Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Ostrich Cattle


Last night, I ate in a restaurant. Reading through the menu, I came across a section with the title “Pure Beef Burgers (Except for the chicken, of course!).” The reason I found this funny was that the options listed below were: Beef Burger, Chicken Burger, and Ostrich Burger.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Fluffy Toys


I sometimes find it hilarious how children carry toys. I saw a child today who had apparently won two plush monkeys at the arcade. Obviously not wanting to lose them, the child had wrapped the one around the other in a rather suggestive manner. It will be an awkward moment for the parents when they realise why people are pointing and laughing at the child. I love it when people find themselves in awkward moments.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Philosophers Part II


I wrote about philosophers two weeks ago, (On Philosophers and their Heavy Boots), and someone made a comment about trees falling in the forest. (I really appreciate the comments. I really wish more people would leave them, even if it doesn’t say anything.)

It is a long standing question (since the ancient Greeks, as far as I know), whether or not a tree that falls in the forest makes a noise if there is no one there to hear it. It’s like the Buddhist koan “What is the sound of one hand clapping.” The answer to that is simple. The sound is a solid “whack”, just like when two hands clap. If you want proof, then simply ask a man who has only one arm to clap. He substitutes his missing arm with the side of your face.

The issue of the tree can be solved so simply. The answer is no, the tree does not make a sound. If you want proof, the easiest way is to put a deaf person there to listen. (Since, technically, he is not there to hear it.) Leave him alone with the tree, and then return once the tree has fallen. If he’s a nice guy, he will tell you he didn’t hear the tree make a sound. If he’s not, be prepared to dodge a fist to the face, and repeat the experiment using a different deaf person.

The reason I brought this up again is because I have managed to make observations on a similar situation involving a completely different object. My kettle, like most modern electric kettles, has an automatic switch that triggers as soon as the water starts boiling. However, the kettle is not as perfect as it once was, and the switch doesn’t always work. The problem is that I am used to switching on the kettle, and then getting on with other things, knowing that when I return, there will be a kettle full of boiled water waiting, and that no water or electricity would have been wasted by the kettle staying on for to long.

The problem is that the switch doesn’t always work, and this has been happening for a while. From experience, I have noticed that the kettle only switches itself when I’m nearby, and waiting to switch it off. When I’m not there, it carries on boiling merrily. One could simply put this down as an example of Murphy’s Law, but I think one needs a more scientific approach.

Applying quantum mechanics to the situation, one realises that the kettle is both on and off until someone is watching it. As soon as I’m in the room, the two probability waves for the kettle collapse, and the kettle settles into its final state. In at least one universe, the kettle had been boiling the whole time, and that energy can’t just be forgotten. This means that if there is no observer, the water has to boil in at least one universe. If there is an observer, then there is no chance for multiple probability waves to form, so the water never boils in any universe (at least, not in any of my universes).

Of course, I’m not a quantum physicist. I’m an engineer, so naturally, I think it’s got more to do with the collapsing reliability function of the kettle.

If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Sunday, July 19, 2009

On Humans and Monkeys


You hear people saying that humans are just hairless monkeys. Well, maybe you don't hear it, but I do. Sometimes. Occasionally. Once or twice. But that doesn't matter. The truth is that it is wrong. The important bit that has been forgotten is the tail. We are apes, not monkeys, falling into the hominid family. On that note, we are the scrawniest hominids around. As if that wasn't bad enough, we are also have lowest strength per body mass. And then, we had to be the stupidest.

I'm not saying that all chimpanzees and orangutans are smart, and I'm not saying that all humans are stupid, but I think on average, the evolutionary tree has led humans to be pretty retarded. Few have any real problem solving capabilities, yet most chimpanzees do. It's really sad, but that's the way things turned out, and there's not much that can be done about it.

If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Airtime


Or where to buy it. Most people seem to think it's sold everywhere. As far as I understood it, airtime is sold at supermarkets and places that sell cellphones. Why would a tiny sweet shop sell airtime? Or a DVD store?

Its almost as bad as batteries. Why would a DVD and comic store sell batteries.

