As the year winds down we reprise our old bit of reporting fake but accurate newsworthy items for the 366 days past. Or at least list the headlines since non-news is generally rather skimpy on details.
Top Ten Things that Didn’t Happen in 2016
“Wait a minute, that’s eleven, not ten” we suppose the reader is saying in their head at this point. Ah, but, we object, number eleven happened so there are only ten that didn’t happen. We simply couldn’t resist shoving that one in at the end as a bonus gag. Devious, eh? Anyway, it was leap year so you get one extra. That’s our story and we’re running with it.
Did Santa bring you what you hoped for this Christmas? Did he forget the batteries which were not included? Hey, it probably warned as much on the package. Or did you get something that didn’t need batteries but did have one of the following real warnings on actual products?
Are people really that stupid? We doubt it. More like these warnings exist because litigious lawyers are really that weaselly.
This site intended for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute life advice. Before taking any of it in part or whole to heart contact your local minister, rabbi, guru, psychiatrist, commissar, or parole officer.
Winter arrived for its annual visit at about 5:00 this morning. Did you feel it? If not, try going outside. Without a coat. Which might not help depending where you live. The holidays are fast approaching and we all know what that means: Lists.
Shopping lists, wish lists, naughty lists, nice lists, best of the year lists, worst of the year lists, New Year’s resolution lists, prediction lists, lists of lists. And coming soon to a web device near you, our annual “Not Done” list.
Without lists modern life would not be possible. We mean lists like indexes, tables of contents, appendixes, directories, menus, sub-menus, sub-sub-menus, and so on. We simply couldn’t manage modernity without lists. We at terry colon dot com have a hard time managing with them.
By the way, that “Ah-h-h-h-h” in the headline is not said the same as an “Ah-h-h-h-h” we say for summer. More like an “Ah-h-h-h-h” we’d say if our computer crashed. But not so much like an “Ah-h-h-h-h” we’d say if we crashed our car into a Mack truck. It’s all in the inflection as “Ah-h-h-h-h” doesn’t have a definite meaning. Interjections just sort-of work that way.
The clock on my range (stove if you will) reads: “17:=U” Huh? There’s one bugaboo with digital readout clocks of the LCD variety. When some of the liquid crystals, or whatever, start to fail it makes for a pretty lousy clock.
I say for a lot of things analog dials and nobs (or pots as some call them) are just better. Old fashioned clocks with hands are one case. The display has meaning without having to read it or say in your head, “ten forty-five.” The minute hand pointing straight left tells you it’s fifteen to the hour at a glance. This is very handy because many times you know what hour it is so you really only need to know the minutes.
Things like analog tachometers have a similar advantage. You don’t really need to read the numbers to see the engine is revving at the redline. With a digital readout you have to remember what the redline number is to make sense of what a numerical readout is indicating. Plus, a needle on a dial isn’t quantized at number points, you get zero to whatever and everything in between.
Thing is, a dial shows you relationships, where the needle is along the entire spectrum. Heck, an illiterate can make sense of that sort of indicator. If the needle is pegged one way or the other you know there ain’t no more of whatever-it-is to give. You don’t always get that with a digital readout. It’s sort-of like a map where X marks the spot so you can tell where you are related to the surroundings, whereas a couple of coordinate readings might leave you baffled.
Volume controls are much better as knobs. OK, much quicker, at any rate. You can turn the volume up or down fully in a fraction of a second, no delay in waiting for that up or down button to cycle through the levels. On the other hand a digital button might be more precise, or at least easier to hit the exact level you want. In the same vein, a digital readout timer is a better option, being easier to set with precision. A digital readout stopwatch also makes the grade for similar reasons. As does a thermostat.
Be that as it may, a lot of analog clocks don’t even have numbers on them and we can still tell the time. Anyway, dials just simply look better, they have an esthetic appeal those clunky, blocky digital readouts invariably lack. I mean, how many different typefaces do you get with an LCD readout clock? I rest my case.
The last challenge, what time was 17:=U ? 10:30, 10:50, 10:28? Who knows?
From our vantage point the political rancor and vitriol gets progressively more hyperbolic year by year. Have people gone over the deep ends of the political spectrum? Do the chattering classes and the many-headed all violently agree to violently disagree?
