Thursday, March 27, 2014

Life Insurance Questions

Getting life insurance is a process full of many questions for the prospective insured to answer.  Unfortunately, the questions are unbearably dull, and no one even knows what most of them mean.  Here is how a life insurance questionnaire should look:

  1. In the past 5 years, have you sold one or both kidneys on the internet?
  2. In the past 5 years, have you considered selling one or both kidneys on the internet?
  3. Did the above two questions make you think that selling kidneys on the internet might be a good idea?
  4. In the past 5 years, have you eaten a hot dog?
  5. In the past 5 years, have you done something monumentally stupid?
  6. In the past 5 years, have you considered doing something monumentally stupid, even if you later decided against it?
  7. In the past 5 years, have you uttered the phrase "You Only Live Once" (or used the acronym "YOLO") as justification for any activity?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you are not insurable.  Please try back in 5 years after you have eliminated these risks - if you survive.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Wearable Computers

It used to be so easy to interact with other human beings.  All it took was the ability to string together a combination of vocal sounds and hand gestures that would be understandable to another person.  That person would watch and listen, then respond with their own combination of sounds and gestures.  This process could repeat until one or both parties was ready to discontinue the interaction.  We called this conversation.

Sometimes, this process even yielded good ideas that helped humans beyond those involved in the original conversation.  And sometimes not.

"Hey, what's that thing on the ground?"

"I don't know.  It looks like a giant booger wearing a motorcycle helmet on its back."

"How do you know what part of a booger is its back?"

"I don't know.  Hey - do you think it would be good to eat?"

"Why don't you try it and find out."

"No.  You try it."

"No, you."

"I'll give you a dollar if you try it."


But even if people sometimes share bad ideas, conversation is still useful and necessary for human success.  While some technology claims to help us communicate, a lot of other technology hinders our communication - especially when we begin wearing said technology.  Once this happens, we can expect human communication to degenerate into something like this:

"Hey, how are you doing?"

"I'm doing great - say, before we go any farther, I have to ask you something.  I'd like to record our conversation as part of my lasting personal experience - do you mind?"

"'Lasting personal experience?'  Um... I'm not really into having my conversations recorded."

"Oh, okay, just a minute, let me shut off my glasses.  Ok glasses - turn off."

"What about your shirt?"

"Good point, just a sec, I have to remember the command."

"I have the same shirt - say 'Ok shirt - stop recording.'"

"Right - Ok shirt - stop recording."

"Those are nice shoes, are they new?"

"Yeah, they're great - oh, that reminds me, I have to shut them off too."


"Ok shoes - um...  Ok shoes... shut down.  So, what did you want to talk about?"

"I think your shoes are beeping."

"Yeah, they do that when they're not recording."

"They beep when they're NOT recording?"

"Yeah, I think they were really designed to record all the time, so it's kind of like a warning."

"That's a little strange."

"Yeah, sorry about all this."

"Oh, no problem, I was just watching a movie while I waited for you to get finished."

"Really?  Which movie?"

"What? ...Oh yeah, Star Wars 14."

"Right, that's a good one.  Well, I have to get going.  It was nice talking to you."

"Ok...GAAAH!  ...Sorry, scary scene.  Bye!"

"Right... bye."

On the bright side, people will be so distracted that they will be highly unlikely to notice snails, let alone suggest eating them.  Ah, the glorious future of human interaction.

Monday, March 17, 2014


I've been seeing a lot of people post the results of various quizzes they've taken that identify them with a character in a movie, video game, deck of cards, or something similar.  These are the kind that have a tag line something like this:

I took [shameless marketing company's] [popular movie or TV show] quiz, and I'm [character name].  Who are you?

And when they say "Who are you?", what they really mean is, "You should also take this quiz so that this marketing company may continue to make loads of money while contributing no actual value to society."

