WorstPlans.com updates every Monday!

Your weekly source for terrible plans and ideas!

Category: Beasts

Stop writing dog noises as just “bark” or “woof”—use a new and complete dog alphabet to give them their proper due! Linguists love this one weird tip that will expand the linguistics job market!

Background:

Written languages have generally been optimized for the most meaningful elements of speech, so sometimes strange workarounds are required to capture certain subtleties: e.g. capital letters for YELLING, alternating capitalization for “thE spEaKer is VEry StUpid,” ellipses for a stilted-last-gasps sort of speech (“tell… them… the… killer… was…”), or the HTML-inspired “/s” for “please interpret the former sentence sarcastically.”

The issue:

Unfortunately, although the workarounds above are generally sufficient for human languages, they fail for non-human sounds: for example, a dog barking or a bird chirping.

If we want to write down bird songs or distinguish between different dog barks, our vocabulary is limited to various stereotyped sounds (e.g. “bark,” “woof,” “yip,” “growl”), as shown in Figure 1.

These words have very little relationship to the actual sounds that the animals are making, however!

 

2-dogs-with-latin-letters

Fig. 1: Latin letters do not allow the expression of more than a few types of dog barks. Outrageous!

So if we want to write down exactly a very specific dog bark, we are out of luck.

Proposal:

Out of luck until now, that is! What we need is a special dog-bark alphabet (Figure 2) that can capture both the range of dog sounds and their pitch.

1-dog-bark-alphabet-header

Fig. 2: What we need is a new set of letters specifically for representing dog sounds.

In this case, the new alphabet works as follows:

  1. It is a fully-featured alphabet, with each sound corresponding to one of the perhaps few-hundred basic dog vocalizations. As an upper bound, it’s probably reasonable to assume that we will need no more than 250 letters.

  2. The vertical position of the letters will indicate higher or lower pitch, just like musical notes on a staff.

Figure 3 shows an example of a hypothesized candidate alphabet, where the dog noises from Figure 1 have been converted into a new sound-and-pitch-based alphabet.

3-dog-alphabet
Fig. 3: This poorly-documented alphabet nevertheless conveys the basic idea that 1) vertical position is pitch and 2) that dog noises are drawn from a fixed set of symbols (e.g. the “Ѱ”-like character being used for the start of a growl).

Conclusion:

Once this is successful, it will open up new jobs for linguists in creating bird alphabets, cat alphabets, and whale alphabets.

This expanded-alphabet idea can also be applied for humans, allowing us to represent common sounds that still have no adequate textual approximation, like the sound of a sneeze or yawn.

PROS: Strategic addition of new dog-sound-related words could legitimize a few new and useful Scrabble words (possible candidate dog sounds: “RR,” “GR,” “RF”).

CONS: Possibly would be substantially more effort to learn than just learning 10 synonyms for “bark,” which is the current status quo.

Never have your country’s submarines detected again, with this incredible Loch Ness monster-based top secret project.

Background:

Modern submarines use a periscope-like electronic camera (a “photonics mast.”) to view the world above the waves.

The issue:

The problem is twofold:

  1. If an adversary spots a periscope, there isn’t much doubt as to what’s under the waves: it’s a submarine (Figure 1).
  2. Periscope designs are apparently specific to each nation, so just seeing a periscope can be sufficient for an observer to determine what kind of submarine is lurking in the area.
1-periscope-is-obvious.png

Fig. 1: Technically, this periscope (left) could be a pipe or really weird fish, but realistically, any observer is going to know it’s a submarine (right).

Proposal:

Fortunately, we can easily disguise the periscope (Figure 2) to remove these problems.

2-loch-ness-monster-only.png

Fig. 2: Here, we see a proposed periscope disguise. A submarine-observer who noticed this above the waves would assume that they had seen a sea serpent or Loch Ness monster, not a submarine.

The disguised periscope is more likely to be reported as a new discovery in cryptozoology (Figure 3), rather than a submarine.

