William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Dumbest & Most Frustrating Modern Invention Contest Winner Announced!

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It’s about time, too. Sorry for the delay. Been toodling around my land of birth and staying as far from the computer as possible.

On 11 August I initiated the Dumbest & Most Frustrating Modern Invention contest, the winner to receive The Coffee Cup of the Stars! Today, the monumentally anticipated, sensational denouement!

Master of Ceremonies, may I have the honourable mentions, please? Those entries that hewed closest to the spirit of the contest. There was no Car Alarm entry, surprisingly, but there were some close competitors. Here they are in the order they were received.

(The links below take you to the original, in-full comment.)

X PC/MS — DOS and MS-Windows by Paul Murphy.

Windows, when it came out, copied Apple copying Xerox — but what is less well known is that people at UCB had Unix windowing systems running at about the same time and that products like SunView first, and NEWS later, provided solid multi-tasking windowing in the early 1980s — as functional, but more reliable, than Windows 2000/XP 20 years later.

Which is why sensible people prefer the penguin—Linux, that is.

X NO-FEE TV, i.e., Commercial Television by Michael Dowd.

How does one pay for NO FEE TV? By the willingness to subject oneself to the number, intrusiveness, and the often revolting content of the commercials.

The number of commercials on any given program continues to be raised to the maximum pain level and their content often reminds us of various bodily functions we would rather not think about.

That’s why God invented books, Michael.

X Industrial Wind Turbines by John B().

Even though five hundred foot abstract sculptures would look good anywhere, anytime, their use on grid is not improved nor made appropriate by the increase in “economies of scale”. Ten or a hundred or a thousand times worthless is that much more worthless (if scales of worthlessness is possible).

Electricity generated by torrents of hot air was naturally appealing to Congress.

X Cat Toys by Gary.

According to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, owners spend an average of $28/year on cat toys. With almost 43 million households having cats, that comes to over a billion dollars. You don’t have to be a cat-lover to realize these dumb inventions are really meant to attract the owner rather than the cat.

Meow.

X Mission Statements by Joseph Moore.

Does a tiger have a mission statement? Turn tasty prey animals into baby tigers and tiger poop, while terrorizing everything in my territory? No, it does not! Because – follow this closely – it knows what it is doing! A mission statement is conclusive proof that the statemented unit does NOT know what it is doing.

My mission is to convert the world to the Third Way.

X Email by Jay Bhattacharya.

Lowering the real price of placing tasks, information, and solicitations of dubious value on the agenda of busy people was a good idea why exactly? Combine that with the crazy social norm that emails must be answered right away, and it is clear that emails are a step backward from the snail mail they displaced.

It’s tempting to award Jay the prize (recall the rules).

X Automated touch-tone response systems by K Buerck.

No other invention has wasted more time for businesses or consumers. Why do I have to “press 1 for English”, wait for response, listen to a list of 8 possible reasons I have called, then press 9 to hear the list again? It might have been spawned by the lack of qualified receptionists, but maybe we could start a 4 year degree program to train a few.

I suspect all paths lead to the same person.

X JavaScript by Milton Hathaway.

The Internet could have been a magical hyper-linked wonderland that ushered one into a brave new world of interesting unfamiliar content with each new mouse click, with the ‘surfer’ firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat. Then along came JavaScript and shat lumps of sadistic user hostility droppings everywhere, making everything ten times harder and generally stinking up the place beyond all toleration.

Milton reminds us to use a browser which can shut down Javascript, block Ads, and block Flash.

X Self Checkout Systems by Dan W.

Good idea, bad implementation. The cause of failure is the system logic that weighs the customer’s purchase to detect theft. Invariably this check fails, the system balks and the Self Checkout System loses the “Self” adjective as a supervisor must intervene.

One of the many benefits of the minimum wage.

The Runners Up

And now for the court, the three entries, in order, that made the contest into a nail biter…

4 The Reality Show by Sander van der Wal.

The most pointless TV program in existence. Replace the Telly with a mirror and you can look at a complete idiot for free.

And have just the same frisson of delight, too.

3 Peer Review Process by Terry Colon.

Euphemism for the system of suppressing dissent in science. Science is now safely in the hands of the experts who became experts by not dissenting from previous experts. A perfect circle to produce perfectly circular science.

We’ll see what your fellow entrants have to say about that, Terry.

2 Air Blowing Hand Driers by James.

If you’ve pondered, perhaps like Dyson, “Does a 120 dB scream from a little metal box really dry my hands faster?” and managed to sell this product before any testing, congratulations! In addition, thanks to the energy ‘savings’ of needing 3 or 4 dozen passes, soon these devices will be highly regulated by the EPA. Remember, if you don’t leave the bathroom with a couple wet handprints on your clothes, then you aren’t saving the world.

And now we know why mother always told us to hold it until we got home.

And now the moment the entire Internet has been waiting for

May I have a drum roll, please…

Ladies and gentleman—and you, too, Sylvain—here is the…

WINNING ENTRY Human Resources by Wood.

So-called “Human Resources” is a non-human non-resource destructive spider that seeks our ultimate annihilation. It is the soul snatching nanny-state next door. Annihilation by protection: quite possibly the defining characteristic of all things modern. Flexing its smug muscle, human resources “protects” us from all forms of harassment and discrimination by institutionalizing modernist approved harassment and discrimination. Its highest goal is to ensure, for our happiness and well-being of course, that our daily work of filing papers and answering the phone is in reality just the set props of the most important point of our work: reifying Sesame Street. And as we reify, human resources extracts (by direct draft for convenience) a portion of the fleetingly tangible fruits of our labor to fund things that we “need” but are too dumb to find if left to our own devices. This taxation without representation it smilingly refers to as BENEFITS.

Wood won in a romp, which shouldn’t be too surprising since one of the impetuses of the contest was, as I said in its announcement, the execrable Comprehensive, Employee-Written Performance Review. I have suffered these in the past, and know people who now must go through them. Think: the system was designed and intended to hurl vast stretches of time into an empty black chasm. Reviews also encourage the bastardization of English by enforcing a pseudo-language prose style designed to say nothing using a maximum of words.

Congratulations, Wood! Here is what your prize will look like.

Turns Out, Cops & Donuts Do Mix

Not guilty!

Not guilty!

My sordid past is catching up on me. I thought if I shaved the moustache, died the hair, and even pulled some of it out, then I’d be able to fade into obscurity. Maybe if I had consulted with the same scalpel jockey that Don’t-Call-Me-Bruce Jenner used I could have escaped.

On the other hand, no. He (Jenner) underwent the knife to gain notice. Can you imagine me with lipstick? I’d look like a certain (real) female politician known for her scrupulous truth telling. Say: with my record, maybe I could run for office.

Anyway, send bail money, preferably in the form of speaking and training gigs.

Cops & Donuts is a real shop in downtown Clare, Michigan. “100% Cop Owned”, as they say. It’s a bakery that’s been in place since the late Nineteenth Century (how many more centuries we have to go is anybody’s guess). Terrific donuts and salt-rising bread. Get their special, The Squealer. Hint: bacon is involved.

Whoever runs the place has a keen sense of humor, as these pictures demonstrate.

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Speaking of feasting locales, also highly recommended is the Railside Bar & Grill in Elmira. Get the potato burger, which comes with restaurant-made French fries (I mean they make them from scratch). Listen to me, now. You will not regret it. Elmira is famous for its many potato farms. The potatoes are mixed in with the beef, making for the creamiest, juiciest burger you’ve ever had.

My dad used to work with the owner of the pub, and he (the owner) said to come back on Friday for the all-you-can-eat Fish Fry, deep- or pan-fried, which has them lined up out the door.

Elmira, incidentally, consists of about five buildings, so don’t speed as you zip down M32 towards Gaylord.

Now to complete troika, on-tap for tonight is the world-famous Bird Bar & Grill. I’ll be having the Swiss olive burger. The Bird is so old school, it doesn’t even have a website.

And speaking of schools, don’t go to the Bird on Thursday or Friday night, as the place is packed with kids from the local college. “Friday night” starts midday Thursday here and lasts until late Sunday (and even into Monday for some).

Social Justice Warriors! Marvel Announces New Movie At #HugoAwards

Publicity photo from the upcoming movie showing the team in action.

Publicity photo from the upcoming movie showing the team in action.

Marvel’s new Social Justice Warriors! preview took the Hugo Awards by storm. And so did the team itself, who shocked and gratified attendees by using their mutant powers on the award ceremony itself.

Rather than hand out five major awards, which might have gone to authors who produced works of readability and quality, the social justice warriors of the Social Justice Squad slithered into action and, in an exquisitely staged show, mock-battled the Forces of Intolerance and squashed the awards.

The team snatched the best novella, best short story and three others out of the hands of judges mere seconds before they were given to deserving writers instead of favored minorities. The heroic team immediately called a press conference at which they shouted in unison, “Diversity!” And then they vanished!

Hugo Award judges who helped organize the faux-battle were quoted as saying, “This is good for speculative fiction. Our awards were in danger of being known for merit. With the help of the Social Justice Squad, everybody now knows our real purpose is inclusion and equality.”

Just who are these valiant Warriors of Progress?

Quota Girl. A man pretending to be a woman, Bruce Bannthem in his alternate identity of Quota Girl scours HR employment rolls the world over for statistical disparities and discrepancies. Armed only with a wee p-value, Quota Girl can prove to the satisfaction of an appointed judge that a white man with an IQ of 156 hired as aerospace engineer should be passed over in favor of encephalitic woman of color who believes calculus is an oppressive tool of the patriarchy.

Emasculatron. A man pretending to be a man, ex-Womyn’s-Studies-major Lance Mincey is already well known because of his famous catchphrase, “That’s not nice”. His body is able to secrete a Riatlin-like substance which stops any man or boy dead in his tracks, putting them into a coma-like state where all they want to do is scrapbook and join random conversations and say, “Somebody’s feelings might get hurt.”

Title 9 Acerbic-mannered Judith Katz was laboring away in the sub-sub-basement of an obscure Washington department, when one fateful day the air conditioning was turned down. Katz transformed and became Laqueesha Jones, a.k.a. Title 9, a self-identifying black woman with the chilling powers of bureaucratization. It was she who invented the paperwork that self-identified victims of microaggressions and triggerings could file with college administrations.

Look for Social Justice Warriors! everywhere.

Lake Michigan Vacation Post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contest winners announced this week.

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