Make your commute easier thanks to this new hat idea—no more laptop bags or briefcases! The only downside is that birds might attack you.

Background:

Carrying objects on one’s head is a time-honored method of moving heavy objects (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-carrying).

However, this is—surprisingly—not a common technique in the Western world.

Commuters use all sorts of briefcases, laptop bags, backpacks, and messenger bags, but there’s no such thing as a “laptop hat.”

Proposal:

This proposal is fairly self-explanatory: a “laptop hat” (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: A person might think that a laptop is too heavy to carry on their head, but it turns out to be practical to carry 50+ lbs. this way. The minuscule weight of the laptop should be no problem at all.

One issue with this laptop hat is that it can easily slip off the user’s head. However, it’s common for head-carrying individuals to use one hand to steady the load. Although this does occupy one arm, that makes the laptop hat’s efficiency equal to that of a briefcase (which also requires the use of one arm).

It might be possible to free the user’s hands completely by mounting the laptop attachment on top of a sturdier type of headwear, such as a motorcycle helmet.

PROS: May make commutes easier for laptop-carrying professionals. Could free up a hand that would otherwise be used to carry a briefcase or laptop bag.

CONS: The reflective metal of the laptop could attract magpies and other birds to attack the wearer.

Make finance more confusing with the ability to buy “stock” in a specific product line of a company. Now people will be able to make even riskier investments!

Background:

The concept of buying a “stock” is that the buyer becomes a partial owner of a company and its assets.

The Issue:

However, there is no option to buy a stock-like investment in a particular sub-product of a company. This is surprising, since so many bizarre and creative “financial instruments” exist: you’d think someone would have implemented this relatively intuitive one!

Let’s consider the example of a Microsoft invester in 2010. This person might have varied opinions on the company’s many product offerings, such as:

  • The Microsoft Office Suite (desktop applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Windows Stores (physical retail locations)
  • The Windows Phone (operating system and hardware, competing with the iPhone and Android)
  • Azure (cloud computing service)
  • The Xbox (game console)

When buying stock in Microsoft (“MSFT”), a savvy purchaser should consider all of these aspects of the company.

This can be difficult—an investor might predict that Windows Phone will have a profitable future, but that the Xbox brand would be discontinued. Should that investor buy MSFT? Unclear.

Proposal:

Why not make stocks even more confusing by providing the option to buy stocks in a specific product. Now, the example purchaser above could buy stock in “Windows Phone” or “The Windows Retail Experience” instead of Microsoft as a whole.

This could, perhaps, be accomplished by the company selling special stock certificates (Figure 1) that pay out dividends in a really specific fashion:

For example, every 5,000 “MSFT_XBOX” shares might entitle the bearer to $0.01 for each Xbox sold, or 10,000 “MSFT_POWERPOINT” shares could pay out 43 cents for every thousand sales of Office.

Fig. 1: A normal stock certificate (left) probably looks like a high school diploma, maybe? I don’t know, I’ve never seen one, and everything is digital now. But let’s imagine that’s the case. Now, these weird “special sub product” stocks (right) could come in strange shapes and sizes, perhaps resembling the product being sold. (Maybe they could even be puzzle pieces, and could be assembled into a full stock certificate if enough were collected.)

Conclusion:

Some sort of up-and-coming financial professional should make a name for themselves by figuring out how to implement this idea!

PROS: Opens up new and exciting ways for people to gamble with a veneer of responsibility!

CONS: Could be complicated to judge how payouts work. Could a company scam its retail investors by just moving money between divisions? Who knows!

With this new article-randomization system, you can judge news based on its own merits, rather than based on your pre-existing opinions! A “blind taste test” approach to reading the news.

Background:

When reading the news, people should ideally form opinions of the events in question based on the actual merits being reported. However, a frequent approach is: “Is this something that my nation or my political party did? Then I’m sure it’s good.”

The Issue:

Although this is undeniably often a successful heuristic (e.g. “cannibal cult proposes new regulations on food” should probably be viewed with suspicion), it often leads people to be unable to judge anything based on its actual merits.