If you concur that’s the case these days we have the simple, foolproof solution: reduce the size and scope of government by ninety percent. The less the authorities stick their officious noses in everybody’s business, the less officialdom messes about in our lives, the more they stick to basic functions like delivering the mail the less folks would get their knickers in a twist over who’s in charge and how badly they’re screwing up. After all, hot-headed mobs don’t go on a rampage to lynch the Postmaster General, do they?
If you don’t agree… Up yours, you friggin’ pinko-fascist loser!
Admit it. When Donald Trump first announced his candidacy you might have suspected it was a publicity stunt for some reality TV show he had in the pipeline. Well, we now have the ultimate reality show, Extreme Makeover, West Wing Edition or Survivor: Washington. Wonder who will get fired or voted off the island.
Speaking of TV, now that the election is over with we can tune into our favorite shows without fear of being bombarded with those annoying political ads. Back to our regular annoying product ads. Still, there’s that good old mute button on the remote. Which is why modern TV ads like having lots of supers, you know, text on screen. So even when you mute their paid shill they still imprint their message on your eyeballs.
In which case you can simply look away or shut your eyes. Or go get a snack. Possibly the brand they just flashed you with. Hey, just ‘cause the ad sucks doesn’t mean the product does.
One map explains it all.
I’ve been going through the video archives of the BCC’s Top Gear. Not that I’m that much into supercars or care about reviews of new cars. Still, I do enjoy the foreign adventures, races, challenges, and such. My favorite, perhaps, is when they tried to kill a Toyota pickup and couldn’t.
These featured bits seem fairly contrived and probably more scripted than they’d like viewers to believe. Which I suppose they must be, the show is sort-of what you might call comedy-reality TV. One comedy thread that crops up from time to time is the British view of Americans as fat and stupid and Australians as big and dumb. Granted, Americans are the fattest folk on the planet. How big Aussies are I couldn’t say. Still, how accurate is the intelligence part of the stereotypes?
Enter the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which tracks primary and secondary school achievement. The PISA reading score for the UK was 494, the USA score was 500 and Australians scored 515. Interestingly, European-Americans (which includes British-Americans) scored 525, higher than every European country except for Finland.
There’s more: Canada scored 524 and New Zealand scored 521, joining the U.S. and Australia in outdoing the UK. Which suggests the smarter Brits emigrated leaving laggards behind in the mother country. Oh yes, Ireland scored a 496. Meaning the poorest performing English-speaking country is the UK. So, if Yanks and Aussies are as dumb as the Brits joke about, the joke’s on them as they’d be just a little bit dumber.
Another Top Gear running joke is how American cars are rubbish compared to European cars. On this they have a point. American car suspensions are retrograde technology and interior appointments are cheesy plastic. Still, considering how the vast majority of people use their cars, is all that superior fit, finish and high-speed handling worth it? Maybe Americans prefer to spend their resources and brain power on other things.
After all, while Europe was fiddling with incremental improvements of 19th century technology, the automobile, America busied itself inventing personal computers, communication satellites, and the Internet. So, Top Gear presenters, who’s looking dumb now?
I’m not a big fan of elaborate stage magic, if that’s what you call it. You know, big boxes and machines and such where the trick seems to be performed by the apparatus more than the magician. I much prefer sleight of hand stuff with very simple items, coins, cards, etc. If you do, too, you might enjoy what I’ll declare the best rope trick I’ve ever seen:
If I have it right, this particular bit of virtuosity blows the mind of Teller, as in Penn and Teller. I’m supposing he rates it as highly as I do. Which is a much better endorsement, to be sure.
Click pic to replay animation
In a world where they erect bridges to nowhere and build cities nobody lives in, it seems no construction is too pointless not to be imitated by folks hither and yon.
People do live in some of these inverted structures, so the inside is right side up. Others are furnished and outfitted totally upside down inside. In which case we recommend you not try the plumbing.
Still, if you’re going to do this inverted house folly fully, bury the house so only the basement is above ground. All the same, couldn’t you simply put in a reflecting pool for a similar effect?
I’ve decided to become a prepper and put up a six month or so supply of non-perishables. Am I expecting the breakdown of commerce, or the collapse of civil society? Nope. Do I anticipate hyperinflation? Nah. Do I reckon the end of the world as we know it is just around the corner? Not really. I’m not that kind of prepper, more of a traditional prepper, if I can call it that.
