Increase employee productivity and improve video chat meeting participation with this one horrifying secret involving mannequin hands!


Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible for many meetings to be conducted over video chat.

The Issue:

Frequently, it’s not really necessary for a participant in a meeting to be paying attention: that person’s time could be better spent doing actual work, or writing emails.

But it is important for the person to look like they’re definitely paying attention, and not typing on their computer.


Here’s a method for a person to seem like they could not possibly be distracted by something else, while still freeing them to do work and ignore the meeting.

Specifically, it relies on the fact that if a person in a meeting has both of their hands visible on the video chat, it means they can’t be casually browsing the Internet at the same time (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: We can tell that this other meeting participant is definitely paying attention to the meeting, because they’re holding a coffee cup in both hands, and thus, definitely aren’t typing or using the mouse.

However, the “hands” seen in Figure 1 are actually artificial mannequin hands that match the user’s skin tone! The true situation is shown in Figure 2.

Fig. 2: Other meeting participants believe that the user above is intently listening while holding a cup of coffee, but they are actually seeing a pair of artificial hands (indicated by the arrow). This intrepid employee is diligently adding value to the company, instead of wasting time at a 30-person meeting.

PROS: Increases employee efficiency.

CONS: By mitigating the “too many meetings” problem, this technical solution might lessen the social pressure to reduce superfluous meetings.

Company layoffs? A new method of getting rid of unnecessary employees in a fair and efficient manner. This new technique will surely be adopted by every HR department.


Companies have various approaches to firing employees (or “laying them off” or “making them redundant,” if you prefer a softer and more soothing terminology).

However, generally speaking, no one regards the layoff process as being pleasant for either the fire-er or the fire-ee.


Instead of making the firing process a brutal and harsh process, why not just invite all the employees (who might be fired) into a breakroom for a cake, to celebrate the company’s upcoming more-efficient financial situation.

Seemingly coincidentally, there will be a radio / 1980s boombox / vintage MP3 player playing a song.

When the song stops, people would normally expect another song to begin. However, in this case, the employees have actually stumbled into a game of musical chairs (Figure 1), where the reward finding a chair is retain your job.

(The employees that the company does not want to lay off should be forewarned about this “game,” so that they can be sure to grab a chair as soon as possible.)

Fig. 1: The employees (left) are enticed into the breakroom with promises of celebratory cake, but it’s actually a high-stakes game of musical chairs.


In this fashion, the layoffs can happen exceptionally quickly, and—since everyone theoretically had a chance to grab a chair—it feels more “fair” than the typical methods that involve employee evaluations, internal politics, etc. This way, no one’s feelings are hurt, and everyone retains a high opinion of the company!

PROS: Brings high efficiency to corporate restructuring.

CONS: May violate the Americans with Disabilities Act: consider how a person who walks with a cane would have a disadvantage in rushing for a chair. Additionally, it is impossible to lay off an employee in a wheelchair in this fashion.

Firearm safety is enhanced even further with this new system that may also develop math & logic skills!


Various governments and organizations have made efforts to reduce the number of firearm discharges by impulsive and/or unqualified individuals.

The Issue:

Currently, by design, a firearm is relatively easy to operate. Unfortunately, this makes it easy to accidentally fire, or for a child to find a gun and shoot it. Additionally, an individual may get very angry in a specific moment (e.g. a “road rage“ incident) and murder someone with minimal contemplation of the consequences.


The proposal is simple: a concerned individual who (perhaps) knew that they were highly impulsive and/or prone to fits of rage could mitigate the damage they could cause by adding a “sudoku lock” to their firearm.

This would be similar to the “you must blow into a breathalyzer installed in your car before you can drive,” which is sometimes used as a restriction on habitual drunk drivers.

As shown in the figure, the trigger could be unlocked by simply solving the associated sudoku.

Fig. 1: The “sudoku unlock” will reduce the chance of an accidental or impulsive firearm discharge.


This same system could also be used by extremely confident hunters to give their prey better odds.

PROS: Provides a built in “cooling off” period for someone who is briefly intensely angry, which should reduce the number of “road rage” shootings. (Unless those people get extremely good at sudoku-solving.)

CONS: Might actually increase the number of irresponsible firearm discharges if people are bored and start playing sudoku on a gun because, hey, it’s right there, why not.

Karmic balance: the new legal system concept to allow good deeds to balance evildoing in the correct ratio. The criminal justice reform that we need.


In most aspects of life, positive and negative elements balance out: if a person has an income of $1000, and expenses of $750, then they have a net income of ($100 – $750 = $250).

The Issue:

The only area where this does not seem to apply is in the commission of good / evil deeds.  Typically, a person is judged by their most recent style of deed-performing: e.g. “many past good deeds → one recent evil deed” is more harshly judged than “many past evil deeds → one recent good deed.”