For example, imagine that a person reads these headlines:

  • “The regime’s* intelligence chief has called for the execution of a whistleblower who is taking refuge in a rival nation” [* “Bad guy” countries are frequently governed by “regimes.”]
  • “Regime has been torturing its foes in a secret prison.”

That person might respond with outrage: “How could a country operate in such a way. The citizens must be cowards, or they’d be protesting in the streets!”

But the same person would probably have a much less emphatic reaction if a headline “gave away” the plot twist that the country is, in fact, the reader’s own (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: Left: outrageous news. Right: a reasonable proposal.

Proposal:

The proposal is simple: articles are re-written to anonymize (or randomized) the various actors mentioned in various stories. Anyone reading these articles will now have to actually judge them based on the merits of the story (or at least feel foolish when they change their mind upon learning the true participants in the story).

Fig. 2: Left: some sort of dictatorial regime? Right: a great way to promote vocational skills?

Besides the names of nations, there are also many other possible categories that an article randomizer could swap (Figure 3)—language, race, religion, political affiliation, cat/dog person, etc.—the options are endless.

Fig. 3: Left: A noteworthy world event. Right:¯\_()_/¯ (shrug emoji).

Conclusion:

This would probably be a legitimately great browser plugin. Sort of like a more controversial version of the “Millennials to Snake People” plugin (https://www.google.com/search?q=millenials+to+snake+people).

PROS: Might encourage people to think about important topics, rather than just instantly judging them based on the participants.

CONS: A person who judges an article based on their own opinions might form an opinion different from their peers. Unacceptable!

Resume playing a game? What about résumé playing a game? Become employable and build up your job skills with a new video game achievement system.

Background:

Many computer games award “achievements” or “trophies” to the player upon the completion of various challenges: e.g. “Achievement: Finish Level 4 Without Taking Damage” or “Collect Over 1,000,000 Doubloons.”

Players will often dedicate substantial effort to these tasks, despite the fact that there is generally no in-game reward for them.

Proposal:

What if we could improve the achievement system so that the player’s dedication could actually translate into benefits outside of the game—like their employment prospects?

In particular, let’s create a system where achievements will also generate text (Fig. 1) for a person’s resume (or “CV” / “curriculum vitae” for players in academic professions).

Fig. 1: Here, we see an automatically-generated resume for CoolGuy9898Gamez. This player’s years of dedication and experience will now translate directly into new job prospects.

Conclusion:

Any company that runs a game achievement system (in 2022, this includes Valve (Steam), Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft, and others) could easily create a utility that would take a player’s list of game achievements and reformat it as a resume.

As a publicity gimmick, this might even legitimately be a great idea.

PROS: Allows gamers to translate skills from their field of expertise into rewards in the employment world.

CONS: It’s possible that job-seekers would become disheartened when they realized (thanks to this resume service) that they spent 3,000 hours playing Skyrim.

Pet owners rejoice! Never wonder where your cat (or similar creature) is again, thanks to this cat-elongation technology.

Background:

Some types of pets (notably, cats) are fond of both 1) hiding and 2) napping. 

The Issue:

This can make it difficult for the pet owner to know if their treasured beast is inside the house. Did it come back in the house from the patio? Or is it sleeping in a tree outside? Maybe it’s under the sofa. Who knows!

In an ideal world, it would be easier to determine the whereabouts of your cat.

Proposal:

We can take advantage of the fact that many animals have variable-length bodies and tails to selectively engineer an extra-long cat variant.

There’s already precedent for this in dogs (the dachshund, or “sausage dog” comes to mind) and in snakes (these seem to be available in really excessive lengths).

Thus, we know that (biologically speaking) this is an achievable goal.

It would probably be easiest to just figure out which genes control cat tail length, and set them to tail_length=100x (this is definitely how genetics works), which would result in the cat in Figure 1.

Fig. 1: Left: a regular “legacy” cat (left) can easily get lost: did you remember to let the cat inside? Is the cat hiding in the dryer? Who knows. But the new “snake cat” (right) is easy to locate anywhere.

One objection might be: is it ethical to create a horrifying nightmare creature to solve a minor inconvenience?