What I’m expecting is not a catastrophe, but winter. Why trudge through the ice, snow and cold of a Michigan winter lugging bags of consumables when I can stock up now in my shirt sleeves? I mean, I’m going to need such things sooner or later, so why not get them sooner? Canned goods, frozen foods, dried pasta, beans, and the like. As well as things like toilet paper and kitty litter. Hey, it goes in one end and comes out the other, right?
This is not a new idea, it’s a very old idea. For people 250 years ago it wasn’t very convenient to hop down to the supermarket once a week. Heck, there were no supermarkets. In the past to get through winter people put up stores, packed the root celler, cured meat, pickled and fermented things, etc. This was before they invented canning, but folks knew how to store enough stuff to last until spring.
Now, I don’t have a root celler, but I have a fridge with a freezer. Even better. Unfortunately, since I don’t raise chickens or have a cow in the garage I’ll need to occasionally ankle to the local bodega for milk and eggs. Plus, I’ll have to forgo salads for the duration. Still, fewer trips and lighter loads to schlep through the slush suits me right down to the ground.
The other option for surviving winter is an even older idea, head to warmer climes. Would that I could. While we moderns are highly mobile, perhaps in a way the nomadic ancients got around more than we do now. After all, they say eighty percent (or whatever it is) of Americans never live more than 25 miles (or whatever it is) from where they grew up.
My next-door neighbor is having his driveway redone today. True to the stereotype, by an Italian concrete contractor. Which one supposes is appropriate since the Romans invented concrete, a sort-of artificial stone. Maybe not artificial really, since it’s made of natural stone material. Perhaps more like reconstituted stone. Or perhaps artificially hardened stone. Whatever the apt description, it’s stone you can pour and mold into whatever shape you need rather than chiseling it like marble or something.
Like the previously mentioned corrugated cardboard, concrete is also a ubiquitous, relatively cheap wonder material. Only not so modern. And it makes lousy packaging.
What I’m wondering is how they pour concrete in places like San Francisco. What I mean is, some of the streets there are pretty steep grades, how do they keep it from simply running down the hill when it’s wet?
Not that anyone tunes in to terry colon dot com for handyman advice, but I made a promise of a few tips so here they are. Hopefully, they are not the usual tips you’ve run across before and are possibly useful. If not, well, a couple are animated. Just as good as an instructional video, only not.
Ten DIY Tips for Revamping Your Studio (or Any Room, Actually)
You may have noticed I have no tips for painting windows. I don’t have to paint windows because my old place sports 1950s aluminum windows. Not the panes, which are glass of course, but the frames, sills and so on are unpainted aluminum. Not all that energy efficient, but they have that mid-century modern look that suits me right down to the ground.
There’s this bit about square pegs and round holes, but how about square pegs that are round holes? Which won’t make any sense until you go watch the video:
Seven DIY Rules of Thumb
While the last sounds like a weak joke, it’s actually true. They studied it. Something to do with adrenaline or dopamine or something, I’m not sure. Still, screaming with pain is natural, you gotta figure it must have a purpose. Cursing is just putting words to the scream. If having your mother kiss the owie will make it better... I have no information on that.
A few days late, but still timely enough. I mean, summer lasts for months. Anyway, the word summer comes from… oh, who cares? It’s summer. Relax. Enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Take your shoes off and stroll barefoot through the grass. You’ll feel better. It’s good for you. At least, if the grounding/earthing people are right.
Forget battery electric cars, could be the 200 year-old Sterling engine is the future of motoring.
Do imaginary lines of longitude and latitude move and break causing earthquakes? Well, we suppose if astrophysicists did geology that might be the theory. They talk about magnetic reconnection, magnetic field lines of force that break and spew energy.
A magnetic field is a continuum, there are no lines of force to them. There is also no flow of magnetic particles or whatever. How can NASA get it so wrong? I thought they were, you know, rocket scientists.
I’ve had the same eight place setting flatware set for thirty years or so. Recently I noticed there were only seven dinner forks. This rather baffles me. I don’t leave the house carrying flatware about with me. It only comes out of the drawer when I eat, then goes back to the kitchen sink to be cleaned. I don’t leave dirty dishes laying about the house to be dropped behind or kicked under the furniture or anything. And it’s not like a fork can get washed down the drain.
How do you lose a dinner fork? Where did it possibly go? Anyway, in the nursery rhyme the dish ran away with the spoon, not the fork. I just don’t get it.
In the garden do you have a green thumb or are you all thumbs? If you number among the latter here’s a few simple tricks on how do make your yard the envy of one and all.
Eight Ways to Turn Your Yard from Yuck to Yeah
OK, with our advice you won’t have the best-looking property on the block, it’s not all bad. If you look a bit less well-off than your neighbors crooks are less likely to target your house as a potential bounty of valuables.
Here’s a new one on me. The other day I got a phone call from a robot recording gizmo asking for someone unknown to me immediately followed by, “If we have dialed a wrong number, please call…” I don’t know what this ploy is, but it seemed pretty goofy. The only thing I can imagine is a return call where they charge you by the minute, like a psychic line or something of that ilk. I didn’t stay on the line long enough to hear the number.
Still, why would I return a wrong number phone call to tell them it’s a wrong number? Especially a wrong number robot solicitation. Not my problem or for me to waste time correcting phone solicitors calling a wrong number. I can’t imagine a less tantalizing sales hook. At least the Nigerian Prince offers a pot of gold, this one doesn’t even offer a rainbow.
If bubble cars, a la the 1950s, are not poised for a big comeback, how about bubble motorcycles instead? Bubble cars must comply with the safety standards applied to all cars. That adds cost and weight reducing mileage. Which rather defeats the main reason to buy a bubble car, to be cheap to buy and operate. I mean, Bentley doesn’t make bubble cars, right?
Motorcycles, not being autos, don’t have to meet auto standards. So, they can be cheaper, lighter and more fuel efficient. Just what you want out of a bubble car. Having a high power to weight ratio makes them pretty peppy, to boot.
I don’t know about you, but if I were in the market for a new car I’d like to have something like the completely enclosed, three-wheeled bike from Elio Motors. Over 80 mpg for under ten grand. Beats the heck out of any overpriced electric or hybrid car in my book. Check it out:
Yes, a silly gag. I couldn’t resist. And yes, spring actually began Sunday. But it was too chilly to get into the spring of things until today when it promises to approach 60 degrees hereabouts. Hopefully. At least, that’s the prognostication of the weatherbot, or whatever these weather websites use. So, go unpack the white shoes, break out the short pants, dig out the straw trilby, and prepare your wardrobe for the warm, sunny days to shortly arrive. A nice new Tee from the Terry Shop (hint, hint) might make a nice addition to the spring wardrobe, too.
A bit of a twist from our last “Links & Sites to See” entry. Instead of stupid questions, clever answers that turn a question stupid.
In the next exciting episode: Our hero bails-in the bank and to make up his loss, borrows the money back. Will Everyman survive Captain Keynes’ devious plot? Stay tuned!
Why do square meals come on round plates? Why is something that’s a piece of cake also easy as pie? What’s with “the four corners of the globe”? How can a globe have corners? OK, OK. Stupid questions, I admit. You ain’t seen nothing yet:
How long is temporary? President Nixon’s suspension of gold redemption was a temporary measure. At least, that’s what he said in his TV address. FDR’s ban on holding and selling gold was also announced as a temporary measure. That lasted about forty years. So, temporary means forty years or so. Think that means they’ll start redeeming dollars for gold soon?
Keynesian economics is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
One unspoken reason for going cashless is so, if you run afoul of the powers that be, they can simply turn your money off by remote. Instant penniless persona non grata.
“People used to rob banks. Now, banks rob you.” —Jeff Berwick
“The best way to rob a bank is to run one.” —William Black
Lastly, the only video to ever fully explain modern economic theory:
Mouseover to enlarge
Not a rerun or a rehash, a retool.
Some reality TV shows that aren’t a reality:
Hell’s Kitten Henpecked husbands try their feeble best to maintain a shred of manhood. Hosted by Gorgon Ramsey.
This Old Souse Quartet of plaid-clad New Englanders rehabilitate upper-class winos and posh drunks even if it means scooping out the innards and replacing vital organs in toto. Runs twelve weeks, one step per episode.
The Amazing Rat Race Teams compete for eight hours daily running a cubicle maze, looking busy, and hiding from supervisors. Prize for the winners: they get to do it all again tomorrow.
Survivor: Jeckyl Island Two tribes, Harvard and Yale, compete to see who can distort markets the most and blame capitalism when it crashes to earth. How big can too big to fail get before it’s the biggest and failiest ever? Stay tuned.
Beer Factor Contestants vie to see how many beers it will take to get them to do really stupid and dangerous things: dance on tables, pick a fight with a biker, eat a bar egg pickled in 1954. The ultimate challenge: drive home.