3-loch-ness-monster-disguise-full-scenario.png

Fig. 3: Expectation vs. reality. A submarine could carry multiple periscope disguises if needed; sea serpent, white whale, unusually ugly bird, marooned sailor adrift on a raft, etc.

Conclusion:

There is one added bonus to this system: under normal circumstances, a submarine is not aware that its periscope has been seen. However, in this new system, it is possible that the periscope-observer might post their findings online (“wow, I just saw a Loch Ness monster at these GPS coordinates!!!”), and the submarine could then check the Internet to see if “Loch Ness monster sighted” was trending online and/or had been posted on any cryptozoology enthusiast web sites.

(If they find a post about the Loch Ness monster at their current GPS coordinates, it obviously means that the submarine’s position is no longer secret.)

PROS: Pretty much all of them.

CONS: May slightly increase submarine drag, thus reducing fuel efficiency.

Vastly improve your whale watching tourism business with this new “guaranteed whale appearance” whale jail, A.K.A. the “cetacean cube.” Never disappoint a demanding and entitled tourist again!

TITLE: Vastly improve your whale watching tourism business with this new “guaranteed whale appearance” whale jail, A.K.A. the “cetacean cube.” Never disappoint a demanding and entitled tourist again!

Background:

Tourists in certain countries are willing to pay money to embark on a short boat trip in search of some sort of evidence of whales existing (e.g. a dorsal fin, waterspout, tail).

The issue:

Unfortunately, although this activity is billed as “whale watching,” there is no guarantee that a whale will make an appearance during the voyage, even if there is, in fact, a whale somewhere in the water underneath the whale-watching boat (Figure 1).

This is because the whales do not receive a cut of the tourist proceeds and thus, under capitalism, are not incentivized to appear at any particular schedule.

1-whale-barely-visible

Fig. 1: Despite there being many exotic marine animals in the water in this example, none of them are visible due to the opacity of the ocean water. The whale watcher is completely dependent on the whale deigning to come up for air at some point during the whale watching expedition. Outrageous!

Proposal:

The solution to this AWOL-whale problem is simple: an enormous transparent cube that is partially submerged into the ocean near the route of the whale-watching ship.

After the cube is partially submerged, most of the air in the top is pumped out, thus causing the water level to rise substantially above the normal water level (due to the lower atmospheric pressure in the cube).

The cube actually only has five sides: the bottom of the cube is open to the sea, thus allowing sea creatures to enter (or leave) the cube.

 

2-whale-visible-after.png

Fig. 2: Thanks to this “cetacean cube,” the whale can be observed as if it is in an aquarium. Additionally, other sea life that does not need to surface for air can also be observed in the cube.

Conclusion:

This system should be of great use to coastal whale-watching tour boats.

PROS: Gratifies many tourists who would otherwise have had a whale-free vacation.

CONS: It may be difficult to create a structurally sound transparent cube for millions of gallons of water and to somehow anchor it in the open ocean. Even if it is possible to construct, it may be beyond the financial resources of a whale watching business.

Outrun a vicious pack of wild dogs as part of your weekly exercise routine! You won’t believe this new way to save money and promote physical fitness!

Background:

Two things that city-dwellers often require are:

  • Motivation to exercise.
  • An expensive dog-walker to walk their dog.

The issue:

Unfortunately, it’s easy to become lazy and not exercise, and dog-walkers are quite pricey! (Figure 1.)

1-run

Fig. 1: Left: these dogs need to walk, but someone is going to have to be paid to put leashes on them and walk them around the city. What an inefficient use of resources! Right: this person needs to get some exercise (by, say, jogging), but it’s easier to just stay at home and be completely sedentary.

Fortunately, these two modern conundrums can now be solved with a SINGLE amazing plan!

Proposal:

The solution is simple: during the commute home from work, the person who thinks they should go jogging (but is too lazy to motivate themselves to do so) simply ties a dozen or so strips of bacon (or other delicious meats) to themselves.

Then, they register their commute on a ride-sharing-like web site. As the commuter walks by a dog owner’s house, the dog owner gets a text message that they should release their hounds, who will then chase the bacon-laden jogger with single-minded determination. (Figure 2.)

2-run-bacon

Fig. 2: The pack of dogs provides ample motivation for this bacon-festooned jogger to continue running.

In this way, the pack of ravenous dogs will motivate the jogger very effectively. If the dogs are sufficiently fixated on the bacon, no leashes would even be required!

Conclusion:

The only downside is that the jogger will, at the end of their commute, need to somehow return the dogs to their owners. Fortunately, this will create a new business opportunity for an “Uber for dogs” ride-sharing company to return the dogs back to their owner: job-creation at its finest!

PROS: Increases fitness of both humans and dogs. Saves money for dog owners who previously had to employ dog-walkers.

CONS: May increase the rate of pack-of-wild-dogs-related dismemberments, which is currently at a historical low in urban areas.

3-concept-art

Supplemental Fig. S1: Original black-and-white drawing of this idea, perhaps for a patent application. Note the photorealistic dog at left, drawn in the style of Renaissance woodcuts. It’s hard to believe, but this was actually drawn on a modern tablet computer!

Improve the odds of finding a lost pet with this over-engineered license-plate-based system! The ultimate computer vision project for a machine learning startup.

Background:

“Lost cat” and “lost dog” signs are often placed up on telephone poles (Fig. 1), but it’s unlikely that a specific person who sees a lost pet will also have seen the sign (or even know that the pet is actually lost in the first place).

 

1-lost-snake.png

Fig. 1: A person who sees this sign will know to be on the lookout for a lost snake, but the chances of seeing both the snake AND the poster are quite low.

Proposal:

In order to add more people to the lost-pet-searching process, the proposed system is as follows:

On the searchers side:

  • Car owners can add a camera to their car (see license plate example in Figure 2) that constantly scans for unidentified animals. This requires no effort on the part of the driver.
  • The camera saves snapshots and GPS coordinates for every animal it sees, and uploads these to a “Find a Lost Pet” web site. Many of these animals are probably not lost, or even pets!

On the pet-recoverers side:

  • Anyone with a lost pet can post the details of their lost animal and a reward to the “Find a Lost Pet” site. Ideal information would include a photo, approximate location, and the owner’s contact information.

Once the “Find a Lost Pet” image analysis system detects a match between an uploaded image and a lost pet, a “bounty” is issued for the recovery of that pet, and nearby drivers are notified.

Finally, assuming the animal is safely returned in the same number of pieces that it was expected to be in (generally this number is “one”), the bounty is split three ways: the web site, camera owner, and animal-recoverer all get a fraction of the total reward. This aligns everyone’s incentives and encourages people to install pet-scanning cameras in the hope of a payout.

2-license-plate.png

Fig. 2: This license plate camera is a “dog-scanner” camera that is constantly on the lookout for unidentified potentially-lost animals. Backup cameras like this already exist, so producing the hardware for this system would be relatively straightforward.

PROS: This system will help find lost pets, and definitely won’t be repurposed to create a totalitarian police state.

CONS: Not especially useful in finding burrowed or aquatic animals, so try not to lose one of those.

Don’t believe the lies of “Big Ichthyology”—save our cities from flooding by vanquishing our ancient foes of the briny deep. Maybe the only problem with overfishing was… we didn’t do enough of it???

The issues:

Let us consider two economic / environmental problems that should, in an ideal world, be addressed somehow:

  1. Sea level rise (see Figure 1)
  2. Overfishing

Obviously no one has any plans to actually address these; the “tragedy of the commons” will sort them out naturally. But what if we did want to make a difference, and we could use the second problem there to solve the first one?

 

1 sea level problem.png

Fig. 1: Argh, there was too much water, and my lovely coastal city is completely flooded!

Proposal & Hypothesis:

  • Fish take up a certain amount of space in the sea.
  • This volume displeases a certain amount of water; i.e., if the fish were removed, there would be more room for water.
  • What if, by increasing the degree of overfishing, we could make more room for water in the sea, and thus prevent sea level rise?

 

sea-level-2.png

Fig. 2: Be removing all the fish and “fellow travelers” (e.g. the whale, the octopus) from the sea, we can lower the overall sea level back to acceptable levels (orange markers on the bottom figure). Our coastal cities are saved!

Conclusion:

You should write your representative and tell them to support this new plan instead of funding sea walls or relocation or some other crazy and expensive scheme. FACT: Less volume for fish (especially the skeletons) means more volume for water.

Alternative plans:

It’s always good to have a backup plan for preventing expensive damage to coastal cities, so maybe:

  • Everyone just drinks a lot more water?
  • Dig a huge hole in, like, Nevada, and then fill it with water?
  • Make a huge magnifying glass, and use it to boil the sea, thus lowering the ocean level?

PROS: Provides more jobs for fishing, until we remove 100% of fish. May solve sea level rise.

CONS: It’s possible that fish don’t actually take up a substantial amount of space in the ocean? But I’m no oceanologist.

 

 

 

ad_fishstopper (16-10-24 haircut helmet).png

The true secret of DOGS—never need to walk your dog again! Tip number five will HORRIFY you.

Background:

Dogs! You sometimes need to walk them, but maybe you don’t want to.

Sure, you could walk your dog on a treadmill or giant hamster wheel inside the house (Fig 1), but maybe you still want to give your dog the authentic outdoor-walk experience. Currently: not possible.

turnspit-dog-ancient-times

Fig 1: Ancient people knew that a “turnspit dog” could be an all-natural eco-friendly power source for charging a cell phone. Image is from a historical woodcut.

Proposal:

A human on a dog walk typically provide two things: 1) navigation guidance and 2) the ability to pull on a dog’s leash if necessary.

As described below, we can easily replicate these two factors without requiring a human to go on the walk (Figs. 2a, 2b):

dog-harness

Fig 2: The dog will wear a  sweater-like harness (blue) with an attachment point at the top. This harness should also include a GPS tracker.

dog-leash

Fig 3: This attachment point will have an articulated set of powered joints coming out of it, which will support a false hand (green) that holds the leash (yellow). The hand can be remotely controlled to pull the leash in various directions. (The harness provides the support / counter-force to allow the hand to pull on the leash.)

Once the harness is properly attached, and the leash is affixed to the artificial hand, the dog is ready for a walk!

dog-backwarddog-forward

Fig 4: By extending the hand backward or forward, the dog will feel as if it is being pulled in that direction (although the harness/hand combination is not capable of pulling the entire dog in any direction at all).

We have two options for actually controlling the hand:

  1. The walk could be handled automatically by a computer (using the GPS data to control the hand
  2. Or a human operator could manually direct the leash-holding hand, as shown in figure 5.

dog-cam

Fig 5: A camera attachment will allow the dog operator to see where they are going. For the ultimate experience, a 360° camera could be attached to allow for immersive telepresence operation via VR goggles.

PROS: Now you can walk your dog while in the safety and comfort of your own house!

CONS: May cause the powerful dog-walking industry to collapse, so there will be lots of opposition from “Big Dog-Walking.”

dog-walks-itself

Supplementary Figure A: Artist’s original rendition of the dog-walking system. Captions are hand-lettered in ink.

sketch-dog-1

Supplementary Figure B: Material for a future patent filing.

sketch-dog-2

Supplementary Figure C: Additional material for a future patent filing. Original idea, do not steal.

Clawed beasts will rend your flesh unless you obey this one weird tip! Cats and homeowners hate it!

Background:

As you are no doubt aware, the humble housecat is one of the world’s most popular pets.

cat

Fig 1: A standard issue cat. This is the base model.