Well, to answer that question, let us consult https://www.google.com/search?q=unhealthy+dog+breeds . (You might still decide that the answer is “no,” but as you can see, there is at least a precedent. Plus, most of those weirdly-messed-up dogs don’t even have a functional purpose—they were made into twisted mockeries purely for aesthetic purposes.)

Conclusion:

Keep an eye out in the future for the “snake cat”: it’s guaranteed to be the preferred cat form factor once either cat-genetic-engineering or cat-extrusion technology is perfected.

PROS: You’ll no longer need to wonder “hmm, did the cat run out the door?” thanks to this new cat technology, or “catnology” as it is called in the industry.

CONS: This cat might occupy the same ecological niche as the snake, causing the two species to battle to the death for supremacy.

Become internationally famous by naming a sandwich (or, more accurately, a sandwich-adjacent food configuration) after yourself!

Background:

The specific etymology of most food names is lost in ancient history. But a few foods are named after specific people. One of the most notable is the food/concept of a “sandwich,” named after “John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Montagu,_4th_Earl_of_Sandwich).

Proposal:

This opens up a new possibility for gaining personal fame and fortune: name a common “food form factor”—like the sandwich or burrito—after yourself!

Now, you might think all the various possible sandwich-like and vaguely sandwich-adjacent form factors (e.g. tortilla, taco, burrito, wrap, hamburger, bread bowl…) have already been taken.

But this is not the case! We just need to think more creatively. For example, there are no foods that are commonly served:

  • Underneath a tetrahedron (Fig. 1C).
  • With toppings adhered to a corkscrew / helix (Fig. 1D)…
  • …or perhaps some kind of DNA-double-helix arrangement with structural food products (bacon? string cheese?) bridging the helices.
  • On the “faces” of a Möbius strip (Fig. 1E).
Fig. 1: Configurations A and B already have names (the “sandwich” and “burger”), but C, D, and E are still up for grabs.

Conclusion:

One might suppose that any practical food arrangement has already been named. But consider how many closely-related food form factors have different names: e.g. ”wrap,” “burrito,” and “gyro,” or “burger” and “sandwich.” Thus, there’s still probably room to name a food after yourself, even if there is already “prior art” of similar foods.

PROS: Opens up a new avenue of narcissistic accomplishment.

CONS: Successfully naming a food after yourself might end up removing a certain amount of “gravitas” from a once-respectable family name. Imagine someone named “Joseph Quesadilla” who, every time he introduces himself, has to explain that, no, he isn’t named after the quesadilla, actually he invented the quesadilla.

The names of the months in English aren’t in alphabetical order. Until now, that is! Let’s fix the days of the week, too, while we’re at it.

Background:

In English, there are names for days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, …) and months (January, February, …).

The Issue:

But it is not actually necessary for weekdays and months to be named—it’s just a bunch of extra words that serve no purpose!

Many other languages (e.g. Chinese) manage with days named “Day #1, Day #2, …” and months named “Month #1, Month #2, etc.”.

In fact, this is exactly how English operates with days of the month and years: we say “2022,” not “The year of the Golden Elephant,” and “July 8,” not “July, Day of the Indomitable Spirit” or whatever.

Proposal:

Now that it’s clear that we don’t really need month names or weekday names, let’s see what we can do to improve the situation.

The most obvious and least-intrusive one is to keep the months as names, but rename them to be in a sensible order. (This is basically the opposite of what the Roman emperors did when they messed up the month names in the first place.)

Some candiate month names in which the months start with letters A through F (the 12th letter).

  • January  →  Aanuray (abbrev. “AA”)
  • Febraury →  Bebruary (abbrev. “BB”). Maybe we should also remove the “r,” while we’re at it.
  • March →  Carch (abbrev. “CC.”)
  • April →  Dapril (“DD.”)
  • May →  Eay (pronounced “E. A.”, abbrev “EE.”)
  • June →  Foon (“FF.”) (rhymes with “Moon”)
  • July →  Gulai (“GG.”). “Y” changed to “ai” for pronunciation. This is also the name of a food.
  • August →  Hoggust (“HH.”) (Note the change from “u” to “o,” and the additional “g”.)
  • September →  Iptember  (“II.”)
  • October →  Joctober  (“JJ.”)
  • November →  Kovember (“KK.”)
  • December →  Lecember (“LL.”)

Figure 1 shows what a daily calendar might look like with these revised months.

Fig. 1: Wednesday, October 5 is now Threesday, Joctober 5. So easy to remember!

There are many options for renaming the weekdays as well, but let’s just number them from 1 through 7 and be done with it:

  • Monday →  Onesday (abbrev. “D1” or “1sday”)
  • Tuesday →  Twosday (abbrev. “D2” or “2sday”)
  • Wednesday →  Threesday (abbrev. “D3,” etc…)
  • Thursday →  Foursday (abbrev. “D4”)
  • Friday →  Fivesday (abbrev. “D5”)
  • Saturday →  Sixday (abbrev. “D6”)
  • Sunday →  Sevday (abbrev. “D7”)

Now, a date like “Monday, May 16, 2022” would be written as “Oneday, Eay 16, 2022” (or abbreviated as “D1, EE. 16, 2022”).

(The days of the week still don’t alphabetize, but maybe this is OK if people use the abbreviations—“D1” through “D7”—instead.)

Conclusion:

If there’s one thing people love, it’s esoteric massive renaming efforts in the name of efficiency! File this one along with the French Revolution Calendar and the metric-system-ization efforts in the US and Britain. (Apparently this effort even has an official word: “metrication“).

PROS: Finally, the months now alphabetize correctly. Additionally, by removing the weekday names from English, we have made the language easier to learn by ~7-ish words. Students who are learning the English language will appreciate this! This plan also combines nicely with December 6, 2021’s idea (or LL. 6, 2021, if you prefer) for 28 hour days.

CONS: Everyone will love this idea, but the staid old-fashioned plutocrats at BIG CALENDAR might oppose it. Don’t fall for their diabolical anti-modernization schemes!

Solve an issue that has bedeviled programmers for over 50 years: move code comments OUT of the main body of the code and INTO the margins. Long code comments can be footnotes!

Background:

Programmers frequently write human-readable comments (which are ignored by the computer) to describe certain regions of code (Figure 1).

Fig. 1: Comments are in green (after a “#” character). Everything else is regular code.

The Issue:

One might, naively, expect that these comments would be separated from the main code in some fashion that would make them easy to consult (or ignore), as desired. This is how books have operated for thousands of years, with additional information in the page margins and footnotes.

But this is not how programming works! Comments are mixed in with the rest of the code. As as result, having extensive comments can make code quite hard to read, as seen in Figure 2.

Fig. 2: These comments provide some useful information, but they really get in the way: Figure 1’s 24 lines of code now take up 2.5 times as much screen space!

Proposal:

Let’s re-invent the footnote! Instead of having super-long comments mixed in with the code:

  • Add a footnote in the “main” part of the code. This footnote will have a unique number that links it to…
  • …a matching footnote at the very bottom of the text file.

(You may have noticed that this is exactly how footnotes work in a book.)

Now, the monstrously long comments in Figure 2 are reduced to a manageable size (Figure 3):

Fig. 3: The file is still super long (in fact, it’s even longer than before!), but the excessively-verbose comments are now placed in their own “footnotes” section.

Since these footnotes are basically equivalent to HTML links, it would be easy to make code-editing software aware that this footnote text could be displayed specially: see one possible option in Figure 4.

Fig. 4: In a modern editor, the footnotes could also be presented as tooltips when the user hovers their mouse over the footnote. Putting the notes in the margin would be another option: this is already how comments are handled in many collaborative (non-programming) document editors (e.g. Microsoft Word or Google Docs).

Crucially, the footnotes will still exist as text at the bottom of the file—we want these files to remain plain text, not some weird format that requires special editing software.

Conclusion:

If this is too much work, it seems like a simple option would be to have a single keyboard shortcut that would collapse (or show) ALL comments in a file. Somehow, this is not a feature that exists as a built-in feature in any widespread code-editing software in 2022. Hard to believe! There are, at best, some extensions that will collapse some comments, or set the comment color to the same color as the document background (which still takes up screen space).

PROS: Allows comments to be more descriptive without impeding readability of the actual code.