But I figured, hey, contributing no value to society is what I do best.  So I tried one.  Here are the results I got:


Our system was unable to match you with a character based on the answers you provided to our quiz, which were, quite frankly, incomprehensible.  For example, your answers to questions 3 and 17 are completely contradictory.  Are you heroic, or are you lazy?  Or are you only heroic when pursuing cheeseburgers?  Our system was also unable to determine your position on the scale of good and evil.  You indicated both that you like bunnies and that you often think destruction and mayhem are amusing.  You can't possibly like both.  Three of our servers burst into flames while trying to process your answers to these questions.  The fire truck that responded ran over a bunny on the way to our facility.  Perhaps you think that is funny, but we're not sure.  To add insult to injury, we can't even determine your level of intelligence.  Your answer to question 7 indicated a high degree of mathematical aptitude.  And yet you later indicated that the four greatest ancient contributors to our modern culture were Larry, Curly, Moe, and sometimes Shemp.  Based on that, our system could not determine whether you are brilliant, comically stupid, insane, or some combination of those three.  Ordinarily, we'd offer you the opportunity to take a different quiz, but in this case we're rather afraid of what might result from that.

Honestly, I'm surprised that more people don't get this response, because I thought all people were too deep and complex to be categorized using trite storybook characters.  But I guess I can't complain too much.  Any day you can set something on fire, especially from a distance, is a good day in my book.

Friday, March 14, 2014


People often ask "how do I become a great leader?"  Well, they don't ask ME that.  In fact, no one ever asks me what I think about anything, because they really don't want to know.

"Hey Ben - what are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking of the best way to get people to spew milk out of their nose.  First, I have to convince them to have some milk.  Do you think people would become suspicious if I went up and asked them to drink some milk?  Or should I use soda?"


Everyone knows that leadership requires the ability to think up creative solutions to problems.  Especially when those problems are the people you're trying to lead.  So, in the spirit of creativity, I offer you 3 ways to become a great leader.

Don't listen

You're the leader, not the listener, remember?  Followers listen.  They have to, because otherwise how would they know where to go or what to do?  Leaders, by their very nature, are at the front of the line leading the way.  It makes no sense that they would need to listen, especially to followers.  In fact, it's dangerous to listen, because then no one will know who's in charge.  If you start listening to people, then they might even think THEY are in charge, and you can't have that.  Not only that, you might forget that you are in charge if you spend all your time listening.  People can tell who you are by your behavior, so just remember that leaders don't listen.

Think about the difference between writing and reading.  If I'm the one writing, then people know I'm a writer.  It also stands to reason that I know more than the people reading.  If I needed to learn something, I would be the one reading.  And if I started reading, then who would know that I'm really a writer?  See what I mean?

Speaking of reading, you probably shouldn't do that either.  If you read what someone writes to you, it's pretty much like listening to what they say, and you don't want to get tricked into doing that.


Which of these do you think is going to get more of a response?

1. "Could you please hand me that stapler?"


2. "Bring me that stapler, underling!  And while you're at it, make me a sandwich!"

Asking a question makes it sound like the response is optional.  Some people might even make you wait for the stapler, or, worse yet, say "no".  Then what are you going to do?  Besides, would you rather have a stapler, or a stapler AND a sandwich?  It's so obvious, I don't even know why I have to explain these things to people.


Some people get upset if you don't listen to them.  Some people also don't like being called "underling", or being told to bring staplers or make sandwiches for people.  What do you do about these types of people?  It's so simple:  you shout until they stop being so difficult.

Now, you certainly don't have to wait until someone is being difficult to shout.  Sometimes properly not listening and properly leading like a boss require shouting, so do it any time you need to.

You see, some people think that leadership is about good vision, being wise, helpful, setting a good example, or being positive.  People who think that are dumb.  It's really all about shouting until you get what you want.

I hope this has been a helpful lesson on how to be a great leader.  You don't have to thank me.  If you do come and thank me, I probably won't listen to you anyway.  In fact, you'd probably wind up making me a sandwich because you're not yet as good at leadership as I am.  That's why I'm writing and you're reading.