Perhaps we can use a sort of “karmic balancing” system to encourage people to do good deeds to “bank up” goodwill for potential future evil deeds.

Although counterintuitive, this might have a positive effect on society, as people try to “save up” by performing good works for the community.

In order to ensure that the good / evil deeds were properly accounted for, we would need to assign each of them a numeric value (Figures 1 and 2).

Fig. 1: Rescuing a cat might reward the user with +46 “good deed” karma. This is a system that is frequently seen in video games, and is also a component of the TV series “The Good Place.”

Fig. 2: Performing a heist might result in –273 points. This could be balanced out by rescuing 5.93 cats (at +46 karma per cat).

Although this “karmic balance justice system” may sound outlandish at first, the civil legal system basically already operates in this fashion: if a person has $100,000, and someone sues them and wins $25,000, then the legal system is satisfied as soon as the fine is paid

A person is essentially “immune” to civil cases, fees, and various governmental fines as long as they have the ability to pay out. (For example, a very rich person can, in most jurisdictions, afford an unlimited number of parking tickets, essentially putting them above the law.)

The criminal justice system would probably also benefit from working in this fashion, since many trials could be skipped entirely. For example, if a person had a karma of +3825 and they committed a –714 karma vandalism, then the accused individual might just pay the karmic fine rather than going to trial. (So this is essentially an improved version of the plea bargain.)


This is a good idea for legal system reform. Consult a constitutional scholar today to see what the best steps forward are for this plan! Don’t commit any crimes in the meantime, though, as there’s no guarantee that this system will be adopted in the immediate future.

PROS: Brings the criminal justice system in line with the civil justice system. Encourages individuals to do good deeds (even if for perhaps selfish motives).

CONS: Someone who had accidentally accumulated a huge amount of good deed points (e.g. by single-handedly saving everyone on a sinking ship) might decide to cash out their karmic points by going on a crime spree. This system has no defense against these corner cases, unfortunately.

Reclaim your personal time by getting all your phone notifications on the hour, every hour—and NOT at other times!


It’s easily possible to receive an overwhelming number of phone notifications these days. Typically, this is a mix of emails, text messages, multiple messaging apps, and the occasional demanding apps spamming you with notifications that “you earned 10% off your next order!”

The Issue:

It’s possible to silence some of these alerts, but sometimes you still want the alerts, you just wish they wouldn’t arrive so relentlessly.


The solution is extremely simple: add an “hourly notification” mode (Figure 1) that bundles up all the notifications that the phone would have sent you, and waits until the next “00” minute of the hour to send them to you.

Fig. 1: If a user activates “hourly notification mode” on their phone, all their notifications from 1:00–1:59 PM will arrive in a single batch at 2:00 PM.

It might be a little bit excessive to get a huge number of notifications at once, so these notifications can be bundled together by category. The user would get a single “text message” notification bubble, a single “email” bubble, and so on (Figure 2).

Fig. 2: The “hourly mode” notifications could also have a special style (here, purple with “1:00“ in the corner) to show that they are potentially not ultra-recent notifications, but were all part of the one o’ clock batch.


A more notification-averse user could also potentially set alerts for every two hours, or twice a day, or once a week, or perhaps annually on Jan 1.

PROS: Reduces the stress that humans have subjected themselves to in the always-connected “information age” world.

CONS: The user interface for managing this system might be complicated. Should phone calls still ring at any time, or do they have to wait until the hour boundary? Can you still see text messages that arrive, or do you have to wait a full hour to reply? This could have a negative impact on your text-messaging conversational skills.

Throw that bamboo back scratcher in the trash where it belongs—the new back-scratching shirt has rendered it completely obsolete!


There are all manner of weird back-scratching products, like bamboo claws, mini rakes, and probably like, dinosaur teeth or something like that. But all of them require specific effort to use, are generally unwieldy, and are socially frowned upon in a workplace environment.


The solution is so simple: just integrate the functionality of a back scratcher with a normal shirt! A shirt could have dozens of bamboo / plastic / metal / etc. spikes on the inside (Figure 1), replicating the functionality of the now-obsolete standalone back scratcher.

Fig. 1: This shirt shows how some moderately-pointy spikes (presumably easily obtainable cheaply from a goth jewelry overstock supplier) could be placed inside a shirt to improve it.

Warning: the spikes should not be TOO spike-y, or else the user might end up creating their own wearable iron maiden. Please keep this in mind when prototyping.


Throw away your dress shirts and casual-wear alike—this is the future of torso-based garmentry.

PROS: Improves the humble shirt (which has been almost completely ignored by the sartorial advances of the 20th and 21st centuries).

CONS: Just don’t get it caught in any spinning machinery, and you’ll be fine, OK?

Improve your corporate meeting skills with meeting role play cards, inspired by the bluffing games “Mafia” and “Werewolf.” Never have a boring and unproductive meeting again!

The Issue:

At many companies, large group meetings are a regular occurrence. However, sometimes meetings are unproductive. For example, it might be a situation where only a couple of people run the meeting (and everyone else spaces out), or the meeting participants might includes archetypes such as “jerk who interrupts people” or “yes-man who agrees to everything their boss says.”


It can be difficult for people to change their basic tendencies, but maybe the addition of a “meeting role-play” game would help in the situations described above.

This could be done by assigning people to “meeting roles” randomly: each participant is given a card with a “role” on it, such as:

  • Person who rambles on and on until they are interrupted.
  • Quiet person who never says anything unless specifically addressed.
  • “Consensus builder” who tries to solicit feedback from everyone.
  • Impatient individual who interrupts anyone after 10 seconds.
  • Person who over-explains every technical detail.
  • Skeptical engineer who expresses doubt about any technical proposal.

Many people already fit into one or more of these archetypes, but this card-based system will force people to try out other roles, rather than the one that most naturally suits them.

Ideally, people wouldn’t reveal their actual role, but would let their coworkers infer it from their actions. (Conceptually, this is like the multi-player bluffing game “Werewolf” or “Mafia,” in which players are randomly assigned secret roles to perform without giving away their role).

An alternative approach would be to assign required actions to meeting participants, rather than roles. In this proposal (Figure 1), a person entering a meeting might draw three cards that said, for example, 1) “Interrupt someone inappropriately,” 2) “Agree with a co-worker,” and 3) “Provide constructive negative feedback.”

Fig. 1: It could be the case that people get a single “role” card (e.g. “Yes Man” here), or perhaps multiple “action” cards (the other three cards shown here).


To encourage people to perform these socially-transgressive actions (e.g. “Disagree with your boss!” or “Rudely say that an idea is bad!”), we will provide some incentive: if a person uses up all their required “meeting actions,” then they are allowed to eat one of the donuts that was, presumably, brought for the meeting.

Anyone who shamefully fails to perform their card-mandated meeting role will be denied donut privileges.

Someone might say “hey, why do some of these cards that suggest negative actions that will prevent a harmonious meeting?” The answer is that meeting participants need to be able to have a productive discussion despite human failings: it’s important to “inoculate” one’s coworkers so that they can productively handle socially-transgressive actions, rather than being shocked by them.

PROS: Could actually legitimately improve meetings!

CONS: Good luck figuring out what to do when you get the “interrupt the head of your company and say that their idea is terrible” card. Is that worth a donut?

Improve typing by reducing the number of letters in the English language. Even 15 letters turn out to be more than sufficient!


Generally, the more letters / symbols your alphabet has, the more hassle it is to type on a keyboard.

There are  ways to mitigate this issue (e.g. Japanese and Chinese manage), but it’s a lot more straightforward if you can just cut down the number of symbols entirely.

English, with 26 letters plus a few extras (numbers, space bar, shift key, etc…) isn’t too bad in this department, but we can still improve it!

As inspiration, the Hawaiian alphabet only has 13 letters.

The Issue:

We’d like to reduce the alphabet so that we can create a keyboard that can be operated with minimal finger movement. (This already exists in the form of the “chorded keyboard,” but we’re going to solve the problem at a more fundamental level.)

Ideally, we’d get it down to 10 symbols (one per finger), but this might be a bit excessive.


Looking at a standard keyboard, there are about ~20 keys that can be easily reached by each hand.

If we can cut the alphabet down to about 15 letters, we’ll still have 5 keys left over for important “special” keys (space bar, shift key, etc.).

This would let a person keep a hand on the keyboard and a hand on the mouse, and not have to constantly switch. Good for gamers and spreadsheet aficionados!

Here’s our starting point (26 letters):


Immediately, several letters seem like good candidates to remove:

  • W: replace it with “VV.” VVhat an easy solution!
  • X: usually replaceable by “ks” or “z” or “ch.” Don’t need it! Eksellent.
  • Q: “kw,” “k,” or similar. The letter is kvvite unnecessary.
  • J: Somehow the Romans managed without it by using the “I” and “J” as a single letter. We’ll replace it with the “i” and make people figure it out from context. So the word “join” now becomes “ioin.” A little confusing, but English is already a mess.
  • Y: Usually replaceable by “ee” “i,” or similar. “Yak” can become “iak.” Yo-yo can become “io-io.” Close enough!
  • C: Replaceable by a “K” or “S,” except for “CH,” which will need to be represented a new way. How about “KS:” so a “choice” is now a “ksoice.” Questionable, but you’ll get used to it!

Now we’re down to these 20 letters:

  • ABDEF GHIKL MNOPR STUVZ (20 letters)

Time to get ruthless in our trimming.

