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Month: February, 2018

Don’t get too excited, but it’s YET ANOTHER idea about stop signs! Maybe this blog should be renamed “Worst Traffic Signage Proposals.”



When a driver comes to a stop sign, they don’t intuitively know whether it is a two-way or an all-way stop. The difference is important, because a lot more diligence is required at an intersection where cross traffic does not stop.

The issue:

See Figure 1: if you add a bunch of trees, parked cars, buildings, and other visual obstructions, it can be very difficult to determine whether the other cross streets have stop signs or not.


Fig. 1: In this bleak gray-and-white plain, it’s easy to tell that the cross traffic does not stop, but in reality there will be a number of trees / cars / buildings that obstruct the driver’s view.


Lanes of traffic that specifically do NOT stop could be marked with lines on the ground (see Figure 2), similar to a crosswalk.


Fig. 2: This green arrow (which extends through the intersection, as seen above) is a visual indicator to inform drivers that cross traffic does not stop.

The only downside to this would be that people might start to assume that the lack of lines would mean “cross traffic DOES stop.” In that case, an alternative formulation could be made where the lanes that do stop are specifically marked ini an obvious fashion (see Figure 3). (Although existing intersections do occasionally have a white line and the word “STOP” painted on them, this marking is very inconsistent and is not at all visually obvious).


Fig. 3: A) In order to prevent drivers from relying too much on “lack of any marking = cross traffic DOES stop,” we could invert the scenario and explicitly mark the lanes of traffic that WILL stop (orange dots here). B) The blue arrow is another possible example of a more aggressively obvious pattern to indicate lack of traffic stopping.


You should buy some stock in companies that sell road-suitable paint, and then propose this idea as an amendment to your state’s constitution (assuming that is a possibility).

PROS: May reduce accidents at two-way-stops-misinterpreted-as-four-way-stops, which might be a major cause of residential car crashes (probably someone knows this, but not me).

CONS: Doesn’t work very well when there is snow on the roadway. Additionally, paint requires substantial maintenance to keep visible; roads might need to be repainted a lot more often, for unclear benefit.

You’ll never believe this new UN-FALSIFIABLE method for showing off your wealth and privilege! The common people hate it!


Many years ago, only the elite members of society were literate.

In some places, it was even ILLEGAL for commoners / peasants / slaves to be literate, for example:


Now that we are allegedly in a more enlightened era, there is no way to use the alphabet itself to distinguish commoners from nobility.

But in this proposal, a new “rich people only” alphabet is created, and the top 1% of each nation’s wealthiest individuals are automatically granted a license to use it (see Figure 1). These letters are forbidden to the common peasantry, and use of these letters by non-authorized individuals, either in handwriting or as a font, would be extremely illegal.



Fig. 1: In this new proposal, the top “high status” alphabet may ONLY be used by extremely wealthy individuals, as measured by their official tax returns. Previously, an incredibly rich oil baron (for example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller ) would have no way to distinguish his own name from that of a common worker with the same name—but in the new system, the “high status” letters make the distinction clear. This is similar in concept to the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph “cartouche,” which is an oval that is drawn exclusively around names of royalty.

Since the letters in this proposal are so similar to existing English letters (see Figure 2), no additional education is necessary! Just install the font, and you’re good to go, provided you meet the stringent total wealth requirements (approximately $9,000,000 U.S. dollars for United States residents).


Fig. 2: Top: sample letters A through J from the “commoner” alphabet that you, a commoner, are already familiar with. Bottom: matching letters from the extremely sophisticated “high status” alphabet.


If you are starting a utopian community on an oil platform in the sea, you should consider implementing this proposal!

PROS: Would encourage extremely rich people to file accurate tax returns, so they could secure their ability to use this exclusive font. Would streamline the process of arresting subversive individuals: the secret police could simply plant this font on the targeted individual’s computer.

CONS: None!



Supplemental Figure A: A complete “sophisticated” alphabet, upper-case letters only.



Supplemental Figure B:  The closest historical example to this proposal is the Ancient Egyptian “cartouche,” seen above in the corresponding Wikipedia entry (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartouche).

Stop being annoyed by three-way light switches that incorrectly both say “OFF,” yet the light is clearly on! Has the entire world gone mad??


A “three-way light switch” (i.e. two switches that control the same light) is useful when there are multiple places that need to control a single light, such as at both the top and the bottom of a staircase.

The issue:

Unfortunately, three-way switches are often out of sync with the actual state of the light (so the switches are both OFF, but the light bulb is on).


Fig. 1: A three-way (two-switch) system is surprisingly straightforward. You can even add more switches, if you want! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiway_switching)


Ideally, the ON / OFF position would be correct indicated by the switch itself, instead of Instead of having the switch position indicate when

  • Easy and elegant solution, with one fatal flaw: just make the switch a press-able single button. Internally, the switch would just turn a wheel or something, to generate the required electrical connection.
    • Downside #1: Since it lacks an up/down state, you wouldn’t know whether the circuit were ON or OFF when the bulb is burned out.
    • Downside #2: Probably banned by electrical code for reasons stated in downside #1.
  • Electromagnet-based complicated solution: have each switch’s natural position be the DOWN position, which it will return to due to gravity when there is no electrical current. However, when the circuit is active, an electromagnet causes the switch to be held and/or pulled to the up position.
    • Downside: uses a tiny amount of electricity.
    • Upside: syncs the state of the switches. (If you turn on one switch, the other one will also be pulled up by the built-in electromagnet).


Maybe you should rewire your house with this highly speculative and untested electrical suggestion! Consult an electrician today.

PROS: You will no longer be bedeviled by light switches that do not properly convey the state of the light. (Previously: the switches both say OFF, but the light is on? Ugh!!!)

CONS: May burn down your house.

Achieve enlightenment and 100% vacuum cleaner coverage with this one incredible telescoping furniture leg tip!

The issue:

Both humans and automated vacuum cleaners (e.g. Roombas) find it inconvenient to operate a vacuum cleaner around furniture—specifically, no one wants to move extremely heavy furniture just to vacuum around the legs.


Most furniture is still stable even when not all supporting legs are contacting the ground. So why not have telescoping table legs that can retract to allow a vacuum cleaner to vacuum under them?

This would allow a robotic vacuum cleaner to achieve 100% vacuuming efficiency in your house, rather than having it be limited by its inability to drag your heavy furniture around.


Fig. 1: These telescoping furniture legs can retract to allow you (or your trusty robotic vacuum) to vacuum underneath it.



Fig. 2: Easy! The sofa leg detects the proximity of the vacuum cleaner and telescopes upward into the furnishing. Perhaps a pressure sensor on the sofa leg could be activated by hitting the vacuum cleaner against it.


If you work at a robotic vacuum cleaner company, you should license this patent from me immediately. Also please file for it on my behalf (thanks in advance).

PROS: Allows 100% vacuum cleaner coverage to finally be achieved. FINALLY.

CONS: With no goals and struggles remaining after this, perhaps existence will seem hollow and unsatisfying.