Who Wants to be a Nonprofit Millionaire? Charity organizers compete by raising awareness and donations for a cause du jour while pocketing the most in executive pay and advisory fees. Unlike similar shows, because it’s in the name of a worthy cause, no questions asked.
Extreme Do-over: Home Edition Contractors with sense and a modicum of taste correct the over-the-top, “I’ve got a theme” home “improvements” perpetrated on the beneficiaries of Ty Peddington’s maniacal makeovers.
Bigger Brother Everyday activities observed and recorded at work and home round the clock by government agencies. Starring, well, everybody these days.
In the age of digital shopping, digital banking, digital credit, and maybe soon nothing but digital currency, we are seemingly overwhelmed with PINs, codes, passwords, and combination lock type security measures of all kinds. Given all that, one might wonder what is the worst password imaginable? 12345, your name, your phone number, the word “password”? All pretty bad, as you no doubt already know since this topic is not exactly novel. On the flip side of the question, what might be the best encoded ID?
Some folks suggest it might be convenient to use a natural encoded ID like fingerprints or the like. Despite being unique, personal, and always with you, fingerprints can actually be lousy passwords. They are not all that secret; unless you wear gloves all the time your fingerprints are going to be all over the place for someone to lift. Possibly worse, if your fingerprint (or eyeball or DNA, etc.) password is ever cracked, hacked, or stolen, resetting or swapping out your fingerprints (or eyeball or DNA, etc.) for uncompromised replacements wouldn’t be all that easy, would it?
Here is where I believe it is the customary practice for the author to offer a novel, surprising, simple and foolproof solution. First, totally divest yourself of possessions. If you have nothing to steal it can’t be stolen. Next, or optionally, eliminate every person on Earth, other than yourself, of course. If there are no thieves nothing will be stolen. Those are the only foolproof methods, everything else is a compromise.
OK, those half-baked suggestions fall into the solution-is-worse-than-the-problem category. Instead, you might go in for what the big boys use:
Here’s a Green message you don’t often hear: The less naturally we live, the more we separate from nature, the better off nature is. Modern farming uses nearly 70% less land today to grow a given quantity of food than fifty years ago. Is organic farming more “sustainable”? Think how much natural habitat would need to be plowed under if we returned to organic farming.
Above is interactive joke number two. Hold the cursor over pic and they talk.
I’ve heard that in the first year of medical school they tell students, “Half of what you will learn is either wrong or will be useless within ten years of graduation. The problem is, we don’t know which half.”
Which makes me wonder, what about all the other fields of study? Or is now the one time in history where we have the right answers for nearly everything? Other than for medicine, that is.
“He looked as if Nature had intended to make an ape, but at the last minute changed its mind.”
The above being Bertie Wooster’s description of Roderick Spode from one of the Wooster and Jeeves stories penned by the inimitable, hilarious P.G. Wodehouse. The joy of these tales is not merely the absurd vicissitudes inflicted on the oblivious Bertie and the clever way the ultimate English gentleman’s gentleman, Jeeves, saves his British bacon. No, indeed. The proceedings are narrated in goofball Bertie’s upperclass nitwit fashion, which is half the fun. An example from Very Good, Jeeves:
Baring a dentist’s waiting-room, which it rather resembles, there isn’t anything that quells the spirit much more than one of these suburban parlours. They are extremely apt to have stuffed birds in glass cases standing about on small tables, and if there is one thing which gives the man of sensibility that sinking feeling it is the cold, accusing eye of a ptarmigan or whatever it may be that has had its interior organs removed and sawdust substituted.
Another excerpt from The Code of the Woosters:
I can well imagine that the casual observer, if I had confided to him my qualms at the idea of being married to this girl, would have raised his eyebrows and been at a loss to understand. ‘Bertie.’ he would probably have said, ‘you don’t know what’s good for you,’ adding, possibly, that he wished he had half my complaint. For Madeline Basset was undeniably of attractive exterior – slim, svelte, if that’s the word, and bountifully equipped with golden hair and all the fixings.
But where the casual observer would have been making his bloomer was in overlooking that squashy soupiness of hers, that subtle air she had of being on the point of talking baby-talk. It was that that froze the blood.
With winter well and truly here you couldn’t do better than curling up with a good Bertie and Jeeves book and taking a delightful romp in the long-passed, funnier world, that never really existed, of the British upper crust at play. You can read one book online for free: