Back to Basics

21 October 2009

Several Moral Hazard readers have recently complained that the blog has become too cheerful in tone.  Actually, that’s a lie; nobody reads this blog.  Nonetheless, I’ll devote today’s post to doing what I do best: bitching and moaning about utterly insignificant bullshit.  Without further ado, here’s the latest installment of Things That Piss Me Off ©.

1. “College” t-shirts.

Comic legend.

Comic legend.

Unoriginal douchebag and probable circle-jerker.

Unoriginal douchebag and probable circle-jerker.

When John Belushi wore this shirt in the National Lampoon classic Animal House, it was original and clever.  When some closet case fratboy asshole does so over 20 years later, it is neither.  I bet a lot of these idiots don’t even get the joke.

2. The standard system.

Question: how many inches are in a mile?  Answer: nobody knows.  The standard “system” (a loosely used term if there ever was one) makes it impossible to make these sorts of everyday calculations.  Compare that to the metric system: if you want to know how many centimeters are in a kilometer, you just move the decimal point.  The standard units of volume are almost as bad: you’ve got tablespoons, cups, pints, quarts, gallons, and who the fuck knows what else.

I don’t get it: the base 10 number system was around when the standard system was invented, and yet for some reason they thought that 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard, and 5,280 feet in a mile sounded about right.  Really, what were they thinking?  At least they have the excuse of living in an age before science, however; what’s the United States’ excuse for continuing to use this cumbersome nonsense?  Probably that Europe uses the metric system, so switching would be unpatriotic.  This is the same reason we don’t have universal health care.

3. Those push-button faucets in public toilets.

You know the ones I’m talking about, right?  The ones where you push down on the faucet(s) and water comes out for about 1.5 seconds?  Those fucking things drive me absolutely nuts.  You push the faucet with your soapy hands and race to get them under the brief flow of water, but you don’t have time to rinse them completely.  You have to push the faucet again, getting more soap on your hands in the process; this cycle continues until you give up and wipe your hands while there’s still soap on them, leaving behind a most unpleasant residue.  These faucets should be banned as a crime against humanity; they’ve caused at least as much human suffering as land mines.

4. Dogs with human names.

The other day I stopped to pet a dog in Frick Park.  I asked its owner what its name was; “Joe,” he replied.  “Joe?” I asked.  “You named your dog Joe? You must be the least creative motherfucker on the planet!  It’s a dog, not a person; give it a badass name like Cujo or Bonecrusher,” I suggested.   “Alternatively, you could go for humor; Steve Martin had a dog named ‘Shithead’ in The Jerk.  Anything, absolutely anything, would be better than Joe!”

I would have continued, but by then he had motored pretty far away on his Rascal scooter.

Meet my dog, Pete.

Meet my dog, Jerry.

5. Lottery drawings during sports games.

I don’t have a problem with the lottery, which is really just a tax on people who don’t understand probability.  If they want to flash the day’s winning numbers across the bottom of the screen during a ballgame, I’d be fine with it.   But no; they devote 3/4 of the screen to showing the little white balls being drawn, distorting the game and reducing it to the size of a postage stamp.  As there are several drawings, this can go on for several minutes.  Why is this necessary?  Do people really need to see the drawing to confirm that it’s not rigged and that their chance really is one in 300 million?  I hate everyone.

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Question

18 October 2009

I’d like to share a question that’s always puzzled me: how many toddlers would it take to kill me?  Suppose that we’re in the middle of a large, enclosed space and that no weapons are available.  On the one hand, I feel like I should be able to kill toddlers indefinitely; after all, what damage could they do?  On the other hand, killing them would be tiring, and it seems like there must be some number of them that would be overwhelming.  I honestly don’t have a good idea of what this number might be, so I’d like to appeal to the wisdom of crowds:

Please respond to the poll and post your reasoning to comments.

Edit (19-10-09): A reader pointed me to this resource.  It’s about fighting 6- and 7-year-olds, but some of the principles apply.