  • Z: Can be vaguely approximated by an “S” or “SS.” So zebra becomes ssebra and zipper becomes ssipper
  • F: The “F” and “V” are somewhat similar, so we’ll delete the “F.” People will just have to figure it out—or “vigure it out”—vrom context.
  • U: Rolled into “O.” So “pull the upper door handle” becomes “poll the opper door handle.” Not bad!
  • M: Combine it with N. “Temporary measures” becomes “Tenporari neasores.” Could be worse!
  • P: The “P” can become a variant reading of “B.”

And we’re done! Here are the 15 letters that survived:

  • ABDEG HIKLN ORSTV (15 letters)


Let’s test our new stripped-down alphabet.

1. If we start with: The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog—what a bold choice, full of vulpine zeal.

We’ll end up with: The kvoick brovvn voks ionbed over the lassee dog—vvhat a bold ksoice, voll ov volbine sseal.

2. An example from Hamlet (“brevity is the soul of wit”): Since brevitee is the sool ov vvit, and tedioosness the linbs and ootvvard vloorishes, i vvill be briev.

3. And the beginning of the the U.S. Constitution: VVe the beoble ov the Onited States, in order to vorn a nore bervect onion, establish iostice, insore donestic trankvoilitee, brovide vor the connon devence, bronote the general vvelvare, and secore the blessings ov libertee to oorselves and oor bosteritee, do ordain and establish this constitotion vor the Onited States ov Anerica.


The colored keyboard area below (Fig. 1) shows a possible layout for our 15-letter English.

Fig. 1: The left half of this keyboard shows a proposed 15-letter alphabet layout. The right half of the keyboard is unmodified, and could be repurposed for other uses. The blue keys don’t have a specific proposal here, but they could be used for punctuation, numbers, or modifier keys. Keyboard layout image is from Wikipedia.

Here’s the full translation command, which should work on any Mac or Linux system:

echo “your_text_here” | tee /dev/stderr | sed -e 's/w/vv/g' -e 's/x/ks/g' -e 's/q/kvv/g’ -e 's/ch/ks/g' -e 's/z/ss/g' -e 's/y/ee/g' | tr 'jfupm' 'ivobn'

PROS: Reduces the alphabet to 58% of its original size! Think of the savings.

CONS: ”Big Typography” will fight tooth-and-nail to prevent these reforms from going through, so it might never happen.

Add some pizzazz to your telephone with a secret forbidden ritual to communicate across the astral planes!


Hundreds of years ago, a cool looking numeric system was invented for writing numbers from 0–9999 in a single cryptic rune: In Figure 1, we see how two such symbols could represent a phone number.

Fig. 1: These “Cistercian numerals” may be a bit excessively complicated, but they certainly add a flair of wizardly charm to otherwise-mundane mathematics. Here, we see “867” and “5309” represented as two Cistercian glyphs.


By making use of these strange-looking numbers, ”boring“ mundane activities—like dialing a phone number—can become more exciting (Figure 2). This will allow people to appreciate how “magical” it is to (for example) be able to video chat with a person thousands of miles away

Fig. 2: By dressing up a boring regular phone call (left) with wizardly runes (right), dialing a phone number becomes an exciting voyage into the world of supernatural mystery.


Look for this feature in your next cell phone system update!

PROS: Gives people more of an appreciation for the things in life that they take for granted, which might increase overall life satisfaction.

CONS: It’s possible that angry villagers will think you are putting a curse on them, and you’ll be attacked with torches and pitchforks. Use this new user interface judiciously!

Inspire your coworkers with the Comet Countdown Clock!


Workplaces will occasionally have “countdown clocks,” like “X days without a workplace injury” or “Y days until our product is launched.”

The Issue:

Sometimes, it’s hard for companies (and employees) to take a long-term view of things—everyone is just focused on the next financial quarter’s profits, or short-term stock value.


In order to encourage add long-term perspective, we’ll add some more “countdown” clocks for more far-reaching events. These could even be speculative, like “5 years until the planned manufacturing expansion in Southeast Asia.”

We could even track the time for more distant events. For example, “214,621,870 days (best estimate) until the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupts.” See Figure 1 for another example.

Fig. 1: Along with a normal wall clock and a “days since last accident” counter, we’ll add the “Comet Collision Countdown Clock,” which tracks the time until a hypothetical comet causes humans to go extinct and (presumably) dinosaurs to return.


A version of this could also be used at restaurants, to increase table turnover. A neon sign reading “FORTY SEVEN MINUTES AND THIRTY-THREE SECONDS REMAINING TO EAT DINNER!” would be helpful to encourage patrons to eat efficiently and free up their table for other diners.

PROS: Encourages people to take a long view of their company’s future. May also help increase restaurant table availability.

CONS: None!