But by far the worst are those people who go into every store wanting to buy a camera. Damn foreigners.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Pedestrian Traffic


Why are there such well defined rules of the road, but absolutely none for pedestrians? Not just pedestrians on the road, but in any public space, including shopping centres. I understand that cars cause a lot more damage if they collide, and its far more dangerous if someone recklessly cuts in front of you while driving a car than while walking, but its still a pain in the neck waiting as someone walks in front of you when you are in a hurry. Or stops in the middle of a passageway (which is exactly the same as illegal parking). Someone should really look into organizing a formal walking license, and start enforcing it.

I just hope that no one goes putting speed limits, because I do walk fast.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Sunday, July 12, 2009

On Philosophers and their Heavy Boots


When I did a philosophy course at university, my lecturer was no scientist, but he wasn’t completely ignorant either – which was a good thing considering he was teaching a class of engineers. Unfortunately, not all philosophers fall into that same category. I came across a story about someone who was less fortunate: Link: Heavy Boots

The scariest part of the story is not that the philosopher knew nothing (which is partly expected), but rather that 57% of the first year physics students also knew nothing. So many people should not be allowed through high school.

I had a similar experience. I was remarkably surprised to discover in that 95% of my philosophy class, made up of mostly second year chemical engineers, did not believe in evolution. We live in a scary world indeed.

If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Change


Managing a store is hard work. One of the most annoying problems is trying to maintain the cash float. Despite the fact that it is more convenient to have fewer notes of large denominations in a wallet than to have more notes of smaller denominations, most people are too lazy to count their money, and will hand over a large note and accept the change. It’s quite frustrating, because the float is only so much, and it’s quite a bit of effort to go get change for the larger notes. It’s not difficult, but it just takes for more energy from me, than it would take for a customer to count his money. You have to think of energy efficiency on a global scale. When you say “Don’t you have any change?”, its amazing how many customers will produce the exact amount.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Closed Doors


Last week, I came across a door to a shop that was closed. On the door, someone had placed a sign reading “Closed due to the account of the weather.” I understand that it is possible that the sign might have been referring only to the door, but the way it was written made it seem like the shop was closed. Surely they would have put a "Come in" at the beginning, or at least specified that they were talking about the door and not the store. And the choice of wording may simply have been a case of bad grammar, but I prefer not to underestimate people’s intelligence like that. I am sure that the sign said exactly what they wanted it to say.

That is that the store was closed due to the account of the weather. And this makes sense. In the present economic climate (don’t those words get used a lot nowadays), thousands of stores are closing due to their customers accounts, and bad debts. We are living in difficult times, and it would have been arrogant of me to assume that this particular store was immune to the economic collapse.

In a lot of cases, I don’t believe the stores are to blame. Everyone was allowing customers to buy on account, and it seemed to be working, so why not follow the sheep. This store, however, had no excuse. The weather is an obvious high risk customer. It is mentally unstable, has an uncontrollable rage, and frequently moves countries, usually without a passport. It also has no stable income, and is well known for numerous antisocial acts, ranging from simple vandalism through to outright destruction and mass homicide. Honestly, if a store is prepared to offer the weather an account, then they are just asking for bad debts. They deserve to have closed down.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Google, part VI


Google is an ingenious tool. It learns from the people who use it, and adapts to what they want. And most of the world’s internet users use Google. That makes Google the perfect tool for the average internet user to find information. Google is designed specifically to make it as simple as possible for the average internet user to find information they want. It is a brilliant idea.

The thing Google did not take into account was that the internet is playing a bigger and bigger role in the lives of humans. The internet is now accessible, and average internet users are no longer smart geeks like 20 years ago. Now, the average internet user is just a normal human. This is unfortunate, because the global average for intelligence is pretty low. This means that Google makes information easy to find for idiots, and the minority who are serious and actually need useful information are left to dig through the mud for it. This, I suppose, is fair. The serious information seekers are more capable of digging than the average idiot.

A feature Google used to include was a drop down list of previous searches. Which was stupid, because I either found what I was looking for and don’t need to search again; or I did not find anything, and need to try a different search. Google obviously realised this and replaced this feature. This new feature tries to guess what you are typing based on most the popular searches starting with the same letters. This is just a mirror into the mass stupidity of the human race.