The issue:

Sometimes, a cat needs to be taken somewhere, and this typically requires a cat carrier. But most cats are hesitant to enter a cat carrier, and a cat-stewarding individual may have to resort to increasingly desperate measures in order to solve the cat-to-carrier conundrum.

cat-into-carrier-how

Fig 2: The cat needs to go into the cat carrier. BUT HOW?? This clawed feline has its own ideas about where it should be. Specifically: elsewhere.

Proposal:

Although it may be possible to disguise the cat carrier and somehow trick the cat into enter it, the most straightforward solution is to simply purchase a giant funnel and bolt it to the wall of a house (Fig 3). Then, the cat-loading procedure is straightforward, as seen in figure 3.

funnel

Fig 3: The process is simple: Once the cat carrier is in place below the funnel, we must simply 1) raise the cat to the lip of the funnel and drop it in. 2) gravity does the rest! Note: for especially fragile felines, a pillow may be placed on the side (bottom, in this orientation) of the carrier in order to soften the deceleration process. If the cat fails to slide down the funnel properly, one may apply olive oil or an industrial engine lubricant to the sides of the funnel to expedite the procedure.

PROS: Makes loading a cat into a cat carrier a straightforward and pleasant process.

CONS: Having an industrial-grease-covered cat in a cat carrier is actually a new problem of its own, which unfortunately we do not have the space to solve here.


Sponsored Tip (BELOW): One weird tip to reducing the number of annoying comments on your web site! Filter out comments by keyword using these three words, and watch your comment problems evaporate. (Tip is optimized for the English language, and may fail to detect many spam comments.)

one-weird-tip-to-removing-dumb-comments


 

 

 

 

Your city can save millions of dollars a year by employing this one weird animal!

Background:

Modern buildings with large windows generally do not provide any way of opening the windows. This means that window washers are required and, additionally, that the window washers must work from the exterior of the building.

window-washer-snail-skyscraper

Fig 1: Window washing is a hazardous dangerous occupation that can be streamlined by making use of an ecologically-friendly natural and organic cage-free solution that already exists—the humble snail.

Proposal:

Specifically, we can use a terrestrial variant of the common aquarium snail to clean all the dirt and grime off a building.

All we need to do is:

  • Find a type of snail that can climb up glass (easy) and is air-breathing (easy)
  • Find a food source for this snail that will motivate it to climb all around the glass
  • Coat our skyscraper / other building with this substance. For example, if the snail likes to eat honey, then we would pour honey off the roof of the building until the skyscraper was covered in it (as the honey slowly drips down the building).
  • Finally, unleash the cleaning snails to clean off both the honey and any assorted window grime.

Conclusion:

This is an eco-friendly way of washing windows that does not use any harsh chemicals.

PROS: Reduces snail unemployment.

CONS: Increases human unemployment.

Is the origin of the necktie to be found in the Old Norse word “šnæktie,” literally meaning “snake tie”? Technically speaking, it is not possible to disprove this assertion with 100% confidence!

Background:

The necktie is, in modern society, a useless relic of a bygone era. But it could still be redeemed!

Proposal:

While the necktie serves no purpose currently, it occupies valuable clothing real-estate that might be put to better use.

Specifically, a snake could be trained to coil itself around the user in such a fashion as to approximate the shape of a necktie.

Then, this snake could be trained to leap away from the user and chomp on anyone who was assaulting the user; essentially serving as a “concealed carry” guard animal.

This could reduce the number of robberies and other assaults, since criminals would be unable to distinguish between easy marks with garish ties and “concealed snake-tie protected” individuals.

snaketie.png

Fig 1: This attractively patterned spitting cobra would make a fine snake tie.

Conclusion:

While snakes are relatively neglected in the world of animal training, this could be the opportunity for the snake to rehabilitate its poor reputation.

PROS: Could reduce crime and decrease the user’s prejudice against venomous reptiles.

CONS: Snakes may have difficulty distinguishing between random passersby and legitimately threatening individuals.