical need for. Like cat mittens that are little dust mops so the cat cleans the floor as it walks around. Or a big curved hairbrush so you can comb your hair in one stroke. Then there's an apron with hooks so you can wear all your kitchen tools. Very handy. Or is it?
These inventions aren't quite Rube Goldbergian, they are not needlessly complex, they're just plain needless. Chindogu, inventions without necessity. If necessity is the mother of invention, these inventions are motherless. Which makes me wonder what the father of invention is and whether that can explain any of this nonsense.
4/13/13 Things to Come
We like to think technology will keep improving. Modernity will get moderner. Things will get better, cheaper, faster. But in some cases we've already reached the practical limit.
Take speed of communication. With cell phones, satellites and whatnot we can talk to someone on the other side of the globe almost instantaneously. Can't see how it could get any faster than that.
Take speed of travel. Air travel maxed out with the jet. Jet travel is actually slower today than it was 40 years ago. For one thing, the SST has been retired. Also, jet airliners fly slower today than in the 60s to save fuel. We build cars that go 100 mph, but but we don't commute that fast, do we?
For reasons other than technology things in the future might be different than imagined.
The old future looks less popular than before. The Star Trek future looks less likely than ever. The new future looks a lot like the 19th century. The future ain't what it used to be.
3/29/13 What's the Color?
Below are rows and columns of words, red, green, blue, in various colors, red, green, blue. Starting at the top left, say the color of the type of each word. In other words, don't read the word, read the color.
Did you find it gets harder as you go down? Did you hesitate more toward the bottom? That's because the words agree with their color at the top and less and less as you go down. At the bottom the words and colors don't match at all. Which is to say they are congruent at the top and incongruent at the bottom. This throws us off. We see both the word and the color. When they match there's no problem. When they don't we have to pause and think a little to ignore the word and think of the color. Not as easy as it might seem, eh?
3/14/13 You Can’t be Wrong
I have this page-a-day calendar called The Brain Game. Each day is a little quiz or puzzle. Here's one:
Which is the odd one out?
The answer given was, C. Sagittarius because it's the only person, the others being animals. Yet here's the thing, any answer could be right for various reasons. Pisces is the only fish, the others are mammals. Leo is the only one that doesn't end in the letter S. Taurus is the only one that's also a car model, Ford Taurus.
Which only goes to show... uh, I dunno. But it does bring to mind a story, or a joke since I question whether it actually happened.
One day when Albert Einstein was presiding over a physics final exam, a student asked him, "Dr. Einstein, aren't these the same questions as last year's exam?" Einstein replied, "Yes, but this year the answers are different."
Which only goes to show sometimes the facts change. Or rather, what was accepted as true once might not be accepted as true now. By the same token, what is accepted as true today might not be accepted as true in the future. What might that be?
Just as folks today sometimes look at past ideas and laugh, so will people of the future. Only the past foolishness they laugh at is our present truth. Then again, who's to say who got it right? The past, the present, or the future? Just saying.
3/5/13 Getting Kicks
Then again, maybe it's all a matter of perspective.
2/6/13 Where's my Personal Robot Servant?
I remember way back when as a lad back in the 1960s, there was the notion that automation and robotics would give us extra leisure time. What happened to that? The standard work week is still forty hours. True, our leisure time is jam-packed with lots of ultra-modern gadgets, gizmos and whatnot, but we don't have any more actual leisure.
Come to think of it, what with the two income household, many families have less. On the other hand, what with the shrinking workforce it seems we have more leisure in aggregate, just some people have full-time leisure whether they want it or not. Leisure, unemployment, same thing.
Maybe we should have a full-time part-time workforce. That is, the work week goes to 3 days. Half the people work monday, tuesday, wednesday. The other half work thursday, friday, saturday. Bingo, full employment and everyone has extra leisure time. Heck, there'd be a labor shortage. We'd have to raise the retirement age to 75 or something. Then again, maybe everybody would just have two jobs.
2/4/13 No Brag, Just Fact
The newest iteration of The Dish with illustrations by yours truly is up and running. Yep, I'm crowing. Even though the picture shows howling. But then, that's one of Andrew's beagles and not me.