CONS: Actually none? Why is this not a thing!

Bring the nightmarish totalitarian future of Orwell’s 1984 a little bit closer with this new and inexpensive computer vision idea!

Background:

Futurists and sci-fi authors have suggested many technologies that took decades to become practical, but did eventually arrive, such as:

  • The flat panel display
  • Tablet computers
  • Videophones
  • Machine translation
  • Computers that can defeat a human at go and chess
  • Wristwatch phones (e.g. the “Dick Tracy” wristwatch two-way radio, later given video capabilities as well)

But, some predictions haven’t come true despite the required technology already existing. For example, see this yet-to-be-realized future promised in George Orwell’s 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.”

Proposal:

The capability now exists to both monitor people at all times (thanks to cheap cameras) and have a computer interpret the results (thanks to face-recognition algorithms).

This can be used for various purposes: it’s usually promoted for “tracking down criminals” or “finding kidnapped children,” but it can also be used to proactively detect thoughtcrimes in potentially subversive citizens.

For this application, all we need is:

  • A propaganda poster (existing technology)
  • A video camera (existing technology)
  • A computer program that can distinguish human facial expressions (existing technology)

The technique is simple and cheap: first, a camera is placed next to a propaganda poster (Figure 1, left). A computer watches the video feed and classifies the people it sees into two categories: people who saw the propganda poster and smiled (patriotic citizens) and people who saw it and frowned (potential subversives).

Fig. 1: Left: the propaganda-and-camera setup. Right: video feeds from the camera, along with the algorithm’s interpretation of the footage.

Can computers make mistakes? Let’s assume not. And even if they do, there can always be some perfunctory human review on top of the computer’s decision.

Conclusion:

This system would also help people find lost pets, let people know which of their neighbors attend the same churches or mandatory state-sponsored rallies (so they can hang out afterward and become friends), and many other beneficial features.

PROS: Helps realize the high-tech future promised by the fiction of the past. And if someone opposes this system, it’s easy to refute their concerns by saying “Wow… I guess you don’t care about kidnapped children, huh.”

CONS: Luddites might still be hard to convince to approve of this monitoring, but they’ll change their tune when the surveillance system helps them remember where they parked their cars!

Reduce customer support costs and increase customer loyalty relocating customer support desks. Specifically, relocating them to the top of a gigantic pyramid.

The Issue:

Two elements are important here:

1. It is generally the case that if a person expends more effort in an endeavor, the person appreciates it more. See also 2017’s Art Obstacle Course proposal. (Incidentally, this is also described as a factor in the popularity of hazing and initiation rituals in the “purpose and effects” section on the Wikipedia hazing page)

2. Providing customer support (including product returns and complaints) is expensive for any large retail business.

Proposal:

In order to reduce customer support costs (and product return rates) and make customers feel more kinship with “the brand” (ugh), we can fix the process of obtaining customer support. Usually, getting support involves either standing in a long line, filing paperwork, or waiting on hold on a phone forever. Those are all annoying, yet passive activities.

Let’s fix this by making the customer support process into a physically grueling ordeal! See Figure 1 for one possible approach.

Fig. 1: In this candidate design, the “product returns” counter is placed at the pinnacle of a Mesoamerican-style ziggurat.

This should reduce the customer support burden somewhat (is a person REALLY going to climb 1000 steps to the top of a pyramid to return an extension cord?), and will increase the likelihood that anyone who does successfully get to the top has a legitimate complaint

Additionally, a person who reaches the summit might also feel a sense of great accomplishment (like they’ve “conquered” a mountain) which should encourage positive feelings toward the company.

Conclusion:

This system is likely to gain widespread adoption across all retail businesses. If you own a business, act now: don’t be the last one to get in on the trend!

PROS: This will encourage exercise (specifically, stair climbing), among the customers, which will increase national physical fitness and well-being. (Unless they fall down the stairs.)

CONS: This specific example might be in violation of certain wheelchair-accessibility requirements. Possibly a law will need to carve out a specific exemption in accessibility regulations to prevent those laws from applying to customer service desks. Start lobbying now—the lawmaking process can be slow!