Residential homes are often protected from burglary by locked doors and locked windows (Figure 1), and occasionally by more substantial measures such as barred windows (Figure 2).
However, none of that helps once an intruder breaches the perimeter of the home: once they’re inside, they are free to loot at their leisure—an unoccupied home has no further internal defenses.
Fig. 1: A cross-section of two rooms from a normal home.
In order to make the inside of a home burglary-resistant without resorting to illegal booby traps, we can just create a security system that makes the interior of the home extremely unappealing to traverse.
One approach might be to have sliding metal dividers that can be raised out of the floor when all residents leave (Figure 3). This would make it nearly impossible to navigate the home while the system was armed, yet would not pose any threat to the residents in case of accidental deployment.
The metal-slat security system described in Figure 3 would be expensive to install, since it would require an elaborate floor mechanism. For home remodeling on a budget, see the simplified (but equally effective) proposal in Figure 4.
Next time you consult your architect for constructing a new mansion, make sure to keep these home-defense tips in mind.
PROS: Prevents thieves from stealing hundreds of dollars worth of televisions and cell phone chargers from your residence!
CONS: Might be over-complicated compared to the lower-tech version of just putting medieval portcullises between each room.
Extremely large TVs have now become cheap enough to use as gigantic computer monitors. It’s possible to find a 55+” television with high enough resolution and low enough latency to work as an external monitor for even the most discerning computer-ologist.
Most desks are not set up to accommodate a 55″ television as a monitor. In particular, the most immediately obvious arrangement—laptop in front of monitor—has the disadvantage of having a large area of the monitor blocked by the laptop (Figure 1).
In order to fix this laptop-blocking-screen issue, we turn to a simple software fix: simply split the monitor into three rectangular sub-monitors that are NOT blocked by the laptop screen (Figure 2).
Instead of splitting up a monitor into three rectangular sub-displays, it might also be possible to allow a user to “mask out” an arbitrary region of a monitor as a “dead zone” to be ignored by the system (Figure 4). This would allow the external display to still be treated as a single monitor, rather than 3 separate ones. Although a non-rectangular display may seem odd, there is precedent for it in smartphones: the Apple iPhone X “notch” and the “hole punch displays” introduced in 2019 are common examples.
Is it possible that a far-away television is better for eyestrain than a smaller-but-closer computer monitor? Maybe! Some sort of legitimate eyeball scientist should weigh in on this matter.
PROS: The multi-monitor setup would probably actually work, although irregularly-shaped displays might be a hassle.
Every four years, interest is re-kindled in the odd “Electoral College”-based method of tallying up American presidential votes.
Since the electoral votes are actually assigned on a per-state[*] basis (Figure 1), this has the side effect of making the presidential elections hinge on a few “battleground” districts—tiny subsets of swing states whose voting outcome isn’t already predictable.
Thus, only voters in these regions actually need to be granted presidential boons in order to persuade them—voters in the vast majority of states can be safely ignored.
[*] Some states split their electoral votes between candidates, but this is not common.
People frequently discuss the idea of changing the electoral college system to a one-vote-per-person system.
However, very little consideration has gone into the other direction—having a SECOND electoral college, essentially an “electoral college for the electoral college.”
If one electoral college is good, maybe two would be better?
Here, we propose that the United States be grouped—for the purposes of elections only—into 10 five-state “electoral mega-regions.” Washington D.C. will retain its 3 electoral votes, and will be counted as a secret “Megaregion Zero” (not shown on map).
(To increase the level of mystery, its votes will only be used in cases of ties, and will not be included in tallies otherwise.)
Then, each of these megaregions would cast its aggregated “mega-electoral-votes” just as the normal electoral votes are determined.
In order to fix the disenfranchisement problem described in Fig 2B, we could assign the votes of each megaregion based on a a simple majority of its states: instead of allowing Texas to entirely determine the outcome of Megaregion 6 (as it would if we weighted states by population or electoral votes), we would count each state as a single vote: so it would be a “best 3 out of 5” for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Hawaii, and Alaska.
With this “one state / one vote” method, every state would be important in assigning the votes of the megaregion.
Thanks to this reformed system, politics will be saved forever. Also, this may showcase the electoral college system, leading other countries to adopt it.
PROS: Improves the electoral college system by adding a second layer, thus multiplying its benefits.
CONS: It’s somehow theoretically possible that this might lead to gerrymandering???
See below for an additional example of this system in action.
The traditional flat-surfaced desk has been more-or-less unchanged for thousands of years.
People often place a drink on their desk. However, this makes it very easy to accidentally knock the drink over onto (depending on the era) a stack of rolled-up papyrus scrolls, a Gutenberg Bible, or a laptop (Figure 1).
Desks should have a sunken “put your drinks here” area where they can safely spill without ruining your workspace (Figure 2).
This would be a great way for a furniture maker to drum up new business. Throw away your outdated “flat surface” desks and buy a new one!