1/23/13 Pay Attention!
There's an old gag about paying attention. It works better verbally than in writing, but here it is nonetheless.
An empty bus makes a stop and five people get on. At the next stop two people get off and four people get on. At the next stop six people get off and three people get on. At the next stop three people get off and seven people get on. At the next stop five people get off and two people get on. At the next stop three people get off and eight people get on. At the next stop two people get off and four people get on.
Now then, without rereading, how many stops did the bus make? So then, how well did you pay attention? To the right thing? Here's a one and a half minute video to test your ability to pay attention.
1/12/13 A Gift that Keeps on Gifting
Often folks wish certain words and buzz-phrases would just go away and die, already. To that end, the Unicorn Hunters of Lake Superior State University nominate words and phrases that should be banished from the English language. This sentiment crops up for a few reasons: people are sick to death of hearing it, the word or phrase has grown stale, a cliché; people use them in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, or to mean the wrong thing; the word or phrase was stupid, wrong, misleading, inaccurate from the gitgo.
Take the word gifted. Please. Not gifted meaning blessed with talent, but gifted meaning the past tense of gift. As in, "My aunt gifted this jewelry to me." I hear this usage on Antiques Roadshow a lot. But gift isn't a noun to have a past tense. She gave a gift. A gift was given. A gift was gifted? Was the gift somehow blessed with talent?
Perhaps the Unicorn Hunters are stalking this one as I write. If not, I gift it to them forthwith.
1/8/13 We Ride to the Rescue
To bolster the slow economy the staff at TerryColon.com have forwarded our complete plan to Congress, the Full Employment Act of 2013. This comprehensive well-laid-out bill promises to end unemployment permanently, jumpstart the economy and raise needed tax revenue. The genius of the bill is it simply reclassifies anyone without a paying job as self-self-employed.
As our chief executive acting editor pro tem, John Kainz explained, "Just because you don't have a job doesn't mean you aren't working. Chores are work, right? You simply pay yourself for this work. This keeps the money in the family which is good for the personal economy. To increase income homeowners could simply dig holes, fill them in, then pay themselves for both."
While this aspect of the bill alone would drive unemployment to zero, there are added extras. First is the maximum wage provision which would require all self-self-employed persons to pay themselves prevailing wages for jobs done around the house. Combined with the Grecian formula of paying yourself 14 monthly checks a year the self-self-employed can bootstrap themselves to higher income in no time at all.
As the formerly unemployed are now gainfully self-self-employed, the tax stimulus multiplier kicks in as these wages will be subject to income taxes and the hefty 3/4 FICA payments familiar to the self-employed. The estimated added taxable income from dish washing and laundry alone will close budget shortfalls and keep America spic-and-span to boot.
These self-payments will greatly increase GDP by adding an entirely new category to the equation, a combined consumption-investment called onantion. (C+I+G+O=GDP) This addition promises to grow the economy out of the recession into unprecedented boom times overnight turning Gross Domestic Product into Grosser Domestic Product. Full employment, higher income, deficit reduction, and increased GDP at a single stroke. It's a win-win-win-win.
You can thank us later.
1/2/13 You Heard it Here First
According to unnamed reliable sources the European Union will soon announce the formation of the Ministry of "Quotations" to oversee media citations of all EU announcements and denials of previous announcements. In future, all media citations must fit within strictly defined classifications: unnamed, well-placed, unnamed well-placed, un-quoted, official, unofficial, official unnamed, official un-quoted, official well-placed, reliable, unnamed reliable, well-placed reliable, official unnamed well-placed, and unofficial un-quoted unnamed well-placed reliable.
The Ministry of "Quotations" has set up a website to help the media and the reading public understand what the new classifications mean. A well-placed reliable source said the site will be user-friendly, featuring a cute feline mascot named Miss Information to lead readers through the many details.
An unnamed well-placed source didn't clarify whether when spoken the new entity should be said as "Ministry of quote Quotations unquote" or simply stated as "Ministry of Quotations" with air quotes given at the appropriate moment. A second well-placed reliable source claimed air quotes should not be used so as not to offend the satirically challenged. When contacted, a third unofficial un-quoted unnamed well-placed reliable source denied everything.