My attention was drawn to this by a random picture I found listing the most popular searches starting with “I like to t…” The results are obviously hilarious: In the list, there were two that really caught my attention.
  • “I like to think of Jesus as a mysterious badger”
  • “I like to tape my thumbs to my hands to see what it would be like to be a dinosaur”
Even more ridiculous are the searches starting with “why is there…” The results from Google South Africa are not that unusual, but if you go to Google.com, they get interesting. This time, I’ll give them all:
  • "Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball"
  • "Why is there no j street in dc"
  • "Why is there a worm in tequila"
  • "Why is there daylight savings time"
  • "Why is there an apple on the cover of twilight"
  • "Why is there a leap year"
  • "Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch"
  • "Why is there something rather than nothing"
  • "Why is there air"
  • "Why is there salt in the ocean"
Bear in mind that these are the most popular searches. The world really is a messed up place.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



Sunday, July 5, 2009

On Excercise


The other day, my nose was running constantly. Not so much running as sprinting, at full pace. I think it’s because of the cold weather. And I find it a bit frustrating. Yes, it’s annoying having to blow my nose every ten minutes, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that if I were to run for ten minutes, I’d be absolutely exhausted, yet my nose can run for an entire day, 14 hours without a break. Even marathon runners can’t do that. Surely this is a major flaw in the human body. Surely it would be more beneficial if the legs could run without getting tired, and the nose got exhausted after ten minutes. The world is so messed up.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Overexcited Toilets


Seriously! They are inanimate objects and have no right to be so eager to do their job. I know it’s better than having a toilet that is too stubborn to flush, but it is a bit annoying when the toilet flushes so violently that it splashes water everywhere. It’s frustrating to have to jump out of the way of flying water drops, especially in smaller stalls. Especially when carrying a laptop. To that particular toilet in question (you know who you are), I would like to say that until you can pull your act together, I will not be using you. See? Your hyperactive behaviour has actually led to you getting less to do. I hope you are now happy.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Public Transport


Not the public transport system itself (which is not quite as nonexistent as most people believe), but rather the people who use it. There’s no denying that most normal people in this country don’t use public transport. Anyone who does use public transport either does not own a car or driver’s license, and cannot get a lift with anyone, or has something wrong with them, or is just abnormal. I fall into the latter category, and because of this, I catch a bus on a regular basis.

Catching a bus in South Africa is easier than most people think. It just takes patience. There are hundreds of bus routes in Johannesburg, and there are bus stops every couple of blocks. Once you find the route that goes where you want to go, and found one of the numerous bus stops on that route, it’s just a matter of waiting. I have a lot of patience, and so waiting is no problem for me. Unfortunately, I travel one of the less popular routes, so the buses going my way are slightly less common, and I often have to wait over an hour for a bus.

The thing with waiting is that most people don’t find it as easy as I do, and they assume that everyone has as little patience as they do. In order to avoid the wait, they arrive at the bus stop only when they expect the bus. There is one bus in particular that runs every half hour. The drivers of that route are reliable and punctual, and so the commuters of that route are particularly good at arriving at the bus stop exactly when the bus arrives. If the bus is not there, they seem to like asking those standing around if they have seen the bus. Last week, one of them asked me. I simply replied “Yes”. He replied with an OK, and left the bus stop. If he had waited five more seconds, I would have added “but that was thirty minutes ago”, but he simply assumed that I would not have the patience to wait that long. Within a minute, the bus he wanted came and left without him. It’s too bad that he got home half an hour later that day than he could have. He didn’t even need to be patient – he just had to realise that some other people in the world are.
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



On Technology Part IV


Especially the technology that people use while driving. Not GPS systems this time, but rather hands free sets for cell phones. I almost crashed into someone the other day. It took me a while to realise what the idiot was doing. He was screaming and shouting and shaking his fists and pointing at something on his dashboard. At first I thought he was angry at me, but then I realised he wasn’t even looking at me. He was talking into a cell phone mounted on his dashboard.

What’s the point in using a hands free kit if you are going to use hand gestures to get your point across anyway?
If you enjoyed this post, then don't forget to like, tweet, +1, or upvote on reddit. If you have any questions, comments or complaints, post them using the form below.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .